April Runs

… hikes, kickbikes, skis and more

Archive for the tag “long run”

Juneathon Day 9: Barefoot!

After a windy night we woke up into a stormy morning. Hmm – I wonder if the wind calms down at all and if the sand dunes will shield us at all as we run against it. Those were my morning thoughts before we headed to a new running adventure in the dunes between Katwijk and Wassenaar. The area is beautiful, we knew that already – but the wind, the wind was killing. We decided to run through the dunes SW, to Wassenaarse slag, to have a coffee there, check our legs and plan where to go from there. It was cold.  Running against wind this strong, it felt like inside some kind of outdoor treadmill: my legs were clearly pushing but I was not moving forward at all. The initial 5 km took us about 35 minutes and we ended up rather exhausted. Coffee and hot chocolate at the beach saved us. Again, the feeling of Christmas holiday and skiing trip was setting in: apart from us, there were only dog walkers around and German hardcore holiday guests.

The wind was so strong we could hardly open the door of the beach pub as we were leaving and it was blowing sand and dirt into our eyes, ears and… well, just about everywhere. At that point, as we wanted to run back on the beach, I decided to take off my shoes. My first barefoot run was just about to begin.  Feeling the cold wet sand under my feet (in combination with running) was an entirely new sensation. I was so scared everything would start hurting immediately and I would have to stop quickly but nothing bad happened. Luckily I did not step on one of those:
V was running next to me checking all the time if I was okay and according to her, I looked very happy. And that is exactly how I felt.

We ran about 4.5 km back to Katwijk and it was with great regret that I had to put on my shoes again. I have no idea how my calves, shins and hamstring will feel tomorrow but I cannot wait to return to the beach for more.

P.S. Written with my gratitude to the Royal Netherlands Meteorology Institute: If they didn’t predict a sunny day we would have missed this incredible 11.1 km adventure!

P.P.S. Off to Oranje soccer game (now that Czech rep has lost so badly I might like to switch teams…).

I ran 500 km in 4 months

That’s one small step for a real runner but a giant leap for me! No way I ever predicted anything like this for myself! The Janathon kick-off did its trick (cannot wait for Juneathon), then some of the (Czech) running blogs, the smell of the road, the air in my hair and here I was, all addicted to running and to my body, my own customized endorphin factory.

As the running mileage started increasing, all other activities, especially indoors, started to seem like a waste of time. I felt like there was no proper workout unless my T-shirt got all wet. And it always gets wet when running.

Little by little I started looking into the possibilities of longer runs. I ran distances longer than 10 km regularly and enjoyed the inner peace that usually came during longer runs immensely. I registered for the 1/2M and set up my personal (secret) goal to reach 1000 miles in 2012…

… And then my knee started hurting. We still don’t quite know what the cause is and if it is related to my previous injury at all but as I work together with my physiotherapist on getting back on track, I am forced to rediscover the beauty of other activities as well. So I humbly apologize to you, swimmers, golfers, bikers and hikers for being a fool and lifting ‘my running’ above your sports. For the coming weeks and months, I am joining all of you to retain my physical shape without impacting the knee too badly.

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.

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…

Spring Sunny Sunday at the lake

After many rainy, windy and foggy weekends, this Sunday the sun woke us up and remained shining untill we decided that indoor gym is a bit of a waste. I looked up a track around the Vlietland Lakes that I wanted to run for several weeks. I asked V to drive me there (building a subtle hint in my question): “Would you please drive me there – and maybe once we are there, if you like it, you can join me for a couple of miles?” I showed her that the oblong shape of the paths around the lakes and focused the description on the road cutting one of the lakes in two and suggested that if we parked near the middle we could start running together and decide half way how far we wanted to go. She agreed!

So we parked close to the middle of the oblong route next to a restaurant (W), undressed to short sleeves and hit the road (NE). The sun was shining and it looked like a perfect day – except that the rest of Holland dicided to discover the lakes today as well. Luckily after about 2 km into the run (N end) we found a footpath through the bushes and trees on the lake shore and continued running on it for the next 3-4 km. We were chatting and laughing and watching the people passing by, children playing on the lake shore, cyclists around. And suddenly there was the moment to decide what to do next. V looked at me and said “I am not tired, are you?” Of course I was tired like hell not either so we ran all the way to the south end and as we were turning back northwards, this conversation took place:

V (disturbed): I hear voices!

Me (disturbed more): Shall we stop? Do you want some water? Dextrose? Shall I get the car quickly?

V: No, I am okay. I wonder what the voices are…

Me (still very disturbed): Are you sure you are okay?

V: Oh, that is my iPhone talking to me.

Other than that, the run went really smoothly – no earphones in my ears but the delight of running with my partner and my best friend was better than music.

At the end we clocked almost 13 km and rewarded ourselves by fresh fruit smoothie and some shopping.  What else a girl needs?

Four reasons for Runner’s High tonight

1. It seems like the winter is slowly getting over and the outside air starts smelling like spring.

2. It is the end of my working week as tomorrow we head for holiday :-).

3. We have a week with friends ahead of us. I am thinking fresh powder snow, skiing, wooden mountain lodge, fire place, Napa Valley wine, good stories, good books, ….

4. I ran 8.5 km tonight practically without noticing. Must be Janis Joplin on my iPod.

Procrastination on Friday night

Our gym is closed on Friday’s so usually Friday is a sportless day. But since V. decided to go swimming, I had to come up with something, too. Well, I decided to postpone the decision till later.

When ‘later’ came, it was dark and cold outside. I looked in the direction of the shelf with my running gear and before I knew it, I was filling the tiny plastic bottles with water. And suddenly there was no way back…

I left house around 9 pm and decided to run for half an hour and only then assess my strength and see what to do next. 4 km into my run I was on a new smoothly paved biking path and it felt so good that I wanted to run to its end. 2 km further on there was a nice windmill marking the centre of a small village. I did not think much, did not want to make any decisions yet, just ran.

Then after about one hour on the road, I texted V. that my route took me further than expected and that it might take another hour for me to come home. She was sligthly worried and suggested to drive towards me to pick me up. The Big M sounded like a great place to reunite but I realised that the following 4 or 5 km would drag me through a path unaccessible to cars. So I continued running and postponed the decision to be picked up until I would reach the Big M myself.

I felt rather tired by then, my knee was hurting and some of the leg muscles did not want to co-operate anymore. On the other hand, I estimated it was probably just another 3 to 4 km home, a bit stupid to call for rescue…. and I ran home.

And that is how I ran my longest run so far: 16 km.

Back to treadmill

The Big Meltdown took place last Sunday: in the morning we went ice skating  again (bringing the total Feb skate distance to 76 km) while in the afternnon, the air smelled like spring was coming in. With new energy I returned to my treadmill routine and ran some 5, 6 and 8 km distances. The funny thing is I really started getting a craving to go and run outside. And as the feeling keeps growing throughout this week, I am predetermined to try a long run this weekend. Long run in my books means anything like/above 10 km (my longest one so far has been 12.3 km).

Oh, one new thing that I learned about my running while watching myself in the gym: I tend to move my left arm much more than the right one. Could it be some residual habit from my biathlon period? During the summer running races, we used to carry the gun with us on the right shoulder – hence the limitation of right arm movement.

The charming thing is that Haile Gebrselassie has a similar tick: he used to carry his school books under his left arm while running.

Janathon Day 15

Woke up at 6.30 am and went running. Hard to describe the feeling – but you, runners, will understand. I was predetermined to try a long run – in my world that would be anything around 10 km. It was still dark when I left home and I am sure I was the only moving object within miles. The crisis stroke me at the second km. What got into me? Why didn’t I stay in bed? I drank some water and decided to continue for a couple of minutes and then to return home.

An hour later I was still on my way, enjoying every second of it. The day was slowly waking up – but as it is Sunday, it was still very very quiet. Just weak bits of a day light, coming in little by little… Beautiful, fascinating, worth the pain in my legs I am feeling now. 12.3 km.

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