During my recent trip to Greece, time was more precious than ever. I wanted to see my family and catch up with as many friends as possible, as well as introduce my home town to the children and put a few good runs in. How to do it all?
Well, running with friends was a good way to see a good few of them! And the good thing is we got to catch up with our news as we were running and after.
There was Moraitis run, a 10K race organized by an Athens school, where I was lucky to bump into a fellow competitive runner mom that I highly respect, Aliki, as well as an old runner buddy of mine, Dimitris, that we used to run together in the Royal Estates, north of Athens. And of course my brother met me at the end of the race for a tasty capuccino, freddo of course on a hot early summer day.
Then a couple of days later, Dimitris and I met again for a short run in the beautiful suburb of Dionysos, where you can get lost in the beautiful pine forest and some surprises like a small marble theater loom along the way. As I had a 10K time trial the day after, the point of the run was to take it easy and then catch up over coffee. And catch up we did!
I finally saw my close friend and longtime coach Dimitris Theodorides aka Paavo Nurmi at the Agios Dimitrios track the day of the time trial. He and Tina had arranged for another runner to pace me, which was greatly appreciated. I had never had anyone pace me before so that was a first. And now I can’t wait to run with Dora again, she supported me like a rock along the way. Now I get what pacing is all about!
Having dinner with Tina and Dimitris after the run made me realize how much I miss them, I just couldn’t get enough of them both, just before they headed off to Karpenissi for a stint of spring training. As for my time trial, bar from a mishap at the end, which I won’t go into, I did c. 46.50, so definitely some progress achieved and there is still room for more.
I am so happy I got in touch with Nikos Ventouras from the local (for the towns of Nea Makri and Marathon) running club APS Miltiades Marathon and we went for a morning run together, as I got to meet some more local runners. That’s great because most of the times I run alone when I am in the area, whereas with some friendly chat and occasional competition, there is always some distraction and faster times achieved.
Another day my friend Zinia came over and we did the 10k out and back route from Nea Makri to Agios Andreas, where as a child I used to go camping in the summer many summers ago. These days when I run in front of the camps and the Officers resorts, I remember of the many holidays I have spent there.
With Zinia we spoke of future races and plans and what it is like to raise children and trying to put running in the picture too. She spoke of Εuchidas, the 107.5km race she was planning to run in order to promote the work of Greek charity Floga (www.floga.org), supporting children with cancer, and since then she has managed to complete this amazing feat.
Then just a couple of days before we left, a last minute thing, I had the precious chance to run with one of my best friends from the Greek running scene, Elina. Our friensdhip dates back to 2004 when we both ran the Rotterdam marathon (she is the only one that finished!), which is where we met, at a restaurant the night before the race. A pasta party, twelve years, four kids, two countries and many races later, our friendship is still going strong and an 11km easy run around Pedion tou Areos inner city park proved just that.
I did a few runs on my own while I was in Greece, but frankly they are not as memorable. When you are a runner, it can sometimes be hard to have a social life too, at least when you are a mother of two very young children! Incorporating a few social runs with likely-minded friends is a great way of feeling you are getting the best of both worlds.