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Amsterdam Marathon 16th Oct 2022



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,321 ✭✭✭chabsey

    Bit of a mess for me. Went out with the 3:10 pacers and was fine till around 10km, then my gamble on putting high5s into my water backfired badly and I wasn't able to drink or take any further gels without feeling extremely nauseous. Kept pace more or less till about 19k but then the lack of gels and any decent amount of water hit me hard. Barely made it to the end, thought at various stages that I would faint or otherwise collapse so considering that, I am actually not that unhappy with my time - 3:28. By far my worst experience in a marathon though, still gag at the thought of a gel now, hours later.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,432 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,321 ✭✭✭chabsey

    No, and I knew it was a risk so that tempered my disappointment.

  • Registered Users Posts: 725 ✭✭✭Sandwell


    Male, 42, running on and off for roughly ten years. My only previous marathon was a 2:57 in DCM 2016 based off the P&D 55 plan. Not long after that I started to pick up a series of injuries that saw me do little or no running for 4 years. I remained active and did lots of cycling and hiking during that time but I was in some ways starting from scratch when I made my latest attempt at returning to running in the spring of 2020 (thanks Covid!). I spent almost a year gradually building a base and working up to around 30-40 mpw. In spring 2021 I followed a Pfitzinger multiple distances plan out of Faster Road Racing to get back into the habit of doing speedwork again. This took me to an 18 minute 5k and a 37 minute 10k that summer, still a bit off my PBs from a few years back but satisfactory considering the context.

    I joined a local club in autumn 2021 and began training with strong group of masters runners of similar standard to myself. This brought me on significantly and I managed to get back down to 17 minutes for 5k by the end of the year which is where I was in 2016. I continued to gradually increase my mileage and by the end of the year was running 40-50 mpw. I decided to target a half-marathon in the spring of this year and followed a Hansons plan to a new PB of 1:18. This success with Hansons prompted me to choose their Advanced plan for an autumn marathon. I spent the early summer consistently running around 45mpw and doing weekly track sessions with the club. I recorded new PBs at 5k (16:42) and 10k (35:58) and began to feel it was realistic to target a sub 2:45 attempt. Amsterdam was an easy choice as one of the fastest European autumn marathons and a city that I love to visit.


    I followed the Hansons Advanced plan pretty closely. I was fortunate to avoid much in the way of illness or injury so I missed very few of the key sessions. I adjusted the plan to fit in two tune-up races, both of which resulted in PBs, a 58:30 10 mile in week 5 and a 1:17:30 half-marathon in week 10, both run with no real taper. In both cases I skipped the Thursday marathon pace session, running easy miles instead, and shortened the Sunday long run. In the case of the half-marathon I also skipped the Tuesday interval session the week after the race to allow myself more recovery. The only other area where I deviated substantially from the plan was that I included two 20 mile runs that went beyond the 16 miles specified by Hansons. I felt that I would benefit from experiencing that extra time on my feet since it had been so long since my last marathon. I reduced the pace for these runs to around 7:30 pace. My other long runs were all done at 6:50-7:00 pace (MP +40 secs, as specified in the plan). Peak mileage week was around 65 miles. The taper was a bit of a disaster as I picked up a cold that meant I missed the final 10 mile MP tempo of the plan. I was also dealing with niggles both old and new – ankle, Achilles, hip, you name it – and generally feeling pretty crap. The hip niggle was the most significant and it did carry over into the race itself although thankfully not in a critical way.


    I arrived in Amsterdam on Saturday lunchtime and went straight to the expo from the airport via train and metro. I never fail to admire the excellent public transport network when I visit the Netherlands. I spent less than an hour at the expo and made it to my hotel by late afternoon. I went straight out for a 3 mile shakeout through the Vondelpark and out in the direction of the Olympic stadium. Then it was back to the hotel for pizza, some sport on tv and an early night.

    I slept pretty well despite the pre-race nerves and woke at 6am for a breakfast of porridge and a banana along with a Maurten 160 drink. I had been taking a Decathlon maltodextrin mix for the previous three days to help with the carb-loading and the occasional electrolyte tablet to hopefully ensure good hydration. For the race itself I planned to take 5 Maurten gels, one every 7km as suggested by the manufacturer, and packed into the (much-discussed on the Marathon improvers thread) Decathlon race belt, along with one 250ml soft flask of mixed isotonic drink (again from Decathlon) to allow me to skip the first couple of aid stations.

    I left the hotel shortly before 8 and jogged most of the 3km to the stadium. I snapped a few photos outside and then dropped off my bag and headed pitchside. I was really impressed with the level of organisation and I witnessed virtually no queueing. There was plenty of space in the corral to shuffle about a bit and do some stretches. I was well warmed up from the jog down in any case so didn’t overdo it and got in position 5 or 6 rows back from the front of the 3:00-2:45 pen.


    The gun went and only a few seconds later we were crossing the mat. I deliberately held back here and over the first couple of kilometres as I was wary of getting pushed or tripping on a tramline or a kerb. As we entered the Vondelpark, 2km into the race, I could see that I was well off my planned pace of 6:15. Here the crowd began to thin out so I started to push the pace. Another runner wearing dayglo yellow compression socks was clearly on a similar mission so I used his neon calves as a beacon for the next several kilometers out of Vondelpark, under the Rijksmuseum and into a section of wide boulevards where it was getting progressively easier to pass people.

    I had turned off autolap on my watch and instead planned to manually lap every 5k as we crossed the timing mats. I made a paceband for a 2:43 finish (6:15 pace with even splits) reasoning that this would give me a two minute buffer on my goal time. It hadn’t really occurred to me this cushion would be eaten up by the extra distance covered due to deviation from the racing line. I compared the first 5k split with my paceband and found myself almost a minute behind. Not a problem, I was now running at roughly 6:10 pace and confident that by the 10k split I’d have recovered much of the time lost from my conservative start. This of course never materialised and it gradually dawned on me that 6:15 pace might not even be sufficient to break 2:45. I found myself passing lots of people during this section and it did occur to me that I was possibly pushing too hard. All the same, the pace felt comfortable and my heart rate was relatively low.

    Sometime between 10 and 15k I ended up in a sort of no man’s land while approaching the exposed section along the Amstel River. I had spent a a frankly embarrassing amount of time checking wind forecasts in the week before the race and was aware that the next few miles would be into a headwind. Here myself and a French runner worked well together for several miles to catch and latch ourselves on to a large group of around 30 runners. Having caught that group I resolved to sit in for as long as possible while my partner pushed on. The pace was right on target and it felt so much easier just to let the group drag me along.

    Shortly after the turnaround that took us back along the opposite bank of the Amstel my group began to splinter and by the time we crossed the halfway point (82:26) I was back to running pretty much solo. From here on things got progressively tougher but I knew I was running well. I was constantly passing people and each split had me within a minute or so of what was on the pace band. There wasn't much room for error but equally no need to panic or waste energy trying to gain time.

    I had probably my toughest patch at roughly 30k. The finish still seemed awfully far away and things were beginning to hurt. The hip tightness had never really loosened out and it was beginning to intensify. The streetscape in this part of the race was pretty boring and non-descript, lots of long wide sections flanked by office buildings and broken up by the occasional underpass. It probably didn’t help the mood, to be honest. My mental strategy throughout had been to focus on just getting to the next 5k split or the next gel, whichever was closer. It was at this point I took my only caffeine gel and I was rewarded with a noticeable boost that seemed to get me over the hump. I'd been sceptical of the usefulness of caffeine gels on my training runs but this has me converted. Before long it was clear that we were approaching the centre once more and I was recognising places we had passed in the early miles of the race. It felt like the finish was no longer so far away and despite the complaints from my legs I was still on pace.

    I got a bit of a fright on mile 23 when my left hamstring began to cramp. I immediately slowed down and focused on running as relaxed as possible which luckily seemed to be enough to resolve the issue. I was gradually able to work my way back to something close to my goal pace and before I knew it we were back in the Vondelpark. This section had seemed so much shorter on the way out! From here on it's all pretty much a blur until we reached the stadium. Aerobically I felt fine but my legs were on the limit. I knew I was on course for a sub 2:45 if I could stay out of trouble so it just became a case of gritting my teeth and focusing on the runner in front of me. I was still passing people quite regularly and I could see a guy maybe 10 metres ahead who had been running alongside me when I started cramping. He was moving well so I allowed him to lead the way and focused on keeping the gap between us steady.

    Finally, the stadium was in sight and as we entered the track I managed to slightly up the pace and finish strongly. The race clock had just passed 2:45 so I knew that my chip time would be comfortably inside that. Elation!


    I wandered around for a few minutes chatting to other finishers and soaking up the buzz before making my way out of the stadium to the bag drop and getting changed. I broke up my walk back to the hotel by stopping for a couple of beers and later on for some nachos in a garden restaurant in Vondelpark. The race was still going on at this point and I was struck by the fact that the leaders of the half-marathon were hammering their way past 4:45-5:00 marathon runners, a less than ideal situation for either cohort I would have thought. Finally, I made it back to the hotel, still on a massive runners high, had a shower and grabbed some snacks from a nearby supermarket. I had the best intentions of going for dinner in a nice restaurant but predictably ended up ordering pizza delivery and spending the evening watching sport from my bed.

    Final thoughts

    The Amsterdam marathon is fantastic. The start and finish in the Olympic stadium was amazing and is something I’ll never forget. The route is nice in parts, boring in others, but flat and fast. I was expecting the breeze to be more of an issue but even in the headwind sections didn't find it too bad. The support from the crowds, something I didn’t mention in the report above, was awesome. I had so many strangers call out my name (printed on my bib) and offer really enthusiastic support which made a huge difference, particularly in the later stages. I felt bad for no longer having the energy to to respond with a wave or a smile towards the end.

    My nutrition worked perfectly. I can’t see myself deviating from Maurten in the future. The strategy of bringing a small soft flask for the early miles worked well, I thought. It could be argued that it’s unnecessary weight to carry but I appreciated being able to avoid the first couple of busy aid stations. From there on I drank a cup from every station, usually the sports drink option but also water once or twice. Drinking from the cups was fine, even at pace. The tip of pinching the opposite end works really well.

    My shoe of choice was the Endorphin Pro 3, a decision I’m very happy with. The pace felt easy until well past halfway and even in those later stages when the legs were hurting I didn’t really slow down. They offered great grip on the wet streets as well, the new sole is a big improvement over the earlier generation. A few days after the race the legs felt grand, much better than I recall from my last marathon.


    I’m going to take two full weeks off and then run easy for a month or so, gradually building up the mileage to around 50mpw. I’ll hook back up with the club and do a bit of cross-country and some shorter races over the next few months. I’d like to have a proper crack at getting under 16 minutes for 5k. My time from Amsterdam gets me a guaranteed entry to Berlin so with luck that will be my next marathon. I don’t really have a goal in mind for that. A PB sure but I’ve no idea how much faster I can realistically go. Berlin has always been a dream and as such the sub 2:45 qualifying time made for a convenient target but as things stand I don’t have any similar round number in mind for my next marathon. I’m sure one will materialise in due course though.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,412 ✭✭✭Lazare

    Fantastic read Sandwell, congrats on a superb performance. I've taken a lot of inspiration from that.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,020 ✭✭✭Kellygirl

    Well done Sandwell. Enjoyed reading that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 994 ✭✭✭Mitch Buchannon

    Great reading that Sandwell. Well done on the race

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,227 ✭✭✭Wottle

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,432 ✭✭✭✭Murph_D

    What great racing - congrats and well done. Your reflections are really interesting too. Might see you in Berlin. 😉

    Post edited by Murph_D on

  • Registered Users Posts: 834 ✭✭✭winstonia

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  • Registered Users Posts: 725 ✭✭✭Sandwell

    Easy: Saucony Ride/Reebok Floatride Energy

    Long: ASICS Magic Speed/Saucony Endorphin Speed/Puma Deviate Nitro Elite

    Speed: Endorphin Pro/Takumi Sen 8/Nitro Elite

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,412 ✭✭✭Lazare

    Shameless plug alert.

    If anyone is interested and feels they may benefit from the post marathon guidance and training plans, do head over to the new 2022 Graduates thread. Title says DCM but it's open to anyone and everyone to join in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 926 ✭✭✭Unknownability

    I have just signed up for Amsterdam, any recommendations for hotels and travelling tips are appreciated.

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,235 ✭✭✭✭Burkie1203

    Hotels aplenty. Start, finish and expo very close to a train station which is straight from schipol Airport.

    Try book early close to the stadium. And on the day get Into stadium early

  • Registered Users Posts: 725 ✭✭✭Sandwell

    Anywhere near the Vondelpark is a good option. It's close enough to the stadium and it's a nice place to go for a shakeout run the day before. Good connections to the city center from all sides too. Public transport in Amsterdam is exceptionally good so you'll have no problem getting to and from the event no matter where you stay.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,227 ✭✭✭Wottle

    I stayed in the best western this year, decent price and food. Rooms need a little modernization but fine.

    About 2.4k from the Olympic stadium. Straightforward getting to expo and start line, I walked on the morning.

    There's also a supermarket and nice pizza takeaway around the corner.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,807 ✭✭✭skyblue46

    I'm in for '23 as well. Hoping the old body holds together for 11 months 🤣

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,321 ✭✭✭chabsey

    Signed up for round 2 as well, this time I'll take no chances things to try for the first time on the day.

  • Registered Users Posts: 703 ✭✭✭marathon2022

    I signed up this morning. Have a few weeks to decide on the plan and off we go.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    It looks like a great race. If it didn't clash with the Rugby World Cup, I'd be all over it.

    2024 will hopefully include Rotterdam and Amsterdam

    Unless of course I get London/Tokyo/Berlin or New York

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,789 ✭✭✭rizzee

    Edit - spotted the Amsterdam 2023 thread and posted in there.

    Post edited by rizzee on