I have always been active in sports since I was young. For some years I was very active in badminton, which I played at least 3 times a week. But during my early thirties, I fell down and injured my knee. After trying several times to make a comeback, I eventually gave up on the game.
I then moved on the swimming. And for some years I swam at least 3 times a week at an average of 10km weekly. I alternated that with weight training, and in fact gained quite a bit of muscles. When I relocated back to KK, I decided to try a bit of jogging. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my knee could handle up to an average of 5km per session. So I continued running regularly for some years.
Although I've been active since I was young, I've never really excelled in any one sport. I played games etc for the sake of fitness, but I did not have it in me to actually win competitions.
Then around mid-year 2008, someone told me about the Borneo International Marathon which was organised for the first time that year in over 20 years. At first I thought I would try the 10km race. But a friend, Teo, said that event was "sissy", and convinced me to try the half marathon instead. Back then 21km seemed like an impossible distance to me. So I decided to go for a full medical check up just to make sure that my body's really up to it.
One Saturday I spent a few hours to check my lipid profile, blood pressure, sugar level, the so-called stress test on the treadmill etc. Cost me quite a bit. But the good thing was that I was given a clean bill of health.
The funny thing was that when I told my friends that I had gone for a full medical check, some of them laughed at me, saying that I wasted my money; that I was obviously fit for the half marathon.
It is strange that most people have the tendency to take their health for granted. Some illnesses are not apparent from just seeing one's lifestyle. People may appear healthy when there's actually some terminal disease developing in their bodies.
When I ran the Penang Bridge International Marathon in November 2008, a young man who dashed out at the sound of the horn fainted a few kilometres later on the bridge. By the time I reached the poor lad, there were many people trying to revived him. And then later on, I heard the ambulance's siren. I think he survived the ordeal.
In the KL International Marathon last year, a young chap, I believe in his 20s died several hours after his race. And yesterday, also in the KL International Marathon, another 25-year old man died while attempting the 10km race. It is ironic that the recorded deaths are those of young people.
It's strange that organisers of marathons almost always remind the participants to ensure that they're up for the challenge. Yet very, very few of them actually go all the way to check with the doctors. What's more, most people have not trained sufficiently by the time they arrive at the start line. Like I said, most people believe that they are healthy and fit enough for the challenge. They always tell themselves that if they feel too exhausted, then they will simply stop or walk the rest of the distance, if they can still do that. Except that in some cases by the time they stop running, the hearts have reached the point where they're shutting down. And it would take a lot of effort to revive them, especially if medical help is too far away and too slow in coming.