November 30, 2016 by Soo Ee
I almost didn’t complete my 37th run because I had a moment of weakness. I was running in my worst form. I wanted to take the easy way out of pain and give up. I am not proud of that moment but in that, I learnt something about myself.
We ran around the city area before we headed out to the famous Penang bridge. The bridge converged in the middle so there was a upwards slope we had to complete in one direction and another upwards slope on the way back. The length of the bridge was about 13.5 km.
I clocked 16 km in the first 2 hours. I thought that was a good pace for me. Things got a little damned last week when I crashed my bike at the duathlon bike and mangled my ankle. The ankle injury came back to haunt me at the 14th kilometres. I felt a sense of desperation and doom. Walking the rest of the way was no joking matter. It would take too long. I was hungry and I wanted to eat breakfast soon.
I started running after a moment of walking. I stopped running at 21 km because I started to feel pain under my right arch. Then the 6 hour pacers came. I was glad. Looking at the huge pacer balloon distracted me to run up to 23 km with them and I even overtook them when they stopped for a water break, and continued till 28 km.
From then on, I wanted to walk. I felt really tired. I was running at a time I was suppose to be sleeping. I didn’t get enough sleep prior to the run. I felt a very uncomfortable tightness around my chest. I was whiny. I was complaining. Was that a sense of desperation I was feeling? The negative thoughts kept flowing into me. I wanted to take the easy way out. I wanted to go up to the ambulance attendants at the first aid stations and ask them to zoom me back to the finish because “I think I’m dying.” I wanted to give up the medal and finisher tee. The feeling of doom was frighteningly unfamiliar. I had never felt this sort of dejection on my runs before. Not even back then when I was competing. It was very unsettling. I wanted to get out of this discomfort and climb back into my happy zone.
I stopped running. I started walking. I was very close to just hecking it. I wanted to give in to the darkness that was enveloping me.
In one last attempt to savage my pride, I dug deep inside me for something to motivate me.
“Please give me something,” I whispered, to no one in particular.
The word popped into my head.
“Regroup and refocus.”
Get your act together. Focus on the road ahead.
“Breathe. You got this.”
You’re still alive and moving.
“For goodness sake, stop whining.”
Stop whining. Leave the energy for better use.
“You’re halfway done.”
Don’t be a shit and give up now.
Divine intervention has spoken.
“Walk the talk. Run on. Be strong. Be fierce.”
For goodness sake, you’re only running a full marathon, not an ultra marathon.
“Eyes on the prize.”
I felt a lot of sleepy and tired. I opened my eyes for a few steps and closed my eyes for a few more steps. I was afraid of colliding into anyone in front of me. I continued running.
I regained a little awakenedness after the repeated digging, blocking out the negativity.
“Don’t stop for too long. Running will bring you back to the finishing line faster.”
I was afraid of failing. My pride was why I wanted to give up and walk away. It was easier. At the back of my mind, I thought, well, if I didn’t complete, it wouldn’t count as failing. If I tried and I failed, it would be like falling flat on my face. My ego and pride would be so bruised it was going to be very, very painful for me to bear. When I figured that out, it was easy to understand that since pride comes before a fall, I was still going to fail if I let my pride get in the way. I told my pride to shut up. I was not going to listen to it anymore.
I didn’t ride the ambulance back to the finish line. I completed the 42km in one piece. I survived it. Holy cow.
In that six hours, I’ve learnt that no matter how much I may want to bail out of a situation, I must tell remind myself that the reward at the end of the course would be something memorable and valuable. I must remind myself to stick to whatever tough situation I’m facing as if there is no way out. It’s easier to be swayed when there’s a way out. I hope this will make me stronger and in the long run, a better person. I have no love for confrontations but I believe in fighting for what I think is the right thing to do, and often, that can be hard.
Though this was my third marathon this year, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am unable to conquer it strong. I’m still not used to the loading and it always manages to take half of my life away after I am done. Though my pain threshold did improve, I don’t feel I am anywhere near being comfortable with running a full marathon.