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 us 🙂

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’s fury. This photo was chosen as one of Time Magazine’s “Greatest Images of the 20th Century.” National Geographic Magazine included it as one of “Best 100 Pictures of the 20th century”.

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

Kick My Butt!

I told you that I love running, right? Yes.

I also told you that I couldn’t wait for the rains to stop so I could run again, right? Yes. (Read about it here.)

Well, today the rains stopped and the sun shone brightly.

Did you run?

Uhmm…well…uhmmm…. no.

Huwatt?!? WHY NOT?!?

Well,  Sir Isaac Newton will tell you why:

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1721)
Photo credit: Wikipedia

If a body is at rest it remains at rest or if it is in motion it moves with uniform  velocity until it is acted on by a resultant force.

There, he said it.

Again, but simpler now please, Sir:

A body at rest, will remain at rest until something pushes it.

See? My behavior is completely understandable. I’m bound by the First Law of Motion!

Ok, whatever… (rolling of eyes)….WHO AM I KIDDING HERE?

What I deserve is a good kicking.

Here, (talking to myself),  I’m giving you ten BIG kicks!

1.  You said you didn’t want to be a slow runner anymore. Do you want to mosey to the finish line again? (Read what you said here.)

2. Every kilometer that you run burns roughly 100 calories. Think of that next 5-km run as a  slice of your favorite cheesecake.

Caramel cheesecake
Photo credit:

3. The first ever Philippine Marathon is two months away. It’s going to be historical. Do you think you can hack it?

4. Your family is looking. Be a good example.

5. You don’t want maintenance medications for high blood, cholesterol, or diabetes, do you?

6. You can have a massage after your long run.

Photo Credit:

7. You can wear any dress you like if you become slimmer.

Photo credit: Plains and Prints

8. Remember that you always get a good mood after running.

9. Hubby likes it when you sweat, you know that.

10. You’ll be having your 3oth high school reunion in about ten months, correct?

MaSci Batch ’83.
I’m on the 3rd row, 5th from the left.

I rest my case.


Now, where are my shoes….?

How about you, friends, what kicks work for you?

How a Typhoon Did a Good Thing to Me

My oh my, Typhoon Gener’s wind and rains really battered us.  Just look at this photo taken only this morning. Yikes!!

Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay, 1 August 2012, 8:30 A.M.
Photo Credit: Twitter/Myra Bansale

Reminds me of those bad times with Typhoons Milenyo (Sept 2006) and Ondoy (Sept 2009).

There’s another typhoon that I remember. Falcon, June 2011. It was also big, ugly and destructive.

Photo credit: Pagasa

Yet out of that ugliness came  a good thing: I became a runner.

Huh? Let me tell you how.

In April 2011, just because I saw how fun it was to join an organized run, I had the gall to sign up for a 10km run six weeks out.

Photo credit: runner’

I figured that six weeks was enough time to train, never mind that the last time I ran was probably thirty years ago! I was banking on the fact that I could survive a whole hour of hip-hop dancing at the gym.

Despite that gungho attitude, I procrastinated — la di da di da…

Eleven days before the MIM, I finally started training. I was surprised that I could only cough out 3.3kms on the gym treadmill!  Walking, much more, running required a different kind of fitness.

Photo credit:

One week out, I went to UP Diliman for my first ever walk-run outside the gym. Yucks! Procrastination to the max!

Hubby didn’t want me to join the MIM anymore. He was worried that I was so ill-prepared. “Positive thinking alone is not enough”, he said.

Deep inside, I knew he was right but felt that it was too late to back out.

Two days before the MIM, Falcon arrived. The metro was wet and flooded.

Photo credit:

No choice. The MIM was cancelled.

That gave me another four weeks to train before the next race.

On July 24, 2011, when I ran my first race, I was stronger and more prepared. I had a great first time experience.

Feeling confident a few minutes before the start of my FIRST RACE

If  the MIM pushed through, I would have had  pain and disappointment. Most probably, too discouraged to ever want to run again.

In this light, I thank God for Falcon. It did a good thing to me.


Related Posts:

The Best and Worst of Running, Year 1

Now, What’s a Runner to Do?

A Waterworld Prayer

15 Best Running Advise I Heard, So Far

  1. Register in races so that you will be pushed to train. Fear is a great motivator.
  2. Run early in the morning. Work, family, and social activities make it hard to run consistently in the afternoon or evening.
  3. Training is mandatory. Positive thinking alone cannot give you a good race.
  4. Always be prepared to grab a run.  Have your running gear in your car.
  5. Buy the right shoes.
  6. Charge your ipod.
  7. Don’t use running as an excuse to be absent from work, church, or social obligations.
  8. Start slow.  Too much, too soon is counter-productive.
  9. If there’s a portalet without a line, use it even if you don’t feel like going yet.
  10. Take note of your form when you run.
  11. Drink a sports drink if you are running for more than 45 minutes.
  12.  When it rains, wear your cap or visor to keep the raindrops from going to your eyes.
  13. Remember your petroleum jelly. Chafing is not a joke.
  14. Consider using tampons.
  15. Post race: Hydrate. Nourish. Ice.  Rest.  Sleep.

The Best and Worst of Running, Year 1.

Whoah! Time really flies when you’re having fun. It seems just like yesterday when I joined my first official race, the Rexona Men Run (July 2011).   On August 12, I’ll run it again. I’ve come full circle. Thank you very much, LORD.

I must have enjoyed races so much because in a span of thirteen months I joined 17 races! Yes, 17!

  •  5 kms (3) – Adidas KOTR, Run United 3 and Nathan Ridge
  • 10 kms (10) – Rexona Men,   Run United 2, Earth Run, Jose Rizal Run, Fam Run, QCIM, Run Against Leukemia,         Nike Run, Children’s Rights Run, Fit and Fun Buddy Run
  • 16 kms (1) – PSE Bull Run
  • 21 kms (2) – Condura and Milo
  • 42kms (1) – The Bull Runner Dream Marathon

Seventeen runs, each one has a story of its own. To help me put some order to them, I made a list of some details that stood out:

Happiest Prerun Atmosphere: National Geographic  Run 2011. I was just a spectator but was completely entertained by their lights, music and fireworks. This high prompted me to register the very next day for my first race.  I told the story here.

Happiest Overall Race Theme: Run Rizal. Celebrating Rizal’s 150th birthday, they had bands, big drums and marshalls and some runners in Filipino costumes. The loot bags were made of banig. Very Filipino. Very festive.

Drummers pump up the runners at the finish line.

Running Idol:  Susan Lafferty, also a midlifer runner.  She says that she  averages  only two marathons a year but is always on training.  Last March, along with her 21year old daughter Kirsten, she finished the Antarctica Marathon in 6: 09 under brutal conditions: subfreezing temperatures , winds up to 70kph, ice storms and  angry penguins.

Susan in blue, cheering us first time marathoners, just 5 hours after arriving from her Antartica Marathon.

Most Difficult Race Course: Nathan Ridge Run at the Tagaytay Highlands. It took me 59:23 to finish 5kms. Going uphill and downhill were both killers!

The hills were steep! But the fog and the view lessened the agony, somehow.

Most Painful Race: Nike Run Manila at BGC. I registered for 10km but had to drop out at less than 2kms because of a left shin splint.

Best Loot Bags: The Bull Runner Dream Marathon and Robinson’s Buddy Run. My arms got tired from carrying all those groceries.

Biggest  Race I Joined: Milo 2012;  more than 38 thousand runners.

Favorite drinks: Gatorade first, ice cold Pocari second.

Least favorite drink: 100plus because of its fizz

Biggest  Moment: My podium win. I won 3rd place in the 10km Female Division of the Run Against Leukemia  at UP Diliman (Sept 2011). Never mind that there were only four female 10km runners hehe.

Race organizers giving me my prize (a mug and P1000). Not bad, not bad at all! 🙂

Greatest Achievement:  Finishing a full Marathon (that’s 42.195kms!)

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

Favorite magazines: Runners World US and  Runners World Phils.

Least Understood Running Style: Barefoot Running

The shirt explains it. Uh, i still don’t get it.

Best Practice Venue: UP Diliman Academic oval. It  is a 2.2km loop around the Sunken Garden . It’s practically flat, nicely paved and tree-lined.

The canopy of trees make it cool to run even late in the morning.

Hatest Training Element: Hills

Favorite Race Organizer: Runrio. Although their races are more expensive than most, they provide the best care for runners. Very organized, always.

Favorite Prerace Meal: Banana, cereals, soy milk and coffee.

Favorite Midrace Fuel: Bananas. Gels make me feel like choking.

Glucose, Potassium, Vitamins, etc, etc. (PSE Bull Run Jan 2012)

Favorite Post Race Meal: Chocolate soy milk;  Rice and eggs.

Favorite Personal Photo:  Hubby and I after our first marathon.

At the Bull Runner’s Dream Marathon 2012, Nuvali, Sta Rosa Laguna, Phils.

It was a good year. I’m thankful.  Cheers!

Related Posts:

How a Sleepy, Middle-aged Non-Athlete Became a Runner

My Favorite Sports Print Ads

I love This Ad that Hurt Me

I Love This Ad That Hurt Me

I should have included this in my previous post, but couldn’t because I’m still confused with the buttons of WordPress. Never mind. On second thought, this ad deserves a post of its own.

As many of my friends know, I finished my first marathon in more than seven hours. I was was ecstatic for conquering the distance never mind the fact that I walked more than I ran.

Needless to say,  when I saw this ad a few days after that marathon, I was HURT.


I thought that the message was brash and insulting.

What did they mean? All runners should be fast? Is there no place for slow runners like me? Run like an animal ehhh?

I vowed never to buy Pearl Izumi. How arrogant of them!  I finished a marathon, that’s more than good enough!

Several days after the marathon, I began to train again for the next runs.  I realized that I was still disturbed by the ad. Its message kept coming back.

The marathon is a race meant to be raced…the marathon is a race meant to be raced…

That’s the trouble with running, one has lots of time to think.

Slowly, something happened. The more I thought about it, the more I saw their point. Maybe they are right.  Deep inside I knew that if I put more heart into it, I could have finished earlier.  In this ad’s words,  I moseyed to the finish line.

The hurtful, arrogant ad transformed into A POSITIVE CHALLENGE. They have a point. They may be right… I think they are right….

Now I dare say, this ad is  my inspiration.

I will try my best. I will give my all. I WILL RUN LIKE AN ANIMAL! Roarrrrr!!!


P.S. You might like these links:

Click here to watch how the fastest animal on earth runs.

A homeschooling mom discusses how a cheetah metaphor can help us educate our children better. Click here.

How a Sleepy, Middle-aged Non-Athlete Became a Runner

It all started with National Geographic. Yes, the TV channel. They put up a race, my brother Sam joined, and I watched. Yup, that’s it. So simple but the experience turned around my life big time.

I’ll backtrack for a while: As a child, I was not athletic and my phys ed teacher always made me the left fielder in our softball games (somewhat similar to baseball). Of course he didn’t say it, but now I know why. It was because no one in my class could hit or throw the ball hard enough for it reach the left field. Most of the time, I just stood there watching the game. I didn’t mind. I didn’t want anything to do with sports anyway. Sleeping was more interesting to me.

That indifference stayed with me until that fateful day in April 2011, my 45th birthday.

It was before dawn when we arrived at the race venue. I was immediately caught up by the festive atmosphere – runners chattering, an emcee pumping everyone up, bright lights beaming and upbeat music blaring. Some runners looked serious while doing their warm-up exercises. Others looked as if they were just having fun at a family get together.

The run that changed my life, and I was just a spectator!
Photo credit: Pinoy Fitness

There were about five thousand runners and they came in different ages, shapes and sizes. In my not so humble opinion, many looked older and less fit than me!

Then the emcee announced that the race was about to start. “RUNNERS ARE YOU READY?!?  A video wall beamed the countdown. 10…9…8…7….3… 2…1…GO!   The gun went off and the sea of runners charged forward, amidst loud music, cheering and fireworks! It was merriness mixed with nervous excitement. I liked it!

I waited at the finish line, witnessing the joy of each runner as they crossed the line that signaled their success. Sam finished 21km in about 2-1/2 hours.

It was my first time to be in such an event and I was totally entertained…and inspired.

So inspired was I that the next day, I registered for the Manila International Marathon (MIM) 6 weeks away. Never mind that I haven’t run a single km yet.

Two weeks before the MIM, 3.3kms was all I could walk on the gym treadmill. Good thing, for me at least, the day before the marathon there was a typhoon and the MIM was cancelled.

That gave me four more weeks to prepare for next run, The Rexona Men.

So, on July 24, 2011, I had my first run, finishing 10kms in 1hour 22 minutes. Slow by most standards but I felt like Usain Bolt!  I wanted more. I couldn’t wait for the next run.

The smile was small and tired, but the feeling was “I just ran 10kms, what else can I not do?!”

Wanting to repeat the  high over and over again,  I registered to at least one race a month, propelling me to run several times a week to prepare for them.

This sleepy middle-aged non athlete has become a runner. What a makeover.  🙂

More reading:

Benefits of Running

Effects of a Sedentary Lifestyle

Is Running Bad for the Knees?