Thursday, May 10, 2007


In the past few years Piero's work responsabilities have changed a lot. He used to do more coaching and following the teams, but for the past two years they've put him into testing and research. He likes it a lot, especially going around and testing the athletes, helping out their coaches in understanding where, how they can improve. From a ten second taping or a glance at someone running he can tell you exactly where their defect is and what they need to do to improve. Anyway, he spends a lot of his working time in the Rome office of the Italian Athletics Association but he still has a few runners that he trains personally. Two of them are guys that he has trained since they were adolescents, Ottavio and Giacomo. They had both chosen to run the Trieste Marathon which in Italy is pretty much the last chance to run the distance for the spring season. There are two or three more races but it's just too hot to get a decent time in. As it was the tempature in Trieste was in the 80's, so it's a wonder they did well at all. Giacomo had tripped and fallen during a training session ten days before and missed out on two important workouts. Piero said he was running funny from the start of the race and eventually pulled out at 25km. Ottavio was doing okay but of course all the Africans were ahead of him with a group of eight that had surged ahead and started battling it out up front.

I was oblivious to all of this though. Evan and I had been dropped off by the organization in the Piazza Grande at 7.00 am. We went and got a coffee for me and a juice for Evan at a beautiful bar then I searched for a newstand where I bought the paper and Evan picked out a Chip & Dale magazine with a free harmonica included. When the race started we had the maxi screen to watch it on but it was so hot just standing there, I saw that Evan after only fifteen minutes into the race was already starting to fade. I took him down to the peers where there was a breeze from the water and we watched some row teams practicing. They had a mini ferris wheel that we went on, he loved that (me too!). Then we watched the marathoners as they passed by the Piazza and the half marathon finish. Evan tooted his harmonica for everybody. There were so many drop outs at this point which confirms why I hate two loop marathons. You have to be really mentally strong to keep going if you're feeling even a little bad at the half point

We positioned ourselves in front of the maxi screen again at 1h55' into the race which is exactly where Ottavio decided to make his move. He was in six place at the 38th kilometre. Apparently Piero yelled to him that the Kenyan in front of him was starting to look bad. First he passed one, then two...until he got to the last (first) and passed him at the 41st km. The whole Piazza roared as he positioned himself into first place. Winning time with heat and all: 2h10'56".

I'm always amazed at how impatient amateur runners are. Right now I'm argueing it out with this guy I train that wants to call it quits because he's not improving as fast as he would like to. I mean he is improving, he just wants more now. Ottavio is 34 years old. This is the second marathon he's won in his career. The first one he won was ten years ago. Ten years ago! And we're not counting the previous ten years. That takes a lot of persistence and patience and hard work and really believing in what you're doing. I don't know what he's going to do with his career now, but he really did have the race of a lifetime.

1 comment:

bergys_girl said...

Glad to see things aren't feeling so flat! I can't believe it's been so long since I read your site, things have been crazy here too. Was just about to send you an SOS to see if you were doing alright!

Wow, glad ollie is on her way to Art School! She's going to love it, I still have that barbie she drew/coloured for me ages ago! When she's famous, it'll be my nest-egg :P