On Running A Race : The Art of Understanding the Self

My bucket list number 7 is done! Yaay!! I did my very first half marathon at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore last weekend. It was super fun! I know I got sweaty and dirty after the race, but the joy and pride beat the pain! On top of all, what’s better than to run like a beast and party like a beauty? Ha! I managed to hang out and eat with some friends of mine and the post-race pains vanished in a sudden 🙂

I actually wasn’t and still am not good at running. I hiked and walked a lot before, but running is a whole new thing. I can walk for say, 30 km or so in a day, but running requires more endurance, mentally and physically. I just started running this year, and I found that it’s kind of interesting stuff to do. I only did one 10K and one half marathon race far by far. And here are some lessons I learned from running the races :

1. It’s not about how far or fast we can go, but how good we can listen to ourselves

Who doesn’t want to run far and fast? Duh! But for me, running is the art of pushing ourselves and listen to our body at the same time. Running is not only about physical endurance, but also mental endurance. On my first half marathon race, I found that I felt okay until the first 10K. After that, I kept talking to myself to go further and exhaust my potential. Listening to my ipod, I kept pushing myself to run some more steps further, while singing a bit. Oh yes, it was a good self-motivating thing to do. Haha.. But then I made a huge mistake : I drank too much water. Yes, I got side stitch after I passed the 13th km. I wanted to keep running but I decided to walk instead and listen to what my body needed. I know that my mental wanted me to push harder, but then the logic told me not to, for the sake of my own safety.

2. Running is the art of controlling our own selves

So when I went home from Singapore, I was in the same shuttle bus with a full marathon finisher of the same race I was in. He lives in Malang as well, and he was about 50 something years old. We talked a bit about the marathon we were in, and I told him that I got a side stitch that bothered me a lot. You know what he said? Instead of giving some technical advice, he told me “You need to be more patient. Young people are lacking of patience”. I felt like I was slapped, right in my face! Haha.. He told me that hydrating is important, but I need to know when to hydrate and how to run in a constant pace, instead of brutally speeding up and slowing down my pace in a messy rhythm. I realize that I lacked of self-control. I thought I needed to grab the opportunity to drink at the every water station I passed, in order not to collapse. But it was a wrong strategy. From this talk I learned that we need to know about what and when we need something.

3. Age is not more than a number if we can give some meanings on it

In the midst of my run, I met a 70 something years old man who ran alone. I was so surprised and humbled by his youthful spirit. I have no words for him. I then ran beside him, gave him a high five, and told him “good luck, uncle!”. He was just awesome!

4. Running in a race is about the art of being selfish and selfless at the same time

So I ran with a friend of mine, who also didn’t run that fast. We came to this race to have fun, and our goal was only to hit the finish line. Sometimes I ran faster than her, but sometimes she outran me. She got a side stitch in the first 5k, so we ran a bit slower, until she then told me to just pass her and run my pace. But I was the one who dragged her into running this half marathon, so I felt that I should have been with her, so she didn’t feel left out. So I mostly stopped at the 5K, 10K, and 15K marks to wait for her, gave her high five, and shouting “half way to go!”, or “a quarter more to finish line!”. I really wanted to be so selfish and getting the most of my speed capability. But then again, I’m not yet a competitive runner after all. I was debating of being selfish to get my time record or to run together with her. Well, she also waited for me when I got side stitch anyway, so yeah. I came into realization that it’s okay to be selfish, but being selfless is much more important, especially when someone we care needs us. So yes we hit the finish line almost at the same time. She was only 30 people away behind me. Awesome!

5. Singaporeans are kind!

Well, it may be out of the topic, but people mostly told me that Singaporeans live like robots. But I found totally different experiences. Well, maybe people didn’t see what I saw, or I was lucky to experience Singapore from different point of view. So I had a carbo loading night appointment with some friends of mine. With my poor spacial intelligence, I asked the cab driver to bring me to a cone-shaped building at Orchard road. Maybe it was me who’s been so stupid not to remember the name of the place, or maybe the taxi driver who didn’t understand what I told him: blame my accent!, I should have learned how to speak Singlish! Haha. The cab driver ended up dropping me at an intersection to Orchard road. It was raining, and I was lost, and I just kept walking, without even knowing where to go. I walked along Orchard road and didn’t find that cone-shaped building, because I actually walked the wrong direction! Thanks to my very bad spacial intelligence. Again. But Thanks God that I found a tourist center and asked them where is that cone-shaped building was located. They told me the name of that building : “Wheelock Place”, which really saved my night. I walked a bit longer, but I was so desperate that I ended up buying a take away Subway Sandwich in case I couldn’t find the place. So I then stood in a shop’s terrace next to an intersection, until suddenly a girl asked me “are you gonna cross the road?”, and she opened her umbrella for me. Dang! People cared about me! I guess it was because I was almost totally wet! Haha.. So she told me how to get to Wheelock Place, and I was glad to actually meet my friends. Even if I was an hour late. Haha

The morning after the race, I walked to get a bus to get to my friend’s apartment, the place where I got asylum for 3 days. Haha.. I didn’t know that the bus couldn’t give a change, so when I paid with S$10, the driver said “No exchange” and just let me in. I didn’t feel comfortable not to pay the fare, so I asked other passengers if I could change my bill with some coins. And no one had the coins. I remember that I only had S$20 in my pocket, and other 70 cents coins. I needed 40 more cents to pay the S$1.1 bus fare. Then an old man who sat next to me gave me 50 cents. I was so surprised. I know it was only a small amount of money, but it opened my eyes that Singaporeans aren’t as heartless as robots. They are human after all. I’m glad that I experienced the different things from what most people say. Sometimes we learned something from an unexpected occasion and place.

And anyway, I finished the half marathon within, and my rank was 2109 over 12000 participants. Not too bad! 😉

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