Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remembering my first time

13 years ago I ran my first marathon. I can still remember it vividly. I was twenty years old and serving in the U.S. Army overseas. I had always wanted to tackle the marathon distance and I felt that with enough training I could finish the distance. I registered for the marathona di Venezia (Venice Marathon).
 I found a training program in a Running Times magazine. It was a 16 week program that focused on time spent running. The runs were measured by time and not by miles. Instead of my long runs being 14-20 miles they were 110-200 minute runs.  I tried to follow this program as best as I could. I would work out in the morning with my unit doing PT. Then, I would run at lunch time, or after work and on weekends.
I was fortunate enough to live in beautiful Northern Italy in a town called Vicenza. There were beautiful areas to run in. My favorite runs were early on Sunday morning thought the town piazza and through parco corini.

The night before the race I had trouble sleeping. I was so nervous and excited. On the morning of the race I woke up to light drizzle. When I arrived at the warm up tents before the start of the race it was full on raining. I had trained my butt off for this. There was no way I would wuss out because of the rain. I told myself to just enjoy this race.I also believed that with my training I could run a 4 hour marathon. When the gun went off  I tried to hold back my pace. But, I was so excited that I think I may have been running faster than I should have. The course is a beautiful point to point course that starts in Stra and ends in San Marcos Square in Venice.
 Runners Go Over Bridges At The End in Venice

In the U.S. we have mile markers at every mile. In Europe there are kilometer markers at every kilometer. There are 42 kilometers in a marathon. In the early miles of this race it felt like the markers were very close together. I was also in for another European surprise. At one of the first water stations I grabbed a bottle of water and it was "aqua frizzante" (carbonated water) It is a common and popular beverage in Europe. It was also very hard to drink. I got lucky because the weather was very cool and there were many spectators along the course cheering on the runners and handing out regular bottles of water.
I can remember hitting the wall at around mile 20. There is a bridge that is about 3 miles long and it becomes an optical illusion. You can see the other side of the bridge but it doesn't seem to be getting any closer. The last three miles were pretty brutal. There are lots of small bridges and staircases to cross the channels in the city of Venice. This was the most breathtaking part of the course but, each staircase on trashed legs hurt.
I knew I was getting close to the finish because I could hear the crowds and then I heard an announcer announce in italian " una minute per quatro hours" this translated into "one more minute to four hours" I gave it a final push but, I wasn't close enough to the finish line to come in under four hours. I ended up finishing at 4:01. I wasn't disappointed at all. I was amazed that I had finished a marathon.


  1. I can't believe your first marathon was actually in Italy! So funny! Lived there for 19 years but never raced there!

    1. I lived in Italy from 1997 to 2000 and it was a wonderful experience. My first three marathons were in Italy. I also raced two halves there as well. The running culture was very different. It seemed like the Italians took things a lot more seriously than Americans do. I have so many fond memories of running in Italy. (I was faster back then, lol.)