The Starting Line

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I got my running gear on and went out the door at 3:30 a.m. I walked to the starting line in front of Sultan Abdul Samad building. It was still very dark but there were some runners already. Some were even sleeping! The Kenyans were starting to warm up and began to run about. As this was my first time, I get butterflies in my stomach. I quickly went down to the toilet under the Merdeka Square and do my things :P That was a huge relief!

After that, i went again in front of Sultan Abdul Samad building. There were some announcements but I really didn't catch it as I am really nervous. There were huge lights lighting the whole area. Thousands of people were there to run the race. They had loud motivating music playing. It was an exciting atmosphere with everyone visiting and talking about the race. It was awesome!

Well, before long it was near the time for the race to start. I put my numbers in front and back of my shirt and put some kind of gadgets at my right shoe. Oh yes! I remember now. It's called the race chip. It supposed to record down your time . I met up with some friends who wanted to run with me but I politely said that this was my first marathon and I might run very slowly. There was so much noise that we could hardly hear the starting gun go off, but it did. Soon we were off and running. It was still dark.

Many runners passing through me a the starting point. My heads were thinking, what am I doing here? I felt so sleepy and I have no confidence at all to finish the race. My legs felt heavy and I am short of breath even though the race has just begun. Luckily, I found a girl to pace with. So, I pace behind her hehehe :P. After a while, my body start to warm up and the race seems like my usual long run in weekend.

At about 20 KM, I realized that the girl I was pacing still going strong and didn't stop running but kept getting faster. Realized that I can't keep up with her, I began to walk at the next water station. Soon the problem started. My calf and my thighs feel cramped. I request some oilment from the medical volunteers and they put some oil onto my legs. Wow! It's hot but it reduce the pain that I'm suffering. I started running again but with full cautious not to over stride.

At about 30 KM, some volunteers handed me some packet but I really dunno what it is. I saw some runners tear it down and eat the contains. I did the same. Pergh! The taste was horrible and it stuck at my throat. I ask them some water to flush it down my throat. It was some kind of weird gel. If i can recall back , I think it is Power Gel or something. I'm not sure.

After 30 KM, I really can't run anymore, so I just walk and run slowly with a bunch of other runners. That is where I met uncle Ronnie and we talked and the talked made me forgot all the pain and the tiredness. I also met with Runningmom. Uncle Ronnie kept feeding me with marathon tips and I thanked him.

Finally I rounded the bend where I could see the Sultan Abdul Samad building again. There were a lot of people cheering us . It was great! At 40 KM Runningmom took off ahead of me. Followed her was Uncle Ronnie and his gang. I am slowing down. I did a lot of walking those 2 KM. Finally I rounded the corner at a traffic lights to the final stretch. By this time both of my knees, my calfs, my thighs, were starting to really hurt. I had to push myself now even with the finish line in sight.

I am now at the final stretch. I am in what they call the chute where the street is lined with crowds of people on both sides. They were cheering on me. It gave me both such a boost of energy and I stepped up my pace. Wow! What a great feeling to cross that finish line! How can you possibly describe it?

The volunteers at the finish line handed me a bag full of souvenirs but most importantly was the race medal. I really earned them. And my time? Well, I came in at 6 hours 24 minutes. Actually, I didn't care much about the time as my target is only to finished the race under 7 hours . 7 hours are the minimum time. After that, you won't get a medal Wow, even better than I had expected. Everything went so well.

These are the the 13 life lessons that I got from my first marathon

I hope that gives you some idea of what it was like. For the full effect you're going to have to run a marathon yourself. Now, let me share with you 13 lessons I learned from that remarkable experience.

1. Anyone can run a marathon. I used to have a picture in my mind of what a marathon runner looked like - a wafer thin gazelle-type person from Kenya. After running my first marathon that image changed dramatically. I was amazed at the variety of people running the race. I realized that size doesn't matter. A friend I trained with was nearly twice my weight and would consume what seemed like a gallon of 100 plus at each water stop and yet he was a much faster runner than I was. Age doesn't matter. I can't tell you how many old ladies passed me during that first marathon. Young, old, large, small, thin, wide, you name it, they were all running a marathon. It was amazing.

2. Coming in first doesn't matter. Finishing does. In a marathon, everyone that crosses the finish line is a winner and receives a medal. That's good because I certainly am not a fast runner. Just making it to the end is a major accomplishment. I think life is like that. To be successful you don't have to have the most or be the best or the fastest - just make it gracefully to the end.

3. Make it through the trial KM. I have come to learn that the first KM of each training run was always the trial KM. It was the KM you had to get through before your heart and body warmed up and got into its rhythm. Basically you feel lousy during that first mile. But if you can make it through it you always felt better during the following miles. Some people never make it through the "trial mile" of whatever endeavor they are pursuing. So hang in there, it gets better.

4. Don't skip the training. You are so much better off when you properly train. The pain and misery and injuries that occur when you attempt something you haven't trained well for are not worth it. Do the proper training.

5. Cheering really works. We've all been to sporting events and yelled and cheered for our team. I never thought it helped much until I was on the receiving end during my first marathon. It was amazing how much it increased my energy and drive when people were cheering me on. We all need cheering from time to time in our lives.

6. We need friends. Good company makes any journey more pleasant.

7. Don't stop. Sometimes we have a tremendous urge to quit, to give up, to throw in the towel. Having the ability to overcome those urges and keep going makes all the difference in life.

8. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. When I first began training for a marathon I would start off running at a quick pace. I would do well for 1 KM or so and then run completely out of gas. My wife had to tell me I needed to slow down and take it easy. I had to pace myself. It wasn't easy at first but I soon learned I couldn't spend all I had during the first KM or I would never make it through the other 42 KM. In many other areas of life the same rule applies. Pace yourself.

9. You need a coach. I consider myself a fairly smart person and can figure out a lot of things on my own. But in looking back at my training for my first marathon, I can't imagine doing it without the help of my wife who had the experience of training for and running a marathon herself. It was so great to have her lead me and guide me literally every step of the way. Don't be too proud to let others show you the way. My wife is a short distance runner herself but same rules applies

10. The mind game matters. As much as we like to think that success in sports simply requires having a perfectly tuned and trained body, its much more than that. It is as much a mind game as a physical game. After all the physical preparation, much of your success has to do with what goes on in your head. And let me tell you, after 42 KM of running, some weird things can go on in there. It's a constant mental battle that must be fought to succeed.

11. We need mile markers. I usually look for an object to mark my run. I don't care what it is, ut as long it kept me going forward, I will mark it. Same as your life, you need short term goals.

12. The more you do something, the better you get at doing it. Sounds simple enough and it is. Think about the first time you did any hard thing such as playing the piano, typing at the computer, or driving a car. They were all difficult at first and yet, as time went on and you worked at it every day, it became easier, almost second nature. Just because something is hard at first doesn't mean you can't do it. It just means you haven't done it enough yet.

13. Be inspired by others. I had set a goal months ago to run a marathon. Nothing ever happened with it until I watched some Youtube clips on how people run a marathon. When I watched them come across that finish line I was completely amazed and inspired and decided right then that I would do it. And I did. Having a goal was nothing. Being inspired by a great video was everything.

That's all..


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