Week 16: Rediscovering the joys of running

  • Hours on the run: 3:18
  • Kilometres: 36.9
  • Calories burned: 46 apples
  • Soundtrack: Alvaro Soler – La Cintura

Marathon day is fast approaching! I’m writing this with just 2 days to go and a whole lot of packing still to do!

Last week I fell in love with running all over again. Up until now, it was becoming a bit of a chore, and the excitement of sticking religiously to a well-planned schedule fizzled out some weeks ago. Runs were becoming more of a thing to get out of the way (while seemingly having my life planned around them!). Last weekend, I ran at my own time and at my own pace. That meant I could head out early evening and soak up the beautiful golden landscapes as the sun was setting and quietly marvel at the beauty of spring.

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It really was a joy to be running, and it made me realise just how much of an effect it has on my mind. When I head out into nature and don’t have time constraints, everything just lifts. Dreams come alive again, and smiles work their way through the daily stresses. The world I’m running through becomes far more important than my own struggles and I become thankful for each breath, thankful for the beauty surrounding me and thankful to be just one tiny part of an incredible planet.

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It’s really wonderful to have that joy back, and I’m looking forward to just running for fun after this weekend.

But first! The final challenge, the event I’ve been building up to for weeks and weeks now. The run I’ve been dreaming about, anticipating with excitement and fear! All the training is done… now its all about taming those nerves, building up my emergency playlist, and getting that packing done!

And of course, requesting final donations! There’s still a way to go to reach the target, so if anyone would still like to make a contribution, it would be so very much appreciated!

Sunday here we come! ✈️🏃🏻‍♀️

The soundtrack this week is La Cintura by Alvaro Soler. It’s such a summery tune, it really lit up my run last week


Week 15: Energy boost and a mention on the London Marathon Facebook Q&A!

  • Hours on the run: 4:32
  • Kilometres: 49.75
  • Calories burned: 11 Lindt chocolate bunnies
  • Soundtrack: Masterpiece – Jessie J

I took quite a bit of time for reflection after last Sunday’s run. My initial reaction was disappointment and then frustration for my lack of discipline. That turned into worry – how long will this fatigue last? But was finally replaced with gratitude. I was thankful that all of my previous runs had gone well (in comparison), and I was thankful to experience this mental shutdown on a training run, giving me a bit of time to prepare for it ahead of the marathon.

It really showed me just how much your mental state can affect your performance. Physically, I should have managed the distance. But right from the very start, those doubts crept in, and I let myself get caught up in the discomfort of the smallest things. True, the heat did play a role, but that’s another lesson – I should have slowed down the pace right from the start and not been so fixated on achieving a certain time. I’m happy that I can learn from it, and now it’s all about working on some mental strategies to avoid getting into that same pit on race day.

By Thursday, I had my fighting spirit back and I was boosted by the fact that my speed runs during the week were still going strong, so I wasn’t completely burned out. And I marveled at another beautiful sunset scene this week:

Sunday’s schedule was a half marathon and I was really eager to see how my energy levels would hold up. Well, I spent most of the run trying to hold back my speed! Every time I checked my watch, I was doing more than 11 kmph, and my goal marathon pace is around 10.5. I kept trying to slow down, but it seemed my legs just found their own rhythm today. It was so reassuring (and enjoyable) to run at a good pace again and to feel it was manageable. I even didn’t care when I hit (yet another) bridge that no longer existed and had to loop back on myself. The run went so well, I chose a slightly longer route, and ended up doing just under 25 km, instead of the 21 km on the schedule. It just felt good to get that little bit of extra running in the bank.

I also ran past some of the fancier houses in Almere, each with their own docking (mooring?) station and boat!

The temperature was absolutely perfect today – around 10 degrees but with the windchill factor, it was more like 5. Definitely my kind of running temperature!

This evening I tuned into a Facebook live chat by the London Marathon. Martin Yelling, the charismatic guy who created the training plans was giving advice on the final weeks of training and the marathon, and answering viewers questions. I was quite chuffed that he answered mine (and said my name – swoon!). In hindsight, it actually sounds like quite an arrogant question (he laughed a little), but I didn’t mean it in that way! I was asking how busy the course is, and if it’s easy to overtake if you feel like you can speed up as the course progresses. What I really meant was, is it possible to run your own race, or are you really constrained to the pack of runners surrounding you. The answer, it seems, is that the course is very busy, especially at the start, so you are pretty much stuck at one pace for quite some time. Well, it’s good to know that! Let’s hope I can stick to the pace I specified on my entry form 6 months ago!

This afternoon, I decided to pull together some of the photos I’ve been capturing during the last 15 weeks of training to give myself a boost and to remind myself of just how much I’ve put into this. It felt like such a positive thing to do and made me realise how much of a journey this is – something I won’t ever forget.

Just two more weeks to go now!

The soundtrack to this week is Masterpiece by Jessie J.

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 14: Stunning sunsets and the run from hell

  • Hours on the run: 4:59
  • Kilometres: 51.21
  • Calories burned: 3,397
  • Times I stopped to walk: Too many
  • Soundtrack: Silence. Even music was too much this week.

Following the clock change, I was running in color once more on my evening runs. Thursday’s run rewarded me with this beautiful scene:

Saturday morning saw my first scheduled lie-in of the whole 17-week training plan, and I slept for a full 10 hours! Exhaustion and fatigue have been building these past few weeks, and I really needed that morning off. Then came the big one: the 22 miler on Sunday. It fell on one of the hottest days of the year so far. Good training, I suppose, in case we get this heat on the day of the marathon…

I thought I’d been smart in planning my route: one long stretch from the next town back to where I live, running right alongside the Ijsselmeer lake, and the nature reserve, with the wind in my back the whole way. I forgot to factor in the lack of any shade what so ever, or the mentally exhausting battle of one long straight road ahead of you with no change of scenery for about 20 km. Big mistake.


I started running at 10:00 (again, trying to replicate marathon day) and it was already warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt. During the first kilometer I almost ran over this pair in the middle of the bike path, enjoying their Sunday morning:

I hit another un-crossable bridge due to construction work around 3km in, which sent me back the way I came for another kilometre or so until I could find a new route. By the time I got back on track, I just wasn’t in a good place mentally. Everything was niggling – the heat, my headphones, the running jacket flapping around my waist, the music I was listening too… and my arms just felt so heavy.

I hoped it was just due to nerves and a really bad night’s sleep disrupted by some quite disturbing dreams where I was experiencing Dad dying all over again. 

I pushed on expecting the fatigue and heaviness to lift once I got into a rhythm. It didn’t.

By 11:00 the heat and sunshine had become so draining for me. I know I’ve complained about rain before, but I would take 3 hours of rain over this intense sunshine any day. It was such a shock to be feeling like this – after just 12km I was constantly battling the thought of stopping. That’s never happened to me at such an early distance before, and once the thought enters your mind (for me) it’s almost impossible to shake it.

By 17km I had already taken my first walking break. I just felt dangerously overheated and fatigued. I’m sure I was overreacting, but I just had no stamina or willpower left to push on without walking breaks. It wasn’t for lack of water or fuel (I think) – I had both of those fully covered both in the run up to the day, and during the run. It was all purely mental.

This is me around 22km, when my friend Dennis brought me a water refill:

I lost count of the number of times I stopped to walk after this point. My total running distance was 33km by the end with probably another 2-3 km on top of that from the walking.

I was so disappointed that I couldn’t keep going. It was really a huge shock to feel this tired, and I know most of it was mental. I wasn’t injured, nothing particularly hurt that much. I just had no drive left in me. 

I would love to blame this awful run on the heat, but I think that was only a small factor. I’m really going to take my sleep and rest more seriously over the next few weeks, and just hope that it was a one-off. It’s knocked my confidence quite a lot, especially being the longest run I needed to do before the marathon. But perhaps it will make me appreciate the runs that do go well that bit more from now on (I really hope there will be more that go well).

Here’s the route – beautiful but brutal with the full sun and a head full of battles:

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 13: Another toughie

  • Hours on the run: 5:13
  • Kilometres: 56.77
  • Calories burned: 600g of Tony’s Chocolonely
  • Soundtrack: Freefall – Armin van Buuren

The clocks went forward this Sunday, meaning I was up an hour earlier than usual for the long run. On these sunny days, it really helps to get going as soon as possible – by the time I get back around lunchtime, it’s getting just that bit too warm and sweaty, so it’s good to get as many kilometres done in the cool as possible.

Here you can just see the centre of Almere in the distance…

… And here just over the water is Amsterdam!

This long stretch of road was giving me quite the workout on this long run (physically and mentally). For 50 minutes straight, I was running into a pretty strong headwind, with no change of direction, no shelter from the wind what so ever. That was a toughie!

I was very happy to switch direction at around 16km and start the long loop back home and out of that wind. I also worked out a great solution to my (lack of) water issue. The idea of running back past my house to pick up more water was absolutely not appealing – psychologically having to set off again after reaching home would be pretty tough, so I was pretty pleased with myself when it hit me during the run that I could just ask for water in the bird watching centre which sits half way on the route. Don’t know why I didn’t think of it before! They were very happy to oblige, so I filled my boots (so to speak) and headed off feeling lighter for knowing I didn’t need to ration my the water for the rest of the run. And by this point, things were starting to warm up with the full sun so I would need it!

The last 6 – 8km were heavy going. By this point, the soles of your feet are so sore and sensitive, you feel literally every bump on the ground. Everything starts getting really tight, and even turning corners feels like a big effort. Still, you keep counting down the kilometres, and with every step you know it’s a step closer to home.

And here I am! Hot and sweaty and happy to sit down! Relieved to get another injury-free run in the bag. It was pretty exhausting though!

My cat Beertje looks a bit like me this evening after indulging in a few too many chocolates 😀

There’s one more final push this week and next weekend before things start tapering. We’re almost there!

The soundtrack this week is Freefall by Armin van Buuren. Energising!

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 12: Knocked out of action…

… by a hornet.

  • Hours on the run: 4:26
  • Kilometres: 46.92
  • Missed runs: 1 (probably should have been 3)
  • Hornet stings: 4
  • Calories burned: 2,257
  • Soundtrack: Sting – Message in a bottle

Who’d have thought it? (in March as well!) After all the worries about old running injuries coming back to haunt me, and overly tight calves, it was actually a tiny (OK not that tiny) insect that knocked me off schedule!

The unfortunate beast was having a snooze inside my running tights on Tuesday evening as they hung on the drying rack. Not realising what a wasp or hornet sting actually feels like, I let it get me four times before the curiosity of what on earth the pain could be became great enough for me to roll my trousers up, and out it flopped.

I thought it best to still run that evening – my theory was that moving my legs would help the blood circulate faster and therefore drain away the toxins more quickly…

Maybe it helped, maybe it hindered… for the next four days my ankle remained quite swollen and kind of awkward to walk on. I still ran again on Thursday evening, but by the end of that run I felt like it definitely wasn’t helping, so I bailed out of my Saturday run and started taking a bunch of antihistamines and ibuprofen to try and get it to calm down. It seemed to work – by Saturday evening the swelling had almost gone, and so the next morning I headed out with (quite some) trepidation for the big test – the 32km monster.

Nerves and a sluggishness accompanied me for the first 45 minutes or so, until I made a pitstop for the toilet, and also took off my running jacket (the sun was starting to warm things up by then). A  little more composed and comfortable, I got into more of a zone. 

The weather was absolutely ideal for the run – around 10 degrees with sun and cloud. Since it wasn’t overly warm, I was able to manage with just using my 500ml handheld water bottle for the three-hour run. However having just done a search of how much water you should drink while running (obviously it depends on speed and temperature/humidity etc) it seems I should be aiming for around 360ml per hour! Eek. I might need to rethink my water strategy for the next two long runs, perhaps having to circle back around my house to pick up more.

Although I didn’t ever get to a point where I just needed to stop on this run, it was really, really tough towards the end (the last 6-8km). I had to circle round the local park a couple of times to eke out the last 6km, and I did seem to get a few funny looks from people probably thinking why does she look so exhausted when just doing a few laps of the park?! I think a grimace was quite firmly plastered to my face by that point!

Somehow, I made it though. I will admit, there were quite a few times during that run that I really thought, I absolutely, whole-heartedly do not want to run this marathon. Of course, when I finished the run, the discomfort faded away and I got my enthusiasm back, but it was a heavy one, that’s for sure.

More of the same next weekend (all being well)…🤞

The soundtrack to this week is anything by Sting. Of course.

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.


Week 9: Two dead-ends and a thousand worms!

  • Hours on the run: 4:44
  • Kilometres: 49.82
  • Calories burned: 37 choco soesjes (Dutch profiteroles)
  • Worms crushed: I’m sorry!
  • Wildlife: About 8 great egrets (and a thousand skinny worms)
  • Soundtrack: Bad moon rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival

I learned quite a valuable lesson on this week’s long run: Don’t assume your running routes from 5 years ago still exist! I had a nice circular route mapped out (in my head) for the 26km run on Sunday. It was a route that circles around a wetlands nature reserve and basically hugs the huge IJsselmeer lake, so it’s pretty remote – I didn’t actually pass a single person for a good 16km (my kind of run!). Three-quarters of the way around, as I was starting the home stretch, I hit a dead end – the bridge was being repaired with no way around it. The other cut-through I knew, ended up as another dead-end at a bird watching hut…. (see where the two red lines fork in the map below – next to Almere Buiten). There was nothing for it but re-tracing my steps about 6km back into powerful headwind along the ridge next to the water until I finally hit a turning to take me home.

26km running route

This looping back on myself meant that when I (joyously) hit the 26km finish (red stop icon on the map), I was still a half-hour walk from home. On a clear day, I wouldn’t mind, but I was soaking wet from 2.5 hours of non-stop rain. My running jacket had started foaming, and my white socks had turned blue! Still, half-running, half-walking (I was getting cold by this point) I made it home and then not much further than the front door! 🙂

On the run itself I was really excited to see about 8 great egrets (don’t recall ever seeing these in the Netherlands before). I tried to take a picture, but it spooked them. So here’s one from the google 🙂

I also saw two slightly mad paddle-boarders out on the choppy IJsselmeer. I was psychologically battling the headwind and my dead-ends at this point so didn’t have the energy to stop for a photo, but below you can see the pretty bleak conditions they were out in (taken from the start of the run):

Rather them than me!

The wet weather also brought out hundreds of worms. At first I avoided stepping on them, but all that leaping and dodging was taking too much energy, so I fear I might have crushed a few of them. I’m sorry!

Sunday’s weather showed quite a marked change from the runs of the past week, even the day before. Sun or no sun though, it’s so heartwarming to see the spring colours starting to pop in the skies and underfoot:

Overall, the long run this week went well, definitely up to the half-marathon point. After that, things got heavy but definitely not unbearable. I know I’m going to need a lot of sleep this week (only been averaging about 6 hours a night, which isn’t really enough for all the recovery your body needs to do for these distances) so early to bed from now on – that’s my aim! And bring on next week’s 29km, with hopefully no more dead ends and a little less rain!

The soundtrack to this week: Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival – despite the name (and lyrics!) it’s got such a great bouncy beat for running – always puts a spring in my step!

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Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

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Week 8: White feathers

  • Hours on the run: 4:27
  • Kilometres: 46
  • Calories burned: 2.5 roast dinners
  • Times I felt like stopping: Twice (halfway up those hills)
  • Soundtrack: With you – Matt Simons

One word to sum up this week: exhausting. Juggling a new job and marathon training, and a weekend trip to the UK for a half marathon has taken it’s toll. On the positive side, running progress seems to be going well, despite the over-tight calves.

A 05:30 wake-up call on Wednesday had me heading to the physio before work; the immediate prognosis: “Je kuiten zijn erg strak, dame!” (Your calves are really tight, lady!). The physio thinks we’ve caught them in time, but I shouldn’t have waited this long before making the appointment…

After some uncomfortable deep tissue massage, I was prescribed compression sleeves which I need to wear for each run to help increase the blood flow. I should also be foam rolling each time I run, and have another sports massage booked for next week.

The week culminated in a a flying visit to the UK for the Wokingham Half Marathon. While the race itself was really enjoyable, I massively under-estimated how tiring the trip would be. After a full day’s work on Friday, travelling for a further 6 hours (that’s how long it takes door-to-door – minimum) meant that I arrived in Sandhurst pretty shattered that evening.

Saturday morning I clocked my 45-minute training run. The weather was absolutely fantastic – first running shorts weather of the year! I headed over to Horseshoe Lake for a nice scenic route (which meant I could also stop off at the Churchyard on the way back to visit Mum and Dad’s grave).

Sunday morning arrived with another early (06:00) start. I hadn’t received my running pack and race number when they were all sent out in the post, so on arrival at the race venue I went in search of a new one. I was greeted with “Oh, so you’re the international runner – we wondered who that was!” 🙂

Warming up….

I had about 40 minutes to wait until it was time to get ready, so I found a spot in the sun with a cup of tea, watching all the runners arrive. After some time, I glanced down at my feet and noticed a white feather lying right next to my running shoe. That was always Dad’s sign from Mum – letting him know she was still with him, so I really had to smile when I saw it (and choke back a few tears): Mum and Dad were joining me for the race.

The run itself went far better than I expected, and even though the hills were tough, I realised that at least you get to cruise a little on the way down them. When you run on the flat, you need to maintain a continuous level of effort, but running downhill somehow gives you the feeling you get a bit of a breather.

I heard a couple of people shout out “Come on Haarlem” during the run which made me smile (I had a Haarlem race t-shirt on). I think it would be great if the UK races could follow the Dutch in printing names on each race number – it really does give you a boost when someone shouts out your name when things are getting tough.


The key difference I noticed about this race compared to Dutch ones (apart from being able to see over the tops of people’s heads!) was the procedure for overtaking. In Holland, while not everyone sticks to it, generally people are good at using the left side of the road to overtake, and moving across to the right afterwards, which makes things a lot more orderly. There didn’t seem to be any such convention in this race – a complete free for all with people overtaking left, right, and centre!

The final few hundred metres also felt far more competitive. I normally speed up a little on the final stretch (if there’s anything left in my legs!) but don’t usually go all out – so I was taken by surprise when people I’d just overtaken a few minutes earlier who had slowed down suddenly zipped past me to get to the finish!

I knocked 3 minutes off my time from the half marathon in Schoorl a few weeks ago, which I was really surprised about. It was a nice boost as I was anticipating I’d go over the 2-hour mark for this one. The sunshine must have powered me on!

After the race, there was just enough time for a shower and a pub roast before heading back to the airport to fly home. Getting up for work the next day, I was absolutely exhausted and realised (after the relief of completing my first ever race in the UK) that the weekend had taken so much more out of me than I had expected.

I hope to get some energy back this week before the next long run of 26 km on Sunday….. right now, I’m feeling shattered and overwhelmed. Juggling the demands of a new job while training for the marathon and still dealing (practically and emotionally) with everything that happened last year is proving quite a hefty challenge.

But, I’m not done yet.

Soundtrack to this week: With you by Matt Simons. “I’ll be with you, I’ll be waiting for you, on the other side.”  Powerful signs appear when you need them.


Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 7: Springy steps

  • Hours on the run: 2:64
  • Kilometres: 28
  • Calories burned: 29 falafels
  • Runs in the sun: 2!
  • Soundtrack: Waves by Dean Lewis

With the temperature rising to a balmy 16 degrees this weekend, spring is definitely in the air. It’s so refreshing to feel the sun directly on your skin and warmer skies on the breeze.

This week was a much easier week with only short runs, to help recover from the past four weeks of building. My legs definitely needed it – calf muscles are so tight, at some points on a run they feel like they’re going to snap.

Of course, that won’t be good, so I’m upping the foam rolling and stretching – trying to do it daily. Also planning in a few sports massages to see if they can loosen things up before I start hitting all of the bigger distances in the coming weeks.

It doesn’t look like much of a stretch here, but that heel drop really hits the spot for tight calves (it was a beautiful morning for a run too.).

Slower runs this weekend meant more time for taking photos! This is a nice little route around the main lake in the centre of Almere. I absolutely love running by the water (unless I’m thirsty and don’t have a drink!) – it gives off such a positive energy and is just so calming at the same time.

Almere running routes - Het Weerwater
Almere running routes - Het Weerwater

This week was a bit more emotional for me. After the relief and buzz of finishing the half marathon last weekend, the following day it hit me that it was the first race I’ve done since Dad passed away. The absence of good luck messages ahead of the run, and no post-run excited chatter recounting the day’s events – it brought me bluntly back to reality. Even though I felt him cheering me on during the race which gave me a powerful boost, the silence and tears afterwards were just as profound.

I’ve noticed after you lose someone close to you, life events start being categorised as ‘While they were here’ or ‘After they died’ (i.e. did we share it with them or not). I’ve become used to so many events taking place without Mum over the last 9 years, but from now on, everything that happens will also take place without Dad. It’s a thought that fills me with a lot of emptiness – an emptiness you learn to live with over time, I think.

For now though, I am grateful for all the things I do have in my life – especially my health. So here’s to the next running weeks and hopefully more sunshine guiding us gently into spring.

The soundtrack this week is Waves by Dean Lewis. Emotions up and down, but the energy always there, moving us forward.

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 6: Blustery brutals

  • Hours on the run: 4:31
  • Kilometres: 48
  • Calories burned: 10 flapjacks
  • Times I felt like stopping: 3
  • Runs in the rain: 2
  • Endorphins: 1,5 million
  • Flying distance: 10 metres
  • Soundtrack: Bang my head – David Guetta + Sia

Wind! Lots and lots of wind this week. Too many lentils!

Sorry, just kidding. I’m talking about that relentless 50km/hour earthly type of wind. The kind that, in the right direction, has you sailing along, flying without trying. Turn a corner and bam! Earphones angrily ripped from your ears; invisible walls to punch through; saliva whipped out of your mouth and plastered to your chin. Delightful.

On days like this, the only thing you can do is go with it. And try not to run backwards. I tell myself that it’s the Dutch version of hill training, and I should embrace it. I also tell myself it takes less effort to breathe when the wind is slammed into your airways. That’s got to count for something?

Retail therapy and dark nights

This week saw a new addition to my running wardrobe (doesn’t happen often – running gear is ridiculously expensive!). I’ve kept my one and only pair of running tights going faithfully for seven Dutch winters but before the hole in the butt gets any more offensive, I thought I’d treat myself to a new pair. It seems running tights have come on a long way in seven years! These New Balance beauties feel just like a second skin – so silky smooth, I couldn’t stop stroking my legs the first time I put them on! Plus they have the right sized pockets in all the right places – a runner definitely designed these!

Taking them out for their first spin, I’d like to think it wasn’t just the tailwind that had me cruising along effortlessly but my newfound aerodynamics…. oooh yeah they’re a keeper!

New Tights!
Happy Feet – First new pair of running tights in 7 years!

Week-night runs are still dark at the moment, with little in the way of visual entertainment:

Interval training
Lamppost spotters heaven!

Still, it’s the ideal time for interval training – no distractions! This long stretch of path is perfect for breaking out a sweat – no corners, curbs or uneven patches to trip you up. Nothing else to do on a path like this except ramp up that speed and get those lungs burning!

Confidence boost

The week ended with a half marathon in the dunes north of Amsterdam, where there are actual hills: the Groet uit Schoorl Run (nope, still can’t pronounce it!). Although my training schedule doesn’t have me doing a half marathon for another couple of weeks yet, I signed up for this one months ago (it’s a really scenic course), so I thought I’d try my luck.

That of course led to a lot of nerves yesterday, a sleepless night, and huge doubts that I was ready for the distance…

Well, I was amazed. It was one of the most enjoyable half marathons I’ve ever run. Perhaps it was the new energy gels (love them!), the new running gear (love it!), or the music: there was no hitting of any walls, and no point at which I thought, woah… how much further?! And that was despite the pouring rain at the start!

Groet uit Schoorl Run 2019

I also discovered one of the advantages of running in the Netherlands: Tall Dutch men – fantastic wind breakers! Just tuck yourself in behind a couple of them, and cruise when it all gets a bit blustery. Thanks guys!

During organised races like this, most of my concentration is on keeping a steady pace and the people around me – either overtaking people who have slowed down, or being overtaken by faster runners. There isn’t really a time when I’m thinking about things going on in my own life (like I would on runs by myself). That’s why it was quite a powerful moment when, around the 17km mark, my Dad suddenly came into my mind, so clearly, out of seemingly nowhere. It was really as if he was communicating with me – telling me he was watching and cheering me on. That really gave me a boost to speed up over those final kilometres, and to finish strong.

This race definitely lifted my running confidence, although I’m still unbelievably daunted by the distance I’ll need to cover in 76 days’ time. Best get back out there training… but first a much needed rest day. Yes!

Groet-uit-Schoorl Half Marathon 2019
Smiley orange guy managed to smile in every single picture. Happy chappy!
Groet-uit-Schoorl Half Marathon 2019
The girl in front of me showing so much emotion 800 metres before the end… Me – just an awkward hand wave!
Groet uit Schoorl Run 2019
How cute is this guy making a little heart to someone in the crowd. Bless!

Soundtrack to this week: Bang your head by David Guetta and Sia. Sums up that wind!

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

Week 5: Sunday frosties

  • Hours on the run: 4:06
  • Kilometres: 45
  • Calories burned: 27 bananas
  • Times I felt like stopping: 1.5
  • Runs in the rain: 1
  • Endorphins: 1 million and 6
  • Wildlife: 2 lesser-spotted lampposts, lots of ducks, swans, and an eagle-type bird
  • Soundtrack: Santu Paulu-Finale by Ludovico Einaudi

This week’s highlight has to be the beautiful long run on Sunday morning. The elusive sun of past weeks shone in full glory, enticing runners across the land out of their beds to claim a slice of winter paradise laced with morning endorphins. Dazzling frost-covered paths still slippy in places made for greater adventure as eager running shoes etched out fresh tracks under that beautiful azure-blue sky.

Frosty Sundays

A long run in weather like this is the ultimate reward for those week-day kilometres notched up on dark winter nights. Your field of vision no longer restricted to lampposts; your main form of entertainment no longer chasing shadows. Now, there’s an infinite backdrop to your run, a full spectrum of colour greedily soaked up by thirsty vision. Birds of prey to spot, a songbird’s soundtrack to tune in to, and crisp, golden air to fuel up on. And that gentle winter sun warming your skin, igniting dreams of Spring.

In short, a runner’s paradise.

Runners paradise

That being said, my 17 kilometres were still tough! As was the 07:30 Sunday start. When you begin to increase your distance, there’s a bit more to take into account than simply getting out of the door and running. Breakfast is a must for me ahead of a run like this, yet it’s not a good idea to run on a full stomach. So to successfully complete an early morning run, I need to wake up at least 2 hours earlier to fuel up.

Since the actual marathon will start at 10:00, I’m trying to complete all of my long runs at the same time, to get used to that morning routine. It can be quite an art working out what breakfast you perform best on, how much of it, and of course, how much coffee to allow yourself before heading out the door. If you don’t get the balance right, you could be in quite some discomfort, and potentially in need of a few bushes (can be a challenge in these winter landscapes!).

Winter landscapes - no bushes here!
My kind of treadmill!

These longer runs are also a good way of testing out refuelling strategies. While it’s definitely possible to run a half-marathon, or longer, without any fuel, for many people, taking energy gels or drinks can help to replace some of the energy and minerals lost and give you a much needed boost. For runs of up to 80 minutes, I wouldn’t bother with anything except water, but for longer than that, I tend to take one gel every 45-50 minutes.

I ordered a set of GU gels to inject some variety into the regular orange and apple flavours available at my local running store. Birthday cake anyone?! I’ll save that one for next month 🙂


Completing my long run and returning home with the sun still shining in full glory made for some relaxing post-run stretches, soaking up those rays to the max. The satisfaction of knowing you got yourself out there and through your intended distance (the longest run of the year so far!) – and the buzz from all those endorphins and fresh air – that’s the addiction that keeps you lacing up for more.

Post run stretching in the sun

The soundtrack to this beautifully sunny run has to be Santu Paulu-Finale by Ludovico Einaudi. I have absolutely no idea what they are singing, but it all just sounds so sunny and makes me want to jump up and down shaking a tambourine! (I set it to start after the intro which is a bit slow, in case you’re wondering!).

Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.