A couple of months ago, I signed up for the Hong Kong Marathon which will be on 20 February. I thought that would be a good way to keep my running habit up, so that I wouldn't become lazy in my workouts. Otherwise, I would've had to start all over again when I prepare for the Borneo International Marathon (BIM) on 01 May.
What I failed to anticipate was a fairly serious back injury I sustained in January which put me out of action for about a week. The pain that I felt then made me think that I wouldn't be able to recover before the Hong Kong Marathon. Even when I started running again, the intensity and duration of my workouts were much lesser than originally planned.
Since then I've recovered almost fully, until last Sunday when I was running my peak long run of 35km with Dr Peter on the highway. My back felt good at the start of that run, but by about 25km, I began to feel a bit of pain again. And by the time we were into the last few kilometres, I was running fairly slowly because of the pain which had by then become a cause for concern.
This morning, I had planned to run my 21km at the Tun Fuad Park in Bukit Padang. I'm convinced that Bukit Padang is a necessity because I desperately need the hillwork. But 2 weeks ago, when I did 21km in Bukit Padang, and especially when I was going downhill, I could feel a bit of stress on my back and knees.
Over the last few days, because of the Chinese New Year holidays, I've been having mahjong sessions with my family members, thus depriving myself of the much needed sleep for my training. I'm ashamed to say that I only had a 5km run on Tuesday evening, and another 5km on Friday late morning. But I reckoned that at least it's better than not running at all. All the time this week, I had meant to run today's 21km in Bukit Padang, but at the same time I was still considering running a flatter terrain for fear of aggravating my injury again.
After a few nights of 4 to 5 hours sleep each, I felt that I was in no condition to run this morning. But I simply had to if that's the last thing I had to do today! Arriving home from mahjong close to midnight, and getting into bed way past midnight, I woke up at 4:45am this morning for the long run. Still tired and sleepy, I peeked out of the window and saw that it was drizzling outside. For a few minutes, I considered going back to bed. My (still) recovering back injury, my sleepiness and the weather, were all very good reasons to forego running. But I decided that, rain or shine, I must run.
When I pulled into the parking lot at the Likas Sports Complex, I saw Dr Peter's car there. So that freak must have started running alone—in the rain. Unlike the usual Sunday runs, he did not wait for me this morning, as I was supposed to do Bukit Padang. But I felt moved to run on the highway anyway.
I sat in my car with the engine still running for some minutes, watching the droplets of rain on my windscreen, still contemplating abandoning the workout. It was already 5:40am (we usually start at 5:00am) when I finally made the decision to get it over with. The first few hundred metres was the toughest because of the biting cold of the drizzle. But once I got going, I felt quite OK.
Unfortunately, the drizzle developed into a full-fledged rain, and I was soaking wet by the time I reached 1Borneo. I pushed on anyway. Shortly after passing 1Borneo, I saw Dr Peter on the other side of the road on his return leg. Perhaps because of the lack of rest, I felt really exhausted and was tempted to turn back there and then. But that would have resulted in a shortfall of about 5kms of my scheduled long run. So I continued running, reaching Kingfisher Sulaman in about an hour where I stopped at Orange to buy a bottle of water. Some more annoying rain and biting blisters on my feet on my return leg, but after a packet of Power gel, I actually felt a boost of energy in my legs again.
When I was approaching Anjung Selera, I noticed a road accident up ahead. And when I got to the scene, there was a badly wrecked up car at the roadside, and a black Hilux which was already resting on its side in the middle of the road. A few people were trying to push the Hilux up to its upright position, and I thought that was a strange thing to do. But I quickly saw the reason for that. Trapped underneath that Hilux were 2 people—a boy of perhaps 10 years old, and a man, both of whom were partially sticking out of the front passenger's window, but were stuck there because of the weight of the vehicle.
I thought it was a gruesome scene—what a way to die! The people who were there were still trying to push the Hilux up, and they appeared to almost make it—but not quite. They apparently needed just a little bit more help.
And then to my horror, I realised that those people stuck at the window were not dead. The boy was groaning in pain, reaching out his hand and pleading for help; whereas the man was half conscious and the window frame resting on his chest—he was apparently having trouble to breathe.
I dropped my water bottle and helped the rest to lift and then push the Hilux to its upright position, thus aggravating my back injury again. I don't claim to be a strong person, but apparently that little bit of extra energy was all that's needed to make that final push to move the Hilux up. On the first push, we were able to pull the boy out. Then another strong push to free the man.
A series of unfortunate events—my backache, my sleepiness, the forsaken rain, the last minute decision to run on the highway instead of Bukit Padang—all culminating to the defining moment when I arrived at the scene at exactly the right time when my help was needed to make that push to free those dying people. What's the odds of that happening?
I have no clue why I chose to run this morning; and why on the highway. All the conditions were not conducive for a run, yet I went running anyway. And what's more, instead of running in Bukit Padang, I ran on the highway. Was I there at the scene by design? Were my decisions this morning directed by something? If they were, it meant a second chance for those 2 people involved in the accident.
So now, I have 2 weeks left to nurse my back. I have the feeling that I'll be taking some painkillers when I run the marathon in Hong Kong. And as for those 2 people who survived the accident today, I hope they will remember to put on the safety belts the next time they ride in a car.