It’s taken forever to write this, nearly 3 monhts!), because since crossing the finish line at Amsterdam life has been a total blur. In between leaving my job, travelling around Thailand and starting a new job, my intentions of blog writing got pushed to the back of my already packed out brain. Couple that with the fact that the entire race was a total blur and I wasn’t sure there was much point writing a post at all. But when I looked back on my previous posts and all the details I’d forgotten about past races, I realised how I’d regret not put down something about the day.
I’ll get the hard bit out of the way first. I didn’t get the sub-4 that I’d trained for. I tried my absolute hardest, but it wasn’t to be. Now, back to the beginning.
My training, which I also completely forgot to document on here (the majority is on my Instagram), went so much better than I could ever have anticipated. I was following the Run Less, Run Faster programme and stuck to it pretty religiously: 1x intervals, 1x tempo, 1x long run and 2x cross-training sessions per week. Because I knew I only had 3 runs to do each week I was really paranoid about missing any, which helped to keep me on track. I didn’t always get both cross training sessions in, but if I missed one it tended to be because I’d done a yoga session instead.
I invested in a new pair of Brooks Ghost 10 for this training cycle, and decided to size up from a 4.5 to a 5.5 which made a huge difference to running comfort on those long Sunday sessions. I’d definitely recommend these for a neutral runner who likes a good amount of support and bounce from their shoe
I also stuck religiously to a pre and post run stretching routine and added a monthly sports massage to my diary. All in all, by the time I got to the start line I was feeling great. No niggles, no regrets, just totally ready to take on the next 26.2 miles.
Having gone out to fast at MK marathon my race strategy was to hold a steady pace of around 5:30/km to 5:40/km and ramp it up for the past few kms if there was anything left in my legs. This would hopefully bring me in under 4 hours, with a little wiggle room if necessary.
The first indication of some potential issues arrived in the starting pens. I was hoping to stick just in front of the 4 hour pacers, but it was so busy that I couldn’t find them. As the start gun went off and the faster pens got going, I still hadn’t found them – it turns out they only had tiny balloons attached, not the big flags I’m used to seeing. It took a good 5 minutes to get over the start line, but it gave me time to think about my goal and remind myself not to go off too fast… but given the huge number of runners in the first couple of kms that definitely wasn’t an issue.
Apart from those stressful kilometres of people dodging and clock watching, the first 25kms were an absolute dream. I literally felt like I was running on clouds and the minutes were ticking past like seconds. The crowd support throughout was brilliant, especially the families who lived by the water who were giving out homemade lemonade and huge cheers, and I just felt like I had this in the bag. But then a factor I hadn’t anticipated for an October marathon in Europe came into play; 22° heat.
By kilometre 29 I was starting to struggle with the lack of shade and it was showing in my pace: 5:56/km. The dream didn’t truly fall apart until kilometre 36 when I clocked a 7:04 km and had started to walk through the water points so I could gulp down the contents of any paper cup passed my way. Even with the wriggle room I’d worked in, it wasn’t going to be good enough. I managed to pick it back up to 6:15ish for the final 6 kilometres, but when the 4 hour pacers passed me I knew it was all over. I just couldn’t keep up with their pace no matter how hard I tried, and I was devastated.
Those final 45 minutes were the opposite of the first 25km – every second felt like a minute and every minute felt like an hour.
As the Olympic stadium came into sight I felt a flood of relief, only to realise that once inside there’s a full lap of the track to get through. Although the sub-4 dream was gone, I decided to enjoy every second of that final 400m and soak up the roars inside the stadium. I managed a sprint finish with my arms thrown up in the air: 4:05. I’d finished my second marathon.
Not the time which I’d hoped for and tried so, so hard to achieve, but a 39 minute PB none the less.
As with the Milton Keynes Marathon, I learnt so many valuable lessons from running Amsterdam. It was an incredible course with brilliant support and marshalling throughout and I would love to come back and run it again one day. My only tip to the organisers: bigger flags for all pacers and better organisation of the starting pens.
As for the next goal, I’ve already secured a place in Berlin Marathon 2018… third time’s a charm.