by Melinda Gallo

Una corsa di 10k nel centro di Firenze

At 8:30 this morning Erin and I walked to the Duomo to pick up our magliette (t-shirts) for the Guarda Firenze, a non-competitive 10k corsa (race) through Florence. After we went to the stand to collect our magliette, we walked back to my place to drop them off. On the walk back to the punto di partenza (starting point) next to the Battistero, a few people were jogging down via Calzaiuoli to warm up. We stretched out near the punto di partenza where people slowly gathered all around us to begin the corsa.

We knew the corsa was about to begin when we had so little room around us that we could barely move. As soon as the shot was fired, we were off. We couldn't run at first because of all the people around us: some racing by while others were running a little slower. We started jogging down via Roma, past Piazza Repubblica, and had to stop almost completely when we were next to Piazza del Mercato Nuovo because the street became very narrow.

Once we were able to start running again, we headed straight for the Ponte Vecchio. Erin didn't know the percorso (route) that we would be running, but I couldn't wait and read about it all last night. I was so happy when I read that we would run over the Ponte Vecchio. I usually run over it once in a while by myself, but with a whole crowd of runners it was much more exciting.

We ran in the middle of via Guicciardini, past Piazza Pitti and turned down via Mazzetta. I looked around a little bit because the crowds dispersed a little bit. I saw my friend Simone in front of his restaurant, so I yelled out to him. He spotted me in the crowds and waved. He ran this corsa last year, but couldn't make it today.

We turned left onto via dei Serragli. It's not a street I normally run down because it's narrow and long. All traffic was stopped for the corsa, but one car became impatient and cut off some runners in front of us. People yelled at the driver, but he slowly made his way down the street in the crowd of runners who wouldn't move over to let him pass.

When we arrived at Porta Romana, we began our ascent to Piazzale Michelangiolo. Many of the people slowed down at this point to save up energy, and a few just decided walking up because it was quite long. I was surprised to see a few people cut corners to shorten the percorso, but Erin and I stayed on the main road.

I was so happy when I spotted my suocero (father-in-law) on the sidewalk walking toward us. I called out to him, "Ciao babbo! Hi dad!" I knew that he and my suocera (mother-in-law) were a little worried since I wasn't sure I was going to run the corsa today. Last Wednesday I had come down with a cold and had been feeling under the weather the entire week. When they called me yesterday to ask if I was running, I said that I'd decide in the morning because I wasn't yet sure.

When we arrived at Piazzale Michelangiolo, there were tables set up with water. I grabbed one cup, drank half, and threw the plastic cup in the garbage can. I didn't want to drink too much, and I didn't want to stop either.

Running down to Piazza Ferrucci was the easiest part of the run, so we picked up the pace a little bit. Most of us tended to run in the shade along the street to keep cool while some headed straight for the shady marciapiede (sidewalk). It wasn't until we arrived along the lungarno (road that runs along the Arno) that the corsa became difficult for us both.

My first mistake was that I looked out at the Duomo. It suddenly seemed very far from where we were, and I felt like I'd never make it. It was much easier when we were just running without seeing the final destination in view. I tried to ignore the signs that told us how many kilometers we did as well because when I saw the first one, I was surprised that it wasn't as close to our punto di partenza as I thought it would be. The other problem was that the sun was behind us, but still heating us up. There wasn't any shade along the Arno, and it was a straight run back to the Ponte Vecchio.

I promised myself that I wouldn't stop even though I started to feel tired from the heat. I couldn't wait to get to via Bardi where I knew there would be some shade. When we got to the Ponte Vecchio, people were browsing the shop windows while we ran by. Some people took pictures of the runners while others just smiled at us. It was surprising that no one cheered us on.

We ran toward Piazza della Signoria and then down via Calzaiuoli. The cobblestone wasn't easy to run down, but luckily the road was taped off so I didn't have to worry about traffic. I tried to look down at the cobblestone to watch my step and sprinted to the punto di arrivo (finish line) because I knew it was close. I ran to the Duomo and followed the percorso. As I ran through the punto di arrivo, I was handed an envelope that said I was the 792nd person to finish. The time on the clock was 1 hour and 4 minutes. I was quite happy considering I have only done three long runs in the last couple of weeks. And never before last month had I even attempted to run up to Piazzale Michelangiolo.

I immediately walked straight to the booths where they were handing out refreshments. I followed what other people in front of me were doing. I took a wedge of lemon to eat, drank a cup of sali minerali (mineral salts), and downed a couple of cups of acqua (water). They also had free brioche (pastries), but I wasn't hungry. After my thirst was finally quenched, we found ourselves a spot in the shade where we could stretch out. It was exciting to see all the runners that had run the same corsa and were standing hear the Battistero. They announced that there were over 3,500 runners today, and that was even more exciting. I wish that I could've seen the corsa from afar to see the runners navigating the streets of Florence.

I'm really happy with my first 10k corsa that now I'm looking forward to the next, which will be held on June 20th. It'll be fun to run around the streets of Florence at night. I'm hoping to improve my time as well since we're not running up to Piazzale Michelangiolo.

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