To Amsterdam for the marathon. Just like last time: cycle to the station, train to Harwich, ferry to Hoek van Holland, train with one change to Amsterdam. And just like last time, I'd torn my left calf 3 plus weeks ago, but was now mostly recovered - at least, I'd survived the Peterborough half marathon last weekend, though I was to find that its not a good preparation for a marathon.
Instead of being picked up from the station, we'd arranged to meet for lunch, so I just mooched around very vaguely. I'd had some thought of finding the Rembrandthaus, but it was only a vague thought and I didn't try hard. I found a tiny cafe whose back hung over a canal and had a coffee and croissant there; I walked past the KattenKabinet though the museum was shut; I walked down the Keisersgracht. It was a soft grey day. Lunch with Si+Becky, then after-lunch coffee outside under the "bathtub" with Gregor and wife and child: the sun almost came out, briefly. Then I went off to pick up my bib number and so on, then back for dinner and a quiet evening in.
The day itself
Was grey, and somewhat but not very windy; cool but not too cold, hints of rain but no actual rain. Becky had left the porridge soaking overnight and then walked me down to the stadium - after last year, no-one trusts me not to get lost - and at 9 am I'm joining the stream of people. Absurdly, I have a "rose" strip, i.e. I'm one of the nominally 3-3:30 folk, I'm not sure how that happened, perhaps over-enthusiasm on my part. But no matter: just like last year, I'm in the loo when the gun goes off, and I happily let a minute or so worth or people past, so I can start in a sane place. Then just before the line I realise that my GPS has power-saved, so I have to stop for another minute or two to let it catch up. but no matter.
The GPS managed to lose about 350m at the start (which is why the first set of splits is so slow, not because it was crowded) which it gradually caught up during the race.
The race itself
I settled down at 5:10 ish, sometimes below 5, sometimes above 5:15. fairly comfortable, though perhaps not quite as effortless as it should have been - I began to feel last weekends half. Since I'd started late, I was slowly going through people, which was encouraging. It felt like quite a long time before we started going out down the Amstel, and I didn't have spare energy to watch the rowing boats as I'd had last year. but on the plus side, I kept the pace up fairly well, better than 5:30 out to nearly 30 k. After that, though, life became much harder and I slowed down. I kept calculating and recalculating in my head, but my hopes for 3:45 flowed past me, then 3:50, and then the question became whether I could beat my PB of 3:54 at Brighton.
In the end, the answer turned out to be No, by a minute.
Which was disappointing, but not crushingly so. When asked, I said I was content with my time, but not happy with it. I'd set myself a target of 3:45, but it was only a playful one: I'd done little marathon-specific training over the summer, and my injury a month or so back had put paid to the last set of long runs I'd hoped to do. At some point close to the end - perhaps km 39 - I managed to kick the in-facing legs of one of the barriers and mis-stepped, which pained my right calf, to the extent of making me deliberately slow down for 500m just to make sure I wasn't going to tear that. So with that, and the left calf, I didn't feel that I could run all-out; or, reversed, I had an excuse not to push myself too hard into the pain. I spent the last 10 k talking to myself inside my head, wondering whether I had the Strength of Will to push myself harder; and I decided that I didn't. Even looking back on it, I don't think I'd have chosen differently. But I look forward to the next one.
* GPS track