August 15th is a special date: the Assumption of Mary, the Battle of Warsaw of 1920, and in the Tri-City we remember the victims of the shipyard strikes from 1970 and 1980. I carry this all with me in my head, cause running a marathon without ideas seems a bit silly. I can’t benefit from the 2 days of rest which are recommended, but this is supposed to be a test, not a race for me.
Before the start, there’s a short ceremony to commemorate the killed shipyard workers in Gdynia and then the almost 1000 participants set out. Even after 20 years this event is still rather small in scale when compared to Warsaw, Poznań, let alone Berlin or London. I heard the maximum marathon capacity is 50 thousand runners, and it is related to the width of streets in the major European cities: long live Haussmann and Napoleon III! Here, in the Tri-City we have a problem with this, plus the “thoroughfare” nature of the Gdynia – Sopot – Gdańsk agglomeration, plus the middle of the summer holidays, plus not much in terms of organized cheering. But anyway, I set out in perfect weather, 18C, no sunshine. I assumed to run in 3h45min, but I log in to the 3h30min group and I am doing fine running at the pace of around 5min/km.
Sometime around the 15th kilometer I feel that this is a bit too much for me, but I let the bravado in me in charge of decisions, so here we go, this is the Polish way! Of course physiology, like mathematics, is objective so I am looking forward to what happens next with curiosity. In Gdańsk a small group of spectators welcomes us and the sun peeking out with warm applause, but we have a slightly different opinion about the weather conditions at the 23rd kilometer – it’s getting really hot. It’s getting harder and harder so I can’t wait to meet Janek and Zdzichu who are supposed to join at the 30th kilometer and give me support. At this point we’re already running a new route which goes along the football stadium.
he view is beautiful but there are also viaducts and a bridge… a long bridge at that. But here they are! Janek passes me a small orange which I nibble on as I go, but it doesn’t taste right. Almost no juice, and I choke as I chew the dry pulp. Where do they import this stuff from? The boys keep chatting me up but I am quiet, and then at the 33rd kilometer I hit the wall. I hit it hard with all the power of my ambitions and dreams to score my life record below 3h40min. I wouldn’t call it arrogance but close to it. I’m paying for it now and there are no foolproof methods, no friend can help me. The pain comes suddenly and it’s intense: a stitch on my right side so Zdzichu explains: Biliary colic, you were going too fast and it’s gotta hurt. My breathing becomes shallow, the diaphragm contracts rapidly and I feel muscle contractions coming soon… and I switch to marching. It’s humbling for the ego but reasonable from the point of view of our project. Zdzichu reminds me about it too: This isn’t your priority, rest, this was too much, and remember that tomorrow we will have a light session, some 2.5 km swimming…you’ll relax. This cheered me up but the grimace on my face hasn’t changed. Trouble returns like black vultures eager to feed on my humiliation. Janek sees his father’s fall so he follows Zdzichu and protects me from the wind which keeps blowing in my face for 5 km. I pray for the end and for the effect of the finishing line pull, but St. Peter must be on his cigarette break.. it’s bad, I see the road surface is uneven any my feet twist, I stagger, but the boys won’t let me change the pace, I am supposed to finish this with my head up high. Which happens in Długa street in the most beautiful finishing stretch.
Siedzę w strefie dla tych co ukończyli bieg, dają grochówkę dla zawodników, co jest miłe, ale jednocześnie jest jakimś wstrząsem dla mojego pustego żołądka.
At this moment I feel that my Mum, whose nameday it is today and who is not with us, lets me stumble but makes sure I don’t fall – not only when running. I reach the finishing line – the result of around 3h31min definitely does not satisfy my running ambition. Nor does my condition at the end give me confidence in the view of the coming IM in Malbork.
Sitting in the zone for those who completed the run, I enjoy the pea soup I’m given. It’s nice but it’s also a shock for my empty stomach.
Some time later I walk about among participants and I see who I think is the winner. I chat him up. The Kenyan Joel Maina Mwangi, who used to run under 2h14min and scored 2h25min today, tells me: the route was difficult, many stretches uphill in the second part, hot and strong wind – Joel! You have no idea how your words helped me!
Kasia in unbelievable: she drove me to the starting point in Gdynia, took pictures of the route and the finishing line, drove Tomek to the 30 km mark and she did it all while streets were closed – that’s not easy, believe me.
No i prawie ostatni akcent dzisiejszego dnia – ruszam na wieczorną mszę i wybieram ławkę bez oparcia – by nie drzemnąć.
21:37 Maraton staje się przeszłością – myślami krążę wokół najbliższych 3 tygodni.
I enjoy the bath for 10 minutes and then I return the call from an unknown number. It turns out to be the TV – Dzień dobry TVN. The project is gaining momentum and I have a chance to talk about our charitable cause. I think it will be on Sunday after 8 AM.
And one of the last accents today: I go to the evening Mass and I choose a bench without back support – or else I would drift off.
21:37 Maraton becomes history – my thoughts are already focused on the next 3 weeks.