by Melinda Gallo

To Ponte all'Indiano and back

Since I plan to run in the Notturna di San Giovanni next Saturday night, I wanted to make sure I was ready for it. I try to run about 5-6 kilometers each time and sometimes even include a slight incline to Piazzale Michelangiolo. Today, however, Alessandro and I decided to run a further distance to be more prepared for the 10k gara podistica (running competition).

I'm excited about the gara (competition) because we get a chance to run through the streets of Florence at dusk. The gara begins at 9pm and will last about an hour. Because it is a gara competitiva (competitive race), I had to have a tessera FIDAL (FIDAL card), which I just picked up. I took a visita medica sportiva (medical sports test) last month and the results were positive.

Alessandro and I left our place at about 7 am today. We walked across the Ponte alle Grazie and began running toward Ponte Vecchio on the Oltrarno side. We ran down Borgo San Jacopo, which turned into via di Santo Spirito, then Borgo San Frediano, and then via Pisana. Because of the tall buildings along the narrow streets, we could only see the sun if we looked up at the sky. We ran on the sidewalk and in the street toward the oncoming traffic.

Instead of running across Ponte alla Vittoria, we continued down Lungarno dei Pioppi which later became via dell'Isolotto. On the other side of the Arno was Parco delle Cascine where we saw people walking, running, and biking. We ran past the passerella (footbridge) and I figured we may as well just run to the Ponte all'Indiano, a large red bridge.

We ran under the ponte (bridge) with cars driving above us and headed toward Le Cascine. We stopped at the public water fountain to get some water and then began to run back along the Arno toward our apartment.

The weather was warming up, but we were fortunate to be running in the shade of the trees lining the road. Because I knew we were going to be running more than 10k, I wanted to save my energy a little bit to make sure I could go the distance. So when I saw Palazzo Vecchio that I knew was near our house, I felt relieved to know that I wasn't too far away. When we crossed the Ponte all'Indiano, I couldn't see much of the main downtown area at all.

Once out of the parco (park), we ran along the sidewalk toward Ponte Vecchio. I sped up a little bit, knowing that we only had a little bit farther to go. I sprinted to the Uffizi and didn't stop until I reached Piazza dei Giudici. I walked to Piazza Santa Croce cool off and back along the Arno to our place.

The minute I walked inside, I had to see how far we ran. I was surprised that we ran 12k. Alessandro said that we could've run faster because I wasn't that tired at the end of the run today. He can run 10k in 42 minutes while I usually run the same distance in an hour. It's true that I can push myself to run faster, but I did want to run farther first to make sure I had it in me to do that.

I now feel ready for the gara next Saturday even though I'm not used to running in the evening. Usually by 9pm I'm eating dinner, so I'll have to have a snack in the early evening beforehand or I'll never make it.

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