Tuesday, April 8, 2008

About choice, freedom and a gift.

When we arrived at the Bukit Aman car park at 6am yesterday morning, it was exceptionally quiet with ample parking space. I guess after the recent KLIM, most runners are still taking a break, moreover it's also 'Cheng Beng' (Chinese All Souls Day). Gary, Wah Chai, Lawrence, Mr & Mrs Tai and I decided to run the Hoki Stadium route. Except for the slopes, I enjoy running this route very much. No traffic, fresh air, beautiful huge bungalows, nice views, greeneries and of course the hills!
It was a recovery run for many, especially for Mrs Tai after having successfully completed her maiden marathon last week. She is still filled with jubilation and only runners will be able to understand this kind of feeling. We were running leisurely...chit-chating most of the time and sharing marathon experiences. You called this social running?

We were talking about 'Personal Bests' and I remembered and valued my own PBs when I was at my peak performance 10 years ago. Achieving 1hr 35mins during the PJ Half Marathon and 4hr 07mins for Full Marathon is already history, and seems so vaque to me now. Will I be able to rewrite history? Perhaps but not without sacrificing the time and effort. I recalled those days when we were younger and 'unmarried', our gang : Yew Chee Chung, Law Lai Huat, Danny Kok, John, Dirty Chow, Richard Tang, Jessbird, Karen Lai, Lian and I used to go to the Kampung Pandan track at least once a week to train on some speed work. Oh, although we said it was only for fun and fellowship, it did help increase our pace greatly during race day. To break through another PB now takes a huge amount of hard work, discipline and determination. I believe I can still do it but then, to what purpose?

Well, the good thing about being a casual runner is you are given a choice. So, I had a choice. I could choose to accept the standards set forth by the running community as a whole, which emphasised on speed above all else. Or, I could create my own personal running world in which I alone was the standard bearer. A world where I alone would decide whether a run was good or bad. I had a choice to decide whether running was going to be an activity that enhanced my life or just one more area of my life which I wasn't able to live up to my own expectations.

I chose to view running - any running - as a gift. Yes, especially being an asthmatic in my younger days, any form of exercise seemed so impossible. Running or swimming is out of the question. Therefore, I choose to see myself as one of the most fortunate people on this planet! Fortunate because I can run. Fortunate because I am a runner. But then it's not that I, or other runner shouldn't strive to get better. We can choose to want to go faster or further or both - or not at all. And it all has to happen within the context of accepting that what we are is what we are.

So, if I am a 4hr marathoner, so be it. But if one day I become a 5hr marathoner, so be it. Because that is plenty. Sometimes, it's just not about the time...it's being able to complete the race and live to tell the story. It's about friends I made during the marathon. And as with all endurance races, there will always be a lesson for me to share and to carry me through the next race. Indeed, for every runner,what we had in common is far more important than the differences in our finishing times. What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those on the sofa is that we learn through running to take what the day offers us, what our body allows us, and what our mind can tolerate.
This was what I shared with a fellow runner yesterday while running.

"When you love to run and you train hard enough to really feel it, running is all about freedom. Also, I find that sharing the value of sport is very important. When I think back on my life, it isn't the winning that I remember so much, it's the people whom I met through running." - Doris Brown Heritage (two-time Olympian)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! This is a very inspiring post. Coming from a very good runner makes it all the more meaningful and humbling. Thank you for reminding us in our quest for personal best's, we shouldn't forget the real reason we run.