Maratona di Roma 2014
Ooops, I thought on Saturday evening as I was sorting out my race kit and realised that I’d forgotten to pack my Suunto Ambit. Coincidentally, I’d been reading the bit in James Adams’ new book Running and Stuff on the flight over to Rome about how he went to some marathon or other and ran without a garmin and got a PB. I didn’t think I was on PB form but I felt good, and not at all worried about the lack of a timing device.
Friday was travelling, a lovely couple of hours in a cafe overlooking the Colosseum with some fab pizza and lots of Aperol Spritz and then off to the Expo which was pretty basic before a couple of nice bars which both gave us nibbles with our drinks. Sat was a 4 hour cycle tour of the city which was a lot of fun, followed by more pizza, Prosecco and Aperol Spritz and a reasonably early night. We’d had lovely weather but it wasn’t set to last unfortunately.
Sunday morning, chia flapjacks on the metro for breakfast and off to the Colosseum for the start. It was chaos and the heavens opened. Totally soaked in vest and shorts and the rain kept coming.. at least it wasn’t cold! The baggage lorries were spread out with along the road past the Colosseum and Sally’s was at the opposite end to mine. We split up and met back in start area B – at least the start areas seemed to be well organised. In the chaos of the baggage area I’d gone and left my two gels in my bag. Oh well, I knew that there were drinks stations every 5km with both water and gatorade – I decided to alternate one with the other and try and use the gatorade for energy. The start was delayed a few minutes due to a power failure of some sort and just as it stopped raining we were off, onto the wet cobbled streets straight away. We weren’t too far back so the initial congestion didn’t last too long and I passed a fair few people, settling into what felt a comfortable, yet quick pace.
The route first goes south and was on and off the cobbles quite a bit but all good so far. Without a watch I was looking out for the km markers and any clock I could spot, although I wasn’t quite sure what time we started with the delay. There were timing mats at around each 5km with clocks, so I looked out for those. I don’t recall seeing the first but at 10k the time on the clock was around 47 minutes. Quick calculations and I basically decided that if I kept the effort up, I should be on for a good time. We headed back towards the city centre again, along the Tiber on one side or the other for quite a while. Here and there the sun came out and it felt warm but the rain held off mostly and it was fairly cloudy so in the end good conditions for a run. The course was has a lot of turns in it and I noticed that there was a fair amount of arrogance at people trying to hold their line and protect their space – on one turn in particular there was a guy just inside me who was putting his hands up and out to stop people crowding him. Weird.. And a bit of a twattish thing to do I thought.
A really cool moment came after about 19km as we ran into the Vatican City – big crowds here and a brass band as we ran along the edge of St Peter’s square. We worked our way further north then and along the river some more, passing the Olympic Stadium and following the river as it curved east. There was a huge hill looming ahead and we started going up a little.. luckily the route turned away and we didn’t go up that much! 30km was my goal, then 32km with just 10 to go. Back south along the river and somewhere around here I passed the 3:15 pacers – there were three of these and I thought I’d been going quicker than that tbh, but they may have started ahead of me. At one point I really noticed leaving the tarmac roads and hitting the cobbles again. Mostly that wasn’t too bad but there were some noticeably uneven bits which made life a little harder. After 36km or so we ran down one side of Piazza Navona, where Sally and I had enjoyed a nice late lunch the day before. 37km and we turned towards the finish and the crowds were really big now, but with still 5km to go we had to turn north again.
Being without a watch/gps, I was going purely on feel. I felt like I was pushing it in the first 10-15km, keeping steady during the middle and hanging on (and slowing) in that last 5km. Some of the km markers seemed wrong too – it felt like the distance was more spread out earlier in the race, despite feeling like I was going faster and the markers later on seemed closer together, despite the fact I was sure I’d slowed. Now I have the splits, I don’t know if I was right, or if I was just feeling tired later on yet actually maintaining the pace.
That last 5km was essentially a big out and back – about 1.5km north, round a roundabout and then the same back south on a different road, then a turn and through a tunnel and then another turn towards the finish. It was quite a backdrop too – it really opened out with the wide cobbled road, the ‘wedding cake’ (Altare della Patria) on the right and Capitoline Hill and the Roman Forum behind that, and the Colosseum ahead past the finish. There were uniformed ‘Roman Centurions’ lining the finishing straight too I’d worked out along the way that 3:10 had just slipped away and as I pushed to the line I saw the clock read 3:12:xx
I felt pretty happy with that, although I didn’t quite know my exact time. After collecting my goody bag and medal I had a sit down and a minor stretch in the still-quiet finishing area and waited for Sally. She was full of cold so was taking it easy so I expected her at around 3:30 and sure enough, there she was!
As we collected our bags it started raining again, so we headed back to the nearby cafe for a drink. Yum! It turned out that my time had been 3:11:23 – third marathon that week (I had run 3:33 on Monday and Tuesday in Milton Keynes) and no watch/gps and I’d run my second fastest marathon ever! Good enough reason to celebrate into the evening after a shower and a change.
All in all a good race, some great sights along the route and a superb place to chill out and fuel up before and after the race!
Those splits btw:
I’m still not convinced those markers (and therefore the splits) were right, but who knows, maybe I was running better in the latter stages of the race than I thought I was.