Cold but not freezing. Damb but not wet. It was seven am, departing from home. At eight am we arrived in Milan, Piazza Castello. To share with me the cold-but-not-cold, the damp but not wet, I have invited my friend D. The presence of a companion-friend has been crucial. The alternative course of action would have been to deliver the bag to the store by 8.30. Until the hour of departure, at 9.15am, I would have to be covered with makeshift equipment.
The first very important choice: the race clothes. At home I had initially decided for an undershirt as well as my athletics t-shirt. Moreover, I have selected shorts against leggings. In Piazza Castello I confirmed the choice of the piece below, but I changed the upper one: via the T-shirt, undershirt only.
To keep myself warm, I sprinkled with camphor oil, improper weapon to keep competitors away from me...
The departure area was very crowded. Ready, GO! The first kilometer was inevitably slow due to the high number of participants. Finding the rhythm was the first obstacle.
It took me a lot to enter the atmosphere, the race and the weather. I covered the first five, ten, fifteen kilometers in a certain sense of fatigue, discomfort, almost boredom. I felt strange sensations. The hints of fatigue usually appearing from the twenty-fifth kilometers here came early. In front of me I saw the specter of a crisis.
Statistics say that I made the first ten kilometers averaging 4'02 "/ km. Given that I ran the first kilometer - because traffic - at 4'25", I am better off not thinking about it. Those are unthinkable things during training.
From km 11 to km 21 and ninety-seven meters – until the half marathon – I have taken more logical pace: 4'07"/km. I finished the midway in 1h26'14", more than a minute slower than at Maranello - Carpi.
It followed the usual slowdown for me. I decided to lower the pace and to focus on the ease of travel. I noticed the regularity of breathing and movements’ fluidity.
I got to the thirtieth - where it says the race starts - with a sense of resignation. I knew that soon my legs would have been heavy as usual.
Yet I was not terrible. Until that point I was able to eat well. Even the supply of the thirtieth km was positive, complete with a snack having banana taste. I had done the same thing ten miles before.
The kilometers passed: less than 12, then eleven and ten. I have always remained quiet, at my pace, without forcing.
Arrived at kilometer thirty I have enjoyed doing some little sum: find the average per kilometer that would have allowed me to get to the finish in less than three hours. Less than three hours, yes. I did not think to beat my personal best.
I challenge anyone to do three-hour-minus-two-hour-and-twelve-divided-ten. Calculating and converting minutes in seconds is the most critical part.
Well, with difficulty I had understood that if I had continued at 4'30" /km, I could make it.
Here are my timing henceforth: km 33, 4'24", km 34 4'19", km 35 4'24", km 36 4'25", km 37 4'16", km 38 4'24", km 39 4'20".
I started to record the lap per kilometer without looking at the total time. No more small computation, just to finish in the shortest possible time. Three kilometers before marathon end, I found myself in good shape. Here is the crazy thing happened: I ran the last three kilometers to 4'10"/km, 4'09" /km and 4'08 "/km, a fast and growing finish. I managed to get this as I want, as it should always be. I decided for the first time ever to skip the last replenishment, at km40. To run the last km I no longer need anything.
I crossed the line with deep feeling of joy, mixed with disbelief.
When I entered the narrow finishing road, between two wings of crowd cheering, I looked to the big clock set above the arch of the finish line. I launched the final sprint, attracted by the music of the powerful speaker amplification. Thirty meters from the finish, I broke down my race gesture to raise my left hand fist. Time to stretch my arm and then I got of cramp through my right leg. I resisted. Few steps: the chip set in the bonds of the left shoe has started playing. Under my feet there was the arrival red carpet, over my head the inflatable structure beyond which you can stop running. We should stop running! I have made it!
I continued to celebrate, even if I am alone. Somebody from the organization has slipped the medal around my neck. Another person has covered me with a thermal towel. Thereafter, I have tried the complicated operation of removing the chip from my shoe. I had to return it as soon as possible; there is a 15 euro penalty to lose it. At that time, I got big cramps.
My friend D. joined me and the party continues with the race story.
A heartfelt round of applause to the volunteers that were completely to our service. Bravo also to the Milan Marathon's management. I particularly liked the final refreshment, the large dressing room, the big tent with the "risotto party", and other services of which I have not asked for (storage bags, massages, showers).