Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Amsterdam Marathon: My first marathon an experience not to forget!!

Where do I start! The day after the Marathon, a friend emailed me as I sat in front of my computer with my legs throbbing and asked me, "So, how do you feel"? I immediately replied, "My legs hurt, my pelvic joints feel like they are grinding together, and my knee is not stable"

He energetically fired back, "No, How do you feel"?

He was right! The pain would just be temporary, but as I sat there and absorbed his question, for the first time, I consciously acknowledged an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, relief and calm previously overlooked by the shear magnitude of what I had just experienced. I then responded to him, "Sunday was a big day, the culmination of a hard work and dedication, commitment and focus. I'm not sure how to explain it, figuratively; I've climbed the mountain, stood at the top, appreciated the views, and returned to the bottom. Now, I stand at the base, looking up, respecting what I have just done, without that lingering sense that tomorrow represents another training day, hard work and continued focus. I'm at ease! It's also a reminder that when I put my mind to something, I can accomplish amazing things and experience the most special moments life has to offer"!

After a week of sleepless night at 6 :30 am on Sunday I looked down at my running watch fastened securely to my wrist and immediately realized, today was the day! There would be no more counting down days, there would be no more training runs, today was October 16th, 2011, Marathon Sunday! Today I will run 42,1 km in Amsterdam.
My hubby dropped me at 8 am at the Olympic stadium, the drive going there felt long. I was getting nervous ever minute that we were getting closer. Once I get there I text @RubenRent to see if he was already there. We were suppose to meet in the sports shop at the stadium to have some coffee offered by @JoanHLWAdam the owner of the shop.

I see Ruben both nervous we go get some coffee while impressed by everything around us. The stadium,the finish line,the entrance to the stadium….At the sports shop we got to meet with other friends from twitter."Jaco", "Martin", "Ruud"...  Time went so fast 40 min before the start I go with Ruben on a warm up Run… to realize that it was freezing outside. I think it was around  5 degrees!!

We get back and we head to the start… this is it!! less than 15 min to go… no more going back, 42,1 km are in front of me and I was ready and excited to run after one week of tapering and missing the feeling of a good run!!! I am so happy that Ruben was experiencing the same feeling I had since it is both our first marathon. At the start it was freezing cold we were speechless waiting for the startgun.
First km went very easy I didn’t have the intention to run with Ruben but somehow we had the same pace and it felt great to be running with a first time marathoner.
I wanted to already run fast from km1 but since I don’t know how would I feel at 35 km that everyone warned me about, I had to be careful.

Km after km together with Ruben chatting along the way cruising at pace 4’45 . It felt easy after the 10 km.  At 11 km we had our supporters @RunninRonald together with @runSylrun and others. It was great to see them and of course picture time. Second 10 km we were at a faster pace already, Just before the 30k I started to have some stomach cramps a feeling that I don’t like at all but I kept ignoring it and focus at everything around me and enjoy the scenery of every km I run.

30 km the km that I will never forget… thats where Ronald, sylvia...were waiting to cheer us up.Few km before that point I told Ruben I am looking forward to see our supporters and here I already saw the big flag JVC board and I knew we arrived … Out of nowhere I only see myself  tripping with Ruben and both of us falling hard on the ground!!! PlAK!! My head also!!! Without even thinking stood up and kept running just like a little machine.,,, Ruben was also fine and we kept going…dizzy and bleeding from my knee kept running to realize that we are running even faster than before. This fall made us stronger and while worrying about the headache and the bleeding we were close to the famous 35K.
35km I asked Ruben how he was feeling, he said good beside some pain but who didn’t have pain at that point? At 36k I started to visualize the finish line, I felt strong and all I wanted now to finish despite all the pain my body was undergoing. The last few km were the hardest but the BEST FEELING EVER!!! Legs were heavy I was scared that we were slowing pace but Ruben was there to reassure me that we are doing just fine.

The Marathon was incredible for all the reasons you think it would be. Amsterdam is a perfect host for such an event. Every single neighborhood we ran through offered its own unique personality.. Marathon spectators seemed torn between handing out high fives to runners and dancing to the bands. Kids held their hands out hoping you would run by and acknowledge them with a high five! Every 10 steps somebody would yell your name out!

2 km to go …from there the crowds gradually regained size as we entered the park. I kept focusing on my legs because I felt there were giving up on me, they don’t want to run anymore, my muscles were so tight and i just wanted to get done!!
We get to the stadium for the last 200 m I began to feel light headed, it was hard for me to breathe and I thought I might end up like some of the finishers who were fainting left and right. Ruben's family and my mine especially my beautiful 11 months boy was there cheering for us, I didn’t see anyone I could only see the finish line. Ruben holds my hand and we crossed the finish line together in  3:11:05 that is 19’ faster than my goal time and 9' faster than Ruben’s goal time.
At that moment, everything stopped, the pain, the noise, and my thoughts. I clutched the medal in my hand, draped it around my neck, and felt at that moment my journey had come full circle.

A final thank you to my family, for friends and twitter friends who supported me during my training. Also a special thank you to Sonia Hanna and Roger Bejjani from the Lebanese RRA who comforted me and advised me days before the race! Thank you to everybody who came out on Marathon Sunday! Thank you to everybody who offered congratulatory wishes following the race!
This will forever be my first Marathon experience, and because of that, a special one. However, it will definitely not be the last. I plan on incorporating Marathons into my life going forward.

Video of the finish line... A moment not to be forgotten


  1. WOWWW, I read your story in one breath. What a great race report and what a first marathon it was for you (and Ruben). You did good to run faster than planned, most runners hit the wall at 30KM but not you, you hit the ground :) ... I will never forget that sight, you and Ruben both tumbling... the sound of you hitting the ground..... I was in shock...

    but than, Ruben picked you up, and you both continued running.. what a strong runners you both are.

    I couldn't believe it when I saw your time at 40KM... and then finish in an unbelievable 3:11 .. in your first marathon...

    As I told you on the phone, there's more in you, the runner in you has only just been awaken. You are, by far, a talented runner and I'm proud of you!

    Enjoy these days on the "pink cloud" as we say in Holland. You will never forget your first marathon..!!!

    You are great Nesrine! I'm glad that I witnessed your superrace!

    big hugh!!

  2. Nesrine, to me you really are a superwoman! And this is not only because of your marvelous marathon debut! Thank you for meeting up with other Twitterfriends in the store. Reading the blogs from you and the others really makes me emotional and thankful to be able to take part of these special moments. Sitting with tears in my eyes now but so ready start to train myself! Thank you for inspiring me so much! Big Hug, Joan

  3. Btw Nesrine, You can now add a brandnew PB to your list!!

  4. What a marvelous performance, what a fantastic marathon-debut! You can only dream about that, but you made it come through!
    And you really wrote down a wonderfull story about it as well; it was nice (finally) meeting you and a gret honor to be among the firsts to witness your performance!
    Congrats again!

  5. Nes,
    Great time and great writing. Keep up on both. It is so nice to get your news and know how far you have come on life's journey. Meeting you and your sister is one of the lasting highlights of my time in lebanon way back when. I feel like that I was one of the random variables along the way that nudged you guys on to perhaps a different track, and then I have enjoyed watching how you guys have crushed it!!
    All the best from Boston.

  6. i was shocked when ruben and you fall on the ground.....
    i said something to ruben about the stiches in his mouth and suddenly both on the ground....
    you did a great performance in amsterdam, and it was a great year also !
    have a great 2012 !