On Sunday April 11th, 2021, I ran a marathon, which was organised locally as an alternative for the (again) postponed Rotterdam Marathon. I didn't really decide to register until a week before, but I'm really glad I finally did, because I finished in 2:46:37!
Official time by MyLaps: 2:46:37!
Coming from a PB of 2:58 in 2018, that's much more than I dared hoping for. Those are not just words, which I will explain below.
The taper was less than perfect, of course, because of the late decision and the large number of unofficial races I ran prior. However, there were some races I ran as test for my envisioned marathon pace, which probably helped a lot -- not in the least mentally. So, although I tapered for only one week instead of the usual two to three weeks, I did improve my carb loading by calculating my needs, cooking and preparing everyhting four days prior to the marathon, and rigourously carb loading and sticking to the plan for the next three days. (I'll post the calculations sometime later. For registration, I used MyFitnessPal.) I feel it really worked, because I did not experience any depletion during the marathon, which was a first.
Start at 10:30 AM.
The weather conditions were okay-ish, because forecasts included snow, but they were clearly wrong. There was heavy wind, though, and given that the course was in a quite windy park, it made the course quite tough. However, as I was deciding on whether or not to compete, I heard a group of runners from another track club would start at 4:00 p/km pace, which would set a finish time of 2:48. That was my plan A. Plan B was to start at 4:05, and plan C was to start at 4:10. As I noticed the wind cycling to the course, I decided to go with the group, to keep each other out of the wind. Running slightly too fast would be preferrable to running somewhat slower, but alone. I did not regret this. I felt good and we started fast, around 3:53 p/km. We quickly got to a very constant pace just below 4:00 p/km (3:57, 3:58), and it felt right. Around half of the group fell behind during the second half, but in the end, we were a group of four and keeping each other out of the head winds for stretches of 2K, and later 1K, worked very well, and everyone did their best to help each other. What a great feeling to work together! Add to that the fact that my coach, Carla Ophorst, and team members from RA were there to support and provide advice, and you have all the ingredients for a great race!
The race was very windy, but apart from that, the weather was okay.
Of course, running a marathon never really feels easy, but it were only the last two K's that really felt hard, perhaps because the group sped up a bit so close to the finish. I could exactly tell where it began to hurt: my upper legs started to feel really tired and to strain. What I learn from that, is that I can probably benefit from more squats and quad muscle exercises. That's great, because it is totally trainable. Back to the race: I increased my own pace to around 3:45 p/km, but the other guys went off a bit faster. In the end, I finished in 2:46:37, and they finished 7 seconds faster, so no real lag there.
We worked together as group, keeping a very steady pace and keeping each other out of the wind.
I secretly hoped to finish around 2:50, which was already a stretch, so you can imagine how incredibly happy I was when I finished in 2:46. You can also imagine a new goal immediatly popped up... I'm going to aim to run a sub-2:45 in Rotterdam in the fall, if it's not postponed again. Yes, <2:45 is being ambitious, but given my current time, I think it is a realistic goal.
My coach and members of the team were there to provide support, which I greatly appreciate and which really helps mentally.
Great support for all RA runners!
For now, I'm sticking to a recovery plan of four weeks, and I did not run for two days after the marathon. On Wednesday I did a short run, which felt okay. No pains except muscle aches in the upper legs, and some chafing from the Hoka's. If that's all, you won't hear me complain!
The medal (although I'm not really a medal enthusiast, I do value this one very much)