Marathon #20 Lombardia Milan 15/04/2012

You can say I arrived to the marathon in Milan very well prepared. I’ve been thinking about it for very long time: 28 days, 802km of running and 6000km by car . My plan was to give it all I had left and I certainly did. Not once in the last 12 months of training and races, I got to the end of a run with the same feeling of having squeezed my body to the maximum, to the point I could have not been even a second faster. It’s very rewarding sensation.

For this marathon, I had the pleasure to run with Terence and Luigi. Luigi is one of Beatrice’s work colleagues. Last year I run the Milan half marathon with him, a couple of weeks my mum died. We built a connection right away and I’m very happy we managed to see each other again. He is training for the Edinburgh race, and, for him, this was going to be a training run.

Terence is a dear friend of mine from Sydney. He is my running mentor, I started running with his running group and I look up to him for advices. He is the real deal, having been Australian champion of 100km and just a couple of months ago winner and record breaker at the Antarctic marathon. For the Milan marathon, he offered one his support, renouncing to a time to stay with me from start to end, whatever pace.

On the day, the weather was shit. There is no better technical term to describe it. It had been raining for the whole night and even on the day, it didn’t stop for a second. Before the start we were all wrapped up in bin bags and we kept our long sleeve rain jacket on for half of the race.

As if running a marathon after other nineteen wasn’t enough, I had the brilliant idea to make it interesting and try to run it in crescendo. This means start slow to pick up the pace km after km. My plan was to run:

from start to 10km at 5min/km

from 10km to 20km at 4:40 min/km

from 20km to 30km at 4:20 min/km

from 30km to finish at 4:00 min/km

pretty ambitious I know as it would have meant a 3:08 marathon… but what the heck! Go big or or go home!!

We started off extremely well, all three very comfortable at 5min/km pace. We completed the first 10km in just over 50mins and considering the rubbish conditions, flooded roads and “human traffic” it was already a good achievement.

The second 10km also went very well, we kept the faster pace (4:40) well and still managed to chat without feeling fatigued. We got to the halfway mark dead on time although at that stage the rain had already taken it out of us more than needed.

The second half marathon was going to be very difficult. I knew that from the start. I had not memories to having been faster than 4:40 in long time, and 21km is a long way. Because it was a training run for him, Luigi decided not to push too much and run that 10km at 4:30 instead. So we stayed together up until km 25. Terence and I continued alone from there aiming at a faster 4:20 pace.

My real race started around km 30. Up until then, I had felt okish or I had convinced myself I was. The reality hit me hard as Terence looked back at me and asked how I was feeling and that it was time to change gear again. I assured him I was fine, faking a smile and thumbs up but it wasn’t the case. Everything in my body was aching. The legs felt like they weighted a ton each, my left plantar was screaming at each step. My lungs were burning. Terence must have seen that coming as he started to talk to me and encourage me to keep going. “Come on, you run 830km up until now, 10km is nothing! 40 minutes and it’s over!” If it hadn’t been for him, I would have never managed to keep that fast pace, now under 4:20min/km but still very far from 4min/km. The km passed and I got quieter and quieter, fully focused on not letting go. A million of thoughts came to my mind.. each of those reminding me that my pain was only temporary. The famous 35km wall, hit me hard but as I was considering my options, there was a magical coincidence. One of the spectators saw us coming, removed her jumper and shouted “Me too!! Me too!!” as she showed us her Outruncancer t-shirt. Almost at the same time, a runner sprinted to reach us to say “Hi Luca, congratulations! Sorry, I have to stop I cramped!!”. Talking about well timed support.. these two episodes really cheered me up making me lightheaded.

The rest is story, I kept pushing and pushing. Every km as it was my last. And when I finally reached km41, something took over and I managed to clock my fastest km, at 3:59min/km.. to complete the marathon in 3h:15mins.

At the finish line, my dad, Beatrice and my auntie hugged me from over the fence and I couldn’t hold my tears of joy… I completed what I set up to do. I run one marathon in each of the Italian regions in less than a month.

Meanwhile Lidia was still running her marathon, her second in just a month. She finished with a great 4h:22mins PB. I’m really proud of her, not just for the running achievement but mostly for her determination and beautiful soul. She showed plenty of both during this adventure.

To my great pleasure, Beatrice had organized a brunch in Milan with part of the bill going to charity. Lots of her friends and colleagues were there. Alex, another friend from Sydney now living in London was there with his group of friends. Phil, Enrico, Rainer, Luigi and few others were there. Lunch was great and we ended up staying till late afternoon.

As I write this post, It feels as this happened ages ago. I still haven’t come to fully realized what happened in the last month. For sure, it was a great adventure.

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