Friday, October 27, 2006
Introducing der Pacemaker 41 @ Phyllis Kok
Since young, running has become one of my hobbies. There was a time when becoming a marathon runner was the farthest thing from my mind. Runners were, or so I thought, a lost group of tortured souls with tortured soles, achy muscles, and creaky knees. They were as best I could tell from the safe distance I kept from all matters requiring movement either pain addicts or fools. If they were the former they were to be pitied. If they were the latter, they were to be unmercifully mocked.
Most of the time I was running leisurely around my living place until I met up with one of the members from OX group in a swimming session 3 years ago. This is where I got a chance to involve in the outdoor activities like cycling, hiking and rocks climbing before I did something I never thought I could do. I ran my first marathon in 2004 with the motivation from the OX gang but without much training. Everyone has their first time and with that my life changed.
I joined the pacesetter members for the 10km or 21km training in Lake Garden every Sunday. Weekend is always the day I am looking forward in a week.
I loved the morning runs, starting out in the pitch dark, praying for firm footing and deliverance from danger. Due to we started so early and were finished before most of the civilization was brewing coffee, the running had a surreal quality to it.
I'm lucky to have some great friends as my running partners. They created my training program and led me through it. I never wanted to know much, not the distance or pace, none of it - a welcome escape from the pressures of too many other decisions. During weekend, I met them at the appointed hour and put one foot in front of the other until they told me I was done.
Like most beginning runners, I ran too much too soon. I ran too fast and too far. I discovered what I was running from. I was running from where I had been, where I was, and where I was headed. But like so many runners, no matter how far or how fast I ran, I always ended up right where I had started, with myself.
It's an odd thing, when your body says no and your mind and your spirit say yes. It's frightening, empowering, clarifying and even beautiful, all at once. It was the past year of my life, shortened into a span of 42km. It was the culmination of experiences, the knowledge that my body can be pushed past its breaking point, just like my passion and determination in running.
My running shoes had become giant erasers on my feet. Each foot strike wiped away the memory of some earlier indiscretion or failure. Each new pair of running shoes carried the potential of unlocking some secret place. Each pair of worn-out running shoes carried the scars of a healing soul.
It was more than a novice athletic achievement, a journey of friendship, the healing power of sport, and the confidence of achieving a goal. It was a reminder that with good company and hard work, a regular people can do something special.
Running is both a reward and an education, a chance to learn something about a new community and renew myself for the job ahead. The wisdom, tears, and laughter we shared gave me an insight and appreciation for my friends that I have not had since I was in college. It is a good thing too because come to race day, I ended up needing these friends more profoundly than I expected. Thanks mates!
I have seen life as a non-runner and as a runner. I can tell you with complete assurance that I’ve chosen, and will continue to choose, running. Without running, there are no runners and I have learned that a runner is everything I hope to be.