Rome Marathon: Is it going to be a big let-down?

Thursday 12 February 2015

Training for Rome Marathon (for real this time)

Week 5 of 10: Day 28

37 days to go

Oh no! The number of days to Rome are diminishing at a rapid rate. Thirty seven days – little more than a month. It’s not possible, surely? Have I miscalculated?

And here I am, behind schedule and still under the weather. The itchy nose, burny eyes and a foggy head of the last three days have slowly given way to a rather annoying cough.

So I have not run since … when? Sunday. Four days ago. Four days ago I set the goal of running 50 km this week. Right … so we see how well that’s going. I should have just run the full 15 km while I was out there, instead of skimping on that last kay. Just shows you – never put off for tomorrow what you can do today. You just don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring.

And so, while I’m languishing about the place, I’m having loads of opportunity to indulge in some self-doubt. I’m thinking, why Rome? What made me sign up for a marathon in Rome? I don’t even speak Italian?! I was in Rome as the marathoners came through some years back, and there was really no crowd support at all. Sure there were people lining the streets – mostly people who were trying to get somewhere but couldn’t because the streets were blocked. And they were mute. They kind of stared at the runners but didn’t call out or clap or anything. I didn’t think much of it, because crowd support isn’t really a big thing in Cape Town either.

But then I went to New York. And now I know what the term ‘crowd support’ means. It means a million people lining the streets, all high fiving you, and holding out goodies to eat, and playing music, and calling out ‘You got this! You got this!’ And when they spotted the flag I had pinned to my chest, they would call out ‘Go South Africa!’ and I would be buoyed along on their energy.

I’m getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it.

Rome won’t have any of that. I think it might be quite lonely. No one I know will be there, so there will be no familiar faces along the way. Although that’s okay, since I don’t ever have familiar faces along the way even in Cape Town either. Really, running is like dying – you go there alone.

And there’s not likely to be any banter with fellow runners, as most (all?) of them will be Italian or, if not Italian, then some other flavour of European. Either way, we won’t be able to understand each other. But then again, that’s fine too, I suppose. I don’t have that much banter going along with other runners anyway. The crowd I associate with (around the tail end of the field) are all too tired to chirp witticisms. We’re all in our own silent hell, just plodding along. It probably looks a bit like a zombie march – which might explain the lack of support.

And then I think, shame, what about Firstborn Daughter? It would have been so amazing for her to experience a marathon the way the New Yorkers do it. Maybe Rome is going to be a big let-down for her. Maybe, given how very few miles she has clocked up recently, it’s going to be so tough that she’s going to hate every step – and that’s when the crowd support keeps you alive.

It’s a bit late for all of that now, though, isn’t it? It’s booked. It’s paid for. We’re going, irrespective of the outcome. Even if I don’t run another step between now and 22 March, we’ll still be there, at the start. We’ll still be terrified and excited. And we’ll still do the distance.

So. Just make a decision and stop being sick. Those shoes aren’t going to clock up the kays by themselves.

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