I woke up early to have breakfast. And I woke up older, maybe even wiser, cause it was my birthday.
But that’s not all, it was my 42nd birthday! 42 years and 42 Km!
Fair enough it would have been much better in miles, but I can’t complain.
I swallowed my pre-race drink and headed down to the Narodowy Stadium to meet Steve and drop the bag at the deposit. I walked across the Poniatowskiego bridge in the brisk morning, excited like a kid in a toy store. My second ever marathon!!!
Ok maybe the 3:30 target was a bit optimistic, also given the fact that my knee had been hurting in the last couple of weeks. I was gonna give everything no matter what.
After meeting up with Steve and having dropped the bags, we got ready and proceeded to the start, but not before a pee-stop. Steve reported to have seen an iPhone in the hole of the porta-loo. It was like The Sword in The Stone, whoever pulls it out shall be king sort of thing…but no one seemed to have attempted it yet.
I took my sweater off and showed my wicked race t-shirt. Our friend Mirek came up with the phrase in Polish, which goes something like “Today I finish…42 years/kilometers”.
Before the start I asked how to say Happy Birthday in Polish because I was bound to be greeted that day. Apparently you say: Wszystkiego najlepszego!
What??? Can I buy a vowel please?
The race started and we trailed behind the 3:45 pacer’s flag. After 2 km we settled at a nice 5:00/km pace. After km 8 my knee started hurting and I took an ibuprofen although I knew it was the wrong thing to do.
The first 10 Km passed quickly and my effort seemed just right. I had decided to wear my cardio belt in order to keep my heart rate in check but apparently I suck at keeping heart rates in check.
Not even at the halfway point and I was dangerously hovering my lactate threshold zone. This was not looking good.
At km 32 is when things started to turn sour. I was beginning to feel cramps in both calves and had to slow down. Meanwhile I had lost Steve after a water station and kept going on my own. By km 35 my energy faded completely and I hit wall.
After that it was a mixture of walking, jogging, stretching and looking miserable. The people watching the race were really supportive though and this kept me going. At some point there was a guy from the crowd standing in the middle of the street with a cigarette in his mouth and an open packet with a cigarette sticking out, offering free smokes to runners. It must have been km 39.
He made me chuckle and I carried on limping forward.
When I saw the white columns of the Poniatowskiego bridge I thought I was almost there. Not. That bridge is probably the longest bridge I ever crossed. Flipping endless.
Then we got closer to the stadium and I had a surge of whatever was left.
Entering the stadium was breathtaking, the speaker, the crowd, the light, the energy in the air ….then I heard shouting my name. It was my partner Giorgia. She handed me our 4-yr-old daughter and we ran together the last 100m, just like in Paris. It was emotional to say the least.
I finished with an official time of 3:48:05, with no energy and a very bad knee.