Bye-Bye, Bag at the Big Blue Run

    

OK, so I did say the New Balance Power Run was my last race of the year. But I changed my plans and signed up for the Ateneo Big Blue 150 Run that was held last Sunday, December 6. What happened last Sunday makes me think I should have stuck to that resolution, instead of giving in to the urge to try the BBR’s route.

The Lesson Is: Stick to the Plan

It was almost too good to resist: a new route that wound through the Ateneo campus before busting out onto Katipunan. It had never been done before, so I allowed myself to be sales-talked into singing up for it.

So I went to the Blue Eagles Gym last Saturday and paid the P500 entry fee that purchased me a singlet and a race kit with my bib number and route map. Since I’d signed up late, the only singlet sizes available were Large and Extra-Large. That probably should have clued me in to something not being quite all right about going on the run.

On race day, I got to Ateneo right before a big traffic jam started and parked very near a guard outpost. I stashed my bag out of sight on the floor and made sure my car doors were locked before I left the lot. I tucked my cellphone into my compression pants’ zippered back pocket because I was running the route for the first time and might need my cellphone in case something happened. (This is what’s called foreshadowing.)

A Beautiful Run

At the starting line, I met up with a friend who was willing to pace with me. He’s a tall and fast guy (he finished Globe Run for Home 10K in 49 minutes, 25 seconds), but he said he wasn’t aiming for a PR anyway.

So there we were, two yellow birds (we were both wearing yellow shirts, since he never wears a race’s official singlet and I used my KOTR singlet) in a convocation of Blue Eagles. The 10K start gun fired, and we were off. He stayed on my tail, but his long legs carried him forward until he remained constantly 200 to 300 meters in front of me. The Ateneo campus has small inclines and declines and even though the race map shows a road as straight, there were curves along the road which made it difficult to speed up.

I already knew I wasn’t going to make a PR when I hit Katipunan; I couldn’t get my earphones to stay in my ears properly, so I couldn’t stay pumped with my power songs. I’d also spent a lot of energy passing slower runners and trying to catch up to my friend. I knew the upcoming flyover was going to sap me even further. That Katipunan flyover is a killer! The climb up felt like it lasted more than a minute; it’s definitely tougher than Kalayaan flyover from Taguig to Makati, or Buendia flyover on Roxas Boulevard. And after the flyover, a long stretch of hilly road until the U-turn — and then we had to do it all again in backwards order.

I saw my friend take the U-turn, then he ran back towards me and went round the U-turn with me. This time he stayed by my side, keeping up a stream of positive words and updating me about what was playing on his iPod. U2’s “Beautiful Day” kicked in as we went up the flyover again, and although I couldn’t hear it, I was singing it in my head.

He made a fast dash to the finish line, while I just kept up the steady thrum-thrum of my legs until I crossed the tape too. Time elapsed? 52 minutes, 17 seconds. Good enough, considering the hilly route. We spent some time congratulating ourselves, drinking water, and then walked back to our cars which were parked in the same lot.

That Sinking Feeling

As I approached my car, I noticed that all the doors were unlocked. “Did I lock this door?” I thought to myself, but knew that I had. I rationalized that sometimes the power locks don’t work, but hoped that nothing had been taken. It had never happened before, anyway.

I opened the door, and it felt like the ground had dropped out from under me. “Oh my God! Oh my God!” I started screaming. My bag was gone! My bag, with my change of clothes, my Havaianas slippers, my house keys, MY OTHER CELLPHONE, MY WALLET, MY CAMERA! Each realization of what items were stolen hit me like wave after wave dragging me down, down, down…

And then I pulled myself together as my friend ran over to me, concerned because he thought I’d received some bad news over the phone. Thank God I’d taken one of my phones with me on the run; I used it to call my parents to tell them what happened. Then we hailed a nearby police detachment and one of the campus security guards, and I started telling them in what condition I’d left my car and bag, and how long it took me to get back to my car after I’d left it.

While the Ateneo guard took photos of my car and its doors and locks, another couple in the same parking lot discovered their trunk had been broken into, and the woman’s purse taken. There were no visible signs of a break-in: no windows broken or door jambs jacked. Our vehicles were both Mitsubishi, both manufactured in the early 1990’s, and both with no alarm systems. For an experienced thief, easy pickings. Sigh.

My friend stayed with me until my parents picked me up to drive me home. I couldn’t drive because my stolen wallet had my driver’s license in there (along with some cash and ATM cards). This was the first time I’d ever felt so helpless.

What we’ve concluded is the perpetrator was already loitering in the parking lot when people started arriving. He’d taken notice of me not setting any alarm on my car, and the woman putting her purse in her trunk. Then, when everyone else had left the lot, he’d picked our locks and walked away with the bags as if they belonged to him. Simple to do because other people were also walking around with big gym bags heading to the race’s staging area.

Ateneo security later found my bag in a restroom. As predicted, my cellphone, wallet, and camera were no longer there — but the thief had also made off with my Ateneo singlet (I’d packed it just in case) and my Havaianas flipflops!

Rebuilding

Through it all I just found myself laughing about how surreal the situation was. I was thankul that the car itself hadn’t been stolen. I didn’t really need the second cellphone anyway; it was a spare. I’ve already secured a replacement for my driver’s license and my ATM cards (I had the old cards blocked on Sunday). The flipflops were one of four pairs of Havaianas I have in the house, so no big loss. The race organizers have a new singlet set aside for me. But I really do miss my camera.

Last Sunday after the incident, my friends and family rallied around me. One of them reminded me of a verse about theft and payback.

Proverbs 6:30-31 “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house.”

I may not ever find out who the thief was, but I do know that God restores and provides. I can always buy a new camera. Ü

I’m just wiser and more guarded about my things, particularly on race days when there are a lot of things going on and security might not be very reliable.

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5 comments on “Bye-Bye, Bag at the Big Blue Run

  1. Hi Noelle–
    So sorry this happened to you.
    I know this will not replace your camera and the other things you lost but would appreciate if we can also get your Havaians size.

    Please e-mail me and let me know how I can get in touch with you.

    Again, apologies.

    Nina Samaco

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