Life sometimes throws us things which we may not expect. It is how we deal with them that distinguishes us from each other. 2020 should have been an interesting new decade but with the COVID-19 striking almost the whole world after rearing its ugly head in China Wuhan, Singapore is into its Circuit Breaker period 1st day at the point of my writing. We probably heard of the coronavirus back in late January. Things have gotten bleaker with passing weeks and months in Singapore.
How it impacts runners have been the consecutive cancellations and postponement of running events. Marina Run, Eco-run, OCBC Cycle and Relay For Life were some of the events I signed up for and were either postponed or cancelled or changed its format. Relay for Life was changed to a virtual challenge and I had signed up for the 100 km individual event. So we were supposed to be running 100 km own target own pace and own time within the 9 days from 21st Mar to 29th Mar.
I decided to carry on the spirit of doing this virtual challenge. I participated in it to remember the loved and dear folks who had passed on due to cancer and to encourage friends who are currently fighting against cancer in the current grim situation of the COVID-19. Amongst those who had left were my ex-colleagues, close friends, a new runner friend then – Ali Akbar (lunghi run), and my mother-in-law. A couple of friends are fighting against cancer still at this juncture.
I also started an online donation drive to Singapore Cancer Society and committed to completing 100 km within the 9 days. My original plan was to do a constant mileage each day 11-12 km and complete it by the 9th day.
I did a 12 km run on the first day. On the second day, I somehow managed to complete almost 60 km running with breaks in between throughout the day whenever I had available time. I was motivated by another individual who had completed 100km already by the second day and my other friend who also completed a huge chunk by the second day.
I finished 100 km on my third day and was the second person to make it to the leaderboard at that time. At that point, there were only 3 individuals who had completed. It was a bonus to see my name updated into the leaderboard (100.53 km). Given my slow pace and fitness level, I wouldn’t be top 3 in any event’s leaderboard. So it would be mission completed in 3 days instead of 9 days.
I also received an encouraging note from the friend who was also participating. He actually quoted from the Bible, ‘Matthew 5:41 New International Version (NIV) 41. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.’ He wrote that as encouragement because I had leapfrogged from first two days’ leaderboard near the bottom of those who have started running, to the top two at that point.
I posted my mission accomplished and tried to seek contributions from the general public. As it was, perhaps Facebook wasn’t the best media for such a campaign or perhaps everyone was too preoccupied with all that was happening on COVID-19 situation. My thought then was that even with the worsening situation, the cancer patients will still have to fight their conditions. Some self-doubt came in too, was I doing enough? I had been training for half ironman before the challenge and I wanted to get back to the training because it was progressing steadily as I had built up my fitness (from vo2max indication) to a higher level than before. I knew I had to set some time for recovery because I had felt some pain in my toes and knew that I had gotten my right big toe injured again.
I also kept thinking about the quote.
Anyway, the brief story of it is that I struggled a bit more and made it to 200 km mileage by the 9th day. That is on average at least 22 km per day for the 9 days. An accomplishment in my own running records.
Being curious, I did google after the 9 days, to find how the quote will be explained. What follows below, is the crux of the lessons I learnt in doing this relay and it makes for a longer essay.
If you want to know just the running part of it, the above just about summarizes it. I did 200.09 km at my own slow pace in the 9 days given for the campaign. There was a few days when I was drenched in rain together with the sweat. The run/jog/walk at own pace and time was good as I just used it for some quiet times to myself. Each day’s run I tried to dedicate to dear friends who had left and hope to inspire anyone who was on FB who was willing to spend time to read. The idea that the sponsor Roche will contribute $3 for every km did keep me going too.
By the end of 9 days, I was actually physically fatigued and my two big toes were swollen and bleeding beneath the nails. It took me about another 5 days to feel a bit recovered from the fatigued state. If you ask me whether I will do it, I think I will but probably not the same way. My vo2max which had risen to a max before this, had dropped drastically as I tested my body beyond its endurance limit perhaps.
Back to the real lessons. This was the link that I found useful and you may want to look at it on the quote…
I extract some points from it for sharing which I thought, speak to me in this trying times of dealing with COVID-19.
“… What is most commendable is that there should be a concerted effort to overcome evil with good. Thus the Apostle Paul teaches that we should never get weary in doing good (Gal 6:9). You know it gets tiring to carry on doing good in the face of the overwhelming force of evil...”
“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, walk him two miles” (Matt 5:41). For if you walk him the extra mile, it is proof of your willing sacrifice. Rather that you can take another by your own initiative. This is what we are much more so to be rewarded for rather than simply to do what we have been asked to.”A
So yes, I have done a few campaigns to help the fight against cancer in the short few years I picked up running and to run for a purposeful cause. To be honest, I do get weary, at least the body and then the mind sometimes because it always didn’t seem adequate. I usually fall short of the target donation set for each challenge. Most of the donations usually come from a few regularly supporting friends and even a fair number of new and anonymous friends.
Was it because I had not connected out to more folks out there, I would ask. Was I not fast and strong enough as a runner to complete the challenge each time? Did I pick the right challenge for myself ? I also notice how old-time friends are usually very busy at the time of challenge, preoccupied with their usual stuff. (And at the point of writing, only a couple or so of ex-colleague and friends had taken time to encourage and contribute.)
Each time, I did recover and say to myself. I did my best. This is what I can contribute at this point and time. It is my willing sacrifice in the first place. I will continue to do so until I cannot do it anymore. To stop doing good is not an option. Especially in this time with a pandemic destroying what has been the norm of social life for most humans across the world. For cancer patients, they will still have to fight against cancer when the coronavirus is finally controlled. That day will come when a vaccine is available.
For the cancer patients, they are not sure if they will outlast the next day or week or month or year. I’m glad to be still healthy at my new anniversary on this earth and to have completed 200 km for this challenge. I trust that every dollar contributed to the cause will bring good to cancer patients. To be in a position to give is a blessing. I thank those who have contributed in the past and those who will read and/or share, and be motivated to click on the link above. Nobody should fight cancer alone. Stand strong. And we will also be united to fight the COVID-19. Stay home during the circuit-breaker period.
For now, really run safe (with social distancing), run solo and run strong.