About four years ago, a tired out-of-shape 37 year old version of me, confronted with a wife that had decided to go do a half-marathon and looking at his out-of-shape fat-ass decided to get into shape.
At first it was about doing a 5k. Then it became about doing a 10k. And then I wanted to be like Mike (Kalogiannis not the other Mike)
And then it became about finishing the Athens Marathon. And then it became about finishing the Athens Marathon in five hours, and finally it became just about beating my PR:
And like previous years there was the trip to Greece with my wonderful, understanding and supportive wife and my awesome kid.
And of course there was the Margarita Stathaki
pasta party… Where some people ate:
And I ate:
There were two such plates of pasta …
All leading up to my race day that began, once again at Evagelismos Hospital in a bus:
That dropped us off at Marathon where I would wait for this race to start.
Actually this is not quite where I waited. I waited off the main starting race way, to the right, because the number of racers no longer fits on the main race way.
The wait took two hours because it does. Something about being unable to wait to get into a bus and stand around in Marathon for two hours… But the race did start, and I did make it past the starting line:
And then there were no more pictures for several hours as I tried to break my PR and perhaps hit that mythical 5 hour cut-off.
The race itself can be summarized in three acts and a final flourish.
In the first act, I ran too conservatively because I was terrified that I would once again crash and burn on the way up or the way down. And instead of having a time of 2:24 in the first 13.1 miles, I had a time of 2:33 that was two minutes slower than last year.
The second act was about throwing caution to the wind and pushing as hard as I could up the hill. My goal was to keep my pace below 12:30 miles, and I did that.
The third act was about trying to finish on hamstrings that hurt so much that I couldn’t put any weight on them. Instead of finishing the last 11 km at an 11 minute pace, I finished them at 12:30 minute pace much to my frustration. The pain was so acute 5 km before the end that I almost had to withdraw. I literally could not stand at that point in time.
Fortunately the Athens Marathon organizing committee was handing out coolant spray that may have been nothing but a placebo, but at that time I needed anything to finish…
The final flourish was the entry into the stadium. My son was super excited about this Marathon. He was looking forward to run across the finish line with his Dad. Last year, we had a tired hungry child that finished the race. This year mom made sure that didn’t happen feeding him his energy bar (Kit Kat) 15 minutes before I entered the stadium:
And here he is waiting for me to enter the Stadium looking for a Daddy wearing a black shirt and a white hat – a hat daddy decided to remove to look cooler as he ran into the Stadium:
And once I entered the Stadium, secure in the knowledge that I had beaten my PR, Nicholas and I ran across the finish line:
Nicholas had the biggest grin on his face as we ran together in the stadium. Heck running the 5 hours 21 minutes was worth the pain and suffering just for that amazingly wonderful smile…
And here we are crossing the finish line!
After the race we did our selfie that looks a lot like last years (right):
And once we had eaten our food, and drank our juice we took a picture sitting on a bench with the look of victory on our faces:
And with my parents who are my biggest fans:
Here are the splits:
- Second half was much faster than last year. A full minute faster pace per km.
- There was no cratering of my pace. No horrible sections where I walked for ever
- I was a lot slower in the first 15 km from last year (1h49 vs 1h45) because I was so nervous about another epic collapse on the hill.
- My first 30km was 9 minutes faster even
- My last 12km 1h37 vs 1h50 minutes last year
Final thoughts, I probably had the 5h PR in my legs but not in my head. And it turns out that getting a PR is about the head not the legs.