Anyway, I was asked to participate by some neighbors at our local street festa three days ago. They've seen me running around town regularly and wanted someone to represent our neighborhood. "Sure" I said before I knew the race route or race particulars and figuring it was a little race for our town. Although the distance listed was 10K (6.2 miles), one of the organizers said it was only 9K (5.59 miles). Okay, that was my fist inkling that races in Italy are different. Also, it was difficult to get a consistent answer to the start time and I kept receiving a time range- "Between 7 and 7:30". Second inkling.
But off I went to the town last evening about 5:45 to be sure I had time to register and learn the route as well as the start time. In one of my many language misunderstandings, the registrar mentioned "il parco" to me and off I went to the park but found nothing was happening there. Hmmm. Turns out that each runner who finished the race received "il pacco" (Hey, I'm from Boston where we don't pronounce our "R's"!). More about "the parcel" later.
This was no little town run! There were 185 runners (33 women) and most were in teams or running clubs. They looked like serious runners. I was one of the few "solo" runners registering at the last minute. But I knew I was in trouble when I heard the route! The first half was down hill which, of course, meant the entire second half of the race was up the aforementioned
Nonetheless, off we went to the starting gun and the front runners were fast! I quickly became what I thought was the last runner, but since my goal was just to finish, I didn't mind. For most of the race I could at least see the two women who were ahead of me. I did become disconcerted, however, when the ambulance drove the whole race behind my left shoulder! Were they worried about me? I was worried too, would I really be able to make it? Did I mention that the hills were unrelentingly STEEP?
Well, I finished. And I wasn't last since there were two women way behind me. And even though I was third from the last, I was first for my age group. That's because I was the only woman over 65 running! I finished in 1:04:04. A respectable time considering the challenges. In announcing the winners of the various age groups and awarding prizes, they brought me up on stage for first in the 65 and over group but had no prize since they clearly weren't expecting anyone in that category! I truly didn't care though - the high point for me was receiving the applause of six of my neighbors who came to cheer me on.
Back to "il pacco." I went and received the parcel for finishers and our reward? Inkling number four: a bottle of red wine and a package of pasta. Only in Italy!
What is it that you love about where you live?