This picture only tells half the story. You may see a moment of triumph through the smile and raised hands as I crossed the finish line. A successful outing.
More than two years ago, before Covid-19 hit us, I set out a goal to complete a 100km ultra-trail race within 24 hours. Today I can humbly say that I have accomplished that.
It was just before 6 in the morning on 18 December 2021 when the gentle drizzle turned into a medium shower. The first-wave ultra-runners were all waiting at the starting pen, keeping a small distance between each other in compliance with the pandemic standard operating procedure. Personally for me, it took courage just to show up at the starting line.
Covid-19 first arrived at our shore on 25-Jan-2020 and it has been raging on for the last 18 months. In Malaysia, more than 1.1 Million people have contracted the disease with over 10,000 deaths recorded.
I understand that running is not for everyone. I don’t enjoy running as much as I would like to as well. Neither am I considered good at it. In fact this morning I struggled with an easy run and only managed 4km before I threw in the towel. My left hip was a little tight and I was running out of breath even at the easiest of pace.
I am going through a rough patch with my fitness. My legs just feel tired most of the time. If I hit the trails long and harder during weekends, my usual road runs on preceding days would suffer. Before, I usually needed just a day of rest before I could run properly again. These days the recovery seems slower and further into the week.
I did not grow up running and when I started running, it was all on the road. I still remember my early days of joining road races – first 10km, progressing to 12km, half and later full marathons.
On the last day of 2020 I was scrambling to review what I have accomplished for the year that has not been like any other. Just a year ago nobody would have guessed that a pandemic would hit and changed the way we study, work, and live.
Training for an ultra-distance requires running a relatively high weekly mileage. Accumulating these weekly mileage has somewhat been a challenge for me. The Covid-19 pandemic is taking a toll on everyone. All race events have been either cancelled or postponed to next year. Parks are sealed off and forest trails closed. Social distancing is enforced and we are not allowed to congregate or run in groups. It is not easy to go on training with all these restrictions, especially when there are no race excitements or pressures in the horizon.
Running is currently my main outlet for working out. I can appreciate that not many people likes running. Running aimlessly without a destination or purpose can be a boring thing to do.