RUN DMD

I run…therefore I am


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Frontrunner Article #5: The Stockholm Marathon chronicles: icy rain, mutant jellyfish and dill pickles


the Nordic dream...

the Nordic dream…

The winds and torrential rain never let up, lashing on the poor runners as we struggled around the flooded stretch of Roxas boulevard.  Am I ever going to make it to the finish?  That was 2 years ago during the Manila eliminations of the Milo Marathon.  Now it’s happening again, minus the flooding.  In its place were stings of cold winds in a marathon dominated by Europeans and took me 9,000 kilometers across the globe. Am I going to surrender after travelling this far?  Hell no.  Suddenly, the legs stiffened…

Two days before, the sun was a perfect glowing ball as I ambled around Stockholm’s quaint streets and tony avenues to claim my race kit.  A day later, the weather was swelteringly warm but cool breeze from the surrounding waters made the walk towards the stadium a pleasure.  A local band dished out 80s tunes as I wolfed down the pasta dishes during our pre-race carbo-loading gathering.jgf6hu82

I landed in Stockholm on my own after staying and conditioning at a friend’s home for 2 weeks in another Swedish city in Malmo.  I shared a hostel room with 9 other travelers so I learned to fend for myself and find my way around Stockholm’s complex metropolis of winding streets, bridges, waterways and engaging views of both sea and mountains.

with my hostel mates from Spain, Germany & Argentina...

with my hostel mates from Spain, Columbia, Mexico & Germany..

Going to the starting line on race day, the runner is given various options of free rides on all public transportation.  I opted to make the 20-minute walk to calm my nerves and decide which outfit to use.  Reports of mid afternoon rains had me in my favored minimalist set – my MIM singlet and NYCM shorts.  A last minute decision to ditch my rain poncho and long-sleeved base layer was a nifty move that saw me through this race.

race kit claiming when the sun was still up...

race kit claiming when the sun was still up…

twice across the loop and then some...

twice across the loop and then some…

proudly Pilipino!

proudly Pilipino!

quite hard to imagine running in this kind of costume but it's one sure way of getting the most photos...

quite hard to imagine running in this kind of costume but it’s one sure way of getting the most photos…

Around 22,000 had registered for the Stockholm Marathon 2013 but not everyone showed up at the starting line (only 16,755) and even less would make the 6-hour cut-off time.  Still, we were divided in 5 waves and took off starting at 12 noon under a perfectly cool overcast weather.  This is after all the Nordic territories where the sun hardly shines, even during summer.  So the going was good, the breathing was a bit struggled but I was adjusting nicely to the semi-fast pace in an ocean of wall-to-wall runners.  Meaning to stop in the middle was to be trampled flat.

bag station

bag station

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we started at 12:10 along with the other last waves...

we started at 12:10 along with the other last waves…

There are enough distractions to take one’s mind from the incessant plodding – tree lined boulevards, interesting architecture, charming castles and a jovial crowd at every turn.  A slight drizzle made for a more enjoyable romp as we felt refreshed and rejuvenated.  We were now entering the old city and skimming the shoreline with its killer views of the waterways, cliff side hills and nearby islands.  We crossed 5 bridges with only mild ascents in the first loop (a 30-m sharp uphill wasn’t as tough as I’d imagined).

ready, set...

ready, set…

and off we go!

and off we go!

So far so good.  Maybe I could keep up this pace and score a sub-4 as I stayed close to the giant balloon of the 3:45 pacers.  We took on the second loop, this time entering the green reserves and the Djurgarden – both wide spaces where one can glimpse the river of runners snaking across from the far verdant distance.  A good 9 kilometers of thick forest growth outlining the open meadows soon gave way to the city’s asphalt and cobblestone jungle as we took on the same route as the first loop.

a verdant respite from the cityscape...

a verdant respite from the cityscape…

Out of nowhere, the rains came hard and strong and with it washed away my visions of a sub-4 finish.  At first, I was remembering the many runs I’ve done in the rain and tried to enjoy it in the face of the fierce winds.  Just then, the cramps came, taking on both the inner thighs.  Probably triggered by the dipping mercury, the hardening came and clung to me like some mutant jellyfish.  It’s the first time for me in a race and I had no idea how to remedy it.  Medics abound along the way but to stop and get a massage and some liniment would slow down my already diminished rate.  Besides, it’s never a guarantee of it not recurring, a few kilometers later.asm4

one of the few ascents in the route.  this first pass was manageable but the second one had lashing icy winds to contend with.

one of the few ascents in the route. this first pass was manageable but the second one had lashing icy winds to contend with.

I didn’t travel this far just to be weighed down by some muscle hardness.  Thus, it was decided to keep burning the miles – running and trotting while walking in between or maybe, most of the time as my personal videos would attest later.

Scenes on the final kilometers included local rock bands with their growling guitar licks and young girls doing some joyous number in carnival headdresses and bikinis while many runners were slowing down and dropping like flies.  I saw one splayed along the asphalt road while medics hovered around.  That’s not going to be me.  And so I dug deep into the recesses of my memory.  My most recent encounter with rain was in the mountains of Nueva Vizcaya during the H1 where I was wet to the bone while struggling on muddy, ascending trails with just my headlamp to light the way.  Now this was a far better condition, with water hitting and passing through my minimalist ensemble.  Glorious rain on a glorious day.

push it...push it real good.

push it…push it real good.

And so push I went, ignoring the cluster of discomfort – emerging blisters, dying toenails and faltering strength.  Instead, I focused on the sights, the people and the positive vibe the city was dripping with. Soon, the Olympic Stadium beckoned.  The 1912 structure was the site of the Summer Olympics during that year and was a fitting welcome to those who had survived the 42.195-km experience.  Wet and fatigued, I sprinted on the tartan track with guns blazing and spirits soaring.  Runners were entering the stadium in droves as their final struggles were flashed on the big screen and their names reverberated across the colossal venue.

I did it!  now where are the showers?  brrr...

I did it! now where are the showers? brrr…

names of finishers were flashed on the stadium screen.

names of finishers were flashed on the stadium screen.

sweet wet success!  mwah!

sweet wet success! mwah!

It would have been a superb finish without the relentless rains but last year, they say, was much worse with temperatures nearing the zeroes.  So I thanked the heavens for these tender mercies and surviving my 12th full marathon.  At 4:14, it’s 3 minutes shorter than my Baltimore finish last year.  It’s probably the wads of dill pickles and mints I gobbled up during the run.  Or just that overflowing warmth and cheering I got from the lovely folks of Stockholm that made the difference.  Tack sa mycket, Sweden!P1030434

shiver mi timbers!

shiver me timbers!

P.S.  It’s the final scene of me walking back towards downtown after changing my top but still dripping wet in my old shorts.  Every now and then, I would shiver but the high of achieving something great still superseded the minor inconveniences  (e.g.  a grumbling stomach even after downing solid food at the finish line).  Then a light bulb moment happened (ting!) – now, this can get to be a yearly habit.  Stay in a hostel, roam the city and run one destination marathon.  And I can go cheap, really.  No plush hotel rooms, no expensive tours, no classy dinners overlooking the city.  I can easily subsist on cheap rooms, walking tours (I’m getting good with maps) and street foods.  And I won’t feel a bit deprived and less privileged of enjoying the place.  Now where do I begin?   Paris, Berlin or London?  Maybe Chicago or Vancouver.  The possibilities are endless and the kilometers never end.

Here’s a compilation of the Stockholm marathon experience running to the song ‘Alive’ by Empire of the Sun.  Do watch it at 720p for that HD experience.  Most videos were emailed to us while others were extracted from marathon.se.  Wait for 1:01 of the video for some Pinoy surprise.  And please be patient with my walking scenes (probably 60% of the race), I was just warming up for the big surge ahead.  Hehe…enjoy!

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Frontrunner Article #4: The Great Disconnect


to run or to treat...?

to run or to treat…?

‘Doc, was that you we saw running the other day?’ queried my patient.  It’s been a question I get a lot since doing my training runs on weekdays.  Whence before I dreaded being sighted on the road dripping in sweat in very skimpy outfits by patients and friends, today I wear my running badge with pride and some confidence.  If before I led a double life of runner and dentist, today, I eagerly share my ultra trail and road adventures with gusto and gratification.

The last 23 years I’ve been in the practice of dentistry, friends and patients have always pictured me as the mild mannered guy whose idea of fun involved prying out tooth fragments and draining pus on swollen faces in the comforts of my sterile clinical existence.  It was a cocooned existence where the action was confined inside the hallowed caverns of the oral cavity, the valleys of the periodontal pockets, the uphill cusps of molars and darkened tunnels of root canals.  It was a safe, predictable, staid and boring lifestyle which little by little took a toll on the shoulders and back.

welcome to my cubicle!

welcome to my cubicle!

While I never looked better then, replete with well formed arms and chest (I was a gym buff), I had zero cardio-vascular workout and was easily fatigued and burnt out.  Plus the blood pressure went out of control.   Time for a game change…

i miss my rippling triceps...but then.

i miss my rippling triceps…but then.

Back in 2003, I loved posing, ala-Gardo Versoza.  This one was taken by Taal lake...

Back in 2003, I loved posing, ala-Gardo Versoza. This one was taken by Taal lake…

4 years ago when I stumbled into the world of running, I started donning the skimpiest of apparels and exposing myself into the ever-changing elements of extreme heat, rain and all sort of flotsam in the choking  world of Metro Manila roads.  So imagine one moment I’m pounding the pavement under the sweltering heat, dripping in sweat and all sort of bountiful slime and dirt.  And an hour later, I’m in the safety of my operatory attending to patients’ needs as peppermint oil wafts across Sitti’s cooing voice.

Back to my simple controlled life...

Back to my simple controlled life…

The great disparity was simply jarring that the first impulse was to conceal it from my patients.  The thought of them seeing me oozing with sweat and grime was just too much to take.  So this is my double life – one is controlled, organized and serene while the other is unpredictable, chaotic and full of surprises.  While I hardly break a sweat inside the clinic, the other is about dirt, sweat and I just love it.

We want our dentists well groomed, smelling sweet and uttering the wittiest statements & dishing out the most helpful of tips, don’t we?  And not cursing the wind and the race director (where the hell is the finish of this %$@* race?).  Now who would want to see his dentist slugging it out in muddy trails and treacherous mountain tracks?  I can just read their thought bubbles:  “Now isn’t that going to weaken his dexterity and clinical skill in handling my dental cases?” or “So how can he still take care of me when he’s always up there in the mountains, caked in mud and being feasted upon by jiggling leeches (eeew…)?

having a blast in the real world...

having a blast in the real world…

Now, let me run through all these misimpressions.  Oh yes, I am exposed to all sort of inconveniences (torture, if you may) in an environment teeming with dirt and grime an ordinary sheltered individual won’t be able to stomach.  But after each adventure, I’d bathe and scrub myself clean to the bone and I’d like to believe we observe aseptic techniques in our practice once ensconced in our four-walled, environmentally controlled clinic.  And yes, after years of hitting the road and trail, I can still take out an impacted molar or negotiate some shrunken root canals.

life is a series of movements whether it's macro or micro...you just learn to adjust to the situation.

life is a series of movements whether it’s macro or micro…you just learn to adjust to the situation.

And I still haven’t thrown my clinic sked into chaos in favor of the outdoors.  I can’t keep hiking if I don’t have the funds to sustain it so the most I’d take out in my work week is 1-2 days.  Basically, I still have 5 full days to see patients – yes, even if I’m a bit burned and limping.  Fact is, I look forward to be back to my air-conditioned environment after days to being exposed to inclement weather.  It balances things out without feeling burned out on either side of my polarized universe.

Without a doubt, running, besides stabilizing my fluctuating blood pressure and lulling me to long peaceful slumbers (didn’t know that Sleepasil has been routine to some colleagues), had strengthened me, physically and skillfully.  I can take hours of continuous dental procedures without complaining and feeling wasted – always keeping in mind that the finish line is coming round the bend.  Or during those toxic stressful clinic moments where I’ve learned to handle the situation the way I’ve battled injuries and submission during a race.

i run. i treat. i am rundmd.

i run. i treat. i am rundmd.

But eventually, like some illicit love affair, one tries to inevitably merge both lives.  I soon realized that running would play a greater part for the rest of my earthly life so I might as well wear it like a proud badge.  Soon enough, I was opening up to my patients on my exploits on the road and trail.  And what do you know, they were piqued curious (perhaps, by that BDM trophy resting at the reception area) and fascinated by my ‘secret life’.  I was no longer the guy who was buffed, clean and whole some, I had become the gaunt dark warrior – looking burnt and hardened but brimming with eagerness and perseverance and ready to take on any challenge, whether at the dental operatory or the road…


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Red Carpet Finish for All Marathon Participants


 

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   Run United Philippine Marathon (RUPM), the third and last leg of the RunRio Trilogy, is even more in demand than its inaugural run last year. Only slots for Ceelin 500m dash are available, the rest are full.

             “Demand for this race is really high. The half and full marathon slots (21km and 42km) got full five and three weeks, respectively, before race date (Oct. 6). Most of our participants belong to the “progressive set” – runners who have been continuously challenging themselves with longer distances or better PR,” said Alex Panlilio, Head of Unilab Active Health (ULAH).

             RUPM, which is on its second year, will feature four race categories namely: Ceelin 500m, Hydrite 10km, Alaxan FR 21km and Enervon Activ 42km.

             “RUPM is also much-awaited as it wraps up our run races for the year. The runners are also excited to finally complete their United medal for Run United 1, 2 and RUPM,” added Panlilio.

42-year-old Ly Nary of Phnom Penh, Cambodia is among those who is hoping to finish strong at RUPM. “I hope to finish among the top three females in the 42km foreign category with a target of 3hours and 30 minutes.”

Nary was a finisher of Paris Marathon. Her participation at RUPM is supported by the United Pharma company in Phnom Penh. “I am excited to see the Filipino running community and to explore the Philippines after the race. I really look forward to this great experience with the United Filipinos!”

20th time Ironman finisher Dan Brown has also followed a regimen in preparation for RUPM. Brown, who is also one of the Unilab Active Health ambassadors, considers physical and mental preparation as key to achieving an excellent race.

“I am preparing by doing a short period of specific run overload. I have been increasing my weekly run distance by around 30% over the past month or so. I have been adding in some longer intervals at or just below goal race pace to simulate what my body will need to do at 3AM on October 6,” says Brown.

“I also start to prepare my mind to suffer a little towards the end. I know things will get tough as the body breaks down so I have to be aware and ready mentally for that,” he adds.

             The completed UNITED medal from the 2013 Run United Trilogy series (21-21-21, 21-32-21, 21-32-42) fits together with the RUPM finisher’s medal. According to Unilab Active Health, securing all these medals is a testament of the runners’ commitment to continuously exceed themselves in the field of running.

             The 3,000 Enervon Activ 42km runners and finishers will get a VIP treatment—before, during and after the race. First off, they will be among the first to try and taste Active Health’s latest offering in its Sports Nutrition Line – the Active Health Sports Gel, which will be launched at Run United Philippine Marathon. On top of Gatorade, ION Energy Drink, water, sponges and bananas will be given out at certain points of the routesImage

             This year, the red-carpet finish for the 42km finishers will be right inside the Active Health Village, through a short tunnel carved underneath the main stage. The runners’ companions can cheer at the cordoned-off spectators’ waiting area, and at the main stage audience area. All 42km finishers will be given an ice cold glass of Enervon HP Recovery Drink, a grooming station complete with staff will be on standby to make sure that they will look their best in the photo-ops at the finish line.

           After all the picture-taking and finish-line moments, runners can start their rest and recovery routines by attending a post-race talk and stretching at the Enervon Activ Marathoners’ Lounge where they will get limited edition RUPM commemorative slippers. The University of Santo Tomas College of Rehabilitation Sciences will provide physical therapy and stretching services inside the Active Health Village. 

           All categories except for 42km will have start and finish line at the SM Mall of Asia; the 42km category will start at Bonifacio Global City and finish at SM Mall of Asia. Gun starts are as follows: 500m dash at 7:00AM; 10K at 5:30AM; 21K at 4:00AM; and 42K at 3:00AM

          According to RunRio’s Rio Dela Cruz, “We have been offering the 42K category for only two years and we are happy that we have established a good reputation. RUPM has its own following now. It has become the last big run race for most runners for the year. We are looking forward to celebrating yet another successful running year with our loyal participants.”

            RunRio will hold a special awards’ night for participants who registered and finished the 21km category in Run United 1, 32km category in Run United 2 as well as the 42km category in RUPM. Awards will be given to the top three overall winners (women and men) in all distance categories.

             Besides gifts and certificates from Unilab and other sponsors, the top three male and female RUPM winners will also receive cash prizes: for 10km winners, (P4,000/P5,000/P6,000) and for 21km winners (P6,500/P7,500/8,500). There will be two categories for the 42km categories, Filipinos and Non-Filipinos. The top three winners in each category will get P25,000/P18,000/P12,000 respectively.

             RUPM participants and their companions can avail of activities, games, free product samples in various sponsors’ booths at the Unilab Active Health Village. Alaxan FR PBA Legends will also be around for photo-ops. Entertainment will be provided by True Faith and Evedancel of Sugarfree.

             Two more events are up ahead in ULAH’s active calendar—Tri United 3 and the Enervon Activ 226 Bohol Triathlon. Registration for both is still ongoing.

             Tri United 3 Elite and Age Group Championship in Subic will feature standard distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) for elite and age-groupers triathletes. It will also accommodate teen triathletes with age categories 15-16 and 17-19 years old.

             Enervon Activ 226 Bohol Triathlon, sponsored by Enervon Activ, organized by Bikeking, is slated for December 7, 2013. The 3.8km Swim – 180km Bike – 42km Run triathlon will be held in Anda, Bohol. 

            For more race information and results, interested parties may visit ULAH’s official website at unilabactivehealth.com as well as it Facebook and Twitter accounts. ###


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Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013: Most Challenging Race to Date!


menshealth-urbanathlon-2013-results-cover-480x300
The country’s first obstacle laden course is back, and this time, with bigger and more challenging obstacles! Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013 saw around 3,000 participants who took on the challenge and conquered Men’s Health Philippines’ toughest race. This unique event combines the rigors of a run with the tough nature of traversing numerous obstacles in an urban setting.

“We always want to take things a step further. And the 2013 Men’s Health Urbanathlon is a prime example. We have new obstacles and have improved the classic ones,” says Men’s Health Philippines editor-in-chief Peejo Pilar.

Now on its 7th year, Men’s Health Urbanathlon challenged Urbanathletes with its staples such as the scaffolding maze, the 8×40 container van, and “The Wall”, wherein you need all your upper and lower body strength to conquer this 8-foot beast; as well as, with the new obstacles this year, “The Network” a net challenge going over a bus and “The Tower”, a 12-foot high rope climb to the bell on top.

The SM Mall of Asia Grounds turned into a race venue and fitness camp combined as Urbanathletes aimed to conquer every challenge along the way and make it to the finish line.

“We hope that first-timers and hardcore runners enjoyed this year’s Men’s Health Urbanathlon. And of course, we’re excited to learn, upgrade, and make the 2014 Men’s Health Urbanathlon even bigger and better!,” exclaims Peejo.

The Men’s Health Urbanathlon and Festival is co-presented by Century Tuna, Gatorade, Bo Athletics, with major sponsors Bridgestone, Emperador Light, and Schick, with minor sponsors Havaianas, The Athlete’s Foot, Nivea Men, and special thanks to Merrell.

Men’s Heath Philippines features Joseph Marco on its October issue cover, which is available in all leading bookstores and newsstands nationwide. You can also like Men’s Health Philippines on Facebook via http://www.facebook.com/menshealthphilippines, or follow us on Twitter at @menshealthph. You may also visit Summit Newsstand (www.summitnewsstand.com.ph/mens-health) to subscribe.


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Accounts from the Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2013: Putting my faith in the unknown (that’s the Active Heath sports gel)


 

The days leading into the Men’s Health Urbanathlon were dogged with doubt, apprehension and uncertainty.  It’s been marked in my running calendar for the longest time but I was wrestling with a bad case of flu and coughing.  The condition had me into a forced ‘rest and recovery mode’ so I hardly registered any mileage to speak of.  Factor in an erratic inclement weather and my eagerness level just petered out.

dark start, bright finish...

dark start…bright finish?

But I showed up anyway at 4 AM at the starting line, aware of the fact that I would regret it if I let a perfectly challenging race go to waste.  Their FB page stated that it was not a race to do a PR (personal record) so I told myself to just have a great time and enjoy every bit of 21 kilometers.  So I’m just going to wing it, go through the obstacles and cross the finish.  However, in the inner recesses of my subconscious, some kind of conspiracy seemed to be brewing.

At 4:30 AM, the first wave for the 21KM runners was released and I was successful in controlling my eagerness in starting too fast and burn early.  I really was taking pleasure of this race.  So I let those brawny big-armed runners go past me, envious of the fact that they won’t have any difficulty hurdling through the obstacles.  Now why didn’t I log in some gym hours last week?  Oh I was sick.

P1050619

floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee

The dark roads hardly tell of the great distance ahead so I made it around the old reclamation area in a jiffy and with minimal struggle.  Our first two obstacles came at the MOA area as we passed through the tire hurdles and rope climb surprisingly quite fast.  Soon we were heading towards the Paranaque area and as I remembered it clearly, this was where I almost burned out during the last Safeguard 2XU 21KM run.  Will this have a sequel today?, I could almost hear my mind.

Soon enough, it did happen.  Ah, the power of the mind, indeed.  I was huffing heavily and the coughing even made a brief appearance, I was ready to just walk the final 6KMs.  Now why would I torment myself on a 21KM race which isn’t even PR material?  But the competitive in me wasn’t ready to call it quits so I dug deep.  Guess what I saw in the inner recesses of my belt bag?  My Active Health sports gel.  It was given to us during last week’s RUPM bloggers’ night and I had almost forgotten about it.P1050577

So for the first time in a race, I tried out something new for me and the running world.  It was still to make its debut for next week’s RUPM but I’ll take anything to get me through this deadlock.  It’s been tested on seasoned runners and triathletes so perhaps it might just work me.  At the turning point, I downed 1 syrupy pack (tastes like yoghurt!) and just kept going like there’s no tomorrow, anticipating of the torture that lay ahead.

you have the power in your mouth...

you have the power in your mouth…

We reached the second set of obstacles and it was a breeze passing through the monkey bars and the metal barriers.   Some things are just more difficult when imagined than in my adrenalized reality.  Lessons learned.  Perhaps, surviving those hurdles with little difficulty had me rolling on the road.  I was on a roll as we reached the Arena area.  A right turn led me towards the finish line waiting for my splendid finish.

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the barrier to glory…

But wait, where’s the dreaded final obstacle?  A slight turn to the right and there it was – 2 layers of vertical barrier.  The first one was conquered in a single bound while the higher one required a rope to reach.  It was going down from a 8-foot top that presented a problem, not to mention a bit scary.  But as in life, I let my guts take over and just take the plunge.  Soon, I was going down nimbly and trusting the guy down there would be able to take my sudden drop. 

He did and soon I was back on track, floating like a bee and buzzing for the finish line.  I’ve always envisioned myself finishing a race in all its glorious trimmings and noise but it hardly happened.  I’m usually too wasted that a slow pained jog was all I could muster but life can really take you by surprise.  So in a run I had set out to just play along and have fun with, I was smiling and flying as cameras flashed to give me a 1:53 finish.  Now who would have thought it’s going to be one glorius climax?

 

 


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The Sweden Chronicles and then some


P1030013

It started taking shape just a year ago when former co-dentist (now a full-fledged Oral Hygienist in Sweden) Badette Larsson and family vacationed here.   She invited us (it eventually came down to just me)  to visit them at Malmo, Sweden.  Finally, after securing a Schengen visa, a two-way ticket to Copenhagen, Denmark (a steal at P46,000) and being one of the last registrants for the Stockholm Marathon (they re-opened registration on Feb. after some runners backed out), I was off.  From Copenhagen, Badette welcomed me and we took a 10-minute train ride that traversed a bay and led us into Malmo.

stepping on Swedish soil...

stepping on Swedish soil…

P1030111I had 2 weeks to acclimatize and condition before the big race so I ran around the Bunkeflostrand area 3x a week, exploring the various subdivisions (no snooty guards, nor gates here), the shoreline, swamps and hills along well marked trails at 10 am onwards.  In between, I shopped (Ikea and other malls were just a bike ride away), helped in the house, doing laundry and washing dishes.  I also met up with Uffe & Badette’s circle of friends and close family, along with other Filipinos there.  Many times I wandered aimlessly around downtown Malmo, appreciating the well preserved towns, modern architecture and immersing in both food and culture.  It’s easy to move around since Swedes are a warm people who could dish out good English, not to mention a good looking lot.

First day of exploration...

First day of exploration…

Leaving the Larsson house for some adventure...

Leaving the Larsson house for some adventure…

wooden bridge to cross the stream...

wooden bridge to cross the stream…

I heart Bunkeflostrand...

I heart Bunkeflostrand…

greens and blues...

greens and blues…

I could run here all day...

I could run here all day…

the sacred and the modern...

the sacred and the modern…

At Kungsparken with Uffe...

At Kungsparken with Uffe…

Malmo!

Malmo!

Soon, I was on my way to Stockholm and deposited my stuffs (after walking from the airport and pulling my wheeled luggage) at the Best Hostel at Skeppsbron, an island dotted with castles, museums and medieval bridges.  Our room is shared with 12 other travelers from around the world and it felt surprisingly safe with everyone respecting each other’s bed space and privacy.  Two days before the big day, I explored Stockholm with its numerous fortress islands, castles and waterways.  Being the capital, it’s more grandiose and touristy with museum and palaces at every turn.  I was usually dead tired when I reached our room so I always have a great sleep in the company of strangers.  The marathon commenced at 12 noon and under chilly rain and howling winds, I was able to improve my personal record.  (Pls. wait for the actual account in a few months.  In the meantime, you could read the full text in the current issue of Frontrunner magazine)

P1030623

quaint city scene...

quaint city scene…

Coasting along Skeppsbron...

Coasting along Skeppsbron…

Awesome Stockholm!

Awesome Stockholm!

sweet Stockholm moment...

sweet Stockholm moment…

When I got back to Malmo, Badette was on leave so we booked flights and a nice hotel room in – surprise, surprise – the fabled city of Prague, Czech republic, most unknowing that the Charles river and bridge (the main city attraction) had been inundated by rising flood waters.  But there were enough sites to visit in their medieval Old Town, Prague castle and Wensceslas Square.  It’ a lot of tram rides, walking and hiking.  But the scenes are to die for, especially the panoramic view of the city from the castle.

no, that ain't the Philippine flag...

no, that ain’t the Philippine flag…

this strangely looks like Disneyland.

this strangely looks like Disneyland.

Ever-bustling Old Town Square

Ever-bustling Old Town Square

flooded attractions

flooded attractions

no entry to the Charles bridge...

no entry to the Charles bridge…

Amazing view from the Prague castle...

Amazing view from the Prague castle…

P1030995 P1030928 P1030973

When we returned to Malmo, Badette still had the time to drive me around the modern districts of the city and even the southernmost tip of Sweden (I drove during parts of the journey).  I was able to also take in Copenhagen, just a train ride away in one day.

The Turning Torso building by Calatrava

The Turning Torso building by Calatrava

that's Badette and Jane at the far end...

that’s Badette and Joan at the far end…

when the sun comes down, the temperature drops

when the sun comes down, the temperature drops

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copper chameleons...

copper chameleons…

silence and solitude with Badette

silence and solitude with Badette

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Gardening chores in between...

Gardening chores in between…

that's the bridge leading to Denmark

that’s the bridge leading to Denmark

Alfresco, Swedish style with the Larssons...

Alfresco, Swedish style with the Larssons…

Malmo in black & white...

Malmo in black & white…

No doubt, it was a memorable and even-filled vacay but the most unforgettable ones are times spent with the Larssons who took me in their abode and made me feel at home.  Up to now, I still dream of Uffe’s homemade barbecues and meatballs and their swiss bagoong (Kalles kaviar).  Tack så mycket, Sweden!


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The Filivest Endurance Weekend Run: mud, mud and more mud


round and round...

round and round…

So here I am ensconced in the warm confines of my bedroom for the whole day, taking lots of liquid, fruits and rest.  I’m not one you can herd off for one whole day but the body weakness and sore throat plus some chills told me it was time to take a break.

minutes before the gun start...Kuliters still in pictorial mode.

minutes before the gun start…Kuliters still in pictorial mode.

another angle, direk?

another angle, direk?

The week before was practically like this except that we had to go through a 3.1-KM trail loop from 6AM to 6PM.  Easy, eh?  Now  factor in some drizzles deteriorating into a typhoon-like shower by midday then we have one muddy testy trail to conquer over and over.  Now this one should have brought me down right away, instead of an hour of rain run last Saturday (with the Milo R2 Apex group), right?

During last Saturday's speed and agility tests at the University of Makati.

During last Saturday’s speed and agility tests at the University of Makati.

Anyway what helped us survive the ordeal was our strong support (the indefatigable team of Paz & Van) and the spirit of Team Kulit composed of Dave, Chinky, Sheila, Reylynne and me.  It was also the debut of our tantalizingly fluorescent team shirt (still comfy after going through the ravages of sweat, rain and heat).

Watch out world - Team Kulit is coming!

Watch out world – Team Kulit is coming!

K for Kulit

K for Kulit

So the first few loops were a breeze and I was bouncing around, totally enjoying my most-missed trails.  By the time I finished 21KMs (around 7 loops), it was just a little over 2 hours.  Now if I could do this for 12 hours – I could bank 120KMs!  That was wishful thinking, of course (cue in cousin Balki:  “Don’t be ridiculouuus”) for after a mild comforting spray from the sky at the start of KM 15, a full blown shower had begun.  Disappearing a little only to rain again and again on our parade.  By the time I finished a full marathon distance, it was way over 5 hours and the left knee had started complain from all the balancing along the mushy, slippery trail.

When the weather was still refreshing and sweet...

When the weather was still refreshing and sweet…

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Team power takes over…

I love to call it Molested Earth (in Filipino it’s more organic – nilapastanganang lupa)  for after so many rounds by the 70 or so runners, there was no more trail to speak off.  I had to search for some virgin, untrampled grassy areas to keep me going (except that they’re usually tilted).581829_10200461156360764_1584498988_n

the end is near...

the end is near…

The last 5 loops had me walking, avoiding mud puddles and newly-formed waterways.  Soon enough, one had no choice but to walk through mud, water and unstable earth.  On the final 2 loops, Team Kulit (all frustrated and ready to call it quits) banded together to lift our sagging spirits and had a most fun walk, peppered with stories circling on National Security and the gross domestic product.  After 10 hours, we finally hanged our muddied shoes and took our podium pose.  So it’s a total of 20 rounds or 62KMs in one Saturday.  Not bad for a weekend.

we are our shoes...

we are our shoes…

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outdoor shower, anyone?

the thrill of it all...

the thrill of it all…

Special thanks go out to the Filinvest Group (Ms. Rula Gongora) for the opportunity to test my patience and persistence in this Weekend Run at the burgeoning city of Filinvest.

Photography by Maripaz Buban and Van Denn Cruz

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