I had one simple goal for this year, which was creating more time for the things that I truly enjoy. Since running is somewhere top on that list, I needed to shake off all the laziness and lame excuses to be able to do so. This year at a certain point, the weather got really, really cold here in the Netherlands. Not that it is an obstacle for running – in most cases it is quite to opposite – but it is a scientific fact that gloomy weather makes you want to spin a cocoon rather than hitting the streets.
So I needed a more concrete reason to help me with this, and signed up for Amsterdam Urban Trail. It was the very first edition held in Amsterdam as part of Urban Trail series; but this just made the whole thing even more special for me. Even though it was not going to be a timed-race, I started creating my training schedule as I had something to look forward to. And next to that, I also started to make small changes in my life style. Nothing put on paper and investigated; but just a bit more eye on what I eat just to make sure I’d have enough energy on a day when I needed to run. Or a better sleeping schedule for pretty much the same reason. Just like anything new, it took me a while at the beginning to adjust but once I started seeing results with my performance, it did nothing but motivated for more!
Just to tell you a bit about the race itself. This first edition took place in Amsterdam Noord, which is basically the northern part of the city. The parcour included 18 main highlights along the way starting from NDSM-wharf for a total of 10K. It is defined as “edgy arts community with a postapocalyptic vibe” by Lonely Planet. So you do the math. I was physically, and mentally ready for the race until…I heard the news about the weather on that day. An extreme cold weather was expected, like, – 17 cold. I am used to cold weather and winter and all that. But – 17 is next level for me, and not that different from finding myself on the other side of the wall if you know what I mean.
Almost all my friends told me to quit and stay home instead, which would obviously be super-easy-fuzzy-cozy. I must admit I had a huge tendency to do so… But this was my first challenge as part of my goal. And if I was to skip it, I would never have enough determination to take it a step further later on.
Leaving my warm bed that Sunday morning was one of the hardest things I have done recently. The good thing was the sky was blue and there was sun. But no, no warmness at all. It was freezing cold. I did my best to warm up properly before the start time but my hands were already frozen even before I had passed the start line. And yes, I had proper running gloves. And compared to my other cold-weather-runs, it took considerably longer than usual to really warm up. But once it happened, the rest was all about fun.
Urban runs are a great to discover a city as you have a chance to go through the paths you normally would not do. Or visit places normally you would not be allowed to. In our case, we went from a highschool to a newspaper office, and further towards to a boat. The parcour was combination of all different alternatives that you could think of, which made the whole experience quite memorable. Only at the very beginning somewhere, there was a queue for narrow stairs. This meant waiting outside for almost 10 minutes, which was not that favorable considering the weather and all that. But for the rest it was nothing but joy!
Even though I saved my timing via my Runkeeper app, there were quite some pauses in between to take pictures, or to wait for other runners who were busy taking pictures. So result is nothing to be shared.
But once I reached the finish line – and thank God they were serving breakfast right after handing the medal – I felt so proud. So proud for ignoring all those inner/outer voices telling me to stay back. Filled up with endorphin, I decided to keep this mood going and to sign up for a next race. And then I remembered the next best was Rotterdam Marathon, where a quarter one was also included. I was just about to sign up but then came the sudden disappointment as registrations were already closed for 1/4 marathon. But I was just getting started with all that running and jazz; and could not let this be a hiccup on my way. What happened next? That will be in another post!
And if you are curious about the race, check out the full experience with the after movie:
Thank you for reading this and wish you all happy running!