I slept until almost ten am, woke up, packed up my stuff (a pretty quick procedure), and headed into town. I had been staying in the apartment of Lino's mother (who wasn't there), so I called Lino to meet him for breakfast. We met in the same place that I had met his wife Anna Maria the night before, and I had a bite to eat and a liter and a half of water. Lino decided to run with me for 5 km or so, and we set out after noon towards Gaeta. He informed the that the first 20 km or so of my run would be fairly comfortable, with a wide shoulder and little traffic...but the last part would consist of mountain curves with no shoulder and in turn no place for me.
We had a good run together, and I just cruised on towards Gaeta. Because the number of kilometers started with a "3" I somehow considered it "a short day." So much of running is mental, and I am a big believer in trying to trick your mind into doing things that your body doesn't want to do. I often break down my runs into halfs, thirds, or hours to make it easier on me. When I get to some artificial marker that I have made I think "ok, the run is done, good job...now you just have to do the same thing again without stopping in between." I have run with artificial mental fractions for years, and it seems to get me through. Maybe I'm just bad at math, but this system definitely seems to work a lot less when there is more than 40 kilometers between me and where I want to go.
Anyways. The run was easy and straightforward, and while the roads were windy they were much less perilous than others that I have been on, and I got to run through several short tunnels. Running through tunnels is always a little bit scary, but also pretty freaking exciting.
I got into the edge of the town of Gaeta about 34 km into my run, where I stopped and decided to walk into town. I didn't realize however that my couchsurfing host Mal lived on the side of a hill at the far end of the peninsula on which the town was situated, and that I would have to add on a few more kilometers of switchback roads to get from one side of the small town to the other where he lived.
Mal is stationed in Gaeta through the Navy, and I had a very relaxed stay at his place which has an amazing view of the water. We went to a grocery store and and stocked up on stuff to eat, and had a great dinner when we got home.
In the late evening, I got a few calls from some friends from the days before, all of whom warned me about the coming days. Everyone in the north has told me to watch out down south...and in the morning I would be running down south. One friend told me to just run straight through all of Campania without stopping...almost 100 km to get to Napoli. "Whatever you do, don't sleep outdoors in Mondragone...it is a little bit...Bronx." Not stopping, however would be just as dangerous for my body as any ghetto. This night, I went to sleep on a comfortable and safe airbed, knowing that in the morning I would be running to Mondragone and that I had nowhere to sleep there.
29 August 2009