Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Life On The Trail

Last weekend, I drove early in the morning to my favorite running trail to do my usual Saturday morning run. I jog every Saturday to continue the tradition that my old mentor, Nick Acosta, started a few decades ago back in Ateneo De Naga. Back then, Sir Nick constantly encouraged Ateneo high school students to challenge their bodies by running the distance between the Ateneo pillars and the Calabanga church thus adding a merit badge to themselves as a conqueror of the road that connects to both landmarks.

The running trail that I was at has three groups of users: Runners, Bikers and horse riders. The trail snakes through large trees, up hills and cuts across small residential streets. There are short sections in the path that is covered with wood chippings which gives runners a cushiony feeling while running on it. The whole area where the trail is located is mostly in an upscale neighborhood and so it is relatively quiet and safe.

When I arrived at the running trail, there was a thick overcast and the temperature was about 40 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit. I put on an extra shirt to protect myself from the cold and decided to immediately hit the path before my mind can challenge my yearning to run.

Mile 1: The first half a mile was a bit uncomfortable because it felt like my face and body was cutting through what seemed to be a thick wall of freezing air. I continued to push on in spite of the fact that my mind is whispering a suggestion that I wait until the sun rays penetrate through the thick mist above. The slope of the path has moved up from 10 degrees to 20 degrees making running just slightly challenging. Half a mile later, I spotted a shapely figure of a female runner running about 150 meters ahead of me. She was wearing those high-tech anatomically engineered tights that provides warmth during cold weather and but also gives a ventilated feeling to the runner during warm weather. I judged her as being a college student and so I decided to make her as my point of reference to encourage me to continue running. Since the path has numerous curves, I was not able to determine how well I was doing towards narrowing the gap between this girl and myself. I increased my pace with the hopes of catching up to her. To my surprise I found myself 25 meters behind her after 1 mile. She is Caucasian with a height about 5 feet 4 inches and was wearing a neatly combed pony tail. I started thinking to myself, “How in the world did I catch up to her? Did she slow down or did I run a faster pace than I normally do? Hmmm, Did she allow me to catch up? Naaahh, I don’t think she would do that”.

Mile 2: A group of bikers passed seven meters on my right kicking dirt and dust as they zoomed through their path. I noticed that the girl I was following 25 meters ahead made a quick back glance over her shoulder to check who was behind her. All of a sudden the girl’s running pace increased upon discovering that I was following her. This caused me to keep paced with this girl and the race was on. The road narrowed and there were 20-meter stretches where the road turns to a 45 degree climb. Sweat the size of pebbles were beginning to drip down my neck. “Darn! This girl is good! What in the world was I thinking running against a well fit person more than half my age!”

Mile 3: The girl decided to maintain a constant speed upon finding out that she can’t seemed to widen the gap between herself and the stranger (yours truly) who was behind her. We are now at a wide path with a row of eucalyptus trees standing on our left. The path is covered with wood chippings and so this offered some comfort to the bottom of my feet. After half a mile, the path cut across an asphalt road then continued again but this time the path turned into a mixture of dirt and sand.

Mile 4: The dirt trail ran through rows of thin 50-footer trees and I noticed that the trail ended on a major street and continued on the other side near a bridge. As I was focusing my mind to continue this miniature race, the girl all of a sudden made a short 180 degree turn and started running on the same path opposite my direction. When she came to about 5 meters away, I was surprised to discover that this female whom I had been racing with for the past 4 miles turned out to be a woman on her mid-50’s! I was stunned! “Boy, she is in good shape at her age!”, I said to myself. Fifty meters later, I too decided to turn back because the trail ended at the major street and I decided to run another mile before calling it quits.

The running trail seemed to always offer interesting situations for me. Its winding path is decorated with wild beautiful flowers during spring season. The trees provide shade during the summer. The birds, bees and other creatures from the insect world entices children’s curiosity, specially the mischievous ones that carry a magnifying glass just itching to fry any unfortunate bugs that they happen to spot. For the grieving hearts, the gentle arms of the trail offer peace and solitude that seemed to keep at bay the problems of this world. And for those who want to tone down their bodies or challenge their endurance, the trail offers a variety of paths that will test one’s ability to handle physical pain while forcing their bodies to break a sweat.

Please support the preservation of your local wilderness trails because the benefits it offers to human kind is priceless.


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