The Amsterdam Marathon starts and finishes inside the Olympic Stadium (Amsterdam hosted the 1928 Olympics). The runners run about half a lap of the track before exiting the stadium and into the streets of Amsterdam. When the gun went off I immediately tried to settle into the right pace. I was anxiously waiting for the 1st kilometer mark to see how I was doing with pace. My goal pace coming into the race was to run sub-6:00 pace, specifically between 5:56 - 5:59 (min/mile) pace, which is equivalent to 3:41 - 3:43 per kilometer. I hit the 1st km in 3:41 feeling very comfortable. The next three kilometers went by right at 3:40-41 (5:54-5:56 pace). I knew that I should be hitting the 5k mark right around 18:30. I started to get concerned when my watch read 18:05 because I still couldn't see the 5k mark and timing map ahead. I thought that maybe I had slowed my pace on the 5th km so I started to pick up my pace. About 150 meters later I finally reached the 5k mark and clocked 19:01. I knew that couldn't be right. I then asked a couple runners if they thought the 5k mark was correct and they said it was about 30 seconds too long. I found out after the race that the 5k marker and timing mat was placed 200 meters too far. So I ended up running 5.2k in 19:01 - 5:53 pace, definitely not my planned pace.
Shortly after crossing the 10k mark in 36:37, I took in my first power gel. For the first time in all my marathons I took in a power gel this early in the race. I normally take in my first gel around mile 10 or at the half-marathon mark. This time I think I planned this energy gel thing out perfectly. I carried 4 gels taking in one at each of the 10k mark (i.e. 10k, 20k, 30k) and the last one at about the 38k-39k mark.
I was cruising along running my own race, and not with a pack, until I reached the Amstel River around 12k. I was now running into the wind. I decided it was time to run with a pack so that I could draft off someone. The only problem was that I wasn’t too close to any runner. There was a pack about 50 meters behind me and about 3 runners 15 meters ahead. I tried to make my way up to the three runners but that seemed to take forever. By the time I got closer to them I reached the halfway mark, which I crossed in 1:17:34. I honestly was a bit surprised to see 1:17:xx. At that point I could see more runners ahead, which motivated me to catch up to them. I’d focus on one runner, catch him, then focus on another runner and catch him too. I did this from the halfway mark to about 30k. This catch up game was the reason behind a 36:11 (5:49 pace) 10k split (20k-30k).
I think I ended up paying the price for that last 10k split because fatigue started to settle in the legs with about 7k (~35k mark) to go. Not having anyone to run with made running even harder. The crowd was what really kept me fighting during the 35k to 40k stretch. The 41k mark was situated at a turn which then takes the runners through a half mile stretch of road before entering the Olympic stadium. When I made the turn at 41k I saw an Ethiopian female elite runner. I knew I was capable of catching her so I tried to pick up the pace. I caught her just as I made the turn toward the entrance of the Olympic stadium. When I entered the stadium I saw the 200M to go sign and the timing clock at 2:34:55. I already knew it was a PR, but I didn’t want to settle for just a PR. I wanted the PR to be as low as possible so I gave it my all. I ended up running the last 1.2km in 4:24 (5:54 pace). Finishing time was 2:35:37 (5:56 pace), 43rd Overall. It was an awesome feeling finishing the marathon in the historical Olympic stadium. I am extremely proud to be a sub-6:00 marathoner. Here are video clips of me finishing the race and crossing the various 5k splits. Splits below.