A couple of weekends ago I ran the Firenze Marathon (Florence, Italy). I hadn’t done any specific training for it but was relying on my strength and endurance from a pretty full-on year of races.

I set myself the goals of just getting round the course in one piece whilst enjoying my weekend, and promised myself that I’d keep my head up to take in the sights around the city.

On the Saturday I landed in Pisa, late due to fog, then took a fast train to Florence. There was time for a long walk around the city, I met a friend and we registered for the race. At dinner I didn’t stop myself from having a couple of large glasses of Tuscan reds and ate a fantastic pizza (when in Italy…)
Sunday morning: race day. The hotel was really close to the start, and breakfast was being served early for runners. Outside it was 4c, so I wore a couple of disposable layers to stay warm as my friend and I headed to the starting pens.
The start of the race was slow- narrow streets and thousands of runners finding their pace. I was happy for the slower pace until I warm ed up, and took in the sights. My friend tired of the pace within the first ten minutes and set off ahead.

An hour into the race and the course tool us around a park. There were bands playing, supporters, and I had the biggest cheesy smile on my face from having a good morning out. I’d picked up my pace from mile 2 onwards, and was easily finding a good and steady pace.

20 miles in, I was still feeling strong. I continued to focus on efficient strides and using my hips and torso, which prevented my leg muscles from fatiguing as early as they used to. More great views of the city, more crowds cheering runners on, and the occasional tourist oblivious to the race, trying to walk across the race course, much to the dismay of runners swerving to avoid them!

I consumed an electrolyte capsule every hour and an energy gel every 30 minutes. I drank water at every stop apart from the very first one (it was still cold and I hadn’t started sweating yet).

I finished the race strong: I even sped up in the last two miles, and crossed the finish line with my second best marathon time to date! I even beat my friend who’d gone tearing off at the beginning.

This was my favourite marathon to date. Perhaps it was the lack of pressure that I’d placed on myself, perhaps it was the beautiful scenery, maybe it was a successful nutrition plan. Whatever it was, it turned out to be a great weekend away and a memorable race!
Keep running!


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