Thursday, February 25, 2010

3 months for 3 seconds & ponderings on the Italian Road Running Scene

In November I ran my first post partum race, a half marathon... why mess around with a 5 or 10 km?? Somehow I pulled off a 1:23:53. I was thrilled. Sure it was 3 minutes slower than my personal best BUT I was *only* three months post partum. I thought for sure faster times, and possible a personal best, were just around the corner. Fast forward three months... to last week-end actually when I ran my second half marathon post partum. Actually first let me emphasize that I trained arduously in the intervening three months. So... after three months of hard training with expectations of great things I toed the line and improved by... 3 seconds. Yup, 3 months of training for 3 seconds. The course was similar to November i.e. pancake flat with the obligatory short stretch of cobblestone to remind us all we are in the old world. The weather was ideal. I was mentally tough (normally that is my biggest problem). I finished on my knees (literally... on the aforementioned cobblestone) so I am sure that I gave it all I had on that particular day so my question is why didn't I have more? I am going to write this off as a noisy data point for now and hope a downward trend emerges in my next race.

On the other hand it was a fabulous, warm, sunny day and I got to run a fun race (past a bonafide castle and medieval city wall) in a city dating from the 1200s (this is so very strange for a Canadian!) and hang out with baby and hubby afterwards so really no true complaints. It also gave me the opportunity to further my study of the differences between Italian & Canadian road racing.

First, let me say there is NO bureaucracy like Italian bureaucracy. I could go on ad infinitum (and probably will eventually in another post) about the hoops I jumped through to get signed up with FIDAL (the Italian Athletics Federation). I'm talking flaming, spinning hoops many meters above the ground the likes of which most circus lions have never seen. But my point is that many races here require that one is a member of FIDAL (which entails much of the previously alluded to bureaucracy) and, in my naive opinion, this results in a racing community which tends to not include the recreational jogger. Go to any large city Canadian half marathon and the peak flow of runners crossing the finish line will occur somewhere between 1h50 and 2h00. Granted this was a small(ish) half marathon (650 runners) but I was shocked to glance over at the race clock at 1h55 minutes and NOT see masses of runners crossing the line, in fact there was just the tiniest of trickles. The quintessential lady/man with baby jogger was nowhere to be seen, no dude running backwards (yes, there is almost always one in Cdn races), absent was the person trying to break the world half marathon while juggling record (it's called joggling... yes, I'm serious), I didn't see the 85 year old woman finishing phalanxed by her children and grandchildren, nor the walk/runner who had just had a quadruple bypass last month and, to be frank, I just didn't see the masses of people who are just slow but really, really love running. I have to say the whole scene felt incomplete without these members of the cast. I guess it is not worth it to these people to hurdle the obstacles involved to be able to race here (hoops, hurdles, whatever). To be fair there are also "non-competitivo" races here and these require little if any bureaucracy but somehow it's not the same as having everyone, the whole cast and crew on the same start line.

On the other hand the prizes here are amazing and best of all, useful! Medals are great. They're fun. They made me really love running, when I was 10 years old. Now that I am 35, not so much. It seems here, in my limited experience, that standard practice is to give away groceries. Yes, food! How awesome is that? I am not talking some token items of dried fruit or granola bars. I'm talking sugar and flour and juice (almost 3 L baby!) and fresh garlic and garlic paste and pasta and some kind of gelatinized meat I have never seen before and am slightly frightened by. Useful, consumable prizes. Very nice indeed. And, 300 euro for running a1:23:50, not a bad day's work!

No comments:

Post a Comment