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Sunday, April 3, 2016

milano marathon

My first Marathon is done!!!

Pre-race seriousness.

To start off, I was very happy that the race didn't start until 930a, and that I was within 5 minute walking distance of the starting line. (Thank you, AirBNB!) This later start time allowed me to wake up at 545a, and digest two espressos (talk about immediate caffeine boost..), two bananas, and two bottles of water. I go to the bathroom an ungodly amount of times before a race and today was no different, obviously. Sorry - TMI, lol.

We made our way over the starting area where they had a Charity Village set up, and actually a very limited amount of bathrooms. Luckily, the "toilet bus" I used was pretty nice.  It was a little confusing on how to get to the starting area - I literally walked into the area as we were walking up to the starting line.

The countdown, of course, was in Italian, which was pretty awesome, and then they shot off an Italian Army cannon with confetti to start off the race. I was digging the Black Eyed Peas, "Pump It" that was blasting when I crossed the starting line.

One of the official pictures of the colorful start yesterday!

It took a few miles for me to finally find my pace due to the massive amount of people and not starting far enough in the front.  Anyway, the overall atmosphere was pretty awesome. Mostly everyone was Italian so there was a lot of shouting and hollering in Italian throughout the whole race (happy shouting and hollering, lol). Common phrases were "bellaisma" (gorgeous), "bravissima" (very good), and of course, "bravo!". Also, this was definitely a male-dominated race, I feel like there were 20 guys for every female.

The course itself was pretty flat, and we passed by most of the major landmarks in Milan, which apparently is pretty hip on architecture. 

This is the top of the Duomo, which was one of the first major landmarks on our run, probably around 5 miles in.

As far as the other highlights and lowlights of the race, the only lowlight was probably the mess of the aid stations. As my friend described it, it was like you were playing Super Mario in real life, with water and banana peels, trying to avoid slipping and falling (which we all know I'm pretty good at!). Also - they gave out whole bottles of water, rather than cups of water at each aid station. I felt like this was a waste until I drank half of a bottle later on around 30k or so. Other highlights was basically high-fiving everyone, and really just all of the supporters along the way. There were so many people outside their shops, apartments, and whatnot cheering us on!

As far as for me personally, I was aiming for a finish in 3:45. Around mile 11, I got a dull, yet stinging pain in my right thigh, and then around mile 17, it went down to my right leg. I tried my best to get my mind off it, but it didn't really stop until I finished the race. However - I didn't stop to walk except only at the aid stations.  I slowed down a bit after mile 17, I guess that was my "wall" of sorts.. but I honestly didn't hit any EPIC wall where I felt like I couldn't run anymore. Actually, I passed quite a few folks during the last 6.2 miles which was a pretty awesome feeling.

I could tell around mile 20 I wasn't going to hit 3:45, but I knew I could hit a sub-3:50, so I powered through as much as I could and during the last 250 meters, I had an emotional moment, but then with the crowd, I just was so excited to finish and smiled my way to the end, with a 3:49:37 finish for my first marathon!

I'm pretty sure my runner's high hit during the last 250 meters and didn't fade for hours!

Afterwards, I felt pretty good..like way better than I expected. I devoured the food and drink bag they gave us and unfortunately it took me an hour and a half to find my friend, which was probably good just to stay on my feet. The pain slowly hit though as the day wore on - around dinner time, I could barely walk, and had to succumb to taking one ibuprofen (I'm pretty good about pain but this was needed).  However, I am still super excited and still can't believe I finished my first marathon with a pretty darn good time!

The medal - small and simple!

To give you perspective...

Last year, this was my run on April 4th, 2015:

And this year, my run on April 3rd, 2016:

Isn't it crazy how 1 year can make a world of difference!?

Happy with my first Marathon medal :)

Bonus! Pictures of what I ate post-race. In this order.

(Not pictured: two Fage Greek Yogurts, multiple waters, one blue Powerade)

Cannoli.

Dark chocolate gelato.

Not pictured: Half a bagel with a banana and Nutella.

Prosecco.

"Grande" vegetable pizza. This was a struggle to finish.

Tiramisu. Basically forced myself to eat this for calorie purposes.

And then the exhaustion hit. We head to Parma today for our last day in Europe (Parma, Italy - famous for its prosciutto and, of course, Parmesan cheese) - and hopefully I will have the appetite to eat to my heart's content.  Happy Monday!