Several months ago, Rachel convinced me to enter the Milano City Marathon. As I was considering Paris which runs on the same day, I decided that I would rather join Rachel and have some company on my travels. Besides, it’s a long time away so I don’t need to worry about it. Right?
Wrong. The time flew in and suddenly I was two weeks away. Training had gone well and long runs under my belt were a couple of 15 milers, an 18 mile and a 21 mile run. My monthly mileage was up to a great level and I had been regularly going to pump and the occasional spin class. My parkrun times were coming down and I ran a great time at Inverness Half. Having been watching my diet I dropped a bit of weight too, so confidence was high for this one.
As my first two attempts at a Marathon (both at Loch Ness) did not go exactly as planned, I wanted to do this one and do it properly. I changed nutrition tactics and basically adopted a “less is more” attitude. Now, please don’t go throwing out your gels on my advice, but it worked for me. For breakfast I had a croissant and a cereal bar, nothing more. Race nutrition was one packet of Dextrose Tabs and the oranges/bananas/energy drinks that was out on course and I took a little and often approach to this. Pleased to say it worked for me and I had no real problems on route.
I left Aberdeen on Friday morning, flying via Heathrow and landing in Linate airport near Milan. I was spending the first night there alone, as Rachel and her boyfriend Ian were spending the night in a hotel in Heathrow and flying over the next morning. This gave me the chance to get out and about and explore a little. I visited the Natural History museum in a fantastic park that was nearby the hotel. Loads of joggers out in the park and found a pop-up gym which was totally free and had classes on. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to go try this out… due to running the Marathon and stuff. While walking through the park at one point, I heard the leaves rustle beside me. Thinking it was a bird I had a look and discovered these small lizard type creatures darting about. If anyone knows what these would have been, please do comment.
Rachel and Ian arrived later on and after getting into the hostel, we made our way down to the race village to register and pick up our stuff. The goody bags that we were given were pretty fantastic. Decent Adidas technical T-shirt and loads of samples and bits and pieces. Loads of suppliers stalls to check out too. We didn’t hang about long, instead deciding to get registered and go for food. Twice. No, I tell a lie, three times. OK, four times if you count the Gelato after dinner.
On the morning of the Marathon I was quite pleased to have laid everything out the night before. My race kit would be a combination of Adidas, Ron Hill, Saucony, 2XU, Under Armour and probably a few others. We met another runner downstairs in the Hostel as we got ready to leave and decided to join her as we got the train to the start. The train journey took about 40 minutes form the hostel and arrived at a very large conference centre type place, with a long walk way which seemed to go on forever. We arrived at the start shortly after, dumped our bags and made our way to our “correct” starting corral. As I had been allocated a different corral from Rachel and we wanted to start together, it took a bit of petted lip looks to get the guy to allow us in with Rachel.
The start was a buzzing atmosphere. The helicopter was flying around taking TV pictures, there were amazing fancy dress costumes, cheer leaders and various other things going on. The MC was enthusiastic and doing a great job. I had no idea what he was saying, but I was enjoying the fact that he was saying it. The weather at the start line was sunny and warm.
The first few miles took us through a small village on the outskirts of Milan. It was very “Italian” (or at least what I would imagine Italy to be like before going for a visit). Old streets and wooden shutters on the windows of the buildings. Running was comfortable and Rachel had to keep reining me in to stop me taking off at 10k pace. The first 15 miles of the race saw us run between 9:30 and 10:30 miles. There were water stations with water, sports drinks and snacks every 5km which we chose to walk, so given this fact the pacing was fairly steady.
Just before the half way point, the course passes closely by the 24 mile part of the course. We also just happened to be running this part of the course at the same time as the race winner Francis Kiprop, so we had the helicopter above us and the TV cameras following him to our right. This was exciting until the realisation that he had just 2 miles to go and I had over 13. Lovely!
At around the 20 mile mark I started to struggle a bit. It was getting warm and I was feeling tired, sore and dehydrated. Rachel seemed to keep speeding up at this point too, and although I managed to stay close behind her for some time eventually I had to watch her sail off into the distance. It was at mile 23 where things really started to hurt though. I had a goal of 4.5 hours and with 3 miles remaining I had 30 minutes to hit that goal. Despite doing everything I could to persuade myself to suck it up and just run those miles at 10 minutes each, I didn’t have it in me. 13:06, 12:39 and 13:30 had me come home at 4:36:04
Overall though, I was happy with my performance. I ran nearly 37 minutes quicker than I ran Loch Ness just 6 months ago and I knocked 16 minutes off of my PB.
Chip Time: 04:36:04
Gun Time: 04:38:22
Overall Placing: 3013/3555
Mile Splits: 10:02 9:26 9:22 9:47 9:27 9:40 10:11 9:44 9:38 10:28 9:35 9:48 10:23 9:39 9:41 10:47 9:49 9:32 11:23 10:50 11:51 11:00 12:54 12:45 14:01 11:02 3:19