On April 10th the Rotterdam Marathon was full in swing. Starting at 10am the city was buzzing with runners and supporters. A few years ago this was something I would watch on the tv of the helicopter view and look out the window when the runners were close. It never crossed my mind that in 2016 I would be running alongside them!
I started training back in December 2015, but have been very sportive the last 2 years already with group lessons at my local gym such as Zumba, Bodypump and Bodyshape. So running was definitely not my thing!
When I signed up for the 1/4 Rotterdam Marathon I couldn’t even imagine what 10km was like so when I first got on the treadmill for 30 minutes I was in for a big shock. By January 2016 I was running up to 3km within 30 minutes, which was good but not good enough.
The goal for the marathon was to complete the 10km within the 1 hour and 30 minutes but as April got closer by I was pushing myself to finish within 1 hour and 20 minutes. The weeks leading up to the marathon I focused 100% into running and stopped all group lessons that I was attending, as those last few weeks to push myself was needed. Using the Nike running app I had tracked that during practice I was reaching 4km within 30 minutes. So I knew that I was running a good speed to be within the 1 hour and 30 minutes – but this didn’t stop me being nervous.
Waking up on Saturday April 9th I felt good and nervous. Within 24 hours I would be starting at 10am at the start of the Rotterdam Marathon. I had no fitness plans as I was worried that I would twist my ankle or something stupid the day before, so I stayed relaxed and only took a nice walk. Even though I wasn’t running the whole 42km Rotterdam Marathon I felt it was also important that I also eat pasta for dinner, like the pros! But of course to help with my energy.
On the day of the marathon I woke up at 8am with plenty of time to have breakfast, stretch and also to prepare myself with courage! Lennart joined me to the start line, where I met my fitness friend called Bee who I would be running with. He took some photos of us and wished us both luck, which I know I definitely needed. The last few months of training had been good and improved, but I had never actually reached running 10km in one run… making 7.5/8km the most I had ran in one run without stopping. Now you can see why I was nervous!
Turning my new Fitbit Charge HR on active sport mode and waiting in the starting stage I was ready. We all lined up and the countdown began, trigged by a starting gun and a green waving flag that its go time! Right from the start it was an amazing experience, people cheering, music blasting out on different streets along the route and a strong sense of community between other runners.
By 3km another ginger person tapped me on the shoulder and started taking Dutch, to ask if I had remembered to put suncream on!! It made a few people laugh around us when I replied that I forgot, since it wasn’t suppose to be so sunny. We were luckily that it wasn’t raining but that it also wasn’t too hot.
By 6km we had made it to the drinks, and you can see on the photo below that I slowed down and the colour changed to orange due to a lower speed. Oh was that water refreshing! By 7.5/8km I was starting to struggle, I wasn’t surprised as this is what I had reached during training and I would always stop from lack of energy. However now I could not stop and I did not want to stop either. You cannot see it on the photo but I did start walking at one point to catch my breath, but I paced my walking at a fast pace and counted to 10 seconds where I started running again. It is super difficult to get back to the same running pace once you start walking so I refused to walk fast more than 10 seconds.
By 9km I started walking fast again for 10 seconds, but with a push from Bee I was straight back into the running pace. We were back in the city where lots of people were watching and cheering, so this also gave me a big strength to finish the last 1km. I also knew that Lennart would be waiting at the end for me with a massive proud smile on his face!
Oh what was the last bit fantastic, running down the main city street Coolsingel and seeing the finish line in front of you! Knowing that you are only one more minute before you finish and strangers from both sides cheering you on. My name was on my bib with my number and Zoe without the diaeresis (the “two dots” like Zoë) is spoken in Dutch like Zoo, and so every now and then on the last 1km I could hear strangers shouting “Go Zoo!” and “Wooo Zoo!“. So funny to thinking back about it!!
That goal of 1 hour 20 minutes was broken with my finish time of 1 hour 18 minutes!! O-M-G I was so proud of myself! (& still proud) Fantastic!! Unbelievable! Even now when I think back its hard to put into words that feeling of crossing over the finish line, such a sense of accomplishment. Bee and I had done it!