Summer is upon us in Greece so in order to get a long run in one needs to get up at the crack of dawn. Not my favourite thing to be having my alarm set for 6.30am on a Sunday morning (I will have to wake up even earlier as the temperatures rise throughout the summer months). When it went off last Sunday I didn’t know what day it was and why it was ringing! I quickly realised and hit the snooze button for 10 minutes. I persuaded myself to get up, got ready, took the dogs out and in about an hour I was pressing start on my Garmin. I took my usual route at the south coast of Athens.
I had planned to run about 10 or 11 miles, I really should have been running a half marathon distance, as I believe it needs to be done once every three-four weeks, but recently I have been feeling a bit lazy and the 13.1 miles seem so much harder than the more manageable 10m. I felt well that morning and off I went. The first kilometers were passing easily and I was approaching the 6km mark, which is where I had planned to turn back towards the car. Just before that I passed a group of 3 runners from my running club Efklis, waved and said good morning. They were running a bit slower than me and chatting away. I kept running the opposite way for a little bit longer and then turned to head back, looking to see how far ahead they were. I got a glimpse of the bright-coloured club tops and aimed to catch them. I did so and as I approached I slowed down and exchanged a few words with them. They were out for a 14 mile run! I left them behind and kept running towards my car where I stopped for a minute to replenish my water bottles before I headed towards the very hilly 3-mile part of the run. I saw my friends just passing as I was pouring water over my head and shoulders to cool me down and I ran after them. We climbed the first hill together, I stayed with them for about 1km, chatting pleasantly about life, the universe, our children. I was having fun but I was thinking at the back of my mind that this would cost me and I would go around in a terrible time compared to my other runs and that would upset me. I eventually said bye once again just before the big killer hill, I had to give it my all.
The kilometer I ran with company sure was a bit slower than the others, but as I kept going once again on my own, I found that I was climbing the hills much better than normal, I was keeping good pace.
I reached the edge of the cape and turned back, crossed my friends once again (they were not that far behind, they were running well while chatting the whole entire time!), still running well and tackling all the undulations with determination. I reached the car, I had done a bit less than 11 miles, which is what I had planned to do. I felt great and felt I could go on for a little bit longer. After all, the others were running 14 miles and it would be a shame to not do the half marathon distance and have it lingering over my head for next time. So I kept going, I did 2km in one direction and 2km running back. On my way back the other runners and I crossed each other one last time and they shouted “why are you still running”? I shouted back “because of you, you inspired me” and they all cheered and waved and off we all went, tired and hot and thirsty, with a smile on our face.
I stopped my Garmin at 21.1km, 13.1 miles, I had completed the distance in a good for me time! Meeting up with people broke the long run into bits for me. Running behind them to catch up with them, having a bit of a chat and a laugh, being inspired by the fact they were running longer than me made me run 30% longer than I had planned. The great thing about it all was that I was back home by 10am having completed my long run for the week and having the day free to enjoy with my family!