Tuesday, April 08, 2014

8 paws for a marathon: Milano City Marathon relays!

(credit to my friend Sara for the title)

I hope you all had a great weekend and a bearable Monday start....as for me, I had a wonderful 3 days!
I unexpectedly got to run the Milano City Marathon with my friends from my old running club and it's been such good fun!!
This race wasn't planned at all and it kind of threw my training for Sunderland Half a bit off the way (I am guilty of not following the PLAN-what kind of runner am I?) but I didn't care because these girls are among my favourite people in the world:) Also, they needed me to race because Letizia, the team captain and mind of this whole thing, was ill and with a niggly feet. 

On Saturday I met up with Letizia in Milan to pick up the bibs and our t-shirts: they had been recruited by Nike to promote the We Own the Night 10k run , so we got jazzy looking t-shirt to wear on Sunday:) 

The race itself sounds so cool and it's definitely on my bucket list: I wanted to run the one in London but then realised it was 2 days before my OSCE...not a good idea.

On Sunday morning we met up bright and early and we said goodbye to Benedetta, our first leg runner, straight away as the start line was quite far  from the city centre.
L to R: Sara, Meri, Benedetta, me, before the race with our jazzy t-shirts:)
Sara, Meri and I hung around the finish area for a bit, dropped off Meri's bag at the finish line deposit, and we finished to get ready. My pre-race nerves were in full swing and I could not stand still a second. I was really happy and excited to be there with my friends but my heart rate was quite out of control too:)

I said goodbye to Meri and Sara and hopped on the underground to reach my start line, as I was running the second leg. I got there with over 1 hour to spare, so I dropped the bag, queued for the toilet, jogged a bit, saw the marathoners come through, jogged a bit more, queued for the toilet again, jogged a bit more...and then lined along with the other runners peaking anxiously to see if Benedetta was coming through. Just over an hour from the start of the relays I saw her coming through with her graceful gazelle stride and started shouting and waving. She gave me the chip and I was off for my 10km leg. 
I set off quite briskly and was soon overtaking the marathoners: as the relays started 45 minutes after the marathon, I was running with the over 4:30 hours group.Having run a marathob myself I felt genuinely sorry for them: they must have hated every single one of us overtaking them on fresh legs and with a quarter of the distance to cover. I tried to encourage people as I went past, hopefully I wasn't annoying!
The heat was scorching: as soon as there is some sun, Milan becomes a greenhouse and the air is sticky and humid. By the 4km mark I was dripping and really feeling the heat rising from the tarmac, which was all soft because of the heat...yuck! At some points along the course, there were huge traffic jams of furious people who got stuck because of us. The honks were beeping furiously and the police was trying to calm down the enraged drivers, yet another classic of racing in Milan. I just don't get why they don't take public transports..or even better, come running with us: they will be much less stressed!
I closed my leg- a bit over 10k according to my garmin- in 47:30 and passed the chip on to Sara, who was tiptoeing around the start line and shot off like a flash:)
I think I never downed a drink as quickly as the bottle of electrolyte drink I was handed: I forgot how hot Milan gets...or maybe I am becoming a northerner and loosing my ability to withstand the heat:)

I met up with Benedetta and Meri at the start of the 4th leg and shortly after Sara came through with a time of 47 minutes, which brought us at 2:38 for 33.5 km.
Leg 1 and 2, all smiley now it is done!
We reached the finish line which was absolutely packed just on time to meet up with Meri who had run just over 40 minutes for her 8.7 km leg. We lied down on the grass for a bit trying to gather up the energy to go find the picnic organised by Nike for their relay teams.
Just after...a bit sweaty but happy!
After a bit of roaming we found the Nike team picnic and got our well-deserved sandwiches while lying in the grass in the glorious sunshine: we even got a slight tan!! 
We took lots of pictures:


Post race beer:)

We hopped on the train  back home and met up with Letizia who wanted to know all about the day for a quick ice-cream  (this is how we hang out in warm sunny Italy days).

Day after note: we all went home, had very long showers and collapsed on sofas/bed, with or without food.

Results for the day were as follows:
Leg 1-13km: 1 hour
interchange-500m: roughly 3 minutes
Leg 2-10km: 47 minutes (official times say 53 minutes, accounting for an interchange)
leg 3-10 km: 47 minutes on Sara's stopwatch- 43 minutes official times
leg 4-8.7 km: 46 minutes official time because Meri forgot to stop her watch:)

Total: 3:21:50, 226 out of 2378 teams:)

It was such a good day, it is true that unexpected things are the best! And I really enjoyed spending the day with my friends: we used to see each other almost every day when I was in school and now I see them once every 3 months. At the beginning this was a huge shock because they are amazing team mates, girls and friends.

Yesterday morning I was still pumped from Sunday adrenaline, so I did a Freeletics workout in the morning, washed the outdoor patio in the sunshine (I loved playing with water barefoot while cleaning it) ready for warm spring days and went down to the track in the evening with the girls. We ran 40 minutes with hills in a beautiful, warm spring evening.

How was your weekend? What did you do? Please tell!:)

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