Personal Pacing @ Amsterdam Marathon

The four-star hotel in central Amsterdam accommodates 20 marathon runners and fans from Israel. One of them hired me as a pacer. For an experienced marathon runner with a good speed sensor their is a market for pacemaking in Marathons. Through www.touristrunamsterdam.com I am now hired a second time to prove it. I met my customer in the lobby. Here the strategy was adopted that will lead to a final time of 4hrs15min. That’s fifteen minutes faster than the current personal best of Mr. Jones. I grab my pacing sheet and tell him that I will run 6:03 per km. He asks me to make it 5:55min/Km “Because later in the marathon when it gets tough he can spend the minutes he saved earlier in the race”. I work at a bank. All you “borrow” you will pay back with interest. (I say this, while in every marathon I ran I started too fast and always paid interest). We conclude a compromise at 6:00. I want to know what to do when he is carried away by others. He solemnly promised me to stay with me. Then the diet. Every 45 minutes a gel and salt tablets every 3 hours, energy drinks at the aid stations. The lobby fills with the other marathon runners. Mr. Jones shows off a little with his personal pacer and we make a communication plan.

On Judgement Day, I am at 07:30 at his hotel. The promised taxis stay away. We wait with 21 men on tram 16 but the first two drive chock full pass. We hijacked a tram to the other side of the road in the hope to catch an empty tram a couple of blocks up the track. At Spui we attemp our change in direction, but this tram leaves in front of our nose. The next stop is just 250 meters away. Here I can prove my value. I pull a sprint afterwich I welcome the ‘laughing’ 20 marathon-runners inside the tram. The group creates a party in the tram and start singing and dancing, ‘Marathon hooligans’. 
 The is a queue at the portaloos, a queue to get into the stadium, a queue to get into the start grid. I remember the Amsterdam Marathon over 20 years back with start and finish on the Dam. Only a few thousand men running the marathon while avoiding trams, dogs and angry “grachten gordel” shoppers.

At the start it turns out I need to pace a lady in the group as well, so now I have two clients fro the price of one. I impose my pace and keep them neatly within agreed margins 6:01, 5:58, 6:03, 5:57. We run like a clock! Ai, it is the first drink station. Energy drink for him, a bottle of water fill for her. That is it. After three minutes the first gel. About 15 minutes the salt tablets. I call the family that everything goes well and shoot some video and photos. The woman is always one meter behind the man. Both are fun and energetic. 10km: first the salt tablets, I get an empty bottle of Miss David. I fill two empty bottles (with screw cap), grab a cup of energy drink and drink one myself, get two sponges and look for my clients who are now 300 meters further down the road. I chase them with shaking cups of energy drink and two sponges . My heart rate goes from 106 to 140. Grateful they accept the goods. Later, I think it better to sprint ahead and get a couple of cups of energy drink outside the masses, hand it to them and then fill the bottles. Then I don’t have to run with the cups. Instead of the cups I now run with two bananas. Halfway through the marathon the lady begins to sing. She has an iPod and even begins to dance. The man starts to look increasingly worrisome. I run in front of him to block even the slightest breeze. My client looks troubled, but is out of the wind. I call the family and give notice that we are still on track. I see that a friend played a word on wordfeud, I send him a chat message “am rwnnwn a mafaton’. My legs do better than my fingers. We are still on schedule. I call the family to inform them whilst running ahead at the most beatiful spot to shoot some video whilst my team is passing by. The man starts to falter more and more as we walk into the Centre of Amsterdam from the East side. Now I have to drag him through. I started by saying: This is our little project 7k and we are going to deliver as planned! “. I throw a little extra “Com ‘on! You got it man! You are a fighter! I can see that. And when he collapses again: Stay with me Mr. Jones, do you loose me! “. In the Vondelpark he really starts to struggle and I yell ‘This is what you trained for! All These Months of suffering and sacrifice were done only for this moment, Mr. Jones! We will not go down without a fight! ”
The stadium is approaching. I call the family that we are coming. At the 40 km point we leave the aid station aside. Nonsense. The last 2 km we let the stadium speaker guide us to the finish. Mr. Jones and Ms. David’s straighten their backs, touching deep into their reserves and giving everything again. End time 4:15 exactly! Mission completed. Everyone makes pictures of everyone while I dive to the feet of Mr Jones to untigh the time registration chip. Service to the bitter end. The life of a pacemaker consists care and unburdening. Only the run itself, I cannot take over.

Biertje

PS The names of both Mr. Jones and Ms. David are fictitious.