Monday, February 18, 2008

Foolhardy Marathoner

Looking back, for me to run in the marathon was really foolhardy. I have been a jogger for more than 20 years, but I had only dreamt to run in the marathon.

To start with, I have no discernable athletic talent. I went to a soccer-mad secondary school, and soccer was compulsory for everyone on weekdays. But I was always the last one that anyone would pick to form a team - because I was so bad, compared to my schoolmates.

Part of my problem is severe flat feet. All my shoes get deformed as soon as I wear them. An orthopedist once told me I could exercise - but only moderately. So even after taking up jogging for many years I could only dreamt of running the marathon. Somehow, gradually, I started to run longer and longer distances. My feet, and particularly my ankles, would hurt after jogging, and I would limp for a couple of days. But typically I would recover.

About 4 years ago, I found that the swollen left ankle just wouldn’t heal, even after several months of physical therapy. Eventually the orthopedic clinic of the university made casts of my feet, and made a pair of arch support insoles for me. Because the flatfeet was so bad, they had to raise the inside of the arch support by several degrees to reduce the stress on the ligaments on the inside. Gradually the swelling subsided and I was able to run again. Now I wear them everywhere, and every time I run, including the marathons. Still, after running anything more than 10 kilometers, my ankles would hurt for a few days.

So it is a small miracle that I could even complete the marathon wearing the arch support, afor that I am deeply grateful to the professional staff of the clinic. And I am sorry that I made the people who care about me worry about me. In particular my wife, who disagreed with and yet tolerated my decision to run. I shouldn't do that again.


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