Running events have become popular among the growing number of health-conscious citizens, largely buoyed by the minimal equipment needed and the minimal costs for each event. So recently, I was invited by my officemates to take part in the Greenhills Eco Run back in November, the day before my birthday. Not being a fitness buff with concerns over my health, I was skeptical but soon relented to their endless prodding. To get me warmed up, I signed up for the 5-kilometer run with most of them.

After getting a good workout at the very first running event I joined, we still managed to look like winners (well, almost) in this picture.

I arrived at the venue, the Greenhills Shopping Center, before 5:00 AM and met up with my officemates as we got ready for the run. Whe the run started, I had planned to do some nice running just to see how far I could push myself. But with the mass of runners putting a dent to my plan, I soon decided to walk the majority of the run. About halfway during the run, I had actually managed to overtake several of my officemates and finished the run in a surprising 49 minutes and 23 seconds. After the run, we celebrated with a hearty breakfast at the nearby KFC outlet, after which I went home with trusted friend and officemate Alex to get ready for work later that day.

Bolstered by my performance, as well as the neat freebies I got for participating, I then decided to sign up for the 5-kilometer leg of the Milo Marathon to be held at the SM Mall of Asia grounds in December.

As I was unable to file a leave for the day before the run, it meant that I would have to camp out at the office after my shift ended past midnight and I would take a taxi straight to the venue from there with some of my officemates. I found it difficult to sleep as I was clearly giddy with tension over how I would do in only my second run. I spent several hours in the sleeping quarters listening to Jim Brickman songs before I finally woke myself up to get ready for the run.

Arriving at the venue, I was surprised to find out that there were no baggage counters for all 3-kilometer and 5-kilometer participants. My officemates and I were clearly frustrated, as it meant that we had to haul our backpacks around while running. With even more participants, this required that all runners be released in separate waves meaning that we ended up waiting for some time before we finally set off running. In addition, the heavy pedestrian traffic prevented me from making good on my promise to try and exert a bit more effort by running more of the real distance.

After the run, I swore I would not attend a Milo Marathon unless I could tolerate the longer distance runs (namely the 16- and 21-kilometers) since the sea of humanity left me little room to actually push myself and make gains.

We then ended up at the nearby McDonald’s for breakfast while we waited for our teammate Bern to complete the 21-kilometer run. After exchanging stories, we parted ways with me heading back to the office to get some shut eye before starting a new shift that afternoon.

After days of waiting for the official results, I was in for a pleasant surprise. Despite the heavy foot traffic, I clocked in at 48 minutes and 43 seconds. Somehow, I managed to slash 20 seconds off my old time and it put an odd smile on my face.

Already I am making plans to join some more running events in the coming year, and I hope to actually push myself more. As an officemate once told me, “What have you got to lose but a few pounds and inches, anyway?”

And yes, I think I can make something out of collecting all those cool jerseys.

*****

After many delays, I was finally able to get in some quality time with my friends Nigs, Pops and Kei (clockwise from the right)

I recently got together with my friends Pops and Kei after months of planned meetings that fell through like a 18-wheeler on thin ice. I was set to meet up with Kei at SM Megamall, after which we would meet up with Pops at one of the drinking areas at Metrowalk. We would soon spend the evening chugging away at beers and exchanging stories, and we would soon be joined by another friends of ours, Nigs.

Since his resignation, Nigs had performed various gigs with his friends as part of the band Stranger Danger. Pops shared with me some of their more recent gigs showcasing the band’s performances. I soon committed myself to be present at their upcoming gig, which was to be held the following Friday at SaGuijo Bar in Makati City. I would rendezvous with our friends Shaboogs and Killua at Market Market, then ride with them to the venue. While waiting at Market Market, I managed to check up on my officemates at work and I even had time to buy a whiteboard and marker in hopes of creating a unique fan sign.

We got to the venue early and since they were among the last set of bands for the night, we sat down to chugging down more beer and snacking away. Our friend Ades managed to drop by as well, despite having work later that morning. Many of the bands showed promise, and we were particularly blown away by the strong vocals and eye-catching appeal of the lead vocalist of a band called Turbogoth. So much so, in fact that Shaboogs went up to her and managed to get an autographed CD.

Despite the ethanol overloading my system, I had it in me to hoist a neat fan sign for Nigs and his band Stranger Danger. Kudos, mate!

When Nigs and the band finally came up, I was blown away (no kidding) by the band’s performance and I thoroughly enjoyed their set of songs. Despite the ethanol overload, I managed to complete my band sign and we even posed for a few pictures after they had finished their set.

I decided to be dropped off at Discovery along with my colleague Ades afterward, since he had to report in for work and I would be able to easily get a cab from there to take me home. And I did manage to get home safely despite my alcohol-addled state, which ensured I would be out like a light for the rest of the night.

Looks like my promise to make November an epic month came true after all. And with the Christmas season closing in, ending 2011 on a good note could well be a reality.

*****

The NBA finally ended its lockout and will resume with a shortened 66-game regular season beginning on Christmas Day, December 25th. The biggest reasons for the lockout included the division of revenue between players and team owners, as well as concerns over the salary cap and luxury tax.

The irony of the situation is that while both sides were looking to get a better deal during the lockout, they inevitably cut into their very source of income. From the humble fan to the various small businesses at the stadiums to even the fans who would tune in to their TV sets, the money could no longer flow in and basketball fans were left alienated and severely disappointed.

To date, several NBA players have ended up playing in other leagues outside of North America due to a lack of income during the lockout. This even includes All-Star players such as Tony Parker, Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko and Kenyon Martin.

If only the players and team owners remembered the reason the National Basketball Association existed while other leagues such as the American Basketball Association folded. For without the humble fan, they would likely have been another footnote in history instead of being part of the pre-eminent basketball league in North America (and arguably the world).

At least unlike the real world NBA, the NBA 2K12 game has no lockouts to worry about. And for once, that is money well-spent.

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