Because i can

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Following-up my Marathon post, i am joining the Cebu City Marathon 2012 (CCM). And my plan is to finish in less than 6 hrs. So 42KM in 6 hrs. It’s not fast, and it’s not very slow either. Just surviving.

It’s hard to call it a marathon a race, since only a few ever competitively race it. Probably less than 5% of the runners, given that there are about 1000 runners joining this time. So, most of the runners like me, just wanted to cross the finish line, either for the 1st time, or to race against their previous self (or race someone they don’t like). The latter is commonly called racing against a Personal Record (PR). A fast marathon runner can finish in less than 4 hrs, this pack are called sub-4 marathoners. I would say, those who can run this fast, are at the top of the game. The sub-6 group, can probably be called healthy runners who can finish a marathon anytime they want — also called mid packers. The other group, the back packers, who finish more than 6 hrs, are let’s just say, not quiet yet into the marathon running game — but are not easily dismissed as non-runners. I’m sure they have a lot of reason for doing it.

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And then, there are the first timers. Like me. I don’t know where i will be, mid packers, which is where i initially plan to be, or the back packers. Certainly not yet in the front runners. Tomorrow, we will know.

I don’t think there’s a single common reason of why people run. Unless you were born in Kenya, where most runners who have race outside of that country, do so for financial reasons. So only a few run to win, to race, to make money, or make a name for themselves. For me, i run for a few reasons (in priority order):

* To be healthy, i’m tired of being 220lbs, almost all my life (approx in the past 15 yrs)

* To look fit and good; seriously, non-fat, flabby people always look good on everything, every where. I envision climbing some serious mountain, or traveling, or doing some adventure trip, and i like to look good in the photos when i post for friends to envy.

* I’m interested to know if i can do it. If that dude down the road can do it, or that old guy can do it in less than 6 hrs, i bet i can also do it. But can i? That’s a good question. Being my first, the question for now is if i can finish it, running in my own two feet.

* Uncertainties, unpredictability. I imagine, even after finishing it, there are still a lot of reasons to do it again; can i improve my PR, can i do it if it’s night time, can i do it in the rain, or what if it’s snowing; can i do it if involves some serious hill climb, or can i do it with less water, or do it running backwards. Endless possibilities to do it again and again. And that’s interesting, specially if a lot of people are also looking forward to do it again and again and again.

I don’t have any emotional or greater cause for doing it. At least not yet, since i think with my running, i’m super insignificant yet, that anything i do, will hardly nudge anything in the world. Probably perhaps when i’ve made something of myself as a runner, i can start to go give a damn about something. For now, i’m just doing it for myself. Of course, as a family man, i’m also keeping myself healthy and strong, enough to last as long as my kids will have kids, and then in turn have kids as well. So in theory, it’s still a lot of personal selfish reasons to do it. So make all this story short, let’s just say, i run for myself.

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I find running now or doing something mundane as endurance biking as a big departure from what i’m used to. I’m a programmer, an alpha programmer. You know, the super nerds/geeks who sits in front of the computer for hours, all day-night long. Yes, that guy! That one you know who’s possessed by the computer. Though i’m not possessed by the computer, i possessed the computer with my secret sauce.

With computers, i’m super confident with my skills. I can program this, program that — for me, it’s just a matter of coding it, and my will be done. Down to every bit of line of code, it will be done 100% according to plan. So i’m used to everything going as plan. For me, to be successful in something, it’s just a matter of removing one obstacle after another. It’s a matter of preparing for it. A matter of solving it. And once it’s solved, it solved. That’s how it is in my computer life.

Now comes running, the outdoors. Nothing stays the same. Things can go wrong. No matter how much you plan for it. Of course, it may sound nice to say, i’m a person who’s prepared for anything. But seriously, have you ever experienced a situation where you spent 3 months planning for it, preparing for it, like you can already taste victory from a mile away, and then out of nowhere, something goes wrong. I’d go nuts. Though i don’t show it (being emotionless kind of dude), but i’m frustrated. Why couldn’t have i figured this out. I’d probably feel a bit let down for a micro-second, and then i spring back to fixing it. However, that micro-second of a let down feels like a lifetime, a scar, that is forever etched in my brain as something not to do again or avoid or fix for later.

For example, there’s this recent craze about barefoot this, barefoot that. And my wife, yes that girl who runs a 50km on her first “marathon” without any training plan, insist to run barefoot/minimalist every where (read my lips E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E). Yes, she wears that hideous excuse of a sandal/shoes called ViboBarefoot (who da packs call their shoes Vibo anyway), pink colored, that looks like a molded fish net. And it’s so thin, it might have been better that it’s not there. Talk about false advertising.

AAAnnywayyy, the story here is that we’re soon going to run a climbathon. Yes, RUN to the summit of the 3rd highest peak in the Philippines. Are we crazy, i don’t know. Does a crazy person knows his crazy? Alright, so we signed up for it; Me being in the outdoors more than her, i’ve been to the mountains a few times already, though i have not summited any serious peaks yet; but i have seen the terrain, the type of rocks, roots, ruts, plants, that made you want to kill the person who suggested you to climb it, rather than play WoW or Diablo 2. It’s crazy, and mountain shoe companies have made a lot of money, making shoes for people to wear, so they can summit smiling, and not grimacing in pain. So my beautiful wife, is now planning to wear that Vibo-pathetic-execuse-of-a-slippers-shoes to the summit. Unbelievable. Remember, where i said once i learned it, i always finds ways to fix it; my brain can’t imagine running there, and all of a sudden has to deal with some toe stubbed into a rock, or some foot stabbed by a root, or what knows what will happen with a feet all exposed to nature. Ever imagine stepping on a glass with bare feet, and instead of removing the glass, you try running with the glass embed in the feet. Yes, it will feel like that running bare foot in that mountain. What? there’s no broken glasses in the mountain, are you saying mountain people don’t drink Red Horse?

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So lately, this has been a bit of going back and forth struggle to prepare for that climbathon. And is yet another interesting experience for me to deal with, where if it had been with programming, there’s only a few way to do it, and everyone knows there’s that best thing to do it, and all programmers can happily agree and move on with life. With outdoors, there’s just a bazillion ways of doing it, and not to mention bazilion types of people running everywhere, and things just don’t go according to plan. Okay, i think this post is side tracking already, so going to just end it here.

So back to the question, Why do it? I’d probably sum up the core of why i do it, it’s because i can. It’s there. People do it. The road is there. The trail is there. So i do it, because i can. I can be healthy.