Running kit all ready and the technology all lined up to go, so what could go wrong? I’ve been reading that week 4 seems to be a make or break week, so wanted to make sure I stayed the course.
In Italy, if you are a runner you are called a podista and Italy doesn’t really do podistas. The big sport here is cycling, so people expect you to cycle, as that really is the national obsession and they generally express surprise when you say you run. That surprise also extends to when they are driving. Drivers are surprisingly courteous to cyclists, even the big groups out at weekends, but as a podista we don’t quite get the same favourable reaction. I have had people toot, shake fists and shout ‘occhi’ which means use your eyes. I’ve come to the conclusion this difference is because we podistas generally run towards the traffic rather than with it, but to be honest I’m scared of running with the flow and not knowing what’s coming behind me.
Anyway I digress, I set out as usual – down the slope of hope for my 5 minutes walk and then started the programme, Mr Smooth was very encouraging and I managed to do the first run up the hill that kills, so am dead chuffed with that. Then move onto lovers lane and curses what is that I see in the distance – my nemesis. A molto chic lady Italian podista. Now I say nemesis, it’s nothing personal you understand, but the only lady Italians I see exercising do it in full make-up, with immaculate hair and a certain style. Even the cyclists do it too - I am the complete opposite of this model look. To be honest the physical perfection is a bit off-putting, as if you are fit skinny and beautiful I really think you should allow the rest of us (i.e. me) some slack and stay in the shadows, so we don't see you and look at ourselves in disgust.
This lady is no exception, skinny as a rake, wearing a cute shoestring running top, caramel coloured hair swooshing gently, wraparound sunglasses and half a ton of dainty chichi bracelets adorning her wrists. I puff past with Mr Smooth telling me I’ve done 4 minutes of the 5 and to keep going. I notice too that this lady podista is neither salsa red nor is her head bobbing. I have a fleeting thought that if Mr Smooth was given the chance he’d dump me for this molto chic lady – we exchange buongiornos and move on. I round off Villa Bali and my rest walk coincides with her running back and she starts waving at me to stop.
So after much puffing and panting, putting Mr Smooth on pause - I stop, and she introduces herself in Italian – her name is Gabrielle – well it would be wouldn’t it – with all that chic look she has an angelic name too… I’m really rather grumpy now, it’s hard enough doing this training without needing to look like a blinking supermodel too!
She then asks if I understand/speak English and I say yes, then she tells me she is not Italian but Canadian. She is re-visiting the land of her grandfather and staying with a great aunt and wants to know where to buy the locally famous biological extra virgin olive oil.
I am a sucker for pretty much anyone from North America, I’ve always found both the Canadians and Americans I’ve met to be delightfully friendly folk and if I can help a Canadian or an American I will. So we chatted a bit and I told her where she could get the liquid gold – she told me she and her family had been woofing in Tuscany. In truth I have no idea what she meant, so I smiled politely, said goodbye and restarted. so actually she was molto chic and very fit, but she was a lovely lady too - that's kicked that particular prejudice into touch!
This is now my dilemma, we stopped for about 10 minutes for the chat and pleasantries and I just pressed start and then followed the rest of the programme.
My face colour when I got home was a shade less than my usual salsa red, but then I had a good 10 minutes rest during the session… So what to do – re-do this one or move onto the final one for Week 4. Did today really count?