Vitality London 10,000: Today Is The Day

Monday, 11 June 2018

The 28th of May was the day I decided to finally join an official race again after my challenging Winter Run in February 2015. I was basically inspired when I joined hundreds of runners in London to #FinishForMatt in April. That experience was strangely uplifting because I found myself amidst passionate runners who came together that day to pay tribute to a man most of us never knew. It was then I realised that I could actually join a race on my own and that it will be okay. So without any second thoughts, I registered for the Vitality 10,000 a few days later.

I chose the Vitality 10,000 to be my first official race in 2018 because I am a Vitality member and the event was where I normally run so it was convenient for me.

I left our flat 30 minutes before the start time thinking that it was only about 10 minutes walk, only to be told that my normal route was closed and that I had to walk all the way to Green Park via Piccadilly Road. With a hint of panic, I ran to the venue so I could make it on time (although I really hate warming up before a race). I got there just as runners were making way to their respective start zones.

We set off just after 1030 am. I was feeling excited as this was another thing that I've never done before (to join a race alone). I decided to listen to Keith's playlist as I have not listened to it in a while. I started strong I thought, but I felt a bit weird just after 1km. I was breathing heavily and felt that I was pushing myself too hard, and I just started. I know it is now a cliche for you, but Lighters came on and I was reminded of the boy who inspired me to run in the first place. So, I took one deep breath and reminded myself that I could do it. I felt better after a few minutes of much needed self-reassurance. Then I saw a kid reaching out for a high-five so I gave him one. And then the bands came on and that was it. I was definitely back on track. 

I did few more high fives with children throughout the race, and some of the bands almost got me into dancing because of their lively music. There were loads of people cheering- one thing that I love about London races. The London crowd is the best for me, although I've only done four other races outside LondonParis to Versailles, The HagueCardiff and Bristol).

5km seemed too far that day for some reason, but I was running at a steady pace. I later found out that I reached km 5 just under 30 minutes, so it was good. I felt even more energised when I heard some classical music from the West End Musical Choir. It was beautiful. Some parts of the City were quiet though. Luckily, I could hear some music from a distance, so that kept me entertained whilst I tried to convince myself to run a bit faster so I could finish in under an hour. Once I hit the 7km mark and heard loud cheers, I was more motivated to reach for my goal. And with Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" in the background, I was really up for it.

I didn't pay much attention to the landmarks to be honest. I was more interested in reading placards. Some people make up really funny "words of motivation" like "you look sexy when you sweat". Running becomes easier for me when I see things that make me giggle. :)

I was distracted for a while, so when I realised I have reached Trafalgar Square, I knew I was nearly home. With only so little energy left because of the hot weather, I smiled at every spectator who cheered me on and said thank you to them. The last 500m has always been the toughest for me mentally. It's just basically the thought of getting too close to the finish line, and yet it feels so far. But as always, the cheers became louder as I approached the finish line, which gave me the last push to hopefully finish on time. 

And I did. I finished in 59 minutes 6 seconds!

It really felt so good to be back on the race. Overall, it was a good. The route wasn't too bad. It was flat and we passed by some of London's landmarks such as the Nelson's Column, St Paul's Cathedral, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and the Westminster Abbey. There were water stations at 3km and at 6km. There were also some toilets available. I really liked that the staff actually "awarded" the medals instead of just handing it to the runners. That was really nice. The goodies were okay, too (race t-shirt, bottled water and some protein bar). So yes, I enjoyed my first solo run. :)

I was happy to receive a new medal because somehow I have lost my previous medals. It's a shame really because I worked hard for those medals but never mind. It is never too late to start over again.

I was also happy to get a glimpse of Sir Mo Farah during the event. I am glad he won the race.  Also, I learned a few things during the event which inspired me to do more races, and do more in life as a whole.

And here's some motivation for you and me...

TIN x

Six Things I Have Learned In April

Friday, 18 May 2018

It's amazing how three weeks ago can feel like a very distant past, especially when good memories are quickly overshadowed by rather disappointing situations. Anyway, life goes on so here I am again, reflecting on the things that I have learned in April. But this time, I am writing more about what I've learned in Madrid when I went there last month. So, here goes...

1. The ability to take a selfie is a necessity when you're a solo-traveller
- I was never a fan of selfies because 1) although I love myself so much, I don't love me that way (if you know what I mean) 2)my eyes look weird when I am doing selfies because of my wrinkles, and 3) I couldn't find my best angle. But not having my human tripod with me majority of the time when I was in Madrid compelled me to learn how to take shameless selfies. Now, I can call myself a selfie-expert and I will never have a problem taking photos of myself again. Lol. 

2.  Travelling alone is good for the soul
- I wasn't technically alone during this trip but because J was at a conference for the whole five days, I was left to explore the city by myself. Everyday, I visited places on foot. This experience allowed me to connect more with myself and be more mindful of the things around me. Wandering around a seemingly different, but not unfamiliar city gave me the courage to get lost and face my fears of strangers (and silly things like eating alone). It provided me plenty of time to clear my mind and reassess my life- two things that I felt I desperately needed because since January, I have been pre-occupied with work and other people. For the first time since I came back from New Zealand, I stopped chasing time again. Although temporarily, it felt good to slow down for a little while.

3. Every little Spanish word helps
- I don't speak Spanish but luckily, some of the Filipino words we use are quite the same in Spanish. Of course, I made an effort to learn a bit more whilst I was there, but words as simple as mantequilla, tinidor, cuchara, la cuenta and resibo were very helpful. In fact, someone thought I genuinely spoke the language because I managed to ask for the bill in Spanish. :)

4. Memories of the past will guide your way
- I'm not going to deny that my two previous trips to Madrid was with an ex. It's strange because when I was in Madrid, I wasn't reminded of anything but the fact that I have been to Madrid twice before- and I say this with complete honesty. The place was familiar, but the memories were nothing but a blur. But as blurry as the memories were, it helped me find my way through the city. 

4. Eating alone is therapeutic
- In New Zealand, I learned how to eat alone but I haven't done that since I came back to London. In Madrid, I ate alone everyday for five days and it was one of the most liberating things I've ever done. I felt very confident going in a restaurant asking for a table for one, then demanding where I would like to be seated. I took my time in perusing the menu because I had plenty of time and I didn't have to think about anyone else. I ate at my own pace and looked at my food the way I never looked at it before. I took shameless food photos like a food blogger. I eavesdropped on conversations of other diners around me. I people watched. I ate every single food that I wanted to try and went to every single restaurant on my list. Eating alone gave me the freedom to explore my relationship with food (and myself) deeper. There is really no shame in eating alone, only soaring pride. :)

5. People in the software industry are some of the coolest people
- On our second night in Madrid, I found myself amidst men who talked about a rendering application which I knew nothing about. J was the only person I knew there and I was the only one who didn't work in the software industry but I didn't feel like an outsider. Everyone talked to me and showed genuine interest in me. I got to exchange jokes with one of the most important people in J's company. The event organiser from Canada approached me and thanked me for being there with J when in fact, I should be thanking them for inviting me. Everyone seemed to be genuinely nice, unpretentious and simply cool. Most importantly, they were consistently prim and proper even when intoxicated. :)

6. I have special connection with babies
- One of J's colleagues brought his one year old son to Madrid. Every morning at breakfast, I saw the baby and played with him a little. The mom then told me that the baby never paid attention to anyone the way he did to me. I made the baby smile and his eyes were on mine whenever I spoke to him. The mother even said that perhaps her baby saw something special in me that's why he liked me. I hope she was right. :)

TIN x

On How Someone I Haven't Met Touched My Life

Sunday, 29 April 2018

One week ago today was the Virgin London Marathon which I missed because I was in Madrid. I am very thankful that my very good friend and her twin brothers successfully crossed the finish line but sadly, one of the runners collapsed at 22.5 miles (3.7 miles before the finish line) and died later in the hospital.

He happened to be my favourite chef, Matt Campbell.
Photo from Matt's Instagram Page

I don't know Matt personally. I only know him because he was my favourite to win at last year's Masterchef Professionals. To be honest, that series was the first Masterchef I watched from beginning to end. It was all because of Matt.

I fell in love at first sight with Matt's very creative dishes. There was a category in Masterchef wherein they had to create something personal to them or something to that effect. Matt created this sea bream dish inspired by his father and the Lake District. It was one of the most amazing dishes I've ever seen on television. Then there was his signature dish, the cod cheeks with spirulina, kale and kombucha. I must admit that I've never heard of spirulina and kombucha until Matt mentioned them on Masterchef. I loved him even more then because of his healthy approach to food. He also made this 100% raw cacao vegan dessert which I hoped to taste one day as I've never heard of this dessert before. He also used sheep sh*t to cook one of his dishes, I just can't remember which one. He was very innovative, interesting and a very talented chef indeed.

But most importantly, Matt appeared to be a wonderful man. He remained humble throughout the series, whether he impressed the judges or not. I followed him after Masterchef through his instagram page. He was full of life and doing all amazing things like doing residencies in different restaurants in England, turning junk food into astounding dishes, turning carrots to hotdogs and joining marathons. I was really looking forward to meeting him one day.I wish I took booking a table at Roux Parliament Square seriously when he had his residency there.

When I found out that Matt passed away, I was having a bad day at work. I accidentally opened MSN and there was the sad news. I couldn't believe it at first and hoped that it was a hoax. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I cried for two days- the first time I cried over the passing of someone I haven't met. He had that effect on me and I couldn't understand why. My friend who ran the marathon told me that perhaps, my spirit connected with his. And then I had a rethink. Perhaps it was my love for food, running and Lake District that connected me to him. But whatever it is, he touched my life in an inspiring and very special way.

To honour Matt, I ran the 3.7 miles that he sadly was unable to finish twice this weekend, just like I did when I lost my son, Keith. They were both very talented individuals. Keith with his art and music, and Matt with his cooking. Perhaps this is also the reason why Matt's death hit me quite hard because another talented and amazing person was taken away too soon.

So, yesterday was my first run this year. My first run in the rain. My first run in miles. My first run with a complete stranger. My first run listening to Keith's favourite songs since November. All to honour my favourite chef.

Then again this morning, I ran the 3.7 miles poignantly for the second time to #FINISHFORMATT with hundreds of runners in London and thousands around the world. The outpouring support from the running community is truly unbelievable. People are coming together and spreading love, kindness and only positive vibes all over the globe. I've never seen my Facebook feed flooded with such warmth and sincere thoughts. The stories shared on the Facebook page created for Matt are awe-inspiring. I am moved every time I read a story on how this unfortunate incident motivated people to run or walk their first 3.7 miles. This to me, is running community at its best and I am very proud and humbled to be a part of it. This has sparked a new hope in me that perhaps there is after all, goodness in humanity.

As of this writing, Matt's Fundraising Page has reached £304,563- 12182% more than his original target. Simply amazing.

And to Matt,  I may not have had the chance to meet you and at least eat one of your out of this world dishes, but you will always be my favourite chef. I promise I will learn how to cook one of your dishes in your memory. You will hold a special place in my foodie and running heart. Rest now, beautiful soul. Keep cooking amazing dishes in heaven and hopefully, you will get to meet my angel Keith one day in that beautiful place where you both now live.

TIN x

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