NUH Farewell Videos

Farewell video shown before the lecture on my last working day at the laboratory…

A tear almost almost escaped my eyelid….

Thank you guys.

..and this video is the one I made for them.

Im going to miss you guys…

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My New York City Marathon 2017 Relived (NYC Marathon Chronicles Part 2)

And I’m¬†back (not so) fresh from New York City and I will be sharing about my NYC marathon experience with Team for Kids as promised.

Race Expo. The Marathon Expo presented by New Balance was so huge that I had to go back at least three times I guess just to make sure I was able to check everything. It was a 3 day expo if I am not mistaken and I was so busy the whole 3 or 4 days as Team For Kids has program invites for their fundraisers and it was quite tiring too walking here and there, rushing and getting lost like most of the time. I went to Jacob K. Javits Convention Center where the expo is half an hour before it closed on its first day. I was back there again before the Parade of Nations the next day to collect the 5km Abbott Kids Dash bib and one last time after the TFK breakfast on Saturday, a day before the big race.

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Race Expo was held at¬†Jacob K. Javits Convention Center¬†on¬†Eleventh Avenue, between¬†34th¬†and 40th streets, in¬†Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan,¬†New York City.

Being able to raise US$2620++ for Team For Kids just in time before the deadline on 5 Oct 2017 had made me feeling like a finisher already, not to mention the fulfillment in being able to contribute to the running world and the kids who are mainly the beneficiaries of Team For Kids. This has paved my way to securing a guaranteed entry to the race. It has been the most exciting race for me to date.

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Team For Kids have their own booth where goodies awaits the fundraisers.
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TFK bibs are collected here so TFK runners need not to queue along with the massive crowd.

The¬†entire experience of fundraising was just so humbling given over 6 months of publicizing¬†through Facebook¬†and Instagram,¬†asking and knocking from friends and strangers¬†repeatedly, even to those whom I have just met, runners and non-runners alike. I am so much¬†grateful for everyone’s participation and for the immediate response when I reached out especially at those times that I felt hopeless and desperate. It wasn’t I who was given hope actually but the kids who for sure you have impacted a lot and made a difference in a special way on their lives through the donations made for Team¬†For¬†Kids. Let me take this¬†platform and allow me to use this opportunity to¬†thank my donors.¬†You¬†all know who you were. Singapore running community in general, from¬†the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

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Been fortunate to be the Philippines flag bearer during the Parade of Nations

Parade of Nations. A month before the race I was chosen to represent my country to be a flag bearer during the opening ceremony on the November 3, 2017. It was an extraordinary experience leading the pack of runners from my hometown. Through this event, I met a few runners I followed and started to follow on social media, something surreal. It was participated by runners across the globe to celebrate diversity. Delegate countries were welcomed one by one in alphabetical order and the event, which lasted for over 4 hours was ended by a spectacular fireworks.

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With Singapore flag bearer!

Met a bunch of runners too representing their own country.

5KM Abbot Kids Dash. Marathon runners were invited to run the Kids Dash on November 4, 2017. I did sign up too expecting for another medal but there was none. It was participated by a fairly large crowd. I regarded it as something like a shake out and familiarization run. We were late though as we lost our way to the start pen. What I am more excited with that day was the Marathon breakfast where Team For Kids fundraisers have VIP seats at the Marathon Pavilion.

TFK Marathon Breakfast. After the shake out run, we headed straight to the Marathon Pavilion for the TFK invite only breakfast.

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Representative fundraisers from all over the world were recognized as well as first time runners for Team For Kids. I learned that some of the runners have been raising funds for over 10 years now as well as how TFK and New York Road Runners are contributing to the society. I also learned and listened to Meb Keflezighi who ran his last marathon, as he gave a speech on giving back and his advocacy on youth health, education and fitness.

Cool Finds at the Marathon Pavilion.

Race Day. The most exciting part! I had a good dinner on the night before November 5, 2017. We were reminded to adjust our clocks for the Daylight Savings and tucked in early. It was freezing at slightly below 10 degree Celsius with a little wind. TFK buses are waiting between 6th and 7th Avenues. Pick up time was as early as 5:30 AM and took us an hour or more to reach Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island where the race started.

It was cloudy and was expected to get a slight downpour. My flag off was at 10:15 AM and had to wait 3 hours at the TFK tent at the race village.

The TFK tent was warm, complete with entertainment as in some runners share experiences on mic, encouragements from the coaches and last minute tips. Runners are all seated comfortably inside the enormous tent equipped with warm air blowers housing hundreds of TFKers offering unlimited bagels and all sorts of refreshments including coffee, tea, water, energy gels, disposable ponchos, etc.

Runners at every wave were assisted to their respective corrals with warm up exercise conducted by assigned coaches before they were set to the base of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. I managed to take a few photos at the start and proceeded to run as keeping still made me really feel colder intensified by the crosswinds at the bridge.

Right down the bridge we entered Brooklyn and heard the legendary Rocky theme played by some band. The cheers right at that borough were really overwhelming. I gave a few high fives as I stayed at the left most part of the road and focused on maintaining my pace. I was running with the 3.45 hour pacer group and I was like running comfortably then. I passed the halfway point at the Pulaski Bridge leading to the next borough of Queens and to the one of the many bridges – the dreadful Queensboro bridge. I considered it to be the toughest. I can never forget this bridge as I stopped and walked a few seconds here just to recover. It was darn steep that in that few seconds I was able to reflect on the journey I went through just to get into this bridge. I lost sight of the 3:45 pacers. Right after the bridge was another extremely loud cheers from spectators withstanding the rain and cold on the street with the runners which somewhat added motivation to me to push harder against all these extreme conditions. The struggle was real at the 30 km (18th mile) where I started to feel a little cramping on my right leg which I tried to avoid by slowing down and stopping several times for hydration, entering and exiting Bronx unnoticed until the Central Park premises became familiar.

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With Singapore Runner Amanda right at the finish.

The 4 hour pacers were on sight about 300 meters in front of me as the thick crowd entered the narrow roads of Central Park. I tried to catch them but only managed to finish 3 minutes later than my 4 hours target.

At the finish, TFK volunteers marshalled us to the TFK recovery tent. Similarly, it was warm and full of recovery food and drinks, massage, change areas, muscle sprays, rollers, etc. It was raining heavily then.

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TFK marshall waiting at the finish leading us to the TFK recovery tent.
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The TFK recovery tent

Marathon Monday. It was kind of awkward wearing the huge marathon medal as I did see on people on the day after the race. They were everywhere. I didn’t wear mine though and it was really regretful walking the streets of New York without it. I couldn’t have been so much prouder congratulating other finishers on the streets as they congratulate me.

I wore the medal on Tuesday. I could still feel the hype. Strangers everywhere I go were greeting me congratulations! Loved the feeling so much!

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Marathon Monday? This was taken on Tuesday.

Loaded with photos? There is actually more. haha check them out here.

My Team For Kids Interview (Sneak Peek)

My TFK Interview. When is it going to be published, I have no idea. 70 days to the big event and a month more to raise funds. (published interview link over here. updated  08 Jan 2018)

Learn more about Team For kids here and of course my donation link.

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What event are you running with Team for Kids?

I am running the TCS New York City Marathon!

 What excites you most about running your event with Team for Kids?

We don’t have much spectators in Singapore so basically one that excites me the most in this TCS NYC Marathon is the crowd that cheers and motivates you to keep moving forward. Secondly, I have walked NYC once or twice a few years back and I had dreamed of running this city. It is one on my bucket list to be ticked off.

 Where is your favorite place to run and why?

I have never done so much overseas running except in Australia (Sydney/Gold Coast) where the running culture is so much different than in Singapore. There is a joyful atmosphere from the cheering crowds all throughout the race route. Well, most races in tropical Singapore is held very early in the morning like around 4 AM so we don’t really expect people to be out that early too. Downtown Singapore, with its magnificent architecture balanced with gardens and nature gives it a relaxing and extraordinary view. I would say it is my favorite place to run.

 If you run with music, what are your favorite artists or songs to listen to?

Like a G6 by Far East Movement was my first ever power song. I actually listen to random upbeat songs. Fall Out Boys is one of my all time favorite artists. Their album Save Rock and Roll fairly boosts me during my leisure runs. During training and races, I prefer listening to my body, my steps and my breathing – the beats and rhythm create a different kind of music to me.

 What is your favorite post-run meal?   

I am the typical Asian who loves to eat rice. I eat rice meals 3 times a day in fact and I crave for anything with rice after my runs. Of course, the brown rice is the healthy version of the white rice.

When did your relationship with running begin and why?          

I used to be overweight at over 80 kg with bad cholesterol at undesirable levels. That was 3 to 4 years ago. I wanted to lose weight and so I started hitting the gym and ran on treadmills. The max I can use the treadmill was 30 mins and slowly after a a couple of months, 30 mins wasn’t enough. I enjoyed beating the distance I was able to cover on my previous treadmill exercise and then eventually I started running outdoors which I even loved more. It has made me discover places and it has brought me closer to nature too! A friend once asked me to sign up for races to stay motivated and to train consistently. Now I have established a discipline to train even without a race. My week is not complete without a mid-week run, a weekend LSD and a recovery run exercise. This year marks my 3rd year in the running community.

 Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions, if so, please explain?

I do pray a lot. Ultimately, we want to finish the race without any injuries. I believe there is a supernatural that helps us even if we put on our 100% effort. I always pray to God that I wouldn’t get any cramps and blisters or any kind of injury as I run and finish with a decent timing and by that I mean a finishing time better than my previous.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

 Why did you choose to run with Team for Kids? 

It was my dream running the TCS New York City Marathon. I have walked the streets of New York once or twice my entire life and it is a dream-come-true for me running the city. I wasn’t lucky at the balloting so I decided to raise funds instead where I get to know about TFK. Being from the other side of the globe, it is quite difficult to raise fund but I know there a lot of angels in disguise here on which ever part of the earth. The culture could be different from where I am from currently but we don’t choose who we help. I’m saying this because I am from Asia and people’s first question would be TFK is not from Singapore, Philippines or even Asia. We could be neighbors with someone of different religion or someone of different color, but we should always be open to helping regardless of religion or color. That is humanity. I love kids. They are the future and¬†WE¬†play a very crucial role in their development. Supporting youth programs is just one small way of ensuring that these kids are occupied with healthy habits.

 

 Tell us a little more about yourself

I am a Medical Technologist/Clinical Lab Scientist from Philippines based in Singapore. I am a husband to Aiza and a father to Cassy, my 7 year old daughter who will be the next marathon sensation. I am a believer, a foodie and a traveler.

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The Pinoy-Sg Runners. Reworded.

I was tasked to write something to introduce our Filipino running group here in Singapore where we took part as pacers for the Race Against Cancer which has recently concluded successfully on 30 July 2017.

Some snaps during the race.

and more from my pacer group..

 

Here goes the write up. Thanks Aidan Huang of RunSociety, it is basically a reworded version. No plagiarism issues here, original article below.

Meet the Pinoy-Sg Runners: A Club Dedicated to More Than Just Running

Started not too long ago in 8th¬†March 2016, the¬†Pinoy-Sg¬†Runners (PSR) have grown tremendously fast in number of over 300 members to date. The¬†Pinoy-Sg¬†Runners, as the name suggests, is a running group not only for the Filipino community in Singapore but is also for other nationalities ‚Äď locals or foreigners, who share the same interest in continually improving themselves in running or to supplement themselves on their other training programs, or even to those who only wants to adapt an active lifestyle. It is a platform not only for runners and athletes of different disciplines, but for all happy and congenial individuals across diverse Singapore.¬†

It all actualized when pioneer members,¬†Arnel,¬†Jayson,¬†Zel,¬†Onin,¬†Glenn,¬†Ricky, and MJ,¬†bound by a common enthusiasm and passion ‚Äď long distance running, discussed how their most recent race performance went and most of them came out with a common problem of hitting the wall at as early as the 28th kilometer of a full marathon. Driven by the bible passage in¬†Philippians 2:4, ‚ÄúLet each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others,‚Ä̬†the group that started on a Facebook conversation advanced to finally conducting their first meet up at¬†Yio¬†Chu Kang Stadium with few members assuming responsibilities to look after how they can push their limits further.¬†Arnel¬†leads conditioning and strengthening whilst Jayson focuses on speed workouts.¬†Onin¬†and¬†Zel¬†and the rest provides administrative support. From then on, the steadily expanding¬†Pinoy-Sg¬†Runners meet up regularly for weekly trainings catering to various levels and disciplines.¬†

Initially, the group gathered every Tuesday, 7 PM at Yio Chu Kang Stadium and eventually, with the purpose of properly aligning with the marathon calendar, the weekly workout session was moved to every Wednesday with the time and venue remaining unchanged. It is the routine of the PSR to thank the Creator for blessing them with strong and healthy bodies before they start their session. It is a value that Arnel (or Coach A) instills among the group that above everything else, it must not be forgotten to give thanks and praise to the Almighty and at the same time to ask for guidance as they train safely and without getting injured. It is immediately followed up by a short body loosening activity which is also fairly important before engaging to any heavy workout. Then the real training begins. First is a 15-minute warm-up run drill around the track. Second is a 45-minute workout session comprising of multiple exercises focusing on the lower body and core. The group believes that if you possess a strong body especially those muscle groups utilized in running e.g. legs and core, you can sustain and endure running a full marathon distance or even longer. A Yaso-800 and interval speed trainings are also conducted once a month, usually on the 4th or 5th week. A final quarter of an hour is reserved for a set of a cool down and stretching exercises. Concluding the workout session is a photo taking session which is innate to every Filipino. Every workout session ultimately sums up to loads of fun and silliness after the heavy workout as evidenced by pictures all compiled in an album at the PSR Facebook page. It is a very serious 2 hour workout session balanced by laughter. A regular long distance run is also being held every weekend on various locations organized for those preparing for an upcoming race. 

Aside from continuous improvement and setting higher performance bars without injuries, like other runners, the group also dreams big to as huge as qualifying for Boston Marathon. PSR also aims to participate into more charitable works in different ways, be it through running or volunteering, as a way of giving back to Singapore and how the Filipino community is welcomed and have become their home away from the Philippines. 

The before and after our pacer duty.

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Philippines’ Birds Eye View Through Running. Philippine Independence Day Flag Run.

*an overdue blog entry

It’s June and it’s my Lil’¬†Miss’s¬†school break and that means it is that time again to go back to my home country – our annual affair.¬†
 
As I am in the midst of training for Gold Coast Airport Marathon 2017, I decided to sign up for a local race to keep me motivated and continue training. I thought it would be literally cool to run in Baguio City, Philippines. A place I have always been in since childhood as it is just an hour away from my hometown but I never had the chance to run there ever since I picked up running. I have always wished to experience running there too after seeing a few of my brothers from Pinoy-Sg Runners (PSR) run there during their holidays. Baguio City is about 6 hours away from Manila, the capital City of the Philippines, by land travel and is situated about 50km above sea level. This city is tagged as the summer capital of the Philippines because of its year-round cold weather. It is the most popular non-beach summer destination among Filipinos if I am not wrong. 
 
The Philippine Independence Day Flag run was organized to¬†commemorate¬†the country’s 119th year of independence and it took place on 12th June, Monday on the public holiday itself. Though the organizer doesn’t have a website, signing up was easier than I¬†thought. A registration form simply needs to be filled up and sent back via email and payment was via bank transfer. I appreciate the organizer’s effort to reply to all my queries promptly within a day and even on weekends.

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The organizer. The blood line of Emilio Aguinaldo himself.

 
At a fee of 500 peso (S$15), I was entitled to a finisher shirt, a medal and post-race refreshments. Arrived an hour early at the event site at the Emilio Aguinaldo Museum, named after the first president if the Philippines, and found the crew still setting up. There was no loud music, no fancy lights nor banners. As this is my maiden local run, I have no way of comparing it except to Singapore races. Turn out of registrations were not as plentiful as in Singapore. No waves of flag off for every category. The 21km runners were flagged off first followed by my category, 10km. There were 5km and 2km categories too! From what I have heard, there were around 500 participants in all, mainly Pinoys and I saw a couple of Caucasians surprisingly. 
 
The earliest flag off¬†according¬†to the registration poster was at 4:30 AM¬†for the 21km category. There was a slight delay as they were actually flagged off at 5AM. Half an hour late but¬†I never¬†heard or felt a¬†complaining atmosphere. There were no time chips issued. One of the crews holds a stop watch at the start/finish line and from there the finish times were recorded. Knowing Baguio City, I expected a hilly route but I did not expect too much of it with steep downhill slopes too! There were no distance markers. My GPS watch is showing me only my pace and time on the 3 data fields. I¬†don’t¬†remember exactly what happened. There was a part where it was already bright at 5 AM plus but I can only see the red lights from behind the¬†marshal‘s¬†motorcycle due to the thick fog. There were so many sharp turns too! I was so tired and was shouting at times to catch my breath. There were about 2 hydration stops which is not bad at all as they offered¬†Gatorade¬†and water. I felt so bad as I see runners slowly overtake me along the¬†uphill. They looked so relaxed while I felt like stopping anytime soon, lucky I did not stop though I slowed down to almost walking. Cheerful volunteers¬†are¬†distributed¬†along the route¬†to¬†signal¬†the correct way and I am quite sure they¬†don’t¬†represent a certain distance as some are too close like less than 1km.¬†
 
The¬†post-race¬†“carnival” was also interesting. Similar to most races, you get to claim the finisher shirt packed together with the medal in a clear plastic bag with your name on it written on a small piece of paper. A small goodie bag was given too which I didn’t get to see what is inside as I reserved it for my Lil’ Miss. The best part was the unlimited warm coffee, water and “pandesal“- a local bread. It was a fun run indeed though I didn’t do well, I felt great still as I was able to support a small race on our very own national day. It was a¬†meaningful¬†cultural run worth my maiden local race remembering.

 

Check my other past race reviews.

Race Review: The Performance Series 2016, Race 4, Bedok Reservoir

Race Review: Newton Challenge 2016 [32km] 

Race Review: The Performance Series 2016 (Race 5)

Race Review: Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore 2016 [Full Marathon]

Race Review: Safari Zoo Run 2017 [10km & 2.5km Kids Dash]

Race Review: 2XU Compression Run 2017 [21 KM]

A Letter To My Mom on Mother’s Day

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Hi Ma, 
I hope you are doing fine. I know that, inevitably soon, you will completely forget me – my face, my name, who am I to you and who are the people I am with that I dearly love. I somehow regret the times that I wasn’t with you. Those times I spent away from you to study and work and explore the world. I wish I could have spent more time with you and had fun while you were more agile, while your legs can still let you walk tirelessly anywhere and while your brain still allows you to be filled with happy memories. Yes Ma, I am still your most loved youngest son who, at 31, still misses you and longs for your most comforting warm hugs specially at those times that I was feeling really down and low. I tried to look up at people on my immediate surrounding for some motherly figure but the truth is, none of them equates to your most genuine care, support and understanding.

Ma, your obvious wrinkles, your sagging skin, your deep tired eyes, your mixed layers of hair colors to cover up those silvery gray hair – all these proved how cruel life can get as early as 70, and with your worsening shaking weak knees sufferring from osteoarthritis, I feel it has shattered everything that you had simply given up on life just like that. I wished you could have been much more stronger just like how you have raised me to be, or at least you mind was. I wanted to cry. I wanted to shout. I feel apalled, amazed at the same time, sad and helpless at how you can share the same happy life event of yours repeatedly in a day, even in an hour. When you get agitated when you hear loud angry voices, oh Ma, I wish I could stay there beside you and remind you constantly how beautiful you were in those days at your wedding picture.

Ma, it might be too late now but I wish you all the hapiness in this world. You may not be able to remember piece by piece now but I pray that you will live your days with only the happiest memories. May God strengthen you always and give you the best of health if your memory can no longer be restored. Just live your life well Ma. Though we are oceans apart physically, and the barrier between us is more than the gaps I can ever imagine in this universe even when when the fact is we are only an inch away, we are forever connected through our hearts.

I am singing this for you Ma,

“Mama, I miss the days when you were here beside me
Mama, those happy days when you were here to guide me
Safe in the flow of your love
Sent from the heavens above
No one can ever replace
The warmth of your tender embrace
Oh, mama
Until the days that we’re together once more
I live in this memory
Until the days that we’re together once more”

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I LOVE YOU MA.
Happy Mother’s Day!

Isamar