May 7th 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of Borneo International Marathon. I have been participating in this sport event since 2013. This year I decided to run the full marathon. Running in this category was not my first time. But for some reason, BIM created this particular sense of curiosity and challenge that I could not really describe in words. I was nervous the night before and just before the flag off at 3AM. I was worried if my stomach would get upset or my knees would fail me. The question ‘can I finish the whole race within the cut-off time?’ kept playing in my head. 3AM arrived, and we were released to start what we all came for. I started my pace slow and steady and gradually increased my speed as my body had made the necessary adjustment and as I gained more confidence in myself. As I ran past the familiar skyscrapers in the city center, I thought ‘this is pretty amazing to be running through the city with just the street and building lights illuminating the way. I don’t get to do this everyday’. That thought alone carved a big smile on my face. I watched my fellow runners. Some looked tireless like they could run two full-marathons at one time. Others looked a bit struggling but they were not stopping. Some others were running with friends and they seemed to be having an amazing time. As we moved further away from the city, I started to notice the beautiful night sky dotted with many little bright stars. I turned off my music player and listened to my surroundings. The night was pretty silent. I could hear the sound of distant traffic. But the most beautiful piece of music at that time was the sound of my fellow runners’ footsteps which, to me, exuded harmony, tenacity, and vitality. My energy bar began to drop as I passed the 24KM mark. It was still a long journey to go. I took a break as I needed it. I walked as I needed it. I ran more as I pushed myself. Some runners ran past me. Sometimes I ran past a few others. This went on as a cycle for the remaining race. But one thing for sure: it never crossed my mind to give up before I crossed the finish line. I thought what Abraham Lincoln once said ‘you are as happy as you make up your mind to be’. I translated that into ‘you are as tired as you make up your mind to be’. That kept me going. It was a great sense of achievement and satisfaction as I finally crossed the finish line.
As I sat down on the track field appreciating my hard-earned medal, I had this realization that the experience was kind of spiritual (not in a religious sense) for me as it put me in a state of ‘flow’, that is, a state where I was ‘inside’, instead of ‘outside’, the activity. Instead of standing on the sidelines watching, I was ‘holding hands’ with the activity. As it was a race against myself, the sense of achievement I felt tasted even more delicious. It gave me the much-needed conviction in the mind power that ‘if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t’. It was also a beautiful thought to think hundreds of strangers could run together in harmony and probably share the same aspiration. I wondered what went through their minds as they ran. Whatever it was, I saw them as perfect strangers. The race results were released today. At 5 hours 22 minutes 23 seconds, I was placed at the 61st out of the 309 who took part in the Full Marathon Women’s Open category. For me, that was a good result, and I was very happy with it. I dedicate this piece to all those who run, especially my mom and sister who have been my faithful running companions all these years. My heartfelt gratitude also goes to the Borneo International Marathon organizer for their marathons have touched me, and I am sure many others, in ways that they may not even realize.