Running Is For Girls (And Cancer-Free Chicks)

I ran the Nike Goddess 5K!

Last Saturday—yes, Polling Day!—I completed my first 5km run!

For many, 5 kligs is a walk in the park, but for me, it’s a major achievement.

I signed up for the Nike Goddess 5K about three weeks before the race. The route looked interesting — flag off was on the Marina Barrage bridge (so yes, 5000 of us were literally standing between the reservoir and the deep blue sea when the gun sounded).

My first race bib, ever!

Mr Threez was so chuffed that I was actually, really, genuinely going to run that he got himself and Big and Middle B all ready, and drove me to Marina Barrage at 4pm.

To be honest I felt really old! I stood in the queue for the loo and in front, beside and behind me were teenagers from poly and junior college, most of whom were running in pairs (with cute team names like “Hot Pink Bras” and “I Run Faster Than Your Grandmama”).

View from the bridge - before I squeezed nearer to the Start line!

Before 5pm, the queues had already begun — Nike+ members got to go to the Start line first. Being by myself was a huge plus — I squeezed my way through the crowd till I was about 25 metres from the start line. Seemed to me that starting way at the back is too demoralising — seeing all those people ahead of me makes it easier to give up! But that’s me, heh.

When the guns went off it took me 2 minutes to reach the Start line. The Marina Barrage bridge is pretty narrow, so it took a while to get everyone going.

The first 1km was fine. I had created an iPod playlist just for this run—music that would keep me going (I hoped). I had 2 goals: one was to finish no matter what, and the second was to try to do it without stopping. Even if it meant dropping to a trot, I just wanted to keep going.

The view was magnificent – running by the waterside, the Flyer in view, made me feel like I was in a condo ad. I spent the first 5 minutes overtaking runners, feeling good about myself.

A great shot by Mr Threez

But by the time I hit about 1.5km the heat began to get me. It was like breathing in a sauna — hot air going into my lungs felt so uncomfortable.

By the 2km mark I dropped to a superslow jog to grab a cup of water (there were 3 water points! For a 5km run! But seeing how hot it was, I think we were all very thankful).

The heat won: I had to give up my second goal. I walked the next 500m, jogged another 500m, walked the next kilometer, telling myself I was going to run the final kilometer.

When I saw the 4km marker I prayed. “God, help me to run from here to the finish line without stopping. Jesus, you gotta run with me.”

Visions of Christ in white shorts and a Dri-Fit tank made me laugh to myself as I began to pick up speed.

The sun was burning – I thought I was going to combust about 25 meters from the finish line, but I just kept going. One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other. Crossing that line didn’t feel so much like “I DID IT!” than “THANK GOD!!! IT’S OVER!!!”

At the finish line, the volunteers gave out gerberas and towels, Ice Mountain and 100 Plus.

Runners heading for the rooftop to cool down after the run.

I tried to get someone to take a photo of me with the sea of orange around me but I think most of the girls were ready to collapse — one tried but missed the crowd.

There were lots of girls passing me on my left, really.

Thank God for my lovely family, which was waiting a little around the corner from the end of the bridge. Mr Threez made me “re-walk” my entry so he could grab this shot.

My "proper" end-of-race shot! Thanks, honey!

I couldn’t believe how achey I felt. I had actually trained for this run, but the heat, the narrow running track, the side-stepping girls left, right and center made me feel like I just took part in Ninja Warrior.

I crawled up the slope to the rooftop of the Barrage, where live music played, soya ice cream was given out, and exhausted runners sat in silence catching their breath. Even up on the roof, it was mercilessly hot and windless—desert weather. But I finally managed to get someone to take a photo of me with this funny slogan.

My sentiments (maybe in different words) about running in the blistering weather.

I was so happy to see Mr Threez and the two Bs, after wobbling down from the rooftop. Their presence made all the difference to me. Middle B said to me before the race, “You can do it, Mom! You can come in 3rd!”

Well, I came in 253rd (out of 1135 in the Individual Above 25 category) but her faith in me was my fuel. *Kiss Kiss, darling*

My homegrown cheerleading squad

Why was this race such a big deal? Because if you had asked me a year ago, I would have told you I will never run again.

The last time I ran was in 1998, before my firstborn was conceived. When, 10 years later, I signed up with True Fitness and the nice young personal trainer put me on a treadmill for 5 minutes, I thought I was going to die of a heart attack right there and then.

I clung on to every excuse not to run — I have a bad back. My knees are growing old. My ankles ain’t so hot. It’s too hot. It’s too wet. My tummy bounces too much when I run. And when people told me that health-wise, it’s not good for a 40something year old to run, I utterly believed them.

But after my cancer operation last year, I had to start walking to get my circulation going and to force my body upright from its hunched position. The months of walking turned into walks+short jogs. The short jogs eventually turned into longer, slow jogs. And strangely, running didn’t feel anything like I imagined.

In January this year, Mr Threez challenged me to run a 10km race this year. I balked, to say the least. But the challenge hung in the air for months, till eventually, I decided, okay, I’ll try a 5km run. If I live, there is a chance I could actually accomplish a 10km.

The Nike 5K was my way to start running.

A quick Google brought up the Nike Goddess 5K. For the first time in Singapore, Nike was organising an all-girl race. I have to admit it looked fun — the slogan for the run was “Running Is For Girls” and the race T-shirt was this adorable tangerine Dri-Fit tee with a girl in silhouette looking cool running.

On an impulse, I signed up online. And then panicked that I only had less than a month to train. Things began to get interesting when my friend Bernard got me a discount on the Nike+ iPod sensor kit. I started tracking my runs, and it’s true—that little bean-shaped thing really makes you feel like running more just so you register a higher peak on that graph. Oooh! Human nature is just so competitive.

Now that I’ve completed one run, Mr Threez is hunting down a whole bunch of other Singapore races to sign me up for. I’m begging for mercy. The Great Eastern Run is probably next, and he has signed us both up for the Marina Bay Run (10K), and he’s now goading me to try the Standard Chartered Marathon (10K) at the end of the year.

For all my whining, I am grateful to God I am here today, fitter than I was before my cancer. Fitter, in fact, than I have ever been. Truly all things work for good for those who love Him.

Jesus and Mr Threez going to have to run with me in all those races…