Sunday, October 26, 2014

My First Half Marathon-- the Rexona Run 2014

I just finished my first half marathon and the fulfillment is tremendous. Before this, my farthest was 16 kilometers, so I was really nervous running a 21 kilometer distance. Aside from that, my right leg was also uncomfortably sore. I ran up and down 40 flights of stairs three days ago in my attempt to make my legs stronger. I guess that wasn't a very good idea. It was different from my usual running exercise and I ended up using different leg muscles.

After the Rexona Run.  :-)

The first few kilometers was a challenge because I still wasn't fully warmed up when the race started. I dragged my legs with each step I took and started doubting and questioning myself.  Why was I running 21 kilometers in the first place? Can I really finish the course?

Once I was warmed up, the course became enjoyable. I ran on a steady and rhythmic pace. And possibly with a smile on my face. 

Then suddenly there were flyovers. My goodness was I scared. When I started the race I told myself that I wouldn't stop running no matter what and I stuck to that. Uphill was hard-- my legs felt like rubber. I ran very slowly yet I still passed those who chose to walk. Downhill was harder-- the impact was stronger (compared to running on flat or uphill grounds) on my knees whenever each of my feet landed on the pavement. I knew I had to be more careful so I wouldn't injure myself. If my memory serves me right, there were a total of three flyovers. The uphills and downhills combined with the distance introduced new kinds of pains in different parts of my legs and feet. 

A little over the 12th kilometer, I had to stop and quickly loosen the laces of my shoes. The pair of running shoes I had on fits me perfectly, but as the salesman in Runnr repeatedly told me it should be a size bigger. Big mistake on my part for not listening to him. I guess at that time my feet were all swelled already and shouting for more space. Sadly, loosening the laces didn't do much.

On the last few kilometers, on top of having piercing pains on both my feet, my legs started to have minds of their own. I knew deep inside my heart and mind that I can easily finish the last kilometers. However, physically my legs and feet were saying no. I had to remind them that we could do it-- that I would take care of them and to please do not give up. Might be weird, but yes, I had to communicate with my legs and feet.

The whole race which I finished in 2:50:12 was not just a physical but a mental test. It was believing right from the start that I could finish the whole 21 kilometers and pushing myself on reaching that goal. I constantly reminded myself to be careful with each step I took. Or else I might had pulled a muscle or got cramps. I had to be focused on what works for me in terms of speed and not be pressured by the other runners. It was really surprising at times when an unfit-looking person was faster than me. I also learned to enjoy the energy from the other runners. There are different kinds of runners I encountered: leisure runners-- those who run with their barkada and stopped in music tunnels for photos; newbie runners-- like me; regular runners-- those who basing from their form run frequently; competitive runners; senior runners, etc. All are very inspiring but the senior ones are the most-- if they can do then I can do it also!

Around 1:30am before leaving for the Rexona Run

Saturday, September 13, 2014

On being healthy and taking care of my body

Is my body healthy because of  these newfound habits I've listed below?

1. Drink 1.5 liters of water daily

2. Eat a bowl of oatmeal daily (high fiber for good digestive health!)

3. Hit the gym for an hour, two to three times a week

4. Run a total of 10 kilometers a week

5. Quit smoking

6. Drink alcohol moderately

7. Sleep 6 to 8 hours a day

But I still eat all the junk food I want because I will burn it off anyway. 

Three years ago, my habits consisted of: 

• Smoking at least 10 cigarettes a day; up to more than a pack if I go out drinking at night. Oh, and I also started the habit when I was 13 years old. Ugh.

• Going out to drink any day of the week. I loved mixing beer and hard drinks. 

• Not sleeping. Getting rest was not something I needed. I can function perfectly at work and be competitive in sports even with just 2 hours of sleep. 

I have since quit doing these things. 

However, to my surprise, my harmful lifestyle still caught up with me despite my new healthy practices. A few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with cholesterol gallstones and had my gallbladder removed. Prior to diagnosis, I had to go back and forth to the hospital to find out what was causing the piercing pain in the upper right area of my abdomen. The pain attacked sporadically but it was very distressing. I was hospitalized for four days and had to skip seven days of work.

What causes gallbladder stones? According to my doctor, it may be hereditary or the person's lifestyle (most specially diet). In my case, it was the latter. Like what I said, I don't hold back with what I eat--sisig, pork chop, liempo, crispy pata and bacon are just some of my favorite go-to foods--and I used to go out and drink a lot. If it isn't obvious already, my favorites are pulutan dishes.

It was a wake-up call for me to be mindful of what I eat and what I do to my body. Now I know that I can't make up for binging on non-healthy food and beverages, and the chemicals from cigarettes. I have smoked too many Marlboros and drank too much Red Horse beer already. But I am still hopeful that by living a continuously improved lifestyle, I can still reverse the damage I might have done to my body since I was 13 years old. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Affordable Denim Blouses, Long Sleeves and Vests

I was in SM Megamall the other day and decided to visit one of my favorite stores – the Surplus Shop. The whole mall was on a denim sale and, as always, Surplus Shop had a good selection of affordable pieces. I ended up buying three tops as I had always wanted to get a denim blouse. I only spent a total of P1,399.25! 

Semi-fitted long sleeved denim blouse, P499.75
This top is best for casual wear and really cute if paired with khaki shorts. 

Slim-fitted long sleeved denim blouse, P499.75
This would pass for a funky office top and be stylish if paired with a pastel skirt. 
Hip denim vest, P399.75
This vest would surely liven up an ensemble if topped over a girly sleeveless dress or tank top. 

There are more options available at Surplus Shop, so be sure to get your denim dream now! Remember: Surplus Shop merchandise is fast moving. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Siem Reap, Cambodia--affordable yet awesome place to visit

Siem Reap is simply charming. It is easy to fall in love with the place--very tourist-friendly (almost everything is affordable and everyone is approachable) and has interesting history and architecture. We stayed there for five days--a bit tight if you want to explore all the temples and ruins, but just enough to see all the main attractions. 

Our trip was scheduled first week of July. It was really hot then. I suggest loose- fitting tops and bottoms. Note that you can't wear shorts, tank tops and slippers in some temples, so just be prepared and bring cover ups, closed shoes and long pants. 

For airfare, we only paid P6,091.40 for one round trip ticket. Cebu Pacific Air has good airfare deals every now and then--always keep an eye out for those. 

For accommodation, I used to research and reserve the best hotel given our budget. I opted for Somadevi Angkor Hotel & Spa since based on the reviews--and we actually experienced these--it had a good location (near the night market), international breakfast buffet, free wifi, nice swimming pool and friendly and helpful staff. Rate per night for a double deluxe room was $50 and that already included two daily breakfast buffets and airport transfers. We really enjoyed our stay in Somadevi Angkor Hotel & Spa--highly recommended!

Below were our activities in Siem Reap. Given the length of our stay, I think we spent our time wisely and were able to visit all the must-see places. 

Visited temples 

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bantaey Srei, Chau Say Tevoda, Phnom Bakheng, Phnom Krom, Pre Rup, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm

We hired a tour guide for our first day of temple exploration. It was a good idea since it served as our introduction and briefing about the many temples in Siem Reap. Hiring a guide is easy because there are lots of them-- the hotel people have a list and travel agencies are all over the place.

Our first stop was Angkor Wat. It is really big-- enough to get you templed out in 30 minutes. 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
A corridor inside Angkor Wat temple
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
More photos from our guided tour. 

Continuous restoration of the temples

The majestic tree  in Ta Prohm
The person in front of me is Khemra, our tour guide.

We also went up Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset. The sunset we saw was not great, unfortunately. 
Tourists waiting for the sunset at Phnom Bakheng
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng

Visited Cambodia Landmine Museum

We hired a tuktuk for half a day to go see the museum and some more temples. I definitely recommend tourists to go to the Cambodia Landmind Museum. It is very educational and featured the landmine situation in Cambodia. 

Pre Rup-- one of my favorites--is not as crowded as the other temples. 
Pre Rup

Banteay Srei--love the details of this one

Inside Banteay Srei
Rode the bike

On our third to fifth day, we already felt like we really belong in Siem Reap. We rented bikes to visit even more temples. It was more fun to go around Siem Reap on the bike because we managed our own time--it was more leisurely. Plus, biking is cheap-- a dollar or two to rent a bike for the whole day. 

That is Angkor Wat behind us.
To the temples!
Discovered more temples that are not usually visited by tourists

We also biked to the floating village, but decided not to go see the actual village.  Tourists we met on the way there said it is no good. 
On the way to the floating village
Waiting while my husband put air in his bike tires

Dined, shopped, and hung out in the pub street and night market

Pub Street at night
Walked around the Pub Street alleys
Tried the popular Cambodia pizza
Yummy pizza
Chicken Rice--simple yet very delish and filling

Here is the summary of our daily activities:

Day 0: 
Arrival to Siem Reap, night time

Day 1: 
Rested for half a day
Booked tour guide 
Explored pub street and night market

Day 2: 
Whole day temple tour c/o a tour guide, with sunset viewing

Day 3: 
Hired a tuktuk to visit more temples and the Cambodia Landmine Museum
Biked around Siem Reap 

Day 4: 
Biked around Siem Reap and to the floating market
Visited more temples
Swam in the hotel pool

Day 5: 
Biked to explore more temples 
Went back to the Philippines, night time

I suggest visiting 2 to 4 temples (depending on size) in a day. Or else, there is a higher chance of failing to appreciate the history and details of the temples. During our last days, when we explored on our bikes, we were lucky enough to feel the calming energy from some of the temples. 

I hope everyone will enjoy Siem Reap as much as my husband and I did. Before we even left the place, we know already that we will be going back soon.