Retro race report: Flashbacks from the Dam Part One

On this date exactly a year ago I was hobbling round Amsterdam competing in my first (and so far only) marathon.  26.2 miles is a long way to run (so people tell me, I was mainly hobbling) but it is actually the tail end of a much longer journey. There are so many things that run through your mind when you are trying to run round a city but probably the most prevalent thought that day was -why?!

Copyright TCS Amsterdam Marathon
The first organised racing event I ever took part in was the Kingston Breakfast run in April 2010. Although I was cycling 14 miles a day, to and from work, the pounds had been piling up. So once again I decided that I’d kick off the New Year with some clean living. January started well - I'd joined a gym near where I worked and was attending two or three lunchtimes a week. I'd even managed to abstain from the booze for a while -something I say I'm going to do every January but usually falls by the wayside within a week or so. As a result I managed to get in fairly decent shape for the start of 2010.
However I’d been here before, start off in January with great intentions, lose a few pounds, then get to February which begins with my birthday, followed by a few of my friends birthdays and before I know it I’ve spent another year nursing hangovers on the sofa munching through countless McDonalds. But then an email was sent round my office stating that there were 10 free places available in the Kingston Breakfast run as long as we raised a bit of money for charity. There were two distances on offer, 8 or 16 miles. Could I run 8 miles? At that point I could barely run a quarter of a mile in one go. I decided that there was no way I was capable of such a feat. Then I thought back to the number of times I’d started “health regimes” that had failed within six weeks. So I gingerly threw my hat into the ring.

I didn’t plan a training routine but it evolved into a few sessions on the treadmill each week, trying to run further and faster in the limited time I had for my lunch break, and a longer run at the weekend. I soon discovered that running was a lot easier form of exercise to fit in if you were away for the weekend or on holiday. A pair of trainers slips into your overnight bag a lot more comfortably than a bike. I remember heading home to my mum’s for a few days and heading out for a run on the Saturday morning. I ran three miles. THREE MILES!! It was the furthest I’d ever run. To me that was the equivalent of climbing Everest. That is probably what makes running and triathlon such accessible sports. You can’t quantify the joy someone feels when they’ve reached a milestone or personal goal. Managing those three miles on that Saturday morning I bet I felt exactly the same as someone who had managed a sub-four or three hour marathon. It’s all about setting your personal goals and reaching them, whether it’s your first 5km run or an Ironman triathlon.

 Anyway, my training continued for a few months until I swapped my long run at the weekend to running the seven miles home from work once a week. Then the big day arrived. With a title such as “Breakfast Run” it didn’t exactly start at the most sociable of times. Mrs Trihard and Toddler Trihard decided they’d support me from the comfort of their own beds. It was disappointing but that’s something you also have to get used to and it isn’t much fun for people to spend a few hours milling around in the cold waiting to catch a very brief glimpse of their beloved trying their hardest not to pass out on the pavement. 

The run was tougher than I anticipated but I finished in 1 hour and 17 minutes. The last mile or so were incredibly hard and I remember thinking to myself “I could never do a marathon,” but obviously that was all about to change...

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I'm doing the running so where's my breakfast?!


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