Saturday, July 24, 2010

Queens Half Marathon—DONE!

"You know when I was here last?" said an older gentleman today before the Queens Half Marathon started. "The World's Fair in 1964. You weren't even born yet." I nodded my head, impressed that this man who had been around at the World's Fair was running this half marathon with me. I can only wish that I'll have that drive decades from now.

The Queens half marathon debuted a new course today that took us on a pretty scenic route that passed through Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Citifield, the observation towers of the New York Pavilion and the iconic Unisphere.

I can ooh and aah at the gorgeous pictures now that I'm chilling at home with the AC blasting and all the cold water I can drink. But I recall looking at the Unisphere earlier today with dismay on the approach to the 13th mile of the half marathon. We had to run around it and then through what seemed like a very long street to get to the finish line. It is amazing how long a mile seems once you're on your 13th!

The Queens half marathon course was relatively flat and fast, but the heat this morning was absolutely punishing. We started early at 7am and for the first hour it was cloudy, breezy and actually quite nice. An hour later though, it was a different story. The sun came out and started blasting us. At that point, I dredged up my inner perky little cheerleader and pep-talked myself through 13.1 miles in upwards of 85-degree heat. A lot of stuff runs through my mind while running but it's usually random blabber and not words of encouragement. Today though, when every mile felt much longer than usual in the searing heat, I had to continuously affirm myself for an added boost: "You're doing a good job Cel! You're actually sticking with this 10-minute mile pace. I had no idea you could do this, but  here you are doing it! You've trained for this, you're well-rested, and you're definitely fueled up. Keep going!!!"

I'd previously already done a 12-mile long run while training so I was confident that my body could handle the distance, and it did in fact withstand it. I never hit a wall and remained cramp-free the entire time. But the heat was a whole other monster to tackle. I stopped at every single fueling station (a million thanks to the organizers who put one on every mile) and grabbed two cups each time—one to sip and another to pour over my head and neck. I had minimal expectations of myself for this half marathon because it was my very first one and temps were too high (Announcers repeatedly said over the loud speaker, "Today is not the day to push for personal bests."). The only goal was to finish, but I estimated I'd do it somewhere in between 2:30 and 2:45. To my surprise, as I hit every mile marker, I found myself hovering around the 10-minute mile pace. And when I reached mile 12 and saw that the time was at 2:12, I started getting giddy. Holy crap, I was gonna do sub-2:30! I, Celine, who had not run a single mile before April 2010 was gonna finish my first half-marathon in under 2:30. I was shocked!

For a lot of serious runners (or just those more naturally gifted and long-legged than myself), this would be a bad run, but I never even dreamt I could do sub 2:30 so I will display it proudly:

With fellow running addicts Phil and Dwayne

Now daydreaming of a 2:15 for my next half marathon, though that's probably an impossible goal since it's only 3 weeks away. Furthermore, the Bronx half takes place during the hellishly hot month of August, and may involve a heck of a lot more hills compared to today's relatively flat course. The 2:15 goal might have to wait until the Staten Island half in October ... but it doesn't hurt to dream!

To close, random thoughts from today that may help for the next half marathon:
  • Just ditch the shirt and run in a sports bra. I kept wishing I was wearing less during that steamy run. And the tank top tan line is just not attractive. But what sports bra can I get that won't leave ugly tan lines but won't have me popping out? I'm thinking this yoga top from Shakti might work, though it'll be tough to find in a small and my preferred color, black (White would be cute but after dousing myself with water at station after station, it might turn into something like a wet t-shirt contest).
  • Speaking of tan lines, don't forget to use sunscreen next time!
  • It's time to invest in Body Glide. Chafing is a b*tch.
  • Hydrating like there's no tomorrow the day before the race is a great idea. It made a world of a difference.
  • Avoid alcohol at all costs the night before the race. The night before my last 10K, Mitch and I finished a bottle of wine. The next day, by the time we hit the finish line, we were both ready to hurl. This time I made myself skip two birthday celebrations because I've come to realize that I have a complete lack of self-control. I am utterly incapable of having just one drink, so just skip it completely and be rewarded with finishing a race without having to throw up.
  • Be vigilant about not getting feet wet. Despite dousing myself in water at every fluid station, I managed to keep my feet dry ... until I hit mile 12 and made eye contact with the guy holding the hose at the misting station. I knew he was gonna blast me straight on, which was fine, but when he did this chick running next to me careened straight into me and stepped into a puddle, drenching my feet completely. By the time we got to the car to change, I had a blister on my heel. Thank god we were done by then. This would've been disastrous at, say, mile 4.
  • Add more electronica to the playlist. It turns out I respond better to electronica. Good beat and evokes happy emotions. Robyn's music kept me going on the last stretch (Thank you Patrick for turning me on to her!). Love, love, love the song Dream On, and it totally kept me going for some difficult stretches today.
That's all for me. It's a Saturday in New York but there's no place I'd rather be than tucked in my bed tonight. Party on for me, will you?

Race images via

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

#26: Go on a Speed Date—CHECK!

I didn't think I'd ever say this but here goes ... I think every single person should go on a speed date at least once in their lives!

Mitch and I had a surprisingly good time at our speed date last night. We didn't really know what to expect when we walked into M1-5 Lounge for's Fitness Lovers event. Were we going to have to talk to a bunch of meatheads all night? Would I get corralled into the Asian Persuasion event simultaneously taking place in the same bar?

My mom always tells me not to go shopping on an empty stomach because I'll have terrible judgement and buy everything I see. I figured this rule applies to shopping for dates, as well. So we sat at the bar and had a round of drinks and some bar snacks before the event started, since we got there pretty early. Not long after we had guzzled some liquid courage and managed to tear ourselves away from the greasy grub, Mitch and I were called and led to a booth where we were to sit for the duration of the speed date. We each had a number, a lollipop (odd, I know, though I did actually have the lollipop later on), a pen, and a sheet explaining the rules and with space for us to write down names, tick off yes or no, and take additional notes. I don't think anyone actually read that sheet because a few guys were thoroughly confused. One missed a couple of girls and started doing the dates off the numerical order. Another guy actually asked for my number outright, to which I replied, "Umm, I don't think that's how this works." The same guy came back when the event was over to ask for our names again because he threw away his sheet! He was a massive fail at the technical aspects of the speed date but was pretty good-looking so I'm sure he'll still end up with a fair share of matches. had half of the bar reserved for two simultaneous events. Asian Persuasion was set-up at the bar while Fitness Lovers got the cozy booths. I preferred our comfy set-up, and frankly, the guys in our group were just way better. Mitch and I shared a booth for our speed dates, which made it a lot more fun and a lot less absurd. I wonder if this is set-up would be strange though for girls who don't know each other?

I was bracing myself for a barrage of trainers and "GTL" disciples, but there was actually a lawyer, an investment banker, and surprising number of tech dudes (I had to stop describing my work as geeky when I realized a lot of them out-geeked me). There were a few dubious dudes here and there (working out your jaw and digestive system does not make you a fitness lover, mister), but generally there was a pretty fine display of guns, I would say. 

The Fitness Lovers speed date definitely exceeded my expectations in terms of the pool of men (Although that said, the Asian Persuasion lot was exactly what I thought they would be like. Forgive me for being harsh, I've just had a lot of bad experiences with men who "are really into Asian girls."). A lot of people had scared me beforehand by telling me how awful their speed date experiences were, but this was actually a lot of fun. I definitely prefer it over, say, meeting drunk guys at random dive bars. I don't know if I'd do it again, but I highly recommend it to the curious!

If you ever decide to do it, here are my 10 cents:
  • On picking a theme. The themes of these speed-dates run the gamut from innocuous ("Puppy Love", "Karaoke Lovers" and "Herbivore Night") to unabashadly sexual ("HUNG", "Mr. Right Now" and the wildly popular "Cougar/Boy Toy"). When picking one, think about the worst possible scenario the theme could go and decide whether you can deal with that. You might go with Culture Club thinking you're going to meet a super refined intellectual, but the truth is you might spend all night talking to a bunch of know-it-all pricks. Are you ok with that? When I picked Fitness Lovers I thought, okay, worst case, I'll meet a dumb-as-a-rock meathead. I could just stare at his biceps for 3 minutes or challenge him to a beer chugging contest. I'm okay with biceps and beer chugging, but I may want to gouge my eyes out trying to be cooler-than-thou with hipsters all night. Thus, my choice of themes. And it turned out pretty well!
  • On taking notes. I wouldn't scribble while talking to someone cos that's just weird, but it would save you some time to write a little note after the chat's done. You think you'd remember everyone but you'll find that there's a person here or there that you'll have a hard time recalling. But then again, if you can't even remember talking to that person, I suppose you don't need to go on a date with him. Disregard said tip.
  • Don't forget to ask the questions that matter to you. You could easily get carried away with the banter that you end up knowing squat about the guy at the end of the three minutes. So make sure you get to use some of those three minutes to find out the things that are important. I'd like to know that a guy has a solid career path, so I made sure to throw out the "So, what exactly do you do?" at some point in the conversation if I was interested. But I can see how I might've never gotten to that if I didn't make a point of asking.
  • Three minutes goes by real quickly. So yes, of course there will be guys that you would rather not converse with but just keep asking questions and the ringing of the bell will mercifully come soon enough, I promise.
  • Take a drink with you. You will get thirsty after introducing yourself  over and over for about 14 times.
  • Coerce a friend to come with. It is so much more fun that way! I felt really relaxed the entire time since Mitch was just by me, which made talking endlessly more manageable. Plus you don't want to miss out the fun of rehashing the speed date afterwards! Ooh, and you can help each other recall who the ones to take note of are (both in a good way and in a bad way).
  • Manage your expectations. If you treat it as a fun night out of making new friends with the distant possibility of meeting someone dateable, you'll enjoy yourself a lot more.
So glad to finally have this checked off my list! Will it have an impact on my so-called love life though? Stay tuned ...

Special thanks to Amber of for taking the great pictures!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Shoe Hunt - Part II

At my pole dancing class last Thursday, the other girls in my class looked at me as if I had two heads when I put on a regular pair of nude leather heels. What parallel universe is this that I'm the one who's weird because I'm not wearing platform Lucite heels? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they looked at me strangely because they knew I'd have a tough time dancing using my regular heels, which did in fact happen. I felt like my respectable stilettos resented getting scraped against a pole during climbs, and were therefore retaliating by threatening to fly off mid-spin. By the time class wrapped up, I felt it was imperative that I go and get myself a proper pair of Lucite-heeled exotic dancing shoes. 

So yesterday after a hearty, mildly hungover brunch at Good Restaurant, Mitch and Jenn accompanied me on a jaunt through the West Village sex shops to find the stripper heels of my dreams. I had my heart set on Ellie heels since that's what my teacher recommended, but the stores only had mules and I really wanted shoes with ankle straps. I ended up finding these surprisingly comfortable clear heels by Pleaser.
The stiletto heel's very high and needle-thin, but the tall platform compensates for that. It's pretty stable actually. After I made my selection, we wandered around the store musing over what we'd wear for Halloween and what would be a hysterical gift for the next bachelorette party we attend. Jenn and Mitch humored me and let me take pictures of them with the very odd headgear sold in this store ...
A pair of Lucite heels and a couple of mango margaritas later, I finally got home and found a new issue of Glamour in the mail. When I flipped through it, guess what I saw in one of their fashion stories ... more Lucite heels!
Mine cost me less than $60. I wonder how much Miuccia is charging for these? I have to say though, the ones on the left are pretty darn cute. I guess Lucite doesn't look as trashy with a thick heel. But too many elements of these shoes (the clear straps, for one) are so similar to the shoes that I just bought that I just can't take them seriously!

Anyway that's all I really have to say about that ... that and I can't wait to take my new shoes for a spin!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Charge it to Experience

When life gives you lemons, don't just make lemonade. Cut the damn things up into wedges, bring out the vodka and shot glasses, make lemon drops, and party on.

I've decided that's how I'm gonna approach life from now on. Yesterday I hit the first major catastrophe on my little 30 Before 30 Project. I went to check out the procedure for obtaining a visa for Spain and found out that it takes SIX BLOODY WEEKS to get an appointment at the consulate and 15 DAYS to get the visa processed. What kind of f*ckery is this?!

I wanted to bang my head on the wall because I should have seen this coming. I'm from the Philippines for godsakes. I know that travel documents can take a looooong time. But I guess living in New York and having no trouble at all getting visas for the last few years made me too lax. I also put applying for this visa on the backburner since I had to hold on to my passport to get  my US visa renewed and to apply for my New York State driver's license. I never thought in a million years that working on my visa seven weeks before my trip would be too late!

I should have known to cover my bases though because I have the worst luck ever when it comes to traveling. I've been stranded in Prague, Japan, and Amanpulo (that last one's actually more of a stroke of good luck, but whatever). I've bawled in the German Consulate in Prague to get my way. I've had numerous flights get canceled on me. I should know by now that when it comes to travel, I'm Murphy's Law's favorite victim!

So for a few desperate moments there, I thought all my Ibiza dreams were swirling down the drain. Thank god for Ludette, who got me thinking of a gorgeous country I've been meaning to visit, which is incidentally located near Spain, part of the Schengen agreement, and with a consulate that'll work with me ...

... yup, I'm going to Portugal! See, the rule for Schengen countries is that you need to apply for a visa from the country you're staying the longest at. So I cut out a few days from my Ibiza trip and added a full Portugal leg to my vacation. It's gonna put an annoying little dent on my finances because I had to pay a rebooking fee plus a penalty for making a long stop in Madrid rather than flying straight through. But thank god for cheap European airfare because I was able to get a roundtrip flight from Madrid to Lisbon for just about $75. It's not entirely terrible because I was thinking awhile back that I should've combined my Ibiza trip with a visit to another place since I've already paid for the trip across the pond. So here goes. An unexpected trip just popped up in my already complicated life. There's never been a better use of that expression, "Charge it to experience" than this.

It was sheer agony wracking my brain about this yesterday but now that I've figured out what to do, I'm pretty excited! I haven't gone on a trip on my own in awhile, so I'm looking forward to it (stragglers are welcome though, if anybody wants to join me). The last time I went on a trip completely alone was back in 2003, when I spent a long weekend galavanting in Florence. The thought of exploring a new country at my own pace and time is kind of thrilling.

It's a strange twist of fate too ... My last attempt at visiting Lisbon was in 2003 but I completely missed the trip because of my Prague visa shenanigans. Seven years later, here I am, finally getting to Lisbon—this time as a remedy to a sticky visa situation. The travel gods sure have lengthy memories and wicked senses of humor.

Special thanks to Ela Paje-Leh for letting me use her gorgeous Portugal photographs and for making me a million times more excited about this little adventure!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Food for Thought

Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it's hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time.
– Monte Davis (via Runner's World)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

12.22 Random thoughts from my 12.22-mile run

Thank god my brain doesn't seem to shut up because it kept me quite entertained throughout my long run. Central Park's Outer Loop deserves credit too for offering up so much fodder for my silly brain. Here, 12.22 random thoughts from today's 12.22 mile run. 

1. People are really getting into this running barefoot thing. Five barefoot runners + 1 runner in Vibrams on the Outer Loop today.
2. There's a lot of spit lying around the Outer Loop.
2.22. I'll give you a moment to ruminate on #1 and #2.
3. I'm so getting some sauteed spinach with shrimp from the Chinese takeout place after this run. With white rice—none of that brown rice b*llsh*t.
4. It's a total mindf*ck running the same loop twice. Knowing I have to run Harlem Hill twice makes it very tempting to hightail it home instead of going again.
5. I curse a lot in my head while I run.
6. Must Google what all these people are lined up for. (Answer: to watch Al Pacino perform in Merchant of Venice. Now writhing in utter jealousy.)
7. People dance the Argentine tango in the park! Must add to my to-do list.
8. I don't have any sweat stains on my new running top! Oh wait, it's just completely soaked through.
9. I can't believe I just noticed that the drinking fountains are engraved with names and tributes. If I become crazy rich someday, I'm so donating a fountain. It'll have my name and the words "How do you like me now?" engraved on it.
10. Man, I love New York. (Yes, I get sentimental in between curses when I run)
11. While running in this heat generally sucks b*lls, it does have it's advantages. Hel-lo hot shirtless runners!
12. I'm gonna need 11 more random thoughts to get me through the New York marathon. Hopefully I won't have to devote a number to, "I just want to die."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

My Friend Dusty

I remember being really shy when I first met my buddy, Dusty. I walked into the Asics store near Bryant Park feeling a bit like a fraud, looking for running shoes when I had yet to run a single mile. I don't think the salesclerk minded since I did end up blowing $125 fairly quickly on these Asics Nimbus 12 kicks. I remember being a little pouty that they didn't have other colors in my size. I would've liked a more girly color and wasn't too sure about all that gray. But I grew to love Dusty even though she wasn't exactly my type, looks-wise. She just has a way of supporting me and cushioning my every fall. And when I'm with her, I feel like I'm running on clouds. 

The relationship has been wearing down Dusty though, I have to admit. Four months, two 10K races, and close to 200 miles logged and my running buddy has gone from looking like this ...

... to this.

Hence the moniker Dusty. I now fully understand the color-picking rationale of Asics. You can barely tell that Dusty used to have white accents. You can't see it from this picture, but the laces on my right shoe are streaked with black marks because I don't like carrying things when I run, so I thread my house keys through the laces and they leave unsightly marks. Add to that how running through rain, puddles, and the gravelly Reservoir has roughed up my beloved sneaks. Before I know it, it'll be time to make friends with another pair. But for now, Dusty and I have it good. Together we've seen the cherry blossoms bloom and fall, the fireflies flicker around the running paths, and the 4th of July fireworks burst above the Manhattan skyline. I just need you to hold up for a couple of half-marathons through Queens and the Bronx, and maybe join me for some fun in the sun running up hills in Ibiza, and then I'll let you rest for good. 

But tomorrow morning, Dusty, you and I have a date.

The Shoe Hunt - Part I

Oh the crazy places this 30 Before 30 List is taking me. One minute I'm researching on running shoes, the next on hiking shoes, and now exotic dancing heels? My teacher today, Brynlyn, had commented that one of the reasons I was having problems with a particular spin could be my shoes. I had been thinking of getting exotic dancing shoes in any case because I didn't want to ruin my beloved patent leather heels with constantly dragging it on the floor and scraping it against the pole. So this is how I found myself browsing this type of heels and doubling over fits of laughter at the myriad ways Lucite can get jazzed up. 

This first one has to be my favorite. How did they come up with a shoe that is absolutely made for me when I just got into pole dancing three weeks ago? Presenting ... *drumroll please* ... the exotic dancing shoe/bottle opener!

Isn't that just perfectly, tremendously trashy?! I kind of love it. I would totally order it just for kicks if I wasn't scared the bottle opener would cut up my leg. Then there's just the confounding variety of things that can be put into a Lucite platform.

There's a shoe designed to tickle the fancy of a high roller ...

... a disco fiend ...

... an incurable romantic ...

... one with a keen interest in marine biology ...
... or someone who just plain likes rubber duckies!

Why romance with roses when you can show your devotion with blossoms within her Lucite heels?

There are also a few different ways to hint at your audience to show their appreciation. You can go with discreet ...

... take the sweet and innocent route ...

... be a little more obvious ...

... or just be flat out shameless.

If Taylor Momsen has no qualms asking for tips, why should you?

Since I don't think anyone has figured out how exactly to get tips out of the platform, I am leaning towards something more basic. Clear and streamlined all the way, something I could trick fashionistas into thinking were actually from Dsquared2's Spring 2010 collection

As for my first beginner Climb & Spin class at New York Pole Dancing today, I ended up getting a much better deal than I signed up for. It being a holiday and practically 100 degrees out, I guess there weren't many ladies keen on climbing and spinning around poles, so my very first class ended up being one on one! I was shaking in my stilettos but Brynlyn was very nice and encouraging. During the stretches I guess she noticed my alignment and incessant need to point my feet, and asked if I took yoga and whether I had a dance background. I told her I had done Bikram and used to dance ballet, so during the lesson she explained some things by relating it to yoga and also used ballet terminology for the steps, which I really appreciated. She was great about breaking down the techniques, whether it was a knuckle turn, the firefly spin, or the technique to climbing that darn pole. And boy, was she relentless on making me climb! I had psyched myself out when it came to climbing because I did so poorly at it in my aerial silks classes, but she taught me to rely on my abdominal strength rather than jumping into it, which really helped a lot. By the end of the class, I was climbing quite well so I was pretty stoked—though my now rapidly bruising up shins and thighs don't share my enthusiasm.

Needless to say, I am pretty wiped out and cringe at the thought of all the aches and pains bound to hit tomorrow, so I will hit the sack. It seems the road to being sex on legs is paved with plenty of banged up knees and bruised egos.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

30 Before 30 Project: The Backstory

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
- Tyler Durden, Fight Club
Last night, as I sat nursing a chardonnay with some girlfriends and mulling over the highs and lows of our lives in the past few months, my friend Che broached the idea that maybe I wouldn't have come up with my 30 Before 30 Project had my life not turned into a maelstrom last year. I've thought about this too and it's probably true. I'd rather not rehash all the sordid details but suffice it to say that I found myself in the middle of a rapidly crumbling relationship and realizing that the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with was all smoke and mirrors. 

There's nothing like a failed relationship to make you lose your footing and find yourself suddenly unsure of who you are and what you're worth. In those three years, in small ways and measures, I had somehow become a less defined individual, blurring my edges to seamlessly blend with another person. By the time we broke up, I likened myself a bit to that girl in Runaway Bride, who didn't even know how she liked her eggs cooked because she'd always had them the way her beaus did. But if there's one thing that I am, it's a fighter. Even if the relationship had shattered to pieces, there was no way I was going to let him or anyone else break me. So I set off on a mission to start a new and kick-ass life, and at some point the 30 Before 30 Project was born. After several years of putting off the things I wanted to do either because my dad wouldn't let me do it, or it didn't fit in with my boyfriend's schedule, or my job situation didn't allow for it, I was suddenly on my own time and with the means to seize life as I've always wanted. And I have never been happier. I'm still a little undefined these days, but in a good way. I'm blurring the edges once again, not to blend with someone else, but because all those lines and boundaries I once thought I had, I've found aren't really there. 

I used to think that I could never run, but here I am in the midst of training for the New York Marathon. I thought I hated sweat and grit, but I've already completed the 30-day Bikram Yoga challenge. I still recall being a prissy 23-year-old hiking through Swarzwälder and telling my friends, "Ew, I don't do camping." And yet here I am excitedly plotting and planning a 7-day road trip with lots of hiking and, indeed, camping with my friend Kate this August. If I remain undefined, it's because I'm finding that there's so much more to discover about myself and what I'm capable of doing.

But enough about me. What I've been really excited about these days is that more and more people are catching the list-making bug! I received a few emails this week from some amazing ladies who have decided to put down their own lists, and thought I would share them with you.

Teeyah of Chronicles of Vanity has thrown down the gauntlet and put down a 26 Before 26 list on her blog with a November 2011 deadline. One of my favorite items on her list is "Skip the thinking part and just pack my bags." I love it a little extra because she's already checked it off and the story is very cool. I'd love to do that one day too!

Romance writer and blogger Sonja Foust also started a 30 Before 30 list and is making pretty good progress on it! I am especially envious of her "Go to a roller derby match" item. Why didn't I think of that? And where the heck can I go to see roller derby in NY?

And finally there's Dea, who now has a 31 Before 31 list and a very exciting 3 1/2 years ahead of her. Curious to see which proves to be the more difficult task for her ... climbing Mt. Pulag or eating her first balut? I hope you will end up loving balut as much as I do Dea!

I've never met these three brave ladies, but look forward to someday sharing a cold beer and lots of good stories with them. Wishing you the best of luck and looking forward to the juicy updates!

As for me, it's a ridiculously hot day in New York with temperatures hovering around the upper 90s. Not the best weather for the day I'm scheduled to tack on a 10-mile run for my marathon training program, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Off to relish a few more hours in the AC and chug as much liquids as humanly possible. Happy Sunday and thank god for long weekends!

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