Sunday, October 8, 2017

#13HappyHalves : Keeping Dreams Alive

 picture courtesy of MeeùsFitClub 
taken by Wietse Visser Photography

A week after my 4th full marathon, 
I ran
Breda Singelloop 2017:
my 20th half-marathon 
in 6 years!

My memorable first ever half-marathon race!
(I ran 21 km in 2012 during training for Berlin Marathon but never participated in an official 21.1 km race)

"The half marathon gives you almost all of the satisfaction and achievement of the marathon and far less than half of the aches and pain and fatigue." 

former Olympian, coach, and writer

Jeff Galloway

Jeff Galloway's book Marathon : You Can Do It! symbolises a lot of things for me.   I stumbled upon,  and bought the German edition in a favourite bookstore in our old neighbourhood while living in Hamburg.

When I look at it, it reminds me of : believing in and keeping a dream alive.

In 2002, I gave birth to my second daughter, and a year later, I joined a running group.
I finished the Winter course I joined but I lost focus and motivation to continue.

In 2005, I bought this book because I wanted to keep a childhood dream alive.
It will take another 6 years to start running again, and 7 years later I finished my first ever marathon!

It is a valuable reminder of believing in and keeping a dream alive.

What dream is that, you might wonder?  Well, I would like to write a book for my daughters, their future children and the children of their children.  Writing a book has been in my mind, since I was a child. I pursued journalism in collage (Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication) with the hopes of being a good writer, and having the skills to tell a good story to the young generation of my family.

It would be about running but in the heart will be about never losing hope and how you can help yourself, when you feel all hope is lost.

When I write the story of my running, the half-marathon adventures, which began in 2013 will play a key role in how the motor of motivation was fuelled.

#13HappyHalves 2013 Edition: The Origins

The project of running 13 half-marathons within a year was came to life, when an original running goal for the year became impossible.

There is no one specific blog in 2013, that I can link here to explain the entire story in brief. The blog archives of 2013-2017  have episodes of Running Year 2013, which when all put together will give the entire story.  It still is difficult for me to go through my archives in 2013 but I did a quick comb through today.

Please let me try to tell the shortest version of Running Year 2013, here:

After an amazing first running year  August 2011 - August 2012, I finished my first full marathon in September 2012 in Berlin, Germany.  3 weeks later, I finished yet another in Amsterdam. I felt so happy, very satisfied and a state of fulfilment I had never had before (beside giving birth to all my daughters!).

The goal of running an ultra-marathon, was a goal I kept to myself, even after I ran the back to back marathon. I think I have never ever mentioned it in any blogposts.

I am finally sharing it here because it will shed more light,  why I created "My TRIO for 2013" project for running year 2013.

After the back to back marathon in 2012, I wanted to finish at least 3 full marathons in 2013. In the hopes of having a strong base, and confidence boost on my way to building up for ultra-running training in 2014. Sounds like a great plan, right?!

This happened though:

December 30-31, 2012

and this :

July 2013
was just the beginning of
 my issues with Morton's Neuroma

We were homeless the day before the New Year (2013), and had to relocate until we can move to a new home for about 3 months.  This took a toll to my marathon training for Paris.

I did finish the marathon  (not on the official finisher's list because I exceeded the time limit) but I paid the price months later; 2 months after running Paris, I felt significant pain on my right foot while preparing for my Autumn marathons.

I think this is the best blog I can find that summarised 2013,  and the Paris Marathon story
(published on February, 2015)

Paris Marathon 2013 : Memories & Motivation

In August, I would receive the diagnosis of  having Morton's Neuroma.  In September, I would start wearing custom made insoles to help me run pain free.  It is hard to admit, that I consciously wore what others have warned me were wrong pair of shoes to run a full marathon.  After 2 successful marathons, you would think I should know better!

This regrettably wrong decision will haunt me for a long time.

I was not able to continue or complete the TRIO marathons I wanted to accomplish : Paris (unofficial finisher), Luxembourg (I ran the half-marathon instead and in 2014  I became one of the face of the event's campaign!), Berlin (due to an anxiety and panic attack, the last year before ballot system began, I was a DNS in this world major marathon; it will take 4 more years before I successfully made a come back!).

Instead of letting myself be defeated, I switched my goal of running 3 marathons to running 6 half-marathons ( why do 3 full, when you can break it down in 6 :D ?! ).

In January, 2013, I used the Halves of Holland as a tag for the very first time  for a blogpost, which I wrote to pick myself up and keep me going.   I love alliteration, and in writing, it has often make me smile or reminded me not to take myself seriously.

In December, 2013, inspite of all the mental and physical  challenges, I was able to finish 5 half-marathons (out of 6 - I had my first DNF in Groet uit Schoorl; I was 15 minutes late, started anyway and got lost by kilometer 5 because there was no one to show me the way).

The title of the blog summarising my first adventures of half-marathon running was: The Halves I Ran in 2013.

2014-2016: @happyfeetnl

In May, 2014 I joined Instagram.

This was the first photo I uploaded in Instagram
(taken by P during a 10 km liesure run)

I resisted the app for a long time because felt I had enough social media apps taking my time, that I cannot afford to add one more!

This is why, even though I liked the IG snaps shared by friends on FB, and was fascinated with all the communication possibilities of that medium.  I even skipped from adding the app on my phone just to follow other running friends.

In 2014, I set a goal to work on being faster in shorter distances, as a way of replacing the marathon goal, and ultra-running ambitions.

Running Year 2014

Half-way through the project of Fueled By Goals: Running 14 10Ks in 2014, I wrote In Search of Happy Feet.  I had to admit in that blog (more to myself than to my readers!), that working on being fast was not making me happy, and I do not find any fulfilment. My aim in writing that blog was to regain my motivation.

Joining Instagram brought a lot of new inspiration, motivation, connections and lots of  friendships.  

Friendships, which I know will last forever because it is been tested by time; friendships which sadly 
(c'est la vie! ) only lasted a few running seasons, and friendship which you never expected to deepen beyond the shared running passion. Fun, crazy, inspiring, heart-warming, life-changing friendships.

A collage I created for a mental prep blog to overcome my anxiety
for my 5th half-marathon in 2016 and the 15th
(I will make a correction in a blogpost, which will make Enschede 2016 the 14th!
This year, I made a re-count, and discovered my mistake.)
in my 5 years of running.

A Day Before Enschede Half-Marathon 2016
(I broke a 3 year standing half marathon PR!)

#13HappyHalves 2016 Edition: Just Do It

Combine {2013} the need for a new energy giving goal (six half-marathons instead of 3 full marathons), a happy alliteration of  the blogpost tag "Halves of Holland" with the {2014} lively & supportive communities in Instagram,  the comeback of the fighting spirit {2015} and this is how the empowering {2016} #13HappyHalves came to life!

What will be more fitting way to begin this exciting half-marathon running adventure, than to run where I began with the adventures of the Halves of Holland!

Egmond Halve Marathon 2016 medal

After running Singelloop Breda 2015, I took time to put together in images all the half-marathons I have ran thus far: Happy Feet NL's Half-Marathon Running Part 1.  I mistakenly listed "10 half-marathons" because I counted my DNF in Groet uit Schoorl! 

9th overall half-marathon
 picture courtesy of MeeùsFitClub 
taken by Wietse Visser Photography

In 2016, I ran a total of 10 half-marathon races. After the Summer break last year, I regained my running motivation which suffered a dip.  In October I adjusted my 13 Happy Halves goal to include the training I did running the half-marathon distances, making Amsterdam half-marathon the culmination of the project.

There were lots of memorable times in the #13HappyHalves 2016 edition
Running in Egmond again after 3 years,
a PR in Enschede,
running 3 consecutive half-marathon races
every weekend in October,
just to name a few!

#13HappyHalves 2017 Edition: Just Do It...again!

Singelloop Breda 2015
I counted this run {2:35:01} a celebratory Happy Feet NL PR:
it is not my fastest half-marathon overall by then
but the fastest half-marathon I've ran
since my injury in July, 2013

 picture courtesy of MeeùsFitClub 
taken by Wietse Visser Photography

Singelloop Breda 2017
Yes, I ran 2:28:38!!!
A year and a half
after my half-marathon PR (2:29:20) in Enschede, April 2017
breaking a 3 year long standing PR
in CPC Loop (2:30:57) March, 2013

 picture courtesy of MeeùsFitClub 
taken by Wietse Visser Photography

I've learned a lot since I ran my first half-marathon in Egmond, after finishing the first 5 half-marathons in 2013.  The 4 half-marathons between 2014-2015 were also great teachers.  Running 10 half-marathon races and training the 21.1 km distance thrice in 2016 made me realise, how lucky I am that I am healthy to physically run and liberate my mind in the process.

The project, the philosophy of the 13 Happy Halves ultimately helped me finish Berlin Marathon.

I no longer have to prove myself to myself after #13HappyHalves 2016, and could focus on training properly.  The focus on training was my goal for my fourth marathon.

Very excited because I am one race away from completing a 21 x 21.1 km overall count! :D As for my #13HappyHalves 2017 edition, I am 2X 21.1 km away from the goal.

I hope this blog will inspire you to make baby steps towards whatever it is your heart desires.  It does not have to be finishing marathons; this is something I constantly reiterate. I am very grateful I can use running as a sport to maintain a healthy mental health.  The fun of the process makes me forget, how long I have been fighting, how hard I have been working, and how often I had to begin from the start,  again and again.

Hope is eternal; hope strengthens. Peace and happiness are attainable with hope.  Never give up.


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If I can run, so can you: big dreams are reached with baby steps!