The journey so far…

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I participated in the Sabah Adventure Challenge 2014 with 7 friends from Singapore this April. In the months that led to the race, we trained together, ate together and many a times were in agony together. From a group of acquaintances who met each other once in a while we became a small, close knit family. A big shout out to Ray Loh who took time from his busy schedule to train us, tend to our complaints about our pains and fix it for us in the best possible way. Also, big hugs to John, Lynn, Hwee Xiang, Sook Fong, Yilun, Jenny, Ray and Sarah (who probably was the most sincere in doing her homework even though she was just training with us and was not participating in the race).

During one of our training runs...

During one of our training runs…

After collecting our bibs for SAC2014.

After collecting our bibs for SAC2014.

During our race...

During our race…

Post Race celebration

Post Race celebration

Post race photo session at the hotel poolside :)

Post race photo session at the hotel poolside 🙂

SAC 2014 is one of the best things that happened to me. During the race, I met so many amazing people that I am still inspired by them every single day. Though I wish I could have done better and had not finished last, I am extremely grateful and proud of myself for having finished the race and having given it my all!

This blog is not a detailed race report, below are some of the write-ups which will give you an idea of what this race entailed:
http://runner.azeanic.net/races/race-reviews/sabah-adventure-challenge-2014/ http://www.tristupe.com/search?q=SAC&max-results=20&by-date=true http://whatrun.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/race-report-sabah-adventure-challenge-day-3/

In October 2006, after 9 years of pain and my knees getting locked, after much research by Nithya and loads of encouragement from Eddy, Amit and Nithya, I went through an arthroscopic procedure by Dr. Rakesh Nair to get the “loose body” in my knee removed. The “loose body” was 13mm long and had caused quite a lot of damage in the knee region. After the surgery, I was told that the state of the knee was very bad and I will need to be really focussed on my physio and exercises to get back to walking normally. I would have to relearn to climb up and down stairs.

This completely broke me down. I was expecting the surgery to be a magic switch that would suddenly correct everything. What ensued was a nightmare that took me a long time to accept. It took me more than a month to be able to take a shower on my own. It would take me an average of 15 minutes to climb the three steps to my workplace from the lift, so one can imagine how frustrating it was. The difficulties of being physically handicapped in Mumbai was suddenly a reality for me.

The only thing that kept me from completely going mad was the encouragement from my family especially Amit and Nithya. Amit would remind me of how much I loved to run and maybe this surgery is the key to me being back to normal soon. He taught me how to swim so that I can do my exercises with least impact. Nithya would focus on keeping tabs on my physio exercises and remind me to keep at it no matter how difficult it was. My coach, Suhas Nair’s son Suhel had also gone through a knee surgery around the same time and so we would team up together and do our knee strengthening exercises. The company definitely helped.

The one thing I still remember from that time is looking out of the bedroom window and imagining I was running long, far and fast. I would think of running free, without knee cap support, without limping and more importantly, without pain. Forests, hills and rivers were always a part of this day dream.

GE Women’s run 5K in 2009 was my first race after my surgery. It was tough and I really had lost touch with running but I managed to complete it. After completing the race, I cried in happiness like I ran 100 kilometres. It was proof I could run again. Now I needed to double the distance. I took my time. GE Women’s Run 2010 was my first 10K. I took over an hour and half to complete it. Again it was not easy but it was just something I had to do.

After my first GE Women's 10K

After my first GE Women’s 10K

In 2011, Amit and I decided to go for a trek to RoopKund (in the Indian Himalayas) and started training for it. Again, it was very difficult for me. I wanted to give up even before I started. The trick of taking one step at a time and a lot encouragement from Amit saved me from giving up. We were always the last to return to the campsite but just the fact that I managed, made me all set for the next day. Thanks to being on the trail for so long with the locals, we managed to make a bond with them that will never break.

Roopkund Trek in 2011

Roopkund Trek in 2011

Highlight of 2012 was another Himalayan trek in early October and my first half marathon in November. I ran my first overseas marathon in Jan 2013 and mid 2013, I joined Lose to Win which is a program by the Health Promotion Board of Singapore that helps people in their weight loss journey. I met a lot of wonderful people including the SAC 2014 team thanks to LTW.

First Half Marathon - GE Women's 21K

First Half Marathon – GE Women’s 21K

In the first race after joining LTW (SAFRA 5KM fun run) I stopped wearing my knee cap support. After completing the race, with the finisher medal in my hand, I cried again to my heart’s content. I was finally free. Free from my knee cap support. I went on to run the Tampines Run 10K, GE Women’s Half Marathon and the Mumbai Half Marathon 2014 without knee cap support.

My moment of truth was when I managed the same with SAC 2014.
Though I finished last, I felt proud that I managed to hold on my own and not break down every time I saw a slope or an uphill section. I stayed strong throughout the three days and did not let my smile go away even for a second. If I felt too tired, or the route was too tough for me, I remembered the days after my surgery when I would look out of the window and see myself running in the trails, past rivers and in the hills (just that the dream did not have temperature details :P, never imagined it would be so hot)… and got right back to being happy. I ran, I walked, I crawled, but I did it with a smile.

SAFRA 5K - First run in so many years without knee cap support

SAFRA 5K – First run in so many years without knee cap support

Shape run 10k - First 10K without knee cap support

Shape run 10k – First 10K without knee cap support

GE Womens 21K 2013 - First half marathon without knee cap support

GE Womens 21K 2013 – First half marathon without knee cap support

Tampines Run - First run pacing my dear friend Linda

Tampines Run – First run pacing my dear friend Linda

With Linda and Belinda... Felt great to be with them while they completed their first half marathon :)

With Linda and Belinda… Felt great to be with them while they completed their first half marathon 🙂

After Mumbai Marathon 2104...

After Mumbai Marathon 2104…

With my well earned finisher tee from SAC and the finisher medal...

With my well earned finisher tee from SAC and the finisher medal…

I am very grateful to all those people who have been a part of my journey in their own way. Being there for me and helping me through my tough times. Laughing and crying with me when I needed the company. Pushing me when I was lazy and picking me up when I was low…

This blog is a reminder for me to not be lazy and start getting back on track to achieve everything I dreamt of and more… This is my new beginning…

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep…

-Robert Frost