When the pandemic hit, they both stopped running, opting for at-home workouts or limiting the outdoor time to walking the dog. Last weekend Ilaria and Silvia ran the Virtual United Airlines NYC Half on a beautiful sunny Sunday along the Hudson River. In the future, they dream of returning to run real in-person races.
They started running for very different reasons, Silvia wanted to do something painful she did not like, to feel close to a dear person who was suffering. She chose running, little she knew it would become one of her passions.
Ilaria was so fascinated by the NYC Marathon she watched when she moved with her family to New York from Italy, that she decided she wanted to be part of it, she bought a pair of shoes and started running. In the meantime, she heard of a group of Italian women who were running together, there she met Silvia among others who are now her friends.
"I am a social runner," says Silvia " I like the running community. I chat with other runners along the way. I like to run with my friends and I also am ok with running and talking with someone who just happens to be on the same path". Ilaria giggles and adds " I like running with friends and chatting, which enables me to run longer distances compared to when I am alone!"
"We are lucky to have a great group of running friends who support each other". Surprisingly, the most memorable races for either of them were on an awful rainy day. "It was my 9th NYRR race in 2019 which would qualify me to the 2020 Marathon. It was raining so hard and my amazing friend Valeria ran next to me for the entire time swearing the next hill was the last one! And then she stayed with me under the rain in the cold to take my picture while ringing the bell.", says Silvia.
Ilaria's most memorable race was her first one ever "When I woke up that morning, I remember thinking it would be best to skip it - "How can I run under the rain? What if I get a cold?". But the women runners encouraged me in our chat, and Cristina was there, waiting for me at the corral. I still remember how happy and grateful I was when I crossed the finish line!"
A lot to talk about during those runs: the last running purchase they could never do without ("my Garmin watch", "my colorful Brooks shoes"), the running high Silvia loves, and everything you share with a friend. "Running is important to release stress, stay healthy, enjoy nature, and recharge. During the week I run when my daughter is at school but long runs are on Sundays and my family knows that's my "me-time", says Ilaria".
Those long runs in preparation for the Virtual United Airlines NYC Half took Ilaria and Silvia in all NYC boroughs. "We decided to run the long weekend runs in different places," says Silvia. "So every week we prepared a different itinerary and we ran around New York like it was a touristic tour. We ran to Brooklyn, Randall's Island, Roosevelt Island, Astoria, crossing our scenic bridges and taking pictures and selfies with our happy faces".
"The best part of running is that running brings me outside", says Silvia. "And the feeling I have made it - be it an extra mile vs your previous run, or simply an early early morning run with minus 0° C - something the old me would have never done!" adds Ilaria. "Something the old me would have never done without the encouragement, advice, and friendship, of my wonderful running friends"
Silvia and Ilaria both agree on the best advice for a new runner: "Step by step you'll make it, meanwhile enjoy every single run...even better if it's with your friends!"