Lim: One to 10

The journey from one to 10 kilometers has taken me five years. So, no, there were no shortcuts. I paced myself.

But I did not set out to be a runner when I got on the treadmill in 2017 to warm up for my conditioning exercises at the gym. An open partial nephrectomy had weakened my core—I just wanted to regain my strength.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d run or race. And at 58?

In December of 2019, a friend invited me to join a 5K fun run. And why not? It sounded fun. By then, I had been doing short runs on the treadmill for two and a half years. Nowhere near 5K but I felt fit and ready.

This fun run would change my life.

In March of 2020, the first lockdown happened. I initially thought this cessation of normal activities would be brief and temporary. Well, we all know what happened.

By the last quarter of 2020, I was feeling my belly bloat despite the fact that I had set up a mini gym in my living room. I might have eaten too many baked goodies and empty calories. And Netflix had lured me to take up regular residence in my chair.

By December of 2020, I decided to do my first virtual run—42K. Because, why not? The runs could be accumulated. It was an opportunity I could not pass up as running a “real” marathon no longer seemed viable this late in life.

After this first virtual run, I got hooked. Five years and three months after I ran my first kilometer—yet another friend invited me to join a race. Last Sunday, I ran my first 10K race. In the streets. Finally.

The transition was brutal—from treadmill to road. Surprisingly, my legs, feet and knees were fine but I felt very much hampered by the fumes and the sewer smells in the streets. It was a continuous struggle to find clean air.

I had become so used to running in ideal conditions—in a temperature-controlled air-purified living room that my body felt like it was on Mars. But I knew what I was up against though I learned rather belatedly.

The week before, I had done a short trial run on the road wherein I performed so badly that I told myself I’d be happy to just finish the race within the cut-off time of 120 minutes. Before that, I had only run inside my house.

I can usually run 10K in under 60 minutes on the treadmill. On the road, I did it in 77 minutes last Sunday. But as I expected worse after my abysmal trial run, I am still ecstatic. I had asked friends to pray that I finish the race, healthy and well. They must have stormed the heavens with prayers!

If I am to race again, I will have to evolve—I will have to run outside, commune with the air pollutants and be ready to do battle with the elements. I don’t know what the future holds but I know that If God got me from one to 10, if He wills it, He will get me farther.

It’s never too late to start Kilometer One. Today.