by Melinda Gallo

A practice run before Guarda Firenze

My friend Erin and I met at Ponte alle Grazie for our first long run together. Because we are planning to run in the Guarda Firenze corsa (race) next month, we decided to try to train together to be ready for it. We both separately run 3-5 kilometers a few times a week, but today we decided to run part of the percorso (route) of the corsa that leads up to Piazzale Michelangiolo. The Guarda Firenze is a 10 kilometer corsa, which seemed daunting to us initially until we completed our run today.

From Ponte alle Grazie, we ran down the lungarno (the street along the Arno river) toward Ponte Vecchio and turned left down via Guicciardini, past Piazza Pitti, and continued along via Romana until we hit Porta Romana. We turned up the viale toward Piazzale Michelangiolo. The last time I ran up to the piazzale I took the path in the opposite direction, and then didn't loop around. The viale was certainly longer to get to the piazzale, but felt less steep and had a few flat areas.

We said hello to everyone who ran by us and cheered on a pack of cyclists as they were going in the opposite direction. I blew a kiss to my favorite church, San Miniato, as we ran along the path below it. We took a break when we arrived at the Piazzale Michelagiolo, but didn't feel as out of breath or tired as we both assumed we'd be. We enjoyed the view of the city, which was stunning on this misty grey morning.

After a couple of minutes, we took off down the viale toward Piazza Ferrucci. We were happily distracted by the wild irises growing along the hillside. Instead of going down the lungarno, we turned left onto via dei Bastioni, which is a residential street in San Niccolò. We ran past the Porta San Niccolò, through a few streets, and back down to Piazza Demidoff.

We wanted to run for an hour exactly so with a few more minutes to go, we continued down via dei Benci toward Santa Croce instead of stopping at the Ponte alle Grazie. We sprinted to the Piazza Santa Croce after passing Borgo Santa Croce and were welcomed by the ringing of Santa Croce's bells.

It wasn't until I got home and plugged all the points into Gmaps Pedometer that I found out that we ran 9 kilometers (5.5 miles). I called Erin immediately to tell her because I was so excited and proud of us. We're planning on running the same percorso next week before Guarda Firenze, but we know that one extra kilometer won't be difficult to run for us now.

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