Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Running Away: pt 2 > Santa Margherita Ligure, GE

OK… we’ve covered Berlin (49km of it)… what next? Why, Santa Margherita Ligure (GE), Italy!

Santa Margherita Ligure is where I grew up, the result of a holiday romance which is still going strong some forty-one years after the lovebirds married. It’s amazing how strong relationships between a couple who are not entirely fluent in each other’s mothertongue can be… I’m telling you, that’s the best foundation I’ve come across! Anyroad, Santa Margherita…

…is not as well knows as the neighbouring town of Portofino, especially amongst foreign tourists. Which is a tad harsh, what with Portofino just being totally over-rated for what it truly is… if anything, get on a ferry or hike across to go and see San Fruttuoso, there’s true beauty for you!

All that said, Portofino is not an ugly sight. And the coastal road linking it to Santa Margherita makes for a really nice running route – and a far safer one now than when I first ran along it back in the 1980s, next to my Dad…

…to be honest, that wasn’t a particularly enjoyable experience. As you know, I can’t stand running – and I cared for it even less back then. Looking back, I’m not surprised: most people turn to running after trying their hands at proper sports in which you keep the score, such as tennis, football, golf and the like. Running is what you do when you have kids and work constraining your flexibility to make “the Wednesday session” or “the Friday match”: it’s what you do when you need to go out as and when you can. So, when my Dad was training for any one of his three marathons, I had little enthusiasm to join him. He never pushed me on pace, never reprimanded me, but he was keen for me to share in his passion. I just couldn’t be arsed.

So when I headed back to Santa (see – the name gets shorter with every mention!) in October, it was about exorcising as much as it was about exercising. It was about treading that same tarmac but with something almost resembling tolerance across my face. It was also about seeing how much running I could get done whilst on holiday with all the diplomatic commitments that I must honour when back in Santa, not to mention wife (one) and kids (two). I had high hopes of keeping runstreak going, as a solitary mile is sufficient… but as for any reasonable exercise, I wasn’t particularly optimistic…

…whereas, as it turns out, over the seven days we were over there I ended up clocking 75.6km. As with Berlin, each and every one of those was flat! My Dad was eager to suggest hillier routes, but I was not in listening mode. Not because animated by the same contrary spirit I displayed when turning down offers to run with him all those years ago but because I genuinely wanted to practice some flat running! Much as I appreciate the added value that comes from training in a hilly environment, it is of little guidance to the pace I can realistically target on the flat. So whilst an 8k run on Tuesday 30 was not, in itself, a great feat, I felt good about completing it at a pace of 5’21”/km. On those roads I know so well… from my parent’s house through via XXV Aprile, across the road to the Giardini, along the coast through Corte and then past the Miramare and Regina Helena hotels, past the Covo, through the delightful area of Paraggi, round the bend and through to Portofino… and back. Not a bad way to clock 12.5km!

It felt really good to exorcise and exercise. It felt good to record some decent times. And, trust me, it felt particularly good on November 2 to take this sunrise shot in Paraggi:

And yes, the runstreak was kept alive, thank you very much! Even on the day we landed back in the UK, when it was saved by a chippierun: when all else fails, run to the chippie and back! But, if you get the chance to run alongside the Mediterranean coastline… grab it, my son.

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