Friday, June 14, 2013

Spirit of the Marathon II - The Rome Marathon: a Jumbo Photoblog (2008 Repost)

Wednesday night we went to see a special one-night only screening of Spirit of the Marathon II in Emeryville.  It was showing in over 500 locations in the US and it was cool seeing the rolling wave of Facebook reviews by timezone. SOTM2 featured two first time marathoners, a pair of cousins (one of them a 19 year legacy runner), two elite runners and a veteran (Julie "Marathon Goddess" Weiss, Facebook Pagestarting a quest to do 52 full marathons in 52 weeks in memory of her father who died of pancreatic cancer. The movie was created during the training season for the 2012 Rome Marathon.

One of the reviews included the phrase "In SOTM, they conquered the course. In SOTM2, the course fights back".  I recommend the movie for marathoners and the marathon-curious as it's a great look at the race from the rookie to the elite perspective. I also liked reliving our first international race. My MySpace blog is reposted below. 


(Originally posted on MySpace on 4/12/2008. Thank you, MySpace for deleting all content without any warning. I'm glad I saved this one.)

When you swim... in the creek...
and and eel... bites your cheek...
that's... a Mo-rayyyy....

Sorry, couldn't help it. 

Monday is an a significant day for the SF Bayside Marathon team for Team in Training so I wanted to post this before then. This was the last event of the Winter 2008 season Maratona della città di Roma.

For Susan and me, this was our first international marathon after seven full and seven half marathons.  I love new races.  This was no different.  I'll skip the coverage of the pre-race sightseeing days for now since I'd be here all day and it'll probably cause my weak-memory computer to crash.

Saturday night was the traditional Pasta Party.  Fifty-ish runners and walkers from the Silicon Valley, San Francisco/Marin, SF Bayside and SF Diablo Valley met at the Empire Palace Hotel's restaurant.  The pasta, as you might imagine, was pretty darn good.
The highlight of the evening is always the speech by our honored patient, this time it was Mark.  He'd been an avid runner, but at one point he lost an unexplainable amount of weight quickly while training.  The diagnosis was a rare variety of chronic myelogenous leukemia.  Fifteen years ago, that form of cancer had a low survival rate and a prognosis of 18 months.  He started on chemo immediately and within seven days, he was in full remission. It was so fast, he didn't even lose his hair.  The treatment was made possible in part by funds raised by Team in Training.
Mark Zafra - the pre-race Honoree speaker

This race had a relatively late start for a marathon - 9 AM as opposed to the usual 6:30 or even 5 AM.  But while we got to sleep in, most roads were blocked off so we ended walking a few miles to the starting line. We had a lot of first timers who were soaking it all in...

... and a few veterans who were thinking of why they were here.

Rome is the MOST scenic race we've done so far.  Seriously, pictures like this are just there for the taking. This is our amazing Staff who took care of all the arrangements - Lindsay, Debbie (staff/participant this time) and our Silicon Valley manager (whose name escapes me... grrr...).

Veterans of the marathon know the first thing you do after hydrating all week is to hit the lines at the porta-potties.  Maybe we were just there early, but there were no lines to speak of.  Kinda creepy actually.  This guy was either a walking advertisement for his energy gel, or was going to crap out from the sugar imbalances sometime by mile 18.  (or maybe just crap out... *snicker*)

Coach Al delivered the pre-race pep talk and led us through the round of GO TEAM!!  NO WIMPS!! TNT ROCKS!! cheers.  NOTHING sets a rookie's mind at ease faster - and no one does it better than Coach Al.  I think we shocked the rather sedate European crowd awake after that.

Coach Al with some of the honorees who were racing that day.

Starting line - right in front of the Colosseum. This was right before some guy came through the starting corrals selling cigarettes (no, really!).

Meghan and Sarae. A few or our first-timers from Diablo Valley.

They made a big deal about the cobblestone surface of the course.  If you're thinking of trying it, it DID seem to leave a few more people hobbling with knee and hip injuries than usual.  You shouldn't have problems if you train well though.

Now we know why the lines at the porta-potties were so short. (Personally, I'm glad they didn't show this during SOTM2)

We saw this guy right after the starting line. Apparently he does this every year. I guess he wanted to re-create the original run by Pheidippides  where he ran 26.2 miles to deliver the news that Athens pulled off an amazing upset over the Persians with a desperation shot at the buzzer. 

Course-side entertainment for US races is usually a rock or jazz band.  Not in Rome.  They had maybe 4 full bands playing some upbeat classical and what sounded like great school fight music.

There were about two dozen people in a group who specialize in running marathons backwards. (No, I can't explain it either).

Castel Sant Angelo (the headquarters for the Illuminati in Angels and Demons). In SOTM2, this is where Mimmo started running with Sylvia.

This race got full marks for course support. Even for the late-arriving walkers, there was plenty of Gatorade, water and blood oranges (*drools*...)

My favorite shirts from the race . "Marathoning: The triumph of desire over reason".

Photo op at Piazza Navona, where the party never stops (even if you have marathoners running you over because you're oblivious enough to try to cross the course without looking both ways).

Susan and Sandi (Silicon Valley) in front of the always crowded Spanish Steps.

Passing by the Trevi Fountain.  I had to snap quickly because by this time the course barriers were almost all gone. We were dodging pedestrians and tourists for the next few miles.

I only shot this angle once, coming down the finish chute. Did I mention this race was scenic?  This was the first full marathon we actually raced the entire way together.  Our warm up curves just don't match well, but we still finished with a walker-respectable 6:23.

I can't remember this fellow's name, but he's from the TNT National Capital chapter.  He's done upwards of 30 races and (get this) at least one on every continent, finishing the Antarctica Marathon earlier this year.  Susan's looking at my 'life goals' list and cringing.

The lady fourth from the left is Laura, one of our honorees.  She's been a part of TNT for 10 years and has beaten cancer twice.  Midway through this season, she found out she found another lump - one of the now-known side effects of her original radiation therapy.  Coach Al made the trip to support her, but at mile 18, Laura noticed a few other first-time participants struggling.  She told Coach to help them out instead. She said later that what she'll remember the most from the race was that every one of her Bayside teammates waited at the finish line - some for hours - until she finished. Laura had surgery the other week and is home now, just waiting for the clearance to start another season.

TNT East Bay Run Team. They ALL waited for the last team member to finish. Yvette Sandoval, Yvonne Gallegos, Lindsay Gage Ring, Laura Warren, Ken Reicher. Is that Rebecca and Kat also?
Meghan had been battling cramps since mile 8 and Sarae had to fight through a migraine around mile 12.  At mile 18, Coach Al dropped back to see them and asked Meghan what it was going to take for her to finish the race.


"What flavor?"  Coach ran into a shop, everyone in line let him cut in front, and in about five minutes Meghan had her Cream gelato.  She and Sarae both finished.  It was the first marathon for both of them.

I'm thinking this is what Coach Al looks like to participants around mile 18.

I missed getting a shot of this, but Coach Joe had some pictures.  A TNT participant was one of the last to finish the race.  She had an escort of about 10 police cars, a paramedic, her staff support and two coaches.  Just about everyone was crying by the time she finished.  After she got her medal, everyone of the race support staff got one too (below).

The numbers:
- about 50 participants.  As far as I know, San Francisco was the only chapter to have this an an official TNT event. We had our friend from National Capital and one from North Texas who did it on her own.
- The top fundraiser was Gilda from our SF/Marin walk team raising $15,625.
- The team collectively raised over $320,000 for blood cancer research.  Not bad for our first winter team in two years.

Monday is the one-year anniversary of the day beloved TNT participant and honoree Brenda Donato lost her battle to blood cancer.  I only knew her other through MySpace but I remember her as a fighter who was a positive inspiration to the end.

Sunday morning, one of our local team captains and friend of Brenda's will be organizing the first Brenda Donato Rainbow 5K Fun Run and Walk in Walnut Creek.  The event is closed, but if you're so inclined, I'd love it if you could make even a small donation.

Ever wonder what it feels like to save a life?

Take a step (or ten or fifty thousand).

Anyone can make a difference.


The Maratona di Roma celebrates its 20th running in 2014. It is held in mid- to late- March and has a characteristically late start (9:30 AM) like many European races. There is a 5K event offered. The course is a loop starting at the Colosseum and going north along the Tiber River. There are about 7 miles of hard cobblestones and while the walkers seemed to pass those without issue, a lot of my runner friends were quite put out with me for not warning them.

Weather: ranges from high 40's to mid 50's (7 - 10 C) at the start warming about 15 degrees by finish time (up to 15 C). 2008 was perfect weather.

Things to do (or at least what WE did): We weren't able to follow the standard "stay off your feet before the marathon" advice, visiting Vatican City and several churches and museums. We did stayed for a week afterwards visiting Florence and Venice. There may have been enormous amounts of drinking chocolate and gelato involved.

Course setting:  The Ancient City of Rome. The course passes through many of the world-renowned landmarks, starting at the base of the Colosseum, passing the Roman Forum, Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza Navona, The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza del Popolo and many others. (Course Map)

Support: Excellent. Water and full bottles of Gatorade every few miles, blood oranges at several stations on the course. At the finish line, they gave out full bags of cookies and had a running tap of hot cider. The City goes about its business as the race progresses. Early on this is not an issue as citizens stop to cheer participants on as they shop and eat. The more leisurely marathoners should expect to find crowds on the course after the 30km mark and especially at Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain. Local officials escorted the last participant to the finish line in about 8 hours. Each of the firefighters and policemen received medals as well.

Rome was Ron's 8th full marathon, Susan's 6th and our first international race. It was the first race we actually stayed together the entire time. While there were no records on completion time, we DID set a PR by taking 137 pictures on the course. Stephanie would be proud.

Marathon Goddess Julie finished her quest for 52 marathons in 52 weeks by completing the Los Angeles Marathon on March 17, 2013. She raised over $180,000 for pancreatic cancer research.

Laura Warren beat the last round of cancer and continues to train with TNT today. She is a living miracle.


No comments:

Post a Comment