Work and sports abroad, while simplifying life..

For a long time, I’ve had the fantasies to somehow combine my nerdy work as a scientist, my sporty life as a Womendurance girl, and my love for water/sea/sun.. But how in earth can these go together? In the beginning of 2016, I had no idea that a wonderful opportunity was about to come on my path…

In January, the answer simply landed on my path. I flew to Fuerteventura for 1 month to get some rest after a period of hard working on my PhD thesis. Around Christmas and New Year’s eve I had also decided that 2016 will be the year of amoibé, the Greek word for change. And this trip turned out to change a lot in my life, or better to say: to help me change a lot.

work at hub

surf with remi

I met inspiring people, a wonderful guy, and saw a lifestyle that fits better into my fantasies: A life close to the (surfable) ocean, with a lot of sun, creativity and sports. And soon, the right people came along that pointed me how to become a ‘digital nomad’: a working traveler. The idea started to get a realistic shape in my head: maybe I can keep my academic work, while traveling back and forth to Fuerteventura. And how lucky can one be: my supervisors had enough faith in me and allowed me to live this nomadic researcher life! Now I can bring my laptop to Fuerte, work on scientific papers from there, and have Skype meetings with my supervisors. Who said research can only be done from the University offices in rainy Amsterdam???

And yessss, there is even a 70.3 Challenge triathlon on this island every April, and I registered for the 2016 race right away! But… soon it became clear that the level of training needed for this race (the amount of elevation and kms) was simply not feasible in combination with a new job (big deadlines) and the PhD defense in May. And don’t forget about the heat: how am I supposed to train for that if my butt is freezing off during Dutch bike rides in February/March?! I noticed that I had to drag myself towards training sessions. Instead of looking forward to the race, it gave me tension..

Then, for the first time, I canceled a big race..

This was NEW for me.. whaaa I was a bit scared that this would mean the end of every discipline in my life. Do I really ‘give up’? Am I becoming lazy? I remember Matthias giving me a big compliment during the last sports massage of 2015 about the wonderful sporty year I had completed! Now it felt as if I was throwing this away.. But wait, didn’t I just learn how to respect my own boundaries? After the cancellation of the 70.3 Challenge Fuerteventura, I indeed felt a euphoric freedom again to train and to have fun. I am not trying to convince anyone to start cancelling big races, not at all! The tension and hard training hours that go along with the preparations for a triathlon are part of the deal and awesome. They challenge you, they bring the best out of you, they make you stronger! But when there is simply too much happening in your life, and you notice that this tension starts to take away your pleasure in training or in other activities, please be gentile to yourself. This must have been part of the Year of Change.

But what Kayak Fuerte tripof course had not changed is my love for the sports and challenges! Even if my ‘home’ is now spread over NL and Fuerteventura, I can try to get most out of the swimming, cycling and running in my life.

And surfing, sea kayaking, nordic walking, beach bumming, salsa dancing… 🙂

cycling fuerteI flew over my bike when I came the end of June, and have been able to bike up&down to Corralejo, where I’m renting office space for work. The hills, wind and heat keep me fit and strong, hopefully. And every morning, when I arrive at work full of sweat, I can just run into the sea and take a shower on the beach! After work I can also hop on my bike and go to one of the beaches to read a book and relax. I would still have to findelektrolytes and sun screen the buddies to do longer bike rides (anyone out there??), and maybe not choose the hottest summer months (sometimes >39 degrees when I leave the office!).

Swimming is the sport that goes perfect on this island! During my lunch breaks, I often swim along the coast and watch fishies below me and drink salty water if a wave hits my face. Normal. Even the local pool is salty! So I’m getting extra trained to swim longer in the sea! The surfing also makes my arms/shoulders/back stronger. This all together made me decide to sign myself up for the crossing of ‘el Rio’: from Corralejo to the neighboring isla Lobos: 7kms! Whether I can participate in the 7kms swimming fuertewill depend on the selection that they make, based on expected finish times (if I’m not selected, I get to do the half distance). A huge challenge, but I’ll feel the reward in the color of the sea, and if I’m lucky: the beautiful fishies or rays. I would only need to find ways to get the nutrition/drinks during longer swims, because now I often endulge a bottle of elektrolytes once I get to the shore, and my mouth is sore from the salt..

running fuerteAnd then: Running. This is actually the hardest right now, because it’s hot, damn hot this summer! While hopping over rocky trails, I have to take good care of myself with a big amount of electrolytes in my camelback, extra water to throw over my head (“keeping the ponytail wet, coach”), and some food just in case I meet the man with the hammer. Unfortunately, a very cool race that takes place in October is now canceled: the coast2coast trail run. And what else is left?

SEA swimAll in all, what I have noticed is that there is a lack of cool triathlon/running/swimming events here in the north of Fuerteventura, and thus, so many cool opportunities out there! For example, I could imagine organizing swim camps from Corralejo with Marjon (Swimfantastic), Josta (Trispiration) and with sports nutrition from SportvoedingTriathlon. So many ideas already!

Another thing that I realized during my stay is that triathlon can be such an expensive sport, but mainly due to all the gadgets that people crave for. Materialism.. I am forced to rethink my expenses if I want to keep traveling back and forth to Fuerteventura every few months. By cycling or running to my little office, I can save diesel costs ánd work on my hill legs. By swimming in the ocean I can save pool costs, except that I can not always cover the distances on my own (something about safety and responsibility and stuff). O and the pool is free as well, as I can blend in with tourists, and just hop into the 30m pool of a large resort :D. These tricks save a lot.

surfMaybe 2016 is not necessarily the year of big triathlons and swimrun events for, but the blue waters and rough landscapes are calling.

The Island is perfect for a healthy lifestyle, with it’s sweet fruits, clean vegetables from the local farmer, solar power and water/land activities. Loving it!

So in case you see me coming along on Facebook, selling my personal belongings, that means I’m working towards a simplified life as a digital researcher/triathlon nomad.

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