Hongkong- As I write this, it's 7 o'clock in the morning and it's still 12 degrees outside. The sun has yet to make an appearance, and it looks like he won't be around anytime soon.
This means I would have to chuck the shorty split shorts and run with arm warmers, gloves, a beanie and compression leggings. The past three months I've been preparing my body to run at 34 degrees at high noon - a necessary evil for the BDM. I've never run in anything resembling this Hongkong weather, but the cold is the least of my worries.
When my airport bus passed by the harbor tunnel, at the exact same spot where Chinese speaking marshals picked up and hauled my sorry ass to the DNF (short for did not finish) bus in 2009, a sudden chilling fear from out of nowhere crept up my bones. What if I choke in one of the seven cut-off points along the marathon course? What if I get cramps? What if I do not finish the marathon, again? It was a crisis of confidence and it's as if all the other five (5) marathons and two ultras I finished prior to this did not really matter.
When I first ran Hongkong marathon in 2009, I had absolutely no training, no mileage and no idea what it takes to finish a marathon. I relied merely on the wisdom of someone who knows nothing. The cut-off time then was 5 hours 30 minutes with at least five cut-off points spread throughout the 42K route. The sweeper picked me up between KM 26 and KM 27 for running too slow, and rightly so.
I seldom fail in my pursuits, and DNF'ing my first marathon really stung. This chip on my shoulder made me want to pursue and finish other marathons and even venture into ultras of which I have been successful. But the Hongkong Marathon is like a demon that must be put to rest.
Looking back I realize that I truly deserved that DNF. If I had managed to wing it in 2009 without putting in the work, I wouldn't have the same appreciation for the beauty of the marathon nor would I have the same respect for the distance and the commitment it demands from those who attempt to scale the so-called Mt. Everest of running.
This appreciation and utmost respect for the marathon is where this creeping fear must be coming from. This fear, which should not be confused with self-doubt, puts the runner in the right place. You realize that no matter how many 42 K's or even ultra distances you have tucked under your belt, each full mary is different from all the others.
Joe Henderson, former Runnersworld editor and pioneer of the long slow distance as a marathon training tool says it best - "You can never be sure. That's what makes the marathon both fearsome and fascinating. The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become. But then you finish. And you wonder later, 'How did I do that?' This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical. "
And so on Sunday, I will be back at the starting line along Natahan Road where my endless pursuit for the marathon distance started. I'm hoping that even as the tempreature dips to 10 degrees and below, the fire in my belly keeps me running all through the finish line finally lay this old demon to rest.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Slaying old demons, settling unfinished business
February 18, 2011