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i woke up today to a flurry of whatsapp messages mostly beginning with “BOMB EXPLODED AT THE BOSTON MARATHON. IS R OKAY?” thank god, nothing happened to him. he was at the 5k race a day earlier, where i had made fun of him for paying $45 to have the race over in an instant.

marathons are tests of the human spirit. it has always been the traditional pinnacle of endurance racing. the ancient greeks began this noble race, and now, a despicable tick in our modern civilisation has desecrated its name. i cannot imagine having to flee for your life after running for four hours at breaking speed. nobody should have to live to see such horrors before them. no runner should have their limbs severed after completing one of the oldest circuits in racing history. no spectator should have to be injured for the love of friend or family. nobody should be robbed of a normal life as unexpectedly as this. has humanity always been this mad? i think so. i have always thought so. in such dark times we look to each other for solace; for where there is evil, there is also good. the good will always outweigh and outnumber the evil.

The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.

– J.R.R. Tolkien

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in the days and weeks leading up to my first full marathon, i was admittedly nervous. this had to mean something. it had to mean that i was prepared, mentally and physically. i even injured my hip two weeks before and only worked in 10km runs (at most) during the weekend. and i had to run it alone.

i woke up at 3.30 last sunday morning. in under 25 minutes flat i had brushed my teeth, drunk my coffee, gotten dressed, slapped on sunscreen, wondered where i would chafe and realized i didn’t have vaseline on me, prepared a packet of salt for emergency purposes, strapped on my pouch, wore my shoes and was out the door. i had a Rose apple for breakfast and a half bottle of Pocari sweat.

and then before i knew it, three billion people around me began to run. i had my iPod on for the entire race. i fell in with the 5:15 pacers naturally, and then i stopped for a toilet break at the 10k mark, and then they were gone. i soon found them again at the park, but by the time 24k rolled around, my knees had begun to complain. loudly. and it was at this point i began to thank the founders of Deep Heat. i didn’t care how much analgesic i slapped on to my appendages, but i did because it reacted with sweat and it burned like hell for a good 2 or 3 km so much so that i didn’t even feel the joint pain anymore. at one point i think i felt a little insane, somewhere around 33km. this was where the most analgesic-slapping went on. not just me, everyone else, too. all the sub-sixers.

31-36 was a hellish path. i’d never walked so slow in my life. everything burned, and i lacked human companionship despite the 3 billion people around me. everyone seem ensconced in their own pain and completely unwilling to chit chat. is it just tired marathoners, or the people here in general that don’t like to talk? or was it me? i didn’t care, so i texted my friends who were waiting near the finish something like “KMN”. the pain had begun searing through my back, my quads, my adductors. i was ready to collapse.

If you can’t run, walk. if you can’t walk, crawl. But no matter what, do whatever you have to do to keep moving forward.

two minutes later, i read – blurrily – “GO BOO GO. WE R WAITING 4 U”. so i did. when i began to move up Benjamin Sheares bridge the pain had gone. i didn’t know then if it really had disappeared or if i was just too tired to feel it.

so i ran. and i ran til the finish, where i found my mother and father and friends waiting for me, happily. and then i was done.

honestly, my marathon should have been just that. i should have just run and run ’til the finish, ’til i was done.

but it’s not that easy.

which is why i’m doing it again in six months.

Good enough never is.

oh, and watch for chafing at the groin and underarm area. and if you’re a guy, you might want to slap on vaseline on your nipples. a lot of vaseline.