Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rome Marathon 2012

Woah, what a crazy and amazing week. My time in Rome went all too quickly because it was absolutely packed with fun. There's no way I can possibly recap it all in one post without it being impossibly long, so I'll split it up into a few posts. Let's start with the whole reason for trip- the Rome 2012 Marathon!

Nothing in Italy starts early, so the race start wasn't until 9. I got up at 6:30, changed into my race clothes, and headed up to breakfast. I usually have nut butter toast before a long run, and I had come prepared with my own almond butter, but I didn't think to bring my own toast. Since there was no toast, I had my Justin's almond butter on digestive biscuits. It was amazing! And although i was dying for a cappucino, I didn't think the dairy would be kind to my stomach so I stuck with plain espresso.

Then we headed down the hill to the Colosseum for the race start. To save my feet we took the metro, which actually didn't save my feet at all because it was a lot of walking just to get to the train and then I had to stand on the absolutely packed train. The start line was insane. This was the biggest race I've ever done by far, there were 13,000 marathoners and 13,000 doing the 4k that started at the same time. I was totally intimidated.

The organization was pretty terrible. It was hard to tell where to go and we were forced to walk a long, long way through miles of crowded fenced in paths to get to the corrals. There also was no official start, at least not that I could hear. All of a sudden we were just running.

Amazingly my cousin managed to find me in the crowd and get a picture that I'm kind of visible in. Can you spot me?

The narrow city streets were packed and the footing on the old cobblestones was very uneven. I realized pretty quickly that it was not going to be a quick race. So I just settled in, stuck to my planned 3:1 run walk ratio, and plugged along. Here are my observations from the race:

-The first time you hear "That's Amore" while looking at the Colosseum looming over you, you will get totally choked up. By the time it's played 10 times in a row, it loses emotional power and it just annoying.

-When the "scenic course" description is followed by warning about cobblestones and rough roads, it means you'll be too busy looking at your feet to see most of the scenic course.

-Having oranges and bananas at aid stations instead of gels means that the 1/4 miles after the station will be a slippery mess of orange and banana peels.

-Sponge stations are awesome. Every 5k or so there were big tubs of water filled with sponges. I am grossly sweaty and salty when I run so it was nice to wipe off the salt cakes so I looked a little more human. It also felt really cooling. However, don't use the sponge to moisten your mouth. The water is soapy and your mouth will taste nasty for the next 5k.

-"Forza", "vai", and "brava" sound way cooler than plain old "Go."

-Way more men than women run in Europe. The race was only 17% women. Which means the porta potties are nasty and have no toilet paper. It also means there is pee all over the ground by the start. This is a problem when the start is also the finish and you want to sit down after the race.

-European men like to wear little tiny spandex shorts. They also like to adjust themselves and touch themselves a lot while running.

-The Italian idea of spectating is to stand on the side of the course smoking and looking at anyone who is sweating like they are disgusting.

-Sitting at a patio cafe in an Italian square and eating awesome food is great, if you are one of the people sitting at eating. When you're at mile 23 of a marathon and hungry and tired, you really hate those people.

-St. Peters and the Vatican is breath taking on an ordinary day. At mile 18 when it's shining in the sun at the end of a long open avenue and you're getting a little loopy, it will make you cry.

I don't know if it was the slower pace, or that I was well trained, but I felt good. I saw the mile 20 sign and literally did a little kick, to kick down the wall. I never hit it.
My host fam got a shot of me around mile 13
My legs never totally locked up. Sure I was tired, my feet hurt, my hip was a little sore, but I always had the feeling that I was okay, that I could finish. And then I was climbing the last little hill past the Circus Maximus where my cousin and Dutch host family were waiting. They were the push I needed to get up and over. I coasted down the small hill to the Colosseum and then I was across the finish line. My finish time was 4:35 which is 20 minutes slower than my PR. I was a little disappointed, but one thing I learned from the people on my Antarctica trip last year is that doing the 7 continents isn't about being fast. It's about enjoying the experiences and being good to your body.

I collected my medal, which I love. It's a bronze abstract model of the Colosseum.

I got my blanket and fought the crowd to get my food bag (a lousy apple and bottle of water.) I stumbled my way over a grassy area and laid down with my feet in the air. I thought that was pretty good, but then a cute Italian guy offered to rub my feet. Um okay. I didn't even care that I was smelly and sweaty. After we rubbed my feet, he rubbed my legs and back too. Thank you cute Italian stallion!

The finish area was a complete zoo and since I was phoneless I gave up on finding my cousin and host family and was just going to walk back to the hotel alone, since that was our back-up plan. But then I walked around a corner and there they were!

The hugged me even though I was icky
 It's just so nice to have people cheering for you during a race and waiting at the end. Luckily I was feeling good because I had no other way to get back to the hotel other than to walk the 1.5 miles back up the hill. I did use the microscopic elevator at the hotel though- 5 flights of stairs weren't happening!

After a shower and some stretching I didn't want to waste my last night in Italy lying on bed so we headed back out. First, a wonderful cold glass of bubbly prosecco at an outdoor cafe by Santa Maria Maggiore. Then a huge lovely bowl of fresh pasta with truffles. Paradise.


  1. Just saw your post on Losing Weight in the City. Totally intrigued by your travel running! I want to read through some of your old posts now! One of my goals is to run an international marathon! Any suggestions?! :) Hope we can connect. I have a blog at!

    1. Hi Erica,

      Thanks for the comment! If you really want to go big, go for Antarctica. It was by far the most amazing thing I've ever done. I loved everything about the trip. Happy running!

  2. Hi! I just saw your comment on Losing Weigh in the City (as well!). I lived in Rome for 7 mos and was intrigued that you mentioned you ran the Rome Marathon. I loved reading about it, especially the differences... the spectators, the cobblestone. I would like to run this marathon some day!