Thursday, April 5, 2012

55 Years and Still Counting (HOW TO SURVIVE 55 YEARS OF MARRIAGE)

55 years ago today, a handsome bachelor from Cavite and a young midwife from Pampanga pledged their love and fidelity for each other with the Sacrament of Matrimony in the progressive town of Marbel, South Cotabato (now Koronadal City).

The man was the eldest of 5 while the woman was the eldest of 10.

How the two of them managed to be alive and sane after 55 years of fighting is something that even me cannot comprehend.

My parents are not the typical couple that you encounter everyday.  In fact, my family is not the typical family that you encounter everyday.  But then again, who can say what is typical and what's not?  What could be normal to some might not be normal to the rest of the human race.

As Jackie of 97.9 FM radio aptly put it:  "Lady, you've got 2 choices:  Remain single and regret it for the rest of your life or get married and wished you were dead."

I was driving when I heard this and I almost hit the car in front of me because I was laughing uncontrollably.

Until now, I still laugh whenever I think of this joke.

Back to my parents.  Below are weird tips on how to survive 55 years of marriage, based on what I learned from my authoritative father and vivacious mother.

1. According to my dear Tatay, he chose Nanay because he's the silent type and nanay's the type who loves talking and entertaining other people.  So if you're still single, choose someone you're opposite.

2.  My parents are exact opposites of each other.  Given a positive situation, my father will still find something negative about that situation.  Given a negative situation, my mother will surely find something positive about that situation.   I guess the cliche "love doesn't consist in looking at each other but in looking together in the same direction" didn't work for them.  They always look in opposite direction!

3.  Tatay turned 87 last Nov. and nanay will be 78 this May.  It's an advantage on my father's part because his wife is much younger than he is.  While he's already weak, his wife is still strong to take care of him.  So if you can find a partner 10 years younger than you, you're lucky!

The problem with them now is this:  At night tatay cannot stand the cold in their bedroom so he goes out to the living room to sleep.  That's the disadvantage of the big difference in age.  You won't grow old at the same time.  Hence, your adaptation to changes in temperature will also vary.  Funny how my father behaves now.  At night he goes out to the living room to sleep on the rocking chair but during the day, he stays inside the bedroom to eat his merienda because according to him, it is colder in the bedroom.

4.  My parents don't agree on anything (well, almost!)  When he says its cold, she'll say its hot.  When he says its short, she'll say its long.  But when he says let's pray, she'll say yes, let's pray.

My advice is:  Agree to disagree.  Don't even dream of convincing your partner.  If you want something, ask for the opposite of what you want so in the end, you'll get what you want.

5.  Both of them are happily married.  Simply because they are happy with their own sets of friends.  Tatay used to have walking buddies, tennis mates, Charismatic brothers and sisters, and co-servers in the Special Ministry of the Eucharist.  Nanay on the other hand, enjoys the company of her staff and agents and fellow managers.

6.  In relation to no. 5, Tatay is now going through depression because some of his friends are no longer alive and he has been retired from his beloved Ministry while my mother is now adjusting from being a career woman to a simple housewife,  Life in our household has been crazy lately because of these kinks and transitions but as the saying goes . . . all these will pass.

While it's healthy to have friends who will support you through and through, your happiness should not solely depend on them.  Remember that your family will always be there to stick with you no matter what.

7.  My parents survived 55 years of marriage because they lived apart from each other.  No, they were not separated by choice.  Nanay was assigned in Pampanga and had to work there from Monday to Friday and stayed with us only during Saturdays and Sundays.  I used to believe that my mother will never retire from Management but by God's grace, she is technically retired -- officially!  Now that they are finally together in one roof, I will do everything in my power to prevent a civil war. (I badly need your prayers too!).  I don't know how to pull this off but I will.  I must.

8.  I don't know who said this but should be the guiding principle of every husband:  "the greatest gift a father could give his children is to be faithful to their mother."  For the past 55 years, my father never cheated on my mother.  How do I know?  Because my mother vowed that one wrong turn is enough for her to leave my father.  And they are still together now.

9.  My parents are like cats and dogs when they talk to each other.  A simple conversation always ends up in an argument.  But what I admire with them is this:  They forgive and forget.  The offender forgets the harsh words said, and the offended forgives naturally.

10.  If there's only one rule that could describe how a marriage survives 55 years, it is ACCEPTANCE.  Never try to change a person according to what you perceive him/her to be.  As my mother always say, you can no longer erase the black and white stripes of a zebra.

In closing, allow me to share with you these 3 guidelines (ABF) given to us by our new company president:

1.  Accept the Brutal Fact.
2.  Aspire for a Better Future.
3.  Act with Bold Faith.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

PAIN IS TEMPORARY (How I Survived The Bull Runner Dream Marathon In 1 Piece)

Running a marathon was NEVER in my bucket list.

My only dream was to run 5km on my 50th birthday and that's it.  No more. No less.

And so after training for 1 whole year (that's how unfit I was back then), I fulfilled my dream.  End of story.

But as my mentor and inspiration Jaymie Pizarro transformed herself from a newbie runner to what she is today (fulfilling her ultimate dream of running the New York Marathon twice and soon-to-be finisher in the much-acclaimed Ironman 70.3 in Cebu), I also found myself being mesmerized and hooked to bigger goals and aspirations.

Knowing Jaymie, I didn't think twice to sign up for the very first TBRDM which transpired last May 22, 2010.

5 days before the Big Day, I met a freak accident and injured my ankle.

The thought of quitting crossed my mind but I couldn't disappoint the people who generously donated for every kilometer that I run for the Down Syndrome Association of the Phils. (DSAPI), the beneficiary of my first marathon.

Thanks to my dream chaser Carlo Dacanay who ran with me all the way from the 11th km to the very end, I was able to finish at 7 hours 38 minutes.

For more than a year, the question "what could be my real time if I ran the marathon without any  injury?" kept nagging me.

In order to satisfy my curiosity, I decided to join TBRDM again (I'm still qualified because this would only be my second).

This time around, I vowed to get my revenge.

Or so I thought.

I did not over train nor under train.  I could feel in my bones that I could finish in 6 hours or sub 6:30 the very least.

I only had 3 half-marathons before my first marathon.  Much have changed since then.

This time, I already conquered 10 half-marathons and two 32km races and of course, 1 marathon.

With my dear friend Anna (the Meek Runner) as pacer, what could possibly go wrong?

Anna and I lodged at El Cielito Inn @3PM last Saturday, March 17,2012.

I drank 1 bottle of beer @6PM to make sure I'll get a good night sleep before the race.

We greeted each other Good Morning before 12AM and @1AM, we were already on our way to Nuvali.

The festive atmosphere greeted us when we arrived at the Dream Village.  We just made a quick stop at the ladies room, deposited our bags and headed to the registration station.

The queue was quite long and I had the chance to meet Malou Felix who flew all the way from Naga to join TBRDM.  I really admired her determination and spirit!

But what she said to me really warmed my heart and ignited my soul:  "Ma'am Nora, you're running again pala!"
I was surprised that she recognized me so she continued: "Nabasa ko po kayo sa TBR so I read your blog.  Kayo po ang nag-inspire sa akin to run the marathon."

Thank you, Malou, for those very nice words.  You just don't know how elated I was hearing those words from you.

After we got our timing chip and one-of-a-kind wrist band,  the usual pre-race program began.  We were inspired by Coach Jim, Neville, and of course Jaymie -- the remarkable woman who once dreamed to run a marathon and after doing one, dreamed of helping first-time marathoners attain their dreams.

With me are Malou (the runner from Naga), Jaymie, my lovely pacer Anna, and dear friend Carrie.

After a short prayer led by Craig Logan, we were off at exactly 2AM.

Everything was running smoothly as planned.  We started slow, maintaining a 2:1 interval. At 12km, Anna informed me our estimated time is 6 hrs 20 mins.  I told her we will be stronger in the second half.

But @km 13, I had to leave Anna because of an unavoidable circumstance.  She had to do something that only women do (oh, but I'm already exempted to do it because I'm  through with it when I turned 50).

And so I continued without my pacer (who's a 6-time marathoner if I may add).  I religiously followed the 2:1 interval but this time, I had to look at my watch every now and then to check if it's time for me to run or to walk.

So far so good.  On the way back, at @km 22, I heard "Dancing Queen" being played and couldn't control myself.  I recklessly danced to the beat, entertaining the dream chasers and runners alike.

I was in high spirits, only to discover later on that I may have done something terribly wrong.

At km 25, I felt a tremendous pain on my left knee that I just had to stop.  I could barely walk and hence, could no longer follow the 2:1 interval because of excruciating pain.

Yes, I have been injured before my first marathon but I have never been injured during any race.

This kind of experience is very new to me.  I didn't know what to do.  The pain was simply unbearable.

Then I saw Anna from afar, holding 2 cups of Gatorade.

Tears suddenly rolled down my cheeks.  I got my towelette and pretended that I was wiping my sweat.

I wanted to give up but how could I tell Anna?

It was a long stretch uphill and when I couldn't take it anymore, I just screamed.  Faster than a speeding bullet, Anna asked some ice in a plastic bag and placed it on my knee.  I had to sit down and after a while, we continued the painful journey, bringing with me the plastic bag of ice.

Later on the 2:1 interval became 1:1.
But not 1 minute run, 1 minute walk.
1:1 now became 1 minute run, 1 minute stop. We stopped  either for ice compress or liniment or spray whichever is available.

Anna asked me to do small steps and we did just that.  She gave me chocolates, banana, candy, and along the way there were lots of goodies available.

By God's grace, Din and Carrie passed by us and immediately offered help by lending me a band that Anna secured under my knee.  Thank you Din and Carrie!  With so many angels supporting me, there's no way I won't make it to the finish line.

Then at km 39 I couldn't believe my eyes when we passed by Jay sitting on his bike. 

I haven't seen Jay for ages that's why I was sooooh happy to see him last Sunday.

Only 3kms to go but it felt like 10 more kms at the rate that we're going.

With only 1 more km left, Gio called to ask how I was doing.  He told me they are already waiting for me before the finish line.

Then finally, the 42km mark was vividly in front of me.  This is the most dramatic part of TBRDM.

The 42km mark is already in front of us but it's not yet the end.  We had to pass the 42km mark, then turn right to run the remaining .195 km!  While walking to the final right turn point, I was blaming the King of England for this additional distance that runners had to endure.

Seeing the Finish line put a smile on my weary face.  More so when I heard my children calling me and urging me to go on.

Anna and I could now see my support team so even though my left knee was still tormenting me, I tried my best to smile.  The truth is, at this point I just wanted to scream and cry because of the agonizing pain.

Then just before the finish line, Ate Ella rushed to give us flower bouquets together with Gio, Eia and Sis Mila carrying cheer posters.

                                                                          Almost there!  

Thank you Lord!  The sweet proof of all the struggles we went through.

Thank you Gio and Eia for the poster.  How sweet!

Thank you, my dear dear Anna who, in spite of her very uncooperative condition, patiently and faithfully pushed me to reach my destination.  Without her, I wouldn't be holding these beautiful medal and flowers.

Thank you Ate Ella, Gio, Eia, Anna and Sis Mila.  Hope someday we could all run the marathon together!

Thank you Jaymie and the whole TBRDM support team.  The Bull Runner Dream Marathon is everything that a newbie marathoner can hope for.  I have seen other runners limping their way to reach the finish line but the warm atmosphere of genuine love and support from all the people involved strengthen the runner's desire to reach his goal.

It is Jaymie's dream that every runner who crosses the finish line changes his life forever.

After finishing 2 TBRDMs, I can honestly affirm that Jaymie achieved more than this.

Because running a marathon is not only life-changing.
It changes a person for the better.
Knowing your limits and pushing yourself to exceed them is a painful journey but in the end, the joy of overcoming all obstacles that come your way is beyond compare.
After reaching your 42.195 goal, you forget all the aches and sufferings you went through.
You feel you are ready and ripe to take on anything in life.

So who's gonna join me run 55km next year, when I turn 55?