I barely made it to the 6-hour cut-off time of the recent Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS 2014) and I had just as much to do with the disappointing result as the inconveniences experienced during the race. Rather, my absolute lack of motivation and indisputable passivity did a number on me. The fact that it was my third time doing SCMS should have already prepared me mentally and physically for the 42 kilometres’ worth of torture, on foot. I assumed it was going to rain as it had been raining wildly almost everyday for several weeks before the race, and therefore I was counting on a cooler and more comfortable run. But instead, the sun came out all guns blazing and the heat was almost incomprehensible! Runners were dropping like flies and the long march of runners started as soon as we entered the long stretch of the East Coast garden. Seeing a handful of very fit-looking runners collapsing on the ground, noticeably exhausted from the heat, and being attended to by first aid volunteers, also creates a sense of foreboding. A kind of mindfucking, pardon my French.
So I’ve had some time to think about my cataclysmic performance and played out some scenarios where I could’ve done better. And I’m putting out this list so aspiring marathoners would know better than to get complacent or lazy – or both.
1. I could’ve done what any sensible runner preparing for a marathon would do: Train. It was rather obtuse of me to think that my experiences of running long distance in the past will overcome the limitations of my ageing body.
2. I could’ve watched my diet and favoured more healthy foods instead of stuffing my face with high-calorie desserts and occasionally going overboard with le vin et les fromages. I have seen some of my marathon photos and boy, did I look like an overstuffed burrito! Delicious to eat but a fat burrito just the same. haha.
3. I could’ve prepared better by keeping myself hydrated days leading to the marathon. Although, this is one area that I have always struggled with. I just don’t drink enough water.
Seven marathons in the bag (and a few ultramarathons I don’t think I will ever have the chutzpah to do again, anyway) and here I am, contemplating if I still have enough drive in me to shoot for three, or maybe even more. Somewhere, somehow, may passion for running fizzled out dramatically and it’s somewhat disconcerting because I used to really love the sport. Perhaps it’s because I don’t join enough races here in Singapore, unlike when I was still living in the Philippines. And then I got lazy and became fat as a result. I know the love is still there – these things never go away permanently anyway – I just need to find ways to rekindle the fire. And running more frequently from here on in is just as good a place to start as updating my running outfit. (Oh boy, my husband is not going to like this bit. LOL.) Besides, there is Phuket to get toned for and I only have two weeks to transform my body. Bonne chance la Vicky!
The idea of Maldives came to me one morning in November last year while I was checking my personal email and got an alert from Tiger Air announcing its maiden voyage to Maldives from Singapore beginning January 2014. Not too long before that, I remember asking the Emperor if he had already plotted his 2014 travel schedules, in case I would be able to join him in one of (possibly) many trips this year. As you know, the Emperor and I have been to a few international and local travels together and knowing how he can be very flexible with his schedule (if he wants to!), I thought I’d mention Maldives when I saw him go online on FB. Et voila, in less than an hour, I had already booked Chris and I on a flight and Eric had done the same!
Knowing that Maldives requires no visa application (it’s VOA for a lot of countries, including Philippines!) made decision-making a no-brainer. Of course, the impossibly turquoise water surrounding the atolls and the promise of earthbound paradise go without saying. I mean, we would’ve gone still even if there was visa required. Maldives is just something you never say no to. What followed after that was a fun hotel hunting/booking. We had a reasonable budget to work with which, the three of us agreed, need not require us to smash our piggybanks open or you know, rob a bank.
After going through a long list of hotels and reading a lot of reviews on Trip Advisor, we opted to book our stay at Dream Inn Thulusdhoo for 3 nights and then spend our last night in Malé so we can explore the city and not be worried about missing our flight the following day (it takes an hour and a half from Thulusdhoo to Malé on the public ferry).
And so on the 12th of March, the three of us boarded Tiger Air bound for Malé, the urbanized capital city of Maldives. The flight was about 4 hours and 20 minutes long and by the way, Maldives is three hours behind Singapore. Soon as we exited the arrival hall, the first thing we saw was the exquisite turquoise waters dotted only by a few speed boats loading and unloading tourists. We had to physically restrain ourselves from jumping right into the water given the scorching heat outside. Gorgeous (easily three shades of) blue ocean water everywhere you look – and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before! It took a while for our airport pick-up to reach us and we were starving so Eric and my husband decided to get us some takeout meals from Burger King. An idea which we all would come to regret IMMEDIATELY as one meal costs a minimum of US $10! (The chicken sandwich meal Chris got me was $15!) Definitely one of the most expensive junk food we have ever ingested and I wouldn’t recommend that you try it. Unless you’re even more famished than we were at that time, or just plain addicted to junk. Ewww.
Welcome to Thulusdhoo
It takes an hour and a half to get to Thulusdhoo atoll from Malé. I will not give you the wikipedia description of this charming little atoll but instead, I will try to paint a picture of Thulusdhoo based on what we have seen, heard, and tasted of the island. First of all, Thulusdhoo is also known as the Coca Cola island because of the presence of a Coke plant which is supposedly the only one in the world that uses aerated water to manufacture the carbonated drink for Maldivian consumption (Please feel free to verify that as I am rather lazy to Google it up). It is no surprise then that there is a hostel called ‘Cokes Surf’ in the island that specifically caters to surfers and backpackers. And in case you’re wondering why, it’s because Thulusdhoo is said to have the best waves in all of Maldives during surf season. Tim, the-hot-Aussie-surfing-instructor-with-six-pack- abs-that-won’t-quit at Cokes Surf, confirmed that when we all had dinner on our last night on the island.
The cozy little inn we called ‘home’ for three days, Dream Inn Thulusdhoo, is such a great find! At first, we were disappointed when Shaheem (awesome travel organiser!) told us two days before we were to depart SG for Maldives that he had to transfer the three of us to Askani Villa because they have about 20 youngsters from Denmark arriving the same day. But Askani proved to be just what we needed because it only had four very spacious rooms and we only had to share the whole place with a nice Russian couple. We had good wifi connection in our villa – at least for my iPhone but my Samsung phone totally crapped out on me during this trip so I was struggling a bit doing some work while traveling. 100 points for iPhone, negative 100 points for Samsung S4! – which made it quite convenient for the social media junkies in us to post occasional updates on FB and Instagram. The hotel staff were very amiable and always ready to help make arrangements for our island hopping adventures. And I love how their English is almost impeccable – and how beautifully they enunciate words!
Thulusdhoo residents take pride in their ‘Sunrise Beach’ and ‘Sunset Beach’ and by right, they should, because these two places certainly give you an awesome sunrise and sunset views. Look!
But if you ask me, the real treasure Thulusdhoo has is its charming people. Easily among the friendliest, accommodating, and well-mannered people you will ever meet, the residents of Thulusdhoo will make you feel welcome at any time of the day. Always smiling and often ready to greet you ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’, some will even inquire about your day/health. On our first night at Dream Inn, we were lucky to have been treated to a lively cultural song and dance production by the young men of Thulusdhoo and we were impressed by the passion and energy they put into their craft. The Danish group, as well as the young lady from Kosovo, had a great time jumping around and gyrating to the infectious beat of the drums. Being an old boring fart, I just sat and watched the revelry. Kidding! We had to turn in early that night because we were off to ClubMed Kani the following morning and didn’t want to be sporting eyebags to go with our lovehandles. Not at all great for selfies, haha.
Oh, one more thing that we noticed in Thulusdhoo are the colorful doors and walls in every home which truly fascinated us. But apparently, this love for bold colors is typically Maldivian as we would see more and more of these colorful doors around Malé.
One great thing about living literally next to the ocean is that you get to enjoy fresh catch for your daily meals. Being just a tiny dot of an island (with only a little above 1,000++ inhabitants), Thulusdhoo does not have restaurants (though we saw one or two bars near the jetty) so we were only eating mostly at our resort and on our last night, at Cokes Surf Villas. There’s not much of variety here but the grilled fish we were served a few times was truly divine! It’s so fresh and tasty you don’t even need condiments to enjoy it!
If you are looking for some sun, surf and sand adventure with a little splash of culture, you can’t go wrong with a trip to this charming North Malé atoll called Thulusdhoo. And oh, good news to the ladies who might be wondering if swimsuit is allowed in the beaches of Thulusdhoo at all – the answer is yes, my sweetpea, you can wear your swimsuit on the beach! But please don’t go around the village in those tiny stringy cloths as you are definitely bound to offend the residents’ sensibilities and conservative ideals. Keep in mind that Maldives is an Islamic nation and all tourists must respect that.
Us girls fancy looking fierce and sexy whenever we have to make that trip to the gym or yoga and dance studio. Hence, our discriminating taste in workout wardrobe, which we invest heavily in. Lululemon, Moving Comfort, Nike, Adidas, or Reebok are some of the brand heavyweights we look for when out shopping for workout tops and capris or shorts.
While all these make us look good, there are other workout essentials we must never compromise on not only because of their value-added comfort, but most especially because they keep us away from embarrassing fashion disasters at the gym. Here are some of the essentials:
Underwear: In choosing underwear for your workout, it is important to take note of the fabric. Usually, we go for a soft, stretchy microfiber blend of nylon and spandex that helps wick away moisture to keep us cool and dry. As to the type of underwear, thongs or boyleg panties with seamless technology are more popular with the ladies because they don’t get VPLs (visible panty lines) even when wearing the tightest of leggings or capris.
Running socks: Wearing the wrong pair of socks can cause your feet to feel worn, blistered, sweaty and stinky. When going for a workout, choose a pair that’s padded but not too thick — so your feet don’t feel too tight in your shoes — and wicks away sweat while also offering breathability. For running, you may check out specialized running socks to avoid running-related injuries.
Sports bra: No matter what your cup size is, intense workout calls for the right sports bra. Ill-fitting sports bra can lead to discomfort, pain, and chafing. And did you know that neglecting to wear a snug sports bra can lead to stretch marks and in the long run, very saggy breasts? So let’s fix that, shall we?
Hair bands or sturdy clips: When working out, we wouldn’t want our hair to be all over our face, causing major distraction for us – especially when we’re doing the circuit or those complex yoga poses. Therefore, large hair bands or clips to keep your hair in place during a workout are a must.
Face towels and or wristbands: Very important in wiping sweat dripping from our hairline and keeping them away from our face and neck. Wristbands come in handy when wiping sweat off our brows, especially if we don’t really like the idea of carrying towels on our person at every workout routine or when moving from one equipment to another.
In choosing our workout wardrobe, we must keep in mind the following: Comfort, Protection, Safety, and Quality. Always try on the item to ensure that you are getting the right fit, size, and fabric material for your specific workout requirements. If you sweat a lot, for example, it would be good to invest in dri-fit clothing. All in all, don’t treat these essentials lightly because they could be the only thing standing between you and a fantastic workout!
Truth is, not everyone loves (to) workout. Otherwise, we would all be looking very fit and healthy and the word obesity may not even be found in the dictionary. For most of us, the problem is not the absence of desire to get fit. Secretly, we all want to fit into our sexy pants and tops and still breathe normally; or reach for that last piece of muffin not worrying about our clothes suddenly bursting at the seams. The problem is embracing the paradigm shift that it is within our capacity to reach new level of excellence each time we do our workout. And the key to taking this paradigm shift to heart and making it happen is to trick our mind into loving our workout.
How successful we are in making our exercise a big part of our routine has a lot to do with our mindset. Meaning, we have to change the way we see ourselves. If we keep thinking fat and resign ourselves to our overweight state, the more that it will become a reality.
Having a defeatist mindset is counterproductive and not just in keeping fit. So the first thing that you must do is to see yourself as a healthy person and affirm it! Instead of obsessing about how fat and sluggish you are, picture yourself fit and healthy. Same thing goes for your workout. Let your mind tell your body that workouts are a fun challenge that can give you that body you want and not a tedious chore that you can keep putting off.
Here are some more tricks you can employ to finally get you on the road to a passionate love affair with your workout:
No more excuses! We all make excuses to try to justify our behavior – eating too much and working out less – but these kinds of excuses are not going to bring us any closer to our ideal weight and form. Break the cycle and work on improving our eating and exercising habits.
Decide to be thinner, fitter, and healthier. Sometimes all it takes is a firm resolution to make a change in your life. If you want to lose weight, make the choice to do so and let your actions follow suit.
Avoid being emotional when it comes to your weight and diet. For many people, food is a convenient coping mechanism for things that aren’t right in their lives, that’s why we have such a thing as emotional eating. When faced with such situations, the wise thing to do would be to think clearly. Try to separate your emotions and employ a logical approach as far as your diet is concerned.
Be positive. There is no benefit to negative thinking when it comes to weight loss. Staying positive will help you feel better about yourself, keep you motivated and reduce stress — all of which will help you lose more weight.
Think in your best interest. Direct your thoughts to gradually replacing your unhealthy thoughts and habits with healthy ones. Keep revisiting your health and fitness goals and you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
I haven’t done that many trail races (as of writing, I have only done five trail adventure races: the 2009 Men’s Health All-Terrain Race at Sta. Elena, the first Merrell Trail Adventure in 2010, Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Ultramarathon in 2010, 65k Frontrunner Valley Trail Challenge in which I DNF’d much to my chagrin, and the 3rd Merrell Adventure Run last June) but there is no denying that I love trail running more than I could ever love road races mainly because of the amount of air and noise pollution I get exposed to when running in the Metro. Besides that, I don’t think road races can and will ever be able to give me the peace and, at the same time, the exhilaration I feel out there in the woods. Make that a muddy, slippery trail and I have just gone way above the happiest mark in the happy-o-meter!
I like filth. No, not that kind of filth but the mud-caking-on-my-face-and-body-oh-my-god-I-look-like-a-homeless-person-with-my-lifeless-hair-plastered-all-over-my-face-like-that kind. Never mind if I get bruises and scrapes, too, as bonus. I like my scars. I think they give me some sort of character. I have accumulated tons of them over the years – from falling down mango trees; falling off bikes; getting scratched by cats or getting bitten by dogs (I was bitten twice when I was a kid) and all sorts of accidents I always seem to conveniently get into.
It’s no wonder then that I fell mighty in love with yesterday’s IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge where I got to do all sorts of stunts including but, of course, not limited to getting sticky and squishy mud on my person.
Before this, I was pretty convinced Merrell Trail Adventure held at Timberland last June would be tough to beat in my all-time favorite races category. But now, I am sorry to say that IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge has officially taken over the top spot.
Without Limits certainly pulled all the stops in bringing 500 runners (number of runners was only kept at a maximum of 500, by the way) all the obstacle fun their adventurous hearts can handle. If you ask me, they had me at the first obstacle – the fire wall.
From there, it was soaring, muddy hills challenging my legs, until I reached the second obstacle – the mud pit, where I had to crawl real low before hitting the trail running, again. By this time, I was already on fire – totally unperturbed by my state of disarray (hair ugly, face muddy, etc)!
Then came the log walls where I had to leap over logs of varying height – some of them as high as my chest, making it almost impossible for my short legs to jump over! For this, I had to step on the proffered hand by the marshall, haul my body off the ground, hug the log like a friggin’ monkey and jump over to the other side. That, too, was a lot of fun!
After covering more ground – or mud – I finally reached the military wall where I caught up with a few more runners from Wave 5, of which I was part of. It was here that my gloves first found its purpose because I had to climb up the nylon rope to get to the platform on top before sliding on my backside down to the other side of the wall. I could not have been more G.I. Jane-ish than this!
From there, it was all running again until I reached the next obstacle course which involved running across tire set – supposed to be good in testing one’s balance and agility – and it scared me a little bit because I’m usually very clumsy and uncoordinated with these things! Thankfully, I didn’t misstep and fall flat on my face or that would have been extremely painful and embarrassing.
And then came my most favorite part of the obstacle series, the mud wall! To get to the mud wall, I had to go down the stream and wade in knee-deep waters. But alas, I slipped on the rocks and I ended up getting submerged chest-deep! Have I mentioned I’m clumsy?! At the foot of the wall, there were already a few men standing in line, waiting for the helmets to be passed to them and for the nylon ropes to be lowered so they can start with their ascent. Finally it was my turn and surprisingly, I kind of just breezed through it!
There was one more log crossing – and again, I looked like a drenched monkey clinging on to the highest of the logs – and one more fire wall before I finally crossed the finish line with the broadest smile ever seen on my face!
I wonder how much fun I will have in the next leg of the IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge series? Can’t wait!
Thank you Benj Termulo for my compression sleeves! Finally got to wear them!
Team Without Limits is certainly keen on showing us how limitless its ideas can be when it comes to running-related adventures. On 26 August, the much-awaited IMMUVIT Fearless Challenge will kick-off with NO SURRENDER, an obstacle run at the La Mesa Nature Reserve. This will be followed by Leg 2 dubbed NO EXCUSES on 15 September, and finally, Leg 3 aptly dubbed NO TURNING BACK, which will feature extreme obstacle run.
Registration is ongoing and if I’m lucky to get registered for Leg 1, I just might see you there.
Good vibes, Loves, only good vibes.
Check out the crimson and black singlet and finisher’s medal, too! I heard, though, that they are limiting the slots to only 500 for Leg 1 so chances are, it may already be closed by now. Boo-hoo. Well, then, make sure you don’t miss Legs 2 and 3. Happy trail running dolls!
What are the essentials and basic duathlon techniques I need to learn?
What workouts should I do that will help me become a competitive duathlete?
Get the answers to these questions and more from no less than Coach Andy Leuterio this coming Wednesday, 18 July, at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall at the run-bike clinic dubbed as DISCOver Duathlon presented by Newton Running, RUNNR, Toby’s and Fitness First, and supported by various media partners.
Registration fee is P495 and participants get FREE Newton singlet, RUNNR socks, Runner’s World Magazine and snacks.
This event is limited to 50 slots only so hurry, McFlurry!