Sunday, October 16, 2011

I got high in Amsterdam

The runner's high that is!!!!!!!
Nick and I spent the weekend in Amsterdam where we explored the city like tourists and I ran the Amsterdam half marathon. Let me just start by saying, I absolutely loved Amsterdam! It was an amazing mix of serenity and beauty with the canals and the architecture but a buzz with excitement and people wanting to let loose and have fun.
Some of our many stops included the Anne Frank House, the Red Light District, Dam Square, some of the many canals, Van Gogh Museum - outside only :(, the Amstel River and Vondel Park. We stumbled upon a protest. We think it was regarding global warming but the only words we understood were the profanities. We got the main points I think....they are pissed about global warming! We did tons of walking but still have so much more to see. I wanted to take one of the canal cruises and a walking tour so that we could learn more about history but the weekend was too jam packed to fit in anything else. I felt like parts of Amsterdam were like Disney Land for adults. Some things were over the top and very commercial but what really appealed to me was the history, the setting and the culture. We definitely, want to go back.
After we had walked around the city all afternoon we were especially hungry and found a little hole in the wall restaurant. Our server asked where we were from and when Nick said America
he quickly chimed in that he was from Afghanistan and proceeded to call Nick "Johnny Boy" for the rest of the evening. He was very flamboyant and we enjoyed our meal very much. Some of us more then others :) The hotel that we were originally booked to stay at was a bit out of the way but gave Nick and I an opportunity to explore the city by bus :) The transit is very easy to follow and luckily Nick had figured out how to get everywhere we needed to go. When we arrived at the hotel we were told that the hotel was overbooked and they offered us a room at a hotel in the city centre - a better hotel in the heart of the city for the same price? SOLD! We stayed in Leidse Plein and walked 30-minutes through Vondel Park in the morning to collect my race kit from the Olympic Stadium. Start time was 1:30pm so we had lots of time to have breakfast, walk to the stadium, explore the expo and situate ourselves for the race. I think the walk through the park was my favorite part of the whole trip. Vondel Park is one of the most beautiful city parks I have ever seen. It makes Central Park look like the ghetto. I'm not sure how many times I said "Isn't this so beautiful?", Nick must have been getting tired of that but it
was. Part of the race ran through the park and it was spectacular. The course was the perfect mix of urban terrain and green space. We passed many of the major tourist attractions and there were tons of fans. The fans aren't as loud as the fans for the Scotia Bank Marathon or Ottawa race weekend but they were definitely there and numbered in the thousands. The Olympic stadium was built in 1928 and this was where the race started from and finished. We loved seeing the American and Canadian flags in front of the stadium. I was a little disappointed that I forgot to wear any Canada gear. The finish of the race was inside the stadium. We ran into the stadium and crossed the finish line after completing a lap of the track. It was AWESOME! When crossing the finish line I hammed it up and put my arms in the air, I couldn't help it the moment was screaming for me to do it :) I ran a personal best for the half marathon 1:37.03PR. It was a great weekend, the perfect day and I was extremely pleased with my efforts. There were 40,000 participants in the race and the crowd of runners never seemed to thin out like they do in the other races I have completed. The day was broken down into three different races; the marathon, 1/2 marathon and 8km with three different start times. The organizers sent the runners out in waves based on estimated race times to break down the field even further. I can only imagine what it would have been like if they had sent us all out at once. It was a wonderful experience to run an international race like this but for those who are looking to run really fast times I think it is difficult in a group this size. Overall, I had a great weekend and I'm thinking Berlin in April might be a good time to take a crack at another Marathon. Who knows, maybe I'm still high...a runners high of course :)

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