Sunday: Running Week in Review – Eureka!

I have to say, putting this down “officially” in the blog is an incentive to actually run.  Funny to find out which things make a difference to your silly mind.  I’ve updated the chart on the Training page for this last week and I’m quite happy with the results!

Wednesday morning I wanted to do a short fast run, which as it turns out, my body was happy to do.  I ran around our neighborhood in a big loop which I was hoping would be 3 km.  It turned out to be only 2.8, but it was good enough.  I ran as fast as I could keep up doing for that long which turns out to be the fasted I’ve ever run.  My legs felt great, but the lungs!  I was giving them a real workout and with all the pollen in the air I came back wheezing and coughing.  I think I’ll have to do this kind of speed workout more often.

Oh yeah, I should mention that my weekday runs are done before work, meaning that the alarm goes off at 6 and I’m out the door by 25 after 6.  DB thinks I’m insane.  It works for me though.  I can’t run after work.  I’m finished by then and have no energy left for running.  

Friday morning, bright and early, I ran 4.8 km.  I only intended to run 4 but the best turn around point was farther than it should have been.  Friday’s run was tough.  My legs felt like lead.  DB insists this is because I start out too early.  Maybe it’s more likely because I was hungry.  I’ll have to figure out a better routine.  Anyway, I survived.

Given Friday’s not so great run, I didn’t have very high hopes for today’s 7 km goal.  Last night before bed I took Ibuprofen because my legs were still achey and I have to say that really helped.  I woke up this morning without pain in my legs.  DB suggested I bike to the edge of the dunes, where we came out from our bike ride to the beach last Monday, and start running from there.  From that point it’s 5.5 km to the beach, and I knew I wouldn’t run that far, but I could run out 3.5 and turn around and run back.  Sounded like a good plan to me.

It is sunny and warm today and I wanted to start well before noon.  I’m afraid of too much sun.  I don’t do well in heat.  I think it was about 10 am when I left the house (after eating breakfast).  The place where you head into the dunes has a sport complex just in front with several hockey, football and baseball fields in front.  There was a kids hockey tournament going on, which I stopped and snapped a photo of:

I parked my bike and left my water bottle in my bike saddlebag (fietstas).  Off I went!  

It was GREAT!  I don’t know what happened between Friday and today, but my legs felt good, my lungs felt good and everything was working well.  I am a new enough runner that I still don’t take these kinds of “good run” days for granted.  I always end a good run kind of shocked and amazed.  I can actually DO this!  It’s still hard to believe.

And the dunes?  I LOVE running in the dunes.  I turned off the bike path pretty early in the run onto a foot path that goes through mostly stands of trees.  After about 1.5 km of that the trees taper off and you are left with the thorny scrub.  Here’s a photo of that transition zone:

At just about my turn around distance there was a big hill to climb.  I kept running.  Whew!  At the top of the hill I could see that I was still pretty far from the beach and it was time to turn around anyway.  But at least I know that eventually I will get there.

What did I learn today?  

  • You just never can tell how your body will be on any given day.  Just go with it.
  • The iPhone camera really is crap and just wishing it was better won’t make it so.  If you really want decent photos, take a small camera (which will be in addition to my iPhone because it feels safer to run with a phone, just in case). 
  • 7 km on a sunny day is the limit for running without liquids.  I had a liter waiting for me at the end of the run, but I would have been happier with some water earlier. 

I think that this coming week I will do the same distance during the week and go up to 8.5 next Sunday.  That will put me in really good shape for the 10 km in 2 weeks.  I’m on my way!

News Worth Announcing

Just so you know, Andy is back to blogging, with a new web host, blogging software, and url:  www.andyinamsterdam.com.  We spent the afternoon setting everything up, and whew, it worked!  It’s going to take him some time to copy/paste all the old posts from (the evil and not to be trusted) Blogger, but I’m sure he’ll get there.  Welcome back Andy!

After Andy left I spent some time in the front garden, pulling weeds, watering the strawberry plants in pots and the flowers next to the door.  I moved some things around to make it a little nicer.  Finally I took a photo of the lovely tree rose, Snow White.  I planted it back in April and it’s doing so well!  It’s covered in buds and blooms.

It’s a 3 day weekend here in NL and the weather should be great for all 3 days (of course it goes back to COLD next week).  Tomorrow we go to Den Helder to visit the in-laws but Monday…. ah Monday, maybe the beach will call me again.  We’ll see.

I have been running this week, but I will wait and tell you about that in the official Sunday running blog post.

I do have a funny story to tell.  Last Wednesday night DB and I met up with a friend for drinks and dinner.  DB and P. met up earlier and I joined them after work.  We had a beer in a pub on the Nieuwemarkt, then, as we were getting ready to leave and go find a restaurant, P said “So, are you excited to go to Paris for your birthday?”  

My mouth dropped open.  DB turned bright red.

It was supposed to be a surprise.  

I knew that we were going somewhere for 4 days, but I didn’t know where and I wouldn’t know until my birthday.  I said, “but I didn’t KNOW!”  P. was really embarrassed, as he should have been, since he was told it was a surprise.  He just had a senior moment and spoke without thinking.  Ah well.  So!  I’m going to Paris for my birthday!  Nice, huh? 🙂

This is the End….

…. of my vacation.  Sigh.  Bigger sigh.  It’s amazing how two weeks can just fly past as if it hardly happened.  Today is my last day off and tomorrow I go back to work.

When I first moved to NL I found it curious how Dutch people obsess over the weather.  They are constantly talking about the weather.  The most popular web site in NL is buienradar (rain radar).  But now that I’ve lived here for several years I understand it.  For example, yesterday I was planning to go to Amsterdam and visit the Monday Noordermarkt and see what crafty things were for sale.  Sunday afternoon I heard several times, from several sources, that Monday’s weather would be perfect, sunny and very warm.  Tuesday and Wednesday the weather would be lousy again.  Based on that information I changed my mind and instead of Amsterdam, DB and I went to the beach yesterday.  Boy am I glad we took advantage of the weather and time off and went when we could!  We went by bike of course, and arrived at the beach just before 10:00am, a very early hour, as you can tell.

 

Bloemendaal aan Zee
Bloemendaal aan Zee

There were a few joggers, a few horses and riders and just a couple of people making themselves comfortable.  The breeze was just a tiny bit chilly still, but it was so nice to be outside in the sun.  You know that NL is the most densely populated country in Europe, and even out here on a very quiet morning, it’s not entirely quiet.  We watched plane after plane appear as small dots from the west, coming in to land at Schiphol.  We imagined they were coming from California, from New York.  The ones staying high in the sky were surely heading to Berlin.  The planes taking off and staying low were going to London.  There were also a few freighters coming out of the Noordzeekanaal, heading out into the North Sea.  And one lonely fishing boat.

While on the beach I finished reading “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami.  It’s a nice little memoir and I enjoyed it very much.  It’s always interesting for a beginning runner (which I very much am) to read about how an experienced runner experiences running.  What does he think about?  How does he keep up the training and what does the running mean to him?  I think I gained as much insight into what it is to be a novelist as much as what it is to be a runner, and that they are not so dissimilar.

After hanging out for a while, and then having some lunch at one of the beach restaurants, we hopped on our bikes and decided to try a different route home.  We biked through the dunes, on a designated bike trail, between Parnassia and Santpoort Zuid.  It was beautiful!  It’s about a 12 km route and seemed to take no time at all to bike it.  I took a couple of photos along the way.

We saw these shaggy haired bovines in a few places along the route.  I think they are wild and you should really stay out of their way.

This the aptly named Vogelmeer (bird lake).  There were all kinds of water fowl here making big noise.

So, that was Monday morning and afternoon, in the sunshine and lovely weather.  We wore summer clothes.  I biked barefooted.  By Monday night, however, the weather changed dramatically.

Last night I went in to Amsterdam for SnB night.  It was another fun evening, as usual, although the group gets smaller as the weather gets better.  The die-hards were there.  When I left at 10pm it was still really warm and nice out.  When I got to the central station I got an sms from DB saying to look at buienradar on my iPhone and beware of what’s coming.  The big red storm monster was about to eat NL again!  Our train was delayed, but finally after changing tracks there was a train heading to Haarlem.  (I saw then that the next train to Haarlem was canceled.)  By the time we got to Haarlem the worst had passed over and only a slight rain and flooded streets were left.  I actually kind of like biking in this weather – it was still warm-ish and lightly raining.  When I got home I was pretty wet, but still in a good mood about it.

At 4am this morning we were woken up by a huge lightening and rain storm.  I thought I’d better go downstairs and unplug my computer because if it is fried in this lightening I’ll be SICK.  I thought about Andy and his blog trauma (more on that later).  The poor cat was sitting on a dining room chair, too afraid to come upstairs.  This morning when the alarm went off we heard on the radio about all the traffic delays due to downed trees and flooding, and also plenty of train delays.  I’m so happy this is still a vacation day for me.  We didn’t suffer any damage or hard feelings over the storm.  Even the little tree rose in the front of the house chose today to start blooming.  Silly thing.  It’s still cloudy and rainy today (Tuesday), so you see, you have to keep your eye on the weather report here in NL and always be prepared to change your plans to accommodate the weather.  You never know what you are going to get and when you’ll have a summer day again. 

Now, about Andy and his blog.  If you read my blog you are sure to have come across the many times I’ve linked to my friend Andy’s blog.  It was (is?) on Blogger.  If you go there now you will get a very ugly message stating that his blog is spreading malware and terrible things will happen to you if you try to reach it.  Even if you try, you can’t.  It’s gone.  Poof.  Gone.  Andy is beside himself.  He’s done nothing to deserve this Google robot shut down.  He’s tried everything to find someone at Google who will help him but no luck.  Google’s robots have run amok and are shutting down, seemingly randomly, perfectly innocent blogs.  BEWARE!  If you are on Blogger, find a way to back up your blog regularly so you don’t loose everything, or just move your site somewhere more reliable.  This hasn’t happened only to Andy, but he’s found a lot of other people who have had this happen to them in the last month.  It’s scary if you are a blogger.  It reminds me that I have to manually back up my blog regularly and THEN back up my hard drive.  This is something I want to do today.

I usually read blogs via Google Reader.  When I heard about Andy’s blog problem I went there and discovered that in my cache, or somewhere, I could access 2 years worth of Andy’s blog posts and copy/paste them into a text file for him.  At least he has 2 years of blogging saved.  That’s how long I’ve been reading his blog, so that’s what I had.  He’s been blogging there since 2004.  Such a shame.  Well shame on Google for letting this happen and making it impossible to get any help about it.  You’ve been warned.

Sunday Running News

I’ve decided to use my Sunday blog post to update my running news.  Sunday is the day for my longest run of the week (barring any physical reason why that’s not possible).  This morning I ran just over 6 km.  It was WARM!  I should have run a couple of hours earlier to avoid so much sun.  I’m not used to warm weather and certainly not running in warm weather.  Otherwise, the run went well – nothing really special to say about it – which is the GOOD NEWS!  The training schedule of 25%, 25%, 50% is working well and I feel like I will be able to keep this up and continue increasing the km’s every week.  On 14 June is the 10 km Kika Run and I think I will be good and ready for it.

This last week I ran on the treadmill at the gym on Wednesday and on Friday.  I also did some weights to strengthen my knees, upper legs, and shoulders (knitting muscles).  For those 2 x 3 km runs I wore my new Nike Free shoes.  Boy did they feel free!  I felt light and graceful like I was wearing ballet slippers.  I liked them a lot.  I’ve been wearing those shoes as daily wear around shoes for the last week and haven’t felt any ill effects from them at all.  I really like them.  Today I wore my normal heavier running shoes and actually it felt good to change up.  I read somewhere last week that if you wear the same running shoes for 6 months or so your feet start to mold themselves to your shoes.  It’s good to change up.

I think I’m also going to set up a separate page here to keep track of my training progress.  I think it will give me some more incentive to keep it up.  If I miss a training THE WORLD will know about it. 🙂

Here are a couple of photos I took at the 1/2 way mark this morning.  Not too exciting, but this is just another thing I want to put into my Sunday routine – the weekly running photo(s):

 

Boat going through the locks at Spaarndam
Boat going through the locks at Spaarndam

 

 

Working windmill - Spaarndam
Working windmill - Spaarndam

More Felting Fun

If you’ve been reading here often you know that early last week I bought another used Norwegian sweater (for just 10 euros) with the intention of felting it.  I’m really happy with the results!  Here are some before and after photos:

BEFORE

I first threw it in the wash at 40 degrees C on a short wash.  It didn’t felt very much.  I threw it back in for a 60 degree C short wash and here are the results.

AFTER

Here’s a close up of the bottom edge with the ribbing cut off, and the inside:

It came out just perfect.  I immediately cut off the ribbing from the bottom and the cuffs because they had some elastic in them so they didn’t really felt, and they were just holding a lot of water and dripping on the floor.  Cut them off!

Now, you may be wondering, what the heck am I going to do with this thing?  The same thing I’m doing with the light blue one I bought and felted a while back:

I’m making laptop sleeves out of them.  I hope to be finished with them both by next weekend.  I like the dark blue one a lot better and I can probably make some nice iPod cases from the sleeves of that one.  More photos to come!

In other knitting news, I’ve finished the back piece of Primrose Path, and I’m almost to the neck bind off of the front.  It’s also coming out really nicely!

I stopped working on the socks for a while to concentrate on this sweater and getting it done.  I want to finish it!

What’s in the Media?

 

Homeknitpastries on Etsy
Homeknitpastries on Etsy

 

 

I don’t often read Dutch newspapers.  It’s just so much work and I’m just too lazy to do it.  We do watch the evening news, about half the time, but it’s not very long or in depth.  I miss watching “60 Minutes”.  Sometimes I feel like I live in my own little bubble without knowing what’s going on in the world.  Every morning over breakfast I read Google News, but that’s just really quick headlines and always leaves me feeling like I’ve just eaten fast food – it takes up my time, but I don’t feel any more informed for having read it.

Lately I’ve started listening to more podcasts.  I really enjoy Planet Money and Fresh Air, both from NPR.  If anyone can make sense of this financial crisis and what governments and banks are up to, the people at Planet Money can and they can explain it so that you and I can understand it.  Fresh Air is a series of interviews of people from all areas of public life, past and present.  They aren’t necessarily “news”, but are always interesting and enlightening.

DB and I also watch The Daily Show, streamed from here.  Most of that is comedy, but he always does a serious interview as well.

If I’m feeling like I have money in my pocket and I happen to pass a newsstand, I’ll pick up The Economist.  It’s partly about economics, but mostly it’s a news magazine along the lines of Newsweek, but it’s much more in depth and much less slanted than the American news magazines.

As for fun media, I am once again a Brenda Dayne fan and her Cast-On podcast.  I like to knit while listening, but even better, I like to RUN while listening.  Brenda makes my run just fly by and I don’t even notice that I’ve done another kilometer.  Actually, after trying a few other knitting pod casts, Brenda is the only one I still listen to.  

There are the usual knitting mags that I routinely get, but the other day I actually bought a Vogue Patterns magazine.  It’s been years since I sewed anything for myself.  Honestly I can’t remember the last item of clothing I sewed.  I do know how.  My mom taught me to sew at a very young age and I made my own school clothes until I was no longer in school (including Grad School).  I’m feeling the itch to sew again.  I think that is mostly to do with the fact that I can’t find any clothes in the shops here that 1) fit; 2) I like; 3) I want to pay the high price for.  Maybe I’ll have to get out the sewing machine and buy some fabric Monday on the Noordermarkt.

While I’m talking about knitting and sewing, how about baking?  How about a love of pastries and knitting all rolled into one?  My new friend (who I bought the wild colored Lorna’s Laces sock yarn from a few weeks ago) has opened an Etsy shop to sell her home knit pastries.  The photo above is just one of her gorgeous products.   I saw one of them in person and they are just amazing.  Her work is perfect and she really takes the time to find just the right yarn to represent the food we love to eat.  Good luck with the new shop!

Wandering around my thoughts about media is the movie that we saw on Tuesday night – “The Reader“.  If you haven’t seen this movie, DO!  I can’t get it out of my head.  The acting is superb.  And the story….. what would YOU have done if you were Hannah?  What would YOU have done if you were Michael?  Would you have kept Hannah’s secret all those years?  Why did he do that?  DB sees this movie as mostly a love story with a bit of morality thrown in.  I see it as at least 50/50 morality play/love story.  I was more captivated by imagining Germany in the post-war years and trying to understand how people would live after such a defeat and trying to reconcile the parts they played during the war.  It was a love story, but one with more complications than you or I will ever deal with (let’s hope).

Well, that’s me for today.  More news tomorrow on another reclaimed Norwegian sweater that is currently being felted………..

Speaking of Which

Let’s start with some knitting photos, shall we?

Above is Primrose Path.  I’m almost to the armhole bind offs!  Yea!  I spent an hour yesterday unraveling another orange spaghetti and making a useful ball out of it so I could continue knitting this.  I actually put the random flowers in other places than the pattern shows, not on purpose, but because I lost track of where I was in the pattern.  It doesn’t matter at all, does it?  They are random after all.  The gauge and length is working out perfectly, which is always a nice surprise.  As I explained in an earlier post, my yarn is thinner than the pattern uses so I’m actually following the size L pattern instructions but it’s turning out to be somewhere between S and M (no, Andy, that’s not an invitation for a joke 🙂 ).  I will have to keep an eye on the armhole size so that it doesn’t end up too short, but that shouldn’t be a problem.  If the primroses fall off my shoulder I won’t mind.

Above is my second Spina di Pesce sock.  I’m almost ready to start the gusset increases.  I don’t know why but this Wollmeise yarn is just impossible to photograph well and capture it’s beauty.  It must be some kind of dye magic – you can’t copy it if you can’t really see it!  I wish now I’d made these 2 at a time (I had good reason not to though) cuz I’m really having to force myself to continue with the 2nd one.  There should be a vaccine for Second Sock Syndrome.

I feel like both of these projects are going so slow, but in reality they are not.  I’m just not good at working two projects at once.  I’m a finisher.  I like to finish things before going on to the next one and having two on the go just feels too slow to me.  I want to wear things!  I’m continuing to work them at the same time (well not EXACTLY at the same time) because they are a good trade off in needle size and project size.  The socks I can take on the train easily and work on.  The sweater gives my hands a break from the tiny twisted stitches.  Maybe I will finish them both in time to wear to the KIP day event!

Speaking of which, if you are in the Amsterdam area on 13 June (International Knit in Public Day (KIP)) we are having a meet up at the Westerpark.  We’re planning an early-ish event (lunch time start) with BBQ and finger food, wine and beer, and of course knitting.  I’ll post more info as the time gets closer.  I hope it doesn’t rain.  If you are a Raveler, keep an eye out on the Penelope Craft forum for info.

And speaking of Penelope Craft, they are selling their wares these days on the Noordermarkt on Mondays (Saturdays the market is a Farmers Market).  I heard about it last night at Stitch ‘n Bitch and I plan to go next Monday to check out the whole scene.  Apparently there’s all kinds of crafty goodness to be had at the market, and the best Appeltart in the whole of Amsterdam as well.

Last night Nancy mentioned that she’s going to I Knit London in September.  I had completely forgotten about it.  But now, I’m planning to go!  I’m really excited about it – 3 days of hanging out with knitters and taking classes and a little shopping.  I guess it’s kind of a Stitches event, but maybe a bit smaller, and a lot closer to home.  Again, more info will come as the event gets closer.  I especially want to take a class or two focused on designing since 2010 will be my Year of Knitting My Own Designs (wow, that sounds official now – no turning back!).

And Speaking of my own designs, I’ve set up a new page here on the blog specifically for my own patterns.  There WILL be more content in future.  This is one thing I love about self-hosted WordPress – you can add web pages that are not blog pages and do whatever you want with them.

Last night we talked a little about an article I had emailed around, written by Russell Shorto, an American writer who is spending some months in Amsterdam.  He has some very insightful things to say contrasting American life and Dutch life.  Maybe there are things that Americans can take from the Netherlands as good examples for a good life.  It’s a thoughtful piece and more in depth than a lot of quickie news bits I normally see in English about the Netherlands.  It’s not a travel article, but a life and society thought piece.  All of the Americans who live in NL that I sent it to thought he was exactly correct in his observations.

Speaking of observations, I can see that this blog post contains a lot of black ink so I’d better stop now before I really scare off my readers.  I drew you in with photos and I hope you made it to the end!