I ran the Leiden half marathon!
(Be sure to give Leiden a read; I had no idea that the Pilgrims actually came from here–after fleeing England–before sailing for what is now America on the Mayflower. Certainly explains New Amsterdam, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.)
Before our trip materialized, I’d signed up for the Buffalo half marathon, a race I’ve been wanting to run for awhile but we always seem to be out of town. (To see what we were up to the last two years, click here and here.)
Once I found out I’d be out of town, I quickly transferred my registration to another runner friend (thanks, Jim!) and started looking for races here in the Netherlands during our visit. I was in luck! There were not one but two race events close to Haarlem, one in Leiden and one in Hoorn.
While both cities would have made great sightseeing days, I opted for the one in Leiden as its closer (20 minutes by train) and I was able to register online. (We plan to see Hoorn this weekend before we leave Holland.)
After a failed attempt to pick up my race packet the night before (turns out most runners here must opt for morning-of pick-up as most were still there in the a.m. and there really isn’t a large expo like in the States), Andrew and I hit up St. Peter’s Kerk to grab my goodies and bib.
We had some time, so we did a little walking around. Full disclosure: I was super anxious and finally let Andrew go to do his own sightseeing when I needed to line up in my corral. Even more full disclosure: I was way more anxious about this than I needed/wanted to be. I’ve already absolved Andrew of all responsibility to me in future overseas race endeavors; hopefully I’ll discover an inner coolness that’s never before existed and be able to refrain from stressing about events such as these. In the meantime, I’ll still keep checking to see if there are races near our European vacation locales, and hopefully Andrew will forgive me of all my unnecessary anxiety.
Here I am! I finished in 1:46, which is only one minute slower than my previous PR from six years ago (which was in a downhill race and probably 15 pounds lighter). Just sayin.’
Afterward, we nabbed a spot at a cafe near the finish for lunch. I loved being part of the action even after I finished.
After lunch, Andrew and I finished the Rick walk he’d started, which included this STEEP climb up to a man-made hilltop ‘bunker’ used for protection way back when. Beautiful views, tight hamstrings.
And because I hadn’t gotten enough steps already, we hiked over to (and UP) the windmill museum. (Don’t get me wrong; it’s most of the reason I chose to run in Leiden–so my engineer husband could check it out.)
Once we said goodbye to the windmill museum, we headed back toward the train station…but not before we experienced a truly unique experience: crossing the running route en mass facilitated by race volunteers. I’ve never seen a method such as this before: in order to cross the route, a group of us were hoarded into a small corral, and then the runners were diverted (using metal gates) around us so that we could be let out on the far side (toward our destination). Then, it was reversed and the runners were diverted to the other side to allow the corral to be opened to the side from which we just came. Genius! Does anyone know if this happens in the States?