Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Toni's 20th wedding anniversary

My friend Toni, who lives in Texas, is coming to the Philippines next week to celebrate her 20th wedding anniversary with a renewal of vows. It will be held in Dumaguete and since I had never been there, I thought it would be a good excuse for me to go. A few other friends of ours who are based in Manila will be going so it should be fun.

What makes it even more interesting, at least for me, is that I have once again been asked to sing. Big surprise LOL. I will actually be singing with three other people - Marie, Eliza, and Fred. The initial plan was for us to sing one group song and then each of us does a solo. We decided that for our group song, we would do an a capella arrangement of "When I fall in love" (Marie's chorale group have done this). But another friend of ours, Emmy, suggested to Toni that we sing "With you I'm born again" as a group. Not really my preferred song choice.

I was initially thinking of singing either "Come fly with me" or "Fly me to the moon" coz most of the songs we were doing were slow and I felt that it would be nice to sing something a bit more upbeat. But Marie gave me a minus one audio file of "Angels brought me here" - I mentioned to her before that I wanted to sing it but I lost my minus one of the song - and while practicing it, I changed my mind and decided to do this song instead. Should be fun.

Anyways, we wanted to start with the a capella song just because it is a lot more difficult to sing and we want to get the difficult song out of the way. But then during our practice last Saturday, we realized that if we end with "With you I'm born again" it would kinda be anti-climactic. Especially since some of our solos are better than the group song. And since we didn't want to end with a solo, we decided to toss in another group song. We decided to sing "Seasons of Love" from Rent.

I'm really excited about the songs we are doing actually. The last time I sang harmony was way back in college so it has been a while and I'm looking forward to doing it again. And I've always wanted to sing "Seasons of Love" so that should be loads of fun too. :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Marathon training tracker - July 13

Target: 24 kilometers in 2 hours 40 minutes
Actual: 18 kilometers in 2 hours

So far my worst result, and I guess I had to expect it. I was planning a 16k run on Thursday which I missed because it rained heavily on Thursday night. Which normally isn't a problem except that my car was color-coded that day and I didn't have an umbrella. I also couldn't get a cab. So I ended up missing another training run.

I then decided to run 24k since I felt I was running out of time and that I needed to cover longer distances. And during the run, I was conserving energy really well and was pretty well-hydrated. The problem was that at around the 16k mark, I felt really hungry. And I mean really hungry. It kinda sucked coz I actually thought I had a good meal prior to that, but I guess it wasn't enough.

So I decided at the 17k mark that I would just cut my run short and maybe run 21k on Thursday then 24k on Monday next week. I can't run during the weekend because I have another Habitat for Humanity activity on Saturday and I know my body won't be in good shape on Sunday. I have about 3 weeks left 'til my marathon and I don't really have a lot of time to train so I hope I can meet all my remaining training targets.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mamma Mia!

I watched Mamma Mia! on Friday night with Pia and Jill. And man, it was such a fun and feel-good movie! Which I guess you can expect when you put together Abba music, a Broadway musical, and a great cast top-billed by Meryl Streep.

The movie is based on the musical of the same title. When I was in New York for a weekend back in 2004, I had the option of watching the musical - the receptionist of my hotel was highly recommending it to me - but I ended up watching "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Producers" because Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane reprised their roles during the time I was there.

So I never really got to see the musical and I don't know how the movie stacks up against it. But I do know Abba and their music, and the musical was based on the music of Abba (hence the title). I have to say that for the most part I was impressed. The cast - which included Colin Firth, Stellen Skarsgard (it's great that there was a Swede in the cast), Julie Walters, and Christine Baranski - was really good. Amanda Seyfried, who co-starred with Lindsay Lohan and Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls, played Sophie in the film and was surprisingly good. I initially didn't recognize her and I thought that she was a newbie who came out of nowhere to take the role.

Of course, the show, as expected, belonged to the marvelous Meryl Streep who played Donna, the lead character. From her acting to her singing to her larger-than-life screen presence, she was such a joy to watch. Especially remarkable was her delivery of the Abba classic "The Winner Takes It All" which was delivered with excellent vocal strength and texture and with immense passion that we have grown to expect from this legendary thespian.

The only downside for me was Pierce Brosnan's singing, which to me didn't sound very good at all. But I guess I have to give him an 'A' for effort.

All in all a great, fun-filled movie. Definitely worth watching. In fact, I think I will be watching it again since my mom wants to see it too, and I will use that as an excuse to see it again. :)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Quick Hits

Che was here last week. We - me, Che, Pia, Me-ann, Alvin, Joh and Raffa - decided to meet up for dinner on Wednesday night. Me-ann (or was it Pia?) read about this resto in GB5 called Zuni and they thought it would be good to try. The verdict? Some of the dishes were pretty good, but I felt it was a bit too overpriced for my taste. The risotto dish I got (can't remember exactly what it was, I think spinach and mushroom) was just okay. I think prefer the risotto in UCC Cafe. Raffa's pasta dish though was apparently really good. Nice to try once I guess but make sure you're stacked when you go there.


Most of that same group of folks ended up watching Hancock on Friday. Pia begged off - she didn't really want to watch Hancock - and Alvin had other plans. Anna Mae joined us for the movie. When we got out of the cinema, it seemed I was the only one who entertained by it. Raffa and Joh didn't really like it, Che thought it was okay, Me-ann and Anna Mae were unsure whether they liked the movie or not haha. Anyways, I ended up having dessert with Me-Ann, Che, and Anna Mae and they showed me photos they took during a road trip they took (with Pia) to Laguna the Saturday before.


Bought a few CDs over the weekend:

  • U2's "Best of 1980-1990" - I actually had this on cassette tape before but I don't have a cassette player anymore except in the car so I figured it was worth getting the CD.
  • Matchbox 20's "Exile on Mainstream"
  • Toto's "The Essential Toto"
Speaking of U2, I heard from a friend of mine that the planned U2 concert in Manila seems to have been canceled due to a lack of an appropriate venue. It's all hearsay of course, and heck even the supposed U2 concert here was hearsay too (or well, it was never confirmed). But I was really hoping they would come here.


I was watching "Iron Chef America" last Saturday. The challenger, Chef Yeo, selected Chef Morimoto to compete against, so it was an all-Asian battle. Made sense since the secret ingredient was tofu.

Morimoto is my favorite Iron Chef because I love the fact that he always comes up with six dishes and a dessert, no matter what the secret ingredient is. Apparently though, he has the worst record in Iron Chef America. Of course, his challenger Chef Yeo seemed like a very likeable woman too.

At the end of the judging, Morimoto won. And with a near perfect score of 59 (max points is 60). Chef Yeo actually scored 55. Now, I have seen episodes where the winner doesn't even get 55 (sometimes a 51 or 52) so I guess Chef Yeo had nothing to be disappointed about as her dishes were practically perfect too.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Marathon training tracker - July 5 to 7

July 5

I was planning to run 24k last Saturday. But as of Friday, I was still tired and my muscles were still sore. I decided that I needed a break from training so I took the weekend off.

July 7

Since I missed my 24k training run, I decided that I would do it again this Saturday. I then decided that for this week, I would run 8k on Monday, 16k on Thursday, and 24k on Saturday.

Target distance: 8 kilometers
Target time: 46 minutes
Actual time: 45 minutes 25 seconds

I figured that since I covered 8k in 47 minutes the week before, I should try to increase my speed a bit and shave off 1 minute from my time. And for the first time in my last five runs, I actually met my target time!

The only worry I have now is that there's a slight pain on my right knee and both my hamstrings are still sore. Considering that I had a weekend off from running, this is not a very good sign.

I am still going to target a 16k road run on Thursday, but i'll probably run it at a slower pace than I had initially planned. I also have a full day to rest my body before my next training run. Hopefully it will be enough.

Next target: 16 km in 1 hours 46 minutes.

Vamos, Rafa!

Rafael Nadal is the 2008 Wimbledon Men's Singles Champion! Woo-hoo!!!

In what has to be arguably the best Wimbledon final - heck, best Grand Slam final - ever, Rafael Nadal squeaked past Roger Federer in five intense and absolutely gruelling sets of out-of-this-world tennis. It was so tense that I actually stayed up until 430am to finish the match. It lasted 4 hours 48 minutes, the longest men's final ever. And that's not counting the two rain delays - one that came towards the end of the third set and another that came in the start of the 5th - or the fact that it started about half an hour late also because of rain. And me being the Nadal fan that I am, I actually stayed up to watch the whole trophy ceremony.

The final had it all - swings in momentum, fantastic rallies, unbelievable mental toughness from both players, breakpoints, set points, and even match points saved.

Rafa won the first set after breaking Roger early. Then he was down a break in the second set when he managed to break Roger back twice to take a commanding 2-0 lead. One more set and the title would be his.

But Federer is the best grass court player this decade - the defending champion has won a record equalling five Wimbledon titles in a row, a record 10 consecutive grass court tournaments, and a record 65 consecutive matches on grass. He was not about to roll over and die. He took the 3rd set to a tie-break where he scored a mini-break of serve and held on to it to take the third set.

The fourth set was decided once more in a tie-break. Nadal initially had the upper-hand, he was 5-2 up, with two mini-breaks of serve and was two points away from the title. But nerves got to him and he double faulted. Nadal actually had two matchpoints in the tie-break, but on each occasion Roger raised the level of his game to even things out. And when Rafa hit a backhand long on Roger's 2nd set point, the match was dead even at two sets apiece. Oh the stress!

I was seriously worried in the fifth set. Roger seemed to have the momentum on his side, and for a few games he seemed to have figured out Rafa's forehand. Moreover, most players who led 2-0 and had match points who then found themselves in a fifth set would have withered and died. But not Rafa. He showed that his mental frailty in the 4th set tie-break was temporary and proved his mettle by staying toe-to-toe with Roger until 7-all.

It was at this point that Nadal then scored the all important break of serve to leave him serving for the match at 8-7. By now the it was almost half past nine and the lighting was very poor. But matchplay continued. Rafa had another match point which Roger saved with a sublime cross-court backhand. Finally, on his fourth matchpoint, and after nearly five hours of nerve-wracking, breathtaking tennis, Roger hit his forehand to the net to hand Rafa the title.

It has to be the absolute best match I have ever seen in my entire life. Any other male tennis player who saw that match probably realized just how much ground they have to cover before they can really challenge the world's top 2 tennis players, at least on grass.

Nadal has now won a tour-leading 6 titles this year, including two Grand Slam titles. He is still behind Roger but so far this year he's had the best results by a mile. If he can continue to do well, he has a strong chance to finish this year as the #1. Which I think he truly deserves.

Go Rafa!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Marathon training tracker - July 3

Target distance: 16 km
Target time: 1 hr 41 mins
Actual time: 1 hr 42 mins

Short of my target time again but not by much. Seems like I'm over-estimating my abilities LOL.

I had dinner at around 615pm - 2-piece fully loaded meal in KFC - and since I was planning to run at a bit past 8pm, I felt that 1 1/2 hours would be enough time for the food to settle in my stomach and not be a distraction during my run. It didn't seem like it though when I started running at around 820pm - I could somehow feel some extra weight and I actually felt like throwing up a few times during my training. Clearly this is not the way you are supposed to do it LOL but then again, I've never really been very scientific with my running.

Next target: 24 km in 2 hours 40 minutes.

I will also attempt to run on the road for the first time in my training this year. I'm a bit worried since the circuit I plan on running is 3k long, and so far I've been rehydrating every 2k. I guess this just means I need to stay well-hydrated tomorrow and on Saturday before I run. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

One round to go before Roger-Rafa III

The men will be playing in the Wimbledon semifinals tomorrow. Roger Federer will be facing Marat Safin, the man who beat Roger in the semifinals of the Australian Open way back in 2005. Safin, an ex-#1 player, has regained some of the form that has seen him win two Grand Slam singles titles in his career, but he is up against a very in-form and hungry Federer.

I was initially worried for Nadal - the little slip-up he had in the previous round against Kiefer made me wonder whether his knee wouldn't be in perfect condition. And his opponent in the quarters was Andy Murray who had been playing very well over the last week and a half, and was riding on the momentum of his come-from-behind win against Richard Gasquet. The fact that Murray had the entire crowd rooting for him was more cause for concern, but Rafa seemed oblivious to it all and swept Murray aside in straight sets.

He will now face the winner of Arnaud Clement and Rainer Schuettler, whose match has spanned 2 days due to rain delays and is currently at 6-all in the fifth set. The winner of this match will clearly be tired for the semifinal against Nadal, so I'm hoping Nadal can once again meet Roger in the finals of Wimbledon.

If Roger and Rafa do meet up, it will be the third straight year where they will meet in the final of The Championships. Should be a great weekend.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Marathon training tracker - June 25 to July 1

I think that tracking my training runs in my blog has actually been helped me have a lot more discipline in my training. In the four previous times that I have trained for a marathon, I occasionally missed training runs because I wasn't feeling up to it, or I normally shaved off a few kilometers off my target distance. This year though, I've been pretty solid in terms of meeting my distance targets. Which is good.

June 25

Target distance: 14 kilometers
Target time: 1 hour 24 minutes
Actual time: 1 hour 27 minutes

I didn't meet my target time but I did cover the full distance and I managed to keep a very steady pace without slowing down (except to drink Gatorade) throughout the run. And heck, 3 minutes off target is not bad at all.

June 28

Target distance: 21 kilometers
Target time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Actual time: 2 hours 16 minutes

Again, just a fraction off my target time. I was running at a pretty good pace actually until I got past 19 kilometers during which time I felt incredibly tired and had to slow my pace down. Once again, I need to figure out better energy management for the longer distances i.e. 15k and up.

July 1

Target distance: 8 kilometers
Target time: 47 minutes
Actual time: 47 minutes 4 seconds

LOL okay I just had to put the 4 seconds in there. I was kinda kicking myself in the butt for not forcing the issue and increasing my final 200m sprint speed to make sure I was under the 47 minute mark. But I guess I didn't really care. At around 6 kilometers I was actually feeling quite tired and was almost about to decide to slow down or even shorten my target distance to 7km but I found a second wind and actually ended very strongly.

Next target: 16 kilometers in 1 hour 41 minutes on Thursday, July 3. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tournament of upsets

# 1 Ana Ivanovic lost in the 3rd round. So did #2 Maria Sharapova. #3 Jelena Jankovic and #4 Svetlana Kuznetsova both managed to make it into the second week but then both lost in the 4th round. So the top 4 women seeds are out. This is the first Wimbledon event where all top 4 women's seeds were eliminated by the 4th round. Amazing.

The top men aren't faring that much better. #3 Novak Djokovic, #4 Nikolai Davydenko, #5 David Ferrer, and #6 Andy Roddick are all gone.

Of course you still have #1 Roger Federer and #2 Rafael Nadal are still on course to meet in the final. On the women's side, the Williams sisters Venus and Serena seem on course for a final. They traditionally have not played well when they played against each other but something tells me that if they meet here, it may be a bit better than any of their previous matches against each other.

I'm still hoping Rafa can cause the upset and win his first Wimbledon (and his first non-French Open Grand Slam event). The minor accident he had in his match against Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round worries me a bit though. Anyways, just a few more days til the weekend. Can't wait to see how things turn out! :)