2011 Amsterdam Half Marathon

Craig Jordan, SCT
Overall position (M) : 525 // Finish Time: 1:31:43
Coach’s remarks: By far, the most travelled T2A member we have, I guess when you trade arms, you do end up in these far flung regions however, this time Amsterdam for Jordo as he continues his pledge to race in every country before 2014. In all seriousness, a PB by 8 mins on a certified course 21.1km 1/2 marathon course, i am bloody happy with this Jordo!

This race wasn’t in my plans but a good friend from UK was keen to run her first half marathon and wanted me to run it with her.  Looking at my dates the best option seemed to be Amsterdam as I was in Europe the same week on business so it seemed we could kill 2 birds with stone as it were.  My plan was simply to use this is a training run to get test my legs after the marathon in Sri Lanka just a couple of weeks ago.  My fried was expecting a time around 2hrs 30min so my original plan was to run with her and just enjoy the day.  The trouble came with the marathon in Sri Lanka, although it was a decent run in the conditions I wasn’t really happy with my time and to make matters worse I felt unusually good after the race abd recovered really quickly.  I think in Sri Lanka the speed was limited by managing your core body temprature rather than muscle capability which is the normal limiting factor so the result was my legs feeling pretty good even after just 2 days recovery.

Over the next few days after the Colombo race I started thinking maybe I should change tactics and race hard in Amsterdam but was still undecided.  When I got home from Sri Lanka and repacked my bags for Europe I packed both slow road running shoes and my normal races.  I should have guessed at the time just packing my racers meant I would be running fast but I was still pretending to myself I might do a gentle training run.

Fast forward a week and I’m on the start line along with 11,288 other souls in Amsterdam.  I had put my potential time down for a 1:45 so was mid way in the masses.  Looking around I was amazed at some of the shapes and sizes in the 1:30 and 1:45 groups, clearly some of these people where just spouting out their backside when they put their potential times and that was to prove the case as I spent the entire run passing them all.  Adittedly I had put myself in a slower group than I probably should have but that again was based on it possibly just being a training run.

With so many people on the start line this was actually by far the biggest race I have ever takne part in with everyone starting at the same time.  Interesting and lots of fun.  The venue was good with good expo etc and we finished inside the old Olympic Stadium so a nice bit of history at the start\finish as well as the usual sights of Amsterdam on the way around and beautiful weather to add to the day although it was also quite cold.

My plan was to run the first 10km hard and see how long I could hold on from there.  Since Sri Lanka I had done a few quickish runs but nothing more than 10km and although I felt good on these outings I didn’t know if the marathon would come back and haunt me about 15km in.  The course as you would expect in Amsterdam was basically flat and fast, the only blocking factor was having to run around literally thousands of slower runners in front of me and negotiating very crowded aid stations.  I reached the 10km mark in 43mins 50sec, I was aiming sub 45 minutes so this hit the nail on the head.  From here in it was just a case of hold on as long as possible.  Ever since doing the 70.3 in Austria I get a bit paranoid around the 11km mark just in case I blow again as I in St Polten.  I made sure I got my Gu at the 45 minute mark and although hydration wasn’t a major issue unlike Sri Lanka I made sure I took something to drink at every aid station and just kept running.  Kilometres 10-12 were my slowest but I was still averaging 4:25min/km so wasn’t doing too bad although I did expect it would get worse.  However, once the Gu kicked in instead of getting slower I actually got progressivly faster all the way to the finish.

As I reached the 15km a line from Macca’s book was playing in my head.  I can’t remember the exact quote but in a head to head race over the final kilometres he says something like “there was only 5km left and I can suffer with any man for 5km….”  I wasn’t quite a brave as Macca so held back a bit with 5km still to go as I was still uncertain if my legs would suddenly blow up but as I counted down the kilometres and started to feel more confident about the finish I began slowly winding up the pace and from around 2.5km out just put it all out there, my last 3km splits were 4:08, 4:06 and 4:03….not bad for an old man 🙂

I crossed the line in 1 hour 31 minutes and 43 seconds the 525th male and inside the top 5% overall and 8 minutes of my PB in a race.  Unfortunately there are no age group splits so I have no idea how I fared on that front which is a bit annoying.  I don’t run many straight half marathon races,usually they are part of a 70.3 so this was a nice outing and I was amazed how easy it felt, going back to Macca;s quote and changing it slightly suffering for 91 minutes is actually quite pleasant when you are used to suffering for five and half hours.  The whole thing was over almost before it started, or at least this is how it felt to me.

The important thing about this run is giving my confidence possibly to go a bit harder in my next 70.3.  Apart from Korea I’ve been disappointed with my 70.3 runs this year but hopefully this will let me break through a glass ceiling and get that elusive sub 1:30 half marathon next time…………Kenting Nov 2011!

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