Crossing the finish line of the Milan Marathon | A runner’s diary

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Well yes.

I did it.

The Milan Marathon on April 3.

I ran everything until the finish on Corso Venezia and it was like being reborn. Waking up from the numbness of a life that was not mine.

Everything was so perfect it still doesn’t feel real to me.

A marathon that amused me and made me feel as good as the one in New York in 2015.

My very first. The most beautiful, the most significant. Till today.

With that we are at 10 and many more to come.

On Sunday, I left the house at dawn, strapped into my waterproof jacket and Valeria’s sweatshirt. The one who comes to you when you’re rejected in the London Marathon ballot. That of the LOOSERS. Valeria wanted to donate it to charity, I appropriated it the weekend I visited her in the UK.

Clear plastic bag with change, bars, tissues and a shoulder phone I left at the Urban Runner booth at Montanelli Park and the ATM ticket in my pocket. I wasn’t sure if I would reach the finish line, but I thought to myself “let’s see what happens”.

Serene, calm, with precise and methodical gestures made a thousand times before a race, but without this anxiety of performance anxiety.

I learned that everything in life cannot be controlled and fidgeting almost never leads to anything good.

Direction of the starting zone with a very precise idea in mind: at the first pains, at the first signs of intolerance, at the first negative thought, I would have left the path and nonchalantly I would have taken the first useful means to get there. go home.

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The marathon was not an option, it had never been. It was just practice. And instead, there are those perfect days when everything goes smoothly, like an already marked path that I just follow to the end.

The friends in front of the armored entrances to Palestro, the hugs, the greetings, the selfies that dissolve the pre-race tension. And then the stop at the chemical toilets without queuing too much, but while waiting for a brilliant idea shared with strangers online with me: next marathon a nice RIS jumpsuit nobody takes it off me, not to feel like I’m in a TV series American but to stay warm while waiting for the start and take it off and throw it on the side of the road, a few minutes before the GO.

I usually take used clothes with me which will then go to charity. A custom of truth that I found more practiced abroad than in Italy.

Last time with Valeria (from Rome) we opted for the black trash bag, but on this tour I forgot to buy it. In fact, I was hoping for milder temperatures, and instead found clouds that threatened rain and cold. In retrospect, with hindsight, it’s better that way. The temperature was perfect throughout the race.

English climate. Clouds, pale sun at times, freezing wind and no rain.

As soon as I cross the gates to reach my starting box, I have a lump in my throat, and a load of emotions that resurface. Since April 2019 I haven’t worn a bib, since April 2019 I haven’t run a marathon… and it wasn’t my best race. But I was in London and even though I walked more than a quarter of the way, I’m proud of it because I tasted every mile of my favorite city. And I went all the way to get the medal.

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I’m looking for door number 5, in reality I’m looking for Valentina’s balloons, friend, 5 o’clock timer. We spoke to each other the night before to meet on the starting grid. During that phone call, I decided to run her alongside her and as soon as I passed her and kissed her on Corso Venezia, I felt that yes, I would have run those 42,195 meters with her, thanks to she.

A few minutes and we’re off. These meters of avenue shielded by two rows of people cheering us, marathon runners, is something indescribable: cries in unison cheering us on as if we were the heroes of the day and perhaps a little heroes that we are. For those who don’t run, for those who don’t know the meaning of a mental and physical journey of more than 42 kilometers: we are heroes, we are Martians, sometimes we are something inconceivable, not to mention the admiration of those who will never be in life.

From then on it is a succession of infinite emotions. In the relay change areas, leaving half an hour after us, I see friends who, between a look towards the horizon in search of a teammate and one towards us, never miss an opportunity to send us their support and affection, encouraging us to move forward and not give up even when fatigue inevitably begins to set in. Heat, fatigue, exhaustion, pain in the soles of my feet (why did I put on those big socks?), blisters and hunger.

Because the marathon starts at the 30th kilometer. When the body begins to count the ailments and give in, the head becomes fundamental. It pushes you not to give up. At that moment I enter like a trance, I try not to think about anything related to running so as not to end up in a negative loop of commiseration.

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There you see people who have cramps, people who withdraw, those who pulled too hard at the beginning and now they don’t have any more and even the head can’t help it.

But the group, yes. The close-knit group makes the difference.

And it was around the 32nd that I met my friend Patrizio with the cans of Coca-Cola Zero ordered the day before.

He woke us up from torpor and gave us the charge to cover the missing kilometers. And as we passed the canisters, someone started telling jokes, personal stories, jokes of all kinds about ourselves and about others, especially about the naughty motorists attached to the honking of Corso Sempione…and then applause, self-prompting shouts and in all the chaos, seeing the number of miles traveled along the road was a crescendo of emotions.

As the finish line bends at Porta Venezia I started sobbing, then laughing and when the compact group crossed the finish line hand in hand, I couldn’t hold back my tears.

That of Milan is not just another marathon brought home. That of Milan is a marathon full of meaning with a thousand facets and great achievements but also great certainties. The strength of the group and friendship.

Because running is certainly a solitary sport, but by practicing it you quickly discover how beautiful it is to do it in company. Working together, creating solid and deep bonds destined to last over time even between people who in normal life would have practically nothing in common.

I’m ready for the next one.

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