Monday, February 1, 2010

2009 Rome Marathon: a live experience

This post describes a live experience for the March 2009 Rome Marathon and gives you insight of what it is really look like. Below you can find an Italian translation from the original posting on the Rome Marathon live experience. The next 2010 Rome Marathon is scheduled on the 21st of March 2010 and will be an unforgettable event.

In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, there lived not long since one of those gentlemen ... whenever he was at leisure (which was mostly all the year round) gave himself up to reading books of chivalry with such ardor and avidity that he almost entirely neglected the pursuit of his field-sports, and even the management of his property." In this way it begins the adventure of Don Quixote, who harnessed his armor, has taken the road that would lead him to fight many battles to win his Dulcinea.


Sunday we weds Don Quixote along with many Sancho Panza we weren't in La Mancha but in Via dei Fori Imperiali (right). We were also wearing top and shorts eager to conquer our Dulcinea
equally wary asking us to fight tough battles before giving her hand; our beloved today is called the Rome Marathon.
I was supposed to be the 3-hours pace-maker, but finally the organization wanted to move me to 3'15'': my reply was dry and immediate. No, for a while I want to fight for achieving the goal of 3 hours before going to the next step.

Free then to leave my legs to seek their own pace, the pace I can take without suffering too much in the first part and that allows me to look around.There is a problem in Rome, it would be nice to look around and what you could see would surely be admired but the ground is uneven, uncertain and supporting my ankles (with tendons attached) deserve consideration, the hocks of my horse should be treated with care and preserved. So much of the race I had to spend like the others to pick up precious energies on checking cobblestones, Sanpietrini (right picture).
The pending departure has been long and lived together with my friends Renato Ventura, Stephen and Michael, the main comment was related to the wind that could have influenced our performance, luckily a bright sun was there to accompany us until the 26 miles. Aeolus is lazy but always blows contrast, if all goes well you can find one side and on the stretches where it should be for (if physics is not an opinion) comes Murphy's Law, that portion will be covered and thus you do not enjoy all of the 'beneficial effect'.
The music at departure with the soundtrack of Chariots of Fire has served to raise the level of adrenaline, and then the shot: the battle is getting started. A river of people, anxious to free energies legs, elbows are wide gaps where looking strung, smiles, wishes, fears, superstitious gestures. That the marathon start (left picture, 2009 departure).

RomePiazza Venezia and the Altar of the Fatherland on our left (right on the picture), we will review it and now must find the right pace, in front of me I saw two meshes with the Moors Sardinian is Pierpaolo Stefanopoli, a greeting and then both after the same goal, under three hours. The Circus Maximus, the Pyramid and the way to the Basilica of San Paolo where the 5 km mark, the average marks is 4'08 min/km, not a pace that I was looking for, my legs are going alone, therefore the pace is obviously the right one, I just press the split button without even check it every km. We come back along the Tiber for a long stretch on one side first then, after crossing a bridge, on the other side, a new bridge and we head towards "Er Dome, the avenue that offers a view of St. Peter's Basilica is fascinating to follow.
At my side almost from the start there are two friends Venetian, Titian Treviso Camignada I knew the last year and an affiliated “Aggredire” company of which I, forgetful, I forgot the name. We exchange a few words, at times struggled to keep their pace but we are always there. Every so often a look at the Garmin: the indication is fixed on the same pace, the legs are going with AUTOPILOT: 4'08” min/km. Passing the half in 1:27 '19'', I thought immediately: this is about the same time, the second of my move to Barcelona three weeks ago, but today I am sure that time will be difficult to repeat, my legs are starting to acknowledge the fatigue and then the wind does not give us respite.
We are in the area of the Foro Italico, it is time to pull together: When you are in trouble the best defense is to attack. The Don Quixote within me greets friends, borrow Durlindana from Orlando and then decided to fight before falling to the Roncesvalles will conquer my Dulcinea. We should attack the windmills (anyway wind is not missing!) I then started a good progression helped also by the slight descent, passes alongside the mosque. In a temporary state of grace, I overtake a lot of competitors and gained positions with regularity. At 30 km mark my average is not moving from 4'08 min/km, my tired legs yet are not to give up.

The intermediate at 35Km told me I have even increased my pace by few seconds. I could then see downtown Rome in front of me at 36 km, and I got overtaken by Sancho Panza, attempting to escape. A squire never gives up his head in time of need. He is not Sancho, he is a runner dressed as a warrior who I had passed in the early miles, sword in hand running light, I try to keep up but my legs suffer from fatigue. Between Via del Corso and Piazza del Popolo gather encouragement from so many viewers, my name engraved on the tank top is scanned in a variety of languages: "Courage, Antonio" screams one Spanish, "Go, Tony, go" one lovely American and I have also heard some "and Annam Anto" clearly from the city. Now we were at the end, there are only "four dirty km", I was in Piazza di Spagna, another massive crowd and several encouragements, I have not the strength to turn my face
to the left to see the steps, the Trevi Fountain deserves much more than the my indifference. I appeal to the usual strategies to consume the last km: I am just missing to the finish two poor rounds of the park where I always train.
I see the Altar of the Nation, homage and respect, but the Colosseum is now my goal. Do the maths, the result is already marked, I will finish in 2h:55min if my heart and head helped for the absence of legs in the last 2 km.

RomeUsing the remaining energy, the cobblestones of Via San Gregorio is the ultimate punishment, but the Arch of Constantine is the goal. On the curve upward along the Colosseum, the public is crowded, greeting and thank you for your encouragement, where the descent suddenly fell silent, the barriers prevent the presence of supporters. There before me the banner of the goal on either side the desert, this is my sad arrival. There is not even to throw the challenge to the stopwatch, delaying arrival at 2:55 '21''; the medal around his neck is a very well deserved award today. Don Quixote did for Dulcinea's 153th time under 3 hours.

The wait is now for the other "friends of fortune". Stephen concludes in 3:03 still deferring his appointment with the demolition of the wall, Renato at 3:23, 3:45 Michele. After the finish line alive one of the less positive of this event: the return of bags and a torment for many, change needs to find a corner on the asphalt and lucky that it is sunny. From this point of view of Rome is very far from New York, and light years from Berlin, Dublin, Barcelona. It would be impossible to name all the friends among over 11000 that crossed the line: the Mercurys of Vittorio Veneto, Anna marathon runner (PB in 3:05) Andrea Marchiol too PB, Pagavino spouses, those in the NiĆ¹ Team, and then certainly a thought to the people of the disappointed, those who expected so much and have collected less or those who for one reason or another were unable to cross the finish line.
Next year I will not come because the Sanpietrini deserve a longer digestion time. However on Sunday next week I will be at the Treviso Marathon Treviso for a new challenge: guess what will be my goal?

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