A 9:15 start time meant that I could get up at a reasonable hour, have breakfast, get dressed and walk to the race from our hotel near the Pantheon without having to rush. Laura walked me to the Coliseum and then headed back to the hotel once the crowds started started to gather and the runners were being shunted into side streets and gated walkways. But not before taking this picture.
I found Phil entirely by accident since it turns out there are two Metro exits at the Coliseum. We wound our way with his wife through a seemingly endless series of twists and turns for the runners and assorted supporters. We were relieved that the 80,000 5K fun runners were on the other side of the Coliseum and apparently on another course because we never saw them again. By the time we approached the start line the race had begun a few minutes before but there was no crowd ahead of us and no bunching like so many US mega-marathons.
I was extremely nervous not having walk/run more than about 4-5 miles since wrecking my knee in the Chicago marathon in October. Moreover I had only walk/run outside a couple of times since then and Rome was all hard pavement with a healthy (or not) dose of cobble stones thrown into the mix.
In the end I was thrilled with the day. We started at the Coliseum, ran past the Forum, the Victor Emmanuel monument, the Circus Maximus, past the pyramid and into some more modern neighborhoods (including where Roberto Begnini lives (according to my cab driver to the airport). We were mostly running south away from the historic center. Phil was kind enough to stay at my pace for the first 15 minutes and took off when I took my first walking break. Overall, I did a 3:2 run/walk ratio which was my most aggressive pace of my rehab phase. Luckily no real issues the whole way.
People around me had a nice mellow vibe, walking, chatting, taking pictures. One guy even gave his camera to a stranger and then backed up so the guy could shoot a video of him running. Since I wasn't doing the whole race and didn't particularly care about my time, I got into the spirit and took a picture of the lesser known but impressive St Paul's Basilica with a military band playing away in the plaza.
We meandered south for a while, crossed the river turned north, crossed the river again and headed north past the Jewish ghetto and the Rome synagogue. I hit 12K which was my original goal and felt good enough to keep going. At 15K and an hour 48 minutes I called it a day, directly across the river from the Italian Supreme Court, Corte di Cassazzione). Probably could have done half but any further would have been pushing it and taking me away from my hotel and my wife whom I had promised to meet around noon. On the quick walk home, saw a few of the elite women and better male runners as they looped back through the Piazza Navona a few Ks from the finish line.
All in all, a pretty good day and a major psychological, if not physical, breakthrough on my road to recovery. See everyone next time at the finish line!