We ran, We hobbled, We finished

Ouch.

Everyone felt it. I was going into the race thinking I could set my next PR. But it was not to be. In fact, it was 50 minutes slower than what I did last year. Something must be amiss. I believe it’s a combination of weighing 5kg more, having red wine the night before at a wedding (I know, I should be crucified there and then), stuffing myself in the morning, having my cardiovascular base utterly destroyed during my 6-months stint in singapore by inactivity and also the stupid new course which they had set this year. But all those would be deemed as lame excuses. I just wasn’t prepared as well as I should. I must remind myself that youth is not a term used to describe myself nowadays.

But it was fun because I did it with my mates this time round. It’s really humorous how I could see snippets of what it’s like when I did my first race in them. The tentative step forward because your hips and hamstrings are just screaming in pain. The incredible surge of heat you feel in your body and the sickly feeling like your entire reserves of nutrients in your body have just been depleted. The thought of just lying down on the bed, refusing to move. Yes, my mates finally know the love-hate relationship I have with this sport. This painful, re-discovery of oneself when we take on the road, step by step, through the measure of our wills and resolve.

It’s funny Y would say, “I will never do this again.” and yet few minutes later bellow,”Shit, I will do better.” And I was like, “Didn’t you just say you’ll….” Of course, that’s what this whole running thing is about. You hate it and you love it. You think you wanna let it go. But you can’t imagine not ever doing it again. It pushes you to the point you’re humbled. You are reminded of your humanity. That you’re not God. That you just could only draw strength from the Divine Being.

There is a term which we runners call “The Wall.” Most of the time, it happens during 3/4 of your journey. Seth Godin would call it “The Dip.” It usually happens in the 30km mark for marathoners but in my case this year, it happened a lot earlier in the 28km region. It’s called “The Wall” simply because it’s the section where everything starts to break down physically. Your muscles starts to ache, you feel your energy being sapped out suddenly and all positivity that you had during the first half of the race goes down into the drain. You feel like you’re carrying bricks on your legs. Your mind starts to play tricks on you. It says “Stop, you can’t go on anymore.” This is the hardest part of the race. Where it’s more mental than physical.

It’s no fun pushing through this stage for a whole hour. Or even two hours. But that’s what happened to me. I was literally using everything I could to pick my limbs up to go another 1km. “Just another 1km, greg. Drink up. And we will go for another one.” Most people would try to minimise the time spent on the Wall. And rightly they should if they want to complete the race as quickly and painless as possible. That’s what training is for. But the Wall has a lot to teach me over the years of running. It showed me that I am human. That physically I have my limits. No man is island. We need every encouragement, a smile from a fellow runner, a pat on the back by a spectator. We simply can’t trust our natural abilities alone. I always believe we have everything we need to thrive in life already but most of that everything comes not from yourself. It comes from those around and above you.

I am disappointed that I didn’t achieve what I set to do this year. No sweat though. I’m thankful for all that is given to me. Like someone told me before, “It’s rare that someone would have some understanding of oneself and a degree of questioning like you do. And at your age. People would call it an innate ability. I would call it a gift.” Indeed, I’m grateful to know that I have this knack of reviewing myself within this world and learn to live my life according what matters with many more years to go. He agreed with my point, “Some go on chasing winds and don’t discover what they’re really on about until much later, when everything falls apart.” I crashed and burned this time. But I’ll be back stronger.

In the morning.

Before.

After.

J was the man of the day. Not only he improved on his 10k time, he was standing strong. Well, not from this photo anyways.

Y’s ankle was having issues at the beginning. That’s why he called off the bet. Wuss. During the race, he wrecked his knee. Walked the last 8km in pain. For that, he deserves a medal.

Every medal counts! I will do better next year!

We wanted to do some shopping straight after but as it turned out, we had to plan our walking routes very carefully because Y and C could barely move. It was quite hilariously to come out of the MRT, to see a flight of stair to the exit and hear C groaning with displeasure. He wanted to shop for a couple of stuff on Orchard Road but in the end, we’re just thankful to be sitting in a cafe, enjoying our affogato and tiramisu.

Pain can be such a great tutor, isn’t it?

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