I was a relatively active student in school; I represented my school in basketball and track & field. Due to my height, I was naturally chosen to play the Centre position in the basketball team and I was also selected to represent my school in shot put and discus events.
After I left school and entered into the work force though, I led mostly a sedentary lifestyle. A huge part of my 20’s and 30’s was spent growing up in church, getting married, giving birth to two beautiful daughters and taking care of them.
The year I turned 38, I suddenly felt that I had lost the sense of motivation and focus for my life. I realised I wasn’t taking good care of myself – I allowed my hair to grow out, I hardly bought new clothes for myself anymore. Some people might call it the ‘mid-life crisis’ and yes, I was searching for solitude and stability in my life.
My fitness hit rock bottom and I knew I needed to make some changes in my life. It was during this time that I picked up cycling and then a friend suggested that we should do a triathlon. At that time, I could only swim breaststroke and I almost collapsed on my first run. I could not run 1km without panting heavily! My face was so red that my friend thought that I was going to pass out.
But doing a triathlon sounded like fun to me, so I pressed on. What started from a mid-life crisis became an adventure. The highlight of my fitness journey was when I completed a half-Ironman race in 2015 – it was a dream I had since mid-2014.
I knew that I had to first overcome my fear of open water swimming and long distance running. And I was fortunate to make many like-minded friends who helped me along the way. Weekdays were filled with gym and running sessions; weekends were spent cycling on Saturdays and learning to swim freestyle in the open sea at East Coast on Sundays.
For someone who could only swim breaststroke and run less than 5km at that point, there was a lot of work to be done. In order not to disrupt my time with my family, I woke up at all kinds of unearthly hours to train. I did many things to motivate myself. One of the ways to avoid giving in to complacency was to sleep in my training gear. I would wake up, wash up, lace up my shoes and go. Even though the timing was nothing to shout about, the thrill of crossing the 70.3 finish line before the age of 40 was a dream come true for me.
I first knew about Rock the Naked Truth (RTNT) in March 2016 when I joined their International Women’s Day workout at the MOE CCAB track. It was a huge group and I did not know anyone there, but sports somehow have a way of bonding people together.
Even though the participants did not know one another well, we cheered and encouraged one another during the workout. Subsequently I joined other RTNT events like the adidas kickboxing event and ROCKdragon.
Then, I’ve always wanted to join a running group but I was hesitant because I am not a good runner and I wasn’t sure if the running group would suit someone like me. Would I be too slow? Would I be too old? Would I fit in?
One day, I chanced upon an Instagram post by ROCKrunners (RR) about running together on the last day of December – 31 December 2016. I plucked up my courage and told myself to go and have a look.
I’m glad I did.
There were many people that morning. What struck me most was that everyone seems to know everyone. The atmosphere was one like a family; natural without pretence. The run was not intimidating like what I thought. The people were not pushy and I felt very comfortable with them. We could run at our own pace. The atmosphere was so inviting that I decided I would come back again the following week. The rest is history.
Now, every Saturday, I look forward to my run with RR. While I used to run with my earphones to avoid awkward conversations, now I make a point to know someone new every week. I have made many new friends in the group and have also invited my friends to run with me.
There is an African proverb that says “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together.” Everyone starts somewhere. Everyone needs a cheerleader. There is no discrimination to how a runner should look like or what is an ideal and acceptable pace we should run in.
I used to be concerned about my size, my shape, my age, my timing… But my fears were unfounded. My fitness process was less painful when I knew that I was not alone. My race experiences with RR at the Sundown Marathon and 2XU Compression Run were exhilarating. It was my first experience having a group of people shouting and cheering for me at the finishing line and I finally had friends taking finish line pictures for me ☺
I believe in this body image movement started by Cheryl Tay. Rock The Naked Truth encourages healthy methods of getting in shape, promotes confidence through fitness and aims to build a community to support one another. There is really no stereotype of how a healthy person should look like. We can all celebrate what our bodies can achieve. This is also the kind of confidence I want my girls to embrace in their lives.
Now, I may still be busy, having to juggle being a working mother, wife and training for my triathlon,but I make it a point not to miss my regular Saturday runs with RR. My family, especially my husband, has been the most supportive. Considering how time-consuming and expensive triathlons can be, his only concern has always been: “Please do not push yourself too hard”. What started out as an escape from a mid-life crisis has turned out to be extremely rewarding. So, it’s never too late (or too old) to start a new adventure in life!
ROCKstar of the Month is a monthly award given to an inspiring individual who advocates a positive mindset and living an active lifestyle (see requirements below).
Requirements to be a ROCKstar of the Month awardee: