Tuesday, 6 June 2017

It's Supposed To Be Hard

It has been two weeks since Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2017. Two weeks since I last ran 42K. Two weeks since I ran at all…

Instead of post-run euphoria, I am back to do a bit of soul searching. Post-mortem. Talked to my GP again. Looked at my fuelling plan. Looked at my trainings (or lack thereof).

Running 42K or a full marathon is not easy. It is supposed to be hard. Knowing that it is hard for me means that knowing to respect the distance. Not fear it but to give it its proper recognition. 

It is the trend now it seems, to call 42K the new fun run. With the deluge and rise of many local ultra runners who do 100K week in, week out; I guess 42K is indeed their new fun run.

But for mere mortals like me, running a full marathon still takes time, effort and planning. Juggling life in-between and also to be mindful that I do not alienate other components in my life for the sake of running. Running is not my life. It is just a part of me. At the end of the day, it’s the people who had supported me to run that is more important. My family. 

But that’s the beauty of running a full marathon, I guess. Knowing that it is supposed to be hard kept me going. Knowing that I can’t just quit because it got hard.  Knowing that there is no shame in finishing last if I still have the strength and ability to finish it off. Knowing too, when to quit if things got way out-of-hand. Knowing where my priorities lies. Knowing to sacrifice and yet not give up. Knowing to compromise.  

Knowing that I have the right to be ashamed of my run as much as I have the right to be proud of them. Because without that feeling, I wouldn’t have the motivation to be better. To strive to be better. I do not want to continually declare “well, at least I finished”. I know deep in my heart, I can’t settle for a mere “at least I finished”. 

But also knowing to not take things too seriously sometimes. I can laugh at myself but what do I do after all the laughter died down?

Standard Chartered KL Marathon 2017 was my second full marathon for 2017. Running full marathons is not exactly fun for me. Seriously, I love half marathons more or food-fest ultramarathons. Running it is part of 2017’s plan to complete 4 full marathons and part of a 3-year plan to improve my running time.

I started running at the age of 36. My first race was 3 days before my 36th birthday. It was a 10K. I rescued a kitten mid-run. So yeah, that’s pretty much the gist of me running in races. Run and enjoy.

I moved on to half-marathons the next year and full marathons the year after. 50K, 60K, 80K, 12-hours, 16-hours, 40-hours followed after that. I wanted to see how far I could go. I yearned to do 100K one day, but I wanted to do it in a time that I could be proud of.

So finally, I decided to start all over again after my 40th birthday. I closed my ultra running chapter temporarily by running in an ultra in Japan. What a close it was. En-route to that ultra, I beat my 10K, half marathon, full marathon and 50K timing. Smashed my PBs for those distances. Finished that ultra 30 minutes earlier that what I had targeted. What a grand 40th birthday celebration it was.

I am now on a 3-year quest to re-learn, re-evaluate, re-asses my running and what I perceived to be my love for it. 

2016 was the year I worked on my half marathon. I finally improved my 10K timing and with the help of my Gaited Community running buddies, managed to smash my half marathon timing again. Truthfully, 2016 was a fun year. I was running and training for my favourite distance and I enjoyed it. I did a lot of experiments during my runs and most went rather well.

2017 has so far been a struggle. I did two full marathons and have only two more full marathons to go for the year. To say that the plan hasn’t been working this year is quite an understatement. Nothing seems to work despite a rather good 10Ks and half marathons for the 1st half of the year. 

I struggle to find a plan that is suitable for me, very much unlike when I was training for my halfs and ultras.

The full marathon fiasco at Standard Chartered KL Marathon (fiasco for me lah, no fault of the organiser) kinda left me thinking on the reason why I want to do this. It’s not that things fell apart late in the run for both of my full marathons this year. Things fell apart early. As early as 5K. Imagine struggling for the next 37K and consoling yourself that this is supposed to be hard.

Why am I running in full marathons when I don’t even like the distance?

It is not easy to keep being focused for 3-years too. Two more years before I return to running in an ultra marathon again. It is as much a goal as it is a promise. And I do intend to keep my promise.

I love running. Despite the inability to run fast, it is where I find joy in.  I am very much a solitary runner and I enjoy spending time with just my thoughts and running for hours. No music, no chatter, just me and my thoughts. 

I don’t run because I have to but I run because I want to. 

Getting the step out of the house to run is always hard, but once I started, I always wished I have more time to run.

And now I have to tell myself again, “This is supposed to be hard”.

That is why running a full marathon is so rewarding.

Not because everyone is doing it.

Not because of trends.

Because I need to work for it.

Be better at it.

It is supposed to be hard and that what makes it worthwhile to cross the finish line. 

It is supposed to be hard and that’s why running a full marathon can change one’s life. It changes one’s perception of life.

It is supposed to be hard but it can be so rewarding.

And that’s why I will continue doing it. 

Hakusan-Shirakawago… I’ll see you when I’m ready. That’s a promise. Just wait for me to be ready.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. It takes determination, will power and perservance to gothis far. I salute you for tha.

  2. Yes, it's supposed to be hard. But the distance is addictive too!
    Just keep running...for yourself.

  3. Aku dulu dah lari 3 tahun baru berani cuba FM. Menakutkan

    1. Encik Bett,
      Saya nak berguru lari satuskei...

  4. That's the spirit! Enjoy it and strive to be better at it. I kinda feel inspired that your started running at 36. It is never to late to start something new. When I ready your story, I kinda relate it to baking. I started late in life and there were times when I got no mood for it, there were times when I told myself I will bake a better cake and so forth. This is a very inspiring post!

    1. I'm also inspired to cook when reading your posts. But haven't really started yet. πŸ˜‚

  5. Kena ke buat 2 more FMs tu babe? Adjustlah target to do 4 x HM instead this year, lagi best.

    1. Hahaha
      4 FM sbb training cycle is quarterly.

      And kena. Otherwise bila nak return to 50miles? #eh

  6. Haha. Baiklah buatlah apa yang patut. Kalau aku, kasi 1 FM setahun pun belum tentu lalu dgn training plan hehe. Salutlah, #gigih.

  7. Do what you love the most. At 36, many already become lazy bum like me but you started to run that time. Not easy but you did it. Jiayoh!

    I may not understand much about running but i guess it's same like reading . Once you found something you like, you just can't and do not want to stop . :)

  8. That's an amazing feat, Lina! We're rooting for you! xoxo

  9. I read this post 2 kali so that I didn't miss out your beautiful and inspiring story. I also giggled twice at this line - "I love half marathons more or food-fest ultramarathons"....

    It is true that your family played the supportive part well and that is important. You and I know this well.



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