As my first blog post I feel its only fitting to write about my most recent experience running in Italy and how I ended up running my second 10k race in Cervia, Emilia Romagna. I guess the best place to start is how I ended up in Italy in the first place, which was actually pretty spontaneous. My boyfriend was racing in Ironman Italy and 1 week before he was leaving, he persuaded me to join him. Although this meant missing my first lecture of the year (I watched it online), I felt it would be worth it as a last-minute holiday before my final year of university started, so I booked the plane tickets and off to Italy we went.
The main purpose of my trip was spectating and being a supporter at the ironman and however much inspiring it was to see these athletes endure such a difficult event, this blog post is about my slightly smaller endeavour of running a 10k, which happened a few days earlier. Days before the trip Josh had mentioned that there was going to be a 10k race happening on the Thursday as an opening for the events of the weekend, so I quickly decided that this would be a great way of exploring a bit more of the town and signed up. I have also never raced abroad so was excited at the prospect of running in a different country especially in such a beautiful location, the route followed part of the leg of the Ironman and went around the historical city of Cervia.
Now onto the day of the race, as it turned out it was actually a night run and it didn’t start until 9pm, which was pretty late if you ask me. I’m very much a morning person and am used to running first thing in the day so I was a bit apprehensive at the prospect of doing a run so late in the day. Registration for the night run was open from 10am the morning of the event, alongside that of the ironman. It was situated near the Fantini beach club which was also where the run was due to start, as well as all the Ironman events of the weekend. At registration I also got given a t-shirt to wear which was luminous yellow with the phrase ‘eat pasta run fasta’ on it, which felt very fitting and so I obviously spent the rest of the day eating lots of pasta in preparation!
Whenever I usually have an event I begin to feel the nerves as a personal best could potentially be in sight, however, for this run due to the spontaneity I hadn’t really had time to prepare, my summer training schedule has also not really been on point as other events have taken priority. Therefore I wasn’t really worried about doing well I just wanted to enjoy the atmosphere and the experience of running in Italy. Since the run started at 9pm, we decided to get there for around 8pm, the Fantini club where the race started was also about a 50- minute walk from our hotel and since we didn’t have a car, we made our way over by foot. I also ate a sandwich on the way over which made a change from my usual pre running fuel of porridge, we also stopped for coffee as we had time to spare so I drank a cappuccino about 30 minutes before the race. (which I later came to regret)
On arrival we were greeted by hundreds of other runners all kitted out it in their bright yellow t shirts and a blaring DJ as I made my way down to the start which was actually along the beach. It was a great atmosphere and you could tell that everyone was getting hyped up for the events to come. I squeezed my way through crowd to the start line and actually managed to get pretty close to the front, the atmosphere was great and there were lots of people dancing to the music as we waited for the run to commence. This was not a chip timed run so there were actually no official finishing times, I wasn’t too bothered by this as it just made me more relaxed and allowed me to enjoy the running aspect more than worrying about getting a great time. (Although I did use my Garmin watch) As 9pm approached I set my watch and the count down for the race began, the adrenalin took over me and as go was yelled, I set off!
The beginning of the run was actually pretty difficult we started on the beach and they didn’t really have any lighting other than spectators shining their phone torches, so as people were running fast to try and overtake I was trying not to fall over my own feet as I couldn’t really see anything and the sand was pretty uneven. Luckily, we were only running on the beach for about 400m and we were soon out onto the streets of Cervia and I got into a pretty good rhythm. The route consisted of two laps and it was great running in and out of the cobbled streets and along-side the canal and all the Sail boats.
The first lap felt really strong and I was running at an average pace of around 4:40min/km. However, I inevitably came to regret this, and the second lap felt significantly harder. At around km 7 my legs started to feel like bricks, and this was probably a combination of all the walking we had done during the day and starting off too fast, on top of this my stomach was also in knots and I have come to the conclusion that drinking coffee so close to a race was probably not my finest idea. Never the less I continued onwards and with the help of the spectators shouting encouragement I made it the finish line. At the finish line we were handed bottles of water and there was also an array of snacks laid out for the runners which included bananas, cereal bars and some type of cake. It all looked very good, but I felt slightly nauseous so just made my way out to try and find Josh who had watched me run and had been making his way round the course to see me. Although there was no official time, I used my Garmin and I managed to finish the 10k in 48:33 minutes.
Overall, I had a great experience and it really set the tone of the weekend and all the events that were going on! I would definitely do it again, and although I still prefer running in the morning, I have to admit it was pretty cool doing a night run, somehow the town looked even more beautiful being lit up at night. I ended a great day with a celebratory ice cream because of course in Italy what more could you want! I would 100% advise runners that if you go on holiday try and find a race or just take yourself on a run as it’s a great way to do some sight-seeing.