“Breathless… pain… tired.. stop… can’t move.. lactic.. hurry up.. come on push yourself.. just a bit more.. tired.. tired..” “Faster, swing your arms!” Coach’s loud booming voice interrupts the confused stream of thoughts. The all too familiar mix of emotions experienced during trainings and races. Running has always been a constant struggle between the mind and body. So you may wonder, if it’s so much pain, Why do I run?
Not to chase after buses (this following a scare after falling on my back while chasing after the BTC bus one morning last year, much to the horror and slight amusement of the passengers who were lucky enough to catch the spectacle)
Not to complete marathons. To all you marathoners out there, I really really admire your determination. It’s amazing. I wish I had that spirit sometimes, but no I wont run a marathon, for now. But perhaps after having my second kid.. in a desperate attempt to get back in shape.
For Fun. My Secondary school days were spent chasing my best friend around pillars. And the girl guides had this rule that “You can’t run, you must fly” (translated from Chinese). Which, on hindsight, sounds kinda hilarious.
Because people asked me to. My first experience running competitively was in Sec 4 when I joined track and field and found out that runners are the nicest people around.
In JC. I was so bent on joining dance, because I really was passionate about dance. But I didn’t get through the auditions. So I joined cross country, because I thought, why not try something different? Then came my mum, this figure who governed my life, who didn’t want me to do it because she felt I wasn’t good at it. Everyone has this streak of teenage rebellion in them. I did. So I ran to prove her wrong.
Life in JC was not easy. Running became a form of escape, when things at home were miserable, when school was a bother and stressful, running was this avenue that I could turn to, where problems were momentarily put on hold, where you could push your limits, vent your frustrations, and forget about your worries, because for that moment, nothing really matters. It’s just you in your own little bubble. It’s you competing against yourself. Running brought me to the beach, East Coast Park where I could run and then stand at the jetty and stare out into the open seas, whispering my hopeful prayers.
I ran for the team, who became my family, the wonderful friends I had who were always there, some of whom till today remain my bestest friends ever. I ran because there was this earnest hope in each of our tender hearts, to bring back the Challenge Trophy. We ran for Love.
So in NUS, I was quite ready to hang up my running shoes, sometimes the fear of running competitively simply overwhelms you. After a semester in NUS, I felt that there was something missing in my life. I was itching to run again. So that’s when I joined NUS cross.
And NUS Cross, brought out my passion for running like never before. It’s not merely a team. It’s a family, and seeing it grow is just heartwarming. It’s this cocoon of warmth, of friendship, even happiness somehow squeezed out from this collective suffering. The constant encouragement, the cheers, the jokes, the fun and laughter, it takes away the dreariness of school.
On exchange, running took me to places that cars could not go and walking would take forever. In Notts, just feeling the rush of cool air on a chilly wintry morning made me smile. I ran to catch the sun during winter, to explore the lakes nearby and sit and muse. I ran to explore some countries, to admire God’s magnificent works, the cobbled rough streets of Belgium, the pretty canals of Amsterdam, the gardens of Copenhagen, bursting with colour upon the arrival of spring, the beaches of Croatia, where the sea was a shade of brilliant blue, and sitting there hearing the waves crash against the shore was simply therapeutic.
In short, I run because it makes me smile. It takes me to a plane where I can forget my worries. It replaces pain with this rush of happiness after pushing yourself. I run simply for the love of running.