Run, man! Run!

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Berlin, Chicago, Venice and now even New York marathon is just gone, and no trace of Mr Run in any of these competitions. The sad truth is that despite the hard work, a meticulous training programme, a super balanced diet – all seasoned with the infinite patience Mrs Run is naturally endowed with -, Mr Run has unexpectedly turned into Mr Couch. As soon as the endorphins with their beneficial effects have one by one abandoned the body of my husband, a melancholic expression has appeared on his face and an iPad in his hands. When I look at him, he reminds me of that knight of Keat’s ” La Belle Dame sans Merci” so much, that I would like to ask him: “What hail at thee, knight at arm/ so haggard and woe-begone“, but I already know that his hopeless answer would be: a damned plantar fasciitis. After more than two months of therapies, the finish line of the complete recovery is still far, therefore, all I can do s trying to support him posting this video, hoping that as soon as he sees it, some endorphins will show up ¬†and make him smile again. Run, man! Run! I’m sure, you will very soon ūüôā

The Monastic Run

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Hello, has anybody seen the summer? Where are the heat, the sunshine, the blue skies and that longed laziness on sandy beaches? We are all here, ready in our flip-flops, towels and bikinis but, actually, this July looks like more a rainy April. It’s really unfair for those who are on vacation and for one person in particular: ME.¬† That’s why this week-end we have decided to go somewhere else and drive to Simbruini mountains, about 100 km far from Rome, to reach Subiaco. Why? To run, of course.

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The monastery of St.Benedict

Subiaco is particularly renowned as a tourist and religious resort for its sacred grotto (Sacro Speco), in the medieval St. Benedict’s Abbey, and for the Abbey of St. Scholastica. In July there is a very picturesque race called “la Jennesina” . The route is enchanting as the race starts at the monastery of St.Benedict, then you run through the sacred places where the Saint lived and dictated the “Rule of Saint Benedict“,¬† which contains the precepts for his monks ( the most famous is “Ora et Labora“, that is “Pray and Work” as you may see it chiseled at the entrance of the monastery), to reach the fascinating medieval hamlet of Jenne. 10 kilometers of history, natural beauties and all uphill!!!

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A view of Simbruini mountains

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Mr Run’s concern

When Mr Run and I reached Subiaco, we soon realized that we had left spring behind to be welcomed by a gloomy, rainy, autumn day. We had to stay in our car for more than half an hour, because of a heavy, endless shower. What does that motto say?”Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know“, in fact, I started to wonder, that maybe we’d better stay at home, as I was picturing myself waiting for him under the rain at the finish line, or in the car for a couple of hours. I didn’t even have my iPad or a book with me!

Magically the rain ended and the air was clear and fresh. Mr Run soon put on his running shoes and with some friends of his team rushed to get to bus to reach the start at the monastery, while I would wait for him in Jenne.

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The four musketeers

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Alleys in Jenne

Well, I had all the time to visit the place. Jenne is actually  really quaint. You can feel that atmosphere of the middle age, typical in central Italy, in the stony alleys, little colorful houses and churches. In the late 12th century, it was the birthplace of Pope Alexander IV.

 

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Belvedere

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The statue of Pope Alexander IV

When I came back to the finish line, the runners were just about to end their fatigue. The winner took a little more than 36 minutes to run 10 kilometers uphill. Only when the last 500 meters are dangerously downhill as you can see :

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Mr Run’s arrival

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Few meters to the end

Running uphill is not exactly what Mr Run loves the most, in fact he confessed he had even pondered to leave the race at the third kilometer. But Mr Run is not a quitter, particularly in the land of “Ora et Labora” so after that short crisis, he rolled up his sleeves and managed to end the competition in 51 minutes. He was disappointed of course, but his discontent didn’t last long, as after the race, the inhabitants of the village had organized a feast for the runners and their families, based on the local culinary delights as pasta with mutton tomato sauce, roasted mutton etc.

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Ladies serving mutton tomato sauce pasta

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Final toast

After all this “orare” and “laborare”, “manducare” (to eat) well, is the right reward, isn’t it? ūüôā

Running in the night

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There is an unusual, evocative, romantic way to enjoy the breathtaking beauties of the “eternal city” : running through its most famous streets at night. Yes, at night , because “Corriroma“, the competition that somehow seals the end of the running season here, usually takes place at 10.00 p.m. The ten kilometer race starts at Piazza del Popolo, then the athletes pass on¬† Via del Corso, Via del Tritone, Via Sistina,¬† Piazza Trinit√† dei Monti till they go through the splendid Villa Borghese, lit by hundreds of torches,to reach Piazza Augusto Imperatore and again via del Corso and back to Piazza del Popolo. Amazing, isn’t it?

Mr Run and I couldn’t certainly miss such a happening as it was also an occasion to have a walk and go shopping in the centre. When we arrived at Piazza del Popolo, it was crowded as usual and peopled mostly by tourists and tourist attractions.

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But at dusk the magic started. corri9

The tourists were slowly replaced by thousands of colorful runners who started their warming-up running around the square in a never-ending joyous carousel.Immagine 085

Some of them even staged a Maori dance, traditional war cry included.

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Lights, happy faces, the atmosphere was merry and warm and at 10:00 about 3 thousand runners gathered at the start line.

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In less than half an hour the fastest had reached Villa Borghese.

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Here is the winner Jaouad Zain from Morocco (31:35).

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Many others were still far from the finish line but they were enjoying the beautiful race.

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And when everything was over, the magic disappeared. The lights went off and little by little the sweated and tired athletes left the square with their supportive friends and families, maybe in search of something to drink or a place where to get some warm croissants and reach the Pincio Terrace to wait for the dawn.pincio1

 

 

On Youth (Giovinezza,Giovinezza)

renzi.jpgI don’t know whether you have realised that this country is undergoing a revolution, the youth revolution. Yes, we are making way for the young and replacing the old dusty generations of managers and politicians with fresh, vital new forces. Would you believe it? Here is an example: our new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Actually, this renewal process had already started when we got rid of old serious Professor Monti for the much younger Letta, who was only 46¬† – a toddler for our standards – but that was not enough: only after few months he was brutally replaced by Matteo Renzi, democrat, age 38.¬† In his first speech at the senate for the vote of confidence, the Prime Minister did his best to look at ease in such a formal place: unbuttoned jacket, a hand in his pocket and Haruki Murakami‘s The Art of Running well displayed in front of him as sign of the new dynamic times, then, nonchalantly he slapped with the arrogance of his youth the silent and astounded senators, informing them that their time was over, as he was planning to wipe out that chamber soon, reforming the Constitution. Ah, the impetuosity of the young! Oh, giovinezza, giovinezza!!!

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Gorgeous Minister Elena Boschi

Therefore, now if you want to have a career in politics and access to the seats that really count, you’ve got to be young or at least look young ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† ( Professor Berlusconi could lecture us upon this point), that means being active, vigorous, energetic…...I don’t know, these words seem to evoke something, but what? It seems as if I have already heard this kind of slogans. However, our politicians have quickly dusted their trainers and tracksuits and started to exhibit their sporting talents, so you can see pictures of them, while they are enduring hard sessions of push-ups, sit-ups, morning runs.There is a Montecitorio running club, in fact, whose membership have recently boomed. Matteo Renzi himself is a runner or maybe used to be, as he seems to have put some weight on lately. All the members of his staff are young, as for example Maria Elena Boschi Minister of Constitutional Reforms and Relations with Parliament, age 33, she is also very attractive as a matter of fact. However, they represent the dynamic,vital, fresh blood that promises to transform this country. Ahh, giovinezza, giovinezza!

Matteo Renzi had formerly been Mayor of Florence, and I have to admit that he did really well. The city looked so organized, clean, so “North”¬† let me say. At this point I feel like tranquilizing whoever is going to come here to Rome for Easter holidays, we are still fully in the disorganized “South”, don’t be alarmed! Nothing has changed. But let me think, how old is our Mayor Ignazio Marino? 59? You see!!! The current Mayor of Florence is Dario Nardella, age 38, and very much alike Matteo Renzi. You can see him at the starting line of Florence half marathon two weeks ago.

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Sporty Mayor Nardella. Does he have a hand in his pocket? Must be a distinctive mark.

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Fresher blood running through the streets of Florence. The little boy here, may be the next Prime Minister soon!

Now I remember. This is not the first time, in fact, that this country celebrates the boost of youth. Actually, it was long time ago, and the Prime Minister was, was…………… The Dux, Benito Mussolini. Ahhhhhh, giovinezza, giovinezza!!!

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Giovinezza is the official hymn of the Italian National Fascist Party, regime, and army, and was the unofficial national anthem of Italy between 1924 and 1943.

Mr Run in Florence

289Uhmmmmm, let me think, what did it say ? “…for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part“. Following a husband in any marathon is not mentioned in any set of marriage vows, and actually it is nothing that these lips have ever pronounced. Life is getting harder in these latitudes my friends, as almost every week-end my husband is mostly engaged with a competition and just recently has decided to “emigrate” and feel the thrill to race¬† “abroad”, that is in a different place from Rome and surroundings. The astute man, therefore, told me a couple of weeks ago that he was planning a romantic weekend and had singled out Florence to make ME a surprise, as he knew that I particularly love it . Great. The ingenious man, however, only after some days nonchalantly informed me that there would have been a half marathon that particular week-end in Florence and he was planning to run it . What a coincidence. ” For better, for worse, in.………”.

Therefore here we are, we took the train and in an hour and a half we were in Florence late in the afternoon.

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The Arno

If the real goal of the trip is the race rather than romanticism, everything is about what you can’t do. You can walk too much, because the runner can’t be too fatigued and you can’t eat too much or make too many culinary experiences, as a heavy, slow digestion can put at risk the performance. However I managed to make him tour the town (you don’t need taxis or buses to see Florence, you can just walk) and see the beautiful squares and monuments just like the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower and The Palazzo Vecchio.

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Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence)

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Basilica of Saint Mary of the Flower

We also stopped at the fountain of Il Porcellino (Italian “piglet”) is the local Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain of a boar. Il Porcellino figures in Hans Christian Andersen‘s “The Bronze Hog” in A Poet’s Bazaar . I seems that stroking the statue brings you good luck and that’s why tourists always crowd to touch the nose of the boar and take a picture.

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Credulous tourists.

If you like market places, the most famous one in Florence is San Lorenzo and also the Central Market (Mercato Centrale) where you can find myriad vendors dedicated to the primary ingredients of Tuscan cuisine.

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Central Market

My husband is very fond of lampredotto: a typical Florentine peasant dish, made from the fourth and final stomach of a cow, the abomasum. You can find vendors of lampredotto sandwiches everywhere in Florence and it is as popular as pizza. Unfortunately lampredotto belonged to the list of what my husband could not eat before the race as it takes at least five hours to digest it.

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Lampredotto vendor

However, after many can’t, the night before the race we succumbed to the culinary temptation, as we went to an amazing restaurant La Brasserie where we had the most wonderful experience. They propose a fusion of Tuscan and French cuisine at a very good price. In case you go to Florence, I linked it for you.

The following day the meeting point was at Piazza Santa Croce.

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Finish line

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Can you spot the odd one out?

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The start

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Happy people running through the streets of Florence

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The winner

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Mr Run’s final effort. Time 1:30:40 Wow!!!!!!!

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Do you think this is the deserved reward?

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This is the real reward. Super sandwich with lampredotto.

This week-end hasn’t been that bad after all. Sorry love, when will the next race be? ūüôā

 

Roma – Ostia 2014

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Roma РOstia is the most famous half marathon in Italy and one of the most prestigious in the world. The peculiarity of this competition is its route: the athletes have to run from the capital along the Cristoforo Colombo Рa scenic road fringed by thousands pines -, cross the beautiful pinewood of Castelfusano, to reach the sea and the beaches of Ostia . Whoever has read my other posts about running can well understand that this race is for my husband Mr Run particularly meaningful, as it symbolizes his metamorphosis.

pinottiDespite the unfavourable weather conditions, more than 13.500 people woke up early this morning, put on their training shoes and hop, hop, hop, gathered at Palalottomatica. Among them there were many members of the newly settled Italian government (there is a Montecitorio running club actually), as for example the Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti, who ended the run in a little more than two hours, and many others. Our new young prime Minister Matteo Renzi is a great fun of running himself, and just recently during the discussions at the Chambers for the vote of confidence, was caught reading The Art of Running by Haruki Murakami to find a little relief from the tedious speeches of the old Mps (subtle irony).

However, my husband had trained for months and months really hard¬†with the goal of breaking his previous record of 1:35:40 and as it always happens before an important meet,¬†had started to produce some excuses to justify a hypothetical failure, which I know he wouldn’t have accepted easily: viruses, muscle ache, hard work…….and many others¬†that I can’t remember (I don’t always listen carefully to what he says). Therefore I decided to made a bet, that sounded actually more like a threat:¬†if he had taken more¬†than 1:33:00, he wouldn’t have found me at the finishing line.¬†After 1:31:50 Mr Run was there.

 Palazzo delle Fontane - The House of Roma Ostia

Palazzo delle Fontane – The House of Roma Ostia
Mr. Run and the Bib number

Mr. Run and the Bib number

Ostia Beach

Ostia Beach

Ostia Beach

Ostia Beach

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Belvedere

The Winner : Lahbabi Aziz (Morocco)

The Winner : Lahbabi Aziz (Morocco)

2nd and 3rd classified : Mesfin Hunegnaw (Kenya) and Masai Titus Kwemoi (Ethiopia)

2nd and 3rd classified : Mesfin Hunegnaw (Ethiopia) and Masai Titus Kwemoi (Kenya)

CHEPKWONY CAROLINE J. CHEROP SHARON JEMUTAI KEBEDE NETSANET GUDETA

CHEPKWONY CAROLINE J.
CHEROP SHARON JEMUTAI
KEBEDE NETSANET GUDETA

Here comes the sun & Mr. Run

Here comes the sun & Mr. Run

Mr. Run (1738¬į classified) and his deserved medal

Mr. Run (1738¬į classified) and his deserved medal

Metamorphosis

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In Rome there is a very long ring road called Raccordo Anulare¬†that divides the city in two parts: in and out. I want to try to make myself clear: the area which¬†is inside the ring road¬†is considered the centre, while outside there are the outskirts. However, for my husband Mr Run, Raccordo Anulare¬†means much more that this. It represents the “limes” that divides the true-born Romans from the barbarian¬†immigrants from nearby regions and towns, it¬†is like the Pillars of Hercules which mark off the world we¬†known from the unknown. Once you cross that line you are out. Ipse dixit.

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So you can guess, how Mr Run must have felt, when, few years ago, he had to take off his ancient¬†Roman helmet and armour to¬†move to Ostia Lido, a district in the South of Rome, “only”¬†30 km far from the centre.¬†A shock. We had not finished to move our stuff yet that¬†he professed¬†himself¬†determined¬†to quit as soon as possible. Now, in case you don’t know already,¬†I have to inform you that Ostia is a charming place beautifully situated¬†by the sea, surrounded by a vast pinewood and close the ancient Roman ruins of¬†“Ostia Antica”. It is¬†the paradise for bikers, surfers and naturally runners.

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However, my husband could not see the beautiful surroundings¬†as¬†an opportunity for outdoor activities,¬†as for him sport¬†had¬†always been a huge¬†waste of time.¬†At those times¬†I used to call him¬†Mr Iron, in fact. I know that¬†it is a nickname that¬†may evoke the image of a stubborn,¬†all of a¬†piece man, but actually it has to be¬†interpreted literally: my husband¬†was¬†in charge with the¬†ironing¬†(well, still is) and firmly believed that ironing¬†was¬†as tiring as practicing any other sport, so he didn’t need to go to¬†the gym. Ipse dixit.¬†The hero of every housewife.

The cold winter months passed by and with them¬†Mr Run’s¬†continuous mutters and grumbles. The spring with its warmth and colours seemed to have slightly¬†improved on¬†his disposition, in fact¬†one day unexpectedly,¬†he¬†came up with the idea of buying a bike¬†to do something different as the place we lived bored him¬†to death. I took it as a good sign.

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So this is how all started: he began cycling, then he was intrigued by the great number people he met jogging in the pinewood or down the 7km promenade in Ostia.  When my husband put on his first professional running shoes, it was first sight love. Just like a Forrest Gump he started to run 30 km per week at first to reach the 60 of present-time. Then he wanted to know how good he was, therefore he started to compete in the 10 km runs, half-marathons and marathons. After a year of hard training my husband had lost 12 kg and turned into Mr Run.

However, even Forrest Gump enjoyed some company while running, therefore¬†as next step¬†my husband¬†felt it was high¬†time¬†to look for other (crazy) Mr Runs to share his passion with. While he was doing the hard selection among the¬†potential teams, he came across the web page of the¬†running team¬†of¬† Amatori Castelfusano on which there were the following words: “A¬†society¬† (in latin “societas” which originates from the word “socius” that is a¬†friend, a mate, an¬†ally) is a group of people with different degrees of autonomy, relationship and organization skill,¬†who once together interact to reach one or more common goals. If you find yourself in these simple words, come and join us”. That’s what he did.

After all, “happiness is real, only when shared“. (Christopher McCandless)

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