Festive 500


7 Days, 500 kms. On a bike. That was the goal of the Festive500 challenge that some hardcore triathletes and cyclists were planning on completing over the holidays. 

What started as just a fun ride for me on Christmas Eve became Day 1 of a challenge that I wanted to complete. Technically, we could’ve just ridden everyday, do loops on flat roads and finish the 500kms easy peasy.  

But I ended up joining and being inducted to a fun, crazy, and strong group of bikers that brought me biking up, down and around a volcano. And I wouldn’t have done it any other way. 

As per usual, I was always the only girl in the group.. perhaps because I was the only one crazy enough to to this feat with them. I’m always up for a challenge and I always find motivation not to quit so I guess that helped a lot. 

Day one was just supposed to be a Noche Buena ride with Mark (who is a teammate), Paolo, Aries & Gadric — all of whom did the Trek100 Challenge a few months back and without their tips, I wouldn’t have survived that race. 

Noy, Pao & Aries telling me over breakfast what to expect in the Trek100 course a few months ago

Anyway, so on Dec 24, we went up Tagaytay from Nuvali via Cardiac Hill and man, that was no easy ride. My reward was a siopao and a bar of butterfinger cups from 711 once we get to the top. Thing is, I don’t really eat siopao. But when you’re so tired and famished – that piece of bread with meat inside seems like the best reward. This was also when we decided to call it #Paostive500 and #tourDeAries because it was Paolo’s idea to do the challenge and it was Aries who decided the routes to take.

Raise your hand if you want chocolates!
My second time to climb to Tagaytay with these guys

3 and a half hours on the saddle and 70.2 kilometers later, we called it a day and headed to our respective families for Christmas celebrations. 
On Christmas Day, I decided to make the most out of the empty streets in my neighborhood and rode my bike out. What was supposed to be 30km became 40km and I only stopped because I had to get ready for my family lunch already. Mind you, I was still enjoying my “off season” from training so the past few weeks I would only bike once for 40km or none at all. So biking two days in a row was already pushing it. 

Urban cycling – around BGC

Day 3 was the game changer. The plan was the ride with the usual suspects and go up to Tagaytay the same route as the noche buena ride and go back down. Easy. I just wanted to improve my time in going up the segements of those inclines. But when we realized that there were only 3 of us and the guys saw people they knew at the parking, we ended up joining them. 

forever one of the boys

Pao & Aries told me it would be better if we just joined the other group going up to Tagaytay as it is safer to ride in a pack. So off to Tagaytay we rode via Sta. rosa. 

Now this is where my trust issues come to play. All plans went down the drain once we reached Tagaytay. Instead of heading Back down… oh, we went down alright.. but into Talisay instead. And again, instead of going back… we took the long route and did a tour of Taal instead. We went to places I’ve never been to and I never knew existed. Oh if I could’ve only taken photos of all the sights that I saw as we were cycling! All so picturesque! I took lots of mental pictures that I can only wish to be able to share with all of you. We even passed a town that totally gave me a mindf*ck as I thought I was in intramuros and not taal. The inclines we had to endure were steep and I’m just glad I was able to climb it. 2 flat tires (Aries then mine — thank you Pao for changing my tire), getting lost in a village celebrating fiesta somewhere, a delicious meal, and finally seeing that internet-famous castle later, we were finally back in Tagaytay.. only to chase last light and headed back down before it got too dark. All our guardian Angels were at work that day – despite the rain and wet roads – none of us crashed. All of us were safe. 12 hrs on the road? CRAZY.  

Crazy inclines going around taal
Lunch break
Biggest Balisica – the Taal Basilica
Finally saw the castle in person!

Now, I don’t know why, but the next day after that epic ride, I found myself on the road again, spinning my legs for a 40km recovery ride. I had decided that I NEEDED and WANTED to complete the 500km before the 31st. There’s no medal or anything, just a badge. But it was a challenge that not a lot can do and I was up for it.
Our original plan of conquering Cardiac Hill again finally happened on Saturday. My legs were already suffering from accumulated fatigue so riding up cardiac hill was even harder than I remembered. It was tough on my legs. We ended up going back down via a different route and the dirt roads stressed me out. Another 70km in the bank! 

Always riding with the boys.. where my girls at?!
We hit so many undeveloped roads- so happy we didn’t get a flat!
All smiles after successfully going through the tough dirt road

My last day was bound to be a tough one. With 134km to go and exhausted legs… some were asking me if I was still aiming to finish as a lot have given up already. So, I switched to my Trek Speed Concept and decided to have an “easy” long ride. The original plan was to just do loops in flat roads. Pat had different plans and we ended up just going through every road we could bike on. Beyond grateful for coaches Patrick Joson & Paolo Leaño for sticking and riding with me til I finished my 500kms even if they had already completed their mileage long before I did. 


By the way- did you notice how my coach and I have the same bikes? TWINNING!

505.9 Kilometers, almost 5,000 meters of elevation gain, 14,500 calories burned, 26 hrs on the saddle and lots of new friends. What a great way to end 2017!

Big thanks to Paolo Leaño, Patrick Joson & Aries Cajucom who really stuck beside me every ride and guided me as it was my first time in most routes. Johnjohn Torres for sticking beside me when we were climbing Payapa. My teammate mark Hernandez for being the one to invite me into the climbing group. Diego Juliano & Patrick for taking tons of photos – I didn’t even have to ask and I instantly have so much to keep for memories! 

Also wouldn’t have survived without 

TREK Bicycle Store Manila (esp Jeff who makes sure my bikes are always ready for epicness) 

Enve for my tri bike’s guapo wheels

First endurance – my bike nutrition aside from chocolates and siopao 

Superfood Energy balls for that ginseng kick for energy 


What a year ender. Now I’m ready to take on my 2018 triathlon season with a bang! 

One year of tri-ing 

This post has long been overdue. A couple of months ago, I celebrated my first year anniversary in triathlon racing. Given that I had done a run relay and a bike relay June and August of last year also, well, that didn’t really count as being a triathlete, does it? But as I have written here before, it was after doing the bike relay in Cebu that prompted me to maybe perhaps try to race all three disciplines on my own… despite being undertrained at that time.

Fast forward to this year, I had just come from a painful experience in racing Cebu ironman 70.3 wherein I had written about my race experience here as well. While some people already called it off season, I had one more race to prepare for – aboitiz tri 2017 aka my anniversary race. Having had this race a year ago as my cherry popper, I felt compelled to do it all over again and compare how I’d fare this time around. 


It was only Lucas Lorenzo and I who were representing Team Gotta for that race, but our friends from the other teams took us in so we were with a group. 

What’s nice about doing this race in pico de Loro is that since it is an afternoon race, you can just make a day trip out of it. Arrive early morning, do all pre-race requirements of registration, bike check in, briefing, race, awarding.. then go home. 


It started raining as we were checking our bikes in… not a good thing as it would mean slippery roads — and we all know that there is that steep uphill right at the beginning of the bike course so a wet road won’t help us at all. The rain also meant rough water, and true enough, as I did my warm up swim, i remember feeling the waves as I tried to swim out and ended up just trying to swim back, nauseated as I got out of the water. My heart pounded, I wanted to throw up. I wanted to back out. The mental games have begun. My swim coach, Noy Basa aka Aquaman was there to race as well and upon seeing how frantic I was with the water, he just gave me additional tips on how to go about my race. 

It was a sweet surprise to see my parents there watching and cheering for me once again – they had told me earlier that they had important appointments that weekend and just wished me luck, so their presence was greatly appreciated.

Before the start, I went up to my friend  (who is the greatest PT in my book — he takes care of me when I get injured) Dr Francis Diano and asked him if we could start together. I teased him that I wanted to keep my eye on him to watch the competition but I low key just wanted to draft behind him in the swim (he knew that ofcourse). As the gunstart ensued we ran in, and 5 seconds in, I had lost Francis into the throngs of swimmers and I was left alone to fend for myself.

The swim was two loops of 750m and after the first loop, you had to go out of the water and do it all over again. All I remember was that the water was so strong going against us that I really had to give it my all in the swim. Minutes later, I found myself swimming at the first turn and remembered how last year, I had to stop by this turn and hang on to a buoy because I was getting a panic attack and thought I was going to drown. I guess I felt like Dory this year and kept singing “just keep swimming” in my head. Or maybe it was a different song… I don’t remember.

Now, I am not a strong swimmer. I’ve been swimming for a year. And given the water conditions that day, i wasn’t expecting to hit a PR on the swim so getting out of the water in 30 mins for a 1500m swim was fast for me. I thought there was something wrong with my watch because… how can I get that split? Ofcourse, being the kikay triathlete that I am though, before running to transition, I ran to a rinsing station to rinse off the lake water from my body – because eeewwwy. (Lol)



My non negotiables in every race also include my bottle of spray sunblock that I reapply every so often while on the course – because race results may matter but irreversible sun damage is forever. 

The bike and run courses weren’t easy. The first parts of both were steep climbs that would really challenge your muscles. But a reprieve was given as we would finish off with a few flat loops. The first bike climb was tough, I witnessed a few people who dropped and/or broke their chains while climbing. But once you get through that, it’s all somewhat flat (or perhaps falsely flat) from then on. It rained for 5 minutes while riding. Annoying. 



I got into the second transition with tired legs. It was a scorcher out there but I had set my mind that I had to finish strong. Our numbers were arranged by gender and age group, so the first thing I noticed upon racking my bike was that the two bikes to my left and right were already racked. I wasn’t sure if the others beside them were too, but I knew that this wasn’t my race at all. It’s ok, i thought.. I wasn’t gunning for podium anyway. But the competitive spirit in me wanted to kick myself in the butt for not pushing harder and maybe perhaps go faster. I tried to run those uphills but the legs started to cramp. Time to slow down then and just make up for it.. when the legs started giving up, I began running with my heart. My parents were watching… they can’t see me walking. I don’t want my mom to spend too much time under the sun – she hates being under the sun. So I ran. Or atleast tried to.


I was officially 20 mins faster this year than the first time I raced here. 20 minutes — that’s a huge jump! That alone was a win for me. But the surprises weren’t over. While I thought I was just there to do my anniversary race, the sweetest cherry on top was landing on the podium. It was a 3rd place finish for me and I couldn’t be any happier. 

Since my one and only teammate had already left the premises, I was adopted by my friends from Revv Multisport for the awards dinner. And guess what? Their team members Miguel Aldeguer, Gadric Chusenfu & Enrico Menichetti got on the podium too! 

Ended the night and my first tri year on a high. My first season lasted a full year. It’s been 9 weeks since that last race and I have since claimed to be in off season already…. I may have raced the Trek100 while on this “break” but who said you can’t still SBR on your off season right?  So elated to have ended my first year with a bang…. and now I can’t wait to train all over again and prepare for another race at the start of 2018z 🤘🏾

My 2017 Cebu ironman 70.3 experience 


As 2016’s Asia Pacific Championships was when I first dipped my toes in an ironman event by doing the bike part of the race, 2 months ago for this year’s event, I faced the challenge of racing all 113kms of swim, bike and run all by myself.

They told me that Cebu was always unpredictable and it would always have that once curveball during the race… what we didn’t see coming was that this year, there were two curveballs. 

Everything was going smoothly…. I was nervous yet excited for the race to to begin. I have a penchant for starting beside my friends/teammates and this race was no different. After finding them by the shore, we all warmed up together and planned to run into the water together and swim side by side. (I still have a lingering fear of swimming so my teammates are nice enough to always let me stay with them as much as I can just til I get comfortable) 


But sometimes, things don’t go as planned… and as the rollingstart begun, I found myself being pulled by a marshal to the front and having had to start all by myself. I remember running in, looking back to my teammate, and gave him an “oh sh-t” look. I was alone. Suffice to say that I ended up getting lost (people were hanging onto the buoyline so I swam past it and ended up in the deep, really black part of the sea already… faaaar from where the racers were) and ended up swimming around 3km. 

The current was so strong and we were swimming against it. At some point, when I had realized that it was pitch black and there were no other swimmers next to me (I got lost in my thoughts that I didn’t realize it early on – swimming is very meditative), I looked up to find myself in the middle of the sea… I screamed for help and a nice marshal on a kayak went up next to me to tell me that I was far off course already. I asked him if I should just ride his boat and call it a day but he said he believed I could still make it to the cut off. Kuya Manong kayak, whoever you were…. thank you for that.

So I swam back. Or at least tried to. Once I got back to the pack, everyone was swimming violently. I remember being punched and kicked countless times. I was frustrated. I was screaming as I exhaled in the water. I just wanted this to be over. The moment I found myself lost in the deep blue was when it stopped being a race for me and became all about survival. Screwy target time. I just wanna live. Maybe finish… but I told myself already that if I get cut off, then so be it.

When I finally got out of the water, I checked my watch only to realize that I had still ample time before the cut off. “Great” I thought. As I got to the transistor area, I was surprised to see quite a number of bikes still there. Wow. There were still plenty of people swimming then…

For those of you who have read my other entires, you probably already know that biking is my favored leg of the 3. So despite everything that happened on the swim, I was glad to finally be able to ride my bike. 


Biking 90km in Cebu under the heat, with crosswinds and headwinds was harder than I had remembered. I pushed and pedaled and got lost in my thoughts… I wanted to save my legs for the half marathon that would come after. But at the same time, I wanted to make up for the horrible swim time that I clocked in.My quads and hamstrings started to cramp but I kept telling myself that I should keep going. Now is not the time to dnf. The will to survive. I was thinking.. hey, I’m already in pain, might as well keep going and get a medal for it! 

When I finally got back to transition, that’s where the mental game started. I didn’t want to run anymore. My legs were giving up on me. I started pacing by my box, debating with myself if I should go on… I was feeling weak. It was too hot. But a voice in my head said “come on, it’s just 21k… you do that for fun every week today is when it matters.” So I put on my shoes and attempted to run. 


It was a scorcher out there. I found myself getting as much sponge, ice, water, sports drink and bananas I could get my hands on in all the hydration stations. I was taking my gels. I was strict with my nutrition. But the heat was stronger than my body. The people of Cebu were lined up in the streets cheering, screaming our names… it was a nice reprieve from all the suffering we were enduring. I was smiling through the pain.. their energies lifted me up. 


I was smiling when I crossed that finish line. It was a sense of relief. It was A sense of accomplishment. And as I found my teammates by the ice baths…. I suddenly felt the adrenaline wear off and I let out a loud cry.. “kuya that was so painful” and I was hugged as I cried…. cried because it was painful. Cried because it was finally over. Cried because I survived. It was a roller coaster of emotions for me, and everyone else who joined. Cebu was a tough one. That was one hard earned hardware. Will I do it again next year? We’ll see…

CT IronMan70.3 Subicbay 2017


I’ve gone from 1 run relay, 1 bike relay, 2 Olympic distance triathlons and 1 duathlon straight to my first half ironman in less than a year. Am I testing my limits or am I just crazy? Up to you to decipher.


Yesterday’s race was challenging. It was my first 70.3 and it didn’t come easy. As January rolled in, I started to train for this race but as luck would have it, I injured my shin 2 weeks in and was out of training for a week. After that, my coaches only allowed me to swim and bike. Three weeks before the race, friends, team mates and my coach sat me down and asked if I still wanted to do it. I haven’t been running much and my injury still wasn’t healed – it concerned them that things might get worse. But since I’m stubborn, and the type who wouldn’t stop at nothing to get what she sets her mind to, I told them I’d manage. Or at least try to. 


Come race weekend I was nervous but calm. I had no idea what to expect and my coach had told me to just pace the whole race and not push too hard as he didn’t want me to injure myself yet again. The goal was just to finish, I can push when on the next one. Triathlete friends (who have been doing this for years) all gave me tips on how to go about the race and what to expect, what to do as to not blowout and bonk.


On the day of the race, as I was getting my transition area ready, i had a little crisis as my front bike wheel was deflated and even the bike mechanics didn’t have a valve extended to put air in it. Fortunately, Jay Caniza of the Alveo tri team came to my rescue, he kept telling me to relax as it was my first race, and he was the one who looked for a solution for my problem. Big thanks, jay!


At the swimstart, I didn’t have butterflies in my belly– I had a whole insect farm in there! My heart was beating so loud and fast I kept holding on to my chest. As the whistle blew, off I went. At some point of the swim someone accidentally punched my face and pulled my goggles down so I had to stop to put it back on. Nevertheless I think I had a good swim, still slow but I wasn’t freaking out in the water nor was out of breath anymore. Yay! 


I took advantage of the fact that I could take my time in this race and there was no time pressure from myself, my coach or my friends so at the first transition area, I took my time and applied sunblock all over to protect myself from the sun on the cloudless bike course on sctex. If you check my bike photo you’d notice the bottle of sunblock spray in my back pocket. The bike course was tough as it was full of rolling hills, false flats and rough roads, apart from the sweltering heat. Oh boy. I also initially suffered with problems with my gear shifter. For some weird reason, I couldn’t get the chain to the big ring. I was already thinking that maybe it’s the universe telling me to really take it easy on my legs but then it worries me as that would mean no power on the flats and downhills. But as I hit the first major downhill, on the 7th try, it worked, and I was so grateful. Every successful small to big rig change from them on felt like an achievement for me from then on. 


Having had only a handful run sessions during my training due to the shin splints, I knew I wasn’t going to run fast or strong. But I was willing to put up a fight. I wore my shin compressions for added protection, and changed my bike shades into pink running ones (because.. kikay) and went on my way. The blistering heat of the sun was unforgiving. I stopped by every aid station to grab ice, sponges, water, have them pour iced water all over, and even grabbed a banana or two just to keep me going.  It helped a lot that fellow triathletes would cheer me on as I ran, those who knew it was my first time would scream “you’re doing great!” As they passed. 


I never wiped the smile off my face the whole race. Yes it was painful, yes it was tough, but it was worth it. And apparently I was 7th in my age group too! Not bad! 


And though I was initially advised to take a break, next week I’m off to do my first aquathlon. Wish me luck! 🙂

Mt Maculot


 It was the day after Typhoon Nina had just devastated some parts of the country. We were supposed to climb a different, more difficult mountain that day, but, given that typhoon had just hit the area, we decided to change our whole itinerary.


From a large group of 20+ that was supposed to hike a different mountain at dawn to catch the sunrise, we ended up with a little less than 20 people climbing up to catch the sunset instead. And I’m glad we did.


We saw a tree that had fallen the day before right at the start of the hike. We were scared that the soil might be soft due to the storm but fortunately, the soil was dry, thanks to the humidity and heat that day. Ofcourse, it was the heat and humidity that made the climb harder than it really was as well.


Having some first time hikers with us, we paced slow and steady, and took tons of photos every chance we had. And boy, did we take lots of those chances! 


I kept muttering “oh my God it’s so beautiful” over and over as we were nearing the Rockies. Because it really was. Everywhere we looked, everything our eyes could see… the photos don’t give any justice to the breathtaking beauty that we witnessed.


Standing at the top and edge of every rock just for that obligatory mountain photo was quite a challenge. You look down and see that one wrong move would mean the end. It is of utmost importance to practice extra caution when going up those rocks. Didn’t help that I’m actually frightened of heights so I had to do my deep breathing exercises whenever I’d be standing by a cliff. 


We were all on top of the Rockies when sunset occurred  and we just stayed there. Sat down and took it all in. (And took tons of photos again ofcourse.) there are no words that can suffice to describe it. Mother Nature put on a show that day and to just marvel at what you see was inevitable.


We climbed down as it was getting dark and again, the view of the city slowly lighting up in the dark was another sight to behold. Took more photos not with a camera but just my eyes for the memory bank this time… extremely grateful for that sudden change of plans. Grateful to have hiked safely. Grateful to have witnessed the sunset at the most amazing spot thus far. Grateful to have had another opportunity to climb. To end the year with an exhilarating climb up a mountain is more than what I wished for when this marvelous year started. I love it. 

Beautiful Bali 

Bali is a place I will forever hold dear in my heart as this is where I went to heal, pray & yoga after going through a great ordeal last year.

Several days ago, with a new set of happy & content eyes, I went back, all for a different kind of adventure.
I’ve always been meaning to surf, or atleast learn how to, so just imagine how ecstatic I was upon finding out that first on our agenda was surf lessons from Quiksilver’s Bali Surf Team. 

   
   

I was very much elated to have been able to stand on the board right at the first time!! Even if I only surfed baby waves, boy, was I stoked!

   

Other beach activities were on our itinerary the following day but I chose to just chill by the beach in my very “conservative” swimwear. Having been training under the sun all the time, my shoulders and arms were already a lot darker than my legs. This new swimsuit design allowed me to even out my tan. Don’t you just love it?

 

At the behest of no one, I still awoke at 6am everyday in this trip to practice yoga. Glad the other girls were able to practice also on our second day though! 

   
    

   

Sunset sessions, shopping & just enjoying the sights were also some of the highlights of this trip. To say Bali is Beautiful is an understatement. No words will ever suffice to describe the beauty of it. So let me just say more than a thousand words by these photos. 

   
    
    
    
    
  

What a fun & memorable trip this was. The best part? We didn’t really have to pack anything as we were lucky ducks being able to don Roxy’s newest collection that’s just being released in a few days! Can’t wait for the  the new collection to hit the stores! 

Shop Love, Candy Pie

One of our favorite retail therapy place, Shop LCP turned one and as a thank you to its loyal clients and friends, owner Pie Alvarez threw a lavish dinner at The Manila Peninsula last night. All the ladies donned their favorite Shop LCP outfits from the various designers that they carry. What with the numerous collections they’ve released, it wasn’t a surprise that no two ladies wore the same outfit. It was such a fun night with the girls, as we ate, drank wine and caught up with each other. Thanks, Pie! Cant wait to shop again! 🙂

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it’s ladies night 🙂

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outfit details:

dress: Ixiah the Label from Shop LCP

sleeveless blazer: Zara

Shoes: casadei

bag: Alexander McQueen

bangles: Kate Spade & C Wonder

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LCP squad: Sam Rodriguez, me, Kelsey Merritt Cat Antonio, Patty Ang, Mika Martinez

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You can sit with us! hamming it up with Sarah & Mika

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sumptuous dessert… i may have eaten two of these. oops.

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with one of my favorite young designers, Patty

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we couldnt resist a hallway mirror shot!

most Photos by: Magic Liwanag