Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Road to Amsterdam Marathon 2016

My preparation for Amsterdam marathon started beginning of August When I was in RIO at the summer Olympic games. I feel lucky that I got this opportunity to go to Rio, be with my family and be part of this amazing event and be able to support my sister who was qualified for the Marathon with an unbelievable time  of 2h44’.

Living the Olympic spirit was just a big motivation for me. I woke up every morning, extra early and run along the beautiful beaches. It was amazing to see how many people were running at that early time of the day!  What a sporty city!

Beside Running I got to see many new places and watched many events like athletics, Beach volleyball, Gymnastics, swimming...I really had a blast! 

Despite the weather conditions in Rio, my sister ran a great race. It was not her PR but that was to be expected with this kind of heat and humid on that day in Rio

I joined few months back Hellas Club in order to get my intervals done and train with a group and get motivated. I am a self motivated person but When you are mom of 2 little kids who need lots of attention, a job which requires more than 8:00 to 17:00 working hours per day and when you are a person who doesn’t want to sacrifice on parties and social events than running becomes quiet challenging to fit in. I made a commitment that every Tuesday and most Thursdays I will train with Hellas to get my Interval training done and the rest of the days I will practice my hobby at an early time of the day where I don’t interfere with my daily schedule. This have been working perfectly for me, early morning runs have been a perfect “Me Time”. At first it was so hard to get up at 5:00 AM but then it became a routine and I loved it! Interval training is something I really never enjoyed, running on the track is another thing that I don’t like, it goes round and round, round and round …. what I mainly like about running is lace up my shoes wherever whenever and go out of the door.

Training with Giovanni & Corelien
When I started on the track I run my intervals at marathon tempos of 4’30/km. Soon enough I found that I can go a little faster. I moved to the next faster group which it happens that they are also training for Amsterdam Marathon. That group was training at pace at 4’10/km with the goal of a sub3 in Amsterdam. At first I was very intimidated, I was scared to even start with them. The first few times I stayed at the end of the pile but soon enough I could even lead the group on that Tempo! Waw! I am improving! These were my thoughts! Part of that group is Giovanni and Corelien. 3 of us found a way to enjoy and train together. I look up to both of them because both are awesome runners. We started a group app, we shared our thoughts our training our moods …it was a super motivation for all 3 of us and still is especially now that the marathon is creeping closer.

30 of North Amsterdam 

This 30 km was my first test during my marathon training and that went as planned. I run with Falco (My fast neighbour) and Giovanni through this beautiful course in Amsterdam. I finished with a time of 2h12’15” and first lady in my Category. 

I was quiet pleased with my performance! Hard work is getting paid off!

Dam tot Damloop 

Dam tot Damloop was a second test and there I decided to run it 2 times (2x 10EM) First time solo and second time I run with Falco for Team McDonald’s. First time I thought I wont check my clock I will just run on feelings.
 When I spotted my Garmin few times I was impressed how I was keeping up with this pace! Finished my first 10 EM in 1h8’13”. I met Falco at the finish line, we changed shirts and went for the second Time we run it much easier in 1u14’42”

HM of Disneyland Paris.

With my family, I went a weekend away to Disneyland to spend a nice weekend and run the first edition of Disneyland Half Marathon.

I signed up my little boy for the 200m race and me for the Half Marathon. My confidence increased after the first 2 tests and I had in mind of an amazing time at the half.

On Saturday Daniel run the 200m. At the start he was all excited and he told me he is going to run so fast and he is going to win. Somehow I supported his wish by pushing him mentally and encouraging him to run as fast as he can because it is only 200m. Shotgun took off and I saw him sprinting but after 100m he was already out of breath but kept going and crossed the finish line without a big smile on his face!

He actually finished with lots of tears on his face! The reason of all this sadness is that he wasn't the one to go first through the finish line! I thought, OMG what did I just do?

Heart Breaking Moment!
I tried to explain him that it is not all about winning… Haha wrong person to do that! But seriously how can I teach him to not be super competitive when everything I do in my life it feels like a competition? I always want to be the best at everything I do and everything has to be perfect that’s me :S . Somehow I understood how he felt because he is Mini me! I Still did manage to tell him how proud we were of him and he is the best just by trying his best. Shortly after I saw his smile again and shine is back in his big eyes! After the race we spent the whole day at the Park. What a beautiful park!! Loved it! I felt like a kid since I have never been to Disneyland before! Walking all day was not the best thing to do one day before the HM but that’s me I want to do everything :-)

Sunday morning alarm went off at 5 am because the start was at 7 am. It wasn’t hard to get up for someone who has been used to wake up this early to go run. Somehow on my way there I felt tired, I felt as if my legs don’t even want to walk anymore. I thought I am just nervous it will all be fine once I start running. The Start was spectacular as you can see in the picture.

With some few minutes delay I took off for this beautiful 21.1 km through Disneyland. From the first km I felt exhaustion, not like a normal fatigue but I felt something is wrong. My legs were really stuck, no energy , felt pain was everywhere. Not sure how I finished the HM, it felt like the longest run ever. The course was great and fun, I had enough time to enjoy every details around me, at least that was positive :D I officially run my worst half marathon ever!

I finished without any emotions, Ok maybe just a little smile but I was like that is really strange. I was a little bit shocked of my performance. I didn’t let that run mess up my mood or my day. I found my family at the finish line and spent another fun day at Disneyland,.

On Monday I went to Dr van Der Meulen @UMC Utrecht to pick up my MRI, which I took few weeks back. MRI was for my pelvis. Since I gave birth of my second child I keep getting constant pain in my pelvis after every hard long run. MRI showed no stress fracture, which is good nieuws but this means no real solution for my problem . Dr said maybe rest or pelvis exercises will help and he repeated over and over that I do way too much in my life. Family- work -house -Run - sociallife and little sleep.

He said it is no wonder that you feel exhausted but he suggested to take a sample of my blood to see if everything is OK. With a smiley face I agreed knowing that I am super healthy no way he can find something wrong in me. Next day I get a call to hear that I have Anemia!! “Bloedamoede in Dutch” WHAT??? What is that?? Why I have it!!! Panic attack! He said that I have a low iron level and that is why I have been feeling tired and no energy. He has a solution but it takes 4 to 6 weeks to get better. What?

My marathon is in 11 days! I cant afford that! He really said I cant do anything about it but go to the pharmacy and pick up my Iron pills. I am still allowed to run it has no impact but I will notice that it has impact on my performance. "short breath", "heavy legs'...

Lots of googling :

“ Iron problems can have a big impact on performance. Anaemia, by reducing the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, can eat away at maximal aerobic capacity (V02max), lower endurance, and increase fatigue. Ferritin levels of greater than 20 ng/ml represent adequate iron stores, while ferritin in the 12- 20 range indicates that iron stockpiles are minimal. Readings below 12 ng/ml show that iron stores in the bone marrow have become completely depleted (deficiency is present), and that anaemia may be just around the corner. My Hemoglobin level is 5,2 and Ferritin is 7 where it should have been 7.5 minimum and 20!! “Since iron deficiency is so common, it's wise for female athletes to have their iron stores checked at least yearly, preferably before the competitive season begins. The treatment to reverse anaemia usually calls for iron supplementation, with a typical dosage of 50 to 100 mg of elemental iron three times a day (150-300 mg total per day). Such an intake should raise hemoglobin by at least 1 g/dl within four to six weeks, but the treatment often continues for six to eight months in order to reestablish normal ferritin concentrations. In the case of iron deficiency, the typical dose is 50 to 100 mg of iron per day, with supplementation continued until ferritin moves above 20 ng/ml.”

Why Didn’t I know that before? Never heard that not focusing on my Iron it can lead to this!! Lesson learned, at the next marathon cycle I will take my vitamines and focus on my Iron!

Current situation:
It has been 8 days I have been taking my pills, I see an improvement but it is not enough to run a Personal best Marathon. Goal has been adjusted, Sunday run at Amsterdam marathon will be a beautiful long run with zero expectations! If I feel good I run to the finish, if I feel physically exhausted I will stop at the half marathon point.
I Run because it is fun and because I love it!

4 weeks after Amsterdam Marathon I am going to run Beirut Marathon on 13th of November! Who knows how fit will I be then!
Being Healthy and Fit is more important than just numbers on a clock eventhough it hurts me a little to see that all my hard work went in vain.

Of course I am sad because I trained hard but I am trying to accept the situation in a very positive way! This is life, it comes with ups and down and we need to adjust and keep moving on without stressing out and ruining what could still be fun time!
I am Looking forward for an awesome fun run on Sunday! Is it already Sunday? :-)

I love running slow or fast it doesn’t matter! As long as I am running I am happy!
Be Happy, don’t worry, Keep Running!


  1. Dear Nesrine, such a joy to read what you are up to! Try to keep you're balance between al the things you're doing, it is much.. but you already know this. Anaemia is something I'm familiar with, iron pills are part of my daily diet. You can really feel so bad and tired if it is that low! Good luck in Amsterdam!!

    1. Hey Kitty, Thanks for reading my blog. I am not vegetarian, I eat meat I thought it would be enough. I was very shocked to know I am short on Iron! I went from super energetic to a lazy person, so strange! Good thing my energy is on the way back! thanks, it is going to be a fun weekend!