Sunday, April 3, 2016

Alexander the Great 10k in Thessaloniki

I had set an unrealistic goal of running the marathon and I’m glad I recognized my limitations. The 10k is hard enough. Running through the streets of Thessaloniki today, my stamina was pretty good, but every time I was tempted to stop I reminded myself that my name and time would be engraved on my medal. Every time I became painfully aware of a blister on the side of my foot or the onset of menstrual cramps, I told myself Alexander the Great could have run a 10k with a sword sticking out of his chest so I had nothing to complain about. Coming into the city, I saw one arch after another and mistook each one for the finish line. These fake finish lines added to my frustration and improved my time, but not my disposition.

My 68-year-old mom crossed the finish line shortly after me. She loves Alexander the Great so much that she would travel all the way to Greece from Oregon just to win a medal with his face on it. Growing up, I remember she papered her walls with running bibs. Running is second nature to her, and a very tiny bit of running DNA seems to have been passed down to me. 

Last night , in an effort to preserve our strength, my mom and I went to see Eddie the Eagle at a small cinema blocks from our hotel. I had no idea I would leave the theater feeling confident and inspired about taking part in the Alexander the Great 10k. Like Eddie, I hear an occasional nagging voice telling me I’m not an athlete, but the nagging voice is my own. Eddie Edwards, the eccentric and recklessly determined ski jumper, was discouraged by just about everyone, but he competed in the 1988 winter Olympics anyway.

He’s a relatable character for me, even though he outnerds me by a mile. I had just bought myself an olive green dress, which I noticed was the same color as his jumpsuit in the beginning of the film, when he is trying to teach himself to ski jump and barreling down steep slopes like a loose cannonball. Hugh Jackman, as the rugged American hotheaded coach, is reason enough to see this film, but the beautiful message that hope conquers all is the biggest takeaway. I loved this film.

The wonderful surge of victory I expected to feel after the race didn't kick in right away. I needed to go back to the hotel and shower and rest before a feeling of pride could sink in. 

Thessaloniki is a beautiful city and running along the Aegean sea will be a long-lasting memory for me. This experience is a good reminder that every goal that grows to fruition starts out as a tiny seed. My plan started in September last year when I googled flat marathons in Europe. I came, I saw, I didn't exactly conquer, but I did see my idea become reality. 

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