As a kid, I never had a sport. I alway shied away from P.E. class, making up various excuses to spend the 40 minutes supposedly alloted for physical activity in the school clinic. My standard excuse was headache: I perfected the art of lying young. Who could resist a cute little Chinese girl saying "Masakit po ulo ko, Miss." I would sometimes even let the waterworks start just to get away from P.E.
I hated the sports we were forced to learn... basketball, softball, table tennis, badminton and especially volleyball. High school volleyball was hell for me, nearly flunked out because I couldn't do a decent serve and I screamed away holding my glasses everytime the ball flew past my face.
After college, I tried out a few alternative sports. Surfing was almost perfect. I was able to stand on my first ride and I was stoked! But travelling 6 hours by bus for a few minutes with the waves was too much of a hassle. The novelty eventually wore off. Then there was Ultimate Frisbee. I was good at the catch-throw exercise, but when the harder drills began, I was yelling "I don't do running!" to the trainer. He was deliberately throwing the disc in a totally different direction to make me go after it!
So falling in love with running was the biggest surprise to me. My friends started their running love affairs at least a year before I did, they kept badgering me to run along with them and I astutely kept saying no. My famous line haunted me: I had to stand tall to my claim of not doing running.
The first time I signed up for a race was to support a friend who was part of the organizing committee, not because I wanted to run an actual race. It was Takbo Para Sa PGH, a benefit run for the Metro's premiere government hospital, and I wanted to be able to contribute to his efforts by signing up. I was planning to "get a headache" on race day, but then my best friend signed up for PGH's 10k run and I thought I might as well go thru with it.
PGH wasn't my first race, though. NGC Earth Day was. It came a week before. My running friends couldn't believe I signed up for 5k right away, so they thought it reasonable I try a 3k race first. And NGC started the spark. Completing my first ever 3k course in just under 30 minutes was WOW to me. I didn't think I'd even be able to cross the finishline, let alone with a fairly good time.
I was pumped for the 5k run the following weekend. Take note, I had zero practice runs before NGC and PGH. I came from absolutely nothing to suddenly running kilometers in a snap of a hat. Clocked in 48-minutes in PGH's 5k. Still good time for a newbie. After that, I was running practically every weekend. I ran wherever and whenever I could: Green Meadows, Manila Memorial Park, D. Tuazon and U.P. Oval, AdMU campus, BHS, anything paved was my playground.
Since then, I've been asked one too many times by the people who know me as non-sporty girl: Why are you running?
And I answer, to get away. Running gives me peace and solitude. Running is like reading to me. It's time spent solely on myself, and done not for the sake of some result. I don't read because I want to be smarter. I don't run because I want to be fitter. Getting a wee bit smarter and a wee bit fitter are just happy bonuses of doing something I'm really into.
I find a certain kind of joy in running. Friends say its the endorphins. I say, yeah, could be. Or it could be that I'm just purely happy to have the opportunity to run. Endorphins normally come after, I oftentimes find myself giddy even before I start pounding the pavement. I have no idea why I get happy for a run. Even if it's just around and around the lot of our house, I love it and look forward to the 40 minutes I get to spend every other day on it.
Crazy, huh? So that's why I run. I run because I turn into a truly happy individual when I do. It's why I'm running again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that and so on.