I'm back! After a GREAT weekend. All my misgivings were misplaced - I had a fantastic time for the following reasons:
- I had a wonderful time with my parents. This is the first time they have both been able to watch me run a marathon and they were SO incredibly supportive and interested it was amazing. They met us at 4 places and my father puts the papparazzi to shame, I think I have a about 90 photos of this race! They met me at the airport at lunchtime on Saturday and we just had such a wonderful time together for the next 2 days. We had meals and coffees, chatted, laughed and got caught up. My mother came out both days even though she had flu, my father and uncle picked me up by bike on race day to take me to the start (the race went by my hotel so all the roads were closed), they were there fully for me for the whole time. And they were so proud! I am SO lucky.
- family support - in the UK and in Holland. At home my husband manned the home front and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law helped out to look after the kids. In Holland my uncle put my parents up, organised a restaurant for us on Saturday - pasta at 6! - and was so sweetly supportive and interested. Then to my great surprise about 5 km into the race I heard someone shout out my name - 2 of my cousins had heard I was running and had turned up to cheer me on! I can't tell you the lift this gave me!
- running support. I have never run a marathon with anyone I know but it was amazing to run it with Sally. She's been such a great running mate and her talent and ability is quite incredible. Bear in mind that at the beginning of this year the girl had never run 10 miles. We got into our starting pen which was for the 4-4:30 hour finishers and she moved straight to the 4:15 pacing team. I really wasn't sure about this - given all my misapprehensions recently I felt this was ambitious - but she reassured me we could always drop back. Well my friends, once we started we stayed together. Although the race was measured in kms I still had my Polar watch set to miles so I could measure our pace against what I'd run in training. Although I soon realised it was slightly "off" we managed to keep an incredibly consistent pace throughout the race. When I felt like flagging she was steaming along and dragged me along - when she was in pain I made like Oprah and asked her all sorts of trivia and distracting questions.
The footage above was shot by my mother on my camera but it shows you we did the whole thing side-by-side. And I can't believe how consistently we ran. These are our splits (with 5K splits in brackets) as they were sent through this morning:
10K 58:50 (29:12)
15K 1:28:33 (29:33)
20K 1:59:54 (31.21)
half marathon 2:06:54
25K 2:40:57 (30:53)
30K 3:00:36 (29:49)
35K 3:30:33 (29:57)
40K 3:59:50 (29:17)
Yes my friends - I pulled off a PB! With an average pace of 9:37 per mile I smashed my Chicago record of 4:17 and took off 5 minutes to finish in 4:12:17! And I owe it all to my friend Sally whose pace is like a metronome..
- finally - how was it? How did it feel? The race was well organised and had a great start and finish in the Olympic stadium which felt very professional. Because we were all lined up along the track you could actually see the elite take off which was great. The race wound through the city and then went on an out and back along the Amstel River for about 15K which was suddenly very rural, very Dutch (windmill alert) and very exposed to the wind! Again, because this was out and back we could see the elite sprinting back as we jogged out which was great if intimidating. There weren't enormous crowds and there were some quiet bits (particularly out in the countryside) but people were really friendly and shouted out support and the water stops were great - bananas at each one! On a personal level, I felt the whole way round like I was pushing myself, but not beyond what I could handle. At mile 18 I remember a brief fantasy of wanting to lie down, and Sally and I didn't talk much the last 6 miles other than the occasional "you alright?" "yep" conversation. Oh - we did actually each tell the other to take off if they fancied it and I think both thought, when asked, that we must be looking better than we felt.. Sally did suddenly take off the last 400M and I really had to pull everything in to stay with her at that point - I felt very nauseous right before the end - but we finished together and once it was over, everything felt great. And then, of course, there was wine, and chips, and licorice and yes - even herring.
And finally - thank you to all of you who sent me such supportive e-mails last week when I really felt very much that I was not going to pull it off. Your faith in me was incredible and very much appreciated. I thought of every one of you as I ran - Maddy in San Francisco, Shirley in Nebraska, Melisa in Ohio and Chris running her 5K (only a week before her BIG day) in Florida. And everyone else who was out there running, training or just generally sending me good vibes - they did not go to waste! Thank you!