RUN DMD

I run…therefore I am


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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.

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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


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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)

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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…

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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