Day 307: First day of Fall

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Rejoice! Fall is here!

I love autumn. It’s my favourite season by far. Summer is great and winter and spring both have wonderful things about them, but nothing beats fall. Maybe part of the reason is that I was born in the fall; nevertheless, there is some magic in the fallen leaves and rainbows and the colours of the foliage. Not to mention that the weather is absolutely perfect for running.

Today, finally, after being ill and generally slacking, I ran. It wasn’t a good run or nothing special, but I made it out of the door (what was hard). The Morat-Fribourg race is in just 10 days and I better get some form back before it happens. Moreover, this race is mostly uphill so I even took the tiny little hill in the park today. It’s going to be a challenge to run 17k uphill; after all, the Netherlands is flat as a pancake and it’s hard to find anything remotely resembling that.

I can’t say I am particularly proud of the run today, but I have to make the best out of the last four weeks before the Amsterdam half marathon. My registration letter has arrived already, so this thing is real. Kinda scary, too.

Distance: 5km
Time:       32:42

Do you like to run in the autumn?
Which is your favourite running season?

Days 198 & 199: Running is HOT (+ the 5k in Fribourg)

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HOLIDAY!

I am taking a week off from work and visiting MRB in Switzerland. We have a lot of exiting adventures planned, we started with a big bang the last weekend: Sonisphere music festival in Biel on Saturday, and a local 5.3k race in Fribourg on Sunday morning.

The weather is splendid, holiday-wise: warm and sunny. The environment is picturesque: fields, mountains, cows, flowers.
However, that means running hills in the heat (up to 32°C or 90F) and full sun. Sounds like fun!

Saturday: 5k easy run and MUSE concert

This was a very, very difficult run. I was completely unprepared for such weather conditions, as I have never ran in more than 20°C. After slathering myself with sunscreen and putting on a cap, I set off to check out MRB’s running route. He was mostly concerned about the hill, but it was the heat that defeated me. I was close to a getting a heat stroke, getting dizzy and nauseous, found some relief in a fountain, and barely made it. We had to walk a couple of times because I did not feel like I could run any more, it was that bad. We arrived covered in sweat.

In the afternoon we headed out to the festival, where MUSE played as the big star. The concert was amazing! Extremely crowded, but I could dance and jump and enjoyed the music. MUSE is out with a new album, so they played the new songs like Psycho and Dead Inside along the old, well-known hits, as Resistance, Knights of Cydonia, MadnessUprising or Supermassive Black Hole. It felt great when everybody was singing along. And I really liked the confetti!

Sunday: 5.3k race in Fribourg

What do you think about going for a race in the morning after a festival night full of dancing and jumping? Because we thought that would be a great idea, and we signed up! Fortunately we had enough common sense left to go for the shortest distance, which was 5.3k (there were also a 10k race and a half marathon). The weather was, once again, very hot and unforgiving, but luckily I felt better than on Saturday.

Our finish time was 31:40 what makes our average pace of just under 6:00 min/km, and that means it’s a PR and a first sub-30 5k for MRB!

The race itself was nicely organised, with a very generous goodie bag for the finishers. There were plenty of water stations along the course, what was a godsend in these weather conditions. After the 3rd kilometer, there was also a sprinkler and running through the water there felt simply amazing. As the theme was related to the environment, the medals we received are very unique, because they are made of wood.
I also bought that cool white running cap!

Yes, I move faster than light, so it’s hard to capture me in the picture when I run! Big thank you to MRB’s dad who cheered on us and who is the author of most of the photos we have from the race.

And thus, the first week of the half-marathon training is complete. I am a bit concerned of how will I survive longer runs in the summer heat, but I guess that’s also a part of the training.

Did you run any races this past weekend?
How do you deal with running in very hot conditions?

Day 194: Half marathon training has started

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Sometimes I don’t feel like running at all.
Sometimes I don’t feel like nothing at all.
But then I remember why I do it, my goals and my dreams. And I lace up and go anyway.
Sometimes it feels good afterwards, and I am glad I went for a run.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything at all. But I still do it.

Today I went for a run I didn’t want. During the run I tried to count my blessings: my two healthy legs, my still working eyes and my healthy lungs that allow me to run. And then I got stuck.
It was extremely windy and the alleys in the park were covered in fallen chestnut bloom.

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Thus my road to the Amsterdam Half marathon has begun. Not every run will be great and not every day will be good.
But I go anyway. As long as I lace up and go, it’s fine.

Distance: 5.4km
Time:       32:09

Day 185: Half a year of running!

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Can you believe that? I’ve been running for half a year already. I went from barely going 1k without walking, through getting scared of 3k, to running my first 10k race, and soon training for a half marathon. It’s been a great journey so far. Here’s to many more months and years of running.

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At the same time, with today’s run I arrived at 400km total since last year November. 400km! Unbelievable. And I have no desire to ever stop.

It was a great run today. So great, Morgan Freeman should have narrated it. I wanted to do it earlier in the day, but, in the end, it was all the way in the evening. It didn’t matter.
I felt fantastic, the weather was nice and warm, I was running in shorts and a tee, I rested halfway with a bit of walking when I felt tired, and I stretched with some yoga at home afterwards.

As much as I can’t wait to start with the half marathon training, I also feel this great freedom from the lack of pressure in the recovery phase; just letting my feet do their thing and not caring about the time or anything. The resulting pace was very good, anyway.

Distance: 5.5km
Time:       32:10

Finally, I would like to congratulate a dear friend of mine on her first 5k, just two months after she started running! She’s amazing and doing great, you go girl!

What is your strategy for recovering after a race?
How long do you take to prepare for a half-marathon?

Day 181: First post-race run and future plans

The weather is not spoiling us here in the Netherlands at the moment; even if it’s sunny, the temperatures barely resemble what I am used to in May. It’s a month till summer, and it’s difficult to leave your house without a sweater and a jacket, not to mention an umbrella… wpid-better-in-running-shoes.png

It’s been a couple of days since the Amsterdam 10K race. I know I have mentioned it a couple of times before, but I really love my asics training plan, and one additional reason for it (on top of its flexibility and diversity) is that the plan does not end at the race day. It also guides me through the recovery period, and, last Wednesday, I went for my first post-race run. And it was amazing.

One of the few moments when it did not look like autumn…

First of all, I had two sessions of yoga, netting a total whopping 2.5h of yoga (with a break) before I set off for my evening trot. It wasn’t very warm, but it was sunny and running felt so effortless, free and natural.

I am transitioning away from the heel strike, and I can feel that in my Achilles/calves, what means that I am not doing it properly, yet. But I am trying, and I’ll get there. I just need to find a good middle ground for a nice mid-foot strike.

Would be good to have it covered before the Amsterdam Half-Marathon in October! Yup, MRB and I registered for our first half, so from June on a long half-marathon training will start. I plan to stick to the asics plan again. I know June to October is a long time and one could get well prepared with a much shorter training plan, but I don’t mind adding a few extra weeks. Moreover, we also signed up for a local 4 mile run where I live, a week before the half. It might be less impressive distance-wise, but it is one of the biggest running events in the country.

It is a lot of time till October. Will there be some other races in meantime? Maybe, but I will certainly try volunteering at some local events, too.

Distance: 5.2km
Time:       32:56

What are your plans for the races in the near and far future?
Is there a particular race you have on your bucket list?
Do you have advice on transitioning away from heel strike?

Day 140: All the hard work paying off

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Life does not always treat us gentle. Even though I am lucky to be able to spend my Easter break back at my family home, there are personal things which made Thursday, April 9th 2015 not the best day ever for me (to say the least).

Our darkest moments are not the ones when everything goes wrong, but the ones when we fail to see the positive things that are still there for us if we only reach out and notice them. Therefore, I tried to do that: to see that not all is bad.

First positive thing: I got woken up by a cat and could stay in bed for a long time, playing with the little black furball.

Second positive thing: It was a warm, sunny spring day – 14°C (that’s 57 for you my imperial system friends) and I decided to wear my fancy new shorts. For the first time ever I did not layer multiple tops and wear long pants to go running. I also wore a brand new long-sleeve top I got from my mother, but no jacket was needed!

Third positive thing: I still had two legs, two eyes and a general health condition suitable for running. And I have friends and kind people around me who care enough to listen to my ramblings about that.

It took me a long time to get myself together, lace up and go. I did a short warm-up because everything felt like forever, and set off. It was supposed to be a fast run – above the comfortable threshold, and that it was for certain. I was huffing and puffing like a broken steam engine and had to slow down two or three times to catch some breath.

My legs felt heavy and weird at some points, like they did not belong to me any more. They hurt. They were red from the wind and running in shorts certainly feels different than long pants. My shoes felt strange. I had to remind myself that I am not a quitter and my mantra became the quote I heard and saw so many times before:

I don’t stop when I’m tired. I stop when I’m done.

I was pushing it hard and I completely did not have the feeling that it was going to be a good run at all. But all the hard work is paying off. I got a 5k PR. I ran fast.

Distance: 5km
Time:       28:16

What are your positive thoughts you use to push back the gloomy mood?

Days 123-129: Week 2 of 10k training

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This was a busy and eventful week. I bought some gear. Ran my fastest 1k. Yay!
Ran my fastest 5k. Double yay!

The weather was… very Dutch. Remember all the beautiful pictures of last week and even before that? Well, spring is in full swing here and showing its more ugly face: the rain. Raining cats and dogs with strong wind on top. But I run anyway. I ran though rain, wind, stomach cramps and sneaky puddles this week.
My eating experiment seems to be successful, too. I eat more and I try to fit in more protein in my food, and I feel generally more energetic. I also seem to be less fatigued from the exercise, what was my main goal with this idea.

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Day 101: Back to running! kind of….

So, how did your weekend pass? Mine wasn’t that great (I haven’t managed to do half of all the things I wanted to), but I did run, and it was blissful. For the first time, I ran outside any plan, any route, any time limits; I just set off and ran through the city and the park in here for as long and as far as my legs took me. I ran to the nearby park and then through and around it before coming back home. That was absolutely fantastic. The setting off to the area I never ran before, without a goal in mind, felt great, and so did coming back to the the familiar parts I ran through so many times before. Not to mention how nice and pleasant was it to run through the park itself!

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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.