Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Marathon Training in My Mind: My 25Ks & Entering the 30Ks Zone

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” 

I LOVE the quote above from Nelson Mandela.  It summarizes beautifully, how I am currently feeling about my marathon training, and my passion for marathons in general.


45 days to go to Rotterdam Marathon 2015 (hashtag: #MR15 in social media)!

I am still - as always! -  catching up on recording running stories and training recaps  for #MR15.

This fact does not take away the happiness I feel, since I've been documenting my training better compared to my 3 previous marathons.  It can only get better from here on. :)

Monday, 23rd February
25 kilometers

Make It (KM) Count!

Last Monday, I recorded another 25 km run.  It was supposed to be 30 km but the battery of my sportswatch was empty, and went off by kilometer 25.

SO, I'll count it together with my 2 other previous 25Ks.

This coming Saturday, I'll run again the 30 km distance to officially document it on my Nike+ stats.  It is more for my mental prep to be honest.

Before I continue in the 30+ km zone, I wanted to write a blog that will save my 25Ks collages.  I would like to run the distances of 32, 35 kilometers before I taper.

Below is my tentative plan of how the next week's Saturday/Sunday training will look like (posted on the 25th of February/UPDATE - 16th of March):

Saturday, 28th of February: 28-*30*-32 km  I ran an 11.15 km run because I was not feeling so well to train for a long distance run.

Sunday, 8th of March: Half-Marathon, CPC Loop Den Haag 2015 (my first race in 2015) ✔ DONE! (blog link to follow - short version: I basically did not do anything the week leading to Sunday's race because I was still feeling poorly. On the day itself I was not sure if I was going to reach the finish line. But I treated the race as a slow long distance run, and was 15 minutes faster than I thought I would be.  With a total of 10-12 minutes loo/drink breaks: I finished with 2:44:40 net time.)

Sunday, 15th of March: 15-21-30 km - took yet another one week break

Sunday, 22nd of March: 32-35*35*-42 km (*-* - I will share about the details of this plan later…) THIS WEEK, I will finally decide if I will pursue this marathon further on, or cancel and run another one a month later.

Sunday, 29th of March: 25 km
Sunday, 5th of April: 21 km
Sunday, 12th of April: THE #MR15 Day! :)

An image I posted on my @HappyFeetNL Instagram account
on the 9th of December, 2014
officially announcing my
Rotterdam Marathon goal

So far in preparation for #MR15, I've ran:

November, 2014 - 125 km (My official first month of training)
December, 2015 - 61.8 km ( :( Deep dive  in the km due to flu virus!)
January, 2015 - 100 km (Relapse from flu virus prevented me from reaching 150 km but I forged on!)
February, 2015 - currently 90.3 km (Flu virus persist! Target was 150-200 km but I am happy with February; I feel confident that I will make it to 100 before the month ends! I am still "secretly" wishing that I will finally reach 150 km in February, though…)

#MR15 - 377.1 km - current kilometer stand 25th of February

(UPDATE, 16th of March: here)

Sunday, 1st of February
25 kilometers

Sunday, 25th of January
25 kilometers

Each collage  above represent each 25 K run of the last weeks.  I put the corresponding date to each collage, and hopefully, when I find the time & have the peace, I'll edit this blog to include the link (on the dates) to the  corresponding blogs about each run.

Marathon (Training) Magic . . .

As always, when I write updates, I like to list things about why I love marathon training; the preparation for Rotterdam Marathon helps me remember and keep them in mind:

  • The beauty of life outdoors.  Looking at the pictures I was privilege to capture during my runs has been giving me  fulfillment as much as the run themselves.

  • The joy over the friendships formed through the mutual goals & passion: Rotterdam Marathon/Spring Marathon/longdistance running/staying fit/healthy lifestyle! 

December, 2014
Bruggenloop Rotterdam

November, 2014
Zevenheuvelenloop, Nijmegen

September, 2014
Dam tot Damloop, Amsterdam

  • The people you meet! Getting to know more inspiring & motivating people on the road to the goal you set for yourself .  The pursuit of the dreams and goals becomes a shared experience with like-minded souls.

The Mermaid Club
Watch out for my blog about how it is to be TMC Ambassador
and be amongst many inspiring women all over the world!

Janine & Mark from Belfast
More about them and their inspiring stories, next time!
(click on the link to check out Janine's new blogsite!)


I'll share more on motivating IGers, next time!

  • The lessons learned! Revisiting* wisdom already learned and gaining new ones (blogalore* after a long dry spell !) contributes to the exciting road, which leads to the marathon finish line.

My (other!) blogs about life behind running:

My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands
The Lightness of Being on The Bike

  • The never-ending transformation.  Happy Feet=Happy Mind.  
Let's Goooo!
21st of February
at km 5 of a
15 kilometers  run
#MyShadowandI :D

Once again, I wish everyone continued success in their preparation for various Spring marathon!

Please do leave a comment below to tell me how things are, or that I can check your blogs and offer support, on your way to fulfilling your goal what ever they may be. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

10 Things on Thursdays: 1st Edition

“Leisure is only possible when we are at one with ourselves. We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence.” 

A Summary of Running January 2015 

An Introduction

If you are following my FB pages - Paper In Europe (where, I share how I creatively journal online, our simple life throughout the different seasons) &  

Happy Feet in the Netherlands (where, I share how I run in the Netherlands, other cities in Europe, and pursue a healthy lifestyle to live a better life in spite of my issues with bipolar disorder)

 - you will notice that there are more activities, than there has ever been  compared to the past years.

The reason for this, I feel, is having found balance and contentment, after a series of life crisis, which did not seem to let up.

I am happier and feeling lighter in my being because I've let go of a lot of things holding me back; the running lifestyle has truly helped me let go of a lot of those things, that were not really contributing to my growth.

The fact that I could also now  talk about my mental health issues more and more - openly and with confidence, I had not felt a decade ago contributes to my new found openness.

from my 365 Self-Portrait project in 2011
originally posted in
My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands

Two years after we moved to our new house, we are finally getting a structure  we all needed.

There is a positive flow that is inspiring me to blog more; my new found perspective of life makes the creative process more natural, and blogging is not another chore to do on top of so many daily chores!

This is not our house of course :D
but a Nature park near our home, where we like to have picnics.
When I think of the concept of home, I think of the simplicity of the bird's lives...
originally posted in
My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands


This post is something I would like to do every Thursday (or when life is busy every fortnight)! For fun.  Fun lists! :D

Inspired by my interactions with friends I met via Instagram ( the interactions happens more behind the scene of Instagram), I thought I can give "tips" in a humorous way.

I almost never actually ever give any "running advice" here on my blog.  I feel after 3 years, I still have a lot to learn myself, and I am still committing a lot of mistakes to be an authority in running.

In the spirt of fun,  though I would like to share some of the  "running wisdom", which I have gained in the last 3 years. :)

It is a "learn-from-my-mistake", "I wish I did that from the very beginning" and "I'm glad I learned this early on!"  kind of list.

It is in the descending order (based on it's importance & meaning to me :) ) …

All In the (and for the FUN of the) Race 

10.  Runner's have layers, and LESS of those layers is MORE focus on the race!

You can take this metaphorically or literally. For this list, I mean it literally!

Lesson learned in my first ever (trail) race - a 5K Pink Ribbon Run organized by Mom in Balance, August, 2011 in the Amsterdamse Bos.

image courtesy of
Mom in BalanceFB page
I am the one in the yellow rain jacket.
image courtesy of
Mom in BalanceFB page

My first race was a run in the rain was through the woods!  I can reveal now, that I did not realise this until the day itself.  hahaha

During warm-up, I felt very hot with my gear, and should have then and there left my rain, and running jacket to my husband, and ran with only my  short sleeves shirt on.

In my defense, I was inexperienced,  still insecure.  So, I went to the start still quiet indecisive! As you can see on the image above (yellow rain jacket half worn, half off me hahaha).

I'm glad that I learned this lesson, quiet early on (after 3 weeks of running, and in my first race…).

Even now, I am reminded each time I start a run, that it makes a huge difference  if you are not distracted (by things, thoughts etc), and do not have unnecessary "load" to carry with you - it makes the running experience much better.  

9. Smile, smile, smile on the way to the finish line…

…even if you are exhausted, at the back of the pack, (almost) last…and you do not know what the speaker is saying (since you are too tired to listen properly!)….SMILE!

When you look back at the finish line pictures of you smiling, you will be filled with good memories.

Lesson learned in my first 4M Run2Day Ladies Damloop, September, 2012

I would also say from experience, the photographers love a smiling runner; you'll end up with more shots to choose from.  Even if you perhaps - like me - take screen shots of those pictures and "almost never" order copies.

8.   Don't forget the lipstick/balm . . .

or your SMILE will be dry. Literally. :D

People beside you will definitely "outshine" you with their smile, if you are not prepared! Well, you won't mind, in the long run, I know! Nevertheless, it is great when you look good together or in a group to not distract you from enjoying a remembrance from an otherwise great event.

I love this picture below because I met awesome Dutch, and international runners.  The runner in costume, I learned later on is a 2 and 1/2 hour marathon runner (hope I remember that right!). If he can look pretty, I can make an effort to look decent, too. Lip balm/stick makes a whole lot of difference. hahaha

Lesson learned from my first (6 km) Good Morning City Run, October, 2011.

This is a run offered by the Tourist Run Amsterdam, a day before the Amsterdam Marathon.

7.  Part your legsWIDE! Lift it higher! Strike a Pose (if you are so inclined!)!

It is all in the stride, and striking a pose...

Lesson learned in my first 8K during the Amsterdam Marathon, October 2011

This was the first "major" race I ran.

It was my childhood dream and running goal  to experience running to the finish line in the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium.

The whole experience was very memorable, that my husband bought a CD of the race photos for me.

The pictures of my finish in the Olympic Stadium, showed me my stride, and how it differs from those experienced runners.  You have to train consistently, or you won't be strong enough to lift your legs higher, and acquire an efficient running form.

Great race photos as a result of all the hard work makes the effort worthwhile. :)

Before and after the race, you take photos for posterity, too.  Well, at least most of the runners (bloggers!), I know have this as their ritual.

I learned early on to not just stand straight but to part my legs to show a bit of "shape".

It is NOT that important.

But if you are like me, who looks at archived pictures of the past to get motivated in the present, you better strike a pose by parting your legs a bit to give your leg shape and definition… :D


NOT PARTED….see the difference? :D

A short look back to how I began lifting my leg higher and higher, recorded on finish line pictures:

Eventually,  you'll be more creative and discover your perfect leg pose! I am still searching for mine…believe it or not! :D

6.  START a Journal and/or blog your running story from the VERY beginning!

This is a lesson categorized under, "I wish I did this more diligently!"

I created Happy Feet in the Netherlands the blog, January 2012.  5 months after I began with running.  At the beginning I stored my initial running stories @ My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands.

When I look back at my blogs, a part of me wished, I wrote more.

Currently my most used mantra is: until I can do better, I'll do what I can.

I should have ohmmmed this mantra in 2011!

This is what I learned, and keep trying to remind myself:

Don't be afraid to make mistakes; don't be afraid to perhaps appear silly; do not over-think the process of blogging - thinking you might be "too open" in the world wide web, when you write as beginner runner.

You'll be SO HAPPY, when you look back, read and reminisce because there would be a stark contrast, and so much change, even only after a year of pursuing a running lifestyle.  There will be positive changes, and looking how it has evolved will always motivate you to keep moving forward.

What you write now will remain a motivation for the future.

I have no regrets, that I did not listen most of the time to my instincts of not over-thinking the process.  I learned my lessons, and I am catching up now. :)  I still over-think but I do the things I feel I have to do anyway, even if it seems at first glance "self-indulgent"…writing how I feel, what I have experienced.  Hindsight is always a good friend in many situations, and I keep that in mind.

I hope with this tip, I can save you the "I wish I did it from the beginning" headache.

5. Networking widens the running horizons!

If you are a runner, even if you will mostly run solo at the beginning, eventually you would want to run with other people to keep you motivated, or have a network to share experiences, and learn more about running and get to know more events.

It would be handy to keep a blog with a memorable name, so you could give it to people you meet in the events.  For me blogs are almost like a modern "calling card".

During an event you meet so many people, interesting, inspiring, some are very social, and others shy.

But events can also be hectic, and having a blog can help people you meet recall who you are, and contact you again.

Running beside a nice lady I had a chat with at the starting line...
Oh… I was reminded here of the  Lesson No. 10 of this list! :D

Vondelpark Run 2012
At the AMSTERDAM Running Junkies HQ
February, 2012

Wan Man & Anoek
I "met" them on Twitter, initially
Here we are
at the very first Nike Run Club RunSeptember, 2012
They were and remain the most active Nikeplus users, I know!

4.  Don't get mad, get creative!

Lesson learned in Running Year 2013

ALL runners go through challenges, obstacles, frustrations, and disappointments.

One of the worst scenario, which happened to me after a productive year (2011-2012), was getting injured in 2013, my private life screamed for attention at the same time, that I had to let go of goals I set for that year, and completely change plans laid out.

Life does NOT end,when you can't run (for a certain - even, unknown! - period).

Even those, who sadly lose their legs, or are born without - they FIND A WAY! They move on or occupy themselves with something productive.  The runners, who are more determined, they find a way to run again in spite of the odds and disabilities.

So please, READ & PRACTICE No. 4 on this list, when you are going through tough times.

I took a lot of photos during biking rides, when I was recovering from my Morton Neuroma
and blogged about it
@ The Lightness of Being on the Bike

…I ran barefoot to keep sane...
…when I finally got new insoles, I waited until the pain was gone...

…while I waited, I blog about other runners!

3.  BE YOUR OWN motivation!

Lesson learned in Running Year 2013

I created a lot of motivational posters of myself for myself while I was going through the recovery period of my injury.

I could run. But I could not push harder.  I needed to learn again what it was all about: why I begun running; what made me dream of running; why I wanted to continue, and what will motivate me to move on...

It too A YEAR to accept, who I truly was as a runner.  

The ironic thing is, the runner I had to accept was the runner that brought me at the start of my first race in the first place!

Celebrating my new pair of shoes, my insoles in them and running pain free once again!

2.  Occasionally… let your hair down!

Not to be taken literally - well yeah, sometimes you should … :)

But what I mean is the lesson I learned in Running Year 2013 & Running 2014:

DON'T BE AFRAID to get out of your comfort zone, and face the races you fear, or do something you think will make you stand out.

Races are serious stuff for many runners but races are also an opportunity to celebrate this passion you share with other runners. 

So from time to time go to a race not with a PR in mind but just to enjoy the experience, the atmosphere and the wonderful fact that you can do what others only dream of or what others still aspire to do.


Lesson I learned from a runner I admire, who has accomplished so many things, been to places others dream of,  and is completely grounded & remained humble after all these experiences.

Running has always been used as a metaphor for life.  As with life, if we take running TOO seriously, we missed or forget the fun parts, or forget why or what made us dream of it and what or why we began in the first place.

These finish line pictures of my 3rd consecutive year of running Marikenloop (May, 2014) has a funny anecdote.  :) When I look at it, I laugh because I no longer think of my "inability" to run a 10K in an hour (after 3 years or funning) but this picture tells the story, that I was in Nijmegen with my family, and that it was a great run!

You can read about the funny anecdote behind the picture on the next edition of #10ThingsThursday!

Hope you had fun reading, as I had making this list, and recalling lessons I've learned!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Paris Marathon 2013: Marathon Memories & Motivation

Wayback Wednesday Marathon Motivation

After my comeback run to training, last Sunday, I thought I will repost this "I-finished-the- ‪#ParisMarathon‬ " collage I created 2 years ago  today, and write a blog to remind myself:

1.  ... to continue believing in the completion of the Rotterdam Marathon goal. 

2. ... that there are beautiful rewards for having a never give up‬ spirit!

2 Years Ago, in February. . .

In February, 2013, I already knew,  that if I did make it to Paris in spite of all the struggles, it will be a more (physically) "painful" experience, than when I ran Berlin & Amsterdam marathons.

My mind was devoid of motivation in February 2013, and focus was far, far, far away (think of Shrek's voice full of frustration, telling Donkey, who asked for the umpteenth time if they are near the kingdom, yet!).

Egmond was my first ever half-marathon I ran in 2013,
which I ran after  my first back to back (Berlin/Amsterdam) marathons in 2012.
I was happy to make it to the finish line because I almost did not make it to the start.
This was two weeks after we lost our home.
Meeting the GL2R girls for the first time in February, 2013 a year after I discovered their blog,
helped kept me motivated to keep training for Paris.

My first DNF and what was supposed to be my 2nd half-marathon ever, in Holland (I ran a total of 6 HM in 2013).
Groet uit Schoorl was beautiful but then I felt my head was not completely focused.
I was late for the start, was allowed to run anyway but got lost
 since by kilometer 5, there was no one to show me where to go from there.

Home in Holland

We lost our home in the wee hours of the morning on the 31st of December, 2012 because the neighbor living above us went amok and set his house on fire.

Photo courtesy of R-TV Nord-Holland 

We were displaced for 3 months (grateful we had somewhere to go to!), and when we finally moved to our new home (grateful we were facilitated with a house in a great neighborhood near our old home!), we were mentally and physically exhausted from going through all the experience.

Running kept me sane, and going then.  At the same time though,  running, specifically trying to keep up with the training schedule  became a chore.  Running was not an activity to completely release the stress but just another task like the mountain  of things we have to accomplish.  The list of things to do was long, when we moved in the house, we were not mentally & financially prepared to renovate.

May, 2013 - as you can see the house was still not finished

There were many things happening all at once and no time to process it in peace because you had children to take care of, and help as well through the process of yet another change in their lives (we moved in Holland 3 years prior in a not very easy transition).  Daily life, obligations do not stop because you are overwhelmed.


"The Finishline" in Paris

I did make it to the finish line.

Welcome (To Our) Home! - a blog I wrote in May, 2013 - 3 weeks or so after the marathon
 to keep me focused on what matters most and to keep me energized for the many unfinished tasks ahead.

The first challenge was to go to Paris.

We needed a new car to bring us to Paris; we did not expect to lose our home and there was actually no extra money for a new car at this point.

My husband left his job of 13+ years in January, and officially begun a new challenging job in February.  It  was not until 2 weeks before Paris, that we were able to deal with the task of getting a new car.  We got help from so many people, and for me, it was a sign that we should go.

The original plan was enjoy Paris, have a 21 km jog and join my husband to eat a lovely lunch afterwards.

At this point (between 22-25 km??) I could have stepped out.
P walked, jogged, ran with me for at least 5 km from here.

I fooled myself more than I did my best friend and "marathon manager".

He knew once I stepped at the start, I won't be able to stop until I saw the finish line, even if at the end I had painfully walked the last 5 kilometers.

Considering I ran a "mere" 311.6 km (from November 2012-March 2013),  and no kilometers at all 27 days before the day of the marathon (except a shake-me-out-of-this-sabotaging-myself-5K run, on the 28th of March).   I was surprised that I did not take longer than the 6:50 to reach the finish line.

I was proud I finished. I was proud that I kept going through the Winter of 2012-13.  Not right away, of course.  First I was embarrassed, then I was relieved, euphoria came after we reached the hotel, and as days went by, came pride.

My marathon motivation for Paris was ‪#‎KEEPMOVING‬: go outdoors, and stay active, no matter how much was weighing me down.

My most unforgettable reward in the end was the experience of seeing my husband live in action around Paris, making sure I was okay, supporting me passionately in reaching my goal, buying a little Eiffel tower to surprise me with a trophy (since we both thought after 5:30, there would no longer be a medal or a finish line awaiting me!).

Ganesh, on the right of this picture, one of the many runners I met a long the course of Paris,
accompanied me the last 5 km.

I was happily holding my "Piet & I were in Paris trophy"

Ganesh and I over-joyed we got finisher's T-shirt AND medals!

I may not be on the official finisher's list but Paris felt my presence in the Spring of 2013 thanks to my Pieter.

February, 2 years later. . .

I still feel pride over what I have accomplished in Paris.  But more proud of what I accomplished in the months leading to Paris, and the day we had to go to Paris.  

I would not be here now writing a story of "never giving up", if I did not go.

I would also not have been seen Faith in person (spontaneously, serendipitously magical like in the movies!), a friend whom I met online, more than half a year before Paris Marathon 2013.  

She  gave away her Amsterdam Marathon 2012 starting number,  as a gift to me, when I was then a complete stranger to her.  Our story deserves another separate blog.

There are still countless of beautiful stories that came out of Paris Marathon 2013.  A story that will stay with me, and motivate me to keep moving.