One of the perks of being a blogger, at least for me these days, besides getting the usual media invites for events and product samples for review, is to be invited to exercise.
Which by the way, is great, because I so need to do so.
We were invited by the good people at SPRG (the same good folks that invited me to participate in the Great Eastern Women’s Run as an influencer) to join in the inaugural Hello Kitty Run 2014 at Sentosa as part of the feline character’s 40th birthday celebration here in Singapore. Since Becks, my little girl, is such a fan, they say.
But it’s 5km! I say. Her royal highness is not going to be able to make a 5km-run, not when her mother hasn’t even done her maiden 5 clicks yet.
It’s a FUN run, they say. And it’s perfectly ok if we walked and enjoyed the scenery.
So we said ok. Because her royal highness is such a fan, and she got excited by the thought of being in a run with me. And with Hello Kitty, or so she thinks.
And so we joined 17, 000 other fans yesterday at Sentosa, to participate in the first run of our lives together – me, Becks and Ben.
It was a madding crowd, I tell you. Local and overseas fans turned up in full force – men, women, boys, girls alike – tattooed with red ribbons and donning everything that screamed Hello Kitty from headbands and spectacles to shoes and shimmering pink skirts.
We had to be flagged off in waves because there was such a swelling human crowd. The jostling and heat, plus the threat of a stampede, were just too much to bear.
Just look at how crazily packed it was at the starting line.
And then the terrible happened.
The moment the fourth wave was flagged off (and that was us), the rain started pelting heavily on us.
It was like all the Chinese compositions we’ve ever written in school that always read “突然间下了倾盆大雨… 我们都像落汤鸡一样” came to life (loosely translated: suddenly, it rained cats and dogs and we looked bedraggled like drowned rats).
And I was torn between running back to seek shelter and hailing a cab home from Vivocity or continue walking in the rain with my five-year-old and four-year-old. So many people with young children were walking past us with their kids and babies strapped in carriers and strollers in the opposite direction anyway. Nobody would blame us for not being able to continue the race.
I was also very worried about the kids catching a cold. They have never, ever been drenched like this in their lives, and if they ever got wet because they were at water playgrounds, we always made sure that there was a warm shower facility and fresh change of clothes available. I didn’t have a brolly or poncho in my bag. I had packed light for the run – there was only a water bottle, two hand towels and two singlets to change out in my bag, plus keys and some money.
I stopped with the kids to hide under some bushes near Sentosa Gateway and asked the kids a few questions to gather information about their state so I could make a more informed decision:
Me: The rain doesn’t look like it would stop. It may get heavier and we would soon be wet to our socks, shoes and underwear. Shall we run back?
Ben and Becks: *silence*
Me: If we run back now, we can make our way home. Then we won’t be so wet.
Ben: But you said if we start a race, we finish it. That’s what people do when they race?
Me: Yep, I did say that whether we are comfortable or uncomfortable, wet or dry, we don’t give up once we start. But it’s a long way ahead. Sure you want to continue in this?
Becks: I don’t want to go home. I want to continue.
Ben: Yes, continue. We don’t give up.
Me: Alright, let’s press on to get our medals.
Ben & Becks: Continue! *with a glint in their eyes and smile on their face*
And so the decision was made. We continued to have a similar conversation in the rain at the 800m mark, the 1.6m water point and the 2.4km toilet break, and every time I would ask, “Shall we seek shelter? Can we take a break? Shall we wait till the rain becomes a lighter drizzle?” and the answer from my two determined children would still be the same.
“Let’s continue,” they would say. “Let’s not give up.”
And never did we stop once in our 5-km walk to hide from the rain or to rest our tired legs or to whine. Ben and Becks saw it as a chance of a lifetime to be indulging in free flow water play, and I saw that they were considerably cheerier as compared to the looks on their faces while we waited in the heat for the race to start.
They were happy to be skipping in the rain, wringing out water from their shirts and splashing in puddles.
The rain made being in the race uncomfortable physically for all of us but it lifted the spirits of these children.
Around the 1km slope uphill we also experienced kindness. A lady walked past us as we chanted “Never give up!” and swiftly removed the towel Ben had on his head with a beret she was wearing. Without saying a word, she waved goodbye and we were left to savour the act of kindness speechless in the rain.
What an awesome moment. Which I am sure would be remembered by Ben for a long time.
We also experienced kindness at the Sapphire Pavillion after the finish line from three lovely ladies who helped me protect my kids from the squashing and mayhem that was unfolding before our eyes as everyone pushed and shoved to collect their medals. Because it was still pouring and the only way to exchange our race bibs for our medals was in leylong style (the organisers should have thought of a more systematic way to queue, or maybe they did but everyone was in such dire need of shelter that they just kept packing the space resulting in the human jam), the kids and I were compressed by the people all around us till it got difficult to breathe. It was then we meet three friends who helped us out. Two of them formed a human cordon around my children and the last one grabbed our race bibs and edged forward to exchange for the medals on our behalf.
For that I remain forever grateful to the good Samaritans I met last morning.
Last morning, I was reminded of Philippians 3:14. We were literally pressing on towards the goal to reach for the prize.
Last morning, my children learned something that can never be taught by words nor bought by attending an enrichment class.
Last morning, they walked all 5km of a race from start to finish on their own. No strollers. No carrying. No breaks.
Last morning, they learned what it meant to never give up, and that the medal was every bit the prize they had worked hard for that they deserved.
It would have been otherwise difficult to learn this precious lesson had it not been for Hello Kitty and the rain that fell on us.
Disclosure: We were give media slots to participate in the Hello Kitty Run 2014. All opinions here are ours, including the lesson we learned and the exercise opportunity we gained. We endured wet clothes, shoes, socks and underwear to bring you this post.