Setbacks & Comebacks

After my sister kicked off our revamped runsisrun.com site with at least two blogs and an affiliated Instagram account, it’s about time  for me to post from the other side of the Atlantic. So here I am, the other half of Run Sis Run. Hello and thank you for visiting!

Our initial site was filled with some enthusiastic blogs, but then our good intentions to post on a regular basis faded due to a variety of happenings called life.
It’s not always easy to stay committed or as enthusiastic as in the beginning when you are diving into a new world of races and paces and all sorts of new athletic challenges I didn’t even realize I was able to commit to and love so much. Over the years running really grew on me. Towards the end of university, I was running (or jogging) on a regular basis with my aunt, alone or with a ski group in Haarlem and I noticed I started to love it. When I moved to NYC in 2004, I went out for runs, but mostly did the same 5K on the treadmill until I decided to commit to something, a 10K with Nike in 2008, for which I joined group runs starting out of Niketown. That got me going and I ran my first half marathon in 2009, but training by myself was not always as inspiring and I felt I had a lot to learn, after some research I joined the most amazing  team in New York; the New York Harriers! 8 years and many races, PRs as well as setbacks later, I still am convinced this was the best decision in years, cause I gained so many friends as well as awesome experiences through the team and the sport. Whether on a runner’s high or in a funk; the team is there to run, vent and celebrate with.

Cheering with my team during the TCS New York City marathon 2017

To blog or not to blog could also be the title of this entry. Sometimes you feel there’s so much to share and other days you wonder who’s even interested. As if there aren’t enough blogs already. But then again, Judith and I started this thing years ago and we don’t want to bring the same old stories over and over, so with renewed focus, we are trying to bring some new content and realness. With running, or other pastimes we love, it’s common to get really serious and dedicated towards certain goals up to the point you get easily lost in it, but we also deal with setbacks or frustrations, as well as comebacks after a pregnancy or an injury. There are plenty of reasons to get out and run, and sometimes as many valid ones not too. However, personally as long as I can I will always feel more strongly about those reasons to “just do it”! Call it a passion or an addiction, or what have you, I cherish the happiness and benefits that come with the run.

Let me touch upon an annoying setback, “the injury” and how I learned to deal with that. Initially, as a runner, when you improve and get faster or stronger, it becomes more and more a lifestyle and an absolute necessity with goals to achieve and races on the calendar. This makes it hard to cope with situations such as a bad training run or disappointing race or to accept the dreadful fact that you can’t run for a bit and have to sit out your next big event.
I’ve been there and it taught me a lot:
Considering all the years I’ve been running now, I have been injured only a few times. Not that often and never so long that I couldn’t run for months, but even a few weeks due to a stress fracture or quad strain suck! And those situations don’t make me a pleasant person. Luckily, I  discovered that I also love (indoor) cycling and fitness and some swimming and that even though running is a big part of me, it shouldn’t define me, there are other ways to get that endorphin high and set goals and I better mix things up in terms of workouts, to prevent injuries.

You often come back stronger, but it also sets you back in training. Earlier this year I had to miss marathon number 6. I was ready, I trained well, but a few weeks prior to race day my right quad muscle was strained from some overuse that I was able to trace back to a “great run” in the snow in Central Park where I stepped in a ditch and sprained my ankle, but I kept running. So my toughness doesn’t always work in my favor, it’s easy to don’t feel pain when in the midst of a training run or race and ignore some weird aches and pains. I know I should listen to my body but us runners also are able to dig deep and not always feel the pain.
So this spring I turned it around, I slowly built up my base mileage, frequented the gym for core and strength and P.T. exercises and took a strength/plyo class from my friend Susan.
It took me longer than I thought to heal this large muscle and my speed was far gone, which presents another challenge: you don’t want to be much slower in your races and you know you’re nowhere near your best times, so in my case I tend to avoid those races.
Thankfully this summer there was trail running with some of my friends in Colorado.
And an occasional speed workout at Mile High Run Club to ease back into it.
And many many fun or long runs with my fellow Harriers! We had the annual NYRR club team champs followed by picnic in Central Park. One of the best races but usually also the most miserable due to this phenomenon called humidity, which is no joke in August in New York.

Trailrunning in Colorado – summer 2017

Finally in September things got real again, I was ready to get back at it in terms of racing and pushing myself. Knowing speed takes hard work and patience and so does endurance, I had signed up for a bunch of races: the 5th Ave Mile to kick things off and 4 legs as part of the A-Team during the Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay. Oh how I love relays! Nothing cooler than 24+ hours of taking turns running with good friends for 200 miles to get from the mountains to the beach in New Hampshire. Day and night; ski slope straight up and down, with a head lamp through a National Park and a long run early morning. I felt it, I loved it and we spent some quality time in breweries and fun bars.
The week following we had the Bronx 10 miler as a team points race and even though it was late September the weather came straight out of August. My legs still felt the mountains  from the relay so I used this race as a long training run. Boy it was hot!
Then the following week I had signed up for the Gretes Great Gallop 10k. A full loop of the park and we had the best fall weather on the late Grete Waitz’s actual birthday. Glad I did it. It was like a good speed workout for me in honor of one of the best female runners ever.

Ragnar Reach the Beach Relay with the A-team

The next week I was going to take it easy but guess what, there was the Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon in scenic Westchester trails. Worth every sore muscle and I hadn’t done more than 10 in a while, so I managed to run a pretty decent race whilst also questioning my life’s choices when it got tough.
All these events and great runs got me prepared and ready to decide on my next marathon. I love training during fall and winter and therefore Super Bowl Sunday in February is the perfect day to run a marathon! My training plan is in full effect for the past few weeks and based on 4 runs a week, which usually works best for me since I also cross train religiously.

Paine to Pain Trail Half-Marathon with one of my besties: Susan

Although I’m planning to partake in the Runners World running streak again: you run at least a mile a day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I did this last year and the few easy extra miles are minimal and I felt stronger and less sore. It’s easy to integrate, I even ran a mile in jeans on the street once and also in an empty Zurich airport terminal when I missed my connection. OK, maybe that sounds a little crazy but I felt so much better afterwards.

Last week my friends Judith and Bas were visiting to cheer on their family for the NYC Marathon and we all ran the dash to the finish line 5k the day before. This was so much fun. I made so many friends here in NYC through running and spinning, but I also have friends in the Netherlands and my little sis Judith who are enthusiastic runners and it’s so great to share this hobby and go for a run with them and motivate each other from afar.

Dash to the Finish Line 5k with my friends Judith & Bas and Susan

Running really unites people and I cherish my runs with good friends followed by hot chocolate or a drink at the bar or early morning before work when the park is all ours.
That’s the biggest lesson I learned over the years, there are faster times, slower times, good races and shitty races and wonderful loops of the park and tough ones, but we can’t always perform at the max level: We are all human and deal with setbacks and busy work schedules, so sometimes it’s wonderful not to race and add that pressure. You are a runner when you run. And the best miles are spent with friends (in my book).
I picked some photos of this summer and fall to give you a taste of my city miles and runs in the great outdoors.

Happy Running!!

3 Replies to “Setbacks & Comebacks”

  1. Great recap Vera!! Your dedication is always an inspiration and I look forward to more stories and miles!

    1. Thanks Brigid! That means a lot to me, especially coming from you! Can’t wait to run with you again, maybe this weekend? Xo

  2. I love your passion for running and sports! It’s so motivational. Xoxo

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