Trieste 14 Dec 10:30 AM is the scheduled time for the "Corsa di Natale" (Christmas Run).
This is THE classic 5k city run that year after year has consolidated itself as the fun-run of the Xmas Period in my city. The race takes place around the very center of the City and so, at the end, even if for most it is just an excuse to run 5k with kids and friends that normally does not run this is an event to which few die-hard runners of the city says no.
And I admit I DO fall in these temptations quite easily :-)
After the Milano Marathon - (and I promise I am going to post a looong report about that soon) - I had not run a race so I was somehow excited and boiling at the idea to stand behind a starting line.
Unfortunately the weather as i woke up was not exactly what you hope to find for such a race. VERY grey sky, and a thin constant rain, that type of rain that seems to tell you .. "Dont count on it, I am going to keep falling all day long, man".
Ok, I say myself, at least there are no doubts about what I am going to wear. Being a wet day and not being freezing cold I decided to go for a no sleeves upper section and running shorts (I like having the legs free, for a short race in particular). On the head i decided to wear a (TA DA !!!) a Santa Klaus hat, and leave the option of not using gloves.
As I arrive in the Main Square (Piazza Unità), the situation seems to be rather desolating and non inspiring :-( I queue with few others, under the rain, to register for the race and receive the bib. The faces are the ones that I know and encounter often in city races, we proceed slowly in the queue, wetting our jackets. After the ritual I walk back to my car (stopping for a tight espresso). I take out one layer of clothing and do some warming up and then getting back to my base where I change my clothes to the race outfit, to complete the warming all ready.
As I do this the rain gives us a break and so I look up at the sky and realize that we could be lucky and I could eventually enjoy a run in shorts and no wind and rain ! wow
20 mins before the race I am ready and I start the final warming. Very slow run, some easy sprints just to let the legs go and then i gather to the starting line with friends. The normal pre-race routine that I do have and to which I am attached and bring me good sensations. This times we are there under amused looks of passengers, strangers, city tourists .. who seems to enjoy this cheerful group of people wearing strange hats of red dresses and getting ready for a running race.
As I am there I realize that a lot of people has actually gathered. Good, it is going to be a real race too, there are members of the small running group I belong to (alot of them). There is also Lorenzo (a physicist who started running many years ago) then Graziano and all those faces of the TRieste runners, old and young who does not miss a race.
Ok, I get my place in the crowd but this time not really behind because there is also a good number of people who seems to be there for a walk and I dont want to have to zigzag too much.
Ready - Set - Go. Started, and you never know how fast you go at start in these races, unless You are free to run at your pace. After the first half mile I hear two persons saying they wanted to start slow but we are going at 4min/km. Good i say to myself, more or less what I wanted. Then I feel we are going faster respect to what i also wanted but i am not figthing at all. I see Pino that slowly gain respect to me and being a much faster runner I like seeing him getting space like that, bit by bit. As I run a girl is keeping my same pace, I hope she feels comfortable with that pace so that I can have a reference point. First km is passed, 4:11 min. I keep running with her but half of the second km i give a look at the chrono and i see we are going too slow !! i push a bit in the second half and i close the second km in 4:24 (grrr). Km 3 is the toughest part as we are going for uphill constantly for 600 mt. I nkow this is the focal point point because ending this in good condition is the key to end well. After having left behind the running girl uphill I am reaching Lorenzo (that normally in these short races is always ahead of me) and this gives me good morale. I run the 3rd km together with Graziano, which is much more experienced than me and has better PBs. Good. As we descend Graziano moves in front of me and I dont know if i have to follow or not, I decide to let him go because I feel it is starting to be tough. 3rd km concluded in 4:16. As the descent is finished I see Graziano still only 10-20 meters ahead and I start thinking that maybe I did a mistake and should have stayed with him, because he is not gaining on me now. I decide to keep the distance between us as much as I can. I close the 4th km in 4:10 and I still have the same gap with him. I know there is not much to run left and I keep telling myself I can keep this pace. i keep Graziano there while Lorenzo is not behind me anymore.
In between my grasping for air in the last km I smile thinking I came to this race for having fun and I am indeed having tons of fun. As we turn the last road to approach arrive in the Main Square again I see that Graziano has only 10 15 mt max again. i let my legs go without really sprinting but he is doing the same, and so I just concentrate on running easy and faster, just that. I arrive and i see Leila and the kids there, cheering me. Final km in 4:06.
Summarizing the average per km was - 4:11 / 4:24 / 4:16 / 4:10 / 4:06
The final time as i watch my Garmin is 18:40 but the display shows 4.5 Km. I am happy anyway,, with a better 2nd km and a more daring descent in which I would have not just let myself go I could have taken out 10, 15 secs to this time, today this was what I had to give, but i am overall very happy about the condition after the Milano Marathon. And .. besides this .. I arrived ahead of people to which usually I am behind, and Graziano normally is VERY ahead of me, and .. and there there sun came out ! and then .. in the race bag there was coffee and pasta ! And a glass of wine !
and then .. life is great and running is a blessing
Ok, time to dry my sweat and go home and prepare the luggage.
Tomorrow i leave for Paris (work)).