my first marathon experience …

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WEARING Elena: shorts mizuno shoes saucony, shirt puma, shoes saucony triumph iso2  watch garmin forerunner 15, socks mizuno,  sun glasses uvex, running belt fitletic

It all started a year and a half ago………….I ran short distances for the purpose of relaxing, getting fit and for fun…. nothing more.  If someone told me then that at some point I would be running a marathon I would probably laugh at the thought!!

My flirtatious moves where slow at first, 5-8 kms max!! Along the way, I found that a lot of my acquaintances were running so I started to run with them, longer distances – greater challenges – enrolled in races!!

October 2015 found me preparing for my first race – the NeaSmyrniHistoricRun, couldn’t have made a better choice, as this was the neighborhood I grew up in, my next race was The Ladies Run – and from here on I began participating in various  competitions – 5 -10 kms, until taking a big step in doing my first half-marathon, just 6 months later, in March 2016.

When training for my first half marathon, I realized that I needed someone to coach me……….couldn’t have made a better coach than Zinia Sanoudou!!   Apart from being a great athlete she is a fantastic coach!!!!.

Our first training workouts aimed in my participating in the infamous  Athens Half Marathon in March.  I finished this race with a great first time participation of 2:12.

When finishing my half marathon I knew that my next goal can only be running a marathon. It was then that I decided to hit big with the Original Marathon of Athens in November 2016, even though I knew that was difficult and that the workouts would be difficult in the summer.

I was very fortunate in having the company of my good friend and co-runner  Panos throughout  this journey of many, many kilometers. It is very important to have someone throughout  these tiring times, sharing your goal and anxieties!!

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Our preparation began with a view towards the 34th Authentic Marathon on 13 November.

Every  Monday morning  Zinia sent me my training program for the week and each Sunday I would sent her my times.  My training started in June with the peak in September – October whereby we ran 65 – 70 kms each week – very difficult in the scorching heat even if we opted to run early morning or late night, it was always hot!!

At last ……….The day of the marathon….. gitters, fluttering, excitement – in that order.

I got up at 4:30 and started getting ready, checking my list of things that I needed to take with me.  A list that I had double and triple checked the day before……..but re-checked just in case!!!

At 6:00 Panos and I arrived at “Fix” from there we would take the bus to the starting point – Marathonas.

Surely those of you around Marathonos Avenue at 7 that morning will remember the unforgettable sunrise. Thousands of runners from Europe, Asia, America- of all stripes, ages and status, become one, just there around the Statue of Victory outside the training field at Marathonas, waiting in queue to deliver our bag with personal belongings then proceed nervously towards our block at the starting line.

Again gitters, fluttering but fully charged with excitement ……… waiting for my block to begin – block 7 ……starting time 9:19, on time!!

At 9:19, my turn at last, I started my incredible journey towards the Panathinaic Stadium, a mere 42.2 kms done the road, a great first experience of my life and all I could think about was that I so wanted to enjoy to ride, live the moment to the fullest and finish“rested” and smiling.

At Pallini, Joanna my dearest friend and co-Run2stars partner was waiting for me.  I was very to see her there as she plays an important part in my life and I knew that her presence would give me courage for the last and most difficult kilometers.

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During the last kilometers,  you get a fantastic feedback from the crowds on the streets, urging you on and giving you the courage to continue, giving no thought to if you are tired or not.

Meter by meter, minute by minute, the moment you so wanted and expected finally arrives …..the finish line …….. accompanied with an explosion of emotion, immense satisfaction  relieving the soο, sοο  many weeks of preparation with endless kilometers and difficult training schedule, not forgetting your personal agony of the previous days…..”can I do it?

At the Finish Line …..the end of the trip

This was a magical moment  It has the power, if not to change your life, surely to bring you closer to yourself and your limits. It is the moment when you know that your husband, children and friends are waiting for you ………..and also a somehow different moment ……where only you can feel ……..as it is “The moment your Marathon”!!!

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From that day on, 13 November ,at 14:09, I’m a marathon runner and it is not so much the medal that I have hang up on the wall, but it is the whole trip that has stigmatized me and made me aware that all this has somehow transformed me.  It has made me feel naked in front of the willpower that has accumulated over the past months allowing me to complete such an effort.  After “this experience” any daily “tests” put in front of me from now on will seem small , and for the more difficult ones I know that I can draw onto my willpower to help me overcome them.

For me, a marathon is a mind game……. YOU VS YOU. If you manage to come out a winner then you have won your greatest fears.

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My next Date with the Athens Classical is on 12 November 2017.

Dedicated to my husband and my children that have stood beside me!!!

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