Tuesday, October 18, 2005

(Un)Kingly Performance

The Adidas King of the Road, an annual 10K run, was held Sunday at the Adidas Sports Kamp in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. The race route was the same as the previous year: from Sports Kamp to Gil Puyat avenue and back.

Coming from a euphoric finish in the Milo National Marathon Finals a week ago, I was upbeat on the Adidas run. My goal was 48 minutes or faster. Sadly, I didn’t meet that. What registered in the official clock after stepping into the finish line was a frustrating 51 minutes! Two minutes slower than my personal best time, the one I got a week ago. In swimming, 2 minutes translate into several laps; in basketball, miracles happen in 2 minutes and well, in sex a baby can be had in 2 minutes! Flatly speaking, 2 minutes in running is eternity.

It’s hard to comprehend how an excellent performance can plummet to mediocrity in a week’s time. I was so disillusioned; my ego disintegrating and the pieces landing on deep shit. It was such a bull of a Sunday.

I kept on thinking what went wrong. Was it the pair of shoes I wore? Was my singlet too heavy? Did I eat the right food? Was I too confident? After a methodical analysis (utilizing the 12-step problem-solving technique – fuck, sounds geeky), I came up with a few valid ones:

(1) Lack of training – Prior to Sunday’s race, I only trained twice - Monday and Friday with a combined running distance of about 20K. Nothing impressive if one considers my average run of about 30-40K in a week.
(2) Too much of the good life – Although I declined 2 social engagements last week, I still went ahead with one (several actually) last Friday: cocktails at Embassy, late dinner at Pasto, booze at Jill’s and a private party in a Makati hotel. It was a night of total debauchery! I ended up sleeping the whole Saturday and missing my training at the gym where my trainer was supposed to condition my leg muscles with some power-packed workout.
(3) Work – I was scheduled to run Wednesday, alas, work got in the way. Hey, I’m not complaining. Hahaha.

However, as they say, think right perspective. So what went right? Drum roll please… I was still faster than my triathlete friends and those guys at the gym! Don’t get me wrong peeps, I’m not boasting. Do I look like a swellhead? Hehehe. Well, I just realized that with my ego gone and shitting in deep shit, I had to pick the pieces quick ‘coz I’d hate spending the rest of the week nursing a dejected ego. LOL. And for sounding like an abnormally (thank you) egotistical person, I am considering adding “egomaniac” in the “About Me” portion of my profile in friendster. But, but…I prefer dropping the “ego”, you know, and end up with the big M. Now, that’s more like it… Enough said. Hahaha. Come to think of it, that’s another topic worth writing.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Fitting Finale to a Symphony of Quality

I got back from a 2-day official business trip having been chosen by Kraft along with two other colleagues as the company's representatives to the 17th National Quality Forum. The forum gathered CEOs, GMs, EVPs and practically all business acronyms one can think of. For the lesser mortals like us, we were officially branded as quality advocates and our official function was to sit (and listen- sometimes a hard thing to do on occasions such as this) as the gods spew fires on various quality improvement subjects. I'd rather not expound on it as I'd hate this bulletin becoming, to borrow a word from Sen. Santiago, highfalutin. Six Sigma, TRIZ, MAIDIC... technical jargons that make your head spin 360 degrees.

The icing to the cake, the scoop of vanilla ice cream to an apple tart, so to speak, was the finale: a superb performance by the San Miguel Master Chorale accompanied by the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra.

As the first note resounded, slowly at first then gradually growing into a fiery crescendo, I was instantly overwhelmed with inexplicable emotions. The chorale's repertoire has the power to transport the listener into a journey of melodious ecstasy. This is the kind of music that overwhelms you. It is music that penetrates your inner senses - beautiful, haunting and comforting music.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once said that "musical excellence is achieved when twenty individuals are talking at the same time, singing a perfect harmony." San Miguel Master Chorale just did that with its great command performance. It showed musical excellence as the group of incredibly soulful voices melted and swayed into a symphony of sheer perfection. The chorale's mastery of the craft and vast recital experience emerged through its impeccable interpretation of the challenging, quirky, upbeat and poignant scores masterfully arranged and composed by no less than Mr. C- Ryan Cayabyab.

Listening to a live performance from a world-renowned choral group was splendid. Theirs was not my kind of music as I'm more inclined to dance and electronica - stuff you hear and dance with in bars, club and lounges. However, watching them perform and truly grasping the essence of their music made me realize that music at its finest is one of the most beautiful and powerful creations of man. Now, I'm trying to figure out how to upload their compilation into my iPod - they certainly deserve a byte of space alongside my DJ Tiesto and DJ Bisturi compilations.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Venus de Milo

Anyone who has not heard of Venus de Milo must have flunked World History in high school. Venus de Milo is a famous artifact of ancient Greek arts and culture. It depicts Aphrodite or Venus, the legendary Greek goddess of love and beauty.

This article has nothing to do with the celebrated Venus or some other vanities, but then this writing somehow relates to, yes, love and beauty. However, it is my love for running and the beauty of the sport that will be the focal points of interest. So how does “de Milo” fit into the picture? OK here it goes. I joined the national finals of the Milo marathon Sunday in Manila. Do you see the connection now? It is the corny Erwin that you’re seeing here. Hahaha.

Seriously, I was among the thousands who trooped Roxas Boulevard for the 29th edition of the Milo marathon. This was my 3rd Milo. I had my debut run 5 years ago during the Subic qualifying where I clocked 54 minutes for a 10K run. The 2003 edition in Manila was a poor showing for me having clocked 68 minutes for the same distance. It was a dismal performance, something that I would not dwell further. Today’s run was my best ever- 49 minutes. It was my first time to breach below the 50-minute mark. Certainly, a wow performance! It even beat my Adidas and New Balance records. I am improving and that is a big wow. A rigid training and a strict diet had finally paid off. You see, I run thrice a week on an average distance of 10K and I do a major one, approximately 2 hours non-stop, on weekends. I am conscious of what I eat because I need to maintain a certain weight (a flyweight!). This is something that I really hate because I just love eating. Well, who was it that said one has to forego some good things in order to achieve greater rewards?

Why running? I just love it! It is something that you do by yourself. You are in control of every situation- you can go anywhere, run faster or stride leisurely. It is an expression of sublime freedom.

Running is a highly competitive sport. Man vs. man. Man vs. nature. You are running abreast with hundreds of able-bodied runners and yet your biggest competitor is yourself. You cannot know what it is going to be like until you hopped your last step.

Sometimes it hurts to a point where you feel you cannot go any further and yet you just keep going until you realize pain does not last. It is immaterial, a fleeting moment, a distraction. Pain is a brief reminder of one’s limitation. You have to go beyond that and push yourself to the limit.

Why running? Runners just do it (that is what Nike says). We run to finish the race (sweet if you do that ahead of the others). We run to cross the end line (even if someone else has reached it first). And ultimately, we run to beat ourselves. What can be more beautiful than that?