The setting sun casted obliquely its golden rays on the trees and buildings lining the roads. And, sometimes, unobstructed by any object in their paths, onto my face they shone.
The sun wasn’t the only thing that was casting its face upon me as I was running along the roads this evening, at just about the time people were beginning to knock off from work. I could also feel the curious gazes upon me of the various men and women waiting for buses to take them home from work at the bus-stops I passed.
Where cars, buses, and machinery rule, this lone figure ambling along on two legs did not belong (and that made known to me irritatingly as the exhaust pipe of a bus blew strong, hot gusts of carbon monoxide fumes against my legs).
It is a day after the Jurong Lake 10km race, it was pleasant to wake up earlier in the day feeling my body was none the worse for wear other than a little tightness in the calves.
As I trotted out of my home for a long run in the evening, I was feeling the ‘pop’ in my legs and that’s a good feeling always. I was optimistic of a good, easy run.
And so, as I passed checkpoints on a regular route out-and-back from my home, I was pleased to read times that were the fastest I can recall running on the course, at a tempo pace and a day after a race!
At over halfway into my run on this route, I would usually pass by the home of a friend. One who I remember had commented before that perhaps I shouldn’t run so much and concentrate on other pursuits that would perhaps provide more in terms of career prospects and material comfort. Or, at least, that is how I remember that conversation.
It has been a struggle to face those questions in a world where success is defined by one’s academic achievements and, later on, career pursuits.
But, at that moment, there was an epiphanous understanding of the liberation I had running on those roads in juxtaposition with the men and women who make themselves prisoners to bus schedules as well as being subject to the every brake-and-jerk movement of the bus cells they climb into.
To be a runner is to be a rebel. And to rebel is an act of escaping from the constraints of society such as the one I have just related.
So, as I passed Haw Par Villa (a checkpoint on my course), realising suddenly that I had forgotten to click off the split time on my watch, the act of running became all too beautiful over again for me.
Despite all the rational arguments one could make for giving up running, I have never been able to do it and still cannot. I love running. And I began to think: “It is so hard to find something/someone you love and when you do, why would you want to give it/him/her up?”
At this point, I recall a video that Ryan Hall, the top American-born marathoner, posted some time ago. In short, he says that God gives us talents and each of us is called to be faithful to the talents we have been given, no matter how small they are. Just as in a race, there can only be one champion, nevertheless, the rest who are not able to stand at the top of the podium have a duty to do the best with what they have been given by God, even if that is to be second or third at that moment in time.
Getting caught up in results and times can sometimes suck the love out of running. In such times, I thank God for the reminder that I am called just to be the best of myself, not of someone else.