10K at the 41st Milo Marathon in Manila

Originally, I did not want to join a race during the rainy season because I knew that I would have a difficult time training outdoors. However, because of a surprising turn of events, I found myself randomly registering a month ago for the 41st Milo Marathon in Manila today.

It all started when I couldn’t close the buttons of my top after eating a heavy lunch in the office last month. I told my colleagues about it and we all laughed and teased myself because we knew that I wasn’t physically fit anymore. Interestingly, that same day, I received an email about the online registration for the Milo run. I took it as a sign for me to get back to shape. So, I prayed about it and asked God to make it clear to me that day, if I should join the race today.

The only requirements for the registration are the fee and an empty bag of Milo powder, specifically the bag that weighs 300 grams. The registration closest to me was located near our office and near a grocery store. I told God that if He really wanted me to join this, He would provide a 300g bag of Milo powder that night. It’s funny because as soon as I entered the grocery store and saw the section where Milo was kept, there were numerous bags of Milo that weighed 220g, 390g, and 600g. However, there was only ONE bag of Milo that weighed 300g! It was as if it and I were destined for each other. Hahaha.

So, that same night, I had peace in my heart about running at the event today despite my worries of not being able to adequately train. I only had a month left to train and half of that month either had rainy nights or stormy early mornings. As expected, I was only able to train six times outdoors before the race day. (During my first 10K run, I had eleven trainings before the run.)

Slowly, I felt the worries creep in me, especially last night. It was hours before the race and I barely had sleep. I also knew that I didn’t have the best trainings before the run. In fact, my average pace was 12 min/km. (The goal was to run faster than 9 min/km in order to achieve the cutoff time of 1 hour and 30 mins. for 10K runners.

But, by God’s grace, He surrounded me with supportive family and friends and they helped me remember God’s strength in my weakness. (Special shoutout to: My family, Tina A., Hiro, Zeke, Zee, Ira, Juds, and my other colleagues — for the encouragement before the race.).

During my first 10K run a few months ago, my only goal was to finish the run. But, this time, I was faced with a different kind of pressure as I needed to meet the cutoff time in order to finish well with a medal. Here are some of the highlights from today’s race:

GOD’S GRACE

From waking up earlier than my alarms to being at the venue two hours before the call time to having perfect weather to persevering throughout the race and finishing well. God’s grace was very evident today and I can only give Him the glory for this accomplishment.

IMPORTANCE OF REST

As much as possible, I didn’t want to stop running because I was afraid of not being able to make it to the cutoff time. But, before the race started, the hosts reminded us of how crucial it is to hydrate every time we pass by the water stations even if we don’t feel thirsty. This will help the body endure better. Also, whenever I felt like my body was already going to give up, I replaced running with 30-second briskwalking every now and then. If I didn’t rest, I probably would not have survived the race.

THOUGHT-LIFE

I guess what I mean is that our thoughts greatly affect our behavior and response. When I was entertaining thoughts of defeat (not being able to achieve the medal) during the first few kilometers, I saw how my body started to slow down and feel heavier. But, every time I prayed and encouraged myself to run a little further, I end up having the strength to endure. For ten times, I almost wanted to give up during the race. Also, when my body couldn’t take it anymore, I even remember saying “I never want to do this again!” Hahaha. By God’s grace, despite my thoughts, He still allowed me to finish the race at a good pace.

INSPIRATION

The hosts of the event emphasized at the start of the program that this run was specifically designed to inspire and influence others to take home life lessons from running. They mentioned about discipline, hardwork, patience, endurance, teamwork, encouragement, and many more. I almost got teary-eyed during the event because I knew that along with my other fellow runners, I am also learning valuable lessons and am giving myself an opportunity to develop certain characteristics through this. (Bonus na lang yung medal!)

After updating one of my friends about the race, he said: I’m sure this activity will encourage you many times in your life!” …and I do agree with his statement. Somehow, God uses these moments in life to remind us of who He is. In those times when we feel like giving up and losing hope, He helps us to focus on Him and endure further.

During my last kilometer, Chris Brown’s song “Crawl” was playing on my phone where it had the ff lyrics: “So we’ll crawl til we can walk again. Then we’ll run until we’re strong enough to jump. Then we’ll fly until there is no wind, so let’s crawl back to love.”

While I was listening to that song, it reminded me of this verse:

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” -Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬

With only two minutes left on the clock, I was able to make it to the finish line on time (with a pace of 8 mins/km!!!) Woohoo! As we speak, I am still very weak and sleepy, I have sore legs, I am feeling light-headed, and I am exhausted. But, despite these, my heart feels very much alive and peaceful now and I thank God for the privilege of experiencing Him in new ways.

Thank You, Lord, for my first medal! This one’s for You!

Did You Pray About It?

What do you when you’re running late for work and your car won’t start after 10 minutes of trying? You call for help. Yup! That’s right. I called for help. My initial response was to call my sister, who eventually went down with my younger brother to help me. However, after many attempts, we still couldn’t start the engine. So, I finally called our dad.

When I relayed the problem and the solutions we tried to come up with, he asked me a question that left me speechless for a few seconds. He said “Did you pray about it?” For a moment there, time stood still as the question echoed in my mind. “Did I pray about it? Did I? I think I did. Oh, no! I didn’t!”

I must have mustered some sort of cry to God when the engine wouldn’t start earlier today, but I don’t remember taking time to pause, lift the situation up in prayer, and trusting that God is able to let it work. I was embarassed to admit it but I quickly replied to my dad and said “Oh, I didn’t po. I didn’t pray yet.”

What was I thinking?! Why didn’t I even pause and pray? I then realized how easily I got caught up with the problem that I focused on trying to solve it without even consulting God.

As dad tried to start the car, He reminded me of two things: 1) Importance of Prayer (Mark 9:28-29) and 2) For me to consider buying a small and affordable brand new car, so that I would avoid having these kinds of problems.

Before attempting again, I prayed out loud with my dad beside me. Surprisingly, the car started after! But, when we switched on the aircon, the engine shut off again. This time, we really needed the help of a mechanic.

At that time, I was already preparing myself to accept the fact that I may not have a car for the next few days or weeks and it honestly gave me additional stress. Commuting to and from work isn’t convenient for me, plus, the limited grab and uber rides wouldn’t help. However, it was also during that moment that God reminded me of how everything is His and how He can take things in my life away from me anytime.

When this happens, will I still thank the Lord? How will I choose to respond? Even though today’s events were a bit stressful, I do appreciate how God is very intentional and personal in the way He speaks to me. Had I not experienced the car’s breakdown today, I would have probably continued to take things for granted. I would have forgotten to take time to pray about the decisions that I will be making for the day.

After waiting for a few hours, thankfully, dad was able to find mechanics who were available to assist me at home this afternoon. As I walked over to meet the mechanics, with a heavy yet hopeful heart, I told God: “Lord, would you please have mercy on me? Please allow the men to successfully fix the car today. Thank you.”

For about an hour and a half, the two men worked on the car and fixed it! Woohoo! We just needed to replace the fuel pump! By God’s grace, I didn’t need to leave the car at a repair shop for a long time. I can use it for my errands and activities in the coming days! Huhuhu.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

I wish I could say that I did good today. But, my initial response wasn’t something that I was or am proud of. I realize that, sometimes, God uses challenging and humbling times to help me shift my focus back to Him. He knows everything about me and He knows what I need. Why would I not choose to seek Him first?

Seek Him first, Nic. Learn from today’s gentle reminder.

I Got Stung by a Bee

For the first time in my life, I got stung by a bee. You know how it is in the movies, when everything around you suddenly moves in slow motion, while your eyes widen and your jaw drops, as you clearly see something approaching you? Well, it happened to me when I was in Bohol Bee Farm.

I didn’t have time to process what was happening because it happened in five seconds. Out of the hundreds of bees flying in front of me, one crazy bee decided to end its life by flying towards my face and stinging my forehead. (Yes, unfortunately, bees die immediately after they sting someone.)

My friend, Zee, tried to keep me calm as our tour guide attempted to remove the stinger stuck on my forehead. I remember freezing and saying “oh my gosh! Aaaaahhhh!! Help. Help. Help.” after I felt my blood rush towards my face. “Is this deadly? What should I do? Am I going to be okay? May wedding pa akong pupuntahan bukas! :O”

I started to panic as I continued to feel the pain for the next 30 minutes. Thankfully, it happened at the last stop of our tour at the bee farm. So, at least, I didn’t have to endure going through the tour with an aching forehead.

But, I honestly struggled during that time because even though I was clearly experiencing pain and discomfort, the tour guide who was assisting Zee and I took it lightly. He even continued to joke about it and said that he normally gets stung by a bee, so I shouldn’t worry or make a big deal out of it.

During the early parts of the tour, our guide joked about him wanting either of us to get stung by a bee. It might have been a funny introduction to the tour, but when it did happen, it wasn’t funny anymore.

The small wound on my forehead was starting to get sore and the skin near it was red. I tried to tell our guide that I really wasn’t feeling comfortable and I felt that I needed to drink medicine, such as a painkiller or anti-histamine drug. I even suggested putting ice on my inflamed skin. But, he continued to laugh about it and tell me not to do anything with it and just let it fade away.

When I heard him say those words, I immediately called my mom, who is a dermatologist. She advised me to apply virgin coconut oil since it helps heal inflamed skin or to drink an anti-histamine medicine. To make the long story short, I eventually bought medicine from the souvenir shop in the farm and as soon as possible, Zee and I left the place and headed to our next destination.

During the car ride, we still couldn’t believe it happened. It may seem like a simple concern, but, it was my first time to experience it, so it really was nerve-racking for me. However, the experience taught me a few things:

1. Getting stung by a bee is still better than getting stung by a lot of bees at the same time. After doing much research, the venom injected by a one bee wouldn’t have major negative effects on one’s body unless one is allergic to bees/bee stings. It will just sting and become sore for a few hours.

2. When faced with troubles, I shouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. When the bee stung my forehead, I wouldn’t know how to remove it from me. But because I asked for help, the tour guide assisted me by removing the bee. Also, when I was doubtful of the advice given to me, I called my mom to double check and seek help again.


3. There are moments in our lives where we encounter people we don’t always agree with. Sometimes, we even meet difficult people. But, how we respond to them matters most. In my case, I struggled with being joyful towards our tour guide because of how he made fun of the situation instead of showing sincere concern for me, his customer. However, I was humbled by the Lord that day as I prayed and remembered the importance of keeping calm and not initiating “war” against our guide.

Our guide might have missed out on providing excellent customer service that day, but it didn’t give me any right or privilege to be an entitled, arrogant, and demanding customer. By God’s grace, I went out of the place thanking God for the crazy and memorable experience. (By the way, I tried sending my feedback to their Facebook page, but they haven’t replied to me yet.)

A month after the incident, I saw three bees hanging around a flower in Bangkok. Surprisngly, I didn’t feel any kind of trauma. Instead, I immediately remembered getting stung by a bee and how it taught me about humility.

We can never put God in a box. He reveals himself to us and teaches us important lessons even through the most random and painful experiences. It just boils down to our hearts and how we choose to respond every time it happens.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Godʼs will for you in Christ Jesus.” -1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬

BANGKOK TOUR: Temples at Ayutthaya

Part 1 of the Ayutthaya tour can be seen HERE.

THIRD STOP: The Old Royal Grand Palace & The Old Royal Temple (Wat Phra Si Sanphet)

Ms. Pookie shared that during a war many years ago, the city of Ayutthaya was burned by the Burmese for a week. We didn’t know the story about the ruins that we were visiting until she told us about it. It was a tragic time for the people of Thailand. Until now, some of them don’t feel good about visiting the city of ruins because of the memories from before. However, UNESCO helped make the city a heritage site and planned to maintain it to the best of their ability, instead of replacing it with new temples.

The next stop we went to had three bell-shaped chedis, known as the symbol of Ayutthaya. This place was where royal ceremonies were held before. They also kept gold in the buildings which were later stolen by the Burmese.

FOURTH STOP: Wat Mahathat

This place was the residence of the leader of the Thai Buddhist monks. It was originally filled with buddha statues. But, according to our tour guide, the heads of the statues were stolen by western treasure hunters. Also, this site is known mostly for the buddha statue surrounded by the roots and trunk of a tree.

LAST STOP: Wat Ratchaburana

An interesting fact about this place is that the two brothers of King Borom Ratchathirat II died here while they were fighting for the throne. After they died, King Borom built this wat which also included a vault full of treasures. Unfortunately, these were again looted by foreigners.

WHAT I APPRECIATED ABOUT OUR TOUR AND GUIDE:

1. Our private tour was very convenient for us. They were able to adjust the schedule when our flight got delayed. Also, they provided a cooler of cold bottles of water and wet disposable towels for us. These came in handy especially after being exposed to the sun all day.


2. Our tour guide, Ms. Pookie, was very friendly, accommodating, kind, and passionate. Despite the heat and lack of time, she still happily toured us around and did her best to help us maximize the tour. Even though we were running late for our last stop, she still managed to bring us there on time and even encouraged us to go down to the vault where the historical paintings were. I appreciated how she explained details in the stories that she shared and how she sincerely wanted us to know more about their culture.

Ms. Pookie also knew how to take great photos which we highly appreciated. Touring around beautiful sights like these wouldn’t be complete without awesome documentation. She also knew how to speak good English. Lastly, she bought food for us before we went back to the hotel. This was a very thoughtful gesture because she wanted us to try good food from the market even though meals weren’t included in the tour package. We definitely recommend Ms. Pookie and the Thai Tour Guide group!

3. Coordination with the Thai Tour Guide group via email was fast and easy. They did reply within 24 hours and they answered every question I asked about the trip. No wonder they received the Excellence award in TripAdvisor. Their customer service is really good.


4. The Temples at Ayutthaya and the Summer Palace were lovely. It was my first time to see them and they made a lasting impression on me. I really enjoyed the tour because it helped me see a different side of the world; a new culture with interesting stories on the royal family, national treasures, and the architecture in the city.

NOTES:

*I’m not sure about the entrance fees for each temple that we visited because they were part of our packaged tour. I’ll update this part as soon as I can. :)
*The temples open at 8:30 am and close at 6 pm.
*The weather is very hot. Remember to bring water, a small towel, and a fan with you. You can also bring shades, a cap, and an umbrella to help protect you from the sun.
*DRESS CODE. There are NOT allowed: Slippers, shorts, Clothes that reveal the shoulders and chest, Jeans with ripped parts or holes, Skirts or dresses higher than the knees, and Leggings or tight fitting jeans.