By Adalberto - Father entered a coma on Friday evening and died on Saturday morning. He was nearing 80 and at Alzheimer's last stage. His life – mentally and physically – was hell for him and also for us, powerless witnesses of his total undoing. No matter how expected, the death of a father is a critical experience for a man... an experience that changes his way of thinking and – most of all – his way of feeling.
Also for this reason, after talking to my wife, my mother and my sister, I decided to run the Milan Marathon anyway. I didn't mind the fact that I had hardly slept for the past two nights. I had to run for my father who, until a (very) few years ago, used to climb by bicycle hills where many young people usually gasp for breath... and most of all I had to run with him.
So... last night Linda and I met a bunch of our running friends and took joy in the merry partying atmosphere. This morning I showed up at the start in a condition of total mental calm. I enjoyed every step I took and ran with no fatigue, with the feeling that everything was exactly as it should be... including the great shortcomings at the first few water stations and their Spartan frugality from the 13th mile on up.
At mile 17 I had a wonderful meeting with Giancarlo (in charge of sponging for the occasion), to whom I confided on the run my recent trouble as well as my being oblivious to fatigue. Then I decided to go out and meet the 20th mile, because I knew it could not harm me... on the contrary, it was I who thumbed my nose at it, as I did at every mile after that. Only around mile 24 I felt a little heavy, but I recovered promptly.
I don't think anybody passed me after the first nine miles – of course most of them were gone before then – while I passed hundreds. This is something I noticed only in a corner of my mind, because for the rest I enjoyed a feeling I would call... sweet.
A few yards before the finish line I put out my right hand and finished the race with my father. I hope my friends know me well enough to realize I'm not just babbling... but that I'm talking about a deep internal experience I lived through in a totally natural way.
Now I feel well. I'm less tired than after a half-marathon and I feel that the marathon has entered my life to stay... I also have some thoughts and feelings that are not related to running, but I won't discuss them here.
Just to stick with the main topic of running, I'm pleased to announce that, though my pace remains very slow, with my 4:25 I improved my personal best by a full hour. I had only run two marathons before this one, Rome and Turin, both in 1998.
I want to thank all those who were close to me in the past few days but also those who, not knowing what was in my heart, contributed to a weekend of great significance for me and my wife.
Happy runs to all.