Mid of October I participated in MP’s Running challenge in Amsterdam. I flew there with my team, drank a coffee, ran a half-marathon in my desired time – below 2 hours – and achieved my goal. Yeah, you may think it is as simple as that. But what actually came with this challenge was a much more rewarding experience!
Therefore, I would like to share my impressions from the beginning to the end of this inspiring challenge in this blog article.
Let’s go back in time and start in March. In one of our team meetings, our COO Nikoline told us about this new challenge – A running challenge that reached its peak at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon. Running along the mesmerizing canals of Amsterdam with my fellow team members? Of course, I was in! So far, so good. But what came next really surprised me. Ahead of the race, we would complete a thorough training plan spanning over several months, including regular workouts as well as tips and tricks from a professional running coach. Yes, considering the fact that MP – as in the nature of a leading M&A advisory – plans everything holistically and to the smallest detail, I should not have been surprised. But still, this effort of preparation for a firm’s team building event? I had never heard of that before and was consequently quite impressed! After some initial classification into various groups according to our fitness levels, we soon started with workouts early in the morning or evening, comprising basic running ABC techniques and full-fledged interval runs. Our running trainer taught us: “Anything can happen on D-day – so be prepared!”. Besides the apparent learning effect, these occasions were a nice balance to the daily office routine because they allowed conversations with my colleagues in a less formal environment. In addition to our scheduled group workouts, we had to do our homework. So I started running twice a week on top of the coached training. I always ran short times and as fast as possible since I enjoy this kind of run the most.
Fast forward a few months, and I find myself well prepared and full of thirst for action on the plane to Amsterdam. Arriving there almost two days before the race, we had plenty of time to explore the stunning canal views and the delicious sweets – of course for carb-loading purposes only. As for the weather, while it rained once, it was sunny overall, so I found myself strolling through the city of canals beating the recommended 10k steps per day with ease.
We started the day of the race in the morning with a rich breakfast in our hotel and then went off to the Olympic Stadium of Amsterdam. Going there and seeing where I would finish the race was truly motivating and helped me visualize crossing the finish line even more. On top of that, the full marathon was already ongoing, so I had the pleasure of watching the professional athletes finish their marathons and getting an impression of the circumstances that would expect us in the afternoon. As we all put on our yellow running shirts for the first time as a group, I must admit that – due to the glaring colours – we looked like chickens. 😉 Nonetheless, our colourful outfits definitely paid off to find each other in the massive crowds on our later way to the race.
Finally, shortly after midday, it was time to go. I went to my starting block with two other colleagues and waited for the race to begin. Besides the motivating music played by the DJ on site, we also did the stretching exercises we had learned during our training sessions to warm up. Then it was race time. You can hardly imagine the thrill and energy you and everyone around you feel at the start of the race if you have never done it before. The atmosphere was great and extremely energetic. An hour into the race, and finally having to look less for my steps ahead to avoid running into someone, I saw the 2-hour pacemakers in front of me. Knowing that I would only need to surpass and stay ahead of them to reach a time under 2 hours, I ran in front and, from this point, had an even greater motivation to achieve my set goal. Some time passed, and I found myself running the 15th kilometre, then the 16th and 17th … slowly my legs were getting heavier, and each kilometre began to feel longer than the one before. While the run turned out to be more exhausting than I had expected, the crowd surrounding and cheering on both sides of the track helped a lot. I had my goal in clear focus and pushed through until the end. Finally, I crossed the finish line and was overjoyed that all the hard work and preparation had paid off so much.
Besides having reached my goal, it was a great pleasure to experience my team in a new light – running races and not – as usual – outperforming for our clients. In conclusion, our team emerged from this challenge stronger than ever, and I am already looking forward to next year’s running challenges with the clear goal of running faster than ever before.