I’ve been working for Venicemarathon since 1998. The yearly trek to the laguna is a mix of excitement for the marathon adrenaline along with a pinch of nostalgia for the various years and marathons editions that come and go.
Venicemarathon is definitely one of the most well organised events on the Italian running scene. Every volunteer knows their role and most of them keep the same one year in and year out. On marathon morning when I go about my routine of bringing the pacers to the start and then making my way back to the finish I see the same faces in their places. I love it.
I work with Stefano and Miky at the expo on Friday and Saturday, presenting the race course and doing various interviews. I love working with them because after five years together we have our routine down and only need a few small adjustments each year. Plus, they both have easygoing personalities and there are never any problems, just solutions.
This year I added in a few interviews with our marathon pacers. One of them was Stefano Nalesso, an ultra-marathon and trail runner who does crazy events like the Spartathlon in Greece. He said his secret to running so many miles is that his body has instant recovery. Wish I had that too, but sadly I need loads of recovery… as do most marathon mortals!
The day before the marathon I have a group meeting with the pacers. They all have plenty of experience but it’s important to really become a group and the only way to do that is to get together in one space and communicate. I have to say that this was one of the best groups I’ve ever had. Some were “new” to me while others were runners that had already paced for me and I knew I could count on. When there’s good communication it’s really easy to work.
If you ran Venicemarathon on Sunday you’ll know that you had perfect weather conditions. Not too cold, not too hot with low humidity and clear blue skies. Every photo taken was gorgeous and “picture perfect”. Villa Pisani at the start was beautiful with hint of sunrise on the facade.
The pacers know their job so there’s no shouting or last minute instructions. Just lots of smiles and making sure they have the right coloured balloons! We took this photo in the preparatory tent because once they get outside all the nervous marathoners start following them around and it’s too difficult to get another group photo. I love this one because they’re coated in rainbow colours.
From the start I make my way back to the finish line within an hour by crossing the Brenta river by a little boat, getting in one of the organisation’s bus to Piazzale Roma and then a taxi-boat to the finish line. I watch the race on the big screen then wait for the first runner to come in.
That first place runner was Mamo Ketema Behailu from Ethiopia. He ran most of the race out front by himself so a well deserved win.
The first Venicemarathon pacers came in at 2:50, right on time. All the other eleven groups were smack on time too.
In the three hour group along with the pacer was Stefano Benatti (bib nr.100) so the dude not only worked the expo for two days but then he went and cranked out a sub three hour marathon!
Along with my work with the organisation I’d also trained runners for the race. I can’t put all of them up but I wanted to mention a few of them that I’m so proud of. I consider “fast” and “slower” runners to be exactly the same. They have different needs, both in training and mental preparation, but it takes just as much energy to train. Gianluca (on the left) ran his first marathon after a few years of me training him for half marathons. He ran with the first women and arrived at the finish line in 2:39:57. He his the sweetest most gracious guy you’ll ever meet and he had the biggest smile at the finish line.
The ladies on the right were also running their first marathon. They all came in between 4:37 and 5:20. They’re from my women’s group that I coach here in Modena and even though they felt like they weren’t ready for the marathon I knew they were. I gave them a slight kick in the rear to sign up and I think you can tell from those smiles that they had an awesome race.
Inspired to get out and run? I know I am. If you are at all thinking about running a marathon in Italy, Venicemarathon is having their 30th anniversary next October. Go. Sign. Up. Now!
I had another birthday a few weeks ago. Yep, they’re coming around faster each year! This one was number 54. There were so many candles you could barely see the cake…
It was a neutral birthday number - 54 didn’t do anything for me. Not like 50 did or 55 will. It was kind of, “Okay, another year… yay!”
But in a sporting context it was HUGE. That’s because this year I change Age Group! *jumping up and down* I’ll be entering the F55 age group for both running and triathlon. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. Exciting because I’ll be the youngest in my age group. Scary because this is the age group where about 70% of participants disappear into thin air.
An example? At Ironman Zurich back in July the F50 age group had 21 finishers. The F55 age group only had six. Six! Even scarier, there were no women in the F60 age group whereas there were 21 sixty year old male finishers.
So… it scares me just a teensy bit.
I feel fine. I’d venture to say that I’ve never felt better in my life, physically and mentally. My family life is fabulous, my health is fantastic, I love what I do and the only thing I think I’m missing in my life is world peace. Yep, may not see that in my lifetime…
Part of me thinks that the huge drop off is due to women going into menopause at around the 50 mark. But I’ve been-there-done-that and came out the other side unscathed. The other part of me has my antennae on alert and ready to pick up on any slight signal that my body is sending me.
My good and slightly younger friend Erica likes to say, “We’re sending you out ahead of us to explore and discover”. So that’s how I’m seeing it. Exploration and discovery of keeping fit and healthy, ready to report back to my female pals into the future years. And that thought actually has me looking forward to it. I’ll keep you posted!
I’m a little behind on blog posts and work in general, but there’s a reason. The school year began last week and we’re still adjusting to the new schedule. As much as I love the freedom of summer I adore schedules, timetables and routines. I would truly be lost without them.
This scholastic year is different for us because Evan has started middle school. In grade school in Italy children go from 8AM until 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. They eat a hot lunch at school. From 6th grade until they graduate from high school their schedule is 8AM – 1PM, Monday through Saturday.
A lot of people comment to me, “Oh, you’re so lucky that you work for yourself”. I actually planned it out early on since I knew I’d never be able to have a normal 9 to 7 (Italian hours) job and have children with the crazy scholastic schedule they implement in this country.
Just to make things a little more difficult we decided to enrol Evan in a middle school on the other side of town. Modena is small but it’s still taking a little effort for all of us. But after a week we’re already happy with our choice so… yay!
I’m self employed but I still have to work. My work flow, the creative flow, is everything to me. I need a good chunk of time to get things rolling and to be by myself to write, read and plan. I’m driving him to school in the morning but I have to teach him to get back home on public transportation so that I have a little more work time. It’s also a first step in him acquiring a little independence and for me to start releasing the mommy clutch.
My plan was to take the bus with him several times and show him where to get on, where to change and the final bus stop. But in order to do that I had to get myself to his school.
The first day I decided to run there. It’s only 5k and it sounded like a quick workout. I had a few problems though. With school out at 1PM I had to leave the house by 12:15 to be there in time. It’s still Indian summer here and hot as hell. I almost passed out on that first run. I also had to stop and start for several traffic lights. I didn’t encounter many fellow walkers, but people in cars seemed to think we were invisible. Every other driver was on a cell phone and there was a lot of nose digging going around at stoplights. I know you wanted to know that.
By day three Evan had the routine down. We decided that I’d meet him at the bus stop instead of in front of the school. He added that we could pretend we didn’t know each other. It lasted about thirty seconds when we both started to giggle.
The biggest change to my day is that he comes home for lunch. This had worried me as I have my solo routine for work, lunchtime and my workouts. I thought that I’d probably just point him to the kitchen and be on with my day. But it turns out those shared lunchtime moments are best part of my day. Life evolves and changes…
Now, I love running long distances; I absolutely adore them. But the distance that I consider to be absolute perfection is the 10K:
Three days of running per week for 50 – 60 minutes equals to approximately 25 – 30 km. This is the perfect amount of mileage to keep your cardiovascular system in great working order and burn off a few extra calories for occasional food regime deviations!
With any distance under 10k you need to work more on speed than endurance. Anything beyond 10k you concentrate more on endurance rather than speed. With 10k distance and races you work on both speed and endurance in equal proportions.
You notice improvement in other sports you practice such as biking and swimming. This is because running is an excellent aerobic conditioner (by working your heart and lungs) and easily transfers to any other sport. Or simply climbing the stairs at home.
Our 10K Course will have you race ready in eight weeks. If you were to run a half or full marathon you’d still have another very full month or two of training ahead of you!
I couldn’t even begin to list the best races here, there are just too many. I love the Dublin Mini Marathon, the Copenhagen Kvindelob. But you can go to Active.com and look up some in your corner of the globe.
Once you’ve done your 10k training you’ll be able to “cruise” with a lot less effort. 10K is my personal default distance. As long as I stick to a 25-30 kilometre weekly mileage I can bump up my training and run longer distances, or just add in some speed work and happily race 10K’s.