Off to Rome! Why Rome? I am usually traveling with Mom several times a year and Rome was big on her list, moreover I have never been there before as I love France and always went there for my weekend getaways.
OBVIOUSLY, I missed the registration deadline, hence I contacted the team. They responded quickly and organized everything, even a VIP entry for Mom at the finish line so she could wait for me while enjoying some bananas and drinks.
Well. What? A month ago I finished Washington DC marathon with a new PR and somehow I though I will never have to train again because I am "fast" now. Due to the snow storms in New York City, we ended up in Cancun afterwards and I somehow didn't manage to train even once in between all those tacos and tequila. Life was just too good there (Mexico is top three of my favorite countries ever).
Since I've been training BBG (bikini body guide, a program with tough body weight workouts) for a few weeks now, my running has suffered a lot. Carbs are almost completely eliminated and the regular gym work kills my legs - I've tried to adjust it (oatmeal in the shakes and some pasta here and there), but my legs are incredibly sore on race day and even walking there feels hard.
The expo is a bit out of town, but easy to find. The area is huge and designed for large crowds of visitors. Luckily we catch a good time (Saturday morning) and everything works smoothly. Just make sure you hand in your medical certification in advance (only needed in Italy and France).
The bib area is well structured - the usual running brands sell their merchandise and some other cities promote their races. Finally, Mom and I get our goodie bags and I am truly amazed - it comes with a huge nice backpack marked with the bib number. Later, I have my shirt personalized for only about 6€ while Mom enjoys the positive atmosphere of the expo.
Best part of running marathons on a frequent base? You get to see the same beautiful faces over and over again. The family of avid and frequent traveling marathoners is quite small and you get to know each other quickly. When leaving the building, I pass by the Beirut Marathon folks and they remember me as I was wearing the ladybug costume two years ago which eventually ended up on their advertising materials. Of course I will go back this year.
My usual lack of motivation kicks in while my alarm clock rings the first time. Too early, too tired, too cold. During my first races I used to have loads of chocolate cake and couldn't wait for the race to start. Nowadays I just have some small bites of a banana and a Nutella toast. Time to get dressed with my bee costume!
Quickly I lost my way while trying to get to the race site (Dear organizers - Many internationals do not understand any of your beautiful language, and despite carefully reading and preparing, I had a really hard time getting there). Out of a sudden, I am the only runner left at the subway. Me and half of a banana. I try not to panic and ask other locals how to get to the race - apparently many of the surrounding stations are closed down which requires a certain amount of walking. (For next years runners: Hop of at Manzoni)
It starts to get warmer and I keep crawling through the start area. Everything is organized perfectly (even enough toilets! No toilet paper though). I line up in the last block due to my sore legs and wait for the faster blocks to start off. The atmosphere is great, there is loud music and everybody is pumped for the race. Happy smiles everywhere!
Off we go. Cobblestones everywhere. Uphill. My inner self is still struggling with this race today and only after the first minutes, I start sweating and breathing heavily. Usually that does not happen to me as I am running a very slow pace to keep my endurance for a long time. The heat is really kicking in and my first DNF thought starts around kilometer three. THREE.
Fortunately, the food is awesome - there is loads of water, sponges and the most delicious oranges in the world. I could have just stayed there forever and eat them eternally.
Shortly before the half marathon mark, I talk to some Newbie-Austrians and my mood rises slowly. We have some nice chats and laughters while marvelling at the stunning architecture of old Rome.
The temperature increases even more and everybody is trying to stick to the shadows of the buildings. The route leaves the city and follows the river - we leave the stunning architecture far behind and are surrounded by blocks of houses. I struggle a lot. My ankles started hurting a while ago due to the cobblestone and my style of running gets worse. Sadly the mood is not that much fun as before and only few people cheer.
At some point we get back to the city for the last kilometers. And my body surprises me a lot - suddenly, my legs feel super easy and light and my pace speeds up by two minutes. Final sprint. Uphill. Shaking and gasping for air, I cross the finish line. Mommy is already there and welcomes me with a big hug and huge smiles. (Thanks for always being so proud of your baby turtle, Mom). Thumbs up for the best team of Rome Marathon for making this possible!
Again, the finish line area is well organized and everything is in place. Water, oranges (!!!) and the medals - what a great mood to be here in front of the Colosseum, having finished 42k in the eternal city. Mom takes me to a great pizza place nearby and I start describing every step and every little detail while we enjoy our lunch in the sun.
What a historic city! Organizational wise everything was pretty smooth and nicely done - the team is really putting a lot of effort in here. Maybe, some more toilets could have been useful on the road and I was very sad that some aid stations ran out of oranges but in general there was no lack of anything.
Apparently, we were very lucky with the weather as it was raining in the past years (and god, I don't know if I would get out of bed for a rainy marathon haha). Personally, it was a little too warm for me and I am really not a huge fan of cobblestone. Otherwise - Especially for historians certainly a great event. The choice was tough though - this weekend was full of great options such as Paris, Rotterdam or Manchester marathon! I would suggest Rome as a great option for all pasta lovers who are not on the hunt for a new PR.
Who has ran Rome? Did you experience the same struggles as I did? Let me know :)