Two years ago I started running with a real goal for the first time; the Dam tot Damloop. Ever since I can remember I’ve been wanting to run this race. Not to win it but to prove to myself that I could do it. The “Dam tot Dam” is a yearly race from Amsterdam to Zaandam, with a distance of 16,1 km (10 mi). The inspiration to do this came from my dad who has run this race several times. I decided that 2010 was my year to do it, so I started planning, training and… shopping!

I wanted to do it right from the very beginning so I started with… new shoes! Runningshoes that is ;) I was advised to go Run2Day at the Overtoom in Amsterdam. I told them about my ambitious plan to run the Dam tot Dam for which I needed a pair of their finest runningshoes. After they observed the way I stood, walked and ran, they  handed me a few pairs of shoes to try on. The ones I found comfortable enough I could even take for a run outside! Well I didn’t wanna let that offer to go to waste so I made three little runs around the block! After some serious deliberation I decided to take these babies home with me. And after two years of on and off running I can say they still fit me like a glove.

These shoes made me so happy! They were my official start of the Dam tot Dam. From a friend I got introduced to Start to Run, a Belgian podcast that helps you run 5 km in 10 weeks. With this program you run three times a week, starting from 1 minute of running gradually working onto a full half hour (more or less) of non-stop running. If you start running for the first time like me the first three lessons won’t feel great. But when you listen to the podcasts and just do as you are told (by Evy) you’ll see and feel that it gets better by the week. Talking about motivation to keep going!

The weeks flew by and before I knew it I could run 5K! Woohoo, felt so good! By the time I achieved this mile-stone summer arrived and gave plenty of sunny days to keep running. This time I just ran the way I wanted, how long I wanted and with the music I wanted. The thing is, when you can manage 5 km it’s not difficult to keep upping your running distance. When you’re (literally) up and running you feel like you can go on for hours (figuratively). But for those who do like to follow a guided pathway to 10 km there is Start to Run 5-10km. You can download the 0-5 and 5-10 podcasts by clicking the link.

Finally september came and the 19th was the day to show the world what I got. I received an I AMSTERDAM t-shirt and my race-number, took a picture with my uncle, my dad and his colleagues and walked towards the start. At 12:00 the pistol shot sounded and we were off! So excited to actually started the run I’d been training for for so many months. My dad and I ran the entire race together and saw some family and friends on different parts of the route. So cool when people stand there to see you! There were also many people sitting outside their houses offering you water, sportdrinks, bananas and many other sweet treats. So nice! Also a lot of kids supporting you and high-fiving you when you go by. But the best feeling was arrving in Zaandam, where the amount of people watching the race grew by the meter. It really ups your motivation AND your speed! And in the end you see that sign saying only 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 more meters until the finish line, it’s almost over. The minute I crossed  that line I felt SO amazing; happy, proud, wonderful! Me and my dad finished together which made the whole Dam tot Dam an extra special experience that I won’t ever forget.

While writing this I can relive that day like it was yesterday, and I am already looking forward to this year’s Dam tot Dam! Due to a crazy busy school-schedule I couldn’t be in last year’s race unfortunately, but this year I will be back! Until then, I got this as a remembrance and as a motivator to keep training!

/ Dani


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