Last Sunday was the Nature Valley Run, the second leg of the RunRio Trilogy. I had planned to break my current PR on 5k and go for a sub-45 finish, but as we all know, even well-prepared plans have a way of turning out differently. I didn’t get my sub-45, but for the first time in my life, I’m actually glad I didn’t.
Ever since my husband got me my own Timex watch, I’ve been doing interval training. Being asthmatic, I’m taking it slow… From 1:1 (1 minute run, 1 minute walk), I was able to keep up with a 3:1 (3-minute run, 1-minute walk) interval during the Nature Valley Run. It worked pretty well for me. I knew that if I completed the run with 11 sets of my 3:1, I’d clock in at around 44 minutes, a guarantee of a sub-45 finish.
Between 3-4km, I was only at the 8th interval set, 32 minutes. I was familiar with the route, it was the exact same one as the Chase the Sun: The Neutrogena Run a few weeks ago. I knew I was near the finish, and very near my goal. I estimated that I’d finish in about 10 minutes or less, setting a new personal record. But, as I have said, plans have a way of turning out differently. The moment I checked my watch and felt the surge of energy and elation on finally setting a new PR, a runner fainted in front of me.
I glanced at my watch, then at the girl who was trying to stand up. I stopped to help.
A few other runners stopped too. I’ve already run out of Gatorade, but luckily, one of the runners helping out had a full bottle of 100 Plus. We tried to get her to drink, but she was flitting in and out of consciousness. She was having cold sweat. Lucky for us, a runner with a hydration belt full of water stopped and we were able to cool her down by drenching her head with water. I guess all the time I’ve spent reading Wikipedia.org for fun and random facts helped — I’ve read somewhere that fainting and cold sweat may be symptoms of heat exhaustion, and could progress to heat stroke if not treated. Cooling her down was the best first aid, but all of us didn’t know if she could sit down so another runner and I supported her arms so she’d remain upright until help came along. I don’t know how long we stayed with her, but we just couldn’t leave her until help came.
When the race marshal got there, the runners and I continued on with the race. But I wasn’t looking at my watch anymore, nor was I bothering to follow the 3:1 interval even as the alarm tone beeped. The new 5k PR can wait for next time.
It’s moments like this when you get to really understand what it means to be a runner, and a human being. In a race, we all have our different targets and race goals. But when a fellow runner’s life is in danger, we stop to help. We are humans first, runners second. A PR can wait, but a fellow runner’s life can’t.
Coach Rio told my husband that the runner is doing ok because she was “naagapan.” Did I do the right thing by stopping? I believe I did. Knowing that we saved a fellow runner from complications is better than any sub-45. I believe that I achieved a new PR that day, but the different kind.