Monday, February 25, 2013

The Uncompleted Marathon

My ankle was hurt half a year ago, and it had not completely healed when I ran in the marathon yesterday.  At the beginning, I stopped after each 5 kilometers, the first time while getting on the Stonecutter Island Bridge, to stretch to reduce the discomfort.  After 10 kilometers, near the Nam Wan Tunnel on Tsing Yi Island,  I had to stop every 2 kilometers.  After getting on the Tsing Ma Bridge, it was every kilometer.  After the Ting Kau Bridge and the Half-Marathon mark, my right leg threatened to cramp.  After 25 kilometers, I was walking more than running.  After 28 kilometers, I gave up trying to run, instead tried to walk fast.

After 30 kilometers, it became impossible.  As the muscles at the back of the leg cramped, I tried to stretched them by pulling up my toes; then the muscles at the front got shortened and started to cramp. As soon as I put my leg down, the whole leg threatened to cramp.  As I limped towards the entrance to the Western Cross-Harbour Tunnel, it was disappointing to see that it was closed already, and I had to stop.  Since 2007, this is the first time that I have tried to run the full marathon but failed to finish, having completed it in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. At the same time, it was relieving to know that I was stopped, that I did not have to make the decision to quit.

In fact, my chiropractor had told me earlier that my leg had not healed sufficiently for me to train seriously. So I should not run this year, even though by next year, I should be OK.  All my family members and friends had told me I shouldn’t run, at least not the full marathon.  I had also been mentally prepared to stop after 8 kilometers, that being the longest distance that I had been able to run in the last 2-3 weeks without pain.  In the end, I had achieved more than what I could realistically hoped for.  And what stopped me was not the injury, but the lack of training due to the injury.

On the Stonecutter Island Bridge, ocean going container ships passed under my feet.  Sights like these made the run a lot of fun.  My legs will hurt for a few days, But it feels good to know that I earned that feeling.  Somehow, Don Quixote and The Impossible Dream came to mind.

It was also demonstrated that GPS did not work inside tunnels.  When I was returning through the Cheung Tsing Tunnel after coming down the Ting Kau Bridge, Runkeeper misread my position, and overestimated the distance by roughly 2 miles.


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