This past Sunday I took part in the Hong Kong half marathon. This was my first half marathon and I had been training for almost 5 months. My goal was simply to finish the race so I was very pleased that I finished in two hours and twenty nine minutes.
I had anticipated this race for so long that I had trouble falling asleep the night before and I woke up earlier than I would have liked. I didn’t feel nervous, rather I felt anxious about an event I had been thinking about and training for so long. The day itself was cold with a temperature of 18 degrees Celsius and windy. I was in the half marathon race 3 which started at 9:30am on Nathan Road which is on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong.
As with any marathon there were many people at the start and a lot of excitement when the race got underway. The first half of the race was pretty flat and we ran along a main highway and then made a u-turn and headed back the way we came. As part of my training, my plan was to take several walking breaks throughout the length of the entire race in order to rest and recover. The race markers were posted in kilometers and when I reached the ten kilometer marker I felt good because I was almost half way through the race. I started to think that I might actually finish. Then we had to go through a tunnel that went underneath Hong Kong harbor to connect Kowloon with Hong Kong Island. I had been through this tunnel many times in a car and I knew that when entering the tunnel there was a downward slope and other the other side when exiting there was an upward slope. Inside the tunnel it was warm and when I got to the other side the upward exiting slope was too steep for me and I had to walk. As soon as I got out of the tunnel there was a blast of cold air and when I tried to start running again, my legs protested. I couldn’t believe it; my legs were giving up on me. I remember thinking my race can’t end like this so I told my legs “you got to move damn it!”
Despite the pain in my legs, I knew I was through the tunnel and now on Hong Kong Island with the bulk of the race behind me. The 18 kilometer marker was a very pleasant sight. At this point we were in the densely populated part of Hong Kong Island and there were lots of spectators cheering us on. Then I saw the sign indicating the final kilometer and I knew I was going to finish. That last kilometer seemed like it would never end. Then we entered Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and I saw the finish line. I crossed the finish line and I remember thinking “Yes, I did it! I finished my first half marathon!” It was an exhilarating moment.
Walking back to my hotel was difficult because my legs were in pain and I immediately took a much needed hot bath. It was then that it hit me what I had accomplished, including all of the planning, training and effort. In a way I felt sad and I thought “what do I do now?”
Looking back, I thought about what I learned. I suppose the take away from my half marathon experience is that achieving any goal takes planning and perseverance. Clarifying the goal and then working backwards to determine what steps need to be taken to achieve the goal. Then systematically measure each step to stay on track to achieve the goal.
As Sun Tsu says in his book The Art of War “Every battle is won before it’s ever fought.”