Rotterdam Marathon 2016 — Sub 3 at long last sub 3!

Pre-race: we got to Holland on Thursday afternoon and stayed in Rotterdam on Thursday night. On Friday I signed in to the race and headed to Den Haag for 2 days, that was a good decision, Den Haag is a really nice town, and only 25 mins away by train, so even on race day I could travel over without problems.

I tapered quite a lot. On Thursday I didn’t run (but walked quite a lot), and on Friday and Saturday I ran with Katja in the park, doing a few strides on Saturday to be race ready. Diet-wise it probably wasn’t ideal as we were away from home, so eating out and enjoying the buffet breakfast in the hotel. I tried to control myself and keep my fibre down, no spoilers so I won’t say now if that was successful or not!

So to the big race, the big day. I have certainly put in more miles than ever before, I have smashed my 10k and HM PB, now I set myself a goal of sub 2:50 for the marathon

The race: After struggling to get to the toilet before the race (there was one real toilet and 4 urinals in the whole corral!) I luckily managed my last pee 2 mins before the start! Even though I was in a forward group, group C, we got out a little slow. I soon managed to find a liltte space and I was happy enough to get my GPS pace down to 4:15 pretty quickly. There was no KM marker in the first 4km, which made accurate pace keeping a bit difficult! I was overtaking quite a few people though and I got over the bridge, which was a surprisingly long climb, in good order. I decided fairly spontaneously to start a lap on my watch after every 5km, so I could make sure that I wasn’t drifting from my goal pace without noticing it quickly. I went through the first 5km in about 20:40, which was much slower than I had planned, but was the pace that felt right at the time. I was a little disappointed to see that my HR was about 160, even though I wasn’t going at goal pace.

I settled in anyway and between 5km and 10km was pretty dull and seemed to take a long time. Really I would have to say that it wasn’t a very interesting race to be a part of. I knew that I wasn’t feeling on top form, so I was managing my pace and just waiting for the kms to tick away. I got through 10km in 41mins, so about 30 seconds down on goal time, no biggy, but not ideal. After about 16km, I noticed that I was going to need a portaloo break, in the first 2 drink stations I could only find water, I had taken my gel after 9km, then at 15km I found the energy drinks (they were right at the end in different cups). I decided it was go time, so I ran until seeing a toilet, jumped in and was done in about 20 seconds, no real harm done.

I started to take the energy drinks at each station as there was nothing to eat, and I had only brought one gel with me. They didn’t seem to agree with my stomach much though, but fortunately it wasn’t always leading to a toilet stop! I got through the half way point still feeling comfortable in 1:27:15 or so.. I had already decided in my head that 2:50 would have to be for another day and today would be a comfortable sub3 run. I think if I went for a faster time it could have ended badly. After 27km or so we went over the big bridge again, I saw my heart rate make it’s first real move about 162–3, but I got it back under control. I had hoped to see Katja sometime in the town, but it didn’t happen as the course didn’t go where we had thought it did.

There is a second, non-repeat, loop in Rotterdam. After 29km I saw almost exactly 2h on my GPS, and after 30km we ran on the otherside of the road from the 40km sign, ‘oh to be there already’ I thought to myself! I still felt like I was cruising and I was overtaking a lot of people at this point. So much so that it was quite difficult to keep the correct pace, everyone seemed to be going backwards! After 32km I started with some negative maths in my head, I could run the last 10km in 47 minutes and still do a sub3, I should be able to do that! After each km I could look and see that an even slower time per km would now give me a sub 3, I pretty much knew that it was in the bag.

After 36km I felt some more movements going on and knew the portaloo was a calling. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable running and was probably losing time, so as soon as I found one after 37km I was in and sorted out that problem. With 5km to go I was happy that I could run problem free to the end, I’d also decided that I wouldn’t be sprinting it in as fast as possible! The kms ticked down and there were ever more timing mats! Soon enough I could look over and see the 30km marker on the other side ‘damn I’m pleased I’m not over there’ I thought to myself! The last 2km were pretty much ok, I was constantly calculating and giving myself ever easier time goals, like 6 mins for the last 1.2km or 2 1/2 mins for the last 500m! I could soon see the finish and I was so happy it was nearly over. I saw my Katja at the side of the road which really made me smile. I made an effort to smile generally for the last few hundred metres so that any photos or videos look a bit better than normal. I crossed the line in 2:55:32.

There’s quite a big area after the end of the race where there are no drinks or anything to eat, and you also can’t get out! I got my medal and had a little cry. It wasn’t a sad cry, I was just tired and happy to have done a good time, I know it is a good time, it might not have been my goal time or what I should have run, but it is still a damn good time! I had a little chat with some of the other finishers, some over the moon that they ran 2:55 when they were hoping for 2:59, others gutted that they ran 2:53 when aiming for 2:40! The weather was really good for running, but it was a cloudless day, meaning I found it pretty warm. I think some others found that too.

I think for the future I have to work on my pre-race, and during race diet. I have bowel problems when I run, I know that. Last year for my long distance tri I ate italian the night before the race, it’s low fibre, easily digested and caused no problems. This time I felt bloated and think it was too salty for me. I will look for an airbnb for Berlin so that I can cook exactly what I want the night before and morning of the race. I also got a packed meal from the hotel the morning of the race, it was nice of them given that I wanted to eat before breakfast started serving, but cheese and turkey sandwiches wouldn’t be what I would choose at home, an omlette and rice worked perfectly before Frankfurt Half for me.

Anyway, enough of the epilogue, my triathlon season starts (gently) on Tuesday. I will run Berlin in late September so I plan to keep my running up more than I did last summer. Although the race itself today wasn’t too much fun, I feel much better after the race than after Bonn or Frankfurt. I expect a break through race sometime, so maybe Berlin will be the one, sub 2:45 anyone???

Originally published at

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