05/05/2014: Completed a half marathon!

One year ago, if you ask me if I want to go to the gym or go for a jog/run, I’d probably just say, “No way!”

This year has been a life-changing year. I felt like I started living, started improving myself so much, and I can be certain that I’m not who I used to be 6 months ago. 

One year ago, I’d never ever think that I’d start running, much less signing up for a half marathon. But I did. And I started training for the it, even though my training wasn’t intense, even though the furthest I have ran so far (before the half marathon) was 12km, I knew I have to finish it. 

I spent the weekend with 2 other guy friends in the city, wandering around like lost souls. Haha maybe not lost souls, but it was a pleasant weekend break from our usual routine daily working life. We watched Transcendence, which wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. We ate Thai, Dim Sum, Nando’s. Because the city was so boring, we watched several re-runs of The Big Bang Theory in the hotel room. We wandered around the parks and lakes in the city, talking about the future and our plans, talking about random things. It was such a relaxing weekend, with nothing to worry about except the half marathon on Monday. 

When Monday came, we were mentally prepared. Once we stood behind the starting line, with thousands (I kid you not, thousands!) of other runners, the hype, the atmosphere and buzz of the crowd made me so excited and nervous at the same time. 

I had only ran 12km before that! And that took about 1hour 40mins! At that time, all I could think of was to finish the run in time, I would be happy if I can finish the 21km in 3 hours. Having my friends there with me helped a lot, even though we had agreed not to run together (under my request cos I’m such a slow runner), I knew I wasn’t alone in that run. 

One hour into the run, the sun was blazing and it was quite hot, and I kept pushing myself mentally. We met another runner on our way to the stadium, and this marathon was his 15th marathon! He said something that had stuck in my mind throughout the run. He said that we had prepared and trained sufficiently, and that the rest depends on how strong our mind is. 

So, because of his words, and because I knew I have to finish the run no matter what, I kept telling myself, “Mind over matter! Mind over matter!”. I pushed myself 1 mile after another, and before I know it, there was only 2 miles left. I wouldn’t lie, there were instances when I thought I couldn’t do it, when my legs were so sore and I was facing a mental block. But I told myself over and over again, no matter what I must not give up, I was already halfway there or I was so close to the finishing line, I will finish it no matter what. 

And I did. When I ran across the finishing line, I felt so happy, I felt so proud of myself. It’s so hard to describe the feelings that I felt. The weight of the medal felt so good around my neck, and all the fatigue that I felt was no longer on my mind. All I could do was smile so widely, because there wasn’t any other way I could express my happiness. When I saw my friends waiting for me at the meeting point, I was happy that they were there, happy that we did the run together (sort of separately, but still..) and happy that we all finished it. 

I guess this experience had made me understand a few things: 

1. Never say never. Hahaha I know this is a very bad reference to a popular song by a certain singer. :P But it is true. I used to say I would never run, and I have changed. I realised the importance of taking leaps of faith, and to never be afraid of failing. Fear of failure would stop us from trying new things, and my principle has always been: “If you don’t give it a go, you’d never know what the outcome would be like.” 

Say “Why not” instead of “Why”. :)

2. Our minds are very powerful. Throughout the run, I kept on motivating myself, telling myself that I can do this, I can finish this run. I literally talk to myself out loud, saying “mind over matter” over and over again. I learnt that we should never disregard the strength of our willpower and mind, they play a very large role in ensuring our perseverence and determination. 

3. 休息是为了走更长远的路。Translated, it means that we should know when to rest, because by resting, we could enable ourselves to do more/travel further/be more productive. Throughout the run, when I felt like giving up, I slowed down and started walking. I knew that I needed to rest my legs a little bit, to give my body some time to get more oxygen, so that I wouldn’t be over-exhausted before I finish the run. And isn’t that true for life as well? We need to know when to stop, when to take a break from everything, so that we can recharge ourselves. 

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Another thing checked off my list. Maybe I could aim for a full marathon next year. :D

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