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Poor Wendy had to put up with a silent first 10km whilst I hand-signalled a route through the 42000 participants (?!) – then our running paths separated as I didn’t need to bother with water until 35km … even then I wasn’t thirsty … more bored …

The beginning of the race was interesting enough, but not the sightseeing tour of Amsterdam I was (stupidly) expecting.

At 15km we turned right onto a canal tow-path (you can imagine the congestion) and I was pleasantly surprised … gorgeous houses to our right, entertainment on the canal to our left, barges blaring music, giant blow-up mizuno trainers reminding us (just in case we’d forgotten) what the day was all about and water-rocket-propelled guys ‘n’ gals floating high above the water, diving into it and floating back up like some kind of surreal, real-life Thunderbird action toys. Brilliantly bonkers. I wanted to shout out, but wasn’t allowed to open my mouth … so I just clapped them all enthusiastically … and even that’s hard when you’re trying to run as efficiently as possible!

I was quietly (silently!) surprised at how well I was running. With poor preparation (too busy coaching everyone else to have time for my own training!), I’d started ‘well within myself’ … then, with the ability to remain breathing in and out through my nose as my ‘pacer’, I let myself increase speed, knowing I was still running aerobically (even though my heart rate was averaging high 150s). It was looking good for an easy sub 4hr marathon. At one point, folk back home stalking me (oh, tracking!) were expecting 3:43 …

… then I got bored.

Turns out I’m not a ‘fair-weather runner’ … I’ll run in anything … but I AM a ‘fair scenery runner’ … I run for the pleasure of running, enjoying the sky, the panorama, nature, fresh air, fresh smells … and capital city industrial areas, running up and around 4 laned-flyovers, airport-sized warehouses … just doesn’t cut it.

When I crossed the finish line and called home I was greeted with “were you injured?” “no” “were you sick?” “no” “were you in pain?” “no” “did you have to walk?” “no” “then why did you go so slow?” “I was bored”.

Oh dear!

Back to 35km … bored, but with an aid station looming to distract me. I walked just briefly enough to blow out air through my nose, slide the edge of the plastic cup between my lips and gulp down 4 times before I needed to breathe in again. Through my nose. Excellent fun. Timing mats and aid stations proliferated in the final 7km … my dawdling was noted at home, but in the industrial backwaters of Amsterdam, it was all I could do to keep ‘running’. Nothing hurt, nothing was tired, there were no aches, niggles, there was no fatigue. I was just so bored I couldn’t be bothered. There was simply no pleasure in it. ‘What on earth was I doing there?’

Then, with about 500m to go, the industrial buildings suddenly gave way to event hoardings and the Olympic Stadium was finally visible. I decided that with only 500m to go, I could – after all – be a bit bothered.

Crowds roared and clapped, massaging my ego and encouraging my now ‘bothering’ legs. I smiled through closed lips and clapped them back. Not soon enough, I was (now proper) running through the stadium entrance … even now the memory takes my breath away … with 100m to go – along the final straight – I was so emotional, my heart got stuck in my throat and I had to drop my jaw and take a gasp of air in lieu of suffocating.

So, 26.1 miles nose-breathing … 100 yds not … mission accomplished I feel … survival is everything. 4 hrs 12 min (I think. Or was it 11 min? Times really aren’t my bag!).

And after that, the ONLY thing to do was eat a massive portion of dutch apple pie and copious amounts of cream with Tarne and Lynn … then party until the wee small hours.

Turns out, nose-breathing leaves one well oxygenated, unfatigued and with growing DOMS … only in ones diaphragm!!

Who knew? 

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