Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Reggio Emilia Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the December 2009 Reggio Emilia Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find a translation from the original posting made here in Italian.

The first phone call I made after the withdrawal in the Florence marathon was with Germano, to explain what had happened. At the end of the call he reckoned "well no problem, we try again in Reggio Emilia in two weeks." At first I was very taken aback and genuinely thought I let his words fall on deaf ears. My desire was such that not even 24 hours after I had already enrolled into the Marathon of the Tricolor and booked the hotel.

The two weeks between the two events I've lived in a kind of athletic purgatory, at each exit of race I had very bad feeling and really do not know if I would open the gates of hell with another failure or bringing home a decent performance. Only in the last three days my legs have started to turn again at full throttle, I have done just a couple of specific works, but performed at moderate pace only. These were not the best conditions to appear on the start line!

I decided to share the Reggio Emilia marathon experience with three friends who have ran just “few” marathons: Roberto did 179, Claudio 85 and Leo 19. Between withdrawal chest expo, a walk to downtown Reggio and great pizza I found myself almost without realizing it in the hotel room to squeeze the bib on the vest. Sunday morning the meeting point was inside the sports hall, Expo headquarter and logistics center, an excellent solution, in line with a five stars event. I had heard from many people how great this Marathon was organized and I must admit that they were right. At the stand, I met and greet with pleasure my uncle Steve, aka Stefano Benfatti, the engine and soul of Traslaval. Then came the friends of Running Forum Jean and Carlo accompanied by Silvia. Also for them it will be a very busy day.
I changed my clothes and calmly await the departure time to warm up inside the stands. I decided not to make a real warming, I'm preparing with stretching exercises and joint mobility. Ten minutes from the start I go on the grid, have a word with ucle Steve who tells me that next year he will reach 100 marathons and look forward to racing on.

At the start, I run the first few miles alongside Jean and Carlo to keep warm, then gradually begin to overtake any athlete looking for a group that can travel at suitable pace. I find it, we are about a dozen and the pace is just over 3'50''/ km. The elevation of this race is pretty smooth, the first 17 km in a slight but continuous rise, although apparently flat. I'm in the group, I'm fine and I run loose. The pace is regular and managed by an athlete who seems to be running with easy. Although it seems to me to run below my normal pace, I want to avoid trouble and therefore I stay quiet. After the first 15 kilometers, I eat some integrators. Unfortunately, the refreshments seems little problematic, at the first one I took a bottle of sparkling water really too fizzy. Starting from the second onward I got only glasses that I partly poured on myself. At the 25th kilometer, I thought I was drinking tea, but instead it was an integrator with a crazy taste.

After km 17, the altitude becomes favorable, and this allows us to run under 3'50''/ km easily, in some moments I find myself leading the group. There was great cooperation between us. Completing half marathon in 1:21 '30”, I am still feeling well and start to be confident on the success of the race but I also know that they are only half-effort and the fun is yet to come. Shortly before the 25 km sing, we face a little but demanding slope, at this stage the group began to crumble. A couple of runners are leaving the pack while the majority still linger. I decide to continue with my past, the path is slightly wavy and begins a take and leave with other runners.

Shortly after the 28 km another tougher climb gives me some headhache, partly because of the cold wind bothering me. Something rises from the stomach, just in case I decide not to take the second integrator and soon thereafter everything comes normal. From km 30 I can still keep up the pace but starting from 35th I am starting to feel tired, I am still missing 7 kilometers till the end, the gesture is slightly up and I decided to slow the pace. My Nike Vomero that I decided to use in the race helps me in these situations cushioning support to the ground. After passing km 37 I face the fear because the left femoral artery starts to hurt. Since few miles we are entering the city, finally there is the public lining the streets cheering and got some more energy. I can even raise the pace, the goal is now at hand and I am sure by now that I will finish the race I hear the voice of the speaker, a few corners and there is the start-finish straight which passes while the display of the timing official and two seconds over the 2h43'.

I have done it. First marathon ended at last! I am happy and satisfied, yes, but strangely little excited. I did not get the feeling that instead thrilled me when I concluded my first half marathon. Maybe because I went over to Reggio almost with the burden of having to finish, with an attitude so different from my usual which is instead to have fun. Nonetheless, probably in the autumn of next year I will retry, this time with the goal to be impossible to go below 2h40'.

After the refreshments I went back to the sports hall: I was struggling climbing the stairs. Here I got the pleasure of knowing Kayak Runner, which concludes very happy below three hours. Following meeting Jean and Carlo, have now beating the course in 2:50 and closing their staff '. Considering the location and some practical problems they have faced (Carlo is blind and Jean his leadership) they have made an excellent performance.Well done guys, I renew my congratulations and my sincere admiration. Surprisingly I find that I also won the Podisti.Net challenge, a special internal classification involving divided into different categories the site's members that they had reported.
What can I say ... I could not ask for more from this weekend of sport and friendship. A special thanks to all who followed and incited me in the last two weeks with emails, comments and text messages. You were all with me on the climb of the 28th kilometer. You could have pushed me a little further ...:-D


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