More days in Italy
Day 3 – Obama Wins! We headed for breakfast, and spoke to Tatiana, Fabio, and Angelo what little we could about the election. I said “Obama!”, and Angelo said “Are you happee? You like Obaaaama?” “Si si!”. They all replied that they did too, and Tatiana added that she stayed up all night watching the results come in. I went for a run, my legs felt good and the temperature was mild.
Shortly after, the US team began to drift in. Two of the runners (Howard Nippert, Adam Lint) and two from the management team (Lin Gentling and Eric). Then Kami and her parents, plus other support folks for some of the runners. Finally the place was coming to life, and the stories were getting richer. Brian and I chilled out the rest of the time, and repeated our stay at home dinner from the day before. At 9:30 we were lying in bed reading when we heard some steps outside going past our room, across the crunching gravel. I didn’t think much of it, until I heard it come back the other direction. And then back again. Finally, there was a knock on the door. “Hello?” I said. “Lin?” came from outside. “No, is that Devon?” “Yes!”. I got up and opened the door and was greeted by a very distressed Devon Crosby-Helms. She had arrived by shuttle to our agritourismo and let off by the side of the road. The compound was completely dark, the employees having gone home and the office was closed. She had no idea where to go and was ready to curl up with the cats outside for the night when she spotted my running shoes by the door. Her accommodation was actually down the road with many of the other athletes, so I grabbed a headlamp and walked her down, grabbed Lin to drive me back and pick up Devon’s luggage.
I got to sleep a little later, and for the 2nd night in a row slept until 2 a.m. then tossed and turned for 3 hours, fell back asleep and woke up groggy at 8.
Day 4. Team meetings
The rest of the team arrived – Michael Wardian, Caroline Smith, Connie Gardner, Greg Crowther, Adam Lint, Team Doctor Lion and his wife Susan, manager Mike Spinnler and two more support folks – Paris and Colin. The men were down to four due to injuries, and the women, 5, due to illness. Lin, Mike, Brian, and I drove the course, helping Lin figure it out. It turns out the driving around Italy is not too straight forward, and perhaps even less so the more rural one is. The country side was beautiful with many very old stone homes and other structures.
The start was in the nearby town of Tuscania, and the route took side roads back to Tarquinia. The first 25k were pastoral and rolling, but nothing too tough, and ended with a very long downhill to the outskirts of Tarquinia, where a mostly flat loop of 14+ K would be run 4 times before branching off and running up to the top of Tarquinia to finish in the old town.
That evening we had a team meeting and photo shoot with our team uniforms, discussed all of the necessary issues surrounding the race – rules, aid, transportation, and advice on how to approach the race. After the team meeting there was a meeting for the crews. Most runners came with an entourage of some sort – siblings, parents, spouses, friends. Only Greg and Devon were without crew, but the entire group was a team. Each runner had a primary support (mine was Brian) and secondary support (other folks’ primary support) so each time we came through a ‘refreshment zone’ we would be spotted by someone on the support team and they would run with us through the station and hand us what we had prepared or anything else we might want. Our evening ended with a group dinner at the agritourismo. Our food was served with enthusiasm by Fabio and Angelo, and it was quite good – the menu was translated from Italian and read ‘Laughing at the Asparagus’ (turned out to be risotto with asparagus), ‘Tomato to the Linguine’ (gnocchi with tomato sauce), ‘Piglet to the oven’ (roasted pork that may have been a suckling pig, but they didn’t bring it out with an apple in it’s mouth, thankfully), ‘Arista Pork’ (Pork roast slices), and a mixed vegetable salad. It was a very fine meal.
Day 5 – One day to race day.
Lin spent several hours in Tarquinia at meetings – one for the IAAF congress (I believe) and then at 2:30 a technical meeting, in which she learned about the course set up. The first 25k would only be accessible by race committee. Our aid would be transported out for us and set up every 5k on tables labeled according to country. There were up to 32 countries competing, and our station would be last by alphabet.
Meanwhile, I finally made it to an internet ‘point’ and was able to do some emailing and the posting of the beginning of this blog. I was relieved that there was no bad news.
Back at the farm, we rested up and started to get my bottles ready. I had bought and cooked rice and eggs for lunch, and then at 3:45, Kami came for Brian and I to go back to town to do some more interneting. Then, at 5:00 we assembled with all the teams for a parade up the main street through town. We were the last visiting country to line up, followed by Italy. The crowd was very excited and as handed out small USA flags, the fans yelled “Obaaaama! Obaaaaama!”.
At the end of the parade route we created a large semi-circle facing the emcee, and I got teary looking at all the flags waving together – so many different cultures brought together by a bunch of crazy athletes with a passion for running.
There were speeches made and music played by a marching band, and as the evening wore on (and on and on), we were given the go ahead to leave and get off of our feet. Kami and I, her parents and Brian escaped back home for an evening of completing getting ready and eating more rice. Lion brought me my bib numbers (front with a chip embedded and a back number) at about 9:00 pm and final instructions on labeling my bottles. He also asked if he could have any back up supplies for me on the course, and I gave him some extra SCaps! just in case.
In bed by 10, I slept decently enough – no less than any other night before a race.