Sunday, October 16, 2011

Amsterdam Marathon 2011

After having an fantastic experience at this race last year, I was keen to give it another go in 2011.  It's a flat and fast course as well as a great destination for a fun filled weekend too.

We lined up with 12,000 other runners at the start in the Olympic Stadium, which was built when Amsterdam hosted the games in 1928. The race both started and finished in the stadium. The weather was perfect, clear blue skies and cool temperature just like last year's race.

At 9.30am were were off. From the start, it was very congested and the first 2km were spent trying to avoid other runners and getting caught up in a series of slow downs as the field concertinaed back and forth.  Quite frustrating but eventually there was enough space to start maneuvering myself through the gaps and pick up the pace.

My initial plan was to stay with the 3hr 15min pace bunny for the first 3 km before picking up the pace but after the stuttered start, I found myself some way behind him. So I firstly focused on catching the pace bunny.  It was still very congested and it took me until the 7km mark before I caught him. Once that was done, I decided just to cruise past the bunny and carry on with the good pace that I was making.  I knew that I had to run each 5km in around 22 minutes in order to make my target time of sub 3 hour 10 mins.  After a slow start, I found myself back on target. This was easy to follow as there was a clock on the course at every 5km marker.

There was good support out on the course and lots of vocal encouragement as well as some great live music too.  Not least of which was the stretch along the Amstel River, where there were several boats cruising up and down the river with bands playing and supporters cheering on the runners. 

Reaching the 30km mark, I clocked my time as being still on course for my target time but my legs were starting to feel a little heavy.  Once again I had been unsure how many gels to take on the race, I had decided on three. The first of which I had at the start, the other two at 15km and 30km.  After the gel at 30km, I felt my energy levels increase and I was hoping that I could keep up the pace for the final 10km.  However, at 35km my legs were feeling tired again.  Oh for another gel!  So, grit the teeth and tough it out for the finish.  I knew that my pace was dropping and my sub 3hr 10min target was probably gone. Therefore, just go for a new PB time, my current PB of 3hr 14min was set at the same race last year. 

At the 40km marker, I knew that a new PB was still on but my legs were gone and I was really struggling now.  Those last 2km were really tough, I was hurting but determined to get the PB. Entering the Olympic Stadium was blissful as it was almost over.  I crossed the finish in 3hr 12mins.  Awesome!!!!!

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