Last April, after Orthodox Easter, I picked up running again. It seemed like a good way to maintain the weight loss after fasting for 49 days and fight the couch potato syndrome that seemed to had hit me since 2004 or so. A short visit to the most popular running ground in Patras was enough to find out that the almost 8 years since I ran regularly were not too kind with my stamina. I recall running just 3 km at what one can barely call a decent pace for such a short workout (circa 6 minute) then I gasping for breath and walking for the remaining kilometer to my car.
Fast forward a month or so and I was able to do 10km. At a still unimpressive pace (6+ min/km) but 10km nevertheless. In an attempt to keep myself motivated I set out a goal to run at the local half marathon at the first week of October. I ended up doing the distance, but it was during training and one and a half month earlier than I had hoped for. After that the poking from George, the availability of open seats, the will to step outside my comfort zone and the temptation of finishing the classic route were just irresistible. A full marathon sounded like too big of a bite to chew, 14 times more than what I could run 4 months ago, yet I registered and hoped for the best.
It ended up being a rocky start. I got off to a good pace, passing the half race mark in slightly less than 2 hours. The first couple of cramps hit me very soon after that. This made the uphill climb so painful that I might have quit if I knew what was waiting for me (ignorance is bliss :)). I managed to reach the final 12km downhill part in a semi-decent shape thankful I had left the uphill behind. Then the cramps got even worse. But quitting never crossed my mind. I ran and when I couldn’t run I walked, until I could muster enough strength and determination to run again. It was slow and painful, as if having a root canal for two consecutive hours, the only difference that the affected nerves were all over the place in my legs rather than a single tooth (and no you don’t get any anesthesia).
The end result was totally worth it. Running down the final kilometer in Herodou Attikou under the cheers of the crowd, getting the Kallimarmaro into view and then crossing the finishing line is one of those priceless moments that one can hardly put into words. He can only savior it, feel proud about the achievement of having lived it … and even though the first time is always special train hard to experience it again 🙂