For the past 47 days, editor Lim Nghee Huat, 61 and PE teacher Yong Yuen Cheng, 43, have been running 50km every day to commemorate the 50th birthday of Singapore this year. At the same time, the run is meant as a rallying call towards paying tribute to Singapore’s founding Prime Minister. Each run also has a special daily theme representing the 50 years since independence.
They will be doing their final 50km run on 4 June – and this will coincide with the opening ceremony of the SEA Games.
Simply enjoying his runs
When I caught up with Lim during his run yesterday, he was visibly relieved that the end of the daily 50kms was almost near. Said the ultra marathoner, “I feel relieved rather than anything else. Now we are simply enjoying the runs and the speed for the past few days has not been so important to me. If you look at the big picture, the main thing is to get through every day and complete the whole run in one piece, and enjoy the fellowship with friends and runners who are joining us.”
Body has become more conditioned to the 50kms
At the same time, Lim also feels that his body has become more conditioned to the 50km runs now and so running has become much easier lately. He explained, “The last few days were definitely not the hardest. I think the toughest part was in the middle of the 50 days because our body was quite tired at the time and we still had many more days left to go. But now after day 30, our bodies are more conditioned to the running – and we have actually been clocking faster times.”
In fact, as a strong testament to that, Yong had even set his personal best timing yesterday – with his first 50km run in under five hours. He had clocked an astonishing 4hours and 47minutes based on his GPS watch reading. This would be an equivalent of a 5min 44second running pace per kilometre.
Added Lim, “The rate of recovery for our bodies have definitely been improving over the days. I am finding that I have more energy to run now. I also do not feel pain in my body except for a foot injury – but in the first half of the 50 days, I was feeling pain everywhere. My legs were also very heavy in the mornings during the first 10 days – but nowadays when I wake up, they are feeling completely normal.”
Lim had completed his 50km run in 7hours and 45minutes yesterday.
Toughest period was on the 24th day
The toughest period for Lim during his 47 days of running 50kms so far, was definitely on the 24th day when he had a bad bout of vomiting and diarrhoea. Said the runner, “When I had vomiting and diarrhoea on Day 24, that was the worst day in my entire run. When I really could not run then, I simply walked but when the pain disappeared, I continued to run again.”
Added Lim, “It was so serious that we had to change the route too – we were supposed to run from Mandai to Sembawang but halfway down the park connector at Mandai, I had the urge to go to the toilet. But there was none nearby, so I went into the bushes instead. After that though, we turned back to Peirce Reservoir and continued the run with loops around the area, because there is a public toilet inside, so at least I would not have to wait too long if I needed to go again. I was really struggling that day.”
He took 10 hours to finish his 50km that day – but at no point did the runner ever thought of giving up when the going got tough. Said Lim, “Halfway during that particular run, I did not know whether I would be able to complete 50kms, so it was very, very tough but I adopted a never-say-die attitude and kept pushing myself.”
For most of his run the next day, Lim fortunately felt a lot better – but then at the 40km mark, he admitted that he had the urge to vomit again. Lim said, “So on the last 10km on Day 25, I was struggling. But I managed to finish in one and half hours less than Day 24. After that, things simply became better from there and my body got over it.”
Did not know whether the 50 days 50kms were humanly possible at first
Reflecting back to the early days of taking on this gruelling challenge, Lim admitted that he didn’t know whether he could actually complete the daily 50kms at first. He said, “That had only been a plan – and I wasn’t too sure if I could do it or whether it was humanly possible.”
He added, “But the last few weeks have been a learning journey for us. For myself, I believe that nothing is impossible – if you have the dream and you work hard to achieve it, you must dare to bear the discomfort of pain as it is only temporary. For example, the daily 50kms is very difficult but at least we gave it a go – and after another three more days, I am confident that our dream will come true.”
Everyone should take up exercise for fitness
Lim recommended that people in general should take up exercise. He explained, “Once you have a good basic fitness level and a healthy lifestyle, you will have more energy to enjoy life to the fullest. Also, everyone should try and do something beyond their limitations – because if you don’t try, then you would not know what you are capable of.”
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