We met him in Singapore, although he came from Malaysia. He runs ultra-marathons. I run marathon once in my life and I’m quite sure that running even one kilometer more than 42 of them is just absolutely impossible. He proves I’m wrong. You can run ultra-marathons and you can do it with nerve atrophy. You can run them when you are 30 years old although when you were 10 doctors said you wouldn’t survive till your 20th birthday. You can have amazing wife and daughter while having difficulties with things like walking, eating, writing, speaking. You can. You can also go around and talk about yourself, causing tears and motivating people to do something with their own life. Cheng Zhee Long made me cry a lot and think about my own marathon. He motivated me to do it one more time, even if one and half year ago I promised myself I would never do it again. There is even some thoughts about ultra-marathon (especially because Cheng is the second ultra-marathon runner I’ve met this month), but it’s too scary yet to say it loudly.
I thought, however, that if we have already the topic of marathon, maybe it’s good moment to share experience from mine. Although it happened one and half year ago (really? It seems as it was yesterday...), I’ve never written down thoughts and impressions. Even if they are about something which happened in the past, maybe there will be a way to connect them with present. Let’s try.
Everything started because everybody was speaking about marathon. Obviously. If some new thought came to your mind, suddenly everybody speaks about that, does that, buys that, prepares for that. Friends, friends of friends, even newspapers start to write only about that, just to make you decide finally: ok, I’ll do that. I’ll run marathon. From decision to marathon I had 4 months of intensive work. Trainings every second day, often till midnight, because it was the only time when both me and Andrea could run. Sun or rain, tired or not, we run. At the beginning one hour seemed to be sooo long but with time we realized one hour run is almost nothing, not more than warming up. First 20 km we did in Świętokrzyskie Mountain during one of our long weekends. After that I thought I would not move nowhere, never, and it was still only half of the thing! Before marathon you never run 40 km. In fact we never did more than 20, maybe 25. 40 km can be done once, then body needs long, very long break to recover. Till the end we didn’t know if we manage. Last day every minute we changed attitude: we’ll do it or we’ll do what we can and that would be fine.
We started faster than during trainings. Presence of others added adrenaline. First 20 km we run without bigger problems. But just after that - difficulties started. Every kilometer was a fight. About 27 km we decided to spread. Andrea run faster than me and adjusting our pace to each other started to be too exhausting. Together we had no chance to reach the goal. First few kilometers after spreading I did half running, half walking. Even walking was almost impossible. I had such a pain that each movement of the leg, doesn’t matter if running or walking, was extremely difficult. But the worse came around 35 kilometer which happened to be in front of our house… it’s not something you can do to the runners. I gave up. I felt I couldn’t run anymore and I didn’t want to cross the finish line by walking. I wanted to run to it, but I couldn’t. I gave up. I went up to our small flat on the third floor and lied down on the bad. There was no thoughts, no emotions inside me. I lied for a while, as I wouldn’t exist. And then, suddenly, still without any precise thoughts, I stood up and started to run again. It was pure will. It took me a while to reach the marathon again, they started to open the streets already. Then I started to overtake other runners. In fact, I was the only one who was still running. It was my head to run, much more than my body. I wrote to Andrea, that I started again. He didn’t expect me to finish so quickly. Well, I didn’t expect it either. Few minutes before I was not able to walk and now I was running. My body was completely depended on the will. Last hundreds meters I run with my full speed. Everything comes to your mind and heart in the moment of crossing the finish line. Tears, emotions, stress, everything flow, impossible to stop. I sit with medal hanging from my neck. I’ve just finished marathon.
What could be the connection between all of those and our travel? Well, for sure it is very much connected with me. It shows how I work. It happen to me to have doubts. It happen to fail. It happen to stop. The difference between the real failure and the win is only in the fact that you stand up. Small difference between looser and winner. Stand up. Again. And again. And again. Not three times, but thirty, three hundreds if it’s needed. I listen to changemakers from all over the world and that’s what I hear: keep going. Don’t give up. Find another way. You don’t have to be first. It’s not the race with others. It’s the race with yourself. It’s you who has to be overcome. And it doesn’t matter what kind of race is that. If it’s marathon, opening a company, travel around the world, big change in your life, family, health. It’s your race of being better, every day. Better than yourself.