Last Sunday (April 23rd), I laced up my brand-new pink Vaporflies. I walked almost a kilometer from my hotel in Hamburg to the Hamburg Mese, where the HASPA Marathon 2023 would occur. I was a little bit nervous. Yes, it was my fifth time lacing up for a marathon, but it was over three years since my last one in Valencia in December 2019. Covid plus a couple of injuries left me without a marathon for this long. Even though my training went like a breeze the week before the marathon, nasty flu caught up with me and left me wondering if I could recover in time.
Monday before the race was my first day without a fever but very weak and 3 kilograms down in three days. My stomach was shaky, and my breathing wasn’t perfect. I took medicine and vitamins to help me gain back my strength and maybe recover my breathing for the race. I tried to do my last interval training on Tuesday afternoon but couldn’t complete my set. Thursday morning, I was feeling better. We took an early flight from Athens to Hamburg, and in the afternoon, I ran 8km in the lake. I was better but not good. My heart rate was 10–15 beats over my usual rate for the distance and the pace. At least I felt confident I could run something not granted a few days ago. Saturday’s relaxing run and 100-meter small intervals went ok. Not great, but at least I felt confident I could run the race.
And we are back on Sunday morning. People everywhere with their garmins on their wrists and their running shoes on. You could feel the energy. Damn, I missed the starting grid so much. The race starts in 45 minutes. I meet with friends, and we leave our bags in the designated area — last checks. Vaseline to help us not burn, checking the socks are tight, and doing stretches to loosen up. We separate, and we go to our starting blocks. I go to block F, and I look around for familiar faces. I see a couple of guys that wear jerseys from Cyprus. I talk to them. We wish each other good luck and focus on the race that is about to start.
The time comes. The race is on. We walk/run to the starting line, pass the start lines and push the start button on our garmins. I’m trying to find clear running space for the first kilometer and keep up with my target pace of 5:20 per kilometer. Around the 1 km mark, I find my rhythm. I feel strong muscularly, but my breathing is faster…