What a weekend! I’ve been to Amsterdam several times before, so I felt zero need to see the tourist sites (though I did take a boat tour, more for the hour of sitting than anything else!). For me, this weekend was all about sewing and running, my two favourite pasttimes! I flew in Saturday morning and fellow sewing blogger Lauriana met me at the station to drive to the legendary Kantje Boord.
If you’re not familiar with Kantje Boord (and let’s be fair, their website is appalling), it’s a specialty lingerie haberdashery and fabric store, and is pretty much the only one of its kind in the world as far as I know. But it’s pretty far out of town, well away from the usual public transport, so I was very grateful to be driven there and give my legs a rest!
I’d heard stories about Kantje Boord, and I was not disappointed! It’s a tiny shop, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with everything lingerie, lace, and elastic you could possibly imagine, and in every colour of the rainbow.
There must’ve been several hundred different kits (with everything you need to make a bra and panties in matching colours), but I decided what I’d rather make is another Ruby Slip, but in camisole length, with matching panties, so I instead focused on the wide laces, of which there must’ve been 3-4 times as many as the kits! Once I settled on a lace, I then crawled around the floor to get matching picot lingerie elastics to match it and my fabric swatches I’d brought from home.
So here’s what I bought! It might’ve been a bit more than I pledged, but I stayed away from the tempting Wall of Crazy Lycra, and only bought pieces that matched what I already owned!
I got a stretch purple lace with accents of fuchsia and lime green (5m, since it was ridiculously cheap), plus matching purple lycra from the remnant bin, lime green panty elastic, fuchsia ribbons for straps, green bow motifs, and purple crotch lining. Then I also got beige netting for underneath my stretch laces from Paris, plus panty elastic to match the green stretch lace, beige crotch lining, beige panty elastic to match a black & beige lace from eLingeria.de, and several meters of black and white waistband elastic, since I could grab the ones that felt nice and soft. Also not pictured is a roll of neoprene-line bra padding, my only real frivolous purchase. All of the above came to €37, too! I’ve spent more than that on wide stretch lace alone at MacCulloch and Wallis!!
Meeting Lauriana was absolutely wonderful, too. We’ve been friends online for years and years so we instantly hit it off in real life, which was so much fun! She’s posted about her purchases here (and some of the above photos are hers, too!). After the giddiness died down, we feasted on chicken satay (plus a million carbs for me!) and she very kindly dropped me off at the marathon expo on her way home…
So yes, the marathon! It was my first marathon, and some of you may be thinking “oh, but she runs, I’m sure it was no problem for her”. Think again – that distance is no joke! I’d done all my training and got three 20 milers in, but it was still really tough. And up until this year, I’d never raced farther than a 10km, so keep in mind that this is four times that distance!
It was my absolute perfect running weather – cold, cloudy, and with a hint of drizzle, and I was nervous, but as ready as I’d ever be. I’d wanted to finish in under 4 hours, but my “gold medal” time was 3:45, and to achieve that I’d need to run at 5:20min/km throughout (that’s 8:35min/mi). So I started off at my “easy” pace, which ended up being 5:05min/km, and that felt good. I was a freaking machine, maintaining that up through about 28km, when it started to feel tough, and I slowed down considerably from 30-40km, just keeping the momentum going and counting down every single km marker. I had two cheering zones from my running crew on the course, but my GPS running app, Runmeter, lets my Dailymile and Twitter friends speak comments into my ear while I run, so I had cheers of encouragement from about 30 different friends from all around the world, including some who’d gotten up at 3:30am to cheer me on! I cannot stress enough how much this helped me to carry on during that stretch of 10km when it was a real struggle.
But at the 40km mark, we turned the corner out of Vondelpark, and I passed where I was staying and I knew it was only a short 2km to the finish, and that gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace again, and – I’m still not sure where this came from – but I even managed a sprint finish into the Olympic stadium to finish in 3:48:23!! Which, umm, I’m stupidly happy with.
As long as they don’t change the rules, it means I should qualify for a Good for Age entry into London 2014, which is otherwise impossible to get into. I hobbled back to my running crew’s hospitality zone for recovery shakes and hugs, then back to where I was staying for an ice bath (my host brought me tea and chocolate truffles to make it easier! Bless!), which I really think did help with my recovery. I had a few spots of chafing and two enormous blisters on my toes, all in brand-new places, but I was otherwise intact.
Oh, and not only did I run a marathon, but I ran it in leggings I’d sewn myself, three years after I had a bone marrow transplant.
If I’ve inspired you to start running, I highly recommend following a Couch to 5K programme, and sticking to it. Running takes a good few months to become enjoyable, but trust me, it does eventually! And seriously, I owe this marathon completely and entirely to the amazing Run dem Crew, who have transformed my running and confidence and made me believe I could do anything I put my mind to.
(Full photo album here, if you’d like to see more…)