After training since late December, I did my first long distance competitive run yesterday and I’m damn proud of myself. I’m amazed that I did it! I actually jogged non stop for 21 km at the Roma Ostia Mezza Maratona!
So the entire week prior to the race was so easygoing that I didn’t feel like I was training at all. It was basically a two 5 km run and then a 3km walk and that’s about it. Reason being that it was to let the body rest and be ready before the big event.
So I spent it doing a leisurely walk around the centro, going to the English Bookshop, then treating myself to some Indian Food and then getting a haircut. Feels like my birthday! I even made invite cards in the hopes that there will be someone cheering on for me at the end point. Which is probably overly enthusiastic, but it’s my half marathon and I’m quite excited about it.
On Saturday, the day before the race, my friends Alessandra and Rosella accompanied me in picking up my race pack at Casa Romaostia in Eur.
The air felt festive with so many people coming from all over the world. Getting my race pack was pretty much the same as the year before when I did the 5 km fun run and I spotted out an area for doing a sports doctor medical check.
I spotted this wall of all the names of the competitors in the race.
Sadly, I couldn’t spot out my name no matter how much I searched.
As always, there were a plentiful of displays selling and promoting gears and events. I had to glance twice on this particular one to see if my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me.
We had to snake through the crowd, and in the end, we went to a bar and spent the evening later chatting and gossiping over some aperitivo.
When I reached home, I quickly examined the pack. Among the things I got, was this eyecatching bright yellow Adidas tshirt and bib with my name printed on it, which makes it a lot more special compared to my previous runs.
Runners are categorised with different coloured bibs – the fastest are black, followed by red, then blue, then green, then pink and finally yellow. Well, it’s my first run, and I’m an amateur so there’s no shame being categorised as “the slow ones”.
If you looked carefully on the left hand side of the bib, there’s a chip which is supposed to record and compute the speed of your run as soon as you go past the starting line. There were a number of devices located at every 5 km or so which records the chip.
I’ve never seen one before, so I was quite fascinated.
I also had a membership card to a sports association and a runner’s club. Theoretically, I could utilize this if I wanted to join another competition till the middle of the year.
I was also given this huge-ass bag to keep my stuff in. Look at how big it is compared to the book rack beside it.
I had no idea what to put in it. When I was done packing in the end, even with my winter jackets and whatnots, the bag was still more than half empty. Obviously, we didn’t need to carry this during the run as there will be a truck where we can deposit it to which will bring it at the end point.
On the day itself, I woke up bright and early and feeling quite excited, like it was the first day of going to school.
As public transportation was a mess due to the half marathon – with closed roads, plus I don’t live walking distance to the subway that passes there, I asked Cart to drive me. I’m really thankful that he agreed to my request at the last minute and managed to get me there before 8 am. Cart isn’t a morning person, so it’s a big gesture for me.
And all around my neighbourhood, I could see signs for the oncoming half marathon and I feel so proud to be doing this. Running on the roads that I know, and recognize and regularly pass through.
I’ll always be a Jurong girl, but Rome is fast becoming my beloved adopted city.
It was so cold and frosty morning. I think it was even less than 10 degrees when I reached Palalottomatica. It was so cold that I was in a dilemma on whether to put my jacket in my big bag and hand it over to the camion immediately or stay warm and hand the jacket over only till the last minute.
In the end, I thought that I’d just wing it, put away my jacket, put on the disposable plastic poncho that was included in the pack and hand it over. I was cursing under my breath at how cold it was, but the poncho helped tremendously from the cold wind.
I took the chance to warm the body up by running around and doing stretches.
Nevertheless the air totally felt so festive, there were so many people in different coloured outfits, different shapes and sizes, different nationalities and different ages all ready to go. I even met a 77 year old man who ran faster than me! I’m so in awe.
Before starting a long race, it’s always a good idea to empty our bladder. And here is a shot of the long queue to the toilet and I had to wait a bit for my turn.
One needs a strong heart to enter one of these latrines. (I do not need to explain why) And in due time, we queued up accordingly in our corrals and waited for our turn to start.
In the picture above, the people carrying the balloons are pacemakers. Lets say if you wanted to finish the run in 2 hours like what was written on the balloon, you should try to keep up and follow these people.
Soon the sun started to shine and with the addition with being in a crowd of people, I started to feel warm up. I took the chance to take off my poncho and tried to throw it across the gate. Unfortunately for me, the person behind me played a prank on me and blocked it, and it hit on someone’s head instead. Oh dear!
And soon after, we were off! It was so festive! I felt a surge of happiness and a sense of pride running around my neighbourhood.
There were a lot of people who try to run fast and take over me in the beginning. I wasn’t too concerned though, as it is a long distance run, so I focused on keeping to my own comfortable pace to conserve my energy. Not too fast, nor too slow and most importantly to keep on moving.
After we went past Eur and entered through the Cristoforo Colombo highway, it was an interesting experience for me, as I usually drive here so it was a different perspective to be here on foot. On a regular day, I wouldn’t advice anyone to walk here because it’s really dangerous and there’s no regular walking paths here.
I saw interesting things during my run. If you wanted to, you could pick up free jackets and gloves and hats on the floor – stuff that the earlier runners didn’t want anymore. There were a significant number of men who stopped to pee and while I was running behind a couple, one of them farted in front of me. So nasty!
I also saw a woman running with her dog behind her, like a tiny bodyguard.
There was also one guy whom I passed at the 10km mark who was wearing a non-competitive bib, looking very confused. What was he doing there? Poor guy! He was probably supposed to be doing a 5 km fun run and instead he did double!
We had refreshments at around each 5 km intervals. It felt so professional to be grabbing a cup of water, sip and throw it away nonchalantly, like how they do on TV.
It was a good run. while there were slopes going up and down, it was relatively gentle and I would have liked to have my route recorded but unfortunately for me, Endomondo couldn’t detect any GPS signal and didn’t record more than half my run.
As I hit 19km, I was quite psyched. As tired as I was, as disgustingly sweaty I felt, and FUNGRY as I felt, and all the pins and needles on the palms of my feet and my thighs, I was feeling quite motivated as I was excited to complete the longest distance that I’ve done yet.
By this time, some people were starting to slow down, looking half dead and some were even limping. I trudged on forward, knowing that the end is almost near. I could smell the sea! Which meant that Ostia Beach was really close. And not too long after, I heard a voice screaming, “Marina! Marina!” and it was my good friend Bahija who came to support me in the end.
And here is a picture she snapped of me! Oh my, I look so unglamorous. In my heart though, I was very happy that I had a friend to cheer me on 🙂
At length, I reached the finishing line! My thighs were screaming, and I had pins and needles on the palm of my feet but I felt really good to have completed the race. Immediately after that, I gobbled all the food and drinks that I could see at the refreshment stand. I was so famished!
Despite the GPS malfunction, I’m pleasantly surprised to have got the results pretty much emailed immediately after I finished the race.
In the end, I’m faster than I thought I was. I’m not super fast, but I’m just happy that I could do it in under 2 hours and 45 minutes – hypothetically considering if I gave myself a maximum constant pace of 8 minutes for each kilometer.
Plus! Considering that with over 12 000 sign ups for this race, I think I’m in a pretty decent position in 9k! By the way, how come I’m categorized under Italian nationality?
And so I got a medal for completing 21 km in under 3 hours!
I was so enthralled at completing my first 21 km run, I did a victory dance!
Wow, look at how red my face was.
Anyway, after all that fuss of rallying people to come, only two people came over to cheer me on in the end – my good friend Bahija and Cart. But it’s better than zero! I was really glad that they would take the time to support and accompany me.
And here I am on the phone chatting with some friends and family in Singapore, bragging about how I completed my run.
Aoh! Che sta’fa?
Another picture of me, for good measure, just because I look nice here.
We chatted excitedly all through our walk to the train station. By this time, I saw quite a number of people lying on the grass, probably exhausted or just resting. We also saw this interesting sight and I made Bahija pose and I pretended to take a picture of her but instead sneakily took a picture of this guy showing off his speedo. Sexeh!
While we were in the train, it is here when I felt the most aches after a long run. Oh boy, sitting down was not a good idea. I could feel my legs pulsating. My back was hurting and I started to walk like an old woman after that.
Interestingly I felt myself covered with salt crystals, which was a really odd feeling, as if I rubbed myself with sand. And as soon as we reached home, Cart made lasagna with pesto for me while I showered and surprised me with a maritozzo later on. Both stuff that I love to eat! I love him so much!
After that, I didn’t want to move too much and tried to keep my legs comfortable. I managed to catch the race on Rai-Sport TV featuring the top runners and I was so amazed to see the winner, completing the run in 59 minutes. How is it humanly possible?! I was so dumbfounded that I kept gasping and couldn’t close my mouth.
As evening came, I felt a little feverish. But I’m feeling better now after taking paracetamol and some rest. I think I overworked my body and got too much sun.
I’m not sure if you could see it well in this picture, but I have a bit of a tan line even though we are still in Winter.
In any case, I feel very contented with myself for being able to overcome this personal challenge. I never imagined that I could do a 21 km run, but amazingly, I did it! At this point of time, I’m not sure if I’d do the full marathon though. But I’m feeling so motivated right now, I might be crazy enough to do it!
I’m totally gonna wear my medal the whole day today and show off. I really don’t care if anyone gives me the side eye 🙂
This is Marina, over and out!