Hot and hilly for the Amersfoort marathon

Posted: June 10, 2012 in Running

It was all pointing towards a record time under 4 hours for me at the Amersfoort marathon. The Saturday before I had run my ‘standard’ long route along the Belgian canals in a record time of 3:22 for 36 km. And I wasn’t even dead like I always am after a marathon. Surely this was going to be the time.

The day before the marathon was cold and wet. A little too cold perhaps. The marathon day was a stark contrast. Quite warm (over 20) and bright sun. Some clouds drifted across the sun occasionally, but we were destined to run in the sun.

Before the start of the Amersfoort marathon

Before the start of the Amersfoort marathon

The 2000 odd runners in the half marathon and full marathon started at the same time in one big block. I would guess 80% were running in the half marathon. Most people were not as crazy as me.

I had no idea how fast I was running. It hardly mattered as I was running with the crowd with little chance to overtake. The km markers were well hidden. I saw my first one at km 4, and then the next at km 7. I was running about the right tempo for a 4 hour marathon, but I knew it was more tiring that it should be. I was not going to be able to keep this up.

We then ran through the animal park and then disappeared into the forest. A revelation: there are hills in the middle of the Netherlands. We went up and up in the bright sun. But then we went down and down for ever: right back to Amersfoort and the finish of the half marathon.

I ran the half marathon in exactly 2 hours and was quite close to stopping there with the 80% of the clever runners. I knew I didn’t have the energy to run under 4 hours. Well, I went on. In the blink of an eye the field thinned out and there was a runner every 50 metres or so. And it was a slog: already by km 22, but really around km 25. I stopped at the drink stands and drank one, two, three beakers of water, and then dragged myself on. And then we went up and up again. I was miles from the finish and could see no way of stopping here. There was no other way back other than running/walking it. I walked a bit, ran a bit. The kilometres crawled along. It was a beautiful sunny forest, but you don’t notice that when you’re absolutely exhausted.

I felt some twinges of cramp around 37 km and was given a beaker of broth with lots of salt by a nice first aid women on the side of the road. There were lots of others around me finding it hard too. Walking a bit, running a bit. I seemed to be keeping pace with a guy all painted up in green, running barefoot. Ouch.

I am crazy. I am mad. Why do I do this to myself? Walk. Jog at a plod. Walk. Man. I have hit the wall this time. Last week I was nowhere near the wall and was whizzing along at km 36. Not today. Even though it was downhill.

I run through the town after km 40. Lots of enthusiastic people on the side. ‘Only a little but further..’ I heard that many many times. Grit the teeth and go on.

My name was announced as I rounded the last turn to the finish line. 4:35:25. A dreadful time. Almost my worst. Nowhere near 4 hours. Still, my first marathon in 3 years, and on a hot sunny day. There will be another chance to crack the 4 hours. Maybe I can do it in Eindhoven in October. Still, you never know until you have passed the finish line.

No free refreshments at the finish line, and I had my money in my back at the changing area. I plodded there, and then plodded home. Now I need to recover.

  1. Val Jones says:

    Oh, my dear! I am so sorry that you didn’t meet your goal… but you finished in sun with hills!!!! You’ll beat the 4 hour mark next time. (I remember how crushed I was when I finished my last 1/2 marathon in 2 hours 1 minute. My goal had been to finish before 2 hours of course, and it’s all I could think about). So I’m going to try again in Nov. xo

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