Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reflection

Here we are beginning of February and here in Sweden the ground has been covered in snow for longer than I can remember...The running is also quite tough as the temperatures are down to -10 sometimes but ive managed to put in a few sessions in the past 2 weeks and some gym. Not as much as I would have liked to but my mood hasnt been the best either.

I was however bored one day and I thought to myself how about doing your first marathon for the year Andreas and 1 minute later I had flight and entry taken care of to the Barcelona Marathon on the 7th of March...Other people might go for a beer or go to the movies when they are bored but me I sign up for a marathon...I know there must be something not sane in my head... The issue here however is that I come from 4 months of an extremely stressful job onboard a cruise ship and training havent really been a a part of that experience and the weekend before I am organizing my best friends bachelor party where we will be going abroad and with the 10 of us going I know that party will be on the agenda but its all about the mental part for me at this stage when it comes to surving a marathon with a decent time, perhaps not as good as the one last year but I am sure I will do ok.

I am really excited for the spring and summer where I will increase the dose of running a lot as well as doing more races and among them my first "flat" half marathon in the worlds biggest race being Göteborgs Varvet with 45 000 runners.

Reflection of the day
I have just moved back home to Sweden after almost 12 years abroad all over the world. I have decided this move much because of the many years of forsaking my best friends and family plus I want to give myself and my girlfriend a fair chance of creating something however when it comes to jobs its like banging your head in a wall. Over the past 12 years I have created a CV that would make any 60 year old jelous and I would have thought it would be looked upon with great interest coming back home but I am stuck. The feeling I get in the times of what everyone calls the global crisis is that people have turned into animals protecting their jobs as if it was their children. Many employees do not work for the challenge in the job, the creativity and taking it forward. Many people sit out their time to get that pay check at the end of the month and thats it. They want no change, no new people just keep everything the way it is and I will survive mentality. It is something very frustrating feeling as if you threaten people. I am sure it is all a matter of time as everything always turns out for the best in the end but it makes me sad seeing people taking no pride in their work, not doing what they really would like to do.

Have a great day everyone

Andreas

Monday, January 18, 2010

Up and Running again:)

Ok then Ladies and Gentlemen I am back...
Been away from running and any type of healthy living for the past 6 months but finally I am installed again so its time to get serious...

The life on the cruiseship was difficult in terms of maintaining work out and running therefore I have NO more time to waste. Our Des Sables Marathon has been pushed 1 year as my two best friends are geting married and I really cant miss that... So a new countdown has begun for Ultraoxigeno:)
I have signed up to the gym where I go between 3-4 days per week as I want to gain 10kilos of muscles until the race next year.

I have also started to get some kilometers under my belt and will try to raise the dose as I get back into shape. I will also start to look at some nice marathons and half marathons to run throughout the spring.

I am very happy to be back anyways and I ll make sure to keep you all updated as I go along.

Have a great day

/Andreas

Monday, June 29, 2009

Promotional Video

Welcome back all:)
Having been away on a short trip to Barcelona trying to sort out my personal life in terms of work I did manage to fit in some running and quite a bit to be honest. As it was splendid weather I did 3 hours and 20 minutes on the beach of Barcelona and it was tough indeed but to get in shape and used to sand in the Sahara in 9 months it was neccessary. Once back in Madrid me and the rest of the team plus Ana did a little mountain run on the Sunday. Ana who has her first mountain marathon coming up in just a few weeks in the Basque regions did quite well and should ready in time for the race.
As we are closing up to our big goal in just 9 months I think it is time to start promoting our team a bit more. Having said this I offer you a little promotional video of what we are up to and have been up to. Enjoy



All the best
/Andreas

Monday, June 22, 2009

Maratón Alpino Madrileño

So my first MAM is taken care of and what a race...I am having a really hard time in where to begin writing this post as it involves so many emotions from what I/we lived yesterday but I will give it a shot.This mountain marathon is truly an epic challenge on all levels and you will get to know yourself better than ever as you go through heaven and hell so many times during the course of this race.During the couple of training sessions we had done beforehand I felt pretty confident about it all but since we had only done 28km at most now taking on the whole thing with 44km was perhaps not a deep concern but certainly something I had deep respect for so when they let the 300 brave people go at 08:00 and I was full of energy and excitement. Me and the other members of UO2 (Mayayo and Pedro) had been writing down finishing times of what we thought would be possible. Mayayo wrote down 7 hours 33 minutes, Pedro 7 hours 35 minutes and I thought that if everything went perfect I would finish in 8 hours 10 minutes...



*Photo by Ana

The first part of the course is a pure uphill path through a beautiful forest. Its a bit steep at times but on the whole its a very pleasant beginning at least for what is to follow...I think I might have enjoyed the forest a bit too much as it turned out pushing it a bit too hard perhaps as I later was to suffer for that...



Once you get to through this initial part you are faced with a fierce alpine slope but up hill of course. The two times I have done this climb I have actually enjoyed it in some scewed way but I did not enjoy it as much this time...A grueling climb which takes the energy and will power out of most people, including me... The only thing you could do was to look down at your feet and take one step at the time really until you reached the top which I did in the end:)


*Photo by Mayayo


Moving on you have another little climb but pleasant in comparison where you reach Bola del Mundo which is some sort of huge tv antenna and we all know where they usually put those things...
Now finally a downhill but since I am crap at downhills, perhaps I do not enjoy them as much as I should as they are good moments to lower your pulse for the time being. La loma del Noruego is in theory a calm, easy little trail down the mountain but with rocks everywhere and two huge climbs in your legs already its not as wonderful as it might seem on paper...


video

I managed to reach Cotos anyways after some swearing and caution not to break any legs.
Through out the race my very helpful sister Ana with friends Juan Carlos and Mariejo followed our progress and took as many photos as they could and for that I am very grateful as it was also a grueling experience for them in the hot weather going around the mountains all day long.I ran into them at my first encounter with Cotos where I got a chance to eat the dry fruits, bananas and whatnot...Never been a fan of those things but after a couple of hours of running you basically eat or drink anything...

*Photo by Ana

Now the real tough part of the race started, the uphill towards the highest peak around Madrid, Peñalara at almost 2500m. From Cotos its an imense uphill first through forrest and then via Citores which is simliar to what the landscape on the moon looks like. Here I was suffering from the sun as I did not bring sun glasses nor a cap...not good at all I thought to myself and actually telling myself in Swedish loud and clear as no one would understand anyways. On my way up to the top I ran into Alex who is the neighbour and despite his troubles with injuries lately he seemed to be doing great. I reached the top, touched the mark and downhill I went again, yet again on my way down towards Cotos passing through what is called the two sisters. A dangerous downhill with lots of rocks everywhere and many possibilities of messing up your feet or knees among other things




On my way down is when my first doubts started to appear in my head, could I really finish this monster...The pain also started to appear on my way down and my tough opening was starting to haunt me and reaching Cotos for the second time I was in trouble as I was suffering pretty bad and my sister also noted that I was not in the best of shape but this is where "talent" for suffering, willpower, commitment, determination and perhaps a sane dose of stupidity comes in handy:)

*Photo by Ana

*Photo by Ana

From this point I now had 2km before the toughest part of the course in front of me...The climb to the peak of Cabezas...1.5 km (only) but with an elevation of 550 m which gives a percentage of approximately 33% in elevation profile to give an idea...As if that was not enough its done all the way on rocks, small as huge and I hope the photo and videos gives you an idea of what it is like...

video

video



This climb is just out of this world and it is really hard to find the adequate words to describe it.I had to look deep inside to carry on, despite the occasional pain and cramps. Look down at my feet and one step at the time until reaching the top. Once up there it is an incredible mental rush looking back down soaking up what you have just managed to put yourself through.
Next part is la Cuerda Larga which is like a connection to Bola del Mundo once again, all above the altitude of 2000m. A truly beautiful place and still occasional snow at some places. Once again suffering like hell and feeling very down at times but a bit of water and some snacks and some swedish swearing and you keep going, up and down up and down...At this point I also ran into Zerolito and we basically manage the same pace even though in the end of this part I had severe trouble keeping up. It is funny how you at some points in the race feel in great spirits and even consider pushing it as you think you can do an amazing finishing time and then one hour later you even doubt if you can finish it at all and you just want to crawl across that finish line...The mind is one incredible tool. How you can disguise all the pain and mental distress you go through just by setting your mind to it:)

Reaching the control at Bola del Mundo we had now done all of the uphills and now we only had two massive downhills left. That gives you a lot of energy knowing that some way or the other you will finish...
The first hill was however a pure super G downhill and even though I suck at skiing I wished I had a pair at that point because going down in shoes on those rocks was pretty darn dangerous with occasional falls.Finally reaching Puerto de Navacerrada Me and Zerolito stopped for some drinking at the control but I knew that if I stopped for too long my legs would not benefit so I had a quick zip and off I went again for the last 8 km. This last part went through the same beautiful forest where we had first started the race and thats also something very encouraging recignizing parts knowing that you are almost home...
There was one last control 4km before the finish line but I only stopped briefly for the same reasons as before and give the last 4 km my max and when I came out on the last stretch a man told me that once you see the downhill approcahing you have 200 m to go!!! I cannot express the happiness and what those words meant to me...I sprinted to my utmost ability and actually reached a speed of 20km/h which perhaps was not the best of ideas as all the camera attempts to catch a 194 cm tall skinny swede running at the speed of light was not optimal but who cares in the end:)Crossing the finish line all the emotions come tumbling down and you really do come close to tears knowing that you made it. Also taking into account that I managed to finish the race in 7 hours and 29 minutes just adds to the experience as it was far better than I could have ever imagined:)


*Photo by Ana

*Photo by Alex

*Photo by Ana

On a personal note I think it was a truly amazing day that encompassed so many things at once: pride, companionship, suffering, joy, accomplishment, you name it...
I also have to mention a couple of people of whom I feel very proud and that I feel happy to have experienced this race with. Mayayo of course with his new personal record of 6 hours 38 min, an incredible accomplishment. Pedro who managed the 6 hours 23 minutes and it makes me speechless really. Zerolito who finished the race around the same time as I did and whom helped me to push myself at times when I thought I could not. Alex for having the guts to take on the challenge despite having the body troubled by injuries, Aspen for having twisted his ankle at quite an early stage of the race still managed to push through running uphill and walking downhill and finishing with an incredible time under those circumstances and last but definately not least Velayos...Uffff what can I say really. Here you have a man who was suffering dearly during our training sessions and we even doubted if he would be at the starting line in the end, but he had a plan:) and despite the agony and pain we all got to give him a standing ovation when he came running down the last stretch for a time of 8 hours and 48 minutes...Incredible is the only word that comes to mind.


*Photo by Ana
/Akapov

Friday, June 19, 2009

Introduction

As with everything here in life an introduction is most definately neccessary therefor I give you the background to The Adventures of Akapov, a 30 year old Swede gone barking mad...

Surely I have always been a man for avoiding "normal" life always taking the challenging way in everything I have done, for good or for bad many might say. Leaving my home country at an early age to learn spanish was the thing that kicked everything off and since then I have never looked back. 40 countries later and enough life experiences to match any 80 year old I have now engaged in a new type of challenge. Ultra running... Always been a sporty type and so forth but the journey I have now embarked on will demand so much more from me. Ran my first marathon some 4 years ago after a drunken bet having told my friends that a marathon could be done under 4 hours without previous training...(never propose stupid ideas while intoxicated) The problem/strength with my personality is however the stubborness and "talent" for suffering so even though I lost the bet with a time of 4 hours and 4 minutes I managed to push myself through agony and pain but somehow managed to enjoy it at some level as well.

Since then I have together with my Spanish sister (Ana) and her boyfriend (Sergio my idol and mentor) more and more engaged in running, participating in 10 k races in Madrid and also started to run ultra distances in the mountains.
It was during the 10km race El Orgullo in Madrid that I got presented to Pedro and we started to talk about one of the toughest foot races on the planet Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert. He said that it had always been a dream of his and so it has for me. Thus we decided there and then to create the team Ultraoxigeno (UO2) which at present consist of Pedro, Mayayo and little ole me. The goal of this team is to go through agonizing pain and challenging endurance races with the ultimate goal of running Des Sables in March 2010 and we are well on our way:)

This upcoming Sunday I am participating in what will be my toughest challenge up to this date in the infamous Maraton Alpino Madrileño which to give you an idea consist of the following...44km running up and down three peaks of approx 2500m in what it seems extremely hot conditions with a time limit of 9 hours so it was nice knowing you all...;)

I know it will hurt but so have other races and to try and reason with myself to why I am actually doing these things I have managed to break it down to three main cathegories.

1.Cliche cliche I know but life is very short and anything new and demanding pushing your body to its outer limits I want to try as you feel so damn alive and proud once you realize that you really can do it

2.For me it works the following, we all go through tough times in our personal lives and taking on this type of activity with all the pain and mental challenges it sets a level for me. When I see that I am capable of pulling through a grueling 9 hour mountain race, next time I encounter hardship in my professional career or personal life I will use the experiences to carry on. Nothing can really affect you after you show your mind what you are capable of

3. The atmosphere and the people you meet going through the same type of experiences are truly wonderful, it creates a mutual respect and admiration for one another which is also something of great importance to take with you to other parts of your life

Not to make this first post too long and by not giving away everything right away I will of course continue to write about the future endevours not only for Akapov but also for our team Ultraoxigeno

All the best to you all and for anyone running the MAM on Sunday, the best of luck

/Akapov