I started this blog in 2019 to record my running adventures of that year. I ran 12 half marathons that year – well, in the end it was eight half marathons, two 10 milers and two 16 milers! It was a lot of fun, and I was introduced to the joys of trails which was even more fun. So why enter a marathon? In a previous post I have tried to explain some of the crazy reasons. Somehow I found myself in Rome last Friday nervously awaiting the run itself on Sunday.
The weather forecast changed several times in the week – at one point it was going to be raining, then very sunny and quite hot. But the day dawned cloudy with a very light wind, and cool temperatures, around the 15 degree mark. Perfect running weather! I was particularly worried about the possibility of rain, as the cobbled streets are hazard enough, without the added danger of water. But no rain, hurray.
There were lots of people in the hotel who were running, so breakfast was laid on especially early at 6am. The atmosphere was quiet in the dining room, as we ate our bananas and contemplated the hours ahead. Then off we went, just a short walk to the start. Thousands of people were amassing, and although I tried hard to meet up with Gurdeep it was impossible for us to find each other in the throng of runners.
Minutes before the start the Italian equivalent of the Red Arrows, the Frecce Tricolori, zoomed overhead not once but twice, to massive cheers from all the crowd. It was very exciting, and a great way to start the race.
And off we went – 13,500 runners and some wheelchair racers too. For the first few miles there was good support from the crowds, and several brass and wind bands playing jaunty tunes to keep us going. The cobbles were only a problem in the centre of the city, and on fresh feet they were quite easy to manage. A different story in the last few miles though! Once out of the centre the crowd support definitely dwindled, and there were places where there was not many people at all. Very different from the London marathon, and the New York marathon from what I have heard. They need to come along to Ealing for the half marathon and see what real crowd support is!
We ran through many neighbourhoods, to be honest I have no idea of most of the places we went through. I’m pretty sure we went through the Olympic Park; Rome held the Olympics in 1960. We also went past St Peter’s Basilica and the Circo Massimo – an ancient Roman race track. I’m sure there were lots of other famous landmarks but a) I was busy looking at the ground so I didn’t trip up and b) they didn’t have big signs on them saying what they were 😂.
I was a bit disconcerted when motorbikes decided to join in the race and suddenly we found ourselves moving out of the way for a bike that decided that the yellow cordons weren’t applicable to them. At one point a small car just burst through a piece of yellow tape – not actually on the path of the runners, but still. Nobody batted an eye! And when we got back into the centre of the city with just a few kilometres to go the pavements were lined with shoppers, who frankly seemed totally uninterested in the fact that thousands of footsore runners were slogging past them to the finish line. They ducked under the plastic tape and criss crossed the road with their shopping bags and dogs, bicycles and pushchairs. It was very surprising, and later chatting to fellow runners we contrasted this to London and US races where it would be unthinkable!
I started the race nice and slow, focussing on keeping a slow pace, and was doing ok until about half way or so. But my legs, in particular my hips, got more and more painful. By about 30km I was in a lot of pain. I kept imagining all my friends shouting encouragement. I could hear the voices of my lovely friends Bindee, Michelle and Florence shouting “Come on! You can do it!” And once or twice I looked at messages on my phone from my fabulous friends known as The Lovely Chums, and got a lot of inspiration from them. And I thought of all my family – especially my number one supporter, my husband, who managed to see me four times at different points. And my wonderful sons and their families. I thought of my mum and my amazing sisters. I can’t mention everybody – but so many people have supported me, sponsored me, and been so positive in their belief that I could actually do it. Thank you to all of you – it really does make a difference. I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I just kept thinking how I really will NEVER do this again!!
I did manage to meet Gurdeep at the finish. She seemed completely fine – and that was after walking 25,000 steps the day before! What is she made from?! Steel I think. She is doing the London marathon at the end of April! Go Gurdeep!
Finishing was a mix of emotions – mainly relief and joy that it was over. I was so tired though, and my legs were done. But everything passes, and today I am just a bit stiff, walking a little slower, and taking it easy on the stairs!
My fundraising page has raised £1581 so far which is absolutely beyond brilliant! Thank you! The next race in my calendar is the fabulous Ealing Half Marathon in September. If you’re looking for a friendly half with great support look no further.