Metro Health Grand Rapids Marathon Race Report: Anthony Piatek

November 06,2017

It was early summer 2017 and training for an autumn marathon was already a few weeks in. At this point I wasn’t sure which marathon I was going to run or which charity, if any, to run for due to PHA’s dismantling of its local chapters.

Since 2010 I’ve been dedicating my summers to strengthening my body, cardio, and mind for a marathon in the fall in honor of and in the memory of my Mother, Mary Jo Piatek, who passed away from Pulmonary Hypertension in July 2013. Since her death it’s been my mission to stay active in the PH community in attempt to find a cure, spread awareness, and show support to patients and running marathons has been my way to accomplish this.

I received a phone call from Carl Hicks, a great guy who I’ve met previously through the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, informing me about a new PH organization he’s now affiliated with called Team PHenomenal Hope. He invited me to join the team and I was sold on the idea instantaneously. Carl lost his daughter to PH many years ago and his passion to fight this disease and beat it down is second to none, and I knew I needed to follow his passion and energy.

Now that I had the charity situation settled, I next needed to decide which marathon to run. I had my eyes set on either Indianapolis or Grand Rapids. After doing some research, Grand Rapids became the most likely choice. To make the decision even easier was receiving a text message from my cousin informing me that he had just registered for the Grand Rapids Marathon. The decision was finalized at that point.

The weather forecast for race day was not looking great. Forecasted rain and 20mph winds were expected. On race day morning, the forecast had changed a bit to: cloudy and cool with no rain. Being
the typical meteorologists “they” are, of course that forecast was wrong. Standing in the start corral, it began to pour on us. I knew right there that this was not going to be a record-breaking run for me nor be a highly enjoyable one either. But there was no backing out now. With “MOM’ written on both my arms with a sharpie and “DEB” (PH patient Deborah Webster, whom I was connected with through the #LetMeBeYourLungs program) written on my leg, I had to go out and represent.

After nearly breaking my ankle in attempt to avoid a puddle 10 feet past the start line I was afraid I’d might have to stop right there. After a few painful strides, I was able to adjust and continue running. I knew it would affect my run at some point but wanted to push through it and run hard as long as I could. Battling rain, winds, and puddles I was able to follow my negative split pace schedule up until mile 20. My knee was giving me an issue (due to my ankle incident) plus my right foot was blistered from running in water-logged shoes for 20 miles. I had to stop and walk off the pain.

During that walk time I was miserable. This was my ninth marathon and I had a great summer of training. Physically I was in solid shape, cardio was on point, and my mindset was poised to rock out a solid time but due to certain circumstances, a PR was not destiny. I was then asking myself what the point was for me to put my body through all this abuse and sacrifice my time to train. My body temperature had cooled off and the winds started to give me chills. That’s when another runner who saw me struggling said to me “Hey, go get it!”

So I started running again to go get IT. What was “IT”? It was that honor and pride of finishing a marathon for a cause that’s bigger than myself. It was for all those that have died due to PH and for those that have been affected by it, both patients AND caregivers. It was for the support groups across the countries and the doctors and researchers doing their best to find a cure.

I finished around 3:45 which was nearly 30 minutes slower than I wanted but it’s all good. I have another marathon under my belt and raised over $2,600 due to the great support network I’m blessed to have in my life. During each marathon I run at around miles 22-25 I always say to myself “This is the
last marathon I’m running.”

Now sitting here one week post marathon, I’m brainstorming which one to run next year.

Anthony Piatek


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