Monday, May 24, 2010

Bronx Half Marathon—SIGNED UP!

Like a lot of items on my list, I have to admit that I didn't give "Run a marathon" that much thought. What can I say, I'm terribly impulsive and delusional. But I'm also very stubborn, so even when it finally hit me how crazy this idea was, I decided I would just dig my heels in and go for it. My friend Mike, who has run several marathons, told me that I have to slowly build my way up to the marathon by doing shorter races. A few weeks ago, I did my first 10K race and I'm doing another 10K on June 12, just because the last one was so fun. But since that milestone's been checked off, I thought it was time to whip out the credit card for the next one: a half marathon. The Bronx Half Marathon is taking place on August 15, so I have a little more than two months to double my current mileage and then some. But hey, I went from zero to six in one month, so with a lot more maniacal training and a pinch of delusion, I think I can totally do this!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Australian Stiletto Sprint

After celebrating my birthday by drinking my weight in alcohol for an entire week, my body is crying out for a run. I've been panic hydrating all morning with sports drinks so I can run the 6.11 mile outer loop in Central Park without passing out. I needed one more kick in the butt to get going and this was it. Presenting, the fine ladies of Sydney breaking a world record for most women running a sprint in stilettos. You ladies are awesome!  

Off for my run. Hope you're having a great Sunday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

28 Random Things ...

... I'm glad I did by 28:

1. Had a job that had me traveling to luxury hotels and resorts all over Asia, and writing about the experience.
I was working in every single one of these pictures. I'm not even kidding.

2. Performed the part of Sugar Plum Fairy after 12 years of dancing ballet.
3. Moved to a city I knew zilch about (Stuttgart) whose language I couldn't speak a word of (German) and had a blast living there for half a year.
This explains why I still can't speak German.

4. Traveled to Rome and Florence completely solo.

5. Paid the Grasshopper a visit in Amsterdam.

6. Got tossed into a fountain in Stuttgart in the pouring rain, and lived to party another day.
7. Went to a German bierfest, and like everyone said I would, magically knew the words to the songs after downing a few Steins.

8. Successfully weaseled a visa out of the German consulate after getting myself stranded in Prague.
9. Enjoyed the sheer luxury of Amanpulo ... for work!
This stretch of beach was just for little ole' me. Seriously.

10. Went on my first dive (must do the next one before I hit 35!).
11. Watched a Crazy Horse show.

12. Saw the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Chocolate Hills, and those awesome little tarsiers.

13. Found a new home in my beloved New York—one hand in the air for the big city!

14. Worked at a German biergarten, got whopped on the head with 5 Steins, and lived to tell the tale.
The things I would put up with for access to 2 liters of beer

15. Literally sewed a model into a dress before sending her down the runway at New York Fashion Week.
I got that girl into that dress and down the runway for Tuleh's Spring 2008 show in Bryant Park

16. After cluelessly wandering into a strip club, received an impromptu lapdance from two DD strippers (that I did not ask or pay for), heavily reinforcing my conviction that I am in fact very straight.
17. Worked at a Vanity Fair gatefold cover shoot photographed by Annie Liebovitz and featuring young Hollywood stars like Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, America Fereira and Ellen Page while working at Cartier's PR department.

18. Gorged on the delicious food and wine that Napa Valley and Chianti had to offer.

19. Fulfilled a "must do before I die" wish by finally going to a U2 concert ...

20. ... and saw Barack Obama address the General Assembly, all in the same day!

21. Feasted on a phenomenal Omakase at Tsukiji Fish Market—complete with still-moving sushi!

22. Outdrank most of the groom's party at an Indian wedding, earning me the title "Best Pound for Pound Drinker."
23. Had a Sarah Jessica Parker sighting at Nobu Next Door in New York.
24. Finally got into Bikram Yoga.

25. Attended Santacon.

26. Survived a brutal breakup and came out alive and kicking.
27. Rang in the New Year watching fireworks over the Statue of Liberty.

28. Started a project that is making me learn more and more about myself and how much drive, guts and determination this little person can hold every single day.

It's been an amazing 28 years, and I am grateful for everything I've experienced. Twenty-nine, you'd better bring it!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    All Signed Up!

    Finally successfully signed up for a speed-dating event today! Kate ended up having to brave the "Have Passport, Will Travel" event in April because I was waitlisted. And when Mitch and I tried to get into the "Fitness Singles" event for May, there was a waitlist as well. But today we finally both got into "Fitness Singles" for July 19. I am so close to crossing off one more item on my list, I can smell it!

    What cracks me up about this speed-dating thing is how many girls actually want to try it too—and not just the single girls, mind you, even the attached ones! It's not that the coupled up ladies are looking for an upgrade (which, by the way is an actual speed-dating event, if you're in the market for that). All of them just want to see what the experience is like. I myself am a bit wary of ways of meeting people that seem ... for lack of a better word, inorganic. I know online dating has worked really well for a lot of people, but I'm not quite ready for that yet. I kind of like the idea of speed-dating though because what I'm really after is the experience, and if I actually do meet someone interesting than that's just a great bonus. If not, then I would've had a good laugh and some drinks with my girl friend!

    We'll see how it goes. Of course, I will keep you all posted.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    #18: Ride a Motorcycle—CHECK!

    In the Philippines where traffic rules are treated more like helpful suggestions rather than actual laws, I would have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get on a motorcyle. Too many friends and acquaintances have been lost in tragic accidents for me to even consider galavanting around on a bike there. But here in New York, where driving is a little bit more civil, I thought I'd take advantage of the fact that we have a friend with good driving habits and a very cool bike to knock one "I've never ... " off my bucket list.

    The bike:

    The driver:

    And me, post amazing bike ride, and post giving big brother back there a jaunty little wave (He was pretty amused).

    It was pretty amazing! The speed, the roar of the engine, the cool breeze whipping through my hair and against my skin ... why would anyone want to travel any other way? I thought I would get a tiny bit freaked out by it all and scream at least once, but I just had a silly grin on my face for most of the ride. Then again, as friends in Manila who've been passengers in my car may remember, I am a bit of a speed freak so I suppose it makes sense.

    But as far as motorcycles go, I will leave the driving to the conscientious drivers (who I may pester for more rides come August). Thank you, Mr. Perley, for helping me knock one item off my list and for starting off my birthday week on a pretty cool note! For motorcycle aficionados, Buck co-authors a great motorcyle blog called Rubber on the Road, which you should definitely check out.

    One more down, 26 to go!

    Aerial Silks Class #3

    So ... progress on "Learn the art of aerial silks" is a tiny bit slow. It's tough to attend classes consistently when there's only one teacher that you like and you're scared of going to the location once darkness falls. I keep saying, "Ok, one more class and I'll tick this off my list!" But I always see another student doing seriously cool stuff during class and it keeps making me bargain with myself to just do one more ...

    ... and so I will go to at least one more class. I'll try to remember for next time though that it's best not to be overly generous with beer and overly stingy with sleep the night before a class. While I didn't do all that badly, I was pretty brain dead and not-too-retentive. The pictures below look cool but getting to each pose must have been terrible for the teacher, who had to repeat every instruction at least 3 times before I got it.

    For instance: "Ok now hook your knee around the fabric ... no not your ankle, hook your knee ... you're hooking your ankle. THE KNEE!"

    And: "Ok, now pull the fabric with your left hand and keep that arm straight. And your right hand just lets go of the fabric ... keep your left arm straight ... you HAVE to keep your left arm straight."

    In my brain (which is on a 5-second delay, hence the teacher's need to repeat everything 3 times): "My right ... what? Which one's my right again? Um ... wait, what?! You want me to let go with the hand that's keeping me hanging on this fabric?! Are you crazy?!" 

    In my defense, things are extremely confusing when you're hanging upside down from a piece of fabric. Telling your right from your left becomes as difficult as figuring out the square root of 573,496. Also, it's tough when you're not entirely sure what you're doing WHILE you're hanging off said fabric. Now that I'm looking at the pictures, it's pretty clear that holding my left out straight would be a great way to keep me on the fabric and off the floor. Good to know for next time!

    Kate, as usual, was doing some gorgeous things high up above the ground. I wish I had better pictures, but again, brain dead ...

    See how Kate makes aerial silks teachers smile with her beautiful lines and general amazingness? They tend to look more worried when I'm on the silks. PS: I'm doing the same pose Kate's doing above, just um, barely a foot from the ground.

    Oh well. At least I'm trying. I think I've even convinced myself that my upper body is getting somewhat stronger from all this. Maybe one day it'll all just click ...

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    Been There, Loved That: Kage's Love Affair with Surfing

    Let me introduce you all to the ├╝ber cool Kage Gozun. We met back when we were both in the Company of Ateneo Dancers, and became fast friends due to our shared craziness, sense of humor, and futile attempts to dance in each others' style (she being the bad-ass street dancer, I being the spinning/gyrating jazz dancer). Kage hit a rough spot last year, but she's getting back on her feet—and back on the board. Since Kage has been in the Philippine surfing scene for years and has traveled widely in search of stoke, I thought she would be the perfect person to grill for surfing info. I, for one, am truly inspired by her story. It's not going to be difficult to find motivation to chase a wave after reading about how her "love affair of epic proportions" began with surfing.

    What's going on with you? What have you been up to in terms of career, adventure, current goals?
    Lately I've been working a lot online on content management and writing. I still do freelance work for magazines, mostly for travel and lifestyle features. Sometimes I get freelance work for photography and I'm going all out this year with getting into selling my stock images. In terms of adventures, I just came back from Bali last March and I would like to save up this year to make it down to Siargao, Thailand, and possibly Cambodia or Vietnam. The biggest goal right now is finding my center again. I had a really rough tail end of 2009 and let's just say it wasn't good. Emotionally I was kind of a wreck. Physically my body shut down and I actually contracted this thing that hits your immune system and causes your joints to swell. I gained a lot of weight. It wasn't good, it wasn't pretty. So the main goal now is to reclaim the old me ... and surfing is one of the means I intend to use to do that.

    When did you first pick up a surfboard and what made you do it?
    I had my first lesson in Oahu back in 2001 after a trip to Siargao (a writing gig) opened my eyes to surfing in the Philippines. I'd always wanted to try it but didn't know there was surf here.

    What was your first time like?
    From the second I stood up on my first wave, I knew this was going to be a love affair of epic proportions. It truly felt like I had never been happier in my life than in that one moment.

    What was the most difficult part of learning to surf? 
    Surfing teaches you patience because it's not as easy as it looks. A lot of it is timing and also experience. You need to be patient with yourself and with the ocean and with other surfers. You can't learn it reading a manual or practicing in a pool. You really need to invest in water time. There were definitely times when I considered just cutting my losses and taking up some other sport. But, I couldn't ... because the feeling you get when you do score a good wave and get a good ride... there's no other feeling in the world.

    Most memorable surf trip and why?
    I don't think I can really boil it down to just one so I'll cheat and give you my top 3 (for now).
    1. Bali, March 2010. Memorable because it was the first really big surf trip out of the country for me and my friends. Memorable because I was just coming out of being sick and I wasn't sure how well I would fare in the water. But slowly, with the encouragement and support of friends, I got my surf mojo back one wave and one session at a time.
    2. Siargao, 2004. Memorable because I met so many amazing people on the island that continue to be my friends now. We were this mixed bag of nationalities who became an impromptu group because we were all living at the same resort. And that's one of the joys of surfing—meeting people who tend to be like-minded and more often than not have interesting stories to tell. Some of them you never hear from again, some of them you never bother to keep in touch with ... and then there are those that become lifelong friends of yours.
    3. My recent trip to Baler. I actually couldn't surf because I was still recovering from being sick but I went with my friend anyway because better to be there than sulking in Manila. I stayed on this platform for five hours shooting my friends get wave after wave after wave. Memorable because it was my first time to pick up my camera to shoot surf in a really long time. And also because even though I wasn't in the water with them and even though I wasn't surfing at all, I could still feel their stoke... and I made it mine.
    Top 5 favorite surf spots and why?
    1. Baler, Aurora (Philippines). There is magic in Baler. I love the vibe, the people, the waves, the view... bliss I tell you.
    2. La Union (Philippines). I actually have an apartment here that I share with some other surfers. La Union is great as it is accessible, has consistent waves and the locals are really friendly.
    3. Balian, Bali (Indonesia). If there was a way to marry a spot I might have married Balian while we were there last March. I've been told that it can get nasty and big with strong current and all but when we were there, the Balian that I met and surfed was amazing—and the ambience of the area was super cool ... very laidback and chill and quiet. None of the loud bars or rowdy crowds that you run into in Kuta. Perfect for surfing.
    4. Dako Island, Siargao (Philippines). This was the first place I ever surfed in Siargao and it will always be special to me because of that.
    5. ... and I seriously can not decide on the fifth place. It's like asking me to pick which puppy in the litter is the cutest.
    Top surf spots on your to-do list?
    1. I'd love to go back to Bali and surf with confidence at some of the spots like Medewi and Balangan, and I feel that I am confident with my waterskills.
    2. I would love to go back to Oahu as well and surf somewhere other than the beginner beach where I was given my lessons.
    3. So that's three (sort of). I guess despite the misgivings about cold water and sharks, I would have to add Noosa, Australia to my list of to-surf spots.
    4. And locally, I have yet to see Borongan, Samar.
    Tips for aspiring surfers like me?
    Read up before heading out: on basic surf terms, water safety, beginner tips. It's all available online. Do your research on the surf schools and camps out there before deciding which one to go with. Make sure you know about water safety—or that your instructor teaches you this before you even get wet.

    In the water—and in the long run—I would have to say, you just need to prepare yourself to be frustrated in the beginning. Some people take to it immediately and some need to warm up to it. No one is the same. So my last tip is don't compare yourself to the student next to you.

    Surfing is communal in that you all share the same ocean and should respect each other and surf with aloha. But surfing is also very private and personal in that your progress should not be marked by the progress of others.

    Your surfing philosophy?
    Surf because it makes you happy. There's a saying that goes "The best surfer is the one having the most fun" and I believe that. It's not about who is better or who surfs harder or faster. It's about you and your session and how much fun you are having. Which is why I always try to find something to be happy about with each of my sessions. Sometimes just being in the water, on my board, under the sun with my friends is enough.

    That and surf with aloha -- respect others and share stoke.

    Describe the surfing scene in the Philippines and what makes it special.
    As a surfing community, the scene here is in its infancy. So its still growing and finding itself. One of the best things about surfing here is that the Pinoy hospitality and friendliness tends to carry over even in the water. As long as you are respectful and come with good vibes, Pinoy surfers are among the nicest and most encouraging surfers you will ever meet.

    The more I read these interviews, the more I realize that I have a hell of a lot of work ahead! But at the same time, I'm glad I started this list because I never would've gotten on it had I not given myself a big kick in the butt. It looks like I'll be heading out for a few weekends in Montauk this summer in an attempt to woo the waves. Hopefully, it'll be love for me too and not a crash and burn! Thanks for the amazing stories Kage!

    Sunday, May 09, 2010

    I Survived My First 10K!

    The Newport 10K Race is one that a lot of runners take very seriously. It's one of the flattest courses in the Tristate Area so it is a great opportunity to run one's personal best. I have to say, my fellow runners today were pretty much in the zone. Clearly, my goal for this race was a bit different.

    "You ran with a camera AND you stopped for a picture with Elvis?!" one of my runner friends said incredulously.

    "I'd never forgive myself if I missed a picture with Elvis," I said. "Besides I didn't just stop for that picture. I also took one of the New York skyline!"

    I think my friend had to suppress a facepalm at that one. But it was a great shot and I don't regret slowing down to take it for a second ... 

    ... okay maybe I regretted it when the rain started pouring down 2 minutes later, but now that I'm warm and dry, I am quite happy about it.

    I ran my first 10K today after running for just about a month so I didn't really have very high expectations of myself. I ran without thoughts of personal bests or competing with the people around me. It was my first race ever and all I really wanted to do was finish it and enjoy it. So I waved at babies and kids on the streets, posed with Elvis at a turn, and took in the New York skyline when we hit the stretch by the water. I did end up paying for going at such an easy pace because when the rain came down about 45 minutes into the race, I got completely drenched because of course I was nowhere near the finish line.

    In addition to my uncontrollable urge to interact with the locals, my utter cluelessness about distances and racing in general also threw me for a loop today. As you may have gathered from this old post, I am totally useless at figuring out if I've already run a mile, particularly if I'm not familiar with the course I'm running. At the 10K race, there were numbered markers along with timers showing the elapsed time. Runners know that these are mile markers. But if you're me, here's what goes on in your head, "Hmm. I wonder if that marker means I've run 1 mile or 1 kilometer? It feels like I've run 1 mile, but why the hell would someone mark a 10-kilometer run in miles?"

    Come on. You have to agree, my argument makes perfect sense, right? Thank you.

    So eventually, I pass the 6-mile mark and I'm thinking, wow, I have 4 more to go? I must be running really slow today. But I feel good and nothing hurts, so I just keep happily trotting about at a comfortable pace until I turn a corner and wham! It's the finish line and my friends are at the sidelines whooping it up for me. I sprint like mad to the finish line, throwing my arms up like Rocky, and slamming a high five into Dante's hand, all the while simultaneously laughing at my absolute inanity. Had I known I was that close, I would've sprinted much earlier of course, but whatever. This makes for a much more entertaining story anyway, doesn't it?

    In any case, I'm still amazed at the time that I ran the race in. I actually made it out in 1:11:38.45 (and without catching pneumonia, thankyouverymuch), even after galavanting with Elvis and playing the tourist in New Jersey. I kid you not, I was convinced it would take me an hour and a half because I'm really sloooow. So it's nice to see that I'm actually not as terrible as I think I am, and it's motivating to see if I can do better next time. But most importantly, I really had a great time today and I can't wait to run some more! For now though, it is time for some much deserved sleep. Til the next run!

    Thursday, May 06, 2010

    ... and then my body said "Hell No"

    I guess it was unreasonable of me to ask my body to do the daily 9-5 grind, support the lifestyle of a lush by night, and then wake up bright and early for 4.5 to 6-mile runs for weeks on end. It was a pretty good sport for most of April ... but last night it decided that enough is enough. So now, less than two days before I'm supposed to run my first 10K, I'm sick! Last night and most of this morning, my throat was just burning. I wish I could've stayed in bed but I'm in the middle of doing a video-editing course that my office paid an arm and a leg for so I couldn't play hooky. Since the training center is near Chinatown, though, during lunch I made a beeline for Wing Wong on Lafayette Street, which serves my favorite sick-day comfort food: chicken congee with plenty of ginger. So good ...

    Afterwards, I went to Kam Man on Canal Street to get a bottle of this:

    It's funny, I always tell people that I have very little Chinese blood (which is true), but I have so many habits that out the Chinese in me. When I'm sick, I like to eat chicken congee and swig Pei Pa Koa, this Chinese herbal remedy that consists of Elm Bark, sucrose syrup, and a honey base of herbal extracts. Filipino friends have been telling me all night though to steer clear of it because apparently, Pei Pa Koa candies were recalled back in 2006 for containing formaldehyde! I did a Google Search though and it turns out that it's back in the market without traces of formaldehyde, and in any case, it was the candy made by another manufacturer and not this syrup that was recalled so I'm still swigging ... I just feel so much better after having it ...

    If I'm rambling, I apologize and blame it fully on the "herbal remedy."  I'm gonna go back to sleep now and hopefully I'll wake up feeling a tad better tomorrow. I really don't want to skip my first race. I've been researching on running with a cold and according to this article on Runner's World, it's okay to run if your symptoms are above the chest (sniffles, sneezing) but you should lay off it it's below the chest (chest cold, body ache, bronchial infection). So far, I seem to be in the clear. *fingers crossed*

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