April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the tag “Leiden”

Medal without racing

After testing my A.D. running abilities yesterday, this morning (after a night full of crying, feeding, cuddling and crying again) I left my bed at 6.30 am. I had to go running again…
200420131570I haven’t been downtown with my running shoes since last December and somehow, intuitively, that was where I wanted to go. One of the reason was the Singelloop, a 6.6km annual run around the historical city centre – my first race last year, my first running race ever! Last night I missed it so I wanted to check if there were still any remains of it today.

200420131571To my surprise, I haven’t found anything that would even remotely remind of a running race with 5000 runners along the city centre canals. All was clean and quiet. I guess the cleaning guys had a loooong night. 200420131572



200420131575I did not want to go further than 2 km down the main canal but then I suddenly remembered there was this one cemetary that I always wanted to visit but never had the time or opportunity. Funny enough, the gate was open this morning:200420131576


Half an hour later my 5.5 km loop was done and I was back at our city gate. What a beautiful morning!200420131578

And there is a bonus to it too – so that I always remember why it pays to get up early: at the end of my run, I picked up the Singelloop medal from the cobble stones. So here I am – no race but still one shiny medal!


Leiden Halloween night run

Here a couple of pictures clearly showing why running outside is better than chasing the treadmill…

Rhine river downtown, bridge “Koornbrug”

Church “Hooglandse Kerk”

Windmill “De Valk”

City gate “Zijlpoort”

  Happy (belated) Halloween!

Back to winter time

Yet another lazy Sunday morning downtown, just a couple of dogs with their owners packed in winter gear. Dry and sunny at times, not warmer than 5 degrees. I ran about 3 km along the city canal and did not want to run home…

  So I decided to discover the inner banks of the canal – with its old small graveyards, narrow paths through evenly narrow parks, all covered with yellow leaves. 

Back home, after 7 km, my reward was a long warm shower and hot coffee and the thought that I have all day ahead of me :-).

Leiden in the morning

I love running though my town – but it is only doable on Sunday mornings, early… My favourite route is the 6.6 km loop around the city canal (or ‘singel’ as Dutch call it). On the way I pass the old university buildings with the observatory, botanical garden greenhouses, the statue of Rembrandt, a couple of city gates and of course the mills. And water – with the geese and ducks always present.

Juneathon Day 28: Almost there

How hard can the last three runs of the month be? Tonight my body simply refused to go running. So we went downtown first (found one cool geocache) and had something to eat. Then ice cream. Then returned home.

At the end of the evening I started negotiating with my legs again. We came to a mutual agreement of a slow 5 km run. And so I ran off to the warm night. And it was hard. Is it the heat or is it the general tiredness of my body after almost 30 consecutive days of running?

Juneathon Day 12: Early

It had to be an early morning run today as tonight, we have a family dinner scheduled and I did not want to take any risk (I am thinking beer and wine and full stomach and almost midnight and nothing to blog). So I hit the wet road around 7 am thinking about what picture to take today. No special thoughts or ideas – just this water tower.

As if my brain was still asleep, I plodded on without thinking too much – until I got the idea for perfect breakfast. So after uneventful 5.5 km I ran home happily thinking about picking the raspberries and mixing them with my breakfast yoghurt/crusli:And now I am all ready to work and done with the Juneathon challenge nr 12 while many of you still have to figure out where/when to squeeze a quick Tuesday run. Good day to everybody!

Juneathon Day 7: Random Route

It was yet another rainy Juneathon run tonight. V did not want to join me (of course you don’t have to, honey, feel free to stay at home and cook us a dinner in the meantime…) and I felt like running downtown and see if I could discover something intersting. First, I came across this machine:

I actually had to run a circle around it to find out what it was. It looked like a self service beer taping device with bar chairs or something. After a moment it hit me: an outdoor fitness apparatus! Well great, next season no subscriptions for indoor gym – just climb on this blue beast and enjoy the ride!

About 3 km further down the road, as I was running alongside the canal, my legs were sore and nothing much was happening, I started wondering why I picked running rather than any other sport. For example one that enables you sitting during the training:

Luckily this minor meaning-of-life crisis passed rather quickly and I plodded on into one of the municipal parks. It stopped raining at the momnet when I was passing this beauty:  Back at home, the dinner was indeed ready. Juneathon Day 7 is done and dusted and after 10 km I am tired and off to bed.

We did it!

This morning, I woke at 5 am to drive my mother to the airport. It was rainy and windy and misty and the idea of running 20+ km in these circumstances sounded everything except appealing to me.

Fortunately the weather improved significantly so after the chaotic ‘what-to-wear’ session (while working warm crusli and banana into my stomach hoping it will stay there) we returned to the original idea of long pants and Team AprilRuns shirt. What a comfort to participate in a 1/2M race that starts just 2 miles from our house! We parked the bikes, visited the portable toilet, panicked some more about Garmin, iPhone, starting numbers (nothing unusual) and walked to start area.

Some twenty minutes before the shot this is what we saw in front of us:

And this is what we saw behind us:

I suggested to run the first 10k in a comfortable pace and see how we feel. Of course, the reality did not resemble the theory at all: the first 5k was one of our fastest ever, then after a short drinking pause (10 seconds of walking) the second 5k was quite similar. Except for my knee we felt very good. The path was quite nice, leading us through small villages and fields, we even saw deer. And along the path there were lots of locals cheering and offering drinks, fruit, sponges… I absolutely loved the atmosphere and was predetermined to enjoy it all the way.

The crisis came around km nr 12. The black currant gel did not go down too well I guess. Also, there was some wind against us and I’ve noticed we were slowing down a bit. Around that moment, I lost my hand made wrist strap with pace time for my Dream Time of 2:20. Well, whatever – as long as we finish, I thought.

I was encouraging V to run faster but she would not leave me behind. I was guessing that part of the reason being her two tennis matches last night. All the time, even though I ran with an mp3 player and earplugs, I was looking around enjoying the crowds: kids giving us high-five (and begging for sponges and gels), families, older people, bikers, dog walkers, musicians. And indeed, the kick I got when people/strangers clapped and yelled my name is hard to describe. And so my first crisis left as fast as it came.

At 15k we paused again, drank some and from that point somehow I knew we would make it. Suddenly more and more people around us were walking rather than running. I have to admit, watching an athletic guy with muscles that looked like sculpted by ancient Greeks in front of me and then passing him by (with my snail pace but still) – that gave me a kick of a century!

Short after that we crossed the 20k sign and intuitively speeded up just a little as one cannot look too slow down at the city centre. The finishing line was a dream, we crossed it hand in hand, laughing like crazy and utterly happy. We ran our first 1/2M and we did it together: for ourselves and also for April.

And for the statistics (not that time matters so much), the time was 2:14:45.

P.S. Even though this little bit is written all the way at the end, it is the most important part of this post: Thank you, V, for doing this with me. And thank you 12Honza, Shadow, Cheeta, Barborka and ALL other bloggers for your blogging which is a neverending source of inspiration for my humble running attempts.

3 days to go

This morning the organizers of Leiden Marathon sent us a reminder that our race is to start in 3 days. As if I did not know! I have trouble in falling asleep for days already, my metabolism has gone crazy, my legs feel heavy (after 5 km of running yesterday evening I had to stop!), my breath is shallow, both knees aching now, not to mention my mind and the voices in my head that keep telling me that there is no way to manage a 20+ km run! What is going on?

I guess it is the pre-race stress and I keep calming myself down that everybody feels it one way or another and that it is a good thing as it helps me to get focused. Or am I just fooling myself? Let’s not forget I was not making any proper long runs in the last month, my body has probably already forgotten my first (and last) 17km training run…

Nevertheless, on Sunday morning, I am predetermined to be out there and fight everything that comes across my path (myself to start with). My first priority is to finish the race. If things go well I would be very happy with any time under 2:30.

P.S. No explanation for this move – but I did register V and me for the 10 km Mattoni Grand Prix in Prague on September 8.

My first race

… was supposed to be the 1/2M in Leiden but short time ago we came across a folder with the (much shorter) Singelloop in Leiden: it is a nice 6.6 km loop following the canal around the medieval part of the city. Since I’ve been living in Leiden for several years now, I decided to use this ‘back garden’ charity run to spice up my training a bit. V was happy to join (“Otherwise I have to go running tonight anyway…”)

I worked all week and had little time to google more information on the race. Also, we have friends from Prague visiting us this week so I was not really focused to get ready – enjoying long evenings with wine, chatting, eating and more wine.

The start of the race was scheduled at 19.30. At the end of the afternoon with still a lot of work related stuff to address, I quickly googled the report from the last year race: 5000 runners, major regional sports event,… hmm – it looked like the start line would be rather busy. Luckily, the start was at a walking distance from our house. I geared up our guests with 2 huge umbrellas (the weather forecast promised heavy showers) and a heavy back pack with warm dry clothes and we all walked towards the town. On our way, we could already see many runners – some on bikes, some already warming up by jogging.

Of course it was cold (wearing our Team AprilRuns t-shirts). And of course I had to go to the WC. And of course there were only 3 (three!) of them for the whole crowd. Luckily we were nice on time and queuing among other runners allowed me to calm down. I knew that 6.6 km was an easy distance and I had nothing to worry about. Yet my legs were shaking and I could hear my heart beating in my ears. I haven’t been feeling like this for the past 20 years. I haven’t been RACING since I was 18.

We did not hear the start shot, we just heard the crowd getting louder as it started moving towards the start gate. And then, several minutes later, V smiled at me and said it was our time to get going. The euphoria of that moment, the first hundred meters when you somehow feel united with that crowd, is hard to describe.

Young and old, slow and fast, fat and thin – all the people who exchanged the comfort of Friday night in front of their TV for the experience we were going through as well. The course brought us along the nicest parts of Leiden: 2 windmills (one of them used to belong to Rembrandt’s family), the old university buildings, botanical gardens, both city gates. I knew all the places, I have passed them many times by bike, by car or just walking – but never before I saw them from the perspective of a runner.

The crowd on the road and alongside the course was wonderful – people waving at us from their balconies, from the pubs and parks. Kids offering us water and snacks, students yelling at us. And so we ran. We ran as if there was no tomorrow. The atmosphere was too good to think about a slower pace. Soon we were half way and guess what: we were not at the tail, quite the contrary – we started passing many runners and as I quickly checked the watch, I knew this would be our fastest run so far.

At the finish line, our Czech guests were waiting so we even attempted to speed up for the finish photo. I guess we succeeded as they told us we were too fast for their cameras. And then, at the end, after crossing the finish line, we got our first running medals.

With the real time of 37:28, we managed to maintain the pace above 10 km p/h and that is a good sign that we can do the 1/2M in a month time. And it is a major achievement for me. Remember, several months ago I was not running at all. And I was 30 kg heavier…

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