Σάββατο, 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2012

Review of 2012: Memories and impressions from sports

29th of December and it is time to say farewell to 2012. It has been a year full of memories. Some good some bad, all interesting!

Sports wise it has been a full year again. I have managed to keep my butt out of injuries so, I raced and trained as planned. I realize now that I appreciate my daily activities more than any race, therefore I will not value anything above my day to day running - cycling - swimming.

The year started with a plan to race my annual fast marathon at Barcelona. At the same time I was moving out to my new home, following my divorce from my French wife that was stressing me emotionally. I managed to fit everything in and keep myself together and busy day and night. Early morning workouts, then office, then packing and unpacking, then night workout and sleep. That was pretty much my day.

Arrived to the starting line of Barcelona Marathon, well trained and certain that I have enjoyed the "trip" to get there. The race eveloved as planned, or even better, achieving a personal best of 2:44:30. More on this, at my race report.

After Barca, it was time to switch to triathlon mode. I was spending more time on the bike and swimming and minimized the running. The next target was Ironman Austria on 1st of July. Again the path to Klagenfurt was very nice! A good group of friends was sharing with me the experience and got to the starting line, confident that my goal was within reach. I was planning for sub-10hrs Ironman. Well... it did not unfold well. The swim was without wetsuit and the whole day was worst than the Greek summer! 34-35degC all day with high humidity. I went at a comfortable pace throughout the race, since my goal was out of reach right after the swim-exit. Finished at 11:04 and my mind was already at the Dolomites for the trekking / climbing days that followed. At this point I decided that long distance triathlons would be out of my list for 2013 since the time that I must commit is not compatible with the amount of time that I have available.

Late July, as I was already pilling up trail-miles for my next major race (Rodopi Ultra Trail 100miler) I decided to go and run Faethon Olympus Marathon which was a real Sky-race with more than 3.200m of accumulated ascent (average altitude at 2.200m and several passes over 2.400m) over 44km at a technical terrain. To my surprise, I won the race, even though I was not at all prepared for this. I enjoyed every meter!!!

August included a really long triathlon which was a unique experience: the famous Inferno Triathlon in Switzerland. This was one of the highlights of the year for me, because the course of the race was really unique. Of course it is a tough race: 3,2km swim at Interlaken lake, 94km road bike with more than 2.200m of accumulated ascent, followed by 32kms of Mountain bike with 1.200m more ascent, finishing with 24kms run with 2.200m of ascent almost all on trails! The finish is at Piz Gloria (alt. 3.100m). No need to say more...

I was on my way to my most anticipated event of the year: Rodopi Ultra Trail 100miler. I was pilling up miles every day on the mountains around Athens or by participating at some weekend trail running events. I did my annual "Three Mountains of Athens - 80k" run early October and that was my last real training. At that time I followed Lizzy Hawker during her Spartathlon effort and my mind stuck with the idea of running this 246km race in 2013...

Rodopi Ultra Trail was a big success. I won the race (even though I lost the trail and added some 8kms to the already long route of 164 mountainous kms), achieving the 2nd fastest record out of the 3 years that it has been going on. This is the longest mountain race in Greece and the only 100miler of the country. More on this race at my race report!

Officially my season was over... well not! I was feeling great, and gave it a try at the Athens Classic Marathon. It was just three weeks after Rodopi, and I had done very little speedwork for more than 4 months. It turned to be one more great race, improving my PB on the course and finishing in 2:50:03. Between Rodopi and the Athens Classic Marathon I trained only the week leading to the marathon, doing some intervals to revive my legs. It was time to rest... And that is what I did. 2 weeks passed by with 0 running. Then for the next 2 weeks I did some casual runs, and signed up for one more race to close the season.

It was the 12hrs run in stadium. The "hamster" race as we call it. Perfect weather (advantage of Greece in early December) and fresh legs gave me the boost I needed to get over the boredom of doing 310 laps in a stadium. Almost 125 kms was enough to give me the first place at this event as well as the event record. This was not at all expected! This is not my kind of event and it was not even on my calendar. Within 40 days, I have won a 100miler on the mountains, I have finished a fast marathon and won a 12hrs event. What a way to end the year.

And then there was some more rest for me. Christmas is time to regroup and put on some weight so that the body decides where to distribute it!

This year strengthened the belief that I am ok racing just by feel and without any split-times plan. I also realized that the single most important thing in all these activities, is to enjoy my daily running - cycling. The confidence and satisfaction I draw from doing my own training plan, studying books and following news from around the world is enough to make me smarter in my training as well as in racing. I am constantly learning about my body, my mind and my limits.

In 2013 I have two "A-Class" races:
  • Boston Marathon, trying for a sub 2:40 (mid April)
  • Spartathlon, aiming simply in seeing the finish line of the 246km gruelling road race (end of September)
I also have two "B-Class" events:
  • South Downs Way 100miler in England (mid June)
  • Lakeland 100miles in England (end of July)
Also I would like to come back at Rodopi Ultra Trail again, because it is a beautiful event. The only problem is that it is 3 weeks after Spartathlon. But if I can't run it, I will be a volunteer.

Probably I am going to run some more marathon distance or shorter trail or road events, but this is also important for me so that I socialize with the community of runners, as well as enjoy some nice events that will make my weekly routine memorable!

After all, that is why I am running: Makes every day of my life memorable!

Happy New Year everyone!