Green Corridor Run: Reflections on Reflections. And 3 Awesome Things To Do With A Tennis Ball.

Thanks for all the reads, shares, and comments on my Green Corridor Run Race report.  They certainly made the start of what was an otherwise pretty normal/boring week considerably more interesting.  After reading, sharing, re-commenting, discussing, I have three post- post-race observations:

There were an awful lot of white sneakers & socks at the start of the race...

There were an awful lot of white sneakers & socks at the start of the race…

1. My blog is a magnet for Singaporean dirt-lovers.  Sweet!  Everyone who stopped by commented something like, “It’s crazy how so many runners were concerned about getting their feet dirty.  I ran right through the mud.  Bring it on!!!”  I will happily serve as a gathering spot for dirt-loving-trail-runners.

2. It’s pretty normal that an entire listing of results (competitors and times) is not posted.  !!!!  The top three finishers in each age group were posted (they received prizes), along with their times – but when the full list of times were released, the link led to a website where you enter your bib number, and get your personal results.

Screen grab of my results.  I really don't want to do this 6,000 times...

Screen grab of my results. I really don’t want to do this 6,000 times…

Short of entering in 6,000 bib numbers, I can’t see any way to get a full results list.  This was corroborated when I searched (unsuccessfully) for the full results of other races.  Weird.  For this particular race, I don’t really mind.  I was running for fun.  But when I’m actually racing, and moderately fast, I like to know how close I finished to others in my age group (and yes, I like to know who they are!).  I guess perhaps some people don’t like their times broadcast all over the internet – but public display of a complete finisher’s list is quite normal in the US, so this seems odd to me.

3. Perhaps paying a bit more for a race is worth it.  Before the race, there was quite a bit of talk in the local running community about how the race was rather overpriced, particularly given the small amount of “swag”.  After the race, the overwhelming sentiment here was that the run was one of the best executed races in Singapore.  I hope that those who had reservations about the cost of entry start to see efficient race organization as a value add.  Smooth shuttle buses, abundant (and beautiful!) port-a-potties, on-course support (hydration & medical), and flawless logistics all factor into the cost of the event.  Maybe this will be something we come to expect – and are willing to pay for – in the future.

Now, for everyone who was bored with that part, but kept reading anyway (Why, I must ask you.  Thank you, but WHY?), I shall now reward you by sharing my awesome Friday list: Top 3 Things To Do With a Tennis Ball.  For the record, I did *all* of these on Monday, after the race.

Spoiler Alert: “Play tennis” is not included in this list.  There is a reason that I run, bike, and swim.  Bad things happen when I’m expected to hit/catch/throw/spot/dodge spherical objects flying through the air.  You totally want me on your relay team, but I promise that we’ll both be happier if I sit out the dodgeball tournament.

1. Play “Find the Tennis Ball”!  I keep 2 of these suckers around the apartment (for #2 & #3 on this list).  One is supposed to live under my desk, the other under the kitchen table.  But inevitably, when I go to sit down in either of these places, the tennis ball is MIA.  This prompts at least 60 seconds of searching, poking, and whining, before the offender is corralled.  Spheres have a mind of their own, I tell ya…

Once you’ve located the darned thing, you may proceed:

This might be the most flattering picture of my foot I've ever seen.

This might be the most flattering picture of my foot I’ve ever seen.

2. Roll out your foot, especially the arch.  You can buy all sorts of doodads for this, but nothing beats the tennis ball (in my opinion).  It’s the perfect diameter to do some good digging into your foot muscles – but not so small that you’re whimpering (unless your feet are very tight).  Use it sitting down (under your desk at work), and stand if you want to apply a bit more pressure.  

Most runners, from beginners to veterans, experience some tightness in their feet.  Running means lots of compression/release on the arch of your foot.  Furthermore, some of us tighten our feet in weird places when we run.  Massage on the tennis ball helps work all those kinks out (this can also help prevent things like plantar fasciitis).  I suggest focusing on the arch, but your foot isn’t that big – experiment, and see what makes you go, “*gasp*Uuuuhhhhaaaaahhhhh…..”.

[I did a LOT of this on Monday.]

3. Massage your hip.  This is especially important for my female runner friends, who typically have very tight hips – although I invite anyone, regardless of gender/runner-status, to give this a shot.  I love this trick because, unlike The Stick and the foam roller (which I do love), a tennis ball is small enough to really dig into the little muscles of the hip.  Plus, it’s easy to relax the target leg while you’re doing this (I tend to get pretty tense on the foam roller), which will let you dig a little deeper.  First, you need to find a wall.  Then, you need to find your hipbone, and trace back to the meaty area behind your hipbone.  Let me help:

Meaty area behind hipbone.

Meaty area behind hipbone.

Hipbone

Hipbone

Now, place the tennis ball between that spot and the wall. Lean into the wall to hold it there.

Smush

See it peeking out back there?

Now, lean your body weight into the wall and rub the tennis ball around.  Hold most of your weight on the leg away from the wall, so that the hip you are massaging is nice and relaxed.

My close-to-the-wall leg is nice and relaxed.

My close-to-the-wall leg is nice and relaxed.

Rub the tennis ball around until you find a sore spot.  Then focus your rubbing there (pretty hard) for 15-20 seconds.  I also like to lean into the sore spot pretty hard for 5-10 seconds, then release.  Continue until you’ve hit all the sore spots. Then, turn around and do the other leg!!  I promise that your hips will thank you.

All right, folks, that’s all I’ve got for today.  Now, I’m off to go buy some stock in tennis balls.  This post is gonna go viral, I just know it.

Any unusual uses for a tennis ball I should add to my list?

Ever posted pictures of weird parts of your body all over the internet?
[No, no – nevermind. I actually don’t want to know the answer to that one, after all.]

20 thoughts on “Green Corridor Run: Reflections on Reflections. And 3 Awesome Things To Do With A Tennis Ball.

  1. Elena

    Not related to running but lying down with a tennis ball under my shoulder blade is sooo good for beating my trigger points into submission. If I’m less lazy I roll it up and down my back along a wall.

    Reply
  2. @therunginger

    I would keep a tennis ball around if not for my dogs. I am pretty sure I would never find the damn things! I like those ideas though. I need cheap ways to massage my sore spots!

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      Hahaha! I can imagine dogs + tennis ball = slobbery tennis ball (ick). Around here, the only thing that chases the tennis balls (or vice verse) is the Roomba. 🙂

      See Elena’s comment for suggestions for your back; and if you’re feeling really brutal, you can use it on your calves. I’m not quite that masochistic, though, and prefer The Stick for that. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Sarrilly

    Not related to running but I use them in my classroom to protect the floors (and keep the noise down) – eeeew even thinking of the screech of chairs on the floor makes me shudder 🙂

    Sorry – this is so unhelpful for runners looking to massage sore areas! 😀

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I am entertaining any & all uses for tennis balls, whether or not they have to do with running.

      Geez. You must have cornered the tennis ball market, if you have them on all the kiddo’s chairs. I guess I should’ve bought my stock a long time ago. =)

      Reply
  4. gracechua (@gracechua)

    Ha, I cheat on my massage place with my tennis ball all the time.
    Oh, another thing! Fill one of those plastic water bottles with water and stick it in your freezer – it’s a great substitute for a foam roller and a slightly less great substitute for an ice bath. (This also works with a water balloon.)

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I often suggest my pf peeps do the cold water bottle as a foot massage, but I’ll admit, I’m a bit too much of a wuss to do it myself. (Shh!)

      Never thought about using it as a foam roller. But since I don’t own one (I only lease the one at the gym), not a bad idea. I love a good multi-tasking solution, anyway. 🙂

      Reply
      1. gracechua (@gracechua)

        Oh, PS! On not getting the full list of results – I’ve only done one race here that published the list, and there were only about 300 participants. Singapore races are huge. If they gave you the full results, you’d be scrolling and clicking for ages. (Well, I would. I’m solidly middle-of-the-pack.) You can forget about actual age groups and age-group wins, too, unless you’re doing triathlons.

        Reply
        1. Holly KN Post author

          Yeah, but even for US races with 20,000 plus runners, you *can* sort by age & gender, if you want. Usually some sort of drop-down menu format to select how you want to narrow/sort the data. Or you can just enter bib # for your personal stats. Also, they’ll DEFINITELY tell you how many runners per group (ie, 77 out of 140 runners in F, 30-39).

          Yep…age group placing is definitely harder to come by in a bigger field. Ah, well…maybe will have to (finally) unpack the bike, after all… 😉

          Reply
  5. Paul

    Hi Holly. Hmm.. all the comments so far has been about the tennis ball so let me be the first to comment on yr 3 reflections on the GCR (or the Green Corridor Run)

    #1 The GCR was my first trial run and while I won’t quite confess to be a Singaporean dirt lover, the mud really din bother me too much. And I certainly can grow to love trial running. I know some hardcore trail runners can be a bit elitist or condescending about those who avoided the mud; but just because some runners prefer a less muddier experience does not make them less of a trail runner, right?

    #2 The results. Interesting to note that the entire list is usually provided in US. There are some races here that does show the timing for the entire field. You will no doubt notice that the field size and age size was not included in the GCR result. This is fairly common. In fact, more often than not, you will only get your gun and nett time. So you can forget about yr position, much less age, gender and contingent size.

    #3 Paying more for a race is worth it. This will be a hard sell for pragmatic Sporean. Most of us take the provision of smooth pre-race, race and post-race logistics, adequate hydration points and distance marker boards and all those things you mentioned as a given for any race organiser. Those are considered the basic requirements for any running event. So when a race cost above average, its normal to expect more. The average entry fee for a 10K event is around S$40. Anything above that will be considered expensive by many people.

    I suspect that many runners were upset that an event tee was not included. If it was, I think the complaint of GCR being an expensive race would be fewer. The most expensive 10K race in 2012 was the Jurong Lake Run at S$59. The cheapest? The NorthEast Tampines Run will set you back S$18.

    Lastly, thanks for the tips on the tennis ball. Now I will just need to search for them in my store room and put them to use. 8P

    Reply
    1. Holly KN Post author

      I have a lot more American readers right now. They probably don’t have much to offer on my reflections, so are safely sticking with the tennis balls. Thanks for adding your perspective – I’m enjoying using this space to learn a bit about local running culture. 🙂

      #1: Hm. I didn’t mean to sound elitist – apologies if I did. I guess I do wonder why people would sign up for a trail run, though, if they don’t want to get their shoes dirty….? 🙂

      #2: Still interesting to me. Do you think with more races, and more people wanting to know this info, races will start to convert to a platform where they can display this info, or do you think it’ll be this way forever? I’m wondering whether the bottleneck is demand, technology, individuals not wanting their times made public, etc.

      #3: Now I’m really curious – if all of those things (organization, hydration, marking, etc.) are taken for granted, then maybe you can explain what everyone was raving about, then? Lots of people said it was one of the “best organized” or “best produced” or just overall “best” races in Singapore…so what made it so, if not the logistics?

      And I think you’re right about the shirt – that’s what people have come to expect. Everyone’s just gotta start thinking more creatively about swag. Personally, I quite like the towel, and always like a creative, useful, unique race souvenir. 🙂

      Good luck finding your tennis balls. If my experience is any indication, they’re sneaky suckers!!

      Reply
      1. Paul

        Goodness, Holly. I apologise if I wasn’t clear about my ‘elitist’ remarks but I was most certainly not referring to you. I mean would I have bother to visit your blog and penned my extensive thoughts if I thought you were one of those elitist trail runners? One of the silliest comments I read says that those who want drinks during runs should do it at the gym. How silly it that?

        #1 Why would people sign up for a trail run if they don’t want to get dirty? I think its not really about getting dirty. Its more about not getting dirtier than they have to. I know for someone use to mud and outdoors, that sound weird. But for most local born Sporean under 30, I reckon most never had a chance to play with mud when they were young. I did have a chance but that’s because I dun belong to that age group 😛

        #2 I dun think many runners will demand for a full list but most probably won’t mind it either. One thing we have been clamouring to the race organiser for is for the contingent size, the gender size and the age group size and our respective placement in those classifications. I reject the notion that its technology limitations since its should not be overwhelming difficult to provide those information if the timings are being captured electronically.

        #3 People was raving about the GCR cos all of us has been in races when things were not very well organised. From my limited race experiences, one race did not have enough marshals and the leading runners run the wrong way and ended up running extra! Other races run out of hydration at designated water points. Some are hopelessly overcrowded. And other did not deliver what they promised.

        The worst race in 2012 I read about was the SIS Age Group Run Series II. The race route was not mapped properly and in no condition to support a mass running event. The race was abruptly canceled and replaced and there was a whole lot of mess in that event (organised by a relatively new and small running club). So all things considered Groundwells did an excellent job with GCR.

        If I read from your blog correctly, you just relocated here and GCR was your first run on our small island. Hopefully with more local races under your belt in the months to come, some of my comments will make more sense to you in times to come. See you at the races!

        Reply
        1. Holly KN Post author

          *whew* Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t insulting people after a mere month of blogging (and after just 4 months in Singapore!). You are correct – I’m a relatively new transplant, and GCR was my first Singapore race. My husband grew up here (through NS), but spent the last 12 years in the US. So for him, it’s a homecoming (albeit to a very different home than he left!), and for me, it’s my first time living here. I’ve visited a lot in the past, but never run a race – in fact, when I first started visiting, I don’t think there were many races, besides the SC Marathon. 🙂

          I love seeing people getting out and enjoying the trails. As a country girl (I grew up in dairy farm country), I have to remember that, as you point out, most Singaporeans live a very urban lifestyle. 🙂 I hope they can learn to love the mud, though!

          I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how the running/racing situation develop in the coming years. I think this is a really exciting time to be a runner in Singapore. I’m thrilled to get to watch/be a part of this! (I was a bit too young to really experience it when this similar explosion happened to running in the US.) “See” you at the Safari Run! 🙂

          Reply
  6. Jean

    Viral status! I’ve heard of using a golf ball for the foot before but because of my evidently severely limited imagination I never thought about doing it with a tennis ball. I’m glad you reminded me of it, though-now I actually HAVE access to tennis/golf balls (didn’t have any when I lived in New York), but I had forgotten I ever wanted to try this!

    Reply
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