Come from Behind (December 2005)

All things being equal, I’ve always considered my 14.9 second race (October 2007) and the final of UAAP 68 (February 2006), when I stopped the clock in 15.78s, as the best among all my hurdle races. I clocked a hand-timed personal best in the former and won my first ever college medals. On hindsight, the 2005 dual meet with the University of Baguio could have been better than the aforesaid two.

Read my old LJ post about the Baguio experience

I was just a 20-year old college junior at that time. I had personal bests of 16.67s and 15.8s, with the latter being only a couple of months old. That Christmas vacation, the entire team went up to the summer capital for a one week training camp, capped by an informal time trial with our counterparts from UB.

Unfortunately, I grew sick from the cold weather. The night before the dual meet, I buried myself under a heap of thick blankets. I was coughing incessantly and leaking mucus. Thankfully, I felt much better the next morning. I was all psyched-up for the race, despite my illness.

I literally got left out of the blocks. Six years after that race, I can still remember being frozen for a split second, seemingly unable to react as I saw my competitors lead by a full stride. By the time I got to the second hurdle, my teammate Rob Sargan, was a full hurdle length away. I didn’t falter or panic. I was the picture of patience as I shifted gradually into my full hurdling rhythm.

Mid-way into the race, I felt my pistons kick-in at full speed. I was clearing hurdles effortlessly and sprinting in between barriers like a man possessed. Everything seemed to be on auto-pilot, with the hurdling movements programmed into my body. It was a beautiful sensation where one fully appreciates the joy of hurdling those 1.067m high barriers. I seemed to be going faster and faster with each hurdle cleared. At the seventh or eight barrier, I stormed into the lead after a horrible start. I sprinted the last 14.02m in a blistering pace, diving to the tape ala Colin Jackson to solidify my grasp on first place.

At the finish line, my teammates led by Jotham Manlapaz ran to me and brought me to ground. We celebrated as if I won the friggin’ Olympic Games!

I stopped the clock at an astonishing 14.6s, under dubious hand-timing conditions. Rob got 15.9s, if I’m not mistaken. For someone who had only gone below 16 seconds barely three months earlier, seeing the digits “1” and “4” beside each other was quite surreal, no matter how unreliable the timers were. Nevertheless, the turn-of-events was dramatic. Everybody loves a come-from-behind victory, especially the one who won!

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