Category Archives: fit to inspire

It’s not just about the race…

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FinishSmile

I have flirted with the idea of a duathlon for several years now, so I vowed to finally make it happen in 2016! A gentle push by a fellow runner made me realize that it was indeed time to conquer my fear of racing on a bike. In January, I signed up for my first spinning class with the formidable Nireas Triathlon Club. I puffed incessantly as the group spinned tirelessly, but I was not ready to give up! A few weeks later, I inspired a friend to join along, and by February, we had both committed to participate in the Pervolia Duathlon, a run-bike-run event on March 13.

My first duathlon would be dedicated to the loving memory of a dear friend of heart, Kyriakos (Koullis) Pontikis (aka my Zen Master). Koullis’ oasis of calmness, words of wisdom, unparalleled wit and cheeky smile sealed my commitment to this race and accompanied me throughout my training.

Koullis Pontikis

But, more about this thrilling experience in my letter to Koullis…

My dearest Friend,

My decision to race was coupled with three vows:

  1. Don’t be intimidated by faster cyclists
  2. Don’t fall
  3. Enjoy the journey, and smile along!

But, I was extremely nervous yesterday. Not only would I be racing on a bike for the first time, I would also be ‘competing’ against robust triathletes, including a handful of Russian Olympians (!) or so, I was informed. 

Have I mentioned that I would be racing on a mountain bike (aka ‘fat tires’), while everyone else would be on a road bike with much higher gearing? More like a Fiat against 99 Ferrari’s.

bike

 ‘Just make sure you stay on the very edge of the street’ my 10-year old buddy, Nicolas advised me before the race. 

We ran the first 5k in glorious weather amidst stunning valleys of wild flowers. Koulli, I have told you before that the runners’ spirit is absolutely reviving and addictive. I just couldn’t stop smiling.

RunStart2RunStartsmile

 

Vow 3, check!

 As I entered the transition area to mount my bike for the 20k leg, I realized that most of the bikes were gone. I struggled on the first loop, cycling against the wind. I soon caught a glimpse of cyclists riding with such speed and natural elegance that I began to wonder what I was doing there. 

But that thought vanished as I recalled Vow 1!

As the first cyclists started to head south to complete their first loop, the words ‘Bravo Mahi’ echoed in my ears. The Nireas team knew that this was a serious leap out of my comfort zone, and they cheered me on, along with dear friends who pampered me with love and hoorays. Vow 3, check again, along with Vow 2! I was on top of the world.

The last leg of the race was a 2.5k run, and I must admit that my legs couldn’t move. But just when I was ready to start walking, a white butterfly fluttered around me. I smiled as a tear slid down my cheek. And I ran that last kilometer with an undeviating smile as I pictured Louis doing the hand jive and getting jiggy with Greased Lightning.

The Russian Olympian finished first at 54min 50sec while the race came to an official close about an hour later. More specifically, at 1H 48min 16 sec. And that exactly was my finish time as it was attained on two legs and two fat tires!

A magnificent journey, dedicated to you… Your LEGACY will forever last in my memory…

PS: I thank Laura Koumas-Lioliou for capturing the very essence of the event through these photos. Laura, I repeat: It’s not just about the race but the wonderful people along your journey!

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

With training buddy, Elias Liolios

Letter to Dad: It’s not just about the race

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Daddy mou,
 
Although I always say that marathon training is not just about the race, today I seemed to fret about everything at the Aphrodite Half Marathon.
 
Well, it was only four days ago that I found out that all the pain I had during my last long runs was due to a dislocated hip… So, I kept worrying that it would go out of place again.
 
As I waited at the start line, feeling the sun on my bare shoulders, I worried that my running top felt a size too big. I worried that I didn’t train hard enough and that my stop watch kept acting out.
 
“Do you think that Pheidippides had a Garmin?” a dear friend alerted me, instantly bringing me to my senses. And that’s when I realized that what I was really missing was you (and your smiling face) assuring me that I would be just fine.
 
Seconds before the starter pistol went off, we heard a lightning strike, followed by rain and then hail. “So-long to our winter sun bliss,” I thought as we began to run.
 
Battered by a hail storm? On the island of sun? Seriously? Well… it surely battered all my worries away.
 
Daddy, the hail went on for the first five kilometers. And, it hurt!
 
But then, the most magical rainbow painted the grey sky. Soon after, it felt as if we were waking up to a different season and for the next 16 kms, sparkling sun rays were the only reflection on the Paphos sea.
 
Daddy, I will not dare talk about my disappointment with my finish time.  Only because this race was in the true running spirit and choosing to relive wonderful, timeless, inspirational moments of our run together a year ago.
 
The extra touch of spice, daddy mou, were the friends who ran ‘next’ to me. They cheered me on, gave me low-five’s during the race and a hug at the finish line. I felt so much love in the air and in every footstep…
 
Love
 
‘Procopis is smiling,’ so many people said…. Priceless…

So, here’s a vow for 2015, and you are my witness: After 16 half marathons, I am now ready for my first full marathon… The Athens classic route? Or, New York? I need your help on this one!

Love you so much…

Mahi

The Essence of Life

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Today, I would like to share an article which was published in the #elephantjournal through #fittoinspire. I dedicate this article to my dad, the one man who taught me the TRUE essence of life..!
 
Since my late teens, my rite of passage to herald the spring is pedicured feet flaunting in a new pair of vibrant sandal wedges.
 
It’s my way of saying:
 
“Hello spring, I am so happy that you are here!”
 
This Spring, I bought a pair of trainers instead. Not for me, but for my amazing dad. Faced with a serious health challenge a few months ago, dad has been too weak to run. His determination to soon run a 10k with me, however, is astounding. Quite frankly, he’s my daily dose of inspiration.
I had to create “spring” for dad sealed with a promise to run together again.
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/06/the-essence-of-life-in-10-quotes/

6 ways to deal with terrible news

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Last Christmas, my family had lots of festivities planned, as usual. Then, out of the blue, my vibrant, 67-year-old father was presented with a serious health challenge. The festive spirit suddenly went into pause for my family, and we spent the last week of the year caught up in a marathon of doctor’s appointments, medical tests, fear, anxiety, panic and tears.
But amid the chaos, my father remained incredibly spirited and positive. I was not surprised. A longtime exerciser, he proudly told one doctor that this was the year he would start training for his first 10K! Read the whole entry on #mindbodygreen http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-13010/6-ways-to-deal-with-terrible-news.html#comments 

10 steps to greater fitness and well-being

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Today, I would like to share some inspiration for your well-being through one of my articles on Fit to Inspire:
’10 Steps to Greater Fitness and Well-Being’ 
 
Exercise pays off in many more ways than you have ever imagined. It boosts your creativity, energizes your routine, and affects your mood and performance at work. Plus, as Olympia Dukakis recently told Fit to Inspire, it ‘gives you a will to engage in life’ as a better person, friend, colleague, mother and wife.
 
http://www.fittoinspire.com/10-steps-to-greater-fitness-and-well-being

a run for my dad

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paphos2013
 
Running is the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. Running keeps me focused, motivated and happy. With running every life’s challenge becomes easier…. with running, creativity starts flowing.
 
I would like to share a personal story with you about the power of running. This Xmas season was different from other years. My dad was presented with a health challenge and the festive spirit suddenly went into pause for my family. Fear and anxiety prevailed. But my daddy’s spirit remained intact. He told me he was ready to start training for his first 10k and asked me for a pair of new running shoes as a gift.How can one beat that spirit? I instantly had flashbacks of my ½ marathon in November when daddy held my hand in those last 100 meters when my body failed me. It was my turn to run for him and bring into light my best of energies for his recovery.

 
I run through the breathtaking setting of Athalassa park. It was just me and lovely nature, breathing in the fresh air, feeling refreshed, focused, inspired and rejuvenated. The words POWER and FAITH echoed in my heart and I knew right there that everything would be fine. 
 
ForTheLoveofRunningJoin me in raising a glass to daddy’s gracious spirit
On Saturday, January 18
At Athalassa Park (Latsia Entrance: play area/kiosk)
3.30 Run/walk
4.30 Healthy Bites and a Conversation with Dad

PS: You don’t need to be a runner… just join me for the love of life.

Olympia Dukakis talks fitness!

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I met the wonderful Olympia Dukakis three years ago. Her love for life, the passion she puts in all that she does, her determination and endless words of wisdom, are gems I will cherish for a lifetime. 
 
‘There are no rehearsals in life,’ she told me. ‘This is the real thing and, we only live once.’ A few months ago, she have me an exclusive interview for Fit to Inspire.
 
http://www.fittoinspire.com/actress-olympia-dukakis-answers-fit-to-inspires-proust-fitness-questionnaire/