Tomorrow, it is going to be exactly 4 weeks since September 30th. The day that I will remember forever.
I am writing about this only now as I needed time, I still need time to digest and understand what happened in my life recently.
That was the day I had been waiting for… I was anxious, nervous. The day which I would never have expected to come… My Marathon Debut!
I always thought that this distance is magical, requires a lot of courage, patience and strength. One, two, three years ago I called it ‘crazy’ and incapable to have run 42,195 km. People who run them I referred as ‘super humans’, ‘aliens’. Because you know, everyone says “OMG, Marathon! This is impossible”, “Over 42kms of running?!”, “You are crazy!”, “This is not healthy for your heart, for your joint!”
Ok… Yes, I agree with that (a little bit), I won’t never say that Marathon is for everyone and you can do it easily. You cannot say “I want do Marathon” just out of a sudden and decide to run it in few weeks. I am taking into consideration the fact that most people commute to work, sit at work, rarely further than from/to the desk and car/public transport. That is sad, but this is how it is nowadays.
In my opinion to run Marathon you should be active, having some solid fitness level, developed endurance. Why? Simply, to not just SURVIVE the race ending up with lingo down and completely tuckered. But to enjoy it, experience it from the beginning to the end to the fullest.
But this is not the topic of this post. I am not writing about this racing preparations and training today.
I only decided to race it and signed for Marathon 10 days before it. Having my half-marathon raced on September 16th, I felt my mind my body and mind especially(!) are ready for real challenge.
For me this Marathon was important, for personal issues… It was not just another ‘fun’ race for me, trying to get new PB and make the best out of it. I wanted to run it not only for myself, I wanted to prove that impossible is nothing, to run it, help and heal that way… my sick Mom.
This is my real reason and story behind Marathon debut.
Without diving into many details. My life has changed on May 29th. I remember when I arrived (on Monday, May 28th) to Rome for job, texted my mom as usual on Whatsapp. The next day, on Tuesday I went to work, had lunch with whole team (photographer, stylist, makeup artist), beautiful day. Shoot was very nice. In the evening we went also to swimming pool. Perfect afternoon. After swim we were supposed to have dinner together in nice restaurant in local seafood restaurant.
I was leaving the swimming pool when I saw message on my phone from my Dad “Ola call me urgently”. I had no clue what is going on. My first thought was that maybe he needs some IT help, or having my email checked… But unfortunately no… I called him back and the message I got was:
“Mom is at hospital. She has cancer. You need to come back home”
I cried. With broken voice said to him I will be home ASAP. I flew home with the earliest possible flight following morning.
Hard to explain how I felt that moment. It is impossible to describe… One phone call that changes your life completely. I was speechless… I am still speechless writing about that…
I won’t dive in details what was happening in our family since that day for the next 4 months. But I must say it was very hard time for me, my dad, my brother, my mom especially. For every one of us it was the biggest battle we have ever had to face with.
We had so many ups and downs, good and bad moments, time with lots of love, hope, trust included. Any little positive change made us growing and on the other hand any other bad one made us scared.
That was difficult time for everyone, for my mom who suffered, and for me it was the most painful part of this. I could not help her. Of course, we all from family tried and did our bests, we helped her the most what we could, but I still felt , I had this awful feeling that I have no heal power to get her 100% better, all I could do was to believe, hope, pray that everything would be ok!
That is why I decided to run Marathon, I wanted to make it not only for myself to prove that I can really do it but also somewhere deep in my soul, heart I believed that it can help, it will cure, heal, make my mom feeling better. Maybe this sounds weird to you but this is what I felt and needed to do.
The day before the race (Saturday, September 29th) I was talking to my mom, taking care of her as usual. Made her favorite beetroot soup for lunch and I was ready to go. ‘Bye Mom, see you tomorrow. Will call you after the race”.
Last words I told her. Remember these words very well.
Then I left, went to Warsaw. Arrive safely and picked up my BIP at Expo. I had a nice dinner with my friend. I could not believe what is going on. Could not believe that in less than 12 hours I will be racing my very first Marathon.
But, yes I really wanted to do it, I really wanted to make it for MY MOM!
I woke up the following day. Sunday, lovely morning, little chilly but with forecasted sun. It was going to be perfect weather for upcoming 42.195kms I was about to run.
I arrived at the start area. At the beginning I felt lost “What the hell am I doing here?!”. But the more and more runners were coming, less and less time was left till start, the more I wanted to give do it!
Just before the first whistle me, and other 8000 runners listened to the song “Sen o Warszawie” by Czesław Niemen (played from loudspeakers). Truly touching moment.
9:00 AM my Marathon was about to start.
Once I started to run I was so happy and sure that this the place I should be right now. The atmosphere was amazing, supporters, weather everything was on just perfect.
My strategy for the race according to the talk I had with my friends Roberto prior that was pacing myself carefully till 30 – 32km. And that is what I did. It was a bit awkward and challenging for me to keep myself calm and slower than usual, but I understood that this race is different, and I must be careful as I was not even aware how it is to run for that long. (The longest long run I did this summer was only spontaneous 27km long – as I mentioned earlier, I did not have a proper marathon training this season.)
For the first 2-3 kilometers I was pushing and running between runners, once my pace got finally steady. Around 4:35-4:40. I had homemade bracelet made prior the race with the pace and distance marked for every 5km split, so I had some plan and guideline.
After first 10km I started to snack bananas and sip water at every 5km food and drink station. I did not use any gels or isotonic. I never use them, also I knew that bananas and water is the kind of nutrition I always do for my runs, so I believed that this would work for me, and actually it did.
Believe me or not but after crossing half-marathon marker I still had energy and did not feel tired. Opposite, I felt good and ready for another over 21 kilometers. Till that moment I was following the pacemaker with 3:20 flag, after that I decided to run slightly faster and passed him.
25km, I still felt good. I catched up some guy, his name was Hubert. We got good pace together and we run together for few kilometers. Around 27-28km I saw first ‘stereotypical marathon runners seen on Internet – limping, stopping, walking. I thought “Oops, so this is it the famous WALL”. But I did not feel bad, I felt ok. But subconsciously my mind started to make up some stories and trying to find some issues, pain in ankle, lazy legs. However, that was more imaginary than real.
Once I crossed 30km marker, I felt automatically even better and speeded up. Saw my friends cheering up on the street and screaming ‘GO OLA!’. That felt great.
I went faster. I started to enjoy Marathon. This is the moment I have been waiting for. My friends and fellas from NY were right saying me few days before “keep is peaceful and consistent will 32 km, then you will enjoy the last 10km”. This was exactly what was happening. I got only 10km more to go and started to believe to enjoy it that it is true. I was cruising to the finish line!
The 35km was the most difficult for me. Mind was getting tired, anxious, impatient, thinking that there are still ONLY but SO MUCH 7km ahead. I kept my quicker pace, but my head started to think ‘7 kilometers more, 6, 5, 4, 3…’
Finally, I made it, I passed 40 kilometer marker. Only 2 kilometers to go! Run through the bridge over Vistula River. I was about to get it, to finish it. 41 km ‘Only over 1 km!’ A bit more than 1000m straight to the finish line. Last try of acceleration. My legs were tired but tried to run a bit faster. I looked at my watch. Was happy, was proud, ‘This is going to happen! I will do it! I can do it! Everything is going to be ok (MOM!)’.
I remember I crossed the finish line, saw the first unofficial time – slight more than 1h16m. I was super happy, I was touched, my emotions were all the kinds. With tears in my eyes I got the medal…
Official time 3h16m27s! Wow!
I must have called my parents.
Shortly after I phoned my father ‘I made it! 3h16m!’… poor connection disconnected us. In few minutes I got call back from my dad ‘Mom passed away tonight at 2.50am…’
S I L E N C E
Could not believe it… Was speechless… I am still speechless…
I headed back home directly straight after.
It was beautiful race, beautiful Marathon.
I would never understand why and how quickly it all happened. When I was leaving home the day before I would not think it would be the last moment I see my Mom.
She passed away the night when I out of home. She was at her home that she cared a lot and loved so much. In company of her beloved husband and my beloved dad. She sneaked out so quiet, she knew I wanted to run this Marathon. She always wanted to keep me safe and not aware of her problems…
I cannot explain my emotions and feeling. This is still very fresh and comes back and will be back to me very often.
This day, this Marathon, all circumstances… It will always stay in my mind and heart, forever.
I made it for Her. I dedicate it to the best Mom ever. To My Mom.
<3 <3 <3
I love You and always will. You know it. You always wanted me to be happy and I promise you I will.