On Sunday, I accomplished a goal which I set for myself a year ago. I finished the very first Full 42km Marathon of my life. Yes, I did it!!! I was elated, overjoyed, extremely happy, undeniably overwhelmed and at one point just overcame with such emotional elation…
…this journey began a year ago…
It all began on my birthday last year when I finally decided to make a commitment towards one of the biggest change in my life. To be a new person, to be a new ME. This new path that I took started in May last year. Exercise, weight loss, diet and training became new vocabularies in my day to day life. I started doing extensive workouts in the gym and slowly regained some of my fitness level… And then I had the opportunity to begin setting goals. Real life goals. To run in a marathon.
For me at the time, it was the SCKLM 2010 (Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2010), I enrolled in the 10km run and even in doing that, I had concerns about my level of fitness to be able to complete the run successfully. Light teasing and quirky comments from friends and colleagues who wondered if I could finish it strived me on to try and prove it to them.
So, I ran it and complete it! I have never ran so long for so far in my life before. Honestly, it was the first 10k of my life and I was overjoyed.
I made a promise to myself on that day… that I would continue this journey and finish my very first ever 42k marathon the following year at the very same race… the SCKLM 2011!
My journey was an eventful one with more races, with one more 10k and another 12k run in 2010. I took up cycling in September and this became another passion which I indulged in and cycled my very first official 100km cycling ride in November… The cycling helped with cross-training and a healthy sight-seeing indulgement which I allow myself to do.
I made it a point to enrol myself in 21k, Half-Marathon races in 2011. And it began with my first 21k in March 2011 (Bareno Run).
When registration opened for SCKLM 2011 Full Marathon, I was one of the first to join up. 42k. I didn’t want to think too much into it and just registered and paid. I knew then that I had started a chain of commitments towards finishing the race. I committed myself further via many new friends whom I have met since I started this journey, stating my intent and getting to know wonderful support groups like the Full Marathon Virgins (FMV) and a really wonderful bunch of very good friends of the Dutamas Runners.
I realised my mental journey of keeping myself committed, the motivations of fellow runners and the inspiration of those who have done this and continue to do it, spurred me on. But, I was worried about my physical capabilities. I was still heavy and I was mentally beating myself up over not having progressed more physically.
For my training, I mixed a lot of cycling into my running. I was worried about not being able to train hard enough or clock in the mileage required as part of the build up to the race. I was worried about injuring myself. It was ups and downs. At times, training felt great and at times, old ankle injuries and knee tightness came and haunted me. But, I had committed and it had to be done.
I trained rigorously about 3 months prior to the race, but at times I found it challenging to keep at it, to be disciplined. My head was filled with so much information, so much concerns and so much worries. LSDs, pacing, timing, hydration, energy intake, energy spent, etc… these were all new to me..
3 weeks before the race, I had decided to look for motivations from my friends, those who were kind enough to teach me to stay calm and reassuringly tells me that I can finish it and not to worry about how fast or how good I should run…. it was a collective message of, "Just finish it"… "You can do it".. I needed that.
A week before the run, my mind was in a total calm state. I tried to block out the feelings of doubts and nervousness.. I needed to. Otherwise, I would have flipped or worse, not turn up for the race!
The RACE DAY
I woke up fresh. Surprisingly I had enough sleep the night before and was not even stirred by excitement or worries. I had packed the night before and placed all the things I needed, all lined up for me to change into and to bring.
As I neared the race grounds… I turned the music I was listening to Kandi and Neumann’s, Let’s Go, a truly inspirational piece of music which inspired me at the start of my 2010 journey.. Yes, it was the same music that I listened to before I ran my first 10k. When the music came on, I suddenly felt a surge of emotion… butterflies filled my stomach and the thought that "I AM FINALLY DOING IT"… just surged through my thoughts, including all those times I spent training and worrying over this race.
I said to myself "Today is another challenge which I will overcome, I need to overcome… before I go on to my next level!
My friends were there, the same people I talked to about running and finishing this.. I had to do it.
Getting ready, going to the start line was a surreal experience. Having ran a few races, I still can’t get over the rush of excitement you get just before a run. When the race started, I just ran.
I was told not to push too hard… and I didn’t want to run too slow, so I kept a balance. I felt good through the first 10km. I passed some runners but more still ran pass me, but I kept focus. I listened to my heart, my breathing, I felt my feet on the ground, my arms swinging where they were suppose to and my eyes, kept looking in front for the many steps I had yet to complete.
After 10km, the sky started brightening up… it was going to be a beautiful day. Between 10k and 20k, I never felt so good before… I was excited and I was seeing so many faces of people on the run which I would otherwise have never seen if I hadn’t made this decision and I said to myself… "I’m one of them now"… 🙂
After 20km, I had to talk to myself… to tell myself that I’m halfway there, and that from now on, I would be counting down instead of up… counting down to finish it. We were running through the streets of KL and I mentally tried to name all the roads to keep myself occupied with enjoying the sights on foot…
At this point, at every sponging station I had been sponging down to keep cool and to keep fresh (I wiped my face at every point)… I needed to feel strong and alert.
After 30km, the wonderful sun had risen quite a bit over the horizon and we ran through the early morning sun.. I was not uncomfortable but neither could I say it was easy.. After 30km, my body started telling me to slow down.. and I did, but I didn’t stop, I couldn’t because my mind would not have allowed it.
At 32k onwards, I was at my slowest throughout the race.. The phrase "Just Another 10k", did not mean anything to me at the time… I was hard! I was spent.. I found myself running 1/3 of the time and walking 2/3 and soon I tried speed walking and kept with a number of runners..
At 35k, my feet began to have blisters. I prepared for everything, hydration, energy, electrolyte pills, painkiller, plasters, sunblock, anti-chaffing stick… but I could not have prepared to have unbroken blisters right on the forefront of my feet. I decided against stopping and taking off my shoes, as I was afraid about trying to put my shoes back on again.
At 36k with the help of June Malik, founder of the FMV Group, I was refreshed with drinks and food, but although the stop was brief and the encouragement from June helped with both my mental and physical self.
It was uphill up Bukit Tungku, I had to do it. I was struggling with soreness, but I had to do it.
My emotional point of the race came at the 38km mark… I teared up.. at that point I was so washed over with emotions. I couldn’t believe that I was really going to finished it and every step to took from that point on was taken spurred on by my desire to overcome this life challenge and motivate myself further on!
That day, Sunday, 26th June 2011, I accomplished and finished the hardest physical (and mental) challenge of my life. I finished my marathon… I "ran for life" and I did it.
I did it.
I proved to myself that you can always figure out a way to make it happen if you want it hard enough… Be inspired and inspire others. I really needed to thank all my wonderful new friends whom I met through running and this new journey, for without them, I could not have done this… and as I how I have been graciously given so much help by wonderful people, I’d like to share this opportunity to my friends who aspire to set goals in their lives and get them done in a BIG way!
Thank you for reading and keep moving!