2014: Time to Choose

So we are now a couple of weeks into 2014 and finally I have figured out how I want this year to be for me.

A lot of people have goals or themes or a word that they’ve decided has meaning to them.

I often have had words that I’ve used to get me through something or words that I’ve thought of to describe myself. Words like driven, determined, disciplined. And I can still use those words as I feel like I am those things, at least much of the time and but mostly when it comes to training for a race.

I don’t think I’ve been very driven, determined or disciplined with food. Well, it’s a fact actually if you look at the fact that I gained weight over the past year. I did a modified paleo thing for quite a few months and was super disciplined about it but it’s just not sustainable. I knew that when I started it – though some would say I was projecting failure – but I did it because my personal trainer suggested it and because, well, why not, I’ve tried loads of other things, right?

So as I was thinking, how can I refocus, how can I actually reach my goal weight at some point in my life… I mean I’m doing this for almost 5 years now…what is it going to take?

And then it dawned on me -

I have to CHOOSE this.

I have to CHOOSE to not let stress get to me by overeating on junk, chocolates, comfort foods, etc.

I have to CHOOSE this. I haven’t actually chosen this for a really long time. I have been going through the motions. I know what the right thing to do is and what the right things to eat are and generally speaking I do pretty ok at that since I’ve managed to maintain my weight for the last four years.

But it’s time now to CHOOSE. I’m going to CHOOSE what’s right for me and I’m going to CHOOSE my own goals over stress and I’m going to CHOOSE to think in the long term rather than this very second.

I don’t have goals per se. I just want to have control over my life, my food choices, my schedule, my stress levels. That’s what I’m going to work on this year. This is the year I truly CHOOSE what’s going to get me where I want to be.

i choose

What is your word for this year? Or do you have specific goals you set?

What’s Happening?

what's happening

So, since I had a little whinge about my struggles, I’ve had a vacation, gotten my blood test results back, ran a 10 Miler and had a birthday so I thought I’d update just a wee bit.

Running
When I wrote my last post I really was struggling with running. I’m not sure why, but since I wrote about it, it’s gotten better. What I really think (which could be true, or not…) is that I was just really tired. Like, mentally and physically and mostly from stress at work. So I’ve had some good runs, including a pre-race 16K here in Arnhem for the Bridge to Bridge that I’m running tomorrow officially.

I have not been training as much as I would like, but I feel like I’m in a way better place with running and longer distances in general than I was in the past. Ideally though I would train more than I am now but maybe less harsh and strict as I was training for Berlin. After the Half in April I was really burnt out.

A cool thing happened – I received an email from our house insurance provider Meeùs, a sort of call to those who wanted to receive a free entry to the Tilburg Ten Miles and a chance to win €100 in gift vouchers from Run2Day. To enter you had to give your motivation for why you should win the grand prize. So I wrote about how I was training for the Lisbon Half Marathon and how all of my running this year was dedicated to Lotte, the daughter of my colleague who has epilepsy and is not quite two years old. Not only did I win an entry, I also won the gift cards! The only “bad” thing was, when I found out it was only 6 days away. Since I’d already run 16K the Monday prior, I figured it would be fine.

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Turned out to be very fine :) Just under 1:50 which was really all I wanted. The last time I officially did a 16K I was almost at 1:54. This is also in line with what I want to achieve for a Half Marathon pace. Sunday’s run was great from the very beginning. The weather was good, my breathing was good, my pace was good. I walked around 4 minutes of the run, basically for when I needed to drink water. I have been running with my camelbak to get used to it again for the Half in October. Next race I’ll use it again and try to drink and run at the same time. In any case, I was really happy to run in Tilburg and so lucky that hubs was there for me, even if he couldn’t run himself.

That race on the 1st, was the first of 3 10Milers this month! This is not really my distance, but great practice for the Half coming up!

Tomorrow is the Arnhem Bridge to Bridge. I have run the 3 and 6 mile distance, so now it’s time for 10! The weather forecast is not looking great, but when it rains or is cold or windy I just shift my thinking to something else, like the fact that I have full use of my legs, that my body is fit and healthy and that it’s not that big of a deal to be rained on. I know not everyone feels that way, but personally, running in the rain has always been good for me. I stay cool and can really run for ages from taking in the great oxygen. But in any case, would be great if we could avoid it. Hubs and The Girl are running too as well as some friends; Samantha, who I ran with twice in Hilversum and some social media friends as well, like Babette who I met from Twitter. No matter what, it’ll be a good day.

Vacation
No Vacation away this year. We spent the whole time basically clearing stuff out, organising, painting, and spending money at Ikea (I made two trips there, which is enough to make me think I never want to go back). The Girl and I now have “our” room and the boys have their own room. We hung photos and prints and things that we’d meant to put up ages ago, our laminate was finally put in (the cats are sliding around everywhere) and I threw away a ton of stuff. Oh and all electronics are now out of the bedroom – this was something I’d wanted for a long time but we had to clear out and fix up the Girl’s room before we could achieve that. During my holiday I also slept at least 8 hours every night. Talk about bliss! This is why I think running wasn’t going well – I just was so completely exhausted from many, many months of trying to fit it all in, plus work stress AND lately, more hours put in at the office.

It was challenging though because staying at home with the kids is different than going somewhere. As you know we don’t have kids full time so for us it’s something we still have to adjust to each time.

I’m glad we did all that stuff (we’re not fully done yet), but Hubs and I both agree we are definitely going away next summer!

Blood Tests

I know this is going to sound really odd but I was really hoping that there would be something, anything “wrong” to indicate why I haven’t really been able to lose weight in so long. I was convinced that my hormones (cortisol) were the culprits behind it all. I don’t want to have an excuse but what I do want is some understanding and then have some type way to move on to either accept or change the situation.

However, there is nothing wrong with me.

Cortisol levels were normal. In fact everything was normal except:
My LDL cholesterol is slightly over the normal range (which I don’t really get, but OK)
My B12 and D are on the low end of the normal range.

That’s it. Nothing else. No thyroid issue, no diabetes, no hormone problems, nothing. So basically, I’m still at square one.

It’s bittersweet in a way to know I am completely as healthy as a horse and all I really need to do is watch out for my cholesterol and take some supplements. But… I’m still overweight. That’s a fact.

So I made a decision, along with joining Brooke and Emily’s Back to Basics challenge, to rejoin Weight Watchers again, for 3 months, to see if following points again will help me get back on track. Honest truth though? So far I still find it extremely frustrating and difficult to log everything correctly. Anyway, maybe more on that in another post.

My Birthday

Yes, ladies and germs, another year has gone by and I’m the ripe old age of 45! I don’t feel old most of the time, but I do find that my tolerance for crap, noise and ridiculousness is at an all time low. Maybe that has something to do with the being tired and stressed thing though. Could very well be.

Hubs actually bought me an MacBook Air, which is far too generous in my opinion, but most certainly a new laptop was necessary. Now I have the painstaking task of clearing off my old laptop and getting used to this shiny new thing. We realised actually that this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve owned a new computer. Everything until now has been refurbed or hand-me-down. I guess when you are 45 it’s a good time to have a new laptop.

The hubs also arranged a nice dinner, beautiful sunflowers, prosecco and chocolate covered “sousjes”. Now you see why I find it difficult to follow the points system!?!

Upcoming Events

As I wrote, tomorrow is the Bridge to Bridge
Next weekend I’ll be cycling with Penny in Rotterdam for the Leontien Ladies Ride
Weekend after that is the Dam tot Damloop in Amsterdam
two weeks later is LISBON!!

I’ve got our flights booked and we found a little apartment to rent again for super cheap. I can’t WAIT to go to Portugal; I haven’t been for absolute ages and Hubs has never been! I can’t believe we’ll be running a Half Marathon in Lisbon soon!!!

I’m going to try a bit harder too, to blog more consistently again. It’s been a weird period but I would like to have my routines back, including writing and keeping up with everyone.

So now my questions –
Have you ever done a staycation?
What about running 3 10Milers (almost) in one month?
Do you have kids? How do you keep them entertained during vacation?
Do you follow Weight Watchers and do you find it easy to keep your points within the daily limit?

Struggling

It’s been a while since I’ve written.

I want to preface this by saying I know that there are bigger problems in the world. That even others I know and love have bigger issues than what I have. As much as I try to console myself with this and suck it up and move on, it’s really been a struggle.

Admittedly I was struggling before I even went to Fitbloggin.

I have been struggling actually since after my Half Marathon in April. But I went through the motions, attempting to suck it up and keep on going. Signing up for races, attempting to be positive, initiating challenges (I’m clearly terrible at that, but I tried) but to be honest I’ve just reached a wall that I can’t seem to break through.

Here it is. Pity Party table for one:
I’m sick of trying so hard.
I’m sick of food, in general. Like NOTHING sounds good anymore. I’m sick of eating the same thing over and over.
I’m sick of watching everything I do, everything I eat. Weighing. Measuring. Working out. Staying active.
Nothing changes. Nothing that I can SEE changes, let’s put it that way.

Even Running is letting me down. Well, I know for a fact it’s my negative self talk, not the actual action of running. But it’s not “doing it” for me. It’s not clearing my head or making me feel better. You know, I’ve always said running is my therapy. I can free up my mind and my negative thoughts because most runs are good runs.

Though I’ve made the effort, the runs have been disappointing up until a couple weeks ago. I had a really crappy Sunday run that I mentioned on Facebook and then finally I had 3 runs after that which were really good, but NOT long runs. Last week I didn’t run as much as needed, as far as the training for Lisbon was concerned; on top of feeling like shit because I’m convinced my body is against me, I have a lot of stress going on at work at the moment. a LOT.

I’m still trying, but it’s not 100%. I don’t know how to get out of this funk. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this down, since I started all of this in 2009. I know better than to compare to others, but how do you not when you are absolutely surrounded (because surrounding yourself with those who have similar ideals and goals is supposed to help, right?) by people who are having success?

I’ve heard the argument that even maintaining is a success. Sure. But I’m not maintaining either. No, I’m back up to 83KG.

Boo Freaking Hoo, right? I know.

I’m just really finding it hard to celebrate anything positive right now.

Anyway, I’m not throwing in the towel, because I know I really do need to get my food under control and I want to do that (I just wish I was inspired to do that). So I just really need to do that and stop using stress as an excuse. I’m off work for the next two weeks and in this time am going to come up with a plan to vary my food and have it fit into a plan that is healthy and gets me under 80KG again.

Also, I ordered some blood work (that I paid for myself, independent to my doctor, because she is useless and told me a couple years ago to just accept my weight *rolls eyes*) to see if everything is really OK. One of the tests is also the stress-hormone test (Cortisol). I just need to know if this is really the reason why I can not lose weight (or rather lose weight at a snail’s pace when being VERY STRICT); maybe then I can accept it more than I am accepting it right now.

Life has to go on. I have to train for my races that I signed up for (I’m too stubborn to drop out), I need to keep having a goal in mind… the problem right now is that I’m so overwhelmed with my selfish grief about my body that even a goal isn’t helping.

So I go through the motions, yet another day.

How do you get yourself out of a food/mind/body funk?

Week 4 Half Marathon Update

It was am incredibly stressful week last week. In my head I knew it would probably be like that, knowing that it was my last week before holiday (yay!) but I also knew I needed to go to the doctor care of some female stuff (don’t worry, everything is fine and I won’t go into detail) and that maybe I wouldn’t be feeling great but I really hoped going into the week I would still be able to do my runs and my cross training.

Well, sometimes we have to just accept what our bodies will or will not do and not get too wrapped up into thinking you’ve failed. Monday I was absolutely exhausted already and my body and brain were not having anything to do with a fartlek training session. I did try but I probably only ran maximum 20 minutes on the treadmill. It just wasn’t happening. I struggled to push myself past thinking what a failure I was but eventually I just let it go. Thankfully my husband was with me to remind me that even great athletes have bad days, but it doesn’t mean suddenly they are no longer athletes.

On Tuesday I had my doctor appointment and let’s just say I felt pretty bad physically. There was no way I was going to make my Les Mills GRIT class that evening.

Wednesday morning I decided I was going to try again. So I packed my bag for the gym in the morning , ready for another treadmill run. I also decided I was going to skip the fartlek training all together and move on to the next training run which was 65 min at D1 and 10 min at D2. This actually went quite well once I got started (seriously I really never thought I would enjoy the treadmill as much as I am lately!!).

Thursday the plan was to run at lunch with a colleague and the weather was not in our favour but we brought our stuff anyway. About 15 minutes before we were supposed to head out it started sleeting. We were supposed to do 6km (PP and I have a similar average pace) and to be perfectly honest I’m still amazed we did anything at all! The sleet combined with the wind was like little razors against our faces! In the end we did 5K which was a total win in my book!

Friday was a rest day thankfully- I was absolutely wrecked from finishing stuff up at work and not sleeping well. I did get to sleep in a bit Saturday, thankfully, but I had a 12.5K on the schedule and wasn’t exactly looking forward to it. Knowing that I wouldn’t get a chance to run again for a few days I finally got my head together and went out and did it. Once again, a great run once I got started. 75 minutes at D1 and 10 minutes at D2. It’s worth noting that as I was not on a treadmill it was still a challenge to do a faster continuous 10 min but I managed to stop only once and pick up again after only a few seconds. Progress!!

Week 4 was probably the hardest week so far and here I am now, blogging from my dad’s living room in Albuquerque already in Week 5. Dad’s arranged a week pass for me at his gym and I’ve gone this morning just to unstick the body and legs after 18 hours traveling. Feeling pretty good, just hanging out at home. I love it!

Week 2 – Half Marathon Training

It was a pretty stressful week actually so training wasn’t as stellar as I would have liked… I was supposed to do 4 runs and at least 1 cross training session but I ended up with 3 runs and no cross training. In fact, I haven’t run since Wednesday!

Sunday – 11K 50 minutes D1/ 20 minutes D2. Both Hubs and I went out for this run and did it at our own pace. To be honest, it’s easy to run in D1 but that’s how I run all the time. I guess the purpose of training is to try and increase your speed and your capabilities to more than what you can do currently and this is where my brain says “Whoah!” when I try to increase. The 50 minutes were actually fine and I felt good, and don’t really need to stop and walk anymore, but the 20 minutes at a faster speed (but not that fast, if that makes sense? we are talking about 9KM per hour vs. 10KM per hour) consistently? That’s hard (in my head). Those 20 minutes didn’t really go that well, but I did try, I really did. I decided after that I need to train on a treadmill for these speed increases.

Look Hubs is sporty too!

Anyway, the 11K happened in 1 hour and 13 minutes with an average pace of 6:38 per Kilometer (around 9KM per hour). In general this IS my average pace.

Monday – 7K, 30 min D1, 15 min D2. After Sunday’s run I already knew I would be doing this at the gym on the treadmill. I did a warm up of 10 minutes and then started. It was ok. I’m not a huge fan of treadmills but I can really understand the benefit now. My average pace was 6:19 per kilometer for this run.

Tuesday – cross training. Wanted to go to GRIT even left early from work to get there and of course there were train issues so I ended up having an extra 50 minutes on my train journey. I was exhausted from work (end of the month, was up late working the night before and in the morning) and would not arrive on time for the class so decided to skip it all together. Good decision; I needed an early night in bed.

Wednesday – 4K/ 5 x 800 D2-D3, 3 min walking between each. After 2 attempts – I went out in the morning but it was raining and blowing everywhere, I was actually soaking wet within 3 minutes! Then I tried again in the afternoon and mentally was blocked – I finally went to the gym in the evening to do this on the treadmill as well. As I was working from home I would have preferred to get it over with before work but that didn’t happen. My brain was really against me. I did manage it on the treadmill, but I do find intervals very difficult. I need to do it a few times to get me over this brain block.

Thursday – 5.5K 30 min D2, 3 min D3. Didn’t do it.

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest (I did walk 5K into and around town to do “something”.

My biggest challenge here is my own head. Physically I can do this, no problem. It’s mentally. There are a lot of years’ worth of repetition in my head that I CAN’T do (fill in the blank) and I think that may be even harder to get rid of than actually running the Half itself.

If anyone knows where I can buy a big bottle of confidence, let me know.

In other news, January was a pretty active month:
Running – 82 KM
Cycling – 40.5 KM
Walking – 9KM
GRIT class – 3 times

But, of course, I lost essentially no weight (as per usual). Started the year at 79.8KG and ended it at 79.6KG. Hopefully now that I have a fitbit I can try to rectify where I may be going wrong!

Have you trained for a Half Marathon before? Did you follow a specific plan? Do you also have mental blocks? How do you get over them?

What Triggers those Feelings

You know, I think I must still have it in my brain sometimes that I “can’t” do something.

It’s silly actually because I prove time and again I can do things. But when I was young, when I was in school, I was one of “those” kids.

You know, the little ones, that had no strength, that possibly had coke-bottle bottomed glasses, who seemed to trip over their own feet for no reason or just fall over without anything seeming to cause it. That was me.

oh come on you have one of these awkward photos too!

I tried to play sports, I wanted to play and do stuff with others and I’m sure I did, just not organised (of course I played with others, and to this day I’m lucky that I still have some good friends from a long time ago). I wanted to play tennis for example, I thought the kids looked so cool down on the court. Unfortunately something bad happened one day at the tennis courts and it pretty much changed the way I looked at myself (I’m not closed about this subject, but let’s delve into that later).

I remember when I moved to my dad’s and went to school in Amarillo, Texas, I wanted to be a pom pom girl (yes. me!). I wasn’t good enough for that. I wanted to play basketball. I wasn’t tall enough, fast enough or good enough for that either (and even in tryouts I got a basketball in my face and broken glasses again). I couldn’t do track because I couldn’t run. I was that kid that got picked last for teams.

I moved back to my mom’s in the 8th grade (back in New Mexico) and I started doing ballet and gymnastics through the community center. I was ok at gymnastics but at that point too old for ballet. I swam and I swam ok but I couldn’t seem to do a breast stroke to save my life.

To put it this way, I was always just kind of mediocre.

So I guess I wasn’t meant to be athletic. I was the little girl/ pre-teen with big glasses who liked to read and played in the school orchestra. This back in the day when Nerds weren’t cool.

I remember when I was older I tried to be on my company softball team. I was stuck in the outfield. The night before our first game I got hit in the face with the ball. It wasn’t soft I can tell you that right now. That was the end of my softball career.

So yeah. By the time I was 22 or so I just figured I was not meant to be athletic.

I think this is where I struggle now. I only started running in March 2009. Well I had a brief stint probably in 2000 – 2001 but it didn’t last long. That was way before I knew about playlists and podcasts and Couch to 5K programs. In March 2009 I started, with my hubs, following the C25K program, determined to make it. It really took a lot of effort and I can tell you there were tears along the way.

I remember “running” in Berlin, more like crying and waddling, because my iPod was stuck and I couldn’t know when to run and when to walk. All I wanted to do was complete that day, I wanted it more than anything (amazing how reliant we are on these little machines). Eventually we worked it out and just re-did that day the next day.

I spent a long time constantly comparing my own progression with others. So-and-so was already running a Half Marathon, why can’t I even do 10K? So-and-so ran a 5K in 25 minutes, I can’t even make it in 40, what’s wrong with me. I’m so NOT an athlete!

After I hurt my knee and worked hard to recover I decided no more comparing. It worked for a while. I’d say for the most part I am not comparing to others (though it does still get to me every once in a while when others are running faster than me, but they are NOT me, we are different). But now it feels a bit like I’m comparing myself to, well, ME.

On Tuesday last week I was all ready for my run, the run after the 15K I just did for the heck of it the Sunday before. I’ve been bringing my stuff to work and then changing either at the train station (in the loos) or in the train itself (in the loo) and making sure I fuel up properly before I arrive home. Hubs will then pick me up and we’ll go down to the park (like 500m away) and do at least 5K. It’s kind of hilly so good conditioning and training for the Zevenheuvelenloop we are doing next month.

It’s no secret (I joke about it) that I am a 44 year old woman with an 80 year old bladder. This is not good my friends. This bladder doesn’t like running and jumping (exact reason I didn’t do the jumpsport class at Fitbloggin) and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t regularly wear some sort of protection “in case”. It’s also no secret or surprise that runners in general have bladder or other factory issues (thanks Jeebus I don’t have the 2nd problem) and it wouldn’t be the first time you ever heard of someone peeing themselves. It’s just, well, Tuesday I couldn’t even make it through 3 KM without doing just that.

Yep. That’s right. Bladder Fail.

And how embarrassing. It would have been fine had I not been wearing a pink skirt that, uh, pretty much showed what just happened. No, you can not pass that off as sweat, ladies.

So freaking annoying as well. I was so annoyed at myself, at my body! Why won’t my body just do NORMAL things? (no, do not tell me that this is normal, oK? yes, it’s a normal function but it was uninvited at that time thankyouverymuch)

So irritating. I ate that day and planned dinner according to that run. I needed that minimum 5K. I needed it. Why did my body fail me? Why do I work so hard and for what?

So now maybe you understand. I honestly felt defeated. By myself. But it’s ok, I know it’s not the end of the world and it doesn’t mean I’m a failure.

I’m not a failure.

I am fabulous.

I am an athlete. I’m just an athlete who needs to do kegels more regularly.

Cornwall – Women’s 40KM Cycletta

This weekend was amazing and dynamic on so many levels. It was physically and mentally challenging and there were highs and lows.

I had an incredibly busy week but did my best to think clearly about my trip ; what did I need to bring? Could I fit it all in one case? Was I going to be able to have time to check in or get my train ticket arranged ? Passport? Race pack? Food?

Each time I do something new I learn that I still need to have a little more patience with myself and to learn to be less controlling. Roll with life a bit , you know? So this trip was just another chance to not only enjoy life but learn something too.

My flight was at nearly 4 pm Friday, it was tricky checking in online and I took half a day off anyway so I left work and was headed to the airport already at 1pm. Checking in there was smooth and I just had carry on luggage for once in my life so I had plenty of time to kill before boarding.

Eventually we boarded and after a quick flight we landed in Exeter. I thought I would get the bus quickly “downtown” and then the train to Penzance and how hard could that be, right? Well…

I landed around 16:15 and I made a reservation for the train at 17:45. Plenty of time. I went inside the main hall at Exeter International Airport, and checked at information where to find the bus and when it would be departing. Seems I just missed a bus, and the next one was at 17:00 arriving at the train station at 17:35. Hmmmm. What to do? The kind woman at the desk told me it was probably around 20 quid to get a taxi. All right, I’ll be cheap and wait.

“international” being the key word here

As I was waiting I kept thinking about it. What if we run late? What if I can’t find out where to get my ticket? What if I miss my train? I’ll take take a taxi, it will be worth not having the stress. So I go outside and… No taxis.

I wait. And I wait. And there another couple there, and they are waiting. They ring for a taxi. Yet still no one arrives. Finally I can see my coach arriving. It’s 5 o’clock.

I walk back and get on the bus. We arrive just in time. I pick up my ticket at 17:42. I run up and over the footbridge to the platform. The train is absolutely packed. Here I thought it would just be little old ladies drinking tea in rural England on the train, going to some cottage in the south. I was so very wrong. It was FULL of people. I found a seat and asked if I could sit since a woman’s bag was on the empty chair. Others were trying to get past me. I sat down on the woman’s bag and she gave me a dirty look. “I thought since I asked you if I could sit there you’d have moved the bag.” Sheesh, woman. She proceeded to play Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” on full-tinny headphone volume. This wasn’t at all what I imagined. This was even worse than home!

At some point I just decided to have a giggle on the inside and get over it. We arrived on time at Plymouth and I texted my friend that I’d be in at 20:45. And then we sat there. And waited. And waited. After about 25 minutes they finally came on and said they were just “waiting for the police” to clear us to leave again. Uh, what? Apparently there had been some aggressive passengers in Coach B that were removed from the train. I texted her again that we were late, but she thought we were late but our arrival was at 20:45 and ordered up our curries for dinner. Nope. That food will have to go in the over my dear!

FINALLY I arrived in Penzance. There were just a few of us left on the train, it was the last stop. 3 (and a half) hours to get to the end of the world, but it was so great to see her! Big hugs and laughter about the whole situation. We drove back to her house, said hello to the husband and sat down to a proper English, uh I mean Indian Curry.

Her husband went off to the pub (as they do) and we started getting read for the race which was starting at 8 am the next morning. Did I mention I was tired? Didn’t matter it was exciting getting it all together!

of course you have to get ready with a beer

checking the tires

Up early Saturday, we got ready, had some breakfast and much to my controlling-ways dismay, left later than planned for the starting line. Oh, wait, she only lives 2 minutes from the starting line, no need to panic! There were around 175 ladies doing the Cycletta so it was not a huge group, but they split us into staggered groups of 10-12 so we wouldn’t all run over each other in town. Did I mention I’ve never driven a car or ridden a bicycle on the wrong side of the road? Oh dear, I was a little nervous. Especially for the roundabouts. We were off though and this was it time to make our way through Cornwall!

ready!

It was really beautiful once we made our way out of town, but it was hilly! In fact, I cycle hills here in Gelderland, but nothing compares to what I did this weekend. UP and down. UP and down. Lots of constant climbing and braking. I was getting used to the bike and the left side though and we were both feeling good. We hit the first feeding station at 11KM around 50 minutes into the ride. It was a gorgeous day with a bit of mist coming off the sea – like a fairy tale really when we came up to where we could see the coast and the cliffs. Heaven!

the view of the cliffs and sea around 15KM

Then it happened. About 4KM later we were cycling along. UP and down. I saw a woman in the distance jogging with her dog. A big dog. A very long lead. Didn’t think much of it, I know people do this often. He went a bit close to Elsje but the owner pulled him back. We were on a down so I had a bit of speed going. Suddenly he bolted for me! I had to stop, I couldn’t hit the dog! Unfortunately I pulled too hard on the brakes and I went flying over the front of the bike. It happened so fast yet so slow. I remember thinking “don’t hit your head” so I pulled my head up and my neck back and stopped myself with my hands and arms. I hit my chin. I thought “Oh my God did I knock out a tooth?” Because that’s what I needed, to lose a tooth, right? Elsje heard what happened, dropped her bike and came running up. The lady came running up. The dog was there licking my face. She asked me “are you ok?” Yes. I’m ok. Can you get this bike off me please?

They pulled the bike up. They pulled me up. I’m ok. I didn’t hit my head. Is anything broken? No. Is there any blood on my face? No. Everything is fine. I checked my knees. My right one was banged up. Oh. My left thigh was banged up. Everything else ok. The woman felt very bad. She blamed her dog. I didn’t blame her dog! It happened, he’s a DOG. She wanted to take me to her house but I was fine and I needed to finish. We checked my hands. Left one is fine. Right one? Oh, my glove is ripped. Crap, my hand is ripped. Several people stopped at that point “are you ok?” I’m fine. Elsje asked if one of the ladies had a bandaid – they didn’t but they had a compeed. That will work! All in all both knees, left thigh, both elbows, both wrists, chin, hand and nose were banged up. Sunglasses were scratched. Don’t ask me how I didn’t break anything or hurt my head. I’m just lucky. After everyone left I cried a bit on Elsje’s shoulder. A Bike guy came up and helped us when she was putting the chain back on. I had to go on. We had to finish this.

It was really ok starting up again, I was just a little bit nervous and my palms really hurt so braking wasn’t so much fun. The hills were incredibly steep but the scenery was amazing. We had to walk up a few hills as well, even towards the end; the elevation was relentless. We talked to many people later and they all said the same thing – there is NO FLAT in Cornwall – it’s either up or down.

thirsty!

still smiling at 27K!

Just over 3 hours we crossed the finish line. I really loved the ride and I’d do it again in a heartbeat but boy was I so glad to be back as well! I went off to the medics just so they could double check that everything was ok and they sent me home with an ice pack. We went back to the house and I took a lovely hot bubble bath. I was still processing what happened and thinking about how lucky I was that I didn’t hit my head or even break anything (not even a nail!). The first time in my life I wear a helmet and I have an accident like that. I shudder to think about if I hadn’t reacted the way I did.

Legs before

Legs After

We are already planning on participating next year. Maybe even with a 1.5KM swim. Maybe I’ll even do a little run on the beach. It was such an amazing setting for a sports festival – lots going on, great atmosphere, nice people. Later we (obviously) had to go back and have a few beers and listen to some music.

Sunday morning and already up and having to head back. It was sad to leave as it would have been great to watch the triathlon on the beach, though if I’m honest I was also glad to be heading back home to the Hubs. Elsje drove me back to the incredibly huge international airport of Exeter, we had some lunch and soon it was time for me to board my flight. I was back in the Netherlands at 5pm and back home at 7pm.

Incredible how exciting, dynamic and fast a weekend can go. A weekend I definitely will never forget for so many reasons!

Have you done a long(ish) distance organised bike ride? Would you like to if you haven’t?

WNL:: (was not last!) Westervoort Midzomer Run

Yes another race!

And another PR! This time I shaved 16 seconds off of my fastest race in Hilversum just two months ago. Last year I had to skip this race as it was again right after the Ladies Run and I was not allowed to run. I was exceptionally bummed because Westervoort is about 1.5KM from my flat and I run out there all the time so I know the course very well.

This year I not only got to participate but the Hubs ran with me (well, way ahead of me, but you know what I mean)! His first ever 10K and his first race in a really long time with the exception of the relay he just participated in last week at work (each runner did 1.7KM).

It was, of course raining like hell, what more could I expect from weather in the Netherlands? It turns out that rain is quite good for me though – I ran much, much better, stronger and faster than in Rotterdam just two weeks ago.

The funniest part is, this was the smallest race I ever participated in! Seriously there 150 runners in the 10K leg of the race. When I started out I was at the back. I don’t care too much about where I am located at the start of a race because there are like thousands of runners around me. This time though it was pretty obvious I started at the back and I STAYED there. Most of us kept up the same pace as well. There were two people behind me and I managed to get ahead of three others. There was one older lady that was thisclose but ahead of me and I couldn’t seem to get a gain on her. Even through the wind and the rain that lady kept up her pace (and trust me, she was much older than me, so I kind of wanted to just let it be, you know?). At around 500 meters to go I just hoofed it and passed her, coming in at the finish line at 1:04:06.

As I was getting water and taking off my time chip, she came up to me and shook my hand and we congratulated each other on a great race. That may have been my favourite part :) There were in total only 26 women running in the 10K and of those 26 I was 19/22 in my category (women under 60). There were only 4 ladies in the 60+ category, my “friend” coming in 13 seconds after me.

Hubs ran 72/80 in his category, time 0:54:54. I’m super proud of him!!!

Photos will be up on the website this week, hopefully there will be a few I can choose from that won’t be me with my tongue hanging out of my mouth looking desperate (who am I kidding? I see a camera and I’m ready for a photo op!!).

Rotterdam Ladies Run 2012 Edition

It was a couple of weeks ago already, but I am still smiling about my experience with the Ladies Run in Rotterdam this year. What a difference from last year!

If you have been following along, you’ll remember that last year’s Ladies Run was my last one before being forced into taking a break from running to save my knee from more pain and possible damage. Last year it was also raining, but most importantly I ran the entire race in pain and this year it was much, much better.

Last year I did run it faster and I think it had a LOT to do with the fact that I just didn’t want to stop at all for fear I wouldn’t finish. I don’t care much about time, though I do suppose that at some point I would hope to get faster simply from being stronger and maybe even losing a couple of kilos.

Anyway, it was a great day. We didn’t have to start off too early and this year we drove (all of us) down to Rotterdam to my friends Tammy & Xander’s place as they live pretty close to the Ahoy where we were starting the race. We were met by Penny and her family as well and headed off all 9 of us on the bus to the starting point!

We were in plenty of time to hang out, get nervous/excited, pick up my tee-shirt but unfortunately I missed meeting up with Joanna, who was running the 5K prior to the 10K; I thought there would be a window of opportunity before the warm-up but it was not meant to be. How exciting this day was though! It was Penny’s FIRST 10K and our FIRST race together!!

We did the warm-up together which generally speaking I do either half-ass or not at all. BUT, it was a really good warm-up, I quite enjoyed it! And I really felt like the legs and the muscles were ready to hit the road. It was already quite warm out (especially after the weather we had/have been having) but I was pretty confident it would be all right (not as hot as at the Marikenloop).

We ended up near the front when it was time to go and we were off! The best part of the whole race was actually seeing my people cheering for me at a few KM’s down the course! Normally this never happens, since I only have one or two people with me at a race. How exciting to see Tammy especially smiling at me from a distance and waving like a crazy woman whilst trying to take photos at the same time!

Me waving wildly back

So it really WAS warm out. I had to stop at the drink stations a few times. I had to walk about 500 meters between 8 -9 KM. Ultimately this slowed me down and put me about 2 minutes slower than last year. I am VERY happy with the result though! I am VERY happy that I could run with Penny (and she was only a couple minutes behind me! ROCK ON SISTER!!)! I am VERY happy to have had so many great people there supporting us!

After the race of course you KNOW I had my cold beer and french fries!

Cheers!

It was fantastic just hanging out with friends and the kids. Later we made our way back towards home, stopped off for some dinner (which was a large salad) and after taking the kids back, got home, took a shower and passed out!

A special shout out to Tammy - thanks for the use of the photos!!

Leontien Ladies Ride Raalte

Well I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! May and June have just been nuts, but I guess you guys wouldn’t expect anything less of me right?

After the glorious, warm, sun-filled weekend we had at the end of May, I would have thought that the first weekend in June would have shown us a nice time as well. Unfortunately it was not the case.

On Sunday morning I was (or I should say “we” ) up bright and early drive to Raalte, which is in the province of Overijssel (I live in Gelderland), not too far from us, but I’d say about an hour. It was already raining and the forecast wasn’t really showing anything better. I really hate complaining about weather, because, yeah, what can you do about it, but I was not really looking foward to cycling in the rain for 4 hours. So I made a little plea to the Universe on Facebook to at least compromise with me and give me a couple of dry hours.

Once we arrived it seemed like rain was definitely going to be the weather du jour, so I sucked it up and made my way to pick up my starters pack and tee shirt. If there is something I DON’T like about these types of events, it’s the chaos of picking up your pack. I personally prefer to have everything sent to me so that I’m organised on the day. My experience is (and mind you, it’s only in the Netherlands really so tell me if yours is different in another country), people don’t queue well. Or rather, people don’t really queue at all. So there’s a lot of pushing and shoving and people tending to butt into the line when you’ve already been waiting for 15 minutes. So yeah, Leontien, take note and send us the packets like you did last year thankyouverymuch.

Once I was ready I wanted to head to my starting area, which was… where? Seemed like so few people in the area deemed as the “long ride” section that I went over to the “short ride” because it seemed more likely. Not the case at all! Quickly back through my section and I can hear the announcer talking about us starting like any minute so I just went up to the starting line to take off! It happened so fast that Hubs didn’t even have a chance to see me start (he was still walking towards the front).

What else can I tell you? It rained. And rained. I don’t think I really enjoyed it as much as I could have because to be honest I was just trying to get through it. The area is nice, went through lots of forests and farmlands and ended up break area just about at the time I thought I would be there. Next bit of fun was waiting in the queues for the toilets. In the rain. And of course the “free lunch” is sandwiches, which I no longer do, so I had my own stuff with me and continued on as soon as I could (there was an espresso bar there, but you had to pay for it and I had NO CASH with me. seriously? they could have let us cold ladies have a cup of coffee!! this saddened me greatly).

As if the universe decided we did in fact have enough, it stopped raining for the second part of the trip! Total time was just over 4 hours and it was 65KM and NOT 70 as expected.

I have to say I was glad to be finished with it. I could have just cancelled all together but I really hate signing up for something and then not following through. Once I finished, hubs found me pretty quickly and we then got ready for the next part of our day (I would have preferred it being laying on the couch) – the BBQ Birthday Party for my mother-in-law. Before we arrived I’d warmed up a bit, had some beverages and some chocolate (mmmmmmm… ) so I was ready for the party. Several bits of meat later and some nice conversation, I was well and truly ready to go home and SLEEP.

Would I do the Ladies Ride again? Yes. I think I’ll wait until the second one though in hopes that the weather will be nicer. Usually that is Rotterdam, so, fingers crossed I can rope in a few friends for that one next summer (hint: Tammy, Penny… ).