I ran a marathon at the weekend, you know, as you do. It was my first and I went to Amsterdam with my running club to do it. I thought Amsterdam would be perfect for my first marathon as it is generally flat, and on that point, and that point alone, I was perfectly correct. As for thinking that this flatness would help me in achieving a finish time of less than four hours, I was very wrong. To be fair to myself, I did sustain an injury to my back during the peak of my training which had put the marathon in doubt. A fantastic effort by the osteopath I was referred to led to me being ready, well my back was ready at least, the week before we were due to go. I had not run for nearly 4 weeks and was sceptical about my fitness for it. After a couple of runs to test my general fitness I decided to go for it and booked my hotel. Upon arriving in Amsterdam I had to attend an Expo in order to pick up my race number and timing chip. It was here I realised that I was actually going to run a marathon. Swerving around the various groups posing for photos with their race number in hand, I picked mine up, returned to my hotel, and, well s”%t myself basically! Not literally of course, but I did become very nervous about it all.
The club I was out there with were having a pre race dinner, about 28 people were there and NONE of them were drinking! Not even a glass of wine with dinner. How was I supposed to consume a pre race nerve steadier amongst that lot? If I did order a drink I might as well of asked them for any spare change as well! I resigned myself to sneaking a couple of the old ‘Dutch courage’ back at my hotel. This I did, sleep I did not. I wound myself up good and proper, in fact I did not really calm down until I had actually started the marathon itself. The first 25k went really well. I’m not talking in Kilometres instead of miles because I think I’m all European, it’s because that’s how the markers were laid out, and believe me, you will remember them. 15k to go! 10k to go! Only 5k to go! And so on. At around 25k my back started to play up. At 26k I thought it had gone totally and I stopped running and started walking. For the next 3 or 4 kilometres I ‘power walked’ resigning myself to stopping as this would be the most sensible thing to do. I was looking for a metro station en route, but the desire to finish completely overwhelmed any thoughts of quitting. That and the thought of sitting on a metro with race number et al being accused of cheating OR sniggered at by Local residents. All this drove me to limp, walk, trot, jog and hobble my way to the finish in a time of 4 hours and 48 minutes. The feeling you experience when you finish is hard to put into words but it is quite simply amazing. That feeling is totally enhanced when you realise you have finished ahead of the OAP’s and Elvis’s that seemed to pass you by…….just.
Medal received, burger and chips eaten and beer in hand, we swapped stories later that night in a Bar in Amsterdam, my euphoria dropping slightly as I realised I was last out of the group. Would I do another one? Oh yes, I have already entered for Berlin next year. I had an excuse this time as I was carrying a back injury. If next year, fully fit, I end up running with the Jugglers, clowns and roman soldiers again, then yes, it will be my last.