We said goodbye at the last slope. He had to walk it because of his back.
I met Pear during the last 3km of the Passion 25 k run on 22 May at East Coast Park. We had been running for more than 3 hours and all I could think about was going home. My leg muscles were protesting in pain and my knees were achy. The running route was windy and they made us U turn back just as the end of the race looked quite close - wanted to cry.
I asked a guy beside me going at the same slow pace, "Are we going the right way?"
"Yes, not long more. One more turn and we're home free".
We continued running side by side and started to chat. I asked him if he does long races regularly and he said he did. Several marathons. I told him that this was my first 25 k run. He shared with me some training tips, sounded like a running veteran so it seemed strange to me that he was running so slowly.
I didn't want to tell him that I was just about ready to hang up the running shoes. This race provided confirmation. I signed up for the run a few months ago thinking that it would provide motivation to keep running but I completely fell back on the training. My running fervour, the one which had taken me from 0 to the first 10 k in 2008 and then 21 k in 2009 died, just like that.
I just didn't feel like running anymore.
With that thought at the back of my mind and the frailty of my failing legs, Pear started to share that he had a back injury, a spine fracture due to a car accident. He was knocked off his bicycle, landed on a car bonnet, underwent spinal surgery and spent a few weeks in hospital. Nearly paralyzed. He started swimming after 3 months and even though the doctor told him that he couldn't run anymore, he started to jog after 9 months.
I wanted to cry again, but this time it was his story and I forgot all about the pain in my legs.
You must be very happy doing this race?
Yes, I am very happy every race I enter. I am a very happy man.
We continued running, waiting for each other along several water stops but at the last slope he told me to run ahead. And so I did without looking back. He will never know that he had given the gift of healing in sharing his story of healing and the best way I can honour his story, is to keep running.