Dad notified me in the Decon room, about 2 months ago that Dolby Vivisol was entering a Relay Marathon in Milan, Italy and that I should enter because I'm good at running. I went with his suggestion and put myself forward to do it for the company.
So I spent one day a week due to effort and juggling gym sessions too by doing 10K round Horsham using STRAVA. I've had loads of problems during my training including my left leg becoming numb during every run and ankles tightening up that it made me question if this was a good idea at all?
But I kept to it and even bought some expensive new running trainers that would help improve my performance and ankle movement which it sorta did and I know are much better shoes than my trainers that I used previously.
I only knew 2 of the guys going, Jake and John since I'd met them at the Christmas Do and they pop in sometimes to the warehouse needing access through or parts from upstairs. But I didn't know any of the other 5 runners.
When it came to Friday 31st March, we flew out with EasyJet around midday (so we worked during the morning) but we enjoyed a nice Wagamama meal before flying off to Italy. I was introduced to Sandra and Jo who were lovely ladies who had been training hard like me too and it was their first race event too like for me.
After unpacking, we shortly went out to the Loft American Bar in town where the main Italian group SOL Group held an event for all the European teams to come down for food as well as receive our White ARMANI Jersey's (we received our other gear the following day). The night was good but the drinks were damn expensive (10 Euros per alcoholic drink) ugh. But it was interesting to see the other 11 tables and to see all 102 runners together to run in the Relay.
I was a little tired and found it hard to stay awake which is why I was looking forward to my bed. And I learned that we would be visiting the San Siro Stadium on Saturday 1st April (this wasn't an April Fools Joke, luckily).
Saturday Morning was a ride on the Metro (Milan's Underground) and we were all heading to the San Siro Football Stadium to look around the site. I'm not really a Football person as it makes a lot of people I know angry and I think they get paid too much for their own good and that money could go to more hard working people like nurses.
Anyway, I surprisingly enjoyed the Morning Tour. Steve bought the tickets (everything during my time out there was paid by the company) and we went inside to look at the history of the A.C. Milan and Inter Milan Football Clubs and take pictures.
I "Deadpool" posed for the picture next to the Trophy board from when Inter won last year.
Then we all went round the locker rooms of both teams and were then allowed to go and visit the pitch.
It felt cool to actually head up the stairs into the sunlight (shame there was no loud crowd cheering) but to actually be in a football stadium for the first time in my life is something I won't forget, even if a game wasn't happening.
We took many pictures and went up the steps to the seats and then soon went round to the merchandise store.
I ended up buying an A.C. Milan White Snapback Cap and an Inter Milan Fridge Magnet to take home. I actually got chatting to the gorgeous lady at the counter for 10 minutes and she spoke great English. I explained we were all here for the Marathon for tomorrow.
I asked if her day was long and if she'd be enjoying herself later on. I felt really confident talking to her and it was a shame I couldn't stay much longer.
But being a sly man just this once, I said to the guys after leaving that I'd left my Train ticket behind when opening my pockets to pay for the stuff, when secretly I wanted to go back just to talk to her for 5 more minutes. I dropped my ticket out at the counter floor and explained why I had ran back to which she giggled and found cute. And I tried my luck and asked for a picture with her because I said she looked pretty and as a memento for my blog, to which she happily obliged. And I wished her a wonderful weekend before saying farewell!
We next headed on the Metro to head backwards to Garibaldi in central Milan to look around for some food.
After wondering around the 3 floor mall Eataly, we walked for a long while down the road and eventually found this nice Restaurant with the best Pizza in town.
We all almost had our own Pizza's, cheese pizza's that is! We even passed through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Then we decided to walk to the Milan Cathedral and go look inside.
We queued up for under 40 mins then after being searched, we were allowed in.
I may not be a Religious person, but it did feel amazing and made me feel so small to be in the largest Cathedral in all of Italy.
To imagine falling from the ceiling was terrifying (even being on the rooftops a little too) and it was surprising to look under the cathedral in the underground areas to learn how relics have been discovered and how the ancient ones moved around underneath.
We then decided to head out and queue up again to take an elevator to the top and wonder around the rooftops.
A friend commented on my Facebook pictures and pointed out that it looked like the top of Hogwarts which in a way, it did feel like actually.
Me, John and Jake were a little anxious of ascending further despite the steps, slow queue and pillars to stop us from even falling over the edge. And Nigel wouldn't stop singing this song involving "Up on the Roof" which became his signature phrase from the day onwards.
Despite the day being grey, it was nice to be on the roof and see such amazing architecture and sculpted pillars and statues from the bottom to the top of the Cathedral!
I'd love to come back with my camera to take better pictures, someday!
We made our way back down by taking the long staircase and then getting the Metro back to the hotel. Where we met Steve (who decided to head back when we went up to the rooftops) and he now had our Relay Marathon bags with our jerseys, bottles, energy snacks and tons of Italian flyers inside. We discussed our plans for time management and where, when and who should meet for their spot in the relay tomorrow. I was quite anxious and quiet as I was scared and wasn't feeling as good as I had been for a while since this was finally hitting me and was approaching fast.
But during dinner, I started to lighten up after everyone was reassuring me and the food was nice too which helped. And we all went to sleep near 10:30pm as we all had set times to be up for tomorrow's big day!
Nigel and I had to be up at 7am to get ready and eat and leave by 8:30 and we made our way to the point where the 1st wave runner would pass the wristband tracker to us.
Once arriving there, we heard from the staff that the Marathon Runners would start at 10:00 then the Relay Runners would start an hour later.
So we wondered round the food market till eventually the Marathon Runners came down the road with a Police escort and everyone was clapping and cheering them on.
Eventually, the Dutch and French runners arrived at our spot too so we had company.
Because of the numbers on the papers that we attached to our Jersey's, we waited at the pole spot with the number range and kept looking down to spot Jake and Sean whom Nigel and I would replace in the race.
When it came to, Nigel set off 5ish mins before me since Jake aced the first leg and when it came to my time, I set off with STRAVA acting all funny which caused it to freeze whilst I had started and in the end it had recorded 11.3km instead of my set 11.6km.
I also planned to do some SnapChat recordings and pictures safely whilst running to document to friends back home and share on here too (sadly I learnt afterwards that recording with music playing with earphones, takes away the background music when it doesn't if you play music and record on snapchat without earphones), Oh well!
I think I did pretty well with leg and enjoyed it too. I didn't ever stop, only walked after 20mins non-stop on a flat surface instead of the hills that I'd been training on. My music kept me going as I'd made a playlist of the music that I'm sure you can guess that I had playing (though I did add Darkness Of The Unknown and His World (Zebrahead Version) just for the race). My track took me down a couple roads in the city before running along the motorway midway before returning to the city to finish. My time was actually 57mins43seconds according to my pace records from STRAVA but somehow the darn app recorded the actual time at 1hr10seconds (I didn't even leave it playing after finishing my leg).
So afterwards when I found Nigel and had passed my wrist strap to Sandra, we headed to the Metro with the Dutch runners who came after me and we headed for the finish line.
Once there, it was a big festival in a park where there were tents, food stands and hundreds of people enjoying the day whether they were here for the race or not.
The Marathon runners and the last leg Relay runners finished here but after a while, Nigel's teammates showed up with their medals and my other teammates (except for Jo) soon arrived too.
I'd seen several Star Wars Cosplayers were wondering round which I was not expecting but I'm glad I saw them as they brightened my day as they did for the children too.
|Bad Quality due to being sent via email to everyone... I'm right from the sign in front row|
Almost everyone was present for a group picture holding the SOL Group Banner and then we all went down the finishing line strip jogging and cheering whilst the crowd did too and then afterwards did we find Jo who had my and the others medals at last. And everyone in green wondered to a spot to do more group shots before parting to head back to the hotel for a well deserved shower and 2hr rest.
As for the evening, we were meeting Francesca who was a cool man and I also met Ludo who is Steve's boss but he knew my Dad and I got talking to him about how joining the company has helped me and how Dad is doing.
He was a lovely man.
They took us to a Coffee shop for a while before we wondered round Milan and saw those 2 cool Block Building with plants growing everywhere co-ordinatingly.
We went to a Seafood restaurant and spent the evening laughing whilst all eating a nice seafood paella with mussels, cod, rice and prawns.
We were all out late and then said bye to Ludo, Francesca and Steve and Nigel since those 2 were getting different flights home to us.
4am wakeup was tough but luckily, I'd packed at midnight like everyone else. And us 6 got to the airport and Sean went off to Edinburgh to go home. I really enjoyed Nigel, Steve and Sean's company and humour during my time here even if I'd barely see them again.
The flight home was delayed by 45 mins on the plane since despite having a beautiful sunrise here, it was a bit cloudy back at Gatwick and would apparently be hard to land on, so everyone was annoyed on the plane and fell back asleep till we took off. But an hour and a half ain't so bad.
And after touching back down home and passing through Gatwick, we got a taxi back to the office where I said bye to everyone and thanked them all for having me a long and praising me on my effort as we'd all done superbly! I had booked the day off since I found it hard already that we'd have an early morning flight back home and have to go back to work, so he cheeky little **** that I am, I booked it off. So I got my car from the warehouse round the corner to head home, unpack and share the pictures to Facebook.
So this week, I've been relaxing when I should have been writing this up sooner like I'd hoped ha. But I am pleased despite the anxious feelings and silent moments I had during my time there, but it was only because I felt out of place from everyone else having worked and known one another for years. But I have no regrets and I came home with my first Medal ever and I did a great thing that weekend in a country that I'd never been to before! And I reckon next time, I visit I'll have my camera or go more places with my friends. Because Life is short and we should make the most of it with the people who matter!