Chasing Life

I love to run. As if you don’t know that by now from all the posts I have about running. But when I say run, I mean an all out run.

When I do my morning run of about 2 to 3 miles, the last 100 to 200 meters, I would break out in an all out dash as if I’m Flash catching a runaway train. This gets my heart pumping, my energy juices flowing, and my head in a daze in some kind of rush. Though it can also makes me wheeze like a beaten down carburetor.

Sprint is my first love before I got hooked on long distance running. Back in my high school and college days, I ran 100 and 200 meters race. I was good enough to win in local club meets and church sportsfest, but not fast enough to make it to school varsity. In college, during our physical education class, I was clocked just a hair over 15 seconds in a 100-meter dash, that is without formal coaching and training. That was probably a stroll though, compared to Usain Bolt who holds the record at 9.58 seconds.

But my fastest sprints were not in the oval track nor was it in a sports competition.

One early morning a long time ago, I was jogging in the streets of Manila when a fierce-looking stray dog decided to chase me. Maybe I smelled like a dog in heat. I ran so fast, I believe I broke the sound barrier! Or maybe it was not my speed but my girl-like scream that broke the sound barrier, and woke up our still slumbering neighborhood.

Then there was this instance after I emigrated and was living in New York City. My wife and I went out for an errand and when we returned in our apartment, there was a stranger inside our apartment. I thought first that he was repairman sent by the superintendent. But upon seeing us he bolted out the door. Without thinking, I ran after him through the building hallways, down three flights of stairs, and across 2 blocks of busy New York streets while shouting “Thief! Thief!”. But I was not fast enough to get him. Or maybe he got lucky, I lost him among the crowd of people. So you thought “akyat-bahay” was only in Manila?

Looking back now, that was really foolish of me of pursuing the burglar. What if he had a weapon or an accomplice waiting? What if I was able to overtake him, he certainly would not just surrender, but probably would fight for his life, right? And I know I was not strong enough nor trained enough to subdue him for he was bigger and more muscular than me. The only Kung Fu I know was watching it on TV. I could have been badly hurt or worse killed. Maybe being not fast enough was a blessing. But I certainly gave him a good chase.

When I was 4 or 5 years of age, my family went to a recreational facility, I believe was Balara Park, which was across UP Diliman and in the heart of Metro Manila. Balara was actually a water filtration plant but also has a park and swimming pools. It was a premiere weekend destination during those days. We had a picnic and spent the day swimming.

When it was time to go home, I continued to play despite of my parents telling me to get ready and help them pack our things in our car. It must have been that I was told to get ready multiple times but I was oblivious to their call. Maybe I don’t want a perfect summer day to end.

The next thing I remember, my family were all inside the car and my father started to drive the car. They were leaving without me! Boy, did I ran! Of course I realize now that my parents were just teaching me a lesson, but in my young mind, I thought they were leaving me for real.

I ran after our car for several yards as fast as my little legs could carry me, while my father drove “slowly” away. Finally the car stopped, or perhaps I overtook it, I don’t really remember now. Perhaps that was the first time my parents found out that I have wings in my feet. It was in an enclosed compound, and there were no speeding cars around, so I was not really in danger – except for the peril of being left behind, at least that’s how I saw it in my naive memory.

I learned my lesson though. Aside from the obvious, of heeding your parent’s call right away, I also learned that if you want something so badly, you chase it down. Run, as if your life depended on it.

It is amazing that now, after 40 years, I am still running. Chasing things that matters to me. My dreams. My family. My faith. And life itself. Perhaps, my legacy too.

I hope that when the time comes, when I have no more spring in my legs for a 100-meter sprint, or barely have strength just to put one foot in front of the other, that I can humbly say: I have run a good run.