After spending Friday afternoon at the Maratona di Roma expo and having dinner with my cousins & aunt, my cousin Simona took me back to The Beehive for some sleep. Saturday was a big day. A few months before I had met another marathoner via instagram, Laura, from the Washington, D.C. area who goes by @laurentinaphoto – Follow her – she’s amazing! Anyways it was her first marathon and somehow she came across The Roman Guy (follow them too :)) again via instagram and they (Sean & Brandon) were also running their first marathons and were going to do a little tour/shake-out run the day before the race. I have been lucky to have been to Rome many times, but since I have family that lives there, I don’t always get to do the touristy things so I thought, this sounds like a lot of fun and signed up as well. For 45 Euros, we got a tour of the Colosseum & Forum, a run thru the city & a super cool, Team TRG New Balance tank to commemorate the day.
So Saturday morning, I fueled up with good American style breakfast – eggs and toast 🙂 and set off for the Colosseum. The tour was going to start there and then we would do a 2 mile shake-out run going hitting up a lot of the best tourist spots in Rome.
I got there a bit early so I just walked around getting the lay of the land – before heading back to meet up with the group. It was kind of cloudy so I was hoping it wouldn’t rain.
Notice how the section on the right looks different than the section on the left? Brandon told us that they had actually renovated a portion of the Colosseum because they had taken a lot of the Travertine for other projects around the city.
It was a bit of a cloudy day, but the 12 of us runners weren’t going to let that get us down and so we started off with a tour of the Colosseum. Brandon did most of the tour, Sean was the photographer for the day and a lot of the photos you’ll see today are from him (THANK YOU!).
I’ve been to the Colosseum twice before, but it was really nice to be on a tour, Brandon & Sean had insight into things that you just can’t know from looking around.
Inside, they had built a partial floor to show what it would have looked like back in the day, I don’t remember that from my last visit in 2003. But that’s not to say it wasn’t there, 2003 was a long time ago :).
After a quick tour of the Colosseum, we headed over to the Roman Forum to walk around for a bit.
So after we left the Forum, we started down the stairs by the Palazzo Victor Emmanuel, which looks a lot older than it is. This was right near the start & finish line of the marathon.
And so off we went. In Italy, unlike here in the States, cars stop when you cross the street, in fact they expect you to cross and if you wait for them they stop for you. It’s very interesting how it works.
The Pantheon is actually 50 years older than the Colosseum. It’s fascinating to me how it looks like a regular building on the outside and then a dome inside and where the famous Rafael is buried.
We hit up the Spanish steps but there were so many people, I didn’t feel it was photo worthy 😉 LOL. Little tidbit about the Spanish Steps, the poet, John Keats lived in the building to the right of the steps before his death at 25.
And on we went to Piazza Navona, where we saw Bernini’s fountain – I always think of Angels & Demons when I go to Piazza Navona now :).
And then we finished up in the Campo dei Fiori, the market, in the center of Rome.
I really enjoyed this excursion and I would totally recommend it to anyone. It was an awesome way to see the city, Brandon & Sean were great tour guides, they seemed more like friends than guides 🙂 and I met a lot of really nice runners. If you are in Rome and are looking for a great way to see the city, I totally recommend contacting The Roman Guy.
So last time we spoke, I was just about to go thru passport control after landing in Rome. Got my passport stamped and I was ready to go.
First thing I had to do was catch a train from the airport to Roma Termini and drop my bag off at the hotel.
After about 15 minutes of waiting and a 35 minute train ride, I finally made it to the main train station in Rome. Roma Termini. My hotel, a cute little hotel/hostel called The Beehive (more about them in a future post) was literally 5 minutes from the station, however I was tired, dragging a huge suitcase and wandering around without GPS for over a 1/2 hr trying to find this place. I asked for directions, I walked in circles, seriously, practically in tears, and finally had to use my cell phone t0 call (who knows how much that cost me!) to get directions. And to find out what? That I literally walked around it about 5 times but just never crossed the street. Seriously?!? Wow…
You’ll find I like to digress some, ok, a lot and I have to say, this was one of the toughest weeks, without having access to my cellular data, (I literally am never without it due to my job) no gps, no iMessage, no Instagram likes, facebook responses, nothing without wifi. How did we survive, without all this technology??
Ok, now back to our regularly scheduled program.
The Maratona di Roma Expo was held at the Palazzo dei Congressi, which was probably about a 15 min ride on the metro, blue line. Another quick digression, I’ve lived in Italy, I speak relatively fluent Italian with a decent accent, enough to get by, I am 3/4 Italian with dark hair, people were speaking to me in Italian from the moment I stepped off the plane, asking me questions, even though, I have as good an idea as they do, it was hilarious. I say this because, I’m standing in line to buy my metro card and this couple is asking me all sorts of questions about which line to take, etc. like I’m a native, it was really funny.
So I took the Blue metro toward Laurentina, getting off at Eur Fermi, it wasn’t really clear to me at least which way to go, so I asked someone and off I went. After walking about a mile (give or take) I started to see people with red New Balance bags. I came up on the back of the expo, where the vendor check-in was and saw the cutest Maratona di Roma Smart Car (according to my cousin, a native Roman, there are like over a million Smart Cars in Rome).
Arriving at the expo, I was there pretty early so there weren’t many people there, I saw photos from others where that red card was completely full.
Inside the expo, it was pretty much like a normal expo, the only thing that was different in this race was that women’s bibs were in a separate section, at the end of the line. I should have remembered this for race day, but I didn’t and it was an issue the morning of the race. Just like here, pick up the bib first and then your shirt/bag at another booth.
There was a spaghetti lunch available but I wasn’t that hungry so I skipped it and headed into the expo portion of the building. The red carpet continued throughout. The expo itself was split into a number of different sections, first up, food & beverage samples, I skipped past this part, because there weren’t a lot of samples and most of the items were processed, not really things I’d use.
Then you walk thru an area with other races – there were actually a few sections with other race options, my favorite was the Kenyan Tourism board booth. I literally laughed out loud as soon as I saw it.
I kept following the red carpet to where the shoe booths were, all the big names, New Balance (sponsor), Brooks, Mizuno & Asics had booths, along with some of the other big sponsors for the race.
The expo finished up with a charity section. Right outside was something I love, the first time I experienced it was at the Nike Women’s 1/2 Marathon in DC. It was a wall with all the names (in alpha order) of the people participating in the marathon – so cool :).
The swag bag was pretty cool, they gave us a 20th anniversary New Balance backpack, a New Balance tech T-shirt and some pasta. The backpacks were used for gear check too.
The expo was Thursday, Friday & Saturday, and all in all it was pretty nice, I had read a few reviews where they commented that things were a lot different, but it seemed pretty similar to me. There were a lot more booths for area races, but I guess with the proximity of so many different countries, it’s kind of like us with states. With the exception of the big race companies, it’s normally local or near-by state races that exhibit at the expo, there other countries are as close as California.
I was glad I went after I arrived because it was a bit of a ride over and I wanted to relax after my shakeout run & tour with The Roman Guy on Saturday.
Have you ever done an international race? Was the expo similar to those in the States or completely different?
After a week of jet lag, work and life I’m finally ready to start recapping my trip to Italy and the Rome Marathon. Warning 🙂 this will be a bit long & lots of pictures.
Where to start…well let’s start with the flight to Rome. I was so unbelievably lucky to find flights on US Air using my miles and not only that, I was able to fly to Rome in US Air’s Envoy class on an A330 plane. I had to make 2 stops, but it was worth it to be able to be in one of the Envoy Suites for the flight to Italy.
I fly a least 4 – 6 times a year and I’ve been lucky to sit in first class on short domestic flights, but never internationally so this was a nice treat and perfect since I would only have 2 days before the marathon and I needed to get some sleep on the way there.
Domestically, I had stops in Dallas and Philadelphia. The flight to Dallas is relatively short so there was just beverages and snacks. It was quite nice to see that one of the snacks was actually something that pretty healthy, Nature’s Valley Fig Bars, Non-GMO, relatively low sugar, no cholesterol, no transfat – super yummy! I had a raspberry one on the plane, but I actually had blueberry, apple cinnamon & peach-apricot in my bag.
Imagine my surprise when I looked at the US Air magazine and saw that the featured city for March was none other than Winter Park, FL. How cool is that!
After a nice and easy flight to Dallas, I had a relatively short layover, during which time I started sneezing and getting a little bit of a sore throat. Oh, no! Not a fun feeling to have, fortunately, a zyrtec and I was feeling better in no time.
The flight to Philly was a bit longer so we were served lunch on-board. I’ve flown first class before, but normally either short flights or on red-eye flights where you don’t get fed so this was a nice treat.
As we were getting ready to take off, the flight attendant asked us what entree we would like. There were 2 to choose from, a miso beef with bok-choy or a pasta duo (penne with marinara sauce & tortellini with alfredo sauce), since I knew I would be eating some amazing pasta, I chose the beef.
After we took off, she brought us drinks in glass cups, and then about 20 minutes later our meals.
My lunch included, Miso Beef, cooked well done, but it literally just melted in my mouth, it was so tender. It was served with white rice and a vegetable medley of carrots, green beans & I guess there was some bok choy, I couldn’t really tell. There was also a salad with a balsamic dressing and a chicken & slaw side too (I tried it but it wasn’t one of my favs).
For some reason, I didn’t expect dessert, but there was one, an amazing chocolate cake. For someone who isn’t a huge fan of chocolate for me to say it was amazing is huge :). Not that I didn’t enjoy the rest of my meal, but this was by far the best part. Super rich chocolate flavor, incredibly moist with a fudgy topping and cocoa on top.
The flight itself was fine, long, when you are anxious to get on your way to your final destination. The pilot told us we would be landing early and then we ended up having to circle the airport until our original arrival time, which was frustrating since I only had about 45 minutes to get to my gate for my flight to Rome.
Finally arriving in Philly and I literally got to the gate, had my passport checked and they were ready to board – talk about timing :).
As I was boarding the plane, the flight attendants were directing us to the various areas of the plane, the A330 is pretty large and in both Envoy & economy there are 3 sections, window, middle and opposite window so they want to make sure you go to the right side to make it easy for everyone.
My Envoy Suite was super cute and I immediately made myself at home, I even forgot to take a picture of it empty because I was so excited!
Not too long after I got semi settled, the flight attendants started coming around with a tray of beverages, they offered prosecco, orange juice or sparkling water. I very rarely drink alcohol before a race or on a place (don’t want to be dehydrated) but this was a special occasion and as I told my boss and friend, I was like what would R.J. do and said Prosecco it is! lol
They came around and asked us what we would like for our entree before we took off, there was a nice menu with 4 dinner options, Tenderloin of Beef, Sun-dried Tomato stuffed Chicken Breast, Citrus Mahi Mahi and for the vegetarians Spinach Lasagna Rolls. I chose the beef, I hardly ever eat beef in my normal day to day life, but you’ll see as I continue to recap, I eat a lot of it during this trip, interesting…
One last thing before we take off, they brought us cute little bags with some supplies – let me tell you the eye mask came in super handy.
And away we go…
Once we took off, things started happening quite fast. The flight attendants came by first with bottles of water, then hot towels, then to bring our starter for dinner.
I loved that they let you pick your own rolls and had wheat and multi-grain. The chicken portion of the appetizer was ok, nothing special and I tried the relish, but it had way too much onion in it for me. The salad was good – they had darker greens in it, none of that horrible iceberg lettuce, thank goodness.
The beef was really good, I don’t use a lot of sauce so I left most of that, but the sweet potato mash, so so yummy. That’s really the reason I choose the beef, of all the sides, that was by far the best option in my opinion.
There were several choices for dessert, Raspberry Mousse, a cheese plate or ice cream. This looked the best and it was good, although, the chocolate cake from the DFW – PHL flight was way better ;).
After dinner, they dimmed the cabin lights, I finished watching This Means War and went to sleep. The nice thing about the envoy suite is that the seat lays flat, however that doesn’t mean it’s super comfortable. I have long legs and while the seat laid flat, there was a bit of space between the seat and the extra portion for my feet so I felt that a lot. They gave us really nice thick blankets, but for the first time ever on a trans-atlantic flight, I was so hot. I feel like even with that, I was able to sleep pretty well and fortunately when I woke up I did not look like Debra Messing in The Wedding Date.
I woke up just in time for breakfast and we were about 1.5 hours from Rome, over the Alps at this point.
Breakfast is served…
There were 2 choices for breakfast, the spinach & turkey bacon quiche that I picked & a yogurt & fruit bowl. This was good, but unfortunately it wasn’t cooked all the way thru so I kind of just ate around the edges. It’s such a nice change to see lots of veggies & fruit accompanying the entree. They also served warm croissants and coffee. I tried a chocolate croissant and was a little disappointed, it wasn’t really worth it, but it was seriously only 2 bites.
Not too long after breakfast we were on our final descent and landing in Rome.
First stop passport control and then on to Rome…
Come back this week to see what happens next :).
Have you ever flown business or first class internationally? What was your favorite part?
I leave today to travel to the Eternal City, Rome, Italy for my 3rd marathon. I’m both excited and nervous. All 3 marathon training cycles have been wrought with a few Burnt Toast moments…
My first marathon was supposed to be the New York City Marathon in 2012. I trained, tapered, went to NYC, actually managed to pick up my packet & number and then returned home after the race was cancelled.
I managed to get into the 20th Anniversary Walt Disney Marathon, but tweaked my knee in an extreme downhill race in Fountain Hills, AZ about a month before the race, and even worse, I went out for a short run 2 weeks before the race and felt like my foot was broken. So forced taper it was, but I was able to run the race and even better felt better after the marathon than I did before!! Who would have thought?
Considering it was 85 degrees and about 80% humidity, and I was still in minor pain 2 days before the race, I was pretty happy with my time of 5:09. I ran walked using 1:1 intervals and walked most of mile 25 before running it in.
Then I ran 3 more half marathons in 6 weeks and ended up with plantar fasciitis. Big suprise there. 🙂
I claimed my NYC entry for 2013 and started training. I upped my run/walk interval – I’m a huge fan of Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run method (more on that in a future post) – to 2:1, got a coach & a nutritionist and was determined to drop my marathon time. As I ran thru the summer and got closer to my second marathon, a disturbing trend was developing…the hamstring pain that was previously just a minor nag, was becoming more and more of an annoyance and not just when I was running. It was starting to become where I was in pain the majority of my day. I continued running, as we runners do, and did in fact run the 2013 ING (last year for ING) New York City Marathon with over 50,000 other runners. It was absolutely amazing and I dropped 35 minutes from my first marathon!! This was doing 2:1 intervals pretty much the whole way, although, I did do a bit more walking in mile 18 before getting my act back together & finishing strong.
Fast forward to now…I’ll post more on my hamstring again in future posts. I started training for the Rome Marathon on January 1 and 12 weeks later will run marathon #3. This time, after dealing with my hamstring and doing PT, getting a new coach, etc. it was determined that the run/walk/run method that I loved was causing me more pain. So I started running straight after 2 months off.
Running is never easy, but when you are so used to one method, a new one is even harder. 11.5 weeks later and I still struggle to not walk during a run, short or long. I know I am capable but the run/walk/run mindset was one that I religiously practiced for almost 3 years.
I will never forget the first time in over a year, I when I ran completely pain free!! It was such an amazing feeling and almost weird having had some sort of pain during every run all thru 2013.
I have been so incredibly fortunate to be able to run all of my marathons so far in amazing places. Walt Disney World, New York City and now Rome. In the end, as much as I have time goals and to run a certain way, I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to do this and not only that, I get to do it in amazing places!!
I really try to eat as clean as possible. I eat tons and tons of veggies, whole grains, very limited sugar (boo!), very little alcohol and drink my green juice daily. But that being said, I absolutely love food. All of my memories revolve around the food I eat. I’m extremely fortunate and I am incredibly grateful for great genes and a very fast metabolism.
What I crave post race…Burgers with a side of fries…
After the Phoenix Marathon (half for me), I went home immediately after the race, since I was exhausted from lack of sleep. I waited until Sunday when I got a burger from The Chuckbox in Tempe. I’m still relatively new to the Phoenix area so I’m still discovering new places and I was actually at another, much more healthy place, next door, meeting with my team for the Ragnar Trail – Zion, UT and all I could smell were these burgers. So of course I had to have one. Oh and my team still needs 2 more runners so if anyone is interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We walked in and there was a line that snaked around the restaurant – it was 2:30pm! That really shows how popular of a place this is – although, it is in the university area & a Sunday so that could be part of it ;). There was a diverse crowd so I don’t think that was it.
Check out the menu early because you are asked for your order way before you are actually at the counter.
They have quite the system for getting the burgers to you. I’m not quite sure how they keep track of the burgers but there is a system of toothpicks on the buns.
I picked the Big One with a wheat bun (still trying to stay semi healthy – lol) with a side of fries. They have a great topping bar with a variety of toppings, I’m boring and just like ketchup, yellow mustard & tomatoes so I didn’t really take advantage of the topping bar to the fullest.
Overall, I can’t say it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten but I did really enjoy it.
I paid for my own meal, or rather my friend did, and I have no affiliation to The Chuckbox, they have no idea who I am, I just enjoyed my visit and wanted to share my experience with others that crave burgers post race.
This was my first time running this race, although I was signed up and ready to go for the 2013 race, I ended up with Plantar Fasciitis and ended up skipping the race, which was probably for the best :). I signed up for 2014 on December 31 to take advantage of the discounted rates and because this race tends to sell out especially in the marathon distance.
There are 3 different race distances that are a part of BMO Phoenix Marathon, marathon, half marathon and 10K. I’ve only participated in the half distance, but it’s a great race for PRs as it is a net downhill course. I think I heard that about 14% of the marathoners qualify for Boston on this course so it’s pretty fast. Since I’m training for the Rome Marathon on March 23, I just wanted to do the half.
When I signed up, I didn’t realize I was going to be traveling for work the few days prior to the race, which resulted in an interesting day before the race.
We left the Omni Nashville at 5:45p CST and headed to the jets. Yes, I am so so lucky I got to fly in a private jet home.
However, we did fly in the smaller jet, which required a stop in Wetherford, OK for about 30 minutes half way thru our trip. We didn’t end up getting back to Phoenix until around 11:00pm, then had to drive to the office and back home, which meant no sleep until after midnight. Burnt Toast moment #1. Normally the night before a race, especially one that starts at 6:30am!!, I’m in bed by 8pm or 9 at the very latest. Who am I kidding? I’m normally in bed at that time no matter what day it is :).
Burnt Toast Moment #2 – when I fell off the sidewalk outside my office, WHAT?? How does that happen? Well it did, resulting in a huge bump & scab along with a decent amount of pain on my left knee. Fortunately when I woke up, it didn’t hurt, but it wasn’t fully scabbed over so I put vaseline all over it and ran with no pain.
The night before as I realized how late we were going to be arriving home, I was frantically facebook messaging Phoenix Marathon to make sure I could pick up my bib the morning of the race. If they weren’t going to let me I was going to have to beg my sister to drive down to Mesa to get my packet. Fortunately, they let me pick up my bib race morning so that eliminated one stress.
So after getting home at midnight, my alarm went off at 2:45am, I jumped out of bed, got ready, ate a piece of whole wheat bread with peanut butter, realized I didn’t have any gatorade for my fuel belt bottles and left the house at 3:20am. I stopped at Circle K, where at 3:25am there was a line of 4 people. A LINE??? Again WHAT??? who is at Circle K at 3:30 in the morning? Obviously not me, normally :). Got my gatorade – lemon-lime, my fav, and then started the 35 min drive to Mesa, where the race was.
It’s an easy drive and the race is right off the highway so it didn’t take too long to get there. I got my bib, and my shirt after the race. and then headed to the buses that would take us to the start line.
Each of the races was a point to point so there were 3 different sets of buses taking you to each start line. It took about 20 min (at least that’s how it felt to me, but after only 2.5 hours of sleep, who knows). Once at the start area, there were tons of heat lamps, bag drop off trucks, water, vaseline and 2 announcers that were entertaining us while we listened to music and chilled. There were 2 sides of port-a-potties. I didn’t wait too long, maybe 5 min.
The race started right at 6:30am, it was a mass start with no corrals so i just started about half way back because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen considering that I didn’t get much sleep, oh and I forgot to mention, my dinner was a small container of chips and a 1/4 of a sweet potato muffin, not my normal pizza pre-race meal :(, my knee mishap and that it started to rain right before we took off.
As per usual, the first half of the race was pretty fast, although my legs were just so incredibly tired, especially my quads. I stopped to walk around the halfway point and ran a half mile with a short walk break until mile 10 when I apparently got my second wind and ran the rest of the way. Burnt Toast moment #3 when I got my garmin out before I left, I realized it was dead, I was able to charge it for the 35 min drive, thank goodness for USB ports in cars!! and managed to get to 12.5 miles before it died so I don’t have record on my own devices of a new PR of 2:05:52.
The course itself, to me, was kind of boring, just on the streets of Mesa, no real scenery or anything special, but it wasn’t a horribly expensive race. I think I paid $70.00.
I was happy that I was able to do that well, I really didn’t know what was going to happen and I’m just glad I was able to make it thru with no more burnt toast moments :).
They had a great finish line set-up with food, I saw bananas, oranges, muscle milk, water, bagels and fruit cups. There were a lot of food trucks and other booths and a nice area for awards. I was so incredibly tired, cold and wet that I didn’t take any photos or do anything but grab my shirt, which is awesome, it’s Abion Fit. It really fits well, I don’t normally wear my race shirts, but this one fits great and I discovered last night it even has a cute little pocket.
All in all, it was a really well run race and even with all my Burnt Toast moments, I’m really happy to have added it to my race list as my 17th half marathon.
What kind of crazy things have you had happen to you before or during a race?