I got into running because of volleyball. No, it is not because I ran to develop cardio pulmonary endurance for the sport. I was not a varsity player so there was no formal training for me. It just happened to be the sport I grew up playing due to the influence of my cousin Jilah, my mentor and idol, early on in my life. The ravages of an unhealthy lifestyle much later on and a recurring injury prevented me from enjoying it the way I used to. So I settled into running so I can once again run after some balls, volleyballs that is!
Actually, it was not a real volleyball that I played with to learn the ropes but an old basketball that became smooth on the surface with use. After my cousin got impatient running after my fly balls, I found myself with no one to play the sport with since not many kids of my age know how. So it was my home’s steel gate that became my unlikely opponent, hit – bounce – hit. The noise such banging created by the ball hitting steel fortunately did not bother my neighbors as I could not recall any complaints, or maybe my uncle bribed them off or whatever. Neither did the dent of redness and soreness deter me from this activity. Ang baklang musmos nakipagtunggali sa gate gamit ang higanteng basketball ang peg! And mind you it was always 2 out of 3! Naturally, I would win each time using my sideout technique aiming the ball from one side of my “court” to the opposite side of the gate so that the ball bounces out. Nothing indeed compares to the joy of winning – against the strong and cold gate!
In the millsite community of Victorias, Negros Occidental where I grew up in, there was this plaza directly in front with a basketball court, a stage where Sunday amateur singing contests are held, and volleyball courts! Every afternoon at around 3 pm, Ate, a big German woman whose exact name I did not know except that she is the wife of a certain Mr. Sta. Ana, would put up the net for some game. Unlike most kids, I did not grow up doing the requisite siestas in order to grow tall but rather in alert anticipation of the arrival of this daily afternoon activity. I was the youngest and the smallest but the training I got from using the basketball was more than enough to manage the ball over the net. I was serving good too!
My first foray into actual competition (parang beauty contest lang di ba?) was in Inter-baranggay at age 8. Since the youngest age classification was juniors, which I believed meant 18 years old and below, I joined as the youngest player. I was “first six” for the sole reason that I can manage to put my serve over the net. Most juniors at that time cannot! Powerful si darna! The following year fortunately an aspirant category was included with ages of players not over 12 years old. I was captain ball, of course. Most service then was done underhand. Mine can travel from one side of the court and hit the concrete on the other side. I called it the “super spin rolling diamond emoterang serve”. I can finish sets solely by using this kind of serve!
I was not brave enough to join the varsity team during highschool. Though I am good enough for such, mingling, training, playing, and changing clothes with a team of boys simply was not my cup of tea. I was more of an intramural queen where my volleyball prowess and beauty (isingit talaga ang beauty) was well established, most specially during my college years. I can then manage some wicked wallop that can erase my inattentive opponent’s face. I am like a frog that can leap from the outer area of net area one and see the other team’s positioning before I unleashed my lethal, triple-block defying open hit (kung maka describe wagas!). What I cannot understand despite this strength was that I always belonged to 1st runner up teams. Kumbaga I’m always the bride’s maid, never the bride. I know though the cause. During closing points, naturally the set will go, more often than not, the open hitter’s way and my nerve would always fail me at these crucial moments. Na iintimidate si bakla!
After college, I had this clique of volleyball playing friends. We would often go to far flung baranggays and barrios in the countryside during weekends where courts and willing opponents can be found. Most often bets were at stake. And take note, these were not 6 on 6 full team games as you cannot often find that number of opponents but mostly 3 on 3s at 3 out of 5 sets before the entire barrio folks rooting for the opponent! Kalowka to the nerves! However, the good thing for our young and malanding beauties was when the night falls after some tiring competition in the court were some action along the dark alleys and shadows of the trees. Hehehe… I already missed the barrios with their vast track of plantations to hide at night!
I hate losing, much more with money involved. Thus I would often hurt myself going after loose balls just to win. However, the very injury that sidelined me from playing volleyball was a tear in my rotator cuff. This was when another stage in my life started, my rampadora (Miss Gay beaucon) stage, where muscular arms are taboo! Yuckkkk! Boxingera si acheng! But be very carefull whom you are going against retokada gurl. An entry to the top 5 of this boxingera and a back to zero judging policy would mean – tapos na ang maliligayang sandali mo magandang bobita. Sayo na ang best in everything, akin ang corona! Afterall, I can answer a sundry of final questions from the Theory of Relativity, Machiavellian Treatise, Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and Natural Selection, The Big Bang theory, and what have yous and relate them to the question, “What is your best asset and why?”. Boom! I thank you! Charought lang.
Fast forward several years (well a decade actually and some) getting busy with life and what I can make out of it, I found myself always in the constant refrain of home – work – home. Boring and unhealthy, it was a blah life to say the least. I was in this instance ready to face the start of my daily grind climbing up several plights of the North Ave MRT station one early morning rush hour when suddenly I realized I could not make it to the top without stopping midway to catch my breath. Not only that, I can see the Milky Way right before my very eyes! However, the last straw happened when I got enlisted to play in an interpurok volleyball tournament barely a month after I relocated to where I live now (this was 5 years ago) and I cannot complete a set without asking for a sub! Whence before I play 3 to 5 sets straight in 3 on 3 games! Hala! Okray ito!
At barely past 30, this was not a good sign. I needed to regain whatever percentage of cardio-respiratory strength I still have or else! Dangerous! The thought of life interrupted forced me into a frenzy of life changing decisions – start some cardio exercises. What more readily accessible exercise and with less monetary input save maybe for some running shoes than running. The shoes I really need to buy lest I decide to run in heels!
I bought my first running shoes July of 2010 at Toby’s Park Square (no longer existent) which was a Brooks Conquest in silver gray – bland color and design reflective of my state of life. I looked at my glistening shoes for 3 months before I put it on to make my historic first step, one small step for my rampadora legs, one giant leap for my life. Drama! But I really meant that, well maybe a little bit exaggerated, but those of you who came from a very bad state will get my drift. I registered myself in my first ever fun run, The Bull Run, which happened to be the very first run of the succeeding year (unfortunately was scrapped this year). Running gave me back my life!
Fast forward again (parang remote control lang) to present and I am very much glad I did what I did – started and maintained a love affair with running. Unlike most of them tall, dark, and handsome gents, he will never leave you for as long as you want him in your life. We have had uncountable quickies very early in the morning before work or late at night after it. Once a week, we have had some euphoria inducing ecstatic 3 to 6 hours intense love making injected throughout this relationship. We are running strong as ever, well literally and figuratively. I would try my very best to keep it that way despite several instances of trials and backsliding. And like the kindred lovers that we are, each instance of fading away would usually entail more than a week of coaxing and wooing to get back into the groove again. But once the rhythm is re-established, it is cloud 9 every second in this committed but open relationship.
Committed but open? What the… . Yes indeed and because of this openness, I am now trying to rekindle my old flame which (not a who unfortunately) you are already familiar of. Out of boredom and a lingering runner’s high after an early morning run, I took a selfie holding the volleyball while leaning on my back door. As most selfies do, it became shared on Facebook. Immediately it got a good number of responses from similarly forlorn lovers who had been disconnected from the sport and longing with nostalgia and heart ache for a reunion of sorts.
Thus, a Facebook group Runners Volleyball Team was created and an event scheduled in two weeks. Talk about modern day communication amenities! Agad agad, ura urada are the bywords of this generation. Maybe the very reason why running is booming, isn’t it? Lahat fast paced na nakakahingal sa bilis kaya to cope up with things, magrunning para me speed and endurance. At this point, I am giddy with excitement at this nearing reunion with something I have not seen for quite some time. I am like a blushing teenager waiting for her crush to pass by. Kilig! Hopefully this will be a monthly or even bi-monthly thing for the group. Kaya sali na din!
Here is the link to the Runners Volleyball Group in case you feel the same way.