Sunday, November 21, 2010
Having torn my ACL in the beginning of this year, I thought I would never run again. To pick myself up from injury like this was difficult and to hear people around me talking about their runs made me more miserable. Out of frustration, I signed up for a half marathon scheduled 4 months after my injury. And I managed to complete my first half marathon within the qualifying time. I was motivated. Then came the time to registered for Malaysia's Penang Bridge International Marathon in November and my husband said he wanted to do the full marathon. It coincides with our first year anniversary and he said that he would run it for us. I thought, "why not?" I would complete a full marathon for us too. After signing up, we were very enthusiastic about the full marathon. We did our homework on how to eat and train right for a full marathon. Only thing lacking of our compliance to the plan.
The race started off at 200 am on 21st November 2010. My husband and I wished each other "Happy Anniversary," kissed briefly and off we went. He paced along my side for the first few kilometres, until I quietly signalled him to go ahead. He left on his own pace, never very far from my sight. I started off my songs and I ran slowly, pacing myself evenly. It was dark, the weather was cooling and my husband slowly pacing away from me. I was running at my own comfortable pace. I told myself that I will do the run, walk method. And I did. It was time to hit the Penang Bridge. I saw lone runners, a group of four runners, pacing together and even chatted briefly with some virgin marathon runners like myself.
It started to rain heavily when I hit the 23km mark. "Dear God, you would never give us something that we cannot take," I thought. True enough, I found more strength in running in the rain and walked when I felt tired. I crossed path with an elderly man, limping on one side walking with all his might, smiling. He was doing his half marathon. At this point, I broke into tears, thinking, "What can a human not do." This made me more determined to continue my journey. I never carry a watch while running and this time it was no exception. I did not know how long I had been running. I caught up with my husband at one point and he told me that we were doing at a good time. "Just maintain this pace," he told me. And I did just that. There were times I felt tired, but I took deep breaths to "rejuvenate" my muscles and re-assessed if I was really tired. At some points I was walking and then I felt a pat on my back. I turned, seeing a woman running beside me saying, "Come, run with me." I did as I was told. "We run together, I need your energy too," she said, smiling. I asked if she was a veteran marathon runner. She replied, "I have run a few marathons, but this is my first time in Penang." "I'm Winnie." "I'm Shew and this is my first marathon." "You are doing good for a first timer, keep it up." I was thinking that Winnie must be God sent angel as only God knew I needed the push. We ran together for another 2 km and I had to walk again. "I might have twisted my ankle," she told me. I asked if she was alright. She replied she would be fine and encouraged me to go on without her. With the 6 hour pacer running past me, I had to catch up. I asked her again if she's going to be okay and she said she would catch up. I ran slowly, thinking that I would get there eventually.
I walked a lot for the last 3km with my legs hurting and I was just thinking when I would be reaching the finishing line. One guy ran beside me and said, "come on, we are so near." I tried to pick up my run, matching his pace and asked, "how far are we?" "5 more minutes," he promised. For the last 500m, we ran together, motivating each other. Mind you, 500m could seem endless after running for so many hours. We both shouted that we could almost smell our finisher medals, motivating each other in every step we ran. We crossed the finishing line, nevertheless, tired and extremely over the top. And we both managed to clock less than 6 hours. 5 hours and 51 minutes to be exact. Not record-breaking, but I was satisfied as my aim was just to complete within the qualifying time of 7 hours.
I then went to search for my husband. He did ten minutes faster than me. We hugged and congratulated each other again. Our very first marathon finisher medals. What a wonderful anniversary gift. It was an amazing journey, no doubt. Not only that it tested my endurance and mental strength, it was an extraordinary journey of motivation, friendship and determination through "hardship" like this that I experienced from people around me. It was simply a moving and life-changing journey.
to the First Marathons page