Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Nothing is impossible! You can do it ! Yes, you!

If you had told me 3 years ago that I could complete a full Marathon measuring 42.195 km (26 miles), I would have referred you to the Woodbridge Hospital (the predecessor to the Institute of Mental Health).

Although I was always the sporty type- having been active in athletics and rugby, I was convinced that I was made more for the sprints and jumps than for long distance running.

Like the West Africans of Nigeria, my muscle fibres must be predominantly the white fast-twitch type, ideal for short distance. (Till then, I could not run more than 200m to save my life!). If you must know, red slow-twitch muscle fibres are found more in endurance runners like the great Kenyans and Gebrselassie of Ethiopia (who are coincidentally all East Africans).

To cut the story short, I started with 3 km in Dec 2003; by July 04, I ran the full MacRitchie Track (11km) and then some, and in Sept 04( the Army Sheare’s bridge half-Marathon) and finally completed my first full Standard Chartered Marathon in Dec 2004.

Yes, I know Temasek has invested in Standard Chartered Bank and if I have the Stanchart shares, I would definitely sell them ASAP unless my investment goals are very loooong term! (joking) But the Stanchart Marathons are very well organised affairs and their “pom-pom girls” are attractive too!

My finishing time was shameful (for a man), but I did overtake two middle-aged (ok, slightly elderly) Thai ladies. And the guy who carried the “float-thingy”- (paper-mache figurines on wire-frames) , was a full 1 ½ hours behind me! He must have been last! (FYI- many didn't finish, so finish considered good already)

In Dec 2005, I did it again! But this time, the same two Thai ladies must have had serious training because they overtook me about 5.6 km from the finish! They were too fast.

What is the point in all this, you are probably asking? Besides indulging in my usual Narcissism and bragging about my mid-life achievements , there are some lessons in this ( somewhere).

1.Life is a Marathon..

Our aim for social justice and equality is a long term one.
We may wish for, but do not expect everything we hope for to be offered to us on a silver platter.
It is a race of endurance. Let’s see who can “tahan” longer. ( Non-singlish readers: “tahan” means to endure or tolerate longer)

2.We need friends to help us along the way.

I trained with JL, SY and IS ( initials used to disguise full names- stating the obvious right?) Actually IS is Indian, so he didn’t really need training. He trained with us to “humour” us. (so nice).
On race day, about 1 km from the start , I told IS,” IS, don’t worry about me, fly… FLY LIKE THE WIND!
We must find like-minded ( and crazy) people to go along this long and winding road. (…. That leads us to your door.. The Hollies right? or rolling stones?)

3.We need cheer leaders amongst the crowd.

Ever wondered why the home team in any sports event gets so much advantage. In soccer, the home crowd is likened to a “12th player”. ( But Germany lost anyway! So there goes the theory) But seriously, those “pom-pom” girls really motivated me to carry on. When life seemed so meaningless and without meaning, I plodded on because of them. ( Also my manhood was at stake!)
We need people to say positive things to us like, “ You can do it!” or “only 35 km more!”

4.But The End is not the End… but just another beginning.

When I completed the first Marathon, I wanted to shout to the whole world how great I felt.. but most spectators have left the Padang already (only left young girls doing massage on our thighs). I wanted to shout “ I am a finisher of the Marathon, it feels GREAT!

About 5 minutes later… I was saying to myself,”so this is it?” ( mildly crest-fallen)

Sometimes the end is an anti-climax.

Even if we ever get a great victory ( eg. Smaller GRC/ upgrading for all/ PAP admitting that there were very naughty and not nice), we will realize that life goes on. There will continue to be irritating people ( eg in internet forums ) and work problems, new challenges etc.

Let’s keep our chins up. Don’t hate anyone ( you can love them if you want). They are Singaporeans too.

PS: I really did run the Marathon. If you start now ( and were a couch potato), you can still do the half-Marathon by Dec 06- seriously)

Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan
( I feel better already)


Thrasymachus said...

Hi there

Just drop by. Keep up the good works and "keep running". =P


Anonymous said...


All the comments in here

Dr Oz bloke said...

Hmm do you know of the Hashmen? Or are you already one?


these guys conduct runs every Tuesdays!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Dr Oz
Ya I heard about the Hash House Harriers. They are active in S'pore with many chapters.
They do crazy things like get someone to be the "fox" or something and the rest chase hims after giving him a head start.
Then at the end of the run ( and burning calories) , they have a booze binge where they put back all the calories again ... and more!
Lots of angmo expats! Crazy!
Sounds like barrels of fun!
One of these days, after I am done political aggitating and rabble-rousing, I will join them!
What about you? You run too?
I have just done online ( this morning) registration for the Army Sheares Bridge Half Marathon ( 26 Aug 06). Will sign up for the Stanchart Marathon once registration starts.
OK, I gotta attend to the next patient now.
Dr. H

recruit ong said...

You got do the AHM anot? AHM = Army Half Marathon, no need to pay one.. the one that all NS slaves are "told" to try try during their NSF. Get 1 day off and keng a few days MC for knee pain after dat...

nofearSingapore said...

Hi recruit ong,
Yes I am going to do the AHM.
Unlike the fortunate NSF slaves who register for free,
I have to pay.
I have just registered online at www.safra.sg. Closing date approaching soon.
The Stanchart Marathon just sent me a promo flyer and on it is a personalised record of my actual timing and position! Really embarrasing. Fortunately I got from my mailbox before anyone could see it.
I will register for that too, but this year I will only do half-Marathon. Full Marathon 42.195km is too long for veteran like me. Having done it twice ( and therefore proved that first time was not a fluke) , feel that even masochism has its limits!
Maybe will do full Marathon or even triathlon ( as suggested by my friends JL and SY yesterday) next year. But swim like chicken can do triathlon meh?
Dr. Huang

recruit ong said...

Aiyoh doc, they say pay den you go pay ah? $5 right? that is for lousy tee shirt. Told u no need to pay liao... On that day u go there see big big crowd anyone can just join in one... Please dun give $$ to stoopid gahment lah

nofearSingapore said...

Hi recruit
You should have told me earlier that can just join in the crowd. haha
But the Stanchart Marathon, they r very strict and no one without no.tag can run.
OK, it was more than $5 . it was $15 in fact. Now I gotta find a way to cheat back $15 from the gahment ( shh.. don't tell them)
Dr. H

firefly said...

Loved your article, especially regarding your friend IS who is Indian, and you proceed not to describe further. :D I am one of those long distance freaks too, including tris and bis, and I do agree at times the end part is really anti-climatic. But the pursuit of completing it is overwhelming. See you at this year's upcoming marathons! :)

nofearSingapore said...

Hi firefly,
IS also did the last 2 Marathons like me. Unlike me he has respectable timing. His last was 4:30 hrs ( to me is good- don't know if you think so).
JL is better than me ( or I) and is a 6 hr or just sub-6 Marathoner and SY is better than both of us.
Coincidentally, JL & SY suggested triathlon after all this.
But I asked them, eh.. swim like chicken also can do triathlon meh?
ha ha
In any case, JL & I will probably only so the half-Marathon this year. You got your promo flyer from Stanchart yet? remember to sign up from the 21st July.
Enjoy your endorphin highs!
Dr. H