…and I am past the finish line. One of the amazing things about marathons is that they are over at some point. Just by doing it. Sounds stupid, but it really fascinates me. The time between the start and finish is a bit like a journey, I always feel like a different person to the one at the start line. And somehow in between you have the milestones. And each one is a witness of a different part of your run: waking up, getting excited, being worried, feeling strong, feeling weak, experiencing desperation and euphoria, sometime even at the same moment. The new thing about this run was how very physically bad and weak I actually felt last night and how very well the marathon turned out to be. I was running in my new minimalistic trainers and last night I thought it was a big mistake not to have the other pair with me. I was wearing them on my journey and after a lot of walking through airports and Warsaw my left foot felt like there is something in the shoe and it got more and more uncomfortable. But there was nothing in the shoe, hence there was nothing I could do about it. My only hope was that running in these shoes is different to walking and that it will be fine. Not sure if this was the reason why it turned out to be fine, but against all odds it did. And instead of crawling the last Ks, I was flying them. Not sure was happened there, but the last three K were the fastest in the run and entering the stadium for the last 195m was so buzzing, that I nearly sprinted over the finish. This is probably why I don’t look very relaxed on the photo, but it was great and all worth it!
The race starts and ends in the Stadion Narodowy, which is the National Stadium. It looks pretty cool and feels very special. It is also the place where I had to pick up my number and race pack. I did panic a bit in the end, worried that I won’t make it in time. The train from the airport to the stop that I thought was the closest to the stadium took ages. And on the journey we right passed the stadium but drove on. It was only a twenty minute walk back, but when we passed it, it felt much farer. The little challenged you face when you go to a new place, have to be somewhere at a certain time, but not the style to get a cab.
And here comes marathon number 5: Warsaw. Why Warsaw? Well, I initially wanted to run Loch Ness this weekend, but somehow it seemed to be all to complicated, pricy and such a hassle. It’s strange, but traveling within UK seems to be more effort than hopping on a plane and going abroad. In case of Warsaw I could conveniently leave home at 11am and will be still I time to pick up my race number at Stadion Narodowy by 8pm. I found an affordable but nice place to sleep, only 20 min to walk to where it starts tomorrow and in the afternoon I’ll catch the flight back. Sounds easy. Easier and cheaper than travelling to Scotland. And I spoke to some people who even say Warsaw is worth a visit. Let’s see.
Here is the picture from just after the finish line. What you can’t see is the beer in my hand, a nice Swiss beer sponsor made sure we are getting the priority rights after all the pain. And painful it was, in fact so much that I cannot remember the beer’s label. (Sorry guys, your marketing efforts were wasted on me, but still much appreciated.) Kilometre 37-40 were the hardest and most beautiful at the same time. What we (the non-elite runners) did here is probably best described as mountain-up-falling. This was when my calves decided to prefer to cramp rather than doing their job, a bitter reminder that London does not have mountains and my calves felt like they were not prepared enough. Unlike the ones of a fellow runner, who was lucky enough to live in Switzerland and could prepare for this craziness. As a result he finished three minutes before me, which is very bad for my ego because this was his first marathon and he is two year older than me. But it is really hard to fall-up mountains and run down the last mile with cramping calves. SoI am very pleased with my time of 5:07 and the overall experience. I still can hear the charming “hopp, hopp”, words the Swiss cheerers used to cheer us on.
I should have read the race info earlier, not at the airport the evening before the event, with suitcase packed and the new and shiny trail running shoes in it. Well, they are not that new and shiny anymore, last Saturday I gave them a go with my last long training run before the Jungfrau. I chose a route with as much trail as possible, which is a bit of a challenge living in a big city. But Epping Forest is near by and there is also a bit of a grassy stripe on the way back along the canal. I guess I did two thirds trail and the shoes, Inno-8-X-Talon 190, were doing great. On trail, not on tarmac. Tarmac feels quite uncomfortable in them. Now I learned that half of the Jungfrau Marathon route is road, which means I have to run in my old Mizuno trainers, that are close to falling apart. I am lucky that I have them with me, but I could surely have saved the investment for trail running shoes. An other lesson learned.