Tag Archives: Travel

combining lifestyle changes with the things I love to do most

Week 3 Update

This week has been Cray Cray.

I mean seriously. Between work, running and gym I have zero time left over. I’m trying to make it work, you know, but I’m burning the candle at both ends!

For week 3 I needed 4 runs, 1 cross training day and 2 rest days.

Monday – this was a treadmill run at the gym again. I’m feeling pretty ok about treadmill runs, they are much easier when it comes to continuing at a certain speed (i.e. faster) than outside running. Who knew I would be less of a hater? Although I kind of messed this one up; I should have done 10 min at 10KPH and 4 Fartleks for 1 min at 12.5KPH but I only ended up doing 3 fartleks. I don’t know what happened except maybe I didn’t set the right time on the TM.

Tuesday – GRIT class and 20 min on the bike. I have been leaving work early just to get to this class and while I really like it and think it’s great for cross training, it’s also very frustrating. I am just not up to speed on proper pushups and while my burpees are getting better (I can do the three sets in the beginning of the class), nearer the end of the class I just tend to collapse instead of jumping back up out of the burpee. Not going to give up, just need to keep pushing through.

Wednesday – I worked from home so that I could either go outside to do my intervals, or go to the gym early. Well neither of those things happened, we ended up going to the gym fairly late and I had to cut my run short. It should have been 7 x 800 at D2-D3 and 3 min walking in between each interval, but I ended up with 5 x 800.

Thursday – RECOVERY RUN. AHHHHHHH… it feels good just to run normally. OUTSIDE. Went with my colleague and he was like the speed of light while I trudged along miles behind him. Still. Great run. 4.65 tiny little kilometres.

Friday – REST day! I did this on purpose so I could go out with friends Thursday after work. I was exhausted Friday. Going out kills me.

Saturday – sort of a rest day. We went ice skating with friends. It was HILARIOUS. I think between Tammy and I we must have tried 57 different pairs of skates until we found a pair that fit. The rink was GREAT, we all liked it more than the one we went to in January, but the skates were AWFUL. Time to buy our own skates I guess, but is that another sport I want to be participating in??? You kind of have to in this country.

I also cooked quite a bit this week – Wednesday I made a paleo chicken casserole, which was ok, but I’m going to play with the recipe a bit to pimp it up. Then I made paleo pumpkin pancakes. I did quite a few Kale salads. I made my paleo pumpkin courgette hummus. Oh and the larabars, which are delish. I also prepped quite a bit yesterday for the week – I have at least 3 lunches ready to go and lots of cut up veggies.

I am really loving the fitbit – not only the sleep data but how it’s actually keeping me on track with my food! I am now almost 100% convinced that I was not eating enough. I have been actually not eating enough for a long time and this is why it’s so hard to lose weight. It sounds crazy but honestly, at least for me, it’s true; don’t eat enough, don’t lose weight!!

I started Week 4 today with an 11K run – 65 min at D1 and 10 min at D2. Today we went outside. It snowed yesterday but it was perfect running weather today. I roped Hubs into doing the Bridge loop I was doing before I did the Bruggenloop in Rotterdam in December:
bridge loop

bridge run hubs

bridge run pinky

The run went really well. Except of course the last 10 minutes that I have to do faster which I just can’t do all in one go when not on the treadmill! I’m not unhappy with it, it was a gorgeous day for running, even if it was a wee bit cold and windy. I love my Sunday runs – I look forward to them all week!

I have some other news…

Thursday I was surprised with the news that I have been selected to go on this year’s Origin Trip! Each year a group of colleagues goes to one of the countries that we have the privilege to source our coffee from and this year the destination is Rwanda!! I don’t normally brag a lot but I actually believe when people say to me “You deserve this!”. I may be in financial administration for my “normal” job, but all of the stuff that I get to do outside of that is what makes me get up in the morning and go to work each day. I love where I work but more than that I love the coffee, the story of coffee, what love and hard work goes into getting those beans to our roasting plant, the care that goes into roasting and the delivery of that gorgeous cup of coffee to the customer. I spend a lot of extra time teaching others what passionate partners have taught me and to actually go to one of the coffee growing countries and see for myself what it’s all about is just an absolute dream come true. I don’t know many details except it’s likely happening around 15th of April. So, stay tuned. When I know more, I’ll post more.

How was your week? Are you training for anything?

How about this – have you ever been to Africa???

Fitbloggin – part II

Did I tell you guys I also got to meet Tara and Meegan?

this photo thoughtfully nicked from Meegan’s facebook page

So Saturday I somehow messed up the clock on my phone and was up 1 hour earlier than planned but still too late for the 6am Boot Camp (yeah that was never going to happen anyway). In fact we were all up within about a half an hour of each other and managed to go downstairs for breakfast. There was a jump fitness class scheduled that I decided also NOT to participate in. Jumping on a trampoline and my bladder do not mix! It looked like great fun though!

After jump fitness was Sue and Sam‘s Zumba class! I have done Zumba before and this wasn’t much different than the classes I’ve been to, with the exception that the moves weren’t really explained, just performed. Tons of energy though, loved both of them and was totally impressed with their mad gyrating skillz! I’m unsure if I would continue Zumba here at home, mainly because I have limited time, however if anyone has a DVD recommendation, I’m open.

After class more chatting, snacks and of course coffee (I think Michelle was concerned with my coffee consumption; not to worry, I am in fact a professional) and then upstairs for a shower.

In the afternoon, I attended “When you have a lot to lose” which to be honest I was afraid I didn’t really belong – as I mentioned before, I’m not one of those people who had/has to lose more than 100 lbs and I haven’t been overweight my whole life. I have however had body image issues since I was 10, however and I believed I was “fat” and “ugly” and abused my body pretty badly for a good chunk of my life.

When you sit in a session like this and you hear people telling their stories you soon realize that issues faced are not only for people with a lot to lose. I identified with so many people. I told myself I wasn’t going to cry yet I was already in tears when Nikki spoke. Then when Alan spoke up I completely lost it. Not because I’ve been through the same thing with Nikki or Alan or Amy or Kenlie – I cried because I really felt love and compassion in my heart for them and hated to know they had suffered or were currently suffering. In a way if one of us is suffering and it affects us so deeply, does it matter that we have 10 or 100 lbs to lose?

From there many of us just sort of floated around, talking with each other, taking pictures, participating in fun things like the Grow Soul Beautiful Yoga poses and Oakley’s Performing Beautifully campaign where several of us received a pair of sunglasses. I also got to speak to Annelies from Attune Foods, turns out she’s half -Dutch and even had relatives that lived in or around Arnhem! How cool is that??

Now that’s what I call “performing beautifully”

At some point the four of us roomies went out for dinner where I had crab cakes (again), beer, corn on the cob and other noshables when suddenly the wind kicked up and the heavens opened up, with an umbrella from another table nearly knocking Robby’s eye out (I’ve decided that it’s always exciting with Robby no matter what) and slightly dinging Michelle’s shoulder. Luckily we all lived with a silent moment of “thank dog that didn’t actually go in Robby’s eye…”

After dinner was the reception, which was, in my opinion more promotional stuff (things to win, coupons and goody bags to take home) a free drink (or two if you were lucky to have someone give you a drink ticket) and some food items (that I didn’t participate in, because I just had dinner – though I had a two bites of potato something or another and 2 bites of a cupcake I think) but mostly it was about talking to newly made friends, mingling and getting more photos (something I regret I didn’t do much of).

And the end of the reception we were going to go to the bar with our own wine, only to find out we couldn’t go to the bar because some local football team was in town. We ended up talking to Mark from the Biggest Loser (at home winner, season 10) as I had actually been in a few tweets with him earlier so I wanted to introduce myself to him so he could put a face with the tweet. Since we weren’t really able to go to the bar, the responsible ones went upstairs to bed, where we prepared for the next morning’s early alarm – the 5K was taking place at 7am!

Look at these peeps ready to go for the 5K!
FitBloggin Day 4 9-23-2012

Even the trainer thought it was too early to be photographed!
FitBloggin Day 4 9-23-2012

loving the start, it truly was a beautiful morning in Baltimore
FitBloggin Day 4 9-23-2012

Flickr Photos are courtesy of Carrie D Photography

My last post on Fitbloggin will probably be scattered with thoughts, swag, other friends I was happy to meet and the rest of the day, saying goodbye and the long journey home.

September: That’s a Wrap!

79.2 KG

That’s what the scale told me this morning.

My first thought was to curse at it or throw it out the window but it only took a couple of seconds to come back to reality. You see, I did this, not the scale, and I wouldn’t throw myself out the window now would I?

We all know how mental September has been. I’ve made a point to tell everyone I know. It was an absolute blast – from my birthday to meeting new friends local and abroad, to a 10K in my home town to biking in England (and having a kind of scary accident ) to Fitbloggin.

Food has not been entirely off the rails but I reckon I’ve had more beer this past month than in several months prior. More beer = more wheat, right? And for someone who claims they are off wheat, well, it’s a little hypocritical.

So this little number on the scale, it’s 2.2 KG higher than the lowest number I saw in September and dangerously close to that 80KG mark that I really despise. This means it’s time to refocus and have some goals:

1) I will not only log into MyFitnessPal every day, I will actually log the food I eat as well.
2) if I am out, for whatever reason, and I am unable to log electronically, I will do it the old fashioned way and the enter when I have a chance (I am volunteering at the Amsterdam marathon this month and will be away from the computer at that time)
3) the whole month of October I will be beer-free
4) I will go to the gym twice a week. No excuses.
5) I will run minimum twice a week.
6) I will continue to not eat the chocolates from work, the entire month of October. (not cutting out chocolate in general, just not mindlessly stress-eating from the candy jar.

I would like to see that 77 again this month, though I’ve trained myself to not weigh very often, and I don’t want to start that jumping on the scale 12 times a day habit again. Goal would then be to weigh-in on November 1st with this result.

Did you have a crazy month? Are you ready to crack down again? What are your goals for October?

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!


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.


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?

Milano City Marathon Relay Recap

I know it’s a week later but it’s been crazy since I’ve returned from Italy! Where to start?

I actually took Thursday (the 12th) off of work because I hadn’t actually had much time to prep for the trip and the race. A few days before I received a phone call which inquired whether I would be able to leg 2 instead of leg 4 (10K vs. 7K) as the organisers had kind of messed up our order. Considering that I hadn’t really trained for 10K I stated my preference and hoped for the best. On Thursday, just in case, I went out around lunchtime and did 9K here in Westervoort (it’s a 1.5KM walk to the bridge and then a 7+K loop back up to the bridge again) as I didn’t want to do 10K cold after only doing little 5 and 6K training runs with the Hubs. Afterwards I was able to get my bag packed and prep up some food to take with me to be prepared for hunger and not give in to carbo-snacks.

On Friday I was up just a little earlier than usual and out the door a little earlier than usual and on the train at 6:45 to Schiphol. I’m one of those like to be early rather than late so to be sure I could check in my bag on time and get some coffee I arrived at the airport around 8 (my flight was at 10:20). Admittedly I did eat a muffin from Starbucks (and I did enjoy every bite without any stomach repercussions) but that was as exciting as my time at the airport got. The flight was uneventful (well besides the group of quacking ladies sitting all around me) and I arrived in Milan two hours later. I picked up my bag, and caught the €5 shuttle to Milano’s Centrale FS (Central Station) and then picked up some metro tickets to get to my hotel. Of course being the control freak I am, I had already studied the underground map to determine which metro lines I needed to get where I wanted to be :) Of course I figured out later that Centrale FS was totally walkable but better to have taken the underground instead of schlepping my wheelie bag down the street a kilometer.

My hotel was luckily recommended by a colleague who is originally from Sicily but lived up in Milan for probably the last 15 years. Originally we were told that we might have accommodation paid for by MCM who was sponsoring us in the race, but sadly this was not the case. I was happy anyway with my hotel and the location which was extremely central and I would most definitely go back there again.

I got settled in and was a little bit tired so I decided to take a quick cat nap before going out to have a look around. Once I was up and fresh again I decided to walk down the main road my hotel was just off of Corso Buenos Aires (a major shopping street), looked in a few shops and then decided to go to the Duomo, walk around, maybe get something to eat.

(the weather wasn’t so great and I only had my mobile phone camera with me)

I’ve been to Milan once before and I am still in awe of this building:

Of course this is the major tourist section of town and I just wanted to get a salad but at prices around €20 I really didn’t want to stick around there. I was looking at one place and the waiter was trying to get me to come in but I said no, it was too expensive and I just needed a salad nothing else, so he actually recommended me to go somewhere very close to there as it was cheaper. Unfortunately that salad was €12 and I could have made a better one myself but with fresher ingredients and less money. Ah well. They did have a good espresso :)

as much as I wanted to, I did NOT order my favourite Sicilian dessert that happened to be available at this restaurant…

At that stage I got a message from Monique that the VIP party was at 8pm that evening and could I come? So after I finished up my sub-par salad and coffee I headed out to the Expo where the MCM Village was located. Of course I didn’t fully get that right and ended up walking in the rain quite a bit but finally found it.

Amazingly enough as I was walking out I heard someone call my name! Hanna, who I’ve never met before, recognised me from my photos here and on Daily Mile :) How coincidental is that? I mean, sure, it was possible I suppose, but we didn’t plan on meeting there and I had no idea she would be with her boyfriend who was picking up his race packet for the marathon! We chatted for a few minutes and we went out separate ways. I headed back to the hotel, with a slight detour to the supermarket to pick up some snacks. Then I hung out for a while in my hotel room before going out again to the Expo to meet Monique and go to the VIP Party.

To be honest, we were a bit late in and maybe that’s why, but the VIP party wasn’t much. We did get a complimentary beverage and a water bottle, and there was food available but we did not partake.

Monique and Alessandro, one of the MCM organisers:

Monique had quite the adventure just even getting to Milan so we both were not 100% into the party. Ended up back at the hotel I’d say around 9:30 where I chilled out with a glass of wine and some nuts (pistachio – paleo style, yeah!!)

Saturday morning up early to meet the girls (Maya and her mom and sister and Monique; Hanna lives in Milan and skipped the tour) at the Duomo for a walking tour. As I said, I’ve been to Milan before but I don’t recall much from the trip and I certainly didn’t do anything touristy so the walking tour was a really nice experience. We spent about one hour alone in the Duomo, and then through the Galleria and up a shopping street until we reached the palace, which happened to be where the finish line of the race was :)

Fun Fact: I did not know that Leonardo da Vinci actually lived and worked in Milan for quite some time

When I saw this I really started feeling nervous and excited!

After the tour we went and had lunch, then went to the Expo to pick up our race packets and goody bags and got our T-shirts personalised (and I went and finally had a cappuccino even though it’s totally not done in the afternoon in Italy) and then at some point we all parted ways again at least for a few hours. Hanna was kind enough to not only invite us for dinner, but even made sure she had something for me to eat since she knew I was off grains (serious hospitality!!).

Quickly back at the hotel I prepped my luggage, my race gear bag and my clothes for the next day and then off to Hanna and Francesco’s for dinner!

Race Day

As it had been raining off and on I was still hopeful that we would have some sunshine on the day of the race itself but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. It was already raining when I woke up at 7:30 and it just continued. I had my breakfast and did my final checks before leaving the hotel (I had to check out but leave my luggage there) and I was off to my part of the Marathon (the red bit at the end)

I arrived quite early for my leg but wanted to be sure I could drop off my bag on time. I spent probably the first 1.5 hours in McDonald’s of all places (I know :( ) because I just wanted to sit next to the window, have a coffee and stay warm (did you know in Italy they actually steam the milk for cappuccinos unlike in most other countries??) while I watched the first Marathoners come in around the 33K mark. At around 12:30 I walked back up to my area, waited the obligatory ages to use the loo for the last time and then I waited in my section for Hanna. I thought she would be in anywhere from 1:15pm to 1:30pm but alas she was there much later and it was absolutely bucketing down (and of course I had to use the loo again by the time she arrived but because I didn’t know where she was, I didn’t) – I felt so bad for her, she really got the worst of it.

Then suddenly, she was there! She passed off our timing chip bracelet, I started my iPod and my Garmin and off I went! The first KM marker was 34… remember I was supposed to be doing 7K??? Yeah, it was definitely going to be more than that! It rained the WHOLE time and I was soaked to the bone. I actually ran all the way through except for maybe a minute and a half when i had a little stitch in my side around 6K. In the end I came through in 1:00:58 at a smidge under 9 kilometers.

I found my bag and my teammates eventually and we took some photos (that I’m still waiting for *wink* Maya), Maya headed off with her family and Monique, Hanna and I went over to a Gelato place for coffee and, well, gelato! Francesco was still moving and smiling after completely the Marathon so he joined us as well.

Hanna and Francesco were kind enough to let me shower at their place and afterwards I sadly had to go back to the hotel, pick up my luggage and go to the airport. My adventure was over.

Lots of things learned about this experience, mainly that I need to really do something about my need for everything to be organised and sorted out in advance. I do think I would have done a few things differently but I think all in all Monique had a pretty tough task in front of her to bring four busy people together for a Marathon relay. I’m really glad I was asked to do it, and I’m glad to have met 3 (plus one mom and one sister!) lovely ladies I wouldn’t have met otherwise. Would I run Milan again? I’m not so sure. Maybe. Maybe not. The race wasn’t bad, I found the organisation good, I thought they took quite good care of us but personally I don’t think the route is that beautiful. My leg was quite OK but only at the end did I get to see some amazing architecture and history in front of me. It’s not the Marathon Organisation’s fault of course if the route isn’t gorgeous, I just think I’d like to try a few more places like perhaps Barcelona or Paris in the future.

Well, Well, imagine that!

You know that saying that goes around all the billions of weight loss boards, communities, groups and what not?

Well, it’s pretty true. I’ve been doing different stuff over the past couple of years but still pretty much the same. You know, maybe less of this and more of that, or different combinations of foods, more protein, less carbs, no carbs before 11am, only carbs before running, etc. One thing I didn’t do very successfully was cut down on pasta and rice in particular.

Until a couple of months ago of course… now that I’m getting used to NOT eating grains, it’s actually OK. I even went to ITALY and DID NOT EAT THIS:

But instead I went to the supermarket and for example I ATE THIS:

I mean, seriously, I never would have imagined I would go to Italy and NOT have pizza (I was tempted whilst we were out, but I had a salad instead) or pasta (and thankfully my relay team-mate Hanna who lives in Milan invited us for dinner on Saturday and her boyfriend made me a special meal of steak and salad while the rest of the gang carb-loaded). Actually, if you ARE A meat eater, Italy is a great place to be, plus the vegetables are wonderfully ripened by the sun, the olives are divine, the cheese amazing. You don’t even NEED pasta or pizza, there are plenty of other choices.

I have to say too, I feel good. I feel strong. I feel kind of lean. It sounds strange to say it maybe but when I’m running lately my core feels really strong – I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that before.

Anyway, the whole point of this is that I am actually losing weight:

and down 900gr according to the scale at the gym this evening, from the last time I weighed in.

So yeah. About time I did something different!!

I told you it was crazy right?

sorry for the silence, especially after that huge rant!

after speaking to my PT, I did actually try the new diet again and was probably 90% successful from Saturday until Friday night when I had pizza. It wasn’t a breakdown it was actually just a choice that I made and enjoyed :)

It’s not super hard to eat this way, I think it’s mostly mental. Now that I know when and how I can eat it’s really fine.

I have to say though, I was away (well, away from the office, still in Amsterdam) for 3 days working at a huge leadership conference and it was fairly challenging to eat outside of your own realm of control so there were moments of carbs combined with protein. I did prepare by bringing loads of approved fruit and veggies and I even brought some coconut milk to replace the dairy. These three days were only at about a 70% success.

So I’m back at it again. Dinners are challenging, but maybe I’m going to pick up a cook book. I don’t like to be limited so I have to make the best of it to really give it a go and see if it works.

I did actually lose a kilo from the first time I weighed in at the gym, to the last time that I saw the PT. No idea if that was diet related or not. You know me, I don’t want to celebrate too quickly.

Tomorrow is another appointment. I’m exhausted otherwise I would share more with you.

Things happen when you run

Running is usually just a “thing” we do, to prove something to ourselves, or to feel good about ourselves, or even to burn off the indulgence of a holiday, or a birthday, or a heavy weekend out. Running is so much more than just a physical thing for most of us who do run though… it’s a mix between physical and mental. I know for me, running is a sort of therapy. I feel much more grounded and peaceful within myself when I’m able to just get out in the fresh air (or even rain) and go for a good run to rid myself of negative feelings or thoughts. Running is brilliant, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not (and if you don’t like running, I respect that, it’s also not necessarily for everyone).

It’s become that kind of habit or hobby if you will, that I actually like to run if possible whenever and wherever I travel not only because, well, who doesn’t want to run in London’s Hyde Park, Berlin’s Tiergarten or around the Colosseum in Rome??? Seriously, I’m from a town of 40,000 people – I dreamt of living in another country but couldn’t have known I actually would. I dreamt of traveling and seeing the places and things that I’d only heard about on television or read about it books, but couldn’t have known those things would actually happen.

I always tell people, there are a few things that are “me” – running, traveling, coffee, music. An Ultimate Trip would include all four of these things, but generally speaking I have at least three of them combined.

Back in April or so, I met another expat (expat wife, trailing spouse or whatever you want to call it… but mostly just a cool chick from California who lived in the Netherlands like I do)this time on DailyMile, and in May I was struggling to get out for a run, as was she (she actually had a race to do) and basically she helped me get out and do something rather than sitting on my butt feeling sorry for myself. (Remember that sad little Half Marathon that happened in April, yeah it was after that). Since then I’ve had the opportunity to meet Monique in person and read her travel and running blog often (and feel envious about where she gets to run!!).

Imagine my surprise when she asked me if I wanted to be on a relay team for a Marathon? Uh, let me think about that for a milli-second – OF COURSE I WANT TO BE A PART OF A RELAY TEAM FOR A MARATHON! What better opportunity to take part in a marathon and not have to run the whole thing? She went on to explain to me that we would be a team of similar ladies… travelers, runners, bloggers, expats! GREAT! Where do I sign up!?

Ladies and Gents – On April 15th 2012 I will be running the 7KM leg of the MILANO CITY MARATHON!

That’s not all… yesterday I was reading more about the relay, it seems the 7KM is the LAST LEG of the relay. I’m going to be the one crossing the finish line *gulp* !!

My team consists of:
Monique, who is no stranger to traveling and running; I highly recommend you check out her blog here at Mo Travels:: Mo Runs

Hanna, who lives in Milan and blogs at Run Like Noone is Watching and can be found on twitter here

and Maya Marie who blogs here at Livin Life Daily who currently lives in Spain.

So I think it will be a challenge, no I KNOW it will be a challenge, especially the team being apart from each other, but I’m really confident that it’s going to be an amazing event. I am more than honoured to be part of the team and giddy with excitement!

So, MILAN anyone?

That Little Berlin Trip

I mentioned that I was nominated to go to Berlin for a special event that was taking place there for our German Retail Market. The reason that I and a few others from my office had been selected was because the CEO of the company was unfortunately not going to be stopping off in Amsterdam on his “European Tour”. My Finance VP actually suggested to my bosses that I go as one of the four to represent our regional support center based on our passion and enthusiasm for the company. Of course I was totally honored and humbled to have been chosen! But I may have also mentioned that it was the busiest time of year for us?

The normal work challenges were enough during this period, but somehow I had to find a way to make it work. On the 20th I left the office and went directly from Amsterdam to Düsseldorf, where I would stay the night and in the morning very early take a flight from there to Berlin. I was completely stressed from work load, tired from working overtime and on top of everything run down and feeling like crap because I had been (stress) eating like crap. The hotel I was staying at was amazing, but kind of out in the middle of nowhere. I had very little cash (bad arrangements on my part and the taxi costing more than I’d planned) and very little food and the reception closed literally 15 minutes after I arrived so I couldn’t even inquire about a place to eat and was too tired to even bother anyway. Unfortunately I didn’t get a brilliant night’s sleep regardless of how comfy the bed and pillows were. I was up and out by 6am and on my way to the airport. Thankfully I was greeted by smiles and friendliness at Starbucks and had a delicious breakfast and eventually I was on my way to Berlin (oh yeah and sidenote: I was also visited by Aunt Flo in her Big Red Hat… had “supplies” with me but no pain tablets, which really, really sucked the full day I was in Germany).

The flight was uneventful (except for the fact that it was during Oktoberfest, so on the flight they gave us yummy fresh warm pretzels…) and once I arrived I met up with two of my colleagues who’d just flown in from Amsterdam. We thought it’d be pretty easy to get to the hotel where the event was happening, but as it was the Pope was also in town, AND staying at the same hotel so we had to take all kinds of detours through the city.

The event itself was really nice. In the beginning we just mingled, had coffee and sandwiches and I was so lucky to meet a load of people I’ve only had email correspondence with over the last 5 years. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits despite some news that had been delivered a few weeks before (the office is relocating quite far from where it is now) and soon it was time for us to go in for the Open Forum.

We watched inspirational videos made by partners in the Market themselves (and of course it was all in German so I had to crank up my language skills pretty hard to get most of it – the gist anyway) and then videos that had been shown to partners all over the world. Then the CEO spoke to us and shared a few of his stories as well and opened up the forum for questions. To generalize (which I hate doing but I don’t mean it negatively) the Germans are not as vocal or daring with their questions in these situations, at least not like the Dutch or the French who will just come out and say whatever it is on their minds. A few of my German colleagues asked a couple of questions, my American colleague (who works in Amsterdam) asked a question and then I asked a question last. I was kind of scared to ask what I wanted to know from him, but at the same time I’m familiar enough with how he is to know it would be ok. And… he said it was a very good and very brave question and he answered it honestly.

After the forum we chatted a bit with several people and then took a stroll through the Brandenburg Gate up and over to Potsdammer Platz where we finally decided to get some lunch. We ended up at an amazing restaurant with gorgeous food and sat and chatted for two hours before we headed back out to the airport. At this point I was in massive amounts of pain thanks to Auntie Flo, but I still have to say I had a brilliant day. At the airport I found the nearest pharmacy and the woman there was so incredibly helpful and even offered me water for the tablets I bought to ease the pain (that has never happened to me, regardless of country I’m in).

I arrived back at Düsseldorf and my lovely husband was there to pick me up (he rocks!!!). On the way home we stopped in a German town about 45 minutes from us for dinner. It’s always the little places in the middle of nowhere that have the best food and service and this place was no exception! The day was great but there was still stress involved in getting there – the dinner with my husband was exactly what I needed to feel more relaxed. A perfect end to the day!

Next up – Work Event and Social Event