Peter posted this report after the Amsterdam marathon on Oct 16th 2016:
It’s never ideal heading to a race feeling totally under prepared, especially when it is a marathon but that is exactly where I was when heading out to run the Amsterdam marathon on Sunday. Training had not gone so well with breathing issues, injury and several chest infections together with an inability to train with the club (due to work and family commitments) all playing their part in this scenario. This was quite easily the least prepared I have been for any marathon and my PW of 2:58 was in serious jeopardy!
Luckily I have some really loyal and caring friends at the club including Moriarty, Weatherhead, Paterson and Glendinning who gave me their individual words of wisdom. ” Man the F*$@! up!”, “Grow a pair!” and “Stop Whinging” were just a few of the very technical coaching techniques they adopted to encourage me.
The Sunday morning in Amsterdam was glorious with the sun splitting the sky and temperatures around 9 degrees. Perfect running conditions.
The race set off from the Olympic Stadium at 9:30am. There was significant congestion as we headed out of the stadium and into the tight streets but I decided to settle in.
The first 10k were pretty uneventful as we were taken firstly towards the city centre and then back out again through a park. All was fine as I reached 10k in 41:11. I knew this was faster than I had hoped for but was glad to have built up something to fall back on later in the race. I expected to pay for pace!
The next 15kms of the race route were horrible as it ran along one side of a canal crossed a bridge and then back again.
As we headed out towards half way I felt very tired and knew the faster than planned pace was starting to get to me. Luckily I saw a Portobello running vest in front of me so I ran up to it and started a conversation to try and take my mind off the tiredness. We ran together for a couple of miles chatting but he also felt poor and dropped back. Fortunately I felt better again and was able to push on.
I managed to hit halfway at 1:27:17 and was delighted. I was still worried that I was feeling too tired for such an early point in the marathon and knew it was going to be tough but continued to push myself along.
At mile 14 however I suddenly felt my breathing go. This is something I have been experiencing over the past months which manifests itself in short shallow breathes which I find difficult to change. This then results in a real weakness in the arms and the legs as I cannot get enough oxygen to my body. Cue the Wise Men’s comments and MTFU and Grow a pair rang around my head. I just focussed on a vest in front of me and dragged my tired and weak body along the canal.
At around mile 17 my breathing problems went away as quickly as they had arrived and although still tired I felt stronger. I focussed on getting to 20 with Bruce Carmichael’s psychological “one more mile” keeping me going.
I hit mile 20 at around 2:14:00.
The next 10k were tough and my lack of training really took its toll. I slowed gradually towards the end and couldn’t keep my pace below 7:10’s in the last 2k. The finish just couldn’t come quick enough.
The finish in the Olympic stadium was great as we were cheered over the line. I finished in 2:57;02. Just inside my Personal Worst!
I must admit that I wouldn’t rush back to do the Amsterdam marathon. There is no doubt that, if in good shape, it is a pb course and that the start and finish in the Olympic Stadium is great. There are however too many other areas that were disappointing:
The route could be so much more spectacular but for a large part it is no better than running along the canal towards Kirkintilloch.
The water stops had half filled paper cups and most stops were really crowded because they didn’t have enough people handing out water.
The support of the public in large parts of the route was non existent. Near the start and end it was fine but out and along the canal was very poor as was the 3k ( at the start and again at the end) in a park near the Stadium.
The route was long. Whilst I expect city marathons to be long this was, in my opinion way over the set distance at 26.7 miles per my Garmin. There was definitely a feel around at the end that the route was longer.
I’m glad it is over now and I am looking forward to getting back to training on the mud and dirt for the shorter cross countries ahead.