On the 17th October 2021 I took part in the Amsterdam Marathon. A year later than planned, and now joined by many other events out of sync owing to covid cancellations and postponements. This was actually my 4th Marathon in as many weeks, after pacing Berlin Marathon, getting a PB at London Marathon and then pacing Manchester Marathon. This is the 3rd time I have paced Amsterdam Marathon and the last time was 2019, you can check out my review HERE.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city to visit, and although it can be expensive, it is possible to make it cheaper. As I’ve been here a few times I fly out on Saturday and return on Sunday. Covid tests made it more expensive than normal, but I got a tiny room (capsule) which was central and for the night it was enough. Although this was the 3rd time pacing at Amsterdam, I was asked to cover a faster group at 3:50. Of course I helped out, but to be clear, it’s not my thing. I’m not interested in pacing faster, there is no glory to it, for me it is more important to get it right, and ensure everyone around you has fun. That’s why I pace, to help those around me, not to go fast or prove anything for myself.
Today was my 92nd Marathon plus event, working towards the 100 marathon club. This is also the 92nd Official event I have been a pacer, which is the 31st Marathon I have paced. I am so proud that a 3rd of my marathons have been pacing, and when I get to the 100 marathon club, I need to get to 100 paced marathons.
I met all the other pacers before the start, and it’s a lovely organised event from a pacer perspective. We arrive nice and early, and then make our way to the start about an hour before, so we can get to the start area before other runners. We start in the Olympic Stadium and each start area has its own loos and large space. I stood in place in between the 3:40 and 4 hour pacers and slowly our group formed. I ran with Stan and Raul, and it was a great vibe from the start.
Once our group started getting busy I gave a brief pep talk. Starting with the fact that I only speak English, but Stan and Raul are Dutch, so of course speak both. As always, I tried to inspire some confidence, give advice about the course, and offer some information about our pacing strategy. As we got started we ended up with Raul and Stan taking a lead, and I fell back keeping a steady pace with lots of runners around me and also between the two groups. Throughout the run we often met, and took turns taking the lead. Of all the pacing I have done, this was a really good balance and it felt comfortable the whole way.
I didn’t have a pave band as it isn’t my usual time. So I had to rely on my own mental arithmetic. Also, we are in Europe, so the markers are in KM not miles. I didn’t both changing my watch from miles as I was confident I could work it out.
It is a lovely flat course. And although there were some roadworks in places, it did not delay us like 2019. We hit half way in 1:54:45 which was spot on. At this point I had confidence with my average pace, so just stuck with it. I really wanted a 8:46 min mile, but I was averaging a 8:42 in order to keep pace. What people often don’t realise is there is usually far more to pacing than just the right pace, and in any event, you often have to run faster than goal pave in order to hit your target. This is often why people miss their target, as they don’t realise you have to run faster as you will usually run further.
I love the fact that it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, but there is always someone there to shout my name. Thank you. This is a course of two halves really you spend half of it going up and down a river, it is described as the boring part, I would describe it as peaceful. Its flat, quiet, but a good chunk of the marathon. The rest of it you go through the city and past lots of highlights. The crowd support is great and I always enjoy Amsterdam.
What can I say. I think the smile says it all. 4 marathons in 4 weeks. Two pacing sub 4 and hitting 3:59:4x both times. A PB at 3:04:39, not the sub 3 I wanted but a fantastic PB. Then today I delivered the 3:50 #funbus in an official time of 3:49:52.
Have you been running today? How did you get on? Next up I have Ironman Portugal on Saturday. Honestly I have no ambitions for this. My life and training took a U-Turn, so I want to finish and become a 5 time Ironman. If I get a PB that would be nice… but I’m not going to be challenging a Kona slot just yet. As for pacing, it looks like the US travel ban is lifted the day after New York… #gutted so what’s next? Who knows?