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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Marathon Mania: How It All Started

I got fat.

There, I said it.

My weight has always been yo-yo-ing from svelte and slender to round and rotund over the past couple of decades, but now I am facing the fact that I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  Living in Hong Kong with the bountiful plethora of good food at every grimy street corner doesn't help.  That, and coupled with the fact that we are now living in the second Golden Age of Television, well, that just cemented my obese couch potato status. 

Now, I actually don't mind being on the plus side, but I am concerned about potential health issues that are invisible to the naked eye, and that are way more insidious than the occasional wide-eyed stare and nudge by young children and stick insects walking by.

So I did some hiking, yoga, a bit of surfing, in-line skating, and dabbled in Stand-Up Paddling this past year, but that wasn't enough.  Didn't make a dent. Not even a smidgen.  And then, my good friend Betty told me back in July about how she needs to lessen her poundage as well, and she mentioned that she might just sign up for the mammoth Standard Chartered Half Marathon in Singapore that would take place in early December and wouldn't that be just fun?  Well, I didn't think I could go straight from my oh-so-comfortable sofa bed into a grueling 21k, but I did like the idea of doing perhaps a shorter run, and better still, in another city/country where no one would really know me.  It would also combine my great love for travelling with exercise and, best of all, this wonderful concept that I only learned after stumbling into the world of marathons, guilt-free carb-loading.

And so, I signed up for the Penang Bridge International Marathon.

There were seven main reasons why I did so:

1.  There was a 10k option.
2.  All finishers receive a medal.
3.  We get to run on the bridge itself.
4.  Penang is only a couple hours' flight away from Hong Kong.
5.  It was held in Penang - one of the most famous cities in the world for amazing Malaysian street food.
6.  It is the largest marathon in the country.
7.  The course is sanctioned by AIMS - the organization that certifies legit marathons (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)

I'll detail my Penang marathon journey is a separate post, but suffice to say, I got bit by the running bug right after I crossed the finish line and collected my medal.  Maybe it was the endorphins mixed with adrenaline spiked with the Malaysian version of un-carbonated Red Bull, but I, who couldn't even before run/wheeze 100m without seriously considering medical attention - I'm now making it my mission to tackle 12 marathons in 12 months, starting January 2014.  And no, these are not full fledged 42k deals - I'm determined, not delusional - but the 10k and the occasional 21k runs.

So at the end of 2014, I hope to have completed my dozen runs, nabbed all the finishers' medals and certificates, and be, if not lighter and a few dress sizes lower, then much more physically and mentally fit than I am now.  And oh yes, be filled with the happy, exhausting, maddening, exhilarating memories of having visited 12 countries along the way.

Watch this space.

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