THE Authentic Athens Marathon

It was about 16 months ago that my Uncle said “Hey lets run the Athens Marathon!” I can remember this day vividly. We were up at my Grandmothers funeral and my sister, uncle and I went for a run. Fast forward 6 months, and we actually signed up for it after my Uncle did some research. Little did I know that 10 months later, I would be in Greece running THE Authentic Marathon…you know, the one we learn about in History or in my case Latin too. The one that started it all.

If you follow me on instagram, then you saw some photos from my adventures over there. We left on November 9th and traveled over to Greece. It was a L….O….N….G plane ride. It also happened to be my uncles birthday…the awesome 7…0. Yes, he turned 70 and ran a marathon a few days later. Who does that? Needless to say, my Uncle is pretty awesome.

The first day we were in Greece, we got to see the 1896 stadium, where the marathon finishes as well as the Acropolis, Mars Hill and had some awesome Greek food. It brought back lots of memories from my Latin classes and the Gods and Goddesses. And the history…things that I had forgotten but had been reminded about while we were there. It’s hard to put into words standing among buildings and things that have been around for so long. After we went to the marathon expo to get our packets and walk through. I have to say that they did a fantastic job at the expo. It was set up to funnel you through a certain path. It is definitely not like the expos here where you get your packet and then you walk willy nilly through the expo. The expo was in the Tae Kwan Do arena from the 2004 Olympics. That was really cool. To be in that building and the athletes that have walked through there. So cool!

Saturday was the second full day we were there and it was a more low key day since we were running on Sunday. We headed to the temple of Poseidon and it was interesting to know the history behind the temple as well as the “Graffiti” that was left on the Temple. I say “Graffiti” because it was not the graffiti we know, the spray paint (Although there was plenty of that in Athens). This was people who had traveled to the Temple and carved their name or something else in the marble. But it was usually their name and the date. Who knew? After we went for lunch at a local restaurant and we were seaside, but the kitchen was across the road, so it was interesting to watch the wait staff cross the road with our food.

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The Temple of Poseidon

 

Sunday! The day of the MARATHON! We loaded onto buses and left for Marathon. It was a nice drive to the start line and we actually drove along some of the course. That was daunting, you actually got to see the hills that we would be running. Yikes! There had been some talk about “THE HILL” which started at mile 6 and ended somewhere around mile 20. Yes, you read that right, a 14ish mile hill. It was a near perfect day for a marathon. Low 50s to start and ended up in the high 60s when I finished. Much different than the Marine Corps Marathon that I ran 2 weeks earlier. The race committee did a fantastic job letting everyone know what was going on and where they were suppose to be. We took in the sights and my Uncle, Sister and I all headed to our starting areas. Before long we had all started the race.

It was surreal starting the race, I had decided to run 5 minutes and walk 2 minutes. I was feeling good and so I kept chugging along. My music was going, and I would stop and take pictures along the way. Around mile 3, we hit the memorial hill and made a big circle around it. It is where the Athenian soldiers that survived buried the ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice against the Parisians. Needless to say, quite the sight to see in your first 3 miles. The first hour went by no problem, but I did start to struggle so I scaled back my run/walk to 1 min run and 1 min walk. That worked for the second hour. I was still doing great and was working my way towards Athens.

Then the trouble hit. I started to feel sick. So I walked. I knew I could get myself under control but I had to make sure that I was on track for my personal time that I wanted to do. So it was fast walking. I was ok with that, mind you, we had that continuous hill to conquer. I have to say that the water stations were awesome. They were giving out BOTTLES of water, full bottles. I was able to stop and grab bottles of water and I did get into trouble a few times when I went by the water station and missed getting a bottle, But there was another station not far down the road. They had stops every 2.5ish kilometers. How awesome is that. For half of the race, I have to say that I had a bottle of water in one hand and a bottle of Powerade in the other with the occasional cup of coke. Yes, Coke. Coke was handed out on the course. I had gotten to the point that I would take a sip of water or Powerade and swish it around before spitting it out.

The towns along the course were amazing. They had come out to wish us luck and you would hear “Bravo” along the way. The kids from the towns had olive branches that they would want you to take and so you did, and ran with it for a bit before discarding it and picking up a new one. Everyone along the way was so incredibly nice.

Soon we were seeing signs for Athens and so I knew we were getting close, not to mention my Garmin telling me that I only had 6 or so miles left. I had been doing math along the way to keep my mind occupied and off how much more I actually had left. Even though I sometimes failed at how much we had actually done vs. how much we had left. OOPS.

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The Sign for Athens…Almost there!

I got to about 38km and knew that we were so close! I decided to start running again, 1 minute run, 1 minute walk and I was feeling good when running and terrible when walking. Which also lead to running when I needed to and walking when needed which I was ok with. I saw the glass runner that we saw when we stopped by the stadium a few days before so I was sooooooo close. So, I just kept running and walking. Before I knew it, I was at mile 40, 2 more Kilometers, 41, ok I got this. 42km! Could it be true….I had hit 42km. So what did I do, I took a selfie! HAHA yes, I was that runner that stopped to the a selfie with the 42km sign which was right outside the stadium. So into the stadium I ran and to the finish line. 42.219 km or 26.2 miles later, I finished in the iconic 1896 Stadium. The emotions were there for sure. The experience of running into the stadium was like no other. I made my way over to our group of runners and met my mom, sister, and uncle there. I had finished in just over 6 hours and 30 minutes. My goal was 7 hours. I DID IT! I was exhausted, but I did it. We did it, my uncle, sister and I finished the marathon.

We got back to the hotel and my sister, Mom and I headed to the Aegean Sea. My sister and I were going to get in the Aegean. It was cold, yes. But it felt soooo good! Not to mention we got some amazing pictures with the sunset we had. After, we had a banquet that the tour group I went with put on. We had Greek dancers and they wanted us to get up and dance with them. I don’t think they realized that most of us had run a marathon. We were blessed with olive wreath crowns and a hand made vase to remember this moment by. It was a good end to the epic marathon weekend.

Monday in Greece was spent at the Plaka. It is the oldest part of Athens and a lot of it is now shopping and closed off to cars. We were able to go into the stores and find items that we wanted or were looking for. My foot was not liking me so my mom and I sat at a local cafe people watching after we got done what we wanted. My uncle and sister walked off to the local Ouzo bar that she had been to before. I wish I could have gone, but my foot was angry enough as it was, so it was best to stay off it. It was hard to believe that we were leaving the following day to travel back to the states. It was a great trip for sure.

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Ouzo

We made it back and we were all exhausted. It’s still hard to believe that I ran the original course, the one that started it all. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and if you ever get a chance, don’t say no. The opportunity may only come once. The tour group we went with was amazing. They signed us up for the race, planned everything out and worked through every detail so all we had to do was show up. If you are planning on going and running the Authentic Marathon, look up Apostolos Tours or by clicking here. I’m so glad that I went to Greece and ran there. It will be a moment that I will never forget. It was a truly awesome life experience.

Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

Well it’s been almost a month since my first fall marathon! It’s hard to believe that it was that long ago. I have to say that this was one of the most awful experiences of my life but also one of the best.

Let me start off by saying that it was absolutely awesome FINALLY meeting @stlrunnergirl aka Kristin in person (you call follow her adventuresΒ hereΒ and here). We clicked right away and we set off to have a blast for the entire weekend. We were able to have lots of fun and enjoy getting ready for the race while she was here.

We both ended up taking over an Instagram account, Inspiring Women Runners, and we enjoyed every bit of showing our weekend for everyone to see. We got a lot of comments on our behind the scenes photo of our flat runners.

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Anyways, race morning was like perfect weather. mid 50s with a high that day being in the 80s, yuck! Kristin and I got to the start line no problem. We were waiting around with everyone else and all the anxiety. We both were injured during our training, so we knew that this marathon would be tough but we could trudge through.

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The race started and I was in charge of our run/walk intervals. We were set up to run 3 minutes and walk 2. We were feeling great and we made it through mile 4, the hill up Spout Run, ugh that hill. We continued on and Kristin was being a champ! I in the mean time, not so much. I started to cramp up in my legs and by this time in the day it started to get warm. We hit the blue mile which is always emotional. After that I was walking more than running. Luckily Kristin was there to help me and when we would try to run, my calves just weren’t having it. We were on the Mall by now, and every medical tent I saw, I wanted to stop and have them take me to the end. I was almost crying, and so ready to give up. Kristin was there and telling me that I couldn’t. But I so wanted to, every step was agony.

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At one point, I stopped by the medical tent and asked for salt. I ended up eating every bit of salt that was left in the bottom of a pretzel bag along with the pretzels. Kristin was being such a trooper with my negative Nelly attitude. We ended up walking the rest of the way and I have to say that she was right, the out and backs were insane. I was filling up my water bottle at most of the stops because I was going through water like crazy. We were literally counting down the miles and we made some new friends along the way.

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We finished the marathon, but it definitely wasn’t pretty! It was more like a survival. We both were like, never freaking again. I’m done with marathons and that’s it. But I still had one 2 weeks later. Are you kidding me….who’s bright idea was that?! We made it back to our hotel and I was texting with a few others that ran and found out that they came across the same difficulty. It was mind boggling that others had the same issues and hit the same troubles around mile 10. I was definitely glad to hear that I was not the only one.

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It wasn’t long after the race was over, that I started talking about a redemption race and having to run the Marine Corps Marathon again to redeem this last marathon I had with them. I could not let that marathon be the end all be all. True runner fashion!

So, what did I do, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon lottery. I told a friend of mine that I had signed for the lottery and he goes, “I thought you swore of the 26.2 mile distance.” Yeah well, never trust what a marathoner says after the most horrendous 26.2 miles. πŸ™‚

Marathon #3 – Athens, Greece

I have super huge news! My sister, uncle and I had been discussing this for quite some time. And some time being around a year or so. We started last year talking about signing up for the Original Marathon. The one that started it all! Athens, Greece!!!!!!

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Serious discussions started when we were at my Grandmother’s funeral in August. I kept thinking that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity and how exciting that it would be. I’ve never run any races with my uncle. My sister and I have done a handful of half marathons, a decent amount of 5ks together and a handful of other races. But this will be the first time we are all running a marathon together. My uncle and my sister are going to blow me out of the water. They are amazing runners and I can’t wait to experience this with them. It’s going to be one pretty awesome experience.

If you don’t know the history behind the marathon here is a mini recap for you. The original marathon started after the Battle of Marathon when Pheidippides ran from Marathon, Greece to Athens, Greece to relay the victory to the citizens. Unfortunately he was only able to exclaim, “We were victorious!” before he collapsed and died. Now, I don’t want that to happen to us that are running that marathon. And it’s hard to believe that us runners still compete in the marathon event after such a horrible start.

Last night we booked our trip and I’m so glad that my Mom is going with us to experience this with us. She won’t be running but she’ll be there with open arms and our official photographer (She doesn’t know that yet). To say that I’m geeking out about where the finish line is would be an understatement. I’m super excited to be finishing (fingers crossed) in the 1896 Olympic Stadium. Any athlete’s dream, well at least mine!

I did it! I conquered my 2nd 26.2 Miles!

This weekend was a whirlwind blast. I can’t believe that I conquered another 26.2 miles. After my first marathon 2 years ago, I made it to 20 miles and cursing every step after that. I was thinking, WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I GET MYSELF INTO. I’m so not doing this again. HAHA. Well we all know to never say never.

Earlier this year, I signed up for the TCS NYC Marathon lottery. I was one of the lucky few to get in. And again, I thought, What in the world did I get myself into. But then again NYC Marathon is a HUGE race. I had plenty of time to train and get in the right mental attitude. And boy did this marathon creep up on me before I knew it.

I trained, I got lazy, I got back in my running shoes, and started training again. I ended up feeling less than confident in myself and had to keep reminding myself that I will be ok. My longest run was 17 miles. I wanted to finish between 5-6 hours. I didn’t know what was going to happen to be honest. There was lots of wishful thinking and hoping that I would be just fine. I’m not out there to win the race or break any records. I am out there to enjoy the crowd and have fun with it.

I finished the race (I’ll have a race recap in a few days). I got my medal! I got my NYC Marathon Medal! It was a fantastic experience! Now to rest, get through next week and then start working towards the next goal. I placed my medal up on my special medal rack last night and it was a glorious moment. A sense of accomplishment.

My Disney and Marathon Medals

My Disney and Marathon Medals

My 2 Marathon Accomplishments

My 2 Marathon Accomplishments

What are you working towards next?

NYC Marathon Week!

I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m scared. I have moments where I think “I so have this” and then I definitely have those moments where I think, “Oh crap, what did I get myself into”.

2 years ago, I set out to run and finish the 28th Marine Corps Marathon. I never thought I would finish. I walked the last 6 gosh darn miles just to get to the finish line. I told myself never again. (Doesn’t everyone say never again, but then never say never) And here I am 2 years later gearing up for my second marathon. Whew. I never thought this weekend would get here and I always thought it was lightyears away. But there’s still 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and still time got away from me. Or at least so it seemed.

I haven’t made a dent in packing. I’m still working on that. I do have my list made! And I have definitely added to that. I’m like any other runner, carefully watching the weathering and adjusting my precious race day outfit. Do I wear long sleeves or a tank top. I still haven’t picked out which sparkle skirt to wear and then what visor goes with that.I’ve heard rumors that you should dress for 20Β° over what the weather will actually be. And if it stays true to what it’s saying now, I’m going to be HOT! But then how do I carry everything that I’d like to have with me. My phone (music and picture/selfie taking, hello!) and gels, and my license and credit cards. Oh and I can’t forget the chapstick. I’ll definitely be using that on race day. Where does this all go?!

When I first made my list, it was suppose to be cooler than what is on the 10 day map, that we are now down to 5 days…eeek! Luckily I start at around 10:40am, but I’ll still be sitting for awhile playing the waiting game. That’s ok, I’m sure this won’t be the last time that happens. I’ve been patiently trying to get my music squared away, still working on that piece. So much fun to go back through my playlist to see what I’ve bought over the years and what could surprise me on race day again. It might just be he 26 songs I currently have on my playlist to keep me entertained. That could get boring though, I’ll be out there for 5+ hours.

I leave Friday morning for NYC and can’t wait. So many new opportunities and adventures. I’m thrilled to be running NYC Marathon and there may be a few tears as well, that’s ok. I’ll be overwhelmed sure, but I’ll be so happy to accomplish another 26.2 miles. It’s all about finding joy in the journey and believing in yourself enough to get this done!

Now, where’s my list to keep working on it?

9 Days Until My 2nd Marathon

I can’t believe we are 9 days away from my second attempt at a marathon. I finished the first. But I’m starting to get really nervous about this marathon. I want to do well but I also know that my training hasn’t been the best…so I’m trying to keep everything in check.

I started my list of things to pack a few days ago. I know…a little ahead of myself. If you follow me on Twitter(@runnerchick29) or Instagram(runnerchick29) then you saw it there. List making has always run in my family. There is ALWAYS a list to be completed. Not to mention the cute pad of paper I used to make my list (Thanks Emily Ley)!

My NYC Marathon Packing List

My NYC Marathon Packing List

I’ve traveled for half marathon and I was extremely lucky that my first marathon was local, so I just had to plan on getting to the start line in a good amount of time. I can’t wait to travel for this marathon. So many new things! But what to pack! That is the major questions which also means I need a list so I don’t forget what I need to take with me. But it’s still a list of wants and needs. Once I start getting everything together I’ll figure out what I can take with me and then go from there depending on space.

What’s on your list of NEEDs for traveling for races?

I got it!

I got my NYC Marathon bib# and corral placement!!!πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

I’ve been so stressed about where I was going to start for the NYC Marathon. I started to think I was going crazy. I didn’t want to be in the last wave….and be freaked out by the straggler bus, so my wish came true. I’m in wave 3 (I’m not a fast runner) and I’ll be starting at 10:40am.

Now to figure out what the weather will be so I can pick out my outfit. Yes, a sparkle skirt and visor will be involved. πŸ˜€ I’m hoping that it’s not too cold and not windy. I would love to be able to run in clothes that I run in normally and not have to dress in layers. I get so hot when I run and I would really like to be able to run comfortably.

Anyone else get Wave 3 Green? Oh and I need song suggestions!!!

Sorry for the break…Here’s a quick recap!

I’m sorry for the break. Lots of things have been happening and had some family visits that needed to take priority. So I hope that I can return and continue documenting my journeys here.

First I took an impromptu trip with my Mom to Swarthmore, PA 2 weeks ago. My very young (96 years young) grandmother wasn’t doing so well and had been in the hospital. So Saturday morning my mom and I drove up to see her and to see how she was doing. My 1 Aunt lives next door and the other drove in from upstate NY. So much fun to see them. And as a surprise, my cousin from WV drove over and we got to hang out which was also fun. He and I haven’t had that before since he’s 10 years older than me and so we’ve been at different points in our lives until recently. It’s always nice to be around family. My grandmother is doing OK and we were able to help out a little bit. For being 96 she’s doing quite well, still in her own home, but now has a lot of help that comes in.

While I was up there, I had a 7 mile training run to complete. I got it done, but holy hills. IMG_5645I didn’t realize how many hills that small town had. It was quite amusing though, Friday afternoon, I was Google Mapping my plan of attack for the 7 miles and it wouldn’t let me put in any more points or change the route and I only had 6.5 miles. So my mom and I went for a drive that Saturday afternoon, to try and track the 7 miles and see how far I would actually have to go on Sunday. I got up on Sunday and started out. I stopped several times to take pictures. I don’t know how many more trips I’ll be taking up to PA and so I wanted to get things that would remind me of the quaint town. And I walked way more than I wanted, but I got the 7 miles in and even though it was a very slow 7 miles, it was still 7 miles.

IMG_5680Last week was filled with lots of Orangetheory Fitness. And I started going Monday through Thursday to help with training for the marathon. They were also having a Dri-Tri this past weekend and I had signed up for it only thinking after the fact and thinking what in the world did I get myself into. The tri consisted of a 2000 meter row, 300 body weight exercises, and then a 5k run. It took me about 56 minutes to complete and I got my legs back around 2.5 miles of the run. It was a fun experience for sure. I definitely had to pace myself on the row, and I’m a horrible rower, but I’m getting better. The next one will be in September so we’ll see if I venture that way again.

Today I had the distinct honor on being featured on my fellow Sweat Pink sister’s blog. You should go check it out here.Β She even spells her name the correct way, with an I-N, instead of E-N. Although I’m sure we’ve both had our fair share of misspellings. I love her blog. It’s been so much fun getting to know her and what she likes. Go check it out!

I hope you have an excellent start to the week. Sorry for my absence. Here’s to another week of marathon training and cross training. I have to build up my mental attitude for my 9 mile run this weekend. That’s going to be fun! It’s going to be in the best place ever! Cape Cod!

Slump = New Adventures

Ok I admit it, my mind has gotten the better of me lately and therefore my running has been in a slump. I came back from my company’s trip and needed to get out of my rut like no other. I was also at a point where I didn’t like the way I looked and to be quite honest, my clothes weren’t fitting like I remembered (this has been happening for the last year or so, I’ve just been in denial about it. Simply saying the dryer shrunk my clothes or some other excuse πŸ™‚ )

So I entered last week on a mission. I started cross training and spinning in addition to my training for the NYC Marathon. The running was becoming mundane and I knew I needed to change it up but also change up my working out and put some new things in there. I started this one fitness program that has you on the treadmill doing hills and intervals and pushing your pace to points where you get really uncomfortable. Some of my running buddies have seen some improvements in their running abilities and speed so I’m really looking forward to that. AND I’ve added a spin class to change it up as well to still get my heart rate up. I’ll tell you what though, this last week kicked my butt.

I had a 4 miler with a few of my running buddies Saturday evening. It was HOT! They gave us ice water at the water stop and it totally made me feel like I was going to get sick. So as a result I walked most of mile 2. Not the best but that’s ok. I then walked a song, ran a song for the remainder of the race. As a result I was a very slow 50 minutes for 4 miles. UGH! Oh well. I managed. But let me tell you, I was so freaking sore on Sunday and Monday. I went to my cross training class on Monday and had a hard time running and doing the exercises. But I did it. And last night the run kicked my but. Try running .6 miles at a decent pace at a 6% incline. Wowzers! I love it don’t get me wrong! But hot dang!

I keep looking at my arms and legs and think I see a change. BUT it’s only been a week so how can a change happen that fast? Yeah it’s pretty much all mental at that point. I hope to see some more changes and better changes in the future. Only time will tell.

Hello There Wednesday…

I have to admit, I was really defeated after yesterday’s very hot and humid and quite ugly run. I didn’t wander far from my mind at all how bad the run was. I didn’t even get my workout stuff together last night I was so discouraged. Anyways, I got up this morning knowing I had 3 miles to go and pushed myself out the door so that I could go ahead and get it over with. Horrible, I know right?

I can’t say that I had many expectations for this mornings run. One of those things that you just have to trudge through to get it done put the miles in the books and get on with your day. I got to the office to meet up with my running partner and we headed out to do 3 miles. He’s great because he lets me dictate the pace…not always a good thing but he’s one cool dude staying with me and making small talk while we make or way down the trail. Today was just like any other day on the trail, it was cool, and not humid. So much different than yesterday. Before I knew it we were half way done with our run. We turned around to head back to the office and I had to stop since I could feel a blister forming on top of my foot from the seam on my socks. First time that’s happened so we can check that box off. I fixed what I could and then continued on our way. Mr. speedy next to me decided to pick up the pace and I was trying to keep up as I already slow him down enough and I looked down at my watch to see what pace we were going and we were going at a 9:15 pace. WHOA! Um slow down…so we did and kept it at a reasonable pace for the remaining part. Once we cross the last road I usually pick it up and try to finish at a faster pace than the rest of the run.

We got off the trail stopped our watches and I had set a new PR for fastest 5k! It was only by 2 seconds, but still…new PR for me! Dance time. HAHA. It was a great morning for a run and I defiantly didn’t have any expectations to get a PR. So here’s to hoping for another great run tomorrow morning/afternoon/evening. I hope that I can have a similar run tomorrow!

Cheers!