I’m lying in bed, it’s 8:30pm and I’m exhausted. Also my legs hurt. That’s right, it’s the aftermath of another asinine sporting activity for The Tin Man.
And it all started so well. The Lady and I got into the airport in Rome on Friday night with no problems; until we had to wait an age for a shared taxi van that ended up being driven by a guy who fancied himself the Michael Schumacher of Roman side streets. We were glad when his attitude was behind us and we checked into the hotel.
Race check in was as straight forward as anything as I’ve found in Rome, which is to say that it seemed to be done by dumb luck at the time, but on reflection was actually all part of the plan. I took a few photos, shoved a woman in frustration (true story) and got my race pack.
I then had the obligatory day of sightseeing, taking in the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and some other amazing pieces of architecture that I believe are famous but I’m too culturally illiterate to appreciate. It was an early dinner of pasta (yum) and off to bed though in preparation for the race day frivolity.
I slept surprisingly well, and woke race morning to lovely weather and breakfast previously arranged from the local Carrefor.
Again, it was a mental, congested area full of loud Italians – not my ideal setting pre race. I reminded myself though that this was a ‘big city’ marathon, and that bumping and jostling are part of the game. Self seeding myself to a 4:30 marathon was a mistake though, as I had quite a crowd to get through at the start.
So 10 minutes after our start was due, we made our way down Via Del Imperial and on to the course. As expected, the first few kilometres were a crazy mish-mash of bodies and slow moving runners, whom I had to pick my way through in order to settle myself into the 5:00 per km pace that would lead to a sub 3:30 marathon. Early on I felt OK, with minor pain in my right hamstring and left foot. I was mainly frustrated as the stop/start nature of picking gaps in large groups was surely going to cost me later on. I did it though, and maintained a good pace on the southern loop of the course. The aid stations were every 5km, and weren’t bad most of the time – though some were devoid of water at times I really needed some. Sponges were also available, which was rather handy on quite a warm day.
I was able to hold a good pace for quite a while – for two visits of The Lady in fact (at around 16km and 36km). I even skirted by the cobbles outside St Peters Square, which was a definite highlight. The cobbles were taxing though, as were some of the minor hills (London is flat!) and as I passed 30km, I knew I was headed for trouble. I just hoped I could hold on until 35km, then 40km and see how I went.
My last few splits tell the story of an epic collapse:
I was still ok for a good time until 40km in, but those last two kilometres – mainly walking – I was in genuine trouble physically. I was wavering while walking, and struggling to keep my head from lolling. It was serious hurt town, and I did everything I could just to finish. Which I did, and promptly lay down for a long time.
As for marathon running, I think there is more speed in these legs, but I must remember this was a ‘training run’. The real test is yet to come. I want to give myself a few days to rest and reflect, and then – next stop = Bolton.