Monday, May 7, 2012

Gardaland Half Marathon

Oh boy... do I have a story for you! Ready for a big fat race report?

Saturday morning at 6 AM, Mr. X got called into work. Yes, that happens sometimes. Ruined a perfectly good morning of sleep. It also means we left the house a good deal later than planned. Following the web site directions, we set out to find the starting point of the race, Borghetto di Vallegio sul Mincio, a tiny Italian village.

It's a beautiful little village. I was excited to be out of the car & walking around.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my regular camera; it was buried in the bottom of my luggage. Luckily, I had my iPhone to snap off some photos.
We charged around the small village, trying to find the place to pick up my race packet. We were following the directions from the web site... but we couldn't find anything! After walking around the entire city, we didn't know what to do. There was no "marathon village" to pick up anything. We were on our way back to the car when suddenly, I saw someone hanging out of a Nissan Xterra, trying to flag me down. Turns out the marathon folks never updated the English part of the web site this year. The race packet pick up was in a completely different place. So we jumped back into the car & headed to Gardaland.
Found the start!
When I finally got to pick up my race packet, the way my name was written made me laugh:

We ate a lot of pasta & pizza. And crossed our fingers for nice weather the next morning. We went to bed early... & realized we were in hotel hell. The hotel was hosting a wedding reception. Right underneath our room. With no sound proofing. We were up until almost 1 AM because it was so incredibly loud. We complained, we asked to be moved, but there were no more rooms... thanks to the wedding party. So I did not get the full night of rest I was hoping for.

The next morning, we got up, stuffed some breakfast down our faces, & headed to the race start. I was really nervous, but I ran into friends there who helped calm me down. No one was expecting PRs; the course was rumored to be "hilly." As we waited to start, I set my Garmin to look for satellites. But then, as we started to run, the damned thing crashed. And out of the gate, we had to charge straight up a hill. It was a rough start. When I finally got my Garmin working, I was about 1/2 a mile into the run & at a 9:30 pace... talk about coming out way too fast! Also, the damned thing wasn't on intervals, so my usual Run/Walk routine was completely blown. Basically, everything that could've gone wrong pretty much did go wrong.

I decided to just keep running & see what I could do. At the 5k mark, I walked thru the water point. I was doing okay, though I couldn't seem to get into a groove. When I did get into a groove, I had to charge up another hill to ruin my pacing. At the halfway point, I sent a text message to my husband saying I didn't think I could make it. I was nauseated & thought I was going to vomit all over the course. I also thought my knee was going to give out. I kept on trucking, though I knew I was getting slower. What was next? More hills. At 15k, I sent another text saying my knees & feet were trashed from the hills. I had a serious problem in my left foot, but I was trying to ignore it. Then I discovered sponging, which helped a lot to cool me down. Of course, my iPod was in the way, so at 18k my iPod crapped out from all the sweat & sponging. At 20k, I ran into someone who'd already been done with the race for half an hour. He wished me luck & I kept going. My left foot was screaming at me. By this point, I asked every single race volunteer (in broken Italian) if I was close to the finish line. Why? Because the last kilometer of the freaking race was up a hill. Seriously.

Yup. You know exactly what I was saying.
By this point, Mr. X was yelling at me to just keep moving. I was in a lot of pain. My clothes were dripping, & I just felt gross. The blister I knew formed on my right foot was irritating me & I was having trouble bending my left foot for a midfoot strike. I ended up midfooting my right foot & heel striking my left foot just to finish.
Horrible form; trying to keep the left foot moving.

And finally, after 2:31:37, I made it across the finish line. I was 1:37 outside the course maximum, but Mr. X convinced the photographers to stay & take pictures. Italians don't mess around; when the course max time arrives, they shut everything down. It was the last hill that really slowed me down.
I gots mah medal!
Then, in particularly stupid fashion, I decided I felt okay enough to walk around the aquarium. So we did.  It really is a nice aquarium, but I think I would've enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so tired.
In front of the aquarium
After an hour of that, I was done in. Exhausted. And in serious left foot pain. So Mr. X took charge & drove me home. It gave me the chance to put my dashboard to good use.
Resting tired legs.
And so it's over. I finished a particularly difficult half marathon. It was basically all up hill & I didn't come close to hitting my target. Also, I seem to have messed up my left foot (a day later & no reduction of pain). I can say one thing for sure: I'll never run this particular race again. The course is just too damned difficult.


  1. congrats on getting it done! You did great just by finishing! I hope your foot feels better quickly!

    1. Thanks so much! A few days (& less pain) removed from it, I feel much better about the entire endeavor. I should be okay to run Saturday... can't wait to see what I can do without hills!