If you think that I have always been into running, that’s far from the truth. However, when I was doing my Bucket list in 2013 – ‘To run a marathon’ was in the first 15. They say “watch out what you wish for” as shortly after I went for my first run, which ended up running first half-marathon 5 weeks after. I was hooked, enjoying 10k and half-marathon distance and wasn’t really keen on taking on marathon as of yet.
My dear friend Marta, mother of two, is a marathon runner, so far she’s completed 4 out of 6 World Marathon Majors (some of which few times) and she will be running her 5th one in Boston in 2018. She’s been telling me all about it and pissing me off with the question: “How long are you going to run half-marathons for?”
She got me…
I signed up for a ballot to London marathon in May 2015 when I was 5 months pregnant.
I didn’t really think about it too much as the chances for getting a place were pretty low anyway. 2 weeks after giving birth to my baby boy Kuba, I got a letter in the post saying: “Congratulations, you are in”. I was shocked, how come? People trying to get in for years and I applied for the very first time and got accepted. I have always been a lucky girl and here it was. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I could still feel the labour pain…and very soon I needed to start training…and for a marathon!!!
Anyway, from January 2016 my training calendar was full of running and strength training at the gym (as on top of marathon, I signed up to do tough mudder with my family…don’t ask me what I was thinking, as I probably wasn’t…I put it all on baby brain…).
The beginning was fine, I could feel that I was much weaker and my form definitely needed to be improved, however it was better than I expected. After 2 weeks’ things got worse…I could not run at all, my hips were killing me, I could not lift my legs, even walking was painful. That was pretty scary. I didn’t know what to do. I spoke to some people who were much more experienced in running and one lady helped me immensely. During pregnancy, growing belly is putting so much pressure on hip flexors, making them tighter and weaker. When I started exercising with high intensity – the body responded with pain. First I needed to stretch my hip flexors like crazy in order to be able to get to the starting point from before pregnancy. Later I could add my training and continue to stretch a lot. With persistence and patience, I was about to get better. So, I stopped doing hill runs, no incline treadmill workout, just flat, slow runs, hoping to fix the problem. Thankfully it got better.
Even though I had a running stroller, I could not take my baby for a run until he was 6 months (that’s what they advised). My family was on board and helped me enormously. Each Sunday, together with my husband Lucas and brother-in-law Matt, we were planning who is looking after Kuba, so I could train. We were all preparing for tough mudder, so we had a family calendar of who is doing what and when. I started buggy running 4 weeks before the big day. It took me a while to get used to it but I loved my BOB stroller which was so easy to push.
My training was demanding. I was breastfeeding, my baby was not sleeping through the night and I was tired. Often I was exhausted but still needed to be persistent. Preparation for spring marathon takes place in the winter, so through the rain, through the wind, in the dark, whether I felt like it or not, I had to be disciplined. I believe that having a set date of the race made the training possible, if I was running just for the sake of running, most likely I wouldn’t do it.
Training to run 42.195km itself is demanding, training for tough mudder itself is hard, doing both is a killer and doing both with a small baby while breastfeeding and enduring sleepless nights is crazy…It was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.
But I paradoxically feel that all these crazy challenges have saved me – both as a woman and as a person. I know that I would go crazy if I spent my whole time with my child, even though I love him so much. Doing the necessary training was my little escape, some precious time only for myself – time when I could recharge my batteries.
Off course there were times when I wanted to give up, however always after training, and I mean ALWAYS, I felt much better, looking at mummy’s challenges under a different light. I was coming back as a better mother and as a better wife.
My run was important to me for another reason as well. I’m fortunate enough to be healthy, having food on the table, loving and supportive family but many people don’t have that. I feel that’s my obligation to help the ones in need and for the last few years, together with my family, we’ve been doing that through the initiative called Basket Brigade, where we prepare food hampers for families in need over Christmas. We started small, with 10 hampers in 2011 and last year alone we fed over 300 families in my home town. We combine healthy lifestyle with the idea of helping others, so each race and fitness challenge is for a good cause. I believe that secret to living is giving and we’ve already experience magic many times.
Final week before the marathon – my parents came over for a week which was a true blessing. I was tired as I was still feeding Kuba at night, so my mum was taking him over in the morning and I could have a non-interrupted sleep. That made wonders. I feel like a completely different person when I sleep and right before marathon, I needed that the most.
2 days before the big day we went to Marathon Expo taking place in London Excel which for me was an extraordinary event itself. I loved everything in there.
When I was picking my number up I felt quite emotional. Just 2 days to go…I was so grateful for getting a chance to run that iconic London marathon and so blessed that I’ve done my training in spite of all the challenges.
People who were giving the numbers couldn’t believe that my baby was just 7 months old and that I was still breastfeeding. I put my number on Kuba’s chest when he was sleeping in a buggy and everyone passing by was saying that he would run a marathon one day as well. Off course he will 🙂
On Saturday my parents got back to Poland and my sister came over to support me – it was quite crazy day as she almost missed her flight…
During the day we took a moment with my husband, talking about my feelings before the race. I was nervous but my hubby, as ALWAYS, was able to calm me down by asking quality questions like: ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’. What I realized back then was that my race time was not so important anymore.
Whether I run or walk I just wanted to get safely through the finish line. I already felt like a hero for taking on such a demanding training while nursing my baby.
In the evening I was shown a special video made by my family and friends. All of them were sending their positive vibrations and wishing me luck for my race, which brought tears into my eyes.
Final family meal loaded with those necessary carbs – pasta with quorn and veggies, preparation of clothes, shoes, other accessories, gels, number with pins and bag that I was taking with me and I was ready to go…
If you want to know what happened on the big day click HERE