Archive concert and a day in Amsterdam

Last week Friday, MRB and I went to see one of my favourite bands live in Amsterdam: Archive! I have seen them once before, many years ago (after the release of the album Noise), and since they came out with a beautiful new LP: Restriction, they are treating people all over Europe to concerts in the past and following weeks.

Archive is a large, 10 people band with a lot of diversity and dynamism in their music, toying with their approach to sound and composition, borrowing from diverse music genres to create a full-bodied sound where silence and music pay equal parts of importance. They played a multitude of newer and older songs, from You Make Me Feel of the 1999 album Take my Head to the newest releases, including the beautiful and extraordinary ballad End of Our Days. After the finished set they treated us to the most fantastic encore: Lights! I did not expect them to play an almost 20-minute song on this concert, so I was surprised and delighted to hear this live.

Archive

After the concert we went for a drink to a nearby Café-restaurant Stanislavski, part of the Stadsschouwburg – the municipal theatre of Amsterdam. It is located in a beautiful building from 1894, neo-Renaissance, very bright and tall inside, a complete opposite of what a typical Dutch ” brown bar” looks like. We had a great time before we headed off to sleep a bit before the next day.

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We stayed in Amsterdam for a couple of hours to take a stroll through the old town in the rain and a dash of sunshine. I like Amsterdam, it is a wonderful city to visit and it was great to walk around the place once again.

The coming weekend will be much more running and much less party, but I wish you everyone a great time!

What are your plans for the coming weekend?

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Beef, mushroom and paprika soup (Asian-inspired)

Lunar New Year started the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) last Thursday, so I think sharing this soup recipe was appropriate. Originally it comes from the blog of my dear friend Nisa (check it out, she’s a great cook!), but it is a tad too spicy for me to handle, so I adapted it for myself. I need to say I like it a lot, I make it few times a month since last summer.

Original Nisa’s Recipe

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Ingredients (per person):

  • 80-100g minced beef
  • 1/2 sweet red ramiro pepper, seeds removed, sliced
  • 3 large or 5 smaller brown champignons, sliced thinly
  • 1 small clove of garlic, pressed or diced very finely
  • 1 tiny shallot, diced finely
  • 1 spring onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 egg
  • 200ml water + 1l for the noodles
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use olive)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • a small portion of noodles (preferably udon, by I ran out and used soba)
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • teaspoon fish or oyster sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • white pepper
  • a pinch of chilli flakes

Boil the water for the noodles and cook them according to instruction. Drain, flush with cold water and toss with sesame oil to keep them from sticking to each other. Set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or a large pan with a thick bottom. On medium fire, fry the garlic and the shallot for a short time until the shallot becomes transparent, then add a pinch of chilli flakes.
Add the red pepper and cook further until it becomes slightly soft. Add the beef and fry, stirring constantly, to reduce the minced meat to small, brown, completely cooked chunks. Season with white pepper (you can also add salt, but the condiments here are quite salty, so I don’t think it’s necessary).
Add the mushrooms, the soy sauce, the fish sauce and the honey and stir everything together, then pour in the water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low and make space in the middle where you can break in an egg.
Simmer further for 4-5 minutes until the egg white is solid but the yolk stays runny. Alternatively, you can also poach or cook the egg separately.

Layer the noodles on the bottom of a large bowl, then pour the soup over it, keeping the egg on the top. Season with the spring onion and enjoy hot.

Knee update

It is not yet fully recovered, so I had no runs to report recently… however, the pain while bending the knee is almost gone and I have no pain or discomfort from loading the joint. Two days ago or so it turned blue, so it is sensitive to touch in the spots where the haematoma is. Other than that, it is doing better, only feeling it a bit while walking the stairs.

Tonight I felt adventurous enough to wear my protection pads (dancing classes have a spring break till March) and go for yoga and a short 2.2km run afterwards. I had some small discomfort during the yoga, but nothing that stopped me or made any exercise uncomfortable.
During the run, I started slow and easy and after 1km, when my knee still felt good, I sped up and finished the second km in just under 6 minutes/km. I do feel my knee now, though. It is not swollen, just… sensitive. Not sure what to think about it. But the run felt so great.
I miss running so much!

Distance: 2.2km
Time: 8 + 6 minutes

Days 88 & 89: Busy Mondays, damn bikers and cool seals

Monday was the last day of my first modern dance course, and I have already subscribed for the continuation. With the same teacher. I believe many of my fellow dancer students did, so we will probably build on what we already learned and not start from scratch again. The dancing class itself felt good and I feel like I got the hang of the dance eventually. Yay! Maybe there will be modern dancers of me after all!

After dancing, MRB and I went for an easy 5k and then headed off to see Birdman. It was also the first time when we went to the alternative movie theatre. I really liked the atmosphere there: very big rooms with comfortable seats, but no row/seat numbers; you just come in and sit wherever you want.
The movie itself was really good, I was surprised how good it actually was. As it was recommended to me by my dear parents, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was funny, smart, very well played, very interestingly filmed (brilliant camera work!), great music, and, in general, a very good movie. I am recommending it as well!

Tuesday, however, started with a biker parking his front wheel into me while I was trying to cross the street. Fortunately nothing too bad happened, but I landed on my knee and bruised it badly enough that it will take a couple of days before I can run again… damn it!
I really don’t like the idea of skipping/rescheduling runs so far away and not running for so long, but I surely do not want to make it worse.

The good part came afterwards, though: seals! I visit the seal shelter from time to time, and I support them when I can. At the moment they shelter a unique black seal, named Happy, among many other grey seals and common seals. Almost all of them are seal pups, mostly separated from their mothers and ill. They require medicines, veterinarian care, food and warmth to get healthy and strong before they can be released back to the sea. One seal in particular was very cute and posing different seal-poses for us:

We also munched on some seal cupcakes and went home at the beautiful sunset.

Then we finally went home and I could ice my poor knee for a bit… It already feels a bit better today. Let’s hope the pain passes quickly.

Day 85: Yoga and running work well together

We are having a busy schedule here, me and MRB, seeing friends and enduring yoga classes and running and doing stuff together. Leaves not much time for blogging! However, we are still following the plan, running easy 5ks every once in a while. The last 5k we run was actually a bit longer, and I need to say: running after yoga is wonderful!
On Friday, we took a long yoga class first, then set off for a run directly after that (what yielded a bit of extra distance) and I really liked it. I also like the feeling of total lack of pressure for time or pace. So relaxing.

Distance: 5.4 km
Time:       40:12

Day 82: MRB is back & recovery phase

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Sweet running! I have truly missed it. Being in the recovery phase after The R-Day, I am running slowly and comfortably. Today was the first run in this phase, and it felt so good. And, even better: MRB is here! He keeps my pace in check and makes sure I don’t run too fast and burn out too quickly, he’s really good at that.

Although I enjoy running solo very much, it is a nice change and a pleasure to have someone to run with. And he will join along tomorrow for some yoga – isn’t that wonderful?

Distance: 5.2km
Time:        39:13

After the R-Day

It is hard to believe that R-day is already past and gone. It was no race, unless you count racing against myself, my laziness and the million little things that tried to keep me off my goal – and I won. You get no bling and no t-shirt, but you get something much more important.

So, how was the run?

The run itself was difficult. I ran during lunchtime and that was not the best of ideas (although I learned that there are people around here who run during lunch time – I seen a few), as I don’t really do that. I had a bad moment of weakness about the second kilometer, and actually thought I was going so slow that I should just stop and try again the next day, but I didn’t. I refused to check my time and pace not to get discouraged.
After km 3, I ran past a clock in the street and with a quick glance I knew I was under 17 minutes, and that meant: I was in time. I was doing it! Totally. That gave me wings for the next 1.5 km or so, but the last 500m, I had to beg my legs to keep moving, not slowing down, keep the pace, make my imaginary finish line.

What did it mean for me?

I can’t describe the feeling when I finally finished and checked the time and it was under 30 minutes. I know for some it is no big deal, but for me, it was just amazing. The type of satisfaction of a job well done, of beating one’s own demons. I won my private race not only because I reached my goal, but because I transitioned from “who I wanted to be” into “who I am”.  I tend to speak to myself in second person: you can run it, you can do it, you can make it, and so on. But on this run, something changed, and I was thinking in “Is” instead: “I can run it. I can make it. I know I can.” This might seem like a small difference, but it marks a type of connection I did not have with my own self for a long time. Maybe ever.

What next?

That I still have to decide. First, I will finish the recovery phase which my plan is directing me to. After that, I am torn between trying for a faster 5k or training for a 10k. On the one hand, the 10k is more in line with my long-term goal, but the other option is tempting as well. Fortunately I still have time to decide. Let me know if you have any advice.

Day 76: Perfect running weather

Short run, short post. Today my plan told me to jog for 3km. I don’t know if I can call my run a “jog”, but I tried to go slow and planned to do it in 20 minutes. I didn’t really check my pace, and yet I made it almost exactly in 20.
It was slippery, snowy, windy and cold. I went to yoga before my run and it made me totally positive and completely not bothered by such minor things like weather. I can’t change weather. But I can choose if I run or not.

That was my last run before the R-day on Friday. Please keep your fingers crossed, hold your thumbs, or just think positively about me. I don’t doubt it’s going to be awesome.

Distance: 3.2km
Time:        20:11

Day 74: What a day!

17:00
I went to my dance class. My teacher is back, and I enjoyed my dance class! That makes me a bit confused. Two more weeks to go, but I should finally make up my mind what to do. Actually, I feel like giving it 10 more weeks to try the classes with her. I am getting used to her teaching style, and I think I am catching up on the choreography. Maybe the only problem I had was with me and the new dance style?

18:30
I have some leftover parmesan soup from yesterday, so I transformed part of it into pasta sauce. The soup is delicious, but very, very heavy (however, it also looks gorgeous). I think it would make a great starter, as long as you don’t serve much of it – it fills fast!
You can find the recipe (in English) on this beautiful French blog.

I really had to be creative and wrap up my dinner quick tonight, with all the plans I had for the evening. Because…

19:30
Yoga! I was wondering if I should go or not, but I figured, it would be a good stretch before my run. I was not mistaken. It was great, we had a very small group tonight and the teacher had all the time to pay attention and correct every single little mistake, and answer every single little question. I learned so much, and it was a great experience. I am so happy I decided to go after all. It took about 90 minutes, and then, after some talk with the yoga teacher, I could finally go for my run.

21:15
Off I went. The yoga place is not far from my flat, but it yielded a couple hundred extra meters. This was another easy, comfortable, steady pace run. It felt so good! Was it all the yoga before? My head so clear, just the slippery pavements, chill air and the sound of my feet. I need to say, I haven’t done this amount of various activities in one evening since my last dance workshops (and it’s been a while at those, too). What a great run, I came home exhausted, but very satisfied.

It was certainly one busy evening, but I enjoyed it so much. Hope more like this will come… and I hope I can still walk tomorrow.

Distance: 5.5km (+3km walking)
Time:        34:14