Tag Archives: running

It’s not just about the race…



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.


 ‘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.



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


6 ways to deal with terrible news

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 

let the journey begin

August 10: Training day 1 at 7am at Athalassa, Nicosia, Cyprus and 78 days till the Big Race..!
Marathon training is not just about the race. It’s all about the journey towards the destination. The fun, the laughter, the excitement,  the sweet pain and your adrenaline sky high. It’s also about your running buddies sharing that experience with you and holding your hand along the way. It’s about your wellness warriors telling you what to eat while reminding you to smile when pain kicks in. It’s about the people who inspired you to sign up for that race in the first place and the sweet anticipation of reunion. But above all, it’s about the reason you are running… All this excitement, blended with countless beautiful energies and prayers, will be dedicated to a beautiful family which I have in my heart. A family with which I will be re-uniting on the final countdown to the race. Let the journey begin!

Fit to Inspire



Living and loving passionately is my life’s motto. After all, it’s all about that extra touch of spice, which we put into what we do!
In May 2013, I joined Fit to Inspire, an inspirational community which fosters fitness and well-being.  This new venture has invigorated me immensely and I have since been inspired to try new challenges- SUP yoga, trail running, even inspiring my sister into fitness!
Founded by a precious college friend, Rebeca Plantier, FTI’s philosophy is that ‘living a healthy life starts with friendship – and friends who work out together not only have more fun, they ultimately feel better about themselves and their life.’  Having known Rebeca for over two decades now, inspiring fitness in others- including myself- has always been a way of life. Which is why I salute FTI with great delight, enthusiasm and a smile!
What’s more, I am honored and delighted to be part of FTI’s team as writer and community manager (stay tuned for FTI’s soon-to-be launched website www.fittoinspire.com ). Pursuing your passion is wonderful… Writing about your passion and sharing all the goodness and inspiration is extraordinary!
Today, I would like to share this passion through some photos which speak for themselves… They are all about my love for running and what inspires me to keep running…
…the morning mist… nature in all its glory… my running buddies, and so much more. Whether it’s my dear friend Maria who ignites that spark to hit the park every single week, or, my wellness warrior who keeps inspiring me with his love for challenging sports and wellness as a way of life… my running is a magical experience every single time.
With running every life’s challenge becomes easier and creativity keeps flowing..! Which is why it is essential to keep the inspiration factor up in the air!
The photos were captured through the artistic eye of my fellow TEDxer, Andri Josef (AJphotoart) who managed to grasp all that inspires me!

Running for a friend and her gracious spirit

For the past 14 years, running has been a way of life for me. Running keeps me sane, motivated and focused, while running for a cause simply makes my life more meaningful.
As a runner, I am constantly in search for personal sports stories with an element of inspiration which will motivate me to the next level- improve my time, prepare for the next challenge or simply add more meaning to my fitness pursuits. The story of 81 year-old Sister Madonna Buder intrigued me immensely! Known as the ‘Iron Nun,’ Sister Madonna began to run at the age of 48 and she has been running ever since, having competed in many marathons and more than 340 triathlons (including the Ironman distance)! She explains that running helps harmonize mind, body and soul and, while she was initially faced with some opposition to the apparently differing worlds of being a nun and a competitive athlete, she managed to blend these two passions by adding a ‘good cause’ as a key ingredient. Sister Madonna uses racing as a way to raise money for several causes while she dedicates each race to someone specific. A cause of heart indeed!
Today, that ‘cause’ for me is my beloved friend Voula, who left this world six months ago, on November 9, 2012, having ‘walked’ on the arduous path of cancer for many years. A month following her passing, I dedicated the Quantum Nicosia Half Marathon to Vou and run in hope for (a cure for) cancer having raised donations and awareness for a local Anti-Cancer Society. In this race of HOPE, I was decked in orange, with an orange sports drink in hand and could not help but smile right through all 21 kms. I was smiling at Vou’s wonderful memories and the legacy she left behind. What’s more, I was touched by friends of heart who acted as volunteers for the race, giving me that extra mental shot while helping me send a joyful cheer up towards those fluffy clouds, on which we agreed Vou was floating on.
For Voula’s 6-month anniversary, I wanted to run 6 kms, once again, decked in orange. ‘Why orange?’ you may be wondering. Well, Voula’s favorite character and much-loved hero was Tigger. And, I promised Vou that for as long as I run, Tigger would bounce along by my side. I run, despite the heavy rainfall, and as Voula’s beautiful memories begun to unfold, I smiled, laughed and cried… I reminisced upon her child’s heart, her gracious warrior spirit, her endless humor and contagious laugh and grinned at the thought of Tigger swinging through her fingers. Words from dear friends kept resonating in my ears…
‘… an amazing free spirit… a really great person… a friend who knew how to listen, how to stand next to you, how to give… and she was truly giving from her heart. A person who loved hugs and kisses,’ Elena remembers. And then she recalls her laugh: ‘Her laugh was like water coming out of her… a truly noteworthy person whom I will always carry in my heart.’
‘People who laugh loudly are not afraid, so you shouldn’t be afraid of them… these people are always open to others… they are spontaneous and creative… people with a boisterous laugh are able to keep a secret… they give you space into their world and are generous with their sentiments,’ a mutual precious friend once said about Vou, adding that ‘a person who laughs hard, keeps his/her sorrow a personal affair and asserts his/her childlike enthusiasm until the very end.’
‘How can you ever forget such a distinctive laugh and straightforward outlook towards life!’ another dear friend said.
As the rain washed away my tears, it felt fabulous and liberating as I thought that nothing can wash away the memories and legacy of someone so remarkable!
I dedicate this run and its splendid energies to your loving memory and gracious spirit, dearest Vou…

NB: the photo is Voula’s creation from her Fantanimals Collection