Sporting life 10K

werunI feel confident that I was the world’s worst runner (ok , maybe my aunt might be worse). I could barely run a block without turning into a whiny baby who was certain that her heart was exploding and that she couldn’t possibly take another step. Year after year, I put it on my new years resolution to be able to run 5k.. and year after year.. I’d just “forget” about that one goal.

Well last year February, I got pressured into signing up for the Sporting Life 10K, and my pride refused to let back out so I started running.. for a week.. until I sprained my ankle. And then I conveniently went to Europe for a month in February.. which only gave me one month to train before the Sporting Life 10K. Now I’m still a terrible runner, but if you’re going to do a race, than the Sporting Life is the perfect one. Convinced that I wasn’t going to cross the finished line, I was justs beside myself when I saw the 1oK mark in the distance. Well I LOVED the whole experience. There’s just something about running in a crowd with people cheering you on that makes you feel like you can accomplish anything. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted my parents to join me the following year.

Growing up, I have never seen my parents do anything active. Well except for that one time I walked into the house and saw them both dancing to one of those step by step video lessons.. awkward. I knew that if i signed them up, that they would start being active and being healthier. 

mom running the sporting life 10K

My mom is just so happy that she’s almost at the finish line!

It was the perfect way to kick off mother’s day and I couldn’t have been more proud of my parents! My mom’s already excited to keep training for her next race. My dad… lol I’m not so sure he loved it as much as my mom did..
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I still am not the biggest fan of running… But I’m a total advocate of signing up for these races. Not only do you get to benefit a charity, you it also motivates you to get off your bum and start being active. Win-win.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

I don't know where I'm going, but I promise you it won't be boring

After what felt like an eternity, we finally arrived in Amsterdam. After being lost for 3 hours, and not being able to get trains out of Amsterdam, I learned how valuable it was to just be flexible and just go with it.

Hostel

Rach and I booked a room at the StayOkay hostel. This cute hostel is a little far from the action so be ready to take public transit every day. Though I enjoyed my stay there, I prefer a more social hostel.

Pros:

  • Pretty clean. They have fresh packaged linens in sealed bags, so you know it’s clean.
  • We stayed in a 6 bed dorm and had our own private bathroom. Definite score. 
  • Front desk staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.
  • free breakfast that was actually really good!
  • Good wifi signal

Cons:

  • A little far from downtown, but there are little flea markets and farmer’s markets in the area which was nice
  • No lockers in the bedroom. You could rent lockers in the lobby for a fee. 

Highlights and tips

Surprisingly, many of the locals don’t participate in legal recreational drugs. I got the impression that many viewed it in the same way that I view cigarettes. When Rach and I asked about it, the friendly front desk guy told us, “Just don’t do it. You will get sick and think that you are going to die.” And then he proceeded to call his coworker on his walkie talkie to get his opinion.. and his coworker also told us that we just shouldn’t do it.

 

This was where we went on our first European pub crawl. Rach and I were walking around looking for a quiet café to have a drink and a bite to eat when we walked by a promoter trying to get people to join their pub crawl. Completely exhausted and hungry, we looked at each other… both in comfy clothes, my hair was greasy from not showering for 3 days.. and thought..  YOLO! Still starving, we knew we had to get some food real quick or else the night would probably end in some disasterious vomiting. We looked around and saw a burger king right beside the bar, ran in and inhaled what must have been 10 bajillion calories. Neither one of us could have predicted the amount of dancing, alcohol, and random people that were in store for us that night. Our night consisted of impressions of the queen, pictures for wanted posters, sheep, being separated, rides on the bike of a random bike, and mr. clean. All stories that have to unfortunately stay in Amsterdam.

sheepNgoc Nguyen in Amsterdam

 

Those red paths that look like welcoming walking paths… DO NOT WALK ON THE RED PATHS! They’re meant for bikes… and those bicyclists whizz by you real fast and are not happy if you are in their way.

 

The Heineken tour was surprisingly fun. Though we probably shouldn’t have opted for this tour over the Anne Frank house… I guess that has to go on our list for next time..

 

The boat tours around the canals are a great way to get a quick tour of the whole city. You can bring on snacks and just hang out in the sun on a boat.. who doesn’t love that?

Ngoc Nguyen in Amsterdam eating fries

A lot of the younger locals speak English so it was fairly easy to communicate.

You will get lost. The streets and canals are confusing. In an attempt to go to this one restaurant that Rachel just had to try.. we ended up getting lost for 3 hours, only to end up starving and eating at a random mexican restaurant. I felt so bad for the random guy that decided to come with us.. he was not so easy going and definitely not pleased about being lost with absolutely no real end in sight.

If you do get lost, the locals are incredibly friendly. As soon as we got into Amsterdam and pulled out a map, we had two people stop and try to help us find our way.

Febo. Brilliant. It’s pretty much fast food from a vending machine. After 6 pubs, endless vodka and beer, nothing looked better than croquettes behind that little glass window.

If you are using the Eurail pass and want to go to Paris after Amsterdam, you should probably book your train in advance. We learned that you actually need a reserved seat for that train and it definitely wasn’t easy to get one. You have to pay an additional fee on top of your pass and when booking last minute, you have to be pretty flexible on your time lines. Most trains stop in Brussels so if you time it right, you can make a quick stop there for some chocolate and lunch.

Compared to the rest of my Europe trip, I found the locals in Amsterdam were by far the friendliest. Definitely on my list of places to visit again.