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The First Time: Meet Elliot Giakalis

Features — Posted 21/09/14

Elliot Giakalis is gearing up for his first half-marathon at the 2014 Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival.

Elliot Giakalis is the master of reinvention. The one-time Melbourne lad moved to Sydney, and turned in his career as a lawyer to take on the role of media and communications adviser at the ASX. Now living in Sydney's inner west, Elliot is a self-confessed political junkie and loves electronic music. When he gets time – which comes rarely these days – he’ll write about both of those things, with adorable rescued golden retriever Sammy keeping him company.

Elliot only took up running a few months ago, admitting he ‘loathed’ running beforehand. Now a boot-camp lover and sometimes-runner, Elliot is facing another hurdle – a recurring injury that just won’t leave. However, like any good Melbourne boy, Elliot is a massive AFL fan (Hawks), so the thought of running around his hometown and ending up at the ‘G has special appeal. He’ll make it.

We heard you ran the 14km City to Surf recently, but still will be challenging yourself with the 21km half-marathon. What made you want to try?

I'd originally aimed for the Sydney half marathon (last Sunday) but a few injuries threw my preparation out. The Melbourne Marathon comes at exactly the right time, as well as giving me a chance to run around my hometown, which I'm pretty excited about. It's amazing how differently you see a city, or even a suburb, when you run around it (as opposed to drive). I reckon it’s one of the things that continues to motivate me.

What is the biggest change you will be making in the training leading into the half-marathon?

The weekend before the race is the wedding of a close friend of mine, and the weekend before that is AFL grand final (Go Hawks), so there'll be plenty of celebrating going on. Despite that, I'm going to try maintain a relatively healthy diet - lots of veggies and super foods (I understand they come with a big S on them or something). My diet is usually pretty healthy - but who doesn't indulge occasionally? The challenge will be to keep that indulging to a minimum.

What has been the reaction of friends and family when you told them you are running a half-marathon?

Rapt for me. I spent a good part of January in crutches after a oyster shell related incident at the beach (so much for 'there'll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans' #Simpsons), so to be back on my feet - so to speak - has been great. There is also an element of surprise: on the one hand they know how much I used to hate running, and on the other, that at my age, I've been able to go from not running, to aiming for a half marathon.

What's the first thing you're going to do once the race is over?

It's going to be a great buzz down at the G. A few of my friends are also running on the day, so while I'd like to say something thoughtful and insightful, it might just be as simple as a good stretch, finding my friends and enjoying a good meal with them, and a cold (and well deserved) ale to go with it.


 

CHECK IN: WEEK 2

 

It was anything but a quiet week for Sydney political buff Elliot, who swung from interstate AFL games, to doctor appointments, to some challenging training. Is Elliot going to be able to stick to a routine next week?

 

Already a boot camp fan, it was little surprise Elliot took to his personal training sessions with Jungle Brothers Gym owner Joey, like a duck to water. Joey had Elliot pumping out time on the rowing machine, kettlebell squats and some pull-ups, too. However self-confessed hater of running Elliot really impressed us with his first long run of his marathon preparation – a huge 11.27km.

Elliot’s first big run of his training.

 

Yeouch! That looks painful, Elliot!

 

Elliot has been training hard in the Jungle Brothers gym.

 

But it was a persistent injury that cast a shadow over Elliot’s second week of training, as he visited a neurologist about a potential nerve injury. Thankfully, he was given the all clear – but will his injury return?

Good news was just what the doctor ordered.

 

Elliot has struggled from the start from niggling injuries that just won’t leave.

 

Call it stress, or maybe just needing some TLC, but Elliot splashed out during the week with some pretty naughty snacks.

The siren song of burgers and fries: who could resist?

 

Not one, but TWO!

 

Massive AFL fan Elliot visited Melbourne over the weekend for the AFL Grand Final. We can’t help but wonder how tempting some pre game (and during game, and post game) beers would have been…

Regardless of all his distractions this week, Elliot has managed to push through and stick to some early morning training sessions, squeezing in some daily walking as well.

Not the friendliest wake up hour.

 

Great results for office-worker Elliot.

 

So, not time to throw Elliot to the scrap heap just yet folks – if he can put up with a busy week like this, 21km is going to be a walk in the park.


 

CHECK IN: WEEK 3

 

Elliot has been a focused man for the past three weeks – but if there was one thing that was going to throw the mad Hawthorn fan, it was his team winning over the Sydney Swans in the AFL Grand Final last weekend.

 

We’re impressed that die-hard Hawthorn fan Elliot kept it to two, not two too many! 

 

Elliot had plenty to celebrate when his team Hawthorn took home the 2014 AFL Grand Final. 

 

Well, not this time, folks. Elliot has gone from strength to strength in week three, and was the first of our team to reach a staggering 250km on his Fitbit tracker in just three weeks.

Amazing results for Elliot as he entered week three. 

 

Just another 4km to go, Elliot! So close. 

 

As an ex-lawyer, Elliot is no stranger to stress and deadlines, and has therefore dealt with his final week of training with a calm and optimistic attitude. He took the time to stop and smell the roses – and say hello to the ducks – as he eased into some gentle mid week runs, adding on a visit with his family and some leisurely café time.

Peaceful scenes on Elliot’s evening run. 

 

Balancing his hectic work and training schedule with some time out with his Dad.

 

Calm, cool and collected, Elliot seems to be cruising to the finish line, but will his persistent injury return at the final hour?


 

CHECK IN: WEEK 4

 

After a busy week of work, challenging training sessions, long runs and, well, his team winning the AFL Grand Final (go hawks!) Elliot opted for a slower pace in week four to restore his energy before race day.

 

 

In the final days before the marathon, Elliot focused on keeping his mind and body relaxed. A drive home for a few days in Melbourne gave him some time off his feet and an excuse to get back to his favourite coffee shop.

Sammy the golden retriever didn’t mind the Sydney to Melbourne roadtrip this week!

 

 

Well, there you have it: “the best coffee in the country”, apparently!

 

But, focused on his race day goals, Elliot still managed to fit in some substantial training runs and some alternative training in the form of golf. Well, it’s considered a sport, isn’t it?

 

Elliot, this is NOT how you do ‘rest days’!

 

THIS is how you do rest days.

 

Last week Elliot was showing all the signs of being burnt out and run down – some restful days was badly needed. But will a whole week of reduced training spell disaster for injury-prone Elliot? Will he be ready for the 21km on Sunday…or has he let his focus slide to a more comfortable routine? Let’s hope he can dig deep and find one last burst of energy on Sunday.


 

THE RESULT

Elliot Giakalis finished the race in 1 hour, 58 minutes. He placed at #3223, and is convinced a surprise sideline appearance from Mum and Dad was what got him through.


 

 

See all of Elliot's updates from his marathon journey on Instagram or Twitter.

 

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