The TrainAsONE team love hearing about how TrainAsONErs do in their events and when Bozena Myslinska went over to do the UltraRoztocze 65km race near her home town in Poland we knew it was going to be an adventure. The race was on the 20th May and we’ve spoken to Bozena to hear a little bit about it.
It all started in January when I was browsing polish websites looking for trail races near my home town in the east of Poland. I came across first edition of Roztocze National Park races with 5 different distances and immediately I was drawn to a 60k. I can’t explain how but I felt it was something I was ready to do and before I had a chance to change my mind I put my name on the register.
Wow, so you just bit the bullet and went for it. Very brave! So the next step was training, how did you hear about TrainAsONE?
I didn’t really knew where to start with my training. An ultra-marathon, that was something my lovely, but at the same time a little crazy, friends did and I hadn’t even run a marathon.
I shared my fears with a friend and he told me about TrainAsONE. I thought I’d give it a go even though every online training plan I tried before never really worked for me.
We’re glad you made the leap of faith to use TrainAsONE. What appealed about the coaching?
The TrainAsONE website said that they “provide intelligent, round-the-clock coaching for runners of all abilities and goals. Allows you to train on your terms, guiding you every step of the way to help you achieve amazing results.” Sounds great right? It was the train on your own terms that appealed to me the most.
In a short (because to be honest I could talk and talk about my training forever) it was the best time of my running life. For the first time I was systematic with my training and the knowledge that each run has its purpose was a massive confidence booster. I loved running and my miles quickly built up.
Great to hear! So How did it go on the day? Were you excited?
I found myself back in Poland travelling with my family (who were my support crew for the day) to the start line which was in small town Kranobrod. The start of the race was next to the lake and with temperatures reaching 30C all I wanted to do was to have a swim. But I had a job to do. I kept telling myself that this is not a race and that I am not to chase anyone but safely get to the finish line and actually enjoy the journey. [Robbie – I know how difficult that can be!]
The first few miles went fast and I felt really good despite the heat. After an hour I opened my bag and had a sandwich. I felt full of energy and kept going. In the forest I was welcomed by sandy trails which I found impossible to run so I started to walk. It was uncomfortable but I was happy with my steady pace. I caught up with few runners and we chatted for a little bit.
So you kept your plan of not racing and focusing on your own run?
At about 14k we were told our times and positions. I was 5th lady. 4th female was just in front of me. I gave a little cheer and then I don’t know what happened but I felt a very strong need to get ahead. Oh dangerous way of thinking. Silly, silly me. But it was in my head and I had to act on it, with that I looked at Daniel, who I was chatting with for few k’s now and he just said lets go then. We picked up our pace and left the group behind us.
The competitive beast that lies within us all! Very early to start racing but hopefully it was a good decision!
A few miles later Daniel slowed down and I was running on my own. I was surprised at how well I felt, yet I had to keep reminding myself that I need to take it easy. I was strict with my food intake too, as with high temperatures it wasn’t easy but without it there would be no finish line. So I ate.
It’s true that ultra race are just big picnics with some running thrown in. What was the course like?
The route was amazing, every few kilometers rolling fields turned to forests and forests turned to villages. The flowers and green long grass looked amazing and the shade from the trees gave everyone needed cover from the sun.
It was at about 27k where we run into a town called Szczebrzeszyn and had few k’s to cover before we reached the control point. I struggled a lot as it was all on pavement, without good views and no shade. The sun was unbearable and I was crying inside for some shelter. Then I saw my mum and my cousin. There was food and drinks and buckets of freezing cold water! I was happy again.
Having family along at a race is great, Robbie’s Mum is probably one of his biggest supporters! You got to half way in 3hrs 37 and then were on your way to your first marathon, how did that feel?
I passed more fields with beautiful yellow flowers covering the area like a carpet and no sooner than a few minutes later I reached a stunning forest with tall trees and little rays of sunshine going through the branches. It looked and felt magical. As I looked at my watch I realised I was about to finish a marathon. Crazy! Having never run one before I stopped and took a photo of the time. It showed just over 5 hours. And from that point it was less than a half marathon to go.
So finally at the business end of the race. How was that?
I was tired and my legs felt heavy. The trail was uneven and hard under foot and I could feel growing pain around my ankles. My calfs started to hurt and I was slowly convinced that this is where it all about to go downhill. I thought my legs will give up, I thought that this is where I will hit the wall. Everything was an issue, the trees too close to my face, the trails too hard, too sandy, too uneven, too soft. I tried to stay positive and focus on the beauty around me as the forest was green and dark giving lots of shade.
All ultra races have low points usually, what brought you out of this one? Sometimes it’s just the finish line!
Coming out of the forest I saw familiar trail and my mum was standing at the side of it. [Always a great boost] I was shocked how fast this section went. I stopped again, restocked my bag, grabbed tomatoes, banana, crackers, cakes and oranges and I think I ate them all at once.
I then saw little sign saying “shower” and I just went straight under the stream of cold water, laughing like a child. This was amazing. People screamed there is only 14k left to finish. I knew I would get there.
Nearly home now, was it easy from here on in?
No! This last section was hardest one. For one there was a massive hill, but not your usual uphill path, it was basically a canyon in the middle of the forest with fallen trees and rocks. I didn’t even know if it was a path at times!
Finally at the top I saw a sign for 11km to go, but I thought there was only 7km! It was devastating. Suddenly I felt pain in every muscle, every bone and I nearly lost the will to carry on, but I was so close. For first time I put music on, this kept me going.
How did it feel to finally get to that finish line?
I entered the park, where the little church was built in the middle of the lake, and ran next to it, knowing that the finish line is just seconds away. Then I saw my parents and my other family members waiting at the finish line, cheering me on and clapping.
I did it, I just ran 65k and I loved it. The moment when I crossed the line felt surreal. Something that only a few months earlier I thought was impossible, today it actually happened. My heart was full.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with us Bozena, it’s an inspiring tale for other TrainAsONErs to go out and try the “impossible”.
Bozena finished in a little over 8 hours, grabbed that 4th place finish and was 1st in her age category, although her Parents had to represent her at the prize giving ceremony! Well done Bozena!