Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Marathon Story - One Year On

I have been meaning to write this post for some time now. A reflection of my short experience so far on Full Marathon running.

My maiden marathon was on 28 June 2009. The event: SCKLM 2009. After one year, I ran SCKLM for the second time, my fourth Full Marathon in a year.

Back in 2008, when I started running around September time frame, I was coming to 36 years of age. I was really out of shape and really stressed out due to work. I had frequent common sickness, e.g. cough, flu and sore throat. Most of the time, I would feel tired, both physically and mentally. I really wanted to change that. Running was something that I thought I could give a try.

I had already joined my first gym just a few months when William suggested that I join Mizuno 10km run and I found myself committed to something that I had never done before: running a 10km road race.

I started training a month before the run on a thread mill. My first 5km training on the machine, I still remember, I almost fainted by end of it! But slowly, I kept training on the machine until I felt good enough to hit the road.

My first 10km at Mizuno 2008 was a torture that time. After the hilly run, it took me a week to recover from the muscle soreness. But that didn't stop me from running at all. I just thought that this would get better in time if I continued training.

I didn't fare better either in my second race. A 7.5km run in November 2008, a week after theSun Motor Hunt. By end of the run, I almost blacked out. But I was glad I managed to stay on my feet until I found water and food at the finish station. I remember I didn't eat/drink much the day before the race.

I continued to train and run because I wasn't satisfied with myself. Surely, this could not be my limit. I could do better than this, that's what I said to myself. Slowly, little by little, I increased my mileage and long run. In one group run with some running buddies, I managed to run two laps on the reverse double-hill route, thus conquering my first 20km run. The rewards were blackened toe nails and more muscle soreness.

Somehow, I still had the guts to registered to GE20km in Jan 2009. Running with BP & Lam on my first 20km, I was very happy to reach the finish line in slightly more than 2 hours. More muscle soreness followed in the days after the race. I suffered the pain especially when coming down the stairs.

After I recovered from that, I began to do more research online and talked to runners to understand more about running and in particularly marathon running.

A few more runs later in April, that's when I decided to registered in SCKLM 2009 for Full Marathon. I wasn't 100% sure then if I could complete it, but I knew I wanted to try my best. When I was young, I always fascinated by the marathon runners. I thought these people must be gifted or had the physical attributes to run 42.195km in 2 hours plus. I always dream of completing one in my life time. But as I trained more and longer distance, I began to realise that running a marathon was more of a mental thing and not just a physical thing.

That's when I began to put into my mind that I would cross that finish line of the full marathon race. Time was not really my concern then. Of course, if I could do it in 5 hours, it will be a bonus.

When I stood on the starting line on my maiden marathon, I was confident but still not 100% sure I could complete it. But I drew inspiration from Terry Fox and support from my family and friends. In the end, I made it. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

I didn't stop there either. After breaking the mental barrier in SCKLM 2009, I registered my second full marathon in PBIM 2009. This time for the hope of improving my timing.

What happened in PBIM 2009 surprised myself. I surpassed my own expectation and did a sub-4 finish in just my second full marathon. An improvement of about 43 minutes from SCKLM 2009.

The third full marathon was in BIM 2010 in May. The most challenging full marathon for me so far. But I survived that too. They said, what didn't break you could only make you stronger.

Now, the biggest gain that I got was not the PB that I had, and certainly not the medals. It was rather the stronger mental belief and confidence that I had now with myself. Physically also, I am healthier with less frequency of common flu.

Other things that I have noticed is that I am more tolerant to pain. Pain became something that I would not avoid. My pain threshold has increased and pain became a friendly sensation. I think it is the side effect of endorphin released naturally by my body when exerting tough training and long runs. Sometimes, I wonder if I am getting addicted to this endorphin. The other way to get endorphin naturally is through sexual intercourse. It makes one relax and probably feeling happy also. But mind you, I will make no attempt to compare that with running.

I also got to know a lot of runner friends and I truly cherish the friendship and the sharing.

This is just the beginning of more to come. My marathon stories, had just begun (to get more interesting).