Ed Whitlock, 85 year old marathoner because he can.

Sitting on the plane from Sapporo to Bangkok, I read an interesting article in the Bangkok Post about Ed Whitlock, an 85 year old marathoner who ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 3:56:34. It’s inspirational. He doesn’t do any specific training, doesn’t adhere to any strict diet or use any gadgets to monitor his heart rate and training. All he does is run by the cemetery by his house in 15- year old shoes. He doesn’t run for his health, or gets runner’s high. He runs because “the real feeling of enjoyment is getting across the finish line and finding that you’ve done OK.”

Numerous tests have been conducted and he apparently has a large VO2Max capacity and good muscle retention for his age. I suspect his genes play a big part in his being able to continue running at such an age. What I find more intriguing though is his attitude which I think is what really keeps him going. In the article he is quoted as saying, ” I believe people can do far more than they think they can. You have to be idiot enough to try it.”
This, to me is probably his secret. If you believe you can do something and truly work at it, I believe you can achieve anything you want to. It’s the story we tell ourselves that determine the story of our lives.

If you tell yourself you can’t do something, then you can’t and you won’t. If you tell yourself, and believe in yourself, you can accomplish whatever your goal is. That said, it might take some time before you accomplish your goal, but if you work at it long enough, you’d be closer to your goal than if you had never started. If you focus on the end goal, you might get frustrated at not being able to reach it, but if you focus on taking action towards those goals, then you’d keep moving forward. As Ed Whitlock showed us, age is not a limit and is not a constraint to living your life because at whatever age you start working towards your goal, you are one day closer to your goal than the day before. 

Thank you Ed Whitlock for reminding us that life has no limitations than those we set for ourselves. Now, the burden is on you. What are your goals in life? Let’s get moving!

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The Accident

Accidents do happen. When they do, no one wants it to happen and no matter what kind of accident it is, it always brings up a range of emotions. Yesterday, I crashed my car into the car in front of me while waiting for a turn. A dumb accident indeed caused by my somehow stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake. Good thing it wasn’t serious. It was my first real accident ever after over a decade of driving (that’s if you ignore motorcycles leaving their paint on my side mirror or another car hitting the corner of my bumpber). I’ve been fortunate and count my blessings. Most importantly though, yesterday’s lesson reminded me of an important lesson : have a positive attitude no matter what.

When I realized what had happened and stopped the car, I immediately got out and went to see the lady in the car in front of me. Luckily she was alright and together we decided to move our cars to the side of the road to avoid causing any traffic jams. It was dark and for awhile both of us were sitting in our cars calling the insurance firms and others we needed to tell.

Then we both got out the car and started chatting. What struck me first was how positive the lady was. After I had said sorry who knows how many times, she just told me to not worry about it and smiled. She said, “It’s alright, no one wants to hit someone else. At least we both have insurance.” She even laughed and said it was indeed not such a good year for her as the Chinese Astrology says. She had earlier also been hit by another car and not yet had the opportunity to go fix her car, so the time to fix her car had finally come she said.

As she jumped around avoiding mosquitoes she told me how she had just come back from the fitness, bought food and was on her way home to have dinner with her boyfriend. The lovely part was that she was so sweet and even waved her hands around showing me how she had been exercising. Then we exchanged names and work information. We lived and worked not far from each other and she also had a friend who worked at the same place I did.

What a small world.

And so we had a lovely chat, talked about this and that and waited to see which insurance company would be faster. We laughed at how she could stick her finger into a gap between the car body and her back lights, and commented on our dated driver’s license cards. (We both have the old versions where it’s laminated pink paper) Even though, it was late, dark and we were both hungry, she made everything seem okay. Of course, we exchanged numbers. Next time she comes to my office, we will probably meet up.

Who knows what life brings you right? Every cloud does indeed have a silver lining and maybe I will have found a new friend amidst unexpected circumstances.

So next time something happens that you didn’t want to, remember this, be positive. Attitude makes a difference. If she had banged on her car and made a big affair over it it, we would both have had a horrible evening and gone to bed with angry hearts. Instead we laughed it off and went hope to a good meal and good night’s sleep. Be positive, be happy!

It was right here all along

Have you ever had one of those moments when you want something, know you have it somewhere, just saw it the other day, but now that you need it, you can’t find it? It’s just not there?  I’m having one of those moments now.  It makes me wonder, if suddenly it is going to pop up out of the blue when I least expect it?  That is usually what happens to me. Days later, “Poof! Here it is! It was right before me all along, but it was hidden by something.”
Now I wonder why it is not there when I first wanted it to be.  Why can’t life be a little simpler?

Maybe it’s because we have to learn to really “see” things from another perspective before what we are looking for comes to us. Before we realize it was there all along.

Sometimes, oftentimes, people spend their lives looking for love, happiness and peace.  They want a happier life, a more fulfilling life.  Some will go through extremes, move countries, build a business empire, maybe even climb mountains, get rich and have all the money in the world in search of happiness. In search of reaching the ‘solution’ that would save them.

Many work so hard they forget to look at the people besides them.  Their families, their relatives, their loved ones, or even their children. Many children are growing up with nannies and daycare centers rather than with their family.  That is modern day life.

Then one day, after all those years of searching, working, trying to find the ultimate ‘solution’ that would make them happy, they find that what they had been looking for was right there besides them. Maybe just there inside of them.   Why didn’t they see this earlier?

For me:

Happiness is internal.

Happiness is appreciating  and being grateful for those around you.

Happiness is being able to do the things you love.

Happiness is being able to smile after just having an ice cream or chocolate. Happiness is living life the way you want to.

Happiness is not expecting. Happiness is being happy when others are happy.

It’s like when the food critic in the animation “Ratatouille” has his favorite ratatouille dish and he is reminded of childhood days. His eyes gleam and he is transported back to happy days.

It’s like when you look out the window to see leaves on a tree rustle in the wind and grass sway.  You can feel nature and its wonders.

It’s like when you are just sitting on a couch watching TV with your family and happy they are all alive and well. It’s like getting excited when you first get a message or call from your crush.

It’s like remembering how it felt to have your first bite of divine chocolate.
If you can look at everything around you with an open mind, like that of a child who is happy at just getting a new pencil or a piece chocolate, then I think we would all be happier human beings.

Have no expectations.

If you can look at what you have around you.  Be grateful for what you have, be happy with what is given, then you will find that life becomes a lot more pleasant.

Didn’t you ever notice that many times the poor street sweeper smiles more often than the rich businessman?  Life’s really a lot about what’s ‘inside’ not ‘outside.’

Yes, search nearby, inside and out before you go searching far and wide.  Maybe what you were just looking for, was right there all along.  It was just hidden from view behind that layer or dust.

The Car Park Lady

The other day I went to Central World (yes I go there so often you’d wonder if I had a stake in it) and found a little box of happiness sitting in the car park giving out parking tickets to all those who entered.  Her name is Kanthong (Golden bowl) and she is just happiness all around, despite having what I must consider to be one of the most boring jobs in this world:  she keys in license plates and hands out parking cards to all those who enter central world.

Traffic was awful, it was more than awful and beyond description.  It was raining outside, end month, and some convention was being held.  Roads were jammed packed outside, and even just coming up the garage ramp to the 3,000 car car-park, there was a long line of cars.  I had been stuck on the ramp for a good half hour and moods were not so good.  Others in the car and myself included were getting slightly bored, annoyed, and tired.  You are stuck in a box with nowhere to go.

Then I reached the car park attendant box and reached out my hand to get the car park card.   Being somewhat in a zombie state, I was surprised to suddenly be faced with a bubbly smiling face of Kanthong.  She sat there in her tiny little box telling me that there was a lot of traffic due to the convention.  I asked her for details and for a few minutes we had a good conversation.  I couldn’t move and neither could she, and so there we were face to face having a pleasant talk about the state of the traffic.  She was all smiles, happy and jolly.  Like a happy girl getting a treat, even though there were none for her.   She seemed to be genuinely happy just to make conversation.

Her conversation and smiley face made all the tiredness go away.  It made me happier and the effect fell on others in the car.  We laughed at how pleasant she was and wondered how lonely she must get sitting there all day giving out car park cards. (Yes, labour in Thailand is relatively inexpensive.)  I have to say it made the rest of my day quite pleasant.

I went back again another day when there was no traffic and so spoke to her about how nice and empty it was in the morning.  Again I was treated with a jolly smiley face that resonated nothing but happiness.  She is indeed a happy lady.

All her happiness makes me think.   Here is a lady who has probably one of the most boring jobs in the world, yet she does it with such pleasure.  Hundreds of cars pass by her each day, maybe a thousand, but there she is all happy and jolly.

You can’t say that she has a good work environment, for she is in a box, in front of a computer, under neon light, breathing in carbon dioxide.  The aircondition probably helps a little, but I don’t think much.

How does she do it?  I don’t know, but I think it will have to be along the lines of being happy with what she has.  If you see the good side of things, then life isn’t so bad.  She has a job, she doesn’t have to be out working in the hot sun or rain, and if she’s friendly, she gets to talk to the customers passing by.  She gets to make someone else happy.

I have to say, some who have all the goods in this world, still complain they have a bad life. An unhappy life.  Nothing is ever good enough.  I have one, now I want two.  The list is endless.  There is no happiness if you search for it from external factors.

Looking at Kanthong, it seems that happiness is internal.  It’s a state of mind.  You can have one of the most boring jobs in this world, yet be happy, have a smiling jolly face, and be so sweet I wonder if she shouldn’t be in customer relations.  I hope her happy smiling personality, helps her get along in life, get a better job, and have a better life.

She is someone I’d remember.  Each time I take that particular entrance, I’d now take a little pause to peer inside the box to see if its the pleasant Kanthong.  A character to remember, and a reminder to me that happiness depends upon your state of mind.  Even little things, can make one happy.

Cheat Not, Run For Yourself.

It’s a day after the run, and although I only did 5K somehow my legs are still sore.  It must have been the way I “tiptoe” run or perhaps I’m just not used to so much running.  Funny though, even with sore legs,  the exhiliration from the run still lingers on.  I’m still very much stress free and happy.   I ran not for someone else but rather for myself.  It’s something one does to challenge oneself. 

When I signed up for 5K, I knew it wasn’t much at all if you talk to a “real” runner, but for me who a year ago was still 15kgs (32lbs) heavier it was quite something.  I had started running to lose weight.  Prior to that, the last time I remember running was during my childhood days.   I had forgotten how it was to run and be “active.”  So used was I to sitting in my office chair for 10 hours on end staring at the computer screen.  I had derived comfort from sitting, eating, and websurfing.    Sitting was comfortable.   Running was not “my” thing.

Fitter now,  I wanted to see if I could do the 5K.  The weeks running up to the run had been a bit hectic and I had not been training  as much as I should have.   I was nervous and wondered if I should instead lower myself to the 2.5K.    I’m glad it remained a passing thought and that I stayed on track with my 5K.  During the run, I was tempted to cut across the lanes and shorten my run, but then I would only be cheating myself. 

I would not be cheating anyone since this run is for “fun” with no competition.  However, if I had cut across, I would have “cheated” myself.   I would have “cheated” by telling myself that I did 5K when in reality I didn’t.  I would have meant I had taken the easy way out rather than pushing through to the end.  It was not a habit I wanted to have.  A habit that is not good for running, nor for anything else in life.  I believe that if you want to do something, do it with full intention and do it with full effort.  If not, don’t do it.

The run wasn’t really physically tiring, it was mentally challenging.  The brain kept wanting to stop when the body could go on for much more.  It’s an internal battle you just have to beat.  When on my weightloss, the battle was much more intense.  I wanted to stop at every opportunity.   Now the “enemy of lazy bones” has been losing and hopefully they will one day give up the fight. 

What once you feared, upon doing it, it often turns out to be easier than thought.   I’m actually now tempted to do the 10K next year.  If I choose to, I have a year to train.  It won’t kill me.  At worst, I’ll just end up walking.   So that is what running for me is all about.  It’s not only about keeping fit, but its about challenging yourself, challenging your mental attitude, challenging your mind to accomplish what you set out to do.  Reach for your goal and accomplish it!