Race Against Cancer

IMG_3537Last Sunday my husband and I ran with some of the dearest people in our lives for Singtel Race Against Cancer. We did the 15km run and it was our 3rd time running in this event. Last year the event was cancelled due to haze, the organizer announced that the finisher medals would still be given out to participants but we didn’t collect ours because it wasn’t the medals that made us join the event.

This was the event that started me on running for other events 4 years ago and it was one of the event that we continue to sign up every year (except for the year that we were out of the country).

It wasn’t the best organized running event. The flag off time at 7.15am was a tad late for a 15km run and I dislike routes that makes us go in loops. However we continued to sign up because we know that a huge part of the registration fee goes to raising funds for cancer patients.

My Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2012 and had half of his stomach removed. It’s been 4 years now and these days he wakes up at 5 in the morning to go cycling and brisk walking. He watches what he eats and he exercises everyday. Many of the people we know who suffer from cancer haven’t been so lucky and it upsets me to learn when yet another someone falls prey or succumbs to this dreadful illness.

This year’s run was a special one because I had my siblings to join us in the run. Unlike my brother who is a fitness buff and running 15km was a piece of cake, both my sisters weren’t seasoned runners. Like many people, they were active in sports in their younger years but are nowhere close to completing a 15km run these days. One of them did a few marathons when she was younger but is now a mother who is still breastfeeding and chasing after another active preschooler. She barely has time to rest, what more train for the run. Signing up for the event did make her go for a few runs, albeit nothing more than 3km. Amazingly, she managed to complete the 15km on Sunday, coming in just about the same time as me. I guess she still has it in her, being the ‘natural’ runner in the family.

My littlest sister had just returned from a 2 month overseas stint a few days before the run and was down with a persistent flu. She turned up on Sunday still unsure whether she should run and was prepared to rip off her race tag half way through if she decided to quit the race. Alas, she completed the race below 2 hours despite being sick!

As for myself, I was nursing an old injury and haven’t been running for the past month. I had thoughts of pulling out as I was still limping 2 weeks ago.

Let’s just say that we were all very ill prepared for the run but we all turned up on Sunday hoping that we could still give it our best shot.

As it turned out, we completed what we set out to do. Whether it was sheer foolhardiness or pure endurance, we completed the 15km. For the first time, the kids were there to cheer us on for the last 50m of the race. They were eager to watch us sprint to the finishing line. They rode their bikes, cheered and chased us to the finishing line. It was all so exhausting and fun.

The human body again proved its resilience and toughness. That one can most likely do it if one will it. And it is hard to imagine what cancer patients have to go through for their bodies to finally shut down and succumb to the demon. And it is this knowledge that makes cancer survivors like this one truly a warrior.

And we will continue to run …
To honor those who had fought.
To celebrate those who had won.
To remember those who had lost.
To cheer those who are still fighting.
Head over to Singtel Race Against Cancer for more inspiring stories.
You can also make a donation here.
Hope to see you next year for the run!


This entry was posted in Fitness.

My Birthday Wish

So I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I had to pause and think when asked how many candles to put on my birthday cake. Was it 43 or 44? My Mom would tell you it’s 45 because she goes by some weird Chinese calculation. It’s strange how hitting the 40 was like reaching a huge milestone and then you stop counting after that.

I had spent a rather eventful birthday this year, riding along the Green Corridor with my husband, almost ran over a snake, broke a bike chain and got caught in the rain.

IMG_2156 2 My husband and I used to have conversation about growing old.

We are well aware that our face will be wrinkled and our butt will soon grow saggy. We will probably suffer from bone mass lost and start to shrivel and the amount of hair we grow probably can’t keep up with the amount of hair we lose.

We can’t stop the natural process of aging but we both agree that we can at best try to age gracefully. Not by botox or anything that requires one to go under the knife (that would have been too painful!) but by leading an active lifestyle. Having 2 energetic boys kind of makes it easier for us to stick to that because heading outdoors, trying new things and sweating it out is so far the best way for the family to bond.

Looking back, there are quite a number of sports that I only picked up after I became a mother. The motivation was perhaps to impress my boys and to a certain extent to show them that ‘if Mom can do it, so can you!’

When we first bought a swaveboard, I was the mother seen fumbling with the new toy with the boys in the evening. I have to admit that it was quite embarrassing as I worried about being labelled as the ‘mother who refuses to admit she’s old’ (a direct translation from Chinese)

A couple of months ago, we tried rock climbing and I had to show them that Mom can climb even though she gets wobbly knees when the distance grows between her feet and the ground. Apart from discovering that fingers and toes are good for grabbing/hanging on for dear lives, I learned that the harness is a pretty wonderful invention which acts like a comfortable seat for coming down a 3 storey high wall. All it takes is a little faith that all will be well and the courage to take the plunge. It took me some time to master that though.

During the school holidays, the kids followed their dad to try out mountain biking. They tried out some new trails but it remained one of those activities that they do with their Dad because Mom’s bike (and heart) wasn’t quite built for jumping over rocks, zipping down steep slopes and negotiating sharp turns.

Unlike 3 years ago when I first went for a bike race, I can now confidently mount the bike saddle even if my feet couldn’t quite reach the ground and I can brake and dismount without collapsing into a pile. It was something that comes with practice and I didn’t master that until not too long ago.

Last week, the kids were joking about how I will totally freak out if I were to try out mountain biking (and they actually enjoy seeing me freak out!).

Driven by curiosity and to see what my 6 years old could do that I couldn’t, I decided to join them. They taught me a few tricks like lowering the saddle, lifting my butt off the saddle and sliding as far back as I can so that I won’t go flying over the handlebars while going down the slopes.

Then came the real thing. They thought it was safer for their Dad to lead me while my elder boy led his little brother.

It was a short trail in the forest. There were sharp turns and steep slopes. The terrain was dotted with tree roots and sometimes rocks that were too big for me to traverse. Occasionally I had to come to a complete halt to push my bike. What a mountain biker would usually complete in 15 minutes took me more than half an hour to finish. I had to focus intently on the trails to see where I was heading and anticipate the next turn. My hands were soaked in sweat, my heart was racing, it was thrilling. Many times, the boys had to stop to check on me. The half hour ride in the forest felt like an hour on my usual route. It was strenuous yet exhilarating.

It was one of the most fun thing we did this school holiday and for some reasons, the boys were especially happy. I wish they were happy for me, that their Mom had tried something new. But knowing them, it was more likely that they were happy because they had fun seeing how clumsy I looked on the slopes! It’s not everyday that they get to beat Mom at doing something though I have to admit that it’s becoming more and more common these days.

So this birthday, it hasn’t been clearer what I should wish for. I wish that I will never feel too old to try out new things, go on adventures, climb mountains and go places with my boys.

Age is just a number and it should stay that way.


A Home Improvement Project

It’s the school holiday and just when I thought I could finally take a break from Mummy’s duties, I was being thrown into another madness of outings, incessant nagging and chasing after energized younglings.

So my husband finally took some time off from work and has had grand plans for some home improvement projects.

Between overseas holiday and home improvement projects, I had chosen the latter thinking that since our place is relatively new, any home fix shouldn’t be too complicated. I badly needed a break, a relaxing one and by my standard, that would mean, eat, sleep, do nothing and repeat the cycle again.

We just did a major renovation to our place a few months ago and we love how our home now reflects our style and living habits. We had spent many hours researching and discussing (or arguing) and drawing out the plan. My husband fixed most of the living room and study furniture himself. No, he isn’t a carpenter or interior designer by vocation. In fact it was his first time fixing furniture after we got our new place.

Recently, I have been bugging him to set up the computer so that I could access all our old photos from an old hard disk. Despite having put in a lot of thought in our design, we had somehow missed out a permanent home for the computer! Still I thought it wouldn’t be a problem as there was plenty of ad hoc spaces that we could use, like the sprawling craft table that he had skilfully made for us to get messy.

Apparently that was not good enough by his standard. He spent a couple of days brainstorming with the kids and came up with this.

A detailed plan that he had neatly drew out with measurements and shopping list, which required extensive work to replace a wall of bookcases with wall shelves and a working top.

I was told that the project would take 3 days and I would be spared from the mess and stress. I wasn’t told how though. I guess my husband thought he could hold the sky just by being around.

My husband and I don’t often see eye to eye. He’s a typical Martian. He likes to fix things and I like to shop. We come from different planets. It’s hard for him to understand why one needs 10 pairs of shoes when he could live on a single pair. He is good at visualizing and have exactly what he wants planned out while I need to see 10 different options physically before I can decide.

I knew trying to change his mind regarding the design would take insurmountable effort. It would require sound logic and reasoning and superb negotiating skills. Yet there’s nothing logical about choosing between wall shelves and standing bookcases. Or is there?

Seeing how enthusiastic the boys were, I decided to go with the plan.

Over 5 days, we visited Ikea 5 times. We were there during the day with the kids to browse and returned at night (without the kids) to purchase. I knew if left on their own, the boys would head straight to the warehouse, collect the items they need and proceed to the checkout aisle. But that would be too haphazard. I had to zigzag through the maze in the Swedish furniture store, be inspired and bombard them with alternative ideas. Even though these ideas often couldn’t withstand their counter argument. But at least I tried.

This went on every time we visit the store. It was exhausting, both physically and mentally. I was so tempted to check into a hotel and come back after the chaos was over!



The boys learned to drill, screw, sand and saw from the “master”. The house was in a total mess and sawdust was everywhere. (That is the problem living in an apartment with no outdoor space!) I did more cleaning and mopping in the few days than I would normally do in a month. On top of the mess, I had to worry about a party at our place at the end of the week. It has became more stressful than before my husband went on leave.

But slowly, what we had on paper finally took form.



It was a wonderful and satisfying feeling to see everything comes together. The boys were happy with their work. They had a good time bonding with their Dad and picked up some useful skills from him. They have learned that there is almost always a solution to everything. If you put your heart and mind to it, you can do it, even if you have no experience doing it.

As for me, I was exhausted but relieved that we have survived another DIY project. I learned that marriage and parenting are like home improvement projects. They are always work in progress. To navigate through the waters of turbulence, we need to communicate and compromise. It requires hell lot of effort and it requires us to keep working at it.

So to their Dad, my husband, who had incidentally taught us some good lessons with his unwavering determination in achieving what he wants (a few broken drill bits and a broken jig saw didn’t stop him!) … Happy Father’s Day! 


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