Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's Up Buttercup?

Before I publish BACK TO BERLIN Week 13 - 17 marathon training updates, I had to write a post "glueing" these weeks to Week 18. 
One of my mini-goals on the way to running the Berlin Marathon 2017 is to have a "seamless" documentation of my marathon training
I have not been able to (personally) satisfactorily achieve this in the 3 previous marathons (2012: Berlin, Amsterdam; 2013:Paris) I finished. Nor did it happen in my attempts after 2013.
Marathon training had often helped me successfully implement changes in my life, which I struggled to realise or was too mentally blocked to complete.   There is something about the structure of marathon training that makes me, simply put : get things done; things, which  I usually procrastinate on.
One of the many things on my "get it done list" is to write a blog post shortly after a difficult period during marathon training.
A blog going back to business but also acknowledging the fact, I went through a depressive episode.
A blog sharing how I got over it, how I am moving on, how recording my process helps me, and how I hope sharing it will help others, may they derive strength from it, during their own difficult period. 
Writing after recovering from a mental health issue, is a ritual (before blogging, I wrote in my personal journals), I often - very often! - skip. After many years, I realized it is necessary for me to write recovery thoughts to help myself heal faster and prevent relapses.
So, here we go.

a snapshot I took after yesterday's run, in between biking home

"The buttercups, bright-eyed and bold,

Held up their chalices of gold

To catch the sunshine and the dew."

- Julia C. R. Dorr, Centennial Poem, line 165.

Yesterday . . .

I ran my 47th training marathon training run in Spanderswoud. It was the hottest run I've ran so far in 2017.  Many said (I did not check the temperature) it was a 28 degrees Celsius day.

Besides the hot and humid climate of the day, what sets this run apart from all the other run was it's "unpredictability".  I changed every direction I took seconds after I checked in with my brain. 

"Mind Games; Meditation in Motion"

What does this mean? I'll try to explain it as simple as I can: the moment I am about to follow what I planned to do, I changed it seconds before I  put myself into action, towards the direction I have to go to follow "the plan".  

For example, yesterday, my route was Loodijk.  I also call it The Windmill route; this is my favourite 5K route.  There are no cars to watch out for, the roads are well maintained, and I can focus on a steady pace because there are not a lot of visual distraction. The path is for the most part, a straight meditative wide space.

After 5 years of running, I revised this route.  2017 5K Loodijk route goes like this: I bike out of our village (almost a mile), and park my bike in front of Restaurant Loodijk.  From there, I start running and as soon as I hit 3 km, I turn to go back the same direction I came from, and end my run at Restaurant De Molen.

My running schedule varies but I always seem to run this route while the restaurant is still closed.

This gives the opportunity to do a few easy short yoga poses in peace before I head back home. I love looking back at work out pictures with the windmill behind me. :)

I have come to call this windmill route my Zen zone.


So, how did I end up in Spanderswoud?  

Picnic with M in Spanderswoud
20th of April, 20117

M is personification of fun. Always full of ideas. Always a great energy to be with,

Left, Right, OR Straight Ahead ? Surprise!

I had to create a "Surprise!" moment for my brain to get it "excited", tickle my neurons out of it's inertia, shut the door to the interlopers mania and melancholia.

"Surprising my brain" - keeping it guessing - is  something I do, when my mental block becomes extremely hard to break through or I broke through a major mental block and I feel a new one coming on. 

Is it healthy to practice this method?  Is it counter-productive in the long run? These and many other questions are something I don't dwell on - yet.  It  is a method, that works for me, and as long as I don't have a better one, I will continue to use it.

How did I do this yesterday?

When I finally got myself out of the house, and on my bike, I turned right instead of biking straight on towards Loodijk.  This "surprising my brain in split second" was what I did the next 36 minutes and 44 seconds of my run in Spanderswoud.

It was fun because it was like going through my own spontaneous created maze.  The activity distracted me from obsessing about the heat.

Marathon Training: Week 15-17

2017 running stats, so far

I've been terribly struggling mentally since Week 15.  It was a rapid swing from bad to worst state of mind,  and the time of respite in between was not even sufficient to get back from bad to even a simple okay.

The same old story.  After weeks of great positive flow (14 weeks - not bad in hindsight!) , I dove and fell flat on my face and before I can utter the words, "Not this again!", I am physically weighed down by my depressed body.

This recent experience has led me to the decision of seeking help and taking medication once again, after almost a decade of doing without.

A Minute...

------------------------------------ just a minute, please ------------------------------

I write this post to have something to come back to.  

This is - as I often say in my blogs of the same mind-decluttering kind - not a self-pity party post, OR "I need help" silent cry in the internet (I will ask, if I do need help. Something I have learned the hard way, and practice as often as I can to not lose the skill...), or "look at me, look at how strong I am, and how I prevail...".

No.  This is a documentation. This is me hoping, what I document will help me in my process.  This is me hoping, what I document will help someone else in their process

------------------------------------ read on; thanks. :) -------------------------------

A minute of planking is a meditative minute

My Mind in a Basket (Case)

Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
A ya-ya-ya
Grasping to control
So I better hold on

Yesterday, I broke through my stubborn mental block (it started creeping in at Week 15 and it got worst between Week 16, and persisted in Week 17),   of going out for a  run.

I have another blog still in draft (written on the 4th of May), which I wrote when I was able to pull myself out of inertia mid-way through Week 15.

As soon as I have the time and peace to work on that blog again, I will continue to put in details the many things I did to help myself through this episode of depression.  I got a great run after writing that unpublished blog, in Week 17.

In brief, what always help me stay strong during my depression, and eventually help me recover, are these:

  1. The knowledge, that I have been through the same thing, the same cycles before and manage to come out of it, again and again.  I've been recording my process in my journals since I was a teen-ager, and in 2006, I started writing blogs anonymously.  Between 2011-2012, is when I slowly publicly wrote blogs about how life is with with bipolar disorder, my rapid cycles of depression; how I deal with them and strive to focus on a simple life - a life with quality with my family.
  2. The generous and unwavering support of my family, friends near and far, and kindred souls on the net, whom I have yet to meet in person but through the years, have been catalysts in helping me, help myself in ways that changed my life for the better.
  3. Words of kindness.  Words of inspiration. Words of empowerment.  They are everywhere and we all receive them, when we meditate, pray, or ask the universe for them.
  4. Baby steps.  This is powerful. If you've suffered from minor, major depression or have helped or witnessed someone who went through or is going through depression, you know each step, no matter how seemingly random, mediocre, or seemingly pointless - a step is a step. A step is a small movement towards improvement.
  5. Helping others.  It seems ironic that at a time, I obviously need the help, thinking of helping others makes me get better.

Stop and Smell the Flowers...

“The earth laughs in flowers.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

No. 5 on the list of what helps me stay strong and recover from depressive episodes, has come to be one of the main source of positive energy for me.

"Be there for others". These words are words I encounter  the most in my search to make sense of depression, living life with depression, making the best of life with depressive episodes and moving on and living a good in life in spite of scars left behind by each depressive cycles. 

Experts in mental health share this wisdom; people who went through with and still are dealing with mental health issues, when they share their experiences in books, or in various mental health websites - they all speak and write about : being there for others as a way to get yourself out of your head, and  out living life, as one should.

I know I am strong. I know there is a now, and a future for me, where the stories of how I face, and overcome my mental pain and struggles will help alleviate the pain and struggles of someone else.

Last night my partner - exhausted from a day of "everything went wrong" day at work - laid his head on my lap.  He told me for the hundredth time, how he enjoys me caressing his head, running the palm of my hand  up and down his back.  He sighed almost close to falling asleep, how my voice  (no matter, what I am talking about! :D) soothes him, and can put him to a peaceful slumber. 

As I ran my hand through his hair, and ran my palm up and down his back, I renewed a much repeated promise: I will share my story. Repeatedly. I will write my story.  Leave a written legacy for our girls, for those who need the story, for those  who want to understand, for those who do not want to feel alone.

A story of how someone never gave up, how no one should ever give up on life, and how  we can all keep finding ways to not let mental health issues become an enemy but a source of inspiration on being there for others, living, loving, persevering, understanding and sharing.

Sharing is Caring.

Do you have a story to share? Besides sharing your own keep moving stories, stories of helping and being a friend, do you have any other ways of "being there" for someone, who struggles (with or without mental health issues) ?  I always love to read and learn more from others and their experiences.

Please share your story, or questions in the comment box. OR send me a message via Facebook (click the link on the caption above or click on the link at the right side of this page to be redirected).  Or reach out via email:

The story we share of helping others and ourselves can empower many.


created 18th of  May, 2017 11:00 

Monday, April 10, 2017


Photo taken my M

April 2017
4 min/daily

"Part of courage is simple consistency."

This Week's Purpose

I love beginning the week with a sense of purpose.  

My purpose this week (Week 12: 03.04 - 09.04) is to prepare my body, mind and spirit to run a slow but steady LDR pace.

***** (please, see at the bottom of the post, how I fared at the end of the week with my intentions) 

Since I almost always write a daily impression of my day in my Instagram account, I will link my daily post there, here. If you would like to read a longer recounting of a specific day, simply click on the date and you will be redirected to @happyfeetnl

03.04.17, Monday :  

K (middle daughter) brought M (youngest daughter) to school, and I biked a total of 11 km in the afternoon to pick her up; we went to the woods before going home.

Great quality time together spent in our favourite spot; M moments are always Zen moments!

04.04.17, Tuesday:  

Dada (as the girls call, P) brought M to school and I biked 10 km in the afternoon to pick her up.

This was my After-Recovery-Run Selfie

 / 4 km recovery run

The picture below from last Sunday's (02.04.17) race is what I posted on IG to share my running stats. I love it and I look at it, when I don't feel like going out or getting off the couch! hahaha

05.04.17, Wednesday:  Dada brought M to school.  I napped until almost noon, and then it was time to pick up M: 10 bike km.

06.04.17, Thursday:  

A productive day!

10 bike km, after I brought M to school, and K picked her up in the afternoon. 

I started planking outdoors but our cat Harry was playfully attacking me so I ended up finishing indoors.

Before dinner I got my 10.5 km (tempo training) run done.

4 min/daily in April

07.04.17, Friday

0 biking km, 0 running km

Hahaha thank goodness for IG story! I simply could not recall what I did on Friday and as always Google Photos (I am a "photo-journalist" :D ) helped jumpstart my memory. 

I did not post anything on my Instagram gallery but did share this in my Instagram story:

J (oldest daughter) took pictures of me (please click on the 6th of April for the longer version of the story :) ).  This is one of those picture.

I do this kind of "visual self-therapy" to break through my cloudy mind.  It helps get rid of negative thoughts.

Before I forget! A friend sent a thoughtful message, after I shared this.  She had the same sentiments I did about how to treat such kind of days: rest, recover and take it easy! :)

08.04.17, Saturday:  

5K shake out run

09.04.17, Sunday:  

14K LDR done before dinner.  During the day, I snuggled with P and just rested while following a marathon race on the mobile phone. :D

On this day, a lot of running friends ran the Rotterdam Marathon. Out of sentimentality and to show support and respect to my friends, I shared photos from my three consecutive years of participation.

It's too early to say but I would love to successfully complete the full marathon of this very popular event in Holland. One day in the future.

Total  :       41 biking km /     34 (rounded off ) running km

***** P.S. On the purpose of this week : I was not very successful on the "slow, steady" pace for Sunday's long distance run.  

What I am VERY happy about despite not achieving the consistent pace, the run session itself as a whole felt great. Confidence boosting! It's great to feel your body getting stronger and making good decisions regarding taking care of oneself.

I wanted to do separate blogs (I already have one in draft mode for the first 10 weeks of training) with my analysis and interpretation of my running stats for Berlin marathon training  Knowing myself, though, I might forget so I will include my LDR, here to make sure I won't forget to do a separate blog, and 

The first 5 km, I was trying to "slow down" because I knew I was going too fast. On my training plan was 8'11''-8'46'' average pace.  It is all about preparing the body and building up muscles for continuously running long distances. I ignored this kind of training a lot in the last 5 years because I was simply focused on getting myself out and getting myself back at home ASAP. hahaha

From km 6-8, I tried to bring myself to the prescribed pace. I felt my knees, ankle (specially the problematic right leg!) and calves tightening.  I accelerated by kilometre 9 and it felt much better. I continued with speeding up until km 13 and cooled down with the last km.

✓ Week 1, 2 and 3 (Biking : 188 km Running (started 3rd week: 21 km)
✓ Week 4 (Biking : 60 km Running : 13 km )
 Week 5  (Biking : 50 km Running : 29 km )
 Week 6 (Biking 0 Spring BreakRunning : 29 km )
 Week 7 (Biking : 60 km  Running : 36 km)
✓ Week 8 (Biking : 43 km  Running : 35 km) 
 Week 9 (Biking :  20 km  Running : 32  km)
✓ Week 10 (Biking : 50 km  Running : 24 km) TAPER
 Week 11 (Biking : 50 km  Running : 22 km)  RACE WEEK/10K
 Week 12 (Biking : 41 km  Running : 33 km) 

12 weeks of Biking : 562 km
10   weeks of Running : 274 km

created 27.03.17 11:55 Monday

updated   10.04.17 13:14  Monday

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Photo is a screenshot from the video clip of my sprint to the finishline mat! 😄 I was getting nice (audio) feedback from my Nike+ mobile app, that I could not wait to see the result.


“Life is a race, and what matters most isn't when a person crosses the finish line, but how strong they've grown along the way.” ― Jen StephensThe Heart's Journey Home

This Week's Purpose

I love beginning the week with a sense of purpose.  

My purpose this week (Week 11: 27.03 - 02.04) is to prepare my body, mind and spirit to run my first race for 2017.

***** (please, see at the bottom of the post, how I fared at the end of the week with my intentions) 

*Since I almost always write a daily impression of my day in my Instagram account, I will link my daily post there, here. If you would like to read a longer recounting of a specific day, simply click on the date and you will be redirected to @happyfeetnl
27.03.17, Monday : 

K brought M to school, and I picked her up - biked 10 km.

Sadly, a 5.02 km painful recovery run.

28.03.17, Tuesday:  RESTED - right leg in still in pain! 

0 biking 0 running, lots of self-pitying but not completely -  gathered info in the morning re: my possible injury, stood up in the afternoon and was feeling more positive after I wrote my post*, looking back on Monday's test run.

On Monday's test run I tried smiling;
although my right foot/leg is aching
my brain needed a positive signal!

What a positive energy boosting, sight!

Beloved P picking me up after my run.
I did not have to bike home
and we had a good chat
before dinner on the way home.

29.03.17, Wednesday:  

20 bike km, and wrote messages - writing therapy to clear the cobwebs in my mind!  

My über-delayed monthly period began! last time it was the 10th of February - almost 3 weeks delayed. This will come over as TMI but I want to document about this because my hormones affects my mental state as well as my running.

30.03.17, Thursday

Biked 10 km and did a series of stretch exercises

I LOVE Spring!
Even if the sun hides itself behind the clouds,
the beauty of the blossoms shines through!

Sometimes, you simply have to stretch your soul and "dance"!

Dancer's Pose #StretchRevolutionChallengeMarch 2017

31.03.17, Friday:  

Biked 10 km.

3.10 km to say goodbye to beautiful March! (125.7 km this month's total with this run)

It was, simply put : a run to relieve myself of worries and it did the deed!


01.04.17, Saturday:  

Shake out run for Sunday's 10K

I wrote in my IG account* a mental prep after I ran this 4 km distance. 

02.04.17, Sunday:  

This is what I wrote on the 27th of March -

10K Hilversum City Run : race goal is to run a steady pace of 7'00''; if body is up to it, and no pain on the right ankle, calf, perhaps going to try for an official 5K race PR. 

The photo below sums up how I felt on the 2nd of April, taken seconds after the race!  

Official time: 1:08:13! 

Happy with the overall result of the run. I ran at a very easy pace, and even managed a sprint at the end. The worries of the right leg forgotten.

 (I had trouble with my breath at some points, which can be seen on the race video, since it is still  a struggle for me to keep anxiety at bay and have an even breathing...i.e. not hyper-ventilate)


Total  :     50  biking km /     22 (rounded off ) running km

***** P.S. On the purpose of this week : I did it! 

✓ Week 1, 2 and 3 (Biking : 188 km Running (started 3rd week: 21 km)
✓ Week 4 (Biking : 60 km Running : 13 km )
 Week 5  (Biking : 50 km Running : 29 km )
 Week 6 (Biking 0 Spring BreakRunning : 29 km )
 Week 7 (Biking : 60 km  Running : 36 km)
✓ Week 8 (Biking : 43 km  Running : 35 km) 
 Week 9 (Biking :  20 km  Running : 32  km)
✓ Week 10 (Biking : 50 km  Running : 24 km) 
 Week 11 (Biking : 50 km  Running : 22 km) 

11 weeks of Biking : 521 km
9   weeks of Running : 241 km

created 27.03.17 11:17 Monday
updated   10.04.17 12:03 Monday