Would you run a marathon without a finisher’s medal?

Monday means #MondayMotivation ! Hurray! I’ve been thinking about what I should write about this Monday for a few days. I was unsure.. until this Sunday morning when my #MondayMotivation came (ran) to me loud and clear in a form of an inspiring runner. Meet Aya! I only met her a few weeks ago via Facebook (might have been Meetup actually). She was moving to Budapest from Kazakhstan and was looking for a running group desperately when stumbled upon on Budapest Running Project online. She reached out to me right away and expressed her excitement about joining us as soon as she settled in Budapest. She understands how important it is to train in a group and she was also excited to explore Budapest with us. She told me that she will be staying here for three months due to her fencing training. She’s attending a fencing academy and getting coached by some of the best Hungarian coaches. She has been practicing fencing for seven years and right now she is getting ready for the Asia games. She was brand new to the city and for the first time when she was suppose to meet us but she wasn’t able to find the meeting point. It broke my heart when I found out that she was waiting for us at the wrong corner only a few blocks down from the original meeting point. Considering this bumpy start she didn’t give up on us. Fortunately, she was determined to run with us so she came back the next time and found us at last.

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Post run mandatory group picture.

During our first run together she told me about her running group back home, Probeg and explained a little bit about their training routine. That day we were running the hilly streets of Buda which she was excited about. I liked her already. A girl who likes challenges.. Enough said. She told me that she was in the middle of her marathon training and that her race date was in May. She knew that she will not be able run it with her teammates back home since she had to be in Budapest that time. But she didn’t leave it at that, she decided to run the distance on her own the same day her run club was racing the marathon what she was training for. She wanted to be there with them in spirit. I got it.. and I was all ears!


On one of our Friday morning runs

Aya didn’t have a big plan or made a huge deal out of it, she just knew that she wanted to do it. I slowly got to know her the following few weeks during our runs together. I could tell that she meant it when she said that she would run that marathon distance. It was important to her to show up for her running mates and send them support by running solo on the streets of Budapest. Meanwhile her fencing training schedule was very demanding, she practices for hours each day and addition to fencing and running she does yoga, cross training and ballet as well. Did someone say “boss lady”? The date of her marathon was fast approaching and I offered Aya that Budapest Running Project would accompany her for part of the distance. The big day came and when we met up with her she arrived running with 10k in her legs already. She added 15k more with the group and some of us decided to continue running with her. After stopping for a few short minutes while she hydrated and ate a banana, she took over the lead and we let her pace us. She was running strong, focused and confident. It gave me a huge energy just by looking at her running. She did not break form, just ran with a strong wish in her eyes.


Miss Marathoner herself! (photo by Hayden from #MorFitRun)

When I asked her how she was feeling, she said that her feet was just moving automatically. She didn’t have to think about it anymore. Just one foot in front of the other. She did not complain or expressed any kind of weakness. Sounds easy, right? It is not, but she sure made it look like a piece of cake. We ended up running 27 kilometers with her, at that point she already had 37k in her legs. She looked great, I had no doubt that she would finish the remaining 5 by herself. Just a little bit later she messaged me that she completed the distance. There were no finisher’s medals at the end or a cheering crowd, friends, family. It was only her and her passion for the sport and her love to for her crew back home. When I asked her about her motivation, she replied “My motivation is my Budrinningprjct team, that made me to complete my running faster. So I was expecting that my pace will be 6, but I could be able to do 5.30! So all credits goes to this dream team.”


36km mark

I’m grateful for her kind words but I have to say that she pushed me more than I pushed her. Her strong spirit and dedication made me think hard and proved that anything is possible. There are truly no limits, only excuses. She woke up with a goal and went to bed as a marathoner. Aya is brave and an inspiration for all of us. I’m honored that I could be the part of her journey and I’m beyond proud of her. Well done, Aya! Keep running, never stop running!

What keeps you motivated on this Monday? Show me by tagging your pictures on Instagram with #BeansAndMiles and #BudapestRunningProject . Let’s connect! 

Cover picture was taken by Hayden #MorFitRun.