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.

My Purple Thai Pants

“If only I could turn back time… if only I could… if only I could.”

I kept singing this song while I was trying to salvage my light blue jeans, blue & white gradient long-sleeved maong, and my light blue off-shoulder top after they were stained by my purple Thai pants.

It was already 10:30 pm and I was just starting to do my laundry for the week. I only had a few clothes in the laundry basket, so I decided to wash all of them in one load. I usually don’t have a problem washing my black clothes with my lighter colored clothes. But, for some reason, even though I knew that my purple Thai pants was still new, I included it in the batch of my laundry two nights ago.

I badly wanted to sleep soon, so I transferred the clothes from the washer to the dryer as soon as the cycle was done. The next few seconds of transferring clothes made my jaw drop and my heart beat faster.

I saw that some of my clothes were purple!!! They were purple!!! Hahaha! At first, I thought that I didn’t see things clearly because I was already very exhausted. But, as I pulled out each fabric stained by the purple dye, I really couldn’t believe my eyes.

What have I done? What was I thinking? How could I have been so stupid?

The three garments affected by the dye were special to me:
1. The light blue jeans is currently the only pair of jeans that I have.
2. The long-sleeved maong top was a new top and was only used once. I also liked how the blue and white colors blended together.
3. The light blue off-shoulder top was the only casual top (not Thai inspired) that I bought from Bangkok in my recent weekend trip.

A part of me got frustrated with myself, while another part of me just laughed at the situation. I even showed the clothes to my brother and sister and said that “At least, my new light purple pants can match my newly dyed blue and light purple maong top.” HAHAHA.

I was tempted to feel angry at myself and at God for allowing it to happen. He could have stopped me from adding the purple pants to the washer before the cycle, but He didn’t.

By God’s grace, He gave me peace and helped me see the good things about the situation:

1. He helped remind me of the fleeting things in this world and how important it is not to get attached to them. I was only able to use the gradient top once and now, unfortunately, I can no longer bring it back to its original state. But, I am reminded that life isn’t about clothes. It isn’t about my possessions or appearance. It’s about finding my true identity and contentment in Christ regardless of the situations I face and mistakes I make.

2. Now, I know very well the importance of being a good steward of my clothes by washing new ones separately at first, especially if they came from stores that sell clothes that didn’t go through high-quality dyeing processes.

3. God doesn’t make mistakes even if I do. So, I can trust that He can use my shortcomings to speak to me and help me grow. Maybe He wanted me to fail at doing laundry tonight so I could remember his faithfulness and grace for me.

4. Lastly, maybe… it was finally time for me to buy a different pair of jeans. A darker one that I can use more often.

Sometimes, God lets us experience contentment in Him through the most random things. Hopefully, the next time around, I will learn from this and act wisely. Thank You, Lord, for new mercies each day… and for my new purplish clothes. Hehehe.

Whew.

It’s All About Me, Right?

“You can find the taco shells… at the… uhh… frozen section.”

Clearly, the staff member at the grocery store didn’t know where the taco shells were. Hahaha. I am able to laugh about this now, but last night, when it happened, I honestly couldn’t contain my irritation.

TACO, TOMATO, & CORN

It all started when I was buying ingredients for tacos and shrimp kebabs for yesterday’s dinner. The staff member was arranging the spices on the rack when I asked him where the taco shells were. I already had an idea but because the supermarket had around 40 aisles, I didn’t want to waste time going through a lot of them.

“Frozen section? But sir, they’re taco shells. Similar to chips?” I said. I even showed a picture of the taco shell which was on the packaging of the taco mix I was holding.

He slightly panicked, mustered enough strength, and said “Yes, ma’am. At the… uhh… frozen section.”

“Umm. I don’t think so. But, I’ll just find it somewhere.” I replied as I gave him an awkward and confused stare.

While I was pushing the cart away from him, my mind started to heat up. “What in the world?? Who keeps taco shells or chips at the frozen section?? Was he trying to look confident? If he didn’t know where it was, he could have said so or endorsed me to another staff instead! Ugghh.” I then saw another staff member and asked him where the taco shells were. He gladly assisted me and showed me the correct aisle.

A few minutes later, I went to the vegetable section to get tomatoes and raw corn. Again, I had another encounter with a staff member. After putting my tomatoes in a plastic bag, I asked a staff member who was arranging potatoes in front of me if he could weigh the bag for me. Without even looking at me, he said “Pumunta ka sa kabila.” In English, “Go to the other side.” He was referring to the staff lady who was two meters behind him. (Just two meters!!!)

I didn’t expect that to happen because every time I ask the staff members at the fruits, vegetable, meat, or even fish sections, they usually get the plastic bag and weigh them. If they weren’t in charge of weighing, they would give the bags to the one who is, so that we (customers) wouldn’t have to go around or walk towards the weighing machine. But, unfortunately, the staff member wasn’t in a good or polite mood.

I then walked towards the corn area. As I was selecting the peeled raw ears of corn, I noticed the date printed on the price tag. The packed date was May 7, 2017. It was only May 6. At that moment, I was already starting to have trust issues with this supermarket. If I would go to the store today, I would believe that they only peeled and packed them today (7th). BUT!!! They were packed a day before!

I got a few pieces anyway, paid for the items, and left the supermarket. As I was driving home, I thought about what happened in the grocery store and my encounters with the taco shells, tomatoes, and corn. “What a failure. Wow. They were soooo HAPPY to serve! Right.”

 

JOY IN SERVING

As soon as I sarcastically commented on their service today, I recalled what I read and learned from Matthew 25:31-46 an hour before I went to the supermarket. I remember being reminded by God to put others before myself. To love and serve others and not remain in my selfishness. I even wrote down the acronym shared by our senior pastor at church many years ago: JOY. Jesus first. Others next. Then, You (myself).

I realized how ugly my heart was when I was feeling entitled and selfish the whole time at the grocery store. I wanted people to serve me. I wanted them to make things convenient for me. It was all about ME. But, in reality, everything about me and everything that I have is only by God’s grace.

Maybe the staff member who didn’t know where the taco shells were was new at his job. Maybe the staff member who shrugged me off at the tomato section had deadlines to meet (sacks of potatoes he needed to finish arranging by last night? I don’t know.). And maybe, the computer used to print the price tags of the corn just accidentally had the wrong date — that they didn’t mean to deceive the customers.

Immediately, I apologized to God for my selfish attitude and for how I allowed my anger and annoyance to brew even for just 30 minutes that night. As I surrendered it to God, I remembered the good points that I did see that night too. First, I still got to find the taco shells (at the chips and salsa section) thanks to another staff member. Second, the store sold headless shrimps, which was the kind of shrimp that I needed for kebabs. Third, the cashier lady double checked with me if I wanted to check my balance first before swiping my debit card.

After remembering these things, I thanked God for preparing my heart even before going to the grocery store and for allowing me to instantly experience first-hand what it means to serve others joyfully. Putting others before myself helps change my perspective and behavior. I may not be able to change how people behave or react. But, I can always choose to humbly serve and honor God and others in any situation.

Before I went to the grocery store, after reading Matthew 25, I even asked myself “How can you be a blessing to others? How can you genuinely serve?”

Last night, my older sister (Michelle), younger brother (Gabo), and I were supposed to eat out. But, we decided to spend time together at home instead. Ate Michelle graciously offered to pay for the grocery items and I helped by buying the ingredients and cooking dinner for the three of us. After dinner, Gabo secretly followed me to the kitchen where I was washing the dishes and he whispered “Thanks for cooking dinner!”. When he left, I smiled and thanked God for His grace.

We are all called to serve each other, even through the simplest ways. How can you serve others today? :)