Posted by: runwithgarrison | May 9, 2013

Race report Krakow marathon (P version)

Aloha everyone!

Just want to start off by thanking everyone who supported me and sent me well wishes on my journey. I’m so lucky to have such great friends and an amazing family, I owe my success to you.

The last time I posted on here I was more than halfway through with training for the Krakow marathon. Things hadn’t exactly been going the way I envisioned. I was completing the runs but was having a really hard time with it. The long runs were becoming brutal and I was starting to lose faith in my training. Things came to a breaking point when I became so exhausted I was having difficulty doing much of anything that didn’t involve laying and a bed. I finally got some labs done in early April and found out I was (pretty severely) anemic. I started taking iron supplements right away but was told it would take a minimum of 1 month to get back to normal. Doc was great and didn’t try to dissuade me from doing the marathon but wanted to at least make sure that the ole body was responding to the iron. Thankfully the labs I was able to have done before taking off for Europe showed some improvement. Since my hemoglobin was so low and I was not getting sufficient oxygen to my muscles during runs, I decided to ease up on the training. In April I ended up running only 23 miles before the marathon compared to ~120 in March.

The anemia coupled with the time off from training left me worried about the marathon. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I just desperately wanted to finish without getting pulled off the course. I read that the cutoff time was 5:30 and I imagined this cart driving along putting people in it who were too slow (like Monty Python’s Holy Grail “bring out your dead” scene, “I don’t want to go on the cart” was uttered many times in our house leading up to the marathon).

The night before the marathon Michael and I discussed the race plan which was to keep with the 5 hr pace group and after 20 miles if I felt fine I could always break away. I felt okay in the morning but not terribly excited mostly because I was still worried if I had recovered enough from the anemia to finish the run. Michael and Matt (our friend currently stationed in Italy who ran the marathon with us) did a good job of distracting me. As the race started I kept with the 5 hr group, however about two miles into it I jogged up to the 4:45ers and felt more comfortable there. I was feeling great running the first few miles until I felt the beginning of some knee pain at around 4 mi. I was concerned that the joint pains were starting so early and wondering if taking such a mileage cut in the last month of training wasn’t a mistake. Luckily, the anemia issue was doing such a great job of distracting me that I could ignore the growing pains. With every step I kept waiting for the wheels to come off like they had done so many times during training and around the half I was relieved that the body (besides the knees) was doing great. I came through around 16 still hanging out with the 4:45ers. The legs progressively got worse, pain moved up to the glutes and back and by mi 21 I was struggling a bit. By that point I knew I could finish in under 5:30 and was trying to enjoy being in Krakow, since the in first half I felt so distracted. I walk/jogged until mi 23 and started walking for about 2 mi, but told myself when I hit the park that I had to run/jog/shuffle the rest of the way. When you come into the park you can see the finish line across the field, but you still have to make your way around the park ~3/4 mi before the big finale, it’s quite cruel actually. As I was running along the park, the fantastic supporters were cheering, clapping, and counting down the meters. I heard a few women along the route cheering especially for the female runners which made me want to run harder for them. When I crossed the finish line I was so inspired by the crowd I felt like I could run forever.

Ok maybe it wasn’t quite like that. I crossed the finish, stuck out my neck to be medaled and was relieved to see Michael standing right there so he could hold up my body (it’s like hugging). I couldn’t believe it was all over, the training, the anxiety, the cheering and the determination. It really was a great experience.

Since this is a training blog and this post is mighty long already I won’t detail the rest of the Europe trip but I do have to thank our friends Eileen, Matt and their little guy for taking us to Positano and giving us the best one day in Italy we could’ve hoped for and for coming with us to Krakow (and Matt thanks for going along with our crazy Krakow marathon idea). Also thanks to our friends Kelly and Mark for leaving their little guy in Switzerland to come hang out with us in Krakow. I’m so happy you guys all enjoyed Krakow as much as I do. My family in Poland, thanks for providing an excellent environment for eating, drinking and sleeping, it was a great post marathon recovery time.

I started this post with thanks and I’ll end it the same way because its what’s most important. My family on both coasts and in Poland, thanks for always giving your support and love. All our friends and coworkers who asked and listened about running things even when they were tired of asking and listening about running things. You guys kept me going. And finally and most importantly thanks Michael, you believe in me more than I can ever believe in myself…I did it baby!



  1. Yay Pauline!!!! Hope to see you guys soon!

  2. Way to go P!! I’m so proud! And thank you M for supporting her!

  3. It was Big Thing,Congratulation Pauline.It is amazing that you can overcome all ,
    amazing how you can follow you goal ,and on picture from finish line you look so fresh and relax like you can run a few more miles.
    Thanks for teaching me to stop be overly worry mom ,
    by sentence”stop worry, and be supportive instead” it could apply to
    many more events.
    Michael thank you for all aspect of training and support of Pauline run,
    congratulation on your run .
    The word I learned from yours marathon run is brutal which some time is equal to run,but you are continuing it anyway.

    • Thanks Mamus! I’m glad you listened to me, I like hearing support much more than worry! Thank you for being greatest mom ever, Happy Mother’s Day and I love you!

  4. […] and only marathon, in April 2013, was brutal but also deeply gratifying (you can read about it here). I won’t go into specifics, suffice to say running and anemia do not go together […]

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