I was so close to not running the race. Mentally, I had thrown in the towel and my poor brain started rehearsing an explanation of why I didn’t run the marathon. But I did run the race. It wasn’t a great race, but it was a great learning experience.
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Initially, I planned to set up my trip itinerary with all the necessary details. However after some emailing with my sister, it seemed like she had the whole trip squared away for me. She’s a more than capable individual, so I relaxed and left it in her hands. I now know that I should never leave things to chance (or someone else – capable or not.) I should have done my research anyway.
Just getting to the Expo was a major hassle.
We planned to check out a city market that was on the way to the Expo. We were running a bit late and, and were hustling to get to the market before it closed. The “directions” to the Expo were in Italian, so I had no idea what I was actually reading. There didn’t appear to be a specific physical address, just general instructions depending on which way you were coming from. But we figured we could plug in the street names listed on the form into the GPS and that should be good enough. We had all afternoon to find it.
It was cold and rainy out, which made for miserable driving conditions. To make matters worse, the windshield wipers made this loud honking sound with every pass. So rather than endure the honking, my sister kept switching the wipers on and off manually. Every. Three. Seconds. I found this to be extremely annoying.
We passed the market and it started raining harder. Neither of us wanted to deal with the rain, so we bailed on the market. Turning our attention to locating the Expo, we found that none of the street names from the race form were getting us any results from the GPS. We sat at a gas station pondering what to do.
At this point, we were about 30 minutes from the house. I suggested we head back home and get the other printed race info we had, but my sister didn’t want to drive back; she figured we could find it anyway. Somehow. So we headed off toward Treviso.
The next two hours were unbearable. We didn’t really know where we were going. I don’t know what my sister put into the GPS, but we seemed to be driving forever and getting nowhere. Both of us were getting severely agitated from the drive and with each other. Finally we stopped at a gas station. Amazingly, there was a map taped to the window. Even more amazingly, I found “Piazza Borsa,” one of the locations listed on my form. We input some of the nearby streets into the GPS and headed off again, feeling hopeful.
There was still a lot of circuitous driving, but then merging into traffic, we saw it: a tiny yellow arrow with the word EXPO on it. Hallelujah! As we headed down that street, more arrows appeared, and finally I saw the building where the Expo was held. I was so relieved that we’d finally found the needle in haystack.
The Expo was small and crowded. I got my packet containing my bib and chip, and my goody bag. It had all sorts of goodies: the t-shirt, pasta, walnuts, crackers, jam, even a small bottle of Prosecco! My sister went shopping at a COIN (no idea) store for girl stuff and I stood outside and took pictures of stuff. We had lunch at a small cafe nearby and then headed back.
We got home and I was exhausted. I watched TV and got sucked into the black hole that is Imgur. It wasn’t until late that evening that I started prepping my race clothes. As I went through my goody bag, I realized that the packet containing my bib and timing chip were not in the bag. I looked everywhere in my room, then the living room, the car, the bathroom. I asked my sister if she’d seen it and she hadn’t.
I somehow lost the entire packet?!!
I thought the packet probably fell out there when I was showing off the goodies in the bag at the cafe we ate at. We called the place, and surprisingly, they were still open. The person that answered hadn’t worked during the day, we should call back in the morning at 8. There was still a chance the lady who served us tucked away the packet. So we planned to drive to cafe in the morning.
I got my stuff ready. I slept maybe two or three hours. We got up extra early to make the hour+ drive. We got there and saw an old man setting up chairs on the outside patio. I showed him a note asking about the packet. He ushered us inside and showed the note to (who I assume was) his wife. She was the one who served us, and she said there was no packet. My stomach sank. I was sure that it was going to be here. Now what?
My sister, who was majorly pissed off at this point, drove to the start so I could ” talk to an official” and straighten this out. I was in a daze at this point. I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to run the marathon.
We got the the race and I went to find an official, but registration had shut down hours ago. I went back to the car and told my sister there was nothing I could do. She told me, “Run it anyway. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They kick you out of the race?” This had not occurred to me as a possible solution.
So I ran the race as a bandit. Of sorts.
Even though I had paid for the race, I felt like a fraud at the start. I was paranoid and nervous, thinking someone was going to notice that I wasn’t wearing a bib. But no one noticed. And really, why would they?
The best thing about the race was the people. Hilariously, during the first mile, tons of guys peeled off left and right to urinate. As we entered each town, everyone was really happy and the spectators were all smiles, yelling, “Bravi, bravi!” I high-fived lots of smiling kids which was awesome. (It’s my hope that this would inspire a kid to become a runner.) People on bikes tagged along, several runners pushed people in wheelchairs, one wheelchair guy propelled himself with only one arm. Saw a guy guiding a blind guy. I’d never seen this kind of spirit in US races.
The race was a struggle for me, as I was already physically tired and mentally drained. The course didn’t seem spectacularly scenic, but I was okay with that. I was just glad that it never rained.
I saw my sister yelling during the last bit, and that lifted my spirits. However, the last mile into the city was torture because there were so many turns and it just seemed to go on forever. Once I saw the finish, I gave it everything I had, which wasn’t much by then.
I crossed the line around 3:45, unofficially.
I was a bit nervous at the finish, as volunteers were removing the timing chips. But I walked through undiscovered. And then I was saddened when I saw the piles of finishers medals. I didn’t try to claim one. Despite not being an “official” runner, I was really glad I ran the race. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the medal, it’s about the run.