The Rotterdam Marathon 2015

Cliff notes: I pushed the 1st half so I was out of my comfort zone. Scott threatened me to slow down so I finished in 3.30 and could continue training as per. Me – thinking I am the superhero I’m not – thought “meh I feel fine I’ll slow down only a little and still manage to train hard this week” then BOOM I hit a wall and sit at the side of the road for 8 MINUTES (strava can prove this!) having mental talks with myself, while being offered drugs from spectators (don’t be alarmed, folks. I am a sponsored athlete who is good under peer pressure!).

3.09.23 – 25th female, but only 934/11879 overall!

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(never mind – can’t win ’em all!)

Race morning: 

I actually managed to sleep until 5am (usually I wake up lots the night before!) but my alarm was set for 7am (I always set my alarm 3 hours before the start) so I just kinda stared at the ceiling. By 6.45 I was pretty bored so decided to go out for my warm up jog…boy was it windy! I was hoping it would calm down since my 9minute/mile pace felt pretty hard! I did 15 mins with a couple of strides and headed back to the room for breakfast. Kylie Babez had so kindly picked up my breakfast the evening before, so I had half a baguette with a banana and peanut butter. I probably should have had more (I usually have porridge with chia seeds too, but I didn’t take any with me. Oops). And 2 cups of coffee. Well that woke me up after a week without caffeine!

My music blaring on the ipad (Kyle should get some sort of trophy for putting up with my annoying qualities all through the year never mind race morning) – think heavy angry rap from da hood, I got changed into race gear and did some stretches. We headed downstairs last minute (about 9.20am) because I hate porta potty lines. The metro wasn’t too busy, and we got to the start line about 9.30am. I did another wee jog, then said my nervous goodbyes to KB, who would then go and meet his parents off

the train!

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(my “do I have to do this?” pose)

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(my “get me out of this prison cell” pose)

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(my “ok he won’t let me out of here, so I might as well do some form of warm up” pose)

The Race:

So I had NO IDEA what was going on because I am an ignorant Scotsman who can’t speak Dutch. Suddenly, with my trackies still on, I was pushed into sardine territory within seconds, and lost my good place near the front. I was in the 1st wave, but looking at people’s bibs in front of me, other waves managed to sneak in! Then a song was sang that 99% of runners sang along to, and then I just heard a gun!

“Oh, I should start running now”.

“Ahhh why are so many people in front of me? In other big races, I have plenty of space. Grrr. I’ll use these swimmer shoulders of mine to push through”.

“Hmm maybe this is expending a little too much energy. Yep, a 6.24 mile is not what I’m aiming for going UP a steep bridge.”

“Ok calm down, just relax down the other end of the bridge and try and find a group going the pace you feel is right”

“Eh???! A 6.14 mile! WTF?!”

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(for once I’m serious and someone else is posing!)

I refused to look at my watch, but did notice a sub20 5km (and my watch read 3.15 at the time!), but I found someone nice to chat to for a couple of minutes, until I realised he was shooting for sub-2.50, so I left him alone. Bad timing because then there was what felt like a 10 mile stretch (it was only 2.5 miles) into a strong headwind where I had noone to tuck behind! I lost everyone! This was both mentally and physically exhausting, so I took a gel and smiled for the spectators (I have NEVER been at a race where there is no space at the side of the road…for 26 miles it was incredible!!).

Miles 1-6: 6.24, 6.14, 6.33, 6.29, 6.28, 6.41 (40.29 at 10km)

I spotted Kyle and his parents at EXACTLY the right time! I waved and shouted at them, and they looked so happy to see that I wasn’t crawling yet be watching the race. Mummy Greig made the BEST poster for me too!

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(yay – only skinny men around me…I must be quite fast!)

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(off I go….fa la la)

I don’t remember much up until the half marathon point. I just remember a lot of gradual ups and downs and wind. I felt good though!

Miles 7-13: 6.37, 6.41, 6.47, 6.43, 6.47, 6.59, 6.53 (1.27.33 at the HM)

I felt comfortable and found my pace, but I was getting really thirsty! Basically, the water stops were every 5.5ish km (strike one right there…I sweat a lot so I am losing liquids from the get go), and they had these weird sponge-as-a-lid designs for the cups, whereby if you went to take a drink of water, it got soaked up by said sponge and left you with a mere trickle on the tongue. I think they intended it to prevent spillage but instead the sponge absorbed 99% of it. Anyway, by the halfway point I did a quick calculation and realised I had consumed approximately 0.3 cups in total of water and “AA” (the marathon’s energy drink) combined, so that was maybe why I was very thirsty and tired in the 17C heat at 13 mile point.

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(go Debster for leading the skinny men pack while still smiling…only approximately 17 minutes before you hit the wall though…muhahaha)

Past half way, my legs still had a rhythm going, and I wasn’t keen on easing up because I thought that rhythm might be interrupted if I slow pace. But I did it anyway (Scott and I wanted me to be able to train through it – I have a half ironman in 5 weeks and have a LOT of work to do), looked at my watch and saw and “8” – holy moly this didn’t feel like an 8. The effort felt the same as the 6!

“Ahh I broke my rhythm. This feels weird. People keep passing me now; I don’t like it. Why didn’t I take the 1st half steady and then nail the 2nd half? Surely that makes more sense? Ugh I don’t know if I can handle all these people passing me. I think I’ll stop for a minute. Yes, good idea. Stopping is always a good idea.”

So I did. I asked a kind man for water at the side of the road (he had a 2L bad boy and I felt like an addict that would do anything for my fix, so didn’t mind taking water from a stranger) and downed about a quarter of it. Another man also came up to me and asked if I wanted his “salt” drink. I looked at it, saw it had green stuff floating in it, thought I best not (although maybe it would make the miles fly by  😉  ) and went on my merry way. The next mile was still an 8, but I had stopped contemplating cannibas cocktails for a while…

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(another pic where he is happier than me…!)

A few more miles ticked by where the wind was strong, the temperatures were high, and I was thirsty again. I had 4 gels tucked away in my shorts and bra, and I like to take them every 5ish miles, but you are also meant to take them with water, and the aid stations didn’t tie in with this plan. For example, I saw a sign that said “Refreshments – 100m” at about 16 miles.

“Yaaas maybe they are opening up more aid stations in the 2nd half! I’ll take my Salted Caramel Gu now. Yes, that flavour is what I fancy just now, then I’ll take the Peanut Butter one in about 45 mins because it’s not as sickly and my stomach won’t want sickly by then. I’m so smart. Ok, 100m has passed, I see no refreshments? Hang on, that’s been over a quarter mile. Oh no I see a station, phew! Hang on, that is a tent full of sponges?? I don’t want more sponges…I want refreshments!! Noooo!! Rotterdam Marathon and you’re false advertising – I’ll get you for this!”

In a nutshell, fuelling didn’t go to plan. I was beginning to feel drained, the gels weren’t kicking in because I had no water and the only thing preventing me from stopping again were the sheer amount of spectators blocking the pavement for a seat.

I decided the best way for me to get in my nutrition was to walk the aid stations, hence the other 8 minute miles at 19 & 20 miles. I wasn’t getting a PB today anyway, and it meant I would enjoy the race as opposed to suffer and crawl across the finish line.

Miles 14 – 20: 8.12, 8.10, 7.20, 7.36, 7.13, 8.04, 8.00

The final 10k was around a lake (that we didn’t get to see because of trees), but there were some bands and DJs playing, and it was around the point where people were really dying. I mean, I was tired, and I had their AA drink sloshing in my stomach after downing 5 cups at every aid station from 19 miles onwards, but I was still capable of running.

It was probably the quietest part of the course. Which I guess is a shame because 20 miles is when the real race starts; that is when you really need the motivation and strength to keep going.

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(ok this is getting ridiculous now. I’M meant to be the poser!)

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(hurry up finish line!)

After a lap of the lake, you are back on the road you came out on, so there were hundreds of people still to venture around that lake. That was a bit of a confidence boost, in a selfish and evil way. The crowds were in their thousands and because my name was on my bib I was cheered by so many people (“shexshay Debbie” was a common one throughout the race!)! I even got a marriage proposal, but instead of being flattered I decided I should maybe start wearing more clothes at these races. I digress, the final 2 miles were SO MUCH FUN!!! I was out of my hole, I wasn’t going to stop, the sloshing in my stomach had calmed down, I was highfiving kids that didn’t even want high 5s, I was smiling from ear to ear and was singing to Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” with the crowd down the finishing chute! I felt like a rockstar down that last 200m with the crowds!

Miles 21 – 26.2: 7.43, 7.22, 7.46, 7.37, 7.34, 7.35, 6.39 for the 0.5(again, I’ll get you for this Rotterdam!) 

As I crossed the line, I posed for the camera with an “I can’t win ’em all” pose, and saw Kyle & his parents straight away! They were so supportive and excited despite Kyle being unable to run. Thanks so much, guys!

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(about 3m and 10seconds from crossing the finish line…KB said I was as pale as a ghost! I was loving life!)

I put on my finisher’s tshirt and we headed straight for the pub!

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(it was such a gorgeous day!)

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(Kyle’s dad showing me the video he took of me….I’m still waiting for this to be sent *hint hint*!)

Overall, I’m happy that my splits were semi-even (if you break it into 2xhalves), that I enjoyed the race, and that I have been able to recover quickly (I hate admitting Scott was right!) – I managed an hour crosstraining and a 15min run the following day, a 60km cycle and 6 mile run on Tuesday, and a 3.6km swim, 4 mile run and turbo session yesterday! Note to self: running even splits is faaaaar easier than changing pace, and in Rotterdam I learned that the hard way!

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(the poster Mummy Greig made me!! She also treated me with the Snickers, and Freyja sent me some pb M&Ms from the states for me!!!)

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Amsterdam/Rotterdam – Race Recap to Follow!

Since we were away for a long weekend, I thought I’d keep the suspense mounting (or not) of my race and instead tell you about what else we did!

On Friday morning, I woke up early and got a quick 30 min run in. Then we were headed to the airport (courtesy of our taxi, Emma Sisterister Moore) and found this after checking in:

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(oh dear…no pressure!)

The flight was really quick and we got to our hotel and sorted by about lunchtime.

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(Kyle: “let’s pout for this one”. Deb: “is there something you’re not telling me, Kyle?”)

We explored the city (it was packed!!) and took in all the sights and smells, having a picnic in Dam Square, a river cruise, and dinner overlooking a canal.

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(a bagpiper outside of the palace?)

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(we later discovered this cheese shop gave out a ridiculous amount of free samples. so that ended lunch number 1 when we met up with Kyle’s parents!)

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(About to set off on the river cruise. Yes, I have weird thumbs. I have been picked on for 27 years. Thanks, K.)

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(Dancing buildings)

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(When in Rome Amsterdam…!)

It was just a flying visit, but we would be making the most of the area on the Monday when Kyle’s parents were taking us out (they booked flights to watch Kyle’s 1st marathon, but weren’t too bothered that he was injured, because they love an excuse to come over! They love Amsterdam!)!

On Saturday morning, I found a park to run around before getting the train to Rotterdam (I wish I brought my camera because there was an “art in the park” exhibition and there were lots of cool sculptures!) Anyway, the train showed us that Holland really DOES have a lot of windmills and tulips!

Speaking of stereotypes, Mum you were wrong telling me I’d place high in the marathon since they would all be wearing clogs. Hmmph. Liar.

I had imagined Rotterdam to be very industrial with not much to see, but I loved it! All the buildings were new (the whole city got bombed in the war) and architects worked hard at making some gorgeous skyscrapers! I would describe it as a very very very miniature version of Manhattan, without any hustle and bustle!

We searched for some lunch, and then I went to collect my bib.

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(carbs…mmmm)

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(signing the good luck wall!)

I would like to take this opportunity to say how much of a trooper Kylie Babez was at the expo. He obviously didn’t want to be there, since he had a bib in the elite section waiting for him, but he put on a brave face and wandered around with me! Thank you!!!

We then went on a frantic search for hair bobbles (I left mine in my purse, which I decided not to take in the end, since I borrowed Emma’s handbag!) but the stress was over after a little too much walking, and a little too much spending on said bobbles (9EURO?!?!?)!

Once we checked in to the hotel, Kyle made the most of the gym, and then went to a market to get food for us to nibble on at night (I like eating my main meal as a late lunch on the day before a big race, then pick on littler things later on) so that I could rest my legs…awwwwwh!

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(the floor the gym was on!)

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(the gunshow?)

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(while Kylie’s away, Debzie will play…!)

Then, it was race day. So that went ok. Not great. But ok. I was 25th with a 3.09. ELEVEN minutes onto my PB but I did what Hitler Scott told me and reined it in on the 2nd half. I must stress to you guys that did NOT mean I didn’t hit a wall. I certainly hit a wall. But one I overcame after being offered a “salted cannabis drink from a spectator” seeing Kyle and his parents, and walking the aid stations (more on that later). My splits were pretty consistent to show that I was able to power through! Maybe a change of pace from 6.40s to a minuteish slower was what broke me??? Anyway, I shall recap on that next time…

Post marathon, we were fortunate enough that the masses hadn’t finished yet, so we got a table near the finish line at a bar for some lunch and beers (I could only stomach patatas with aioli at this point…which sucked because everyone’s meals looked AWESOME!!) – and Heineken has never tasted better!

After a couple of hours, Mummy & Daddy Greig headed back to the Dam, and Kyle and I went back to the hotel, I screamed from the chaffage showered while Kyle went for a quick run (yay to healing!), and we headed to the Felix Factory, a converted warehouse for food lovers! Foodie HEAVEN with some bakeries, butchers, beer tents, cheese stands…mmmm!!

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(our view drinking 11% beer at Felix!)

It turned into a perfect day! The wind settled a bit, leaving it nice and warm!

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(Maybe “settled” was too strong a word? It was still pretty blustery!)

In search of food (Debster’s marathon hunger had finally kicked in!), we headed to an all you can eat Sushi restaurant. Kyle of course, being the good sport he is, agreed to pretend he ran the marathon, and consumed 10bajillion calories with me, so as not to make me feel bad 😉 …

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(Kyle after faaaar too much raw fish and rice)

Weirdly, the city centre was DEAD! Where did the 40,000 runners and 900,000 spectators go??? We were wanting a night out!! Not to worry, we instead headed to bed early to make the most of our day in Amsterdam!

I woke up early and Scott had me training again (he wanted me to prove I hadn’t pushed the race too hard!) so while Kyle slept, I went upstairs again to play on the elliptical and treadmill!

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(Scott – there’s your proof! I LOVED the view!)

The elliptical is so much more fun than a crosstrainer (and so much harder!)…no wonder super speedy Fiona RudBri uses it as cross training!

We got into Amsterdam and met Mummy & Daddy Greig again for our day of fun! They took us to Rembrant square, where we had overpriced tasty rose beer, visited a couple of quirky shops, a local market with the freshest fish I have ever tasted, Dam square, and a very lovely posh restaurant to end the amazing day!

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(rose beer…far too easy to drink!)

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(fish picked from the stand and fried in front of us!)

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(dinner at Humphries…highly recommended!)

The day flew by and it was time to head back to the hotel (we hadn’t even checked in because our room wasn’t ready!)! We had such an amazing time!

And to top it off, Schipol’s Starbucks ALMOST got my name right!

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(what’s so difficult? Usually I get “Daddy”, “Dadi”, or “Davey”…really?!!)

Oh, and I may have treated myself to some Ray-Bans too!

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We arrived safe and sound, and thought “let’s end this fun long weekend with a 60km cycle and 10km run this afternoon”…!

Marathon? What marathon?! 😉


What did you guys get up to at the weekend?! 

What did you last purchase?

Who raced this weekend?