Running Tales # 4: Two Faces of Christmas

“ It’s the most wonderful time of the year…..” so goes the Christmas song  blaring on the radio or in the malls signifying the start of the merry season. 
Running around the Metro, one can't miss the many colorful Christmas decorations on buildings and houses nor the many sparkling lights and parols hanging from trees and lamp posts. Then there is the scent of freshly cooked Puto Bumbong and Bibingka from makeshift stalls ready to greet the steady stream of people coming out of church after misa de galo.  There  is an undeniable chill in the air; the pleasantly cool weather  that only seems to amplify that the holidays are upon us once again.  

For many of us, Christmas is a time  of comfort, peace, and abundance.  We’re fortunate if that is the case. We often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season dashing around in search of the perfect gift for everyone on our list or partaking in a scrumptious spread of food and drinks accompanied by lots of merry making and laughter amid the company of family and friends. 

Christmas Definitely is the most wonderful time of the year but there is also a flip side to all these. Amid the holiday decors and the sparkling lights, I also notice an increase of beggars on the streets where I run.  A toddler who I estimate to be  about 2 years old, no underwear and slippers and who looked to me like he hasn't had a decent bath in weeks walks up to me and says “Merry  Christmas".   I open my running pouch, hand him a little something and with a sincere smile he says "Salamat Po" then walks away greeting another pedestrian along the way.  I imagine he will be "doing the rounds" throughout the season greeting everyone he possibly could, taking comfort from the kindness and generosity of strangers just so he and his family can have a Christmas of their own. And what about those families who may have suffered a recent loss of a loved one either through sickness or tragedy or those who may be missing the presence of a family member who is far away and cannot be together for the holidays for one reason or another?  I can almost imagine what their Christmas will be like.  Undoubtedly,  there are two faces to the season we celebrate as Christmas; two faces that are so radically divorced from each other.   Which raises the question - Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year? 

Though Christmas is a time of celebration, family and giving it is also a time to spare a thought for the less fortunate who may not have the means to provide their families with the 'picture perfect' Christmas we dream about.  Christmas is also a time for gratitude, caring for one another, taking time to be present with one another. A giving of ourselves more than just the giving of gifts.  It is a time when we open our hearts and put others first.  This may be a way we can truly imbibe the "Christmas spirit" no matter what may be going on in our personal lives. With that in mind, I wish you and yours the love, the joy, the beauty, and the peace of this special season. May Jesus’ love surround you at Christmas and always.

Scott Gordon Jurek

Scott Gordon Jurek is an American ultramarathoner, New York Times bestselling author of Eat & Run, and public speaker. Throughout Jurek's career he has been one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners in the world, winning many of the sport's most prestigious races multiple times.  Thanks to Front Runner Magazine, we were given a rare opportunity to listen and meet one of the greatest ultra marathon runners in the world when he gave a talk last December 10 at the ADB Theater in Pasig.  Mr. Jurek gave us a peek into his life, his race experiences, his views on running, basic  nutrition and motivations.  It's always good and inspiring to meet someone with a stature like that of Mr. Jurek who shares the same passion for running as you do.


Thank you MultiSport  ;-)
In the end, however, is that Running gives him peace of mind. " Im Happy, he says confidently. 

Running Tales # 3: Running Etiquette 101

There are many difficulties a marathon offers. Aside from our own personal struggles trying to finish a 42.195 km event, we also have to bear in mind that we are running with a pack of other runners.  Though there is a common guide to proper etiquette during a marathon, I believe for the most part that runners are generally considerate at road races.  But once in a rare while you may encounter that occasional runner who may demonstrate extremely bad behavior like I have. 

Just before exiting the Queensboro Bridge Mile 15, there was this pack of 5 runners sporting similar yellow shirts with the Achilles logo who were walking (not running) on the bridge in a line thereby creating a human wall and making it difficult for others to get pass

Running Etiquette #1:  Run or walk no more than two abreast. If you are walking in a group, stay to the back of the pack and follow the two abreast rule. Do not group-hog the entire road/trail width and let others pass. 

The bridge was getting crowded with runners piling up that I tried to pass in a free and open space between them and just be on my way. Then out of the blue I felt someone shove me so hard that I almost got knocked down to the ground.  As I turned back to look at the guy, this person then shouts with a heavy European accent"...we are the Achilles Team nobody cuts between us".  And as if that wasn't enough, he says  "Fuck you" 3 times probably to make a point. 

Running Etiquette #2:  Move to the side if someone behind you says “excuse me” or “on you’re your right/left”.  If the person behind is giving you the heads up before passing,  it is proper race etiquette to let that person pass  without blocking their effort.

Other runners who witnessed the incident gave him odd looks while others shouted some snide remarks and "bleep" worthy comments of disgust and sarcasm as only New Yorkers could. 

It is true that runners may occasionally jostle, elbow, and even unintentionally shove each other out of the way especially at water stops or narrow spots along the course. This is most common in races with an extremely large number of participants. But to actually shove another runner intentionally simply because you didn't  want him to pass is the epitome of bad behavior and poor form. 

As much as I wanted so badly to confront him right then and there,  it took every ounce of self control to keep my cool and  decide to just let it go (for now) and continue on my run. After all, I came to NYC to run and not let some loser dampen my plans.  

A few days later and not wanting to let this issue pass without properly addressing it, I decided to send an email to Russel K. of Achilles International where in I relayed the incident and filed a formal complaint against their fellow member.  This was their response :

Apology accepted case close.

Running Etiquette #3:  Whatever happens during the race course,  a bit of self control and concern for others never hurts.  Keep it Calm. Run your race and just enjoy. 

Happy Birthday Tessie ; - )

To TESSIE S, the lady who took good care of my children and I for 21 years.  You are and always will be a part of the family. May you have a blessed and happy birthday! 
Love always,
Patricia, Cesco, Bouncy , Oreo and ME !