The Running Angel

Just because I don't have wings, doesn't mean I can't fly.

Running with Salomon

My very first pair of hiking shoes was from Salomon. I had just signed up for AMCI mountaineering club and was about to climb my very first mountain. I heard that Salomon was a good brand for hiking and since I wasn’t sure yet if I would really pursue the sport, I opted to get a cheap pair at a warehouse sale. I can’t remember what model it was but it did get me through my first few training climbs in one piece—albeit with a few dead toenails!

Fast forward seven years and I found myself at the starting line of the 2012 Salomon X-Trail race in Tagaytay Midlands. Salomon’s brand manager, Janice Tañada, was my batchmate in AMCI and she invited me to cover the event for Runner’s World.

So that’s not me but I love how this photo captures the beautiful trails we passed during that race. It was challenging but enjoyable. We ran through dirt roads, farmlands, and pine forests, breathing in the cool, fresh air as the early morning fog enveloped us.

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Now that’s me crossing the finish line at 2:42. Pretty slow for a 12-K, but I always believed running through trails is an experience to be savored and enjoyed (and captured on camera, too!).

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I missed the 2013 edition of the Salomon race because I had an important event to attend that weekend (like, you know, my wedding! LOL!) so I was psyched when I got to join the 2014 X-trail race in Hamilo Coast, Batangas last April. This race was a helluva lot tougher (or maybe I was just out of shape), with runners climbing steep hills within the first kilometer.

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This vast expanse of flat land was a welcome respite from all the steep ascents and descents.

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We only had about a kilometer to go at this point but that kilometer was a whole stretch of large rocks and boulders. I finished this race in over 3 hours but it was well worth the effort. At the finish line, Roland and I were reunited with a lot of AMCI members and old friends.

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It may seem quite daunting, and I’d understand if some people think it’s crazy for us to do this. But for those who want to get into trail running, Salomon has come up with a city trail race, which allows you to experience the joys and challenges of trail running right here in the city. The race is happening on September 7 at Intramuros, Manila. Imagine running (we’ve been warned that there’s some jumping involved as well) through the historic streets of the walled city, retracing the steps Rizal took in Fort Santiago, and soaking in our country’s culture and heritage. It’s the perfect race for trail newbies! You can still register at R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street from August 30 to September 5.

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I’m definitely looking forward to running and writing about this race. (Watch out for my race writeup in the October-December 2014 issue of Runner’s World.) See you in the trails! —A

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Stop Living in Fear

Ever since I was a child, two little devils called fear and anxiety followed me around wherever I went. Perhaps it wasn’t so obvious on the outside, but they were there. I remember when my parents used to leave the house at night to go to their prayer meeting, I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep, waiting anxiously for them to return. After my first year of college, I fainted at church one summer (I’d just done a hard workout and perhaps wasn’t properly hydrated), and the anxiety just seized me until I could no longer do any of the other activities I had planned to do for the rest of that month. Instead, I stayed home, paralyzed by fear.

As I grew into young adulthood, I became a little bit bolder, a little bit braver. The fears were still there, sure, but I learned how to handle them better. After graduation, I flew to Singapore as part of the SIF-ASEAN Student Fellowship Program. Before we left the Philippines, I remember looking at the other Pinoy fellows who seemed so smart and calm, and thinking, “Am I the only one who is terrified to leave my home for the very first time? To live in a new place, with people from different cultures?” But once I was out of my comfort zone, I found myself doing things I never thought I would do—like joining (and winning!) a beauty pageant, breaking the rules, and forging strong friendships with other ASEAN students. After I got back from Singapore, I got a job I knew I would enjoy (as apposed to one that seemed like the “safer” choice), joined a mountaineering club, started running, fell in love, and went on all sorts of adventures.

But as I moved into my thirties, I sensed the little devils gaining strength once more, telling me to stay where I am, to stop venturing into the unknown. And I’m not just talking about traveling to new places, but also about doing things I’ve never done before. I realized that as we grow older, saddled with more responsibilities and ailments, it seems so much harder to go after new dreams and new goals—harder yes, but not impossible (my own mom is living proof—she started competitive ballroom dancing in her late forties and still keeps winning trophies 10 years later!).

Last August 21, I was watching a documentary on one of our beloved heroes, Ninoy Aquino, the man whose death sparked a revolution. I was struck when he said, “My theory is, we all have to die sometime, if it’s my faith to die by an assassin’s bullet then so be it, but I cannot be petrified by inaction or fear of assassination and stay in the corner. I have to suffer with my people, I have to lead them.”

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So maybe I’m not battling a dictator or risking an assassination, but I am doing something that I’ve long thought about but always feared—to run a full marathon. Roland and I just signed up for The Bull Runner Dream Marathon, our first 42-K (more on this later). It was fun and exciting at first, but as we wrapped up our second week of training, the doubts and fears started to arise along with the little aches and pains that crop up during a hard training session. A lot can still happen between now and the marathon in February, but for the meantime, I will do my best to not let my fears and anxieties get the best of me. And to prove that we can still chase after new dreams, no matter how old or fearful we are. —A

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Climbing Out of a Rut

I’ve been stuck in a rut for a few months now, maybe even years.

When I hear the word rut, I imagine a dark, damp hole in the ground with nothing but soil and rocks and roots all around. The clear blue sky can be seen, but it is too far out of reach. It is lonely and miserable and depressing.

But the rut I’m in is actually quite comfortable. It’s got a nice couch and a TV with all my favorite shows. It’s got the Internet and an iPad with games like Candy Crush and PvZ. It’s got a fridge stocked with goodies and sweets. It’s got a Kobo filled with books (though most of the time, they are ignored when there’s a new update on the games). When you’re stuck in a place like this, it is very difficult to climb out, to will the body that’s gotten slow and sluggish to just get out and run. When you’re already so comfortable, why would you ever want to leave?

Because seeing the sky above, knowing there’s a big old world out there just waiting to be explored, leaves one wondering and wanting more. Because the whispers in one’s ear, saying it’s time to get out, are becoming too loud to ignore. Because the pounds that have crept in and the clothes that no longer fit have started to pile up.

Here are a few things I decided to do to get out of this rut:

1. Sign up for a race.

Roland and I are going on a trip to the US in October. It’s our first trip outside of Asia together and I could not be more excited! Running is one of the best ways to explore a new place so we decided to look for a race we could join while we’re there. (Plus, it’s a great way to counter all the eating that’s sure to happen.) We’re joining the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon on October 25. Running + wine sounds like the perfect combination to me!

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2. Get a coach.

I am really not a morning person, but last Tuesday and Friday at 6 am, I dragged myself out of bed to train at the Ultra track oval. Luckily, it’s just a five-minute walk from our place. We booked several training sessions with Coach Roel Ano, who was also our coach when we did the Runner’s World 25-K Challenge last November. It’s really very helpful to have someone motivating you and pushing you to your limits. Though those first two sessions were tough, I’m beginning to see the benefits of training in the morning. Nothing beats breathing in the fresh air, soaking up vitamin D from the early morning sun, and seeing other runners pound the track with their lean legs and perfect stride.

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3. Start writing again.

The irony of being a magazine writer and editor for a living is that I find it very hard to write for myself. After a stressful day at work, I just want to stay away from my computer and retreat to my comfy rut, where I can watch my shows and play my games. But writing has always been a way for me to reflect and see things in the right perspective. Back in high school, when I had limited access to the Internet, I’d write pages and pages of words on my journal, looking back on my experiences and processing how I felt about them. As the digital age took over, I did this less and less, apart from the occasional silent retreat where I had no choice but to power off my gadgets.

After my shingles attack back in 2012, I got very busy with getting married, adjusting to a new home, and dealing with added work responsibilities. I’ve been able to keep running and traveling, though not as often as I used to. It’s all been overwhelming but I’ve been very blessed. Though safe and comfortable in my rut the last few months, I don’t want to be removed from the world anymore while life passes me by. I want to participate and engage, enjoy and appreciate the little moments.

So here I am, trying to claw my way out, one handful of soil and rocks and roots at a time. —A

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