Barefoot Runner Michael Sandlers in a Near Death Accident

Wednesday, 4 September 2013  |  Bullish Insights

Last 2011, Michael Sandler and his wife Jessica, best-selling authors of Barefoot Running and Barefoot Walking, visited Manila to promote their books and barefoot running.  I met them that evening at R.O.X. and learned that they had only recently gotten married and that trip was actually their honeymoon.  That same year, Michael wrote an article for TBR Magazine – Jan/Feb 2011 on Barefoot Running.  Last year, Michael and Jessica produced their own DVD on Barefoot Running and were kind enough to send me a copy.

THE ACCIDENT

This week, I received this shocking note from Michael:

Dear Friends and Family,

Many of you know I recently had a very serious accident.

This year I went on tour for Barefoot Walking. While on tour, I had incredibly bad “luck” with a rental RV. First the heater went out leaving me freezing for 2 days straight and a fever for 6 days. The electrical system went out repeatedly. The serpentine belt cut the wiring harness as it shredded and broke too. Then there was a break-in with all of my electronics and cell-phone stolen, plus 2 car accidents later the same day. And last, after picking up Jessica to return the lemon back to the dealership early, the transmission died, leaving us stranded for nearly a week. These were strong signs we needed to do things differently.

Then while returning the RV to the dealership, we went for one last hike. And after swimming in a snow-melt waterfall, I put on my leather moccasins to stay warm on our return. I should have stayed barefoot. Unfortunately, the moccasins didn’t have any traction and I slipped in a stream crossing, landing on a pyramid-shaped rock, shattering my leg on impact. I thought I might die, and it was the scariest 2 hours of my life. But it was also life-changing. I was stuck in freezing snow-melt water, bleeding internally, but with Jessica by my side. At first I stopped breathing, then forced myself to breathe, half-here, and half-not for 2 hours until search and rescue stabilized me and helicoptered me away.

I’m expected to make a full recovery, but it’s been incredibly challenging. I can’t travel at the moment, and all of our savings went into our book tour and inventory for it. Plus we’re facing massive medical bills, and costs to help me recover. So we’re having to simplify our lives and downsize.

However, we’re incredibly thankful. We’ve learned so much from this and Jessica calls it “the best thing that ever happened to us”. So, as good writers, we’re writing a book about our healing adventure, and what we’ve learned which can help others overcome massive hurdles in their lives as well.

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– Michael’s first time out of the hospital –

Thank you for your love and support.

LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Michael

BREATHE LOVE

Michael and Jessica didn’t let this accident get them down.  Instead, they took the lessons they could gain from it and wrote a book entitled Breathe Love.  They then created a crowdfunding site to raise funds to publish the book.  To know more about it and if you would like to help, click on the link below:

Breathe Love

To Michael, I wish for a speedy recovery for you.  May you and Jessica continue to be an inspiration to others in living life with optimism, courage, and love.

Weather Weather Lang

Wednesday, 28 August 2013  |  Bullish Insights

Wow.  So much has happened the past two weeks and I don’t know where to begin!  Let me start by telling you why I was absent from the blog the past couple of weeks:

1) MARING.  Oh yes, this storm literally hit all of us hard last week.  Some much harder than others so I hope we’ve all done our part to help.  Thankfully, we were safe here at home and I hope you were too.  During the storm, I didn’t feel like posting anything about running on this blog in consideration of those who were severely affected.  Despite the bad weather though, I still continued to ride on my trainer and hit the treadmill for my run.  No excuses, right?  How about you?  Did you continue your work out or turn into a couch potato?  I hope not!

2) PORK BARREL.  Okay, okay, I can’t blame Napoles for my absence on the blog.  But, I did feel—again—that writing about running and triathlon at this point was so shallow compared to the country’s bigger issues.  I did make my stand though: NO to Pork Barrel!  And, while we’re at it, NO to chicharon, too!

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2) SERVER DOWN.  For a while now, my blog has been unstable.  It shut down on the day we released the first list of reserved runner list for Dream Marathon.  It shut down again last Saturday and only went live again this morning.  This has all been due to server problems from my host.  All beyond my control. Gaaaah!  For a control freak blogger like me, it’s been a total nightmare.  I’m hoping that all issues will be resolved within the next couple of weeks.

3) HOMESCHOOLING.  Due to Maring, the kids classes were suspended all week.  One would think life would be easier without having to shuttle two kids back and forth from school.  Oh no.  The teachers emailed a weeks worth of workload for the children to work on.  I felt like a homeschooling Mom that week!

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– Loads of work for both kids. I almost wanted to send them back to school! –

4) WORK.  Loads of work on my table, baby.  From TBR Magazine to graphic design to Dream Marathon to school (yes I enrolled in Nutrition School just because I want to! Hah!), I seriously have way too much work on my hands.  I think it takes me an hour to jot down my To Do list every morning.  I kid you not.  Still, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Uhm, okay, maybe I would hope to sneek in a daily massage and a monthly escape to the beach, but all in all, I’m thankful that I have work that doesn’t feel like work.

Just in case I depressed you a bit, let me end this post on a happy note.  Here are photos of my 21k run at Safeguard-2XU Sole Racing International Half Marathon last August 17, 2013.  I wasn’t able to share them because Maring arrived the day after.  Actually, this race was made fun by the strong rain that hit us midway through the run.  We were like little kids happily stomping on puddles and feeling the rain pour over us.   One of the more memorable and fun half marathons I’ve joined!

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– with Ton and way too serious Coach Lit (LOL), my run buddies that day. We were smiling here but, soon after, we approached the portion of SM MOA near the bay and the headwind was insane. It was almost like running in place! (Photo: RARMartinez Fotorun) –

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– Near the finish line of a wet and wild half marathon (Photo: Pinoy Fitness) –

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– Instagram photo reposted from Kim Atienza. Posing with the Posedown Posse Gang –

Hope you’ve recovered from Maring and the craziness of last week!  Just like this post, there are good days and bad days and we can only wait for the storms in our lives to pass until the sun appears again.  Like my good ol’ triathlete friend Kuya Kim Atienza (who is coincidentally right below me in the photo) always says “Weather weather lang!”

Why Do You Race?

Thursday, 15 August 2013  |  Bullish Insights

I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. The promise of achieving something big and impossible in the future motivates me each day to get up and work, work, work.

Since I picked up running in 2006, I used races to drive me to train day in, day out.  It was also a good test of my progress, a great opportunity to keep in touch with fellow runners and, for races abroad, a fantastic way to experience the world.  Since 2006, there has never been a period of time wherein I didn’t have an A-race to aim for.  I found that targetting 2 marathons per year with a training period of 4 months could have me training almost the entire year with just a few months off to allow my body and mind to recover.  It was— and probably still is—the perfect recipe, at least for me, to stay fit, maintain focus, and, last but not the least, keep me happy.

Last month, I dusted off an old book from our shelves and started reading it again.  It’s The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, a book I highly recommend. It basically reminds you to live in the NOW.  To leave regrets of the past behind or not to worry about the future.  To make the present moment the primary focus of your life.

NOW

In one portion, Tolle writes: “Are you always trying to get somewhere other than where you are?  Is most of your doing just a means to an end?  Are you always focused on becoming, achieving, and attaining, or alternatively chasing some new thrill or pleasure?”

This got me thinking about all my past races. Is this why I race?  Have I been living my life in the future by always aiming for the next marathon?  And, I wondered:  Can I possibly just enjoy running without a goal to work for?

After training for Ironman 70.3 Cebu for 7 months and completing it a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in my life, I woke up the next day with absolutely no A-race to train for.  (Usually, I have the next goal in mind  even before I finish the previous race!)  For the past 2 weeks, I’ve been running, biking, and swimming at my own pace and distance without having to worry about a future event.  And, surprise surprise, I’m absolutely loving it!

Truth be told, I don’t think I can last long being goal-less though.  That’s just the way I’m built, I guess.  Knowing myself, I’ll be scouring the web for a marathon to get me all excited again.  Perhaps this has less to do with the need to “chase some new thrill” and more about being inspired and motivated.  I think training for a marathon in particular gives structure to my days and weeks leading up to the race and that kind of focus subsequently spills over to the rest of my life.  It’s just one of the many gifts of the marathon.

What I can say is that I did pick up some wonderful lessons from this book. I realized that sometimes it’s not bad to give yourself a break from goals and to just enjoy the present moment.  Enjoy every single run for what it is without focusing too much on how it should improve your performance for your race.  Take a deep breath, put one step in front of the other, and just savor the experience.  It’s not the destination, but the journey.  More importantly, I learned while it’s great to have a vision of a better, stronger you in the future, it’s far more important to remember that you are good, strong, and happy where you are right now.

How about you?  Why do you race?

The Road to Ironman 70.3 Cebu and 5 Lessons I Learned While Training

Sunday, 21 July 2013  |  Bullish Insights

Life is like a triathlon. You train hard, you prepare for all possible scenarios, then you hope for the best and go out there to race. Sometimes, every thing turns out as planned. Other times, you get a little surprise.

For the past months, the road to Ironman 70.3 Cebu has thrown in quite a number of surprises for me. I got injured in April, crashed on my bike in July, and, just last week, sprained my rib area while doing ab work.

The thing is, my wounds healed so I got to swim 10 days after the crash. I pushed myself to overcome my fear after the crash and rode 100k alone two weeks after. The ribs?  It’s just uncomfortable; I can swim and run through it.  And, as of today, I got to run 12k with friends, Joey, Nona, JR, and Joel, without a single niggle of pain. Yes, injuries do heal!

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– As if the injury free run wasn’t enough to make my day, I bumped into these guys at the parking lot. ALL of them are TBR Dream Alumni from Batches 2, 3, and 4. So happy to see them training for Milo Marathon while the others have gone into triathlon –

After months of uncertainty, today, a mere 14 days before race day, I know for sure that I can—and will—race Ironman 70.3 Cebu. Sure, it won’t be my best performance and maybe I won’t be able to beat my own time last year. But, I will try my best.  As my Coach, Andy Leuterio said, “You will race it like a warrior!”  Hey, after the hell that I’ve been through, crossing that finish line will be a celebration in itself.

Here are five things I learned during the past 7 months of joy, frustration, and pain while training for Ironman 70.3 Cebu that can probably be applied to running, triathlon, and other aspects of life:

1) Clearly define your goals. Are you aiming to finish, to improve your time, or to have fun? Should trials arise, such as problems with time management or training, then go back to those goals and make a decision based on that. I’ve found that, as the race draws near, there’s a tendency to keep up with Joneses and you worry if you’re training long or hard enough. Thankfully, I have the kind of personality where I don’t really care what other people are doing or thinking as long as I’ve done my best and set out what I planned to accomplish. I’m such a Bull, I know.

2) You decide. In triathlon, you can be part of a team, you can have a great Coach by your side, and you can have friends to support you all the way. But, at the end of the day, it’s all you. You decide how hard you’re going to push yourself during training. You decide if you’re willing to commit X amount of time to your already full schedule and if a medal is all worth it. You decide how you want a bike accident to affect you. If you do make it to race day, there’s no one else to praise (or blame) but you.

3) It’s a mind game. You can train your body to swim, bike, and run any distance, but if the mind is weak, then you’ll have a problem. For marathons and triathlon where you have to dig deep during training and on race day, you need the will, commitment, and determination to overcome the pain because (if you don’t know yet then let me tell you now), it may hurt like hell during the last few meters to the finish, but it will be pure bliss when you hang that medal around your neck.

4) People don’t care. Now, I don’t mean that your friends don’t care for you. Triathletes, based on my little experience being in triathlon for just a year now, are a great bunch who sincerely help newbies out and support others who share a common passion for the sport. But, they are also too busy swimming, biking, and running and living their own lives to care about that protruding tummy of yours in your trisuit or how slow you are on the bike. In other words, just do your own thing and ask for help when needed. Most triathletes are willing to help and they don’t really care about the little things that you are insecure about. (Just make sure to inhale during photos.)

5) Balance everything. Triathlon is like life, but it is NOT your life. (Well, at least for most of us age-groupers it’s not.) So, while you’ve been bitten by the bug and you would love to swim, bike, and run as much as you can, don’t forget that there’s more to life out there. There’s fulfilling work, a loving family, and awesome non-athlete friends who can make you just as happy too (and, guess what, they don’t want to know how long you rode or ran today.) If you keep this in mind, then any misfortunes in triathlon—a bike crash, an injury, or a missed race—will be nothing more but bumps on the road. The journey goes on.

Of Crashes, Injuries, and Miracles

Monday, 1 July 2013  |  Bullish Insights

“A miracle is a shift in perspective” 

– quoted by Gabby Bernstein from A Course in Miracles

The Crash

I woke up on the sidewalk of Daang Hari Road with my friends and a crowd of bikers hovering over me. What happened? Where was I? In my mind, I had been pleasantly biking along. Last I remember was thinking we were definitely going to reach our 100k target because we all felt strong and fresh at around 57k.

My friends told me I had crashed. The look of worry on their faces was indescribable. They said they heard me scream and, within a few seconds, I keeled over to my right side, slammed my head, elbow, and legs on the ground, and skidded with my bike for a few meters on the rough concrete. They said I lay still on the middle of the road for a long 2 minutes. By then, a crowd of bikers stopped and blocked the road from oncoming vehicles for us. I was breathing, then I began to mumble words. I even managed to give my cellphone password so they could call my driver to fetch us. My friends knew I was alive, but they worried about the damage done on my body.

I woke up dazed, confused, and clueless. I could not remember anything from the accident. I tried to remember the names of my kids, Anton & Nia, and when I said their names I heaved a sigh of relief that I didn’t suffer from amnesia. I asked my friends what happened and they explained it in detail. At that time, I thought I had been conversing normally with them. Later that afternoon, they admitted that they feared for me because I had asked them the same question and they answered in full detail five times over.

I was rushed to the Emergency Room of Asian Hospital. I had a CT scan, xrays, and treatment of my wounds. I was cleared from any brain trauma and broken bones. I went home with five huge wounds on my right arm and legs (aka tocino as the bikers like to call it), a bump on the right side of my head, neckpain, a cracked helmet, and a scraped handlebar on the bike as souvenirs. Still, I felt blessed to be alive. It could have been a lot worse and I was lucky.

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– In the ER of Asian –

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– My cracked Specialized helmet kept me safe. Thanks to Dan’s Warehouse for offering to replace it upon hearing of my accident –

The Injury

The accident put things into perspective for me. You see, for the past two months now, since the day after London Marathon last April 21, I’ve been suffering from Post-Tibial Tendonitis. Post-Tib is an injury on the inner ankle often caused by overuse. Flat footed runners, such as myself, are more susceptible to this.

For the past months, I’ve barely been able to run. With Tri United 2 and Ironman Cebu 70.3, I’ve been worried, frustrated, sad, and angry. Even if there weren’t any upcoming races, I still would’ve felt the same way because, well, you know me, I just need my running.

For the most part though, I’ve been trying to be optimistic about the injury. I got therapy done at Peak Form regularly. I had my foot taped with Rocktape.  I focused more on what I could do such as swim and bike rather than what I could not do. And, I even refused to rant about it on this blog thinking it would go away if I didn’t acknowledge it. (Yeah right, LOL!)

It’s NOT The End

So, I haven’t been running because of the injury. I can’t swim because of the accident. I’m skipping Tri United 2 this weekend. And, Ironman Cebu 70.3? Hmmm that’s up in the air right now.

It sucks. Yes, it really does.

Usually, I’ll throw a tantrum about how 6 months of training has gone down the drain, how unfair life is, and proceed to drown in my sorrows with a bottle of Nutella. But, for some reason, I don’t feel like doing that at all. I’m disappointed, but I’m not devastated.

Like I said, the accident put things into perspective for me. In the blink of an eye, without warning, my life could’ve ended, yet I came out with wounds that will heal in time. To complain about an accident, an injury, or a missed race at this point seems silly or, worse, ungrateful. It’s a miracle I’m alive.

I came home that morning of the accident and kissed my kids on their cheeks as they ate breakfast. I whispered my kids names to myself again, Anton and Nia, and scooped a spoonful of Nutella into my mouth. Life is good.

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