Be Strong and Courageous

*** Time Period: January 2011 ***

Living Words

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged. for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

These living words sunk deep in my heart during the Prayer and Fasting Week of Victory Christian Fellowship in early January 2011, and it soon became the cornerstone of my faith goals this year 2011, which again included losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle. I have a strong faith that this time, I will finally attain my objective.

Diet Program

It helped that I chose to have a liquid fast (meaning I will take in only water, milk, juices, etc. as nourishment) during the 7-days Prayer and Fasting Week as it augmented my diet program.  I did not run during these days for obvious reasons.

After the fasting week, Nestlé Nesvita was introduced to my diet. I would substitute a meal a day for Nesvita, and strictly imposed fish and vegetable meals for the remaining two. Actually, sometimes, I would drink only milk (non-fat high calcium) for breakfast and eat fruits or vegetable salad for dinner. Meat is only allowed during Sundays. The key to smooth adjustment is a strong determination and gradual implementation. You see, as early as December 2010, I slowly reduced my intake of oily and fatty food, including softdrinks, and began accustoming myself to fish, oatmeal, fruits and vegetables.

Equally important is a cautious progress of my running activities, religiously sticking to a program from Adidas miCoach, even if sometimes I felt like I can still go on and continue training. Besides Asiatown IT Park, I also practice at Abellana CCSC oval. Towards the end of January, I decided to join two (2) races – a 5K and a 10K.

USC-COCAAI Run 5K (Jan 22 2011)

A fun run organized by our alumni, I figured to improve on my second race attended. Right after gun start, I immediately pushed myself as hard as I can and ran the first 3 km at 6:00/km pace. Then, at the return route, I found it tough to run uphill on M.L. Quezon St., near National Transmission Corporation (NTC). I was huffing and puffing until I started walking as I passed by Family Park. I walked for about 100 meters, catching my breath, before I started running again towards the finish line inside the University of San Carlos – Talamban Campus (USC-TC) grounds.

5K Finisher @ USC-COCAAI Run

I clocked in 00:33:39, a new personal record (PR) for me! Wooohooo! When the winners were announced, if I remembered it right, the third placer finished the race in 31 minutes. I felt I have a chance if only I didn’t slowed down in the uphill area. But still I’m satisfied I have a new PR!

Lesson learned: Include uphill running in trainings.

PLDT-Smart 10 Miler 16K (Jan 30 2011)

As mentioned above, I wanted to run a 10K race before January ends, and this fun run seemed to be perfect for my schedule. But when I went to claim my race number and singlet, I was surprised to know that I’m not registered! What happened?!?! They refunded my registration and I was disappointed at how they organized, or lack of it, the event! Alas, it turned out to be one of the many shortcomings of this occurrence!

Good thing a friend of mine decided not to join the race and gave me his race number and singlet. The problem is – he registered for the 16K category! What?!?! My longest run at this point was only 12km and it was a month ago! My trainings were designed for a 10K run! Can I finish this distance?!?!

I decided to give it a try. Since I don’t have the necessary preparations, I thought I should provide some protection for my legs just in case, and bought a nice pair of compression shorts – CW-X Expert Conditioning Shorts. Ever since then, I would wear these compression shorts for every run beyond 10 kilometers.

Now on to the race, I courageously began to run after gun start. I jogged at a relax 8:00/km pace for the first 4km, then accelerated to 7:00/km pace for the next 4km. I dropped back to 8:00/km pace after turning point but only for the next 2km. By then, I should have finished my planned 10K run at 01:16:10.

The next 4km was the hardest for me. First of all, it was already beyond what I have trained. I managed to do 500 meters walk – 500 meters run intervals only. And secondly, because I can’t find any water stations during this stretch! From USC Seminary to Escario St. – No Water!!! What a race!!!

Finally, I found one near Capitol that I drank my heart out! From thereon, I decided that I’m gonna unleash my final push and ran the remaining 2km at 8:00/km pace. I reached the finish line and became a “Juicy Cologne Finisher” after 02:10:41. I survived, but not after near exhaustion and very sore knees and ankles! I was lucky my wife Espie was with me (she actually joined the 5K route as bandit) because she had to drive the car home – I can’t move my legs anymore!

It was a “not so good” experience but still I am happy I started and finished the race! Despite of all the difficulties, I have faith that I will be victorious because my GOD is with me. Oh, and by the way, at January’s end, I weighed 12 pounds lighter at 208! Thank You LORD!

Juicy Cologne Finisher @ PLDT-Smart 10 Miler 16K

From Discouraged to Encouraged

*** Time Period: July to December 2010 ***

One Foot Forward

After my first fun run, I immediately started training, but only mild because it’s just once or twice a week, and aimed for the 10K category in the Run, Race and Reach: Pilipinas 25K International Marathon. My training ground is still at Asiatown IT Park.

By this time, I must say that I still don’t have the proper diet. I’m still eating unhealthy food and eating it a lot!

My faith goal remains the same: to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. I already have a foot forward because I’m starting to improve on my runs – over time I increased my runs without walk breaks from about 2km to 3km to 4km until it reached 6km! My average pace, though, is at 8:00+/km. Good job, I guess! But I’m finding it hard to change my food choice and volume of food intake. To feel better, I psyched myself, “that’s why I run, so that I can eat whatever I want.”

Run, Race and Reach: Pilipinas 25K International Marathon 10K (Aug 2010)

In what could have been my most anticipated race turned out to be a “non-appearance” for me! I arrived at the starting line very late, at around 5:40 AM, when the elite runners for the 10K category are beginning to arrive at the finish line. I woke up at 5:00 AM, the gun start time! I felt so embarrassed that I didn’t go out of my car and just proceeded to go back home.

You see, the night before race day, I didn’t know that we have a homeowners meeting in our subdivision. I can’t say “no” because it would be my first time to attend such meeting. The gathering ended up at 12 midnight, and there’s still some chit-chat going on before I finally got to rest at 1:00 AM.

Lesson learned: Sleep early the night before race day and wake up early on race day!

Alarming Executive Check-Up Results

I didn’t join any race after my “boo-boo” experience not because of it, but because I got complacent and felt unmotivated. There were weeks that I got zero mileage in running. Add to that the fact that my diet is still uncontrolled, unbalanced and unhealthy. And we’re just a few weeks away from our annual executive check-up in the office. As compared to last year, I felt more confident I’ll get better results because I’m more active and hooked to running.

We were examined by one of the best hospital in Cebu and after a week the results came out. To my surprise, I got so many medical findings! Findings that are normally associated with no proper diet and no exercise lifestyle. I was so discouraged and disappointed I tried to find other options that will make me achieve my primary objective.

I prayed to GOD to give me wisdom to choose what to eat and bestow upon me self-discipline to control what I eat. I searched through HIM the motivation and encouragement that I need to remind me everyday that I will live only in accordance to HIS will – and being healthy is a part of it.

Answered Prayers

It was so timely that Espie and I will have a short vacation in Singapore with our closest friends last November 2010, a month after the executive check-up. I was able to unwind and relax and start all over again. And before our flight back to Cebu, I was blessed with an iPhone4, the phone I so desired since its release. Little did I know that it will play a big role in my running activities. Why? Because it has many downloadable applications that are related to running. My favorites are Adidas miCoach and Runmeter – both of which I am still using for my trainings until now.

short vacation in Singapore

And I found, a site for runners, cyclists, swimmers, athletes, etc. It is like a journal for my running workouts and it has features that keep track of my posted mileage and activities. Plus, I gained new friends from it – fellow runners from Cebu whom I haven’t met yet but are kind enough to give you motivations and advices online.

All these, I believe, are GOD’s answers to my prayers! And because of these, I feel like I am now ready to start anew. I can’t wait to begin a more serious training, a more focused running, a better motivated drive to have proper diet, and a much determined person to succeed.

My new found resolution jump started in December 2010. Amidst the parties that I attended, I must say that I controlled my appetite and ate only what is required. Ok, I lied! I ate a little bit more of “lechon”… but I found time to run a decent total of 40 kilometers for the month despite the very busy and hectic schedule. In the end I am happy because I got to start working for my faith goal again. Add to that was a little inspiration because when I weighed in at New Year’s Eve, I improved to 220 pounds. Not bad, I guess! At least, I improved from 230+ pounds 10 months ago. Thank You LORD!

New Year’s Eve @ Marco Polo Plaza Cebu

Lose Weight and Live Healthy

*** Time Period: January to June 2010 ***

The Beginning

Hi! My name is Dennis and my friends call me Shaw (pronounced as sho). I am happily married to Espie and we’re happily living together in Liloan, Cebu.

At the onset of the year 2010, one of my faith goal was to trim down and live a healthy lifestyle. I believe that staying healthy and fit is one way of honoring GOD with our body (1 Cor. 6:20). At that time, I’m at my heaviest – 230+ pounds – very much overweight for my 6’1″ frame! Feeling so unhealthy, I began to look for an exercise to complement proper diet and help me lose weight.

Feb 2010 @ 230+ pounds

I contemplated on playing basketball. But the problem with basketball is you need nine (9) other guys to play with, which at times, is hard to assemble especially with my friends having different work schedule as mine. Consistency would be an issue.

I considered enrolling at a fitness club. I tried two (2) sessions as a guest of my brother-in-law Christian in one of the better gym in Cebu City but decided that it’s too expensive for me. Well, maybe later, but not for a start.

Then I tried running. I don’t know anything about running then – I called it jogging, just like anybody else. I used to jog consistently before (high school and college days) because of basketball. Somehow, I felt that this will be my exercise. I can do it even if I’m alone and I don’t need to spend too much money. All I need is my iPod Classic, a shirt, a pair of short pants and my basketball shoes.

And so I started running. I ran once or twice a week around Asiatown IT Park, sometimes with Christian. When I started, I could hardly finish two (2) loops (about 2 kilometers). It stayed that way for about two (2) months until I bumped into college friend Homer. He himself has started running and has progressed already, he is training for a 10K event that time. He told me that I can never be comfortable running with basketball shoes, and that I should get a nice pair of running shoes if I want to see progress in my workouts. He also discussed about proper diet, speed and pace, fun runs and that a nice goal would be to finish 10 kilometers in an hour.

I got so curious that I started researching the internet about running and running shoes and running gears and fun runs and trainings, etc. From what I’ve read, I thought I made the right choice of exercise because I’ve now become so interested and so excited to run. I also believe this will really help me meet my objectives of trimming down and living a healthy lifestyle.

What happens next is my wife surprised me with a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 6 (I’m so blessed with Espie!), I aimed for improvement in my runs at IT Park, and I registered for my very first race – Rundaue 2010 5K category! Espie also joined for the 3K run.

Rundaue 2010 5K (May 2010)

Our very first race was all new for us! We didn’t know what to expect! It’s just excitement and fun all throughout! We were grateful to experience a fun run for the first time, and a fun run as big as 2,000+ people running!

At that time, it was my longest distance so far and I am thrilled to finish it! The 5K race started at the Parkmall. I managed to run up to the turning point in Total (gas station), then after that, it’s jog-walk already. I took a lot of walk breaks heading back to the Parkmall. The sun was already up and its scorching heat took the air out of me. By the time I reached the finish line, I consumed 00:46:20. Espie finished the 3K route at around 30 minutes.

Still, a big victory for us! We started and finished the race! I hoped, back then, that this will only be the first of many fun runs. Thank You LORD!

3K & 5K Finishers @ Rundaue 2010

Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Keep the faith.