Category Archives: Blogging

What’s it like to run in *insert country here*? Cathryn’s on the caper!

Let me explain how I got tangled up in this craziness:

I’m friends (in real life!) with Grace,
Who is an avid reader of Jen’s blog (incidentally, now I am too),
And Jen knows (online? real life? not sure…) blogger Cathryn,
And Cathryn started this really neat series called “Running The World”.

If you’re confused, the short version is that Twitter magic happened, and Grace connected me with Cathryn, who has been publishing a really neat series of posts on running in different parts of the world.

Cathryn is a Brit living in Northern California, but with connections (yay interwebs!) to runners around the world.  She has used this network to probe into running life in other countries.  Basically, she sends a list of questions/prompts about running in that country (Who does it? What do people go nuts over? What’s awesome about it? What’s challenging? What is it like to be a female athlete/runner there?), then assembles the answers, together with some photos, to provide a glimpse into local running life.

Glimpse into Singapore running: Sweat, Green spaces, Roads.  Wanna know more?  Go visit Cathryn's post!

Sweat, green spaces, and roads – that about sums it up. Wanna know more? Go visit Cathryn’s post!

Grace and I both answered her questions about Singapore, and she compiled them into a single post.  Since Wednesday is supposed to be “Singapore Stories” day (see Order on the Blog!), and I know many of you enjoy reading about all aspects of life in Singapore, I’m sending you over to Cathryn’s blog (My Heart’s Content) for Running the World: Singapore.

[Also, if you live and run in the Middle East or South America, she may be interested in talking to you! Catch her on her blog, or on Twitter!]

Comments here are closed for today; go say hi to Cathryn instead!

39 + 1 Answers

Hello, hello!  Photo op from Chinatown during Chinese New Year.  [Year of the Horse, see?]

Hello, hello!
Photo op from Chinatown during Chinese New Year. Year of the Horse!

Readers old & new – welcome!  We’ll get around to some more formal introductions soon enough.  But for now, it’s time to end the blogging hiatus.  And what better way to do that than with an old-school email-style things-about-you (me) survey.

I found this one on Olive To Run‘s blog last week, and it seemed like the perfect way to break the ice.  A little bit of personal info, a little bit of fun, and nothing too serious (yet).  We’ll get there – but for now:

39 + 1 Questions
(because Who Stops At 39?)

1. Were you named after anyone? Nope. My parents could agree on the name “Holly”, and that was that.  I love it because it’s not totally weird, but also not terribly common.  Plus, “Holly.  Like, Hollywood,” makes it very easy to communicate my name, without any spelling or shenanigans.

2. When was the last time you cried? Funny, because I almost mentioned something about this to my husband this morning.  I cried a lot when I did research science.  Nowadays, I hardly cry at all.  Seems I handle stress better when I adore my job and feel very passionately about what I do!  I have no idea of the last time I cried.  Truly.

3. Do you like your handwriting? Nope.  But KMN has very nice writing, when necessary.  I just ask him to write important things.  Or I use the label maker ask him to make a label for me.  [It’s fine.  He loooooves the label maker.]

Not exactly pretty, but it works for me.

Not exactly pretty, but it works for me.
Also, there are 5 Attacks.

4. What is your favorite lunch meat? Kinda over most lunch meat, so let’s just say…cheese!  I could go for a thick, savory slice of provolone right about now…

5. Do you have kids? I have composting worms, and we’re growing tomato plants.  Also, I will totally play with other peoples’ babies until the poop or cry.

Baby tomato plants!   And those are the varieties, not their names, folks.

Baby tomato plants!
And those are the varieties, not their names, folks.

6. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? This is a most bizarre question.  But…I guess so?

7. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Not too often in writing.  I’m paranoid about being mis-understood.

8. Do you still have your tonsils? Yes, despite umpteen bouts of strep throat as a kid.  When the doctor threatened, “If you get strep once more this year, we’ll have to take those out,” I promptly ceased getting strep.  Apparently, my tonsils are easily intimidated.

9. Would you bungee jump? I’d rather zipline.  I generally don’t do gimmicky races but am seriously, SERIOUSLY considering the Mount Imbiah Challenge, if only for the final zip line!

10 What is your favorite cereal? Granola.  I know granola is only supposed to be a garnish, but I could pour myself a whole big bowl and gobble it down. Especially the Quaker kind in bags, from Costco.  Unfortunately, choices are somewhat more limited in Singapore.

11. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Yes – in the elevator on the way up to our floor.  It’s hilarious when our neighbors are waiting for the elevator, and the doors open, revealing me, all bent over and untying my shoes.  Then, I tromp off, laces dragging behind me.  Although honestly, the only time I wear laced shoes is to workout.

12. Do you think you are strong? Not a doubt in my mind.

13. What is your favorite ice cream? Orange chocolate bitters (dark Belgian chocolate + Triple Sec) from Udders.

14. What is the first thing you notice about other people? Depends on how/where I’m seeing them – face-to-face, I probably notice height or glasses first.  At a distance/from the side/in the gym, I first notice how they move.  Occupational hazard.

15. Red or pink? RED!!!

16. What is your least favorite thing about yourself? That the 6 years I spent getting a PhD taught me how to doubt myself and my abilities.  And not in a humble way, but in a gross, fearful, second-guessing kind of way.  But I’m working on getting over that bit.

17. Any tattoos? Nooooo.  But I’ve wanted one – I already know what and where – for about 10 years now.  Just haven’t had the guts to actually go for it.  [Dad, you are not reading this.]

18. Do you have any hobbies?
 Baking?  Cooking?  <— Hobbies or necessities?  I’ve tried to knit, but never stuck with anything…and that hobby is kinda superfluous in Singapore.  I sing (off-key but enthusiastically).  I Sudoku sometimes.  Does any of that count? Maybe?

19. What color shoes are you wearing? Black Adidas nubbly slippers – my “inside shoes”.

Because there are not enough pictures of my feet on the internet already.

Because there are not enough pictures of my feet on the internet already.

20. What was the last thing you ate? A ginger cookie.  Om-nom-nom.  Stay tuned for the recipe, because DANG they are good!!!

OK, so there wasn't any chocolate milk today. Or a fancy napkin. But there were cookies!

OK, so there wasn’t any chocolate milk today. Or a fancy napkin. But there were cookies!

21. What are you listening to right now? The fan on the computer, my typing-tapping, and someone practicing the piano somewhere upstairs.

22. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? A deep, strong, rich RED.  Or a bright cheery YELLOW.  Or I guess I could be ORANGE, and have the best of both worlds. 😉

23. Favorite smells? Whatever brand of cologne KMN wore when we started dating, lilacs, cooking apples, and crispy line-dried sheets.  Not all at once, please.

24. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Talked to KMN on the phone last night, while we were trying to find each other at the airport. But seriously.  Who uses the phone anymore??

25. Mountain hideaway or beach house? Mountains!  And please let there be some running trails snaking through them?  [Not to be confused with actual snakes.  I don’t need no snakes, thankyouverymuch.]

26. Favorite sport to watch? Not too keen on watching anything these days, really.  I do enjoy watching swimming competitions, though.  Team sports?  Basketball, maybe – but only professional.

27. Hair color? Short.  Oh, sorry – brown.

28. Eye colors? Depends on who you ask.  My license says grey.  KMN says green.  Or sometimes blue. ?

29. Do you wear contacts? Nope.  Proud owner of 2 awesome eyes right here!!!

30. Scary movies or happy endings? How about police procedurals/thrillers on audiobook? Not really a movie person.

31. Last movie you watched? Frozen.  So does that mean the answer above is ‘happy ending’?  Not sure.

32. What color shirt are you wearing? Purple.  But I’ve already worn a white shirt and a blue tank top today.  Again, occupational hazard.

33. Summer or winter? I live in the tropics now, which gets rather…sweaty, sometimes.  But I haven’t had to dig my car out in two years, and after living in upstate NY for the previous SIX years, this is a beautiful thing.

34. Hugs or kisses? Hugs.

35. Computer or television? Computer.  And this must be an old survey, ’cause aren’t all the cool kids watching TV on their computers these days?

36. What book are you reading right now? Palisades Park (Alan Brennert)

37. What’s on your mouse pad? Who needs a mouse pad?  My mouse works just fine on my desk.   We don’t spoil our mice in this household.

38. What color is your house? Errr…apartment?  The outside is white, brown, and pinkish.  I think?  *runs to check*

39. What color is your car? BWAHAHAHA. As I Tweetered earlier today: #carfreeisthewaytobe.  Yay public transportation!

Olive To Run added:
Why isn’t there a number 40? I hate odd numbers so I’m going to make one up.

40. What you go back to school for if money wasn’t an issue? Physical therapy.

Your turn: Answer the question that is the date (day) of your birthday!

Let me know which, if any, of these answers left you curious/wanting to know more.

[Note: The first time you Comment, you will go into review for my approval. After that, all of your comments should post immediately.  Pesky anti-spam measure, sorry!]

———-
Can’t get enough of Run With Holly?
Facebook: Run With Holly
Twitter: Coach_Holly
Email: runwithholly [at] gmail [dot] com

Help Wanted: Do You Have Any Answers? (Jan. 2014)

I get asked a LOT of running questions:
From arches to shins to hips to shoulders, and all the body parts in between.
From treadmills to tracks to trails, and any surface in between.
From blisters to chafing to PMS, and all the “personal” running issues in between.
From GPS to pedometers to heart rate monitors, and the many tech gadgets in between.

The truth is, I have a lot of answers.  It’s kind of my job to have a lot of answers.
But then, sometimes, I don’t.  Or my answers don’t work.
*enter the coolest part*
And then – AND THEN – I have something much more powerful than myself.
I have an entire running blogosphere of smart, helpful folks.

Lately, I’ve been stumped by a few questions.  So, that’s where you all come in:
IT’S TIME TO CROWD-SOURCE!

Question #1: I have a client who works long hours and is often on-call.  She lives in the northeast, and right now, it gets dark ridiculously early.  She lives in a city where she’s not comfortable running at night – and her schedule precludes her from joining many of the local groups.  So in the winter, she does most of her running on the treadmill.  But unfortunately, despite the TV, the towel-cover-the-time trick, and pace/elevation games….she still finds the treadmill incredibly boring.  So what am I missing?  How can she liven up her treadmill time?

Question #2: A friend just got gorgeous new headphones for Christmas, and wants to try listening to some podcasts during her runs.  I used to (like, 4 years ago) listen to podcasts regularly while running. But even then, my tastes took a turn toward the science-y.  And nowadays, I listen to audiobooks or learn my indoor cycling music/choreography while running.  So for those of you who podcast, what are your favorite podcasts – especially those with a running focus?

Question #3: As you’ve all probably heard (and are tired of) by now: Run With Holly just entered the Twitter world (@Coach_Holly).  I’m just dipping my toe in right now, seeing how this new-to-me piece of social media works.  Some folks have already generously offered some “Getting Started” tips for me (huge shout out to Happy Running Mama!).  But now I want to know: If someone told you that you could keep just THREE Twitter feeds, what would they be?  Who are your “must-follow” folks?

That should be quite enough for today.  As all of these are, well, questions – I don’t think I need to close with any additional questions today.  Thanks in advance for your advice – I’ll be compiling answers back into another post, once everyone has weighed in.  So please, speak up!!

You help me, then I'll tell you all about our hiking trip to Hong Kong.  Deal?  Deal!!!

You help me, then I’ll tell you all about our hiking trip to Hong Kong. Deal? Deal!!!

Year in Pictures: 2013 in Review

I’ve now looked back on 2013 as a Year of Running and as a Year of Blogging.  For my final 2013 wrap-up, I’m taking a look at the year in pictures.  One picture + caption per month, and that’s it.  Compiling this post was complicated by some recent computer issues, but I didn’t obsess over the selection of each photo – I just went with my gut.

January: The Green Corridor Run was our first-ever race in Singapore!

January: The Green Corridor Run was our first-ever race in Singapore!

February: My first Chinese New Year living in Singapore.  Read a bit about CNY here, or wait another month - CNY starts this year on January 31!

February: My first Chinese New Year living in Singapore. Read a bit about how we celebrate CNY here, or wait another month – CNY starts this year on January 31!

March: I brief bout of plantar fasciitis leaves me with new sympathy (and a few tricks) for those who suffer from PF regularly!

March: A brief bout of plantar fasciitis leaves me with new sympathy (and a few tricks) for those who suffer from PF regularly!

April: Mostly spent with my Mom in Florida, doing some tough, but really important, family stuff.  I am reminded how lucky I am, that my job allows me to travel to help my family when necessary.

April: Mostly spent with my Mom in Florida, doing some tough, but really important, family stuff. I am reminded how lucky I am, that my job allows me to travel to help my family when necessary.

May: My cousin and her sister-in-law visit.  I take my first cable car ride to Sentosa, and we visit the aquarium, the Malaysian Food Hall, and the Crane Dance.

May: My cousin and her sister-in-law visit. I take my first cable car ride to Sentosa, and we visit the aquarium, the Malaysian Food Hall, and the Crane Dance.

June: My sister gets married.  She looks gorgeous. They are happy. Everyone celebrates. YAY!

June: My sister gets married. She looks gorgeous. They are happy. Everyone celebrates. YAY!

July: While back in the US for wedding-goodness, I have my very first BLOGGER MEET UP with Allie from Griselda Mood.

July: While back in the US for wedding-goodness, I have my very first BLOGGER MEET UP with Allie from Griselda Mood.

August: Four-day-weekend = five-day-trip to London.  Note: That is the TOWER Bridge in the background, not the LONDON Bridge!

August: Four-day-weekend = five-day-trip to London. Note: That is the TOWER Bridge in the background, not the LONDON Bridge!

September: My sweet friend DEB comes to visit. We run, we go to the Zoo/Bird Park/Night Safari, and we RACE!

September: My sweet friend Deb comes to visit. We run, we go to the Zoo/Bird Park/Night Safari, and we RACE!

October: I run my first 50K.  This race didn't make it into the Year of Running round-up, so I had to work it in here.  50K/31 miles/5:21.  Not too shabby for a first-timer!

October: I run my first 50K. This race didn’t make it into the Year of Running round-up, so I had to work it in here. 50K/31 miles/5:21. Not too shabby for a first-timer!

November: Cheap tickets and lots of RWH plans for 2014 = Turkey Time Trip To NJ.

November: Cheap tickets and lots of RWH plans for 2014 = Turkey Time Trip To NJ.

Quality time with one of my favorite littles!  My college roommate has the most adorable kids (yes, I'm biased) - check them out over at Gummy Bear Mama.

December: Quality time with one of my favorite littles! My college roommate has the most adorable kids (yes, I’m biased) – check them out over at Gummy Bear Mama.

And there you have it.  Twelve photos, twelve months.

Funny thing is that KMN and I recently “debriefed” about our year, and we characterized 2013 as our year of “settling in to living together and making a home”.  After living apart for so long, this was completely true.  But it’s not reflected in the photos (of travel, of friends, of races) at all!  So I guess our year was mostly characterized by quiet, building moments – with some exciting (and photograph-worthy) moments thrown in here and there.

So many thanks to all the friends and family who visited (not all shown in photos here), and to everyone (near and far) who supported us as we began building a life together in Singapore.  I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings – and I’m so glad you’re along for the ride!

[And if you want even more RWH goodness, we are now ON TWITTER: Run With Holly @Coach_Holly.  Check it out!]

If you did a ‘Year in Pictures’ review, would your pictures accurately reflect your year?

First posting by email, then Twitter, now WordPress on my phone (just installed it!). I feel too modern to be myself. What was your biggest technology leap of 2013?</strong>

Year in Blogging: 2013 Review [PLUS TWITTER!!]

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear blo-og,
Happy Birthday to you!

How does a blog celebrate its birthday?
BY JOINING TWITTER, of course!

Come twit tweep twerp eh, whatever: Run With Holly@Coach_Holly !!

The blogging leg of this adventure started one year ago, right here:  Take Your Mark, and….GO!  Since my parents were really my only readers back then, you might want to click back and check it out.  [Oh, and by the way – Dad, if you’re reading this (IF?!?!  Who am I kidding.  Dad is my biggest fan.  Love you, Dad!), is there any chance I could offer you a TimTam bribe to get you to dig that photo from Ms. Rose’s ballet class out of the photo album and scan it to me?]

And since I’m seeing an influx of new readers lately (for a variety of reasons, but especially SEE BELOW!), let’s quickly review: If you’re feeling curious, check out the About Me section, and/or a more casual collection of Holly Fun Facts.  And here’s a bit about the guy who’s often photo bombing joining me in my pictures.  Finally, the Race Reports category includes reports of all the races (except one!) that I ran this year, mostly in Singapore.

Awesome.  Now, let’s get on with the Year of Blogging recap, shall we?  The inadvertently excellent thing about starting a blog on January 8th is that your blog’s birthday almost exactly corresponds with the New Year – and WordPress’s publication of “Your 2013 Year in Blogging”.  Thus, in honor of the blog birthday/new year, and inspired by Fit, Feminist, and (Almost) Fifty‘s example, Part II of my year-end wrap-up will be blog-specific.  [Click to read the first wrap-up, Year of Running: 2013 in Review.]

According to WordPress, this blog was viewed by others approximately 31,000 times this year.  I don’t publish this number to brag or compare – but just to say, HOLY WOW.  And THANK YOU.  Yes, YOU.  🙂  That might be considered peanuts in the realm of blogging, but heck – for this tiny little corner of the internet, I’m pretty happy with that number.  My most popular posts were:

Venus Run (2013): Race Report
Stretch Those Calves!
How To Make A Really Delicious Roast Chicken
Female Endurance Athletes Are Just Like Other Women (Only Not Really)
Yellow Ribbon Run (2013): Race Report

I’ll admit that the roast chicken one makes me giggle – I had no idea it would be such a popular post.  But it is, indeed, one of the most frequent searches that lands people on my site these days.  Unfortunately, I have subsequently realized that the use of local chickens contributes to my chicken-roasting success.  Our local chickens are small, properly proportioned, and TASTY.  They aren’t certified organic/free-range/pesticide-free, but all I have to do is look at one to see that it looks…well, it looks like a chicken should.  I was really surprised the last time I was back in the US, and saw the enormous, strangely proportioned thing my Dad was roasting as a chicken.  But I digress.  [Although you should come visit, and I’ll roast you a HIGHLY delicious chicken.  I promise!]

*ahem* FOCUS, Holly.

Also – a big shout-out to fellow bloggers who discovered me, adopted me, and encouraged me when I was just starting out at the start of the year.  There are plenty of you, but WordPress reports that my Top 3 commenters this year were Amy (Run Write Hike), Meagan (Turkey Runner), and Jeano (Jogging Jeano).  Thanks, chicas!

Anyway, Fit, Feminist, and (Almost) 50 also added a cool twist, by listing the posts that she thinks were under-appreciated, and should have gotten a bit more attention.  Here are a few of my other favorites from this year:

Why Getting Started Is The Hardest Part (and what the dishwasher has to do with it)
Stop the Comparisons, and Start the Celebrations
And the entire repository of Stretches I’m starting to build

So there you have it, folks.  A summary of my blog year. You can see the  whole report for the Run With Holly blog here.  It’s big on cute graphics, and only modest in actual data – but still, it will be an interesting look back on your year.  If you have a WordPress blog, I’d suggest that you have a look at your own!

I know sometimes when I read a blog post that really hits home for me, it sticks with me for awhile.  Was there anything I wrote this year that has stuck in your mind?

Should I make birthday brownies or chocolate chip cookies for the blog?

Anyone have a #1 Twitter Tip for me?

Year of Running: 2013 in Review

About a month ago (December 9, to be exact), Miss Zippy posted her now-famous How Was Your Year of Running? post.  I am both too late for the formal link-up and too slow to publish before we hit 2014.  On the plus side, I’ve had the chance to see every OTHER blogger’s “End of Year” wrap-up (both Miss Zippy-style, and otherwise), and have chosen three to copy/share.  So here’s the first one, and the only one that is running-specific.

  • Best race experience? No question: Chevron Surf to City Marathon in Perth.  The combination of awesome weather, a perfectly organized event (There was space! Lots of space! No Singapore-style smushing in Perth!), and a faster race than I had the nerve to expect all combined to make the day an amazing one!  Plus, I got to enjoy not only the race, but also a few days exploring Perth with GCA.  On the morning of the big event:
Last race-related photo from my camera. I opted to leave my phone in the room; hence, no photos.

Last race-related photo from my camera. I opted to leave my phone in the room; hence, no photos.

  • Best run?  This is a tough one, and the only one where I’m struggling with the meaning of the word “best”.  I had some great training runs, but one of the most memorable actually wasn’t super awesome or easy.  It was a long, sloggy, hot training run for my first 50K (28 Miles is a Really Long Way).  I did it solo, and pulled through some pretty low points.  Ultimately, that mental training was important for helping me handle some tough moments on race day.  So even though it wasn’t the sparkliest, happiest, prettiest training run – it was one of the most important.
  • Best new piece of gear? The running towel.  Boring, but so freakin’ true.  It took me at least four months to start grabbing a towel when I went out for a long run.  Finally, I decided to try carrying one of the little absorptive towels I’d been getting in race packs.  (There must be a reason they were being put in there, right?)  So I started hooking one onto my hydration pack for long runs, and BINGO – something to wipe my sweaty hands on before I wiped my eyes, something to wipe my sweaty face on when I stopped for a drink and suddenly had sweat pouring into my eyes, something to throw over my shoulder when I hop on the bus to go home so I LOOK like I’m making an effort to manage the sweat situation.  Check out the towel, in all its glory – tucked sexily into the strap and under the hose on my vest:
Official race photo, courtesy of Running Shots.  Their dedicated photographers were braving the rain and risking their equipment to capture our day.  Thank you!

Official race photo, courtesy of Running Shots. Their dedicated photographers were braving the rain and risking their equipment to capture our day. Thank you!

  • Best piece of running advice you received? I am crushing HARD on Jay Dicharry (author of Anatomy for Runners) lately.  Reading his work has pushed me to become increasingly interested in the non-running exercises that runners can do to make their bodies better and more efficient running machines.  So the advice I’m sharing here is a direct quotation from the first chapter of his book:

“Runners run, and oftentimes aimlessly, which leads to injury or suboptimal performance.  Athletes develop their brain, their body, and the complementary skills necessary to take the right path.  Runners, it’s time to develop your inner athlete.”

  • Most inspirational runner? This is totally corny, but I’m going to say that my new runners (first time 5Kers) are my greatest inspiration.  It’s one thing for me to pop out of bed and knock out 4 or 6 miles (7-10K) before breakfast. I do it on the regular.  If I don’t want to, it’s because I’m tired or lazy or not in the mood – but not because it’s all that hard (for me).  But for new runners, every.single.step is a challenge.  NOTHING is easy.  Yet they persevere, rallying their drive, determination, and dedication to get out there for their workouts every week – trusting that one day those steps will get easier.  [THEY DO! I promise!  Ask the folks who’ve been there already!]  They are the ones who remind me to get out when I’m not quite feelin’ it.
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Sweat and hydration management.  [Pretty fitting for my first year in Singapore.]  Oh, and Run With Holly, of course! 🙂

If you haven’t taken the survey already, feel free to answer any of these questions in the Comments section.

Or (since we’re not just about running) tell me about your MOST MEMORABLE ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENT in 2013.

Or, because I’m feeling all weekend-y, tell me what you’re most excited for this weekend.

The Guilt Cycle and Weekly Workout Round-Up (Nov. 25 – Dec. 1)

It’s a vicious, self-imposed cycle.  I know you’re familiar with it.   There’s something in your life – some task, chore, or even fun activity – that’s best when done regularly.  As long as you stay on top of it, things roll along smoothly.  You don’t mind doing it – and perhaps even find it enjoyable – and attending to it regularly keeps it from becoming too overwhelming:

Managing your RSS reader.
Calling your good friend.
Writing in your journal.

But sometimes life happens, and you start to fall behind.  Then, you fall more behind.  And the task keeps piling up, getting bigger and bigger:

200+ blog posts in your RSS reader…
SOOO much to tell your friend that you’ll have to set aside 2 hours for the conversation…
Three weeks of journaling to “catch up” on…

So you start avoiding it – finding excuses, filling your time with other tasks or projects.  The thought of “catching up” feels so overwhelming.  And just like that, something you love doing has become something you dread.

So what do you do?

You break the Cycle of Guilt.
You let go.
You start fresh.

You “Mark All As Read”.  No one will begrudge you a few missed comments.
You call your friend.  Tell her you only have 20 minutes, but wanted to check in and say hi.
You write down today’s date and let the words flow.

Basically, you be kind to yourself.  You treat yourself the way you would treat a friend.  You STOP letting your regret and your list of “should-haves” drag you down, and you START looking toward the future.  You make a plan.  You forgive yourself.  And then, you move forward.

And no matter how tightly you were holding on to that thing you HAD TO do, I promise you’ll feel better, lighter, and freer once you let it go.

I let myself become a victim of the Cycle of Guilt far too often.  But today, I’m standing up to myself.  I’m making a choice – I’m choosing to excuse myself.  November’s Workout Round-Ups just won’t get written this year. I’m so far behind, the notes in my workout log aren’t even familiar any more.  And although I have the actual workout data recorded, I’ve lost a lot of the funny anecdotes, back-stories, and extra info I like to include to make these posts less boring.  I know that none of you are losing sleep over this, so although the “completeness” freak in me is rebelling, I’m choosing to move on too.

I’m starting fresh in December – so I’ll start with last week, which was mostly November, but also included a tiny bit of December!  [Spoiler: There wasn’t much in the way of working out going on last week…]

Monday: Gift & Food Shopping Marathon with Dad

We have a few family members with “Thanksgiving Birthdays”, so we did some shopping for gifts, then hit up the supermarket for Thanksgiving groceries.  Thankfully, living in Singapore has dramatically raised my tolerance for crowded, busy stores.  Navigating the grocery store on the Monday-before-Thanksgiving felt like a breeze, compared to my weekly shopping routine in Singapore.  [I had no idea that the aisles in US supermarkets were so.freaking.huge!]

Tuesday: Run (5.5 mi)

This day was pretty ugly, and what started as a gentle snow turned into pelting sleet by the halfway mark.  I remembered why a cap with a brim is a good idea, even in the winter – It keeps all that stuff out of your eyes.  The run was *ahem* refreshing, and I felt like I got a bonus microderm abrasion.

Safely sheltered under the porch roof.  In the overexposed background, note the snow/ice on the ground.

Safely sheltered under the porch roof. In the overexposed background, note the snow/ice on the ground.

Wednesday: Cooking

My sister and brother-in-law arrived late on Tuesday night, so I spent Wednesday morning hanging with them and doing some work.  In the afternoon, some dear friends came over and we had a big cooking party.  It’s amazing how quickly the work gets done when 4-6 adults are working in the kitchen!!

Thursday: Eating, Hosting, Partying

Yep.  Besides passing the appetizer plates, pouring wine for guests, and lifting trays of food in and out of the oven, I didn’t do much physical activity.

Ta Da!  Thanksgiving Plate!  Not pictured: Applesauce & Cranberry Sauce, which get eaten AFTER all of the non-fruit food.

Ta Da! Thanksgiving Plate! Not pictured: Applesauce & Cranberry Sauce, which get eaten AFTER all of the non-fruit food.

Friday: Run (7.5 mi)

This is the one that I detailed in yesterday’s Join Me On This Run: Sussex County post.  It’s also when my IT band starting tweaking a little bit, reminding me that stretching is important, even in the USA!

Saturday: Goodbyes and Hellos

My sister and BIL left on Saturday morning, but in the afternoon, we went to pick KMN up from the airport.  He missed Thanksgiving, but coincidentally has business in NYC this week – so he stopped in New Jersey for the last of the leftovers.  Good thing, too – he entered just as everyone’s enthusiasm for turkey and gravy, stuffing, and green beans was waning.  What a champ! 🙂

Sunday: Travel & Cheese

Some food should be eaten, not photographed.  [The flash didn't help.]

Some food should be eaten, not photographed. [The flash didn’t help.]

KMN headed into NYC in the afternoon, and I decided to join him in the city for a day or two.  Although he’ll be busy during the week, he had some free time on Sunday night, and we snuck out for dinner at Amali.  The lighting was insufficient for good pictures, but the meal was amazing.  From the huge chunks of feta mixed with pistachios and grapes, served over chicory all the way to the ricotta donuts served with honey whipped ricotta, the meal was amazing.  And although I am happily married, I was contemplating a proposal to whoever made the divine ball of burrata cheese we enjoyed spread on crispy toast triangles.  I’m tempted to go back to enjoy a whole ball for myself, for lunch…

You don’t need an advanced math degree to calculate this one: 13 miles, just over 2 hours of working out this week (includes three days of stretching, which I don’t usually note in my day-to-day break down).  Obviously, this was a week for friends, family, and eating – not a week for working out.  But that happens once in awhile, and I’m not stressing over it.  This upcoming week will be back to normal (at least, non-gym normal).

In December, I’m looking forward to running, getting back to spin, and setting up my race calendar for the first half of next year.  I dragged my feet on this for awhile, but am now feeling excited about it – a sure sign that it’s time to pull up the race calendar and get out my credit card!!

What task/job/pastime quickly becomes overwhelming for you when you fall a bit behind?  How can/do you break the cycle?

Are there any Cycles of Guilt in your life right now that can/should be broken?  DO IT!  [Yes, like, RIGHT NOW.]  Then tell me about it, if you feel comfortable sharing.

A Message To Anyone Worried About “Unglam” Race Photos

So there is a blog post floating around the Singapore running blogosphere that’s making me twitchy.  Basically, the post provides four tips to help folks (ladies, specifically) avoid “unglam” race photos.  The author suggests:

1. Wear some make-up.
2. Tie your hair back.
3. Wear sunglasses (to hide slit, shut, or sunken eyes).
4. Smile.

Now, the author is a race photographer, and I have no doubt that he hears a lots of complaints from runners who are dissatisfied with their race photos.  For better or for worse, I think this gentleman is trying to help – he is responding to the way so many of us see ourselves, and our race photos.  Thus, although the post raises my feminist hackles, it is a manifestation, not the root, of the problem.  So rather than give the author a hard time, I would like to address all you ladies (and gentlemen) out there who are dissing your own race photos:

Think about why you run.  Do you run to have FUN?  To feel STRONG? EMPOWERED? HEALTHY?  AWESOME?  

Whatever your reason, I’m gonna wager that it isn’t to get a gorgeous race photo.  Because honestly, if you want “pretty” photos, then get cleaned up, hire a photographer or grab a friend with a camera, and have at it.  Easy peasy.

I am in the business of fitness.  Run With Holly is all about helping folks grow stronger, powerful, fitter, and more confident.  These things are truly beautiful.  The misguided thought that we must conform to the narrow societal expectations of beauty in the midst of activities that make us stronger, more powerful, and fitter…is rubbish.  [These societal expectations are rubbish to begin with, but I can only fight one battle a day, OK?]

So for starters, let’s dissect these four recommendations:

1. Wear some make-up.

No, please don’t wear make-up, if only for the sake of your pores.  This is Singapore, and I’m quite sure that NO make-up exists that’s waterproof enough to stay on your face during a sweaty run.

2. Tie your hair back.

OK, I’m on board with this one, albeit for practical, not aesthetic, reasons.

3. Wear sunglasses (to hide slit, shut, or sunken eyes).

You can’t control whether your eyes look shut, slit, or sunken – wear sunglasses if you want, but only for protection from the sun/wind/rain.  Feel free not to. You don’t have to apologize for your eyes, or the position of your eyelids at the precise millisecond the photo is taken.

4. Smile.

If you’re working hard, gritting it out, and feeling the burn – don’t feel obligated to smile.  Did any of you tune in for the NYC Marathon yesterday? Did you see those huge grins on the faces of the elites?  Hmm…yeah, me neither.  Sure, if you notice the photog and want to flash a smile, go for it. But if you are focused on your race – then by all means, focus on your race. Personally, I LOVE pictures of athletes looking intense and focused – I think THAT is beautiful! 

What I’m trying to say is that the race is YOURS to run, in your way and on your terms.  And I truly, truly hope that those “terms” include running for yourselves, for your health, to enjoy time with friends…  So have fun.  Work hard.  Be free.  But do not, under any circumstances, let someone else tell you what you “should” do for the camera while you’re running and racing.

This isn’t always easy, I know.  We are often our own worst enemies.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t fall into the trap sometimes, too.

But when you have doubts, you show those “unglam” race photos to an athlete friend/trainer/coach – or heck, send ’em to me.  I bet we’ll see determination, strength, and athletic beauty – in the wrinkles in your forehead, the grit of your teeth, the bunching of your top, the sweat pouring everywhere.

To keep myself honest here, I’m going to grab a few of my recent race photos, all courtesy of Running Shots.  I haven’t carefully chosen these – they are all the freely available race photos of me, in which I’m large enough to be seen properly.  Do note that, in all photos, I am NOT wearing make-up or sunglasses, and I’m only smiling in one.

This one is easy to post; it's my fave!

This one is easy to post; it’s my fave!

At the top of a stair climb.  All I wanted to do was breathe.

At the top of a stair climb. All I wanted to do was breathe, and not puke.

In a painful place...

In a painful place… But look at those leg muscles!

I'll admit there's a part of me that doesn't want to post this one.  But this was actually a pretty good race for me, and I actually have a positive memory of the race, in which I felt fast and strong.  I let the photo remind me of those feelings, rather than of how unflattering I think my shorts look.

I’ll admit there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to post this one. But this was actually a pretty good race for me, and I ran feeling fast and strong. So I let the photo remind me of those feelings, rather than of how unflattering I think my shorts (shirt?) look.

And that’s my collection of recent race photos.  I may not love them all, but I definitely love what they represent: A fit, healthy, strong body that can do amazing things.

So the next time you open your mouth (or brain) to criticize your race photos, think twice.  Redirect that energy into the following gratitude:

Dear Body:

Thank you for being awesome.

Love,
Me

If you want to read more, I suggest checking out Fit & Feminist’s thoughtful and insightful recollection of her journey toward accepting her race photos, which she writes about in Learning to love – or at least like – my race photos.

[Edited to add: GCA has a few choice words of her own over at Why I’m Proud of My Unglam Running Photos.]

Let’s be very general today: Any thoughts on this topic?  What would you like to add?  What have I forgotten/gotten wrong?

What did you do this weekend that made you feel strong/empowered/freaking awesome?

On “bad bloggers” and “not runners”

As I was checking how my Weekly Workout Round-Up for last week post looked on email and on my phone, I was a little surprised to see a phrase that snuck into the post: “…but I’m a bad blogger…”  I caught my breath.  Crap.  How did that get in there?  I often see this phrase in other blogger’s posts – and it always bothers me.  Yet here it was, staring back at me, typed from my very own keyboard.

Why did I write this?  Why did I spend time and wordage to announce to you all that I’m a “bad” blogger?  What horrible, non-blogger, evict-me-from-the-club (which is as free-form and self-directed as any club could possibly be) thing did I do?  You might want to sit down.  Brace yourselves, because…I went for a run with friends, and didn’t take a picture.

Just stop for a minute, and let that sink in.  I didn’t take a picture.

[Oh, the horror!!]

[First world problems, anyone?]

But I am not alone.  Failure to Photograph (food, workouts, friends, clothes, etc.) seems to be a common reason to call oneself a “bad blogger”.  Other reasons include:

“Had guests visit, failed to post for three days, bad blogger.”
“Chose random, rambling post topic(s) = Bad blogger.”
“Devoted an entire post to cute photos of kiddos…bad blogger.”
“Didn’t Reply to every Comment. Bad blogger.”
“Wore sweatpants instead of cute outfit: bad blogger.”
“Doesn’t care about hits/clicks/visits/SEO/etc.  Bad blogger!”

I’d dig up specific examples, but honestly – they’re too numerous (and I’m tired).  If you’ve been hanging out in the blog world for awhile, then you know what I’m talking about.  In fact, Olive To Run provides a great summary of some in her post Confession: I am really not a good blogger, if you’re interested.  [Please note that I’m not criticizing Olive, by any means – I quite enjoy her blog and her thoughts.  And admittedly, she used “not good” rather than “bad”.  But I was struck by how someone who is so unapologetically herself, so “tell it like it is”, and whose blog is so clearly popular – could still proclaim that she’s “not a good blogger”.  I mean, if she’s not a good blogger, then what am I!?!]

So I paused for a moment and considered what I really, truly think would constitute a “bad” blogger (where “bad” means, you know, “not good”).  Yes, this is subjective, but I see no way around that.  I gave myself sixty seconds, and here is the list I generated:

A “bad blogger” is someone who….
1. Never posts (in which case he/she would hardly be a “blogger”, really, right?)
2. Writes false, malicious, or nasty things about people/places/things
3. Plagarizes
4. Provides positive reviews in exchange for free products/services
5. Embeds links to malicious or pay-per-click sites, camouflaged as useful, interesting sites

I re-read my list.  Yup, all of those things seem like they should qualify someone for “bad blogger” status.  But gosh, wouldn’t you know it – “Didn’t take a picture” just wasn’t on there. Nowhere.  Not anywhere on the list.  And I checked.  Twice.  [Call me Santa.]

This little chit-chat with myself was starting to feel like a conversation I have so often it makes me want to scream.  I’m going to use “X” here, but do note that “X” is almost always a female.

X: Well, I do jog.  But I’m not a real runner.
Me: Hm.  What do you mean?
X: Well, I’m not like you. I’m not a real runner.
Me: Well, do you run?
X: Well, kind of.  I jog.
Me: OK, I think random pace distinctions are stupid.  All joggers are runners, in my book.  How often do you run?
X: A few times a week, maybe 3?
Me: Ah.  And, how long/far?
X: Not long.  Just about thirty minutes or so.
Me: You run for about 30 minutes, three times per week?  Yup, it sounds to me like you’re a runner!  So stop selling yourself short, and own the description: runner.  Runner!

In some way/shape/form, most of us do this – likely, more than we realize.  Broadly speaking, women are especially good at it, as are Asians in general.  Under the guise of “modesty” or “not bragging”, we imply/suggest/joke/or outright state the we aren’t good, or aren’t good enough, or are actually downright bad.  Somehow, this has become a socially acceptable, amusing, and often admirable, habit.  But truth be told, I find nothing funny or attractive about it.  Instead, I find it annoying at best, and depressing at worst.

Of course, I’m not suggesting we all start bragging about everything we can do.  But maybe, just maybe, we should stop selling ourselves short and counting ourselves out of things that we are doing – and are doing well.

So I’m putting my foot down.  There shall be no more “bad” blogger, or pseudo-“bad” blogger talk from this space any more.  I’m a blogger.  I might even be a good blogger.  And if you find this blog’s content informative, interesting, and/or somewhat amusing, please do stick around.  And if you don’t? Well, you probably weren’t reading this post in the first place.  And that’s just fine.

So here’s my message for you today: Embrace who you are.  Be real, be honest, be active, and be genuine.  And please, whatever you do, don’t waste time and energy selling yourself short.

Let’s be warm and fuzzy for a moment.  Finish this sentence:
“I (meaning you) am an AWESOME blogger because _________.”

Any blogosphere pet peeves?  Come on, get ’em off your chest!

Order On The Blog! Order On The Blog!

My college roommate recently taught me a fantastic German word: entlistungsfreude.  The word means “the satisfaction achieved by crossing things off lists”.  [Edited to add: This amazing woman, who is a better wordsmith than I, has two kiddos one hundred times more adorable than my (non-existent) ones, and loves the world harder than anyone else I know, has just opened her blog up to the public.  Check her – and her entlistungsfreude post – out at Gummy Bear Mama.]

Needless to say, she and I are both lovers of lists and (even moreso) lovers of crossing things OFF lists.  There’s some psychological effect at work here, I’m sure.  But she was the psych major, not me.  So I won’t delve too deeply at the moment.

I use a list-making app for my iPhone (Wunderlist), and currently have the following lists:

Coaching To Do
Client Communication To Do
Clients: Weekly Surveys
RWH Management
Weekly Workouts
Personal To Do
Home To Do
Health Appointments

A peak at the "Personal To Do" list.  See Erica?  Uploading photos for you is "on my list"...

A peek at the “Personal To Do” list. See Erica? Uploading photos for you is “on my list”…

These lists include both short- and long-term goals.  The time-sensitive ones can be assigned due dates, and the recurring ones can be scheduled to repeat every day/week/month/year.  I love this app hard, and when it’s midnight (like now), and I don’t want to sweep the floor…I still will, just so I can check “Daily Sweep” off the Home To Do list.   Entlistungsfreude at work, folks.

You're dying to know where this is going, right?

You’re dying to know where this is going, right?

What does this have to do with blogging?

Clearly, I operate well in a list-y environment.  So I’ve decided to bring my lists to blog-land.  The grand plan is to assign each day a particular topic/subject, and use that to guide my blogging.  My reasons for the change include:

1. To help me stay up-to-date.  Posts are easier to write and more fun to read (I think) when they are current. I’d rather read about the race a blogger ran yesterday, rather than 2 weeks ago.  [It’s also easier to write about yesterday’s race than a race form two weeks ago, no matter how many disjointed notes and phrases I left myself on the day of the race.]

2. To diversify content.  I don’t want this blog to become purely an accounting of my training and races – and lately, that’s the direction it’s been heading.  Certainly, I want that to be part of my content – but I also want to use this space to share information, tips, advice, thoughts, and musings about running, working out, and training.  I’d also like to throw in a few bits and bites about Singapore, about other places I’ve traveled, about food, and maybe a bit about plain old getting better at life – just to keep things varied and interesting.

So – without further ado – DRUMROLL, PLEASE!

Sunday: Workout Round-Up
Monday:
Inspiration For The Week (hopefully a more thoughtful/thought-provoking post)
Tuesday: Race (or Run) Recaps and/or Coach’s Corner (advice, thoughts, musings, ramblings – mostly on running)
Wednesday: Singapore Stories or another Recurring Feature (Good Mornings, Things I’m Lovin’, etc.)
Thursday: Stretch of the Week (I am SO excited about this one!)
Friday: Foodie Friday (restaurant review, favorite recipe, fun local food, etc.)
Saturday: Where In The World Is…Coach Holly? (travel stories)

Other possible topics that haven’t been assigned a home: Blogging, Sciencey Goodness, Random Photos of Singapore:

Singapore Skyline: Taken a few months back when I was out bright and early one morning to cheer for a 10K.

Singapore Skyline: Taken a few months back when I was out bright and early one morning to cheer for a 10K.

It’s highly unlikely that I’ll hit every post, every week – the writing just takes too long.  And of course, there will be other things thrown in – for example: amusing life anecdotes, flashes of insight had during downward dog, rants about sweat dripping into my eyes, etc.  And the days won’t correspond directly, since we don’t all live in the same time zone.  But heck, let’s give it a whirl!!

Bloggers: Can you write a post more quickly now than you could when you first started blogging?  What do you do to keep your blogging on track?

Everyone: What else would you like to see in this space?