Limassol Marathon is March 29th 2015, will you be ready? Train with the Limassol Running Club, run with our team and achieve success with our 10 week training plan. Join today and start!
“Yeah, Danielle!!!!!!!!” Wait, what? Who is screaming my name? It was like I was woken from a sleep I didn’t know I was having; some mental place I’d gone to, a happy medium that kept me going non-stop the whole race. I turned my head a little to the left to see a fellow LRC member, Sonja cheering me on. And throughout my veins came rushing that burst of energy I needed to sprint to the finish line. The word “team” is nothing, unless you’re actually a team that supports each other. A running team that all waits until the end, regardless of whether members waited 5 minutes or 5 hours, for each and every one of their teammates to finish. Add to that the fact that Limassol Running Club was at the finish line until 6 hours, cheering on non-club members, finding them their medals and space-blankets to keep warm when all volunteers had given up their spots to go hang out by the sandwich stand. Yeah, I said it. And yeah, we were there screaming like maniacs for everyone finishing. Because there is no feeling like having people cheer you on, to give you that extra little boost to keep you going when you think your feet are going to cave in underneath you and that is something LRC understands.
The whole race of 21k was easier than I thought, yet no way do I think I would have made it 42k. Those full marathoners passing by me as I was cramping up towards the finish line (thanks Leigh) absolutely amazed me. How do they do it I don’t know, but I can’t wait to learn. I’ve been running for 5 weeks, and counting in days off with injuries, I think it was a total of 8 times.
Yes… I ran only 8 times prior and managed to get myself to the finish line of a 21k race after I failed to fully finish a 16k twice during training due to injuries. I was so proud of myself, my cheeks were sore from smiling! I was never a distance runner, but in high school I was a fast but never mentally there. I always held my breath when sprinting and when I finished, I’d hyperventilate until I felt like I would die. And running distance? PUH-LEASE. We ran timed 5k’s once a year and only once in my life, as a punishment for not showing up to a game, did I run for a whole 2-hour practice around the track (thanks, Coach).
Speaking of prior-experience, when I Google my name with my high school sport, I find nothing. Yet, I find my teammates names. It was as if I never existed. This is a huge reason why I joined LRC; I want to be good at something- like really good. I want to train hard, I want to pass through that stage of blood, sweat, and tears and just kill it. At I’m quite proud of myself, beating the odds and actually finishing the half marathon but now I’m ready to meet the “impossible”.
To explain the feeling is impossible. Once you get past the first 5k, you’re legs feel stronger and your breath is relaxed. Hell, me and fellow LRC member Debbie were chatting it up, while other runners and onlookers stared at us in disbelief, most likely thinking, “What are these psychos doing?” I also practiced what is known as “Pranayama breathing” and did so the entire race. Pranayama breathing is a special breathing practiced in yoga and meditation where you breath in and out only through your nose. It keeps your heart rate down and allows you to eat and continue to breath at the same time during running. It worked magic for me and kept my heart rate at the lowest it’s been since I started.
But less about me and more about this word called “team”. Because without my team, I wouldn’t have gotten through it, let alone even considered a marathon. Without Michael Rivers positive talks and mathematical formulas and running knowledge, I’d have no clue what I was doing. I wouldn’t have had an idea about pre-, during-, or post-race eating; heart rate monitors, running sunglasses, or the importance of my frenemy, Raw Hemp Protein. I’d have no idea that my shoes were WAY too small, or the horror stories about where exactly people bleed during marathon races (I’m chuckling as I write this part! Haha). I’d also be lost without Limassol Sports Massage owner, Eva and her AMAZING massages and kinesio-taping, and her saving me with second-skin the night before the race because as is typical of me, I got blisters the day before. While everyone was supposed to be relaxing and keeping their feet up, Michael and Eva were still working into the evening for us. That is the definition of team. When you put your own needs aside, to attend to those of your teammates. And in running, every man is for himself, yet every runner is my teammate. We are smiling past each other, pushing each other on. And whether joking or near-tears, my team leaves no man behind because that is “The LRC Effect”.
My friends ask me how did I have the guts to just go on my own to this club- well, it was easy. One day, I got in my car and met them at Dassoudi beach. And from day 1, it wasn’t about speed. It wasn’t about keeping up with the best. It was about finishing. Doesn’t matter if it takes you a minute or a day; doesn’t matter if you sprint it or you walk it; you will finish. And each run, you will get better and faster and healthier. You will see how far you can trick your mind into going- you will see that what you thought was impossible is actually very much possible. So cheers to my team, cheers to Michael Rivers for believing in us, and cheers to everyone who finished a 5k, 10k, 21k, or 42k. Because there is no better feeling than accomplishing a goal!
Coming to Cyprus at first was exciting; it was magical. The summers were hot, the nightlife was fun, and life was just so easy; not like back home where everything was work, work, work. I loved it at first, envisioned a beautiful life here. Then a couple years later, I only liked it. I was travelling back and forth to work in the states and coming here every few months and summers to see my boyfriend. Another year later and I didn’t want to stay; I was ready to go back. I wanted to go back to my family, to my life, to my culture- to those familiar things. The longer I was here, the more foreign Cyprus became. Such a drastic change in lifestyle would make it difficult for anyone to stay here. I felt trapped in a way, because they say, “home is where the heart is.” But for me, my heart was in two places. It was here with the love of my life and back in the U.S. with my family.
But life is all about obstacles right? And all about confusion and finding oneself and dreaming and loving; and let me say it isn’t easy. Having half your heart pulled in one direction and the other half pulled in another. Fighting within your mind, those little daily debates in one’s head, contemplating what is the right thing to do. “You’re only 24”, they say, but what does my age matter? This is my time; this is my life and this is when I have to decide where I want to be, not when I’m 40. I’ve always been 10 years ahead of myself, my father can account for that one. I remember him always telling me, “Baby, slow down… one step at a time.” But for some reason, I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend that state of mind.
The last year or so, it had gotten a bit worse. I fell into a slight depression- feeling lonely even though I was next to the person I loved the most. I closed myself off to the world, hid in my home, engulfed myself with my studies, and the social, happy person I was before seemed to get lost; my interest in life was lost. No matter what occurred or how hard my poor husband tried (God bless his patient soul), I never felt fully content- I never felt happy. Day in and day out seemed redundant and I kept thinking- “This is going to be my life here? My life is worth so much more than this!” I went back and forth about what to do and made it worse by comparing every little thing between the USA and Cyprus- jobs, economy, opportunity, & money. Most importantly, however, was my family; my fear that I will regret not spending every minute with them that I can. Because if I’ve learned anything in my short twenty-four year on this planet, it is that you can’t get back lost time and you can’t relive those moments that have already passed.
It was about this time I realised, time is of the essence and I want to leave something behind- something I can’t take back and something I would be proud to leave behind; a legacy, perhaps. Something that all the money in the world can’t get you but a determined mind and a strong heart can. In high school, I was big on sports. They always came easy to me and I was a fast sprinter. Field hockey and lacrosse were my two chosen sports and I excelled in them. It makes me proud to remember that I, at one time, had talent. And this allowed me to believe that I still have some sort of talent lurking- and why let that go.
I started my search to see if there were any women’s lacrosse or field hockey leagues in Limassol. I know field hockey is a sport played in the UK, so I thought maybe I’d get lucky. But I came across nothing, so instead I tried “Limassol athletic clubs”. The Limassol Running Club was somewhere around the fourth result. I chuckled because I have always sort of despised running. I remember running during preseason training, sprints upon sprints, timed miles, running as punishment, etc. And the icing on the cake was the time I attempted to go on a leisurely run around my neighborhood in New Jersey and someone threw a water-balloon at me. I remember it like it was yesterday- I actually thought someone stabbed me, that’s how bad it hurt! (At least I can laugh at the memory now, but I was so scarred I swore never to go street running again… I was 17).
I clicked on the site and I liked what I saw. It was a diverse looking group of people of different ages from different countries with one same goal: to run. “I’ll try it,” I thought to myself and sent in a contact form from the site. I got a sweet reply from Michael Rivers, Director of the Limassol Running Club, inviting me to come that Thursday to try it out.
My nerves were in knots that day because I didn’t know what to expect yet I was super excited. Were these all professional runners? Was I going to look like a fool? Would I puke before I finished the first mile? (And those were just a few of the questions that went through my head!). Luckily, I’ve kept in shape by doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts quite regularly for the last year and a half but I haven’t run since 2008! At 7:00, I pulled into the parking lot at Dassoudi beach, mentally told myself to stop being a nervous idiot, got out of my car, and walked up to the group. Instead of realizing I was the “new girl”, the group started talking to my as if they’d known me for months! It was so warming and welcoming, I felt right at home. We did 5k interval training that night and I was immediately hooked. The best part about the club is that you go at your own pace and everyone waits for you at the finish point and cheers you on. There is no pressure, only supportive teammates. No person is better than the other, we are all there for one reason: to run. The immediate support and friendship I felt from the group was what kept me going.
Running is also like meditation. You can loose yourself in counting steps, feeling your feet hit the pavement; listening to your breathing increase until you feel like your heart may explode; forgetting all those stresses life has put upon you. You can loose yourself in the pain of a twisted ankle, a swollen knee-cap, or burning shins- but you keep going because that is what runners do. We don’t stop. We don’t give up. We prove to ourselves that limits are meant to be broken; that when you feel like you’re about to die, there is always more strength inside of you to keep going. That’s the mental game of running- how long can you keep going? How fast can you get your feet off the ground; how many strides can you accomplish in a minute? Running with a group is even better because even though running is a one-man sport, there is a team to keep you going. A coach to tell you that pain is temporary but winning is forever.
I have been part of the club for one month now and my life has completely changed. I have been given the opportunity to see the true beauty of Limassol through the eyes of a runner- a completely different view than that of one in a vehicle. It is hard to describe this unless you experience it for yourself. Cyclers speeding pass you; couples walking hand-in-hand along the seaside; cats snoozing in the sun; and the little stray dog that ran alongside me the last 2k of my very first 16k run. And let me not forget the relaxation and therapeutic of putting my poor, little, sore feet in the freezing yet glass-clear water at Dassoudi beach after that run while soaking in the sun post-run. It was that day, for the first time in I can’t even remember how long, that I was truly happy to live here, on this small island. Sitting alone in the sun, with my feet in the water, watching all the people walking by.
Since joining the club, things have fallen correctly into place for me. I have met wonderful new people, from different places in the world. I have enjoyed the city I live in and I’ve been given the opportunity to see it in a different light. I have become happy and complete within myself, which has benefitted all aspects of my life. The clearing of the mind, that feeling of satisfaction you get from pushing the limits you never thought you could, is all indescribable. I hope to see more people benefit from a club like this. Because I know I am not the only one who has completely changed his or her lifestyle by moving here. What I’ve realized is that this place may not be like home but there is beauty everywhere and it is up to us to see and understand that beauty.
I hope to see you all at Limassol Running Club- change your life, it will!
Life on the run.
Limassol Running Club is a Michael Rivers production.