Today is the first day back to reality after a wonderful half-term holiday week. I used to dread school holidays as was always worried about how to entertain my girls and keep my work going. Last few years have been very different and realising that they grow up so quickly has made me change my attitude and make the most of school holidays, switch off work-wise and just be a mum.
Well, as you might remember, last 3 month I kept on mentioning my training for the Venice marathon. Today I can say that I completed another of my running challenges and ran the Venice Marathon on 25th October.
Luckily my mum was able to fly over and help my hubby with the girls over the time I was enjoying sunny Venice. As it was my first time, I was not only excited about the actual marathon, but also about exploring the beauties of this magical place.
On Friday morning just after dropping my older daughter to school, I drove to the Luton airport, and got there in plenty of time to really enjoy my time. I have forgotten what it’s like to be just on my own, not to be on my toes all the time, worried about Olivia running off or Isabelle being bored with waiting. I sat down, had some coffee and sent my time on Twitter and Instagram.
Anyway, I am not going to be sharing my experience as a traveller, that you can read over on my other blog, All Baby Advice Travel Section, but am very keen on sharing my Venice experience as a runner.
As you might remember I was chosen as the Venice Marathon Club’s UK official blogger and that meant I had a few privileges that a normal runner would not get. One of these was actually sitting with the elite athletes at the table at the pasta party the night before the face and also sharing the bus with them the next morning.
I felt amazing as seeing these amazing runners and being given this opportunity made me really proud and also lifted my mood as unfortunately I received some bad news on Friday night when I was in Venice ( we lost our appeal for Isabelle’s school place).
When we arrived near the start, we were taken into some kind off indoor sports hall, where it was all ready for the top athletes to rest and warm up before the big race.
Soon after I realised my dream of being one of them is very distant…. and that I had to rush to drop off my bag in time so I had it waiting for me at the finish line.
On the bus I sat next to a German journalist who was running his 200th marathon on that day, and we had a lovely chat about running and blogging. He made feel relaxed and I was not nervous at all. Unfortunately we were not in the same running group ( he was hoping for a faster time than me), but it was great to have someone to chat before the race.
Stunning Villa Pisani was open to the Venice Marathon runners for warming up and relaxation before the race.
Highs & Lows of the Marathon
For me it definitely has to be the build up for the start and then the actual start. You feel like being part of this massive group that suddenly feels like a unit. When the Italian started singing their national anthem I was in tears! Then we all started moving towards the start and soon we were off.
The first 10km went really quickly and I felt amazing. As it was not my first marathon I knew not to start off too fast and to keep my pace, to save my energy as running 26 miles is not easy.
Soon after the 10km mark I took my first energy gel and was sipping some water. The crow was amazing, and I loved all the different music groups among the race. I was really surprised at how many families, and older people were cheering us on. The atmosphere was just perfect.
When I decided to run this marathon most people were amazed that there actually is a marathon in Venice asking where will you be running? Along the Canal Grande round and round, repeating many times? Of course not, and most of the race of course does not take place in Venice but in the near villages. One of them was called MIRA ( how similar to my name Mirka!!!), and that put a smile on my face.
There were also some boring bits like running through some industrial parts, which was a downside for me as that’s when I really was running out of energy, but luckily this did not last too long, and soon we were off, running over a super long bridge to Venice!
I am happy to say that the race was well organised, there was water on every 5km, which was very needed as it was a warm day. They also had sponge/water stations a few times on the way to cool our bodies, but I am not a huge fan of these, so really not for me, but many people went for the “get me wet” option.
What I found as a bit annoying was the lack of toilets in the first 10km. As I was trying to be hydrated towards the beginning of the race, I drank continuously and despite going to the toilet right before the start, I soon needed to go and I did not spot a toilet until 10km mark. At that time I was really wishing I was a guy…. they always have it easy!
Anyway, when did I hit the wall? Surprisingly early on actually, between 30- 37 km I was feeling really down and that’s where the industrial bit was. Then suddenly after taking some energy fast gel and seeing the bridge to Venice my energy got back and my legs carried me faster and faster to the heart of Venice.
The last 4km were the best of the race, running in the actual heart of Venice is of course the highlight, and I will never forget this. Crossing the bridge across the canal Grande, running towards the St Mark’s Square and hearing my name being shouted along with ” Repubblica Ceca” (Czech Republic) was an unforgettable experience.
After passing through the finish line I received my medal, picked up my bag and also some goodie bag with water, fruit and few other bits and joined the queue to get me back to the mainland.
Almost 2 hours later I was resting in my hotel room, spreading the word about my next sport achievement and face-timing/ skyping with my friends and family.
I really felt like celebrating and bought some Prosecco which I sipped while having a hot bath. I was exhausted, but over the moon at the same time.
I felt very proud and was thinking loads about my dad who unfortunately is no longer with us, but who would be so proud of me. Love you dad, and I know you are watching over me.
Running a marathon is not only about your physical training, but also about your emotional and psychological state. You need to be confident and believe in yourself.
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