Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sense of Proportion

I learned a painful lesson in the recent Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2014—despite months of careful planning and hard training for a modest goal of achieving a PB in the race, I threw the game plan out of the window barely 10km into the 42km race because of greed. I allowed myself to indulge in the romantic idea of not only beating 3:52 for a PB, but also achieving 3:45. In the heat of the moment, and the blazing excitement of the race, I crumbled and abandoned my own game plan. 

To be honest, I was confident that I could beat the 3:52 PB based on my training; I felt it’s almost an assured conclusion. That’s why the disappointment factor was extra large for this race. From about 30km of the race to the finish line, I hated myself, because it was at that stage when both my quads suddenly seized up, I knew that I’ve done myself in. I crossed the finish line in a decent 3:56:51, and a few years ago, I would have been thrilled with that result. But not in this race.

Then a strange thing happened to me. After receiving my finisher T-shirt and medal, I waited for my friend, Lim Young Peing, at the finish arch. One by one the runners crossed the finish line; and just within a window of about an hour, my disappointment in myself subsided and then turned into quite the opposite. 

It’s amazing what one can see and learn at the finish line of a marathon race; it can be something of an eye opener. People from all walks of life, in many sizes and colours, challenging themselves to conquer the distance of 42km. Standing there at the finish line, I saw people becoming very emotional—crying as they cross the finish line, into the waiting arms of their loved ones, time regardless. 

Suddenly, I felt like a total idiot! I have forgotten my own principles in life; and sometimes I need to be reminded too. We all have the tendency to forget to count our blessings; we lose the sense of proportion. We become greedy; and then end up miserable.

At the age of 49, I should be happy with a sub-4 hour finish in a marathon; I’m healthy and can still indulge in the things I enjoy doing. I guess it would have been “perfect” had I been able to achieve a PB while enjoying the race too, but sometimes things don’t always pan out the way one would like them to. As I’ve always said, actually, all the little imperfections in life are the very things that make life perfect!

In the hotel room a few hours later, Lim reflected on his fortune of achieving his PB in Gold Coast—a 3-minute improvement from 4:50 to 4:47. He said it’s just a small improvement, but I hastened to assure him that it’s still a significant improvement anyway. He should be thrilled and excited all the same. After all, he has conquered a new frontier; and that is a major achievement

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