Amsterdam half-marathon - a new personal best
The Amsterdam half-marathon is, like the marathon that's run on the same day, known for fast times - partly because of a generally flat course, and partly because being this late in the year, the chance of the weather being too hot is less. For me, especially when making a comparison with the Great North Run, the fact that it's a comparatively smaller event made a big difference too. For the last two-thirds of the race I was running in open space most of the time. I was therefore able to follow my plan of getting up to a good rate of work early on and sticking to it. Most of the time I had an eye on my heart rate monitor, and kept it in the high 160's. At the end, the average rate was 166. For me that's good steady work. I don't think I could sustain, say 170 over that distance. Something to do with being an old git. That means that if I'm to improve on my times, I'll need to raise my general level of fitness. That sounds like lots of unpleasant speed work - if I decide to try to improve on this result.
According to the official results page my net time was 1:45:21 - they also quote a gross time (1:48:13), which is presumably the time from the starting gun to when you cross the line. In this modern world where the progress of your "chip" is monitored round the course, I'm quite happy to accept the net time: start line to finish line, as the result. Back in the 1994 Great North Run, I did 1:48, and that was the time from my own stopwatch: start line to finish. Today's time is therefore my personal best over this distance. Um - OK - it's only my third half-marathon ever, so talking about personal bests might be a bit precious, but I'm really pleased with this, as my previous PB was set 13 years ago.
The official results also include some rather bizarre split times. This comes about because the positions of the mats were relative to the start line of the marathon, which was different to the start for the half-marathon. (I don't have any timings from my own watch, as I pushed the wrong button at the 5km mark. Thank goodness for the chip.)
My position was 2279 / 8439. That will do nicely. I mean you can take this all too far. The memorable image of the day was Emmanuel Mutai crossing the line after running the marathon in 2:06:27. He'd given his all, and as he rounded the track in the Olympic Stadium, approaching the finish line, you could see he was having trouble. As he crossed the line, he promptly threw up. That shows just how much these top athletes push themselves. I'll settle for less.