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 " ...it 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!