After my knee injury in the winter of 2011/2012 had forced me to cancel my plans to run the Paris marathon in April, I was dead set on getting back out there in the fall and run at least 1 marathon in 2012. With school, the Belgian international and work on the table, choices were limited. Amsterdam seemed like a good choice: close to home, a nice flat course and a new city for me. Amsterdam it was.
Training-wise this one could have been a lot better. School (I graduated in august) brought along a slew of work that kept me indoors and working all day and all night. So how's my running form? 2 weeks ago, we (Pieter and myself) ran the half marathon in Brussels and I must say that went pretty well. Brussels is heavy course, with lots of ups and downs (instant flashback to last year when I ran the full marathon in Brussels) but I managed to finish it in 1h53m. A nice time for a tough race.
I left for Amsterdam on Saturday morning by train and arrived around noon. Made my way to the youth hostel, checked in and dropped off my bags and then headed to the Olympic stadium to pick up my race number and t-shirt. Halfway through the afternoon I had a coffee-date with Nans. We met at the Leidesplein and went for coffee/drink at De Balie (nice place, recommended for drinks and the food is supposed to be pretty good as well). "Getting a quick drink" turned into a 5-hour chat, the afternoon/evening flew by and I had a great time :). Back at the youth hostel, I packed my kit (and unpacked some freshly acquired items, more on that later) and headed downstairs for some wi-fi. By 9:30pm I was exhausted and decided to call it a day. Too bad my roommates had other plans: most of them were in town for Amsterdam Dance Event and they left for their parties around 11pm, arriving back somewhere around 5am, waking me up both times.
Sunday morning, up at 6:30am (see what I did there? Hi roommates :)) and headed straight to breakfast at 7am. Fueled up, bag packed and out the door to the nearest tram-stop to catch a ride to the stadium. No dice. When I arrived at the stop, there were already about 40 runners waiting for the tram. Another 15 minutes later, the number of people waiting had more than doubled and the number of trams was still at zero? 5 of us teamed up and decided to jump in a cab. We split the cost among the 5 of us and 10 minutes later we arrived at the stadium. Switched into my running gear, went over everything in my head a dozen of times and then waited for Pieter and Monica to arrive before heading into the stadium. We got into the stadium at the very last minute so we weren't able to join our pace group but we just got in line and started running.
I started out on a solid 6 minutes/kilometre pace and was able to keep that up for about 17km. At 12km, the course turned away from the city along the Amstel river. As the pack of runners thinned out, we got hit by a heavy cross-wind. After the turning point, we faced the wind almost head on, which was brutal. The course turned away from the river at the 26km mark but by then my pace had already seriously dropped. Then, right before the 35km water station, my stomach started acting up and I threw up in the first trash in sight. Not sure what or why that happened, I had been eating Powerbar energy gels for the entire course and this was the first one giving me trouble. I took a couple of minutes to get myself back together, drank some extra engery drink (hoping I'd be able to keep it down) and joined the pack again. Around 38km, the pace group for 4h30m caught up to me and I tried to keep up with them.
Out of the Vondelpark, 1km to go so I picked up the pace just enough to stay ahead of the 4h30m-group. Last turn and on the road to the stadium, another turn, stadium entrance in sight, 200m to go, around the long side of the track, 100m, not a drop of energy left to pick up the pace for sprint to the finish, crossed the line.
My official time turned out 4 hours, 29 minutes and 59 seconds. Not a great time. Far from it. But then again, running a marathon without actually training for it (don't think I ran a total of 50km over the past 4 months?) isn't the smartest of ideas either so I'm happy I finished at all.
Rough day but happy none the less, lessons learned. Onwards and upwards, my spring marathon for 2013 has already been decided (more info on that soon).
Thanks to everyone who supported me, both on- and offline, it means more than you know.