After covering the Sinadya sa Hilaran festival in Roxas City from morning until the nighttime fluvial parade, I crashed on my bed with an almost sapped energy. The next morning I woke up same time as sunrise. My plan was to walk around, eat breakfast, go back to the hotel, freshen up and check out. I haven't gone too far when I noticed this oval track stadium just a stone throw away from Nesta's Hill Top Hotel. The sun has just risen enough to expose the white clouds against the blue skies. The scene inside was enticing, the greens of the center field encircled by the red rubbery terrain of the oval track has 'running' written all over it. "I must run here" I told myself. A few people where already inside, some were fast amassing laps under their belts while others were walking, stretching or doing arnis exercises.
I can feel the traction of the oval flooring rubbing against the sole of my rubber shoes. It made a smooth squeezing sound as it kisses the floor enough to divert the force of energy back to my legs. After taking a few pictures I kindly asked an old couple who were watching their grandson practice his javelin throwing form, to look out for my things. I put my camera beside them and started my warm up. A pseudo warm-up which lasted for only 15 seconds, as I quickly found myself sprinting on an oval track for the first time.
Villareal Stadium which was completed in 1997, isn't just an ordinary track field. The last Philippine Sports Commission University Games was held here in 2011. It is a world-class sporting venue, I wish exists in every city in the country. If I live nearby, I'd probably be running like a bull here every morning.
The first couple of laps had me winded but still able to freely move my legs and feet forward albeit at a slower pace already. My lack of proper conditioning the last few years has started to take its toll. I took a brief rest at a shaded corner of the oval track and as I chase my breathe, I noticed the varying active routine of those working out inside Villareal Stadium.
They were young football players practicing their penalty kick at the center field, athletes perfecting their javelin throwing form, arnis practitioners and even wrestlers sparring against each other. A few runners passed me by, giving me a look like they were recognizing a wounded prisoner of war making a dash to freedom. I huffed deep into my lungs and decided to continue running.
I stopped counting at four laps, though I don't think I lasted another two after that. I returned to where the old couple was sitting and took a seat in an almost lying position. My legs and hands were shaking as I try to hold the bottle of mineral water into my mouth. I used to run 15 kilometers in an hour and a half back in college, right now a couple of kilometers had me almost collapsing to exhaustion.
"Must get back to shape" my cerebral cells drafted a memo to my brain. I rested until around 8:30 am before I headed back to my hotel for a much needed shower. The sweat all over my body brought out all unnecessary toxins. I felt lighter and more mobile. The oval track was indeed a gem which I found among a nook and cranny.
Every city should invest in something like it. A place where the physically fit and the unfit people like me, to develop a morning ritual where we can have our own shadows chase us across the tracks. If done religiously, all those huffing and puffing and surrendering into a heap of exhaustion, will eventually be replaced by a more agile body and a healthy mind. Who knows how many junkies will give up their vices in exchange of killing some laps around the oval track.