Monday, December 12, 2016

Where Are You? Where Have You Been? Where Are You Going?

Distracted from distraction by distraction” 

Summer (July) 2016; This photo symbolised one of my many attempts to go completely offline.
This was my "visual aid" to help me say "goodbye" to the internet.

I wanted to keep running without any social media "crutch".
I couldn't and went back to end my 2016 goal of 13.1X13  with the help of social media.

A collage I created in 2015 to empower myself to keep going, to keep running.

Where Have I Been. . . 

If you have been wondering, if this running blog will ever publish a post again, or have been following me on social media, and wondered where I disappeared to, this blog is written specially for you.

Thank you for  waiting.  Thank you for dropping by. Thank you for caring enough to do a search.

The last blogpost I shared was last Spring - the day before I ran my fifth half-marathon race in 2016.

I was not yet half-way towards my running goal, then. Autumn 2016, I achieved my goal of running 13 half-marathon distances.

Working on the 13.1 X 13 goal, the daily grind of life and facing a lot of major life making decisions,  kept me from writing, here.

Amsterdam Half-Marathon 2016

Where Am I . . .

Today, I deactivated my various social media accounts, and removed social network applications, on my mobile.

Is this permanent? Is this a break? If it is a break, how long will this be?

I, honestly, don't know the answers to these questions, at this point.

Berlin, Amsterdam Marathon 2012
Paris Marathon 2013

The original plan, when I started this blog was to record my first year of running, to record my early pursuit of running a marathon.

The culmination of documenting my running story was supposed to be after I ran Paris Marathon.
Finish Paris, and give up the internet.

The plan and the promise was: continue running without having to use the internet to record or interact about my running.

It was a promise I made to my family.

This decision to give up social media, were not born out of a whim. Nor is this a spur of the moment decision.

This long process has been ongoing since 2013.

Even though I admitted that I have an internet and social media addiction, I was still in denial on how my use of the internet, social media, was completely taking over my life, and how it was no longer helping me but actually becoming the source of unnecessary stress and problems.

I took a lot of pictures to record and share a life I participate in but could not truly appreciate without the help of a lens.

In 2017, I will continue taking pictures - quality over quantity! -   but only to record them for my family.
I will be more in the experience, than a spectator with a lens.

In the beginning, I utilised social media as a tool to get over my social anxieties.  Social anxieties, which all developed due to a long battle with bipolar disorder.

Taking on the sports of running and using social media to connect with others made me overcome my agoraphobia, my self-imposed social isolation, anxiety and panic attacks.

Left: my first full marathon
- Berlin Marathon 2012

Right: my 3rd race in the first year of my running, my first running dream fulfilled
- run a race finishing in an Olympic Stadium.

An 8K in the Amsterdam Marathon 2011 event

Two decade ago, I started getting stuck in my own home for days, weeks, months because of my depression.

It will take a lot of years before I no longer felt shame in sharing this struggle, I fought and at times still fight against.

5 years ago, I began with running because I knew, I had to fight stronger than I have fought before.  I knew to be mentally strong, and continue being stronger, I have to be physically active.

Many recover from depression but one is never truly free from it's claws; it is a wicked enemy.

It catches you, when you least expect it.  It drags you slowly to a path you keep trying to escape.  Most of the time, you are unaware until   it has yet again imprisoned you, in your mind.

Running brought me outdoors and social media channels became my platform to talk about how this sport was helping me help myself.

It connected me with many like minded people.

Majoring of the people I met were not dealing with bipolar disorder, or  any other form of mental disorder but they all have the same goal, as I : work on improving their health to have a stronger mind, stronger body, and lead a life of quality.

Using the internet, I actively, consistently tried to end my my mental and physical isolation; the communication online led to a lot of communication beyond my home;  everything changed in my life because I reached out.

My self-therapy tool, as it was very helpful in the beginning soon became a deterrent to a complete healing.

I will write separate blogs, reflections on how the internet has helped me, and why at this point it is the best decision to limit my use of the internet.  The plan, and the promise to myself: I will abstain from the use of social media networks***.

It is not realistic for me to completely give the internet up. I have to acknowledge this, and deal with it because I have seen in the past,  how denying this  has stopped me from successfully overcoming  my addiction.

This is where I am now. I am entering a new stage in my life. I am writing and will be writing new pages, living out new chapters.  Completely delving in new worlds, and I have to admit, I am both   scared and excited.

I will be "on my own" but feeling strong and confident, this is "where" I should be.  "Where" is my state of mind.

Where Am I Going . . .

This blog will be my "voice", my "place" in the internet.

It is where you can "find me", where we can interact, when I go online.

I have to warn you though, that it will be for the majority, one sided.  I will  share my stories, lessons I would like to record for posterity, meditate and focus on.  It is my hope the stories, the insights will inspire you in taking courageous steps to change your life, to go after your dreams.

I am not yet there, where I ultimately want to be. I am grateful for the now, for what I have and share with my family; I look forward to the future we will experience all together.

5 years worth of running stories are waiting to be written, to reflect back on. If I am lucky, there will be many years  of running ahead  to document.

This process are one of my many goals in life. Goals keeps me moving. Forward movement,  sometimes even backwards but moving is the keyword.

A dream come true. Run a race with one of my 3 daughters.

K, middle daughter and I finally shared a 5K race, last October in Breda Singelloop.

Hopefully, now that I am social media free, I no longer have that distraction as an excuse for not writing the stories.  Stories, I would like to compile for my daughters, and my future grand-children to read in the future.

My daughters are the reason, I summoned all the courage I could muster to do what I have been doing to get out and stay out of the prison of my own mind.

At the finish line with my daughters.
(K left side, J right side and M upper right of the collage)

My first ever race, my first  ever 5K.

August, 2011

My family is my reason: they are the main reason, I am taking this step to a new direction.  I have reclaimed my life from the isolation of depression, through running. I am once again reclaiming my life from the internet, through writing my running stories.

Life is all about recognising: it is never ever to late to start over again ( and over, again! ) and most of the time, it is better to be late in recognising  how to live your own life, your own way, than choose to be apathetic to life.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for bringing me here.

You know, who you are in my life. If you don't: let me tell you; you have been an inspiration, a spark that ignited the person, the happy runner, that I am.

Thank you.
Published 12.12.16/12:49
Updated 20.01.17

Blog update on social media abstinence***

Saturday, April 16, 2016

#13HappyHalves: A Day Before Enschede Half-Marathon 2016

Joyously smiling towards Wietse, who sprinted to capture this celebratory moment!
I was struggling with the heat on this very warm Spring Sunday in Rotterdam Marathon
but I was also very happy to be running my 4th half-marathon in the 2016 edition of my #13HappyHalves project

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

“Small steps add up to complete big journeys.” 
― Matshona Dhliwayo

A never before shared race photo from my 10K race in Enschede Marathon 2014

As I began writing this blog the countdown clock of Enschede Marathon shows:

16 hours, 23 minutes and 42 seconds.

I have not written a blog nor shared any photo from my 10K 2 years ago in Enschede.

Summer 2011 - Winter 2014 

In Summer, 2011  I began with running half a year before my 40th birthday.

my second race almost a month after my first 5K
a year before my first full marathon

Berlin Marathon September 2012
8K in the Amsterdam Marathon event September 2011

Between September 2012 - April 2013, I finished 3 full marathons.

Summer 2013, I was injured with Morton's Neuroma. This injury set me back physically and blocked me mentally for a long period of time.

2013 was the year I finally ran a 10K almost within an hour (Marikenloop 1:01:40 May, 2013; incidentally a month where I revived my running after the dip prior to running Paris marathon).

2013 was a running year full of promise: instead of running 3 full marathons (I changed goals after my injury prevented me from running Berlin and Amsterdam again  ), I ran 6 half-marathons instead (finishing 5).

2013's edition of  running Happy Halves  was culminated at the Amsterdam Marathon event.
An event close to my heart.

This promising year ended with going back to running square 1. I had to adjust to always and only running with  customized insoles (from September 2013 until the present). The insoles prevent me from having extreme pain on my right foot.

In spirit, I felt I was in a runner's limbo in 2014 but  on the outside, I kept moving on.

Running 2014

Since I began running I have set running goals with themes, which sets the tone for the entire running year. For 2014, it was about all about 10Ks. I thought I could work on my speed in this distance while trying to deal with my mental block (working on my fear of  - knife like searing - pain on my right foot while running).

I realised later with the help of running year 2014, that speed was not my story; speed is not what motivates my core. I thought it was distance because I love very long runs. It would take 2 more years to reach the finish line of post injury.

Spring 2016

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” 

2 years later, in this beautiful Spring of 2016 (a Spring full of great possibilities!), I look back at running year 2014, not with frustration nor sadness not even a drop of disappointment; I look back with so much gratefulness in my runner's heart. As I do with running year 2013, 2012, 2011 (still working on doing a summary of running year 2015!).

Almost in my 5th year of running and I still have not run a 10K within an exact hour (yet!), nor have I  yet to run a half-marathon in my secret (not anymore!) ultimate personal goal of 2:10:00.

What I have accomplished though in almost 5 years of running, which nobody can ever take away for me is my confidence, trust and belief in who I am.

I began running with the simplest of goal: go out regularly and not isolate myself in our new home in Europe. Most importantly to actively work on not letting my bipolar disorder be in the way with our new start in life.

I am no longer the person, who I was before all the life crises came wave after wave after wave. Nor am I the person, who was battered after many battles of  by repeated cycles of deep depression.

I am, who I am, constantly evolving and open to change.
kilometer 37 of  Rotterdam Marathon
16th kilometer for my part of the relay

I  feel at home here in Holland with my family and happy and at home in my skin.

I am runner not focused on statistics but the stories behind them.

I am runner aiming to be better as a person and using each run, each race to test my limits. I am a running mom, who runs so I can show up for my daily responsibilities, strong, focused and mindful of the life I am blessed with.

Tomorrow,  I will run in Enschede Marathon event: this time the half-marathon distance, my 5th half-marathon for 2016;  I will run motivated by the fact, I am healthy, and an experienced runner.

I will run inspired by all those who have supported me from the very start of my personal voyage: to be a part of a community;  to feel connected in all sense of the word; to contribute to the growth of others.

I will run inspired by those  many beautiful souls I have yet to meet face to face but through the magic of the internet have helped me literally face the outside world.

I dedicate this blog to all the ladies on this collage.
I feel so very lucky to know all these ladies, my soul/solesisters.
All very inspiring, all very supportive, all goal oriented but never losing sight of what matters most.

They each remind me personally, and through their own pursuit of a life of quality  that I am never alone; they have my back, as I got theirs!

There are so many other running (and non-running!) friends not in this collage.

A day before my 5th half-marathon in 2016 (the 15th in my 5 years of running) I pay special homage to these ladies because without them
I will not be looking forward with confidence to tomorrow's half-marathon in Enschede.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

#13HappyHalves: Quarter of the Year Update (3/13)

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, 

we lose the excitement of possibilities. 

Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” 

Finally, an update!

I am very happy to tell you all that I am right on track with my "13 Happy Halves" project. :)

Easter Monday, I ran my 3rd half-marathon in the province of Utrecht.

Running De Halve van de Haar was a spontaneous decision; it was not on the original list I created when I planned to run 13 half-marathon races in 2016.

I wanted to close the first quarter of the year with 3 half-marathons and De Halve van de Haar was the perfect choice.

Next year this run will definitely be on my running calendar! Read why in my race recap (to follow!).

"My Dutch Prince" and I in front of  Kasteel de Haar 
after I finished my 3rd marathon!

picture courtesy of Hiro A.

You could read the story behind this picture, here.

In the second weekend of January for my first half-marathon in 2016, I ran Egmond Halve Marathon.

It was the second Egmond Halve Marathon I have ever run; I mentioned about my #13HappyHalves (2016 edition) project for the first time in the blog recapping one of the toughest half-marathon I've ran.

500 meters from the finish

picture courtesy of 
by Wietse Visser Photography

Groet uit Schoorl should have been my second half-marathon.  Alas, I had to switch to the 10K distance because of my second round with the flu virus.

I recuperated in time to run a race in February but I did not feel fit enough to run the distance I originally signed up for.  Luckily, there was nothing much to do but show up with my bib and start in the 10K coral. 

I had unfinished business in Groet uit Schoorl, like I had in Egmond; both of these races I coincidentally also ran one month after another  in 2013.

It was a good run, considering all the factors a couple of weeks before the race, and on the day of the race. Please, stay tuned for my race recap. :)

CPC Loop Den Haag is a favorite Spring race here in Holland, and personally it belongs to my top 10 of favorite Dutch races as well.

It should have been my 3rd half if I had ran Groet uit Schoorl and De Halve van de Haar a back up in case I cannot run some of the planned races at the end of the year.

CPC run through the years!

From left to right,
CPC 2013, CPC 2014 and CPC 2015

Sadly, I was trapped in an unfortunate trend!

I was ill a couple of weeks before the CPC race. Yes. Again.  Unbelievable.

Unlike Groet uit Schoorl (my one and only DNF in 2013, ever...), I ran and finished 3 times in this popular half-marathon in the Hague.  I have ran it in different kind of elements, different circumstances and knew the route almost by heart.

These facts made the decision to run it even when I knew my race will not be as I had hoped it will be.

Perhaps others will groan and say, "Not a reasonable decision!"

You can read in my race recap (yes yes, to follow!) why I simply had to run and how I prepared myself mentally and what I did in my recovery period.

What I can share now: I was very happy to have participated and proud of my efforts.

near the start

picture courtesy of 
by Wietse Visser Photography
200 meters towards the finish
happy to see Eva beside Wietse

picture courtesy of 
by Wietse Visser Photography

Eva, Udjen and I
in the train on our way home

We are very proud of our CPC 2016 medals!

A week before De Halve van de Haar, on the first day of Spring, exactly on my 44th birthday I ran Runner´s World Zandvoort Circuit Run for the 3rd time. The first time in the 12 km distance. Previously, I ran 5K, in 2012, and 2014.

Marleen, another running sister generously gave me one of the many start numbers, which her crew - #HALFCRAZYRUNNERSCREW - received as invitation for this event.

It was the first race this year without being fresh out of recuperation. What a joy!

I will share in my race recap why this was the best birthday in the Netherlands, ever. :)

Photo courtesy of


My next half-marathon will be as a part of relay team in the  Rotterdam Marathon together with Meike! More about it later.

Rotterdam Marathon 2014
in relay team Social Mile
picture courtesy of 

Will I see you there?

upper right photo summarizes the 3 half marathons from the first quarter of the year
from bottom: Egmond Halve Marathon
middle: CPC Loop Den Haag
top: De Halve van de Haar

Photo on the left of the collage courtesy of

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday, Mornings, Marathons & a Manic Mind

I'm bulletproof, nothing to lose

Fire away, fire away

Ricochet, you take your aim

Fire away, fire away 
You shoot me down but I won't fall
I am titanium
You shoot me down but I won't fall 
I am titanium
I am titanium
I am titanium
- lyrics from Titanium, sung by Madilyn Bailey 

Blogging music playing at the back ground, on repeat: (Titanium; Titanium Album)


Happy Monday! How are you all doing?!

I am VERY happy to be feeling better again; my family and I had to deal with a flu virus almost over 3 weeks. Husband and I were both nursing each other alternately in the past weeks.

Photo taken this morning at around 11 am by my oldest daughter in between me doing house chores,
writing, sending important emails and continuing with Spring cleaning.

I have so much to share with you all.

My blogging goal this year is as every year: blog more! I know, I know, I keep writing this and it is already for me personally a big thing if I do manage to post at least once a month.

I write a lot (busy mind!), and mostly what I have written stays in draft mode (149 currently in draft versus 151 published blogposts :D ). Or I think a lot of what I would like to write (ideas, lessons in life, stories behind running stories etc) but the thoughts never become written words.

2015 blog stats were more than 2012 (25) & 2014 (24) but less than 2013 (63). I am pretty proud of the 37 blogposts but I wished I exerted more effort.

A Monday is always a good time for positive affirmations, so here we goooo!

I won't name the number of how many blogs I would like to be written this year, as I have done in the past. My aim is to simply try publish at least 3X in the week: MWF.

If I do get to blog the rest of the week, they are just bonus. :)


I woke up at 6:20 am today together with Mijn liefste P; I often set the alarm for him for work, and before he goes he set it again for me in case I drift off to sleep again.

It's a luxury to spend a bit of time before our days both begin

I am ashamed to admit that today, I did not get up to spend those precious half an hour with P but I hope tomorrow.

A collage from our Saturday morning family walk after my Saturday run with the House of Running crew, 2 weeks ago.
I'll be blogging about my experiences with HoR this week!
Precious Saturday mornings with other people who share the passion for running.

This Saturday is made even more special by the fact that P walks for at least an hour while he waits for me to finish my training with HoR.
Baby steps to running together, soon! 

Sunday, we both semi-spontaneously begun with Spring Cleaning 2016! This made Monday feel more full of energy.

More on this on my other blog at My Daily Mooosings in the Netherlands.

Sunday's Spring cleaning is my "warm-up" to going back to my marathon training!


I am not sure if I will write a separate blog today about my marathon training - an update and recap.

In case I don't get to do so, here is a short version: I am no longer running the Rotterdam Marathon, which was suppose to be my Spring marathon goal.

Rotterdam Marathon 2014
with the beautiful people of Social Mile
(Together with Chantor, founder of Social Miles, Renée my good friend  & Chantor's beautiful wife, Kim in neon SM shirt,  ran the marathon as a relay team; Ron - far left on the picture - Renée's better half ran the full marathon.)

Rotterdam Marathon 2015
original goal to run the half-marathon distance
with a full marathon starting number thanks to the generosity of
This was supposed to be a mental prep for me on my 2016's goal to run the full marathon in this event.
Eva and Udjen both ran the full.

It was a good day and I ran 11 kilometers further than I planned.
I had an hour to finish and I could have done so (way over the time limit!) for personal satisfaction.
In the end, I decided to step out as planned.
The picture on the right of this collage was taken by Tamara's husband.
She seems to be my Rotterdam marathon angel. I've seen her for two consecutive years without us arranging it before  hand

It is a very fast marathon for me (time limit: 5:30; I currently have a marathon pace with a marathon finish of 6:00), and it will be stressful to continue having it as my first marathon goal after 3 weeks of dealing with a flu. It has also been 3 years of waiting to run a full again.

After 4 years of running experience, I have become more flexible with letting go of a goal.  After my injury I see running for what it is since the very beginning for me: a symbol and a sport that keeps me going!

I still have Slachtemarathon to look forward to in June.

This coming Sunday, I'll be running Groet uit Schoorl; it is an event, which I have been wanting to run again since 2013. Originally the plan was to run a half-marathon distance (as part of my #13HappyHalves project) but I have to switch (a struggle for my mind!) to a shorter distance because of being ill for so long.

More on this tomorrow.

(A) Manic Mind

Every week, I would like to write a short update on the state of my mind.  It is both a personal and hopefully, a public service.

Most of those close to me, and those who reads my blog, know I have bipolar disorder.

a picture I sent my friend Meike aka @fithealthybrunette
during our WhatsApp chat.
It was so thoughtful of her to ask how I was doing while I was recuperating.

Normally, I have a hard time sharing how I look when sick or interacting at all but not with her.

I met Meike via a Nike Women challenge last year, and
she's been a huge positive influence in my life.
Another blessing the sport of running has brought me.
You can check her blog here:

I hope to share this year a lot of  our experiences together on our road to reaching our different goals.

Running and blogging have improved the quality of every area of my life in so many ways.

Keeping an active lifestyle enabled me to deal with a lot of of my fears & triggers face on, and confront many mental blocks that have increased in years because of this disorder.

I am relieved to share that my depression have decreased and my manic phases are under control, as well. 

I would like to help others.

Honestly though, most of the time, I am happy if I have the (mental) energy to help myself.

Writing what I have learned in the process of dealing with my bipolar disorder, serves as a reminder of how far I have come; I re-read my blogs when I am at the beginning of repeating destructive patterns.

It is my hope that by holding myself accountable to write at least once a week about my mental health, I will not only help myself continue improving but help those silent readers out there, who I know from experience receives catharsis by reading the words of others, who go through the same struggles.

A picture taken last week - as you can see, I was
still not feeling okay but I went out for a walk
with youngest daughter and her best friend.

Walking in nature really is good for the mind and spirit.

I would like to do this every Monday but one characteristic of bipolar disorder, that I am dealing with is taking on too much. Mondays are usually very busy.

So I will make this either every Tuesday or Thursday or short blogs for each days. I will try to write  in different perspectives and I will keep it between 250-500 words written under half an hour.

Monday will simply be a reminder to myself and to my readers of what's in store for this week.

Have you read about my What's Up Wednesday blog series already? I did not share it (yet) on all my social media channels. I wanted to let a week past first, and wanted to leave it to chance, who stumbles upon it (those who subscribed to my blogposts, or those who checks the link to my blog on Twitter or Instagram).

It's all part of my self-theraphy. I hope to share more about it every week.


In spite of being sick after a very active January, I am looooooooving 2016 so far. :)

In 2015, we made a lot of personal changes and I feel how these changes have helped my family and I simplify life. We have progressed and I am delighted to see this in our daily life.

We will continue to be a work in progress; I am very proud of how we work as a unit because it makes the ups and downs easier to deal with.

I leave you with a quote I searched for to power my "starting over" week:

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late. ” 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's Up Wednesday in February: Focus

“Very occasionally, if you pay really close attention, life doesn't suck.” 

A photo collage I created yesterday from pictures from a short brisk walk.
Story, here.

Introducing WUWHFNL*

Hello, February!

Welcome readers to what I hope will be a weekly feature of this blog, introducing: What's Up Wednesday Happy Feet NL*.

It will be blogs, which talks about random subjects.

These are topics, which I would like to keep out from my usual blogposts because they can be distracting from the topic at hand.

Most of the time including them keeps me from focusing on the subject matter and finishing the post, when I insert them in between a recap of a race, or a training week/month.

They are subjects on their own will not fill out a blogpost.

Mostly they are even a group of disconnected thoughts; sometimes after writing them together, these thoughts do become cohesive. Or mostly they stay disconnected

Sometimes, people like me simply have too many thoughts.  Sometimes people like me need to write them all down to make sense of all these myriad thoughts, sift through them and clearly recognize what we all know all along but just need to put words to, and feel a sense of peace and sometimes affirmation.

The main purpose of having this kind of regular post in an exercise on focus.  It is all about the baby steps in disciplining myself to focus.

The goal to sharpen my ability to focus is one of the many reasons I am running and  this is why I also go back to blogging again and again.


There are many ways to achieve goals. There are many ways to accomplish what you would like to
achieve in life. In my age, I learned without focus you will never be where you would like to be and end up going in circles.

I'll be 44 when Spring 2016 begins to blossom.


I don't feel this age.  I feel as if I am just at the beginning of life -  not feeling young, nor is there a longing to be young again but I feel like someone standing at a new starting line of life.  A beginner of life already equipped with some wisdom.

There are many times in life, I feel I still have so much to learn, and too little time to do so.


At this moment, my focus is to be healthy and fit again.

I am happy that I am well again, and no longer very illl. I recently recovered from the second bout of flu virus.

When I am ill, I get depressed. Not sad depressed. It is more of a paralyzing kind of depression.

It is why it is for me  not only a physical challenge, when I am ill but a mental challenge as well.

The focus to get better (rest and not stress) is distracted by anxiety.

If you are ill you need rest, and logic follows you have to lie down in bed to rest even during the day and not only when you need your sleep in the evening. I dislike lying in bed sick during the day because it reminds me so much of months of not getting out of bed.

I am working on the negative thought patterns over resting in bed when sick for 3 years now.

I am happy to say, I am almost there in acquiring all possible healthy coping mechanism and a much stronger outlook on certain situations that used to be sources of anxiety for me.

This kind of cycles is one of the reasons I created the #13HappyHalves (running 13 half-marathons in 2016) project.


Projects help me focus, and when I can completely focus, I am happy.

Different kinds of projects gives me structure and source of positive energy.

If you check Happy Feet in the Netherlands on Facebook and @happyfeetnl on Instagram, you will get a sneak peek of projects I am involved in or trying to get off the ground. Projects, which I will write eventually write at length here.

Currently it is all about the 13 half-marathons. Did you read my recap of Egmond Half Marathon? It is the first of 13 half-marathons and I am VERY proud, that I was able to run this year AND blog about it in the same month. :D #epicforme

So, there you go! The first WUWHFNL!

What's up with you, today? :) xo
Blogger´s Note:
I wrote this on a Tuesday; I begun at 10:27 am and with many interruptions finally finished at 11:12 pm. I am still contemplating what time of the day to share this weekly series on my social media accounts.  I am recording all details of my blogging to help me monitor my progress in my endeavours.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

#13HappyHalves: Egmond Halve Marathon (1/13)

“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbin

In over 4 years of running, I have at least 50 medals in my collection, and I can say that I count 2016's first medal one of my favorite.

Egmond Halve Marathon 2016 medal

For 3 years , I have been sharing this "almost-at-the-finish-line-photo" (below) from my first ever half marathon.  My first Egmond Halve Marathon!

For 3 years, I shared my intentions of running it again.  Run Egmond under different personal circumstances, than in 2013.

On the 10th of January, I was able to run this half marathon race, again!

The  picture (below) was taken a few meters from the finish line. I was SO happy to finish and to have the closure, I have been hoping for.

Most of my running friends, who are reading my blogs, knows what preceded my first Egmond half marathon

I have - since 2013 - associated Egmond half-marathon to that sad evening of the 30-31st of December, 2012, when we lost our home; our first home here in Holland .

Egmond was my first race after we were displaced.  I could and should have skipped it under the circumstances but it became symbolic for me and somehow I had to run it no matter what.

In the end (I still have not written a detailed recap of that race!), I was VERY glad I ran Egmond in 2013, and it became a symbol for me to keep on going no matter what life throws at me.

Still, the negative association remained, and  I wanted to do something about it.  Every year, since 2013, I tried to run it to do so.

In 2014, I missed it because of a foot injury in the Summer of 2013. 

I ran 6 half marathons in 2013, which was my alternative to not being able to run 3 full marathons (as originally planned because of my injury in the Summer); I wanted  to do something else rather than repeat the project of running a series of half-marathons.  

Running 10Ks in 2014 seemed to be the best plan.

In 2015, I was ill in the weeks before Egmond, and could not properly train. 

I changed from half to 10K race last minute but the panic attacks during the weekend of the race, made me skip it in the end.  

There was no particular "HFNL themed goal" in 2015. I did write a blog under "2015 goals"; I wrote out  what I would like to put focus.  The goals in 2015, are still goals I am working on to accomplish.  Goals, I aspire to consistently work to include in my lifestyle.

So, in the afternoon of 2016, as Mijn Liefste P drove me to where the MeeùsRunClub shuttle bus waited, I felt already a champion!

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

The picture above was taken in front of MeeùsRunClub runner's lounge about 500 meters away from the finish line.

Let's START from the beginning though!

Today's post will focus on the 21 km; I hope to write a separate blog about all the other anecdotes surrounding the race at another time.
Otherwise I won't be able to finish this recap at all ! :D 

 Just look at the happy and naughty  faces of my company. hahaha They were a pure source of  positive fun energy. I was able to survive the first challenging 7 km of Egmond half marathon powered by all the laughter we shared before we even got to the starting line. :)

First, how I got to the race!

As always my husband helped me in reaching my destination. He knew I was still mildly struggling with anxiety. I was not afraid of the race but all the other details (silly ones not even worth mentioning, here now - I will write a separate blog for it ;) ). His way of helping me out of it, was to save me the train ride to Alkmaar and bring me to Egmond by car. Going back home with the public transportation was easier.

When you run with MeeùsRunClub, you are completely pampered. I have been running with MRC since October, 2013 but this is the first year I ran Egmond with them. The pampering was the same if not even more unique!

We had our own bus shuttle and golf carts, which brought us to the runner's lounge tent. 

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

Finally got a recharger for my mobile! I knew this will be a long day, and it's great to have full batteries. 

A series of pictures below to tell the mini-story of "My First Ever Golf Cart Ride in Egmond!" :D

If you would like to see how it looked like in the runner's lounge and some more pictures from the MeeùsRunClub's day in Egmond, please check the album on the MRC FB page here.

It was great to be reunited with Eva, Udjen, and Babette at the runner's lounge; the last time we were all together was in November at Zevenheuvelenloop; B and I still saw each other last month in Bruggenloop. More on those 15K races, next time.

A great surprise was seeing Els before the start!

We know each other from Instagram and she is one of those, who inspires me to take pride on being out there for the pure joy of being able to do so.

No obsession about time, distance - the focus: simply having fun on being out there. :)

This spontaneous meeting with her was  another sign for me that day to enjoy the adventure I was about to experience.

When it was finally time for us to go, I sprinted ahead of the girls (after giving them each hugs and kisses for good luck - it's a ritual!) ;  I still had to go for my last visit to the portable loo.

After I got that business done, I saw them still jogging towards the official starting line, and they all said: good timing! hahaha

We waved good bye after that, and off we all went to individually conquer Egmond.

1-5 km

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

The route changed this year.

In 2013, we still ran at least 3 kilometers around the center of Egmond  before we went down to the beach.

This year after a kilometer, we already reached the transition to the beach. I must say, I really liked it.

While I am typing this, I keep going back to my Nikeplus account to compare the Egmond 2013 to Egmond 2016 route; I am comparing my statistics (pace, laps etc), and hoping it would help trigger more memory of 2013 to compare to this year.

I would like to write a separate blog for EHM13. So, I'll save the details for later.

Unbelievable that as I write about Egmond Half Marathon 2016, images of EHM 2013 flashes before my mind. :) The brain is a wondrous creation.

What could I  say to summarize in a few words, the 7 km long beach run?  It was so magical (for me)!

In spite of having to fight the wind and being passed by almost all the fast runners, I was so very happy to be there.

As I "plowed" on each kilometer on the beach, I kept wishing I was a more faster and a more stronger runner.

It was not because I wanted to reach the finish line faster (who wouldn't?!) or be the best I can be (working on that!). It was because I wanted to stop to take photos and still manage to run the race like an average runner. hahaha

I resisted an hour long to stop and take a picture. This I can say was for me a test of character.  This was my first test this year in regards to where I should my focus.

There are is a time to do this I told myself. There will be an Egmond race, when I will be such a confident strong runner, that I can stop, take pictures, and go and run again.

On the 10th of January, I took the the magic and beauty of the race and placed them in my heart, mind and spirit. The runners, the elements, the emotion, the energy.  Each runner has a story, and you can feel that in the air.

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

Even though each runner is running for him/herself, the wave of everyone's collective energy carries you; it will keep you moving forward, no matter how heavy your legs feel sinking in the sand.

The rows of colors the runners created with their different running gears were so amazing amidst the background of sand, and the sound of wind and waves.

This atmosphere is just one of the many reasons, why runners take on the challenge of Egmond.

All these impressions  kept me from succumbing from negative thoughts; there were many visual stimuli, which sheilded my mind from giving up right there on the beach. I am no longer wishing I was there but I was actually there!  One of the most challenging Egmond race in years and I was in the middle of it!

How very special and how priviliged, I felt because I am strong and healthy to participate in Egmond Half Marathon. A race, which when Dutch people hear, the first thing they say after "Beautiful race!" is followed with " is a very challenging run!"

I did not sleep well the night before the race; I also made a rookie mistake of switching to different energy gels, which I never used in training; I did not pre-fuel as I normally do but went with less and I already felt it after 5 km.

All these were going through my head while I was fighting the wind and sand blasting in my face.

The euphoria over the fact that I was there became my friend and powered me through; I did not walk a single time in the first 5 km.

There was a lady, who was steadily a few meters in front of me for the first 3-4 kilometers, a fellow MeeùsRunClub runner, who unknowingly paced me and kept me going.

The familiar shirt reminded me of how much blessings I have received since I started running and I never forget that.

I stopped at the drinking station at kilometer 5.

It was at this point, I decided that I will run Egmond like I do my long training distance run. I will keep running in a slow pace and stop  when needed.

The funny thing was, the night before the race, I could not find the belt I purchased for Egmond. Instead of stressing about it, I decided I will wear the back pack I have been running with for training.

Misplacing the belt became a blessing in disguise. I brought more energy gels, than I intended.

5-10 km

After I taking in one gel, I retied my shoe laces, and decided against drinking tea. Even though I did not fuel properly, I was properly hydrated. I was also properly layered and not cold.

The first drinking station was on the left side of the beach, and it was easy to locate from the distance.

This stop lasted 2 minutes.

After making the decision of not focusing on the time and when I will probably finish, I made up my mind that I will run Egmond at least 2 more consecutive times.  I have 2 years to prepare! 2 running years to look forward to.

In this year, I would try to remember as much as possible how I felt by each part of the route and prepare myself mentally for it.

Even though I let go of the time goal, I was still determined to fulfill my second goal of not walking when I am on the move, after each break. I am not judging nor do I have anything against those who do combine walk/run in their marathons.

I did this myself for my first marathon by every drinking station and even walked the last 5 kilometers of my Paris marathon because I was unable to complete my training for it (another long story!). Since I am already taking long breaks, I did not want to walk/run when I am finished with my breaks.

So, when the transition from the beach to the dunes appeared before me, I inhaled deeply and said to myself, "Go go go!" The "faster"you move the faster you will have it behind you.

It was a short climb but not as hard as I remembered my first Egmond. I think I walked the transition, in 2013. I was mentally prepared for this beach to dunes transition that it felt even shorter than I remembered how I transitioned from beach to the dunes part of the race.

As soon as I hit the dunes, I felt lighter and there was a small hope that I will pick up my pace.

Again, the view was fantastic.

The motivation to be a stronger runner (to be a photographer on the run :D ) increased even more.

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub

Just as this longing increased, the pressure in my bladder slowly increased as well. I saw a lot of male runners take to the side of the route to do their business. Alas, us female runners are not as "privileged" to be able to do this. >.<

I was counting on a portable loo at kilometer 10 but there was none.  I might have missed it because I was focused on getting out of the way of other runners.

After passing 10 km, and not seeing  a loo anywhere, I decided to use the stop to free my shoes from sand.

I need to get new orthotic soles.  Specially for my right foot which has Morton's Neuroma.

I felt flares of pain on my right foot during the beach part, which made me go even slower.  Running with sand in my shoes does normally does not bother me and I could have ran until the finish with sand in my shoes.

I wanted to try to pick up my pace a bit but the sand plus the flares of pain were bothering me, and I can't find a flow, so at kilometer 10 since I am stopping anyway, I just removed both my shoes and shook the sand out  of my shoes after taking in two gels.

I knew as soon as I set off again, that I should have removed my socks. But this stop cost me already 5 minutes. So I let it go.

An "I am happy but tired selfie"! Not a beautiful view but I was happy I made it to 10 km at this point, and I wanted to have a visual reminder, how happy this moment felt.

10- 18 km

There was a moment between 7 and 17 km part of the race, when I felt all people I know on social media, passed me by. hahahaha

The sweet advantage of being at the back of the pack ;) you finally get to see the runners, you interact with online! :D

I might not be able to recall them in order and my advance apologies if I missed mentioning anyone!

There was Els from IG as I already mentioned above, who I saw at the start and she passed me again by my last stop at kilometer 17-18 while I was taking in 2 more energy gels; Vincent from Social Miles was the first who runner I saw after the beach, early part of the dunes (much earlier I saw another Social Milers as well - Ron, Renée's husband  - on the beach, between 2nd and 3rd kilometer, but he did not see me. I also did not see Renée!); Els from PinoyRunners.NL; Vicky from AMS Running Junkies/Nike- Run Club Amsterdam; Niki, Maaike, (Rianne - I saw her as she was about to finishall inspiring ladies I met on Instagram; Emma from my own House of Running group!!!

You have to follow these awesome runners if you are in search of motivation!

Thank YOU ALL for calling my name out, tapping me on the shoulder, holding my hand for that runner's love squeeze and pull. hahaha The quick kiss and hugs we all shared because we are all happy we share this sport of running.  These kind of moments are much better than energy gels. :D

Even though I was in dire need of the loo, my full bladder did not affect my running as it normally would. I was still okay.

When I saw one at kilometer 16,  I was so relieved in all the sense of the word.

As other runners would tell you, taking breaks can also take a toll on you. You always have to start cold, each time you have to run again. By kilometer 18, I was tired and hungry. I took my last gels. Gels I would never ever buy again. >.<

This stop together with the loo break was a total of 3 minutes.

Between 18-20 km I saw some other MeeusRunClub runners. We cheered each other with the thought of the pasta buffet after the finish.

picture courtesy of MeeùsRunClub
by Wietse Visser Photography

18 - 20 km

This part of the course was still very familiar from 2013. It is a route I shared with the voluntary fireman 3 years ago. It was a comforting memory.

I also remembered how Meike and I run a part of this route on the way to where we parked, when we had our Egmond training together. The memory of that time together kept me focused on the efforts of reaching the finish.

December, 2015
in the car before we set off for our 12 km Egmond training run
Story of this day and more pictures in a separate blog :)

1 kilometer to the finish

My last kilometer according to Nikeplus was run in 7:35 minutes.

#nevernotwaving :D

500 meter to the finish
(All pictures below are courtesy of MeeùsRunClub

I was happy, emotional, overwhelmed (positively) by the whole experience, and the last 500 meters was made so sweet by the people - friends! - from MeeusRunClub.

If my words were not enough to express the happiness over the fact that I finally got to run Egmond again, then perhaps the set of pictures above - 500 meters to the finish - will. :)

The last hundred meters to the finish line ....

There were still a lot of people finishing with me and there were still so many family and friends cheering them on. So many exhausted but jubilant faces. I love watching the runners around me, their family and friends sharing their joy.

Around 100 meters, I still saw Alex and waved to him happily. I was not sure if he recognized me until I saw his post on FB about his own Egmond, and left a comment. So fun when you get to see familiar faces specially when you need the last push.


Chapped lips but  I can still give a big smile with them! :D :D :D

Official finish time 3:00:23.

It is a good time to build on and improve in the next 12 months! 1 half-marathon race done, 12 more to go. Let's go! :D :D :D

Literally and figuratively the warmest welcome back after the finish!
One of my most favorite moment of running with MeeusRunClub.

Thank you!
courtesy of MeeùsRunClub


On the way back to the shuttle bus I was beside the same MRC golf cart driver.
He congratulated me as warmly as he wished me luck when I was still on my way to the runner's lounge.

Eva & Udjen were at the back and doing their own selfie.
It was challenging doing this and I resisted the urge to call to them to turn around so they can be on the picture, too.
hahaha ;)


At the Alkmaar train station, as I waited with E & U for our train back home, I had to remove  my socks and inadvertently left Egmond sand behind. There was no time to write, "Groetjes uit Egmond!" because we had to catch our train!