Its been almost two weeks since I ran the Athens marathon. I'm over the jet lag from being in Greece (which lasted much longer than I thought it would). I'm still figuring out a running and workout schedule. And I still can't stop thinking and talking about the marathon. Its is strange for me that the race was my slowest marathon and probably the slowest minute per kilometre pace I've ever ran in a race and yet I wouldn't change a thing about the way I ran it.
Almost everyone I talk to gets the sense of accomplishment as well. For me this marathon wasn't about running it in a specific time or running the marathon distance or even establishing myself as a marathoner. It was about running for the sheer enjoyment of it. Very rarely does running for fun happen for me. There is a point during a run when the pain or fatigue of running kicks in and I want to quit. Most of the time I push through it or the discomfort fades and my endorphins kick in and I carry on. On some runs and especially races, the duration of the pain lasts much longer and I give up.
I know the reason why the marathon in Greece felt so amazing was because it was in Greece. I gave myself permission to rest when I needed. I didn't look at my watch to check my progress. I simply allowed myself to be present in the race. As a result, I will always remember this marathon and have feeling of accopmlishment with me. For the first time since I have started racing I finally get the fact that I don't have to prove myself to anyone but me. It only took 3 marathons in just over a year and travelling across the world to find it... but I get it.
Does this mean I'll stop racing - hell no! I've ran 9 races this year and I'm seriously contemplating running this one http://www.boxingdayrun.ca/. To make it an even 10. My competitive edge is always just under the surface and I want to be the front of the the pack in pretty much every run. But I'm learning I don't have to be first in every single time and some days the best runs are when you can be with your girls and chat.
After all of these deep thoughts I'll share my finish line shots from Athens. These are the pictures my husband took. The first shot, I am just coming into the Olympic Stadium. I was 5 minutes faster than when I had told my husband I would be in, yet he was optimistic that I would finish faster than I had thought. I was also running on my own. I had lost Rick and Tracey and there should have been three of us coming in together. So the fact that he saw me at this point is pretty amazing.
Here I am running in on the Olympic track. To me this was pretty phenomenal that I was running on the same surface world class runners had competed on.
In this shot, I have just heard Dan yell my name. It was the first time I had heard English spoken in quite a while and the first time I heard someone cheering my name.
I really wanted a shot of me with my arms in the air. I haven't had the best luck with race course photographers, so I turned around and ran backwards so Dan could get a picture of me. After the shot, I danced my way to the finish. This, my friends is what running should feel like.