The marathon originates from ancient Greece, when Pheidippides ran from the battleground of Marathon to the centre of Athens to tell them of their victorious battle over the Persians. Fast forward a few millennia and that same path is now home to the original marathon, first re run in the 1896 Olympics.
For many the marathon has now become a bucketlist item, and the original has been on mine for a while.
Typically most marathon training plans span 4-6 months, mine was just four weeks.
My first run after returning from our travels was a 15k hit out, the legs felt better then expected and I was fairly happy with the time. The next run, a 10ker two days later proved more difficult. Here I developed a very large blister on the bridge of my foot that kept me out of action for a week as it slowly healed.
My next run was a short 5k, however not long in to the run. The same burning sensation appeared and the blister returned with vengeance. This side lined me for another 10 days. Now only a week out, I got one final 10k run in. Finally my blister had healed and this one went smoothly.
Total training distance logged: 40k
Marathon distance: 42.2k
This was no longer about aiming for a time, but aiming to finish the race.
We packed our bags and jetted off to Greece, the weather was kind for the entire time here and we enjoyed the sights and sounds of beautiful Athens.
Race day had arrived! I packed my things in to my little kit bag, walked to the center of Athens and caught one of the many transport buses to the starting line. Here we waited nervously for the start. A few nervous stretches, a couple of sips of water and a lot of anxious looks where common place.
Soon we huddled in the race gates and with rock music blaring, the sound of the gun went and we where off! The lead pack tore away as the rest of the field slowly moved towards the start, we eventually arrived at the start and off we shuffled.
The feeling of joy had surfaced, as I realised I was now living out a big dream of mine, the first 10k melted away as I maintained a very steady 6min/k pace.
We passed small towns and villages who played rock music and cheered the runners on loudly. 15k in and I was feeling good as I kept up my fluids and sipped small amounts of Gatorade at each aid station. As I passed the halfway mark I looked down at watch and was cruising at 6min/k pace. Everything was going well, until the hill started.
Here, placed in front of the runners was a 15k stretch of uphill running. The gradient changed from a few degrees to 15 in places and the struggle soon became real.
The lactic acid started to build in the quads, the calves slowly tightened and suddenly breathing started to be labourous.
Until the 25k mark I had not strayed from my pace, but the constant uphill started to win and I had to break my run and walk. What followed for the next 10k was a mixture of mostly running with walking thrown in. As the labouring continued, the walking stretches increased. Finally and mercifully however the highest point of the run was passed and the gentle rolling descent into the middle of Athens began.
By the 35k mark I was in a real battle between wanting to curl up into the fetal position and the urge to finish the race. Water began to taste disgusting and the orange Gatorade I had been drinking now wanted to exit my body as it churned away with every stride.
I pushed on with my mix of walking and running, the noise began to increase as the crowds grew as I edged closer to the finish line.
I turned the final corner and suddenly the stadium came in to view. Rock music blared through speakers, and people yelled and cheered encouragement. I eventually crossed the finish line and was overcome with a sense of pride.
I had done it, with almost zero training and without much of a plan I had managed to complete a marathon. My time came in at 4:53:30 which I was very happy with.
I then struggled slowly to the exit, was greeted by my girlfriend and expressed in a few words how exhausted I was. Luckily it was only a small little walk back to our apartment. We wandered slowly back, grabbed some food and I collapsed in to bed with a mixture of pain, pride and a huge sense of accomplishment.
Running is a simple sport, but having the correct footwear, clothing and nutrition can go a long way.
Brooks Transcend – These shoes combine the best of brooks running technology with a decent amount of arch support. I knew with the amount of hills in the marathon and with my running gait, that I would require a shoe with a high level of over pronation support while still being lite enough to not weigh me down. These fit the bill and then some. Springy responsive runners with enough cushoning to sooth those long downhill sections.
Bridgedale Men’s Cool Fusion Run Speed Trail Socks – I knew with my feet problems in the lead up to the run that I would need a slightly thicker then normal sock to combat my blister prone areas. These socks delivered that and some, incredibly soft and cushioned and still manage to not overheat the feet. Lovely socks to run in.