Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Italy (Day1-Day 5)

The excitement is building as I wait to meet the team and finally arrive at the hotel we will ultimately be at on race day. Many of the people on the team are ultra running legends that I admire so being on the same team with them is doubly as honoring as being able to race for the United States in a World Championship event. My wife and I have been blessed to be able to travel throughout Italy in the week leading up to the race. We arrived in Rome Saturday the 14th and saw the sites there over 2 days. We saw the Coliseum, the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps and many of the other famous monuments in Rome. Then we traveled to Florence and Pisa next. We ate with a view of the leaning tower of Pisa and were amazed by the beautiful architecture in Florence.  Then the last two stops were Venice and Milan. The canals of Venice are amazing; imagine taking a water taxi or boat to cross the streets and having no lawns within the city. The entire city is built on wooden piles as a foundation in the water! We will be staying in a little mountain retreat at the base of the Alps near Tecco approximately 30 km from the race site in Seregno, Italy.
I have been keeping up with my running; 50 miles in four days. Although it’s significantly more difficult to do that in the middle of European cities with cobblestone streets, lots of tourists and drivers with little regard for pedestrians. The first few days in Rome it was easy to make time for running with few folks on the road because I was up before 4 am local time, running the same loop around our hotel and the British and Russian Embassies. I was like a hamster on the wheel in his cage, but never felt safer with guards posted outside each embassy, looking at me with suspicious eyes after each passing lap. We were exhausted each of the first few nights at 8 pm or earlier so we headed to bed early and the result was early wake up times. After 2 early morning runs and avoiding traffic I did one afternoon run on the second day in Rome. There is a path down by the Tiber River that I noticed other runners using. It was a rare site to see anyone running. I had seen only about ten runners up until that time.
Shortly after arriving in Venice on Tuesday, I went for a nine mile run weaving like a boxer in and out of pedestrians, not the ideal place to run to say the least. I woke up the following morning at 5:30 and ran the cobblestone grounds getting lost amongst my thoughts and the maze of streets. Doubts crept into my head. Did I train enough? Did I taper too soon? Should have I run one more long run and tempo run? These are the thoughts that pass through the minds of most runners the week of a race. But these questions aren’t answered until race day.
I am on the train to Milan as I type. That is where I will take the shuttle tomorrow afternoon to meet up with our team at our team hotel. The nerves have not settled in yet. Is it because I am the oldest member of the team and have years of racing experience on big stages OR is it because I haven’t donned the U.S.A jersey yet? It’s probably the latter.

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