My new accidental obsession

The reason I haven’t blogged in over a month is that I have acquired yet another hobby, quite by accident.

It all started when I decided to get off my butt and do some running, something I hadn’t done in about four years.

In defence of this seeming laziness, I would like to retort that “time flies”.

So I went running, although I’m using the term “running” very loosely here. My 5 km journey consisted of about 20% running and 80% walking while my eyes bugged like a goldfish’s and my lungs expressed their indignation by having angry fits.


Putting on a brave front


That first run was very painful, and the biggest issue wasn’t even my rebelling lungs. It was the cold.

It was my first time running in England and I wasn’t prepared for the demands of working out in 10°C temperatures and strong winds. My ears froze painfully even while my body burned up from the exercise. It gave me a severe migraine — the head-splitting, I’m-honestly-going-die, kind.

After that traumatising experience, I theorised that I could prevent future migraines by wearing ear warmers during my runs, so I went online to shop for some. To cut the long story short, I found too many I liked and couldn’t decide which to buy, so I decided to knit my own.

The only problem was that I didn’t know how to knit.

But that was a problem easily solved. Piers’ mum is a good knitter so I went to her for a quick tutorial and a loan of knitting needles, and then I was ready to knit my ears the most beautiful and luxurious pair of ear warmers.

And here, I present, my masterpiece.


That silly grey thing?


You can hardly see the unevenness and botchiness once you put it on your head, really.



Yes, that one.


Of course, I didn’t go through all the trouble of learning how to knit just to knit myself a plain old headband that looks like a five-year-old’s school project. I needed to decorate it. So I went online to learn how to knit a heart and thus made this.


What, a heart?


Piers was very impressed. He said, “That is amazing! You can turn it any way and it still looks like a heart!”

My three-headed heart was the result of my not bothering to do it properly. To make a proper likeness of any shape, you have to knit a tension patch, do some calculations, draw a customised grid, draw your shape on the grid, then knit your pattern.

I was too impatient the first time.

But then, I felt my first heart couldn’t pass off as a nice splotch, much less a heart, so I invested the few hours to do it right.


Yes, a heart.


Much better.

Could be improved but I had used up my quota of patience for now. I couldn’t wait to sew the heart on and finish my project.


A heart on that silly grey thing.


Having finished it, I felt as proud as any five-year-old after completing an art project. I was quite excited to wear it, even if I felt a bit self-conscious about my dodgy stitches and uneven lines.

And then, suddenly, the temperature went up and I didn’t need ear warmers anymore. The next time I went running (about a week later), it was warm enough so I didn’t even need a jumper.

So all that work went for naught, except I suddenly realised the possibilities of entire new wardrobes of DIY clothes and accessories.

And that’s what I’ve been occupied with the last month.

I’ve made this silly-looking thing which currently functions as a Kindle cover and I’m currently knitting a very small shoulder bag. My choices are now based solely on the level of difficulty (easiness) of the project rather than on actual need of the end product.


Pink and white stripes


I bought a basket to store current projects and carry them around. Stupid things like that motivate me and make me happy.


Knitting is becoming an expensive hobby


Piers has been nothing but amused at my new-found hobby, calling me an “auntie” when my needles click away while we’re on the sofa together watching TV.

He’s refusing to believe that knitting has become a trendy thing to do and that many Hollywood celebrities do it. I pointed out that the Duchess of Cambridge Kate has also just started to knit, and she’s a very fashionable person, so there, but he said that it’s okay for her because she’s knitting for her coming baby, so she’s not “auntie” or “granny”.

Piers has what I call Selective Logic Deficiency, which means he passes illogic off as logic if it suits his argument, even if it makes him sound like a complete idiot.

Actually, many people have this disease but I don’t care about other people, whereas I have to live with Piers, so it is very annoying.

Still, he is supporting my hobby financially and doesn’t complain when packages keep turning up in the post and invoiced to him, so that makes up for it very much.

Now, though, I need to get off this obsession enough to get back running again.

And blogging.

I am going to blog more now. Really. Promise this time!

Do a good deed, join the Human Race


Last year, I made my friends buy me an iPod nano for my birthday so I could use Nike+ for my running.

Sheylara with iPod nano

Nike+ is a technology that measures distance, pace and calories burnt (and a lot more) while you’re running. I’ll talk more about it later. Back to my iPod nano.

After I got it, I ended up not buying the required Nike+ iPod Sport Kit. It’s one of those procrastination things. So I’ve just been using my nano for music while I run.

Sheylara with iPod nano

But I still want my Nike+ and I think I’ve found the right motivation to get it right now!

The Nike+ Human Race 10K is coming on Oct 24 and I’m eager to take part in it because it is the Day the World Runs. Literally!

Last year, almost 780,000 people all over the world took part in this race.

On that one day, all these people plugged into Nike+ and ran. And all these people were located in different countries all over the world. Very cool, is it not?

This year, there’s an attractive spin to the race: The Guys vs. Girls Challenge, involving an attractive pair of celebrities to entice us to do our part for charity!

Guys Vs. Girls Challenge

Tay Ping Hui and Rui En are leading a gender face-off, which is an ongoing charity event that will culminate in the Human Race 10K.

From now till Oct 24, when you clock miles using Nike+, your miles will contributed to your gender. The gender that clocks the most miles wins!

Each gender champions a different cause. Guys are running for WWF-World Wide Fund for Nature while girls are running for ST School Pocket Money Fund. Nike will donate $50,000 in stages to the winning gender’s charity in each stage.

Um, the guys, led by Tay Ping Hui, are winning. They’ve already won the first three stages. Only two more stages to go!

Guys Vs. Girls Challenge

I reckon they should have made Tay Ping Hui lead the girls and Rui En lead the guys. There might have been a fiercer competition!

In any case, we need more girls to take part. Give poor children in Singapore a chance. We need to win for the ST School Pocket Money Fund, too, so sign up here!

A while back, 98.7FM DJs got together to contribute miles for this good cause.

Guys Vs. Girls Challenge

Looks really fun, ya?

Let’s talk about Nike+ now.

First, the gear. You’ll need some Nike+ gear in order to take part in the Human Race 10K, as well as the Guys Vs. Girls Challenge.

There are a few options to choose from.

Option 1

[iPod nano + Sport Kit + shoes]


The Sport Kit comes with a sensor (to attach to your shoes) and a receiver (to plug into your nano). These two things allow your nano to register your runs and record your progress. You can either view the info on the screen or have it read to you via earphones.

Option 2

[iPod touch + Sensor + shoes]


The iPod Touch already comes with built-in support for Nike+, so a receiver isn’t needed. Otherwise, it funtions just like the nano package.

Option 3

[Nike+ Sportband]


This cute little wristband (available in several colours) records your runs without requiring an iPod. When you get home, you can detach the black gizmo and plug it into a USB port to upload your run data. The Sportband comes with a sensor, which you’lll need to attach to your shoes.

So, just get any of these and you’re ready to roll.

But Nike+ is more than just gear. It’s a whole support system that connects you with runners from all over the world via the Internet.

Once you get the gear and get plugged in, a whole new world is opened up to you. You will be able to find, on the Nike+ website, a whole lot of activities and training options.

For instance, you can upload your run data online to tell the world how much you’ve been working out. You can compete with your friends or motivate each other online without needing to physically run together.

There are also cool programs like Nike+ Goals and Nike+ Coach, which help you set specific goals and customise training sessions.


Ultimate coolness!

But the coolest thing about Nike+ right now is that it allows us to be part of the Human Race 10K. I’m so hyped about it! I wonder how many participants there will be this year. A million?

Taking part in the race is simple. All you need to do is sign up for it, then get some Nike+ gear and sync it up on Oct 24. You can run anywhere, at any hour, on that day.

The Human Race 10K

It’s literally the biggest race in the world, ever!

I have some friends who love running but shun races because they’re afraid of crowds. So I think this is just the race for them. They can pick a quiet spot to run on Oct 24 and still be part of the biggest race in the world. Nike+ would be great for them.

What about you, then? Are you going to be a part of the Human Race 10K?


The conversation in my mind during a race

Shape Run 2009 at Raffles Boulevard.

Shape Run 09

Reporting the carnage in my mind…

Before the race started:

7:00 AM      Why are there still so many participants milling about all over the world? We’re supposed to gather at the start point by 6:45 am. Some people are still having coffee in Starbucks.

7:01 AM      Queuing up at 5 km waiting point, near the front. So many girls in pink. But I don’t see 8,000 people.

7:10 AM      Hahaha. Someone is wearing Standard Chartered Marathon tee from last year.

7:15 AM      I need to pee.

7:16 AM      I already peed three times in the last 30 minutes! Stupid bladder.

7:17 AM      That giant bowl of milk (with cereal) and that glass of water were taken at 5 am. Why does my body produce so much water by itself? I hate hate hate my bladder.


7:30 AM      Can they start already???!!! DJ talk so much in front but it’s all muffled. Can’t hear a thing. 10 km participants pushing through every 10 seconds to get to the front. Irritating.

7:35 AM      Zzz… Need to pee. Need to toilet. I hate Shape Run. I hate latecomers. I hate Singapore events for never starting on time.

7:40 AM      Finally 10km flag off! Relief! Why is everyone clapping? Flag off also must clap? Never mind just clap cos it’s kinda cool.

7:45 AM      5 km people allowed to run up to official starting line to queue up and wait some more. Some 10 km people have just arrived and are hurriedly joining the race. Siao lah, so late.

7:50 AM      DJ, stop talking so much, flag us off already before my bladder explodes.


Shape Run 09
Photo taken after run.

During the race:

00 MINS      The feeling of starting a run is amazing. The feeling of starting an organised run, everyone wearing the same top, having the same mind and purpose, is actually quite awesome. IN LOVE!


01 MIN      Okay okay don’t get carried away. Slow down, don’t get burnt out.

02 MINS      Die. Feel tired already. See lah, so kan cheong for what. Sloooooooooooow doooooooown. Negative split. Catch up later.

03 MINS      Damn I am so out of shape.

04 MINS      Bladder full, check. Desperately need bowel evacuation, check. Period started today, check. Haven’t run in a month, check.

05 MINS      Stop being negative! Just run your best. You’re not competing. Don’t need to break any records. Just finish the race.

06 MINS      Aaaarrghh people overtaking me. And I am already FREAKING TIRED AND WHEEZING.

07 MINS      Shhh, shhh… don’t care them. You’re not competing. You’re not breaking records. Just finish the race. Try and achieve your average training timing (33 minutes). Okay okay, give you +5 minutes since you’re not feeling well and you haven’t trained in a while.

08 MINS      What did I get myself into again? Why do I always torture myself like that? I hate running. I don’t ever want to join a race again!

09 MINS      I feel like I’ve run 5 km already. But I’m sure if I asked someone now, they’d say it’s only 1 km. I hate running. But I know that after I finish, I will love running again. WHAT THE FFFFFFFFFFFFF IS WRONG WITH ME?

09 MINS      I’m glad I’m only running 5 km. I WILL NEVER EVER RUN MORE THAN 5 km for races!!!!

10 MINS      Mind over matter, com’on. Remember how you’re always so confident that you can endure physical challenges and exceed your limits? Remember you believe how it’s possible to ignore all pain and discomfort and just focus on the objective?

11 MINS      Shuddup. I only believe all that when my body is at rest and my heart is not trying to jump out of my chest.

12 MINS      Remember… after a run, you always regret not pushing yourself harder while you’re at it?

13 MINS      Shuddup. I’m a nincompoop. I wish I’d studied the map more carefully. I don’t even know how far I’ve come and how far more to go. How to negative split like that?

14 MINS      It’s only a 30-minute race, don’t be a ninny. Just burst through it and then you can rest and pee and shit. There is plenty of time to run leisurely at your happy snail’s pace at other times. When it’s not a race.

15 MINS      I’m not even racing lah! I just want to finish at a decent timing. So why get so stressed out? Just run lor.

15 MINS      No no no… cannot slack. It’s an achievement thing. It’s a pride thing. Must at least maintain personal record.

16 MINS      This looks like a halfway mark since we’re making a big U-Turn. TIME TO PICK UP PACE!

16 MINS      WTF? Only halfway? I’m done already! I dowan to run already. People are overtaking me!! *cry*

17 MINS      Pick up the pace pick up the pace, if not you’ll go slower and slower and you will finish at 50 minutes and then you will regret it for the rest of your life! See see, so many people stop and walk. Your turn to overtake!!

18 MINS      Okay visualise a horse galloping. My legs are horse legs.

19 MINS      I think I feel a little stronger. I don’t feel my heart trying to jump out of my skin. I don’t feel my puny human legs crying for mercy. I’m all horse legs! I am a horse galloping with ease!

19 MINS      But I still can’t make myself go faster. Why?

20 MINS      Fuck the horse legs. My lungs are bursting.


22 MINS      Dammit, I really can’t pick up the pace. It’s all I can do to continue putting one foot in front of another. Negative split my ass.

23 MINS      MIND OVER MATTER!!!! Just suffer a few more minutes and then it’ll be done and you’ll be proud of yourself! COME ON! FASTER QUICK!! GOOOOO!!!!

24 MINS      Shuddup! You’re not the one who feels like you’re going to spontaneously combust. Weakly. Cos there is no more energy left to make a big bang.


26 MINS      Dammit, legs. Why aren’t you going faster? We are finishing!!! Grrrr!



28 MINS      OMG IS THAT THE FINISHING LINE? So many people crowding at the sides here, taking photos. OMG OMG QUICK go faster don’t malu.

28 MINS      NO MORE STRENGTH LAH CANNOT. Can lah can can can go go go! CANNOT LAH. Can! Just one last burst! Only 50 metres DUH!! Come ON!

28 MINS      I see the finishing line! I see the clock! Hooray! OMG I am finishing under 30 minutes? It’s a miracle! Quick! Gogogogo before the clock reaches 30 minutes!

28 MINS      Arrrrrgh dying dying dying dying dying.



29 MINS      Eh, why they wait 10 seconds to beep my timing chip? Cheat me 10 seconds!

Finisher bracelet:

Shape Run 09 finisher bracelet

Awww… isn’t that sweet and heartwarming?

I love running (again).

I am really pleased with my timing because I broke my record from two months ago.

I pushed past the line at around 29:05 today. I think my best timing two months ago was about 31 minutes. I had totally expected to clock 40 minutes today, due to all the unfortunate circumstances.

I guess this is why people continue with endurance sports, even though they hate it and they hate themselves during the moments when the going gets tough. Because finishing is fun.

And organised races are cool. We get tons of junk to take home.

Shape Run 09 runner's kit

I remember hating myself all the way through the race. I remember the pain and the torment. But I think I will forget again by the time the next race sign-up rolls around.

Like a drunken zombie trying to do a marathon

In the same week that I started my gym training, I also signed up for Shape Run 2009.

To prepare for it, my personal trainer suggested that I go for a run on my own, once a week, in-between my sessions with him.

Sheylara at the gym
Eric Goh, my trainer.

For my first run, Eric said I should do at least 45 minutes. It sounded reasonable to me at that time.

First Run — Saturday, 6:30pm


It had been almost two years since I ran, so I started off with a slow jog. I believed 45 minutes wouldn’t be a problem with that pace.

Five minutes into the jog, I was ready to drop dead.

I felt really fatigued. And hungry. I was at East Coast Park. The fragrance of meat being barbequed by weekend revellers taunted me left and right as I plodded along unsteadily like a drunken zombie trying to do a marathon.

The task I had set out for myself began to feel impossible, but I knew that endurance training is really about mind over matter. If your mind says you can do it, your body will do it. Simple!


So my mind constantly gave my body pep talks.

It said, “You can do it. You can do it. Do it. Do it. Do it.”

It told my legs, “Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.”

It told my abs, “Sexy abs. Sexy abs. Sexy abs.”


Every so often, my body would plead, “Can we stop?”

The answer would come back screaming, “SEXY ABS!”

Twenty minutes later, while my mind was still going “you can do it you can do it sexy abs” like a broken record, my legs suddenly stopped jogging and started walking.

My mind was, like, “What the…?! I didn’t tell you to stop!!”

My body gave it the proverbial finger and said, “Nyah!”


Over the next 10 minutes, I start-stopped several times as both mind and body sought to wrest control.

Eventually, I gave up and went home. I was starting to break out in cold sweat. By the time I reached home, I was so dizzy and exhausted that I had to lie down on the floor. I couldn’t move for 10 minutes. I just lay there and breathed heavily.

Later, when I recounted my experience to Eric, he laughed and laughed.

Funny meh??


He said it was so funny. And he just wouldn’t stop laughing.

Great. I’ve gotten myself hooked up with a crazy sadist of a trainer.

Sheylara at the gym

Run For Hope 2007

It was a dark and stormy morning.

Well, it was dark before this picture was taken.

The handphone by the bedside announced the arrival of 5:30 am with a series of irritating beeps. The dreary sleeper roused herself from a short, disturbed sleep.

Mettle and grit put to the test.

Will she shake off the inertia of dawn to drag her sluggish self through the rituals of waking? Brave the pouring rain to present herself upon the scene of her punishment?


Through rain and snow, hail and sleet, she forged ahead.

Not forgetting to camwhore while she did.

Taking full advantage of the flattering red sheen cast off from reflected vehicle brake lights.

And then, she was there. Together with fellow kooks.

The storm had lightened into a steady drizzle but the rain didn’t look to be stopping anytime soon. The mood was uncertain, despite false bravado showing on certain faces.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Ok, I’m tired of writing in third-person narrative so I’m reverting to my usual first-person.

Yesterday was Run For Hope 2007.

When we arrived at Sentosa at 7 am, it was still raining lightly. We had to walk in the rain for 15 minutes to get to the starting point of the run.

But before that, I had to relinquish my stuff, including my camera, to the Goonfather (caretaker of barang), who refused to walk with us, preferring to sit in the shade at Coffee Bean with his PSP to wait out the race.

So, I couldn’t take any photos of the actual event, starting from our wet trudge to the starting point to wait for the race to start, and culminating in our weary stumble through the finish line.

By the time I met up with the Goonfather and retrieved my camera, we had all cooled down and I was no longer in the throes of exhaustion. So, no sweaty pictures this time! Haha.

The run was fun. I was at first afraid that I would feel intimidated and drained by the presence of thousands of other runners. Instead, I felt happy and energised.

I felt like I was doing something meaningful because, after all, the event was to raise funds for cancer research.

I completed my 4km in 20 minutes. It’s far from astounding; a goodly bunch of crazy buggers finished 8km in like 30 minutes. But I’m happy.

Running alongside thousands of runners all running for the same cause made me feel alive.

The rain had stopped by the time the run started and the air was pleasantly cool.

When we finished the run, there were bananas, water, isotonic drinks and energy snacks waiting for us.

I didn’t eat anything until ice cream was offered much later.

I’m persona non healtha.

I went to the event with a few Cowboy Bar peeps, but I bumped into Chong in the middle of the run. So we hung out after the race and took some photos.

Chong is a funny subject to photograph but I found a cuter subject.

It’s a cairn terrier.

It’s carrying a pink haversack! OMG!!!

Check out the doggy haversack!!!

Anything that carries a tiny pink haversack is too cute for words!

It was quite a nice day to be hanging out at the beach, even though the sand was wet from the early morning rain. But I’m not really a beachly sort of person, so we left Sentosa at about 10:30 am.

Now, right after a healthy run is a good time to abuse your body with fatty junk.

(For those not equipped with sarcasm radars and might protest to the above statement for its potential to inflict moral damage upon the world’s innocent, please bear in mind that it is advisable to wash your hands after you use the toilet.)

Good ol’ traditional pre-packed nasi lemak.

As traditional, no-frills pre-packed nasi lemak goes, this one is really quite good. Chilli is yummy, rice is fragrant even if cold from being pre-packed, fish is tasty.

You can find it on the corner of Baghdad Street and Bussorah Street.

But now I regret having eaten that. Not because of fat issues, but because a sore throat has stolen upon me overnight. After surviving on potato chips and coco pops all of last week, maybe the nasi lemak tipped the heaty scales into overdrive.


Or maybe it was getting rained on yesterday. I can feel a flu blossoming.

Still, I felt really really good, like really happy and energetic, for a whole six hours after yesterday’s run. Of course, the adrenaline finally pumped itself out and I was a zombie for the rest of the day. But it was a good six hours well-worth waking up at a crazy hour and braving the storm.

The Great Eastern Women 10K is in a month’s time.

I’m not sure if 10km will give me the same adrenaline rush as the 4km did; I might die trying to complete the course since my regular training route goes only as far as 6km and even that stretches my abilities.

And now that I’ve got this flu coming, I won’t be able to train for maybe a week. How to run 10km like that?