The Running Angel

Just because I don't have wings, doesn't mean I can't fly.

Life Lessons from a Race I Didn’t Run

on 07/17/2019

After a long hiatus from running, my husband Roland and I joined an 8-K mountain run in Baguio last May. Running in the trails of Camp John Hay is always a treat because of the cool weather and awesome views. We both love hiking and running—and trail running combines the best of both worlds. But this blog entry isn’t about the race that I finished. It’s about the one I signed up for after.

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When I heard about the Soleus Cross Country Challenge in Timberland Heights, I was so excited to sign up. After Baguio, I was itching to do another trail run. Since we just recently got back into running, I didn’t want to break the momentum, and I figured Timberland was an ideal choice. It was just an hour away from Manila and a popular spot for bikers and runners.

I managed to drag Roland and our good friend Peaches along, though they were very hesitant to join. We heard there were going to be a lot of steep hills, and that it might be very hot or muddy, depending on the weather.

“It’s okay, we can do this! Let’s train!” I insisted. So they agreed.

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Unfortunately, just a few days before the race, I tripped and sprained my right foot while walking home from training.

Needless to say, I was very disappointed. I did RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) religiously for the next few days, hoping I would still be able to run on the day of the race. But when Saturday night came and I could still feel the pain in my foot while walking, I decided to sit this race out. After all, pushing myself might just result in a more severe injury later on.

On the day of the race, I accompanied Roland and Peaches to the starting line. I watched as they prepared their gear, did their warm-up exercises, and joined the throng of runners who were getting ready to run. I stood on the sidelines as the starting gun fired and watched them run into the distance until I couldn’t see them anymore.

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Once they were gone, I trudged back to the parking lot. Alone.

As a runner and an Enneagram Type 3 (the Achiever), I’ve been conditioned to think in terms of finish lines. What’s the next race I can conquer? What’s the next goal to be achieved? How do I improve my time and beat my Personal Best?

Prior to the race, I’ve been feeling anxious and worried—about life, work, the future. I’m not where I pictured myself to be at this time in my life. I still haven’t achieved many of the goals I set out to do nor hit the milestones that other people say you’re supposed to hit at this age. I told myself I needed to channel my grit, to work hard, to push forward—but more often than not, I wasn’t motivated enough to do so. And just when I had gathered some strength and motivation, I was sidelined by an injury.

I sat by myself in Peaches’ car, which was parked in the middle of a vast expanse of empty lots. While I read a book and watched one episode of a Korean drama, I left the doors open and allowed the morning breeze to flow around me. I listened to the birds chirping, the leaves rustling, the wind howling. There were a lot of flies buzzing around too, so it wasn’t totally perfect. But it was nice and it was peaceful.

I realized that maybe this was the Universe’s way of telling me to slow down and honor my own pace. To stop worrying about the future and appreciate where I am right now. To stop agonizing over not being able to reach the next finish line and trust that I am exactly where I need to be. In The Miracle Morning for Writers, the book I read that morning, I was struck by this quote: “The purpose of a goal isn’t to hit the goal… It is who you become by giving it everything you have until the last moment—regardless of your results—that matters most.”

When I returned to the starting line of the race about two and a half hours later, Roland was already there, and together, we waited for Peaches at the trail end. Turns out, the race was extremely difficult and my two running buddies had their own lessons to learn.

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For Roland, who chooses to stay by my side when we run despite being the faster runner, this race was a chance to explore his own limits without having to worry about me. He was able to run the downhills, push himself harder than usual, and finish the race in good time.

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For Peaches, who struggled throughout the race, this was a chance to experience the kindness of people and to learn to ask for help when she needed it. As she mentioned in her Instagram post, “Today reminded me how super kind people are—from good morning greets and random cheers when you’re about to pass out, to being lent a trekking pole by someone you don’t know.”

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So even if they both kind of cursed me for signing them up for this race without having to go through the hardship they went through, I think it was all worth it in the end, right? Hehe. (Sorry, P & R. Let’s run again next time!)

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This race also reminded me that we are all on different journeys. We run or walk at our own pace. The three of us may have been in the same place at the same time, but we all had different experiences. We can’t compare and say that one experience was better than the other. We learned the lessons we needed to learn.

But no matter how different our experiences may be, I’m glad we were able to go on the journey together. —A

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A big breakfast for runners at Rustic Mornings. 🙂


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