Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm headed out!

It's been a while since I posted, but I have still been walking. The weather in the Netherlands has been very wet lately, often too wet to bring a camera or too gloomy to photograph. The good news is, I am DONE with training walks and I leave tomorrow for Seattle for the 3-Day for the Cure. I will updated upon my return!

Monday, August 22, 2011

1,000 hits!!

I noticed on my ticker this morning that this blog has just surpassed 1,000 hits!

To celebrate, why don't you leave me a comment and say hi!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where I walked last week: Amsterdam - Amstelveen- Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

I'm skipping my long walk this week in effort to give my knee a chance to heal from a small injury. It has been bothering me since wadlopen, nothing major, but it gets pretty sore after my long training walks. I'll take this opportunity to write about last week's walk, however, since I haven't done that yet.

Last week I finished a training walk of 20 miles (32 km)! This was a big milestone because it is the distance we will be walking each day during the 3-Day event. For the first leg, I walked from my house in the northeast part of Amsterdam, to the Olympic Stadium in the southwest part of town, where I attended a short meeting with one of the sponsors for our upcoming race. Since the sponsor just happens to be a running store (de Hardloopwinkel), I took the opportunity to buy another pair of shoes that I could rotate with my existing pair. I wore them out of the store and walked the next 15 miles in them and my feet still felt pretty good afterwards! Seeing my new, VERY bright pink shoes against the grey pavement has a great motivational effect.

Aren't these the loudest shoes you've ever seen?!

After that I headed to Amsterdamse Bos, and dropped off some flyers for the race. Speaking of the flyers, my talented friend Natale at nat + neo created them for us and this is how they turned out:

I left the Amsterdamse Bos and walked to Amstelveen, where I took the opportunity to stop by my in-law's house for a drink and a sandwich before continuing on to the second half of my walk. From Amstelveen I walked across a polder to Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. A polder is a low-lying piece of land that has been reclaimed from the sea, and approximately 27% of the land in the Netherlands wouldn't exist if it weren't for the highly ambitious engineers that figured out how to hold the sea back with dikes and levies.

From Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, I followed the Amstel river back up to Amsterdam. The entire walk ended up taking me seven hours, including stops. My legs felt very tired the last couple of miles and I had to bribe myself with an ice cream cone to continue on rather than calling Eric to ask him to pick me up (hey, bribery works as good on me as it does my kids!). My legs felt pretty stiff the next morning, and it wasn't until the end of my second fitness class of the morning that they start to loosen up. I probably won't walk this far again before the 3-Day, but I am glad that I got one 20 miler under my belt!

This Last week's walk: 

Distance: 20 miles (32km)
Time: 7 hours
Weeks Left: 4
Amount Left to Raise: $338 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A month from now...

In just one month I will be in Seattle, participating in the 3-Day for the Cure. Right now I am really looking forward to being together with my teammates. Having walked many training miles by myself, my experience until now has been pretty solitary. The good thing about all those lonely miles, however, is that I have had many opportunities to reflect on why I am doing this. I think about my mom and the struggles she endured during her long battle with breast cancer. The news of the cancer returning (twice), infections that wouldn't go away, treatments that were delayed, and her worry that her grandchildren would grow up never knowing who she was.

Her youngest grandchild-- my son, Luke-- was 3 months old when she passed away. She missed meeting him only by a few hours. She was sick for so long, but yet, her passing still seemed to come so suddenly, and without enough warning. Looking back on those final weeks there were plenty of warning signs, but she was so determined to ignore them that it made us doubt them, too. And she had rebounded plenty of times before... 

I know that I will be surrounded by people who have been affected by breast cancer during the 3-Day and some of those people will be battling, or have battled, breast cancer themselves.  I'm happy that I will have Katie, Kasha and Donna at my side during those emotional three days.

Me, Mom and Kasha

Friday, August 5, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: Alkmaar - Bergen - Duinen

The starting point for my walk today was Alkmaar, a quaint city about 45 minutes north of Amsterdam most known for its cheese market, which I apparently missed by only an hour. Bad timing! Or maybe it it's better that way, otherwise I would have been weighed down with a kilo or two of cheese for the rest of my walk.

I started out in the touristic center and was eager to make my way out of the city and away from the busyness. Once outside Alkmaar, I walked through pastureland to a village to the north called Bergen. I saw approximately 500 lovely houses that I wouldn't mind living in, if only they were in Amsterdam instead of Bergen.

After Bergen I walked through the Bergerbos (Berger Forest), which transitioned into sand dunes, and eventually, the beach along the shores of the North Sea. Again, I hardly came across a single other walker and the dunes were particularly desolate. I poured out a quarter cup of sand from each shoe once I made it through that area. Now, I admittedly have horrible navigational skills but I thought the whole area was poorly marked. Today was the first time I walked with my new iPhone and if it weren't for Google maps I'd probably still be wandering around in the dunes. I am happy to have the option of using Google maps now, but I also hate spending more time looking at my phone than at my surroundings.

Final Destination

Once again, this walk ended up being shorter than planned and I was only able to squeeze in 9 miles in the time that I had. I walked an additional 3.5 miles this morning though, while walking the course for the upcoming Mom in Balance Run for Pink Ribbon. I think next week I will stay close to home again so I can get a long walk in without losing time traveling.

This week's walk: 

Distance: 9.3 miles (15km) + 3.5 miles (6km)
Time: 2 hours 30 minutes (first walk of the day wasn't timed)
Weeks Left: 6
Amount Left to Raise: $478

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: the Wadden Sea

Yesterday I walked across the Wadden Sea, and it was as awesome as it sounds.

It was a cool and windy afternoon when I arrived at Noordpolderzijl, the smallest sea harbor in the Netherlands located about a half an hour to the north of Groningen. I met up with a group a friends who had all been convinced by our friend Joke (Yoka), the trip organizer, to take part in this Dutch pastime called wadlopen, or mudflat walking in English.

The Wadden Sea is the shallow, narrow part of the North Sea and it lies in between mainland Netherlands and the Wadden Islands. Some of the Wadden Islands are populated and others are uninhabited nature preserves with restricted access. Our walk took us near Rottumeroog, one of the uninhabited islands.

We took a short bus ride with the rest of the group, which consisted of about 45 people, including 4 or 5 tour guides, to the starting point of our walk. After walking over a dam and seeing the large expanse of gray water, and not a lot of dry land, we all started wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. But before we knew it, we were ankle-deep in slick mud, trying our best to keep up with the pace of the experienced guides. 

Professional guidance is key while mudflat walking because the walk needs to be perfectly timed between tides, and only highly trained guides know which areas are safe and shallow enough to cross. There were times during our walk where we had to stop and wait for the tide to recede more, and it was during these pauses that we took the opportunity to eat the snacks we had brought along in our backpacks. Apart from a handful of pauses, we had to keep up the pace so we could reach the boat before the tide started to come back in.

The first hour of the walk was the muddiest and after that I would say that we were walking in at least shin-deep water the majority of the time. At one point we were up to our bellies in water and the current was so strong that it seemed to take a million steps to make it through the dip. About 3 hours into the walk I started regretting my choice not to wear socks under my Converse All-Stars and my feet ended getting pretty cut up by sand and shells. Next time I will definitely wear socks.

After what I think was close to 4 hours, we reached our destination, which was a boat that would take us back to the mainland. The boat was anchored in a bit of water next to a large sand dune. Not long after climbing aboard, however, we were completely surrounded by water as the tide had begun to come in. It would still take 3+ hours, though, for the water to be deep enough for the boat to be able to get us back to shore. While waiting, we changed into some dry clothes, warmed ourselves with soup, and played games to pass the time. We also enjoyed the scenery, which included a couple hundred chubby sea lions.

At just under 9 miles, this is not the longest I have walked but it was certainly the most challenging. I am feeling it today in my leg muscles, and in my beat-up feet. But I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

Below is a video my wadlopen experience.

This week's walk: 

Distance: 8.6 miles (14km)
Time: Around 4 hours
Weeks Left: 7
Amount Left to Raise: $603

Friday, July 29, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: Dwingelderveld National Park

My parents-in-law celebrated 50 years of marriage this year and to mark the occasion they invited all of us (5 children, their partners, and 11 grandchildren) to Drenthe, a province located in the north-western part of the Netherlands. We stayed on the edge of Dwingelderveld National Park, an area perfect for outdoor activities such as biking and walking. Following the trend of this summer, we did experience a lot of rain throughout the week but I still managed to stay dry on one long walk and also during a few short ones.

I recruited my sister-in-law, Suzan, to join me on a 12.5 mile (20km) walk and she did great - especially considering she hasn't been training like I have been (trying to). Along the route she introduced me to "planking" a fad that involves lying flat on your stomach and having your picture taken. So, here I am making my photographic debut on this blog while planking on a log.

Dwingelderveld National Park has a landscape rich in diversity consisting of heavily wooded forests, marshland, and pastoral land for sheep, cattle and goats. We pretty much walked from one side of the park to the other during our walk, so we saw a bit of everything.

At the end of our walk, we met up with some of the group at an adorable little forest cafe called de Bospub, where the service was as good as the pannenkoeken (Dutch pancakes). I can't think of a better way to refuel after a long walk than eating pannenkoeken.

I received an email from Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure today reminding me that there are only 7 weeks left until the walk in Seattle. I really need to increase my mileage and I will try really hard to walk closer to 20 miles during my next walk. Finding the time necessary to train properly has definitely been my biggest challenge so far.

The other major component of this journey is, of course, the fundraising. I still have more than $600 to raise and any contribution would be greatly appreciated. :-) Click here to donate: http://www.the3day.org/goto/Saron

Tomorrow I will be heading back up to the northern part of the Netherlands to do a walk that I am very excited about. I will update upon my return!

This week's walk: 

Distance: 12.5 miles (20km)
Time: Just under 3 hours
Weeks Left: 7

Amount Left to Raise: $683