37th Podcast

In this episode of the Podcast It's a long road I will describe to you what it is like to run in the London Marathon, one of the largest and most popular Marathons in the world and in the series of 6 World Marathon Majors.


Hello my friends,

I don't know what to say about this Marathon! Fantastic dreamer, much better than I expected, worth every second of sweat I shed, it impressed me and stayed etched in my heart and mind not because I set a personal record, but because I experienced it incredibly intensely together with the thousands of spectators from early on the road and applauded the efforts of all the runners. But let's start things from the beginning because I have a lot to say!

Then her Boston in April 2022 the next Marathon in the series of 6 World Marathon Majors, it was that of London almost 6 months later and more specifically on October 02, 2022. Of course, during this entire period of 6 months, alongside the preparation for the Marathon, I did not sit idly by and do some small things.

The first and best thing is that I continued in the pool the 2 weekly swimming trainings since, as I wrote before, I already had the germ for the triathlon. But the big profit and my great joy came when during my vacation I wanted to test myself in the sea and actually see if the efforts of all those months in the pool paid off. So, even to my own surprise, I found that where I could barely swim 50 to 100 meters, now I was writing 2 kilometers and even with relative ease. So throughout the summer of 2022 I didn't stop swimming and I included it especially during the holidays in my daily schedule and training.

Also after Boston and until the London Marathon I ran two more races Ultra with a difference of almost three months from each other, but also a half-marathon in Serres where even though the course was a bit difficult I managed to set a personal record with 1.38, thus showing myself in view of the two upcoming Marathons that I was in a very good physical condition.

As for the two matches Ultra that I ran, the first race was on May 06-07 o  Euchideos Athlos 107.5 kilometers, which I ran together with my friend ultramarathon Tasso Karagiannidis. I have talked about this fight in detail in an earlier Podcast. It is a historic international ultra-distance race, of high standards, particularly difficult, and demanding, perhaps the most difficult in Greece on asphalt, (a mountain asphalt race) that requires a high level of ultra-distance athletes. THE A noble feat, 107.5 km Plataies-Delphi, or vice versa, is organized every year, and takes place consistently, on the 2nd weekend of May every year, while at the same time the double Euchideos is held, which is 215 km. The historical battle of Plataea and the feat of the runner Euchidas, who ran from Plataea to Delphi and returned carrying the sacred light of Delphi for purification and a new beginning immediately after the battle, are in themselves the motivation for every athlete to want to run this historic route. I have even made a separate episode number 18 for this match.

Immediately after, and more specifically on July 30-31, I ran for the second time on the 5th International road "In the footsteps of heroes» from Thespies to Thermopylae 102 km, a difficult and demanding race especially due to the time of year and the very high temperatures. A fight that I describe in detail in an earlier one Podcast on episode 8, but also for this particular one I made another episode (Podcast number 25) since I wanted to expand more on the emotions I felt during the ride and really convey to you as well as I can how I experienced the approximately 13 hours of continuous running.

In general, however, at that time I was a bit confused and had intense inner searches about how to proceed in the future in my sports activities. On the one hand I wanted so much to do a triathlon and reach my goal of doing an IRONMAN, but on the other hand the pain and the magic of long distances was a germ inside me that wouldn't leave me alone and I wanted like everything I do in life me, to take it to the ultimate which was my qualification and participation in a Spartathlon race. A difficult goal, but it had entered my mind very strongly and I was now also looking for the matches that gave you the qualification. In my head, my goals were a little confused, I wanted to do everything, I felt like I didn't have time and in general I was a little stressed and I changed goals and ideas every now and then.

So having done an intense sports semester with many activities and many kilometers on my feet, it was time to run the London Marathon, where I would also try to set a personal record that meant a time better than the difficult Boston Marathon. Of course, if something didn't go well, I didn't care at all, since the big goal of every Marathon race is the finish and that alone. Simply when combined with a good performance is ideal.

7 weeks before the match my training program they included the following:

7 weeks before: training time – 5h 10' in total 5 trainings each different with Long Run on Sunday 2h 20' all at an aerobic-relaxed pace.
6 weeks before: training time – 5h 30' in total 5 different training sessions each with the Sunday Long Run being a 1h 30' interval training.
5 weeks before: training time – 7h 10' in total 5 trainings each different with Long Run on Sunday 2h 45' all at an aerobic-relaxed pace.
4 weeks before: training time – 4h 40' in total 5 different training sessions each with Sunday's Long Run being 1h 20' interval training.
3 weeks before: training time – 6h 05' in total 5 trainings each different with Long Run on Sunday 2h 30' all at aerobic pace.
2 weeks before: training time – 5h 35' in total 5 trainings each different with Long Run on Sunday 1h 35' all at aerobic pace.
During the week of the Marathon, I did 4 training sessions of a total duration of 2h 55' with a 25 minute leisurely run the day before the race.

London out of this whole trip of 6 Marathons was the only city I had visited before. Berlin, Chicago, Boston, New York and Tokyo I was going to for the first time, but I had been to London before. In general, in recent years and due to the fact that my daughter studied and lived in England, I had visited the country several times and was familiar with the habits and lifestyle of the British.

London is an easy destination and feasible for everyone, especially with the multitude of flights and low prices available from Greece. In fact, in some periods the cost of tickets is so low that it is more beneficial to go to London than to travel to a nearby city in Greece! So for me and because it was an easy destination, my whole visit there happened like lightning. I traveled with my wife from Thessaloniki to London on Friday 30 September and we returned together on Monday morning 03 October. Throughout our stay there we spent it with our daughter who came and found us in London and stayed with us for a few days. If we consider Sunday as a day dedicated to the Marathon race, then the only days I had available to do some walking and also go to the EXPO to pick up my number were half of Friday and Saturday. On Friday to finish I intended to go to the race exhibition and look around, so Saturday was left where I had to fit into one day what I could and wanted to see in London, but at the same time keep myself as rested as possible it is done Very little time and that's why I didn't visit many attractions, which as I said before I had visited with my family in the past. 

So on Friday we arrived in London at 2 in the afternoon and went straight to the hotel where our daughter and my boyfriend were already waiting for us Marathon champion and travel agent George Karagiannis with his wife Efi Papadopoulou and this former athletics champion and first Greek woman 6 Star Finisher. After settling in, we immediately left for the race EXPO where there were not too many people and the service and receiving of the race number was very quick and without delays. Right after we went around the exhibition to see various products and maybe buy something but personally I was not excited by almost anything, while the exhibition itself I can say was poor and without a large number of exhibitors. I only bought a t-shirt like this to remember the race and we left to go back to the hotel since it was already evening and the fatigue was great from the whole day and the travel.

The next day Saturday I woke up early to do one last leisurely 25 minute run, straight after breakfast with my family and friends and then a London city tour. I thought since time is limited to take advantage of what all the major cities of the world have and it takes you on a quick and leisurely tour of all the sights. Hop on Hop off buses. So we pretty much spent our whole day getting on and off the bus where it had a total of 3 different lines and a frequency of every 20 minutes. We enjoyed it very much and we hardly got tired at all. Of course, it is still not possible to see all the sights, but at least we saw the most important and relaxing ones above all.

However, if you have time apart from the bus ride, it is worth visiting as many as you can, such as the famous Big Ben clock, the House of Parliament, the famous historical building Westminster Abbey, the Horse Guards where if you succeed and the changing of the guard, a fantastic scene with horses and riders, even better, the famous Millennium Bridge and Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral with its great view from above, the fantastic Vintage market and paradise of street food, Camden Market, the Sky Garden with its wonderful view, of course the royal residence of Buckingham (Buckingham Palace), a boat ride on the Thames, the landmark of the city Trafalgar Square (Trafalgar Square) which at that time was full with demonstrators and flags in support of the people of Iran, the wonderful area ideal for walking, shopping and full of theaters Covent Garden, the amazing Natural History Museum, Madame Tussauds, Oxford Street the most famous shopping street, Notting Hill, Hyde Park, the famous Harrods shopping center, the famous British Museum where there are also the Parthenon marbles and of course the London Eye, where the view of all of London is amazing. I may be forgetting or not including some of the attractions, but really London is worth visiting for at least a week and you will be surprised how much there is to do and see.

It is also good to buy the London Pass, where you have free and fast access to more than 60 attractions in London, while the cheapest and most efficient way to move around London is by underground and using the Oyster card.

Basically in the program as I am a football fan I wanted to include a football match, since that day had three matches from the Premier League, but the fact that I did not have time, that it would eat up my whole day and that I had watched in the recent past already some Premier League games, I said I'll leave it for another time when I have more time.

London as a city is enchanting and everything I can say and describe is little. One of the greatest features of London is the diversity of its population, since you can find all the races of the world, hear over 300 languages, in a city where some of the richest people in the world live. One of the greatest metropolises on earth with a rich history, a great cultural heritage, a major business and financial center and countless sights to admire. It attracts many tourists from all over the world like a magnet and is one of the most loved and popular European destinations. Who wouldn't want to see up close among all the other attractions, a red double-decker bus, a red telephone booth, the palace guard with the huge hat, the world's oldest subway with the famous Underground sign?

So after the short tour of one day in London, in the evening early at the hotel for a light meal, preparation of all things for the next day of the race and early to bed for the best and highest quality rest possible. Concerning the my diet plan once again I followed specific diet and it was the same one I always do before a big race, once or twice a year at most. Carbohydrate deprivation for 4 days and carb loading for the last 3 days before the race which includes the following protocol and the same for the last 3 days. So base it on my own carbohydrate program which of course for some people doesn't make much sense, in some recent studies it has shown that it doesn't make any difference, but for some others it works and some people follow it faithfully. Anyway nutritionally before a race the last three days are very important and mine were as follows:

Breakfast: 6 slices of toast with turkey, lettuce and tomato
Tithe: 10 rice wafers and 2 bananas or 10 rice wafers with jam and 1 banana.
Lunch: 150 grams of chicken, 500 grams of rice or spaghetti and a salad
Afternoon: 30 grams of protein and 7 slices of bread with honey or jam.
Dinner: 10 rice wafers with honey or jam.

This gives about 3,300 calories per day. A small increase in weight should not worry you because it will be lost after the race.

So with these and with these and with our short walk to London the big day of the race has now arrived. So Sunday morning, waking up about 3 hours before the race, breakfast at the hotel which was 2 slices of bread with honey, a cereal bar and a banana. At breakfast, of course, I got a shock from the many people, since there were hundreds of runners who did the same thing, so you can understand it was a bad mess. In fact, there are in all its glory the incredibly countless nutritional approaches you see before a race. Another ate yogurt, another bananas, another omelettes, another tortillas, another traditional English Breakfast with bacon, sausages and beans and in general for me it was very interesting, since I saw everything and in fact at least from the outside of very good and fit athletes eating things off the record. So conclusion? Eat what makes you feel good and comfortable for the race. Personally and because I know I never have a stomach problem and because in general and from the Ultra races I run I have no problem eating something light even an hour before the race, I did it again and ate another cereal bar for extra energy . In general, for Marathon races before and during I have almost the same nutritional plan energetically and I never had the slightest problem.

I would have with me in the fight 5 gels and 5 saltsticks. Two hours before the race I drink 500ml of water with electrolytes and another same bottle half an hour before, as well as a gel a quarter of an hour before the start of the race. So I take the remaining 4 every 45 minutes or so, the same as the salt sticks. The only problem here with hydration is that before the start you will definitely need a toilet.

For my hydration I would take advantage of most of the gas stations which for this race totaled 17 stations. At 4 stations, more specifically at kilometers 15, 24, 34 and 37, he had Lucozade, while gelato was given out at two stations, at kilometers 22 and 31, although I had my own and would not use them. However, I drank Lucozade at all 4 stations where they were served. In all the rest a total of 11 stations had water that was given to the runners as 250ml bottles. Anyway, the water thing is one of the most important and unforgettable things of the Marathon, since it was the best thing I had ever encountered. You could have the bottles very conveniently in the palm of your hand, since their shape was perfect and the capacity was only 250ml, but the most important thing was that they had a mouth in front, so that after you put it in your mouth and squeeze the bottle, you immediately had all the water inside your mouth without a single drop being lost. Really great and helped a lot!

As for the weather what can I say! Unbelievable and the best we could come across for a Marathon race. In the previous days, seeing the weather forecast, but also a day before with an official announcement, the organization informed all the runners that it will rain on Sunday, so we should prepare accordingly. Of course, on the day of the race, not only did it not rain at all, but it was very nice cloudy, about 15 degrees and towards the end of the race, the sun came out. Perfect weather for running!

THE London Marathon is an annual marathon that has been held since 1981 when it was founded by athletes Chris Brasher and John Disley. In this first Marathon held on March 29, 1981, there were approximately 20,000 entries. 6,747 were accepted and 6,255 crossed the finish line on Constitution Hill.

Usually takes place in April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic two years in 2021 and 2022 it was moved to October and more specifically the one I ran on October 02. In 2020, although the Marathon was postponed due to COVID-19, the organizers announced that they received a total of 457,861 applications, which is a record number. In 2019, a total of 42,906 athletes participated in the Marathon race and 42,549 finished, a record number. Since 2006, the race has been part of the World Marathon Majors, featuring six of the top marathon races in the world. There is a significant charitable aspect to this race, with participants helping to raise over £1 billion since its inception. In fact, in the London Marathon in 2019, the astronomical amount of 66.4 million pounds was collected for charity, which was also the highest amount ever collected in an event.

The London Marathon is known for the great support offered by the thousands of spectators and the fact that the entire route takes place within the city of London contributes to this. Just like in Chicago where I ran, it is a very good opportunity to see the city and its attractions in this way. There are countless times that if you have planned and written your name on the front of your shirt, many people, reading your name, mention it in a strong way and try to push you psychologically. I distinctly remember a certain John who was running behind me for a while and must have heard his name over 20 times, at least while we were together!

In general, the support you receive is unique and if nothing else it pushes you psychologically. It is also characterized by the very strange and crazy costumes worn by many runners who are either running for some charity or to break a Guinness record. So it's not surprising to see Batman or even Superman running alongside you, but everyone seems to be having fun, especially those wearing those crazy costumes, making themselves stand out and not looking too competitive in terms of time. their. They're just looking to have as much fun as possible. What made a special impression, however, is six people running together in something like a boat, someone dressed as a tree, another as a bear, another carrying something like a library and others that I don't even remember.

The course is flat and follows the River Thames, starting in Blackheath and finishing at The Mall. So the start and finish are in different places. Since the first marathon, the course has undergone little change. The paradox of this Marathon is that it has three different starting points. The red, green and blue start and depending on what color it says on your number you start from the corresponding starting point.

The 'red start' at South Greenwich Park on Charlton Way, the 'green start' at St John's Park and the 'blue start' at Shooter's Hill Road. The three routes converge after 4.5km at Woolwich, near the Royal Artillery Barracks. I started from the 3rd wave of the green line.

So with tremendous precision in their timing and based on what was written, my wave opened at 09:38 to 09:48 and we started at 09:51. That's exactly how it happened! The start was given, and since I was feeling good I poured out with the rest of the runners to cover 42 kilometers. I was hoping to break my record and that's why I was thinking of going at a constant pace of 5 minutes per kilometer for the entire duration of the race. In fact, before the race I was telling my friends there and also my family that I would achieve a time of 3:29:59. Of course, for something better I wouldn't say no and because I was generally in very good shape I said at the last minute to try it and that's why I set my pace at 4:45 to 4:50.

The good thing about this starting system is that there was no crazy crowding, as it happens in most races. Of course, some zig-zags were needed again, but this story with the three starts I can say that it was particularly good and it was perfect since from the beginning I could have the pace I wanted.

Just before the 5th kilometer is where the athletes of the green, red and blue starting line come together and the only relatively downhill part of the route begins, where most of the runners drift away from the rest and it's like running at a snail's pace. I passed the first five with 24:15 and an average pace of 04:51

After we pass in front of the Old Royal Naval College somewhere in the 10th kilometer where the route narrows a bit you meet the Cutty Sark, a point where the presence of the people who constantly encourage you is strong. That's where my friends, my wife and my daughter were waiting for me and after they called me and I saw them, I got a bit of a mental boost and continued at the same pace. Crossing the 10th kilometer was in 48:47 with an average pace of 04:55. So taking ¼ of the race I felt good and had absolutely no problems.

Then and somewhere just before the middle of the race is where you come across the famous Tower Bridge and pass over it to get out on the opposite side of the River Thames. It was at this point that we met the first runners who were coming back and still had a few kilometers to go. Just after the bridge we are also in the middle of the course and you meet runners and spectators on both sides of the road. I completed the half marathon in 1:43:42 and I was within my goal. However, the passage through Tower Bridge was simply enchanting and there were too many people there. Somewhere there, my wife and my daughter were waiting for me again, but due to the many people and the chaos, I neither saw them nor heard their voices.

Throughout the route there were also several stations with showers where you ran through them to cool off. In total it had 6 showers and special signs about 200 meters before you approach them. I was also very impressed by the different types of music I heard during the route. Bands, whole choirs, were some of the musical groups I remember. On the other hand, the passage in front of various pubs was awesome since the music was at the end and everyone outside was drinking beer, which I can't say as soon as I saw it, I was jealous and wanted to do it too! After all, after a Marathon, a big, but also two glasses of beer are required!

In general, throughout the match the support of the people, the pulse, the enthusiasm and the large number of spectators positively surprised you and if nothing else they fired you psychologically. In fact, in many parts of the race I couldn't stand it and took my mobile phone out of my pocket and I did 5 Instagram Lives and took a total of 9 more videos! I admit, as I say to the camera, that this tired me a little and every time I did it I necessarily dropped my pace, because of this I believe that in the end I would have definitely done 5 minutes less time, because in some parts of the race where the pace is not from fatigue but because I was busy with the mobile phone. Of course, I don't mind at all since making a few minutes better time is not that important to me, since what was more important was that I will have these videos to watch for the rest of my life!

In the last leg of the race, the runners pass the Tower of London on Tower Hill and we reach the crucial 30 km where I also pass in a time of 02:27:26. All good again, no problems at all and ready for the last 12km of a race which I enjoyed immensely! Of course, these last kilometers, as I've said before, are the most difficult, the ones where you ask yourself to overcome and the ones where the training actually ends and you start the race!

Unfortunately, one of the most beautiful parts of the route is where the hardest part comes for the runners, namely the last 5 kilometers. Of course, I already met several people who were holding their legs from bruises or cramps, others were urinating on the side of the road, others were giving up, but one that made a great impression on me and I had never seen before is that it had poured on him, he had become a mess, the sight was disgusting and he even passed me since he was going faster but I tried to stay well behind him because the stench was incredible. I wondered how he could and did keep running and why he didn't go to the edge to clean himself up a bit and continue a little later. As if if he lost even 10 minutes nothing would happen. A dark point of the race that I learned of course at the end was that a runner unfortunately lost his life due to a collision. In fact, I also passed by this point where the presence of nurses, police and ambulance was intense.

Shortly after you meet Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and after seeing the London Eye, you now know that you are about 1.5 kilometers from the finish line and right after that Buckingham Palace is in front of you and you now understand that the race is almost over.

THE last images that remain etched in your mind are shocking, since the place with the wonderful buildings also helps a lot, and even a friend of the Podcast, Angela, a few meters before the finish, called me loudly by my last name, which surprised me and it excited me especially, because it is no small thing to be able to distinguish you from the thousands of runners. I thank her very much!

As I said in the Live that I did with my mobile phone during the last 2 kilometers, there are some moments when it may seem strange, but you never want a Marathon race to end or even to be delayed a little more, despite the discomfort and fatigue that overwhelms you . And yet there are some moments when the strong emotions, the joy, the well-being you feel overcome the muscle pains and the mind overcomes the fatigue.

I finished with a time of 3:30 exactly. Unbelievable and only a second off what I was telling my people before the race. Place 5,733 out of a total of 40,600 runners who finished, 4,764 among men and age 534 place. With this time I could even qualify if I wanted to in other Marathon races of this series.

With great joy I hung the medal of the race around my neck, a medal that is impressive and particularly heavy, while the different also in this Marathon is that you get the race t-shirt with your finish. 

Once again I felt overwhelming feelings of joy, relief and excitement and once again I clenched my fists and shouted a loud YES because I finished healthy, strong and just as I had planned. Once again I sat there on the side of the road and watched for a few minutes as the other runners finished, all of them special, all of them with their faces shining with excitement and joy, some particularly strained and some others looking particularly comfortable. I feel every time that we are all one, since we all felt and shared the same pain, the same thoughts, the same anxiety and the same joy. We are kind of like colleagues in sweat, pain and joy.

Right after that I headed to the exit to meet my friends, my wife and my daughter and we could all go celebrate with a delicious burger and a couple of cold beers that I was still craving from the race route seeing some outside of the Pubs to have fun with it. Thus, eating and drinking with some other runners, we would each analyze in our own way and our own experiences, the race that we had completed a few hours ago.

The return, however, was particularly brutal since the flight to Thessaloniki was Monday at 6am, which meant waking up at 1.30am to be at the airport safely at 4am, two hours before the flight.  

The London marathon is one of the most popular and spectacular events in the world and is a unique experience for any runner and I would strongly recommend that you all experience it at some point. 

In closing, I would like to say that although the offer of running in general is great and the fact that it offers better health is indisputable, it personally put me in a new world, without concepts and vices, without divisions, I met many new friends, a priceless value. Through running I found new interests, set new goals, found new destinations and even more reasons to travel and filled not only my lungs but also my thoughts with fresh air. It detoxified me from the difficult everyday life and gave me more balance in my daily life.

Never stop dreaming!

Thank you so much for listening to me!

Until next time, Be well be healthy and always do what we love and what makes us feel good.

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