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September 22, 2012Posted by on
It has been almost five months since that fateful day in April, when I decided there and then to hang up my spikes. The first month was undoubtedly difficult. I struggled to come terms with my decision. I was particularly struck by how little I’ve seemingly progressed in four years. Come to to think of it, I was dealing with the more or less the same athletics withdrawal symptoms after my last collegiate hurdles race in February 2008.
With the end of the all-night training sessions and weekend double-headers, I suddenly had loads of free time. For weeks, I lost interest in everything physical. Save for weekly basketball games and twice-a-week weight training sessions just to stay in shape, I took a step away from the athlete’s life I’ve always known.
I can still remember the pure ecstasy of re-learning how to three-step again, of rediscovering my old speed. During the dark days of my first retirement, I never actually thought that I would return to the track again. When I started to reap the fruits of hard work, I found a certain sense of contentment.
And yet, deep down, I knew that I was on borrowed time.
I am an intensely competitive person, especially when it comes to athletics. I absolutely hate losing. I haven’t always been the best of athletes. I sucked at basketball and I do not possess much raw sprinting or jumping talent. The main reason I reaped some measure of success in the sprint hurdles was because of my relatively better hurdling form.
Coming from a two-year layoff, I was rusty as hell. Although I did my utmost best to balance my day job, the long commutes, and the training requirements, I realized soon enough that this balancing act was fertile ground for mediocrity. My work suffered as I thought day and night about getting better in the hurdles. Likewise, I could not seem to regain that old hurdling edge I once had, because of the lack of training time over the barriers.
To make matters worse, there were more pressing off-track concerns that made my circumstances even more difficult.
I made the decision to cut it cleanly. In a sense, my ill-fated comeback attempt was the last part of my search for closure. Twelve years after starting the sport, I can honestly say that I am done with hurdling.
I still do some shadow hurdling – ocassionally. I guess the motions have been so deeply ingrained in my muscle memory that is nearly impossible to take out! Although I’ve toned down on my appetite for everything athletics, the rabid interest in the sport still remains.
Gone are the rancor and hate. I am no longer bitter at missing out on a UAAP gold medal by a hair’s breadth or not being fast enough to compete for my beloved country. Instead, I feel a certain sense of fondness at those wealth of experiences both good and bad. I’ve become a better person because of athletics. For this reason alone, I’ll be eternally thankful.