If you have ever wondered 'Why?' when someone has told you they are, or have run a marathon. This page will certainly not answer that question, but it may help, amuse or horrify you, IF..you ever decide to take that plunge.
I've ran two marathons..pretty good for someone who was only ever running one. One marathon, I could understand, I felt that if you run around the roads solo for twenty years, what do you tell your grandkids, 'Oh I'm a runner" yeah big deal, but...if you say 'I ran a marathon' , and you have the medal and the photos..sounds so much better. So at 42 I ran the Melbourne Marathon..it was Ok, I was pleased but, that was IT.
Then I moved to Queensland and that crazy notion popped into my head again, maybe I could run the Gold Coast Marathon. Everyone who knew me howled me down, saying you said you were only running one. One of my crazy thought processes for running a second marathon was, if you tell someone "I've run a marathon" it sounds impressive..but, how good is it when you say "I've run marathons", my God..that little 's' on the end could infer that I'd run 5, 10 even 20, the possibilities are endless, so I ran another one at 43, and that too was ok, even better than the first..but, that was definitely IT.
THEN...read on to see how that crazy notion took seed again...
I decided I would enter the Auckland Half Marathon, I love the half and hadn't run one for a while..and I've never run outside of Australia. Last week I went out for a 12km run, nothing special, I felt good, ran well and nearing home I had an epiphany (which I will be regretting in about 6 weeks)..Why go all the way to New Zealand to run my first event overseas and do it by halve? That's it...I'm going to run another Marathon...honestly, that's how all my initial marathon ideas begin,just a spur of the moment, crazy thought.
It's Ok to think it, plan it, talk it up...in your head..but, you are the only one who knows this grand plan. If you don't mention it to anyone, you can easily change your mind and not lose face with anyone..So I got home from that 12km run and sent two emails and made one phone call..telling people loud and clear..I'M ENTERING THE AUCKLAND MARATHON..pretty hard to go back now..but, not impossible
Once I got on line, had a browse on the website, filled in the entry form, put in my credit card details, allow them to deduct $100 to run on their beautiful roads..now it's getting harder to pull out. And I'm the type of person who once I've paid a $100 to run, I don't care of I have to crawl over that finish line or in the case of the Auckland Marathon get physically removed from the bridge, come hell or high water I'm getting my money's worth!! Much, much harder to change my mind now.
This is the point where you map out how long you have got to race day and then fill in the weeks with a training plan...aargh training...I hate training. if I could run a marathon every week I would be so happy, it's the training I hate..long, slow hours of running. Anyway back to the plan.. I write down all the weeks and put in the things that will effect my training program..work commitments, holidays etc. In this case , I mark down the date I've decided to enter, and the date of race day...Monday 16th July-28th October, that's 14 weeks of training..takeaway 2.5 weeks of holidays..that's approx 12 weeks to train myself to run 42.2km!! Most experts will agree that it takes 6months to train for a marathon however, that is for a non runner, luckily for me I can run a comfortable 12km, so three months is an adequate time frame to train up to 42.2 Kms. I am a pin up girl for Lazy Runner, by that I mean I'm a runner who does the minimum training required to get me over the line. I do this for several reasons..I don't believe in training to excess because of the stress and injury risk it places on your body...I haven't got the time to spend hours on training...I hate training...and my best results came from my second marathon where I trained a lot less but ran well and recovered well.
Now just to continue with the crazy theme, I decided to commence my training whilst on holiday in Italy...however, maybe not as crazy as it sounds..all my mornings were free to run as I wouldn't be working, and I'm always really motivated to run when I'm on holiday as it's a great way to sight see in a new city.
Speaking of which..there is no better place to see sights than in Venice. It is everything you think it might be and then so much more...but, running in a town that has no roads, cobblestone streets that end abruptly and if you are not quick at applying the brakes you could be in the canal!! and a little bridge with about 10 steps up and 10 steps down every 100metres or so, can be a bit of a problem...and of course all the sign posts are in Italian...can there be anymore hazards..oh yes..if you thought bush turkeys make a dramatic scene when you run by them, try thousands of pigeons, who don't like to be disturbed at 6am and instead of flying away from you they decide to turn and fly right into your face..pretty spooky..anything else..oh yes..some lanes are so tiny that you nearly have to apply my side step drill routine just to get down them..but, the most overwhelming feeling you get when you run in Venice is that you are trapped in a maze, you run and run for what seems like eternity to find that you have been doing the one block all that time..and then just as you start to panic and are at your wits end..you arrive at the door of your hotel and have no idea how you got there..unreal! Great for marathon training because a 45min run can be easily doubled, just by getting lost!!
My first run in Venice was great, I was thoroughly enjoying all the beautiful old buildings lining the famous Grand Canal, however, you cannot run the length of the canal as the Palazzo's are lined up flush with the water so you need to turn off a cobblestone street..and therein is where the trouble begins..because, it turns into another cobblestone street and it is a dead end because of a smaller canal, so then you turn back and run up another cobblestone street and then you cross a little bridge and then you take another turn...get my drift, I was lost in 10mins.. but I had a lot of fun finding my way back. Of course I quickly discovered that the hardest thing about running back to your hotel in Venice after you have been lost for an hour is the smell of the freshly cooked croissants coming from the little bakerys on the way back..I quickly remedied that the second day I ran. by slipping a couple of euros in the back pocket before I left!
On my second run in Venice I was convinced I had the town mastered, I was sure I knew where I was going (St Mark's Square) and how I was going to get there...I ran over the famous Ponte Rialto, turned towards St Marks, oops another canal, turned into the next cobblestone street, it branched into another cobblestone street, with a tiny bridge, I ran over that..and you guessed it..lost again, but at least I had the euros for the croissants...albiet over an hour later..and by the way I never got to St Marks.
The third day in Venice, I decided to take a different tack, get to St Marks! and then run straight along the esplanade and back..I'd seen it on the Vaporetta the day before and thought that looks like a good run and surely I couldn't get lost on an out and back run?! I found St Mark's Square along with the thousands of pigeons, and a couple of street sweepers shaking their heads at me and no doubt thinking "Crazy Bloody Americano", I found my Esplanade, Oh heaven..I ran and ran to the sound of the Campanile Tower bells, got to the end of the Esplanade after crossing some big bridges with lots and lots of steps..then I turned up a cobblestone street...need I say anymore. The Campanile Bells were chiming again by the time I found my way back, I ran over the famous Bridge of Sighs although in my case it was more gasping than sighing... boy did I earn those croissants that morning.
A major update though for my running surfaces tip...you know how I rate concrete as the worst surface to run on and grass the best... cobblestones takes the crown from concrete any day, after three days of running on rock and cobblestones I felt as if my ankles, knees and hips were going to pop at any given time during the rest of the day.
Another thing to mention about Venice, I don't think Lazy Runner would work in this city. On the three mornings I ran here, I never saw another runner!! Just a few old guys with cigarettes hanging from the corner of their lips, wandering around waiting for their favorite coffee shop to open, looking at me as if I was an alien!
After Venice, I headed to Verona....Like all romantics I fell in love with Verona, it is an old, old, old city one hour by train from Venice. This is where Shakespeare's famous play Romeo and Juliet was set, and they play that fact up to the tourists big time. Not so romantic running in Venice on the cobblestones at 6am in the heat, but plenty of great sights to take your mind off that. Verona has it all, castles, stone bridges, moats, canals. umpteen churches, palaces set in the surrounding hillside, and a huge Arena, that is nearly the size of the Coliseum, and in better condition.
My legs were feeling it by the time I'd arrived in Verona, the cobblestones in Venice had caused some sore joints, especially ankles, but, I just had to go for a run in Verona to explore. The streets here were very stony as well, so by the time I had run for an hour I felt like my ankles were going to snap off, so I only manage one run in this beautiful city. Next stop ,the Tuscan countryside, which I was hoping would have some normal terra firma to run on.
Word of warning to Lazy Runners traveling in Italy, run on the roads on your last day of your holiday as you don't want to be killed on the first day as that may ruin your trip...in other words..you take your life into your hands running on the roads through the towns. The road is just that a road, no shoulder, no gravel or grass on the side just a tiny strip of bitumen that can barely fit two cars on it. The very basic hostel I stayed in was in a town in Tuscany with roads like this, and due to my preference to live till I'm 100, I opted not to run for three days! However, I did walk, not just any ordinary walk, it was one of the most famous and spectacular walks in the world. It is called the Cinque Terre walk, in Italy's Tuscan area not far from La Spezia on the Mediterranean Coast. There are 5 (Cinque) villages doted along the coastline, nestled in the hills that for hundreds of years could not be accessed by road, so there were only walking paths through the hills that connected the five. There is road access and train access as well now, but the paths remain and have turned into one of the most popular tourists walks in the world. It is estimated the walk to take 4.5 hours and it is very hilly in parts but the view makes up for any discomfit. It takes approx an hour between each of the first three villages and of course you stop for a rest and a drink and a gelato between each and take in the beautiful seaside vistas of each village. The track between the last two takes only about 10mins and it is called the Via dell' amore (road of love), where all the way along lovesick couples have written mushy love notes on the stone walls... even marriage proposals! You can opt to walk back to the first village (another 4 hours) or you can catch the train that goes through stone tunnels or take the boat, which I did and sat back and marvelled at the view and how far I had walked. So if you are ever in Tuscany this is a must do, for all Lazy Runners, as it is quite a workout. Of course the whole time I'm walking it my mind is ticking over, what a great cross country course for Lazy Runners, even rivals the Noosa National Park...and that is saying something!
After Tuscany came Umbria and more of the same..eating, drinking, enjoying...I stayed in the Umbrian countryside at a B & B surrounded by Vineyards and Olive Groves, just situated outside of the most beautiful Village, Orvieto. Orvieto is a town built on top of a huge rock..why would you build a town on a rock? Who knows but it has the most stunning views of the Umbrian hinterland. This little town was classy, old and beautiful and the food...don't get me started..but of course that means only one thing..more running. Each morning I got up at six and left the beautiful old Tuscan Villa and ran anywhere the road took me, literally up hill and down dale, straight up the middle of the little country roads, no traffic, on one side there were red grapes and on the other white, and if it wasn't rows and rows of vines it was olive groves. I would run through the small local village, just when the church bells were ringing and it gave me great delight to say hello to the old Italian locals going to mass and they would yell out a huge "Buongiorno", and probably saying under their breath "loco bella".
I ran for about an hour each time, easier on the legs running on road, so I found it not as hard. I was so sad to leave this magical little place, it was the best part of my journey so far.
Enough of the countryside time to hit another city..Florence. The final three days of my holiday where in this very busy, popular city. Florence is stunning, but very busy and full on. I had to have a squizz at the most beautiful man in the world, Michelangelo's David....not bad..not bad at all. It's really hard to be in the same room with him because everytime you try to turn away to look at something else or leave, you can't...your eyes are drawn to him, it's as if nothing or nobody else is in the room ...quite stunning. More churches, more art galleries more stunning sights...and more running. It rained in Florence but that was OK better than the heat I had expected, I ran and ran in Florence, I ran over the Ponte Vecchio, Florence's famous bridge, then along the Arno and climbed a huge hill to get to Michelangelo's Piazza which has a brilliant view of Florence, and a replica of the beautiful David, green with moss and covered in Pigeon Poo, the way statues are supposed to be, still stunning nonetheless!! I then ran all the way back through the cobblestones..ouch.. until I found my hotel! I had run for over an hour and was so mesmerised with the sights didn't even realise I was running..distraction therapy..the best thing for running!
Then it was time to board a train to return to Venice and fly home. I had the most wonderful time and the running was different and fun. All runners should never leave town without their running shoes packed..you get to see so much when you go for a morning run in a new place..it is the best way to see the sights.
OK that was the first three weeks of my marathon training, just a lot of running. I had no idea of my distances but I tried to increase my times by about an extra 5mins everytime I went out. I felt that the running I did on my holiday got me motivated again and helped put some extra km's in my legs, which is the focus of a marathon training program..just keep building those km's..however..I need to start increasing my distances..I only have nine weeks to go!! From next week on I will start an official training plan and start to countdown the weeks...Week 9 starts on the 27th August..click here to follow along