Firstly, overall the course was beautiful, going through VondelPark to begin and end was a highlight for sure! My first 10km were comfortable and I got through in my planned time of just over 56 minutes.
But between 11-25km things gradually changed. This part of the route was scenic and in parts like the toe path along the Thames, however narrow. This meant a lot of dodging and thus vital energy stores wasted from weaving! By taking my Clif shot bloks at every 7 km, energy wise I felt okay as we came to 30km. By this point we were in industrial Amsterdam and supporters were few and far between.
35km came and BOOM. This is where the digging started. People say a marathon starts from mile 18-20; boy they were not wrong. At the 35km water aid station I had to stop and take on board water and salts, I could feel my dehydration building. After a walk, a mental pick me up and a chat from a friendly English runner who saw my eyes glaze over he said 😂, we started to move again. By this point I was counting to 40km. If I could get to 40 I could do two more. By 39km we were in VondelPark again and my chest was screaming! Deep breaths in the last kms meant I was using my abs and core more aggressively than ever before. (I know this because my ribs are still KILLING me today). I hit the 40km mark and literally didn’t stop repeating PMA in my head over and over. As long as I stay positive, I can complete this.
41km arrived I had 1.2km to go. I ran maybe 500m then a pain from the depth of pure hell struck the base of my right rib. I thought it initially was a sharp stitch so, just held my side to hoped it would eased off. This was not the case. Every time I tried to run the pain got deeper, more intense and moved toward my chest. It has to have been the most scared I’ve been ever whilst running. I slowed to a walk and tried to steady my breathing which helped, so decided to try and run. But scarily, was struck AGAIN with the sharp deep pain in my core!
I walked, due to fear, until I saw a corner which led to the ramp of the Olympic stadium. Citius, Altius, Fortius it read. Higher faster stronger. That’s what was required of my for the final 200m of this race. So, I closed my eyes, mustered all I had left in my legs and sprinted for the line. Crossing that line I cried tears of relief and pain. I had done it. I survived. My first marathon done in 4hours 15minutes 13 seconds 🎉
Overall, the Amsterdam course was super flat and we couldn’t have asked for a better day weather wise. The magical start and finish in the stadium was fantastic. So any marathoners who haven’t done the race I recommend it!
Personally, it taught me I need to work on strength in my hamstrings and glutes as well as core, as those final 10km were hell on earth. It also taught me my mind is strong and can rise above and through pain.
Amsterdam thank you for the lessons, now for 18 days recovery, then I have the small task of completing an ironman 😳