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In the past month I've been running around Burnaby Lake, which is 10.6 km. The first time I went (less that 24 hours after returning from Belfast), I did it in 52 minutes. After dividing by 1.06, that gives 49 minutes -- I became a "sub-50" 10k-er! :)

Next time was 49 minutes and 46 seconds for the 10.6km. Following time was 51-something, followed by 48-56 and 48-36. I'm particularly happy about the last one -- that was the first time that I did this run without any chest pains. Not only could I run comfortably, but I even set a new record!

I should explain: when I run, I run. My definition of a "good run" is a run in which, when you spit and miss the ground (i.e. it dribbles down your chin and/or shirt), you don't care. If you have the energy left to care about your appearance, you clearly aren't running hard enough.

(ok, I do wipe my face on my t-shirt. But I don't care about the way the t-shirt looks afterwards)

This is particularly funny since I'm generally quite fussy -- some people might say obsessive -- about being neat and tidy. People who know me in person probably can't imagine me being drenched in sweat, gasping for breath, with trails of spit hanging down my face. To be honest, even I have difficulty imaging it, and I've been doing it for weeks.

Why am I doing it? To go up levels, of course!

A few years ago -- I think it was five, although I wouldn't swear to that -- my kind-of sister dragged me out running. She want to start running, but didn't want to go by herself. So we started running... we were both terrible. We'd literally walk for two minutes, jog for thirty seconds, and then walk for another two minutes to catch our breath. And I wasn't just humoring her by stopping so quickly -- I really didn't feel that I could jog for more than thirty seconds.

I don't know whether I physically couldn't jog (due to muscles and bones atrophying over the previous ten years), or whether I just mentally couldn't jog (due to lacking sufficient determination to overcome the pain). I'm not certain which one would be more pathetic, either.

Whatever the cause, it certainly was pathetic, so I decided to fix it. Later on, when plans for Singapore were made, I became even more determined to improve -- as an ambassador of the West Coast of Canada, I couldn't do anything less than running 5km in 30 minutes. That turned into 5km multiple times per week, which then became 5km in 25 minutes 5 days in a row, which turned into 10km in 50 minutes once a week.

Basically, instead of falling into the trap of MMORPGs (massively-multiplayer online role-playing games), where you work and work to kill monsters so you can go up levels for the reward of fighting harder monsters so you can go up more levels, I've fallen into the trap of working and working to run faster/longer, so that I can run even faster/longer. Hence my obsession with my times and distances -- my times are like my experience points, and reaching particular times (e.g., "5km in 25 minutes", "10km in 50 minutes") represents going up levels. What's the reward? Well, knowing that I've achieved level 7 in Running.

Hey, it may sound stupid, but I'm sure that you'll admit that becoming a Level 7 Runner (10km in 50 minutes) is still oodles better than becoming a Level 50 Warlock in Worlds of Warcraft (tm).