Athens Marathon 2016…(part 2)!

(Very long post alert)

So where were we?

Oh right! I lost my phone (again…) While I was on the bus I looked EVERYWHERE for it! But no luck… and that was the moment when I had to accept the fact that I’ll be running my first full marathon WITHOUT my music 😛 … Epic fail I say… So for a while I focus looking out the window. The bus route was on the marathon route and I managed to get a full view of all the uphills to come. Yeah, that didn’t really help with my anxiety and nerves…

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Remember Maria, the girl I mentioned @mymamus and I met at the meeting point? Well she was being an angel and she was talking to me, and introduced to me to another woman Vassiliki. Both of them were so nice to me, telling me how it’ll be OK and that it ‘ll be an amazing experience! And it was right then and there that Maria totally saved the day!!

“WHAT? No phone? No music?? Don’t worry girl I got two MP3s on me, and you can totally have my back up one!!!”

Jaw dropped! This awesome lady that didn’t know me offered me her music! Thank you SO MUCH Maria you are a rockstar…. And we have very similar taste in music! – save #1!

After this was settled we started to get ready on the bus – taking off extra clothes, putting on shoes etc – and this is where Vassiliki saw me putting on my long sleeve yellow t-shirt.

“Are you out of your mind???” I heard… “You will melt!! It’ ll be so hot!!! Don’t even think of wearing it! Keep only your tank top! And (thankfully) I listened … – save #2!

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The bag drop and walk to the blocks was a blur… I ‘ve never seen so many people gathered in one place! It was like a party! Everyone was smiling and it didn’t matter who you know and who you don’t, you ‘d get a supportive look or a thumbs up a pat on the back anyway…Both Vassiliki and myself were on block 7, so we decided to stick together. We both hugged Maria (she was at a faster block), wished her good luck and went our way. We were pretty much in one of the first rows of our block. I was looking around totally amazed, thinking to myself –this is it… You made it! You are here!! Vassiliki looked at me, we high fived and held hands for a second and smiled to each other!

And then the gun went off and we were running….

I WAS RUNNING MY FIRST MARATHON! I WAS RUNNING THE AUTHENTIC ROUTE!

I felt so full inside those first minutes! Pride, honour, happiness…!

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We passed by the tomb of Marathon (5-6km) where the 300 brave soldiers were laid to rest and I could barely hold back the tears – and trust me I wasn’t the only one… You could feel that the atmosphere was a little heavier there… the crowd was thick there and they were handing out olive branches. I grabbed one and it was like I felt the history and the essence of the place running along with me.

And I kept running. The first 11-12km passed like a blur and I kept a steady pace. But at around 14km the heat started getting to me… It was HOT! It was around 10:30am and the temperature had already climbed up to 25C…. November in Greece hmmm….I told Vassiliki, I’d walk for a bit, take a gel and some water, so she gave me smile and run off… (Thank you Vassiliki! For pacing me for the first 12km, you were awesome!)

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And this is when the struggle started… From 14km till 29km there is a slow, steady, painful 3% incline. The fact that I had only trained for hills (aka steep hills) along with the heat totally killed me… My quads locked and I was in pain from 17km onwards.

I run, I walked, I cried, I hurt… At about 26km I knew I had to let got of any time goals I ‘ve had in mind. I cried a little… but I knew this wasn’t going to happen… So I focused on putting one foot in front of the other and my head down so I wouldn’t have to face the uphill. At 28km I heard my name – someone I didn’t know was telling me to keep going and have faith… Thank you!

And then after a while we made it to 30km where FINALLY the downhill started! Still in a lot of pain but it felt so refreshing on my tired quads. But I knew that from this point onwards I’d see my people and my pace started to pick up again.

The first person I saw was my friend George at about 32km!! You can not imagine the joy!!! I screamed (poor EMTs thought something happened to me!) and run towards him and gave him a tight sweaty hug!! He told me I am doing great and I run off. Thank you for my awesome gift George 😉 I ❤ it!!

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Next stop… 36km… my family was there! – they were expecting me in a yellow shirt so my mum was so surprised when I run to her and hugged her 😉

I hugged my mum and started crying… I remember telling her that it is so hard and that the heat was killing me! She looked at me and said “You are doing great! We are all here, you can do this!” My dad hugged me as well and said he was very proud of me – I think we were both teary at that point!

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Everyone was there, my grandma, my aunt and uncle! And they were cheering for me! After all the hugs and cheers, I run off feeling like a different person! I knew I could do this, and it didn’t matter how long it ‘d take me.

37km. @mymamus and his mum were there waiting for me. I hugged them both and @mymamus gave me a kiss and said “you got this babygirl, I believe in you! You are almost there! Go get it!!”

By that time, I was telling myself that I only had 4 miles to go… Trying to forget the pain and just run! Everything was a blur – and quite – from that point till 41km, where the crowd had thickened again and everyone was screaming and cheering for us!

My other aunt, her son and grandkid where there cheering for me and took this awesome video 😉 It was the last 250m… I couldn’t believe it! I turn the corner and there it was! The stadium… KALIMARMARO (it means beautiful marble) and it was, it was so beautiful! I felt Goosebumps on my skin and tears on my face… I was finishing my first marathon! The AUTHENTIC route, the path that changed the world and helped in upkeeping the values of democracy!!

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And before I knew it I was crossing the line… my watched said 05:07:23. But I DIDN’T care, I had made it!

– I have to admit I felt a pinch of disappointment for the next few days…having to let go of your time goal isn’t an easy thing.. especially when you ‘ve put it out there! But then I read this post by one of my favourite bloggers, Charlie from the runner beans, and my perspective totally changed! Thank you Charlie and congrats on running NYC!! –

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I stood for a second and took it all in – even writing about it brings tears to my eyes! I feel grateful that I had the opportunity to make my first marathon so special! Thank you Greece!

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All the finishers had to walk for about 10’ out of the stadium and into a small side street to pick up their stuff. After I was done with my stuff and having no clue where I was and no phone I was a little lost… – surprise there LOL! So I asked a nice person if I could use their phone (Thank you nice stranger!) and called my mum. I told them where I was – or more specifically where I thought I was hahahaha! And sat there waiting – evidently munching on a banana 😉 !

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Before I knew it I had family and friends coming to me from every direction!! Every single person I ‘d consider close to me was there! I couldn’t believe how many people came to cheer for me!! I felt so loved and cherished at that moment!! And then photos, hugs, laughs, tears!! What a blur!

My family ❤ !

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All the amazing women in the family!!

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Thank you love, I couldn’t have gone through with it without you!

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One of my favourite people.. my grandma!

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THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE! The people who cheered from me from afar, the people who came to see me, everyone for their wishes and messages! THANK YOU! I couldn’t have done it without you!! So…this was it! An experience I will never forget! It wasn’t just about running a a marathon…it was about ideals, faith, support, love, family and friends! I learnt a lot running this race, about myself and about my people!

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Again… THANK YOU!

PS: Aftermath…

For anyone who wonders THIS –> is how bad the heat was. I got some nasty sunburns everywhere apart from my face – thank you mum for giving me this awesome sunblock!

After marathon dinner with the parents! Yup, both sets! First official meeting for @mymamus’s and @taleoftworuns‘s parents 😉 It was brilliant! And yes, i did NOT take off my medal for the rest of the day!

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And last but not least… I FOUND MY PHONE! About an hour before I left for the airport the person who found it on the street called my brother! Apparently i had dropped it when I was getting on the car on my way to the bus meet up point…

OMG what an eventful few days! Well, now I am back to London and to the lab, being buried under tons of work for the next few days 🙂 But it was totally worth it!

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6 thoughts on “Athens Marathon 2016…(part 2)!

  1. Awwwww!!! I love, love, LOVE this post! I can feel all the emotions you felt on this race. Ups, downs, and everything in between!! Marathon running does involve a lot of crying -at least mine does, such a roller coaster! It looks like a lot of people were not expecting that warm weather (based on some of the outfits I see in the pics). Crazy! What luck (fate??) that someone had two MP3 players (who does that?), and someone returned your phone (so awesome!!). I am proud of you too. So cool that all of your family was there for you. It is hard to let go of a goal, but at the end of the day, YOU DID IT! All of those weeks of training, and miles and miles of training… you made it. CONGRATS you rock star!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lisa! Yes, it was very lucky! Maria had two MP3s cause at some point her one broke and since then she always has back up 🙂 Oh the heat…… it was so bad 😦 Thank you so much for all your nice comments, advise and support through out my training! ❤ YOU are awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

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