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How It All Began by C.Choi

It was year 1984 when I just found a job with a local construction firm as an IT executive. And before that I working as a part-time storekeeper for about 9 months with a locally incorporated Dutch organization that distribute a range of products ranging from electrical goods, toiletries, hard liquor, etc, etc. At this workplace was where I ate a lot and drank hard liquor almost every alternate day. Late nights were a norm because I went out doing sales entertainment with the salesman. My body grew horizontally day after day, and my stomach was blotting out. My physical fitness was way down the drain and I feel lazy all the time.

My Training Ground

At the new workplace, I still continue to hangout with my old friends from the previous company where I worked. My new colleagues in the new organization were teasing me about my physique and after a while I just cannot take it anymore. And that was when I decided to change my lifestyle and the way I eat. Exercise was on top of my mind at that time and I decided to start off by jogging. The Ipoh Polo Ground was where my training started and without fail everyday after work, I will be there doing my laps. It was tough and I still remembered I can only run for about 400m in my first few attempts and then I had to walk. Day after day, laps after laps, my endurance started to build up and eventually I can run comfortably in distance of around 3KM without stopping and walk.

As I frequent the ground, I got to make friends with those regulars who are marathon runners. I got guidance from them in terms of running technics, how to improve my endurance and run longer without stopping. Soon, I was able to run 5KM without stopping and pace myself without burning out easily. And that was the break where I have not turn back, continue to get into the running habit and started to participate in 10KM races and then onto half marathons.

The Big Day

My big day came when my fellow running mates were persuading and giving me encouragement to give a shot at the 42KM marathon. I accepted the challenge and train very hard for almost 4 months to prepare for the marathon. And it was the 1st KL International Marathon 85 dated 25 Mar 1985 that I am giving a shot at. I was extremely excited about my maiden marathon race but eventually lack of experience, the tough course and the hot weather beats me. I experienced cramp after running three quarter of the race ie at the 30+km, and the heat starts to get into me. I had to sit by the pavement to get assistance/aid from the St. John’s team and the last 10km-12km was a long and hard fought journey.

As I finally ran (limping and almost to the speed of walking) into Stadium Merdeka where the finishing line is, I heard loud cheers from my group of running buddies who finished the race earlier shouting encouraging comments like “PUSH ON, PUSH ON”, “GREAT TO SEE YOU HERE”, “I KNOW YOU CAN MAKE IT”, etc. And finally I crossed the line clinching my fist on both hands, raising high up in the air with the electronic clock showing 5h 38m.

I HAVE TRAINED TO BE A MARATHON RUNNER NOW.

Never Look Back

From that day onwards I never look back and continued to train harder together with my group of running buddies. I tackled races after races, and my timing in running 10KM, 21KM and 42KM races keep improving gradually. And with all these running, my physique got trimmer and the excess fat in my body were completely gone. I went for races in places like Perak, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, and Singapore, running an average of 5 half marathons and 2 marathons a year. Year 1986 was also the year that I am migrating to the big city of Kuala Lumpur because of my transfer to the HQ of the company that I am working for. And it was a sad farewell that I had to part ways with my running buddies in Ipoh where they have given me all the help, guidance and encouragement to what and where I am.

My PR year

When in KL, I continued to run and stumbled upon a club called Pacesetters Athletic Club Malaysia (PACM). I joined as a member and was actively participating in all activities organized by the club, and that is where I met Munning (the current President of the club) and we became running buddies. During that time, the club does not have a big number of membership and our get-together are mostly during Sunday runs and after that adjourned to the market along Petaling Street for breakfast.

The year 1987 was the most memorable year throughout my running career (till today) as an amateur runner. This was the year I achieved my PR for both 21KM and 42KM races. I ran the Ipoh Half Marathon on 28 Mar 1987 clocking 1h 27m, and later in the yearin September ran the MAS Penang International Marathon crossing the finishing line in a time of 3h 31m.

Charity run campaign

After my PR and doing more runs after that, the Pacesetters decided to organize a charity run in the KL International Marathon 1988. This charity event was targeted towards the National Society of The Blind, and each runner had to collect donation/sponsorship of RM1.000 in order to be part of the charity running team. The campaign was very successful and all the members of the campaign managed to raise the funds for the event. It was also the year 1988 that I started engaging into mountain trekking/climbing as an alternative activity besides running, and my first climb was to tackle Mount Kinabalu – summit at 4095m.

A break too long

I brokeaway or you can called it retired from running (hanging up my rubber trainers) in year 1990 when I decided to start a family and pay more attention to my wife and new born daughter. It was a hard decision that I had to make in order to be closer to my wife and new born daughter. The option to keep fit during that time was to engage into playing badminton which does not consume too much of time as compare to running especially competitive running (the time taken to maintain and run semi-competitively in races)

This was a long break from running where I did not even put on my rubber trainers to run in any tracks or parks. Lake Gardens is not in my list and marathon is an alien sporting event to me. Running is not a sporting activity that I want to engage in and had no second thoughts about it even though I was aggressively into it during the 80’s.


Comeback Kid

In year 2005 – after a 15 years break since my last marathon, I decided to make a turn around and started to seriously think about getting back into the running circle. One of the key motivations was to trim down my body physique (although it was not as bad as compare to 1985) and enhance my physical fitness. With my past running experience behind me, it didn’t take too long to get myself back on the road and in no time I was training to compete in my first 21KM race after a long 15 years break. Putrajaya Half Marathon on Sept 2005 was the race I am getting into and my expectation of myself in doing well is just below average. My aim was to finish the race comfortably without suffering and injuring myself. I completed the race in 2h 20m, nothing to shout about but a satisfying run considering the long break that I had.

Catching up

From this juncture onwards, I know there is a lot of catching up to do. It will never be the same as the younger years. I can never run a sub 1h 30m half marathon and never will I be able to run a 3h 31m full marathon. But that is not my biggest concern, because all I wanted now is to be able to run comfortably and enjoy each race that I compete. The golden QUESTION that I asked myself is that do I want to attempt a 42KM full marathon again. This is still a question that ponders upon me till now, where I know I need lots of motivations for me to do that. What’s in it for me. Not that I had never run a marathon before, but I had ran many, many of them. But the motivation factor here is to give myself another challenge in life as if I had never run in a marathon before. This will probably give me that extra push and motivate me to get into it again, after 15 years.

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD…………….

 

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