Magic legs


I joined the National Geographic Channel’s 21-km run yesterday and clocked my PW (Personal Worst). Unofficial time = 3:46, haha! But I don’t feel bad at all. In fact, I feel great.

Imagine, these almost 50-year old legs crossed the finish line without any pain or cramping. Ordinary you say? Well, how about if I tell you that the last run I had was 62 days ago? Yes, I ran The Bull Runner Marathon on February 22 and then after that, NEVER laced my shoes again until yesterday.

And then about ten hours after that, I had to attend a formal dinner and had to wear heels. No problem.

Magic legs!


I think the magic is good for one run only. Diligence, I need you…..

Whew, I finally got my race kit!

I planned to get my kit during the marathon send off dinner last Wednesday. But while hubby and I were on our way there, a bus hit us on the left. P1090847P1090848

Race kit redemption postponed.

This afternoon, as I was on my way to claim it at The Athlete’s Foot at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), ¬†I car hit me from the back!


I had to go to the police station again and thought I’d probably just get my kit on race day. Good thing hubby came (my knight in shining armor) and took care of things. After 15 minutes, no more problem.

Off we went to get my kit!

At last!


S&R was just across the street so we felt like it was calling our names and whispering, “Come…have…a pizza…you deserve it…”

We couldn’t resist.

Garlic shrimp for him, cheese for me. Fat and carb loading!

All’s well. I got my kit and the marathon’s on.

Thank Godūüôā

How did I get into this marathon thing again? – the history

I was a sedentary, spend-the-whole-day-at-work-and-home person until…

4 years ago – I watched my brother join a run and saw how upbeat everyone was and so, the running bug bit me.

Photo credit: Pinoy Fitness
Photo credit: Pinoy Fitness

10 weeks later, I joined my first 10km run.

Rexona 10 km Run, July 2011

(Read stories here and here.)

3 years ago- I ran my first full marathon (See summary of my first year here).

Dream Fulfilled!  (Nephews Gab and Coy run with me to the finish.)
Dream Fulfilled! (Nephews Gab and Coy run with me to the finish.)

2 years ago-  I wanted some variety so I shifted to Filipino Martial Arts. I did very little running.

with my instructor, Master Cris Pasindo
with my instructor, Master Cris Pasindo

6 months ago- Hubby, conniving with our good friend JN and my sisters, Jehan and Sandi, ¬†registered me to The Bull Runner Dream Marathon (TBRDM) 2015. At first, I protested saying that I’m done with that marathon (which is, in case you don’t know, the first and only marathon in the world that caters exclusively to first- and second-time marathon runners.)

But a few days after that, I changed my mind and excitedly confirmed my registration by personally paying the fee.

Photo credit:
Photo credit:


After paying the fee, I trained…not.

4 months ago- hubby convinced me to join a running group coached by champion triathlete Jojo Macalintal (fondly called Jomac). He analyzed my form and technique and I learned that I had to change a lot of things¬†“Coach, I’ve been running the wrong way all these years!” I said. “Well, it’s not really wrong, it’s just not efficient,” he answered. Oh my coach, always mild-mannered and encouraging.

Mondays are for core training, speed ladder drills, and run techniques

Anyway, since my running was very inefficient, I was embarrassed to tell him that I registered for a marathon. I kept it a secret until..

1-1/2 months ago – I told hubby that I was backing out from the marathon because I felt that I was just beginning to learn how to run well. He sort of said “Okay, if that’s your decision”.

The next day he told coach. Instead of my expected “I-can’t believe-you-had-the-gall-to-think-you-can-run-a-marathon” reaction, coach shook his head and said¬†“Sayang naman. Maganda ang TBR. Kaya mo naman tapusin yun. Enjoy mo lang.” “Ahh, okay,” I nodded slowly, not really convinced.

Anyway, from that time on, he gave me a specialized training plan (actually, a cram plan) which I tried to follow diligently.

Mondays are for the drills. Tuesdays are for the actual runs
Tuesdays are for the actual runs. (Coach Jomac is the one in front wearing the Brooks shirt)

2 weeks ago- I ran my first organized run in 2 years. Before that I said that that 21-km run would be the gauge if I’ll push through with the marathon. And much to my surprise, I finished, not fast, but strong and happyūüôā. Read the story here.

Me with my sisters who ran their 3rd marathon
Me with my sisters Sandi and Jehan, here with their 3rd marathon medal.

And so today, Monday, at 9 AM I said, “That’s it, done with the last training drills before the marathon!”


What’s ahead:

  • Tomorrow, Tuesday, I’ll run one hour, easy.
  • Wednesday, 40 minutes, easy.
  • Thursday, 30 minutes, easy.
  • Friday, rest.
  • Saturday, 20 minutes walk plus dynamic stretches.
  • Sunday, MARATHON!

Do you think I’m ready? We’ll see.






Marathon’s in 13 days and here’s my workout

Since I’m already cramming, the plan is that I will have no taper and¬†the marathon will just be like a regular long run.

This morning’s workout:

I. Warm up – 1 kilometer slow run

II. Core workout – twists, rotations, leg raises, crunches, plank, spider.


III. Speed ladder drills

This part is high intensity. It’s difficult but I like it better than the core workout.

We use three speed ladders one after another and do something like this:

IV. Run

“This run should be much faster than your marathon pace so that you will be more flexible. Remember to breathe correctly,” said coach in his usual soft spoken manner.

I don’t remember how coach Jomac writes the instructions so I just wrote it like an algebra equation.

8 x {[(40 seconds FAST RUN+ 20 seconds SLOW RUN) x 4] + 1 minute WALK}

Four rounds of 40 seconds fast run followed by 20 seconds slow run. After the fourth rep, walk 1 minute. Do this 8x.

Total: 36 minutes.

That’s it for the day. The whole workout took 2 hours.

I felt great and couldn’t help celebrate the fact that I have strong legs! Oh yeahūüôā

Tomorrow, ¬†my assignment is a 2-hour marathon pace run with the last 10 minutes faster (“as if you’re approaching the finish line”).

Ok. Looking forward.

I just really have to sleep early  :)



Condura Skyway Marathon 2015, you stoked me!


ConduraMarathonHow it began

Three days before the Condura Skyway Marathon (CSM), I was doing some early evening grocery shopping when I got a text message from my sister Sandi telling me that she got me a race kit for the 21 km in Condura! “HUWATT???” I screamed by text. “I’M NOT PREPARED! MY LONGEST RUN SO FAR WAS 16KM! YESTERDAY!”

“You can do it. Just consider it a regular long run,”¬†came the cool response.

I didn’t know what to say… I was excited and scared at the same time….

I don’t know what came over me because in a second, I said,¬†“I better go home now and sleep!” I pushed my grocery cart faster because I wanted to sleep early so I can cram an early run the next day!

But the next day I felt that my legs have not fully recovered from my 16km run so I just walked for an hour or so.

“Que sera sera. What will be will be.” If I couldn’t finish the run then so be it. I was not too excited about it.

A few hours before the run

Sandi, and our good friend from Cebu, Rex, and I, decided to go early to Jehan’s house because it was near the race venue. On the table was a buffet of boiled camote and saba, whole wheat herb bread and butter, crispy pretzels, black rice, and chicken tinola. We also had had hot chocolate and milk. I had a bit of everything and then tried to sleep.



The three of them were to run 42km and their gunstart was midnight. So at 10:30, we all started preparing.

Inside my hydration belt were Gatorade and boiled saba.

I don’t know why we took so long but we were able to leave the house at 11:30! The starting line was probably just about 5kms away from the house but oh my, traffic was heavy as we were approaching the Las Pinas-Zapote road! There was a lone traffic policeman trying his best but the traffic was simple very slow. Three lanes were occupied by those going towards Zapote and that left only a single lane for us going to Filinvest. Jehan was driving and Sandi was getting a bit agitated.

“Han, bilisan mo!”

Jehan: Don’t worry there’s plenty of time…

Sandi: What if we just go down here and run to the starting line? We can let Inday drive.  (Inday is my Ilonggo name.)


Everybody: Groannnnnnn……..

Anyway, what happened was when we moved a bit, Jehan turned left on a ‘no-left turn” road and so we made it to the parking lot near McDonalds within minutes. The three of them went down and ran. I followed with my camera.

What I noticed first was there were lots of portalets. Rows of them and I tried one. Wow, are these portalets bigger than usual or did I just lose weight? Nice thought.ūüôā

On the left are portalets galore!

After watching a few waves released, I went back to the car and slept. I had over three hours before our 3:30 AM gunstart.

I slept soundly and at 2 AM, I woke up, went to McDonald’s and got a cup of steaming brewed coffee (I needed that) and a cheeseburger (I didn’t need that).


Anyway, because of that meal I was late for my wave ( C ) so I just stayed with wave H.

Anthony Suntay was the emcee and I liked him because he didn’t do those “trying hard to be cute and lovable” spiels. I guess it’s because of the grim situation we were remembering. ¬†For each wave, I listened as he gave the announcements and instructions:

699 race officials… 13 ambulances… 25 hydration stations…buddy system…If you need help… and,

“There will be 44 policemen each holding a photo of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) trooper who died. When you see them, please give a long salute.

Photo credit: multisport Philippines magazine

The run

When they released my wave, I ran, and before I knew it there was that SAF line to the left of the runners.

I continued running but saluted and looked at the line from my lateral vision. OH MY! It seemed to take forever! The line was long! Way too looooooong! Forty four is a lot! Too many died!

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Yes, many police and military men die in action but this case was different because there were just too many questions left unanswered. My tears fell and I wished I had tissue to wipe my nose. I realized that many policemen are underrated and under-appreciated.  I vowed to change my attitude about them.

Anyway, it was a great run. ¬†The skyway gives you a unique high. I was glad that it was well lit as my night vision is poor. I grinned to myself when we passed the toll gates. ¬†Wow, this is something you can’t do the rest of the year! Savor the moment!

Hydration stations were long and there were enough ice-cold Summit water and Gatorade for everyone. Very good.

The air was cool  and made more so by the soft wind from Laguna Bay. But I still got an ice cold wet sponge when I saw that there were lots and lots of them. I wiped my legs, arms, and faceРin that order! Using the same sponge! Hahaha! Yuck.

I did the run-walk interval  and felt strong. I thought I had a pebble in my right shoe but after a few kilometers, it was gone.  I thought that my ankles and shins hurt but after a kilometer or so, they were fine!

There were only a few distance markers. I suppose that’s because many runners now have those hi-tech gadgets with GPS that measured distance. Well, I didn’t have that so I just relied on the toll gates. Alabang…Sucat…Bicutan…and then the u-turn. Yay! It was still dark. My throat felt dry because of the cold but I didn’t mind at all. I felt strong and upbeat. I remembered phrases Coach Jojo Macalintal always used:

Run light.

Swift feet.

Mind your breathing.

Check your form.

But what really kept me up was the repeated remembrance of Sandi’s battlecry: “Finish Shtrong!” Ok, YOU try saying it without pausing between the words. FINISH STRONG!

See? Sandi has perfect teeth but the first time she yelled it, it sounded as if she had poorly fitting dentures. FINISH SHTRONG! It was so funny! And because of that I felt strong and amused. I ran faster towards the finish and more so when a woman who had more gray hair than I overtook me.

When I crossed the finish line I raised my arms and smiled a big smile. I was happy with my time and even thought that I could have done better if I snaked my way through those walkers who hogged the way.

Great run. Great run!

I got my medal from these Army soldiers increasing my runner’s high further.



Whereas before I was sluggish and wanted very little to do with organized runs, things have turned 180 degrees.

Condura Skyway Marathon 2015: You’re big and meaningful. You stoked me!








Our simply abundant kitchen

Auntie Joy, I can’t believe that you don’t have a toaster! It’s one of life’s greatest necessities!

My dear 15-year-old nephew was really surprised that we didn’t have one.

Well, we did have a toaster but gave it away when hubby and I started downsizing our home about two months ago.  I found a toaster redundant since I rarely needed to toast anything and when I did, I just used my skillet. (Sample video: How to make a grilled cheese sandwich.)

Taking inspiration from The Minimalists, hubby and I packed almost everything in our kitchen. Two large boxes were quickly filled with pots, pans, utensils, plates, mugs, pitchers, etc.  Then we just unpacked things as we needed them: We needed  bowls for our oatmeal so we unpacked them; I needed to cook noodles, so I unpacked my stockpot; and so on.

It’s been almost two months now and most of the stuff are still in the boxes. We didn’t need them. And I don’t think we will be needing them again. Now they are ready to be sold or given away. In fact, my mother-in-law already “shopped” from the boxes. She’s happy, I’m happy.

We don’t claim perfection but more often than not, ¬†we wake up and see our kitchen counters clear, our cupboards organized, and our pantry basic.

It’s visually appealing — looks bigger, neat, and airy.

It’s easier to clean, of course!

And thankfully, we have that feeling of abundance KNOWING that we have everything we need.

Ahhh…simplicity, you are good! Hubby and I like you.

Related articles from around the web:

What’s in a minimalist kitchen?¬†Check out her list and make your own.

Wash your bowl. This article is simple but very thought-provoking.

A no frills kitchen still cooks. A New York Times article on how to tackle the great challenge  of kitchen decluttering

How to live with just 100 things. This is a bit extreme but motivational.

My first trail run

What??? It’s November already? Time really flies when you’re having fun.

Well, well, well, I had my first trail run! And it wasn’t just in any trail, it was in ¬†Mount Pinatubo, the beautiful but at one time very destructive volcano. ¬†Running on volcanic ash and debris kept me alert the whole time and I totally enjoyed it!

I say this because, in road runs, I sometimes struggle with boredom and go on automatic mode putting one foot in front of the other.

Volcanic ash and debris (lahar) mixed with river sand. Some parts are soft, some concrete-like. Uneven. Interestingly challenging.

It was painful to remember how horrible this lahar was in 1991. Images easily come to mind: Hot lava, ash, rocks and boulders destroying lives, land, and properties.

Twenty-one years after, the  desolation is still evident. At least, plants have re-grown in many areas.

Blind runner Aga (with black cap) and his teammate and guide Gado impressively navigate the unpredictable.  Read about them here
This river rises when it rains hence the big bridge beyond.

Ninety percent of the run was in the river. Towards the end, we had to run single file through tall grass.

Icing on the cake: Finisher’s medal made of clay and lahar.

Yay! I’m almost 47 years old and I just had my first trail run! I think not a lot of people can say that.

So we had to celebrate…

A Mount Pinatubo replica. Three layers of different chocolate ice cream varieties, topped with chocolate chips and nuggets with overflowing chocolate and strawberry syrup, extending beyond the bowl.


In four days, I’ll run a trail full of memories

I blinked my eyes, surprised and confused at what I saw. My duty as a medical intern just finished and it was the first time in 24-hours that I went out of the hospital. ¬†This was in 1991 and we still didn’t have¬†cellphones, iphones, Twitter or Facebook. Most of us didn’t have cable TV with CNN either. ¬†So I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

Photo credit:

It was already eight o’clock in the morning yet the sky was dark and everything was covered with a white material I wasn’t familiar with. It was as if we had a snowfall. (Note: The Philippines is a tropical country and we NEVER have snow.)

Then I heard the BAD news: Mount Pinatubo, a volcano fifty miles north of Manila has erupted. That white material was volcanic ash.

Actually, there were volcanic explosions occurring since about two months back and people already started to evacuate. 

Maybe it was my youth or my very difficult intern job, but I wasn’t aware about those things.

On June 15, Saturday, Mount Pinatubo erupted.  Lasting nine hours, it was the second largest volcanic eruption on earth in 100 years. 

A giant cloud rose twenty miles in the air and spread a 2-inch layer of ash and sand over a 30-mile radius. The air filled with white ash so thick it reduced visibility to almost zero.

Photo credit:

¬†Look at this world-famous photo. I’m happy to say that the photographer lived to show it to usūüôā

Photo by Albert Garcia, photo editor of Manila Bulletin. He won the grand prize in the prestigious World Press Photo Contest, a first for a Filipino photojournalist, for his compelling shots of Mt. Pinatubo‚Äôs fury. This photo was chosen as one of Time Magazine‚Äôs ‚ÄúGreatest Images of the 20th Century.‚ÄĚ National Geographic Magazine included it as one of ‚ÄúBest 100 Pictures of the 20th century‚ÄĚ.

To make matters worse, we also had Typhoon Yunya. The volcanic ash mixed with rain and then carried by the wind blanketed Luzon, the Philippine’s biggest region. More than 800 people died and the economic destruction was staggering.

That day, June 15, 1991 became known as Black Saturday.

I remember this painful incident because four days from now, I will be joining the Mount Pinatubo Trail Run.

I’ve done a full marathon, four half-marathons, and many shorter races. ¬†But, this will be my FIRST trail run.

This is what awaits me:

Mount Pinatubo Crater. Photo credit:


The crater at a closer view. Photo credit:
River crossings. Photo credit:
Sapang Bato Trail, Pinatubo.Photo credit:

I’m glad I registered for this race. ¬†It’s going to be an extraordinary event I’m sure. For then we will run remembering that painful event in our history. More importantly, we will run appreciating how resilient the Filipinos are:

often hurt, but not crushed;

sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;

and though badly troubled at times, not destroyed.


If you are an athlete, would this excite you?

It sure excited me before.

Not anymore.

Let me tell you why.

About two years ago, I fell in love with running. Along with that came a love for buying everything related to it: shorts, shirts, socks, shoes, caps, books, magazines, etc, etc. It was so delicious seeing my collection grow.

Add to that all the free shirts and accessories given by the many races I joined.

Of course, I saw how overflowing my closet  quickly became: how I had to push shirts into the drawers because they could hardly fit there anymore and how I had to dump some of them on the floor before I could find something to wear for my morning runs.

I didn’t mind the stress. I was having fun!

Then  one ordinary day, I looked at the hodgepodge and told myself:


After a few minutes of sorting, I had tall piles of shirts and shorts. Those that didn’t fit or I didn’t like quickly filled up one large trash bag. They will be given to anyone who wants them or sold in a garage sale sometime soon.

I’m still left with a lot. I’m going through them again within the next few days to see which ones I can still do away with.

Meanwhile, my closet is neater and finding something to wear in the morning is easier.

And in a weird sort of way, now that I have less, I feel more abundant.



Related posts:

Only the useful or beautiful

Our simply abundant kitchen

Other interesting reads:

A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes by Joshua Becker

Project 333 by Courtney Carver. An experiment on how to live with only 33 items for three months

7 Steps to a Minimalist Wardrobe by Francine Jay

Favorite Clothes of Minimalists by Joshua Fields Millburn

Decluttering is like a marathon

My favorite place to run is UP Diliman and my route almost always takes me around the Sunken Garden.¬†Sometimes, there are sports and other events held there. But more often than not, ¬†it is empty like in the photo below… so serene and large… a very nice place to be in.

I guess a clean and empty space, no matter what size,¬† is almost always relaxing. At least that’s how hubby and I feel about our living room now. No, it’s not totally empty. But compared to how it was before we cleared it of clutter last week, it is now relatively empty. ¬†We L-O-V-E it.

And all it took was five hours of work.

Such was not the case when we started with our bedroom. We were overwhelmed! Nineteen years being married and about fifteen years in this house brought us A LOT OF STUFF! ¬†To think that over the years, we already threw or donated a lot of our things already. We finished decluttering our living room after just five hours. For our bedroom, it’s been almost two weeks now and we’re not done yet.

“It’s just like running a marathon,” hubby said. “We need to pace ourselves and not give up.”

One of the posters during hubby and I’s first marathon, March 2012

Haha, we’re not about to crawl nor give up! Seeing how wonderful the the small areas we have cleared so far is encouraging.

Decluttering cannot always be be like a sprint where we just clear and clean everything in sight and then finish after a short time.¬†It’s persevering, pacing and keeping our eyes on that glorious vision: A clean and truly relaxing bedroom.

No, this is not our bedroom. I wish it were! But we want something like this: clean straight lines, few but quality furnishings, concealed storage, and ZERO CLUTTER.

We have a long way to go but we’ll get there. I know.

Related posts:

Only the useful or beautiful



Only the useful or beautiful

For the longest time, hubby and I were irritated with the clutter in our living room. Sports equipment, magazines, books, freebies we got from conventions, and many other small items were eyesores. ¬†“What a mess!” we would often say. We didn’t like it. ¬†We were embarrassed by it. But for some strange reason, we didn’t move a muscle to address it.

Then one morning,  Super Typhoon Lawin forced us to stay at home.  A little depressed with the situation, we wanted to do something productive. Miracle of miracles, we faced the despicable clutter!

Our mantra was:

Needless to say, after about three hours, almost nothing remained.

It took ¬†three hours to clear the mess and another two hours to clean up the dirt and grime. Oh my, five hours! That’s all it took! How many days and weeks have we sat in our living room, annoyed by the mess but didn’t ¬†do anything about it? Why oh why did we wait that long???

Short answer: We were distracted and lazy.

BUT NO LONGER. There’s fire in our butts to clear and clean now.

Getting rid of clutter was so freeing. We loved the sense of peace it gave us. Really! ¬†That living room we’ve always thought as small and unpleasant literally transformed into a spacious, relaxing one for us.

And it’s all because we threw away things that were useless and ugly.

Now we’re having a home makeover! Clutter in the other rooms are also being attacked.

Nice, very nice indeed.

How about you? What’s your experience with clutter?


Related posts:

Decluttering is like a marathon. How decluttering our bedroom almost overwhelmed me.

Enough. I decluttered my closet, yay!

Here’s an article with clear and easy to follow tips:¬†How to Declutter by Leo Babauta. In his words, “Be merciless!”

Typhoons are proving to be blessings in disguise for me. Read about one that helped me become a runner HERE.

How to become an early riser

First, let me make two things clear.

  • Rising early is only good IF you were able to get enough sleep.¬†Late to bed and early to rise¬†does not work. I know that for many people, it‚Äôs a sign of industry. But no, lack of sleep has many disadvantages.
  • 7-1/2 to 9 hours is the recommended sleep length. Unless one is really very tired, sleeping longer than that can make one sluggish and slow. As in most everything else in life, MODERATION is the key.

As I related in a previous post, starting the early to bed and early to rise habit with going to bed earlier did not work for me. Going to bed when I was not tired or sleepy resulted in many hours of lying in bed, feeling bad about not falling asleep.

The solution is to work at it backwards. Start at waking up early. Then that will make you go to bed early.

How to become an early riser 

  1. Set your alarm clock to your desired wake up time. When it goes off in the morning, get out of bed. Absolutely NO hitting the snooze button. I found that those extra 5, 10, 15 minutes were poor-quality sleep and do not help at all.
  2. As soon as you shut off the alarm, leave the bedroom. Turn on the lights. Open the windows.
  3. Take advantage of the extra time.  Don’t wake up early just to open your Facebook or watch TV. Start your day right. Do your prayers, exercise, prepare your breakfast, etc. Do something pleasant and beneficial.
  4. Do this seven days a week. After a few days, you will settle into a natural rhythm that’s best for you. When you get to the point that you wake up before the alarm goes off, you know you have arrived.

In a nutshell: Get up at a fixed time every morning and then at night, go to bed only when you are too sleepy to stay up.

It worked for me. Want to give it a try?


Read more about this series: