Sunday, February 2, 2014

屏东 Marathon (Taiwan) 17 Nov 2013

This race will always remind me of my dad.  Initially, I signed up for the race because of the cute medal with little monkey swirling around the centre.  But when I touched down at the airport, I received a bad news from my brother that my dad could have passed away in his sleep and he was awaiting the police and authority's confirmation.  My heart sank.  :(  It was not nice to know something had happened to my dad but not exactly what was the current situation was and that I couldn't do anything.  Luckily, my brother gave me the blessings to continue the trip and run the marathon in memory of my dad.  Besides, I would be back the next day - as usual, short trip.  Nevertheless, a quick check on my mobile showed the cheapest flight would leave Taipei that night and cost S$400 plus while the earliest flight would leave Taipei that early afternoon and cost S$1,200.  I struggled with making the final call.  I decided to push on as 宝哥, a veteran of 300 marathons (I heard), had already made arrangement for everything.  Besides, I also needed to pay him for the race registration and accommodation, though I suspect he would understand my situation should I not show up.  宝哥 was always helpful to runners (especially overseas one) when it comes to registration for races and finding affordable accommodation.  He often stay up late to ensure everything was in order.  The last thing I wanted was add on to 宝哥's to-do list with a no-show, though he might be too busy to notice my no-show!

On the train ride to 屏东, my brother confirmed the bad news.  I whatsapped a good friend, Janet, who dropped by my mum's place and helped out, together with my aunt and uncle.  I was less worried now but still feeling upset that I wasn't able to do anything to help out during the difficult time.  I followed the instructions given to me and duly arrived in 屏东 that afternoon.  A fellow Taiwanese runner (家华) came over to the train station and brought me to the hotel where we would be staying.  He also passed me my race bib.  We then arranged to meet for dinner together with 瑜庭.  During dinner, I realised that both of them already gotten the return train ticket back to Taipei.  I didn't as I was told that 宝哥 would arrange everything.  Both 家华 and 瑜庭 told me not to worry as 宝哥 would settle everything.  After dinner, I called 宝哥 and he assured me that everything would be fine and he would meet me after the marathon the next day.  I then went back to my room, prepared my gear and went to sleep though I couldn't really sleep well.  I woke up early, ate my bun, and decided to write a special message for the marathon - "1930~2013, 11月16日. 安息吧,老爸! 我永远爱你!" which I would pin to the back of my running tee.

屏东 Marathon Race Bib; Dinner Time with 家华 and 瑜庭!

Sports Stadium where We Deposit Belongings (Left); At The Starting Line (Right)!

Special Message for Dad: 1930~2013, 11月16日. 安息吧,老爸! 我永远爱你!

The weather was nice in 屏东.  Cooling but not that cold.  After learning that my dad had passed on yesterday, my new found friends gave me their support and condolences.  At 6:30am, the race started!  Running in a city marathon was getting boring for me as I preferred looking at the nature.  For this race, besides the cute medal, I was told that there would be good food being served along the course as well as after the marathon where every runner would get a 饭盒.  I had no specific time target for completing the race as I usually treat running the marathon as one of my LSD for my up-coming ultras.  In this case, as I would be running the CM50 (Clark-Miyamit Falls 50 Miles) the following weekend, this would be like a taper run.  But I knew I had to reach the hotel by 12pm so that I could check-out by 1pm - a late check-out granted by the hotel.  At around the 4km mark, a guy ran past me and tapped on my shoulder.  I turned towards him to see a thumbs up from him.  I acknowledged him and continued running.  Then I thought about my dad, especially the last three years when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease.  From the time when he was still stronger than my mum and was able to chase after buses, to when he had to be supported (at times).  During these times, I saw him from being able to drink his favourite kopi, eat fish porridge or chicken rice, to eventually eating food that looked like baby food (due to the use of thickener as he was unable to swallow liquid stuff).  He loved to go Chinatown to meet up with old friends but had to stay home since his diagnosis.  I was glad he would no longer be suffering but sad that he didn't wait for me to see him one last time.  Then again, I shouldn't be so selfish.  It shouldn't be about me.  I should be glad that he lived a fulfilling life.  :)

My Dad - @ IMH

More Photos of My Dad!

I thought about the happy times or time spent with my dad.  It made the race easier.  Time passed by faster when I was happy.  I also noticed that although it was misty, it wasn't that cold.  The crowd was cheering us along the side of the road.  There were also children dancing and singing as well.  Some aid stations had volunteers spraying muscle rub onto the runners' tired muscles while some running groups even stopped for club photos!  They were serious in the run by pacing each other by running in a group but when it was time for photos, they would stop and pose.  The elderly were not to be out done by the youngsters by forming their own cheering group as well.  It was great to see these cheering at different part of the course.

Runners Running Past Temple and Under Highway (Top); Children Cheering & Dancing (Bottom)!

 Other Supporters - More Volunteers, Photographer, Elderly.  Even Statues Are Cheering!

I also noticed the different type of food that they served food here in Taiwan.  Food that you would otherwise not seen in other marathons in other part of the world but it was common in Taiwan.  Pork, red bean soup, dumplings, chocolate cakes, sng pao of different flavours, more pork, and even Starbuck Coffee!  Luckily I didn't fancy eating the pork with so much fats.  Otherwise, it would be like attending the traditional Chinese Wedding Banquet!

Pork (Top Left); Red Bean Soup (Bottom Left); Oranges & Chocolate Cakes (Top Right); Cold Sponge (Bottom Right)!

Dumplings (Top Left); Pork & Vege (Bottom Left); Starbuck Coffee (Top Right); More Pork (Bottom Right)!

瑜庭 passed me with just 1km to go.  She urged me to keep pace with her as we were both hoping to finish the race within 5 hours.  But I knew it was impossible as I left with only 2mins.  Perhaps if I had not taken so many photos, I would have completed another sub-5 marathon.  But I didn't want to push myself that hard.  Running the marathon was hard enough.  To run a marathon thinking about my dad was even harder.  I wanted to remember the good times and that I was able to get through my run despite what had happened.  I completed my 47th marathon with an official time of 5hrs 3mins 10secs.  I did get a lunch box (饭盒) after the race, went back to hotel washed up and checked out by 1pm and met up with 宝哥.  I paid 宝哥 for the race registration and accommodation (who else would do that?), who then drove me to 高雄 to take the rail to the High Speed Train station back to Taipei.  Then I was back at Taipei Airport for my flight back home.  Back to Singapore.  Back to my dad's home.  再见 Taiwan!  再见老爸!  :(

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