Archive for the ‘FHinlife’ Category

Dog Days: • a period of inactivity or sluggishness

Of all the gifts I’ve ever received from my mother, a map of the constellations is one of those I treasure most. Black connect-the-dots patterns printed on stiff parchment, yellowed with age, tattered and torn around the edges. It mapped out the stars outside our home. It was my mother’s map before it was mine.

Over there, that’s Orion, See the three stars in a row? That would be his belt (Orion, the hunter and apparently a fashionista to boot!) His arms, his club… My mother says as her hand traces out the pattern in the sky. And there! Not too far away, Canis Major, the great dog. He trails Orion. The brightest star in that constellation, in the night sky, do you see it? That’s Sirius.

Sirius, the Dog Star! This universe does know how to make a point. Dogdays. I am  right smack in the middle of my dogdays! Who or what better company can I expect on my night runs than this star that for the ancient Greeks signaled the hottest and therefore most unproductive days of the year? Why did it take me this long to figure it out? And how do I even begin to get out of it?

The left foot continues to misbehave. Both my pace and cadence are still off. It is getting to be tedious. It’s a funk that for weeks I’ve been trying to run, walk and now crawl my way out of! My mileage continues to seesaw between the imaginary and the pathetic.

Slow, sluggish and unproductive. That would be the first few weeks of the year… And the last few weeks of the last few months of the year that was. But still no real complaints here. Not yet…

Though I’ve always loved breakfast, I’ve realized that I’ve never truly been a morning fan. I always did think mornings came way too early in the day. So I’ve pushed most of my runs to the evenings, reserving the dawn for what they are best for in my book… bed and sleep and the occasional bagel and coffee while watching a new sun rise. And, once or twice a week, a swim in an ice blue pool.

Dark nights… Night runs with just the stars for company. It’s been a series of those. And, once again, you sneaky universe, you! One letter off and a whole world of difference to me! Dark Knights, not dark nights! If you are listening, please get that straight! The former not the latter is the one in my wish list.

The answer is as simple as it is as difficult to do. Do the work.

So, it’s back to the old schedule before this multi-sport craziness hi-jacked my mornings. Some are meant to tri… and then there is me. Done tri- trying for now and back to a simpler, more straightforward love: running.

Never did like it complicated.

“Well, now you know.” Batgirl says with a sly grin on her face. “Noses, no matter how big, simply don’t bounce off cemented sidewalks.”

I am not a girl who is easy to convince. But, on this point, I am not going to argue.

Having lived the first quarter of my life (so far) within the 13th and 14th parallel zone, the entry point of most tropical cyclones that beset this country, I know what it is to find yourself within the eye of the storm. The eye of the storm, the lull between the howling winds. You look out and there is nary a wind. Everything is still. Everything is eerily quiet. You look straight up and even in the darkest of night you see stars shining brightly in the sky.

My father has always warned us about this part of the typhoon. The quieter it is outside, the calmer things seem to be, the more you need to prepare yourself for the coming onslaught. When you find yourself within the eye of the storm, you do not waste time on the non-essentials. You gather those closest and dearest to you and you hold them close. You haul yourselves off to safer grounds , you surround yourself with stronger walls, hunker down and you brace for what is to come next. At best you get a few minutes of quiet and calm before the howling begins again. Then the winds come rushing back. Perhaps lashing out with even greater fury. And you settle down for the long wait.

I was in the eye of the storm all week last week.

The howling has stopped. The pain has subsided. Clear skies now up ahead. But it was nowhere near like this a few days ago.

“You’ve probably told this story a thousand times. But can you tell me what happened again? Just spare me the gory details.” X-man says in a matter of fact tone as he takes a seat in the family room.

“I am on a bike, on a hairpin curve, I see a white taxi, I avoid a white taxi, I hit the curb, fly off my bike (apparently you cannot grow wings that fast), use my nose as brakes and buffer. Tadahh… 6 hours of surgery and a few days at the hospital and this is what you get…” and I point to my face. !“Exhibit A.”

X-man is not all that impressed but he got his story the way he wanted. I heard no complaints. Just a long deep sigh. And the all important question which deserved an honest answer…

“Do you want a dermatologist? I am dating a dermatologist. I could hook you both up. Your skin looks awful! ”

And we moved on to far more interesting topics beyond my nose.

Fine. I’m tired of talking about my nose anyway. Actually, what’s the point? If you want the story, it’s written all over my face. Just check out the cuts and the swelling and the bruising. It will tell you what’s important.

Someone good, someone really good, put me all back together.

Or if I were to be more precise, A LOT OF GOOD put me all back together.

They say that sometimes things happen in slow motion. Perhaps it did that. The details of the accident are all very clear in my head. But things also happened in lightning speed. I wouldn’t have been able to deal had my family and friends not come rushing to my side to keep me focused on what was needed to survive the coming ordeal.

A flurry of angel wings…that is what surrounded me. Amidst all pain, I heard a flurry of angel wings. It is what insulated me from the most awful, traumatizing part of the experience.

Mum and Pop and the sibs especially ate wee (younger than me but far more responsible and reliable) and dondon (my brother who kept awful hospital food at bay), the cousins, the titas (especially the ones who refrained from saying I TOLD YOU SO!)

Ting (Aquagirl – whose powers definitely extended far beyond water. Kept me sane and made me feel safe.. Supplier of the best and most potent pain reliever around! ), Bards (Batgirl, the running banana and still the sanest member of the gang. marshal of the forces of all that is good… ), Rissa (Winks, definitely winks ;-)), Catherine (SeriousCat), T2 (ketikat, kristine, vince, essie, dingdong, harry,vicky, chuchay, anna, tin- the happy thoughts gang and sugar rush patrol) my core group Joy, Bene, Grethel and Erskine, the Tri-Polar team and the Missus (Laarni, Bobby and Ed, and Gina) and The Doc Peter J (without whom I would definitely still look like Pokemon.)

So many other faces floating in my head. If I failed to write it down, it is not because I don’t remember or I am not grateful. Far from that. It is simply because I am, even to this day, still overwhelmed.

When you find yourself in the eye of the storm, you do not waste your time on the non-essentials. You gather the closest and dearest to you and you hold them close. In the darkest of nights, it helps a lot to know you are not going to be facing the typhoon alone. You brace yourself for the coming onslaught. You hunker down and you settle for the long wait. You go through enough of these tropical cyclones and you begin to understand that no matter how loud the winds get, laughter shared with family and friends, good stories passed back and forth, prayers said in unison will always, always drown out the howling, calm the anxiety and drive out the pain and the fear.

If I put in everything I am grateful for in these pages, I would need a new blog. So just this… All the happy thoughts in the world wrapped in two words… Thank You!

Not enough, never ever going to be enough but it will have to do for now.

Except perhaps for this…I’ve always preferred to say thank you in my own Bicolano dialect. The language of my youth and the one closest to my heart. In my part of the world, in the place I call home, we say “Dios Mabalos po!” (God, repay you for your kindness… ) In His Time, my faith tells me, that will be more than enough!

Clear skies up a head…thanks to a flurry of angel wings.

I say fun and invigorating, you say stimulating!

It’s that time of year again…

That time of year when you find yourself gawking at your inbox and at all the unread emails you find waiting for you there! Personal inbox: 683/Work inbox: 1787!

Darn! And here I was congratulating myself for being just an inch short of amazing when I annihilated my 2008 TODO box (with my laser sword)  just before I went running off for the holidays!

There is one good thing about this email batch though. A number of them have turned out to be unopened holiday greetings. It’s my chance to have one last fling with the holidays before it disappears round the corner of time.

The thing I love best about my job is the travel and the people I get to meet along the way. It warms the heart to receive small servings of joy and delight in different languages. My favorite one this year comes from my Italian buyer. The fact that he looks absolutely Aragorn-ish (of the Lord of the Rings variety) does nothing to influence my stated preference one bit! (Well, of course it does!) I’m sure his greeting sounds wonderful in Italian. Everything sounds wonderful in Italian. Point in fact: bruschetta! (Hello! it’s just grilled bread rubbed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil!) The fact that he took great pains to write me back in English makes it all the more special. (No it wasn’t from his secretary! Stop it, Snuffy!) Obviously he wants to keep this whole connection between us going. I do love the Italian language but my vocabulary is, at this time, still limited. Let’s face it. Focaccia tiramisu pomodoro bruschetta amore does not a sentence make!

“Wishing you all the sweetness of the season and a STIMULATING 2009!”

The mischief-maker in my head immediately made a grab for that adjective: stimulating. STIMULATING, we love that word! We can definitely work out a plan for 2009 with that word in mind.

The blues in the print are already swirling like a hazy mist inside my head. Stimulating goals for 2009? Oh wow, I can’t wait!

But well, I have to. There is that matter of the 2000+ emails I do need to attend to first…

So, in the meantime, I leave you with this quote:

“The hours are left for vanishing and also for joy and for blessing and for gratitude.” Jason Shinder

All the very best for 2009 everyone! Here’s to a (spell it with me) s-t-i-m-u-l-a-t-i-n-g year ahead! 😉

“Do you know Bart Yasso?” Vicky asks.

“Yasso? You mean Yasso of the Yasso 800s?” I turn to ask Vicky a bit bewildered. I am actually scanning the expo grounds looking for the Brooks booth. I had seen a flyer that said Brian Sell was going to be there. And I was a girl on a mission. Batgirl wanted her Christmas gift early. I was going through a list in my head.. one huge bright red ribbon, lotsa christmas wrappers, one extra large  (balikbayan) box, Brian Sell… So many things to look for, so little time!

“Well, the man over there is wearing a name tag that says Bart Yasso,” replies Vicky who rarely misses anything with her accountant’s eagle eye.

“Oh! Let’s go say hello then!” I reply excitedly. I know Bart Yasso. Well, I don’t, not personally. But I’ve seen his pictures on the website of Runner’s World and he has smiling eyes and a great body errr…smile. I’ve also read a number of running stories with him in it. Enough for me to know that this man is definitely someone special in the running world. Someone I’d love to have a chat with if I ever got a chance. Well, here it was…So we walk over to his booth. He is sitting on top of the table stacked with books. His books! 

yasssobookMY LIFE ON THE RUN: The wit, wisdom, and insights of a road racing icon. 

Runner’s World and a number of bookseller’s online posted this description of his book. I’ve read a chapter and then some but I’m saving most of it for later. With my crazy busy schedule right now, even reading hours have to be scheduled. So far though I’ve found it to be a very entertaining read brimming with humor and insights on running and life in general. Definitely turning out to be one of those books I’d like to savor.

Here’s how the book is described on major bookseller sites:

Dubbed the “Mayor of Running,” Bart Yasso is one of the best-known figures in the sport, but few people know why he started running competitively, how it changed his life, or how his brush with a crippling illness nearly ended his career a decade ago. With insight and humor, My Life on the Run chronicles the heatstroke and frostbite, heartache and triumphs he’s experienced while competing in more than 1,000 competitive races during his nearly 30 years with Runner’s World magazine.  Yasso gives valuable and practical advice on how to become a runner for life and continually draw joy from the sport. He also offers practical guidance for beginners, intermediate, and advanced runners, such as 5-K, half-marathon, and marathon training schedules including his innovative technique known as the Yasso 800s.      Recounting his adventures in exotic locales like Antarctica, Africa, and Chitwan National Park in Nepal (where he was chased by an angry rhino), Yasso recommends the best exotic marathons for runners who want to grab their passports to test themselves on foreign terrain. With the wit and wisdom of a seasoned insider, he tells runners what they need to know to navigate the logistics of running in an unfamiliar country.      Yasso’s message is this: Never limit where running can take you because each race has the potential for adventure.

About the Author

BART YASSO is the Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World magazine. He has completed more than 1,000 races, triathlons, biathlons, and eco-challenges over the past 25 years. He has run a majority of American marathons and at least one on all seven continents. In 2007 he was inducted into the Running USA Hall of Champions in recognition of his contribution, impact, and dedication to the sport.

KATHLEEN PARRISH is an award-winning writer and former special projects reporter at The Morning Call in Pennsylvania and a freelance writer for Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Over the last months, I’ve been inserting a few running books into my regular reading list. Reading Dean Karnazes’ “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner” gave me an adrenaline pumping high. I wanted to go out and run at three in the morning! It was that good.  Pam Reed’s “The Extra Mile: One Woman’s Personal Journey to Ultra-Running Greatness” and Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” were much more mellow in their approach and storytelling pace. I didn’t get all psyched up to run but they did allow enough interesting glimpses into their running world to keep me wanting more. This book by Bart Yasso is promising to generate the same kind of thrill I got from Karnazes’ Ultramarathon Man. That’s why I decided to save it for the plane trip to Singapore. As I head out towards my first marathon, I want my head filled with good, fascinating stories. Stories that will entertain me and keep me company in my 4 to 5 hour run through Singapore’s streets. I don’t expect Bart Yasso will fail me.

“So what are you two ladies up to?” Bart Yasso asks.

“Haha, taking a break from stalking Brian Sell!” I reply. “My friend here saw you from across the aisle. She’s having an attack of shy but we are both just wanting to get a photo with you!”  I’m actually just as star struck as Vicky is so I’m trying very hard not to act like a giddy child who’s had way too much sugar… 

“Oh, is that all?” Bart replies, “well come on over…”pb150123

And so we get our photo, a few stories and some laughs besides. He also wished us luck for the half marathon after he found out we had crossed an ocean and then some just to be there. I don’t think he knew what to make of us. I guess he could understand traveling great distances for a full, but a half?  But then again, I told him there were lots more like us back home…a bunch of people ready to do something a little silly, perhaps also a whole lot crazy, just to get some good running in… Just like him!  And after that he handed us our books, one for Vicky and one for me, both signed by the Mayor of Running himself!

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Now if only Brian Sell was just as easy to find! After our pitstop Vicky and I once again set out cheerfully to hunt the man down. And I find myself wondering very briefly if I will also need to add a big heavy club to my list…

run!

Posted: October 29, 2008 in FHinlife
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For those who need to look seriously busy at work.

I warn you. It is addicting.

the case against purple

Posted: October 23, 2008 in FHinlife
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“It’s because you are wearing purple!” Batgirl points this out in a very even tone after my most recent breakfast misadventure.

It’s 6 weeks to go before our first marathon and as we get closer to the date more and more of our superstitious quirks are coming into play.   Well, it’s mostly Batgirl’s quirks.

“My quirks, as you call them, are supported by empirical data.” Batgirl tells me this in a very matter of fact manner. I’m beginning to think there is some truth to what she says.

Someone stole my breakfast at McDonald’s today. Actually, he just started eating the food off my tray at the same time I was busy putting that same food, the one that  I had ordered and paid for, in my mouth. It was quite bizarre. Mcdonald’s was packed. There were more than a hundred people inside that place. I don’t know why he picked me.

I couldn’t really see him since he was bent over with his face very close to the food. And he was big and leaning very closely. What I had was a view of his back and his elbow. He just started picking food off my styrobox using my fork and my spoon that he had so gently removed from my hands a few seconds earlier. I was too stunned to react. He was facing Batgirl. Even Batgirl who was sitting across me had this confused look on her face. At first I thought the boy was a friend teasing me. Then I thought, he was a relative or a nephew or maybe he was one of my godsons…It was simply too weird.

Wordlessly I point to the foodnapper’s back.  At around that same time Batgirl realizes that I have no idea who this person is who is eating my food! Batgirl and I then start talking to each other inside our heads. And just so there isn’t any possibility that she would misread my mind, I start talking in the same way the 7/11 sales clerk talk. I don’t really know who started this whole trend. But they are the ones who like stating the obvious. You give them 100 pesos. They tell you “Ma’m I’ve received 100 pesos.”

So I say, “Batgirl, the man is eating MY breakfast.” She replies, “I noticed.”

We then raise our hands simultaneously to call the guard’s attention. After some waving, the guard finally looks our way. Since Batgirl has her back to him, I am the one he looks at.  Apparently the guards in McDonald’s are trained to be very friendly… but not very alert or smart. The guard then smiles and waves back at me. I have to fix my gaze at him and send urgent sonic thoughts out. “Hello, Mr. Security Guard, I am not being friendly. This man is eating my breakfast!”

Finally the security guard comes over to intervene…

Batgirl has this thing about the color purple. She thinks it attracts bad luck. Purple to Batgirl is like Kryptonite to Superman. It just causes a whole world of pain.

I’m really not all that superstitious. But this week has truly been a series of mishaps and misadventures. And somehow the color purple did always seem to be involved. This morning I was wearing a purple singlet. During the long run incident when I had a tussle with the kissing bandit/ thief I was also wearing my purple Adidas shirt.

As a rule, encounters with weirdos belong in Batgirl’s department. Even CalamityJoy pointed this out.  Now we’ve all been friends for close to 20 million years. We’ve known each other through thick (~150lbs) and thin (~118lbs). We’ve accepted, forgiven, even embraced each other’s quirks. We’ve just never really shared them. At least, not until now.

Lucky in love, unlucky in parking…

Now that charm applies to me. Let’s just say that I’ve never been in want of a  parking space. Even if you send me to a packed lot and there’s a long queue of cars waiting for space, that single available slot will be mine. Seriously. It’s never been a problem. Luck in love? Oh well, luck in parking is far more practical a charm, anyway.

Perhaps because Batgirl and I spend a lot of time together in play and in marathon training, the universe is confusing our auras.

So, just in case, I’ve decided to stay off purple stuff for now. At least, until the universe gets it all sorted out.

And just to set things straight…

Bad luck and mishaps and misadventures involving Tuesdays and purples and weirdos are in Batgirl’s department.

Parking luck, bad hair Fridays, faceplant weekends…Mine! Definitely All Mine.

Now to get back into training…

I’m a genius in the mornings.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

I set my alarm clock (actually two) to ring at four this morning knowing that it would take little short of the force generated by an exploding star to get myself to roll out of bed for my morning run.

My problem was that I hated interval runs. (Still do!)  And I was scheduled to do one at 5am. So a few minutes after my alarm sounded, I decided it was time to have a brilliant idea. I then computed the total mileage of the interval set and sandwiched it in between two 3km easy runs (my warm up and cool down).  I would still need to do the dreaded fast pace at a certain point in the run but it didn’t sound as awful as doing a 6×800 at a little under 5 minute/km  pacing.  So 11kms it would be. I still wasn’t sure if I was doing a fartlek or a tempo in the middle. It didn’t matter. The main thing was that I had gotten rid of the interval.

First problem solved. The Interval run is thrown out of the window. I was off to do a sneaky tempo/fartlek/whatever run.

Humans perceive sound by the sense of hearing. By sound, we commonly mean the vibrations that travel through air and are audible to people. The matter that supports the sound is called the medium. The scientific study of the absorption and reflection of sound waves is called acoustics.

Next problem, I do not enjoy running alone. And MightyM, my run companion, had gone off to recharge at the beach.  No problem. I simply needed to bring a new playmate along. I grabbed the ipod nano, which I had so thoughtfully charged the night before, and headed out the door. In that split second before I stepped out of my front door and walked down the hallway to the elevator, I must have figured out a way to listen to music in my nano without using earphones. Because that’s the only logical conclusion I could draw as to why I had walked out of the door without it.  Nano in hand, no earphones. Like I said, genius!

Gravity is the natural force of attraction exerted by a celestial body, such as Earth, upon objects at or near its surface, tending to draw them toward the center of the body.

And off I go and the first three kilometers go by really fast. This is my next problem. I should have been going at a 6:15/km clip for my warm up. My Garmin, Mr. SoulCrusher, tells me otherwise. I started the run at 5:40 and accelerated quite some more after that. Which explains why 5kms into the run, I felt the force of gravity working on the center of my body (my butt) and forcing it towards the the core of the earth.

I was out of breath, out of water and nearing negative in the brain matter count. It’s a good thing I started out a genius!

Also I had managed to plan my route so well that my 5km tempo started right at the bottom of a steep incline. Brilliant, totally genius moves so far!

Solution? I veered off to the left, jogged a few hundred meters in a circle, did some deep breathing and calming exercises and then allowed momentum and pride (isn’t that a sin?) to draw me back to my old path and keep running.

From this point on I must have done something right. Simply because I find that  I’m still alive and am able to log this run in. It must have been exhilarating. It must have been fun.  I don’t remember. Clearly my entire consciousness then was focused on surviving the run.

Sneaky run over. Problems created. Problems solved. And all this before six in the morning!  I knew it! I’m a genius.

For other concerns like solving the world’s financial ills, world hunger, and world peace…talk to me after 11am.