April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the category “April”

Prague by night

When planning our ‘racing autumn’, my eyes fell on the Nike Run first. One quick remark of 12Honza (“Prague by night is unforgettable, V will love it!”) made me change my mind and so we registered for the Mattoni Grand Prix Prague on September 8 instead. Of course we combined the race with a long weekend trip to Czech rep. to see my mother so the 1.5 day before the start shot, we were working in her garden, harvesting plums,

hiking around and enjoying the good old Czech cuisine. (Turns our V. loves my mum’s homemade meat loaf). Oh yes – not to forget: we had a great dinner with the whole family on Friday and finally announced my pregnancy. Surprisingly, nobody made any remark regarding the pregnant woman racing. Both my mum and my brother know that there is no chance to change my mind once I set my goal…  On Saturday afternoon, we went down town to pick the start numbers and to breathe some of the ‘racing air’. The starting area looked like this:

We walked around with ice coffee, did some shopping and returned to my mum’s house. For the last time we tried to persuade her to join our friends along the race in Parizska street and to see us running. And at the end, she agreed to come with us! After a series of telephone calls we managed to get a camping chair and 2 friends to accompany mum to the best spot to watch us. We equipped them with a bottle of Becherovka as one never knows when the traditional liquid medicine will come handy. Both the liquor and the camping gear turned out to be unnecessary as we picked a perfect spot at a terrace in front of a fancy café. Mum could see us easily from her place!

Slowly we walked to the start area on Staromestske square that now looked like this:

We found the toilet (twice) and our D corridor and then all of the sudden I spotted attributes that unmistakably belonged to 12Honza (design glasses, black Asics running shoes ‘for formal occasions’, big smile, running pants with a hole on the right knee,…) with his daughter

and he spotted us.

A bit of a surreal moment to shake Honza’s hand, I was so happy we met there! We wished each other good luck and an enjoyable evening and shortly after that the famous Moldau from Smetana’s My Country brought me to tears and made us running.

The evening city was amazing. Yes, it took a bit of an extra focus to avoid the curbs and uneven cobblestones in darker areas but hey, we are urban people and this 10 km track showed Prague at its best. Especially the long stretches at the embankment were not to be missed. Funny enough, we passed pretty much all ‘important’ areas of my young student years and as our pace was moderate, I could show V all of them and even comment on ’what happened here and there…’

Before we knew, we were half way through, keeping the pace at a comfortable 6:15 or so per km. We drank some water from the bottle that V was carrying with her and ran on. Every time as we were passing Parizska street (4x in total) we waved to my mum. Then as we were passing Manesuv bridge on our way to finish, the fireworks above the river exploded!

At Ovocny market, 12Honza with his daughter ran over us in a mighty finish pace and soon we were passing the finish line as well. The race was fantastic as the atmosphere of medieval city by night cannot be substituted by anything else in the world. Our time 1:03:44 was way below what we predicted and I am very happy with it considering the fact I am almost 16 weeks pregnant.

With the golden medals hanging around our necks we walked to Parizska street again and joined our support team at the terrace. It was great to chat with them some more while drinking huge glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and chewing cheesecake. I saw the twinkle in my mum’s eyes. She was so happy and proud of us! We talked and talked and if it was not for the public transport that we were depending on, we would have stayed over the midnight…

On Sunday morning we went to my mum’s cottage again to enjoy some more sun and hike a bit and also to finish some garden works.And then it was time to head home. A perfect weekend if you ask me – and I am sure we will be back!

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Juneathon Day 1: Shoes

Many things have changed in my life since I joined (and completed) my first Athon in January this year. First of all, our beloved April passed away and I keep being grateful for the idea to name my blog after her. (My own original idea was Wounded Knee as my knee has been playing games with me for the past 2 years but heeey, no pain – no gain!)

Furthermore, I now consider myself a runner. I have been running (and racing) since January and enjoying it every time. Throughout the months I found out it is not for the weight loss or to tick off some imaginary box. No. I run because I like doing it. I like to feel the air in my hair, to smell the river next to me on a summer evening, to feel the fresh water drops on my body when having a shower after the run. In particular, I like the endorphins hitting me each time after about 4-5 km of running :-).

Juneathon jogging challenge: Run every day.

In January, I managed to exercise every day and came to a total mileage of 400+ km out of which 130 km was running. In June, I want to go out there running each of the 30 days. The total of 100 running miles would be great, the other activities are less important.

Juneathon blogging challenge: Make a picture at each run.

Today, on Day 1, I present you my running buddies.

Until recently I only had one or two pairs of running shoes and it was fine. But 2 weeks ago, the shopaholic girl in me couldn’t resist a major discount on the Salomon trail shoes and Asics Nimbus. Both these new pairs are probably the cheapest shoes I’ve ever bought so don’t blame me… As the matter of fact, I took the pair of Nimbus for their Juneathon maiden voyage today and they ran great!

Charity Run? Why not!

During the past months, funny thing has happened to me: somehow I started realising I was becoming a (slightly) better person. Not in the sense of better/faster runner but better as in more receptive to other people: their stories, sorrows, lives.

This might be a temporary thing, enhanced by our tiny running/racing successes but never mind, I am predetermined to use it to the max. And so I enrolled our 2 headed Team AprilRuns to the charity project Europa Kinderhulp and in September, we will be running the world famous Dam tot Damloop (10 miles from Amsterdam to Zaandam, 40.000 runners!) and raising funds for this charity.

Europa Kinderhulp is a Dutch charity organisation with its main goal to enable different kids from all over Europe to spend 2-3 weeks of a nice holiday in Holland, to escape from their socially and financially poor surroundings. It is not any life saving general project, it is just an attempt to help each individual kid to forget the misery at home and play.

I remember myself when I was a kid, how important my holidays were for me, the 2 fabulous months every summer. If we can raise some money to lighten up a couple of children’s faces, to make sure they spend the holiday of their life, our goal is achieved.

Asking others for money is not what I do nor am good at. I have never done it and I am not sure if I am good at it. It helps knowing that the money is being raised for a very good cause. So if you feel tempted to help, here is what you can do:

  1. Visit our Dam tot Damloop charity website  and feel free to read/donate;
  2. Email me or leave me a blog comment to arrange for a different way of payment.

If the whole idea is not interesting to you, never mind: the point of charity is that it is voluntary. Keep running!

Running the dunes

Saturday was our first morning without April – sunny and bright sky but the house was awfully quiet and we both felt rather empty. We decided to gear up with our new Team AprilRuns running shirts and hit the road to the dunes near Noordwijk. We have the 1/2M distance to run next month so why not to try how far we could go today.

We parked the car and quickly found a forest trail at the edge of the dunes. The views over the blossoming tulip fields were fantastic:

As we ran on, the paths started to fill up with bikers, hikers and other runners. Also, the paths started getting a bit hilly.

After about 7 km’s, we tested our fast-energy banana sticks (grrrr, awful) and decided to run further. Then at 10 km’s, our legs still felt fresh enough to continue and we decided to check the beach café nearby (well – sort of nearby). The truth is: we did not want to return to our quiet house… so we ended up with the total of 16.5 km, V’s longest run ever.

April: 4 Oct 2003 – 13 April 2012

Shortly after being diagnosed with a serious illness, our beloved April has died on Friday night. She was brave and cheerful till her last breath. We do miss her very much.

http://hejrom.rajce.idnes.cz/April_2003-2012/

Running therapy

Eversince we’ve heard about April’s illness, my urge to run grew. As written previously, we have established a proper AprilRuns Team now and registered for a real race (scary!) – so we need to train. Early in the morning V hit the road to her tennis club to participate at her competition and I started thinking where to run and what to wear on a not-so-sunny-but-soon-to-be-very-warm day. I drank large coffee and decided to repeat my longest run to Rijpwetering. Some 16 km. Did I eat breakfast? No. Did I use bathroom? No. I just did not think about it…

… until km 3 when the full bladder announced its presence and demanded me to find some bushes. Usually I am rather kind to my body’s requests but I cannot do the impossible. This is South Holland in March, there are no bushes, trees, leaves, terrain obstacles – NOTHING to hide behind (especially not when wearing yellow):

I decided to run to the next village and try to find an open restaurant. But then again: this is a Sunday morning in South Holland: people are either in the church or on a bicycle so no restaurants to welcome wandering runners in need. Did I turn back and hurried home? No.

By the time I reached km 8, the bladder problem got a competitor: my right knee. Not my left knee, the injured one that I’ve been pampering for 2 years now in fear that it collapses one day. Not at all. It was my totally healthy and strong right knee that went on strike. So here I am, in the middle of nowhere with no money, no bushes, full bladder and needles in my knee thinking what are my options. I figured there was only one way to get home…

As I ran on thinking how desperate or embarassing would it be to ask the car drivers passing me by to give me a lift, another 2 km passed. And then running surprised me yet again: all of the sudden the knee pain was gone and so was the bladder-urge (note I did not wet my pants!). I ran additional 5 km or so home bringing the total to my new maximum of 17.2 km (and my week mileage to 40 km) – no pain, no problem.

At home, April’s wagging tail was welcoming me, her eyes suggesting to have a large brunch in the garden. And so I quickly showered and went to sit outside to play the neverending game of dropping pieces of cheese and ham as I was eating so that April could be cleaning all of them…

Bad news and The Plan

April’s arthrosis got worse during the past months, she suffered especially from painful swelling in her right front leg.  Several days ago we took her to the vet again and insisted on an x-ray. Unfortunately the results were not good. The pain and swelling are caused by an aggressive bone tumor (osteosarcoma) and it seems like the cancer is spreading into other parts of her body already. Without going into much details, the facts are devastating. She probably only has weeks to live. Except for some pain management, there is nothing we can do for her. No words to describe how we feel. There is a lot of quiet moments, tears and hugging. The good thing (as long as there is a good thing about this situation) is that the pain killers seem to work quite well and April is all happy and vital.

Yesterday evening I took V for a run along the river. I thought it would do us good to go outside together for a change. It was a nice quiet evening and as we were running, without much thinking V said that she would like to run a race with me and The Plan was born: we registered for the 1/2M in our home town.

It is a crazy idea – except for V’s tennis competition and my biathlon races 20 years ago, we have no experience with races. We never even ran 21 km in one go! But somehow, yesterday evening out there, thinking about us, the dog and all important things in life, we formed the AprilRuns Team that will participate in the Leiden Half Marathon on May 20.

Does it make any sense?

Janathon Day 23

Shall we start with the weather forecast again? Heavy rain and wind so strong that it almost blew April away (130 pounds of muscle and bone, 4 large feet with long claws). So yes, dear reader, you know that an outdoor run was out of the question. In the gym I chose the elliptical – to allow my knees to rest tonight. 60 minutes and 10 km further I am back at home, showered and fresh, thinking about some take away healthy dinner.

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