For me, the long road to catch up with Chemae starts with overcoming literal roads made of concrete. I’ve recently taken up my father’s sport which I had reviled before just because of its unsightly look: sweaty men with their oversized thigh and butt muscles bulging through their super short shorts. Some find it sexy. I think it’s dreadfully icky.
You guessed right. I’m into running.
Saying No to Snot
As a premature child just 6 months old when I came crawling out of my mom in the wrong position (that is, I wasn’t upside down like most infants), I unfortunately got more than my fair share of congenital ill luck. Aside from the obvious physical deformity, my entire physiological system is basically as messy and as compromised as a public bathroom. Compared to the boys in elementary, I was just weak, which is why I made sure I kicked all their healthy asses in the brains division. After years of futile struggle at being healthy, I’m still continuing to suffer the damn effects of my incorrect development and birth.
One of the most screwed-up things in my body is my cardiovascular system. It’s so poor that never does a month pass by without me having another viral infection, resulting in a handkerchief oozing with snot. The worst days were when I get to fill 2 hankies with dripping, finger-binding snot.
The difference is that today, I can no longer make any compromises with regard to my health. My mission is to go to Canada someday to be with my girlfriend again, but I won’t last a day there in my current condition. Chemae says that it’s still summer there in September and the cold is already almost unbearable. The first time I went to Baguio in February, my head almost split because of cold-induced headache. Clearly, it would be impossible for me to live someday in the northern hemisphere without me turning into a brittle sheet of frozen meat.
Something radical must be done, I thought.
Father Finally Convinced Me
My father is my total opposite, health-wise. He’s 54 and he’s still so tough and strong that me and my older brother have no way to catch up to his impeccable health. I doubt that I’d be as strong as him even when he turns 60.
He’s won numerous marathons, 42ks and the shorter ones (which are still pretty damn long). He beats younger runners all the time, it’s not funny. And also, I’ve personally witnessed him single-handedly haul a massive TV from the fourth floor of a building to a car a good distance outside.
For a long time, I’ve tried not to listen to his never-ending verbal campaign for all of us to get into running. Like I said, the short shorts thing wasn’t just my “thing.” And besides, I would just fall into a hopeless comparison between him and myself — and I’d be frustrated. I’m also not a sporty fella. In fact, I made sure that all my PE classes back in college required the least amount of leaking bodily fluids and physical movement: Tenpin Bowling (in an airconditioned room), Duckpin Bowling, Scrabble, and Arnis (I dropped another one, a card game, because the teacher was a witch).
But the evidence for running’s potency is hard to ignore. My brother used to have an unsatisfactory chest X-ray reading and it disappeared when he started running. Now he’s able to finish 42ks — something, which, in my mind is just plain crazy (42 kilometres? Hello! We are ONLY a biped species for a reason!). But the evidence is there, and the inescapable conclusion is that running is the best sport for someone like me who has the lungs of a sick pigeon.
Telling myself I’ll do everything except don the skimpy shorts, I finally decided to run.
I Recommend It
Needless to say, when I got up at 5:00 AM the first morning of my scheduled run, I felt like the joke of the entire universe. There was I, in my light green “homey” shorts and my father’s old running shoes, deeply considering if I would do some stretching in front of my mother or not. She was washing our clothes in the yard and my father said that I should always stretch before I run. However, the ridiculousness of those stretching positions were just too much (I cringe when I picture my ass bulging backward as I stretch), that in the end, I just decided to get out of there as fast as I could lest I change my mind and get back to snoozing.
My destination was the parking lot of SM City North EDSA where I have long observed old, fragile men walking their way to their health goals. As I walked from our house to the site, I felt more confidence creeping up my veins, as I realized I made the first step outside my proud non-exercising, non-sporty limits.
When I reached the huge SM area, I started to run.
The wind hitting my face, I felt free.
But more than that, I felt right. I felt like I was correcting something corrupt which had crippled a part of me for a long time. Maybe it was hesitation, or unhealthy lifestyle, or laziness. I’m not sure. But with every step I took, doubt perished in my mind and my chest was screaming that I could do it: I CAN be healthy someday, I CAN run longer distances someday, and I CAN be with Chemae one extremely bright and warm day.
These roads will exhaust me but they will eventually lead me to her.
So now I run three times a week every morning, regardless whether I have work for the day or not. My father, my brother and I went to UP yesterday to run, and I had a blast taking in the fresh, cool air in the campus. This is just the second week of my routine and I already feel the benefits of the sport. I don’t collapse on the curb as much anymore and I’m running more laps around the SM parking lot. I have a feeling running will really do wonders for me.
Unlike my father though, my road is much longer than 42 kilometres. It stretches from our simple home to the airport, across the seas, and to Vancouver where I have every intention of bringing my love back in my arms. I don’t have much time. The race starts now.