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Egmond Half Marathon

January 19, 2014

It was strange to think on my short run of 30 minutes today that a week ago I left the village fresh and fruity in the morning to run the Egmond Half Marathon. We arrived with 4 BergseRunners and immediately bumped into another group from the club – unbelievable!

Bergse Runners ready to go!

Bergse Runners ready to go!

The day was warm and Sunny with only a slight breeze. This classic half marathon has brought all kinds of weather conditions. There is a 7 km stretch along the beach which provides a rather unique slant to the race. This was to be the third time that I was to run this race. The first time we had a strong side wind along the beach and then I flew along the dunes! The second time the wind was slightly behind us and I found the dunes busy and rather stodgy. In between the years that I have run the race it was cancelled due to snow and ice!

This year was the sunniest that I have run it in. Wind quiet – although there are always the pessimists who were pointing out that the sea was very high and that would make it difficult. I knew that as long as there was a strip of wet sand then we would be alright. Plus some 4000 runners would probably have made the trip before me and it would be well stomped in!

I started with a friend and we were together for a few kilometers – or at least in contact, before she ran on ahead. It felt so good to run that I was telling myself “slow down”. Although part of me wanted to beat my previous year’s time of 1 hour 55 min. In addition the time from Linschoten Half Marathon a couple of weeks previous of 1 hour 52 was ringing in my head. Pushing these thoughts aside, I slowed down and focused on finding a steady pace and breathing regularly so that my heart rate would remain below.

After about 3 km we approached the beach. The commentator jovially referred to our smiling happy faces and wondered if we would be so happy at the end of the beach. The runner next to me and I exchanged comments  – ha – lets see about that!

It was indeed rather busy on the beach. The sea was quite high and there was a thin path on which it seemed that 8000 runners were all trying to follow. The supporters were enthusiastic and also very close! In previous years I seem to remember finding space! This was very different. As we approached the end of the beach section we were catching the runners from the business run and I was forced to run into the stodgy deep sand OR the sea and as I did not fancy wet feet so early on I chose the sand. Great training for your legs!! I focused on how lucky we were that we could run along such a lovely beach. It was warm and I wondered if I should have run in a T-shirt only… I imagined that I was riding my pony (that I had when I was younger). I have always wanted to gallop along the beach on horseback.

Suddenly we were there! The end of the beach was in sight! Coming off the beach was not as tough as I remembered previous runs. We ran under a big arch with “Dutch Army” emblazoned on the top – I saw a few standing to the side – so great that we have so many volunteers helping. I wonder if they could also use this as a training.

After staggering up the hill from the beach the dunes are usually a happy relief. This time it was so busy it was difficult to find a line and rhythm. I managed to find my pace. It’s quite a hilly phase and I tried to relax and enjoy the downhill parts and use them as momentum for running up the hills.

Once we are through the downs then we run along a rather nice cycle path towards wood. Again people were running all paces. Technically we are supposed to run on the right and overtake on the left. I found it tricky as I was overtaking many people and at the same time being overtaken by faster runners. I decided to take myself out of the melee and run on the grass to the left. I came across the occasional straying supporters!

I knew that there was a nasty hill towards the end of the race. At every turn I started to anticipate it! Not yet! Not quite yet! “Just focus on enjoying the run!” I told myself. I was rather pleased that I had opted for a running jacket – it was not as warm as it was on the beach. I also focused on keeping hydrated with Winrgy. The drink posts were very busy. I can never understand why it is that some people have no thought for their fellow runners and simply stop dead in front of you! I shouted to a few people to “think about where they walked” and managed to escape too many bruises.

It was great to be swept along with the enthusiastic supporters.

We needed them too.

The hill! I certainly knew when we were there. It kicks in around 19 km and makes the last kilometers seem endless! I focused on how near I was to the end – only 2 km NOTHING if you are in a full marathon! There was a strange sign scribbled on one of the sign posts. It read “an extra 100 km” what?? How odd? OK then be prepared!

As we came into the last part of the race, the streets were lined with enthusiastic people. It was amazing. Steady girl – don’t get carried away – there is still almost a km to go! On the other hand, was I really going faster or did it just FEEL that way? Go go go! – the last few seconds may be the difference between under or over the previous time. Wow ! it felt so good. End time was 1 hour 55 mins and 33 seconds – EXACTLY the same time as the previous year! Good job I pushed the accelerator down!

Well earned medals!

Well earned medals!

The massage afterwards was absolutely incredible. Worth the wait (which, by the way, was also fun as we chatted with so many others who had just been through this great experience) and resulted in a shorter wait for the busses.

What an amazing day out by the beach!

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