Monday, February 22, 2010

"Studs" - My Football Shoe Story


As far as I could remember, it was the most important game of my life - the intramurals football finals. We barely managed to get there after battling it out with rival sections from our batch.

I was in elemenrary back then. It was during those years I grew fond of football. My interest sparked with this game when a friend asked me to fill in for him in one game. After that, I decided to play more, and finally decided to sign up for the class team.

After winning most of our games, and winning the semis, we were set to have a shot at the finals. We knew that our opponents were not going to be that easy. They had a couple of 'star' players in their roster - players who can handle the ball so well, they can pass by you in an instant.

And so, before our two teams met on the day of the finals, we decided to practice after class. We did some drills, practice runs and some shooting in case of tie breakers. As a team, we were not willing to lose without a fight.

During the last few days before the finals, the weather was not as cooperative. We were visited by a typhoon that time. Its winds were not as strong but it dumped a signficant amount of rain. Every afternoon after that, heavy rains fell and made our football field into a pool of mud.

Still, that did not discourage the team to practice. We had our football gear- a pair of football shoes. Unlike an ordinary pair, this pair has studs or spikes underneath, which prevents the player to slide in the mud while running during the game.

Mine was a black pair with red and white stripes. At that time, I already used it for a year. It had thirteen studs underneath.

The day of the finals finally came. It didn't rain that day, but the football field was still a pool of mud. My position was at full-back, the defensive spot nearest the goal keeper. For two halves of the game, I had to prevent the other team from getting a clear shot to our goal.

Running around our football field was a little difficult despite wearing football shoes. For one, the field did not dry up evenly. The are portions where mud became so viscose, when stepped on, your foot tends to sink a little. It is like stepping on quciksand!

After the 1st half of the game, the score was still tied at 0-0. Then, teams will have to switch sides on the field. After the swith, I felt luck was no longer on my side because my spot had the quicksand feel.

Still, that did not prevent me from giving my best. Whenever the opponent tried to make a shot, I desperately tried to block it. I would constantly tell myself to move when the need arises. During the final minutes of the 2nd half, my feet felt cold and my thighs numb. Pain and all, that didn't prevent me from doing what I was supposed to do - to lessen the opponent's chances to score.

Finally, me and my team's efforts have paid out. One of my teammates was able to land a shot. When the referee blew the whistle, the score ended at 1-0. We were the victors.

After we did our high-fives and returning to the bleachers to change, that was when I realized something was amiss. No wonder my feet felt cold during the last part of the game! The entire underneath of my left shoe got removed, while the one on my right shoe is about to be detached. Spikes and all, the detached portion was still out there, buried in the mud.

That was the end of my beloved football shoes.

I had mixed feelings about what had transpired. Sad, because it was also my first pair of football shoes. It was a pair I would always treasure. Happy, because we won the game. Nostalgic, because, I wouldn't have gone far without my pair.

P.S. This is my entry to The Red Shoes story contest.

To get to know more about the contest, please visit or at Nuffnang Philippines.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

What is my most natural running experience?

Antipolo has always been my second home. Just an hour's ride from Metro Manila, it offers an escape from the rat race of city life. My father has a house in Antipolo City, and at times I go up there to visit him and mellow down.

One time before, around May 2004, if I recall, I made a resolve to finish a long distance run. That was during the time, I started jogging after I got out from office. I do my routine around four times a week. When my father found out about it, he recommended that I do my jogging on Sundays in Antipolo. At first I was reluctant, because I felt the place was too far to go to. I can't imagine myself going out of the way just to do my running routine there. First off, I really wasn't into long distance running. During my elementary years, I used to play soccer and do sprints, but not at long distances. Embarrassing, but at that time, I could only barely finish a 3 kilometer run. It made me feel weak afterward. I even thought, I would never be able to run farther because it doesn't suit my body. It didn't feel natural.

Still, I dreamed that one day I could go the distance. It wasn't in me to give up that easily. I always wanted to be like the other runners out there, who are able to endure and cross the finish line. And so, after a few weeks of contemplation, I decided to accept father's invitation. We left for Antipolo Saturday night where I plan to sleep there, and do my routine Sunday morning.

Sunday came. When I got up from bed, around 6:45 am, father was already dressed up for the run! I never thought that he wanted to come along. He looked so excited, even more than I was. Curiously, I asked why he wanted to join me and he said, he really needed the exercise.

After we took breakfast, we left towards our jogging site. It was just nearby, around 500 meters from his house. We went downhill, where the sitio residents fetch their drinking water in the morning. When we got there, to my surprise, our jogging site was a large underdeveloped area, which looked like an uncompleted subdivision. It has roads, but no houses, and never maintained for years. Grass and foliage has grown on the roads. Twigs and leaves are scattered all over the place as if nature reclaimed the place once more.

Looks deserted, I thought at first, but was proven wrong when a bunch of kids rushed to greet us!

"Daddy! Daddy!" The kids would call out. That is how they address my father. Most of the children there are relatives of mine. My father is their uncle.

Incidentally, the kids were just playing there. Naturally, they were there because it was a Sunday. There was no school, and the place was ideal for playing. Cars don't pass by that area, and won't interfere with their games, or cause any vehicular accident.

I wondered if the place was safe being deserted and all, so I asked my father about it.

"Yes it is!" he replied, "specially for children because adults pass by from time to time to fetch water."

After a few minutes of warm-up, we decided to hit the trail. We picked a simple route. We just jogged around the place by going round four streets, which led back to the place we started. I thought it was a boring trail at first, but after a few minutes of the run, I was proven wrong. The scenery looked great! There were trees that provide shade, and the cool breeze felt fresh and calm.

The roads weren't boring either. They go uphill and downhill. The uphill portion was definitely very tiring for me. I felt I wanted to quit my pace as I traversed, but seeing father try so hard, I wasn't willing to give up. Another reason for not giving up is that, the kids followed us through the course of the run! They were jogging with us from behind, as if they found a new game to play. Actually, they were curious, and kept asking my father what we were doing.

"Bakit kayo nag-dya jogging?" asked the kids.

"Nag-e exercise kami!" father explained.

Children are children, so they tend to ask a lot. Eventually we were answering them and sometimes laughing at their silly questions. We were actually having fun while entertaining the kids!

I couldn't help but notice the kids not getting tired that easily. They were not bothered by the distance, nor the uphill/downhill road. They even made a contest out of who is the fastest runner among them while we were doing our normal pace! Watching them made me re-think my reasons for running.

Every Saturday evening after that, I would go to Antipolo to do my Sunday jogging routine. Sometimes my father would accompany me during my run. Naturally, the children were always there at the site, playing their games, and greeting me with their warm welcome as I go about my rounds. Eventually, my body was able to adjust to the distance. A few months later I was able to complete my first 10K fun run.

Looking back, I wish I could be just like them some more. They taught me something valuable - that running is about having an active lifestyle while having fun! This for me is my most natural running experience.

P.S. Recently I went back to Antipolo and did some jogging with my father. We brought bottles of Minute Maid to drink after our run.

A new batch of the Antipolo children were there. They are the brothers, sisters, cousins or neighbors of the children in my narration. They accompanied my father jogging at our special 'jogging grounds'.

I took a video of them from behind after they passed by me...

Who's the fastest? Ready, get set, GO!!!

My father enjoying his bottle of Minute Maid

Wala po ba kami? Exclaimed one kid, while my father drinks his share of Minute Maid.

I prepared couple of big bottles of Minute Maid for the kids to enjoy.

Some of the kids keep horsing around while enjoying their Minute Maid. I took a photo of their funny reaction.

I had my share of Minute Maid! After that we headed home for breakfast.

Minute Maid and Running! The keys to having an active lifestyle and having fun!

This is my entry to the blog contest sponsored by and Minute Maid.

To get to know more about this blog contest, click here for details...

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