After a few years doing Camino almost every year, we ended up having office jobs, with limited holidays, which stopped us from taking three weeks to walk through Spain or Italy. Yet, we wanted to come back to our Camino cards (which many of you received after our last #MileStoneExperience), and also we wanted to challenge ourselves to move a bit and try to achieve something else, instead of reaching Santiago or Rome. One day coming back home I suggested maybe we run a marathon, sure that Andrea would start to laugh. Instead, he said yes. For four months we were training 3-4 times a week (while discussing the cards), which was not easy considering that Andrea was working in Lodz while living in Warsaw, commuting for 5h every day, which meant sometimes we would finish our training at midnight and already at 5 am Andrea had to wake up to catch his train. We started almost from zero, very slowly building up into being able to run 20-25 km. You never run more than 30 km before a proper marathon. After 30 km, regardless the amount of hours trained, you body starts to react strongly and it will need a lot of time to recover. Before the marathon we run 2-3 half marathons, but that's it, we never even reached 30 km at once.
The day before the marathon our mood seesawed between "Yeah! We can do it!" and "No way, we'll be already spread-eagle on the floor halfway there". We didn't read much about food and other forms of preparation, the only thing we took quite seriously was the training scheme Jaap shared with us.
And so the day came. The Warsaw marathon, 42 km through the Polish capital. In a twist of irony, the path was going twice in front of our house – for the 18th and the 34th km (and that should be seriously forbidden!). The first 20 km passed away quite fine, we actually run a bit faster than during the training, pumped by the adrenaline and the energy from having all those people around. After the first half we realized that if any of us wanted to have a chance to finish the marathon, we needed to spread. We have different paces and the fact of running slightly slower or faster than your natural speed adds to the effort. Andrea, who is a bit faster went farther. I managed to run till more or less the 30th km. Then it was a mixture of running and walking, but the true is that every single step was a fight. I was not able to move anymore and in the middle of that crisis I saw our block of flats as the circuit just passed in front of it. I was completely down, I decided that if I couldn't even run anymore, I ought to stop it and I went to our flat on the third floor. I wrote a message to Andrea that I'd given up and I laid down for a minute or two, completely empty. There was no single thought in my mind. It was my body to decide to stand up, jump down the stairs and start to run again. I needed to overtake the cars which were already opening the roads. I was the only one to run. All the others who didn't give up yet, were barely walking. I run last 5-6 km much faster than expected, so that even Andrea - who I informed I had started again - wasn't there when I got to the finish line, he thought it will take me much longer. Well, all in all it was 6 hours, long enough. ;)
What did I learn from it? Above all, that you fail only if you give up. I didn't run 100% of time. I even stopped in the middle, losing hope. But at the end I did it. I crossed the line on my own. One of the last among those who finished, completely destroyed physically but amazingly empowered mentally. I learned a lot about how I function - sometimes overwhelmed by doubts, but at the end always standing up to try again. And again. And again. All in all, I believe this is the only difference between failure and success - to try again.