Despite having lived in Milan for half a decade and passing by on my way to the skiing in Aosta, I had never visited Turin. But I’d heard it was worth a trip.
This weekend I finally went, and I hope to go back again soon because everything I’d heard was true and then some. Turin was absolutely charming, like a cross between Milan (big city, grand, tree-lined boulevards) and Bologna (wide porticoes stretching for kilometers) with a dose of something very much its own. And the people of Turin are kind and classy and very helpful when you ask them for directions.
I probably would not have gone if not for a couple of guys I know from awhile back who were planning to run the Turin marathon, which was yesterday. (Hmmm, do you maybe see where I am going with this?) When they saw me back out on my usual running route a few days after Venice and already feeling fine, they invited me to tag along, and I was tempted. The thrill and satisfaction of Venice had begun to wear off. I sensed my trainer was disappointed I hadn’t finished in under three and a half hours (although he would never say so) and I wondered if he was right about the time I could theoretically achieve.
Also, as with most major life goals, once you get there and the excitement dies down, a touch of emptiness fills your head with the nagging question: And now what?
Turin, that’s what!
After all, why let all that training go to waste? And this time I would be doing it just for me. No one from my club was going, so I could keep it under wraps. I told my trainer, who was on board, and a very few, close, non-running friends, but officially Turin would be my secret marathon, something just for me and only me, and this made it all the more appealing. There would be no one else’s expectations to live up to. No anxiety! It would be a Sunday morning run with a few thousand other people in a beautiful city I’d never seen before. And if I nailed my time, great, but if not, it wouldn’t really matter because I was running it just for me, just for fun, and after having just done Venice, there was not much more I felt I had to prove to myself in the marathon.
My trainer said that I had recovered so quickly from Venice that I would probably be fine, but there was always the possibility that my legs would not really be ready.
“When will we know?” I asked.
“Oh, around the 35th kilometer,” he said. “That’s when you’ll know for sure.”
Which was good news to me. I figured that even if my legs started to give out around the 21st-22nd mile, I would already be close enough to the end to pull through. I’d still be able to finish!
This marathon was completely different from my first, already I felt like an old pro! I was perfectly calm and content and could enjoy my weekend away. We spent Saturday sightseeing and went out to a fabulous Piemontese dinner with a group of Turinese friends of my friends. I tried the traditional Piemontese bagna cauda for the first time and it was absolutely delicious.
And the next day, we went for a run. I felt great, tucking into the 35th kilometer without losing any steam, finishing eighth in my age group with a real time of 3 hours, 23 minutes and 51 seconds, a couple of minutes faster than my trainer’s theoretical time for me. I could not have been happier, or more surprised.
And… now what?
(Swimming! That’s what.)