Saturday, June 8, 2013

When Life Knocks You Down...

Friday May 24th was rather special (speaking as a shoe geek), because not one but two new shoes arrived at my home:

The Altra 3-Sum, and the ultra-flexible ultra-thin NB Hi-Rez

On Saturday the 25th, I took out the NB Minimus Hi-Rez for a brief run. Following the run, I had moderating duties at a "Runner's Class" workshop, featuring podiatrist Aaron Walker and physiotherapist Brett Money.

During the workshop, there were discussions of various topics, including: 

(A.) "never wear new shoes on race day." 

(B.) During the Q&A session, a participant (ibu Yus, standing in the photo below) mentioned how a seemingly minor bump by a bicycle (while she was running), has caused long-term ailments to her running form/comfort.

Runner's Class photos courtesy of Ninit Yunita

If only I knew what these two "topics", particularly point (B), would mean to me less than 24 hours later.

I had a race scheduled for Sunday, at an event called "The Wine & Cheese 10K Run." 

Sunday morning arrived, and, against conventional wisdom, I elected to wear my new Altra 3-Sum.

This particular race encouraged people to be in costumes, which made the atmosphere rather fun and dynamic. 

Photos courtesy of Jubi Tobing

As this was my first race after the Boston tragedy, I donned my "Remember Boston 04-15-03" custom t-shirt.

I am a slow turtle runner, underscored by my previous 10K PB of 55:14 (October 2012) at the Mandiri Run.

For whatever reason, I had set the Wine & Cheese Race as the venue to better my 10K race time. My goal was simple, to cut at least 15 seconds from my PB, and get a sub 55 minutes 10K.

At 6:00am, the race was officially ON. I started running in a relaxed manner, to establish a base to pick up speed gradually.

By the time I passed 3 km, I started picking up the pace to 6 min/km (told you I was slow). I maintained this till the 6 km mark, whereupon I started picking up the pace to below 5'30" min/km.

The race's route passed many intersections which were not closed, but had police stopping traffic to let batches of runners passed. This "non-sterile" conditions did not benefit anybody. Drivers of cars and motorcycles had to wait, in frustration, while the runners "crossed" their path. Runners had to hear LOUD honking from some of the angered drivers, both two wheeled and four.

At approximately the 8KM mark, we had to cross the last intersection. I looked at the time, and I had about 11 minutes to go sub 55. I knew the remaining stretch was a straight line to the finish, with no more intersections.

"Time to give it my all," I said to myself.

I picked up the speed, with my PB in sight.

Suddenly, something HIT ME! A motorcyclist knocked me over from behind. I fell forward, and my right knee bumped into the ground.

The motorcycle, and the rider, were also on the ground next to me. I was shocked. 

The motorcyclist, though, reacted much quicker. Without ever removing his helmet (a quick sorry would've been nice), he stood up, got his motorcycle upright, and rode off!!

A couple of runners stopped and asked me how I was doing. I was trying to collect myself, still unsure of what the hell just happened.

I tried standing up. My right knee, and the palm of my right hand, were bruised and bleeding.

Once I confirmed that I could stand up on my two feet, I responded to the fellow runners, "I think I'm okay, thanks." I could see other runners trying to chase the motorcyclist, but he sped up and fled away.

I contemplated stopping the race. One of the first thoughts that came to my mind was Ibu Yus from the Runner's Class, the lady marathoner who was bumped by a bicycle, and suffered long-time ailment as a result: "Gee, this is a motorcycle, what would happen to me?"

I tried to jog. My right knee squeaked a bit, but it seemed fine. "Let's just jog to the finish line," I told myself.

When I passed KM 9, I could see the finish line far ahead. By then I knew my PB attempt was gone.

Seeing the finish line getting closer, against all conventional wisdom (for someone who just fell on the knee), I picked up my pace and started running faster. Finally, I crossed the finish line at 56:14 (nett chip time, 75 seconds worse than my goal).

To say that I was upset was an understatement. But it was what it was.

By the way, besides the banged knee, my new Altra 3-Sum suffered bruising as well:

I went home and iced my right knee repeatedly.

I had two running-related events in the upcoming week. But, a couple of hours after the incident, they were the furthest thing from my mind.

I knew that I had to wait till Monday morning, to see if the fall had done serious damage. Fortunately, when I woke up the next day, the pain was more from the exterior wound rather than from the inside of my right knee. Thank God!

Monday was a non-running day for me. By Tuesday morning, I was itching to test my right knee, and I went for a brief, and slow, jog. All systems checked out fine, except for a burning sensation on my right calf (I was consciously trying to stride using my forefoot, to relieve pressure from my right knee). I did the same on Wednesday and Thursday morning as well, making sure to ice-compress my knees after each run.

On the evening of Thursday, May 30th, IndoRunners would host a launching event for LUAS (Lari Untuk Amal Sosial, or Running for Charity and Social causes). 

The LUAS launch ceremony was an event six months in the making, with the goal for LUAS to be a sustainable nation-wide social movement, one that encourages more people to run regularly, and to raise awareness that charity through sweat is possible. As the LUAS program's director, I had worked quite a bit to make sure the launch event was just the starting point. Our goal is for LUAS to be a long-term social movement, one that will contribute in "running" the people of Indonesia in the millions of Kilometers, and, in return, get corporations to commit tangible CSR programs for a healthier, and more caring, society.

In concrete terms, LUAS' first phase encouraged more people to run regularly, whereby IndoRunners will arrange the 'accumulation' of 200,000 kilometers within six months through our team at Endomondo (everyone is welcome to join, without fee). Each km would be matched 1 US dollar by two public-listed corporations, who commit to carry out Corporate Social Responsibility programs (in the amount of USD 200,000), in return for all the running that is being done.

This first phase, we hope, is just the beginning.

Photos courtesy of Ola Tequila and Aki Niaki

Despite a gloomy weather forecast, the skies cleared in time for the LUAS media gathering, followed by our (IndoRunners) signature Thursday Night Run. More than 130 people participated in the festivities, with more than a dozen media representatives on hand.

Friday morning came, and my mind had shifted to the 'Kujang 10K Run' on Sunday. 

This was a special run, hosted by the Indonesian Army at their base in Cijantung. There was no timing chip for this event, so my focus was just to test my right knee, and see if it would hold up for a 10 K race. There was no running on Saturday, and before I knew it, I was on the race site at 5:20am on Sunday.

The atmosphere of a race at the Army base definitely had a special feeling to it. There were thousands of men who looked not only ready to run, but also ready for battle.

Race Marshall in full army gear (photo by Azhar Mudjitaba/AM)

I brought IndoRunners visors for a few friends, and I was looking for them, way back from the starting line. Before I realized it, the announcement to start was blaring, and I slowly worked my way through the crowd. My friends were nowhere to be found, and it must have been at least a good minute before I actually crossed the Starting line. I started running carrying visors on my hand.

Water Station manned by army personnel (photo by AM)

The run through the army base complex proved to be FUN, with ample trees all around, and an undulating (hilly!) route which went through paths of the homes of surrounding residents. I was just glad to be running again. After KM 3, I started picking up the pace below 5'50" per kilometer. The occasional steep hills proved tough to climb and descend, but I was SMILING, because by then I knew my right knee was fine!

I finally crossed the finish line, according to my watch, at below 55 minutes. But this was not an official race (i.e. no timing chip nor nett time). And hey, who am I to argue against this particular race organizer, i.e. the Indonesian Army? :)

Look at that awesome Finisher Medal! (personal photo)

At the finish area, I finally met my friends who had ordered the IndoRunners visors. Smiles all around. Time for photo-op! 

Group photo! (photo by AM)

All of us enjoyed the special atmosphere, and we were again reminded, that running is a journey, hopefully a life-long one. As if to prove the point, the Army had put up a giant banner which reads:

Awesome sign by the Garuda Finishers group of the Army (photo by AM)

Thus, when Life (in the form of an ignorant motorcyclist) knocks you down, let's get back up, and continue on our journey, till our Finish line.

Run for Fun. Care to Share!

UPDATE: 8 days after LUAS launched, 758 people had run 26,486 km (Goal is 200,000 km by November 30th, 2013). The journey, and the running, continue. JOIN US!

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