What I Talked About When I Talk About Running (Part 2)

Running in Berlin

Running in Berlin Autumn

Around 5.5 years later after I wrote my first post about running here. By now somehow I got a reputation of being a runner, most likely because I realized I kept posting the pictures on facebook. Honestly I feel much like an impostor. So for the sake of being authentic, I’m going to let you know about my struggles and who I am as a runner.

When I started running, I know I said I couldn’t run fast. But deep inside my heart, I still want to be the middle pack runner (like running the marathon without the fear of getting scooped up by the bus), after all, it’s not easy to be the last one to finish. Or to feel like you sucked at the sport you’ve been doing for quite some time. So I would improve, or so I thought. I trained for the half marathon, finished my first, as you can read the pre-half marathon thought here and post half-marathon thought here.

The year after that, I run the half marathon again, training better (or so I thought) and gearing for a better time. Nope. My time was worse than the year before (true, that I ran half of it in pain due to toe pain), but still, I feel like crap. And all throughout 2015, I’ve turned to despise running because it reminded me of how crappy this sport made me feel (the hell with runner’s high, really).


My time was just a little under 3 hours for the half marathon. Imagine the elite runner could run 3x half marathon for the speed I need to finish mine. And to put salt to the wound, when I tell this to a “friend”, he actually laughed at me and said that’s such an embarrassing time! I’d love to punch that guy in the face, but at that time, I was just laughing nervously. Gah.

So, tragically, at that point, running makes me feel like a failure. A reminder that maybe I will just never make it, no matter how long I persist. I must be kidding myself if most people who run talked about running the marathon in under 3-4 hours. I can’t even run a 5K under 35 minutes.

Sure, I might be able to do it if I train more. Then again there’s only so much hours in a day, and I’m not prioritizing 1 hour training workout everyday. Also I’m not keen in being a workout group where people are yelling to each other (And happy to know that it’s a normal trait in an introvert).

Finding Peace in Running

Funnily enough I did go back to running this spring. One part because it’s the quickest sport I could do (put on running gear, go out of apartment, run to a park). One part because I seemed to have a masochistic tendency and I like to struggle with my demons. But the most important part is I missed what regular running actually makes me feel: healthier, stronger, and I can eat whatever I want.


Not easy.

The demons kept reminding me of how much I sucked. Also facebook doesn’t help because everyone seemed to improve way more easier than I ever could.

Then, I tried to remind myself of why I want to run:

  1. Being able to eat whatever I want

  2. Feel healthy and strong in the body, which helps me handle stress in the mind

  3. Getting some fresh air and looking at the greenery around me (which is why I don’t run on treadmills)

I don’t want to let my speed of running ruins the joy of running for me. So maybe I won’t join any running event anytime soon. Or anything that made me care too much about my speed.

And if you ever feel like I do, I’m just letting you know that you’ve got a friend! If you enjoy it, go for it! It really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of your run (well, maybe if you’re an Olympian, but most of us are not anyways).

Here’s the scenery I truly love for autumn in Charlottenburg

Autumn Scene in Schloss Charlottenburg

Autumn Scene in Schloss Charlottenburg


9 Things I Learned from Running Half Marathon (Post Half Marathon Thoughts)

I did it! Finished the half marathon…

Medals and All :)

Medal and All 🙂

Yesterday was the day and today as I recovered from that muscle pains and blisters, I am writing this down as I still have somewhat a post run bliss…

1. It’s Not Going to Be Easy

Probably around half of the time, I’m still thinking “WTH am I doing here, there were always someone taking me over… I’m not good at this and so on :D”.

At km 2: OMG I’m only 10% done.

At km 3 to 6: I was so desperate for a drink… kept spying for the water stand, but then getting more motivated as I realized I actually run faster than on my trainings. There’s hope!

At km 7-8: Oh dear, there wasn’t ever going to be shades, wasn’t there?

At km 9-10: Hey, there’s Silke and Daniel! And shades!! Yay, I can do this! Clocked in at 1:20 for 10k, realizing I can totally finish under 3h.

At km 11-14: Running through Kudamm! Kind of a haze but it’s good when I walked the streets before I kinda now where I am. Kinda. It’s hard when you’re huffing and puffing.

At km 15-17: Abi’s knees started to give in. So we had to speed walk instead (We’re in this together!). And then I realized I speed walk faster than I slow run… Should I do power walk next time instead?

At km 17-18: It’s so close yet so far away…! I remember someone cheering me saying it’s only 4km more and I wanted to run again, but my brain gave up trying to tell my feet to run.

At km 19-20: Even closer but felt even further away. By this point I was not going “WTH am I doing here anymore” I was on to “Let’s do this! Let’s run strong…!”. But my feet still saying no.

At km 21:  OMG where is that damn finish line!!! We had to turn a corner and then… when I see it, I ruuuuuuuuunnnnn!

PS: My husband just told me I look dead all the way. Hahahaha that’s probably true!

Before the race. And no, I don't look like this throughout the run! :D

Before the race. And no, I don’t look like this throughout the run! 😀


2. Running With Someone Does Make It Easier

I’m so lucky to run with my husband. I mattered to have someone next to you and cheer each other up! I believe he could actually go faster but he decided to stay with my phase.. Although in the end he injured his knees, which was the only reason I’m slightly faster than him (sprinting the last 50m).

Thank you Abi, for making this a much more fun and bearable thing to do!!!

Yay! We made it!!

Yay! We made it!!

3. So Thankful for Everyone Cheering on the Streets!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!! For everyone clapping, calling my name, giving me high fives, yelling “You’re Awesome, You Can Do IT!”. It REALLY lift my spirits up and extra boosts every single time :).

Extra shoutout to a guy in Kurfurstendamm who handed me a bottle of Fanta. He must’ve been an angel… I really needed that! Thank you!!! You’re awesome!

4. And for My Friends Who Cheered on Us

Silke and Daniel, what a lovely surprise to see you guys!! That kilometer became slightly faster ;).

Yasmina, Robert, Heather, and Stefan, thanks for cheering us at the last kilometres! Also it was so nice to have lunch together afterwards :).

And Dom, for being a training buddy and motivator… plus watching a movie and sharing a beer afterwards make me feel slightly normal again (aka not self pitying from muscle ache). Plus the movie turned out to be awesome!

5. Don’t Under/Over estimate the Weather

Being Indonesian and thinking that 18 degrees C is cool… Well, think again. I’m probably used to Berlin weather anyways, and I underestimate that there were almost no shade along the way.

My throat was dry by km 3, and I kept looking forward for water all the way throughout the course… Then again, that kept me going… just a bit more until the next water station!

Clothing wise, I could probably go with something lighter. I have my jacket on, just because I don’t want to let go of my phone (aka source of music and running time). Next time I should invest in more types of running gear (you never know what Berlin weather is going to be!)

6. Starting Takes Awhile

We were on the last starting block (of course… and I don’t think I will ever be out of that block). But it took us almost 40 minutes just to get to starting line. Think someone was joking that by the time we start, the elite athletes are already finished :D. Almost true,  just by 5-10 minutes. Which totally reminds me of the hare and tortoise story ;).

Where is the Start Line?

Where is the Start Line?

It’s actually all fine, but looking back, that’s probably the reason why I was so thirsty in the first kilometers already! But I did not want to drink extra because…

7. Try Not to Go to the Toilet

The queue was massive… looks like everyone is going (and there 32.000 of us). I happen to live on the other side of town though, so there’s no way I could avoid it… although my friend said the toilet outside is emptier.

If you’re able to avoid this somehow, do it. It’s quite stressful to wait at the toilet queue.

8. I Possibly Won’t Ever Be Great at Running

Somehow for me to be able to really truly love something, I have to be good at it too (it’s the feedback mechanism thingie). I realized I probably would never be good at running… I think it’s impossible for me to run less than 2h for half marathon (or, rather, I probably have to train 10x more to get there than normal people)…

BUT I also realized I kind of enjoyed it… For me, I should say the hell with speed. Just the fact that I could participate in this event, never would’ve dreamt it possible as a child.

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to try out other sports this summer… biking, dancing, slacklining, rock climbing…

9. I CAN DO IT!!!!

The most important lesson!! Wowza!!! I can be sporty too!

Such an awesome feeling that trumps everything. So I plan to participate again next year! Just once a year though… for now ;).



And if you ever thought you want to do it, just do it! If I can do this, you could definitely do it too!!

Pre Half Marathon Thoughts

I needed to write this mostly just for my future references. I want to record how I feel before the half marathon because I think I will feel differently tomorrow, after the event. You know, those after-run bliss? Yet right now I’m feeling rather nervous.

WTF am I Doing?

This is my first run event. I never did a 5K, nor a 10K. I just do a half-marathon (originally thought I would just go straight to marathon, but now I’m glad I didn’t – more on that later). That being said, I ran a 5K and 10K before (I’m not that crazy!), just not on a race.

But still, WTF? I’m this kid who is the top three slowest runners in school. I don’t even love running. Why did I even sign up?

I still have no idea. But I signed up, and I will run.

Can I do it? YES YES YES! (Peptalking myself with pompoms in my head)

Maybe I didn’t Train Enough…

Maybe. Most probably. I couldn’t run 5 days a week. That was too much for my well-being. BUT I did run 3 times a week, which is 4 times more than before I signed up for this. And I do yoga to counteract running muscles stiffness and swimming.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. (I could hear voices from my runner friends telling me how crazy I am). That’s just what I can do best while being the head of twindly. I also still like to go to parties and hang out with my friends. SO there’s that.

But at least I know I’m way more fit than last year!

Muscles, yo!

Muscles, yo!

There’s no turning back, so let’s just do it!

Love, Hate, Love, Hate, Love ….?

Whenever someone asked me if I love running, I’m always going like.. Umm… no I actually don’t like it. But then why did I run, right?

I now realize running is a love – hate relationship to me. I love how it makes me feel afterwards, not so much when I start. I do realize, however, that I love longer runs while taking a new surrounding. It’s the fresh air, the parks, the “yay, I’m in an open space!” kind of feeling. Now that I don’t really have time for long walks, running gets me the feeling in just half the amount of time ;).

Then I think this half marathon is a new way to see Berlin! We’re passing through most of the tourist spots, even my beloved Schloss Charlottenburg and KaDeWe! And the Rotes Rathaus (because I need something to look forward to at the last kms!)

Berlin Half Marathon 2014 Route

Berlin Half Marathon 2014 Routef

So LOVE. The weather forecast is nice too… 18 degrees and sunny! (I know it runs the risk of being too hot, but I still much prefer this than running in hailstorms).

Will I Make It?

Ah, the doubts. My goal is simple. Finish running the whole course without the bus picking you up. That’s all. I don’t have a time goal, it’s my first one, and I don’t really care.

As long as I have fun running it, I’ll say I win already. I’ve never pictured myself as a runner before, and now that I could run comfortably for two hours, that’s already a big win for me.

So yeah, I suspect the hardest part of the long distance run isn’t running on the day, but the training leading up to it (3-4 months of intense running!). This needs to be confirmed after the event.

I will make it! For sure!!

Got my start number for the #Berlin #halfmarathon on Sunday!! Bring it on ;)!

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Yes, I borrowed the title from Haruki Murakami’s book. But I thought about it a lot when I went for a run yesterday.

I’ve mentioned something about my connection between doing sports and writing in a blog post last year: Persistence, Writing, and Sports. I’ve been running on and off since then, even managed to do it in winter as well (as long as it’s not icy and I’m not sick).

The reason I’m writing this is because I really felt the importance of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Working on my own at home, with no colleagues to maintain your sanity and people who kept asking me, “Where is your published book? Haven’t you been working on it a LONG time already?”. Oh believe me I have my doubts too, you don’t have to put salt to the wound, okay?

Oops, enough rants, back to topic! I sometimes took being healthy for granted, I mean I AM thankful for it, but it’s not until I have some problems that I started to realize how important it was and how lucky I am to be blessed with a good health. And I’m not even talking about major problem, sometimes it’s just muscle ache from sitting down too long or some neck problem from having stiff shoulders (typing much?).

I had my doubts with running. I’m not really into running to start with. The only reason I was doing it, is because it’s easy and cheap. When you’re starting to be a writer there’s no way you could afford some fancy exercise like golf or even a daily trip to a swimming pool. I didn’t fancy going to the gym either. I spent my whole day inside, I wanted to do something where I get to be outside!

We were also quite lucky to live near a very nice park that’s just perfect for running. It wasn’t too crowded and it wasn’t too quiet (it creeps me out when there’s nobody around). There was a nice track going around the park and the dogs behaved nicely there (no random doggy poo on the track). Just perfect.

One thing that wasn’t so perfect is I didn’t think I was really built for running. During school, I’m already thankful when I’m not the last person on track. Being number three from the bottom is already an achievement for me. This haunted me so much when I wanted to start running… Who am I kidding here? I’ll be the most ridiculously slow person in the park!

Then again, it’s a park, not a running track. Which means (as I repeatedly said to myself) nobody knows how long have you been running, which track you took, and if someone overlapped me twice, it could be they took a different track. This last part might not been true, but it made me feel better ;). I learned not to care about what other people might think of me when I run. Or at least, I made up a good excuse not to care, because it could be frustrating when people older and heavier than you, are actually a lot faster (maybe they are regular runner!).

My point was, sometimes it actually doesn’t matter whether you’re good at it or not. What matters is you love to do it and be persistent. Last year, I couldn’t run for more than 1k, now I could run a 5k (albeit slowly). If you’re not comfortable in showing it off to people (a.k.a going for a competition) then don’t. Just do it for yourself, for your own health, it’s the most rewarding thing already.

As for me, I see running as a reflection of my writing. I started running around the same time I started to pursue writing seriously. I have a feeling, the day my novel hit the best seller list would also be the day I could run for a marathon.