AMSTERDAM MARATHON 2011
My older son Miro is born in Amsterdam fifteen years ago. Since we live in the US we went back to Amsterdam a couple of times and I promised we would back when he would turn 15. We did go back when the was 13 on a lark to watch the Soccer World Cup Final on Museumplein (we were in France already). The Dutch lost…
And one day we became aware that the Amsterdam Marathon 2011 was one day away from his birthday (some years exactly on his birthday) so I asked him if he would be interested to run it. And he said yes! A perfect example of someone who jumps into their first marathon and doesn’t know how painful it’s going to be and that’s great! I did my first marathon when I was about 16 and I actually walked the whole time – and I couldn’t walk for one day!
Amsterdam marathon is pretty flat! It goes all around the city and out of the city too. Interestingly enough it doesn’t go through much of the inner section of canals. It goes out to areas I have never visited in the south (I lived in Amsterdam for a long time!). The course starts and ends at the Olympic Stadium. In essence: easy course with no hills – perfect for a first marathon.
TRAINING AND STRATEGY
Miro is very athletic already and he has played soccer consistently for over 10 years. He also has completed two Ironkids triathlon races. In this context, it wasn’t too far fetched to imagine him finish a marathon under 6 hours (cut off time for Amsterdam!)
Based on those assumptions I only took him on 3 long runs in hills. The first one was 10 miles in Griffith, the second one about 14 miles and the third one 18 miles. Every run was hot and hilly! The last one was a little hard at the end but that was the whole point. Getting a pre-taste of the pain involved in those 26.2 miles. Miro did remarkably well on the training runs. On the last 18 miles one he even sprinted on the last uphill!
Regarding the strategy, on race day I figured I would pace Miro on a run/walk rhythm that would mimic the soccer pattern. Sometimes he has played two or three games in a day. That requires a lot of endurance. I would carry some food, hydration, and caffeine for later in the race. The run/walk pattern would be 5 km run and 1 km walk. During the training runs we did 15 min run and 5 min walk. The race would be a bit more ambitious also perhaps mixing time and distance.
The marathon was on Sunday so we flew from LA to Amsterdam on Thursday and got there on Friday. We went to get our bibs and swag bags at the Olympic Stadium. The weather was perfect already. Blue sky and mild temperature. It was fun to already have a peek at the Olympic Stadium where we would start from and finish at.
Also, we spent the whole Saturday doing absolutely nothing but watch television at the apartment. Eat some pasta and go to bed early. For the nutrition, we were going to rely on course nutrition and I would carry a green tea energy shot as well as a couple of gels and Endurolyte capsules.
There was a comfortable start time at 9 am! With our jet lag, it was like starting a marathon at midnight! We took the first train from Waterlooplein at 7 am. And it was packed! Everyone was going to the stadium! There were people from all over Europe. The ride was fun. We went to the stadium with the other runners to wait for the start.
And boom! Time to run! We sustained a really good pace. Then I don’t know what happened: I lost Miro! Initially, we were supposed to wait for each other at a food station but there was no food and I couldn’t find him! Only perhaps 6 miles / 10 k into the race! How frustrating! The fun was that we could run it together and the important part was also that I had the food and the watch for pacing.
So I ran up and down the course for a while like a maniac to try to find him (barefoot shoes). Then I ran ahead and waited somewhere and scanned all the runners. It’s tough work to be a spectator at a race… and run the race!
Then I went on and luckily there was a section with a turnaround point and he saw me and waited for me. Phew. I figured later that I must even have missed it when he passed by me! And vice versa. And we didn’t bring cellphones. We got more careful for the rest of the race.
The run/walk pacing seemed to work pretty fine. Miro’s ankle started to hurt at some point. Later on, maybe around mile 18 or 20, I could tell it was getting really hard for him ( I bet it’s not even apparent on the video). But without any help, he pressed on and ran.
Then, by the time we got to Vondelpark on the return to the stadium and kilometer 40 Miro was flying and the gate for the last kilometer gave him some wings and as soon as we entered the stadium he started to sprint and passed many exhausted runners! What a treat to cross the finish line with my boy! There aren’t many fathers out there who are fortunate enough to be able to run a marathon with their sons on their 15th birthday. In Amsterdam!
He finished in 5:01:47 and we could probably have gone sub-5 if we wouldn’t have lost each other. For a first marathon, this is an awesome time. Miro could go sub-3 for sure in his early 20s without too much effort. Well done!
I’m super proud of Miro. First, because he is athletic on his own. I really didn’t do much to train him except some general guidelines and pacing. He already had it in him to do this. Secondly, because when it got tough during the race he pulled through with his own willpower and that’s awesome, I admire that.
We were on our flight back to LA the next day – that was a quick and fun adventure.