My name is Muizz, a brother to 48XXYY syndrome brother, eldest son in my family and I like running. This is a story of how my brother enriches my running experience.
Being a brother of a boy with 48XXYY Syndrome has its challenges. Individuals with this condition are more aggressive, with behavioural and intellectual differences. He is usually happy when surrounded by many family members, but takes advantage when he is alone with my parents. It’s important for either of us siblings to be around him and avoid from him being alone with our parents as it is difficult to predict his mood swing patterns.
Yes, having a family member with special needs takes extra work, and there are struggles involved, but there are also many, many ways people with special needs enrich the lives of others. I think people see the difficulties, but unless you have a family member with special needs in your life, it is hard to understand the endless blessings.
I don't have the luxury of freedom to just run, so when I see my brother is taken care of by someone else, off I go for my training. My normal routes will be International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) running track or LHDN Jalan Duta depending on situations.
Over a year of running, my 21.1KM personal best of 2 hours 25 mins is getting difficult to renew. I realised it was because of my low mileage compared to other runners with the luxury of time. But this doesn’t deter me from running. Then I saw 30KM Saucony Run 2018 event was opened for registration. I was excited as this will be my first 30KM running event.
Two months before the event, when most runners were busy preparing themselves, I was struggling to cover enough mileage. It was a period when my brother needed us siblings the most. My brother is smart, he knew that at times I will quietly disappear to go running, subsequently causing issues while I am gone. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good kid. But how his brain function is by following the cue that is being fed to him. When we are around = he is okay, and when he is alone with my parents = he is the taiko.
Because of this, I started to change route and run around our neighbourhood area (one loop of only 625m) instead so I will be passing the house every 3-4 minutes. If my brother is not well, my Baba or Ummi will be waiting for me at the front door. With no other route options for me to run, I ran only in our neighbourhood area throughout my preparation. Little did I know, it was the best route for my training because of the hilly trails.
Most of these opportunities lasted only 30 minutes, if I was lucky I could stretch it to a one-hour run. This hindered me from achieving my target mileage of 70KM a week. But because of this I started to become diligent of my running plan.
Whenever I ran, I focused on my running posture, and since our neighbourhood area is hilly, I learned the right foot strike and technique to run up and down the hills. I later figured this is the best training route because of the hilly landscape! At home, when I am not able to run, I will diligently focus on my core strength exercise like planks and push ups. Most of the days, I was at home doing core strength exercise. Few weeks before Saucony Run, I was nowhere near my target mileage, racking up to a meagre less than 30KM per week, which was much less than my training mileage for previous 21KM events. But I did what I could.
On the event day, I was excited and anxious. Saucony 30KM began at 5.00 in the morning. I started off slowly and without a doubt it was the best run of my life. I stopped once at KM11 to perform my Subuh prayer, and continued running till KM23. I was so tired that I stopped again at KM25 water station but then I was determined to continue. I told myself to never stop again as I might never have the luxury of time to run again, so I don’t want to waste my precious running moment event, walking. That day, on Saucony Run, I shaved 10mins off my previous 21.1KM personal best, completed the first 21.1KM in 2hours 15minutes and my total 30KM run in 3 hours 28 minutes.
That day, I learned a valuable lesson, it is not the amount of training that matters, but to be a diligent runner and pay attention to the quality of running training. Afterall, “learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor and diligence” - Abigail Adams.
If not because of my 48XXYY brother, I doubt I will be able to break my personal best of 21KM and complete 30KM sub 3:30. After all, when life gives you lemons, you make the best ever lemonade! To 42.2KM, here I come!