Two weeks ago I established a new personal best for a marathon distance after completing the Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2015 in Yangon, Myanmar. I crossed the finish line strong after running for 4 hours and 30 minutes, successfully meeting my objective and vindicating all my efforts to fly from Singapore to Yangon to participate in such an event. I needed such a victory to gain confidence for my next marathon which will occur in the city of Osaka, Japan, and has a strict 5-hour cut-off time. Prior to the Yangon event, I had no record completing a marathon in less than five hours.
Before I write a more exhaustive review of the Yoma Yangon International Marathon 2015, which I’ve completed earlier today, I want to pen the random mantras and potent thoughts that flew across my mind in the race’s last 10 kilometres. Every marathon runner understands that the last 10 KM (that is, from KM 32 or mile 20 onwards) is the toughest and most dramatic part of running a marathon. It often occurs in this part of the race the full exhaustion of our muscle glycogen, causing many runners to “hit the wall” and stop running.
Just four weeks ago, when I completed my first ever marathon being baked under the sun I was expecting to be discouraged embarking on a long-distance running journey. Apparently not.
In two days, I will be flying to Yangon, Myanmar, via Kuala Lumpur to participate in the second marathon of my life – the 22nd Yoma Yangon International Marathon. This prospect comes after immersing myself into several weeks of self-imposed marathon training which commenced quickly just a week after last month’s Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. In pursuit of a greater performance and fitness, I was ultimately convinced to go vegetarian full on.
It always occurs to me that when I am expecting to hike yet another mountain I get extremely pumped prior to the climb. The thrill of seeing beautiful views from an altitude and the prospect of travelling and seeing new places equate to sheer happiness.
But often times when my hiking friends and I are already on the slopes and struggling to climb a mountain with our tired legs, say we are on a hiking trip over a weekend, we start asking ourselves why we’re there in the first place when we could have just lazed around our homes watching TV or browsing the Internet the whole day. I thought that would be more comfortable and convenient! But these ideas never worked, not for me and for my hiking friends. We still keep on coming back to the mountains.
If you have never climbed a mountain before, I can tell you right now that it’s not an easy task. Regardless of the mountain’s height, the climb will always be challenging. If you climbed on one and it wasn’t you probably climbed a hill. Mountains really put your overall fitness into a test, at the same time, they present a massive adventure.
Each mountain also has its own character and offer distinct overlooking views, which are things that make hiking an exciting thing to do. There’s always something unique on the trails. Some are steep, some are rocky, some offer magnificent views as you climb up, and some are a mudfest, or have trails that are laden with a gazillion of hungry leeches, or other wild animals.
In the recent mountains that I’ve climbed, namely Mount Korbu and Mount Gayong in Perak, Malaysia, we endured about eight hours (on the way up and back) hiking on a river trail heavily infested with aggressive leeches. These fast-moving worms added extra stress to what was already a very dangerous trail that we were on. We hated them yes, but we resisted and kept on climbing until we reached the twin peaks. It was awesome. Even though the whole activity was an absolute ordeal, hardships turned as amazing memories once we’ve reached the summit and returned to the trail head safely. After the hike, I told myself not to climb such a mountain again. But as I have said above, it will not work. Soon enough, I will find myself yet on another mountain.
I’ve said it already so many times. I said it whilst I was on my first mountain, second, third and just recently, on my seventh. Clearly, there’s something that keeps me on coming back. There is something that keep us on coming back. We always find ourselves signing up to go into the wild, responding to yet another mountain’s call. We are always drawn into the nature’s magical beauty despite the challenges and risks that we are already knew. It’s a real love-and-hate relationship with nature that we live.
I guess it is the magical experience upon reaching a mountain’s summit and seeing the magnificent views of nature from remote places after a torturous and oftentimes risky climb that keep us really hooked. That feeling when you are up there in the mountains enjoying the vast views of the horizons of the Earth; that feeling when a cool breeze of fresh air sweeps through your face; that wonderful feeling when you find yourself inside a centuries-old mossy forest; and the fact that you are enjoying the sheer beauty and magnificence of nature, after having braved through the challenges, are reasons compelling enough to keep us coming back. When you summit a real mountain, you gain yourself a strong evidence that you can do great things, and confidence that there’s absolutely no reason or excuse why you shouldn’t climb and overcome the other mountains of your life.
At this moment, I am helping to organise a hiking trip to Mount Apo, the Philippines’ highest mountain rising up to 2,976 metres in April 2015. But I expect to climb yet another mountain even before it occurs.
I am very excited!
When I decided to make a drastic change in my lifestyle early this year, one of the key factors that I changed was my diet. It turned out, that it was key to reclaiming my fitness, along with a consistent exercise regime and renewed participation in sports.
After mulling for almost a year, I am now prepared to welcome yet another change in my eating habits. I now declare myself a vegetarian. I believe that I can get most out of my body if I feed it with the right food it deserves.
Sometimes in life we find ourselves in an unwanted situation where we feel so strangled in complex and unhealthy relationships, alone and lonely, buried deep in debt, or forced to interact in a world full of hostile people. Whether we were brought to that stage by happenstance, or by following the desires of our heart, by occupation, or by marriage, these are nonetheless the times when we feel completely hopeless, trapped, and our freedom feels severely curtailed. It’s dark, just dark and downright depressing.
So what do we do? Shall we just give up or watch things unfold? Can you really afford that?
This year’s been pretty remarkable for me. 2014 saw an overall shift in my lifestyle, fitness and a general improvement in many other areas of my life that I have overlooked before. I have partied less, and given emphasis to investing my time on things that make sense, supportive to my future and people who matter to me the most. The reality has finally sunk in, that in order for me to legitimately bring sunshine to the lives of other people through service, I must take full responsibility of my life and exercise this responsibility through the consistency of my actions.
The weeks of training for my first marathon went down the drain after waking up on the race day severely ill-prepared, ultimately ruining my hopes to finish the race at an ideal target time.
Granted that the primary goal for my first marathon was only completion, I also somewhat hoped to finish it at around 4:30, as with my running buddy Jonathan (Captain Canada), whom I trained with. I crossed the finish line after running for 5:44:26 (net time) instead. Even if everyone suffered the same intensity of humidity and heat that day, it left me wondering how I would have performed if I was in a better, prepared shape.
I reached a new milestone in my active lifestyle by completing my first ever full marathon at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2014. I was one of over 13,000 participants who braved to wake up early last Sunday morning and headed to Orchard Road, Singapore, where the race flagged off.
To be honest, my race day didn’t start quite well.
In my previous post, I shared about the first wall that is preventing me from becoming the person that I want to be. The first wall was the “Fitness Wall”.
Having successfully seen the result of my efforts to make a sharp u-turn to my fitness, I am now up to breaking the second of the four walls: the “Athletics Wall”. Athletics to my body is an uncharted territory, and the fact that my heart and mind both agree and all set to explore this area of life, I feel nothing but sheer excitement.