I just returned from a week-long family holiday in Bali, Indonesia. The number of highlights from
the trip easily matched the number of mosquito bites that I sustained (that is to say, abundant). One of the highlights that you won’t read in any Lonely Planet guides is the beach run that I did on the very first morning on the island, from north (Seminyak) to south (Kuta) and back.
It started out unremarkably, perhaps even stressfully, as I had to negotiate the busy main street leading up to the beach, side-stepping pot-holes and dodging motor-bikes while trying to get used to the stifling heat (even at 6.30am).
Then I hit the beach and everything changed.
Firstly, the stifling heat suddenly gave away to an energising coolness from the gentle sea breeze. While still acclimatising to the almost perfect running condition, I looked out to the ocean on my right and was completely awe-struck by the image of a breathtaking horizon. Countless small specks of clouds dotted the sky, perhaps still disbanding from the tropical storm overnight. That chaotic aerial vista met the ocean and seamlessly turned into innumerable sparkles dancing on the orange-esque sea surface, as the fresh morning sun rising to my left beamed its ray on the water. At that very moment, as if on cue, my trusty running companion (aka as my iPod Mini) began to play “It took a long time“, sung by Labelle.
Now, I admit to having some moody diva tunes from the yesteryear on my iPod but I rarely listen to them while I’m running, lest people think I’m old and sentimental. On this occasion, however, I decided to switch the little gadget to random shuffle and, presto, among the 665 songs, the Labelle tune happened to click into gear, just as I was marvelling at the achingly beautiful seascape. The haunting rhythm, combined with the accompanying lyrics, were so apt and moving in that setting that I suddenly had some moisture (not tears, thank you) swirl in my eyes. Perhaps, I am getting old and sentimental after all!
As the iPod randomly progressed beyond “It took a long time“, the tune and the title stayed in my mind as I jogged peacefully along the beach. Random thoughts began to dart around in my head, such as:
- It took a long time for me to get used to the idea of being a father;
- It took a long time for my two boys to stop waking up 4-6 times a night and finally sleep through until morning;
- It took a long time for my whole life to adjust from being centred around myself and to being revolved around my children;
- It took a long time to teach the boys that I’m not just a useless back-up quarterback that they reluctantly call upon only when Mommy All-Star is unavailable, but that I actually know how to do many things other than yell “be quiet“, “don’t hassle your brother“, “don’t make me go over there!“;
- It took a long time before I was able to run comfortably enough to let my mind cogitate about goofy things such as those above, instead of worrying about whether I am having heart-attacks.
It was only thanks to the pain gradually building in my calves from the sand-running that I snapped out of this mental soliloquy. I looked at my Garmin watch and it showed that I have been pounding the beach for 25 minutes and, in that time, I travelled an embarrasingly short distance.
Instead of picking up the tempo, I turned around and ran back at pretty much the same leisurely pace, still mesmerised by the scenery. In the end, while it was probably the slowest I have run for some time, it was definitely one of the most pleasurable. Why? Because the quality of a run is judged by many factors other than speed.
It took a long time for me to learn that about running.
Keep on pounding.