It’s Gonna be May Ultimate Coffee Date

Sorry. I know it’s lame. But every time May rolls around I always think the same haha!

Sit down, grab a cup of your favorite warm beverage (or cold, whatever floats your boat), let’s have a chat! Here are just a few things that I’d talk about while catching up – not just running or fitness related, because, hey there ARE other things in life! (right?)

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that I’ve been busy researching, budgeting and planning our travel for this year. Things are much tighter financially because we now have a car payment so we’ve decided on the following:

  1. We wanted to go to Berlin to support our marathon running friends in September, but it was not the wisest decision based on the cost of our Chicago trip in October. So that’s out. Bummer but we have to be realistic.
  2. Speaking of Chicago, we decided to make that our long holiday, arriving on the 9th of October and going home on the 19th! We are only partially staying in a hotel (from arrival until the Monday after the marathon) because OMG DO YOU KNOW HOW EXPENSIVE IT IS TO STAY IN A HOTEL IN DOWNTOWN CHICAGO? Because of the marathon we do want to be downtown and close to the start and finish, plus there will be other runners we know staying in town and it will be easier to meet up. I kept searching and hoping for cheaper flight options but they just weren’t happening so (kind of expensive) flights are booked, otherwise I was getting too nervous about not having done that yet.
  3. I really, REALLY wanted a summer holiday this year (like to Greece) and have three weeks off end of June/2 weeks of July but again, being financially realistic that’s a no-go. So… we are going to Denmark for a week. I KNOW that’s not the same as Greece (so not the same!!) but, we can drive there AND I found Airbnb to be really reasonable. We are going to Odense and will likely take the train to Copenhagen for a day trip. And I already got in touch with an Odense running club; we are more than welcome to join in their Thursday evening run! I’m looking forward, since I’ve not been to Denmark yet!
  4. And while we are in the area of Scandinavia – only our flights to Helsinki are not yet booked, but the Airbnb is sorted as well a race entry. I realised recently (by reading properly) that the Half marathon is 2 loops (and the marathon 4! OMG WHAT??). Not sure I would have signed up for that had I read it correctly in the first place. Oh well, no turning back now! Also never been to Finland so, hey, we’ll live with the race as it is.
  5. My parents are already in Malaga; we leave next week Thursday to see them. Hooray for Spanish sun and tasty food!
  6. Liverpool is coming up after that; Since I absolutely can walk 5KM I’m going to participate in the 5KM on Saturday and the 1 Mile Fun Run after the marathon / half. Not sure I’ll be volunteering now.

This is pretty much the final plan; in order of travel appearance: Malaga, Liverpool, Odense, Helsinki, Chicago. It’s plenty and I can’t complain. We are on a pretty tight travel budget plan (already since January) to make sure we don’t go into debt by taking these trips. Fun Fact: In the Netherlands as part of a yearly salary package, most workers get 8% (of their yearly salary) vacation payment in May and usually around 25 vacation days per year. So in case you are wondering how we do what we do, this is the reason. I have about 41 vacation days per year. Ron has about 32. My company up until now has also given us two bonuses per year, in addition to the vacation pay. Both of these bonuses are usually around 5 -8% of our yearly salary. Other than that, we live very “small”. We don’t have a house (we live in a small apartment), we don’t buy a lot of clothes or other luxuries. In fact, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve banned myself, for example, from ProCompression and InkNBurn purchases for 6 months (still going strong!. To be able to travel is really important to us, so we make sacrifices in other areas. I realise I don’t really have to explain, but wanted to offer that information in case anyone out there thinks we are living the high life.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’m really disappointed that my gym is being taken over by another fitness group that I don’t really like. The day I got the go ahead from my physio to go back to the gym I also got an email informing members that as of July 1st, Fitland will become Basic-Fit.

This is a super bummer because I was really enjoying it but I don’t want to go backwards and to me, that’s what Basic-Fit is. Call me a Gym Snob if you will but I’ve already done all the cheapass gyms and they are not for me. I want to go somewhere where people know your name, they know your goals, they remember you, they reach out to help. OK it sounds a bit like Cheers but hopefully you get the gist.

wonder what Les Mills class Norm would teach?

My instructors for my classes have also been so amazing. I haven’t had that much at other gyms. At Basic-Fit they actually do virtual lessons so there is no instructor with you, live and in person. Sorry, but no. I like the interaction! Also you have to pay for everything, and I mean everything! Want to shower? 50 cents for 3 minutes, please! Want someone to help you with a few machines? 10 euros, please! Nope. Rather pay a bit more and get better service.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that since January I’ve been doing the curly girl method with my hair and I think I’m finally getting a good routine down.

Good Hair Day. And, yes I am french-tucking my shirt thanks to Queer Eye!

Fun Fact: I’ve only had long hair for about 15 years (and briefly when I first moved to NL and didn’t have a hairdresser) and never *really* knew just how wavy/curly my hair was. When I was young I had short hair. My mother told me it was a bit wild. When I look back at photos I see what she means.

my short hairstyle for most of my pre-teenager years (with my little brother)

I guess keeping it short was the only way to really have any control over it. I’ve tried growing it out in the past and just hated it because it was so fluffy and frizzy and took me forever to straighten. My friends begged me to “embrace your curls” as long as 20 years ago and I just couldn’t deal. I don’t know what possessed me now, but the curly girl method really appealed to me so I decided to give it a shot. I’m still amazed sometimes at the curls I get some days. So, what is the curly girl method? In a nutshell, you don’t use ANY product with sulphates, silicones or alcohol. You don’t wash but maybe 1 x a week (sometimes longer depending on your curl type) and instead of washing you condition or “co-wash”. To keep the curls from deflating you wear your hair in a ‘pineapple” (high ponytail) and it’s recommended to use a satin or silk pillowcase so that it is gentle and smooth against your hair. You also shouldn’t apply a lot of heat (like blasting it with the hair dryer) – you have to take your time to diffuse and that’s probably the most challenging part (I don’t like to spend a lot of time on my hair, to be honest).

It’s been a bit of a hit or miss to find the right products (because finding stuff without sulphates, silicones or alcohol is really hard) but I think I’ve got the right combination now.

What would you tell me over coffee? Do you have any travel plans coming up? Have you ever been “forced” to find a new gym? Do you have straight or curly hair?

I’m joining Deborah and Coco for the Ultimate Coffee Date!

I’m also linking up with Meranda and Lacey on the Friday Thread


  1. Kim at Running on the Fly says:

    I think your hair is gorgeous! My hair is as straight as it could possibly be…it’s super fine, as well. Fortunately, my hairdresser assures me I have a lot of hair, it’s just fine (aka #flat). It does take forever to blowdry, too. Sometimes I do beachy waves (via my flat iron…see the irony there?). All that said, when I was younger, I was in constant perms to give ME some curls…though they always looked like “permed” curls and not “natural LOL I was glad when straight hair finally came into vogue and I didn’t have to fight it (as much). I wish you guys were detouring through Iowa when you’re over here in the fall….

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Kim! honestly I so wish I could get my hair straight. it takes F O R E V E R to flatiron it and if there is any humidity in the air and I go outside then it’s only a matter of minutes before it’s not straight anymore! my mom permed my hair a few times when I was young :D I looked like little orphan Annie! ha!
      I really tried to find different flight combinations to actually get me through Ohio or Iowa! But it just wasn’t meant to be :( Any chance you can come for race weekend? International 5K? After marathon weekend, mid-week??

  2. Coco says:

    Your vacation plans sound good to me. I don’t think you needed to explain but I enjoy learning about the different practices. It helps explain why my
    DK clients enjoy so much time off.
    As someone with straw-straight hair I’m jealous of your curls!

    1. Renée says:

      I’ve gotten questions/ comments (in person) about our “luxurious” lifestyle so I thought maybe I would put it out there. Vacation/ time off is really necessary for work/life balance and the Europeans and Scandinavians are not afraid to use ALL their days!
      It’s so funny because i ALWAYS wanted my hair to be straight!!

  3. kookyrunner says:

    I totally feel you on the Chicago prices. I still haven’t booked flights for me or my family but I know I have to do that sooner vs. later. At least I do have the hotel booked, lol. Last time my parents and sister came with me but if the flights are too expensive I might just travel with my mom. i’m also looking to do a summer vacation but I don’t know when I can fit that in yet. It will have to be in Jult or August since I’m traveling to 3 different locations for work in June (ugh!).

    That’s a bummer about your gym :( It’s very frustrating when you find a great gym (which is hard!) only for that to happen.

    1. Renée says:

      I was definitely getting nervous about not having a flight yet. hopefully you get something soon!
      OMG three trips in june???
      very frustrating indeed about the gym.

  4. Yep Chicago is costing a pretty penny and I haven’t booked flights yet either – I keep hoping that somehow I’m going to magically find cheap flights! LOL! I’m looking forward to seeing you in Chicago :)

    I cannot believe they gym charges for showers?!? I have had such drama with my gym I’m about ready to give up on all memberships

    1. Renée says:

      I kept finding flights that were cheaper but then the connections were ridiculously long or short – we could have flown via Lisbon but on the way back there was only 50 min in between flights. Yeah, no. I’d likely not see my luggage again for a few days. Also once you tack on luggage cost and booking a seat, it’s nearly the same as the big airlines!! So I just bit the bullet and booked KLM. The way there we have a stopover in Minneapolis, but the way back is direct. I hope you find something soon!
      Yes, charging for showers! It’s beyond ridiculous. I have tried almost all the gyms in town now and am so frustrated.

  5. All of your travels sound pretty fun to me. I have not been to Denmark yet and I hear it’s fantastic. Chicago is expensive for sure! I really like your hair :) Thanks for joining us for coffee!

    1. Renée says:

      Thank you Deborah!

  6. Laurie says:

    Your travel plans sound wonderful. I never knew that about the Netherlands. I wish I had worked there! Denmark as a second choice after Greece sounds like a great deal. You have so much to look forward to! Good luck with all your travels and races.

    1. Renée says:

      Thanks Laurie. I am looking forward to it. It’s about a 7 – 8 hour drive but then once we are there we can just relax and enjoy. I can’t wait.

  7. Your travels sound great! I live in Chicago so let me know if you have any questions about the race/logistics/etc. You can stay in a different neighborhood (not the loop/mag mile) and get to the race easily by uber or public transit.

    1. Renée says:

      Oh Thanks Erica! We were there for the race in 2017 as well (Ron ran it). I also used to live there so at that time we stayed up with some friends of mine in Lake View. They are in the process of moving to DC though, so the guest room might not be available and I didn’t want to wait to book a hotel. I have other friends in Lincoln Square, so hopefully we can crash there after the race is over for a few days. I think we are staying pretty close to where the shuttles run to get out to McCormick anyway – just about a 5 min walk from Water Tower Place.

  8. Marcia says:

    You will love Denmark and Finland! The Danes have a wonderful, zany sense of humor. Helsinki is one of my favorite cities. I hear you on the $$$ of Chicago. I’ll be working the expo one day so I’ll keep you posted as we get closer.

    1. Renée says:

      I can’t wait! I’ve only been to Sweden once and that was to Gothenburg. So I need to explore there further as well. And Norway of course. And Iceland. OMG so many places to go!
      Oh definitely let me know when you’ll be at the expo. would love to see you as well maybe outside of that. hopefully we can arrange something since Kim and Michelle will be there as well!

  9. Wendy says:

    Well, hell, I”m kind of stuck on your 41 vacation days per year! That’s how it should be. Enjoy all your trips!

    1. Renée says:

      it’s honestly insane how many days. i’ve never had this many days off at any company I worked for until this one. You know how it seemed I was always away last year? I actually had 6 days over… and that got tacked on to this year… it’s a luxury problem for sure.

  10. Sounds like you have some busy traveling coming up. After traveling to both Boston and Big Sur Marathons I’m done for awhile. Sorry to hear about your gym.

    1. Renée says:

      Boston to Big Sur is a big trip though. Honestly. After Chicago we’ll be done too.
      Hopefully I can find / decide on a new gym soon.

  11. Wow, despite not being able to add Greece, you have quite the travel itinerary set! You will enjoy your time wherever you go! I hear you on not liking the upcoming changes at your gym. I much prefer the comfortable and familiar atmosphere you have gotten used to. My hair is naturally curly/wavy. I absolutely hated it growing up and even through my 20s. I never really know how to manage it. At work I usually just wear it up in a ponytail, but I do flat-iron it straight for special occasions. Check out my friend Lisa’s IG account @curly_n_fab She has done amazing things with her hair! I wish I could get mine to grow that long.

    1. Renée says:

      yes I can’t really complain about the traveling situation. things are much tighter here, but this is really what I’m passionate about – traveling AND running! ha!
      as far as my hair goes I really have been fighting it FOREVER. Now it is actually long enough where I don’t look like the Liberty Bell is on top of my neck when it’s humid out. It helps that I have a good thinned out cut too. I’ll check out your friend – thanks for the tip!

  12. I hear you on not wanting to embrace your curls. I, too, tend to just get frizz unless I use massive products so my hair feels like plastic. I like curly hair on other people, but don’t like the way mine lays around my face when it’s curly.

    Try Corporate Suites Network for finding a place in Chicago. We stayed at Columbus Plaza for a week for our son’s graduation from grad school and paid about half what the hotels were charging and had a one-bedroom apartment! The only problem is that you can only book out about a month in advance because they only have so many apartments available and they’re hoping to get one or two month rentals from people coming into the city for short-term work assignments. We booked a hotel and then canceled it once we got confirmation that we’d gotten an apartment. Good luck!

    1. Renée says:

      I struggled so hard. At this point it’s also quite long (for me) so if I hate it I’ll just throw it up in a ponytail!
      Great tip, thanks, I will check that out!

  13. Janelle @ Run With No Regrets says:

    Your travel plans sound great! I have a plan to visit Europe for 2 weeks in August, but we still have a lot to figure out! I’m really excited.

    I think it’s great that you found the Curly Girl method to embrace your curls!

    1. Renée says:

      oh wow! where are you guys going? exciting!!

  14. Farrah says:

    hahaha, that will never get old for me either! It makes me laugh every time. :P

    Your travel plans sound like a lot of fun! I need to find a gym for when I move back to the west coast!

    1. Renée says:

      hahah Right??? so did you decide to move back West then???

      1. Farrah says:

        Yep! I pretty much only applied to the bay area (for the most part), so I’ll be making my way back with my epic road trip this summer! :D

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