The past year has been a different one for me. Family members increased by one last March and we all had to adapt to the new situation. Professional obligations also have been more pressing compared to previous years. So training has been more impulsive and less targeted or organized for me.
This is not my usual sport report. I run the Athens Marathon on 8th of November. One day after the christening of our baby son. 10 days before that I also organized the very demanding inaugural trail race on Imittos mountain near Athens and spent more than 26 hours fixing trails and marking on the mountain. A few days before that I also participated at ROUT 100miler (DNFed at 130kms in the race). So... I went to the starting line of Athens Marathon with literally no training at all, especially in terms of speed work. My previous PB on this course was back in 2012 at 2:49:38. But this time my son was waiting for me at the finish line in the unique and magnificent marble-built Panathinaiko Stadium of Athens, the iconic original modern marathon stadium.
My priorities for this race were: 1. Arrive at the finish line in good condition, 2. Try to be there before the 3hr mark. Nothing was guaranteed since the course is unforgiving, and my poor training would not give me any second chances.
So I started my race at a fast but cautious pace. Athens Marathon starts with 11km of flat, then 21km of mostly uphill and then finishes with 10kms of constant downhill. I made the best out of the first 10k in just under 40 minutes, then relaxed my effort on the uphill part. I crossed half marathon at 1:25:11 (62nd overall). Arriving at 32nd km which is the end of the uphill I gave it a try to speed up my pace gradually. Throughout the race I was very focused and paying attention at every step. I wanted to make the best out of every step. I managed to keep my focus and maintain a fast pace for the last 10k to the finish. My focus on running technique and experience on managing my effort paid off in this last part. The only part that felt hard was the last 3k. I finished at 2:51:28, 35th overall (out of 11.800 runners), 32nd Greek runner and 4th at my age group.
Arriving at the stadium, I grabbed my baby boy from my supporting wife waiting for me and walked to the finish line. I was the only one finishing at that point and the crowd (waiting for the first woman just after my finish) were very happy to see the dad-son couple finishing. We made quite an impression. This will be a memory to remember for a lifetime.
I strongly believe that regardless of his young age (7 months old), my little man will be affected by this experience. 20+ thousand people clapping and cheering and crossing the finish line of a marathon in a historic stadium provokes some strong emotions! This was my intention. I want to pass on the sports culture. The mentality of investing in hard effort and collecting the results.
Photos and video below to register this memory in this online logbook. Also the Endomondo record of my race since I chose to run with my mobile phone instead of using a sports watch.