The last five days I spent in BeNeLux countries and I had a different agenda in each one of them.
In the Netherlands I visited Festival of Games and had a couple of business meetings there. Festival of Games is a conference to game developers, investors and other interested parties. The conference is not very big, although the speaker line-up was not that bad. When I visited some of the sessions in between my meetings, the content was rather good. I think it is the problem of a “no-capital-city”. If you do something in the Nth biggest city of a small country, it is difficult to make it into a large international event.
On Friday I took a train to Luxembourg and that for purely touristic reasons – I had never been in the country. The city was pretty nice, although it was raining for most of the time while I
was there. I met a friend there, who works as a translator. As it seems to me, the highest buildings of Luxembourg (at least 2 of them) are built solely for translators whose job is to translate everything possible, not only laws but for example the minutes of various meetings ( and there are lots of those meetings!) to each single language of European Union. Not that anyone in Estonia or any other country would ever want to read 99% of those documents, but it is simply a nice and polite thing to do. I mean, if you find and Estonian or Latvian who is not sophisticated enough to understand english or german but yet curious enough to read the minutes of the XXth meeting of the Council of the Common Agricultural Policies workgroup, he would have the chance to do that.
On Saturday evening I took another train, this time to Belgium, Antwerp. The agenda there was to run Antwerp Marathon, a third running marathon in my life. I decided at registration already that I was not going to run the best time I could. For one thing, I have not done very much running yet and besides, I walked 15+ km’s the day before the marathon. So I decided to follow the 3:45 pacemaker for the whole route. Time good enough for my personal best (BP was 3:54 before) but pace easy enough not to get too tired (should average 155-160 heart rate, I figured).
So off we went 9:30 on Saturday morning. There were two pacemakers in 3:45 group (in bigger marathons there are pacemakers to help people trying to run a certain time maintain constant tempo). Both of the pacemakers, a tall guy and a tiny lady, had a huge red balloon with a sign “3:45” attached to them, to make them more noticeable in the crowd. In the wind the balloon would sometimes forcefully bounce from side to side hitting somebody (including myself). Most of the time it was fun, but some 10 km’s before the finish, I saw a guy getting a hard bounce with it and stopping because of cramps. And these were no laughing cramps.
As in my training runs, the first couple of km’s were pretty difficult but once I warmed up, everything was very fine. After the half marathon mark (1:51) I felt very good and the tempo seemed to be a bit slow. Nevertheless I stayed with the pacemakers thinking about leaving myself more room for future PB improvements. Some 4-5 km before the finish the balloons of the pacemakers got jammed – they ran too close to each other (by that time the group had considerably diminished in size) and the ropes of the balloons got messed up. They slowed the pace a bit to dismantle the mess and I passed them and I think my pace increased a bit for the final km’s. I finished well ahead off the pacemakers (who had had let go of the balloons) with a time of 3:42.37.
The strange thing with running a marathon is that even if you are not running for the best you could, it is still not very easy. In a skiing marathon, when you target time half an hour slower an you are capable of, the race is a breeze. But in the marathon running, your feet will start to hurt after 3 hours nevermind the tempo. Or maybe I just need to do longer training runs.