I did it. My first marathon experience.
It was in 2006 or 2007, when I started running. I still remember my first 500 meters at the river Vardar in Skopje during the hot summer evenings. After 500 meters I had to walk and then run 4-500 meters more. And that was it. At that time, I though I will never be run more than few kilometers in my life. But I reached 5 kilometers already the next year. And that was my goal, to keep that distance and run regularly to feel fit.
But then at the end of summer 2013, I increased my distance. First to 7, to 10, and then about 15 kilometers. It was an amazing experience. So I set up a goal to run a half-marathon. And I did it in the spring of 2014. I though that it was the longest distance that my body can handle on a single run. I was still sure that I can not finish a marathon in my life. Always thought that it was a crazy idea. But the half-marathons continued, and they are so much fun. I completed so far 12 races. I even reached a quite good pace this year in Madrid (1 hour 33 minutes).
And then I needed a bigger challenge. It came in my mind that I should attempt the marathon… Something I never thought I can do even though I ran regularly for so many years. So, in the spring this year I decided and registered for the authentic marathon from Marathon to Athens. I just said, I should at least try.
I will publish soon my training plan, that I did for the marathon in a new post. This may help some people how to organize their training, but keep in mind that you should always listen to your body. Plans are there to guide you and motivate you, but if your body says you should take a day rest then do.
As I am quite fit in the last 2-3 years, I decided to start official training 3 months before the race. Even though for first time runners most of the recommendations are that you should start at least 5-6 months in advance. But as I said, as already fit, I think three months was enough for my goal. In the last 2 year I am doing regularly sports 3 to 5 times a week. I combine training in the gym with light weights, doing some functional courses, HIIT training, and at least two times cardio training per week.
I did not follow any special program. Generally, I always tried to fill my carbs before the long runs that I did once a week usually on Sundays. I also tried to eat at least 100 g of proteins per day (about 1.3 times per kg weight). In the last 10 days before the race, I tried to eat as much as possible.
As this race follows the original marathon trace, it is a huge event. They have six different races during the four days and a total of 50 000 runners and more than 3 000 volunteers. The marathon starts in the town of Marathon, and finishes at the ancient Panathenaic stadium in Athens. The race starts at 9 am. There is an organized transport from Athens early in the morning. I stood up at 4:15 am and took the bus at 6 am. In Marathon, we arrived one hour later.
The organization was quite good. Everything was well described in the magazine that the organizer sent about two weeks in advance. I arrived in Athens on the 8th November. The race was on the 11th, and I left on the 12th. Nice thing from the organizer was that for all these days I had a free public transportation. At the airport they had a pick up point for the public transportation cards.
At the start point there ware markings for everything, such as dropping personal bags, toilets, starting sections, etc. During the race there ware refreshment stations at every 2.5 km. The trace is relatively flat but there are few hilly sections up and down. It is also quite monotone, so it may get boring at some parts. It goes through typical Greek semi-rural area until the entrance of Athens. At the start of the race we even had a herd of sheep running next to us on the street until they could control them.
I had mostly good run. No critical or any painful moments. Last 5-6 km however were difficult. I decreased my pace and two times I did small walking break of 1-2 minutes and one stretching break for my legs. In the first 20 km I kept my pace at 5 minutes per kilometer, and then I decreased to about 6 minutes per kilometer. My final time was 3 hours, 53 minutes and 27 seconds. I really happy I could finish my first marathon at all and even under 4 hours.
Filming the run
Before the marathon, I was checking some videos of people running at this event, as I wanted to get some impressions on the track and the atmosphere. There were few that I found but did not find one that covers the complete track. So, I decided to film my experience and share it. Here is the compressed video that I made with GoPro 5 Black hanged on my head.