Meet Yahya from Malaysia
Pain is my friend. That’s what I tell my friends who ask me how it felt like when I ran 42.195km on 18th November 2012 at the Penang Bridge International Marathon in Malaysia. Born and breed in the city of Kuching, on the island of Borneo, I was never athletic at school. From school librarian to school magazine editor to being a member of the school chess team, I warmed the chair all the time. Luckily for me three years was spent in England and five years in America. It was only in San Francisco that I woke up to the joys of sports thanks to the Giants and the 49ers and thanks to housemates who liked playing baseball and touch football. This carried over when I went home. I started playing ping pong, tennis and badminton.
Life was good. I was now athletic. Then in mid-1998 the pain came. It was not my friend. Slowly at first and then it came like gangbusters. Both my knees were hit with osteoporosis. It was so bad that I could not play any of the games I loved. No part of my body was going under the knife. Lucky for me a doctor friend recommended that I take mega doses of glucosamine every morning before breakfast. I did this for three years. The pain was so unbearable that I would take more and more powerful painkillers. It came to the point that I was virtually addicted to them. Only with much persuading and will-power was my doctor able to convince me to lessen the painkiller dosage. I still remember that fateful day when he told me to stop taking them altogether. I delayed it for weeks. When the time came, the pain was gone! My knees were fine.
Of course I didn’t jump straight onto the badminton court. I had gained weight. So I started jogging. Very slowly at first because at the back of my mind I wasn’t sure my knees would hold up. I shied away from ping pong, tennis and badminton for good. Not once have I played those sports competitively. Slowly the strength in my legs helped my knees and before I knew it I was back to normal again. From time to time there are niggles but nothing taking glucosamine doesn’t squash. Having never run competitively in school it took me awhile to decide to enter any sort of race. So when I did enter a 5km run organised by a popular shopping mall on 17th June 2012 it was unbeknown to me the start of a momentous journey.
Hit the finishing line in 6:27:13 in Penang. That was the biggest milestone of my life. Never once did I think I had it in me. The impossible had become possible. The pain was there, but it wasn’t my knees that were hurting, it was my legs and feet from completing the marathon. I knew there and then that this was what I had been looking for all my life. On 3rd March 2013, I completed the Brooks Half Marathon in 3:03:13. I knew my times were slow, but I was fifty, and over-weight, and just plain happy to be running. So happy was I that I signed up for three full marathons for this year. I may even add two more to it. I just want to run some more, like my heroes from the Marathon Maniacs. I read their inspiring stories and I know it is possible because I have done it too!
Wanting to share my experiences I have created a blog (www.yamiska.blogspot.com) and called it “Fat Old Man Running.” The sheer joy of running spurs me on. I have learned a lot about myself while training for my runs. It has trickled into my everyday life too. I am more disciplined and I know how to pace myself in anything I do. My run does not stop at the finishing line. My journey of self-discovery continues with every stride I take. Along the way if I can help others then that is a bonus. Nothing beats being in the middle of a sea of runners who each have a common goal. How we run our race is ours to choose. At the end of the day whether we finish first or last we are all champions. And yes, the pain is now my friend.