How can I forget my first marathon? It was the fall of 1981 in Chicago. Two days prior to the race I had received a phone call from a friend of mine who told me "Ted, there is a Marathon on this Sunday. Since it started in Greece why not sign up for the run? I said, you got to be kidding, I haven't run more than a block in years and you want me to enter the race just like that? No thanks". As Friday progressed to the evening, something inside me was telling me "Go Ted - Go Ted". So I rushed to Conrad Hilton for late registration, which was the host hotel for the Marathon located at Michigan Drive. I barely made it, as I had to take the train all the way from North Side.
I'd got home late that evening, but I was not excited, as I should be. The fear about the unknown of this race was spinning me out of control in too many directions. My mind was already in the Marathon starting line and had started thinking strategies for the completion of the race. The farthest I had run before was not more than two miles.
The race day came too quickly, and here I was lined up among 1000s for this magnificent event. Regardless of the challenge I had to endure, as a Greek I felt very proud inside me. I guess that was the voice that was telling me inside from the very beginning "Go Ted - Go Ted".
It was a chilly morning, and with the start of the race I was already in short breath. Somehow I managed to make it quite comfortable the first couple of miles going around the loop. It was without doubt the crowd that was pushing me along, but soon thereafter I was introduced to the wall. By the 2nd mile I felt my legs, lungs, and my spirit giving in. I remember just before we crossed the downtown bridge on Wacker Drive, I pulled myself aside and I said, "This is it. No more." As I stayed there for a few minutes watching the runners passing by, I felt suddenly an unexplained energy lifting me from inside and softly I whispered to myself "It's got to be the Greek Gods watching over me". …And from that moment on, my whole life changed forever.
I was finally able to re-enter the race and started to walk and run. Somehow, before I realized it, I had made it pretty much to the half point (I thought) by the aid station at McCormick Place. Then, something happened. I felt very weak and disoriented, and after I had a few sips of Gatorade I turned back and slowly I jogged my way to the marathon finish line with 4:10 hrs. Soon after that I realized that at my turning point I had missed 3 more miles out and 3 more miles back. As I was lost in the crowd and disoriented I thought that the station at McCormick Place was the turn around point.
As soon I had received my certificate of accomplishment I cut it in pieces and threw it away. I kept saying to myself "I am not a cheater. Greeks don't cheat. We have started the Marathon. We are proud people". I made a commitment to myself to enter the Marathon Race the following year and run it like a man.
Well I kept my promise, and the following year, sometime in October of 1982 I ran and completed my first Marathon with a time of 5:12 hrs.
In 1983 I had moved to Hawaii for the following 10 years…and before I realized it, from 1984 through 1992 I had 60 marathon and ultra marathons under my belt, including the famous and brutal Run to the Sun at Heliakala in Maui from zero sea level to almost 10500 elevation above sea level (7 times). My running also included 50 mile races such as "Honolulu City Lights (2 times) and the American River 50 Miles Endurance Run (2 times).
From 1993 - 1995, due to a brief relocation out of the country due to business, I took some time off from running. Upon return to the States in 1995, I had the opportunity to get back to my sport that I love more than anything.
In March 2004, I am preparing to celebrate my 98th marathon, while later in 2004, I am planning to celebrate my 100th Marathon with my Greek Gods in Athens Greece.
In April 2004, I will be turning 52 years of age! What else could I ask for a birthday present?