... the only thing that remains to remind me that I was indeed sick and exactly how bad my pre-marathon flu was is a nagging chesty cough that simply won't go away. I can't believe I still haven't fully recovered, but then I knew that running a marathon with a flu still there is not the wisest thing to do.
And as I am now slowly taking up courses towards a coaching license here in the UK, if an athlete of mine wanted to do what I did last Sunday, it would definitely be a no-no. Simply too risky and bound to take a heavy toll on the body. I mean you already have no hope of a good performance anyway, so what's the point?
Yes, I know that it is a great dissapointment, especially when you have invested four or five months of your training and some of the rest of your life too, in preparing for this particular race. And when you have worked so hard towards a PB and all. Yes, I know. But life is tough and s''' happens. And when it does you just have to deal with it the best way that you can.
So, I definitely would not have entered the marathon race in Athens had it not been for the 2500 years from the Battle of Marathon anniversary. It was a commemorative edition and I simply had to be there. The week before the race was a nightmare in terms of how bad I was feeling because of the cold and also in terms of how stressed I was about whether I would make it to the start line or not. The truth is race week was a battle against the clock in itself. I think that mentally when I started the marathon I was completely exhausted. That's why today I don't recall running a marathon last Sunday, I was so tuned off rather in tune with my body. Just getting to the finish line was all that I wanted.
Luckily I managed to reach it without any major mishaps. I stopped and walked three times, just making sure that I got some rest to keep me going. After the 5th km I stopped looking at my stopwatch more or less, and just kept on moving. A lovely volunteer gave me her cap at the 10th km when I had started to feel the sun hitting me hard. My breathing was just barely controlled but even worse were my legs on the uphill sections. That's when I realised how much the flu has taken out of me, how weak I was. I slowed down considerably after that, perhaps even more than I really needed just to be on the safe side.
Reaching the Panathinaikon Stadium (for the fourth time so far in my life!), was a hugely exhilarating moment. It is one of these things that you have to live at least once in your lifetime. The only reason perhaps why I would recommend to anyone to try running a marathon at least once. This time round, I had no worries for time so I celebrated running to the finish line by waving my arms to the amazing crowds, jumping up and down and doing all sorts of crazy stuff, like a child!
It was all over, I had managed to get to the finish line, about 35 minutes later that I had originally hoped for, but managed to do it nonetheless.
The medal, all shiny and gold and huge, truly a commemorative one, rightly has gone to my Mom, who did everything she could to "revive" me when I landed in Athens on Wednesday evening so weak that I could not even drive home. Four days of chicken soup, hot baths with eukaluptus oil, alcohol rubbing, sitting by the fireplace, drinking fresh pomegranate and orange juice, gulping huge amounts of vit c, echinacea, ginseng, tonotil, and what have you, did quite a good job, considering.
Now that I am back in Oxford I can't help feeling a bit of dissapointment at the outcome of this marathon preparation, and I still feel that I have a bit of an unfinished business with the marathon. This was going to be the last one for a while, but now I think there is room for one more, provided it is not too far away in the future. So, maybe another race may be coming up soon which would hopefully capitalise on my existing fitness and the aerobic boost of running a slow marathon that was in essence a longer long run.
We shall see.