last month i took part in the ateneo aquathlon. my friend janice registered me and all i recall saying was that i wanted to be in the shortest distance. i may have renewed confidence in and around water but i'm not exactly the fastest swimmer i know. the aquathlon, after all, was still a race, and although i was nowhere near competitive, i always want to make a good showing. nevertheless, it was a lethargic morning on the day of the race. i got out of bed very late in the morning, thinking my category would not start until lunch time. but when i arrived at the ateneo covered courts, i found out that i was supposed to have started on the first few heats at 8am. there, i would have been overtaken by young boys who are barely even in their teens. so although i was already officially DNS (did not start), i still forked over my payment and prepared for the classic in my age group.
manny pacquiao's fight was scheduled that same day, and a few people had backed out already. which didn't really improve my chances since i was clearly not in the running to win. besides, i had stopped my swimming lessons due to an ear infection which has since healed, and i wasn't even supposed to be swimming at the time. but i threw caution to the wind and decided that i wanted to do this. i've chickened out far too many times, it's almost embarrassing.
it could be the diet... it must be the diet
but i still had about 2 hours before i would hit the pool so i got to see the earlier heats: girls and boys filled the small ateneo pool and turned it into a washing machine at gun start. it was like a B-movie piranha attack. several of the young swimmers did tumble turns and emerged halfway in their laps. it was crazy. and i couldn't shake the disbelief that this was the 17-21 category. what are they feeding these kids? if it's darak, i'll have myself a generous helping.
so anyway it was my age category's turn. there were so many participants in my field that there were 3 heats set off a minute apart. i joined the first heat and it was crazy fun. i had a very slow swim, and i was just really having fun, pausing at the end of the lap to pose for my photographer. but there were other really crazy swimmers out there, tugging my legs. i also got kicked very early. since the pool is only 25m long, we had to swim through all 8 lanes 3 times. i finished my swim in 16 minutes. it was among the 7 slowest times in my division! and it didn't help that i spent about 3 minutes in transition! yeesh!
i was hoping to make good on the run part, which was 6km long, but i don't ever recall running under the intense midday sun. sure, ateneo's sprawling campus is shaded by the sparse canopy of acacia trees, but still the heat was unbearable. besides, i discovered that chlorine-treated water doesn't make for good hydration. i felt heavy in the belly, and i wasn't even through my first loop when i felt a sharp jab of pain. we had to run from the covered courts to moro, then through MVP's building, then out again to the loyola gym. but still: noon! summer! sun! is there a hospital in ateneo? i could've fainted from sunstroke!
i eventually finished in 56 minutes and 6 seconds. i had improved my ranking in my category only by a bit, but still it was an average race for me. i really shouldn't plunge into things without proper training and conditioning, since i have a rather unkind opinion of people who take on mammoth tasks without understanding the size of their ordeals, and giving up. i sigh when i see people not finishing half marathons, and proffering poor alibis about not being in the zone. it's different to have a bad day -- which even the best athletes often have -- and to be completely unprepared for something. if you voluntarily put yourself in a situation that requires so much more than what you usually do, then own up to it, with all seriousness. regardless of our reasons -- for fitness, accolade, getting a nice action photo, to complete a bucket list, or because of peer pressure and for social networking -- we should at least know what we're up against, and be armed for the battle.