July 2, 2017 by Soo Ee
Though I do quite a fair bit of running, I still dread running marathons. When I finished my last marathon in Bangkok last year, I was greatly relieved that I will not have to do one for a very long time.
That changed when I completed a sprint triathlon earlier this. Though the pain was still fresh on my mind, I want to start preparing myself for the upcoming ‘before I hit 45 yo challenge’ – at least a half Ironman event.
In truth, I didn’t need to complete the training fm with a performance best. I just needed to finish running it as part of my triathlon training plan. It is me. Simply completing a race wasn’t going to be a good enough motivation to keep those legs moving in the last leg of a 42 km run. I needed to set a goal to keep the mind focused on.
A month before I was scheduled to leave for the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, I realised that my body was not responding to the post-activity treatments like it usually did. It felt like something was acting up inside of me. Old injury parts started to resurface and I could feel tension in one too many places
I was sure that it was still possible to carry this body pass the 42 km finish line within a reasonable timing, ‘a race against all odds’, because of the training I have put in. I was that confident that my mind is strong enough to deal with any pain and bring me to the finish. I did endure three straight hours of leg and feet cramps and still manage to finish at 5:16 during the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon in May this year.
Nothing was going to stop me.
However, the signs that kept appearing seemed to point to one thing – no matter what happened the past few times, I might have only been lucky. I checked back the training log I kept. I might have pushed myself a little too much for a injury laden 41 yo. My diet was in check for sure. The only thing I could figure out to be the root was that I did not allow myself enough time to recover before I took on the next strenuous training. It was payback time. I might be able to push my luck just a little more this time but with all signs of problems rearing its ugly head, things could go very wrong too.
To forfeit the race and trip entirely would be ridiculous. To go but not participate would be depressing. It made sense to carry on with my plans since arrangements have already been made. I wanted the training mileages to mean for something. I didn’t want to throw in the towel at this point.
I have never let any of the ‘why might happen’ sway me.
So why start now?
So, I decided to use the hm in Phnom Penh as a coin flip. That race was two weeks out from the GCAM and it was the last long one I could do before I taper for the GCAM. If I could finish the hm in Phnom Penh with minimal pain and discomfort, my GCAM fm registration will remain status quo. If the run went down in flames, I would downgrade to run a hm instead.
The run in Phnom Penh was finished in 2:16 and was marked with a lot of pain and agony. I made it back to the finish in pieces.
It was clear to me that I might not be able to finish a 42 km run.
The realisation was difficult to swallow. I really looked forward to running a fm in the nice aussie weather but I ought to be patient and allow my body to ease into the multi-sport training I was currently doing. I cannot expect it to suck it up and take it like an athlete would because of my age.
Things really do change when you change the way you look at them.
The ankles hurt on race morning, and got me worried for a good part of the way but other than that everything went well. I enjoyed the race. The weather was nice. The cheers and roadside motivators made the run easier.
I managed to complete the hm in 2:04.
Strolling back to the apartment after the run, I stopped at Friggs for a fancy breakfast of fancy eggs on springs and buttered toasts coupled with a double shot piccolo. I cheered on the full marathoners after breakfast. I felt like shouting to them “Yeah! Keep going! Do this for me!”
But it sounded foolish though it really felt like they were living the race for me. I was filled with envy for them. They were still running pretty tough at the 32km mark. I joined the roadside motivators. We clapped for the runners and I shouted instead “You can do this!” “You’re almost there!” “It’s going to be done soon!”
Those are the words I would say to myself.
It was a happy ending with a reminder to always be thankful that I am still in one piece. My mind is definitely strong. I believe I have the grit to handle the mental aspects of a race. It is the physical aspects I have to take extra care of if I am going to do this long term.
I do not think I can stay away long enough from a chance to for an adrenaline rush though.