Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jeff's Italian trip

For the past three or four years I have run both a spring and an Autumn marathon, and this year was no exception. My eldest son, Russell, at first suggested the Amsterdam race in October but, after objection from his wife, Maureen, who wanted to 'go somewhere a bit sunny', we settled on Lake Garda.

The Lake Garda district of Italy is a beautiful area, very picturesque and an ideal temperature for racing at that time of year (10th October). Eileen and I decided to treat the trip as our 40th wedding anniversary 'treat' (although that is actually on 19th December). We drove there, a journey that took three days, stopping off in France and Italy.
We stayed in a lakeside resort called Melcesine, which is a charming place, mainly populated, it seemed, by German tourists. We had to catch the 07:00 ferry to the other side of the lake at Limone for the start of the race at 09:30. There were about 1,500 runners of all shapes and sizes taking part. I had hoped to complete my run in three and a half hours, Russell was aiming to get somewhere near his PB of 2:41.
I was going great guns for the first half of the race, waving to all the well wishers as we ran through all the charming little villages en route. I was well on schedule for a sub 3:30, but with about five kilometres to go all my energy just drained away from me. I had been carrying an energy gel pack with me that I had intended taking on board with about an hour's running to go, but, unfortunately, I stumbled and fell and dropped the blooming thing. Iwas also very,very thirsty, even though it wasn't a particularly hot day and I was nowhere near a drinks station. I was that parched I saw a discarded bottle of water by the side of the road, so I just picked it up and drunk the contents, which, were hopefully just water ....mind you I couldn't have cared less at the time.

I could only muster a sort of walk/run from kilometre 37-41, however, I did mange to 'sprint' the final 1,000 metres, but I was feeling pretty knackered at the finish. Normally I can't eat anything after a marathon, but this time I scoffed down everything in sight and then went back for second helpings.
Russell came home in 12th place in an excellent time of 2:50:25. I was 313th overall (fifth in my category) in 3:34:10. We both thought that it was a tough course, as a great deal of it was downhill and there were a lot of cobblestones to negotiate as well. At first I was a tad dissapointed with my time, but later, on reflection, I thought that most blokes of my age would have been pretty pleased with the time, and it was only four minnutes outside the London Marathon good-for-age qualifying time after all....and the last finisher in my age category took 06:14:02.

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