Pia on running Awum

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014


NOT everyone can execute a headstand, more so after running 50 kilometers. But then Sen. Pia Cayetano is "not everyone." So she did just that, do a headstand, right after crossing the finish line of the All-Women Ultra Marathon (Awum) last Sunday.

No runner had ever done that in the three years we've been holding the Awum. Pia was the first of the 552 Awum finishers who did that. Pia is also the first female senator who ran an ultra marathon.

"I love to do it. Blood rushes to my head and I feel myself balanced," the senator said over the phone yesterday. She has been practising yoga for years so it was no big deal for her.

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A seasoned triathlete, Pia knows that a headstand also decreases fluid build-up in the legs, ankles and feet. It also "reminds me that there's another way to see the world" and that is to see it "upside down."

She saw the world of the 250 female runners in the six hours 52 minutes that she ran with them from the Capitol grounds in Cebu City to Alta Cebu Village Resort in Cordova town. The runners were aged 15 to 60 and came from different sectors of society. Some ran faster than she, others just as fast, and still others trailed way behind her.

And she cheered for the slow runners like me and my friends Linaflor Chan and Jinky Yray.

Hearing her shout "Go, go, go, girls!" from across the street bolstered our resolve to finish the race ahead of her. We missed this resolution by two hours.

"I learned so much from the women I ran with. I enjoyed the race from start to finish. I could have finished the race in six hours or so because I am a competitive runner. But I decided to run it easy. I saw the women do a run-walk so I kept it on a kwento pace."

She chatted as she ran with them and stopped at every hydration station. She wanted to find out what the station offered. She availed herself of every service or product offered: massage, re-touch or lipstick, water, fruits, Gatorade, boiled egg, Spam slices, lechon. She even had San Mig Light and saang at the Sub Zero station at K20 at the foot of the Cansaga Bridge in Consolacion.

She was happy to see former Cebu congressman and now marathoner Pablo John Garcia at the Sub Zero station.

She couldn't leave the station at once because the volunteers, who were also runners, all wanted to have pictures taken with her. Her participation in Awum had been announced and the guys manning the hydration stations had looked forward to welcoming and serving her. The other runners got the same pampered treatment at the hydration stations.

She could have finished the 50K under six hours had she not lingered at the hydration stations. But heck, she was enjoying herself. She had the most fun at the retouch station of TG Lasang at K46 when the volunteer runners pulled out a mirror and gave her a lipstick so she could have a retouch.

Just before she fired the gun to send off the runners at the Capitol Saturday night, Pia announced that she would only run half the Awum distance because she did not want to tire her legs too much as she was going to run a marathon (42K) in Rome on March 23.

"As I was running, I asked myself: Am I willing to sacrifice my Rome marathon for Awum? I know it would hurt my performance in Rome. I made a conscious choice. I will finish 50K." So she did.

She described the Awum as having a "big impact on the women in Cebu," especially those who are into running. It provides the women with the opportunity to run a distance outside their comfort zone.

"I would do it again even with the road pollution, which is something you cannot control as organizers. Awum is such an inspiring race."

Since she herself had organized fun runs through her advocacy arm Pinay In Action (PIA), she gave suggestions, upon my solicitation, on how we can make Awum better. I joined my first 10K in her PIA Run in 2010.

She suggested that the venue of the finish line had more lights for better results of picture-taking. The ladies would want a good picture of themselves crossing the finish line. (Big smiley here.) The runners started arriving at Alta at 3:38 a.m. At 6 a.m., it was still dark.

She likewise suggested a "prep run" for Awum. This would be a much shorter distance than 50K to prepare the runners for Awum. Her PIA can help set it up, she said.

And can we hold Awum outside Cebu City where the roads are less polluted?

Thank you, Senator Cayetano. Think Tank will study your suggestions as we do a headstand.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.

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