Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Return

This one's for Max.  Poor Spencer and Ted have heard and lived the saga, but here goes:  I am still SO psyched from Roma.    20 miles max weekly training?    Rowing instead?   PF for 3 plus years?   Ha!   Yes I was scared.   Yes I got emotional at breakfast on the day, and during the race.  But yes, I DID IT!    And that was even with my and many other runners' Garmins reading 26.75 miles for the course.  
Where to begin?  
I LOVED the carb loading with Spencer and Ted and the Entourage.   I loved the Expo.   My feet hurt from walking too much the day before, but I loved that too.   I missed Ted at the START, but loved literally strolling on to the course with Spencer and chuckling up to the START line, desecrating various monuments on our way, and then, boom, we were off.   Laying down a 10.30 mile pace and giggling to ourselves and saying, we are back, in Rome!    After 2-3 k I bid Spencer good luck for his planned run, and dialled it to 9.15s, laughing and slapping kids' hands and enjoying the awesome views of the sights.  After 7 miles I was settling at 8.45s and this worried me...too quick...I did not want to deathmarch from 10 as I had in training, so tried to slow down...but couldn't get the rhythm I stuck at 8.45s and giggled some more.  
At the Half I was 2.02 and a little voice I have not heard in three years said...negative split, DO IT.    So down to 8.30-8.40s and the ego just said, you will crash out but try it.   But it was comfortable so I stayed.    A nasty hill around 16 made me try out my mantra "love hills love hills" and I waited for the legs to fold.   All good though.   As we closed on 20 miles and got back into some heart stoppingly beautiful sights, the cobbles started to get to me, and the hips and ITBs tightened up.   Here we go I thought, ah well, it was fun while it lasted...but the pace was still there, so I sped up a bit more, and then a voice I haven't heard since Chicago and Boston came along and said to me to put the hammer down at 22.    No way was I listening to that!   I didn't have the training and I had promised R_ I would drop out rather than risk a return to PF.  But I felt strong and was closing on the main sights, so I held firm and dug in, and dialed down to 8.30s.  
At the Piazza Navona the architecture and crowds and sun made me literally burst into tears for a minute, but with a huge grin on my face.   Via del Corso is NOT FLAT, don't let people tell you otherwise.   It is straight, yes, but has horrid potholes and cobblestones.... but by now I knew I could finish, and that was staggering to me, truly staggering, so I dug in some more.   Flying past the Trevi Fountain up a narrow crowdlined street I did some math and realised I would be under 4, maybe 3.56   A little voice said, ease off, but then another voice said, no, hold on, and maybe catch Ted and cross the line together!!    That was never going to happen, but I held anyway.  
From 23-25 around the Vittoro and  the Palatine and Circo Massimo my feet were pulverised on the cobbles, but I held.   As we got to the Ultimo Kilometro sign though at 41.2k, my Garmin read 26 miles, and so uh oh, something was not right.   Suddenly my sub4 was in jeopardy, a sub4 I had never even contemplated at the Start....but did not want snatched from me so close to the end!!   I gunned it and hung on, and finished in 3.59.18, my third slowest marathon of the 16 I've done, but as the FINISH line video shows, I was far far far from disappointed.   I started laughing uncontrollably and hugging everyone near me, and laughing and laughing and laughing all the way to the sweet medal lady, who got yet another massive hug from a finisher she probably could have done without.  
So there it is, I think I did 3.56 for 26.2 and the race was too long, a fact confirmed by many runners since on blogs and at airports and particularly via Ted...but do I care?    NO.   I AM BACK!    And my splits say I ran every 5k faster than the previous 5k.    I am in heaven.   An official 3.59 I will take, yes sir.
A walk to the hotel at Barbarini, with a coffee at a gelateria on the way, a lie down, an amazing dinner at the club that night with the Antitrust Marathoners, a great conference the next day, a tiring flight home that night, and then two busy days in London, but my legs feel good, the fatigue is dealable, the memory is strong, the withdrawal from goodtimes bonding with Spencer and Ted is strong too...but the hope is also strong that all is well physically and I can now train properly for something cool this autumn.    
Thank you guys for encouraging me through the blog and in person!   Ted, well done on an amazing run yourself, and I will challenge you for the Italian Energy Sponsored Antitrust Marathon Belt some time.    Spencer you rock for your 15k, the return is happening for you too!    And Max my man, good luck with your tri's and cycles and bid for sub3, I will be cheering you on!!!


  1. Wow!! While you were speeding up, I was slowing down. Those potholes, and the turns in the last few miles really clobbered me. Next time, the Italian Energy Sponsored Antitrust Marathon Belt will likely be in play. Unless, of course, Max joins us, in which case, I think it will be between the two of you. :-)

  2. Just for the record, my Garmin said 26.75, and Philip's was at 26.68. I'm used to the Garmin measuring a course about a 10th of a mile longer for every 20K or so. When I ran Brooklyn, it measured the course at 26.5. In Dublin, I remember everyone (I didn't have a Garmin yet) saying that theirs read 26.4. I don't know why the Garmin always seems to give bonus distance. It may be that we don't run the tangents, that we add distance jockeying for position, and so on. Still, a half mile seems like a lot, especially given that they had to adjust the course at the last minute because of the papal festivities. Maybe we're entitled to shave a couple of minutes off our times. :-)

  3. When I got home I looked more closely at the race as depicted on my Garmin, and yes my average pace overall was 8.58 which translates to a 3.56. I spoke to a few runners at the airport and checked some blogs, and Garmin users were all reporting at least a half mile extra for Rome. Almost everyone I spoke too showed me their watch with the big 26.75 on it. No one, including me, went wide on any my pace we had plenty of time to follow the line. I've never had my Garmin be this far out, and so I am guessing that either it is a Garmin screwup on the day, or a last minute course change that went unaddressed. If the latter, then I am surprised there isn't more of a furore about it all, esp from the speedy boys and girls at the front. I think the error crept in somewhere in the last 2-3 miles because up until then I was certainly on 3.56 pace and then - bunga! - I had to speed way up to make 3.59. That said, I cannot see the organisers ever fessing up, as that would affect their rep and perhaps numbers in the future, at least of fab runners. Unless they are contrite and do penance and we forgive and accept a free pasta and white truffles lunch from them at La Campagna!!