Life in the Fast Lane


Hi, reader/s!

(Are you still there?)

I do apologize profusely; I have now come to the conclusion that I'm a terrible blogger. (By the way, I'll touch on my thoughts about the word "blogger" later in this entry.)

Sadly, my posts are becoming more and more infrequent, and, truth be told, half the time, I don't know what to write about anymore. I've become way too reliant on microblogging in the form of Facebook statuses, Instagram captions, and tweets; ironically, however, I'm extremely talkative on those social media platforms.

It's not that nothing's been happening lately. I just lack the discipline to collect my thoughts and write them in this kind of format. And, you know, make them appear *engaging* and *interesting*.

Anyway, with this unnecessary disclaimer out of the way, I guess I'll go ahead and write about what's been happening. No running theme, no cohesion here; just old school-style journalling.

After my last race in early June, I took a break from racing (and training for a race).

Regent 5150/Sunrise Sprint Triathlon last June 4, 2017

My body was tired (not that I was doing long distance races, but balancing my training schedule with my full-time, highly demanding job, became exhausting after a while). I was burned out from the repetition of doing swim/bike/run almost every day of the week, and I needed to recover.

I decided to go on this self-imposed break to give my body some time to rest, to heal, and to miss training (even our tri team captain told me that it would be good for me to do this, precisely so I would want to start training again once I've recovered). In the meantime, I was encouraged to try other things.

Which I did.

I took several boxing classes and even invested in my own gloves and wraps.

Elorde Boxing, Celebrity Sports Club

I tried indoor climbing (my first time in what felt like forever).

Climb Central Manila, Greenfield District, Mandaluyong

I went on several hikes.

Mt. Balagbag, Rodriguez, Rizal

Taal Volcano, Talisay, Batangas

Mt. Manabu, Sto. Tomas, Batangas

And I rekindled my love affair with photography, entering the micro four thirds world of mirrorless cameras.

Olympus Pen with an 8mm fisheye lens

But I still did some light triathlon-related training every now and then; just not as religiously and intensely as I would if I were training for a particular race. It was also timely that my sister got herself a mountain bike to cross-train for her hikes. So we biked together fairly often.

Marikina Riverbanks

I've been enjoying myself the past few months. Even without intense triathlon training, you could say that I'm still very much still physically active. I've also enjoyed the fact that I didn't need to wake up at 4am for a long run on a weekday and that I didn't need to feel guilty whenever I missed a workout.

It's been a good break.

On the thyroid end, however, it has been a wild roller coaster ride.

Around early July, I noticed that my neck started to swell almost overnight. Pardon the next photo, in case it disturbs you.

Hello, swollen neck!

Since the thyroid gland is located within the neck, I needed to undergo several tests to determine the cause.

It turns out that I developed a form of goiter related to hypothyroidism; the complete opposite of my thyroid condition, which was hyperthyroidism. Because, at the time, I was still on a high dosage of thyroid medication, my TSH level swung the other way towards hypothyroidism.

My doctor told me to stop all my medication to see if my TSH would return to the normal range. Thankfully, after a month, it did, and my neck likewise returned to its normal size.

I am still off medication until today, but my body has been rebooting itself big time. From a high dosage to no dosage (cold turkey), it's been crazy; we're talking sleep problems (sometimes I sleep so well; other times, I wake up every two hours at night), menstrual cycle issues (without going into too much detail, let's just say that my periods now happen more than once a month), slow to fast metabolism, palpitations to steady heart rates, etc. etc.

My doctor did, however, give me the green light to resume training for races, should I decide to join one; in fact, she's curious to see if my thyroid will cooperate, sans medication, given the same intensity and frequency in training.

I'm supposed to go back in October for a follow-up check-up to figure out the next step/s (whether to resume medication and how much of it I should be taking, or if I should still be medication-free). Praying that all continues to go well and that my body will sort itself out ASAP.

Aside from the changes taking place within my body, there have also been changes at work (I'm now with a new team in a different "division", if you will), changes in lifestyle (in way), and changes at home.

So far, the year 2017 has been one of perpetual adjustment on seemingly countless levels. Talk about trusting and depending on the Lord on a daily basis. But I continue to praise Him for His faithfulness despite all the challenges.

Bit by bit, however, I have started to train purposefully for triathlon once again (as mentioned in a previous entry, it's my outlet, especially when things get out of hand). I've missed it, and I feel that I'm ready to start preparing for a race again. I'm just not sure of what the next one is as of now since I haven't signed up for any.

However, my body is the one that needs to tell me when it's good to go. When my cycle is out of whack, or when I feel tired/listless, I blow the whistle and skip training for a day or two. I have now accepted that I can't control everything, so when my body is up to it, I train; when it isn't, I just don't.

Easing back in with my favorite sport of all, swimming!

I really hope to go back to regular training soon, assuming my body cooperates, and even sign up for a race in the near future.

Before I end this, though, I've been thinking about the word "blogger" for some time now.

Once upon a time, when it was practically the only form of self-expression on the Internet, blogging was widely accepted as a hobby that welcomed everyone. You had the likes of Angelfire, Xanga, Blogger, LiveJournal, and later on, WordPress to get you started. You didn't need to know how to code (you could choose from a selection of free templates); neither were you required to be an amazing writer. Anyone could be a blogger.

Nowadays, the term seems to be reserved more for those who monetize their blogs; those who serve as influencers.

Gone are the days when just about anyone could start blogging. Yes, anyone can still blog, theoretically speaking. However, today's bloggers curate their blogs: from the look to the themes of their posts to the photography. The sought-after bloggers are those who write about specific themes consistently in most of, if not all their entries; they have their own niches. (Just look at the difference between a present-day tech blogger's blog versus that of a lifestyle blogger; a blogger from 10 to 15 years ago would have been able to blog about both topics without a care in the world.)

Those niche bloggers who gain a large following are then tapped to be influencers for brands. Hence the sponsored posts.

So now I wonder, if you just want to blog for blogging's sake, can you still consider yourself a blogger?

Or has blogging really and truly morphed from a hobby into a career/profession?

While I don't know the answer to this just yet, I'd still like to call myself a blogger — without all the implications that come with the word in 2017.

So blog away, I shall continue to do (hopefully with more regularity in the succeeding posts!).
I am rarely in the south (specifically, the Alabang and ParaƱaque areas) since I live all the way in Quezon City. And with the traffic Metro Manila faces daily, it's an odyssey just to get from Point A to B on an almost hourly basis.

But on Sundays, I'm usually willing to make the trip. Especially because I have dear relatives who live in the south.

And now, I have a bonus reason to do so.

In the past weeks, some Facebook friends have tagged me in posts related to Decathlon Philippines, telling me that they're sure I would love it there. I told my sister, our family's resident hiking enthusiast, about it. She was so excited to check it out that we found ourselves in Festival Mall, Alabang, on a Sunday.

As soon as we saw the store from afar, my sister and I started to flail like giddy schoolgirls, and we brisk walked toward the entrance. When we were in, I stopped for a minute to take in how huge it was. Think S&R (for those who have been inside one), or the likes of Target, etc. — actually, just imagine one giant warehouse — filled with different kind of sports-only items, in shelves divided by sport.

According to the website, there are at least 70 sports represented in any Decathlon branch around the world.


My sister immediately helped herself to one basket that you could later roll on two wheels (should you start to fill it to the brim and feel its weight, haha!).

We split up and I decided to check out the different sections, agreeing to meet at a certain time. She stayed mostly in the Hiking, Trekking, Camping, and Climbing sections.

First, I went to the Biking Section. Decathlon's flagship bike brand, BTWIN, was on full display with a decent range of bikes: from mountain bikes, to road bikes, to commuter bikes, to children's bikes.

What I noticed immediately were the prices of the items. They were quite affordable, enough to rival the prices of some Taiwanese bike brands seen in many bike shops today (i.e. Trinx). You could get a decent mountain bike for about PhP 10K, and a starter road bike for PhP 17K. Their bike accessories were really cheap, as were their apparel, and I walked away with a floor pump for PhP 600 (one that I could actually use, without huffing and puffing my life away).

Next, I checked out the Swimming section. Again, I was happy to see the range of products available for training and racing: from goggles, to kickboards, to swimwear, to training fins and more.

But what piqued my interest was this. I have a pair of graded goggles from Speedo (yes, my eye grade is now 300; go, me), and when I saw that Decathlon carried their own line, I needed to buy a pair. After all it was just P400. This blew my mind. My Speedo pair cost me more than four times the price!

I can't wait to test this pair. Of course I'll be checking to see if it really doesn't fog up easily, and if water doesn't enter the goggles. But while trying it out in the store, I was amused to see how clear the lenses were. I don't imagine myself using this in races, but if this can serve as a decent back-up pair for training, that will be amazing.

I spent the most time in the running section (just because I didn't have enough money to buy more things for cycling, to be honest; HAHA). They had their own range of trail running and regular running shoes called Kalenji. Most of their running apparel also carried the Kalenji brand name.

I got myself a pair of running shorts (pictured above), compression socks (only for PhP 900; their competitor brands go for at least twice this price), and sweat-wicking tank tops (only for PhP 180 each!). Whew! 

Meanwhile, my sister went bananas over the different things she could buy for hiking or trekking. Her favorite purchase? A pair of hiking boots for only PhP 1,800!

Their tents, hiking backpacks, and pretty much most of their apparel were really, really affordable. And from the look and feel of things, their quality and build seem to be at par with their competitors.

Here are two other sections that I took pictures of — out of the many, many that I didn't get to take.

What I also appreciated was the fact that the people who work in the store are all involved with different sports/fitness activities. They actually use the products that the store carries; they literally walk their talk. In fact, the attendant in the Running section said that he used three pairs of Kalenji in a recent 160K trail run event that he competed in; he switched pairs at the first 50K mark, then the 100K mark, and used the third pair for the last 60K. Whew!

If only we could've shopped some more, we really would have. At least we know where to go next time we need something for our own respective sports/interests. We also now know our sizes when it comes to their tops, bottoms, and shoes, so we know what to look out for the next time we're there (or if we decide to order online).

My sister got several things for hiking and climbing (from gloves, to a fleece jacket, to leggings) as well things for biking, since she now cross-trains with me (namely, a pair of padded cycling shorts and shades). All were well within budget, too.

Now that we had a lot of stuff in our basket, it was time to remove those that were unnecessary for the time being. We had two elimination processes. Hahaha!

Yes, our basket was filled to the brim with our joint purchases! But I promise, we were able to remove a bunch of stuff that we didn't need just yet.

Before we knew it, it was time to pay up. The lines were quite long, but each transaction went by pretty quickly and smoothly. It was nice to see so many people buying things for their chosen sport/s; proof of how Filipinos are slowly integrating fitness into their lives.

What was blatantly missing, though, amidst this sea of different sports/fitness activities was a section dedicated to my beloved TRIATHLON. Please, Decathlon Philippines, get on board the tri train! Even if there are sections for swimming, biking, and running, there should be at least one half of a shelf dedicated to triathlon that could carry things like wetsuits, transition bags, trisuits (sleeveless, aero, one-piece, two-piece), transition baskets, and other things triathletes would need apart from the separate disciplines of swim/bike/run.

But I did come home with at least one item per discipline, as seen below: goggles (swim), floor pump (bike), compression socks, tank tops, shorts, and arch insoles (run).

While I have brands that I support, and brands that sponsor my triathlon team, it's good to know that I can buy the other things I need for training (not necessarily racing) and cross-training (i.e. I've started boxing, hiking, and even wall climbing, now that I'm not in training for a particular race), and that the items carried by the store are of good quality at affordable prices. After all, this is the vision of Decathlon Philippines, which they seem to be pulling off quite well; at least for now.

I hope that they'll expand to include even more sports, bring in more items, and maintain their budget-friendly prices. I look forward to seeing their growth and expansion (can the next branch be in the north?) and seeing even more Filipinos adopt a lifestyle of fitness.

P.S. Except for the last photo, the rest were taken with my new-old/secondhand Olympus Pen. Yes, I added another camera to my photography line-up and I'm happily experimenting with it at the moment. Should anyone choose to use any of my photos for whatever purposes, kindly contact me first.

P.P.S. This is not a sponsored post; how I wish it were, however!
I was given the opportunity to write about my relay team's Ironman Subic 70.3 experience last March in the April-June issue of RaceDay Triathlon magazine. And over the weekend, in another race (Subic International Triathlon), where the magazines were being distributed, I was finally able to read it for myself.

Giddy with glee with Krissy, after finally seeing the published issue

Thank you to RaceDay for the opportunity (particularly, editor-in-chief Monching Romano); to my teammates for letting me share this story; to our other teammates for all the encouragement; to the Lord for this blessing; and to my family and friends for all their support.

Below is the article I submitted (prior to editing; for word count purposes, LOL):

exclaimed Kacci, as her clammy hand took mine shortly before we claimed our race kits last March 11, the day before Century Tuna Ironman 70.3. We walked inside the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) where every nook and cranny of the venue screamed triathlon. From the huge branded banners and tarpaulins, to the line of triathletes waiting to register, to the expo booths, it was a sight to behold.

For first-timer, and even more-than-once-timer triathletes, any race is bound to make you feel antsy, jittery, and excited. And in our case, we were a bundle of different emotions as we checked in for the race.

The cast of characters making up our all-female relay team were myself, a former competitive swimmer; Elaine, a mountain bike hobbyist-turned-road cycling fanatic; and Kacci, a gym rat whose running potential was only discovered last year. Rounding up our Poveda Tri Team contingent was Krissy, our teammate who wasn’t signed up for the race, but acted as our support crew for the weekend.

Tri Influence
Each of us already had prior race experiences before signing up for this event; we had done individual sprint triathlons and relayed in different long distance triathlons and Ironman 70.3’s, with one of us even joining her first marathon earlier this year (and crossing the finish line as the first female finisher). However, this was the first time that the three of us would relay together. “It’s our birthday race!” Kacci would remind us, being that our birthdays were close to one another’s.

None of us ever imagined that this would become our lifestyle: regular training, monitoring what we’d eat, and signing up for races. Like most age groupers, each of us has day jobs with varying degrees of toxicity and stress. However, as our team continued to grow through the years, we were recruited at different times based on our “specializations” to form multiple relay teams; eventually, the goal was for us to learn the other sports and become full-fledged triathletes ourselves.

Eyeing the Competition
“Siya ba yun?” whispered Elaine during the race briefing in SBECC. We looked around us and saw the different teams clad in their tech shirts. Given what we knew, we tried to analyze the competition in the all-female relay category. Admittedly, we had high hopes for our team and our individual performances, but we also tried to manage our expectations. Weeks before this race, each of us encountered different setbacks: I was diagnosed with a thyroid condition, Elaine came down with the flu and couldn’t train for several days, and Kacci was injured after her marathon. But none of these hindrances stopped us from recovering, getting back into training, and raring to give this race our best shot.

We tried to relax and enjoy as much as we could the rest of that day before the race. We had a laidback afternoon of shopping, meeting up with people, and fangirling over the pro triathletes. After an early dinner in the hotel, we laid our things out on the hotel room floor to visualize what we needed for the following day. And since Krissy also does RockTape services, we had ourselves taped, just in case any of our injuries decided to manifest themselves while racing.

None of us slept well that night. I worried about whether or not I would hit my target time and about the swim course. Elaine was freaking out over the highly technical bike course as well as its sheer length, plus the heat. Kacci was antsy over the idea of running in the middle of the day and if she would also hit her target time. Each of us had projected times that we wanted to fulfill and all the uncertainties were daunting.

Moment of Truth
It was 5am when Krissy (our designated driver, photographer, and sherpa), Elaine, and I made our way to Acea. As we drove to the beach, we felt the chill in the air and I hoped that this temperature would last all the way ‘til noon for the sake of my relaymates. Elaine went to T1 to check on her bike while Krissy and I stayed in the car. Eventually restlessness took over, and I decided to check out the action on the beach. Elaine met up with us briefly before we parted ways so she could prepare in T1. At the height of my nervousness, Krissy and I were given the rare treat to actually meet Caroline Steffen, who had placed her bag beside mine on the sand. This fangirl moment definitely gave me a boost before heading to my coral in the swim start.

Initially, I had wanted to position myself with faster swimmers in case I could keep up with them, but after a bit of an internal debate, I chose to join those with similar times as mine. The swim was — thankfully — painless in the washing machine department. It was also long, choppy at times, but relatively easy. The sun hitting my eyes on my way back made me drift away from the rest of the group, but after getting back into position, I found my groove once again and managed a PR swim.

Yours truly after my 1.9 kilometer swim
Photo © FinisherPix

It was an uphill run towards the relay tent, and a slow one since I got lost zigzagging through all the bikes. Once the timing chip was turned over to Elaine in T1, I prayed that she would have a safe and injury-free ride.

When we transferred to T2 at SBECC this time with Kacci, we started to monitor the female relay cyclists who were already making their way back. “Pang-ilan na ba siya?” Krissy would ask, referring to the cyclists who had passed their timing chips to their runners. Every now and then we would look at our Garmins, wondering where Elaine was along the bike course. When she didn’t return at the time she projected she would, we started to worry. But we breathed a sigh of relief when we finally saw her and the timing chip was turned over to Kacci in almost no time. Elaine spewed her frustration over the insane heat, the crosswinds, and the “unli-ahon” from SCTEX all the way back to Subic.

Elaine in T2 after her 90K bike leg
Photo © Tina Araneta

Minutes later and after Elaine’s outfit change, we walked over to the finish line, knowing more or less when Kacci would head back. By then, we were already seeing a few all-female relay teams running together to the finish. Likewise, Kacci also didn’t make it back at the precise minute she projected, but she wasn’t far off considering the heat and hilly Subic run course. To our surprise, we saw her smiling from ear to ear, her ponytail bobbing in that signature way it does when she runs, and we proudly held hands all the way to the finish line before we let Kacci cross it first.

Kacci in the middle of her 21K run leg
Photo © FinisherPix

“We did it!” Kacci exclaimed giddily.

Crossing the finish line as a relay team
Photo © Photo-Ops/Tong Pascua

That, we surely did, after all those months of anticipation and preparation.

The Hangover
Days later, the high of our “birthday race” is still there; it was meaningful because of the overall experience, but also because we had bonded intensely by updating each other every single day before the race. We may not have taken a podium spot, but we were happy with our performance and learned so many lessons. We also felt really grateful for the support and care Krissy provided us throughout the entire race weekend, as well as for the cheers and prayers from our teammates, family, and friends back home.

After crossing the finish line
Photo © Tina Araneta

While we already have our own races lined up for the next few months, we know that a relay is a different kind of experience altogether; one that not even doing the entire swim-bike-run by oneself can compete with. Needless to say, we’re looking forward to the next time we can “tri” together as a relay team, and hopefully kick butt then.
Over the weekend, my siblings and I did something different to our usual Baguio routine. Instead of our typical agenda that would usually consist of vegetating, eating, and occasionally working out in the gym, we added a hiking day trip to our schedule.

My sister was the one who initiated this trip to Mt. Ulap since: 1) she has recently taken up hiking (and had gone on a hike in Mt. Hugom, Batangas just 2 weeks ago); and 2) she found out that Mt. Ulap is just 40 minutes away from Baguio. We decided that the five of us siblings (including our sister-in-law) would go, and our parents would stay behind in Baguio to babysit our 2-year-old nephew.

On Saturday, before most of us could even process the fact that it was morning, we drove 40 minutes out of Baguio and into Benguet and registered for the hike in the district of Itogon. It cost about P250 per head for the registration fee, including the fee for our guide. After paying and signing up, we started the trek.

There were several groups doing the same thing we were doing, but thankfully it wasn't a crowded hike. We were able to space things out in such a way that groups weren't overtaking each other. And except for one long wait to take pictures (particularly in the second summit), the number of people didn't deter us from enjoying the experience.

Anyway, I digress. Going back to the actual hike!

Let me begin with a disclaimer. None of us are actual hikers. My sister has recently turned into a hiking enthusiast after 5+ hikes, including a weekend in Anawangin, Zambales. But the rest of us had minimal to zero hiking experiences prior to this trip.

I used to be a TV show junkie; a real pro at it, in fact. I could spend hours just marathoning a particular show, and watching old favorites all over again. Nowadays, though, I have less time to watch TV shows (and I've completely lost track of the shows I used to watch which are still airing, like Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds).

However, if there is just one show that I've been glued to for the past few weeks, it's this one.

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