Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm back!

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:
5K 29:38
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)
42K 4:12:17
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!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

4 days, 14 hours - I'm nearly there..

And am I ready for it? Finally, I think I am getting there. People have been asking me for weeks and I have to say that I've been thinking "No, I'm not". I've found it hard to get into my marathon zone for this race.

This is, in part, because I'm not traveling far for it and making complicated arrangements. It's out on Saturday am (1 hour flight from our local airport), back late Sunday night. Adam's staying home with the kids so I'm not making my usual complicated childcare arrangements, and I know Amsterdam well so I'm not so concerned with attaching a holiday / sightseeing to it. All good stuff, but all this preparation does get you in the mood, I've realised, and because I've been so preoccupied with life here I've not really focused on my trip.

Then, I suppose, I haven't been in the mood because part of me is worried about it. Don't get me wrong - I know I'll finish it. But I'm worried that I'm not going to finish well enough - in my own judgment. I feel I've done a lot of training but over the past 4/5 months I've given it 80%, not 100%.. And now that the race is almost here I'm just trying to adjust myself to the fact that I may well not run as well or as fast as I did in last year's Chicago marathon. And that's fine too - I know that - I just want to feel fine about that. Does anyone else know what I mean?

However, by and large I'm ready. The training is almost done, it is what it is and I've got what I have in my pot. So I'm going to go out there on Sunday morning and give it my best. I promise.. This is the first time I'm running a race with so many of you reading my blog and checking on my progress - adds to nerves but also excitement! I don't think they're giving updates during the race but the website is here. And I'll post as soon as I get home..

Finally - great good luck to all of you out there running a race this weekend - we're all in this together! Maddy, Shirley and everyone else - stay happy and enjoy the race!

Friday, October 05, 2007


Okay I was going to go on a complain fast. I was reading about it in Oprah last night (I know I know just don't even go there) and I realised that I had, in fact, been complaining a lot and it would do me (and those who have to listen) a great deal of good if I just shut up. So I thought this was a great idea. But before I do that I just have to have a few last vents:
- I went to see a friend this week who lives in beautiful Derbyshire, also known as the Peak district, which is about an hour away from here. I went for a lovely 5.5 mile run there even though it's the PEAK district. Hilly does not begin to describe the sheer crevasses I ran up like a mountain goat (an old ailing one but still). I was all perky and run-happy and even took some photos. I had clearly had a few too many coffees that day because look at the photos.. It was a horrible day! I did really enjoy it - sometimes it's trips like this that make you realise the joy of running is being able to enjoy places like this - even in the rain. HOWEVER and here is my big moan - I forgot my running shoes at my friend's house! Now that is not an enormous problem - I do have my "old" ones which are fine BUT my running shoes have my iPod sensor on them and so I am not recording any miles for the Great Pickled Herring challenge that Maddy started! Can you believe the frustration? Anyway I am hoping that I will get my shoes back sometime next week. But I've already run another 8 without recording.. Boohoo....
- there is no live update from the Amsterdam Marathon! None of you guys can follow me as the race goes along. They do use chips (doh!) but there is no updating as we go along! I guess I took it for granted - at NYC and Chicago they sent updates to mobile phones and updated on the internet - but no.. How annoying.
- I'm tired. I'm so plodding through my runs. My crazy life shows no sign of calming down and I'm in tired headless chicken mode. Achieving very very little, I might add.

So - ok. Complain fast now. I'm going to store all this frustration and energy within me without letting the top off so there are two options:
- I explode in unbridled fury at whichever poor person it is who does me some perceived tiny wrong which tips the balance. OR
- I do something about those elements I can change that are frustrating me. So I can get some sleep, just enjoy my running without recording my runs and start again when my shoes come back, and just enjoy the marathon.

Plan B is probably preferable for all involved.. So now I'm going to have to cut this entry short because it's Saturday am, I'm in my study and I can hear my daughter (7) vacuuming downstairs. If she vacuums, something is broken ... So in calm and collected mood, I will sail down the stairs and survey the apocalypse. Wish me strength my friends and happy running!