Life in the Fast Lane


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.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post; Mizuno provided me with a pair of Wave Rider 20's to review. I am, in no way, a professional runner or triathlete, but I am a huge fan of the multisport world and love talking about and trying different accessories and gadgets that can help me improve as an amateur athlete.

For most of my running and multisport life, many of you would know that I've been used to running with a certain brand. I've stuck with it because I felt that it reduced (or eliminated) the symptoms of my foot injuries, and to be perfectly honest, aesthetics-wise, I loved all their designs.

However, I won't close my doors on other brands that can elevate or enhance my performance. Especially when it comes to running, which is my weakest discipline out of the three in triathlon.

So when Mizuno Philippines reached out to me to ask if I could try out their newest shoe, of course I didn't hesitate.

It's been a pretty interesting year so far.

Photo from here.

I've been "quiet" on the blogging front because as some of you might or might not have heard, around the third week of January, I was told to take some time away from work and from training to rest, and to undergo certain procedures to find out what medical condition I had.

Without going into too much detail, I had been facing a feminine kind of challenge (let's leave it at that). Apart from this, for several months, I noticed that I hadn't been sleeping well (I would wake up at 2am almost every night, even on the nights I was tired from long hours at work and even if I had to wake up in a few hours to train or to race), my weight was dropping quickly, and I was prone to inexplicable anxiety and nervousness.

As someone who thought knew herself pretty well and had some "mastery" over her own body (especially being an athlete), it was, needless to say, a daunting period for someone like me. I wrestled with uncertainty, fear, more anxiety, and restlessness. Apart from this, to be honest, I had lots of questions about God's character; not just because of what was happening to me, but because I could see how people around me were going and had been through lots of difficulty and suffering.

While I was waiting for my official diagnosis, God taught me a few things, which I'd like to share. And if this blesses you and enlightens you in any way, then all praises be to Him!

  1. The importance of REST. Many times, we think we can do it all and keep it up. Until something catches your attention and makes you realize that you're not immortal; neither are you a robot. Rest and time for oneself are important and shouldn't be neglected; best not to wait for a rude awakening before prioritizing this.
  2. That you are never fully in control of any situation, your future, and what happens to you; He is. We can plan all we want, dream all we want, calendar our activities and events all we want, but sometimes, God will get your attention and make you realize that you can only do so much. He is the Ultimate Planner of our lives, of what happens to us.
  3. The right (or at least, the better) way to pray. From prayers that are more self-fulfilling, He will lead you to be more selfless, more open to what His will is.
  4. Faith is really NOT based on feelings. If this were the case, then I truly wonder how many of us would still be faith-filled by now. It's really a matter of surrendering, of dying to self, ESPECIALLY when doubt creeps in.
  5. That God is truly good. For a time, I actually did wonder if He really wanted me to be well or if He really wanted me to go through that period (pun somewhat intended) of anxiety just to test me. Screwed up theology, I know. After some time of praying and reflecting on His Word, I realized that God is really a rewarder and that He loves nothing more than to make and see His children happy; in a perfect, un-"fallen" world, suffering really wouldn't have existed anyway. But His will really is different from what we can ever imagine or think, so we just have to trust that come what may, everything that happens to us is for our own good and eventual happiness.
By God's grace, the worst of my fears didn't materialize, and I'm currently on medication (with a few dietary restrictions) for hyperthyroidism. It is a hormonal imbalance caused by an excessive production of the thyroid hormone. It was a nasty cycle wherein stress was the biggest trigger of this condition, but having hyperthyroidism (and its symptoms, such as anxiety, lack of appetite, drastic mood swings, palpitations, etc.) also added to my stress. Which, in turn, messed up my feminine cycle in a big way.

This is my new "normal", but one that I'm grateful to deal with. It could have been much, much worse, so I'm thankful that God used this time of rest and body "rebooting" to fix me — not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and more importantly, spiritually.

I'm now back at work and slowly easing my way back into my usual training regimen. Please say a prayer as I figure out how to balance things more efficiently, without compromising my health and overall wellness.

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone! And may it be as stress-free as possible.
2016 was a very interesting year, to put it mildly. For many people I know — heck, even this country and the world — it was a challenging year. To name a few, there were deaths (lots of them: people I knew personally, and celebrities; needless to say, I was really sad when 2016 ended with the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds), elections, changes in the government, et cetera, et cetera.

Personally, it was a year of growth and adjustment for me — as my own person, as a member of my family, as a Creative professional. There were times of struggle, nights of asking God for clarity, and relying on loved ones for strength and comfort.

However, 2016 also had its moments of joy and laughter, which I am grateful for. They definitely countered and became the cushion for all those not-so-great moments that the past year saw.

Without further ado, instead of doing a what-I've-learned sappy kind of post, I've chosen to highlight 16 moments, milestones, and key learnings (in true advertising fashion) from 2016:

1) TBR Dream Marathon 21K

Days before my birthday last February, I conquered my farthest running distance yet: a half-marathon. It was memorable because at the 7K mark, my iPod died. Since I'm used to running with music, I had to contend with silence and the view around me for the next 14 kilometers.

2) Courageous Caitie

I've written about her a few times, but for those who don't know, Caitlin Soleil Lucas was the daughter of really good friends of mine. For the first quarter of 2016, we were trying to help raise funds for her diagnosis and treatment. However, towards the end of March, God called her Home after battling JMML (or Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia). Caitie's story didn't end there, though, as her parents decided to move forward by helping children with severe or even terminal illnesses with a project called Courageous Light.

3) National Elections

2016 was probably the most political year I've ever experienced to date, especially with the looming Philippines and US elections. There were polarizing opinions on social media and even in face-to-face conversations with family, friends, and colleagues. What was very interesting to me, however, was how everyone seemed to protect their votes and feel personally invested in the results. After the current administration was sworn in, people became even more vocal on social media.

4) Hong Kong

My family and I took an almost impulsive trip to Hong Kong. Thankfully, we were able to pull it off despite the short notice. The weather wasn't ideal, though, but we managed to make the most of it and bond as a family.

5) My youngest brother's graduation

CJ, the baby of the family, graduated with a degree in Philosophy. Finally, all four of us were done with school; huge thanks to our parents for all their hard work! Currently, he is in grad school for Philosophy while working in the Philosophy department as a Teaching Assistant.

6) First time to place first on the podium

I was fortunate to have been up on the podium a few times in 2016: twice in individual events, twice as part of a relay team. For the first time in my life though, I was able to experience placing first. I'd never placed first in anything, whether in terms of awards in school, swimming medals, advertising awards, etc. Until Tri United 2 last July. My relay team and I took home the first place award for all-female relay team. Thank You, Lord!

7) My parents turned 60

Both my parents went through huge transitions as individuals, as a couple, and as professionals. They reached the big Six-Oh and retired from their respective jobs. You can imagine the adjustment each of them had to go through after working for so long, and then learning how to be physically together at home for hours on end. Today, though, they've rediscovered themselves in other kinds of work and are enjoying the benefits of senior citizen discounts — especially in drugstores, restaurants, and movie theaters!

8) My dogs got sick

Cassie and Buddy both got sick several times last year. Trips to the vet for shots and for replenishing their supply of medicine were frequent. Thankfully, Cassie bounced back and is still that same bubbly ball of chocolate fur. However, what happened to Buddy was quite different.

9) Rio 2016

Of course I was glued to the Olympics as often as possible all throughout the month of August. There was Michael Phelps, Michael Phelps, and Michael Phelps. I watched a whole lot of swimming, a whole lot of women's gymnastics (mostly online, because our local coverage left much to be desired), and triathlon. I would've loved to watch so many other events but due to the time difference, I wasn't able to.

10) My first Ironman experience

Five of us in my triathlon team competed in Ironman Cebu (two as individuals, three of us doing the relay); it also happened to be the first time the Philippines played host to the Asia Pacific Championship, which was a huge deal. There were more participants than ever before, both local and international, which meant even more coverage as well. It was a memorable race for me since days before the event, I injured my left ankle. I had to swim without kicking, relying only on my arms for power. Surprisingly, I still went under my target time despite this mishap. God's grace at work right there!

11) My first duathlon

A duathlon is a multisport event consisting, generally, of a run-bike-run in succession. I joined my first one last September, and it was so difficult. Especially since swimming is my base sport. I wrote about it in detail here, but needless to say, I prefer triathlon so much more.

12) Super Goyito went to Heaven

Goyito was my dad's youngest brother, which made him my uncle. I didn't grow up thinking of him as an uncle, though; he was more like a brother who just didn't live with us. He was also a special needs adult who was brilliant and charming in his own ways. Suddenly, God called him Home and he passed away in his sleep one morning. It was devastating for me, my family, and my relatives. He was such a caring and giving person who loved nothing more than to be with family. It felt weird to celebrate the Holidays without him; we just took comfort in the fact that, without a doubt, he was partying it up in Heaven with endless lasagna, pizza, Super Mario, and LEGO.

13) My nephew turned two

Because he is one of my favorite people on the planet, every milestone of his is something that I choose to celebrate. His second birthday party was basketball-themed, and we celebrated it quietly with both sets of families: his mom's and his dad's. I learned so much from and about him the entire time he was one year old, and now that he's two and talking like a mini-adult (complete sentences and expressions that are downright hilarious), I continue to learn even more.

Photo by: Zeus Martinez

14) Goodbye, Buddy

One of the most tragic things that befell our family was the unexpected passing of our beloved Golden Retriever, Buddy. After getting sick twice over a period of a few months — first, with Leptospirosis; second, with Distemper — it was only discovered then that the common thread tying together both diseases was his being anemic. Because his body was too weak to fight off infections, he succumbed to anemia just one day after being diagnosed with it. My heart broke over and over with the loss of our goofball, our social media "maven", who was only six years old. Today, I still maintain his Facebook and Twitter pages to remember him by.

15) I am finally wearing contact lenses

I really don't know why I took forever to try them out (really, I was just afraid to touch my eyes), but oh my goodness. Wearing contacts has been life changing. I no longer have to squint whenever I dress up for nights out and special events. I still wear glasses at work and at home, but when I go out on weekends and to lunch or dinner with friends, I ditch them. I am now a proud wearer of three kinds of contacts: Air Optix (clear), FlexWear Amber, and FlexWear Colors Cinnamon (when I feel like "dressing up" a bit).

16) All about family

Individually (career-wise and in terms of personal growth) and as a unit, our family had to "grow up" in 2016 and adjust to many changes. Thankfully, by God's grace, we continue to grow and rely on His strength and mercy. We ended the year in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, and welcomed 2017 with excitement and gratitude.

There were a lot of other things that happened in 2016 — the company I work for rebranded itself and we had to adjust to a new culture and physical environment; one of my best friends got married; meet-ups with my different sets of friends; ministry work; launching my mom's food business, lots of races and training sessions in between; one of my relatives started joining us at church and discovered a whole new dimension of her faith; and a host of other events that happened to the country and worldwide — but these were the ones that I chose to highlight.

I thank the Lord that despite how difficult 2016 was, He was steadfast and remained faithful to complete the good work He started in me (Philippians 1:6). I look forward to what He has in store for me and my loved ones this year and beyond!

How was your 2016? I pray for a blessed, fulfilling, and exciting year ahead for each of you!
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