Q) Why did you pick up running only at 47?
A) I was motivated by vanity. I had put on a lot of weight and realised that I was not able to fit into most M-size clothes, unlike before.
When I had children, my thinking was: Why should I continue to stay young and fit?
I was forced to start running several years ago as my boss wanted all the staff to attend a running session on Mondays. We did just 2km, but I was left breathless. When my company increased the distance to 4.3km and I ran the first 4.3km run, I immediately thought of giving up.
Then, my younger sister, who is a regular runner, persuaded me to participate in a 10km run. My life changed after I completed that race in 2011. I have since signed up for many runs that are 10km or more, together with my sister and friends.
Q) How important is it for you to keep up with your fitness routine?
A) Running is part of my lifestyle. I run at least three times a week.
I also want to maintain my fitness and endurance level so that I am always ready to join overseas running events if an opportunity arises.
Q) How do you motivate yourself to keep going?
A) There are times when I don't feel like doing anything. That's when it helps to be in a training programme.
It is also good to sign up for races to motivate yourself to work hard.
I joined a running group two years ago and and get to train with talented runners. Seeing how they train really hard to fulfil their dreams and how they find satisfaction in running fuels me to do better each time.
Q) What's your advice for others who are keen to start running?
A) Simply get out of your comfort zone and start slow. Do a little bit more each day. A slow progress is definitely better than none.
Life can be fabulous even if you are in your 50s; you just need to start now. We don't have to compete with younger runners, we compete only with ourselves. You just have to ask: Am I any better today than I was yesterday?
I feel that my life became more fulfilling after I started running regularly. You have to complete the run no matter what and you do learn a lot about yourself through running.
Q) What's your secret to looking fabulous?
A) It is a natural thing that will occur when you feel happy, confident and when you live life to the fullest.
Q) Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?
A) That was in my late 40s, when my weight went from 55kg to 63kg. I wasn't exactly fit before that as I did not exercise much. However, until then, I had always been slim.
Q) What is your diet like?
A) I eat a simple breakfast, which can be a peanut pancake and a cup of Milo with Anlene milk powder.
I usually snack on nuts and seeds.
For lunch, I will have two portions of vegetables and a portion of meat. Dinner is usually yong tau foo or a plate of hor fun.
Q) What are your indulgences?
A) I love a McDonald's McSpicy chicken burger, dark chocolate and ice cream.
Q) What is the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness?
A) It was participating in the Sabah Adventure Challenge in April 2014, where runners have to complete 100km in three days.
We ran on different terrain, climbed mountains, crossed a few rivers and camped out for two nights. We also ran in the rain and in the darkness of the forest.
I completed the race successfully with the help of my husband and my team-mates.
Q) How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?
A) My husband used to cycle with his friends but he is more into running now. We train with different running groups. As I post about my training regularly on Facebook, my friends are inspired by me and see me as their role model.
Q) What are the three most important things in your life?
A) My family, my health and my foam roller, which I use to relieve tense muscles.
Q) What's your favourite and least favourite part of your body?
A My big eyes and my big bottom.
Q) Would you go for plastic surgery?
A) No, because I cannot allow artificial things to be put into my body.
Q) Do you think you're sexy?
A I don't think so, but my friends have complimented me on my long legs.
Ms Yap, a personal assistant, once spent a lot of time playing mobile games and watching TV dramas. That changed about four years ago, when her weight hit 63kg. The kilos piled on after she turned 40.
"Encouraged by my younger sister, I enrolled in my first 10km race - the Sundown Marathon - and completed it," she said. She went on to compete in longer races, including a full marathon a year later. She has taken part in about 50 events so far.
Last year, she was named Singapore's Youngest And Fittest Looking 50+ in a beauty contest organised by Vitamin.sg. She said she joined the competition to encourage other women to adopt a healthy lifestyle. "It is never too late to take the first step," she said.
She and husband John Chai, 54, have three children, aged 19, 20 and 22.
This article was first published on March 02, 2016.
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