Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Introducing HFNL A to Z Challenge 2015

Welcome A to Z Challenge 2015, bloggers!

image courtesy of
 A to Z Challenge 2015

In this year's challenge, I am participating with not one but two of my blogs.

You could read about my motivation for participating in this blog challenge, on the blogpost published @ My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands (from here on I will refer to the blog MDMNL since I will be mentioning it a lot in the future blogposts!) - Spring & "Our" Fledgeling (2015).

Briefly, the reasons I am in the challenge:

  • I had an a great time the first time I participated because I met a lot of new bloggers!
  • It is a fun way to share old blogposts that got stuck in the archive
  • A lovely opportunity to share new stories
  • The month long blogging buzz is always great creative energy, that can sustain you the whole year around.

Here at Happy Feet in the Netherlands (HFNL), I'll be writing about the places (which is not only limited to city, towns or villages but may also include restaurants, stores places we go for hikes, where we sail etc.) from the perspective of a runner.  

The blogs @ My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands on the other hand will be from a perspective of an expat, mom, traveler, writer, who seeks to simplify life.

What is your blogging theme for this month's challenge?

I am looking forward to reading blogs, and meeting new people!

Have a great A to Z month, fellow bloggers!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Marathon Training Mental Prep & Last Long Distance Run

Rereading my Zandvoort Circuit Run 2012 is a great mental prep for my last Rotterdam Marathon #MR15 long distance training run.  

My  Zandvoort Circuit Run
Left - 2012
Right - 2014

Reposted this picture on my

Instagram account

to cheer fellow runners.

Rejoicing for others keep your running goals alive, I've learned.

13 days to go to Marathon Rotterdam, 

and here are #MyRoad2Rotterdam facts:

1. From November (my official start of training) until March (not counting the mileage of today and tomorrow), I've ran a total of 439.01 km. 

Not much compared to an average runner preparing for their marathon. 

Compared to my *own* stats and preparation for my previous marathons (Berlin, Amsterdam & Marathon de Paris) though, this has been my highest training mileage.

My last run (11 km) in November in Scheveningen,
completing a 125 km in a month,
made me completely commit to the idea of running
Rotterdam Marathon

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

2. In January, I ran my first long distance training run of 25 km. 

This has been the longest distance I've run, since my injury in July-August 2013 (completely recovered end of 2014).

No Morton Neuroma (foot nerve injury) pain!

Sunday, 25th of January

25 kilometers

In February, I ran 2, 25 km officially, one is actually 29 km but it did not record because the battery of my sport watch was empty by kilometer 25.

Sunday, 1st of February
25 kilometers
Monday, 23rd February
25 kilometers
(29 but only 25 kilometers got recorded
with the sportswatch due to empty battery)

In March, I ran my first race for this year, a half-marathon in the Hague.  

It was my test run to gauge the status of my condition, as well as consider the eventuality of choosing another marathon, should my training not be enough to finish within the time limit in Rotterdam.

CPC Run 2015

Sunday, 8th of March

Half-marathon race

Middle of March, I wanted to run 32-35 km as a final long distance training so I can confidently go to the start on the 12th of April. Alas until today, I have not managed it yet.

3. From December to March, I have been sick almost every month. 

It is a persistent respiratory infection. 

This is  why I had to rest a week to a couple of weeks and go back to training again; a re-occurring cycle of the past 3 months.

posted on Instagram

5th of January

posted on Instagram

17th of December, 2014

My marathon goals has always been to get myself regularly outdoors, for Rotterdam marathon run at least 100-150 km/month, and finish still running to the finish line.

So far I have managed the first two goals, and in two weeks, I'll see if I will accomplish the third.

Monday, 23rd February

during my
25 kilometers 

training run

4. With my minimal(istic) training, my body has been prepared to continuously run/move from 4-6 hours in a slow consistent pace.

My previous marathon experiences assures me now, that I will be mentally strong enough to finish the distance.

If I manage a strong run for my last long distance training, today or tomorrow (either 35/15 km or 15/35;  will also try 18/32 or 32/18 km )  I will have the assurance that I will be physically able to run the whole distance as well.

But perhaps not within the prescribed finish time of 5:30.

5. I'll be starting on the 12th of April, depending on my run today and tomorrow. 

If I finish strong, and taper well in the next 12 days, you'll find me at the start! 

If during the event itself, I feel that I won't finish on time, I'll be stepping out @ kilometer 35, and see the day as a long distance training for a marathon I will run in May or June.

Currently looking for a bib
for the ING Luxembourg Night Marathon!

6. This marathon training has given me a lot  - the opportunity to learn new important lessons, and apply the old lessons in running I have learned in the past 3 years.

My friendship with long time friends (non-runners as well!), as well as with new friends have also deepened because of this marathon adventure.

7. I am happy I took the first step towards Rotterdam Marathon.

Once again, I wish everyone all the best in the last couple of weeks of training/tapering! Don't forget to pat yourself on the back for all the hard work of the last months!

All my previous blogs related to Marathon Rotterdam Training :

Dealing with Unfinished (Running) Business, and Recycling Goals

March Onwards to #MR15
Marathon Training in My Mind: My 25Ks & Entering the 30Ks Zone
Easy Sunday Come Back Run
The Road to Rotterdam 2015: Update!
Monday Marathon Training Recap: #MR15Reloaded
#HFNLRunDiary2015: Friday Night Run

        Tuesday, March 24, 2015

        Simplifying & New HappyFeetNL Beginnings in Spring

        EDIT 09.04.15: Due to many personal reasons (many things going on!), I won't be able to update on the yoga and meditation challenge. I'll be doing them because I need it for my balance and strength but will not do so in a challenge setting.  I'll update you with my progress in the future.  For now, as the title say, "I'll be simplifying!"  There is time enough in the future to record it here for you to be a part of the process, too. :) xo

        Yesterday, after writing the blog update on how I am dealing with the huge probability of giving up on running Rotterdam Marathon, I felt how my mental disposition changed positively.

        There are 5 simple goals  I feel happy to have accomplished since 2015 began; the training for Rotterdam Marathon, which started for me at the last quarter of 2014,  played a key role in fulfilling them:
        1. Blogged more.
        2. Ran more.
        3. Gained more courage to interact and create awareness on social media about mental health disorder.
        4. Wrote more often and open about how it is to be a runner with bipolar disorder.
        5. Took small simple but necessary steps to regain a more structured life.

        All these accomplished goals have become clearer to me because of the marathon updates I have written.  Every little step, every little activity was a part of what I hope will be a huge improvement at the end of the year.

        Sometimes it takes the "deterioration" of one's health to make one reevaluate where one stands in life, and whether the path is still where you are suppose to be to reach where you would like to be.   

        Sometimes it takes a road block to make one turn around,  and acknowledge how far one has come, and to recognize that a detour does not mean one has to go back where one has started but it only means one has to take a new direction to reach one's destination.

        Today, I signed up @ DoYouYoga, that I can go back to practicing yoga, and begin with meditation in a more structured manner. 

        When I got stuck while training for Berlin marathon, I joined the gym.  My first intention was to simply inject strength exercises in my training.  This is when and where I discovered I enjoy yoga classes, and many other fitness activities.

        I am having a hard time going back to the gym, so this is my baby step to get back to the positive flow - follow online classes.

        If you are a member of the site, please send me a follow request, that we could support and encourage each other along the way.


        I began spontaneously this morning with the meditation course, and felt great.  10 minutes was all I needed, and I felt I have accomplished a good step towards the right path.

        What are you doing to simplify keeping fit this Spring? How do you create new beginnings after encountering set backs?

        I wish you joy as you continue your own pursuit to a healthier lifestyle, and more to your efforts of creating a stronger you.

        Love the positive spirit that DoYouYoga spread: reboot, revive, rejoice!

        A great Spring motto, don't you think? :)

        Monday, March 23, 2015

        Dealing with Unfinished (Running) Business, and Recycling Goals

        Recently, I read an article from Runner's World about How to Break A Running Plateau.  Reading that article inspired me to write this post and is helping me regain focus on which direction I will be steering my Running Calendar 2015.  It is something I have done often in the past, and I feel, I should continue to do - create :

        " . . . multiple goals of varying degrees of achievability. That way, if you miss your most ambitious goal, you have other more feasible ones still within reach. . ."

        RW columnist 
        Jayme Moye

        2013's goal:

        Run 3 marathons. 

        Due to us losing our home from water damage because of a fire that broke out above our flat,
        and later in the year a foot nerve injury,

        I ran 6 half-marathons instead. 

        2014's goal:
        Run my fastest 10K. 

        Due to mental struggles with the recurring foot nerve pain,

        I  ran (at least) 14 10K's instead.  

        2011's goal:


        2014's goal:


        The Road to Rotterdam 2015

        The struggle with training for Rotterdam Marathon has beaten up my running motivation many times; the past months I have been confronted with all time low running moments.

        The process of going back again and again to training with low morale has been harder than dealing with the reoccurring flu.

        It has been hard to rest, and take a break even if I know I should (and must!) because of all the thoughts of the future (running goals), and memories of the past (unfinished and unattained goals).

        I write this blog to banish all these unnecessary torturing thoughts, which takes away the energy I need to go back again to simple running.

        Pick myself up and dust myself off of ALL insecurities is something I should do.

        I document the good thoughts and lessons learned because this gives me energy and remind me why I began, and why running is my lifestyle even if I am on a running break.

        Moving forward one simple small step at a time instead of letting myself be frozen (again!) in limbo of over-thinking, remains a kick in reaction I still am working on to kick in faster!

        Marathon Training Through The Years…

        Last week, I was suppose to go back to training  but the virus I struggle with remains to haunt me.

        This week is ultimately the last chance to make a decision whether I will still go to the start  of Rotterdam Marathon  or look for another marathon, which will start a month later.

        The last  and perhaps the most reasonable alternative, at this point: abandon the Spring/Summer marathon goal (at least this year) and focus on complete recovery, and prepare properly for Amsterdam Marathon, which will be in Autumn.

        It is hard to let go.  The memory of unfinished business with Paris* stands in my way of completely letting go.

        (Spring marathon 2013* - I finished and got the finisher's medal but since I was over the time limit, I am not on the official list of marathon finisher.  Paris was my 2nd attempt at running a marathon in Spring.  Rome was the first attempt, which did not even completely take off.)

        This marathon experience still continues to nag me, and I am afraid I won't be able to silence this nagging if I "give up" on Rotterdam or simply not run a marathon in Spring, when I know I can finish it like I did the Autumn marathons.

        I am not aiming for an impressive time; the goal is to finish within the time limit.

        As early as December, I knew I could not aim for a faster time than the time limit.

        The time limit for each checkpoint.
        Source: Marathon Rotterdam Race regulations

        As little as the training volume has been the last 3 months (compared to other marathon beginners!), it is considerably more  than what I did in preparation for Paris.  It is also more structured than how I prepared for Berlin and Amsterdam.  Admittedly, my training do lack the passion I had when I was preparing in 2012.

        On the other hand, I would like to stop this pattern of "stretching my body to it's utmost limit" in order to "silence my mind".  I would like to run for the pure joy of it and not only to escape my own mental demons.

        It is something I am weighing in my decision making.

        The blogposts here, and my Nikeplus stats shows me clearly, how much effort I have been exerting in the past 3 years, and how much I have improved.

        It is not to be compared to my contemporaries but my running is not about them, as their running is not about me.

        Goal was to finish within time limit! ✔ 
        Goal was to finish faster than in Berlin! 
        Goals was to run until the half-marathon point
        due to lack of proper training to run the entire distance.

        As I reached kilometer 21, I felt the urge to go until 30…
        and at kilometer 35 the goal became to reach the finish line
        irregardless of the fact that I won't reach it  within time limit.

        Not my best nor wisest decision but  I did it. Goal accomplished

         (I have the medal to prove it to myself :D ). ✔ 

        Lessons of Rotterdam Marathon Training

        Training for Rotterdam has taught me many lessons.  New, as well as revisiting old lessons learned:

        1. There is no rush in "life running".

        Since I began running, half a year before my 40th birthday,  I have been rushing from one event to another and creating one goal to top the other to catch up on what I think I have missed out - 20 years worth of not being a runner!

        At the beginning it was a great energy to have because it makes you leave all your unnecessary fears behind.  This spirit gave me a very productive and joyful 2012.

        As time went by, this attitude started erasing the joy running brings.

        In 2013, and 2014, I went  through the motions of how I felt I should continue instead of  immersing myself completely in the fun of the running experiences.

        I recognize now, how because of this, I lost the excitement in my spirit, which I had as beginner runner in 2011.

        This brought me to the thoughts  I would like to  affirm and keep in mind in 2015, and in the years ahead:

        There is no need to rush.  Nothing has been missed.  Nothing will be missed.

        What is most important  now is acknowledging the fact: "I am a runner!".  

        2. Missing a running event is not the end of the world.

        After three years of belonging to the running community, I know, that I am not alone with struggling with the fact that sometimes you cannot or simply unable to run a specific event, you set your heart out to do.

        Injuries, personal circumstances, even natural calamities are just some of the reasons why one cannot run a specific race.

        It is hard to process it the first, second even the third time it happens.

        As with everything else in life, as the years pass and many experiences are accumulated, it becomes easier to let go.  Supporting those who go through the same experience you go through or gone through also helps the process of letting go.

        19 days to go!
        I would like to go back to this blog in the future
        and would like to reread what my thoughts are in the past
        during a challenging marathon training.

        3. Race your pace; focus on your progress.

        I think the worst thought I tortured myself these past months was obsessing about the pace I have and the pace I will have to run for the Rotterdam marathon.

        3 years and counting, and I still can't completely bring myself to focus on my own progress.

        I still become impatient with myself and how "slow" I do many things (running and non-running!), how "minimal" I can put in to make myself be stronger and faster, and how minimal the improvements seems to be, as a result.  Or how I seem to take one step forward and three steps back.

        It is my hope, that this time around this lesson will finally sink in deeper:

        Focus on your own pace; celebrate your own progress.  Each millisecond IS progress.  Each step forward is self-empowerment.  Each step backwards is an opportunity to learn to be better and BE stronger.

        CPC Run - The Hague - 2013/14

        CPC Run - The Hague - 2015

        In a week or two, you'll read whether Rotterdam Marathon will belong to the the list of "momentarily-unfinished-goals", and how this goal will be recycled, that it may belong to the "feel- the accomplishment- list!".

        May this blogpost inspire and motivate you, as writing it inspired and revived my "never give up" spirit.

        Happy Spring running, everyone!!!

        Monday, March 16, 2015

        March Onwards to #MR15

        CPC Run 2015
        I discovered early on that it wasn't the sport of running that attracted me but the act of running. It was in the pounding of my own heart, in the rhythm of my own breathing that the answers began to come. The answers came if, and only if, I kept running. 
        - John -The Penguin - Bingham
        My current motivating mantra, Dr. Seuss' quote.

        Too happy to be miffed about my name being misspelled! :D
        (BUT really, the coffee barista repeated my NAME! Cheeky!
        Oh, well, I *finally* have a misspelled name Starbucks moment hahaha)


        It's been almost 3 weeks since my last marathon update, which you can read: here.

        Today, it is 26 days away to Rotterdam Marathon 2015 !

        Make It (KM) Count! Part 1

        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 100.2 km (Relapse from flu virus prevented me from reaching 150 km but I forged on!)

        February, 2015 101.5 km (Flu virus persist! Target was 150-200 km but I am happy with February; I feel confident that this year, I could consistently run an average of 100 km/month.)

        March, 2015 - currently 26.2 km.  March is at the beginning of  it's 3rd week, and I am feeling like I am once again at the beginning of my marathon training.

        #MR15 - 414.7 km - current kilometer stand 16th of March.

        If I am not in a marathon training adventure, I would not have this "happy collage"…
        It tells the story of myself not giving up and being consistently rewarded for my efforts.
        I may not be a fast paced runner, but I keep running and the joy of running remains - 3 years later, 3 

        Make It (KM) Count! Part 2

        My tentative plan of how the next week's Saturday/Sunday training will look like (originally posted on the 25th of February blog/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-MarathonCPC 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 March32-35*35*-42 km (*-* - I will share about the details of this plan later…) THIS WEEK, I will have to 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! :)

        This is what it looks like when I take a break from marathon training. :)

        I don't get upset; I start appreciating what I am blessed with - good life.

        Marathon (Training) Magic . . .

        When things are not going the way you would like them to be, I have learned it is unnecessary to be upset.  Running and marathon training has helped me accept this life lesson better than daily life could.

        Of course we are all allowed to feel and acknowledge the feeling of frustration and anger. But what we do next is what defines us.

        I do not regret that I began with the Rotterdam Marathon 2015 adventure. 

         3 years ago, I would not have imagined that I would have courage to do so.  My marathon motivation is not based on speed but endurance.  Endurance to keep on running in preparation for the marathon, and endurance to finish within the time limit.

        5:30 time limit is nothing to an average marathon runner.  But since I belong to the back of the pack, who has a minimalistic training (= the minimum training to finish) - 5:30 is a big challenge.

        Slooooow runner but happpppppy runner!

        If I can go back this week to my minimalistic training, geared to make me finish this Spring marathon strong and within the time limit, then all the effort of the last months will be rewarded abundantly.

        If I have to skip it because of health issues, I already feel abundantly rewarded now because of my own personal progress in areas in my life I wanted to improve on.  Without the marathon training, I think it would have taken me even longer to improve.

        I am not there yet, where I would like to be, more consistent, more decisive, stronger in coping with the challenges of my bipolar disorder.  But there are so much improvement I am thankful for - thanks to running and marathon training.

        For now, the hope that I can include Rotterdam to my marathon stories remains alive.