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As a general rule for Runarounds, they tend to run…well…around something. Usually that’s a city. In most cases I start at the hotel and then make a big loop back to my starting point. In some occasions (such as in China about a month ago), I took a taxi a short distance to a location and then started from there before running back to the hotel. I do this mostly because Runarounds aren’t any specific distance or time, they’re just me adapting my training schedule to a given city. The time/distance on my training schedule is what I use, and the route is what I make up along the way.
But today I tried something a bit different. A point to point runaround. So I suppose that’s technically, a Run-To.
Since my meetings up here in Amsterdam are a bit outside the city, there’s not really a whole lot out here to check out. Thus it seemed far more interesting to run downtown instead. But taking the train downtown just to run in a circle there seemed like a lot of work. So instead a hatched a plan: Run from the hotel to downtown, and take the train back. It didn’t take me too long to put together a quick route, more or less following bike paths into the city center.
This was ideal because my workout was a tempo run of sorts, roughly 35 minutes of tempo before doing some interval work towards the end. So with the majority outside the city center I’d be able to keep nice stable (and fast) paces.
Once I was done creating my route and selected ‘Send to Device’ and went digging in my backpack to find a device to use. I found plenty of devices in there. A couple of TomTom’s, a Bryton Cardio, the Basis B1, and odd Fitbit, and the Garmin FR610.
Well crap. None of those supported me sending routes to them. That meant there was only one thing to do:
Yes, I wrote it all down. And no, it definitely wasn’t pretty. In fact, there’s two more steps on the back.
But, I reviewed the course in the GPS satellite mode a few times – sorta like when I memorized ski racing courses growing up ski racing, the morning of a race. The only difference being 6 miles worth of words I couldn’t pronounce versus red gate, blue gate.
With my little list, I headed outside. I was lucky in that my hotel was right across from the train station, which meant the ride back would be quick. I took a picture of it – just in case I was lost and never seen again some CSI investigator might figure out I started there, like a reverse breadcrumb trail.
Off I went. Initially, I was a bit nervous in that I wasn’t finding my first turn onto the bike path – until I looked down below me. Score!
There are separate bike paths and running/walking paths here. The bike paths are packed with cyclists (as you’ll see throughout the post), as well as these tiny little cars. They remind me of the those kids ride-in-cars. Note the scale of the bicycles compared to them.
This little stretch of park probably lasted close to a mile or so, but was perfectly flat and awesome for keeping pace.
When I got to the end of it I was pretty excited to see that my written down name for the next street (Step #5) matched what was on the sign (blurry-cam pic included!). Woot!
From there it was onto a bit of a quiet town/neighborhood road. Just nice family homes lining the street most of the time. Again, dedicated bicycle lanes of course on both sides of the street, and then dedicated running/walking lanes next to that.
Soon I came to what I had written down as “Big highway mess” – and thankfully it lived up to that explanation. I had to cross under the highway, then make a bit of a “U” turn over and around a canal before continuing on.
After clearing the mess of highways I had the beginnings of ‘downtown’ in sight. I’d be running along a very straight canal for a while.
I’m always excited though when my running speed roughly matches or exceeds that of cyclists. Even if they are 2-2.5 times my age.
Below, the pace, for those that are curious. With no turns or things to dodge, this section was my quickest along the route, averaging just a tad over 6/min/mile.
In the river teams were out rowing, with coaches or other team leaders riding bikes alongside:
Once past the river, I started hitting the edge of the city. It’s here that I figured things would go downhill. But astoundingly, my notes were actually holding up.
The only time I made a slight diversion was when I misread my note (Step 15) that said “Hit Canal, go right”. And I did that.
Except about a hundred yards later I thought I reprocessed my own instruction set and remembered that when I wrote “Hit canal”, I meant “When I can’t run forward anymore because there’s a canal in my way”. Not “Turn right at next Canal”. So, only really two hundred extra yards of running.
Back onto the running path I went, still following my instructions. Which, at this point were getting slimmer and slimmer. I’m not sure why I decided to provide less information as I neared the more complex city streets, but I did.
I soon found Step #17, and continued across the square in front of the Nieuwmarkt Square:
Just after finishing going across the square I completed the tempo run portion of my run. Nearly perfect timing (really, I couldn’t have ever predicted exactly where I’d finish that distance since it was all HR-driven paces).
This was good because now I was in the row-houses, which can be a bit harder to run at-pace with all the quick turns.
And first up, was the Redlight district.
It doesn’t exactly look as red-light-like in the day, and especially since in the shots I took I’ve kept them all rated ‘G’. Sorry adult fans!
Next up was a mixed set of short-duration intervals. About 35-seconds each. I found spots in between some of the sections were the road was quiet, and was able to knock them out there. For example, in the photo below, you can see the road down to the next bridge is pretty empty. Perfect for that.
Along the way, I found some of the famous Coffee Shops (no, not the Starbucks variety!).
The big church building you see two photos above (Oudekerksplein) was one of my last navigation crossings. I was pretty jazzed to find that. Though, again, my instructions after that were rather presumptuous. In fact, I’m not even sure what the heck I wrote there.
The river in that particular area was rather pretty though. You can see one of the canal tourism boats at the far end of the photo, and then closer up the two boats parked side by side are offloading various goods to a local business.
A couple of blocks away and I broke free of the small canals and nearly had the ‘finish line’ in sight.
And just after clearing a construction zone, there it was at the end of the tracks – my final destination! The Amsterdam Central train station.
It’s around this area that the cycling gets pretty crazy.
Which, when you consider just how much bike parking they have, is understandable. Here, let me give you a brief post-run tour of the main parking garage at the train station.
You can see it above, but here’s what it looks like when standing on that deck. More than likely I’d be just as long as this women was. She was clearly having trouble remembering where she parked her bike.
As you can see, it stretches on upwards into the sky. Below are multiple levels – all packed with bikes. Oh, and the lady is still searching.
Here’s the view probably 100m away at the top, looking back:
The system to hold the bikes up is pretty cool. You’ll notice that every other bike is either high or low, to allow for more bikes to fit in and not have handlebar clashing issues.
And all the stairs have small channels to allow you to roll your bike up/down them:
Of course, even outside the bicycle parking situation is a wee bit crowded:
With that, I headed on into the train station:
It took a few minutes to figure out exactly how to get the right ticket for the right train to the right places. But the folks were super friendly and 2.90 EUR later I had my ticket.
As I went to board my train, I had to laugh at this bit of graffiti written on the side:
Approximately 13 minutes later and I was getting back off the train at my stop:
And 100 yards after that, I had the hotel back in sight! Woohoo, I made it back!
The run itself from a training standpoint went exceedingly well. The paces for the main tempo portions were right where I’d want them to be. Each portion had slightly different HR zones assigned to it, starting off relatively easy.
And, upon uploading to Strava I had nailed a bunch of PR’s. Though I don’t have a lot of historical info in there, so it’s sorta like stealing candy from babies.
Note that I still wish they’d go back to the old setup for running. The fact that the CR’s don’t enumerate on the same page as the ‘Top Results’ is just silly (and annoying).
With that, thanks for the nice weather and city Amsterdam! Always nice dropping by. Btw, for those looking for more Amsterdam bike pics from me, here’s a post from a couple years ago with some – including kids in wagons! (Though you’ll need to follow my tour through Africa before you get to the Amsterdam part).
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