When you talk about pain and pain tolerance, it just becomes second nature. Because you implement this stuff in training, it becomes part of the thing you enjoy most about this sport in a sick way. Whether you’re winning an ironman, or running a marathon or something. Speak to someone after a race, and what’s the first thing they talk to you about. They don’t tell you about how wonderful they felt at 4 miles. They go ‘Aw man, at 10 miles, I didn’t think I was gonna finish.’ So they always hold on to that moment, that painful moment. And that’s the whole reason we do it. That’s the drug. It’s that pain. So whether you believe it or not, that’s the purity of endurance racing. That’s why we’re all here. We’re all asking ourselves the question of how we react, how we deal with ourselves at that moment.
And so the season ends. The race season that seem to have dragged on indefinitely this year ended in the “A” race. I finished 4th in my age group, and the second Singaporean. But the focus this time wasn’t the win, and it wasn’t the podium. It was about pain and strength. Mechanical issues plagued me throughout the race but I can’t say that they made too big a dent on my performance. The challenge was the run, the pain of shin splints in both legs, and what now seems to be a quadricep tendon strain in my left leg. Right from the start of the run, each step painful, getting through each kilometre was a struggle. Shades on – time to hide the pain. You put on a stoic expression, you get in the “zone”, and you face your yourself head on. How strong can you be in the face of sheer pain? Do you give in or do you fight it? Perhaps I should say that I embraced it, and then found a way to deal with it; a way to shut off the noises in my head, and to live with the pain in my legs. At the finishing line, the first question that everyone asks: how was your race? It was a good race, because I dealt with that pain; it was a good race because I didn’t put the blame on the shin splints or the quad tendon, I didn’t even mention them to anyone; it was a solid race because I didn’t try to make excuses for myself; because I accepted that it was me out there, giving everything that I could.
Don’t aim at success–the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run–in the long run, I say–success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.
And today. I picked up my bike and went out for a ride despite the pain in the quads. Because deep down I have a dream of 2014 and 2015. A dream that would require patience and a lot of hard work over the next few years. It will not be easy, but I’m on my way. For today, I woke up stronger than I was yesterday.