An early wake-up call on a Sunday is usually something I loath. But today is Marathon day! Eyes wide open, I jump out of the bed, morning stretch, warm shower, down to the breakfast hall. 1 banana, 1 Supradyn tablet diluted in 1 liter of water, lots of Wasa bread and butter.
It is a perfect day. Sunny, 8 degrees at 09:00 AM, wind not exceeding 15km/h. Together with Isa we go out of the hotel 30 min before the start and run to warm-up to the starting line. I expect pushing and shoving (as you would when you see traffic jams in Italy). But no, the atmosphere is very relaxed. Nobody is too excited to be under the starting arch, people chat loudly, laugh, give enough space for the other competitors. In total 1’000 relaxed participants to the 12.3km, the 30km and the 42.195km races are lining-up for a common start at 09:30 in front of the main castle of the city.
The first 5km: A loud cheering and everybody starts running. And here again; no shoving, no hectic, no swear words. It is simply fantastic and I already enjoy the race. Well, I enjoy until I see my heart beat going 161 and my pace 5:20! What’s wrong with me? I feel great, what’s wrong? I keep asking myself for the first 22:30 minutes until I see the 5km mark. I relax, my foot sensor is not working. I feel like ditching my watch for good and forever. I decide to only look at the heart rate. What else can I do anyway?
Until half-way: The first 15km are in and around the old city centre of Ferrara. Few spactators. The ones talking are anyway the Italian runners around me, as if they were on a short easy stroll. Amazing. I love it. Listening to the conversations and keeping with one group. The half-marathon mark is quickly passed in 1:40.
The last 21km:At km 26, it is time to take my second Gel. I don’t feel the magic for the next 4 km. They are hard. My legs are suddenly heavy, I feel my pace going down. Goodbye dear negative splits! From km30 to km32, I pass a dozen runners and this cheers me up, I even motivate them to tag along. But the joy is of short duration. Km 34 is hell, carbs are out – fat is on. It takes me until km37 to adapt and suddenly: boooom. Afterburners are turned-on, I can smell the finishing line and I start running at a good pace again. Heart rate goes up to 172. A last small frustration at km39. A Sixty year old marathoner passes me with ease. But I keep to his heels.
The last 500m:We run the last km together, 300m before the arrival, I see Isabel waving at me. I feel very happy, so close to the finishing line. I let my running companion pass me on the last 100m. I feel a huge respect for this man. The organisers have put a real red carpet. I see from behind this elder marthoner running on the red carpet and crossing the finish line. I have a big smile on my face and decide to jump as high as I can crossing the finish line. The landing is better left without comment.
Isabel finishes her 12.3km in 72 min! And this without any training (I you consider Kung-Fu as only marginally helpful for running). I am very proud of her and hope that we will do some other training and races together.
The remaining of the week-end includes, eating pasta, drinking beer, struggling to climb the stairs into the airplane and even more getting out and down the plane after landing in Vienna. It is late, Manon & Zoe are sleeping. Only Barbara our nanny is still awake. Great to have her with us. Without her, a lot would be different.