Thursday, December 12, 2013


In October, I ran too many long races on an already janky right piriformis, which led to hip and hamstring jankiness and three weeks of no running.

During the second weekend in November, I traveled "on business" to Newcastle, UK, for the annual congress of the EAP, the circuit of track meetings of which the Amsterdam Open is a part.  Short of heading first to Asia, my itinerary to and from the northeastern corner of England ranked high in inconvenient routes and modes (by train, via Rotterdam, Brussels, and London), but I didn't pay for it and the scenery was great.

The EAP gig is one of a few ways I've been contributing to society while otherwise leaching off the fruits of my fiance's labors.

Waaaaaaaayyyy back in August, on a single Sunday, the Amsterdam Olympic Stadium hosted two elite-level track and field ("athletics" in European English) meets ("meetings" 'round these parts).  Sitting on the organizing committee for one of those meets is the closest thing resembling a full-time job that I've had in the last year.  Look how pretty our website was!

The EAP is a circuit of European track and field meetings designed for whom you might call the "slowest fast athletes."  Or the Blue Collar Professional athletes.  Or the rookie-level professionals.  Yes, maybe that's it... the "Farm Team"-caliber athletes of the track and field world.  EAP meetings offer these athletes an arena to excel with peers... and also allows "hometown favorites" the chance to compete with the big dogs.  The meetings are internationally low-top-tier, but often attract the top picks of the host country.  At our meeting in August, one of our Phanos athletes broke the Dutch national triple jump record.

In any case, planning an EAP meeting and communicating with semi-professional and professional runners/jumpers/throwers is insanely cool, and especially so if you are an American expat who has been involved in the cross-country and track scene since kindergarten, but whose expertise tops out at coaching high school girls.

Happily, I get to do it again.  Segue!  We're not moving to Switzerland.  Segue again!  We went to Luzern in September, thinking we were still going to move there, and then the memory card from Ed's camera acquired some kind of Swiss Bank information retention virus and refuses to release the 100-some photos from the weekend (or the 1000+ photos from preceding trips).  So, no pictures until I can find a savvy computer geek to recover them.

I used my own camera in Newcastle, so here you have some color to alleviate this monochrome monotony.

This high jump mat at the Gateshead indoor facility cushioned the flops of many a 2012 Olympian! 

Gateshead Millennium Bridge: the coolest of many bridges spanning the Tyne.

It knows many tricks.

I took a rest stop in York on the train ride back to London, and had the most satisfying pies ever from a shop at the station.  I would stop in York again only for the train station pies.

The weather in York:  Not forecasted, not short of perfect.

Part of an old medieval abbey.

The water seemed a bit high.

After my 11-hours-each-way trip, I left Ed home alone with his furtive McDonalds dinners for a second weekend and attended the annual Wimpies Weekend with my training group from Phanos.  Here, I attempted to run again after my three week furlough, and succeeded in re-tweaking my piriformis, losing a 5.8 km cross-country race with freight train lungs (in the really loud sense) to my 61-year-old coach, and finally acquiring a nasty bout of right-knee crappiness, which is officially called something more anatomically-correct.

LAST RUN of the weekend... my knee feels odd.  Kid on the right of the frame ran for a year at Mizzou.

My knee feels ow.  I see the ocean.  Mission accomplished.  I'm turning around.

Zo alleeeeeeeen...
This path looks like... every other path in this forest.

I am lost.  M knee hurts.  If the world's tiniest violin is playing in the middle of the Texel forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it still make noise?

Oh hey!  Lead on, GPS!

I limped back to our bungalow and took another three-week hiatus from running.  I just started taping down my patellar tendon so that I can bike and walk with reduced discomfort.  Based on my year working at MarRan, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do, and am trying to do it, but have yet to see an Amsterdam PT for this new problem.  I'm getting into the pool about once a week, but riding a bike is pretty uncomfortable and thus my cardio is now abhorrent.  *Sigh*.  CrossFit doesn't bother it, though, and Ed and I have been hitting the 7:15 WODs a few times per week.

So, thanks, November, for rendering my right leg useless.  Maybe I'll just get a new one in December.    

Friday, September 13, 2013

Retrospective Summer 2013 Post: July/August

Summer having begun in Amsterdam sometime while we were visiting friends and family in the States, we dived into outdoor adventures as quickly as possible.  The first weekend back, we headed to Noordwijk with our friend Tair for a day of mountain biking at the dunes.  Tair found the bikes, rattly Gary Fishers with U-Locks on the frames and the omnipresent (and legally obligatory) bicycle bells.  Tair also had the presence of mind to bring a camera, so all following photos from that adventure are to his credit.

..except this one.  This one is to the credit of a Hollander who suggested we avoid the "very technical" track. 

Surf-jumpin'... nothing better with tired legs!

After mountain biking in Scottsdale's razorblade fields, this felt comparatively pillow-soft.

I was talked out of riding down the stairs.  For the best.

Also in August:  Our friend Maaike's graduation-from-medical-school BBQ in Vondelpark:

Riding Dutchie bikes is a treat, since ours are fancy Giant hybrids.  Photo by Maaike.

Yet more adventures in August:  Our friend Suz had a birthday, and there was some canal-swimming involved, from which I excused myself, being 1) the least drunk person present, 2) aware of the garbage/bird flocks/mysterious green semi-liquids regularly seen floating in the particular section of canal designated for swimming, and 3) an experienced Drunk Swimmer In Questionable Stagnant Waters™.  In addition to scorn and skepticism, I also supplied towels and a generous supply of Ed's dry clothing to the jolly fish, once they reached our apartment, about 150 meters from the launch site.

What more, what more... oh yes!  We had guests from Zurich, Mandy (lives and works near there) and her brother Peter (student at Dartmouth).  They rented Mac Bikes and the four of us headed northwest, to one of the most iconic tourist activities that Noord Holland has to offer: Touring the windmills at Zaandse Schans.

Suckers for playgrouds, we detoured through Het Twiske and found this pipe maze.

Ed found a friend with a tennis ball.

This kid with a tennis ball found Ed.

Ultimate Frisbee players on holiday: Spreading uninhibited, youthful joy!

Ultimate Frisbee players on holiday in Holland:  Spreading consternation to Dutch parents!

Proud products of homeschooling and two of the best guests we've had... but aren't they all!

Everybody who has been to Zaandse Schans has some version of this photo.
The windmills were every kid's dream... and maybe every over-protective parent's nightmare:

No safety nets!  Steep staircases!  No protective glass!

I feel the flicker vertigo coming on...

August continues!  We checked "wodlopen" from our Dutch bucket list midway through the month, as well!  Wodlopen is a sage unto itself.  It consists of driving or taking a train to the north shore of Friesland, donning Converse hi-tops (or 8 euro knock-offs), and setting out across the mudflats of the Waddensee at 5:30 am with hundreds of other folks as crazy as you.

Goooeeede morgen, allemaal!  We all look much happier than we truly were.  Photo by Maaike.

10 km of this, more or less, with varying ratios of muck : seawater : stink. 

Lennart curses the distant shore.

Eventually... Ameland!  Beautiful, and blessedly DRY.

Looking northeast, from the east end of Ameland.

To the beach!

Mark and Suz packed the essentials.

These smiles were real.

August 31 deserves its own post, so this recap ends here.  It was a good, good summer.  Of timely note:  I turned 28 yesterday!  Ed took the day off work and we went to the zoo.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Retrospective Summer 2013 Post: June/July

Oh blog, oh blog, where have I been?  Are you hungry?  Thirsty?  Do you need a hug?  A binge-post?

It has been an enjoyably full summer.  In June, I flew to Washington, DC, where I ended up staying with my sister, my cuter-than-a-bug-in-a-rug 4-month-old (now 6!) niece, my sister's husband, and the family pooch.  This was not part of the original itinerary for the trip (see previous posts regarding WGIAC), but a blessing to be able to spend 1.5 weeks with my sister, whom I see maybe once or twice a year these days.  We also spent an afternoon visiting with WGIAC, who adored my niece and is picking up Honduran Spanish in his new (safer) neighborhood with rapidity.  I attended various Air Force retirement functions, met an Olympic medalist, ran the perimeter of Joint Base Andrews in 80+ degree (F) temps, did my annual "cute dresses and other things I don't really need" shopping with my sister, and tried to not coo at my niece too much. 

From Washington, DC, I flew to New York City to meet Ed in Brooklyn.  I spent my first trip to New York since age 11 months in the fogginess of a head cold.  After two sleepless nights in a sweltering AirBnB apartment in Brooklyn, we opted to use hotel points and transfer to a hotel near Times Square... it was quieter there.  We did much walking around the usual suspects of Manhattan (see below), but also visited a few friends who showed us around the hidden corners of the island.  We dined well and memorably:  Momofuku Ko and Katz's Deli, in particular.  Sadly, little running was to be had, but I did enjoy a brief stint in the hotel weight room (with A/C).

From New York City, we flew Southwest Airlines to Chicago, still milking Ed's companion pass for all it's worth.   Visiting Chicago for a summer week was infinitely more enjoyable than living there, I discovered.  We stayed with friends in Wicker Park, a neighborhood neither of us had thoroughly explored during the time we'd lived in Chicago (two years for me, three for Ed/seven if you include college in Evanston).  We visited our favorite eateries, drank many ounces of cold-brewed coffee, visited old workplaces and many friends, scored cheap tickets to Broadway's The Book of Mormon, and spent nearly every day sweating in the company of our favorite Lakeview fitness yuppies at CrossFit Defined.  We had such a good week in Chicago, in fact, that I neglected to take any photos.  My good friend from college, Ali, even drove down from Madison for two days!  That was Chicago.

Not yet tired of living from our duffel bags, we flew next to Seattle, which was predictably whimsical in its weather.  Mostly, though, it was lovely, and I finally picked up the running again... accepting with resistance how few hills my legs have climbed in the past couple of years... and validating my suspicion that running was the primary reason for the annoying pain in my right piriformis, which I'd been dealing with since moving to Amsterdam.  Again saw many friends, biked out to Potlatch, panted awkwardly through a swim in Green Lake with my college friend Kate, had a sleepover with my graduate school friend Sonja, did a requisite speedy loop around the outer path at Green Lake, viewed the 4th of July fireworks and a blazing boatyard from atop Queen Anne, and, yes, ate very well.  Again, too much fun, too few photos.

While Ed returned to Amsterdam from Seattle, there remained yet one leg further to my journey:  My 10-year high school reunion in Colfax, WA.  What's a trip to Colfax without a spontaneous shotgun wedding in Idaho (because it's cheaper and the judge is available)?  So, I witnessed a wedding, too, which was pretty special.  

The reunion itself was sparsely populated with actual 2003 Colfax High School graduates, but those in attendance made the trip worthwhile.  Colfax always entails running, this time on both old favorites and a new route early in the morning with my coach from high school.  The Palouse is always beautiful, but especially so on the cusp of harvest season.

 After all that, which tallied to four major cities and one small town, three time zones, and five weeks, I made it back to Amsterdam on July 17... and Lo!  It was summer in Holland.  And my ability to understand/speak Dutch had gone the way of my unwatered hydrangea plant and my fitness...  I had several self-dug holes out of which to climb.