Never give up

By Chrystall Antoniadou-Karra 

 

When a very well-known Ultra runner was asked why he ran, his reply was as simple as this: “Because I can!”

 

I wish I could say the same! 

 

I DO run but I also take walk breaks during my long runs.  Despite having completed the Athens Authentic Marathon more than once, I will never forget my first in 2016! 

 

I had never been the sporty type and … oh…  how much I regret that now! I discovered my love of running and most of all, its benefits when I was 54 years old. 

 

Yes, during menopause! 

 

Believe me, I have never felt better!  I was advised to go on vitamins and hormones etc. but I had always been against interfering with Nature. 

 

I started doing TRX to create some muscle … I had none! 

 

A year later, in 2015 I ran the 5km race at the Athens Marathon. 

 

My husband, brother and nephew were to run the full marathon and seeing them preparing for their 42.195m race, made me so envious. 

 

I ran my 5km and then sat at the stadium, waiting for them to finish their run … all the way from Marathon! 

 

I cried when I saw them run in.  I was so moved.  I promised myself that the following year I too would start from Marathon!

 

Everyone was against me doing so.  They advised me to go slow and just do the 10km and slowly build it up. 

 

But … No!!! 

 

That was not me … it was all … or… nothing! 

 

I knew that I would do it!  However, I also knew that I had to train hard for it … which I did.  It was tough during the week because of my heavy work load and weird hours but each and every Sunday was Long run day!

 

I cannot forget the last long run I did.  I left my house in Lagonisi and went all the way to Cape Sounion! That was 32 km and 19 hills! I did it and that is when I had no doubt in my mind that I could handle the Authentic Route.   

 

On race day, I was so excited, scared, nervous but knew in my heart of hearts that I would cross the finish line.  At the 30th km, I remember my whole body was aching. I actually cried and a woman standing on the side of the road, cheering us all, called out to me and said, “you’ve come this far, it’s enough to be proud of,  stop now!”  Upon hearing her words, I wiped my tears, turned to her and replied, “we stop only when we finish!”

 

I collected all my strength and off I went. 

 

I don’t know where I got the energy from.  I know that it was my mind leading me … not my legs!  I couldn’t wait to enter the stadium.  I wanted to see my children, my brother, my husband …

 

I saw my daughter and I called out to her.  She jumped over the railings and we finished together.

 

I was smiling and crying at the same time. 

 

Never have I felt so happy, so proud so exhausted yet so fulfilled!!!  I looked up and saw my brother.  He had tears in his eyes.  He embraced me and said, “you are a legend!” … I needed nothing more!!!  I could see my late father in my brother’s eyes and all my life I had wanted to make my father proud … and I did! 

 

 I know I am not the fittest of women, but I do know that I refuse to give up!  

 

This is me!  Good or bad … it’s who I am. 

 

It is not only a matter of physical fitness; what is of great importance is your mind set!  … and we know as women, that we are by far stronger than men in that area! 

 

Being asked to name the reason why I run, I can come up with so many! 

 

I have never felt better despite my 60 years now.  Menopausal symptoms have just passed me by, I feel younger than when I was 40.  I don’t look or feel my age.  Running is my therapy, my getaway, my time with myself. 

 

Having run the Athens Authentic Marathon, perhaps one of the most difficult routes, I believe I can do anything if I have to.  It’s all mind over matter.  I have learnt so much about myself – more than I could ever have realized had I never taken part in this amazing race. 

 

I am slow … I take walk breaks … but so what?  The point is NEVER TO GIVE UP!!!