To start off, I'm no great, natural talent. I was a couch-potato until my early 30s and was lucky if I could run one kilometre non-stop. When I was younger, I played a bit of tennis and basketball here and there, but I sucked at them. Between the age of 20 and 30, I was so much into partying and drinking. While I wasn't overweight, I was virtually unfit and I had a belly beer as a bling. I could still vividly remember when I was studying my masters in the US, I went shopping in a supermarket with my flatmate (a girl). On our way home, it started to rain, and she suggested we ran to our apartment - which was a measly one kilometer away. I said yes and we started running. After less than one minute, I was huffing and puffing already and I had to stop. She said why ?? We just barely started !! That pretty much summed it up !
In my early 30s, I had a job posting in China. I was single and blessed with cash. I developed a passion for adventure and travel. I scuba dived in exotic locations, did white-water rafting on Zambezi river in Zambia, skydived from 9000ft in New Zealand, did white-water kayaking including a vertical 30m drop waterfall, and climbed the 4000m Mt. Kinabalu in Borneo (the highest mountain in SE Asia). Whilst looking for another adventure to be accomplished, I asked myself: why not running a half marathon? It is a kind of adventure in itself since it is physically and mentally challenging.
After undertaking about one month of light training, I did my first race - Beijing Half Marathon in October 2003. Due to my low fitness level, I had to stop and walk several times in the race but was still able to complete the HM in just under 2 hours. I had difficulty walking for the next few days but I was happy. Later I improved my HM time 1:50 in Hong Kong (Feb 2004). I then came accross a quote by the great emil Zatopek: 'if you want to win something, run 100m. If you want to experience another life, run a marathon'. There was a marathon in Xiamen in March, about 6 weeks after my last HM. Despite limited training (my longest run prior to this was 21k aka the HM and I then 'gallowalked' a couple of 30k training runs), I duly completed the Xiamen Marathon in 3:50. Mission accomplished !
After the marathon, I discontinued running for a few months. In October 2004, I had a new job posting in Perth, Australia. The place was virtually a running paradise. Clean air, excellent running community, lots of parks and bike/jogging paths all over the city !!! I even have the beautiful, gigantic Kings Park, a few steps away from my apartment. I began to run religiously since then and the year of 2005 AD turned out to be my best ever running chapter. Did 22 races in total and I got 22 PBs. By the end of the year, I slashed my 10k times from 50 minutes to under 40 minutes, my HM times from 1:50 to 1:31, and my marathon times from 3:50 to 3:17. And that was only after one year of consistent training !!
In 2006, I had big hopes given the rate of improvement that I had in the previous year. Started the year with a bang, 39:23 10k and then a 1:29 HM followed by a 1:27 HM. However, after that, my world came crashing down. My performance went sideways and I consistently had a number of bad races. The harder I trained and the more mileage I ran, the worse my race performances were. I was sick of running and took a few weeks off in order to re-group. At the end of the year, I changed my focus into short races and the decision began to yield positive results including a 5k in 18:45.
And now, 2007....Grrrr...this is probably my worst period of running. Had some decent results early in the year including several sub-19 5ks and sub-40 10ks, but I was aiming much higher than that (sub 18:30 5ks and sub 39 10ks). Overall my race performances continued their downward spirals. Got married in May and went on a long honeymoon. Upon returning to Perth, I set my goal to run a PB in Melbourne Marathon. After marriage, I found that finding time to run was a bit of challenge. I couldn't run as much as I wanted to because I had to balance family life. I also had a training slump in the critical period and only did one long run in the last 6 weeks. During the judgement day, I set myself a goal to finish the marathon in under 3:15, however, the lack of long runs and training proved to be my downfall as I got cramp and tight muscles near the end. I eventually pulled out of the marathon at 37k mark in 2:52. I began to wonder: have I reached my genetic potential even after only 3 years of training?
In October 2007, I am now back in Singapore (lived here in 2001). I realize that I have to work harder and train smarter in order to achieve a breakthrough in my running. I've been running poorly in the last year or so. The heat/humidity as well as the lack of running places will become the major obstacles that I need to overcome. I estimate that my 5k-10k running times from Australia will be at least a couple of minutes slower if I run them in Singapore.
I aim to re-start my running life from scratch again. This will be a new beginning....
I have worked hard at improving my running. And I will work even harder to become a better runner. Who knows where this will lead?