Piatra Craiului Marathon – The pure joy of running

Posted: October 9, 2012 in Competitions, Marathons, Piatra Craiului
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I was thinking about this marathon pretty much for one whole year. Last year, the second day after finishing I was thinking if I will ever run a marathon again. Now after one year and 6 marathons I can definitely say for sure that I’m infected. Like most of the Romanian trail-runners I’ve got infected in Piatra Craiului and I’m glad it happened that way. I think the microbe is very strong in Zarnesti and I might not found a cure for it. I simply love Piatra Craiului, it is the mountain that I grew up with and this little ingredient adds more potency to the microbe.

MPC 2012 was the benchmarking for me. Last year Piatra Craiului kicked my butt pretty bad. It took me almost 2 weeks to walk normally. However it also pushed me to train harder such that this year I will finish with no pain … or at least with less pain. Since EcoMarathon I had an uneven evolution with ups and downs and with a lot of lessons learned. Everything culminated with Cindrel Marathon when I won the second place at my age category. I was enthusiastic about this performance but it also raise a question. How will I run at MPC? Here all the trail runners come. At MPC you run with the best and its the place to see where you are among them.

For Rose it was her second marathon after Cindrel and she was also very anxious. She started to run since April but not following a rigorous plan. Short runs whenever she had some time. After Cindrel she also wanted to see where she is among the best female trail-runners.

We arrived Friday evening in Zarnesti to pick-up the starting kit, a lot of people there, a lot of friendly faces and an overall nice atmosphere. Luci asked me to translate with him the technical session in English and that got me a little worried since I’m not very comfortable to speak in public :). But it was a nice experience and I hope that my English was not very bad and the guests from abroad understood most of what I’ve said.

Saturday morning however things were not looking good for Rose. She woke up with a stiff and painful left leg. It is a big mystery why but I was remembering what it happened this year to me just before Half Marathon Brasov. Rose was very sad and she was not sure that she could finish this marathon, but she gave it a try anyway. She could barely walk and I was thinking that she will abandon.

We’ve arrived at the starting line, passed through the check-point and we were all aligned an anxious … time is ticking and everybody was ready to start. I’ve met with Adrian Ciorba who was kind enough to take a picture šŸ™‚ … Thanks Adi.

The weather was just wonderful and at 9:14 AM MPC 2012 officially started … YUPIII.

For this run I was thinking to start a bit fast such that I will avoid any bottlenecks in Magura through the fences. It was a good strategy but I’ve started way too fast. At Gura Raaului where the asphalt ends I could see in front the first competitors. I was not feeling tired just that the rhythm was strong and soon I was about to learn another lesson. After Botorog we took a left turn and I slowed down a bit. However I was constantly passed by other competitors. Through the fences I didn’t had any problems and I was following Alex Fodor who passed in front of me just when entering the fences area. I followed him quite a lot, but I’ve lost him for good at the base of Funduri climb. I’ve reached La Table fast and there I’ve done my second mistake … I thought of having the magnesium ampoule after Funduri. My rythmn was good and the climb to Funduri started. I was feeling OK but … just a few hundred meters before reaching Funduri the first cramps at my lover legs appeared. I slowed the rythmn immediately and I was passed my Andrei Tale. I’ve tried to stick to him but he was climbing very good and I was not able to accelerate since the cramps were waiting to come to the surface. I had my ampoule of magnesium there but it was too late. The damage was done and the cramps didn’t want to leave very soon. Probably I had these cramps because I’ve started a bit too fast for my normal rhythm. Anyway … the cramps were there and I knew the won’t go away.

Before Funduri…

On the descent from Funduri I was able to push it a little bit. Not too fast, since I was feeling the cramps were anxious to shake my muscles, but I have a pretty good descent technique and I was able to fly through the rocky areas. From the base of Funduri I’ve passed quite a few of competitors, but I was really upset that the cramps were dragging me down. I had a lot of energy in me but when wanted to push the throttle the cramps were pulling the brakes. Yeah … pretty shitty feeling, but that didn’t stopped me to enjoy the run and view the beauties of Piatra Craiului.

At Spirlea…

… I’ve done another mistake :). After drinking a lot of water I’ve decided to try some grapes … it turned out that the gels+grapes+effort don’t get along pretty good. Immediately I felt a punch in my stomach and my energy level dropped. I’ve struggled to recover till reaching Plaiul Foii and after some magnesium and some water I was starting to feel a little better. However I was feeling my lower legs burning and I knew that Diana climb will kill me …. and I was right.

Everything went well until I’ve reached the demanding part of the climb. I was feeling awful. Diana manage to steal something from me at this marathon … my dignity šŸ™‚ My lower legs were in such pain that I have to use my hands to keep climbing. I was like a wounded animal dragging up. I knew that this year the route was slightly changed and Luci said that its easier … well its not !!! šŸ˜€ To be honest, the climb to Diana is the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done in my life. Its not that I didn’t climb something harder or longer, but taking into account the state of my lower legs it was again a hard and painful experience.

Eventually I’ve reached Diana, I was passed by at least 5-6 competitors and magically I was able to run again with no problems. Just when climbing my lower legs were killing me, on descents or flat ground they were fine. Because of the magnesium coup that I’ve took at Plaiul Foii now the cramps were gone so I’ve started to run like a mad man first on the descent and than till the finish line.

From Diana till the finish line everything went perfect, no pains, good rhythm and eventually I’ve crossed the finish line smiling … or not šŸ™‚

I had some liquids at the finish line and I’ve returned on the route to wait for Rose. I didn’t know the time and I didn’t really care. I knew it was a couple of minutes over 5 hours. It was a good evolution from last year … but my thoughts were flying to Rose. Did she abandon? Does she feels alright? How is her lower leg?

Luckily I’ve met with Luci who was returning from Diana and he told me she passed Plaiul Foii. That was really a great news ! I’ve continued a couple of meters on the route and waited for Rose while tacking pictures to the other competitors and encouraging them to keep going since it was close to the finish line. I felt really good encouraging them … I knew how important it is when you run low on energy.

I’ve met with a lot of friends on the route and eventually Razvan Alexe told me that Rose will arrive shortly and I was really happy.

I was really proud of her. I knew from last year how hard it is to keep going when you are in pain. Its a constant battle with your body and she won. Congrats !!! That’s the biggest achievement after this kind of event, not the time. You didn’t quit, you won the battle by finding resources that you thought you don’t have.

I’ve run with her the last 1-2 km’s and her torment was over.

That was MPC 2012 for us … a family event spent with a looot of friends.

Now some words about this marathon … everything was perfect, but this is not a surprise šŸ™‚ This is how you can describe a CarpathianMan event. Its like when you buy a Mercedes and you expect that everything will work perfectly. You don’t come to MPC and think if the route is properly marked, or if there is enough food in the refreshment points. This comes for granted … what you think though is what surprise Luci has for you this year. This time was the CarpathianMan title awarded to those who have participated to all four events: Postavaru Night, Bike 3 Mountains, Ultra Trail Fagaras and Piatra Craiului Marathon. This year I could not attend UTF since we had plans to climb Mont Blanc, but I will definitely add it on my list next time.

In the end again, BIG thanks to Luci and all the volunteers and I’m really happy that MPC remains the magnet attracting more and more virgins šŸ˜€ in the world of trail running … I’m already thinking at MPC 2013 šŸ™‚

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