Monday, August 28, 2017

Mt. Mayon Triathlon Race Recap

Taken from the plane window. Beautiful Mt. Mayon

2 years ago, my husband raced the Mt. Mayon Triathlon. I was with him then as a supporter, spectator and cheerer. He had just come from the Cebu Ironman 70.3 race a week before but still managed to snag a podium finish despite the "uphell run rout" and "hilly bike ride." 
This year, the organizers made this race an ASTC race sanctioned by the Triathlon Association of the Philippines so my husband and I (despite the last minute decision), registered for this race. 
We arrived in Legazpi City in the early morning of Saturday. Went straight to the inn where we were booked. Since check in time was still at 2PM, we decided to unpack and set up our bikes in the lobby.
As soon as the bikes were set up, we decided to head on to the swim area, try out the water and try out our bikes as well. There were a lot of athletes when we got to the swim start area. All trying out the waters. After that, we had a quick breakfast before heading back to the inn. Thankfully, even if it was not yet 2PM, the frontdesk lady allowed us to check in. My husband and I were both hungry for sleep by this time. So we settled in and took a quick nap. We woke up just in time for a late lunch. We prepped out bikes and then went to eat.
In the afternoon, we checked in our bikes and then attended the race briefing.

The next day, we were up early. Drank a cup of coffee and then headed out to the starting line. We got there just in time to see the choppy waters. The elite men and women went first and we age groupers still had about an hour to wait before our gunstart. We got to watch the junior elite athletes race, a lot of whom were teammates and friends of our eldest son. We had a blast cheering them on.
15 minutes before our gun start, my husband said we had to head on over to the swim warm up area. It was an area not too clean but we made do with whatever space there was to warm up a bit. I don't think I am ever able to warm up properly before a race. 
The women were the 1st wave. After getting some pre race tips from my husband, it was time for us to start. As soon as I got into the water, I knew I was in for a horrible swim. Given the fact that I am not a good swimmer and the water was choppy with strong current, I tried my best to stay focused albeit the waves that kept smashing into my face every time I would try to do some sighting. I saw my husband pass me and I wanted so much to tell him to swim with me haha! I finally finished the swim leg in 44 minutes (horrible time).
As soon as I got to T1, I saw that none of the bikes of my ladies in my AG were there. They had all gone ahead and I had no idea how far ahead they had gone. As soon as I got on my bike I grabbed my gel, ate and hydrated. About a kilometer into the bike, I told myself I had to make it a point to pass at least 15 ladies to make sure I was not to far behind. I started counting on the 2nd kilometer. At about the 10th kilometer, I saw the hills we had to climb on the bike. Knowing I hardly had any saddle time I shook my head and laughed to myself. I was on verge of 'relaxing' up the hill before I remembered that I loved the hills! I took a big gulp of water and then started pedaling harder. Sometimes I forget how I love the climbs. I started to pass other ladies and continued counting. After the turn around point, it went really fast. The closed roads made the ride enjoyable and safe.
I entered T2 with the sun blaring on us. There were a number of bikes already racked but I had no more time to spare to count. I just knew that if I exerted effort on the bike, I would need to exert even more on the run.
The Mt. Mayon tri run route IS the most challenging route, this is the claim of the organizers. Initially, I was intimidated but then again, remember I love the hills. I exited T2 with cramps. I was laughing to myself and telling myself, "what did you expect?!" I ate 1 more gel and stopped at the 1st water station.
My initial thoughts were, there was no way I was going to catch up with anyone anymore. But because the mind is our greatest enemy, I had to remind myself to dismiss that thought. So I ran. 2kms into the run, I met the fastest female in our age group, I cheered her on and told myself that I had to push harder. I started to see other ladies along the route. On the first hill, I passed 2 ladies. I continued to dig deeper and reminded myself to stay focused. As I always do, I keep my eyes on the ground when I run to avoid any other possible distraction. I stopped at every water station to drink and to pour ice water over my head. Because this route was not a looping one, I never saw my husband on the run. By km 7, I knew I had just 1 more hard push to go before running to the finish line. It was mid morning by this time and the heat was a bit too much already. 
I passed the last water station and knew there was just 1 kilometer to go. I sucked it in and just maintained my run. When the finishline was in sight, I picked up the pace and tried my best to hold it. 200 meters to the tape, I saw my husband cheering for me. He was in high spirits so I assumed he did well on his race.
I crossed the finish line grateful as always. As usual, I had an awful swim but I was able to pick up quite a bit on the bike before managing a strong (not really fast) run.
I lift my eyes to the hills,
from where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
who made heaven and earth
Psalm 121:1-2
















Thursday, August 24, 2017

Blogging

Many years ago, I found my ultimate therapy in blogging. I used to write here. I cannot believe I started my first blog over 10 years ago!! I met so many amazing friends on the blogsphere. Sadly, most of them have stopped blogging. Bu I am happy Susie still blogs (check out her blog)! But with the dawn of facebook, instagram and even twitter I sort of lost my love for writing lengthy discourses. I visited my old blog and read through a few of my entries. I am still surprised at how much time I put into writing down my thoughts and feelings! While reading, that is when I remembered how much writing was my outlet back then!

Many things change. Over the years, I have learned to be more silent. Even with myself. In my younger years, I always had the urge to say something, to voice out everything IN FULL DETAIL (hahaha). Now a days, I find myself praying a lot and talking to myself more and I actually find comfort in it. But yes when I decided to start this new blog a few months ago, I must say the love for writing just came back so naturally.

I would have wanted so much to continue with my old blog but guess what, I have aged! I no longer remember the email I used and the password!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Heart Issues

After a while, you lose your interest. You lose your interest in just about anything. There is a certain lull and you cannot quite pin point where it came from. But the thing is, it is a calm lull.
--
After 13 years in the corporate world, I suddenly found myself losing the fervor for what I loved the most -- my work. At one point, I had it all planned out and written down. By this age I needed to be at the position, after this number of years I wanted this kind of work assigned to me, at this age I envisioned myself sitting in the board room part of the execom that would meet every Tuesday. At one point I had it all planned out. So yes, I wanted to know where all that had gone. It took me a while to figure it out and while I was figuring all that out, it was a very uncomfortable feeling. It was bothersome and downright worrisome. I felt I was not wearing my own clothes. And I wanted so bad to get rid of that feeling.
--
Waiting on God is not easy. It never was and it never will be. That is a fact of life. We are human and human as we are, we want instant gratification. That uncomfortable feeling I had lingered on until one day that lull came.
--
When nothing is happening, we can either panic or remain calm. There was a certain calmness in the lull. I had embraced the routine and accepted it as a fact that could not be changed. On days when there would be excitement, I would get excited. On uneventful days, I would just let the day pass. I realized, I was no longer looking for the thrill and the high of smashing my work day.
--
I asked myself, is this good or is this bad? I cannot quite remember when how or why I found myself asking that question. I would have let it pass but on that day, after a very long time, I wanted an answer. The days passed. Months. Years, a few.
--
The answer came around 8:30 in the evening while I was folding the laundry exhausted from the mornings workout, work demands and just washing the dishes after dinner. It was like a huge hammer hit my head and banged so hard on my skull that I found myself just bawling in pain. After years of denial, I finally came out and said I no longer loved my work.
--
A grumbling heart is an unhealthy heart. It is sinful and does not glorify God. I figured that's where all my pain came from. I was no longer comfortable with my sinful, grumbling heart. I needed to get rid of it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday Night Thoughts


The thing is, I'm still trying to figure out this whole athlete thing. Three years into the sport of triathlon and I know I am still in store for so much more.
An athlete when I was younger, being exposed to martial arts-- Taekwondo pretty much opened up my eyes to this competitive sport. In college, when having a boyfriend seemed more exciting, I decided to give up the sport I loved so dearly. I grew up kicking and punching and doing core workouts everyday.
Years later, in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle, I found myself running. Then ventured into biking before finally mustering up enough courage to enroll in learn to swim class, at 34 years old. And because old habits die hard, I knew in my bones I wanted to sign up for races and get it done.
Today I have embraced swim bike run as my antidote to the daily stress I face. I enjoy it a lot. I don't have a big training group, I do not even have training buddies. I train alone most of the time and I enjoy that as my being alone time since I find it a good opportunity to really zone in in prayer. Yes. I run, I pray. I bike, I pray. I swim, I pray.
Sometimes I feel like I totally smashed the workout and get so giddy and excited. You know that feeling when you end your track workout as if you were going to stand on the podium at the Olympics? Or you end your bike workout and know you got the yellow jersey at tour de france. There are days however when you just end up wondering what the heck went wrong? There are days when you just cam't seem to find enough energy to put on your shoes, walk out the dorr and finish your run.
On race day, sometimes you feel unprepared but end up nailing it completely. On some days, you walk to the starting line with full confidence and end up crossing the finish line wondering why you cramped the whole run through.
Often times I am tempted to think. Overthink. Analyze and over analyze. I love to do that. I obsess about the details. I try to track back everything and try to put all the pieces together. Well I used to at least.
Until one day it dawned upon me. At 35 and with my current level of fitness, I am in no way on the path towards becoming a PRO athlete. People like me, athletes like me are called Age Groupers. In the world of age groupers, there are the fast ones, the faster ones and those close to the PRO level. I don't think I even fit into any of the above categories. I figured I am an athlete, yes I say that with confidence, who day in an day out decides to be a better version of who I was yesterday. In pursuit of excellence, I decide to wake up everyday thankful for the energy and fervor I have to learn more about myself when I swim, bike or run. I have embraced the fact that there will be days when I will be victorious in my quest to be stronger. But there will be humbling days too when I will know how little I am and I will have to completely embrace that too.
I once said, "Running humbles me. It reminds me of who I am and who God is."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Take Me Back-- When?


Dreams. They come true. Through constant prayer and seeking God.

The day after my last day at work, my family and I were on a flight en route to Portland. It was a family trip we never imagined possible. There we were on our 14 hour flight excited and eager not knowing what to expect. Unlike most US trips Pinoys take, we decided as a family that we would not be state hopping visiting relatives and friends across the US. This did disappoint most if not all of my Moms relatives but we just did not have the money to cover all of the inter state flights.

We set camp in Portland at my cousins house and we stayed there for a month. We lived there for a month. After kicking off the jetlag, we found ourselves building a routine which included cooking, house chores and swim squad for our 2 older boys. My husband and I ran and biked almost everyday and would be at the pool at least 3 times a week. We did the groceries, cleaned the house, did errands. On weekends, we did quick trips up the mountains, the lakes or the beach.

We also made a trip to 'the happiest place on earth' where the kids had the best time of their lives riding on each ride at least 2x!
I never imagined ever visiting the US with my whole family. There were several instances during our trip, while folding the laundry in the middle of the day when I would find myself in awe, tears rolling down my face just speechless and in disbelief of how awesome God truly was. We as a family were just so overwhelmed by His grace that brought us through.

It's been a month since we got back home and we have pretty much settled back into our regular routine -- except that I no longer rush to work in the mornings HAH! But I can't help want to start dreaming again. Too soon?


Saturday, August 12, 2017

PRAYER

There is absolutely nothing to boast about. Just that I would want to put into writing that prayer has become a HUGE part of my life these past few months. Not that I have never prayed or that it was not a part of me. Just that in the past, I would pray when I needed it the most. Or put it in a better way, prayer used to be my 2nd resort or even sometimes, my last resort.
But of late, prayer has become this constant thing in my life. I am truly grateful for that. There would be times when I would look for someone I could rant to or I would send a message to a friend when I had awesome news I wanted to share but after these conversations, I would feel empty. One day it hit me. God was just waiting for me to talk to him, for Him to be my first 'go to' for good news OR bad news. Rather for good news AND bad news.

Jeremiah 29:12
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you

Friday, August 11, 2017

An Athlete's Mom


I have a son, my eldest, who has embraced the sport of Triathlon with a big heart and bigger dreams tucked in it. Pre National Team membership, he started doing the sport 'because the rest of the family was doing it.' Really, we had no idea the consistent training and fun racing would eventually lead him to what he is doing now.

Just like any other thing, I suppose you are never really prepared for what is in store for you. Or you never really comprehend what is to be expected until you are right in the middle of it- living and breathing it.

Parenting an elite teenage athlete is heartbreaking to say the least.

The teenage years are a period in the life of a child where they tread through rough waters and go through experiences they would rather not have to deal with but have to. Cap that off with pressure, expectations and a high demand for focus on the sport. If not handled properly, this could be the perfect recipe for disaster.

This was a first for all of us so again, we had no idea what to expect. As the days went by I started to slowly get a grasp of what we were in for.

There'd be days I could see it in his eyes. He wanted out. He was ready to throw in the towel. And deep inside me I was torn between telling him to keep fighting or giving in to what he seemed to want at that very moment - to give up. What? What do I say to a 15 year old kid who just wanted to be a 'normal teenager' stuck busily snap chatting or playing on line games versus hard sessions in the pool inhaling the chlorine or burning his tires on the road and pedaling hard. There would be days, good days when he would cross the finish line strong and would tell me he loved his sport. What should I say? Congratulations you're the best or keep working hard for more of days like this one?

And then I was faced with the 'letting go' part. It is something I still have not fully embraced and I think I never will. There would be days or even weeks when he would have to be gone from home. Off to a training camp miles away or across the ocean to some other country. Every time I would see him off, all I could see was an image of him when he was 6months old. How could I let this baby go? Fly out alone and pretend I would not think of him for the next 2 weeks while he was away??

But everyday, I am grateful. No one thought this possible but God gave it to us.

Everyday we are learning trying to journey with our son. We struggle and we often fail but we always get up together. On painful days, I try to put up a brave front. When I am alone, just like now, I cry. I pray. I never cease to pray because Gods grace is all I can ever depend on to get us through each day.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Beginnings


4 years into the sport of triathlon and it has almost always been SBR everyday - Swim, Bike Run. My kids have also embraced the TRIlife. It has been a journey like no other I must say.

Last week though, after much prodding, my youngest son joined his first ever football practice. After seeing a poster in his school about a private football club practicing every Saturday at a local park, I finally said OK for him to join -- on the agreement that he will do football on weekends but swim during the weekdays (after class). He agreed.

Come Saturday, he was giddy with excitement. All prepped and ready to roar in his trying hard football get up haha. Because most of our sports outfits are for swim bike or run, we had to make do with whatever dri fit shirt we had, basketball looking shorts, long socks and running shoes.

This football thing was completely new to me. The smell of chlorine was not there, there was no tartan track to run on and there was no need for a helmet. I sat down and decided to enjoy the view. My new view.

--

Sitting there, I was given a lot of quiet time to reflect and think. I sat on the ground - grass, pine needles and all and took in a breath of fresh air.

It has been 2 months post corporate world and I must say I have been enjoying the less rigid schedule a lot. I would not say I have had so much free time (which I thought I would have once I because a SAHM) because SAHM'ing is a lot of work too!! A few days ago I found myself laughing and shaking my head and telling myself that really, we humans are just never content! There is never enough time and it is so easy to say that because it is so true. I no longer rush to work every morning to make sure I don't clock in late but then the chores and the errands and the other to do's just replace the 9-6 time I used to spend in the office.

Just like any new ride, I think I am far from concluding anything at this point. Although I have not felt any regrets yet about my decision to leave my profession of 13 years, I find myself wondering what is next for me a few months from now. I understand the growing needs of my family, those of my children most especially but I remind myself that more than the financial needs I know they need so much more than that. After years of working to provide financially for the family, I have come to understand I can provide so much more than that to them.

--

So I sat there, enjoying watching my youngest make new friends. Witnessed his effort to contribute to teamwork. I smiled seeing him laugh and enjoy while playing football. It was a refreshing sight.

You don't need new shoes to go somewhere new.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reality

Sometimes if not always, you are never prepared for whatever it is you planned to prepare for. You know? You plan and plan. And plan some more. You plan so much more. And on that day you are to execute, you find yourself looking for THE plan. Where did the plan go? Or what happened to the plan?

Planning often takes time. You have your drawing board, brainstorm on the steps to take, try to eliminate all possible negative or adverse possibilities, set goals and in the spirit of optimism, write down your desired outcome. Planning. It is a painstakingly tedious process.

The problem with planning is you can become so obsessed about it to the point where you lose sight of your end goal. And by losing sight of this, we find ourselves face flat on the ground when we are faced with the inevitable -- missing out on the end goal itself.

So should we still plan? I believe so. Lest not forget of the end goal.

When You Say Nothing At All

First Impressions Last. Do they? There are studies that support that  saying  and like it or not, there really is a huge truth to it. Hu...