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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: Amsterdam Center and Amsterdamse Bos

I met up with an old sorority sister earlier this week and took her and her travel buddy on a walking tour of Amsterdam. The weather was ideal for walking along the canals, with the occasional pit stop to refresh ourselves with a cold, Dutch beer. I am so accustomed to getting around the city by bike that I tend to underestimate distances when walking so we walked a little longer than I intended, especially since two of us were wearing wedges.

My second walk of the week was today and was also shorter than it should have been but we have a sick kid at home and schedules had to be rearranged so I'm happy that I got in a walk at all. We have had a few days of solid rain here so I was happy to be able to get in a few miles in some good weather. Today's walk took place in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest), which is another one of the locations I give fitness classes in every week. It is also where the Mom in Balance - Run for Pink Ribbon will be held, a race that I have been very busy organizing!

Lots of branches on the path after a night of heavy wind and rain

The Amsterdamse Bos is technically considered a city park and is one of the largest in Europe. It was created during the 1930's, at a time when unemployment rates in the Netherlands were soaring. The planting of the Amsterdamse Bos provided jobs for more than 20,000 workers over a period of 5+ years and their work is now enjoyed by more than 7 million visitors annually.

And that brings this blog up-to-date! I really hope to get a long walk in next week but it is promising to be yet another hectic week. The week after that I will be on vacation though with lots of opportunities for walking, and at the end of the month, I have a very fun walk planned. Stay tuned!

This week's walk (#1): 

Distance: 4 miles (6.5km)
Time: a few hours with pit stops

This week's walk (#2): 

Distance: 6.2 miles (10km)
Time: 1.5 hours

Weeks Left: 9
Amount Left to Raise: $683

Where I'm walking this (last) week: Disneyland Paris

Once again, I didn't get a long walk in last week because I was off having fun at Disneyland Paris with the family, but walking around the park and being on my feet all day should count for something, right?!

(psssst....all the photos on this blog can be enlarged by clicking on them)

Eric and Jack in front of the Disney Castle

This  Last week's walk: 

Distance: No idea
Time: 6 hours or so on my feet
Weeks Left: 10

Amount Left to Raise: $683

Worsten voor Borsten (Wieners for Boobs) BBQ

I'm a little behind on posting so I'm going to backtrack a bit.

The Worsten voor Borsten (Wieners for Boobs) BBQ was a great success! Our house was only barely put back together after some home improvements, but luckily the weather was nice so we were all able to hang out on the deck. Thank you to everyone that came, and thanks for the donations! 

Multipurpose balloons! Here it's a heart.

And here, well, it fits the theme of the BBQ!

My walk two weeks ago was kind of boring, hence the lack of pictures. I've been really, really busy lately with some home renovations, race planning, sick kids, and the like which has all been interfering with my walk training. I've been sneaking in 5-10 mile walks when I can but mostly they have been squeezed in between other obligations. 

This week's walk The walk from two weeks ago: 

Distance: 5 miles (8km)
Time: 1 hours 15
Weeks Left: 11

Amount Left to Raise: $683

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mom in Balance - Run for Pink Ribbon

I mentioned in a previous post that, along with my colleagues at Mom in Balance, I was busy planning a race that will take place in the Amsterdamse Bos on August 28th. All of the proceeds from the event will go towards the fight against breast cancer. A portion of the funds will go towards my fundraising goal for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for the Cure. The rest will go towards the Dutch breast cancer organization, Stichting Pink Ribbon.

I'm happy to announce that the website is finished and registration is open. The website is in Dutch but you can click here for an automatic English translation.

Please help spread the word to any local runners!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: Waterland

Today on my walk I explored an area to the Northeast of Amsterdam called Waterland. The area earned its name because its low-lying position and abundance of water, made evident by the canals that cut through the landscape. The starting point of my walk was a village called Durgerdam, which sits upon the Zeedijk, a dyke that was built in the 15th century to prevent flooding from reoccurring.

Staying true to its name, Waterland greeted me with a massive rainstorm that I was fortunately able to ride out from inside the comfort of my car. As soon as the sky began to clear up, I started on my walk and hoped for the best. While it might not be a good idea to walk in the pouring rain, I've been told that it is important to try and train in all conditions since you never know how the weather will be during the 3-Day Walk itself. And the walk does take place in Seattle, after all (although September is usually a fairly dry month).

A rather Monet-like shot from inside my car
Waiting for the storm to pass

I began my walk along the dyke between Kinselmeer and Ijmeer (meer means "lake" in Dutch), to a quaint village named Uitdam. From there I continued to walk through Waterland, which is home to many cattle, sheep, and birds. I was pleased to see that farmers offer the same greeting in Waterland as they do in North Dakota, by subtly lifting two fingers from the steering wheel of their vehicle. Other than the farmers and a handful of cyclists, I did not pass any other people during my walk. Which seems odd considering how close to the city I still was.

Family of swans

Despite the handy "knooppuntensysteem," which I will explain in another post, I still managed to take a couple of wrong turns along the way and I ended up walking about 4 miles more than I had intended to. I only had water with me, and for that long of a walk I could have used a snack or a sports drink to refuel. I will definitely be sticking something nutritious in my backpack on my next walk.

Which way?
One of the many small bridges I crossed

That's it for this week's walk! 

This week's walk: 

Distance: 15.5 miles (26km)
Time: 4 hours
Weeks Left: 12

Amount Left to Raise: $1,000

Friday, June 17, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: IJburg

I had big plans to explore a new area on my walk today but time got away from me so I ended up staying close to home.  I walked in the opposite direction as last week, along the Amsterdam-Rijn Canal to IJburg- a man-made island on the outskirts of Amsterdam. My walk took me through two of the parks in which I teach fitness classes, Diemerpark and Flevopark. The clouds were threatening rain but I made it home feeling no more than a few sprinkles. I had a walking partner on the last leg of my walk, after swinging by daycare to pick up Jack.

This week's walk: 

Distance: 7.5 miles (12.11km)
Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Weeks Left: 13

Amount Left to Raise: $1,120

Amsterdam-Rijn Canal

Bridge to IJburg



My walking buddy

More like running buddy

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Successful 5k Fundraiser!

My sister-in-law and fellow teammate, Kasha, held her 5k Walk/Run fundraiser in Beulah, ND this past Saturday and it was a big success! Nearly 50 people participated in the event on what was a beautiful, sunny morning.  She raised a total of $800 and that puts her in the lead for our team, but no worries, the rest of us will catch up soon!

Way to go, Kasha!

At the starting line!
At the start

Kasha with two of her volunteers


Friday, June 10, 2011

Where I'm walking this week: Westerpark

I have decided to take my camera along on my walks so I can report back here with pictures of some of the scenery I get to enjoy. Next time I'll be sure to check my camera's battery beforehand so I can take multiple pictures, unlike today when I only managed to snap one before my battery died. I saw a lot of stuff today on my urban walk around Amsterdam. This picture was taken at the beginning of my walk, close to my house.

Today was my first long walk of nearly 10 miles and I definitely started feeling it towards the end. Since we will be walking 20 miles each day during the 3-Day Walk for the Cure, I still have some training to do before I will be able to walk that distance comfortably. I plan on doing one long walk- between 10-20 miles- each week from now until the 3-Day Walk takes place in September. One day of training isn't a lot, and it is less than recommended, but I teach fitness 6 hours a week and bike to work so I think this schedule will work for me. It's just a matter of getting accustomed to those longer distances.

In the coming weeks, I plan on getting out of the city and exploring other parts of the Netherlands, so stay tuned for more photos!

This week's walk: 

Distance: 9.5 miles (15.3km)
Time: 2.5 hours
Weeks Left: 14

Friday, April 15, 2011

An exciting announcement!

There is still a fair amount of planning to be done, but one thing is certain. On Sunday, August 28th, 2011 a running event will be held in the Amsterdamse Bos (Amsterdam Forest) and the net proceeds will go towards breast cancer.

I will be organizing the event along with my wonderful colleagues at Mom in Balance. Women make up the core target group of Mom in Balance by 100% and breast cancer awareness is something we value very highly. We look forward to not only past and present participants coming out and taking part, but all women and men who are inspired to support this great cause.

The event will likely consist of a 1k for the kids (and the highly pregnant!), and a 5k and 10k for everyone else.

If you are unable to attend the event or simply feel inclined to make a donation now, you can do so by clicking on the 'donate' button to the right of this post. :-)

More information and race registration details will be coming soon!

P.S. I'd like to give special thanks to Julie, for brainstorming with me thus far.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Walking on sunshine

The sun is shining today in Amsterdam and public transportation is on strike. In other words, it is a perfect day for a walk! I have admittedly been so wrapped up in fundraising strategics that I haven't thought much about the training aspect of the 3-Day walk. Considering the distances we will be walking, proper training is definitely a necessity. In the coming weeks I will be talking about training schedules and tips, but today, I'm just going to load my kids into the stroller and go for a walk.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The beginning

In January 2010, my mother lost her decade-long fight with breast cancer. She was 59 years old. To honor her fighting spirit, I have pledged to participate in the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day for the Cure. This means that in September, I will be walking 60 miles (100 km) over the course of three days, alongside some of the women who loved my mom the most. As a team we will be raising nearly $10,000 and 100% of the net proceeds will go towards global breast cancer research and community-based breast health programs.

Check back here often as I chronicle our journey to Seattle!