Live The Beat

Marcus collected our Fitbars and finisher medal.

Run with music? It took me only a couple of days to decide that this is the second official running event I’d do this year the first time The Music Run PH appeared on my Facebook timeline. The words discounted registration rate for early birds was also a come-on. It was only July then but I could already smell November immediately after I filled in my personal details and clicked submit.

The next runs were soon more purposeful. My plan was to beat the 10K PR I did in February when I joined 7-11’s running event. I finished it after an hour and 6 minutes but I knew I can do better.

The twist came though when Marcus got the hang of running with me few months later. He must have loved the feel of his wheelchair moving faster that it would at home or in the malls and so he’d say yes whenever I ask if he’d like to go out and run with me. He got hooked so the training strategy changed.

I got this.

I wasn’t really sure then if organizers of The Music Run PH would grant my request but I sent a message anyway. Their response was quick, they said yes I could bring Marcus with one simple rule–stay on the left lane. The update got me very excited. The weekends that followed we logged runs farther than 5K, progressing each time.

This Saturday the months of anticipation and training was tested. Wifey supported our adventure so we all checked in at one of Marcus’ favorite place–the Acacia Hotel in Alabang–which was perfect due to its proximity to The Music Run PH’s venue.

Loading up on McDonald’s carbs.

Powered by McDonald’s spaghetti happy meal for lunch, I finished all the French fries even, we set off. The venue was five minutes away from the hotel and the quick trip on foot also served as my warm up run. There was no gun start so we joined the other runners as soon as we reached the start gate at about 4:30 PM. Weather was nice and warm.

Several people, participants and marshals included, cheered for Marcus. The energy was infectious and it motivated me more. The road was almost packed so I tried to steer clear of other runners and stuck to the left lane as agreed but every now and then I’d overtake those who paused and walked. Loudspeakers playing upbeat music were set up along the route so I was tempted to do the floss at some point but decency kept me from doing it–old guy doing a Fortnite emote doesn’t look good around sweaty millennials. So I pushed forward instead. Marcus shared his Skittles whenever I stop for my Gatorade.

Two loops later, we reached the finish line. It was already dark, though night was young. We clocked 10 minutes more of PR but that’s good enough considering the wheelchair. A quick random interview and we’re soon out of the event’s ground, happily on our way back to the hotel with our first ever 10K finisher medal. The race was tough as I have imagined but I think we’ll do this again.

Two loops of this. We were hamsters in a music trail.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Early morning bit looking forward to buffet lunch.)

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First Fun Run

We’ve had morning runs in the past and we’re even in attendance in a fun run event which I recall was during the adoption awareness week about nine years ago. But wifey and I were never together as registered participants. Last week we had the chance to see ourselves run side by side.

Eager 3K runners.

The Sto. Tomas Color Fun Run, an organized though small running event, got all three of us in our running sneakers. On Friday morning we gathered with other excited runners at the starting line just few meters away from home, our aspin dog tagging along.

Dog panting but enjoying.

It was wifey’s first time to run again after several months, stuck normally at home doing her freelance jobs, so I paced with her. Basically, it was skip, hop, and jog for me, just to keep Marcus entertained, until the second kilometer. I started picking up the pace and left wifey behind on the last 1K stretch. Less than 10 minutes later, Marcus and I saw her cross the inflatable finish line arc. Not bad.

Post-run recovery was free Jollibee Yumburgers but three of us shared just one of it. I haven’t event burned the carbs I took prior to this. So barely exhausted and not wanting our dog to get lost on its way home, I decided that Marcus and I can still run with the dog. My Garmin registered about 6K total that morning.

This shouldn’t be our last. I want the three of us to join another event soon. Practice runs won’t be bad as well.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hot chocolate at the car wash.)

Red Wheelchair’s Farthest Run Ever

Stopping for his chocolate chip frap at Starbucks Sto. Tomas.

I ran with Marcus. Yup, not just for Marcus. A dream coming true for me even if he’s on a wheelchair. For two days in a row we covered the most distance and we achieved more running this time. In his gaming parlance it was “achievement unlocked.”

Saturday’s run on a route we once took with wifey earlier this year was short and quick. Seeing two clowns on a motorcycle was the one of the highlights of this run and although Marcus neither saw goats nor cows, he found a compound with Ostrich. An animal sighting made the 3K session worth it for him.

The next day Marcus wants more of it. I thought he won’t ever ask to do it in succession as he’d have to deal with smoke-belching vehicles, dusty road, and was exposed to the sun for a longer period. But I was wrong. Marcus didn’t mind staying out in the open on his red wheelchair. Our second run is proof that he loves to do more.

Sunday afternoon we started earlier. At about 4:30 PM we met the blinding sun head on. He refused to wear the visor cap which he calls a stupid hat because he finds it weird that the top portion is open. So I gave him the option to wear his Batman baseball cap and told him to just look down and avoid staring at the sun rays. We reached shade more than a kilometer later. Running was easier at this point.

Marcus was chatty almost the entire time and it was a good thing. Having a conversation with him diverted my thoughts away from the effort I was exerting to keep running. I would only check my Garmin whenever he’d ask how much distance we’ve covered so far and that’s only when I’d also see my heart rate and pace info. Every now and then he’d look back to check if I was sweating or not. I’d respond back that I’m fine.

We hit the 7K mark at exactly an hour later just in time before dark. His Starbucks chocolate chip frappuccino we got halfway of our run is already consumed except for its whip cream when we stepped back inside our house. I’m not sure when the next time is but I would love him to join me again while I try to rack up more miles this October.

7K with Marcus.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Air time for Marcus in few more days.)

To the Marcuses Around the Globe

Three years ago we celebrated our first Duchenne Awareness Day. Marcus was with his 1st grader classmates when they let go of the symbolic red balloons in unity with the rest of the world who continue to raise awareness that such type of muscular dystrophy exists. He can still walk back then.

He demands pizza for Duchenne Awareness Day.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is a condition that affects mostly young boys. Also known as just Duchenne or DMD, this condition is progressive with symptoms that may manifest during the early stages of childhood with some kids starting to feel the signs earlier than the others. In Marcus’ case, his condition started to become obvious about a year since he started to stand up. He walks weird, can’t run like other kids, and had difficulty holding himself up on the monkey bars just to name a few. Eventually we discovered he has DMD after we had him checked at the age of seven. At eight he started using his red wheelchair.

DMD poses a whole lot of challenges on parents. The need for commitment, love, compassion, and patience cannot be stressed more than enough. To be honest, it is physically and mentally straining but once you put yourself in the shoes of the child who has it, then everything else that you secretly complain about becomes petty or trivial. As I always remind myself, if I’m frustrated and tired, more so Marcus. This short thought keeps me back up on track.

Today, September 7, we once again join all the families and the other Marcuses around the globe who continue to deal with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We also wish good luck and more power to the people whose aim is to find a cure that could be available soon to everyone who has DMD. It may not happen in our lifetime but as long as the awareness is alive there is always hope. We also recognize the physical therapists (FYI, tomorrow is World Physical Therapy Day) who work hard so that our young boys’ lives are a little bit better each day.

Today’s PT session.

***

This week wifey had me watch Fundamentals of Caring on Netflix but we barely made it halfway as I got so sleepy after coming out of night shift. Despite the short clip I could already feel that this film’s depiction is accurate. Hope that we finish it this weekend and I hope I don’t shed a tear. Shhh.

***

Getting Used to Fancy Cinema Seats

When Marcus was smaller he almost got stuck in a cinema seat when the foldable chair tilted back in place. Since then he would hesitate to be seated alone for fear of falling in the gap once more. So it did come as a surprise when he immediately loved the first time he experienced watching a movie in a stable and comfy recliner seat. It was back in 2016 in California. It was a Star Wars film.

With our recent preference to avoid Alabang traffic we discovered that Cinema 3 of Solenad in Nuvali also offers such luxurious seats. For P400+ (approx USD7) per person it’s a win-win regardless if I like the movie or not. The recliners make comfy beds when boredom or effect of graveyard shift takes over.

Uptown Mall’s ultra cinema knows how to spoil a kid.

Two days ago we found a better movie deal. Uptown Mall in BGC has what they call ultra cinema which likewise offers recliner seats except that for almost the same price tickets already include refillable snacks of soda and popcorn. Take note, refillable. Soda. Popcorn. Besides the regular buttons to control the seat’s positions, there’s a summon button for the attendant when snacks run out. Thankfully that didn’t happen and our Incredibles 2 started and ended without interruption. Sort of.

Coming out of a short nap, thanks to the spicy Scott PNC burger and the free cheese popcorn and 500ml Coke, I had to excuse myself for a pee break. But what did I miss? None. Not only that the cinema’s toilet is clean, it also has speakers that play clearly the movie’s audio. I could have stayed longer in there and wouldn’t have missed any except watching Mr. Incredible play regular parent for the most part of the movie. This is how all cinemas should be like.

***

New rings after 19 years.

We stayed for three days and two nights in F1 Hotel Manila, BGC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. The hotel was average and our room is similar to what we had in A Venue Hotel wherein there’s a separate room from the suite’s receiving area.

It’s not an issue that the bathroom didn’t have a tub but it took time for housekeeping to provide a chair for Marcus to use while taking a shower. So his first shower was done seated on the floor. Lesson learned for us: bring our own monobloc chair next time.

The hotel has three pools but the lap pool was under maintenance. Two options left weren’t really good and pool area was quite tight considering Marcus has a wheelchair.

A couple of treadmills in the gym were also down. Towels aren’t readily available unlike in Acacia Hotel. I had good sessions though and what kept me going back was what I like the most in this hotel.

What the hotel lacks in its room and service, it makes up for in its breakfast buffet. F1 Hotel Manila serves remarkable food. I liked everything I had on my plate–veggie curry, Frankfurter, omelette, tortang giniling, Danish, pancakes, etc. My MyFitnessPal app recorded about 1000 calories alone for each free breakfast which was more than enough to fuel my treadmill runs and weight training. FYI, I returned home with just three pounds more.

***

It rained hard so we sought shelter and learned we can afford Denny’s.

The hotel didn’t stop us from enjoying wedding anniversary though. We tried new things like our first Grab car ride and we discovered that we can afford Denny’s. It was also nice to set aside my phone for most of the day while I give more attention to Marcus, watched cable TV movies with him and listen to his perfect impression of his mommy sleeping. Trust me, he nailed it. Good times.

Glad we grabbed a Grab.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Uneventful return to reality.)

Should We Take Our Playlist When We Run?

To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question. Everyone would agree that music does affect the way we do things. While we have individual genres, whatever that is in our playlist influences our behavior whether we’re up for a long night of school work, crunch numbers at the office, finish a writing deadline, or when we want to get in the zone during a workout.

I have this wired Phillips earphones for about 10 years already.

Whenever we want extra focus we shut the rest of world out and enter our invisible cocoon, we play our favorite song. Others seal themselves completely, almost air tight, thanks to headphones. Introverts know this better.

Back in my younger days I was a fan of earphones or headsets. Yes, those Walkman days and then MP3 players. I don’t know when I stopped but I believe it was when I realized I need to talk to people. When I became mature–let’s say that’s true.

Safety was also an issue which is why I use less of the earphones especially when I’m mobile. When I started running more and read more about this sport, it seems that the number of cons against running while plugged in outnumbers the pros. There are so much road hazards that runners need to be aware of so being able hear a wayward driver coming from behind, for one, is a big advantage.

My opinion against wearing another set of technology in the form of the earphones remained until the day I sought that extra push to hit the steep Baguio terrain. That cold early morning I took my phone, plugged my very old but trusty wired Phillips earphones and ran. That was my first time running with Arnel Pineda, Big Fat Joe, Depeche Mode, and the rest of my Napster tracks (oopps) playing along. It made the trip on the undulating road to Burnham Park and back less tiring and stressful. Music saved the day.

For days since then I was back to wondering if these bone conduction earphones I’ve heard of months ago are worth buying. But this morning I got my answer from an unlikely source. A Facebook friend not so known for being minimalist posted a YouTube video about using technology instead of it using us. For me, the video’s message was clear and it takes me away once more from the urge to run with earphones plugged. For how long though, I don’t know.

***

As a frustrated writer, I also appreciate having music in the background. In my freelance days, I’ve finished countless articles, met writing deadlines with the help of the right music. And alcohol. I have likewise composed better blog post when music sets the mood and motivation.

My bluetooth headset we got in the US.

Few days ago I was contacted for a part-time writing job and so it seems that I would need to once again isolate myself for hours (if) when the job orders start coming in. Maybe that bone conduction earphone I see online is worth having after all.

***

How soon before someone becomes a freelancer? I’d say ten. Last week Marcus got his first feel of his mother’s home-based job when she asked him to encode few numbers from PDF to Excel while she took her break and surprisingly, wifey said he got the numbers right. Maybe, he’ll earn his first dollars soon. Haha.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (900-calorie breakfast after a 5K.)

I Miss Baguio Weather

Contrary to what I believe that Baguio is no longer cold as before, no thanks to climate change, I was in for a surprise when we stepped out of our rented Foton View Traveller van after a 5-hour trip.

The place still chills almost like California. “It’s like US,” Marcus exclaimed when the early morning air of Camp John Hay hit him. Our initial plan was to travel light and ditch thick clothing but good thing I got the Accuweather app so I packed hoodies and jackets for us before we left Batangas. Brewed coffee from 7-11 wouldn’t have been enough if I didn’t check the forecast.

First morning straight from a long trip.

Temperature was about 16 degrees Celsius and peaked at 26 around noon. Obviously far better than the scorching 32 degrees back home. Home where it’s hot and humid that running has become more challenging. Waking up from a sweaty sleep wasn’t a problem though.

Like this morning I had to make an effort to put on my running gear to do a 5K. I wouldn’t have done it if not for the servings of strawberry–fresh from Baguio–that I turned to milkshake yesterday. I downed 600 plus calories out of that sweet guilty pleasure. (My curiosity of how much calories the shake would make had me use MyFitnessPal’s recipe entry for the first time.)

Tough run.

Baguio weather is perfect for runners although its hilly terrain is a different story. We stayed in a transient house located somewhere in Wakat which has roads so steep that I almost let go of the idea of running the moment I saw the inclined first hundred meters right out of gate. I summoned enough motivation to continue nevertheless.

Aided by Waze I completed a 10K run to Burnham Park and back that Saturday morning. It was a cold run. I had two layers of clothing and bonnet for my shiny bald head. Every now and then I would see breath vapor or steam forming as I run. I now miss that day.

***

Do I want to return to Baguio. Yes and no.

Yes because it’s cold and good for running. That’s it. Why I might not return has more reasons mostly centered on Marcus’ perspective.

While he enjoyed the sights and adventure during the three days and two nights vacation, wheelchair access was a big issue. Sadly, there are just limitations despite our best in trying to help him out.

At the PMA camp. Stuff out of his COD game.
His first henna tattoo from the Wright Park.

Sanitation was also an issue for Marcus. He’s very picky especially when it comes to toilet cleanliness so his portable urinal was our best friend.

I on the other hand despise litter. More so now that I have to push Marcus’ wheelchair around. Burnham Park was a disappointing sight for one. Trash can be found scattered, people ignored the no spitting signs, and vermin fed on residual food dumped carelessly around the park. On the bright side. Marcus was fascinated that the rats seem unafraid of him staring at them. Well, Baguio’s next tourist attraction? Hope not.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Avocado shake next.)