“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level.”
― Haruki Murakami, “What I Talk about When I Talk about Running”
“10km race is about to begin after five seconds. Five, four, three, two, one. Start!” Special guests exclaimed through a loudspeaker in the final countdown. Standing in the starting line in a huge sea of participants, even though it would be my fourth time to get myself ready in the Island Eastern Corridor, I still felt exhilarated to take part in this international silver label race. Gladdened by prompting waves of cheers and elevating chit-chat sounds, after greeting to my friend, I finally stepped through the starting line.
It was just three quarter past five in the morning, but the darkness would never dampen our running ardour. Nothing can be more spectacular than running with hundreds of thousands of participants at the crack of dawn, watching the surrounding residential buildings and high-rise skyscrapers along the prominent landscape of Victoria Harbour. Each new gust of gentle breeze was brushing my face and cooled down my already heated body. Wearing a short pant, a comfortable T-shirt and a pair of sport shoes, I felt determined after being well-equipped for the race for fitness sake. Alongside me are flocks of people who were “RUNNING FOR A REASON” as advocated, for health or for numerous reasons, to name but a few. To blatantly voice their political wishes out, I caught a fair glimpse of participants carrying banners of “I want a genuine universal suffrage” in Chinese. True, this long march of our goal might be tough, yet this is our staunch resolution to embark on this journey, just like running 10km, or even half and full marathon.
As in a challenge group, everyone of us was galloping in a highway, setting great store on catching up with a faster pace, pushing ourselves to achieve personal best based on maximum individual’s calibre. At first, in hopes of stress-busting and cardio capacity strengthening, I thought running by my own and with the others are more or less the same. But however, varied to meditative individual run that helped clear your mind, seldom can I apprehend the thrills and spills of running with the others until the marathon day. Volunteers’ encouraging applause and entertaining drums playing nearby filled the light air with zest. While glancing other participants’ regular running pattern was certainly interesting to behold. Immersed myself in such heart-warming ambience, it just immediately sharpened my competitive edge and invigorated me to sprint with tenacious strength. I could feel my racing heartbeat and sweat kept dripping from my forehead while my legs were leaping in great magnitude. It was my conviction to accomplish my time limit of at least less than an hour.
“For a runner like me, what’s really important is reaching the goal I set myself, under my own power. I give it everything I have, endure what needs enduring, and am able, in my own way, to be satisfied.”
Despite the engrave of “never give up” spirit, buffing and puffing like a bull, I nevertheless was a bit worn out with my heavy legs in 7.5km, not to mention the steep climb in 9km. At that instant, voices of two sides kept playing “tug of war” in my mind. One, which endeavoured to persuade me again and again, “Stop and have a walk. It is not a big deal.” However, whenever I wish to have a sluggish halt due to physical exhaustion, another voice urged me right way, “No, you have promised yourself not to give up and carry on.” Yes, how could I topple in lethargy while my heart roared with strong will at first? Tracing back those bittersweet running moments during young adolescence, I step by step enhanced my cardio capacity, from 400m, then 800m and 1500m in track events, eventually to 4km, 7km and at last 10km throughout these eight years. I could still vividly remember my glorious triumph, seemed to be once in a blue moon in my eyes at first, in Inter-School Cross Country Championship. Likewise, 10km run was an impossible mission for me few years ago, but here I was in the race in my fourth time, after experiencing sweat and tears all the way. Attitude is the golden rule for achievement. No matter how dry my throat was, how patently drained I would be, I should not enable any useless excuse get in the way of what I would like to achieve and deprive my clear vision. Instead of adopting sluggish thoughts, I decided to remain steadfast and adamant, and resolute to proceed to the end. After all, there is no short cut to living up to your expected goal. To keep on going, I have to keep up the steady rhythm.
“To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm.”
The encouraging sound and colourful race decorations were getting nearer and louder from the cheering area from 9km onwards. The sky was gradually adding its blue, and the rosy clouds were floating above, as if welcoming me and swarms of participants to be galloping back to the Victoria Park at bay. Finally running through the finish line, that emotional moment immediately moved my heart and neither the surrounding buildings nor the faces of supporters could be seen by my dripping sweat except a vision. Though there were rooms for improvement, you could never imagine how euphorically rewarded I was after weeks of arduous self-training. It is beyond words to describe my long-lasting work-out delight and explain to someone why you head over heels towards long-distance running. I can stay cosy in bed or an armchair, or chill myself out by other means like hanging out with acquaintances. Nevertheless, this enduring pastime, an epitome of sustained diligence and consistent perseverance, offered me an invaluable life lesson that academic reference books cannot be accomplished. Everything formidable will be surmounted if we hold firm to our belief, not only in running, but also in each aspect of our life. Understanding own limits, and striving our best to make the most of them, shine while we can. For me, these are the vitally of running and an engraving synonym for life. Only by relentless mind can our unyielding willpower and enduring character be galvanized. Finishing the race would never waver my running enthusiasm. I will keep having faith of myself, keep honing my skills, and keep running as I am able in all my lifetime. ♦
(This year result on 25th January: 56 mins 19 seconds)
“Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life—and for me, for writing as whole.”