25 years of running (Part I)

Happy New Year’s everyone! While thinking back on how great last year turned out to be, accidents and all, I realised I’d forgotten an important milestone: in 2015 I celebrated 25 years of running! Twenty five years!

My immediate thought was, I should write about that. I kept procrastinating though because, well, I couldn’t quite decide what to say. Was it a celebration? An accomplishment? Then again, how many runners make it to the twenty-five year mark before getting bored or changing sports or stopping after they’ve checked off their imaginary boxes?

So as not to bore everyone I decided on a photo collage, picking a highlight for each year. After an entire day reminiscing and wading through thousands of analogue and digital pics, here are my picks!


1990 – I started running and immediately chose my goal: New York City Marathon. I bought Jeff Galloway’s marathon book and followed it until he insisted on 20+ mile runs (week 20?) because even then I sensed that was crazy. My finish time includes a twenty minute wait on the Verrazano Bridge without chip technology.


1991 – After that first marathon I was hooked and started converting my friends. I returned to New York with my Italian pals Maurizio and Francesca. I bettered my time by nearly an hour and we ran as a trio for many more years.


1992 – 1993 was spent pregnant and enjoying my beautiful daughter. I safely ran all through my pregnancy, completing a 10K the day before giving birth. I vowed to run another marathon by her first birthday.


1994 – I chose the Turin Marathon because it was known as a fast course. I think it was… I don’t remember much else except that it was great to be running a marathon again. I was still breastfeeding at this stage, busting the Italian myth that running and nursing excluded one another.


1995 – It was the tenth anniversary for Venice Marathon and they had a great crowd of runners to celebrate. It was beautiful. In 1999 I started working with the marathon organisation and know this course by heart!


1996 – Carpi Marathon, Italy. I don’t have good memories of this race. I went by myself and the course was not particularly interesting or entertaining. How ironic is it that we now live five miles from here?


1997 is the year I discovered Triathlons! I loved swimming, biking and of course, running. I stuck with sprints and Olympic distances for many many years because training any longer would have taken too much time away from my family.


1998 was the year I ran my personal best in the marathon twice. In the spring I ran marathon #13 in Paris in 3:51:46. In the fall I returned to New York for #14 in 3:52:32. These are the official net times since the electronic chip had still not been introduced. In both Paris and New York I ran a “real” time about five minutes faster but back in the old days we could only boast about our clocked time. Sigh.


1999 – I’d been writing a column for the Italian magazine Correre when I got an invitation from Thom Gilligan at Marathon Tours and Travel to write an article on the Antarctic Marathon. I flew to Ushuaia, Argentina and then boarded a ship with a few hundred other crazies to cross Drake’s Passage and run on the other side.

It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity. Years later Bart Yasso from Runner’s World wrote a chapter about our voyage in his book, My Life On The Run. Apparently they’d placed bets on who would get seasick first over Drake’s Passage. Guess who it was?


2000 – Milan Marathon, December. It was cold, almost snowing, and the Milanese were unhappy with runners disrupting their Sunday. Nonetheless, I remember loving the cold air and Christmas atmosphere.


2001 is the year I started give back to running by helping other women. I started running clinics in cities all over Italy and was able to involve thousands of women in the project. This was the best of times, really and truly…


2002 – I organize more running clinics and start a running club. Here we are at Race for the Cure in Rome, one of the first charity races to open in Italy. Organizing running clinics was great for me because I could run in every city I visited.


2003 – I spent most of 2003 pregnant with my second child, Evan. I ran up until the fourth month but then had to cut back to just walking. I again walked 10km the day before giving birth to him. I was not only back to running right after he was born but also back to work. These photos are taken at Venicemarathon where I’d organized the pacers and trained a group of novices on their first marathon attempt. Evan was only a month old here. Hard to believe how much he’s grown since!

Stay tuned for Part II!

  1. Frances
    Part of me is focused on the amazing accomplishments - the distances but also the commitment, the steady slog throughout the years, even when pregnant, the promotion of women's running... - but the other part can only think JULIA IS SO PRETTY. Sorry to be so superficial - and thanks for the story! Happy Runnaversary!
  2. Julia Jones
    Oh thank you, Frances <3
  3. anne
    25 years is a huge accomplishment, and wonderful to see it set out like this. Congratulations! I especially like how your family and your running are woven together.
  4. MarciG
    Hey, don't you still owe us some backstory from the Bart Yasso trip...I think you promised it to us when I was in the 5k class! Great fun looking through all of you photos.
  5. Tessa
    What a wonderful post. I have to agree with Francis, you look so pretty! I love that you live such a rich life <3 This wants me to (finally) start organizing my running pictures. Such good memories :)