Last year, Sean & I went to Italy for our honeymoon and we built our trip around the Venice Marathon. My race recap from last year can be found here.
This year, as you already know, Sean got into UTMB back in January and we knew we would be heading to Chamonix-Monte Blanc in late August for the race. We had a lot of other trips on the docket for this year as well, but just the one European adventure, that we knew about ;).
A little background, I like entering contests, I’ve won various things over the years, clothes, make-up, race entries, a trip to NYC about 10 years ago including a make-over at Warren Tricomi Salon and other random smaller things. I enter contests all the time but then forget about them. Earlier this year, LA Marathon announced a contest for a trip to the Venice Marathon so of course I entered.
On June 23, I was working and then got a Facebook notification from a friend congratulating me. So I went online to see what for, and like 5 seconds later I was yelling to Sean and jumping up and down screaming we won! The kitties were like uh, what is going on here.
WOW, I was seriously in shock even after getting the email confirming that I won! So Sean & I coordinated our schedules and decided what we wanted to do.
The trip included a round trip flight on Air France, we just had to pay for the taxes, hotel for up to 4 nights and 2 entries into either the Venice Marathon or the 10k.
So we added the Venice Marathon to our schedules for the 2nd year in a row and then got back to the rest of our summer.
With all the other travel we had this year, this race kind of snuck up on me and I’ll admit, I didn’t really train for a marathon. If you have been following me, you’d know I’ve really been working towards some other ultra goals so while marathons are on my list, they aren’t my focus right now.
I ran Cuyamaca 100k at the beginning of the month and then I kind of took it easy for the most part for the rest of the month.
We left for Venice on Wednesday afternoon, we were flying from LAX via Paris, taking our longest flight to date. We arrived in Venice around 2pm and immediately headed to grab a rental car and drive 3ish hours to Avelengo.
After it sunk in that this was for real. Sean & I decided that we wanted to go back to Avelengo & the oh so amazing Miramonti Hotel for a couple of days prior to going to Venice. So off we went & I’ll recap that portion of our trip in a separate email.
The marathon expo is on both Friday & Saturday until 8pm. We had done a pretty intense hike/run on Friday so we ended up leaving Avelengo a little earlier than we planned to head out to Venice. I think we arrived at the expo about 3:30pm. It was pretty busy so we just parked at our hotel before walking over.
The expo is at the ExpoSport at San Guiliano Park in Venice Mestre. It’s a nice park just outside of Venice. It was really crowded when we got there. We immediately headed to the back to get our bibs/packets.
We ran into Ryan & the Los Angeles Marathon folks at the expo so we chatted for a few minutes. They had a really nice booth. The expo was definitely crowded but it felt like there were a lot more booths this time & things seemed a little more organized.
When we got to pick up our bibs, it was super easy. As I’ve mentioned before in Italy at least, women are separated from the men so I headed to the women’s bib numbers. There was really only one line & you needed to know your bib number so they could pick up your packet.
We got our bibs & headed over to get our bags & race shirts. There was a special this time to get a little Antica Murrino gift. They gave us cute little charms at their booth.
After finishing up at the expo, we headed back to the hotel, got checked in, went to take the car back to the airport and then took a vaporetto into Venice.
Note to those renting cars in Italy: 1) Gas stations off the autostrada are closed over the weekend. 2) If you pay in cash, you can’t get change until the gas station opens on Monday so keep your receipt and 3) They don’t take credit cards only bancomat, which incidentally none of our credit cards were.
We had dinner and gelato in Venice before heading back to Mestre where our hotel was located.
The race didn’t start until 9:40am, but since we won the trip we were able to take the elite bus to the start. It was departing the hotel at 7am. I was a little nervous about them not know about us, but when I said my name, they recognized it and we were let on board.
The race starts in Stra at Villa Pisani and then makes its way to Venice. I still had to start in the last corral, Sean could have been in the 2nd corral but he opted to run with me & help me PR.
We grabbed trash bags from a nice guy near Villa Pisani and made our way over to the corrals. We were a little early and they weren’t letting people in yet but I felt pretty good because we were planning to go right to the front of the corral so we weren’t stuck at the back like last year.
Once they opened the corrals, I noticed that they were being really strict about not letting people into the wrong corral so I was glad we didn’t try to move up.
This year it felt like they actually had corrals and that everyone didn’t just start all at once. But with only about 6,000 runners it wasn’t a huge race. We ended up going through the start line 3 minutes after the race started.
I felt like the race had a few more spectators than last year and that they were all happy to see us out there.
I tried to keep up with Sean but he was going a bit faster than I felt comfortable with so I just kept him in sight and pushed to keep a comfortable pace. I am very proud of myself for not taking a walk break until the middle of mile 10. And the first 10 miles were all under 10 minute pace racing from 9:23 – 9:46.
The next 5 miles were decent ranging from 10:05 – 10:46 and then something happened at mile 16 and I must have walked a bit more because my pace jumped to 12:23.
After this point, I kept moving as fast as I could. Sean told me that we needed to maintain an 11min pace to get a sub 4:30 and since my PR was 4:35 I was doing all I could to keep it up.
At one point, I could tell I needed more calories because I was starting to get a little nauseous. I poured another pouch of CarboPro into my bottle with some ultima and kept moving.
This year running across the bridge to Venice wasn’t as much of a struggle and I remember passing a lot of people during this section. I followed the trolley track the whole way across the bridge.
The next section by the cruise terminal is my least favorite of the course, but at least by that point you know there is only 5k to go! I stopped at the last aid station to get more water and Sean was like come on! I remember being like, I need to walk through this aid station. LOL
I have 2 favorite sections of this race. #1 – going over the Grand Canal on the amazing pontoon bridge that they put just for the race. It is so cool and this year it was sunny!
Then you make your way into Saint Mark’s Square, this is my second favorite spot. It was so nice to have sun this year. And they hadn’t started taking down the marathon banners yet this year so that was nice.
The hard part about this section on the island of Venice is that you have to go over all the little bridges. A lot of people slow down over these so it’s hard to keep up your speed. I felt really happy that I was able to run this whole section.
As we closed into the finish line, I do recall starting to feel sick again. I was calorie deficient and if running ultras has taught me anything it’s that you definitely need to start eating early.
I was actually just thinking about it yesterday and how interesting it is that they don’t give you any calories until very late in the race. By that point, it’s already too late and you can’t make up those calories.
In any case, I pushed myself over that line and even managed to do a little hop/jump over.
And I managed to get a shiny new PR of 4 minutes and 4 seconds. It took me almost 3 years to the day (my previous PR was from my second marathon NYC in 2013). And interestingly enough, I hadn’t really trained for a marathon having run Cuyamaca a few weeks before which shows that I really do have some potential if I work at it :).
All in all I feel like even though this was the 31st version of the race, they had things a lot more organized than last year and I enjoyed this race a lot more. And I like the medal better too :).
And I love that they give you lots of food & beverages at the end of the race! So nice! They even have changing rooms and showers available to the runners too!
Again, Thank you to the Venice Marathon, the Los Angeles Marathon and Air France for an awesome giveaway and a fun time!
Have you run an international race? Do you want to?