The kids and I left Friday after school on the train. It is a quick ride down now that we have the Frecciargento, the “Silver Arrow”, and my younger son kept thinking we’d get to see the famous soccer players who pretend to be running the train in the commercial for it. He looked up so expectantly when the ticket controller came by.
Rome is easily my favorite Italian city, not that I know it very well, but I wish I did! It is a bustling city and yet it is laid-back, with such big buildings, yet huge, open spaces and so much light, light, light!
Except the day of the marathon, when it rained.
The boys were going to do the 5k family run with their dad while I ran the marathon, but he changed his mind when he got up and looked outside at the weather. So I said goodbye and headed out on my own, and luckily by 8:30 it wasn’t raining quite so hard. I got to the start a little late because I’d thought I could just jog over to the Colosseum and line up, but there were about 15,400 of us, and not enough space for something quite so simple, and when I got there the staff sent me running back and all the way around the tomb of the unknown soldier, almost to the Bocca della Verità and then back towards the Colosseum, oops!
It really is something starting a marathon in the middle of the Forum, and Rome is magical, even on a dark and rainy morning in the middle of March. I was glad I did it, despite the lack of training, despite how incredibly LONG it seemed at times.
When the rain let up, my ex and the boys decided to come see me along the route – and so just around the 13th km, when I was starting to feel a little tired and was wondering why on earth I’d thought it would be all right to attempt a marathon with not even one long run under my belt, I heard a voice I knew shout, “MOMMY!” and I looked up, and there they were! That got me going again.
I saw them again around the 37th, with only five kilometers to go, and by then I knew I’d be fine and finish easily in under 4 hours.
The way the Rome route is set up makes it very easy for your family and friends to see you multiple times in certain sections, and so after I saw them the second time, I wondered if they wouldn’t make it to the finish before I did. The final kilometers were along narrower streets in the center, with cheers the whole way – it was wonderful! At the 39th, there was a hill that knocked a lot of people out, and at the end of the hill was a dark tunnel, which was just depressing to have looming up ahead. Once we got out of that, though, it was almost over, one more kilometer and then we circled Piazza del Popolo, which was probably the most breathtaking moment of the marathon. It had stopped raining and it almost seemed like the sun might come out (it didn’t). I got my final wind right there, and the last km and a half was a breeze.
My ex and the kids said it looked like I was sprinting the last bit uphill towards the finish line, and just after they shouted my name from the bleachers and I waved, the man I was passing gave me a dirty look. HA!
The end was great, but the race was long and hard. I took it pretty easy and still I definitely felt the lack of training. The beginning and the end were exhilarating, but the 22 miles in between were rough. I don’t know if I would do it again without proper preparation; it is not fun.
That said, you forget the pain immediately. As I crossed the finish, I realized I was going to cry a little – it had been such a long race, but I finished so well, and having my kids there for the first time had made it very special. I was choking myself up as I thought about it, and one of the paramedics just after the finish, in a thick Roman accent, asked, “Tutto bene?” and out popped my biggest smile and a loud, “SI’!”
I am really glad I did it. My arm was fine, and my legs were fine immediately afterwards – we had a fun lunch at a great little place in Campo de’ Fiori afterwards and then went sightseeing for the rest of the afternoon, and wandered around in the evening until we found the perfect place for dinner. We spent the following morning at the Colosseum and the Forum. It was a beautiful, sunny day, of course. Then the boys and I headed back home on the train in the afternoon, and my legs were perfectly fine.