Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Egmond Half Marathon Race Report

My first race of the year (the 5K was technically still in 2010) is a fact, and was a complete success. I wasn't planning on racing the Egmond Half Marathon, until a colleague bragged that he was running it and that it was a really hard race. Hard race? Count me in!
It was that pretty! (photocredit:
 The Egmond Half Marathon is considered hard, since about a third of it (7 of the 21K) is run on the beach. This is what IAAF has to say about it: "The popular but difficult race is contested partly over a North Sea beach and on a road through sand dunes." Their description was spot on. The course starts with 2 miles though the very pretty little town of Egmond-aan-Zee. After a short run in very deep sand (balance losing kind), the course reaches the harder section of the beach. During these 4 miles, the sand wasn't as much of a hardship as the wind! Boy was it blowing (in the wrong direction of course ;-) The next three miles or so were over the sand dunes, on a little winding path that went up and down, left and right. It was not paved, merely covered with hay (?!) so we would at least not sink in too deep in the mud. The last few miles were paved, so a lot easier. I was thinking I could probably finish it in 2:10, definitely in 2:05, but was secretly hoping for sub-2 hours. However, despite logging more than 120 miles in December, my only speedwork was a 5K...

We flew back from the US on Friday and arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday. After an hour long nap, we woke up (or the alarm did). In a moment of inspiration, I decided to re-do our hobby room, moving every. single. piece. of. furniture. Great on the legs of course. I managed to fall asleep at a decent time, but woke up halfway through the night (jetlag). I eventually fell back asleep, but 7am came way too soon. I got up, decided on an outfit (+ backup), grabbed my gels, handhelp, ipod, and Garmin and started the trek to Egmond. I took the train to Amsterdam, and from there a colleague (the same one that goaded me into signing up) picked me up (that was very nice of him) and we drove to Heiloo, a village close to Egmond, where we took the shuttle to the race site. Pfew. When we got there, I perused the expo (and scored a really nice Saucony jacket for EUR50). I got ready, dropped my stuff, and walked the 1.5K to the start. I wasn't nervous. I was really excited about running, since I felt I had trained sufficiently for once. But I was COLD!!!

The race went really well. It was a lot harder than I expected, but I was also much better prepared than I thought. I really wanted to start slow, but as usual I got carried away (and there was a downhill). Those two first miles in the town went by really fast (08:35 and 08:34).

Miles 3 to 6 were on the beach, and they were hard. I was planning on running the beach miles in about 10:00min/mile, but decided to run them on perceived effort instead and stopped caring about what Garmin said.The sand wasn't bothering me too much, but the wind was really making it difficult, so I was working hard. I managed mile 3 in 09:03, mile 4 in 09:12 and mile 5 in 09:02.

During that time, this little itsy bitsy girl started drafting off of me. She was running one step behind me and was using me to shield her from the wind.  I know how big of a difference it made from the few big guys that passed me and gave me the brief reprieve from the wind). She drove me insane!!! Obviously I thought it was unfair that I was doing all the work and she was just tagging along, but mostly, I got pissed off that she would not look at me. The few times I turned around and told her (after 2 miles) that it would be nice if she went ahead, she completely ignored me. Also, she was running so close that I was worried we would trip each other up. So eventually, I started running to the right, slowing down, accelerating... She would not budge! So I just stopped dead in my tracks for three seconds, so she had to move on! She found herself a sweet older guy that probably felt flattered and followed him for the next two miles...
What do you think? Was I wrong to get annoyed?
*** END RANT***

The final miles on the beach was tough. I finished mile 6 in 09:24 and mile 7 in 09:47. This last mile was especially hard, since it included crossing the really deep unpacked sand to get off the beach, and a very steep hill through the dunes. Fortunately, mile 7 was also where the aid station was.  The next section was a path through the dunes. I got worried there, because I was hoping the section would be easier than the beach, and it wasn't. It was pretty narrow, so it was hard to pass other runners. It also was not paved, so I occasionally sunk through the mud. But I have to admit, I really liked the rolling hills, they gave my sand running muscles a bit of a break. Miles 8, 9 and 10 took respectively 09:00, 08:57 and 08:46. The last few miles that took us back to town were paved thankfully. After mile 9, my body was just about done and my brain took over. I kept on trying to calculate whether I could still break two hours. I was really just doing math for four miles. For example: to get sub-2 hours, I need to run 9:07 min/miles. Which means I need to finish the 10 miles in close to 90 minutes, etc. Those thoughts kept me going despite a strong urge to just WALK!

I crossed the finish in 1:57:08, a new PR!!!!

I was very excited, obviously, to have managed a PR, on such a challenging course. So secretly, at my next race (half marathon in march) I am hoping to PR again! A few things that I think contributed to this good race:
  • Good training (obviously)
  • Good nutrition plan (I found some great gels that don't make me gag)
  • Music (this was my first race with ipod)

So, all good! Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog.

    Egmond is tough! I hear that from everybody who has run it. And you're fast!

    I'm doing Utrecht too and it will be my first half and I'm aiming for 2.5 hours, I'm kind of a turtle runner :)

    Other races I've planned this year are the Marikenloop, Dam tot Damloop (or Singelloop if I can't get in), 1/2 marathon of Amsterdam and Zevenheuvelenloop so that's 3 the same as you :)

    Congrats on the PR!