Note: this is about the no of times I’ve run marathons. Not about LFC’s euro record!! lol

And yeah, what a game, no one on earth can play Barça.

Alright!! back to the point. Yes the marathon experience. I’ve started this passion back in May 2009. After 19 months in the army & constant runs in and about camp, I’ve decided to take on a new challenge. The marathon.

Why? At that time I’ve endured a difficult period in the army. I was unpopular, targeted against cos’ I don’t fit in, I didn’t agree with the dominant clique there and they made it a point to outcast and make me a scapegoat. But the one thing they aren’t good at? Running. Yep.

Weekly live runs would often see them slacking, throwing excuses and executing ‘stunts’ just to escape those runs, but I saw them as an opportunity to prove I was different. To stand up against them despite all the bullying and discrimination. Eventually I’ve become good at running and people remarked on my ability to maintain long distances and stamina.

So, when sundown 2009 came about, I thought: why not? Just give it a shot!!

And boy, what an adventure it has been. Each marathon has shown me life in a nutshell.

Life in those arduous, mundane and painful runs. People do change after a marathon, they learn discipline, resilience, determination, fighting spirit, courage, conviction, so on so forth…..

The first one? I leapt into it despite only training up to 15km. Result ain’t pretty, legs gave way after 3 hours and experienced extreme pain in those legs. End result: 5 hours 49 mins. Not too bad for a start!!! (I’ll always remember this one for the insane uphill road from Pasir Ris – Changi Village)

Next was the Singapore Marathon (Stanchart 2009). Pretty smooth, the easiest run I’ve been on. Alvin & Jesh came together to take this on and I did it in 5 hours 14 mins. This was memorable for the companionship (You’ll never run alone guys!!), main challenge was the heat and the crowd. But this is easy.

Third run was my personal best: Sundown 2010. I didn’t have enough rest, came straight from service and was delayed by the bus. So I started 35 mins late. But I finished at 4 hours 52 mins. Wow, but the legs gave way at 24 km again. But this is my finest run, the record I’ve yet to break.

Now, Stanchart 2010 was a tough one, emotionally. It came at a breaking time for me, not doing well with studies, having emotional turmoil and self-esteem issues. I took this on without sufficient rest (one hour of sleep), drank red bull (depressed energy after 2 hours) and ate too much (puked the excess pasta at 7km). And had serious doubts (come to think of it, it was a demonic attack) at 20km and almost broke down during the run. But this was the first time God spoke to me directly in a marathon. To keep going, to keep believing in myself, to finish the race. And I did!! 4 hours 54 mins. This run taught me to be emotionally strong and to guard myself against doubt. Oh the heat was much more intense this time.

And yes…….the latest run!!! Sundown 2011.

If sundown 2009 was my virgin run (bloody painful), stanchart 2009 & sundown 2010 was my honeymoon and peak (no obvious difficulties and good timings), stanchart 2010 the emotionally challenging run, then sundown 2011 is the run I’ve come to realize my limitations and reality.

This time I’ve rested well, drank tons of fluid and ate less than before. And I was more relaxed and at ease cos of experience. So none of those jitters in the previous runs, came 2 hours early, psyched myself, stretched well and prayed for a good run.

Only this time, I’ve got thrown a curve ball in the form of my ageing body. I ran slower than before in the first 10km. Vomited twice (drank too much water and didn’t eat sufficiently), especially at the 14 km point where it got really bad. I vomited three times (must’ve lost 3 cans of fluid?) together with my gel and pre-race meal and spent the next hour and a half running stop-start and feeling really weak and pale. It got that bad that a race medic asked me if I could continue at the half-way point.

As pastor phil later shared that day, it came to pass at that point: your breaking point is your turning point

That time I kept telling myself, and vowing to god that I will not give up, because I’ve come to far to fall, and I know my strengths. To stay strong mentally despite my physical weakness and this sounds stupid. I was smiling cos I know I’m still gonna finish, and finish strong!!! Why?

Because of God who gives me strength and courage

Gradually I decided to pace myself, using the stop start strategy of walking 30 seconds-bursting 15 seconds. I’ve managed to gain back some ground and for the first time in all my runs. My legs did not break (it came pretty close at 35-40km) as a result of the burst strategy. And yeah…..

Did it in 5 hours 6 mins. This was also the first time I’m running with the water bag too.

And the reward? Getting to watch the champions league final after the race! What a classic, United had fighting spirit, Barça had everything else (including the trophy, heh)

So like a marathon: you’ll need to prepare for it, know the route inside out, train for it, believe that you can do it and despite having a million things going wrong (trust me, 5 runs have shown me just about everything can go wrong) you can still do it and finish well. Sometimes you just have to shut everything else up and bash right through ’em all.

Same goes for everything in life =)

PS: I didn’t expect Pastor Phil to ‘arrow’ me upstage!!! lol. If my legs didn’t give way during the run, it certainly did by daybreak!!

Now for the impossible: the 100km

25 more days