Monday, September 13, 2010

Ready for my first half marathon?

In Calgary I started doing slow long runs in January and February with Sarah. We did 10, 11 and 13 km runs, each two or three weeks apart. I had never run more than 12 kilometers ever in my life, so it felt great to accomplish this. But I had to admit that the combination of the long runs with the last Calgary Road Runners XC runs of 8 km hilly, slippery or snowy terrain was a bit too much. My muscles started to ache too much.
However, Sander and I took up the long runs after the end of XC season. We managed to do a couple of 10-1 runs varying from 10 to 14 kilometers. Our last run in Calgary was on June 13th, a very hot day, it was about 13 km along the Bow river from city centre to the weir and back. In the Netherlands we started with a 10 km race, picked up interval training again and used some dunes and tiny tiny short hills for our "hill training". During these past three months I did runs of 13, 14, 16, 10, 18, 15, 12 and 21 km's, Sander joined me on most of them. One and a half week ago we ran 21 km in 10/1's, so I know I can handle the half marathon distance. My Polar footpod may be a little bit off, the distance took 2 h and 26 min, better than I expected. Of course some muscle aches afterwards, but no ankle or achilles pains like I would have had a year ago.
Overall, I think I am ready for the race, it's in 3 weeks time, October 3th. It is nice to know I have already run the distance once, but on the other hand I think I am starting to underestimate the distance a little bit now. I still have to decide on a race strategy, should I stick with 10/1's, try 15/1's, just start running and only walk where the water stations are? Before the test run I had imagined it would take me 2h and 45 min to do the half marathon distance in my slow training pace and just finishing a half marathon was my goal. With 2h26min clocked I suddenly start thinking about the time I want to do now, very very bold, I admit. So, here it is: my goal is 2h and 20 min, and with 2h 15 min I would be extatic!! Ayy, now I'll have to live up to it ....
Well, two more training runs this week and then I can start to taper. I love tapering!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

House pics

We finally signed for our house yesterday, it has taken more than two weeks to finalize the contract. Last week we hired a guy to check the entire building from cellar to roof top (the "bouwtechnische keuring" for our Dutch friends). The only distressing finding was a (small) leak in the roof but the owners will have to repair that before we get the keys. Apart from that all other repairs the man advised were regular maintenance and can be done over time. Of course a house 80 years old always has some maintenance to be taken care off!
Why buy such an old house? Because we love the atmosphere in houses like that. Of course for Dutch standards this house is not very very old, lots of inner city houses are built around 1900. There is a lot of knowledge and craftmanship around to take care of them. Only find the right people! We can probably do some paint jobs ourselves, repair some wooden floors etc. Just enough to be able to move in our furniture. Next year we want to do some more maintenance, knock down a wall and built a new kitchen.
We hope to get the keys by the end of next week, worst case scenario October 1st.
First bookings for our guest room(s) are accepted from now on!!

Here are some pictures of our house, the furniture is from the current owners and is gone now, of course. Lovely eh!

And this is the link for Google, activate street view to take a peek: Google street view

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Amusement park Duinrell

Because they missed out on birthday gifts we took our nephews Stijn and Jochem to Duinrell, an amusement park plus waterslide centre near The Hague. We had a blast!

I was in the (sickening) Ship Ahoy and Falcon, I let Sander do the climbing stuff, Jochem was not tall enough for the Katapult, we did the mono rail and reuzenrad (the wheel), we all had fun on the slides and see-saw (for NL people: wip) in the play garden, the kids did the bumper boats (bots bootjes) and we swam for 3 hours in the pool. Well, a little bit of swimming in the tidal pool and lots of gliding, gliding and gliding on the water slides. Luckily the kids were too young for the most dearing slides, because some looked pretty scary to me! And since the boys are 10 and 8 years old and we wanted to bring them home in one piece we accompanied them on most attractions and slides. And I discovered a new Sander: he is OK with scary and fast water slides, although he is a weeney when it comes to thrill rides in roller coasters! Chapeau darling! Luckily I enjoy roller coasters and other sickening fast moving rides. By the way, we handed the boys over to their parents safe and sound!

We were very lucky that Jochem was about 1.23 m, since lots of attractions in the park and slides are not allowed for kids under 1.20m. I guess we'll have to visit again since we haven't done all the rides yet. You have to be at least 1.50m to be allowed in all rides and slides (pfff..., I qualify being 1.56m), also a great place for teenagers. So there is plenty of time to take the nephews and niece there while they grow up.
These kids were very daring, they enter rides and slides many grown ups would never have thought of. My compliments boys!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


In the end everything works out fine, of course!
Yesterday we agreed on a house, depending on financing we will buy the house September 15 or October 1st. I am in such a good mood!!!
Now I can work hard again on making arrangements, I am WAY better at working hard than at being patient and waiting.

To top it all off we also ordered a new car last Friday evening. It is a Skoda Fabia Combi Greenline, unknown for our Canadian friends I guess. Skoda is an old Tjech car brand which now has Volkswagen motor and parts in it. Very solid, very fuel efficient. The only bad thing is we'll have to wait for the car until November. It's a new model which has proved to be pretty popular, so it will be produced in 10 weeks time, we are on the wait list.

We'll keep you posted!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

We're getting there, I think .....

I realize I did not write regularly on my blog or on Facebook lately. First of all because I have the misunderstanding this is very time consuming (not true, I can limit myself to a few lines only) and there is noting to write about (not true, of course days go by and although maybe not very exciting stuf happens, every day is filled with something). Not writing does not help to keep in touch with all our Canadian/blog/Facebook friends. So I will write about regular day stuf, sometimes pretty insignificant but it helps to keep you all posted on our (new?) life.

Sander is accustomed to working in Rijswijk already. He still knows part of the people working there form before his Calgary time so he already has a nice social cirle. Startup was not always easy but now work seems to progress and he has frequent and great contacts with the Calgary colleagues.
Every weekend we meet either family or old friends now, of course that is one of the best parts of being home again. Together we run frequently, we did a bike tour and last Sunday we hiked 17 or 18 kms to Hoek van Holland, a little town on the sea south of The Hague. We want to stay just as fit as we were in Calgary!

What have I been up to these past weeks? We viewed a lot of houses in different neighbourhoods in and around Rotterdam. We want to live close to Rotterdam because we feel at home in that city and travel time to work and family (especially parents) is acceptable. I, Liesbeth, travel to my parents by train once or twice a week. It takes approximately 90 minutes. A week ago I received my Dutch drivers license so renting or buying a car is again an option now. Since a major part of the route is through heavy traffic areas the train is a very relaxing way of travelling right now. When I need it I rent a bike or a small car at the train station after arriving there. For a car we joined the green wheels network, a car share system becoming more and more popular in the major cities over here. While visiting my parents I also take my mom grocery shopping, a good mother-daughter bonding experience and my dad and I think this guidance is quite useful for my mom with her dementia. In some cabinets I found stashes of 8 packages of the same grocery item (note to self: do not buy this item for an additional 2 months, at least!). Both my mom and dad do not really grasp the idea of quickly renting bikes or cars via internet or the automatic transit system pass (one pass for train, bus, tram and subway, directly deducted form your bank account via the pass), so every week they are quite amazed how I get that car, bike or bus pass. It clearly shows how older people have a hard time following all new IT-based possibilities.

The house-buying task is going into the right direction. It has taken us a couple of weeks to find houses we are enthousiastic about. The area were we wanted to live turned out to be too expensive for us, we could only afford apartments in that area. Since we do not want neighboors underneath or above us we had to put aside our dreams on heigh-ceiling 60 m2 living rooms in 100 year old houses. It took a while to adjust our views, lower our standards and focus on other possibilities.
Now we have three houses lined up we would like to live in. Two weeks ago we put in our first bid but the owner was a bit too greedy and I do not think we will ever be able to make a deal with him. So this Wednesday we will go to the second house with our real estate broker to estimate the right value of the house in order to start bidding on that house. In other words, things are starting to move in the "housing-area" and I do not feel so paniced any more about not having a nice place to live in.

In the mean time I am getting to know the town of The Hague pretty well. My moms bike is here now so I can get around very easily. It's a blast to buy fruits and veggies at the outdoor The Hague market, open four days a week. Like all the etnic people on the market I invested in a wheeled shopping cart so I can buy kilo's, kilo's and kilo's of stuff over there. You could nearly imagine yourself shopping somewhere in Marocco when you're there, but only the fact there is no hassle and negotiating about the price tells you you're in the Netherlands. By the way, I still think of every supermarket over here as very very tiny. Nothing compared to grocery shopping in Canada! And although tiny I do admit that it really is not very useful to pick from 10 or 15 brands of peanut butter, 2 or 3 brands will do. That saves space!

Next time I hope to blog about the house we've bought and that I can tell you which day the container with our household stuf will be unpacked. Not for you of course, but because I do start to miss my own belongings and look forward to having our own place very much.

See you!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What will this week bring us?

July 12
My week started out good. Yesterday (Monday) I joined Irene, my sister-in-law, and her children David (8 yr), Lucas and Elisabeth (twins, 3 yr) on a visit to Madurodam. This is a miniature city close to our place in The Hague. For kids it is just one big big doll house with moving cars, planes and trains. For growns ups it is a way to visit every tourist-place in the Netherlands in one morning since they have rebuilt about every popular Dutch site you can think of. The palace of the queen, airport, train stations, wind mills, tullip fields, lots of middle age buildings, the Delta waterworks etc etc. In this way it also shows and teaches stuff about Dutch everyday life. Visiting it with the kids was fun because they look at everything with so much enthousiasm. Therefore I automatically watched way more closely than I would normally do on my own.
Irene, thanks for inviting me!

What will the rest of the week bring? We have been pretty bummed about the houses we have viewed so far. In the middle of summer there are hardly any new listings and we feel that the best ones of the older listings are already sold. We haven't yet fallen in love with the houses viewed so far. That makes us a bit anxious though, we want it NOW. You know, patient as we are! Ah well, we'll practice patience, if nothing good comes around there will be many more new houses listed after the July/August vacation period!

Soccer finals world championships

July 11
The whole country was orange these last weeks. We always hope for a very good result but it had been a long time ago that the Netherlands was in a world championship final: In '74 and '78 I watched them loose the final games as a teenager. Of course I still have a vivid memory of the Dutch team becoming the European champions in '88. So everybody was very excited last Sunday, "we" would finally win a world championship.
I went out for a run about two hours before the start of the game. On the roads at least half of the people walking, biking or driving their car was wearing orange clothes. This really shows the impact this tournament has, it was BIG.
We watched the game at home and to prevent myself from being overly excited and anxious I decided to play around at the computer at the same time. It helped, it distracts and Sander could watch the game without my annoying shouting and (too) loud encouragements. Maybe I should have watched closely and shouted more, since we lost. Or was it the orange-white-red-blue decoration of "AH beesies" on our front door, or was my orange shirt not OK?
Surely we had a great four weeks which has been very good for sentimental national feelings. It works a bit like July 1th in Canada or similarly when Team Canada plays a big hockey game.

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