Thankful

This morning I had such a need to go into the dunes and feel the trees around me. The sun was shining and the wind had died down from yesterday’s gales.

It’s been a stressful couple of days. I needed to get out and clear my head and get that peaceful feeling that only the trees and hills can give me.  I’m so thankful for the trees.

I found a new route to take, which turned out to be a fantastic loop, half in an area I’d never run before and half along the favorite well worn path.  Here’s the map of where I went, starting at the hockey fields near Santpoort Zuid, turning left off of the bike path, making my way to Volgelmeer (bird lake).  From the lake back to the hockey fields is the route we normally take.  The first half of the route, through the trees, is where I took the above photo.  As soon as I took the photo my stupid phone DIED, so I was lucky to get that one good shot!

Today I saw the highland cattle, rubbing their shaggy heads on trees.  It felt like Spring outside.  We haven’t really had a winter this year, but it’s still February and a little early to call it over.  The little birds have started to sing, and my rose bushes are starting to put out green shoots, so Spring can’t be far away.

Trunk Show @ Penelope Craft

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Joji Locatelli. Joji is the knitting designer who’s pattern I used to make my Neon sweater. Her designs are clever, fun to make, fit perfectly and are beautiful as well! Joji was in the area visiting family and came to Penelope Craft to have a trunk show.

She had with her her latest designs and also those from Veera Välimäki.  The two of them joined forces to create a group of patterns, self published as “Interpretations“.  We got to see the samples and even try them on, which was really nice of her to let us do.  Joji was so friendly and I really enjoyed meeting her. I think she’d be a fun person to hang out with and talk knitting.

I couldn’t resist buying a couple of printed patterns that she had on hand.  I bought “Laneway” and “See You There”, one from each designer.

I also couldn’t resist some of Malia’s new Madelinetosh shipment. I know I KNOW! I don’t need it! But just look at it! How could I resist?

(Sorry for the lousy photos. It’s so dark and stormy today – no good light.)
The Jade and Firewood colors go so nicely together.  I think I will use them to make a shorter version of “Laneway”, with shorter sleeves too.

After hanging out for a while, four of us left and walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant and drank margaritas and ate nachos. What a great way to end the afternoon! I came home to dinner ready and Olympics on the tv. Of course, after drinking margaritas I didn’t dare try to cast on that lace shawl again. Instead I went to bed early.

This morning I was awake at 7am and decided to get up and turn on the tv to the Olympics, make some coffee and cast on the shawl.  This pattern starts at the bottom edge so you have the longest part to do first.  It gets smaller as you go along and work up.  So far so good now!  Here’s a photo.  Again, terrible light.  It really is a very bright orange, not so red as here.  It goes well with the orange everywhere on the tv while watching the ice skating! Hup Holland!

 

Summer So Far

This has been the best summer weather we’ve had since I moved here 10 years ago.  At least in my opinion it’s the best.  Some people are complaining about the heat, but for me it’s wonderful to be able to actually wear summer clothes!  Normally I get my shorts out of the closet about 5 days per year.  Since the first of July we’ve had mostly sun and heat.

I’ve been biking to the beach a lot these days.  It’s helps that I’m unemployed.  OK, it helps to have the time for fun things, but there’s a definite down side (moola).  (And that is all coming to an end… more news later.)

Here are some sights from my trips around, on the bike and on foot, to the beach and back.

This little frog was seen on a street in Bloemendaal, during an early morning walk/run.

A typical sight here – Mom with a couple of kids, on bikes, going as fast as the kid’s little legs will go.

Parnassia, early Thursday morning.  Pretty quiet.  But it’s early still.

Wild horses hanging out in the noonday sun.  Seems like a hot place to be if you ask me.

Parnassia Friday morning 11:00am.  People streaming down to the beach.  The parking lot is sure to be full by now.

The horses and cattle have moved to the “lake”, now a watering hole for animals in the dunes.  Seems like a good place to be in this heat.

My last free days of summer will see more trips into the dunes, that’s for sure.  It’s been too warm for me to do any running.  These trips on the bike are all early in the morning.  We’re all trying to beat the heat.  And will remember these lovely summer days long into the cold dark winter to come.

Youngins

I had my sporty bike tuned up this past week and have biked to the beach and back twice since then.  The first time I went was this past Wednesday and as I came to the small lake in the middle of our dunes running area I saw that the wild horses had had foals!  In the 5 years that we’ve lived here and I’ve been going into the dunes, I’ve never seen foals or calves.  They were laying down most of the time so it was hard to get a good photo, and I only had my iPhone with me.

Yes, I know, it’s hard to see them in this photo, but trust me, there are 3 foals laying there.  I also took photos of the ever present cattle.

The area around the lake on this day was crowded with animals.  Cattle, horses, bunnies, and all sorts of water fowl.  It was a busy and noisy spot that day!

Today when I biked past there, the cattle and birds were all still there.  There were more geese than ever, fattening up their young for the eventual trip south.  With the weather we’ve been having they are probably wishing they’d stayed in the south and not bothered to come up here!

The horses had moved to a much quieter spot much farther away from the bike route.  I saw them further up the trail, off in the distance.  I hope to see them again before the foals are all full grown.  I have also seen a fawn here in the dunes, which was also very special and hasn’t been repeated since.

By the way, after my fall down the stairs I’m a bit paranoid about falling, in any way.  Yesterday we bought me a bike helmet.  I will probably never need it (god I hope I don’t ever need it), but I feel safer and calmer wearing it.  I really like biking to the beach and through the dunes.  It’s the other crazy people out there that worry me – walking in front of me without warning or those crazy bike racers who think they own the road taking a corner too fast and taking me out with them.  I shudder when I think about it, but I get back on the bike and head out.  We live in a city on a busy street so this is my own chance for quiet and a little bit of nature.  I’ll take it.

 

Back to the Gym

Today I went back to the gym after quite a long time away.  I signed up for a free week trial but I’m sure I will sign up for a year contract after that.  I’ve joined Health Center Spaarneboog in Haarlem.  I was a member of this gym 4 years ago but quit when I hurt my knee and was out of commission for many months.

So, why have I decided to do this?  Mainly because I really like running but I keep getting injured.  I pull things and strain things and don’t recover quickly.  I’m currently seeing a physical therapist for a pulled and irritated hip tendon.  I also suffer from repetitive strain injury in my shoulder from working on a computer and knitting.  I figure that strengthening my body overall will help with all of the above.  And I also struggle to keep my weight under control – the gym must be good for that, right?

Today I got set up with a weight and aerobic routine that I can do in an hour.  Saturday I’ll go back for a fitness test and another hour workout.  We’ll see how this goes.

I walked into this place today with a little bit of trepidation.  The last time we were members we got fed up with the dirty locker room and annoying ear blastingly loud music.  The employees only seemed interested in themselves or other good looking 20-somethings and weren’t much interested in their other customers.

This time it seemed to be under new management.  The locker room has been renovated with new lockers and benches.  The music was much lower key and not nearly so loud.  The guy who helped me could not have been more friendly or helpful.  I left feeling like the one week trial will lead to a yearly contract.  I felt good and happy.  Maybe because of the financial crisis they decided they’d better pay attention to where their money comes from – US!

I’ll try not to bore you with my workout stories.  There’s not much that’s more boring than hearing about other people’s training.  I’ll only report if something really unusual happens – like me losing weight or something like that.

 

Egmond

This afternoon the beach at Edmond-aan-Zee looked like this.  It was the 40th year of the Egmond half-marathon, which takes place every January.  Today we were lucky – we had sun.  The temperature was below freezing, but that’s bearable when the sun is shining.

The race starts in the village and after 2km the runners head down to the beach where they have to be careful not to become stranded on little islands of sand, or end up running on hardened ripples, or get pushed into deep loose sand which will sap your strength quickly.

Then after 7km on the beach they head up into the dunes and face rolling hills before coming back in to Egmond.  We watched the start of the women’s elite race while waiting for DB to line up for the start of his group.

According to the press, there were 17,500 runners expected to participate this year.  It was indeed crowded, and not just with runners.  After DB started his run and after I had gone down to the beach and taken a few photos, I looked for a place to sit, inside and out of the cold, where I could wait for him to finish.  Every cafe I went into was packed full of people sitting, standing, waiting.  I ended up sitting outside at a terrace and had a quick hot chocolate.  The rest of the time I wandered around through the crowds of supporters and waited for DB to show up around a corner so I could cheer him on for a split second.

He ran really well, despite not training very much over the past month.  He finished in 1:48.  Egmond is regarded as the most difficult half marathon in the Netherlands (some say in Europe, but I can’t believe these hills and beach are tougher than running in the Alps).  I’m really proud of him and I’m glad he ran it.  He did say that he doesn’t know if he’ll do it again because it was so crowded over the entire race course.  He had to negotiate through other runners all the time and it’s hard to keep your own pace like that.

By the time he finished and got to our meeting point I was cold to the bone.  We had to wait for a bus to take us back to the parking area and then drive the 20 minutes home.  DB headed to a warm shower and I built a fire in the fireplace.  We stoked that thing up and stood by the fire the rest of the day.  I think next year, if we go, I’ll have to run too just to stay warm!

 

Aftermath

This is the aftermath of my first run in about two months.  Yes, it’s muddy out there.  I managed a measly 4km before a very sore hip muscle decided to flare up.  If it holds me back from running regularly I’ll have to go to the physical therapist again.  AGAIN.

Speaking of therapists, and medical expenses, I’m changing insurance companies on January 1.  I am still on my previous employer’s policy and now I’m joining DB’s employer’s policy.  It’s actually going to save me 30 euros a month!  Never mind that it’s going to cost him about 30 euros more per month.  Win some, lose some.  Or as our big friend Cruyff says, “elk nadeel heb z’n voordeel”.

On the Road Again

This morning the weather was cold, clear and crisp.  Perfect for running!  We headed to the dunes of Kennemer National Park.  This photo is the start of our tried and true running route.

This was DB’s first run since the Amsterdam half marathon last week.  He set out to run for an hour.  Me? I set out to start all over again.  I did 2 minutes jogging / 1 minute walking.  I intended to do that for 30 minutes.  I ended up doing 40 minutes.  My condition is better than I expected it would be.  My legs felt fine.  BUT, I have a problem still with a big hip muscle I pulled back in June.  I went as far and did as much as I could before that muscle really started to hurt.  Damn.  Always something getting in my way.  My body is never in the shape I want it to be in.  I guess that’s the same for anyone who strives to do more than they can!

I got part way down the path when I came to a large meadow.  Suddenly a big buck with a lovely rack of antlers came bounding out of the trees and ran across the meadow.  Wow!  He was lovely!  And fast.  Far too fast for me to pull my phone out of my pocket and get a photo.  I went on about another half minute, and standing on the side of the trail, like the lost fawn that he was, was junior…

I managed to get this photo as he tentatively crossed the path, heading for dad (I presumed).  He was covered in fawn spots and was sprouting little baby nubs of antlers.  I continued on my way.

At the half way point I took this photo.  The Dutch skies were nice.

On my return I passed the same point I had seen the fawn and he was still there, munching away on some tender green grasses.  Hurry before the grass is all gone and all that’s left is frozen shrub!  He was quite close to the trail but didn’t seem to be too bothered about me.  I took several photos of him.  This is the best one.

This is only the second time I’ve seen deer in the dunes.  I regularly see the wild horses, the Highland cows, the sheep.  One time I saw a fox.  The Netherlands is woefully short of wild spaces and wildlife.  I always feel lucky and privileged to see these scarce animals.

The Natural

There he is, number 25780, the natural runner of the family.  This was his second half marathon in 3 weeks.  Three weeks ago he ran in Haarlem with a time of 1:45.  Three weeks later he ran in Amsterdam with a time of 1:43.  He was SURE his Amsterdam time would be slower than Haarlem.  I had more belief in him than he did!

The Amsterdam marathon began at 9:30am.  The half marathon began at 1:30pm.  The slowest of the marathon runners were still running when the half marathoners started coming in to the finish.  The photo below was taken in the Vondelpark, 4.5 hours after these people had started running.  Let me say it again.  They had been running for nearly 5 hours when they got to the park.  They still had 3km to go.  Respect.

DB was so enthusiastic after this race that he signed up for Egmond that same evening.  And I must admit that seeing all these people running (15,000 of them just for the half marathon) made me pretty enthusiastic too.  I signed up for the Egmond 10k.  It’s in January.  I have time to get ready.  Yes, January.  In the cold.  On the beach.  Yes, we are crazy.