Amsterdam Race Report – Number Ten

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I can’t believe it came around so fast. I think it’s probably because a lot has been going on since I started the four month training plan – I’ve changed jobs, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and even got another job on a temporary basis. I’ve booked holidays to Edinburgh and York, visited and had visitors.  I’ve also eaten the world’s best lasagne and drunk some delicious beer.

 

I’ve gotten up at ridiculous o’clock to run stupid miles before parkrun. I’ve had good runs and bad runs (some bad runs in the ‘other’ sense, that’s for sure). I’ve managed a parkrun PB and I’ve done a 10k race as part of the training. I’ve weathered a three week cold which left me grumpy and nervous that I was too far behind to catch up. I’ve registered for Paris and managed to get Mr Charming signed up too.  I have been so lucky. I am supported by such an amazing bunch of people, from the running buddies who kept me company and made me routes to family and friends who listen while I explain that I can’t go out and get drunk because I had x miles to do the next day. Most of all, thank you to Mr Charming. Not content with supporting in the cold and wet for the last four years while I flit around the world doing races, he is now pushing himself and joining in. I don’t mean to brag, but he got a sub 2 for his second half marathon.  That is pretty amazing indeed.

 

After countless races, I don’t get nervous before them anymore. Well, not really. I get excited and anticipatory, but I don’t tend to worry that I’m not going to sleep or eat well or anything.

 

So, we had a massive flight from Norwich to Amsterdam – a whole 30 minutes! It was luxurious to be able to get a taxi the short distance and then hop on the plane. I almost grumbled that I didn’t have time to read my book properly. Okay, might have done a small grumble.

We landed in Schipol and then set off towards our airbnb’d apartment that we were sharing with friends for the weekend.

We found it without wandering around too much of the Vondelpark, hoorah.  The apartment was beautiful, although there were too many stairs for us marathoners! I love airbnbing in a different country because you generally get a better feel for what’s a typical house in that locality.

 

We went to the Van Gogh museum on Friday after landing about lunchtime. We were in the museumplein district so it was within easy walking distance.  It was great – I would recommend booking in advance as the queues were pretty long and it was drizzling a bit too. Thank you to the lovely person who advised me to book!

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Best. Slippers. Ever.

On Saturday we went to the expo to pick up our numbers and buy some ridiculously brilliant orange slipper clogs from the race sponsor, Mizuno. They sold a lot of clogs that day, that’s for sure. I also got suckered into buying a super expensive but lovely and cosy Mizuno hoodie. Woops.

 

After a bit of wandering and a bit of sitting, we went to Mazzo for pizza and pasta. If you’re going to Amsterdam, I’d recommend it. It’s beautiful and the food was pretty good too.

 

We got a reasonably early night after deciding that we’d try and get a tram to the start. Amsterdam transport shuts down for race day so be warned, you’ll need to make sure you know how you’re getting there in advance.

 

I woke up at about 6am and had breakfast of porridge and a couple of slices of toast with butter and jam, with a coffee. I’d had a protein shake the night before.  We got ready and left about 7.30, to get to the start for 8.15. It always takes longer than you think to do stuff on race day,  so plan for getting into the baggage queue, toilet queue etc. It’s a good idea to get to a race an hour before the start, especially if it’s a big city race.

Just before I left I realised that Mother Nature/Sod’s Law/Scientific cycles* had conspired against me for this marathon, and I was going to have to run it with a uniquely female er, visitor. I hope that’s not too obtuse, without spelling it out!

pre start

Some of the BCRC crew before the start! If you saw any of our stool flags, let me know

We got to the start, which was heaving with people. Bag drop is not in numbers, you just walk up to a queue and they’ll give you a corresponding sticker and put it on your bib.  It’s a good idea but it seemed like unnecessary organisation to me. What happened if the sticker fell off? I can’t remember my name at the end of any race, let alone an arbitrary number on a sticker I’d seen five hours before. My sticker did not fall off, thankfully.

 

There was a bottleneck to get into the stadium and we didn’t get in until about 9:20 after queueing from around 9am, so it’s worth getting in earlier than planned if you want time in the pens to warm up and go for a last minute wee.  It started to rain very gently – enough to get the pavement wet and definitely nowhere near Stockholm’s downpour!

 

It’s worth saying at this point that in terms of running, I was feeling more confident than I’ve ever been. I got a parkrun PB on Saturday, completely unexpectedly. I did a 6.66 mile run on Wednesday that called for 2 miles at MP (around 9:30min/mil), and I struggled to keep slower than 9:15. One of the miles was 8:42min/mil!

suze run

Thanks to E for the race photo. I’m wearing my go faster sleeves and co-ordinating like a boss, completely by accident

We were soon off, with the requisite fanfare of Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s going to be a good night” (I have no idea why they always play that at races. It’s a good beat but it is slightly annoying). There was a bit of a bottleneck at the start as we went out of the stadium and turned left.

The miles ticked by and I knew it was a good run because I kept miscalculating the km markers – I thought we had more miles to go than we did!

A race of two halves

Can you tell where I plunged off the chart?!

The aid stations were regular and well signposted, offering water, AA Lemon drink, bananas and sponges at them all. Some of them had AA gels as well.

miles 1-17

A slow first mile due to the bottlenecks but quickly made up

As you can see, the first 16 miles ticked along nicely. My heartrate was floating above 150, even dropping down to about 130 as I relaxed and enjoyed the run. There were plenty of fellow BCRCers on the course supporting and running, so it was lovely to spot people along the way.

 

When it got to around mile 15, there’s a bit of a gap where I had the first wave of cramps which stopped me dead. I felt nauseated and could only double over in an effort to relieve them. From then, I was able to run for a couple of minutes at a time before stopping again to breathe through them. I begged some paracetamol from the paramedics and talked to as many people around me as I could. Even at mile 20 I was entirely fine, and hadn’t even got out of breath yet. The problem was, as soon as I started to run, my inner organs mounted their own fearsome protest against dealing with outside force as well as internal. You can see in the second half where I picked up a friend, around 4 miles from the finish. She was struggling with hip pain and together we pulled each other round. I remember looking at my watch as 3:59 ticked on by to 4:00, and being rueful and disappointed and frustrated.

kms 18-27

Despite all of this, before I knew it we were going through the Vondelpark on the way to the stadium. I loved the finish – going in on the right hand side and passing the finishers coming out the other way on the left, resplendent in their medals and majestic in their plastic sheets. Watching from the stands was even better, like some unfathomable cycle of life.

 

I finished in 4:38. My tenth marathon. I have such mixed feelings about it – I almost want to forget it as it was so terrible. I felt so frustrated and annoyed at such a betrayal by my own body. On the other hand, it shows how far I’ve come as it’s still better than my first marathon and I felt so amazing afterwards, I was able to bounce up and down the stairs (much to the non amusement of my roommates) and I thoroughly enjoyed the race itself despite the rain and the bottlenecks. It was a great weekend with excellent people. I’m also pleased that the P&D seems to be working for me. High mileage looks like a good idea – so long as I rest properly on rest days and make sure I keep up with my vitamin C.

Roll on Paris 2016! In the meantime, I have St Neot’s half marathon and Adnams Southwold 10k. Hopefully I’m going to have Cambridge half in February as part of the Spring Campaign – if I get in!

medal

A decent medal but not my favourite one

 

 

 

 

 

 

*delete where appropriate

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Sixteen: RACE WEEK!

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Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
12th October

MON

Rest
  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
 At this point, I’ve stopped weighing myself, to be honest! I know I could do with losing a few lbs but I’m happy where I am right now.

Rest

TUES  Recovery 6M
  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching

5.58 recovery ave pace 9:43min/mil

WED Dress Rehearsal 7M w 2M @ MP
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 6.66M ave pace 9:10min/mil

Struggled to keep the pace below 9:30, even managed an 8:42!

THURS  Rest
  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
 Yoga class
FRI Recovery + speed 5M w 6 x100m strides
  • + 500 calories, make this carb focussed
· keep hydrated

Stretch and yoga

Flight to Amsterdam from Norwich that day

Rest

SAT  Recovery 4M
  • +500kcals
  • Eat a carb focussed lunch and dinner, as early as you can to aid digestion
  • Keep hydrated
·  Stretch  Walked around Amsterdam

porridge and toast for breakfast

Burrito for lunch

pizza for dinner

protein shake before bed

SUN RACE DAY!
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 Porridge and toast for breakfast

4h38

Positive split of 1:59/2:39.

Well, more to come in the race report, but it was definitely one of two halves!

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Fifteen

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Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
5th October

MON

Rest or Cross Training
  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
TUES  General aerobic + speed 7M w 8 x 100m strides
  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching

Assessment Centre in London for job position so unable to run that day

WED VO2 Max 8M w 3 x 1600m @ 5k race pace jog 50-90% intervals inbetween
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 5.55M 9:10min/mil
THURS  Rest or cross training
  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
 Yoga
FRI Recovery + speed 5M w 6 x 100m strides
  • no change
· Maintain micro nutrient intake on rest days  7M at 08:54min/mil
SAT  Rest or cross training
  • +500kcals
·  Stretch  6.69M with parkrun in the middle.

new PB! 24:15. Extra chuffed because I didn’t think I was running that fast.

SUN  Medium Long Run 12M
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 12.09M at 09:32min/mil average

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Fourteen

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Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
28th September

MON

Rest or Cross Training
  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
Cycled around the city doing house/life admin
TUES  VO2 Max 8M w 5 x 600m @5k race pace jog 50-90% of the interval time inbetween
  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching

8M with 1/2mile of HMP x 6 ave pace of 9:34min/mil

WED Recovery 6M
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 6.5M approx ave pace of 9:45min/mil
THURS  Rest or Cross Training
  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
 5k at MPish 8:47min/mil

Did Beginners SRC with a friend and walked around Whitlingham. Total daily mileage estimated to be 7ishM

FRI Recovery + speed 4M w 6 x 100m strides
  • no change
· Maintain micro nutrient intake on rest days  Yoga class
SAT  8-10k tune up race total 9-11M
  • +500kcals
·  Stretch  Switched days so Long Run today.

16M at ave pace of 9:37min/mil. First 13 done in 2:02. Very slow parkrun

SUN  Long Run 16M
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 ‘Recovery’ 9M done in 9:21ave pace

Fell asleep on the sofa at 8.30pm. Rock and roll.

Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed a decline in my calorie counter. I am still recording on My Fitness Pal but not accurately enough to be of any real use, to be honest. I am still trying to stick to the guidelines of 50% carb, 20% protein and 30% fat, and generally get on okay with those.

I am making my way back slowly from the Cold That Wouldn’t Die, and am feeling okay about Amsterdam. I’m not going to be breaking any records – I missed the speed section and some of the endurance, so Saturday’s long run was much harder than perhaps it should have been.

A friend who did the same plan recently smashed his PB by 5 minutes, achieving an amazing 3:54 at Loch Ness, so it does work! I’m not going to lie. It’s a lot of effort. But worth it, and I feel strong with this round.

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Thirteen

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Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
21sy September

MON

Rest or Cross Training
  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
 Went to York
TUES  Recovery and speed 7M w 6 x 100m strides
  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching

4.74M around York wall ave pace of 9.36min/mil

WED VO2 Max 10M w 4 x 1200m @5krace pace/jog 50-90% of the interval time in between
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 rest
THURS  Rest or cross training
  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
 4.49M @ 9.08min/mil ave

Was storming until a stop at a bathroom cut the run short

FRI Medium Long Run 11M
  • no change
· Maintain micro nutrient intake on rest days  Yoga class
SAT  Recovery 4M
  • +500kcals
·  Stretch  6.59M with parkrun, fastest time since April

9:04min/mil average

SUN  Long Run 20M
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 20.01M average speed 10:38.

That was slow, and painful, but I did it!

You may have noticed an absence of calories this week. Mr Charming and I went to York for our anniversary, and indulged in all manner of cake and ale and steak and chocolate, and it was glorious.

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Twelve

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Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
14th September

MON

Rest or Cross Training
  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
 Yoga
TUES  General aerobic run 8M
  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching
WED VO2 Max 9M w 5x 1000m @ 5k race pace/jog 50-90% f interval time inbetween
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 4.49M at average  pacse of 9.14min/mil

 

THURS  Rest or cross training
  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
 accompanied friend to Sweatshop for 3M ish
FRI Medium long run 12M
  • no change
· Maintain micro nutrient intake on rest days  10ish M. Couldn’t get enthused
SAT  Recovery 5M
  • +500kcals
·  Stretch  5.24M at 9.04min/mil
SUN  Marathon Pace 18M w 14M @MP
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 9.04M at average pace of 9.08min/mil

I stil can’t shake this cold. I’m feeling better but am still snotty and croaky. I’m going to try and ramp it up next week and then catch the last three weeks of the training cycle properly.

I will say though, I’ve really enjoyed the P&D. It’s tough, it’s high mileage but it seems to be doing the trick for me. 10mile runs don’t seem daunting and I feel much stronger than I did for Loch Ness.

Journey to Amsterdam – Week Eleven

Standard
Week Breakdown Nutrition Breakdown Other Considerations Comments
7th September

MON

Rest or Cross Training

7.19M ave pace 09:52min/mil

  • base rate of 1500kcals
  •   Think about how you feel.·  Weigh in
  • Make sure you’re getting enough water
3lbs lighter than the last time I weighed in. I feel musclier, if that’s a word

excellent run with buddy

TUES  VO2 Max 8M w 5 x 600m @5k race pace/jog 50-90% of the interval time inbetween

recovery and rest

  • +200kcals before run as carbohydrate snack
  • Keep fluids up
Need to keep stretching

2,701 calories

WED Medium Long Run 12M
  • base rate
  •  Report how you feel.
  • Stretching
 12.26M @9.30min/mil pace.
Felt excellent until nearly mile 10, then felt nauseated and dizzy. Heartrate was 214 so walked/ran home

2,102 calories

THURS  Rest or Cross Training

5M with running buddy, felt a bit odd in the middle but finished okay

  • +400kcals
  • Spread additional over the whole day and look to keep GI low when taking on carbohydrates.
  • ·  Remember to be taking on micro nutrients where ever possible.·
  • Don’t let fluid intake drop
ave pace of 9:11min/mil

2,059 calories

FRI Recovery + speed 5M w 6 x 100m strides
  • no change
· Maintain micro nutrient intake on rest days  Rested. By walking around Norwich for the Heritage Open weekend…

2,318 calories

SAT  8-15k tune up race (total 9-13M)
  • +500kcals
·  Stretch  Attempted a 17M run, got 2M in and heart rate was 196. Went home to rest
SUN  Long run 17M
  • +300 kcals
  • Keep drinking water and fluids
  • Try to retain the nutrient balance
  • Anti-Spasms
  • Stretch
  • Self-massage
 Rest and recovery.

1,196 calories (but that didn’t include dinner of filled pasta, olive oil bread and pesto)

This week has been a frustrating mix of good running and feeling rubbish. I’m definitely battling a virus but a low level one, so I feel fine until I try any sort of exertion, and then my heart races and I feel woozy and weak. Very annoying. I know that I need to rest to get better so I’m doing that. It’s hard though!

Also, I need to make sure that I change out of my running stuff quickly, I’ve been getting home and doing stuff lately, rather than having a shower and getting warm and dry straightaway. I think this has probably helped the cold. Lesson learnt!