Spunk

Pound-per-pound, my strongest year in college was my pre-injury days. I was fresh out of a breakout junior year, unexpectedly winning a silver medal in the sprint hurdles. Coming into my senior year, I was given the honor of serving as the team’s co-captain.

As a 20-year old, I was running respectable hand-timed mid-15’s. That season, I brought down my hand-timed PR to 15.2s (from 15.8s a year earlier) and my automatically-timed PR to 15.65s (from 15.75s). My confidence was at all time highs. I was audaciously adventurous in my training approach, yearning to reach the thresholds of my bodily limits.

I was a man on a mission, hoping to finally snatch the UAAP gold that eluded me by a mere three-hundredths of a second.

The epitome of this spunky, glorious phase of my collegiate career transpired one particular September morning in 2006. We were competing at the PATAFA Weekly Relays. I came off the blocks slower than usual. FEU’s Orlando Soriano and UE’s Gabriel Quezada powered on to insurmountable leads.

The first race

At the end of the race, I was furiously disappointed. Despite my excellent training sessions, I couldn’t seem to notch a decent enough start. The faster sprinters almost always built up large leads at the start. More often than not, I had to play catch-up, relying on my superior hurdling technique.

When I got to the finish line to retrieve my things, my teammate Lech Velasco (who had a bad race as well) had the crazy idea of joining the next 110m high hurdles heat. I willingly obliged, wanting to vent off steam. As Lech and I assumed the starting position, I saw my befuddled coach look warily in our direction.

When the gun fired, I found myself at the forefront of the slower heat. At the halfway mark, I felt fatigue set in! I could barely sprint. Thankfully, my hurdling technique held true to form. I was able to stave off the fast-finishing Isagani Bayson of DLSU (a UAAP high jump champion and a decent sprint hurdler).

The second race (fast forward to 0:34)

I just ran two sprint hurdler races in a span of around 5 to 7 minutes. I timed a 15.6s in the first race and a 15.8s in the second.

At the finish line, I looked around for Lech. To my surprise I found him near the starting line! It turned out that he was actually referring to one more hurdle starts, not one more hurdle race! Nevertheless, I felt strangely vindicated as the endorphins set it. I was tired of course, but not exhausted – a testament to our fine conditioning regimen. More importantly, it felt great to finish first for a change!

Two months later, I broke my left forearm in a freak hurdling accident. Nine months later, I was back on the track. Physically, I was fully recovered from the injury. But something was wrong psychologically. Despite clocking much faster times in fifth and final year (new PR of 14.9s and 15.52s most of my races were low-15’s), something felt horribly out of place. Perhaps I never really did get the eye of the tiger back in such a short span of time.

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One response to “Spunk

  1. Pingback: Rusty Beginnings (23 May 2011) « hurdler49: Hurdling the Real World.

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