The Rome Marathon 2011. Wow, what an enduring 4:39:36 that was.
Started off great. Enjoyed darting through the crowd for the first few miles and even overtaking, working my way past the pacemakers and then keeping an eye on the 4hr marker, safe in the knowledge that it was over 5mins before I got to the start line.
Each corner I turned I would stand tall in my posture, eagerly looking over the heads of the fellow runners to see if I could get a glimpse, until inevitably, I lost track of the pink balloons of the 4hr pace maker.
As I crossed the 20k mark, I knew I was not far off target however - with a 2hr clocking I was on for a 4hr 40k anyway. Disregarding the fact that the Marathon distance is 42k this was enough to spur me on and let my mind come to terms with a low-4hr clocking.
I decided to reward myself with my first scheduled break (after stopping for a bandage and cheeky toilet visit) at the half way stage. I planed to walk whilst consuming much-needed fluids, salts and solids. As soon as I got into this routine and the enormity of the task ahead sank in I could do no better than to use each water station - spaced apart by 5k - as a target to get me through the rest of the race.
30k came. “Imagine what it’s going to feel like when I’m 30k in and on the home straight” I had thought. “I’ll be able to blitz the last 10k, knowing that I was nearly home and dry” I had even dreamt. In reality, however I was beginning to cramp up, seize up and generally just run out of energy. Not cardiovascularly however, I was not out of breath, but the lower half of my body was feeling the endurance for sure.
And so I went on, using each 5k as a target and a chance to recoup while I consumed blood oranges, biscuits, Gatorade and Water. The inhumane nature of the race means that you rely on these station to path you through the race - everyone does!
40k came and I felt like I had planned to feel at 30. A sudden realisation that I was genuinely nearly home and dry washed over me and I picked up the pace. The route circled the Colaseum in the final stages and the finish line simply seemed to take an age to appear. When it did I was able to stride my way over the line.
I don’t remember doing this but on one of the photos above, you can see a comedy shot of me crouched over, hands on knees looking jaded.
As I looked up I spotted my great friend Simon with whom I travelled with for the event. He had passed me at 30k on my scheduled break and finished just ahead. I conjured up the energy to run to him, almost tearful. He spotted a fellow mate, Mark and I could hear him shout his name as I came up behind the two. We embraced at the enormity of what we had just achieved and it was at that moment that it hit me. I was genuinely holding back the tears of emotion as I realised the ordeal of the last few hours was finally over.
the stats tell the full story:
Split min/Km RealTime
Km 5 6,37 0:27:50
Km 10 5,29 0:55:18
Km 15 5,35 1:23:16
Km 21 6,31 2:03:04
Km 25 6,36 2:28:50
Km 30 7,18 3:05:24
Km 35 7,54 3:44:58
Km 40 7,45 4:23:44
Arrivo 7,13 4:39:36