It sometimes surprises me that I still run.
When I was 10, a teacher ‘forced’ me into running a 400 metres race, with no training whatsoever. It was also visually obvious that I did not have the physique for running. I loved my food dearly and resembled a barrel. Race day came, I struggled all the way to the finish line, crying at the very end as I huffed and puffed in front of the crowd. Till this day, the embarrassment i felt is still as fresh as it was the day it happened.
I suppose growing up with a father who hated running too didn’t help matters. My dad was a triathlete and ironman, he ran many 10km and half marathon races. Despite it all, he admitted more than once that he detested it. His real love was swimming. What probably saved running for me was the memory of runs I did together with my dad.
He constantly encouraged me to join him on his random early morning runs around our house and even on holiday – he would wake me up at 530am or some other Godforsaken hour, to avoid the heat (we lived in Malaysia), and we would run side by side (well I would be panting right behind him), on a beach, by the road, in a forest, exploring the unknown terrain. Those moments are so precious to me now….those were moments when we bonded. He would dispense his common sense and worldly wisdom during those runs, through hastily made-up analogies, hilarious anecdotes, inaccurate facts of little historical relevance but I loved every single moment.
I would reluctantly join him on some of these races…as my lungs burned and my legs ached, I still carried on running after him…perhaps there was a little girl in me wishing that I was the son he always wanted and never had. Perhaps I was trying to prove to him I am every bit as good as a son. But more likely than not, it was knowing that each pounding of the pavement I took, brought us closer as father and daughter and whatever my motives, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.
It sometimes surprises me that I still run. Perhaps I still run because I miss him.