Friday, 21 December 2012

a new kind of challenge

Now to get ready for the fun!

So I'm collecting articles on how to train:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

meeuwen makerel 2012

It's advertised as 10 English miles. in the sand. nearly all of it. it starts at the harbor, then half a kilometer to the beach, then 7.5 km in the sand. then down the water line to the aid table for some water, turn around and hustle back.

it rained part of the race today but the weather was quite warm relatively speaking. ( two years ago it snowed.) the wind was 20 knots (upper end force 5). part of the challenge of running on the beach is the tide, which is coming in. so we run along the low tide line in the hard sand on the way out, and struggle to find a good line to run on the way back. I jumped a bunch of tide pools, which was fun.

major victory for me - I didn't wear a coat. just hat, gloves, neck gaiter, mizuno thermal top and regular full length tights. I told myself, you'll warm up right away - no need to carry the coat the whole distance. (it was only 42 F degrees) . I figured if I got cold, I'd be motivated to run faster.

I broke two hours, despite an incredible head wind that forced most people over their race results from last year. the beach is always the unknown. this was a real race for me - I ran the whole time with a group of people, drafting behind some runners to save energy for the run back. running with others motivated me to pick up the pace on the way back. since I "rested" in the lee for 8 km on the way out, I felt really strong on the way back. even though the section of mashed-potato-sand where the course left the beach and headed to the finish line. I ran the last kilometer fastest.

reward - fish fry and pea soup. plus smoked mackerel to take home. really a nice day.

most interesting reflection is that I have run very little the last four months, trying to reduce the inflammation in my right foot. but I've been lifting a lot and doing intense short work. and I think that paid off for me.

Monday, 10 December 2012

janathon. again.

Janathoon 2012 Participant Logo

What more could possibly be said about the sailing through the winter doldrums. Except that everything's better with company.

Rules? We prefer to think of them as guidelines.

Juneathon is, after all, (to quote Highway Kind) an 'annual festival of activity and excuses', and we're not expecting any different behaviour for Janathon, so there aren't really any rules as such, but we thought it would be nice to have some kind of guidelines.

So here they are:
Run or do some form of exercise every day.
Blog about it within 24 hours.
Join the Janathon group at the Running Free website and log your runs/exericse. This is optional, but it's fun to see the miles build up for everyone.
Visit other blogs and leave comments, giving your support.

Link to the Janathon website and display the 'Janathon Participant' logo (which you can find here).
And that's about it really.
Good luck!

Saturday, 8 December 2012


Result: Pass


You passed the Level 1 Test and have been awarded our ANSI Accredited CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Certificate. You can expect to receive your Certificate in the mail 2 to 4 weeks from today¹s date (4 to 6 weeks for locations outside the US).

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Meijendelloop 2012

I can't decide which is the best part of this race. The gorgeous run in the dunes or sitting by the fire eating apple pie afterwards!

The meijendel run is truly a special experience. late november, 8 AM start, never fails to deliver a cold dark start. this morning I was greeted with frost outlining every blade of grass, every fallen leaf, every twig and branch. the dunes were transformed. bright yellow and orange leaves clinging to low bushes flashed in contrast to the grey veil cloaking everything and swirling over the dark brown, sodden leaves collected in clumps on the ground.

this was a bike-run-bike - as in ride like crazy to the start. I got there at the gun. goal #1 achieved.  ask anyone who knows me and you will find out I am not a morning person. I had collected most of my clothes last night but wasted precious minutes looking for my running coat.

I tried UCAN for my morning pre-race beverage. I had really even energy and kept a pace that pleased me for the whole run.  When I got out of bed this morning I had some pain in my left achilles and allowed for the possibility of running 15 rather than 25 this morning.  

Early in the race, about 20 min after starting, I lost sight of the pack ahead of me.  suddenly a dunes maintenance truck passed me and pulled over. Of course I thought they were going to tell me I was already too slow. (still feeling hurt by the CPC sweepers who told me years ago to leave the course because I was too slow).  Out jumped a runner who joined the race. I burst out laughing and wondered how I could get a ride.

The dawn was spectacular. despite the sunrise the colours remained muted by the fog.  as the temperature rose above freezing, sparkling water droplets formed on every branch.  when the wind came up a bit, I put my jacket back on. the breeze was cold and damp from the fog.

Then I was joined by a grey panther coming up from behind me.  as we matched foot falls the pace quickened ever so slightly. I imagine he was trying to beat the chic; and I was trying to beat the old man. his pace was just a little too fast for me  to carry over a long distance.   I am happy to run my own race these days.  The first year I ran, the sweepers were right behind me and I felt pressured to hurry up so they could get out of the cold. So I dropped out after 15 then. (This is habit forming unfortunately - I still get the t-shirt and apple pie, so why finish?!)

This year being passed by others increased my resolve to race next year 30 lbs lighter. That is an overstatement, but I want relief from the head noise about running while overweight (well, and the effort to carry my pork belly around).  Self-image can become a barrier. When I was sitting by the fire (with this year's men's winner), another runner asked me if I was the first woman finisher.  Funny that he saw me as that person.  I was inspired by the possibility that someday I could say yes to that (okay, what I really thought was that I should train hard and next year I will win).   Instead, I somewhat sheepishly explained in halting Dutch that I had some foot pain and withdrew after 15 km. I was again seduced by the turning point on the course where you head away from the finish for the last 10 k loop.  The twinge in my achilles confirmed it.

This brought up the question of why finish?  I did not train for this race specifically.  I have not been running regularly since August after injuring my foot. At best, I have jogged every Sunday around 8 km. I have more races planned for December, January, February and March. So I decided it would be prudent to listen to my body, which was complaining a bit, rather than hurt something enough to keep me on the sidelines next month.  I feel really satisfied by 15 km.  And isn't that the point of running?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

long time no write.

oops. sorry I left you all in the emergency room at Jackson Hole.  I got really busy as soon as I got off the mountain.

Summiting the Grand was, well, wait for it, a Peak Experience. Sorry. But it was.  The first day was a very long hike up to our base camp and early to bed. The second started at 3 AM.  We reached the top at 8:15 AM. That morning, in the dark, I secretly harbored the hope & fear that I would quit when we reached the "no turning back alone" point indicated by Anne, our guide (the lava field).  I had a speech prepared to send my son to the top without me - how he'd have the opportunity in his lifetime to go places I'd never reach, scale heights, blah blah blah.  Anne smartly sensed my silent speech writing and didn't ask me if I was ready to keep going. She conspired with my son to get me to the top.  And we made it.

Climbing has much in common with marathoning.  How do you run a marathon, start moving your feet and don't stop. Well, the same advice goes for reaching the summit.  Just keep moving.

The low altitude conditions made me child-like in my thinking.  The early morning darkness made it impossible to see the sheer drop-offs that would have terrified me in daylight.  The view from the top - memorable. Especially since the camera I bought just for this moment FAILED!  I received that as an invitation from the mountain to return again with my younger son in a few years.

The down-climb was intense and as difficult, if not more dangerous, than climbing up. Mostly you have to do it backwards. The rappel was a kick. Especially fun was watching the guy coming down after us on his own line - which was too short - and alarmed the rangers out for a day hike. They jumped into action and helped the guy get down from where he had stranded himself. While his girl friend was looking on.  There's always someone doing some stupid sh!t on the mountain to be a lesson to us all.

The mountain was really nothing more than a very large pile of crumbling rocks.  Hugely impressive.  We had a quick lunch at the base camp and then hiked down.  Because of my injury, I didn't tie my boot securely enough on the way down. That meant I crushed my big toe.  Every footfall hurt.  But there's no way out but walking. And again, marathoning was my teacher. If you keep moving, the pain in your foot will go away, replaced by a pain somewhere else.   I lost the nail a couple weeks later.

But I still managed to complete a 100 km ride out of Amsterdam and then the Century Ride at the World Road Cycling Championships in Limburg last month.  165 Km of pure pleasure.  Now I'm settling into the winter running season. I know it's not winter yet. But it's cold and rainy. which is the definition of winter.  More soon.  Much love. C

Friday, 3 August 2012

Grand Teton - warning - gore

I am learning to climb mountains. Something I never thought I would do or enjoy. But I tried indoor climbing and was immediately hooked. Well, after I transcended the panic.

Next week I will make a bid with my son to summit Grand Teton (picutred).

The first lesson came earlier than I expected.  The adventure of a summit bid apparently begins long before you start the climb.  Earlier this week I ended up in the emergency room when a glass bottle exploded near my foot.   After some glass sliced off part of my little toe, the wound would not stop bleeding and needed to be cauterized. 
The front porch was the closest spot at which to elevate my foot to stop the bleeding.  It didn't work. After an hour, I found a more comfortable venue

 Except for direct application of the cauterizing instrument to the troublesome veins, the whole incident has been surprisingly pain-free.

Since then, I have been couch-surfing, avoiding any activity that would create a risk of saying afterwards, I wish I hadn't done that. No swimming. No cycling. No running. No hiking. My family kindly enough gave me full custody of the channel changers and power cords to keep the lap top running all day.
I.V. care of Apple

Every day the toe looks a little better. I walked around this morning, causing it to start aching. That sent me back to the hammock. 

Tomorrow starts two days of climbing classes with Exum. I will wrap my toe pretty well, and perhaps borrow a larger approach shoe for the next couple days.  The ER doc assured me that even if the toe started to bleed during the summit bid, I wouldn't bleed to death.  Confidence is running high.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

30 juneathon so long and thanks for all the fishes

okay. the title is irrelevant and non-responsive. i am in the midst of grading university exam answers. so i am feeling a little silly. particularly because juneathon is jog log and blog. I don't run more than three times a week, and this week I haven't run since last sunday. rest and periodicity, I think are the principles I invoked. or dontfeellikeittoday. and then i have slacked quite a bit with the log portion. mind you i like runningfree. it's fine. but i don't count exercise calories and my garmin gives me generally speaking all the data i need. so i skipped this step most of the time as unnecessary. but blog I did.  i like to write. i like the applause I get (sometimes) (you know who you both are, and thank you).

it's been fun. january i will visit and comment more. this was beyond the beyond for me. june is the slide into the end of school and just gets enormously ridiculously busy. add on top of that busy work days and racing on weekends, and well, I was not very supportive of other juneathoners except for some favorites. I will do better in january. so come back, okay?

29 juneathon

I hope I've been able to avert certain disaster. I mixed up the delivery and billing addresses for the hat and mouse my son ordered..I've written to the seller a couple times. Maybe the problem will be solved shortly... It has been that kind of day.

And a time warp. Sixth graders end of year play. Middle aged parents. Teen son looks so much older on stage. They have a year end dance party. No parents allowed in the basement.

Meanwhile we drop in at a year end university party for faculty and students. Twenty somethings on the make. I sat with a group, realized my 13 yo was trying to reach me, and then realized the students were closer in age to my son than to me.

Juneathon. Dog walk.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

28 juneathon - quietude

I stayed up too late (meaning until 12:30), and decided it was reasonable to sleep in rather than lift at 7 a.m. one of several rationalisations. My legs and abs are still sore from Tuesday, thus more recovery time is warranted. It was freakishly warm, thus no running home after work (*warm being relative. i think maybe it was 20c today). I thought I'd walk on the beach after dinner, but flopping on the couch and watching Family Guy was more fun.  My dumb calves-feet-pain combination is back. Could be the lunges and squats.

I'm not actually what this shirt means. but it seemed to fit the situation.

Juneathon today devolved to a short dog walk before dark.

I trust that major internal improvements are underway during this day of rest.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

27 juneathon running long

if you like to run long like i do, you naturally plan ahead. so at the end of june, I'm thinking of october runs and wondering about another half marathon or longer trail run. it's delightful to think of fall running even before summer has started. likely it won't get hot here until i get on the plane. then I'll come home and everyone will tell me that I missed the best weather. But I know the  real best weather is running in the cool of the fall.

i met a  couple of fast runners today, both of whom invited me out for a run. maybe I can keep up and maybe they'll enjoy running with me at least once. this one speedster runs a marathon every year and she's going to take Odie out running while were away and keep him happy.  we agreed that the day just doesn't go right if we miss a run.  the other gal is looking for places to run and races. these things I know.

running gives me the gift of friendship.

a short 15 weeks brings us into the middle of october. so if i want a fall half marathon or more, it's nearly time to start plotting my success. coool.

oh, juneathon = 1 hr bike riding and dog walkies.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

26 juneathon. black

there are quite a large number of black hills ahead of me in Limburgh. 
today I successfully passed another lovely juneathon day.  
I lifted with purpose and intensity at the gym after I
warmed up on the rower. 
tonight I skipped my usual run and swim 
to spend time with family. including feeding them food. 
ate only one  a few squares of milk chocolate.
 and bought some new books on saving the world. why not. 

Monday, 25 June 2012

25 juneathon

so with the two sprint's done, I'm in count-down-til vacation and international travel mode.  Making lists, thinking of things that should be on the list, adding them. doing them. adding more. suddenly changing directions to go put something on my list.

 I use Astrid on my phone. She talks back and praises me for completing stuff, nags me until I Snooze it and acts all disappointed when I slack. This takes the pressure off me to react to myself in these ways.

going away for a couple weeks makes me begin to miss the dunes when I walk with Odie in the evening.  (Juneathon score - dog walk & bike commute = 60 minutes).

these are unfortunately quite washed out examples of the flowers. washed out because of the fading light at 10:15 PM.

Now that the races are done, I am turning my sites on the climb (wyoming) and the climbs (limburg). for both, I will have an easier time if there is less of my hind quarters to haul up and over. So that means watching what i eat.

So back to SCD.  Fat or fit? My choice.  So here's to the Wednesday Challenge. My next cheat day will be in the US.


Sunday, 24 June 2012

23 juneathon Stein Sprint Tri (and 24 catchup)

Billed as the Dutch mountain challenge, I expected a little more elevation change in the course.
However, it was "false flat", meaning some small climbs. More important were bike handling skills like cornering and staying upright on cobblestone. I had a lot of fun, as usual.  One thing about using the TACX is I don't improve my cornering skills, which are rudimentary at best.

My swim time (19:52) was better than last week's race, as was my run (30:43). Although the Groningen race didn't time transitions. So it's a little difficult to compare times. And of course, with the mountains, you can't really compare the courses anyway.

52 (T1) 00:03:0753(bike) 00:54:3352(after bike) 01:17:3152(T2) 00:04:0051(run) 00:30:4350(total) 01:52:13(dif) 39:11

(total 1:52) (39 min after the winner)

I found my stroke rhythm in the water faster than last week. And I wasn't last out of the water. I tried drafting on my teammate's feet, but I kept bumping them and it was a little strange to have to slow down. But I couldn't swim fast enough to pass her.  My transitions could be a lot faster.  I rather like the leisurely break though.

I rode and ran last, but there were two DNF's so I wasn't last. Which pleases me.  It's the doing that counts, not the winning.

Riding last with my motorcycle escort gave me a mental choice. Rather than busting myself for riding last, I revelled in the experience. I pretended I was in first place, riding alone. I was so happy to be riding in the sunshine in the countryside around this beautiful Dutch village, near the Belgian border. Life is good.

The event was well-staffed. The course was marked and volunteers were at every turn point. Well, except for the part of the path that went into what was marked as a dead-end, then past the church with a no-entry sign. I doubled back on the first lap since I thought I had missed a turn. But I saw a sponge on the ground from the aid table, and then another runner approached. So I knew which way to go.

I stuck to a nice even pace and banished the thoughts of quitting. I got a lot of energy from the crowds.

Sprint distance is too short and doesn't serve my lack-of-speed-diesel engine. At the end of the race I felt like I still could ride another 100 km. I will have to think about how to get faster on the bike.  I averaged about 28 km/hr. Not bad, but I got lapped by really fast girls.

Today the half-distance tri was held. In the rain. Respect. Twitter reports a lot of sliding on the bike. I can only imagine.  Thankfully.

Today, Odie and I slogged through 5.5 km in the rain, then I saw the message from my friend who wanted to run later than our usual start. So we went out again for a short 3 km interrupted by apple cake and bacon ginger pancakes.

Friday, 22 June 2012

22 juneathon. mountaineering

I am beginning to wrap my head around the bid to summit the Grand Teton in August. I have confidence in my physical conditioning. But geez the gear list is long.  And I need to whip my teenage son's lazy butt into shape.

today - bike ride. Resting up for tomorrow's sprint triathlon. Second in a week!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

21 juneathon

A long days night needs a party. So party we did. Singing and eating and playing musical instruments. Lucky we are. Very lucky. Having friends makes me rich.

Exercise -dog walk.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

20 Juneathon - nearly there

Today, I tried the stair stepper, thinking about the trip I just booked to summit Grand Teton in August. I will need more than 20 intense minutes to get ready.  I also lifted weight, which I really enjoy.

Juneathon has only 10 more sleeps. I can make it. Can you? Never mind that whole exploding-head thing.  Carry on.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

19 Juneathon A real day.

Running. There is nothing simpler. Today I took my lunch break and went for a 50 min run around the beautiful woods and park near my office.  I ran 500 meter intervals and managed to carry a 5 min/km pace, which pleased me. Then I sucked wind for two minutes, recovered and did it again.

Swimming. There is nothing more complicated. I went to practice tonight and had moments of glide and many more moments of sink, off balance, torqued, snorting water. I forgot my swim cap so ate hair all night.  There were two "open water" exercises in the line up tonight. A 12 min continuous swim, followed by 100 m laps, then a 10 min continuous swim. Hanging on the wall between laps covers most of my sins.  I suffered through some wicked foot cramps but kept going.  I even picked up a hair band from the bottom of the pool to tie my hair back. (gross I know).

Climbing. There is nothing more frightening.  After swimming I booked a trip in August to summit the Grand Teton for me and my older son. Quads, the gal said, you'll need quads. Got 'em.  And a wee bit of courage.

Monday, 18 June 2012

18 juneathon R E P E A T

Next Saturday I am racing again, this time in Stein.  Also a sprint distance. My miserable aptitude for following Sunday's course has made me read the course instructions and study the maps today - in advance. Go me!

Today was another visit to the PT - not as painful as last week. My foot/calf hurt before the race yesterday, but not during it.

I need to decide whether to put my aerobars back on. I like riding with them. I will need to pour over the race instructions in Dutch.  That probably counts for my Dutch homework, but I'm pretty sure all this nifty vocabulary won't be on Wednesday's exam.

Today's Juneathon was a dog walk. Plus getting my teeth cleaned and enduring the fluoride treatment. I know, it's not exactly running. But having that awful stuff in my mouth counts as an Endurance Event.

life in the hague. mind your step.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

17 juneathon - R A C E

I love suffering from Adult Onset Athletics. Today I had the pleasure of racing with the elite of Dutch triathlon at the national championships, and thank goodness they all beat me. Well, except for my teammate who dropped out during the bike [and another gal who missed a timing strip, and the several who DNS'd].   I finished last, with pride.   While I went around the course in last or near last, I didn't finish last. That's because I didn't quit.  I had the strength to keep my eye on the prize - a wonderful day - and kept moving forward.  At 48, and a relative new comer to the sport, I consistently remind myself to enjoy the day and admire the high level of competition (and beautiful bodies) (wow!).

This was a sprint triathlon. I swam 750 meters. Actually I probably swam further since I cannot swim in a straight line unless there are lines painted on the pool floor and lane dividers.  The water was very cold with no visibility. Just as well. I have been in the pool once this year, and once in my wetsuit for several minutes in the North Sea.  Shame on me.  I muscled through it.

Next, five rounds on the bike for 20 km.  I had moments of speed and moments of utter silliness. Like when I turned too soon - after the second round - towards the transition zone.  I was kindly instructed to keep going.

I need to read the race instructions more carefully. I noticed well into the race there were packs of riders drafting.  Yes, this was a draft legal race.  When I sat in with a group, I was promptly instructed by one of the jurors that you can only draft with people in the same round as you. Well, I was riding last. Too bad for me.  Having to remove my aerobars at the bike inspection should have been my first clue.  Mine are such that they resemble spears.   I coped.

Last was a cute little five km run.  After the first lap (of five) I followed the person in front of me straight to the finish line. I was a little confused to run into a pen. Looking at my watch I realised something was seriously wrong. total distance, 21 km. (I was running my watch continually from the start of the bike.)  ha ha ha. The same volunteer who helped me out of my bike mistake started laughing and told me I had just made the same mistake again. He gave me a big hug and sent me back out the course to keep going. That sucked.  I gave up about 30 seconds to a woman I could have (and almost) caught. I held a comfortable pace and I think I ran in about 32 minutes.  The results will be up later.  I managed to completely forget to turn off my watch at the finish. So the last lap includes 90 km an hour when we zipped off in the car.

Today was a simply enjoyable day.  To my further delight, I saw (and spoke to) people I know - even thought the race was 2 1/2 hours away.

Nutrition - fine. Ate a good breakfast (bacon and eggs), a ham sandwich en route, lots of water, a bottle of gatorade pre race and about half a bottle during the race. I didn't have much of an appetite, and the race was too short to be overly concerned with nutrition. Maybe some gel would have been good. But I forgot to bring it with me on the bike and elected not to take one on the run. The weather was overcast, partly sunny, kinda cool, and definitely windy. I took the time to put on my riding coat since I was cold coming out the water. But I didn't need it. Next time, be cold.

no over 45 category!
after bike


Saturday, 16 June 2012

15-16 Juneathon

I have freed myself from being held hostage by my to-do list.  Yesterday I struck off several major items as DONE. I've rested meanwhile, apart from walking the dog up the "hill" - the only one around.

And hosted guests from out-of-town. And eaten. And packed my race kit for tomorrow.

Most importantly, I cleaned my bike chain. I think to rack your bike at a triathlon, you need a clean chain. Forget about lace locks. It's looks that matter.

I don't race with the blue wheel. That's the TACX indoor trainer wheel, but I cleaned it too.  Mostly because my chain was so dirty that I contaminated the wheel.

I went food shopping today and did not buy anything orange. Not even orange sweet peppers.  And I missed out on fresh sardines by mere seconds.

Yesterday I spent wrestling with a young MacBook that has determined to fail. It's sad - it held such promise [and so much data].  The next lesson in computing for our household will be about back-ups and why they're important.  Oh, maybe I don't need to lecture on this point.

So official Juneathon streak continues. My rule is do something every day. So walks for the last couple days. Tomorrow a little sprint.

Friday, 15 June 2012

14 juneathon

Sometimes this commitment is a pain. I trained at 7 am. My foot has hurt ever since. I ran 5k after work, dragging my friend behind me. Then cleaned the house in time for guests. I need more sleep.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

13 juneathon. learning the names of calf muscles

I had one of the most painful p.t. sessions ever this morning. When it was done, I said, where's my baby? That much pain and I should have a baby when it's over.

I finally asked Barry to look at the pain I've been having in my foot next to my heel. with all the talk about Plantar F-whatever-its-spelled (fascistic?) that plagues runners, I was a little afraid, even though I consulted dr google who told me no, I didn't have the correct symptoms.

So it turns out the foot pain is related to my calf muscles (cycling, anyone???) and a long, deep muscle that goes does into my foot that has a long Latin name, peroneus longus. Barry massaged the muscles along the shin and then the sore spot on my right foot. I was unable to breathe. It felt like he was burning me with his finger tips. He said I have bumps in the muscle (the technical Dutch term, I'm sure (resulting from over use). And showed me some stretches.

I asked why is this uber-painful touching supposed to help? Increased blood circulation, he said.

I skipped my planned ride today to let my legs recover a bit more. (Barry does not tell me whether or not to train, just to come back if I do) he also made slightly perturbed noises that I have waited so many months to get a little help with this. (it comes and goes, I tried to explain). I go back on Monday for more torture, I mean treatment.

I also pulled the plug on the Oly in Berlin. It's just too much. I don't want to grind myself into the ground and be unable to ride in Limburg in September.  And I have sprint tri's the next two weekends anyway.

Today's picture. Grocery shopping by bicycle. This afternoon, two young men showed up in my house and announced they were hungry and asked what I was making for dinner. Maybe I should have gone for that late afternoon ride after all.  This picture demonstrates that I am in fact a drug pusher, since I bought my older son some Monster or some such to power him through his last couple finals.

I made French fries, known here as patat

nicely balanced on the handle bars

12 juneathon

I felt tired this morning still and skipped my training ride, with promises to do it tomorrow. But I am up past midnight writing exam questions for a class I teach. That makes it unlikely I'll ride in the morning. So much for IOU's.  However, I did train at the gym. Rowing & weights. So my Juneathon conscience is clear.

I'm enjoying photos from other 'thoners. So when I went to give my lecture today, I snapped some photos to share.
The Hague University of Applied Sciences
lovely water detail as you walk from the train station onto the campus.
while trying to get a nice photo of the swan, I managed to drop my wallet into the lovely water detail.
view from campus towards the train station, across the lovely water details.
You must look where you are going, or you will step into these water details.
this year's herring. fantastic.

Monday, 11 June 2012

11 juneathon. rest

rest. except for riding my bike and walking the dog. oh, and dodging the rain.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

10 juneathon - a real race. almost

 I raced 10 km in Rotterdam today in a "Ladies Run."  I am fairly ambivalent about events pitched at women for reasons I will try to explain in a minute. I registered for this one because it fit on my training calendar and I like to race. I want to run faster. Last year my coach said I should be trying to race a 10 k every month. He told me this well into my training season and it wasn't possible to make it happen.  This year I am focusing on shorter distances while trying not to injure myself with the increased intensity needed to learn to run faster.  Today I got a good idea of how much effort I will need to bring to beat an hour. Just a little bit more, and on the right course.

Because this event was a training effort, not an "A" race, I was a bit lackadaisical in my preparations. I admit having some difficulty figuring out what to wear.  I thought about my "girls first" pink shirt. But it doesn't breathe, and today was warm. The heat disqualified another shirt I like. I settled on the red Adidas shirt I wore the last time I ran in Rotterdam, which was for the marathon.  I picked through my running socks and found my favorites, selected the shoes and shorts - I have been losing weight and my shorts are now too big. A problem.  Then I hemmed and hawed about whether to carry a water belt. I decided instead to recycle an empty disposable Gatorade bottle, which I filled with HEED. I felt smart about that idea.

Races here often start in the afternoon, which suits me. This one started at 13:45. The problem with an afternoon start though is you have to eat all day, which leads to the WC. I made a smoothie with avocado and chia seeds for breakfast, which ensured I got all the WC business done before leaving the house. (I hardly talk about these things except amongst runners and triathletes, because this is the business of sport after all - not stopping after you start).

I took the train to Rotterdam. America, by the way, you're sunk. Railways and metros and trams are essential to civilization.    It is so wonderful to be able to walk out of my house, over to the bus/tram stop and get into a clean and quiet mode of public transportation and arrive at my destination (without the need to park a car). Besides, you get to look out the window instead of having to pay attention to the bumper in front of you.

And even better is grabbing a delicious sandwich at the station and enjoying it while looking out the window.

A Starbucks recently opened at the Central Station in The Hague. At first, I enjoyed the novelty but not the price. So I went back to the "bread sack" or whatever it's called. Local and tasty. And they even sliced up an egg for me to put on the smoked salmon.

Rotterdam is busy remodeling its Central Station - I had never ridden the metro. This is a view of the underground. Walking down from daylight into the artificial lighting was a bit surreal. The lighting was intense and quite even and thus felt unnatural.  But the design is cool.
You may be asking yourself, isn't this a running blog? Why am I in the basement of the Rotterdam station. Well, part of the fun of racing to me is doing new things and traveling.  I've raced in five countries!

The other advantage to traveling to a race by train is that you don't really need to know where you're going.   At some point the coach fills up with people wearing running shoes (*trainers for my UK readers). You just need to follow them to the start. It's quite exciting to see the athletes gathering.

The first women I saw who were dressed to run were also wearing make up. It is quite often that I feel like I got only half the necessary girl genes.  I do not wear make up when I race. I have stopped trying to have nice hair for photos, in favor of pouring cold water on my head to cool down.  I dressed in a cool t-shirt discarded by my teenaged son, and warm-ups.  And of course, I used my 70.3 backpack. And wrote on my hand with a pen a reminder for when the race got spicy.
I wanted to finish in under an hour. I should have written 59 on my hand. Instead I wrote PR. Which I did, at 1:02:52. Proving when you ask the heavens for something you need to be specific.
I am really quite pleased with this because I used to finish in the way back. And my first 10k in 2009 was something like 87 minutes or something. (Now I have to go look it up).

My trainer suggested going out fast and banking time against feeling tired at the end. The target pace of 5:33 min/km turned out to be a little too aggressive for me to hold in the heat on a congested course. Turns out this was a cruddy choice for trying to break under an hour. And this leads me to why I don't favor "ladies races."

Well, first what I liked about it. They ran a 5k just before the 10k. And there were lots and lots and lots of very proud women finishers. Crowds of supporters turned out and lined the course - lots of children and parents and partners. I was impressed by the influence of women in the community - demonstrated by the love and cheers offered by the spectators.  Many people held bouquets of flowers or banners.  I think maybe a "ladies race" attracts  more first time racers, women who couldn't envision themselves running even five km. This is good, and I support this.

The race also attracted several runners wearing hijabs styled for running - close-fitting black scarves, long sleeved shirts and long tights. Respect to them. Going outside their social comfort zone no doubt, and withstanding the heat.

What I didn't like was pitching the event as a shopping experience with a bonus run.  High-heeled trainers? ACK!  sparkly running kits? ACK! Maybe this is just the side effect of getting short-changed on the girl genes, mentioned above. Or maybe it is the consequence of having worn too much blue eye shadow when I was a teenager.  And I like calling women women, not ladies, which seems too delicate for the strong capable sea of humanity that poured out and around the course.

Here's the real problem. In contrast to the course I ran last month (also a women's event), this one sucked. There, I said it.  It was as if the organisers didn't take us seriously as runners. First, there was no division of starters by projected finish. Arranging people so the faster people start first reduces course congestion and allows [faster] people [like me!!] to find their pace.  This was one big group start, and I was stuck in among people running a full minute slower than my target pace. That meant I had to weave and cut and run on the shoulders.  And this course was very narrow, with a lot of turns and fences and posts that created pinch points. So when I wanted to pick up the pace, I couldn't. Wahh!

I also thought it was unnecessary (for me anyway) to have drink posts every 1.5 km. Maybe they were farther apart, but in fact, there were two and the course was two rounds. So the course stayed congested as all these gals pulled over to get a cup of sports drink. [No doubt consuming more calories on the course than burnt]. I saw one woman who was ready for a three-day hike, judging from the number of items in her sport belt. She had drink, crackers, gel, etc.  I ran like that when I first started. Then I learned I wasn't going to starve to death or perish from thirst on the course. Maybe I just got into better shape.

Okay, whining over.  oh, not yet. I forgot about the goody bag.  Here it is. What women need:
I really preferred the  Marikenloop I did last month. No bling. No swag. All fundraising to educate and care for girls in need. The decor was still pink. But I'm okay with that.