April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the tag “long run”

Sest kratkych obrazu z jednoho dlouheho behu

Obraz prvni (prepis z chatu):

T: Priste, az tu budes, pobezime k Lasikum, je to tam super a od nas jenom asi 10 km, pohodicka.

A: OK. Pojedu na kolobezce. Nebo na kole.

T: Tam to na tu tvoji kolobezku neni…

A: Uvidime. Mam cas v pondeli nebo v utery.

T: Jeeee, to maj zrovna zavreno. Ale nevadi, kousek dal je Unetickej pivovar. Naklikala jsem trasu a je to celkem 10.2 km, to dame! Zpatky pobezime indianem.

A: OK.

Obraz druhy (kdesi u Vltavy, severne od Troji):

T (stroze): Mam ten nart prej nacatej.

A (bolestne): Hm. Ja mam infarkt stehna.

T (presvedcive): Pobezime az k tomu druhymu privozu, je to tam hezky.

A (vystrasene): OK. Uz mame skoro 7 km.

T: Ono to do Unetic stejne bude asi trochu vic.

A: ?

T (vahave): Asi 12.

A (ulevne): OK.

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Obraz treti (temny kopcovity les):

T (odhodlane): Tady nekde ted budeme hledat tu zkratku.

A (taktez odhodlane): Jasne, v poho.

T (svitorive): Jeee, my jsme ji nenasly. Tak to bude celkem tak 16… Jee hele, tamhle je veverka.

A (nechapave): Jaka veverka?

T: Prazsky!

Obraz ctvrty (Uneticky pivovar):

A (durazne): Jedno pivo rozhodne nestaci!

T (radostne): To teda ne. Dame i polivku a sejra. Ahoj kluci!!! (zvola smerem k Veverkovi, t-birdovi, RIDovi a Malemu Medvedovi)

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Obraz paty, dil prvni (Kozi hrbety):

A (konstruktivne): Mate pravdu (obraci se k Tucnakovi, RIDovi a Malemu Medvedovi), vecna skoda prijit o tenhle zapad slunce. Trochu me ale bolej nohy.

T: Tak pobezime pres tresnovku.

A (vystrasene): Je to este daleko?

Sbor (rozhodnym hlasem): Ne!

Obraz paty, dil druhy (Sarka):

T: Jee, bezime po trase SUTRu! To je nahodicka!

A (unavene): Je to este daleko?

Sbor (rozhodnym hlasem): Ne!

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Obraz sesty (Hostinec Pod loubim, Dejvice):

A: Tri Kozly prosim vas, ale rychle.

T (opatrne): Tak mne to hlasi 27 km. Tobe?

A (udivene): Mne taky.

T (nadsene): Tak posleme kluky do Stromovky a dojedem to tramvaji.

A (ulevne az radostne). Tak jo.

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Tucnaku a kluci, diky za super odpoledne a vecer, bylo mi cti!

 

 

 

 

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Instead of racing…

I was supposed to be in Plasy today. My 2014 ‘racing season’ would culminate by the trail 1/2M, a race that many of my fellow bloggers were attending… which promised some serious beer drinking and a proper after party. As we all know, with two little children there is no way to stick to any plan…chaos

Since I still wanted to run today, I forced myself out of bed at 6.20 – my usual get up time on week days – and gathered my running gear. I have been fighting with myself lately – somehow I cannot find the proper motivation for longer runs. My usual midweek 7-8 k’s are fine but whenever the run should become longer, somehow it does not feel the way it used to. No idea why is that as my body does not send any negative signals, quite the contrary – no muscle ache nor any other pain at all. Is this laziness? Or am I getting too old?
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To my credit, I overcame my laziness and poured fresh water into my camelbag, grabbed some fruit sugar and within 5 minutes I was outside the door and moving. My plan was anything above 12 k, ideally around 20. It was a lazy morning with mist in the valley and I felt like the only person alive. As usually, the first 3-4 k were a sheer torture but little by little my face lightened up and after half an hour of dreaming about my warm and soft bed I realised that I was actually enjoying the run. At about 8 k mark I picked some fresh mint for the tea and turned back to run home. Nice and easy 16 k but still, the joy wasn’t quite there. No idea what to do about it.CIMG3052

Oh, and one more thing, especially for Leona: as I was looking for banana’s in our local supermarket, this is what I bumped into (the tiny letters read: “Power seeds for the ascetic runner”) – and yes, I admit, I couldn’t resist to buy one package to experience the magic myself.
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Salzburg 1/2M: Slow but great!

After my slow and not very well built 1/2M in Limassol in March, I felt it was time to attempt to race better. He he, little did I know… I decided to run 1/2M in Salzburg on Sunday, the day of S’s first birthday. Originally, all of us would go to Salzburg together: the girls would be enjoying a nice day out while I would get my run done and join them later for lunch and some more walking. The thunder on Saturday night and temperatures dropping to freezing point made us change our plans.

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The wall with the names of all participants in the University Auditorium

At 6.00 on Sunday morning, freezing to death in my light jacket, I left for Salzburg all alone. Arriving to downtown at about 8 am, the soft rain changed into something I was not willing to run in. However, the streets were full of happy (and wet) runners and so I was waiting for a miracle. And it came: By 8.45, it was suddenly dry and the clouds moved several miles outside the city. The starting shot caught a happy colorful crowd, both marathon and half marathon runners started at the same time as the marathon course was designed as 2x ‘our’ 21.1 loop. Foto0111 The first 5 km part was great. As my nose was blocked and I had a bit of a sore throat (this is becoming my new tradition during races), I decided to make it a nice and easy run allowing me to breath well, look around, enjoy the historical down town and its outskirts. I quickly joined a group that formed itself around the 4.45 marathon pacer and stopped thinking about the time, distance and other problems – just stopped thinking all together. After the marker of the second km, the paved surface was substituted by an unpaved sand path. Due to the rainy night and morning, the path was somewhat muddy but nothing too serious. The first pit stop was placed in Hellbrunn and it was great – enough drinks and fruit, well organised (volunteers who actually knew how to pass a plastic cup without spilling its content all over us), cheerful people. The scenery was good too…

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One borrowed picture: Hellbrunn

… and this lasted for another 5 km. Around one third of the race I decided to leave ‘my’ pacer behind me and as I could still spot the green balloon of the 4.30 one, I attempted to move towards him. Why oh why did I waste so much energy to do this? I passed the 1/4M mark in 1.09 and felt well. We came to another well equipped pit stop at Schloss Leopoldskron and by the 13 km marker it became obvious that I had no speed to continue chasing the guy. I calmed down and ran a while behind a tall German girl who kept a pace similar to mine. Every now and then she stopped to make a picture (or to catch a breath?) and we have been passing each other on and off till the finish line (for which I thanked her at the finish).

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Yet another pic I did not take but it looked exactly like this yesterday.

The last third of the race lead us back to the old town: paved roads, good crowds on the sides, very very supportive people and volunteers, music – and then the sun started shining… Unfortunately, I did not have any energy left to speed up, quite the contrary, the last 2 miles were sort of painful – but in a good way. The first 2 Kenyan runners (who were finishing the second loop) passed me with the speed of light around 19th km. I hardly had time to focus on them and off they went. And there was the finish line, again with many people, music, beer, fruit and even this cherry cake: Foto0114 So to sum up: my finish time, 2:21:14, is the worst out of my thee 1/2M’s that I participated in but when it comes to my feelings, this was probably the best race I ran in. I would be happy to return next year :-).

Limassol long one

It has become somewhat of my routine to plan long runs on Saturdays. This time, I wanted to follow the Eastern part of the route of the Limassol marathon. Around 9 am I departed from Molos along the coastal road towards the tourist area. It was a sunny day with gentle breeze coming from the sea. I had my camelbag with me and forced myself to drink some water every 5 km or so and also to bite grape sugar pieces. Downtown, everybody was getting ready for the carnaval opening parade.
Foto0441At Amathus, all was fine, I felt good and I enjoyed running on the board walk above the waves. Rather romantic, actually. Except that I was all by myself :-(.Foto0427
Foto0438After 12 km I reached Le Meridien which marks the most eastern point of the Limassol tourist area. I ran about a mile further on the road towards Zygi (where a dog died… and rusty cars were parked) and then decided to turn back.Foto0434I ran passing the gardens and private beaches of Le Meridien, St Raphael and Elias and it stroke me how quiet it was there. Amathus and St Raphael are actually still closed and will be reopening only on April 1.
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While my legs were still feeling fresh, I started experiencing a slight discomfort of an empty stomach and since I was returning to the coastal road again, I bought this killing combination in a nearby periptero:
Foto0439Cold banana flavoured yoghurt milk and ice tea? Honestly, what the f*ck  was I thinking? Both beverages left my stomach as quickly as they got in. On the side of the road on km 18…

This made me slow my pace significantly (and no, the Japanese lady with camera did not help) as I was returning towards the old town. The last stretch was (luckily) rather uneventful. I was listening to Horacek’s lyrics and recorded a 26 km run to my RF overview. My longest run so far.

More on friendship

I wrote about friends and friendships earlier but somehow, it is never enough…

When I was a teenager my older brother told me that I should cherish all the good friendships as with the age, one only looses friends and almost never gains new ones. At first, I did not believe him as there were so many new and beautiful and smart people around me and I felt there were new friendships waiting to be grabbed and developed on every corner.

Little did I know that the real friendships don’t come to one’s door too often. The older we get, the more difficult it is to distill the reasons why people get attracted to us. In the past, in my naivety, I let many people close to me and did not see (or did not want to see) why they wanted to declare a friendship to me at all.

Throughout the years that I lived abroad, I lost contact with many good friends and found new friends instead. Except that there was hardly any comparison between the Old ones and the New ones. The New ones co-created my new social life, they were there to talk to and to laugh with and to drink beer with but somehow, with just a few exceptions, these new friendships remained rather shallow. Their roots were simply not deep enough to weather the storm of my life style. Just like my brother predicted.

On the Old friendship scene, luckily the situation was completely different: even though I haven’t seen some of my youth friends for many years, whenever the opportunity was there, we somehow always managed to get together and step halfway into a conversation as if we stopped talking an hour ago – rather than many years ago.

Last time in Prague, I finally proved my brother wrong. Yes, I have met a couple of old friends and yes, the encounters were great and felt like coming home. But I have also met new friends, my running friends that is. And guess what? The time we spent together was at least equally as good. I felt so welcome in their presence, in their homes – as if warm chocolate milk and blanket were offered to me (well, they were, actually!). I spent a lot of time with interesting people conducting interesting conversations. With people who took their time and effort to make me feel good, uncovered the hidden landscapes of their minds in order to help me to uncover my own weaknesses, with people who charged me with lots of energy, who showed me their affection and made me feel good about the way I am.

Maybe it is the running, a universal sport that outgrew in a passion (and even a life style, for some of us) that breaks all the barriers between us? If that is the case, I couldn’t have picked a better hobby.

Thank you. And the Shoe Fairy.
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My private 1/2M

While Janathon is in full swing, due to extensive work load and some travelling this month, I had to skip my attendance at the 1/2M in Egmond, a race that I was looking forward to since Christmas. The idea of matching my longest run so far (Leiden 1/2M back in spring of 2012) kept sitting in my head, though. I thought I had the legs for it and after the last week treadmill torture there was even the mental prep. The only thing I did not have was a plan.

Last night, I went out with a friend – just one beer as we both had a looong working day behind us. But then as we were almost leaving the pub, our waitress by mistake served us double scotch on the house and what do you do? Letting the ice melt in the long glass filled with whisky was not in my books. And I still had my Janathon run to make! By the time I dragged myself through 4 painful and sleepy kilometers, showered and hit my bed, it was way past midnight.

This morning I woke up with the “I’ll never drink again” feeling and somehow, almost automatically started pouring water in my camel bag. The thing is, I thought, when carrying a water bag, I will be motivated to run further than just a few miles. If only my head was not sore…

Little by little I gathered my running gear, a package of caffeine chewing gums to substitute my morning coffee and once my Garmin (“Did we change continents AGAIN?”) found its position, off I went. I decided to run westwards following the Coastal Road until I passed the Old Port and the new marina.
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There at the crossroads I chose the southern unpaved road to Lady’s Mile. By then, I was about 5 km into my run feeling good. The surrounding scenery quickly changed from industrial views of the harbor to the semi desert landscape around the Akrotiri salt lake.
akrotiri salt lake
Unfortunately, the flies and other unidentified insects equipped with wings and stungs wanted to join me… And so we were all running/flying through hard sand and over the salty plains up until the point where we could enjoy the sea view. Despite my habits I drank quite regularly as the temperature started to climb and I was really happy with my water bag. Around 11th km I stopped for a while and still felt surprisingly fresh. Nevertheless, I decided to turn back and run towards the city again.
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After 14 km I finally started to feel some discomfort and slowed down a bit. Unfortunately the caffeine chewing gums turned to be of no use for me (unless I wanted to keep them whenever I need to turn my stomach inside out) so I threw the whole package away and bit 2 pieces of fruit sugar instead. That helped for another 4 km or so. I think that is where I had a small crisis. Being me, I covered it by a short break at the ATM machine as I needed to withdraw some cash anyway.
These magical 5 or perhaps 10 minutes did the trick again and the rest of my run was luckily as easy as the beginning. By the time I was approaching the starting point, I figured that with a tiny D-tour I could press the Garmin stop button at 21.1km. By then, I clocked 2:26:30.

Can one’s day start in any better way?

P.S. The pictures are not mine this time…

Rainy Runs

My short autumn break (see the previous post) only took a week or so. Yes, all of you were right: I couldn’t stand the idea of not going out there, the idea of not challenging myself. Despite the fact that I only went running three times last week (We, Fr and Su), I am very happy with the volume as all three runs were long (for me): 15, 11 and 12 km. And all three runs tested my head as much as my legs: it was raining all the time! rainy-run2-1024x681

I think this actually might be my new running mode: By cutting the frequency while increasing volume, the overhead time shrinks. In other words, I can spend more time by running and less by preparations (as long as I have at least a small piece of fruit sugar with me). This inevitably leaves me a chance to run only in the evening when the world is dark – bummer. Luckily we still have weekends – happy days.

I have to keep repeating to myself that if there is a will, there is always a way.

 

Morning runs and Hortus

Back from Austria and Czech republic, we are slowly returning to the ,normal’ rhythm. Despite my original plans, July did not see me running more than 80 km and there was hardly any weight loss. The good thing is I feel I am getting stronger and what’s most important, the children are doing great. Now that their sleeping habits improved A LOT, I often have time to run after 8 pm and/or before 7 am. Hitting the 100 km mark in August therefore must be doable. Here some pictures from my Saturday (9 km) and Sunday (12 km) morning runs:Foto0029
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Foto0031And because one should do more in life than running, here pictures from our Sunday afternoon in Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world (and certainly the oldest one in NL).

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Sinterklaas approaching

Early morning I dressed up and ran outside. How else a perfect weekend can start? I had no plans regarding the destination or distance, just decided to follow the gracht to the river and see depending on how I would feel after a mile or so. The sun was slowly coming up and the world around me was quiet and beautiful.

From the river, I turned to ‘my road’ and followed it till Leiderdorp park where some early birds were already walking their dogs and others playing field hockey. Luckily for me, there were still more than enough quiet paths to follow.

I even spotted something rather romantic (I think?):

My body felt good – no aching, no difficulty or discomfort with my belly, breathing nor legs so I just ran further down the road,

until I reached this windmill:

Ant close to that spot it hit me: today is the day when Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of St Nicolas or Mikulas, if you wish) is coming to town. All the Zwarte Piets (Black Pete’s, his helping buddies) were waiting already along the road:    According to the tradition, he is supposed to come from Spain on a steam boat – but I guess today I saw the modern version:

And so my run was again great: totally unexpectedly I got a chance to watch this show…

9 km.

Dam tot Damloop

I have heard about this race many years ago: the biggest Dutch running event with thousands of runners and even more supporters along the way, great atmosphere and interesting  10 mile course… No wonder that the start numbers were sold out 12 minutes after the online registration opened. Luckily we managed to ‘sneak in’ by combining pleasant and useful and joined a small charity project to run (and collect funds) for them.

This was all long before I got pregnant…

Saturday night: Here I am, the night before the race, feeding myself with spaghetti like crazy, feeling quite good but sadly realizing I have to do this on my own as V caught some stomach bug and looks like she will be spending the whole weekend hanging above the toilet.

Sunday 8 am: I am dressed in my (summer) running gear, drinking my coffee, eating cereals, watching the mercury in the outside thermometer – it keeps shrinking around 8 Celsius. It looks like it will start raining soon, too. The last quick look to the website of Dutch railways does not fill me with optimism either – the shortest railroad between Leiden and Amsterdam (where I have to be at the start) is closed for rail works all day today. I decided to take my bike to the station, just in case I need to quickly get to another station for an alternative route.

10 am: Finally I am in the train. It is packed with runners (recognizable by white plastic bags with numbered stickers that match their start number and running shoes hiding under the winter gear) and tourists (recognizable by huge question marks in their faces with: ‘People, where the hell are you all going??”), so finding a seat is out of the question but at least the train moves in the right direction.

11 am: Amsterdam Central Station, the first obstacle of the trip is behind me.  Now digging a map from my plastic bag and trying to find the spot where our charity meets. Since the principal color of our logo is purple, I am happy to fix purple balloons with my right eye and walk towards them. Ehm, wrong charity (at this point, there are 4.000 charity runners around). Several minutes later I am on the spot, right on time for the group picture.

11.30: It is still dry and actually even sunny, the temperature raised to rather comfortable 13 degrees so I am undressing (wearing the charity T-shirt today rather than my own Team AprilRuns), stuffing my plastic bag and throwing it to a truck number 8 (they say I will find it later on 10 miles further, in Zaandam…). The queue in front of the toilets makes me want to pee again and again and again. Luckily I am not too shy to use the facilities of 2 pubs nearby.

11.45: I am quickly calling V to tell her we are moving towards the start corridor. She says “don’t rush, the fastest Kenyan guy has already finished”. The official race started at 10.59 and I will only find out later that there are 50.000 runners today starting practically continuously between 11 am and 3 pm (out of 20 start corridors)! Leonard Komon (‘the Kenyan guy’) finished at 44:48, highly disappointed as he stayed some 20 seconds behind Haile Gebrselassie’s world record.

11:50: Our charity group hears the gun shot from Ronald de Boer, a Dutch iconic ex soccer prof. Little do I care, I am pre-programmed to run so I run. The sun is shining, the crowd along the route is huge (later I hear it counts 250.000 people!), I hear music, drums, people clapping their hands and I feel good.    

1st km: The first bit along the city centre (Prins Hendrikkade) quickly turns down to the Ij tunnel, about 1 km long tunnel under the river Ij. This is the biggest descend and ascend of the race (about 25 meters). The crowd speeds down to the dark mouth of the tunnel accompanied by African drummers who unpacked their huge drums in the middle. Half way through the tunnel some runners already stop running and walk. I keep my pace around 6 minutes per kilometer, smiling, enjoying, singing along. As we climb out of the tunnel (yes, in Holland the 25 m are qualified as climbing), I am happy with my pace. As of now, my GPS dependent Garmin is only useful for the time, not for the distance. Tunnels don’t do him good.

2nd km:  Luckily there are markers on the road each kilometer. We are running through Amsterdam North now – many locals around the path, kids, music groups, BBQ parties, beer… oh no wait, I am here to race.

5th km: 30:48. As planned, I make a quick pause to drink and ‘feel’ my body and let it speak. I feel surprisingly good even though on paper, the first third of the race was too fast for me. I decide to keep the current pace till km 8 and see how it goes from there.

8th km: 49:19. There is a fruit station here. I grab 2 halves of a banana, walk for 10 seconds and still feel really good. Suddenly my Racing Me comes up with an idea: back in spring (while registering) I set a goal of running this race under 1:40, under 100 minutes. If I keep my current pace I could actually still make it. Hmmm, once the little worm of an idea crawls in my head, I am not to be stopped anymore.

10th km: (second 5 km bit ran in 30:58) I have to pee. Well – I ALWAYS have to pee when running so lets neglect the urge and plod on. I am checking my pace by singing along with the street musicians and/or with my mp3 player. All still going good, keeping my pace right around 6 min per km.

11th km: The weather is changing, it is getting colder and windier but what the hell – it is just 3 more miles to go. I will be warm in half an hour!

14th km: I have to admit, the last mile is getting longer. Luckily we are entering the city of Zaandam, the last bit will lead us through the city centre with yet another amazing crowd (although the picture does not show that many people).

16th km: I do not have any ambition to speed up, my legs would not allow me and even though I am racing, I am still very aware of the fact that I am carrying a little passenger with me. My breath is easy and regular, and yet I manage the third 5 km piece in 31 minutes. The cobble stones are okay today, my knee is holding excellent. We have to pass 2 bridges and then turn to the finish line on Peperstraat. I quickly check the time board. My mind is unable to do the maths but I have good hope I actually managed to stay within my time limit.

Finish: Happy and tired but not breathless or exhausted. It was a good race, I ran very flat splits (you hear me talking as if I were a professional, haha) and this all is rewarded by my Garmin showing 1:39:41. Later on, this very time will be confirmed online as well. I am halfway the 18th week of pregnancy and I just ran 10 miles under 100 minutes. And – the charity has collected some EUR 5.700 so far!

3 pm: Sitting in the train home, chewing on a banana, smiling and every now and then reaching towards the medal to check it is still hanging around my neck.

4 pm: Home sweet home, hugging V and finishing the bowl of pasta (I love leftovers from the fridge) and doing absolutely nothing for the rest of the day.

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