Monday, October 23, 2006

Amsterdam Memories

2006 ING Amsterdam Marathon

I ran Amsterdam last year in what was then my second marathon. Finishing in PB of 3:32 I set my sights on London and going under the magical 3:30 barrier. My body had other ideas however and injury prevented a return to the battlefield. Over the summer I discovered triathlon and foolishly signed up for the Austrian IronMan race in July 2007. Commencing training in late August, I embarked on a radically different regime from that which had seen me prepare for Amsterdam the previous year – much less running but more cycling and swimming – two totally new disciplines for me.

So I was interested to see how I would perform in Amsterdam with barely any marathon specific training.

For those of you who haven’t tried it, I can recommend the event. Amsterdam as a city speaks for itself, with its history, its charm, the museums and the... well, let’s say the ‘other distractions’. The marathon sits with its smaller siblings, the half marathon, the 10k and the 5k in an afternoon of running covered by the main television station in Holland and widely supported by the Amsterdam public.

The 6000 marathon runners begin in the Olympic Stadium with a well organised start seeing the time-penned athletes stream onto the streets and able to reach a reasonable speed pretty quickly after the gun.

There are no mile markers to be seen on the course and so I’d converted my time requirements to kilometers, knowing that 5 minute kilometers roughly equalled 8 minute miles which would bring me under the 3:30 time.

I felt good from the off and much of the first half marathon was spent containing my effort and trying to remember that every ounce of energy (if you can measure energy in ounces!) saved would be required over the last 10k. The route took us out through Amsterdam’s Vondelpark, back for a circuit of the stadium and out towards the River Amstel, where a long stretch out past the exclusive homes of the monied Amsterdamians eventually turned and came back on itself on the other bank of the river, back towards the city. I made the half marathon point in 1:39 and resolved to keep the pace steady, even though I felt strong.

The course takes us through a fairly uninspiring industrial estate before once again following Amsterdam’s main river, though this time within the city limits, back towards the Vondelpark and, eventually, the Olympic Stadium.

The kilometer markers were a welcome change from miles as they (not surprisingly) arrived and went on a more regular basis – and we all know towards the end of a marathon, when you can barely remember your own name, that anything that propels you towards the finish line is extremely welcome.

Sure enough, at 32k (or 20 miles), my energy levels were drooping but I found a spurt for the last 2k and came in at 3 hours 22 minutes and 54 seconds.

Which, as all marathon runners know, rounds down nicely to 3 hours 22 minutes !

No comments: