Road to New York
Joan, loves her life with friend and twins, she’s crazy about runningshoes, an excellent example of multi-tasking, addicted to chocolate and she will show in New York what’s she’s made of.
Mirella (1e li) en ik (2e li) Schoolteam 1985
To the New York City Marathon – Old friendships, new friendships, all of them are beautiful and make me feel blessed. In 10 days I will start in New York. It will be my first and only marathon. We’ll go there with coach Germanand his wife Miranda together with a group of friends we will experience a very special journey. I am so happy that I can take my family with me. Anthony my spous who I met 35 years ago on the track, will stand along the course with our children. And Mirella… with her I will stand again on the starting line, just like when we were 16 and ran for the school team. Running brings love and special friends!
POSTED SEPTEMBER 29 , 2015
And the clock is ticking…
The clock, sometimes it’s your friend and then your worst enemy. 2,5 Hour of running was in last week’s program, my longest as I never ran more than a half marathon. So my friend and I did what we had to do and the first 60 minutes surprisingly went pretty smooth. ‘Only 1 more hour and then we’re almost there’ I thought. But, good heavens! ..after two hours we were both tired and did not had much energy nor breath to talk, my sore throat started to come back again and my legs told me that I skipped too many training’s which coach German had put down in my marathon schedule. It took forever! As of 2 hours 15 min, I looked almost every minute on my watch but it did not help, we simply had to keep running … And so we did!
Once finished we shared a peanut-caramel recovery bar which I brought (Yummie!). Mirella took an apple with her but I figured that was not enough, after all, we burned 1700 calories and that gave us the ‘right’ to enjoy the good stuff! Many athletes who are with the athlete management I work at, use Etixx and so Etixx became my favorite sports nutrition brand. I use the energy gels, bars and recovery drinks. Handy and something you absolutely need when you exercise for more than 1 hour. The flavors are great especially from the recovery products. After running, I quickly went home where I had already prepared everything for a nice recovery drink (read ‘chocolate milk’). We live on the second floor and this time it looked as if the stairs never end. Once inside the house, I had no energy left to walk upstairs and so I immediately got rid of my stinky clothes and had put on some clothes from my son which were laying around, I took the recovery drink and snuggled myself on the couch to stay there the rest of the day, with a huge cup of my favorite Pukka tea. New PB set 150 minutes!
Time sometimes can be strange factor, something we cannot control. Sometimes you want it to go as fast as possible and other times you just want the moment to take forever.
For example, Terrence, one of our athletes, who scared us two weeks ago by having a horrible car accident and now has a fractured cervical vertebra. He has to wait a long time until the fracture is healed to go back training 100% again and to continue his sports career. Every day is one closer to taking off his halo vest. For him I would love to speed up time. But for my father in law, we just need more time, or even want to go back in time. He has a whole different battle with the ‘time’ factor as last week he started his chemo. Suddenly all goes too quick and you just want to stop the clock right there.
All these, sometimes unfair happenings in life, go through my mind while running. I must admit that many thoughts pass by during those long runs which also works a little bit like running therapy. The beautiful and peaceful surroundings of the forest also helps to clear my mind and to be peaceful about it. A glance at the calendar tells me that the time goes too fast, only a few weeks and then we have to be at the start of the marathon. I’m actually not ready and wish I had more time to train and make more miles, but on the other hand I also want to be done with it, get it of my bucket list and finish the NYC marathon! The fact that I’m not very well trained honestly is not a global major problem, I’ll make sure I’ll enjoy the (long) ride, will take my time to get from start to finish and will enjoy the fullest, every minute of it!
What about your running? Are you ‘on schedule’ ?
We had a bit less than 1 week to help setting up the event. Getting almost 300 athletes without visa issues into China, offer everyone a good accommodation, keeping the lanes on the track filled, take care of all facilities for press conferences and photo shoots and make sure that there is simply everything available what everyone needs. Think about food as pasta, rice and chicken and the availability of toilet paper for example cause for many Chinese that is not part of standard necessities. The very first evening Ellen decided that we were going to eat in the city center. Because we knew for sure that we would not have time for it anymore in the rest of the week. The Skyline of Shanghai by night was beautiful and it was as well my last relaxing moment in that week! With an average of 5 hours of sleep each night we worked our *sses off for 6 days. My own running training fell through the cracks and the need for sugar won that week. There was an article in the newspaper which was very positive about the event but while reading it, it showed that the reporter had been watching us a bit too much! My training buddy twittered, saying he caught me while reading the article. It said ‘Cookies, Soft drinks, liquorish and chocolate kept us going for 20 hours a day’. Which was in the end very true!
Too bad I could not train , even though the hotel we stayed in was inside the stadium. It is one of the few hotels where you can look into the stadium when you’re in your room! All in all it was a tough but very beautiful week, it was a successful competition with many good performances. On Sunday night we had time to relax but soon we had to leave Shanghai behind because in less than a week we had to work at the FBK Games in Hengelo. I was glad to leave Asia after 12 days to go home again. I arrived exactly on the anniversary of my children, Yeajjj ! Meanwhile I did not run for 10 days and I had a little panic inside; how am I ever going to get my training for the New York Marathon done?!
3 days later I arrived in the picturesque Hengelo. Like in Shanghai, our company Global Sports Communication is responsible for the athlete field and our team guarantees that the athletes and their coaches get all they need during the event. My role during the FBK is smaller than in Shanghai and therefore training was a bit easier to schedule in. Together with my colleague Naomi I made two morning runs, it was a slow start again . It did not go easy but running in the early morning through the green field with the birds singing made it a pleasant thing to do!
The day after the FBK Games , I stepped on the plane again and flew via Prague to Ostrava for the Golden Spike. Within 16 days this was going to be my 4th athletics tournament! Pretty tired but also glad I had ran twice in the last few days. Quickly I had put some running gear thrown into my suitcase and off I was again . Pity, it rained continuously in Ostrava and on top of that it was also very cold. Brrrr ! Unfortunately, I had only brought short -sleeved stuff and yes … . I missed out again on another workout :(My priority was of course work first and so I have been concerned mainly with finding the lost luggage from our South African athlete , supporting our non-English -speaking Ethiopian athlete , the two Chinese athletes and catch up with our Polish runner who suffers from a back-injury. But the competition was superb, and our management team was very proud with the performance and successes of 1 gold , 1 silver and 2 bronze medals.
But okay , you may also ask yourself how healthy it is when you’re so busy and it really wears you out to force yourself to run? In addition to that, at this moment my head is also full with a lot of sorrows caused by the closure of our Running Store. So it was a good idea to book a long layover in Prague on Wednesday and to take some time for myself. I had breakfast at the Astronomical Clock and walked over the Charles Bridge. Fortunately, the sun began to shine and slowly in my head it started to feel ‘sunnier’. I got so excited that I took a Selfie (WhooHoo!), those who know me really well, know that this is a VERY rare moment!
These were my last 20 days in a nutshell It might sound nice with all the traveling but I notice that my family misses me (fortunately) and I will also have to give them a bit more care and attention. It’s a lot of running and flying around but now I really need to put more training in it too! Not very easy to execute. Tomorrow morning I’ll re-start, we gather again with some runners for the monthly Good Morning Run . This time in Castricum. I am very curious how that will go and besides that, a bit scared … .. for the burpees Coach German!!
LONG RUNS DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES
The door of The Running Store in the Olympic Stadium was closed to never open again. It’s what my ‘associates’ decided this week. Unexpectedly, I was on my way to the store for a meeting which was announced the evening before. When I arrived the staff had been sent home and the famous sign hung on the door “Closed due to circumstances.” It felt like backstabbing, earlier that morning loyal customers and staff were turned away by the co-owners. A nightmare!
Just like training for a marathon, ‘running a store’ takes blood, sweat and tears but at the same time it’s a great learning process with lots of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. You get to know yourself, learn to deal with setbacks, learn to balance, pep yourself and “stay calm.” And that’s what I’ll do! Continue to breathe and continue to run. I will make it to the finish.
Of course it takes more then a day before you close down a store. Since my leave last at the beginning of last year, sales, for the first time in 3 years fell down. It could be coincidence but in any case, I was not able to change anything about it. I had to leave, the other 3 did not share my vision and wanted to make no concessions. It hurt a lot as I was still in contact lot of clients and relations, who I felt, I had let down.
For the next three months, my coach German increased the amount minutes for the long runs in my training schedule. Fortunately, because right now, running works therapeutic in a way. Since my brains are overworking running really helps to clear my mind a little bit and put things in a much better perspective. Often when I return from a workout, I end with a much more positive mindset. Suddenly I can run a lot longer without being aware of it. What a wonderful, inexpensive therapy is!
Running with a new group of people in a different environment also did me a lot of good this past weekend. Nobody knew me nor anything about my problems so it’s easy to relax and have small chit-chats. There were fast and less fast runners, ultra runners and beginners but more importantly everyone enjoyed the experience or running in the beautiful surroundings and socializing with each other. Just like running is meant to be, ‘just’ as it should be in life.
Running for many people sometimes work as a small ‘escape’. Actually, I’m not built the best way to do long distance running and I sometimes feel quite reluctant to start my training. But these days I just cannot get enough of it and it is a very welcome way to relax. The required increasing of endurance training for the New York marathon just seem to happen at the right time!
The Nike DNA
Orlando, April 1999, it is dark and in the theater hall of the Walt Disney resort my first sales meeting was about to start. The spotlights went on; a large Swoosh logo lighted up on stage, a loud applause with a lot of cheering followed. At that time I had no idea why people would go crazy by seeing the Nike logo. It made me curious, to the company I started working for. About 1 month before that, I started my first day of work at Nike. I was young, sporty, had 10 years’ experience in running retail and apparently fitted well in the role as a specialty sales rep. A fairly tough role because even though I was part of a team, as a running representative you make your own strategy, you work x-functional and independent. I had no idea what to expect. On my first day I received my car keys, laptop and mobile phone together with the dates on when the weekly category meetings and performance reviews were planned and they wished me luck. It was a new created role so I took the plunge!
I loved the freedom, making and exploring my own plans and to see if my, sometimes crazy ideas worked…or did not!. Of course I so now and then had an argument with either a client or one of my colleagues about what I believed was necessary to action on. Having expertise is an absolute must but being firm (even a bit ‘cocky’ sometimes) and being creative (sometimes unreal) are skills that must be in your genes if you want to survive in the American sneaker jungle.
Every 3 years I worked in a different role. The first change was not my own choice. Returning after pregnancy, I was moved into a different position working for Sport Marketing. The thing is; you can get angry or keep nagging about it but is fighting a losing battle. These things happen and when I now look back, it was the best experience ever! In many big international companies, changes are the order of the day. When you cannot handle changes than Nike is the last company you should go work for. It is what it is , accept it and move on! Almost 11 wonderful years I ‘ve been in the roller-coaster and it was ‘ an awesome ride’ !
Last week, I was back at the European headquarters in Hilversum. At the Starbucks on campus, I had a coffee with one of my best friends. My friend is a handsome and smart girl with vibrant energy and an unstoppable amount of work ethic. She tells me how much she is travelling every week and that it takes a lot of planning to make everything work. She is living like this for almost 10 years now. Tough, but she loves it as there is so much love for her work and colleagues, It does not feel like work but ‘a way of life ‘. A day at the biggest sports brand in the world made me realize again that I was not just visiting an ordinary company, it’s almost like I was back in another country or community where people have the same ideals and passion, the same genes . They know and write their own history – The Nike heritage.
When you think Nike, you think Sports. There are also a lot of similarities between the people who work there and top-athletes. Aim high, passion, dedication and team spirit. The will to score, sometimes with a little arrogance. This can take place on the sports field but certainly in the offices at Nike EHQ .
During the years in Nike sports marketing I learned more and more about the identity of the brand and the Nike athletes. Lots of motivating, powerful quotes came across; of course; “Just Do It” and “There is no finish line.” Still, the biggest innovation of the company, in my eyes, is Nike Air. By bringing in 1979 its revolutionary Air Tailwind to the market ‘Nike’ and ‘Air’ are inseparable. Soon followed by the Air Max, Air 180 and let’s not forget the Air Jordans! Even though sales of the ‘lunar’ models nowadays is doing very well, Nike will not easily be able to live without ‘Air’. Fortunately, they have huge marketing budgets and the greatest contracted athletes who can help the brand with creating commercials. Like in this funny video about ‘the secret behind Nike Air. Nice detail to know is that the clip was recorded at its headquarters in Beaverton. The sports facilities that you see are part of an immensely large campus.
Today I still work in the world of sports and I got to take a peek behind the scenes of other sports brands. There too I clearly see the marks of the DNA found in the people who work there. There is no good or bad, what you see is that employees in the respective brands understand their brand and the organization, they “feel” and propagate and only then it works.
It’s interesting to see what will happen in the sports marketing world and on the retail side. If I look at the teams, it looks like the final will be played in the States, between Nike and Under Armour . Under Armour comes from an underdog position and recently took the no. 2 position in the USA. The team which lives the ‘I Will What I Want ” campaign makes a serious attack on market leader Nike. A clash between the two brands will soon takes place on the basketball court where in 2017, the NBA contract with Adidas will expire.
Will Nike be the team that conquer all courts?