Half Marathon of Lisbon: Let's kick Ass... or not

Last weekend it was finally time for the half marathon of Lisbon. And after preparing for several months for this event, I was really keen on beating my personal "official" record of 1 hour and 46 minutes. And then 2 days before the race I get a message from a great friend of mine who lives in San Diego. I hadn't seen Pedro for a long time, so of course we ended up drinking too much beers together. To make things even worse I went to play padel tennis the evening before and ended up having dinner until 1am. A real bad idea if you have to wake up 6 hours later to run 21 kilometers! So here are all my excuses for my worst performance ever... 

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Lisbon Half Marathon

"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming." ~ Frank Shorter

I had everything in my favour to beat my personal record. A great friend of mine Fernando Urbano who works for the sports newspaper A Bola was able to get me VIP tickets, which gives us the privilege to start the race all the way in front with all the top athletes. Trust me, people who have been to these marathon events know what I am talking about, if you start all the way in the back of a mass of 25000 runners you are going to lose a serious amount of time slaloming!

Meia maratona de Lisboa


The first couple of kilometers I felt the adrenaline and Goachi kick in! The race starts on the beautiful Ponte 25 de Abril and literally thousands of people start charging down this amazing bridge. I was doing great when I reached the kilometer 7 post and for a moment I was convinced that I was going to beat my personal record so I stupidly speeded up. I didn't actually realize how hot it was until I reached kilometer 8 and a couple of meters further my legs started feeling heavier and heavier. Playing padel the day before wasn't a great idea and I was suffering the consequences. I just turned on my music up to the maximum and kept on going.

All of a sudden around the 13th kilometer that little devil showed up on my shoulder and that's when things got ugly and the mental battle begun. I was suffering big time. Normally I never think of giving up, because that's simply not an option, but I had overdone it. I had been running way too fast. The little devil was telling me to stop and give up because today it wasn't going to happen. I was never going to make it to the finish line. I still had 8 kilometers to go and I felt so weak. I was able to make the little bastard shut up for about 2 kilometers and then I froze on the side of the road. I caught myself staring at the train station that could bring me back home and all of sudden the devil appeared again. "Just get on the train and go home. You know it's rediculious to keep on running because you are not going to make it". I stopped there for about 20 seconds looking at the train station thinking about the easy option and than all of a sudden my padel partner from the day before popped up in my head. What was I going to say to her, to all my friends and family? So I smashed the little bastard off my shoulder and got back into the race. About 200 meters further I got "lucky" in a way. A man running in front of me fainted, fell on the ground and I stopped to help out. He was still breathing so I just held his legs up until the support team arrived. That little minute of rest helped me out big time. I was only 5 kilometers from the finish line. I stopped thinking and started running, gradually speeding up every 500 meters. I was pushing it again, but the end was near.

Just about half a kilometer to go I saw a man on the ground receiving a cardiac massage by the paramedics. Later that day I read that the poor man died. Five hundred meters from the long-desired finish line I heard Fernando's son and wife cheering, I speeded up focusing on my only objective: crossing that line. In a couple of seconds it would all be over. With arms in V-position I arrived at the finish. 1 hour 53 minutes and 35 seconds, my worst time ever!! But ... I made it. I didn't beat my personal time, but I did beat the distance!

Was it worth it? People who don't run are probably asking themselves why on earth would you do this? Why suffer, why all the pain? I would love to explain this to you, but you will never understand until the day you start running. Only runners understand. 

Meia Maratona de Lisboa

"We are different, in essence, from other men. If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." ~ Emil Zatopek

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Haroun Cherif
Haroun Cherif


1 Comment

Sarah Cherif
Sarah Cherif

March 24, 2015

Hi H,
I’m so proud of you. Sports always came so naturally to you. Growing up, I didn’t even realize how good you were. You never really talked about it, you just did it. For me it was the other way around. But now I read that it doesn’t come so naturally after all. You deserve to be the athlete that you are, you have worked really hard for it all your life! Go bro!! x

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