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  • Writer's picture Irina

Athens

Updated: Sep 11, 2022




I need this post to be the prince’s kiss to my Snowhite!


I desperately need it to work itself into my brain, my heart, my dreams, my thoughts, my hopes, my legs and wake them up and get them all excited and pumped up and ready to GO.

I need to get that rush I felt a year ago when I thought about crossing the finish line of the Brighton Marathon. I need to get personal, emotional and passionate. I need to be strong and push through the physical and mental barriers. I need to visualise kilometres disappearing under my steady stride. I need to focus, prioritise and make sacrifices. I need to be more stubborn and I need to believe in myself. Oh and I definitely need to find better ways of carrying water when I run.



Why? Well…

I-run-a-marathon

i-rin-a-marathon

irinamarathon in Athens, on November 13th, 2022.


Returning to the city I lived in from May 1999 to December 2015, to run its epic marathon is a personal milestone in more ways than one.


There’s the obvious reason. It is the classic route, the route that started it all. It’s an iconic marathon, the finish line is in the centre of the city in an ancient theatre. it’s a tough route. The first half is undulating and we know that’s just polite for hilly!


As far as marathons go, it’s a pretty cool one to experience.


I will be running it with my usual partners in crime, Zara and Antigoni. The Marathonites as we call our little group. The fun has already started with flights and hotels booked, shoes bought and photographed and our Whatsapp group renamed to Vol.2. These two absolutely, totally and utterly amazing ladies are my marathon beacons. I know they will pick me up when I am scared and they will gently get me back on track. I hope I can do the same for them. The fact that the three of us are in this together makes it all worthwhile and I know that somehow it will all work out. We will live through another incredible experience, a memory for life, an achievement for our personal archives. We will ‘extend’ life once more.




All of this is more than I need to plunge into relentless training. Except, this marathon means a whole lot more in my little world.


I’ve had these thoughts for ages and I just hope I find the right way to express them.


Part of the reason I have postponed this blog for so long is I was afraid my words would fail the essence of what I want to share (another reason for postponing has been a hectic work-life schedule with no free time to sit down and write). Anyway, I need to get this of my chest, so here goes…


Athens is my eternal city. I lived there for 16 years, in seven different flats, six of which were on Lycabettus Hill, right in the heart of the city centre. I don’t know why I felt compelled to move so often. Looking back I think I used a new flat to mean a new beginning. It was something I could control and change, unlike other things, so I did it. A bit like changing hairstyles but slightly more expensive and complicated.


I was in love with the city centre and still think it’s one of my favourite places on the planet. In many ways I felt at home and safe but I don’t think I ever really felt like I belonged. There was always a ‘but’ in my head and I hoped that moving flats would get rid of it. It didn’t.


A lot happened over the years, a lot of good times, fun times, a lot of friends, experiences, jobs, travels. I don’t regret a single thing… Actually, that is not at all true. There are things I regret and this is the point I am trying to get to. Bare with me.


I’ve had bad times as well. To be expected, I guess. Lonely times and that was not due to any lack of friends. It was me shutting the world out. If I am completely honest Athens has definitely seen the worst of me and sadly I don’t think it’s ever seen the best of me. And that in a nutshell is my biggest regret.


Regrets however are a waste of time. You wasted time on something in the past, you waste even more time if you spend your days regretting it. I have too much (positive) energy bursting out of me and I am going to use it to go back to Athens and conquer it.

The Athens marathon is as personal as it gets for me.


Every step, every kilometre will be a little victory. A victory over all the times I doubted myself, all the times I settled, all the times I let fear get the best of me. All the lonely nights, the tears.



For years I’ve looked for closure on the Athens chapter. This race is just that. No more regrets and no more compromises. I’ve got the eye of the tiger and Athens is going to hear me roar (in my head anyway…)


I got a tattoo recently. I’ve been wanting to get one for years but had not found something that I wanted to have for the rest of my life, literally or metaphorically. Until Doug. The tattoo I chose is my link to him, metaphorically. Because the literal links to him quite are endless. Seeing myself through Doug’s eyes has made me see a different me. In a way, I’ve been re-educated to love my good, bad and ugly sides. His love has been the launch pad into a brave new world.



And so here I am, almost seven years since I’ve left Athens, stronger and fitter than I’ve ever been physically and hopefully mentally as well. Ready to face my daemons once again and determined to win. I am going to run this marathon and give it everything I’ve got. My ammunition: my husband, my family, my friends, my past and all I have learned from it has brought me where I am today. I hope to have you with me in this next part, where swearing and sweating will be my life for the next few months. I have a feeling that I will be blogging more frequently, as I cannot do this alone.


Marathons are there to be run, and finish lines are there to be crossed.


To those who believed in me and to those who doubted me I say THANK YOU.

I wouldn’t be here without you.

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8 Comments


gravesianm
Aug 19, 2022

Oh my - it's taken a while to get to read this with all that is going on here, but boy, it was worth the wait!! (My eyes seem to be leaking (happens to easily these days!)). Amazing sentiment Irina. With you in spirit as you train for and smash a marathon in a city that clearly means a lot in so many ways 😘

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sara
Aug 10, 2022

So pleased to read this!!!! We will be cheering you all the way 😁😘

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deborah.hunter10
Aug 08, 2022

Fantastic to read, thanks for sharing your story. You’ve got this! Xx

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lou_melly
Aug 08, 2022

Beautifully bonkers!! I may not be running with you or screaming at the finish line this time but I will be with you 💯 in spirit xx

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errietta.varvogli
errietta.varvogli
Aug 08, 2022

Correction .musketeers.....

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