Hallasan – South Korea’s Highest

 

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.  – Edmund Hillary

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It was March 2016 when I thought of going to Jeju (an Island south west of Korea) to participate in a marathon, and I indeed had a good time in running along the north western part of the island; unfortunately, though, many people talked about its highest mountain Halla, It is very unfortunate that I do not have much time in climbing up the mountain not to mention my struggle in walking after completing the marathon. Oh well, I just told myself, I’m coming back.  Luckily, I was able to fulfill my promise this summer to accomplish one goal – Be at South Korea’s highest peak!

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200 meters to the top
Hallasan, actually has 5 routes to take with varying difficulty, but because I was m visiting, I took the longest one – the Seongpanak Trail.  I didn’t start late nor early, but I arrived in jump off at around 9:30AM and started hiking, the trail is relatively easy comparing with the other mountains I’ve been, but because it’s nearly 10Km from the summit, it can still be definitely tiring.  There is also no time to waste since they have a rule that no one can go to the summit after 1PM if you didn’t the final stop over.

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A Dry Lake in Along the Seongpanak Trail
Check out more details about Halla Mountain – Here

 

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My GPS Report – The trail I took, the elevation, distance and pace.
Took me 7 hrs to complete the whole hike, and got loads of fun!

I’m really considering hiking back in winter!

Hello Jeju

Oh, It’s been a while… I have not been posting any journals since things are getting really tight, busy work, and lifestyle and all stuff; but I am just glad I took a break and decided to go to Jeju Island. An Island south west of South Korea. 

I am sharing a few pictures I took using Go-Pro Hero 4 for this night’s coastal walk! It was relaxing indeed.

First night shot!

A man biking at dusk
First night shot!
Used night settings for 20 seconds
Jangan Temple

Marathon Back to Back

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Before the race begins in Daejeon!

 

November 22 and 29; Yes, it maybe silly and crazy for some but I thought of challenging myself by joining a marathon back to back in Daejeon and Jinju respectively.  Due to the drop in weight, I really felt that it’s time for me to at least try a marathon since almost all the full course events that I encounter and see here in Korea only has a 5 hour cut-off.

 

Daejeon Marathon has fewer crowds; in fact, there was a mass start of runners aiming for 21K, 30K and 42K.  There was no information about the course; or probably I was just not reading enough (that’s because it’s in Korean).  The course was flat and it was only a 10.5K loop, which means we have to do 4 loops to complete the race. It was ok during the first two loops as there were 21K runners, and we became fewer and fewer until there were only the runners left for the full course.

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The Daejeon Course. 10.5K loops of four = Boring but a good chance to hit one’s personal best!

The weather is fine; it was breezy, a bit cold but not the piercing cold. I felt strong the whole time, except of course the last 10K that made me just dragged myself to complete it.  I eventually completed the race in 4:29. It was a twenty-minute improvement from my 4:49 record in Condura Marathon in 2011 in the Philippines.  Wow!  I really thought I became stronger!

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After the Daejeon Marathon

It was still hard to walk for few days after the race. I was worried about the Jinju marathon, but still did it anyway not to mention I promised to my friend I’ll join him in his first marathon.  I saw the course, but I have no idea about the terrain. It was too hilly for me.  My mind played tricks on me as I was running on an uphill with effort thinking it was a downhill. I felt fatigue immediately after 10K, and felt that I couldn’t really make it.  My last week’s race in Daejeon definitely took a toll on me.  Even the weather was not favorable as the coldness was going into my spine. Old people, men and women were mostly present during the race. My god! It’s really amazing as they look happy while they were doing it! I finished the race in 4:48 min; not the best, but I think it was definitely a good experience.  The good thing about this race was that, my friend and I immediately got a good massage and then to the public bath to sooth our swollen legs. We were tired but I was feeling great the next day. There were few sores but it was definitely better after my 1st marathon.

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Jinju Marathon – Totally Unstoppable!

Will I do it again? Maybe, but I think I need more training.  As I was discussing the event with my friend, he mentioned about the man he ran with has participated more than a hundred marathons in a year.  I couldn’t believe my ears so I verified if it was a full course and he confirmed it.  Wow! True or not, many older Korean look strong when they are running, they even manage to greet me as some are surprised seeing a foreigner doing a full course with them especially in the smaller events.

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The Jinju Course – Hills, hills, hills!!!

December just came.  No more marathons for now… Haha! Oh wait, perhaps a half marathon.

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My First First – District 93 TM Fall Conference 2015

delIt was probably around July when District 93 (South Korea TM) declared that the event for the Toastmasters Fall Conference would be the Humorous Speech Contest.  Since I have a slight idea of how to write a humorous piece, I wasted no time and immediately prepared for it.  I had a discussion on this over a cup of coffee in Seongjeong Beach with my good pal Ken.  Though I have already seen a number of speeches regarding Toastmasters, and I fear that people might not be irritated to hear another one, I took the risk and wrote it anyway.  I thought of getting few old jokes about my old speech, some Filipino pick-up lines, Toastmasters and the cheesiness about dating.  Hah! Whatever, Toastmasters is a place where I can develop my skills; I might as well give it a try?

I first delivered it in the 200th meeting in Go-getters TM Club in Busan; to be honest; it was for me, dry and too raw. My delivery was appalling and I forgot almost many of my lines. I know it could be improved. I tried it next in the club contest in Burning Brunch; after a number of practices, it fortunately worked. I had a little dilemma about time management during the area contest preparation that I felt participating was no longer a priority. I was invited to speak in TEDx, I joined the Ironman in Gurye and for that; I felt I can’t join anymore.  Gladly, the odds went to my favor by closely fixing my appointments well. I won the area contest and still able to attend to some of my commitments.  After the Area is the Division. I know that the completion will be tough because most of the time, I always get third and not going up to the District, so I asked two friends to sit with me on my speech to get further feedback, which I think helped me a lot and make me win the Division.

I have 3 weeks to prepare for the District Contest, but I signed up for another triathlon and half marathon event (Hah! I love punishing myself). I also committed myself in swimming during weekends and hiking, that I only have a small time to practice at night, at least I recite it with eyes closed when I am about to sleep to make sure that I am not forgetting my speech.

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The Finalist of the District 93 Humorous Speech Contest 2015

During the D-day, I made sure I am ready by securing my props, the microphone and the stage.

Gratefully, a number of people were entertained, laughed at my speech, and made me win. I received awesome feedback that really made my day.  I got it! My first time to win first in the district!

Of course, I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my friends, a handful of them ensured that I got what I need to succeed. Thank you. I indeed had a blast. A wonderful experience, I will never forget.  :)

Here is the video of my speech.

More Photos Here

When Failure Changed You

Turning wounds into wisdom…

Left – September 2014, Right – October 2015

Everyone fails.  Once, twice or maybe a hundred times; just like Thomas Alba Edison when he thought of creating the light bulb, his failures did not stop him from doing what he loves.  It even made him to do something better, until he achieved his goal… Just like him, it may not be phenomenal, I have a story too.
Flashback – I left Kuwait for Korea in July 2014. I was a bouncing 100kg block at that time. Wooohhoooo! One of my friends even threw a joke at me that I am 0.1 ton (Damn, how could they use the unit ton on me). I know I’m heavy and big for my height but I believe that things will be okay if I workout.  I’m sure it will be okay.  So I started having this new life, working out, running, swimming, but nothing really serious as my diet was the same.  SEE-FOOD (When I see food, I eat). I would always try to weigh myself and see very minimal changes; I joined various half marathons, but naaah, nothing.  Ok, I lost weight, 1lb per month.  I’m not really sure if it was a big difference… maybe, at least I’m going somewhere.  I even joined Tokyo marathon in February 2015, and I was around 95Kg; 5kg in 7months.  Then triathlon events came in April and finished last.  At the end of July 2015, I weight 93kg; a loss of 7kg in one year.

Busan Half Marathon Finished at 2:43.
Busan Half Marathon Finished at 2:43.

My friends see me as very optimistic person and I really consider myself the same: fit and able to endure anything that goes in my way. Then, this event came.  70.3 Ironman… A Complete Failure. I blame the full moon, the unforgiving heat and the inconsiderate marshals (even though they are not) for now allowing me to run…

Fine. No problem, I’m fine, Perfect, Try again. I was trying to console myself and so did my friends, but the truth was, it’s not okay. I returned to Korea thinking about it, and I had this realization, that I need to do something different for me to really achieve my goal.

I started planning, and logging my accomplishments manually, there are strava and runkeeper, but putting it this way gave me a sudden thrill of completing every workout.
I started planning, and logging my accomplishments manually, there are strava and runkeeper, but putting it this way gave me a sudden thrill of completing every workout.

I signed up for a number of multisport events, but I told myself that I want to be better. I created a training diary and told myself that I should do it. Whatever my reasons were when I wake up, I have to do it. I get up early to swim or bike or run. Then in the evening do the same. 7 days a week. I rest sometimes but that’s because of my work schedule.  The key was I should have a good sleep.   I used my common sense on my diet; eliminated sugar in my coffee and chose healthier options.

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On the first 2 weeks I saw significant difference on my weight. Wow! This is working.  I shared my plan to few of my friends who I know can motivate me; to keep my sanity (because I’ve never done this before). I would show them what I’m doing and they would virtually pat my back for my job. That feels good.

I consistently workout, and it showed huge results.  All my races may not be a complete success but there is one thing in this pursuit that thrilled me most. I lost 10kg! I looked back on some of my photos a year ago, and it was like I’m looking at two different people, with the same smile (lol).  Even I couldn’t believe on what I have achieved, just when I thought it’s IMPOSSIBLE. Then, I change the way I look at things, then it became, I’M POSSIBLE.  I used my failure as my inspiration to be better, and so I succeed.
Today, I am still aiming to shred few more pounds, I just recently hit sub 2 hours in my last half marathon, and looking forward to improve my time in my marathon pursuit.

DIFFICULT, BUT DEFINITELY ATTAINABLE.

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Monitored my progress with the use of Body Analyzer in the gym I am registered, while the accuracy of the Fat% and other things seemed to be questionable, it is giving me a ball park value and something to target.

Beat the Record – Ulsan Human Rights Half Marathon

After a series of multi-sport events that I have participated, I thought of signing up for a half-marathon event. I have been seriously training for quite some time now that includes a 21K long run where I clocked 2:12, so I thought with proper planning, I could beat my old 2:09 record back in December 2009.

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I arrived almost 3 hours early in Ulsan, (50km where I live) where the race will be held.  That’s okay, I thought, at least I would have enough time. It was cold, and I was shivering.  I knew that the temperature would go up a bit so, I was not really that worried.

The race began at 9:30.  I carefully paced myself to get at least 2:06. It is the first time too that I am using my Garmin-VivoActive so things are quite new to me. It was a bit annoying that the pace is showing me is in min/km but its lap count is at 1.6km.  After seeing my pace on the 1st km at 5min, I just run at comfort.  Surprisingly, my pace is not going down below 6. I thought I would probably be drained after 10k, so I might just as well push as far as I can go. There are times that I tried pushing below 5:20min/km but it was too much for me, to add humor to it, there was a woman probably in her 40’s overtook me, Wow!  Where is this lady coming from? I tried pacing with her for a few minutes, but I guess she’s just way too strong for me.  I backed off when I thought it’s not good anymore to exert so much, and I would be back at my own comfortable pace.  Then another old man ran past me. Wow!  Wow!  What have I been doing all these years, I couldn’t even see any kind of difficulty in his face.  Thanks for the pace… So much respect I have in you people.

Excitement came when I still felt good at 10K, 11K, 12K, 13K, Aha! I can still do it; although my pace declined in time after 15Km, I swore I still tried my best.  I eventually finished at 1hr 53 min but it seemed short by 600m.  For that, I decided to complete the 21k to justify that I did 21K in less than 2 hours. It was first time since I started doing a half marathon in 2009. The power of mind is truly remarkable; we can believe in lies by accepting negative thought about ourselves and be the product of our own beating or be more positive in creating things that you desire.  I did both, but I know what I want this time; hence my improvement.  For sure, we will break another 21k record soon.  :)

Track

The Importance of Failure – My TEDxYouth Talk

If you are the person who picks up after a crushing defeat and go on to win again, Someday, you will definitely become a champion! – Wilma Rudolph

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A month ago, I got an invitation to speak in a locally organized TED event which is TEDxYOUTH in Busan  International Foreign School. Of course, I didn’t say no because, I believe that grabbing every opportunity is the best way to improve, and because I recently had a learning experience from my last Ironman attempt, I thought that I have a message to share… not just about winning and never giving up, but the moment you fell to the ground and trying to pick yourself up again and making yourself whole to be ready for another fight.

Check out the video of my speech!

KyungJu Triathlon Attempt

After a month of Participating the 70.3 Cobra Ironman in the Philippines, I participated another triathlon here in Korea.

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Getting Ready for the race

While the distance was shorter compared to the first, my difficulty was not really about the race itself but on the logistics.  Since I do not own a car here, I thought at first of taking the inter-city train; however, I have learned that bringing your bike in the train is only allowed at night. I felt a bit hopeless at that time, but thanks to my friend who called the inter-city bus line and mentioned that bike is ok but it will be placed where they place the luggage. I was a bit hesitant at first because I am not certain about it. I have a number of thoughts about my bike being damaged during the trip; however, since it’s the only option I had, I took the risk.  I was full of anxiety but I was so surprised that the bike remained intact after reaching Kyungju.  I didn’t notice they had a mat that could prevent movement under the bus. The taxi driver knows the location of the event so it was a relief too.

I thought that my ordeal will be over but I was wrong. Due to my poor communication skills in Korean, I was unable to follow simple instructions that made my day so difficult. Like where is the bike checking area, where is the transition area. Thankfully, there was a guy that in spite of not understanding each other, he was kind enough to guide me through.  He even helped look for a place to stay at that night and offered transportation the next day for the event.

Race day! I somehow have more confidence than before, and since we are only swimming in the lake, we had our wetsuit on; I was of course positive on the outcome of the event. Contrary to what I did before, I swam away from the buoy this time for me to be away from the crowd. The course was two laps that we have to get out of the water and return to the lake.  Surprisingly, I completed the swim course at 36 my best swimming time in the Olympic Course.

hilly part of the race #photograbbed #thanks http://cafe.naver.com/usb11
hilly part of the race #photograbbed #thanks http://cafe.naver.com/usb11

The bike race was okay; four laps. I struggled a bit due to the hilly route. There was even a part of it that almost made me walk, but I tried not to, and it somehow worked. Then it rained a lot on the 2nd lap that made the course challenging. I slipped in one downhill that disengaged my cleats from the pedal – Fortunate enough I did not fall, and decided to be more conservative; better safe than sorry.

The last leg – Running is somehow fine for me. Since I lost 5 kilos from my last race, I felt a bit lighter and I was able to convince myself not to walk and run at an acceptable speed. The rain momentarily stopped and it made me see the view of the lake in Kyungju and it was indeed very scenic and lovely adding to my enjoyment.

I completed the race at 3hours 21mins. Out of 80 people in my age group, I ranked 66th. I managed to improve my record by 21 min from my last Daegu Olympic triathlon which is 3hours 42 mins; last time I remember I was the 2nd from the last who completed out of 885 participant, so it’s really a milestone for me.

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I signed up for a couple of race before the year ends. I am very hopeful to accomplish it good standing. I guess I just have to work harder.

Lunch!!!
Lunch!!!

:)

Seoraksan

Winter was almost done when I thought of joining a social group through “Meet Up” (Smart Phone Application) in Seoul.  Thanks to my friend Mac who introduced me to the group and so I was able to get a change to hike the 3rd highest mountain in South Korea, The Mt Seoraksan.

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All the way from Seoul we traveled probably less than 3 hours to get to the Gangwon Province, North East of the country.

The trail that we went trough I should say, was not really hard; however, because I left my crampons in the bus, I was a bit messed up as I need to worry about not slipping.  The good thing was, the ice/snow was not really that bad that day probably because it was already February and most of the snow were melting, so I was able to hike okay.

The hike was good enough for more than two hours but my friend and I took longer because we took more photos; hence we are unable to visit more spots around; however, I guess, that’s just probably another reason to return in the Fall! Yeah!

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On Learning – Ironman Quest Repeat

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.

Me says: If you can't play, display!
Me says: If you can’t play, display!

Aug 2, 2015 was my 2nd attempt in 70.3 Cobra  Ironman Philippines; a month prior to the event, I have doubts about my capability, I have full on anxiety and fear that I might not even make it to the swim leg; after so much contemplation, I have reached to the conclusion that I could only finish the race if I have decided I can. I respect the distance. I am not that strong in any of the segments of the race, yet I trust myself enough that I can do it. I was full of optimism, but not overconfident, the moment we were released to swim, I remained calm because my training manifested that I can do it in 50min. I stayed away from the buoy because my experience told me that it’s not wise to battle against people who rely too much at it. A couple of unidentified sea creatures hit me, but I didn’t mind it, because I know it’s nothing compared to what I should face. At 1.4km, I noticed, my watch stopped counting the distance yet the time is moving; 50 min. It’s ok… 60… 70… Oh no, what’s going on? Was my watch not working or I was just too slow.  I got alarmed too by the number of people getting close to me. I was really naive and clueless of the scenario; 80 minutes, the crowd just went bigger and bigger, there were people who stopped in front of us, others were trying to swim hitting anything their arm could touch, one was pulling my leg, then another hitting me on the face that had my goggles disarranged; at that time, I decided to stop and look around, I was swimming on the opposite direction and yet I saw people swimming with me. A number of people were heading towards the land so I followed. I was full of disappointments as I get close to the shore because I thought they are just trying to sheep people until I heard someone said, “Last three minutes!”

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I rushed as much as I could, I still have a chance!

I clocked 85 minutes on my swim; worst ever. I calculated the lost time and it was about 40 minutes that I could’ve spent for the bike.  I knew I was in a difficult situation but of course, I should give it a shot. I was doing well, but I was a bit ashamed of myself for not enduring the scorching heat of Cebu. I struggled. My pace declined every time I was biking against the wind and too relaxed when it was pushing me. I had cramps, I stopped frequently (oh totally unacceptable). After biking the 90km distance for 4 hours and 30 minutes, I reached the transition, shamefully asking the organizers, “I didn’t make it right?” It was another failed race for me; painful because it was my 2nd attempt. I started evaluating myself, apart from the terrible swim course (I’ve heard that full moon affected the movement of the tide hence the current); I looked on what I could’ve done wrong. They said that a bad workman blames his tools and yes, I have too, one of the things I noticed and I thought significant were my bike cleats, that easily unlocks when I pull; hence, during the whole bike course, I was just pushing the pedals. That leads to my negligence in checking little things that counts; Improper placing of the power gels; as it fell; not to mention my unqualified bike training. I do indoor spinning, jogs frequently, constantly hikes, swims, but my training is not at all considered a concrete plan to finish. On a lighter note, I don’t want to be remorseful about this event (hey, I didn’t lose my job yet, not yet); in fact, it was quite a learning experience for me. It was my first time to really fight against a number of people while swimming.  I tend to give way every time I got bullied but this time was different as I thought of survival and at least finish with pride despite of the mishaps.  As many people say: winner takes all, but for me, sometime you win, sometimes you learn. My body may have failed me, and broke my heart, but there will always be time to heal (#inspiringmusicon).

dramatic bubble thought: tomorrow is another day…

Oh, well, until my next Ironman event. Yes, we will not give up!

Climbing to the Top

Just Climb!

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Almost summit

Mt Geumjeong is probably one of my most visited mountains in Busan, South Korea.  Aside from the reason that it’s near, but also because of the different routes I could check out.

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Of course, climbing to the top with some friends can make the trip worthwhile.

What’s even more fascinating are the locals; I couldn’t agree more that they are the friendliest, offering you food and rice wine, makoli (I love it so much!). One old woman just told me, I look like a naughty man. Haha! I just don’t know if it’s a compliment, but she gave us more tomatoes and cucumbers to eat!

Here are the photos of my last weekends climb!

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On Winning and Learning…

Sometimes you win, sometimes  you learn

In the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest
In the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest

A year ago, I participated in the District 20 Toastmasters Annual Conference Humorous Speech Contest. There were 15 Toastmasters who competed against and I was able to nail 3rd Place. A humbling and remarkable experience playing just as a wild card since I only placed 2nd in the Division Contest in Kuwait (1st only goes to the District)

Upon moving to Korea in July 2014, I carried a thought that if I really work harder, and think better, I could be really win in a bigger stage, maybe at least managing to be in the global competition if not, in the national.

Toastmasters in Korea belongs to District 93 with only 4 divisions.  Comparing to a bigger District 20 with 15 divisions, we could say that it is relatively small.  In District 20, there is only one representative per division and there’s  semi finals and you need to be at least 3rd to reach the finals and then you’ll get the chance to win.  District 93 is different.  Since there are only 4 divisions, it means at least 2 representatives can participate per division – In short; I have greater opportunity to reach the District (National) Competition.

Korea Fall Division Contest
District 93 Division C Evaluation Contest – 3rd (Fall Conference)

Fall 2014, District 93 announced that the contest for the Fall Conference would be the Evaluation Speech.  So we did the normal procedures, Club Contest, Area Contest, Division Contest.

I won the club contest 1st, Area contest 1st, and then the division contest; I only need to win 2nd to get a ticket to the District, and the contest chair called me 3rd.  It’s okay I thought, there’s still a chance for me in the Spring Conference and thinking that Evaluation Contest is not really my cup of tea.  My ultimate goal is to win in the international speech contest instead. I attended Fall Conference and I had a remarkable time too.

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District 93 Division C International Speech Contest (Spring Conference). I am believing the fact that I’m the perpetual 3rd placer. lol!

Spring 2015 came. This is the time I’ve been waiting for, the International Speech Contest!  I prepared again for my contest piece and work on it until my words became my heart, and it happened. I won in the club 1st, in the area 1st, but in the division…

They called me again 3rd… third again… I felt real disappointments this time… Maybe I need to look back again on my speech crafting, on my delivery, but looking at the silver lining, I can visit again Dubai for  District 20 Conference as there’ll also be the same conference going on at the end of the month. I can be reunited with my old friends.

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And so I reached the district again… This time, for the International Speech Contest!

And then suddenly I received a message.  The 2nd place winner decided not to proceed due to her pregnancy that is almost due. Wow! The universe is working hard for me to be in the District I thought; however, I had a bit of dilemma, the District 20 and 93 conferences will both be happening at the same week! I had quite a stress and feeling a bit canceling my plan and trip to Dubai. I know what I want and probably my friends would understand…

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Either I’m so naive or I’m not listening carefully or I don’t know what the man on the right’s position – President Elect 2016-17 of Toastmasters International!

Fast forward, the night of the contest, of course I was shaking but I want to do my best. I really believe in myself I can do it. I was contestant #6. Speakers one after another went to the podium and whenever each person spoke, I couldn’t help myself to say, wow… that was good, he did well… and then it was my turn. I refused to change my speech from day 1 because it is the speech that was really close to my heart a story about my parents and those days we loved looking at the beauty of the fireworks on every New Years Eve, where we would jump and shout and eat together back when we were little. I miss those days… and that day, they heard my story…

At the podium I’m not really sure if I did well, but in my heart, I felt I did my best. I was ultimately relieved after the contest.

The winners were announced Sunday afternoon, and I didn’t get anything.  Wooohooo! I’m not sure how to react; yet, If I could only quantify the disappointment it’s probably almost negligible, because although I had desire to win the contest, I realized that winning is not the only thing better that day. I gained a lot of new friends and learned a lot by my experience and I became a better person after this. Maybe, next year I will try again and again, but one thing is certain, that we will never stop discovering our true potential.

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Also, I want to extend my gratitude to the people who supported me on this, who believed me and I hope the Fireworks I shared to everyone, will never be forgotten…

Daegu Olympic Triathlon – My First Try

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

at the pre-race briefing


May 3, 2015. It was raining…”Surely this is going to be a long day.” I thought as I try to fix my things in the transition area in Daegu Olympic Triathlon. I put a plastic cover on my box so at least I won’t be wearing wet shoes and socks, at least while putting it on. The wetsuit (though my third time of using it) fit but a bit too tight. My knees for some reason were shaking and weak despite of participating multi-sport events for quite some time. I’ve been here, done that… I’ve been here done that… Everything is going to be alright.  Fear lurked in me the moment I jumped into the lake for warm up. Should I go back, I thought (Of course not) my mind was playing tricks on me.  The water was probably just too cold that’s why, so I tried just staying in the water until I got my composure.  There were buoys anyway, so for sure, it will be safe.  I can go on that side all throughout…

making sure that all the required are available!

A number of people gathered the event, surprisingly, it was a big pack. I was ignorant of the fact that many are also passionate tri-athletes here in Korea.  Waiting for almost an hour before the first wave began; I was still convincing myself I can do it!

Before the gun-start, I’m freakin’ out here!

I was in the second wave, group of 20-35 years old participants.  At the sound of the gun, I was surprised that most of them were hesitant to move and I was at the back. Were they also as scared as me?  I waited for a bit, but it looks like that group was really slow, so I started moving, making sure I was near the buoy. I realized it was not a good idea as few people did the same and started panicking.  I’m not sure what happened but I notice there are few people who tried pulling my shoulder just to get a grip and save their lives.  Wallah! What’s going on?  My coordination suddenly got lost but I tried going away from the buoy as it was not really a good idea. The triangle loop in the lake was short yet it feels so far… I eventually regained my confidence, but I know it was already too late; I spent so much time convincing myself everything will be okay.

I was a bit worried about the slippery road.
I was a bit worried about the slippery road.

I successfully finished the swim leg but it took me almost 55 minutes to complete the swimming course, it was for me a disappointment. The bike leg was next, the road was slippery, so I was too prayerful. I don’t care if I’m slow; I just want to be safe. The forty-kilometer bike ride was probably the most relaxing part of the race, although I struggle nursing my back.  Hah!  Poor saddle time was the cause of this, as I don’t try longer bike workouts. Maybe rain helped me despite the slippery road because I didn’t get dehydrated.

The final leg the run-leg is probably of course the safest, but most annoying. It was just like saying, everything is going to be okay, but because we were running in a park, the area was uncemented,

The Finisher Medal
The Finisher Medal

partially muddy and full of water, it was a bit a challenge; nevertheless, I tried enduring the five loop run. Maybe I was almost the last runner not including those who did not finish due to bike problems, I don’t feel much pain, yet I felt tired and wasted.

My first Korean Triathlon maybe annoying as it was raining most of the time, yet I felt grateful for this wonderful experience as always.


Until next time.

Kyungju Cherry Marathon 2015

 Create the world you want to see!


 

Kyungju during the spring

 A month ago, a Korean friend sent me a link about a Marathon.  As I check and understood, (All are written in Korean) theres a cut off limit of 5 hours for a marathon and 2:30 hours for a half marathon, so without hesitation. I signed up… For the half.  I tried convincing few friends and lucky enough two agreed with me on my pursuit.

  


From Busan, we travelled for almost two hours the night before and stayed in a nearby hotel.  The spring air in the city of Kyungju is undeniably blooming as the cherry blossoms gleam at night. I know, the race the next day, is going to be phenomenal!

  


A great number of people gathered in the event from 5 Km Runners to Marathon.  It looks like its a quite famous event as the city is also celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival.  According to them, the flowers as many as what we saw are only blooming from late March until the 2nd Week of April; too bad that its not there most of the time, but Im still thankful for the great ambiance.

  

 

Our race started at 9:10, 10 minutes after the marathon runners, people zoomed at the gun start and so do I.  I was amazed and surprised on the beauty of the place as I was never really expecting it! The whole route was just full of cherry blossoms! It was truly breath taking! Somehow, it made me energized for a period of time and not to mention it was a downhill for the first 5Km. Although at the latter part of the race, having an awesome ambiance doesnt really matter anymore due to the tiredness that I felt.  

 

I ended my race at 2:33, it was still slow, and I was despising myself too much because I massively resorted for many walk breaks during the 2nd half of the race, but at the same time, I was glad that I improved based on my previous race where I clocked 2:41 last Busan Marathon in Oct 2014, hopefully (seriously hoping) my efforts in the future will get even better. Im looking forward for that. 


 

 

 

 

 

Sweeter the 2nd Time

 

Proudly claimed my Race Kit!

It was 2013 when I first ran Tokyo Marathon. Just for the heck of it, I signed up and got selected in the lottery together with another running friend.  I really had fun during that time because it was a different kind of experience running my first Marathon in a country that Im not really residing (Went to Kuwait Marathon 2012). After two years, I thought again of signing up, and to my surprise, I got the cut in the lottery. Again! WOW!  My travel would definitely be easier this time now that I am living in South Korea since it will only be a two hour flight; however, theres a little ordeal.  I would be alone and would have to do all the things by myself; anyway, I did all the formalities in making myself physically present at the marathon. tokyo

It was still fun being in the event. It was full of vibe and the atmosphere was totally positive.  While there were few runners that I know who were participating, I was unable to see them due to the massiveness of the crowd; besides, we had different assembly points so I tried to at least befriend a lone runner/traveler as well.

It was raining, it was cold, but at the sound of the gun shot, after so much of waiting, we took off. To be honest, I despite of my current weight (Lol) I tried my best to run as much as I could until I gave up after hitting the 1st half of the distance. I felt soreness at that moment and after reaching 30km, just like the old days, no amount of motivation can push me.  It was just purely me; dragging myself just to end the self inflicted pain, it lightened up a bit though by seeing some takbo.ph acquaintances. 

I finished the race in little less than 6 hours. I felt a bit of shame for not working hard to lose extra pounds, but at the same time proud because at that end of that day, the person who motivated myself is no one else but still me. I was a fighter psyching up my unconvinced brain cells that I can still do it despite of whatever excuses I had.

The Finisher Medal, My Unofficiall Time and the Infamous finisher towel

It was a long day afterwards  having unable to walk after a marathon, but my heart was full of joy.  Of course, I will do it again. 

 

Exploring Opportunities

Take and explore every opportunity you can get!

One morning in Busan
One morning beautifulin Busan

It has been six months since I arrived in South Korea, and I must say that living in Busan is quite a challenging experience; however, there’s a saying that there’s opportunity in every difficulty so I grab one when I see one.  The culture of the country is a bit fast paced and most people tend to dedicate their time towards work so I try my best to keep up with its busy lifestyle and at the same time, find an opportunity to have a quality time with myself. I listed few things that I have done.

1. Learn to read and write – it’s never easy to learn another language; what more if they have a different alphabet?  It’s a double whammy! Most of the signage in every landmark is written in their native language, Hanguk, even in the menu in restaurants are quite difficult to understand and I have to rely on photos; so the best way is to at least know how to read and know what food I order.

The Hanguk Characters - #photgrabbed
The Hanguk Characters – #photgrabbed

Mekju hana chuseyo!  :P

Hopefully, I’ll be able to learn the language after a year!

Helpful Korean Applications
Helpful Korean Applications

2. Download Phone Applications – I am truly thankful I live in this era, google translate, subway schedules, bus, airline and even food name is available on line, somehow, life is less difficult having these trustworthy apps.  Even online banking and where to watch a movie, smart phone is never a failure.

jirisan
Jiri Mountain, 2nd highest mountain in South Korea

3. Hike – So now that I have google maps, I was able to learn South Korean topography and choose where to hike every week.  I also tried researching about the place, but of course knowing where to go first is more important. Every place is truly breath-taking! Bukhansan, Cheonggesan, Jirisan,  Jangsan, Hwangyeonsan and counting!  My camera is always loaded with the beauty of Korea.

Korean Roads: Great for running!

4. Run – Uphill, Downhill, Run near the beach, on the road, I can really run every where in Busan, the place is bike friendly and has a lot of parks to jog. There are also monthly races that I was able to join although I just really have to be keen in searching on these running events as most of the sites are only available in Korean.

18th Ocean Busan Half Marathon
18th Ocean Busan Half Marathon

5. Toastmasters – This global club has been around the country for years and being with toastmasters has always been a great help; being with Korean toastmasters helped me to adapt the culture outside work and having Ex-pats toastmasters allowed me to understand also their experiences in Korea.   I even attended a national conference and I had loads of fun. It’s just too tiring though because it’s only for a day.

tm
At the Fall Toastmasters Conference in Seoul with J.A. Gamache (World Public Speaking Finalist)

I’m really sure that there are still a lot of opportunities to explore here in Busan to avoid home sickness and boredom thankfully, I was able to adjust quite faster than what I thought.:)

Living the Moment

Anyanghaseyo! That is the most common greeting that I use to hear everyday from colleagues and everyone else here.  Yes, I am in South Korea. My three year stint in Kuwait is done and now I am embarking a new chapter of my life.  The kubus, humus, machboos and sisha life has changed to kimchi, noodles, kalbitang (my favorite) and soju. Goodbye to my desert life for now:)

SeoulI must admit that living life in Korea is somewhat difficult if I compare it in Kuwait; not that the people are not nice, in fact, they are indeed very nice; however, I have few challenges, one is the language.  Most people speak mainly Korean and you would only see few people speak English. South Korea herself has a very rich value for culture that is why I think its like that, although I think a number of English speakers has been increasing which I think is very good for us expats.  Another is, seeing another fellowman in the country is rare unlike in Middle East so there are very limited people I could ask about Korean lifestyle. Thanks to a friend and a few websites I was able to learn few things before moving in.

As what I have said, Korean’s culture and tradition is so rich, that of course I had a taste of it that moment I landed.  My colleagues immediately gave us a sumptuous dinner in a table so low that we have to sit while eating.  I don’t have a problem with that, except that my belly is pressing so much that it hurts! lol!  Then the soju (local wine) was poured to my glass, and according to them, they have a way of pouring it.  Use of chopsticks and more table manners that we soon need to adapt.

City

There are so many things about Korea that I have to learn; it might be somewhat difficult but surely it is possible; for now, I would have to live the the moment and be thankful on what I have!

P.S.

I can now read and write Korean! Yay!

Train
very organised train stations… This is very convenient!

Conspiring with the Universe

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paolo Coelho

rodel win

Ding… I received a message from a friend: “Rodel, I can’t participate in DTAC this time and since you are the second place in the DIVISION Contest for Humorous Speech Category, you are the next eligible toastmaster who can participate…”

It was mixed emotions… bitter-sweet.  It was bitter because a friend, who is more likely to win in the contest could not participate due to some circumstances, and the same time sweet, for selflessly sharing his victory with me and giving me the opportunity to participate in the contest every toastmaster has been dreaming of : The District 20 Toastmasters’ Annual Conference. A conference where every toastmaster meets each time of the year in any of the following countries:  UAE, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. A time of the year to search for the best toastmaster in the following category: Humorous, Evaluation, Table Topics and International Speech Contest.

 

Registering for DTAC L-R Natalia, Sandy, Me, Faten, Don and Lisa
Registering for DTAC
L-R Natalia, Sandy, Me, Faten, Don and Lisa

Without hesitation, I declared that I am more than happy to represent our Division in Kuwait.  I booked my ticket, hotel reservation and then secured my toastmaster registration; I had  doubts.  I partly questioned myself because I felt that this was pure luck.  I am a member of 3 clubs, My Mother Club – Desert Pioneers, then Active Minds a diverse club, and another club that I am part of during the chartering, NKPIS.  I failed to participate in the Club Contest for Desert Pioneers due to work and I didn’t even nail third in Active Minds, but I got the gateway to the Area Contest in NKPIS since, it was newly chartered and no one has volunteered to represent.  Well, I volunteered. In the area contest, there were only 4 contestants, and yes, the universe has a way of making a secure spot for me to compete for the Division. Two of the participants went overtime and winners won by default.  I got second. Haha!   – Lucky me!

Kuwait Gang with Omani Friends
Kuwait Gang with Omani Friends

There were 6 contestants in the Division I contest; All of them were equally good.  Thankfully, I placed again… Second.  I thought that was the end of my journey because only one can represent our division… Not until that message came.

It didn’t really sink in to me until my mentor and a friend told me that I should start rehearsing; with barely a week from the D-day, I rehearsed, rehearsed and rehearsed, they evenly spent their time with me during my practice… “Oh My God! (Repeat to infinity to exaggerate) is this really happening?” I exclaimed.

kuwait 1
with the lovely DTAC Contestants

Anxiety Attack, as I saw the hall where we would compete, it was huge! And so I had to study the stage well so that I know how I would be able to move properly.  More practice… More suggestions… Thanks to the last minute comments I was able to incorporate more on my speech.

The contest was divided into two groups, a group of 8 and 7.  Group A and B, respectively and I was part of the bigger group A.

Another Anxiety Attack on the day of the contest, draw lots and waiting time… My knees were weakening like as if I didn’t have breakfast… My friends were there cheering, like as if they were my crutches until inner voice coming into my mind (You can do it! You can do it!) as I listen to the music of WE WILL ROCK YOU (by the Queen). I note to myself, “Ok Rodel, since you are already here and you came to represent Kuwait, why don’t you just be yourself and give all what you’ve got?  You’ve been here, just a bigger crowd… No one will judge you…” and so it happened…

 

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Point 1: Exaggerate!  Since it’s a big stage, movements should be seen well.

Point 2: Check the spotlights.  Make sure that they can see your face so that they can see your facial expressions.

Point 3: Act like a winner and feel it!

There are just few of the thoughts I had at that time, and glad that it paid off for I heard laughter in every set of my punch lines.  It annoyed me a little bit when I heard a ringing phone; however, it was a good thing that I was not able to forget my spiel.

I won 1st runner up in the elimination and luckily won 2nd runner up in the finals.  Oh boy!  There were butterflies in my stomach when I was waiting for the announcement of the winners; to be honest, I was hoping to win, but not really expecting, for I felt that the finalists also did an awesome performance.

Being in DTAC and representing my Country and Kuwait is already an honor, making it to the finals and winning it?  It way too much!  It was truly a humbling experience for me.

 

Thank you Oman!
Thank you Oman!

With this success, I strongly believe that I am just a face, for there are a lot of people behind me who has supported me and as grateful as I am when I stood in that podium to deliver a message.

Ildone – who gave me the opportunity to join DTAC.  He could’ve bagged another victory this year but he selflessly shared it to me.

Hazel – my mentor who brainstormed with me on this speech in Nov 2012.

Raymond – my mentor who helped me how to deliver and tackle the speech.

Robert and Natalia – who made sure that they also hear my speech and provided comments on how I could improve it better

Deepak Vindal – who helped me secure my registration in DTAC

Satish Kumar – who constantly check on me and pursue me to attend DTAC

Don, Sandy, Lisa and Faten – who gave me more pointers the night before the contest, on how I could put more light on my presentation.

Active Minds, Desert Pioneers and NKPIS – My clubs that always allow me to grab opportunities to grow.

 

 

My Message – “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” (Quoting Paolo Coelho)

Whether it’s in toastmasters, at school, work or family or even just a mere hobby, Your passion and wanting could lead you somewhere, with an ample amount of determination and push, the universe will conspire in helping you achieve what you want, if there’s a will, there’s always be away.

Attached is the humorous speech video

The 3rd Al Corniche Aquathlon

Fear is a state of mind…

BIKE Tri-Team
BIKE Tri-Team

It was a great day and once again, avid multi-sport athletes gathered for another much awaited event in Kuwait.  The Al Corniche Aquathlon.  The turnout of the event was not really as big as the fun runs due to the complexity of the game for most people, as the event calls for each participant to swim in an open water.  There were four categories and these were the following:

Sprint and Sprint Relay – 1K swim, 5K run

Olympic and Olympic Relay – 1.5K swim, 10K run.

Most of my friends signed up for the Olympic category for they have already tried few months back the shorter version of the event.  As for me, I have chosen to join the Olympic relay because I want to engage a friend in this kind of sport, meanwhile, another friend also chose to do the relay, due to his minor heel injury.  It was good in my opinion for tho things, he keeps himself busy while trying to recover and he’s giving opportunity also to other athlete/friend to participate.

swim rodel
Captured moment

THE WASHING MACHINE:  The start of the race –  I have been with a few swim races and triathlon games; however, jitters still didn’t go away that easily, although the jitter quickly subsided after the first 50 meters, after that, it was okay. the course was not that bad too, for there were buoys from afar and there was a man in his kayak watching over us. I finished my swim at roughly around 31 minutes and immediately tapped my friend to run.  Immediately, I looked for my friends on how well they were doing; gladly, they were able to get out of the water safely. I couldn’t be prouder to my friend Biboy after coming out from the water despite of finishing last.

btt finisher
Bike Tri Team Finishers

THE RUN LEG –  It was already past 10 am and the sun is already high. My running buddy Arnold started strong but later somewhat felt dehydrated due to heat. Fortunately, the run course required them to do a 6 laps to finish 10km so, we were able to see most of our friends frequently and cheer for them.  Arnold clocked 54 minutes in his watch, including his transition, making our finish time at 1:25 (unofficial).  Still waiting for the official results though.

medal
The finisher medal

POST RACE – After finishing the race and evaluated ourselves, our team mates realised the importance of open water swimming.  The spur of the moment, their adrenalin and fear could still linger giving us a few mishaps especially during the swim leg.

Over all, it was an awesome event with a friendly and positive vibe!

 

The Iron Man Quest

I should keep moving… I signed up for this right?

Signed Up!
Signed Up! I was drowsy when I hit “submit”😛

Yes! I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Philippines this year. Although I was a bit hesitant because I don’t really know what to expect and I haven’t really have much exposure, (oh well) I did!  A multi-sport event that includes three discipline:  Swimming, Biking and Running.

Packed my stuff. Hush, I don't know for some but I think participating a Triathlon overseas is tough on logistics.
Packed my stuff. Hush, I don’t know for some but I think participating a Triathlon overseas is tough on logistics.

Fast forward… Zap! There were butterflies in my stomach the moment I landed in Cebu Philippines ; and because it was my first time transporting a bicycle (or any big luggage for that matter) from one country to another, I find it very stressful; not to mention that you actually need to disassemble your bike and then put it in order in a box and then reassembling it once you get to the location. Maybe I’ll get used to it soon though.

number
Claiming of the race kit is very easy. It was an organized expo!

Despite of all the stressful logistics. It was a good thing getting the race kit, race number tattoo marking was fine, the bike check-in has a strict security. It was very organized and I am impressed how things were being handled (Maybe this was hat we were really paying for).

All set!
The night before the d-day! Looks like I’m all set.

Above all this, above all the preparation, the real thing that’s most important is myself. The night before the event I was really restless (like as if I’m doing the BDM 102); slept at 10PM but woke up at 2AM and started preparing as I couldn’t get back to sleep anymore.  It was rainy that morning and I felt that we’re definitely going to have a tough race… and so it happened…