Like the rest of Cayman’s weekend warriors, Justine Plenkiewicz is into the heavy phase of her training for the local triathlon in a couple of months, and over the weekend she completed a marathon in her hometown in Poland.
“I finally got to run in the Wroclaw Marathon, which I’ve been wanting to do for years,” Plenkiewicz said. “I was born in Wroclaw, so this was not just another marathon but more of a sentimental homecoming.”
Temperatures were overcast and only 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which for someone used to Cayman’s tropical heat must have seemed pretty chilly.
Cheered on by members of her family, Plenkiewicz set off at a moderate pace, intending to run nine-minute miles. During the first six miles, she tried hard to hold back from running too fast, finding herself closer to eight-minute miles but feeling comfortable.
“I knew I had a chance at a personal best and did not want to blow it,” she said. “Slow and chill was my mantra.”
At mile 9 she thought she was in trouble as her left knee, quad and hamstring all had tightened up,
“I felt sluggish,” she said. “It started to rain and I was a bit cold, which fortunately did not last. Small steps, slow and chill. My only focus was getting to the next aid station, which were three miles apart.”
Plenkiewicz crossed the halfway point in one hour, 56 minutes, which meant she was pacing for a personal best.
“I forced myself to slow down,” she said. “At 16 miles I couldn’t take it anymore. I just wanted to run. So I threw caution to the wind.
“I thought it was going to get ugly at mile 20 no matter what I do, might as well do some real running while I can. Turns out I was wrong.
“Mile 20 came and went uneventfully. At mile 21.5, we ran into the beautiful downtown core where there were tons of loud spectators. I got a bit emotional here, high fiving everyone and grinning like a maniac.
“After 22 miles, I realized I still had lots of energy left,” she added. “I started running as fast as I could. My last three miles were 7:45, 7:50 and 7:45.”
When she turned into the Olympic Stadium for the last few hundred yards, Plenkiewicz saw the finish line clock still in the 3:40s, spotted her family in the crowd and sprinted to the line.
Her final time of 3:48:13 was a personal best by 10 minutes.