I'm a Runner!

Today was the day of the 25th Dam-tot-Dam-loop, a 16.1km running event from Amsterdam to Zaandam. Yours truly was one of the 35,000 people who signed up for the event, and one of the 17,614 people who made it to the finish line!

Even though, in the eyes of real hard-core marathon runners, 16km is no big deal, I’m quite proud and excited about this, as it was my first participation in an organized running event ever. Or my first 16.1km run at all, for that matter. I started running somewhere in the beginning of 2008, so this was kind of like an exam for myself.

Speaking of organized events, the organization was excellent as far as I could see, despite the unprecedented number of participants in this 25th year of the Dam-tot-Dam. Dealing with thirty-five thousand runners plus an enormous number of onlookers is no small challenge, but at least as far as I am concerned everything was prepared perfectly: bags were transported to the finish area (unlike most runs the Dam-tot-Dam is not a loop: you don’t finish anywhere near the starting point), there were water and first-aid stands everywhere along the route, etc. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the medical personnel, one person died of a fatal heart attack a few kilometers before the finish line.

Thanks to the wonders of modern surveillance technology (specifically, an RFID chip tied to every runner’s shoelace) my progress has been tracked in excruciating detail. Most interesting is of course my total time for the whole run: 1:34:20, which comes out to an average speed of 10.2 km/h. Not quite up there with the panthenon of running gods, but a perfectly respectable time for a first-timer, if I do say so myself.

I’m glad it went as well as it did, since I’ve been battling a pretty heavy cold for the past week and it was by no means over yet today. But during the actual run, I didn’t seem to be too bothered by that — probably the adrenaline doing its work. Immediately afterwards, however, the hammer fell; my lungs felt as if a host of insects had taken up inside them, and I was limping so badly that the steps of Zaandam Station seemed to be as big a challenge as the run itself. Well, OK, not that bad. But it didn’t matter, because I was wearing around my neck the medal proclaiming that I’m officially a runner now! I just hope that my immune system is not going to punish me too badly over the coming weeks, for dumping so much abuse on it in its already weakened state..

I’m going to take it easy for the next week or so, but there’s definitely going to be a follow-up on this if I have anything to say about it! Perhaps next year’s Dam-tot-Dam, and see if I can get my time down towards 1:25 or so? Or maybe a half marathon? Three years ago, nobody among my aquaintances, least of all myself, would have predicted that I would ever take part in a long-distance running event. But with 16km in the bag, suddenly 22km does not seem quite as utterly impossible anymore as it once did..