Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Final Post- Thank You

Yesterday we spent the day meeting with government officials from Piraeus.  Piraeus is a large port city just south of Athens and a sister city to Baltimore.  We met with the Vice Mayor, Council President, representatives from the National Police Force and several other government officials.  They were all very gracious and accommodating, taking time out of their busy schedules to spend their day with us.   The Council President took us for a tour of the city and for a seafood lunch at a restaurant overlooking the beautiful Aegean Sea.   

We will spend today visiting some of Vayia's family in a township north of Athens called Marousi.  Tomorrow we begin the long trip back home.

This past year I turned 40 years old and thought to myself that this was a good time to challenge myself and to run a marathon.  I had no idea how far that decision would take me.  I would like to take this opportunity to  thank all the people that made this experience possible:

To Diane Homberg and the entire Baltimore-Piraeus Sister City Committee for giving me this amazing gift.  Representing Baltimore in this historic event has been a tremendous honor for me.

To the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld for all their support.  To Renee Samuels and Sheryl Goldstein for encouraging me to get involved...and for really making it all happen. And to Anthony Guglielmi and Jeremy Silbert who worked extremely hard bringing so much positive media attention to this experience.

To our parents and families for taking care of our children while we have been gone. Giving us the peace of mind that everyone was safe and happy.

And to all of our friends for all the support and positive encouragement.  The outpouring of phone calls, emails and messages was overwhelming.  I found it truly amazing how many people regularly  followed my journey through this blog.

Thank you all.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Photos from the Marathon

View of the Panatheneikon Stadium where the runners completed a lap around the stadium to finish the marathon!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Race Day

As we assembled at the starting line this morning the sun was rising over the Penteli mountains.  The start went off without a problem and I was able to maintain my targeted pace of about a 10 minute mile for the first 14 miles.   But as we began the ascent up the mountains my time began to slow.  The 12 mile up hill climb  became oppressively steep and it became a mental and physical challenge just to continue moving forward.  I saw scores of runners just quit...unable to move forward they gave up and sat down at the curb side waiting for a shuttle.   As I slowly moved up the mountain one step at a time,  I began to reach inside of myself to try to find some strength to continue.

I thought of the men and women of the great Baltimore Police Department and the sacrifices they make every day.  And the too many of them, all great officers, that are no longer with us.

I thought of my young children Evan, Reilly, Jack and Sophie.  I hoped that my experience  may some day teach them a little about life and encourage them to pursue their own goals.

And in the end when I was completely exhausted,  I thought of my wife Vayia.   Knowing that she was waiting for me at the finish line I began to run to her...the same woman I have run to since I was 18 years old.  As I rounded the last bend I saw her and was overcome with emotion.

I crossed the finish line in about 5:15 (unofficial time).  Maybe a little slower then I had hoped but the devastating nature of the course reminded me that the true goal of any marathon is to overcome all challenges and finish.  In the words of Pheidippides, the Greek messenger that ran the same route 2,500 years ago and died at the finish after declaring the Persian defeat:  Victory!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Last Day

Yesterday we drove the marathon course and it was it was definitely intimidating. Our guide joked that there was only 1 "hill"....1 "hill" that starts at about mile 7 and ends about mile 18. For most of the way the hill stays at a steady 4% grade, but there are a couple of sections were the grade increases to a pretty steep 7% grade. The race organizers continued to stress the importance of conserving energy and pacing slower then normal to avoid exhaustion on the hill. The good news is that the last 6 miles are a nice gradual downhill and the finish is inside the Olympic Stadium...the only sports stadium in the world that is constructed entirely out of marble.

Today, we spent the day visiting the breath taking Acropolis and shopping in the outside Plaka markets.
Tomorrow morning we leave for the race at 6:30 am, with the start expected to be at 9:00 am. I can't help but feeling a nervous excitement, and I hope I will be able to sleep tonight.

Wish me luck.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Touchdown in Athens

After 17 hours of traveling we finally arrived in Athens...exhausted.  Athens is 7 hours ahead, so we are now trying to get our bodies to adjust to the time change.  I woke up at 4:30 am this morning wide awake.  At 6:30 am, I ran with a group of runners from the hotel.  The training run was lead by Jeff Galloway,  an elite marathoner who has won both New York and Boston in the past.  Surprisingly, I felt good.

Today, we travel to the City of Marathon.  The site of the famous battle were Greece defeated the Persian army in 490 BC. Along the way we will drive the marathon route, so I will get my first look at Sunday's course.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Next Stop Athens

All the waiting is finally over. Today we leave for Athens, but I am leaving with a heavy heart.  After losing three Baltimore Police Officers in less then a month, my thoughts and prayers remain with the families of James Fowler, Brian Stevenson and Thomas Portz.  All good men, who dedicated their lives to serving the citizens of Baltimore.

As we were getting ready to leave, I took a few minutes to review my training logs.  I realized that since June, I have ran over 700 miles, averaging over 30 miles per week and peaking about 3 weeks ago with a weekly total of 45 miles.  Through all the miles, I have come to understand that committing to run a marathon is more about the journey and less about the final destination.   The race is now 4 days away and come Sunday, I plan to do my very best.