After the DNF in Warsaw I immediately started to talking to my trainer about all the feels and what to do next.
I was disappointed and I was mad. Mad at myself and mad at my body. Finally my foot felt OK enough to run and then something else happened! Frustrating doesn’t even slightly cover it. Then I decided to use my anger in a more productive way. I already started thinking about Amsterdam. I was signed up for the Half Marathon already for ages. Ron was using Warsaw as a “training marathon” (I know. You can roll your eyes if you want haha!) and to pace Vincent to his PR glory; Amsterdam would the the “real” marathon for him. He was running the marathon, maybe I should too?
I talked to my trainer – he thought is was a perfect idea. Get rid of the anger and see the Warsaw 25KM as my last long training run. I had exactly 3 weeks so that was the time to taper anyway. That’s why I ran a Half the week after and did training runs in between (and a last long run of 13.5 a week ago). I sold my half marathon bib and bought a marathon bib instead. But I didn’t want to tell anyone.
I think keeping it to myself and letting only a few people know helped with the pressure. I also wanted the option of NOT doing it if I wasn’t feeling it. I mean, what if the shot that I had before Warsaw finally wore off? What if I wasn’t feeling fit enough? So I basically kept it off social media.
I already had booked us an airbnb for the night before (we live about 130 km away / 80 miles so we didn’t want to make the drive early in the morning when we already had to be there at 8:15) and on Friday I went to Amsterdam anyway to pick up the starting packets for us, my trainer, my friend Kim (another Kim – so many of you out there :D ) and her friend Pieter. My friend Michal was visiting as well (she lives in Israel but comes from Amsterdam so has family she can stay with ) because she was running the 8KM, so I also saw it as the perfect opportunity to see her too. It was a pretty glorious day and admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of Amsterdam but I really enjoyed my day there.
I never had the desire to run the marathon in Amsterdam. I would much rather run Rotterdam! But it was now or never (or at least not for a long time)! On Saturday morning, Ron and I packed up our gear, Ron made the pasta for our pre-marathon dinner (we just took it with us and warmed it up) and headed out to Amsterdam (again). Ron wanted to go to the expo, so we checked into our airbnb and hopped on the metro one stop to where we needed to be. It was much busier than on Friday of course! Eventually we went back to our lodging for the night, had dinner and prepared for race day!
I didn’t really sleep that well but I didn’t feel too bad in the morning. I ate my usual breakfast and an extra white roll with a tiny bit of peanut butter and honey. Drank my carb loader and two coffees to get things *ahem* moving. Around 8 o’clock we loaded everything back into the car and took the metro again one stop to the start.
It was certainly easy enough to get to the starting area and check our bags in and the actual start was inside the Olympic Stadium! I had a bib for the fast corral and decided NOT to start there but a few corrals back. That gave me more time to stand in the ridiculous queue for the porta potty which, after a carb-loader and 2 coffees what extremely necessary at that point!! At 9:30 the gun went off and so did the elites! And then we were off in waves. I started just after 9:45.
I felt good, I had plan for water, nutrition and walking . The first half went pretty well, I would say I ran *most* of it. At the half point I was about 2:35 into the race. I did start having nerve pain already around 13km. I just tried to ignore it. It is what it is and there is nothing I can do about it so I may as well not focus on it. There was a super long stretch that I found a bit boring for being at the back of the pack and there weren’t a lot of spectators there. But I got thorough it. After the halfway point, probably around 23KM or so I decided to do run/ walk intervals. I gave myself permission to walk with the stipulation that I run for at least 3 minutes. So it was about 3 min running/ 2 walking. I did that MOST of the way to the finish. And this felt ok. I already knew I”d be over 5 hours so why not do it my way? I stopped at every water/ refreshment station except the first one (at 2km I didn’t find it necessary). The race was so well organised and so many volunteers. I never once felt like I didn’t have enough to drink and there were bananas, gels (I had my own), sports bars (I have had this brand before so wasn’t afraid of the effects) and energy drink (again a brand I’d had before so I could trust it). I made use of pretty much everything on offer at some point! As soon as I was about 750m from the finish I really picked up my pace. I wanted to finish strong at least and the finish was again inside the Olympic stadium which felt AMAZING. I had a few tears when I was done – this was hard, but I did it! I knew I would make it as soon as I hit around 30KM. In my training I never made it over 25. I needed this finish for me. I know I don’t have to prove anything to anyone else – but I needed to know that I was mentally and emotionally strong enough for this!
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that the marathon is really something I want to pursue for much longer. I am 99% sure that I will never make it under 5 hours and I don’t know that I could ever just run all the way through. Being out on the course for more 4 or 5 hours is just really hard. I know those who run faster have it tough too! Physically I think we slower runners probably recover faster but mentally we need strength longer than the fast ones do. And that’s a real challenge.
I will sign up for Chicago because I DO want to run in my US home city but I won’t be doing a spring marathon next year. If Ron wants to go to Paris or Madrid or whatever, fine – but I’m not doing the marathon distance! I never once thought I would do a marathon in my whole life. I’ve done 8 now so that’s pretty amazing for a former fat girl turned runner. I’m going to focus on shorter distances, maybe work on my speed and keep going to the gym to work on strength in the coming months.
Do you love the marathon distance? Or do you feel like a half or even a 10 miler is enough?