spending the first weekend of 2017 right... on the bike!

It is but apt to spend the first weekend of 2017 on the bike. This weekend marks the start of my training for Race Across America (RAAM) and I'm pretty psyched! My coach, Justin Granger, has been providing me a lot of feedback and the right encouragement for my events leading up to RAAM. 2017 is definitely going to be an exciting year! :)

Saturday mornings in Sierra Madre with the Audax Crew :)

I spent yesterday morning with the audax crew. I love Saturday rides in Sierra Madre because there are less motor cycle muppets on the road. And since a lot of people are training for the upcoming Audax Rizal (dubbed as the toughest 200km Audax in the country) on January 28, I saw so many audax riders on the road. I've never seen so many of them in Sierra Madre and that just totally made my day! :)

Sunday morning with Vany and Andrea :)

For Sunday, I had a nice easy spin with Andrea, Rachel, Vany, Abo, Luuk and my husband in Nuvali. It's been awhile since I've ridden with Andrea so I was looking forward to riding today.

Anyway, it was really nice to do all these riding this weekend with such a good bunch of my friends. This is definitely a fantastic way to start the year! :)

thursday morning swim :)

Thursday mornings be like this! My motto in endurance sports? Always train with people who are so much better than myself. The humility and the learnings are priceless. :)

1st FTP test of 2017

Starting the year right with a proper Functional Threshold Power test! I woke up dreading to do another FTP test for the nth time. I always end up feeling nauseous after I do these tests but I also know how crucial this is if one wants to be better on the bike.

Happy to report that my FTP has increased by 12 watts from 194 to 206. Average FTP during the test is at 217 watts. Heart rate didn't change much with maximum HR recorded at 192 bpm and an average HR of 181 bpm. Given my audax background, it was no surprise to see that my average power is almost the same as my normalized power.

Not fantastic in my book but slowly getting there. Legs are heavy as I sit on my office chair but quite happy with these small gains. :)

Thanks @saulsibayan for facilitating these tests for me. Very informative! :) Can't wait to start my RAAM training program with the new power zones, coach Justin!

the year that was 2016...

The past few days and weeks leading up to the new year have been "crazy-busy" for my family. We were attending one function after the other. Since my husband loves cooking and entertaining, we also hosted a couple of lunches and dinners at our humble home. We managed to squeeze in a 4-day getaway with my visiting Singapore-based sister and her family. Up to New Year's eve, we had friends over to see the amazing fireworks from our windows. Having a corner unit on the 33rd floor has its perks. We can see fireworks from Cainta, Pasig, Makati, Greenhills, Eastwood and Quezon City. :)

new year's eve with these amazing friends

Needless to say, I didn't get to reflect much on the year that was until this morning (while the husband and the little one are still asleep). 2016 was a busy year for me on all fronts - work, travel, friends, sports and family. Work-wise, we reached our booking targets every month in 2016 and have exceeded our net income significantly compared to that of 2015. I took on more work this year as I now head both Treasury and Corporate Banking. I am still the Chief Financial Officer and happy to report that we have been diligent in presenting accurate financial reports month-on-month that has helped shape the direction of the company. We are very much clear on where we want to go in 2017 and I can't wait to start working on that. Another point worth commending regarding work is that the staff is in a good place right now. I've always believed that if we take good care of our people, the company will be in good hands. The morale at the office has been great. People are working well and need not be micro-managed. They all have initiative and "malasakit" (Filipino for "genuine care") for the company. :)

the little ones enjoying the fireworks :)

Travel wise, I think I did well this year. 2016 is still nothing compared to 2011 where I probably had at least 30 flights in a year. 2016 was "tamer" but still racked a lot of miles as I traveled to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, the United States, France, the UK and Vietnam. Each trip was quite memorable. Thailand was where Colin and I cycled 800km to raise funds for Effective Aid International. Singapore is where I reconnected with my Singapore-based cycling team. Indonesia is where I did the qualifying race for the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York. The US is where my entire family witnessed my brother's graduation. He made us all proud by finishing at the top of his class. The days leading up to the graduation and even after that was spent creating great family memories that we will surely fondly look back to. Our trip to the UK was a great reunion with Colin's side of the family and our good friends, Kevin and Sue, whom we spent lovely days in Marlowe and going around Cliveden Gardens. France was special this year as I finished the Gran Fondo Marmotte with my husband, Vany and Pascal. It is still one the toughest rides I've ever done in the alps and definitely worth the trip. Exploring Lausanne, Switzerland (the seat of the Olympic headquarters) and Alsace with Vany's family exceeded our expectations as they were just lovely places. Colin and I vowed to go back in Alsace with Bella on one of our Christmas holidays in the future. :)

with the beneficiary of Effective Aid International, the children of Baan Fah Sighy

Domestic travels were equally nice as I was able to visit the Cordillera region, Bohol, El Nido, Davao and General Santos. We explored Sagada and the surrounding area on our bikes. I did 2 trips to Bohol - one for Giro D Luca and one for the 5150 Bohol triathlon - both events are more like "staycations" than a "race weekend". Travels to Davao and General Santos were all pleasant and necessary for my Audax advocacy. If I were to choose my favourite local trip in 2016, it would be the wonderful 4 days and 3 nights I spent in El Nido's Pangulasian Resort with Colin and Bella. We loved every minute of that trip and got to bond as a family even more. Up to now, my little one tells me that she wants to go back to "Palawan". :)

sweet reunion in the US: the Serinas are complete again!

If there's one thing I've learned in the past few years, it is to put a premium on great friends. I'm not a very sociable person and I keep my private circles small. I made it a point to see my close high school friends regularly. Ninin, Carissa and I managed to see each other at least once a month. I caught up with Chewy, my Canada-based friend, who I consider one of my closest friends when I was still working in Hewlett-Packard. Even if KC has been based in Singapore for the past 6 years, we made it a point to see each other whenever possible. I also managed to reconnect with my sorority batch mates from the university as we all seem to be on the same page in our lives right now. For the first time, I hosted a baby shower for a friend. I spent 3 awesome days of cycling in the Cordillera region with my close circle of cycling friends where we cycled in La Union, the Mt. Province, Ifugao and Benguet. The Makati lunch gang was formed where it's nice to see my athlete-friends outside of our usual lycra clothing. I reconnected with my Singapore-based cycling team and managed to do a training camp in Bintan with them and a race in Lombok, Indonesia in October. Happy to report that Team David's Salon is more solid than ever and I couldn't have chosen better team mates than our current roster now. :)

El Nido was definitely my favourite domestic trip in 2016!

2016 marked my comeback to triathlon. Being part of Team David's Salon, we are committed to do at least 2 multisport events in a year. I committed myself to do Challenge Vietnam (a half Ironman distance triathlon in beautiful Nha Trang in September) and the Bellevue Hotel 5150 in Bohol (an Olympic distance triathlon in November). Needless to say, the level of my love for cycling is nothing compared to triathlon. I never dare call myself a triathlete as I know I won't give it justice. I still can't find the love to run and my dedication on the 3 disciplines are not equal. Despite that, I enjoyed the good and bad of racing Challenge Vietnam and the 5150 in Bohol as I believed it made the team closer. More than anything, I'm glad to have done those races to give support to my team mates. :)

my Challenge Vietnam family :)

Sports-wise, I managed to organise 13 audax rides in 2016 in 3 different locations - Subic, Rizal and Davao. The Audax family is definitely growing with an average year-on-year rate of 103% for the past 6 years. I am still quite overwhelmed with the numbers but rest assured, I promise to keep these rides low-key and non-commercial to make Audax Philippines sustainable. I wanted the participants to join this because of the core values why we love cycling long-distances in the first place. We witnessed the biggest audax ride with 446 participants last December. I started doing a recon in Gensan and I'm happy to report that we will be holding the first Audax in Gensan in 2017! To date, I've done around 26 official audax rides and PR'd in the 400km audax distance finishing in sub-16 hours. I am definitely looking at racking more miles in the future audax rides and encouraged to keep pushing the numbers!

the happy people of the audax!

I finished 2 Gran Fondos in 2016 - the Gran Fondo Marmotte in the French Alps and the qualifying race for the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York in Lombok, Indonesia. Both were tough races and I was happy to win my age group (18-35) for the female category for the GFNY Indonesia leg. This opened my eyes to what Gran Fondos are (as how the Italians really do them) and I have already signed up to at least 2 official UCI Gran Fondos outside the country for 2017. I can't wait to experience all that and get to write about them too! And speaking of races, we have registered a 4-man mixed relay team to compete in Race Across America 2017, dubbed as the toughest bicycle race in the world. Team David's Salon will be the first 4-man relay team to join this race from South East Asia. I am both scared and excited about this. At the very least, it will be one great cycling experience. :)

happy to win my age cat @ the Gran Fondo New York qualifying race in Lombok

Family-wise, Colin and I celebrated our 3rd year wedding anniversary in our new home. Moving into our own home was a big milestone early in the year and we love everything about it. We have put a lot of thought on how we wanted our house to be renovated and we have been pleased with the results. Ever since we moved in, we have been looking forward to getting home from work every single day. It's not just a house but we consider it our very own sanctuary. Even Bella knows the difference between Nana's house and her own house. It's nice to see that she has a good grasp of what "home" is at a very young age.

at the start of Gran Fondo Marmotte 2016

Colin and I managed to have our "couples" time away from work and the little one. I am a strong believer that the best gift we can give our daughter is a good strong marriage and these little "getaways" really help. We managed to cycle 800km in 8 days from Ayuthaya to Chiangmai to raise funds for Effective Aid International. We had about 2 weeks in Europe where we raced the Gran Fondo Marmotte with friends and explore the beautiful Alsace region in France. We had some time in the UK and explored Marlowe and the Cliveden Gardens with our good friends. I also managed to surprise the husband when I brought him and Bella to El Nido, Palawan. He was blown away by the beauty of the place and we enjoyed the 4 days of peace and quiet. Needless to say, we realise that we love these kinds of vacations and plan to do more of these in 2017.

the Pearsons in El Nido, Palawan

The little one is growing up very fast and 2016 was the year we entered her to a proper pre-school. The first 2 weeks were a struggle as it was always a cry fest just getting her to school. However, she adjusted after 2 weeks and I was the one who was actually having some separation anxiety. I am being bugged by the family to have another baby but that's a totally different story... something that I'm not ready to discuss about yet. *wink*

Whew! And that basically wraps up my 2016! It was definitely "crazy-busy" but I have no regrets. It has been an amazing year. 2017, bring it on! :)

TDS Christmas Get-together 2017

If there's one thing I truly consider a blessing in my life... it's the fact that I have been with the best multisport team in the country. I've been with Team David's Salon since 2007 and it has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my sports life. Truly, David has been the most generous sponsor out there that never pressured us to win or perform in the events that we join. All he wants is for us to promote women's active lifestyle and enjoy ourselves in the process.

grateful for this bunch!

The team has gone through a lot the past few years and I'm happy to see that we are at a happy place right now. The dynamics, the respect and the overall performance within the team is something I can be very proud of. I consider my team mates as sisters and very close friends. I am grateful beyond words. Merry Christmas from Team David's Salon! :)

Audax 200km and 300km... last rides for 2016!

Yesterday, we held the last audax rides for 2016. What a great turnout to kick-off the 2017 Audax season! We had the biggest ride to date with 446 registered participants. 274 participants out of 314 finished the 200km audax ride while we had 123 finishers out of the 132 Audax 300km pool. I didn't expect a huge turnout as I know a lot of people are now in "off-season" mode and getting into the groove of all the Christmas festivities. Kudos to everyone who showed up and supported! :)

scenes at the start

I am humbled as I saw a lot of like-minded individuals who just find joy in this very sport. Most of us had to overcome a lot of mental, physical and even mechanical challenges last weekend. Someone once said that, "Good things come to those who Believe; Better things come to those who are Patient and the Best things come to those WHO DON'T GIVE UP."

audax riders in action!

To everyone who joined us last Saturday, thank you for the good vibes and being inspirations to others. An audax ride is never easy and I would like to commend everyone who showed up at the starting line at 4am. Thank you to Ms. Jola Gonzales for her leadership over the Audax crew and allowing me to organise and ride these events at the same time. Thank you to Mr. David Charlton of David's Salon for the unconditional and untiring support since 2010. Up to now, I can't believe Audax Randonneurs Philippines is already 6 years old! I am very lucky to have one of the best endurance sports sponsor in the country. :) Thank you to our dutiful marshals and crew who worked for more than 24 hours last weekend.

audax riders in action!

Last but not the least, I would like to thank the supportive partners, wives, children, friends and family of our audax riders. I've met some of you last Saturday and I appreciate the crucial role you all played for the success of your loved ones. If there's one thing I've noticed the past few years, the audax is truly a family affair. Such support system is extremely commendable and I am grateful to have witnessed this.

ladies who audax! :)

Rest well, randonneurs! And I hope to see some of you on January 28 in Audax Rizal... the toughest 200km Audax ride in the country!

different groups united to finish the audax!

P.S. Photos from the cameras of Alfred Callanta, Alice Bautista, Allan Dale, Benhard Prado, Beverly Sta. Maria, Bless Aquino, Brandy Quiocho, Bryan Arevalo, Cecile Lalisan, Chris Cometa, Christopher Kier Legaspi, Colin Pearson, Consigliere Barler, Dindo Directo, Eric Masa, Faye Sta. Ana, Ferdinand Bautista, Francis Mark Mas, Glenn Labung, Hatta Dimaporo, Jas Baril, Jason Samoy, Javier Gonzalez, Joel Quilala, John Alvin San Diego, John Macapagal, John Zantua, Jonas Bernales, Jonnel Cruz, Joseph Alviz, Joshua Patio, Jun Minagawa, Karlito Jimeno, Kaven Ceniza, Kevin Canaynay, King Pandi, Kristine Enriquez, Laurence Magsanoc, Lilia Monina Jose, Mark Lucido, Melvin Barrameda, Michael Mabanta, Michael Torres Myk Hernando, Noli Novelero, Paul Puertollano, Peter Carey Orbe, Quaymark Remandaban, Raffy Maceda, Rhoy Cruz, Rico Ian Elpedes, Ronaldo Mariano, Rons Morada, Sunny Boy Lontoco, Team Marquez Multisport, Tere Barrido, Jay Baltazar, Davon Ray and Zoren Legaspi.

happy people at the finish!

catching up with 2 great coaches :)

Being a non-swimmer, I try to heed my swim coach's advice. I'm one of those unlucky ones who wasn't introduced to swimming at an early age. Swimming is such a technical sport that learning it at a young age is an advantage. But what I look forward to after a tiring swim session is catching up with friends and learning more about the sport.

(photo credit: Jenny Guerrero)

In today's case, I had a nice catch up with Mat and Jenny. Lots of tips, information and chismis shared! Hehehe! On a more serious note, I truly appreciate feedback and stories shared by Jenny and Mat. I know they are the very few coaches in this sport who genuinely know their craft and have produced amazing athletes. Not bad for a mid-week non-working holiday, for a non-swimmer like me! :)

2016 Soirée Beaujolais

We missed last year's Soirée Beaujolais due to previous commitments. According to friends, the Soirée is what defines the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines. And since Vany is now at the helm of the French Chamber, we were more than happy to support and be there for the biggest French event in the country. :)

great excuse to dress up :)

There were overflowing food, wine and cheese. But what I enjoyed the most was the company of good friends. It was nice to be in a non-athletic environment and just ready to party and wine it up like it's the 1780s in France. Colin and I rarely dress up for evening social affairs so this was a good excuse to do it "once" this year. Hehehe...

friends at the Soirée

Anyway, Congratulations to Vany and the rest of the French Chamber of Commerce for a smashing event. This year's Soirée definitely set the bar high for future soirees! :)

Audax Gensan Reconnaisance :)

I flew to Gensan last Thursday to join some friends in checking out possible Audax cycling routes in the region. I've always been a fan of cycling in Mindanao. I think it's underrated and the place has so much to offer.

exploring mindanao, one pedal at a time :)

For the first day of my reconnaissance, I joined the WapatDC triathletes of Davao City (Reggie Reyes, Victor Magno and Mikey Aportadera) and Sunny Benzonan of Tri Generals and cycled from Gensan to Baliton. WapatDC has an advocacy of Exploring Mindanao, One Pedal At A Time, which is something I personally support. With challenging terrain (just the way I like it!), I was quite surprised that the roads were wide, nicely paved and not busy at all. The route was undulating but no long climbs or mountains. The rollers can be quite taxing to the body though which makes it a good choice for an audax ride. ;)

great riding with these gentlemen!

I truly enjoyed every bit of this ride. From the nice ride, stories shared (it was really interesting to know the history behind WapatDC), coffee and market stops and the lunch stop at Baliton. It was really nice of Sunny to host our lunch in his shrimp farm. It was a perfect ending for such a wonderful ride! :)

a nice nightcap to end a good day on the saddle... thank you WapatDC! :)

For the second day of my reconnaissance, I wanted to check out the dreaded road to Lake Sebu. The locals were saying that there are a lot of long steep climbs especially going into the lake. This sparked my interest. Cycling on Gensan's highway towards South Cotabato was pretty pleasant. The wide roads (6 lanes) made me feel safe from the motorists, who by the way were very accommodating to cyclists. As soon as we hit Koronadal city, it felt like I was cycling in Malaysia. The quality of the roads were great and it was still pretty green in the mountains. Surprisingly, there were a lot of nice food and coffee stops along the way. We stopped at a chicken place on the 35th kilometre and at 2 more coffee stops along the way before reaching Lake Sebu.

day 2 of riding with these gentlemen... salamat!

The ride to Lake Sebu was definitely tough. It was draining and quite hot with a lot of portions without tree cover. But the company and the cycling itself more than made up for that. We were laughing a lot as Sir Alex Regaspi was at it again with his usual antics. I got to learn more about the region and I was relieved to see how peaceful and quiet it is there. I would have wanted to bring Colin with me but I was a bit skeptic about the peace and order. Now I know I can bring him next time. Anyway, we ended the ride at Punta Isla, one of the restaurants surrounding the lake. I loved the crispy pata and the crispy tilapia! :)

Ang ganda mo, Mindanao! I will be back!

This was my first time to ride around South Cotabato and the Sarangani Province and I enjoyed every single minute of it. Thank you to Mr. Albert Banaag of Microtel Gensan for hosting me once again. Thank you to the wonderful gentlemen who joined me this weekend (Reggie Reyes, Mikey Aportadera and Victor Magno of WapatDC, Sunny Benzonan and Misael Hamak of Tri Generals, Alex Regaspi of Centurion Cycling Club Mindanao)! Audax Gensan is definitely a go and I have a pretty good idea of the route we will be taking already. The next time I'll visit, I'll be with Ms. Jola to start plotting the official route. Ang ganda talaga ng Mindanao and I am very excited to share this to the rest of the Audax community! :)

when in-laws are like family...

My sister, Clarissa, married a good man. She married into Miko's good family who prides itself for being God-fearing and just. I still can't believe how disciplined and respectful Miko and his 3 other brothers are. I commend Tito Boying and Tita Delen for raising such fine men. I know it wasn't easy but they got it done on top of having very busy careers as doctors and being professors in UP PGH.

lovely lunch with Clarissa's In-laws :)

Anyway, thank you for having us to partake in Tito Boying's birthday party today! My little one had a ball playing with Alessi. It's always nice when the cousins get together and bond. :)