a few thoughts before running my first marathon

In about ten hours I will be running my first marathon. My good friend and neighbor Brian will be running his first half-marathon. We’ve been training for months, but there’s still that sense of nervousness and anticipation. (Or: butterflies in the stomach, so to speak).

Good for motivation. Not so good for sleeping.


I’ve never been to Amersfoort before. It’s about 30 km away from Utrecht, and I hear it has a gorgeous city center.


It’s our last month here in Utrecht as exchange students. Running the marathon would be (or at least I thought at the time) a good way to end the year well. One more personal challenge before heading out.

Our good friends and neighbors said they would come watch and support us while we ran. That’s a warm feeling, to know that someone is cheering you on.


I’m a bit worried about nipple chaffing, especially after seeing some photos from Google Images. But I will worry about running the race first.

My goal is to cross that finish line. A good meal with good company afterwards would be lovely, too.

de weer

The entrance at De Uithof library in Utrecht, during a hailstorm last month.

Dutch weather is notoriously unpredictable. And like the average ambitious twenty-year-old, Dutch weather is also indecisive.

Will today be filled with sunshine? Rain? Thunder? Dutch weather can’t stand to make a decision, so it gives a bit of everything instead. That just ends up making everybody confused.

“Het hoort erbij”

Loosely translated from Dutch: “part of the deal”

photo credit: juhansonin via photopin cc

I was chatting with Ingrid, the owner of Café Hooi right around closing time. I asked her how things were going since it’s been a few weeks since I first visited (and she still remembered our last conversation!).

Hoe is het? — Aah, goed — Waarom goed?

Ingrid said she felt good when she spent some time with her newborn son earlier in the morning.

“Even changing his diapers?”

“Well, not so much that. But it’s part of the deal.”



photo credit: juhansonin via photopin cc

an idea for a bedtime routine, or an exercise in gratitude and perspective

Every night before you head off to bed, write down with pen and paper:
  • Three good experiences you had during the day, and
  • why those good experiences happened, or
  • why you think these were good experiences.

You will soon find that:

  • This habit is easily maintained. It takes about fifteen minutes, and you can quickly get back into practice if you miss a day.
  • It becomes an effective way to remind yourself of all the wonderful things that happen in your life regularly. We all need reminders from time to time.


But what happens if I struggle to find even three good things today?

Some days are harder than others, definitely. If that is a genuine statement, then I won’t resort to a platitude (e,g, there’s always a silver lining! as the Americans like to say) or tell you to get over it. Few people actively wish for a shitty day.

But if you’ve done this exercise for a while, you can take a look back at your previous entries when you’re in a slump. Perhaps a brief visit to a past memory is all you need to keep on going.

Rotten days are rotten for a reason, and remembering three good things that happened during the day won’t change that. But over time, those rotten days become less suffocating and dominating — especially in comparison to everything else that has gone well in your life.

I like this exercise because it’s a good way to stay sane and in good spirits.


My good neighbors Brian and Maja have been making this a daily conversation topic at night, and I do enjoy hearing what they have to say. I got the idea from them.