How are we doing on this wonderful start of the month? It’s May, can you believe it? MAY! Five months into the year and I had felt practically nothing. Just goes to show just how true the saying is, that time flies when you’re having fun. And given all that’s happened to me and the oodles of fun I’ve had since 2011 rolled around, the minutes didn’t only fly. They sped by at lightning speed!
Anyway, I just got back from Perak, where I was at for the inaugural Perak Open Athletics Championship. Actually, I got back about a day and a half ago, but at crashing for a straight 13 hours upon reaching home, this is the soonest I could make it to update this space! And I’m super excited to share the photos I have with me. They turned out gorgeous given the beautiful weather we saw in Ipoh, where the sun was out all day and not a single cloud speckled the vast, turquoise sky. Of course, a certain new powerful 55-250mm lens that enabled me to capture the littlest thing that went on even at the other end of the stadium helped profusely, too. Glass over body, baby!
But enough rambling – on with the show! =)
Our journey started on Friday lunchtime where, divided between the university’s van and one car, the 12 of us made our two and a half hour’s way to Perak, excited to the core, with the exception of maybe me, who was nervous down to my toes. You gotta understand that I am probably the slowest person on the face of this Earth, with a one second reaction time to anything. Not kidding! So can you imagine what a daunting feat it must have been for me to suddenly be running a 4x100m relay? Give me 21km and I’ll complete it for you with a smile on my face and all the enthusiasm in the world, but to sprint 100 metres in 14 seconds? Let’s just say I’m hyperventilating just thinking about the task I had to complete. Worst thing was that I had three other runners counting on me to not – worst case scenario – trip and fall by the starting box, or drop the baton. Didn’t help at all that they’re the university’s champion runners who recently swept all the gold medals up at the MAPCU Athletics Championship that had just gone by!
But nerves and jitters aside, it was an amazing three days that I would do all over again if conditions asked of me. Actually, I’d jump to do it all over again even if no one asked! Only maybe, it’s best to let me run my own field. I’m so not complaining about the 5000m! ;]
We were led the entire three days by Jia Liang, our long-suffering but ever devoted Captain who, I must imagine, had the toughest time trying to keep us in check and on time.
Accomodation was at the YMCA Perak, which was a lot comfier and habitable than I had expected, heh. They had really clean toilets, and that’s all I’m concerned about. Anything else I can stand, but not unhygienic washrooms. I’m OCD like that, sue me =P
But clean washrooms aside, the place had quite a lot going for it too. The lounge area was spacious and homey, complete with free WiFi, and fully air-conditioned rooms with personal attached bathrooms are only the beginning of it. We settled right in and made ourselves at home in no time.
This here is Sukhveer, a fellow long-distancer who I tremendously respect and admire. His willpower in determination and perseverance is simply inspiring. Despite having a whole series of bad luck tossed at him on race day, he still finished the race in good time and a sporting smile. I just think his sense of commitment and responsibility is worth mentioning, that’s all. He is, in every sense of the saying, the spirit of sportsmanship personified.
We didn’t do much on Friday, other than to have a short training session which involved jogging approximately 2km and doing our usual drills. We were allowed to chill for the evening to prep ourselves for the day after when the 100m and 800m would take place. That was when the fun started.
Saturday dawned bright and chilly, but quickly turned sunny and scorching. It was all I could do to make my way to the side of the tracks for a few photos in the sun that left a piercing burn on any exposed bit of skin. But passion knows no pain, right? And I like to think I’m quite dedicated in the things I take pride in and enjoy, photography being one of them. I’m so lucky to have my second favourite thing in the world thrown into the mix as well this time. Photography and sports, both there for me to idulge in at the same time – life for me that weekend was as good as it was gonna get!
Less than half of us had an event that day, with the heavy-duty runs being scheduled for Sunday, but we all went anyway, braving the sun and heat to support those who were competing. And despite the soaring temperatures and splitting migraines which came with it, it was the fun-nest thing in the world to cheer your heart out and scream your throat sore for a teammate as they take off from the starting box at the gunshot which echoed loud and clear throughout the stadium. You don’t know adrenaline until you’re bent over the crisp white line, in your running jersey and tights, with sweat beading on your forehead and trickling down your back while your heart beats a small cheer of its own in your chest, just anticipating the loud bang that signals the time for you to take off and go. Just go, and push with all you have as you propel yourself forward, faster, further, completely relying on your body and your muscles to get to the finishing line.
You push with all you got, give it all you have, because it’s your own mind and body you’re up against when it comes to running. Not the other runners to your left and right, not the current record time that’s just waiting to be broken. It’s you, and what you tell yourself you can do. And the sense of achievement at knowing you’ve given it your all, that’s the best sort of reward. A reverberating satisfaction that lingers long after the race is over, a quiet complacency that speaks to you in your head that the impossible, isn’t completely unachievable.
The mechanics of the human body is a beautiful thing. There’s so much untapped potential in each and every one of us, just waiting to be unlocked if we only dare go that extra mile. But it is equally understandable why so many of us out there are afraid, why so many of us rather just settle with the current level of achievement. Because reaching that level comes with a price, one which speaks the currency of pain and sacrifice, and more importantly, the continual drive to beat your own body’s max capacity.
Which is why we all need teammates, friends who will be there to help give that little extra boost in the morale department. And we made sure everyone running didn’t lack that little bit of support as they gave their everything.
We cheered and screamed the loudest we could from the sidelines because we knew they’d hear us. Even if we were too far, they’d hear us. And they needed to know that we were here for them. After all, competing against the country’s best is no easy feat.
Introducing the team (L-R clockwise, starting from top left): Sheena, Hwee Ling, Marcia and Charles. A nice wholesome mix of sprinters and long-distancers we have on the team x)
Remember Sukhveer, whose spirit I said I admired like no one else’s?
The poor guy had a bad tummyache all morning right before his event. To worsen things, he got his phone and wallet stolen right out of his bag; he literally opened it to find them missing when they were there just moments ago. Given the streak of tremendous bad luck he was having, he had confided in me that he had half the mind to just pull out of his 800m event, but decided not to and went with it like a champion. He ran, despite the pain and blow to his spirit. He ran, and that above all else, made him already a winner before the race even began.
The entire weekend reminded me just how much sports does in helping one grow. I learnt so much throughout my 6 years playing basketball, and sadly came to forgot about it for a while, until Perak jogged my memory again of the wonders of hardwork, sportsmanship and good old team spirit. They mould you to become a much better and bigger person outside of your comfort zone, and there’s so much you can learn from working hard for something, and knowing how much sweeter the fruits of your labour tastes when you’ve had to slog blood, sweat, and tears for it.And being part of a team again, after 4 years of being a lone runner? I can’t even begin to put into words the feeling that evokes in me.
This here is our national coach, who also coaches our HELP University team. He’s the first person ever to make me feel like I’m going to collapse on the track from heart arrest during one of our training sessions. His regime is strict as it is effective, and for all the torture he puts us through, I love him to bits because he is also by far the nicest coach I’ve ever been under. For the first time ever I don’t have someone yelling at me with every single step I make!
Perak was, in a nutshell, an amazing three days of new experiences, precious lessons in perseverance and hard work, and awesome moments with friends. It’s safe to say that I’ve never been to anything like this (basketball tournaments usually last only 2 hours after which we go back to our hotel rooms and chill, not the entire day where you wait around for your event) and it was eye-opening in so many ways.
It was also a lot of fooling around to pass time, making fun of one another in attempts of staving off our own nerves, as well as a whole load of self-entertainment hahaha!
Long distance runners supposedly have the leanest legs. Do we make the cut? xD
Perak left me exhausted but fulfilled, tired but inspired, and worn out but charged. I am so glad I forewent Hennessy Artistry for this; it was so much more fun and so much better for my liver. I lost weight, toned up and got myself a great tan. Yep, sports is definitely my thing. Mindless partying and drinking till you puke is fun, too, but ultimately I prefer a good workout that leaves me sweaty, sticky and red in the face, but feeling all zen inside with that nice tingly feeling you feel in your calves after a good long run.
Those of you who claim to loathe sports, you don’t know what you’re missing out on!
All the best to the Boy’s Relay Team in the Pahang Open two weeks from now. I won’t be in town (will be eating my lazy ass to blissful oblivioun in Penang) but go get ’em medals! But more importantly, have fun and enjoy yourselves!
Now I gotta go pack for my two indulgent weeks back home. Happy rest of the week, lovelies!