Amsterdam: Three Days That Felt Like One
Amsterdam: Three Days That Felt Like One
Sitting on top of a queen-size bunk-bed (not what we were expecting it to be). It’s 1:30am and one of our eight roommates is back after one (four!) too many…
How did we get here?
This last week has been manic. Starting well with a 22km run on Monday, all of a sudden it turned to a downward spiral…with a few detours. Oceana on Wednesday. Birmingham on Thursday. And finally Amsterdam.
We arrived at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. It was a short flight in which the pilot greeted us and said goodbye in the same PA transmission. We walked to the information desk expecting to be floundering around for a train. “Howdy Sir” said the American behind the desk. He didn’t say howdy but might as well have done. From that point it was harder to find someone who spoke Dutch in Amsterdam than English. To quote one of our esteemed roommates “it’s so westernized…dude”. Without difficulty, we got the train into Amsterdam central and then the tram to our hostel stop. We checked in and started cooking our night-before-marathon food…
1/2x pack of pasta and 2x tuna cans each with some tomato pasta sauce which we had picked up from one of the Albert Heijn supermarkets. We started the carbo loading in the bar area only to be joined by an engineer from Tottenham Court Road…who was definitely not in work mode. To paint a picture…a cross between the Inbetweener’s, Jay, and Shaggy from Scooby doo. After a mildly enjoyable thirteen-minute tirade on how the best preparation for the marathon would be an all-night rave…he left. As did we soon after, looking forward to tomorrow with some caution.
The queen-size bunk-bed was housing me and my 6ft 1in 93kg running partner on the top bunk and a succession of couples on the bottom bunk. 10:30 lights out…
The next few hours were not in the pre-marathon plan. As expected, staying in the party hostel of Amsterdam, we had some late night arrivals in the room culminating in our friend arriving at 1:30ish…and here we are. It was his time to shine. He commenced in a tribute act to the Hong Kong light show- flicking every switch with aplomb.
I decide to result to earphones and music – something I have never been a fan of. I plug in and the Spotify playlist ‘most beautiful songs in the world’ pops up on screen. A godsend. My next memory is waking at 7 in the morning excited.
A quick shower. Bit of breakfast supplied by the hostel. We were off to the tram after some reassuring advice, from the laid back “concierge”, that the Olympic Stadium was a 15-minute tram ride.
We left at 8. Aiming to get there for 8:15. Collect our bib at 8:30. Drop off stuff in tents at 8:45. Get ready and enter stadium just after 9.
The tram stop was heaving…a German tour group had the deep house going and were dressed in matching orange outfits.
The tram was only coming at 8:10. Not a problem.
The first tram was packed not even stopping for us in Museumplein. Not a problem.
Next tram 1 minute later packed also. Concerning.
Next tram packed…next tram packed. It’s now 8:25. Worrying.
We hail a taxi. “Everywhere is blocked, man”. Sweat-provoking.
We need to jog. 25 minutes and 2 miles later we arrive at the Olympic Stadium- a longer warm-up jog than usual.
From here everything fitted in and we were in the stadium for the exhilarating build up ceremony in the nick of time. The start of the marathon was the best I’ve experienced in my three marathons. Music was beating out. There was a giant superhero and the stadium was 40% full.
The marathon started and a group of Kenyans glided across the first few kilometers before we had even crossed the start line. We started off slow. On the flight over we wrote down separately how we wanted to pace the race…fortunately our hopeful times for each 10km didn’t differ. 57 mins for 1st, 55 for 2nd, 53 for 3rd, 51 for last (exc. 2 more km). We matched these for the first half of the marathon crossing the line at around 1hr52mins. Chris had felt a knee pain in our 2 mile “warm-up” jog and it was starting to alter his running style at this stage. He was in a lot of pain but as the fighter he is in one of the toughest tests he didn’t complain and carried on…hugely impressively. We wanted to accelerate in the second half and attack 3hr 30 as the marathon was flat and the scenery was amazing which helps distract the runners. But the heat was sweltering, and it wasn’t to be unfortunately and we battled around to a time of 3hrs 50mins.
Us and the 13,000 other runners started in the Olympic Stadium before carrying on through Vondelpark. Through the Rijks Museum past IAMSTERDAM and along the Amstel River…and that was half way! From here, we looped around and ran back to the stadium.
We ran into the stadium (where it had all started). Around the track to the pounding music and we lifted our arms in the air together as we crossed the line.
Now started the pain…
Do the marathon – 👍
In Amsterdam – 👍
Sleep in a hostel the night before – 👍
Jog 2 miles to a marathon – 👎