Tatiana Rojas woke up at 2 a.m. and felt as if someone had set her lungs on fire.
She suffocated in the air, but her nostrils were blocked and the wheezing didn’t give enough oxygen.
She decided to go to the kitchen to get some steam. She hoped it would allow her to clear her windpipe, if only for a while.
Rojas, 59 years old, ran several marathons, but it was almost impossible to get from his room to his kitchen that night. After every second stage she stopped and continued to cling to the retaining walls and swallow the air that seemed to surround her but was nowhere inside.
I’m gonna die here, she remembers thinking.
Somehow, in a trance, she went into the kitchen and focused only on the next step. She was about to boil some water, and just when she thought she was going to faint, she inhaled hot fumes that released a clogged nose long enough to give her a decent breath. She sat on the kitchen floor for a long time and kissed a bowl of water for her beloved life.
Rojas felt this way for three weeks, and in that time she probably slept five hours a night, if she was lucky. It was mid-May, a month after the KOVID-19 positive test, and during those endless days it was easy to believe that she would never win.
But on the 23rd. In June she got her first negative test. And five months after this life-changing experience, she ran a marathon in New York… practically… after beating KOWID-19.
When the world came to a standstill in mid-March, Rojas, the coordinator of the case management team at New York’s Elmhurst Hospital, kept coming to the hospital with gowns and masks. Before the team is on the 23rd. When they met in March, she heard that the virus had infected a hospital clerk, but didn’t know who it was. She felt exhausted when she went to a meeting, but felt she either had a psychosomatic reaction to the news or general fatigue. At the end of the day she had a headache and sore throat.
She called her doctor, prescribed amoxicillin – she didn’t have a fever – and decided she could handle it. She cooked, walked a few miles a day, like most of her life, and worked from home. If she could walk a little, it meant that she had everything under control, that she thought she was doing the right thing.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rojas and her husband Juan Carlos Nuttes. Thanks, Tatiana Rojas.
Her husband, Juan Carlos Nattes, had similar symptoms, sometimes had a fever, but nothing was out of control.
Then, two weeks later, she woke up one morning with a sharp pain in her lungs. She tried to catch her breath and felt herself fall deeper into the water.
After he died on the 16th. In April, after going to the emergency room without taking the KOVID-19 test, she found a free test center two hours away – in Far Rockaway – and went there. Two days later, her test came back positive, the man negative.
I’ve been suffering for a month; what is this disease and what’s going to happen now? She remembered how scared she was of herself. And then a smaller voice in the back of your head: I can’t stop walking. But I can’t even breathe. What am I supposed to do now?
As her husband got better, her condition worsened. He cooked for her, made sure she had enough pillows to support her head so she could breathe more easily, and did a minimum of shopping to keep the house safe.
I was so scared to see her like this… I was there to help him, but we all felt helpless. We didn’t know what this disease did to him, said Rojas’ husband.
It was mid-May when she was lying on the kitchen floor thinking about death.
She wouldn’t want those three weeks on her worst enemy. Her body shook every time she tried to leave.
But, although it seems impossible, she’s thinking of running away. For the coronavirus she used her lunch break every day to walk 5 kilometres around the Elmhurst hospital. Three times a week she changed after work and walked five miles from the hospital house. The idea of running gave him a new energy charge. Something to look forward to. Something to look forward to when this is all over.
Rojas worked as a sports teacher in Bolivia and spent a few hours in the school stadium, where she either coached secondary and high school students or did intensive aerobics herself. When she wasn’t at the stadium, she was running. Even then, one of Rojas’ biggest dreams was to organize a marathon in New York. She read about the people who ran the marathon, the people who had to be brought to the finish line, the people who crawled to the finish line, and she thought: Wow, this deeply human experience. I want to be a part of it.
Then she emigrated to the United States, had three children and life stood in her way. After the birth of her third child and knowing that this would be her last pregnancy, she ran her first marathon in New York City. She has already started running half marathons and longer races to get back in shape after giving birth.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rojas held his first marathon in the week before his 50th birthday the New York Marathon 2010. Thanks, Tatiana Rojas.
But the results of the marathon lottery came in, and she wasn’t selected.
For several years it made a request and received the same reply: Dismissed. Just before the New York marathon of 2010 she thought I would turn 50 next year. This is the last time I try, and if I can’t, I’m leaving.
A few weeks later, she got a letter. Congratulations, you’re taking part in the 2010 New York Marathon.
It was like a miracle, she said. And it changed his life.
She trained alone, immersed herself in the knowledge of her gymnastics teacher and walked 5 km every day in preparation for a longer weekend jogging session. She ran her first marathon a week before her 50th birthday and completed it in seven hours and 37 minutes. The last two hours have been difficult, her brain constantly convinced her that it was too difficult, that her legs couldn’t take a step. But she kept pushing, and as she crossed the finish line, even though there was no ribbon, she felt an invisible energy pushing her across the line. Then she got her medal and cried uncontrollably when she felt the medal in her hands.
She imagined the end of the New York marathon so often, but she was not ready for the doors of emotion, a strong sense of gratitude for her body and mind. It was as if she shared the deepest of her being with every runner who ran a marathon in front of her – the energy was so tangible.
She said it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
Since then she has participated in the 2017 and 2019 marathons in New York City and in eight half marathons. She ran her fastest marathon last year at 6:21:55.
When KOWID-19 hit her like a truck, she imagined the thrill of climbing the last hill in her first New York marathon. She remembered how she turned around the last kilometer to see a swarm of people at the finish line. She remembered how the fresh New York air in November made her feel as she walked through difficult areas.
Even before her test came back negative, she made a decision. She wanted to run another marathon in New York. Thanks to KOVID-19 the marathon will be virtual this year, and the window for jogging – 17th place. October – 1. November.
A few days after the negative test in June, she noticed that her body was no longer trembling when she walked. So she decided to go out for the first time. Clary made a one-and-a-half loop to shore and back, a stage that was considerably delayed towards the end. When she got home, she got on the couch. She stayed in bed for three days and recovered after a walk. But three days later, she tried again.
Fault! The file name is not specified. After the 2010 marathon Rojas also ran the New York marathons and eight half marathons in 2017 and 2019. NYRR
The shoes for the second walk were harder than most things I’ve ever done in my life, but I didn’t think so. I won’t let this virus win. Now that I’m free, I’m gonna work to get my body back.
At the end of July, five weeks after the negative test result, she had walked her first 5 kilometres. It wasn’t the fastest, or even the closest, but she still felt an enormous sense of satisfaction at the end.
A few weeks ago she ran 22 miles around Central Park, due to what this year’s New York Virtual Marathon will look like. Last year she ran her first virtual marathon (also known as the New York Marathon), and it took a lot more discipline and strength to run 26.2 miles through the same district without guides or supporters to help her through the ups and downs.
You have to look deep inside yourself if you think you can’t do it, she said.
The 25th. In October Rojas started a virtual race on 60th Street and 1st Avenue at 4:30 am and ended at Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, via Central Park. When she reached 20 miles, her knees hurt like they were on fire, and through the tears that ran down her eyes, she kept thinking My God, I’ve been through so much, please, just let me finish this race.
She walked the last six kilometres slowly and deliberately and took the silence of Manhattan with her after the early morning and the pandemic. As she slowly walked to the finish line and was picked up by her husband and friend – she crossed the finish line at 7:31 a.m. – she put her hands in the air and didn’t believe her body had let her walk 26.2 miles.
For them, running a marathon – especially on the 10th day of the race – is a big challenge. It was the 50th anniversary of her first – a few months after suffering from a disease that killed more than 225,000 Americans, her way of standing up for all those who couldn’t.
I want to run now and not stop. I want the power and energy that the coronavirus has taken from me. That’s why I’m here.