H/B/F 2017: Leiden Half Marathon

I ran the Leiden half marathon!

(Be sure to give Leiden a read; I had no idea that the Pilgrims actually came from here–after fleeing England–before sailing for what is now America on the Mayflower. Certainly explains New Amsterdam, and the Pennsylvania Dutch.)

Before our trip materialized, I’d signed up for the Buffalo half marathon, a race I’ve been wanting to run for awhile but we always seem to be out of town. (To see what we were up to the last two years, click here and here.)

Once I found out I’d be out of town, I quickly transferred my registration to another runner friend (thanks, Jim!) and started looking for races here in the Netherlands during our visit. I was in luck! There were not one but two race events close to Haarlem, one in Leiden and one in Hoorn.

While both cities would have made great sightseeing days, I opted for the one in Leiden as its closer (20 minutes by train) and I was able to register online. (We plan to see Hoorn this weekend before we leave Holland.)

After a failed attempt to pick up my race packet the night before (turns out most runners here must opt for morning-of pick-up as most were still there in the a.m. and there really isn’t a large expo like in the States), Andrew and I hit up St. Peter’s Kerk to grab my goodies and bib.

We had some time, so we did a little walking around.  Full disclosure: I was super anxious and finally let Andrew go to do his own sightseeing when I needed to line up in my corral.  Even more full disclosure:  I was way more anxious about this than I needed/wanted to be.  I’ve already absolved Andrew of all responsibility to me in future overseas race endeavors; hopefully I’ll discover an inner coolness that’s never before existed and be able to refrain from stressing about events such as these.  In the meantime, I’ll still keep checking to see if there are races near our European vacation locales, and hopefully Andrew will forgive me of all my unnecessary anxiety.

Here I am!  I finished in 1:46, which is only one minute slower than my previous PR from six years ago (which was in a downhill race and probably 15 pounds lighter).  Just sayin.’

Afterward, we nabbed a spot at a cafe near the finish for lunch.  I loved being part of the action even after I finished.

After lunch, Andrew and I finished the Rick walk he’d started, which included this STEEP climb up to a man-made hilltop ‘bunker’ used for protection way back when. Beautiful views, tight hamstrings.

And because I hadn’t gotten enough steps already, we hiked over to (and UP) the windmill museum.  (Don’t get me wrong; it’s most of the reason I chose to run in Leiden–so my engineer husband could check it out.)

Once we said goodbye to the windmill museum, we headed back toward the train station…but not before we experienced a truly unique experience: crossing the running route en mass facilitated by race volunteers.  I’ve never seen a method such as this before: in order to cross the route, a group of us were hoarded into a small corral, and then the runners were diverted (using metal gates) around us so that we could be let out on the far side (toward our destination).  Then, it was reversed and the runners were diverted to the other side to allow the corral to be opened to the side from which we just came. Genius!  Does anyone know if this happens in the States?

H/B/F 2017: getting to know Haarlem

Andrew and I arrived in the Netherlands bright and early on Saturday morning, having had no sleep on the plane over.  (Take-off was approximately 6 pm, we landed at 7 am local time; there is a 6 hour time difference.)  We’ve learned from past trips that jet lag is FOR REAL and that your first day in-country is often spent on a roller coaster of caffeinated highs and head-drooping lows.

Our hotel was, shockingly, able to put us in a room when we arrived around 10 am, and we napped until almost 2 pm.  As someone who doesn’t normally nap, I can tell you that if I hadn’t willed myself out of bed, I’d have passed right back out for a few more hours.  But, the best thing for jet lag is sunlight, so we got ourselves up and out in search of food.

Highlights from the weekend:

Grote Markt and the Grote Kerk (Great Church):  On Saturdays, the square is filled with stalls selling food and trinkets, and there is a smaller market on Mondays as well.  Otherwise, it’s filled with cafe tables and a couple food trucks selling sugared donuts and pickled herring.

Monument to Monument walk: We started our morning with a walk we found in one of the brochures we got from the tourist information office, which started at the Grote Kerk and hit all the biggies (Teyler’s Museum, De Adriaan Windmill, Nieuw Kerk, etc). It was an excellent way to stretch our legs, bask in more sunshine (see jet lag, above) and check out all the local architecture and food options.

Poffertjes: We sampled sugar donuts on the Grote Kerk before our church tour.  They’re very much like swedish pancakes, simply topped with more confectioners sugar.  Delicious.

Who’s that handsome man taking photos??

Lunch at Native: While on our walk, we passed a hoppin’ place the locals seemed to like, so we made sure to stop in.  I got a salad with pistachios, pomegranate arils, oranges, lima beans and fennel, served with bread and chili butter (delicious), and Andrew had the beef empanadas with chutney. Sangria to drink.

How beautiful is this?!  We haven’t had a chance to go up in the windmill yet, but we may actually hit the windmill MUSEUM, which is in Leiden.  We’ll be there Sunday when I run the Leiden half marathon!

Compared to the pack-it-all-in pace of our usual trips, we ended the weekend feeling like we’d barely done anything (again, see jet lag, above).  But, Andrew felt like he was ready to work Monday morning, which was one of his big concerns (and–obviously–the whole point of our trip).  Plus, we do have the evenings to try to see a few more things while we’re here.

I’m already enjoying my time on my own here…spoiler alert: I joined a gym! Check back to see what I’m up to while Andrew is at the office!