[Read Part 1 – Travel back (& forth) in time]
[Read Part 2 – Travel back (& forth) in time]
March 17, 2019 was the Taiwan marathon, exactly 4 weeks after the Hong Kong marathon, which is against conventional wisdom; thy shalt not run 2 marathons within a few months’ time!
This time I got to wear a jersey with a national flag, a new and special experience/responsibility for me. We arrived two days before the race, and I was surprised that Taipei looked so different from the last time I visited. There were rolling hills, seaside, interesting rocks and geography, and meaningful breeze too. I sat at the hotel restaurant having breakfast, admiring the wave at the sea, and it dawned on me that the place was more befitting to fly kites than running marathons. I wanna go home!!! I couldn’t quit! I was not only running for myself this time! It turned out that the run was at ‘New Taipei’, just a few hours away from the Taipei that I know of, I was only focusing on the run anyway… I told myself; a 42.195km is just a 42.195km and most importantly, I would get to meet up my friend Dr Haston Liu (aka ‘Big Liu’) after the run!
Haston was serving as the Hong Kong Dental Association president and he was on a business meeting in Taiwan during the same weekend. He was two years my senior in dental school and he is a guy who would finish a marathon in the morning, then face an audience and give a lecture after lunch the very same day. It is no surprise because he was one of the few seniors of mine who represented Hong Kong in the 1986 Asian Games back when he was a dental student. He can hit books, hit the gym and his thigh was bigger than my chest (no exaggeration, good quality lean meat, now you know why he is aka ‘Big Liu’!) but I only got to appreciate/admire that achievement years later because we were ‘just schoolmates’ back then and I was mainly focusing on surviving our dental school curriculum! Speaking of being a slow learner myself.
2019 July was my second Goldcoast marathon. This time I follow my new coach, Elangovan’s training plan. Things were different but was doing great until I acquired a right calf injury approximately 3.5 weeks before the race!!! I was a little bit too excited doing my very last pre-race 35km long run during a business meeting trip in Brisbane. It was bad and I was worried that I may get myself permanently destroyed should I run the full marathon distance. I wanted to call it quits but Coach Elangovan was calm and supportive in light of my stupid injury. With a change of mindset and training plan modification, I toed the start line with David and Jeremy. I share the room of the two HK boys the night before the race, all I wanted was a finish without additional biological destruction! I was so distracted, I only managed to start with a pair of new shoes from Jeremy!
David clocked a big sub-3 marathon while Jeremy did exactly the same time as his earlier Hong Kong marathon a few months earlier. My other Singapore runner friends/training partners (Dr Ashley Liew, Evan Chee & Heng) all did well. I surprised myself with a personal best time for almost a minute! I was practically head over heel after the run, and I fainted in the crowded tram returning back to the hotel!
First weekend of 2019 December was the Singapore marathon; my fourth marathon in the year, tenth ever in my life and last before Covid 19 runs amok in the world. That was the first ever evening Singapore Standard Chartered marathon and I was supposed to catch a flight to London about 2 hours after. If I finished slow, I risk ‘running late’ for the flight. It was a trip to visit families over that side of the world and for my gals to visit their post-secondary new school before admitting into university. In that race, I came overall 14th among local runners (about 11,000 participants) and coincidentally, I scored my 4th third place finish in the Master category on my fourth marathon of 2019. As usual, I was physically totally destroyed after the marathon but was secretly happy that running for 2019 was done and over with.
Overseas trips are always fun (almost, just almost…) and travelling to see families are always precious. A view to the DNA of a new school was eye opener to my gals (my boss and me as well). The school was in a small town in the middle of UK; beautiful facilities, very structured daily routine, lousy wifi connection (great!!), weekly Saturday tests and great food in the cafeteria sounded like a winning formula to me. I also noticed one of my university teachers were a top donor to the school, which warmed my heart. By the way, the school was a few hours of train ride from London, followed by a car ride of 20 minutes+ on a medium size highway and then another 10 minutes+ on a tiny twisty road surrounded by farm houses. It would take a genius/runner/survivor to escape from the school!
My elder daughter just finished her O-level examination in October 2019. Normally, her batch of student would only restart school by the following March for another 2 years of pre-university (junior college, aka A-level) curriculum. After visiting the school, in a heartbeat; well, slightly longer than a heartbeat, my elder daughter agreed to start her A-level (pre-university years) ahead of time in 2020 January without seeking advice from my mom. She would had a 18 month time to complete a 2 year curriculum and hopefully get into a discipline she fancy to read in university. A tall order. Knowing my mom has always been supportive towards our educational endeavors, we know a right choice was made.