Parnassia in May

We were at the beach before the crowds today.  Actually we were surprised at how quiet it was.  I went for a 5k run and DB sat at a table at Parnassia strandtent as he was recovering from a night with friends in Haarlem.  And his long run will be tomorrow.  Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day in the dunes and at the beach.

I did the usual 5k loop and even in that small distance I saw bunnies (too fast to photograph), 3 groups of highland cattle, 2 groups of wild horses, a shetland pony, lots of furry caterpillars, lots of birds and waterfowl.

I’m sure that tomorrow, Sunday, there will be traffic jams getting to the beach and back.  It’s a lovely place to come hang out or walk around or just sit and read or knit and drink coffee.  But come early or come by bike or train.  But definitely come.

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.

30k Through Noord Holland

This is the yearly family weekend but DB has to keep up his training for the Amsterdam Marathon. He’s got 2 weeks to go! Today he had to run 30k. Since we weren’t at home, he planned a route through the flat farmland of Noord Holland, north of Alkmaar. I followed along on a bike, for moral support and to carry snacks. It was early and misty outside, but not cold. I took photos. It was lovely!

He finished the 30k, cursing the last 2km, but he made it without problem. I think he’ll finish the marathon fine.

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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”.

Parnassia in the Snow

Yesterday afternoon DB wanted to go for a run.  All the sidewalks were snowy and icy so the only place to easily and safely run was at the beach.  I’m still down with this dreadful cold so my contribution to the event was playing taxi.  I really wanted to go to the beach anyway.  It felt like a long time since I was at the beach and I missed it.

We had a break from wet weather yesterday.  It was sunny all day.  Cold, but sunny.  We didn’t get to Parnassia until about 2:30pm and by 3pm the sun was sinking fast and the shadows were long.  It was so nice to walk on the beach and take a few photos.

The photo above was taken from outside the Parnassia cafe, just above the beach, looking south.  The photo below is looking north.  In the distance you can see IJmuiden.  The air was so clean and clear that everything seemed closer than usual.

DB ran for 45 minutes.  I walked for 30 minutes.  Hopefully I’ll soon feel up to running too.

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.

Grey and Blue

This is a photo with some blue in the sky.  It was taken only minutes after this other photo….

…. where the sky and the water were nothing but grey.  Our days have been very grey lately.  But, this being the Netherlands, people still get out in the grey and get on with their lives, like those sailing in the above photo.  DB went out running this morning in the rain.  He couldn’t be bothered to wait until the rain stopped.  We knew it would stop because we are keen users of www.buienradar.com.

I waited until the rain stopped, around 11:45, then I headed out to the nearby polder for a little run.  My intention was to run.  It turned into a walk.  I thought that the big muscle in my left butt cheek had healed (from being pulled back in June) but yesterday in yoga class I got a big cramp in that muscle and now it’s really painful again.  Sheesh.  It feels like my body is conspiring against me and running.  And I was doing so well earlier this year!

Anyway, it was nice to be outside and get some fresh air.  I timed it just right and missed the rain completely.

When I got home I took a photo of the last of the roses for this year.  My poor roses really struggle to bloom and not die from mould.  Maybe I don’t pay enough attention to them.  Maybe I need to put more chemicals on them to keep the mould at bay.  I’ll try to be a better gardener next year.  Until then, bye bye roses and flowers and leaves on the trees.  Winter is coming!

Old Turf and Music Weekend

This morning we drove to Sloterplas, in West Amsterdam, for our Sunday run.  It’s a 6km loop around a small lake and most of the running route looks like the above – nice trees and park setting.  This is my old running turf.  I just did a search of my blog on “Sloterplas” and am reminded that the first time I ran here was May 11, 2008.  Four years ago almost to the day.  Funny.  In my mind I thought it was actually a year earlier than that.  Time plays tricks on the mind often.

When we lived in Amsterdam and I ran here I would listen to Brenda Dayne.  Today I listened to Science Friday.  It makes the time and the running just fly by (again, a trick of time).  They talked about an extinct giant turtle the size of a Smart car, and why humans are omnivorous, and working towards a commercially available tomato that actually tastes good.  Science Friday is always interesting.

There were a lot of joggers making their way around the lake today.  There were also quite a few Muslim women doing a fast walk, and some even jogging, dressed as they are always dressed, in long dresses or pants and a long coat over the top, plus headscarf of course.  I can’t imagine trying to be sporty wearing so many clothes.  They must be sweating and so very hot in there.  Hats off to them.  That’s sporting dedication for sure.

After my short 6km run I took a few photos with my phone, trying to capture the feeling of so much green and water.  This is the best I can do.  It makes me feel peaceful – always a good thing.

The rest of my Sunday?  I finished sewing a top that I want to take on vacation with me – photos tomorrow.  And watched Pink Pop on tv.  Why pay to go stand with 30,000 other sweaty sun burned people when you can sit on your couch and get a front seat view to (nearly all) the bands?  Here’s a fun one we watched – “Boss Hog”, a band from Berlin who take Top 40 songs and transform them into Texas country-rock, complete with the hats, boots and Texas accents.  They were great fun!  If you live in NL, tune in to channel Cultura 24 to watch it live, or watch it streaming on your computer on the 3voor12 site, or listen to it on national Radio 3 FM.  Plenty of choices for choice music this weekend!