Monday, June 30, 2008

Running Since Young...

By Lionel Lee

I was a 10 year old schoolboy in Singapore when I told my dad there was a school fitness test and one of the requirements was to run 1.6km within a certain time. And he replied: “You should probably train for it”. I guess I should, and I did, probably overdid it. My enthusiasm for running did not start off right away though. My competitive years were in secondary school. Now, it is pretty much recreation, and I don’t really follow a structured training schedule. I just take care of myself, get enough sleep, eat right, and just have fun running (but making sure I still run enough).

I grew up in West Coast, Singapore (It’s the name of a neighbourhood, not a description of the location) near Clementi. With the decision to put in some “training” for the “fitness test”, I did my first run at Clementi stadium. It was a 1.6km run, just 4 rounds of the track, no warm-up, and I did it in 9min 35 sec. I continued doing 1.6km runs from time to time from February to July. On test day, the run was on the school field with school shoes, and we ran as one whole class. Towards the final 400m, I was still second behind my classmate, and I pia-ed the last 300m to finish first, in a time of 7min 27sec. The guy I overtook on the last lap came in 12 seconds later. That was way back in 1997. After that, I stopped running and continued playing football and basketball. However, that all changed when I entered secondary school in 2000.

My secondary school’s annual cross-country race was in February and somehow, that really got me motivated to start running again, and this time, running very seriously. This annual school race was a 4.4km distance at MacRitchie reservoir with pretty steep slopes. I did weekly runs at Pandan reservoir, and the training was sufficient for me to win the Secondary 1 (Form 1) race in 20 min 9 sec. With that, I was called up to the school team for the National Schools’ Cross Country race (U-15 category and over the same route) the following month. I never turned back since.

In 2002, my school closed down the track team though I could still represent the school. That was tough to take. Anyway, I trained with my sprinter schoolmate (he is still training now) for a while before both of us joined SWIFT Athletes Association.

During those competitive years, I clocked PBs of 2:14 for 800m, 4:44 for 1500m, and 10:41 for 3000m. The 1500m PB was my best achievement as it was a 7th placing during the Singapore National Schools’ Track & Field Championships 2001 (U-15). However, over-enthusiasm led to too much self-inflicted stress. That showed in early 2003 when I was even too stressed to jog. I picked myself after that and before migrating to Malaysia, I did 36min 4sec for the 9.1km event during the 2003 Singapore marathon. I thought I could continue with that momentum when I migrated to Malaysia. But turns out, I had to look after my future and decided to call it quits from competitive running.

After that, I just did 20-30min jogs and mixing them with other sports. When I graduated and got more settled with working life, I decided to train for the KLIM 2008 from December 2007. Actually, all I did was to cover long distances at a comfortable pace depending on my mood and topping them up with basic strength exercises. A week before the race, I did 35km from USJ18 to 1Utama and back. Probably not the thing to do a week before a marathon.

Then, it was 31 March 2008, 4.30am at Dataran Merdeka where the gun went off. It took me 30 seconds to reach the starting line and I began my tour of KL on foot. I wasn’t aiming for a particular timing. But in any case, given my condition, I predicted a 4.20. The race was just absolutely exciting and I loved every second of it. I was pretty much on negative split pace throughout and finished in 4hr 2min 27 sec (Including 30sec of urinating at the 2km mark).

I took a break after the marathon and went back to my usual 30min jogs. As I had been running alone for my time in Malaysia, I felt I needed to run with company to continue enjoying running. As such, I decided to join the guys from Runnerz Circle and Pacemakers running group in their runs. That was just two weeks ago as of writing this entry.

My next race will be the Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) on August 10. I also plan to participate in the Singapore marathon this December and hopefully a few more races after the KOTR like the PJ Half and the Subang Jaya 10k if they are organized this year (but still no word on these races yet =S).

So am I back into competitive running? Well, actually not. I just want to have fun running, and having fun, I am =D. Presently, I run, play football and basketball around my home during weekdays, and meet up with the pacemakers on weekends at Lake Gardens. I don’t have a blog, but you can reach me by email at CHEERS!!

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