running | bieganie, sport & fitness

September 30th

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.

gym | siłownia, running | bieganie, sport & fitness, travels | podróże

LACROSSE BALL

As a continuation of my traveler guide #part 1 today I will talk about one of my must-have item that I always carry with me – LACROSSE BALL

Living nowadays is very fast and stressful for most of us. We have some many things to do during the day that we almost forget about ourselves and our bodies. It is challenging to fit everything in our daily schedule. Especially when we have our work, duties, travels, studies it is difficult to find time for family and friends. Exercising and training regularly are also time-consuming. But we all know that day has only 24 hours(!) and we need to prioritize our stuff and cut off some things.

For example, how many times have you skipped stretching in your training? To make your answer simpler – I will tell you, that me I SKIP IT often ! (:O) Yes, I am honest with you, sometimes, unfortunately, there is no time to do it…

And how many times have you tried to spend a bit more time at gym and do self-massage?

Never? Once per 2 weeks? It is not good. Believe me, I understand you, as me also I usually have very tight chart during the week, and that’s why I try to keep up with and make up for my missed self-message sessions with LACROSSE BALL.

No matter if you are an athlete or not, I want to recommend it to EVERYONE, as this simple tool is just a real wonder for our muscles and tendons. For these who sit all day at the office and for those who train a lot!

WHY

In my post about foam roller – you could see that it is great for improving range of motion and reducing muscle soreness. But you can also use a small, hard ball, like a lacrosse ball, to practice self-myofascial release and work out muscle kinks and soreness. On top of this, it is a simple tool, small and strong, so it can get into areas a foam roller can’t. It also happens to be super inexpensive! (I bought mine for around 7$ 🙂

So are you ready?!

HOW

To use a lacrosse ball correctly, place it under a part of your body (like your shoulders, hamstrings, or butt), and let your body weight push down on the ball. Roll around while you sit or lay on it until you find a spot that feels a little uncomfortable. Stop there and breathe in for four seconds. Then clench the muscle where the ball is and hold for four seconds. Finally, relax the muscle and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this breathing technique until the area has softened up and then move on to the next spot.

REMEMBER

  1. Set Aside 10 Minutes

While it might not seem like much, setting aside 10 minutes while you are on train/plane to massage your feet. Or try to massage before bed and roll out your legs, shoulder, back. That’s long enough to make a difference but not so long that you overdo it. Plus, soft tissue work can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply ;).

  1. Remember To Breathe

When you’re working on easing tension—targeting tough spots and pushing through the soreness—maintaining a steady breath may take a backseat. It shouldn’t. In fact, your breath should play a big role in the process and help to relax your mind and body at the same time.

  1. Target One Area At A Time

Don’t think of lacrosse-ball release as a full-body workout. This is one case where less is more. Instead of going from head to toe, spend one night working on your legs and the next on your upper back. Each time, move your focus to a different muscle group with the goal of hitting all major body parts by end of week.

The one thing to remember: Make sure to hit both sides. If you do your right leg, do your left leg the same night!

Need some inspiration for where to target? Put the ball under a spot you feel stiff.
If you have pain somewhere, think about targeting the surrounding areas. For instance, if your knee kurts, lie down and put the ball under the quads over the knee.

  1. Stop If It Hurts

Discomfort, especially at first, is nothing to worry about, but if you feel sharp pain, stop! If it hurts bad enough that you can’t take a full, deep breath, you need to back off the pressure by supporting your weight with your hands.

Everyone can use lacrosse ball to ease stiffness, reduce pain, and ultimately help body positioning and performance. After all, teasing out muscle kinks and working connective tissue, ligaments, and fascia takes effort. But it’s time well spent. For me this is real life-saver and easy to use when I travel and my body, especially legs need extra release and care. It makes my life better as a runner, model and traveler to keep me ready to go!

Inconspicuous friend for sore legs 😉
Portugal, travels | podróże

PORTO LOVE

Hello!

Hopefully everyone is fine, as I believe that everybody got back to work after long holiday and Christmas break 😉

So did I.
I flew on Sunday night from Warsaw to Portugal as I was working yesterday for @salsaofficial


I spent two short nights in little town Vila Nova de Famalicão (northern-east direction of Porto) that I managed to discover only early morning on Monday while I was running around (yes, another city on my running map! 🙂 ) before my job.


After 10 hours of work I didn’t see much as it was raining and nasty outside, also everything was closed… 🙁

Today I had day off and moved from Famalicão to Porto.
I arrived to beautiful Sao Bento train station just before 1 pm, and exactly at 1 pm I checked-in to my hotel and left my luggage.
High time to walk around the city, luckily it stopped raining when I arrived to Porto (lucky me! 🙂 )

I looove this city. I have been here several times, first time in October 2013. I remember it well also from last summer as I spent whole July in Portugal and I was lucky to travel and work in Porto several times. Today, I could explore the city in different (not so warm. autumn/fall) conditions.

But it didn’t disappoint me. Actually proved its magical vibe and mysterious atmosphere that I would never get bored with.
Food is the same amazing. Fresh, simple, so good and cheap. After ordering my lunch (dourada grelhada 6 €!) the owner of little bar in Mercado do Bolhão went straight to the fishmonger next door and got my fish, grilled and served. How good is that!

(Ok, I was still hungry later and I ate also Pastéis de bacalhau (1 €!), traditional Portuguese Cod Fish Fritter 😉 )

After lunch, I was walking around the city and got lost (literally 😉 ). Not following any particular route I had amazing walk around the city, strolling along Douro River. I managed also to cross the river and explore Vila Nova de Gaia, another city located on the other side of Douro River [It is also well known for its cellars (locally known as “caves”) where the world-famous port wine is stored and aged.]

Ceramic tiles, steep steps, hanging laundry off the windows and numerous tenements, churches and narrow streets are incredible here. Porto is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

I have managed to take some pictures to capture this moments on camera.

Time has definitely stopped here, especially now when it is not a tourist season and there are not many people on the streets. There is something magical in this place. It changes its appearance and look every time with each season/time/day during the year. Bright and happy covered with sunshine, free and youthful with summer-breeze at the ocean and magical & ‘scary’ underneath misty and foggy sky. Porto is definitely a thrilling city and amazing experience all-year long <3

Tonight is my last night in Portugal, tomorrow I am heading to… PARIS! Next travel, next adventures are waiting!

Take care!