36 days

I’ve never known this much fear before a hurdles race. During my track days, my nerves were never an issue. Although being nervous before a big meet cannot be entirely eliminated, I thrived under those moments of pressure.

In the years that I spent competing in the sprint hurdles, I’ve grown accustomed to that exhilarating feeling before a race. I just love it how my opponents and the crowd looked at each of my warm-up sprints. Fulfillment of successfully finishing (or at times topping!) the 110m high hurdles is beyond compare. When glancing back at the full set of ten intimidating 1.067m high barriers, the sight evokes a mild sense of wonder. One can’t help but ask oneself “Hey, did I really sprint over those nasty looking things at full speed?”

I must admit that I’ve grown soft throughout my two-year retirement. It takes longer for me to warm-up. Before an actual hurdles workout, I spend minutes visualizing the task at hand. I seemed to have lost the swagger that comes with being a contender. It’s not surprising, really. I’m just a self-coached, part-time athlete. In a sense, I’m a little bit higher than the most exuberant of weekend warriors.

I once won silver medals in the UAAP and the National Open. My personal best in the high’s is a nondescript 15.52s (and 14.9s hand-timed). With modest personal bests, I’m more of a “never-was” than a “has-been.”

Being a fan of many an underdog story, I’m actually pleased to be cast in my very own underdog role. I’m quite eager to compete but I’ll be heeding my body’s signals. If I feel that I’m ill-prepared for the task at hand, I’ll pull out.

Even if I’d relegated my athletic pursuits to the periphery, mediocrity isn’t an option.

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