30 van Amsterdam Noord – My longest run so far (30km)

In preparation for my marathon I was advised to do a long run in a real event. I decided to sign up for the 30 van Amsterdam Noord which is a 30 km running event. It is different than training, because of all the ambiance, adrenaline and nerves. A real test to see how fit I am in a real event. They say that young people like me start off way to quick and hit-the-wall later on the marathon. I had never run more than 21 kilometers since the East London half marathon so I knew it was going to be a really tough day.

They had pacers lined up at the starting line each having a sign of how fast they would run per kilometer. I joined the line in good spirits at 5:00 min per kilometer which is 12 km per hour and would give me a finishing time of 2 hours and 30 minutes (which was my goal). I had a small pain on the top of my calf muscle the weeks before, so I had put some tape around it to reduce the pressure. Hoping it would not hurt too much so I could finish the race.

30 km van Amsterdam Noord 2013

The first 10 km felt really good and it was easy to keep up with a big group following the pace at 5 minutes per kilometer. Running with a group just feels easier, even though your legs are starting to get sore, you keep on going. I took a Dextro energy tablet every 30-40 minutes to keep my sugar level up, because the first sports drink aid station was at 15 km. I still felt really good and walked for a small bit to make sure I got my fluids in at the aid station. From that point that clouds were gone and the sun was shining bright. It got really hot and I started sweating a lot. I had to let my running group go and keep my own pace (about 11,5 km/ph). I felt like they were picking up the speed and I could not hang on to them anymore and I figured I started off too quick.  I ran alone in the middle of nowhere for quite a while, no people to be seen in front or behind me. Lots of cows, sheep, grass, sun and a heavy headwind was the setting I was running in. I started to feel my legs and feet pretty hard.

30 km van Amsterdam Noord 2

30 van Amsterdam Noord 2

At kilometer mark 21 I checked my stopwatch and saw I was on 1 hour 46 minutes, which is 1 minute and 30 seconds faster than my half marathon time in London. From that point the heat and my sore legs got on to me. Every kilometer seemed so long and aid stations were nowhere to be found. At kilometer 25 I had to walk, the tank was empty. I was thinking about the Amsterdam marathon, which is 42 kilometers and only 1,5 months away. How hard is that going to be?!

30 van Amsterdam Noord 2013

I had a mental battle with myself where I intended to allow a quick walk after every kilometer. I got cramp in my left calf and my left knee also started to hurt. I ran from kilometer 27 to 28,5 but then by legs were shutting down again. I walked up to kilometer mark 29 when a group of people asked me to join them to the finish the final kilometer and not give up. Almost there, being able to see the finish line I got a little bit emotional. I saw my fans Simon and Sanne when I crossed the finish line, which I really appreciated that they came to support me.

30 km van Amsterdam medaille 2013

I remember feeling breathlessness and dizzy crossing the finish line, not being able to talk. I received my medal, walked up to my friends and sat down for a bit. I felt like a superhuman that did something unnatural. Pain, digging deep and crossing a finish line is still something special. I´m discovering new boundaries every time I do a longer or tougher event, pushing my limits. What would it be like to finish an Ironman?

My friends engraved my medal with my running time as a gift. I had a 2 hour sleep back in Amsterdam and went for a big fat pizza and a few beers in the evening. I had a great day!

Lessons learned:

  • The marathon is going to be really hard
  • Don´t start off to fast and run the first half slower

30 km van Amsterdam fans

30 km van Amsterdam medaille 2013

This article has been written by Erik Brandsma, a triathlete from the Netherlands with a dream to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona-Hawaii.