Category Archives: Gymming It

“Welcome to Les Mills RPM. My name is Holly, and I’ll be guiding you through your workout today!”

It’s been a bit of a long road…

But after taking my initial training module in July,
Then waiting for gym-specific training in September,
And waiting our turn to Shadow and Team Teach,
Going away for two weeks,
And returning to unexpectedly learn that I could clear RIGHT AWAY (due to some scheduling changes at the gym)…

I’m a Les Mills certified, Fitness First-approved RPM Indoor Cycling Instructor!

Post Spin

Relaxing Stretching after today’s final Clearance Exam!

This has been a fun side project for the last few months.  I’ve been challenged in new ways athletically, learned a bit more about how I hold and move my body, and figured out how to adapt “run coach” to “indoor cycling coach”.  The training journey has been fun, but I’m happy to be bringing it to a close and continue my journey, learning and growing with my own classes.  Thanks to a series of fortunate events, it’s highly likely that the opportunity will come sooner, rather than later – I’ll be taking on my first classes starting in January!

So Fitness First members in Singapore who work/live/play/gym downtown – stay tuned, because I’ll be coming to location near you in just a few weeks!  I’ll share the details once everything is officially official.

I am planning to write a post reflecting on this training journey I’ve been on for the last several months – but for now, I’m exhausted.  In addition to standard holiday preparations, it’s been an exciting but busy few weeks for Run With Holly.  So I’m celebrating my new “Instructor” status by treating myself to a (relatively) early bedtime.  And heck, the weather is so beautifully rainy and cool tonight, we might even open the windows in lieu of using the air conditioning (don’t tell the bad guys)!!

What was the last project you embarked upon that really taught you something (or several somethings) about yourself?

My friends who Indoor Cycle: What is the #1, most important, not-to-miss quality that YOU think an instructor should possess?

I Can See Clearly Now….(Or Not)

This is a post for my readers outside of Singapore.  Why?  Because my readers in Singapore are living this experience.  What experience, you may ask?  This one:

June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013

November 7, 2012

November 7, 2012

These photos are courtesy of KMN, taken out the window of his office (thus the glare on the left; sorry!). The 2012 photo was taken at sunset; the 2013 photo was taken in the middle of the afternoon.  They are in approximately the same direction – the long Prudential building in the lower right of the 2012 picture is in the lower left of the 2013 photo.

On the day that the right hand photo was taken (Monday, June 17th), we got our first lesson in pollution relativity.  The “high” haze levels from the weekend were nothing compared to what happened on Monday.  Air pollution in Singapore is monitored in several ways. PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) is probably the most common metric, and is a measurement of the amount of airborne particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (some folks prefer a similar measure, called PM2.5, for particulates smaller than 2.5 microns).  PSI was actually developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  They rank PSI levels as follows:

0-50: Good
50-100: Moderate
101-200: Unhealthy
201-300: Very Unhealthy
301-400: Hazardous

Most of the year, Singapore is somewhere around 20-40.  About a week ago, numbers started inching toward 100.  During the course of this week, we have seen numbers surpass 200, then 300, and just today (Friday), 400.  This is the worst haze that Singapore has ever experienced.  You can find more information on PSI, as well as hourly levels (as an average of the previous three hours) on the Air Pollution page of Singapore’s National Environmental Agency.

What is the origin of this air pollution/haze?  Great question!  The short version is this:  Just like everything else in Singapore, it’s imported.  Farmers in Indonesia clear their land using slash & burn methods, and:

Burning + Unlucky Wind Direction + Dry Season = Singapore Haze

This happens every summer (although this is one thing about moving to Singapore that no one *ahem*KMN*ahem* warned me about), to varying degrees.  The last two really bad seasons occurred in 1997 and 2006, although this year’s levels have exceeded all previous recorded levels.

Mostly, this land is being cleared to plant oil palms, which are used for making…yes, you guessed it palm oil.  Palm oil is used in cooking, in packaged foods (go check the ingredient list on your ice cream), in HBA items, and as a biofuel.  I don’t want to turn this post into a diatribe about palm oil, but the bottom line is that although oil palms produce a LOT of oil per acre (more than many other kinds of plants), many of the production practices are environmentally and socially irresponsible.  Slash and burn clearing is just one of them.  If you want to learn more, you can start with this Wikipedia primer on the controversy surrounding palm oil production.

Of course, there is plenty of finger-pointing going on over who is responsible for this practice and the resultant haze (and of course, suddenly, this is a Very Important Issue): People blame companies, companies blame contractors, contractors blame sub-contractors, and sub-contractors don’t have enough money (read: aren’t paid enough money) to buy the equipment necessary to clear the land without using fires.  There are both international and domestic political issues at play here.  But to be honest, neither detailing nor dissecting them is critical to this post, and I’m not sure that I’m properly qualified to do so fairly and accurately anyway.

Currently, there is no immediate end in sight.  PSI levels do vary over the course of each day; early mornings tend to be the lowest, with levels rising into the afternoon, and peaking in the mid-afternoon to evening.  But as the week has gone on, the daily highs have just gone up.  Let’s go back to KMN’s office for a moment:

June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013

The picture on the right corresponds to the highest PSI levels of the day (>400 at mid-day on Friday).  Things may get better in a few days, although the “hazy” season is typically measured in weeks-to-months, not days.

On a practical level, the whole island smells like burning, and not exactly in a lovely campfire way.  The smell is starting to permeate buildings; it’s getting into lobbies and elevators, and KMN reported that even his 40-something floor smelled like burning today.  Obviously, people are being urged to stay in the air conditioning, to keep windows closed, and to take personal protective measures.

We are fortunate; each room in our house has air conditioning.  While we normally only use the air conditioning in the bedroom overnight, we’ve had it on intermittently in other rooms over the past week.  Obviously, all of our windows are closed and shades are drawn.  We even shoved a towel at the base of our door.  [All those winters in NJ and Rochester certainly taught me the most common spots for air to sneak into a building!]

Personally, we are sporting some N95 masks (rated to keep out many of these particulates, more so than a regular surgical mask) when we go out, and I’ve been wearing my sunglasses during the day.  It’s a very subtle look:

Cute, right?

Cute, right?

What are the short term consequences of being out in the haze?  That’s easy: Scratchy throat, itchy eyes, irritated nose.  What are the long term consequences?  I have no idea.  I don’t think anyone really knows.  How “hazardous” is “hazardous”?  Honestly, I don’t think anyone really knows that, either.  How much exposure is “long term”?  How clean is my air conditioned air?  Do I need an air purifier?  Can I work out at the gym safely?  How safe is “safe”?  Well gosh, there’s a heck of a lot that we really don’t know.

I should note that, while this is an inconvenience for us, it is quite serious for others, particularly those with high levels of exposure: construction workers, those without air conditioning, and anyone who works outdoors.  Some grassroots campaigns have sprung up around the island, in an attempt to distribute supplies to those who may need them the most (and be least able to get them).  Here’s a short video documenting one man’s efforts:

KMN and I are doing our best to live a generally normally life with some precautions.  We are not in the most ‘susceptible’ populations – we aren’t very young or very old, and we don’t have any chronic respiratory conditions.  We’re using masks and staying indoors whenever possible.  However, we aren’t on house arrest: KMN is going in to work (although his firm is permitting telecommuting if possible), I just went out shopping for a bridesmaids dress (wedding is in 8 days, nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?), we’re working out at the gym, and we went out for dinner tonight.

And this brings me to my final point.  On Thursday, I tried this:

ipad on treadmill

Re-runs of TNT’s The Closer on the iPad. Thank you, Fitness First, for your in-gym wireless signal.

Why?  Because I have 18 miles on tap for tomorrow morning, and there’s no way in heck that I’m doing them outside.  Eighteen miles is six miles longer than my previous treadmill PR, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a smidge scared.  On the plus side, I won’t choke to death, the air will be cooler, there is a drink bar mere steps from the treadmill, and have I mentioned The Closer?  I’m also a little excited…I know I can cover 18 miles (I did it last week), so this will be a good chance to test my mental fortitude, and practice what I preach to clients: Do what ya gotta do, just get your workout done!

Still, 18 miles is kind of a lot: Four episodes of The Closer, to be exact.  I’m pumping myself up for it at this very moment (and having my pre-long-run bedtime glass of Nuun).  I’ll be hopping on the ‘mill in about 8 hours, so today’s Comment Prompt will be very selfish:

Tell me a funny treadmill story!

Send some encouragement!

Describe a haze-free outdoor adventure you’ll be having this weekend!

[I pinky swear that I won’t read any Comments until I’m at least 6 miles into tomorrow’s run.]

2013 Weekly Workout Round-Up (June 10-16)

Hello there!  Been spending a fair bit of RWH time scheming over some new plans and projects, so I’ve missed a few planned blog posts.  BUT, it’s not too late to take a look at what happened last week.  So let’s start there.  [If you’re new here and want a basic introduction to the cast of characters and what we do over here, check out this summary post.]

Monday: BodyPump and Yin Yoga.

My afternoon snack.  Obviously, someone was craving her freggies.

My afternoon snack. Obviously, someone was craving her freggies.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Chest Track in the new BodyPump release.  First of all, it’s HARD.  The instructor told us to load up our bars with more weight than normal.  Being a rule-follower, I couldn’t help but comply.  Then, halfway through the chest presses, my face crumpled into crying mode and I truly felt angry at the instructor.  This was totally unfair of me, I know.  No one FORCED me to load up the bar – I added the weight myself.  The lifts are hard (VERY hard), but I was executing with good form (safely).  Still, my whiny-cry-y face crept in and, had the instructor been standing over me at that moment, I probably would have made a few choice utterances.  But since I’m there to work – not to an hour of my time lifting weights that are too light for me – the push was good.  Painful, but good.

Yin yoga with Joyce is always a treat for me, and my hips always thank me for going.  After class, I booked it out and headed to the airport.  KMN had been traveling for work, and was on his way back to Singapore!

Costco Loot: Walnuts, pecans, and coffee - just the essentials.  :)

He had been in LA. He brought me back some Costco Loot: Walnuts, pecans, and coffee – just the essentials. 🙂

Tuesday: Run

The disadvantage to waiting half a week before doing your workout round-up is that you forget the details.  Something happened on Tuesday that distracted me from my intended longer workout, but I can’t remember what it was.  So you can just pretend I went skydiving or something…

Wednesday: Tempo Run & Spin

Roast the chicken in the morning, then just zap it (and the potatoes) in the microwave when you roll in at 9:30 PM, after spin class...

Roast the chicken in the morning, then just zap it (and the potatoes) in the microwave when you roll in at 9:30 PM, after spin class…

I am a firm believer in the tempo run.  Tempo runs are great physiological training – they teach your body how to process waste more efficiently, so that you can run stronger, longer.  They are also fantastic mental training – they force me (or you) to run in an “uncomfortable” zone for an extended period of time.  I know this helps train me – and my runners – to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and learn how to keep our brains from shutting down while our bodies still have more to give.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  This wasn’t a heroic tempo workout: warm up, 2 x 6 min @ tempo, cool down.  Just about 4 miles total.  But I’m excited to start building on this foundation.

Thursday: BodyPump, Yoga

After Thursday’s workout, I ran into the supermarket (admittedly, the upscale supermarket) for some cheese.  While there, I spotted this:

Yes, that is the price for one small bottle of Naked Juice [$7.40 USD].

Yes, that is the price for one small bottle of Naked Juice [$7.40 USD].

Friday:  Run, Spin

In retrospect, this seems quite funny – but Friday was “a bit hazy”.  [This week has been more than a “bit” hazy, as Singapore is experiencing dangerously high levels of haze, thanks to forest fires in Indonesia.]  I procrastinated my run until the very last moment, sneaking out just in time to run, shower, get lost at Buona Vista MRT station (I’m special that way), and meet KMN for a dinner date.  I was craving Mexican (or even American-pseudo-Mexican) food, so we decided to try out Senor Taco at Star Vista.  [No, this is not the same as Señor Taco in the US.]

Chicken enchiladas, rice, and beans.

Chicken enchiladas, rice, and beans.

Our analysis?  The service was crummy, the food was decent, and the price was a smidge high.  In the US, we probably wouldn’t be back.  But given the difficulty of finding really good Mexican food in Singapore, we might be back here one day, when another craving hits…

Saturday: Long Run

18 miles!  I’ve already mentioned this run in an early post, while discussing how important it is to accept and embrace where you are in your running journey.  But, since I know you are all interested in every gory mile, here’s a breakdown of how the run went:

For starters, I broke a sweat before I even left the house (at 5:30 AM).

For starters, I broke a sweat before I even left the house (at 5:30 AM). And yes, the photo is upside down. That’s the perspective from which I took it. Creativity, peeps. Creativity.

6.5 road miles very early, to meet up with GCA
[Drunk people along Scotts/Orchard Road = hilarious.  I’ve already started my Saturday…they haven’t even ended Friday yet.  We both found the other’s choice of “recreation” to be amusing.  I didn’t talk about theirs as loudly as they commented on mine, though.]

2 miles around the southeast corner of the island with GCA
[We were trying to find our way onto the Green Corridor at its start – the old Tanjong Pagar railway station.  I talk a bit more about the Green Corridor in my 2013 Green Corridor Run Race Report.  Unfortunately, the starting point is apparently fenced in and locked up on non-race-days, so we had to be a little creative and back track to find a place where we could get on without bush-whacking or drain-jumping.]

6.5 miles along the Green Corridor with GCA
[Running with a friend is always excellent distraction; I was thrilled at how smoothly these miles passed, and suddenly I had 14 miles on my watch!  Then, she showed me a very conveniently located Cold Storage, where we enjoyed a few minutes of air conditioning and bought some drinks.  Hint: Soaked compression capris + intense air conditioning is almost as good as an ice bath, I think.]

Feet at the 15 mile mark.

Feet at the 15 mile mark. Yes, she found more mud than I did.

1 mile along the Green Corridor without GCA
[She headed home; I had a few more miles to cover.]

2 miles along Dunearn Rd
[I was going to hop the bus home anyway; I just ran from bus stop to bus stop until I hit my target distance.  This was excellent psychological bribery – bus stops are a quarter to half mile apart, so “just one more bus stop” always seems feasible!  And the truth is…stepping onto an air conditioned bus after a long run feels fabulous.  And yes, out of respect for my fellow passengers, I brought a towel to sit on, and tried to find a seat by myself.]

The magic formula of 1 salt tab + 1 Nuun per hour worked its magic again!  Folks, I’m (hesitantly) thinking that I may have conquered this electrolyte thing!  However, there was some major chafe-age after this run, mostly in un-photographable areas.  My post-run shower was…invigorating?  startling?  painful??  Thankfully, such things scab over pretty quickly, and I’m good to go…for about 24 hours, until it starts to itch.  Faaaabulous.  But – moving on!

Sunday: Cheer squad for the Pocari Sweat Run.  Thanks to the way the course was designed (out and back over the Marina Barrage building, described and shown in my 2013 Venus Run Race Report), I was able to stake out a spot from which I could see runners ascending and descending both times they conquered the slopes.  I cheered my fool head off, had a great time, met some awesome people, and gave lots of sweaty high fives.

He calls himself "Ah Siao" ("crazy" in the local Hokkien dialect).  He races dragging a tire behind him, to raise awareness for Match For Life, a bone marrow donor program.  He's a bit crazy - but aren't we all?  Check out his Facebook page here!

He calls himself “Ah Siao” (meaning “crazy” in the local Hokkien dialect). He races dragging a tire (“tyre” to you locals) behind him, to raise awareness for Match For Life, a bone marrow donor program. He’s a bit crazy – but aren’t we all? Check out his Facebook page here!

As I walked back to the subway after the cheer session, I even remembered to take a Snapshots of Singapore photo, mostly for Jeano, who is often requesting such things, on behalf of all my non-Singaporean blog readers.

The buildings of downtown in the background, construction in the foreground.  Such is Singapore...

The buildings of downtown in the background, construction in the foreground. Such is Singapore…

The rest of Sunday was full of church, chores, and a Father’s Day Feast of local food.  Not a bad way to end a decent week of training!

Total Workout Time: 11 hours, 26 minutes

Overall, this was a solid week for running, and my body felt great. I made certain to spend time stretching and rolling – my  hips, legs, and feet gave me no issues at all.  I was a bit bummed to keep missing swim workouts – but since I’m not doing any swim racing in the near future, this isn’t a huge problem (except that I enjoy swimming!).

My goal for this week (already in progress) is to keep my workout plans flexible, which may be necessary to fit in what I safely can, despite the serious haze.  But we’ll talk more about that in this week’s Workout Round-Up.  Stay tuned.

I’d ask for a “tire” or “tyre” vote, but I know the answer will be split purely along geographic lines…

If you’re a Costco shopper: What are your Costco “must buys”?

I am still craving Mexican food.  So who’s meeting me for a Chipotle visit when I’m in the US next week (East Coasters only, unfortunately)?

Last Week in Review: Workouts, Jackfruit, Cheap Food, Laksa, Shopping, Running Friends

On Easter Sunday, KMN and I ran (as a training run) the 2XU Compression Run.  And there’s a race report on that coming.  But first, we should catch up on last week’s training and bits (and bites) of goodness.  So let’s do it!

12 miles? Bring it!

12 miles? Bring it! KMN doesn’t so much like early morning running…

With my plantar fascia feeling good, and a solid week of training the previous week, I decided it was time to test a long(er) run. So two Saturdays ago (March 23), we laced up our sneakers, filled up our bottles, grabbed some Sports Beans, and headed out the door.  The plan was for 10-12 miles, slow and easy, along the Park Connector Network (Singapore’s attempt to string together many small local parks into one long, connected path).

We ran through Bishan, Ang Moh Kio, and into Toa Payoh.  This route contains a very limited number of road crossings (2 or 3), and a few overhead bridges.  We ran through parks, residential areas, and industrial areas and got to see a pretty cool cross-section of Singapore, all in six miles.  The biggest disadvantage of this route is the absence of fountains to refill our water bottles (and restrooms, but we were OK with that on Saturday).  But, at the half-way point, we stopped at a kopitiam and bought two ice-cold bottles of water.  Best $2 SGD spent that day!  Cold water = lovely!

We turned back after 6 miles.  My PF and IT bands felt good, although my legs were starting to get tired.  Pre-PF, I was pretty comfortable at this distance, but it had been a few weeks since I’d seen double-digits on my Garmin.  We knocked out miles 6-9 pretty handily, then clicked off mile 10.  But I was getting tired – and I definitely got through the last 2 miles with my eyes glued to KMN’s back, just following his lead.

Between the heat and distance, I was spent by the end – but only in a “running tired” way, not an “injured ouchie” way.  So that was awesome.  Eschewing the heat, we spent the afternoon camped out in the air conditioning at Dome Cafe, working and refueling.  I was responsible, and ordered something with carbs and protein (and some chips, but who’s counting?):

In retrospect, though, after coincidentally reading Shoe's blog post on the cheesy mushroom sandwich (my second choice), I think i picked the wrong thing.

In retrospect, though, after reading Shoe’s blog post on Dome’s cheesy mushroom sandwich (my second choice), I think I picked the wrong sandwich.  Also, I totally should’ve gotten the coffee/ice cream thing she got.

Jackfruit flesh.

Jackfruit flesh.

Sunday was a rest day (except church, errands, visiting, and dinner with KMN’s family), and I had my first real experience with jackfruit.  This was actually a sanitized experience, since someone else did the hard work, of freeing the small fruits from the bit spiny pod (Wikipedia will now answer any ancillary jackfruit questions you may have).  All I had to do was eat.  Letting someone else do the prep is definitely the best way to eat stubborn fruits!  [Interesting linguistic side note: In Singapore, people often use the plural of fruit in a way we don’t in the US.  For example, after dinner, someone will often say, “I’ll bring the fruits out now.” or “We prepared the fruits earlier, so we can just enjoy eating now.”]

Each one of those small pieces has a great big seed inside.  The flesh can be torn away from the seed, kind of in strings (although the mouth texture isn't stringy at all).

Each one of those small pieces has a great big seed inside. The flesh can be torn away from the seed, kind of in strings (although the mouth texture isn’t stringy at all).

My verdict?  The taste is quite sweet, and has something about it that’s reminiscent of mango – but it doesn’t really taste like mango.  The texture is very odd – soft and a little rubbery, maybe?  Overall…I’d have a piece or two, but won’t be going out of my way to buy a personal jackfruit stash.

Getting ready for my first bite!

Getting ready for my first bite!

On Monday, I went to the gym for a BodyPump-Yin Yoga double-header.  I was sporting an awesome hair-do:

I couldn't get that pesky little cowlick if I tried, folks.

I couldn’t get that pesky little cowlick if I tried, folks.

Noodles here are served as "soup" or "dry".  I ordered soup - sometimes, the soup comes on the side.

Noodles here are served as “soup” or “dry”. I ordered soup – sometimes, the soup comes on the side.

Mondays are pretty crazy days for me, so after working all day + gymming at night, I hadn’t done the grocery shopping.  Plus, KMN was developing a bit of a cough and wanted some soup.  So we popped down the street for some noodley, soupy goodness.

My noodles came with a bit of sauce and mushrooms, and the soup was served on the side.  You can’t quite see it, but that silver pot in the back has a flame in the bottom, keeping my soup warm.  The clear broth contained an egg, some pork bits, chicken, fish cake, tofu, and fish balls.  You move the food from the silver pot into the bowl, a bit at a time, and take spoonfuls of broth to sip from there, as well.

KMN had a similar dish.  Total cost of two noodle dishes and one herbal tea drink (for him – I stuck with water)?  $10 SGD/$8 USD.  I know I often complain about how expensive some things are here – local food stall food isn’t one of those things!

On Tuesday, I did the grocery shopping.  Continuing on the theme of “things that are cheap in Singapore”, all of these items cost less than $2 SGD/$1.60 USD.

Clockwise from noon: 3 starfruits, soft tofu, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and long skinny Japanese cucumbers

Clockwise from noon: 3 starfruits, silken tofu, tofu puffs, bean sprouts, and long skinny Japanese cucumbers

In the evening, I tried to go for a swim, but was foiled by a surprisingly full pool.  I really like our gym, but the pool lacks lane lines and lines on the bottom, which makes circle swimming nearly impossible.  I kept waiting for a free spot, but more people kept arriving and jumping in.  They were easily accommodated, since most people were swimming like this: one length – 5 minute break – one length – 5 minute break.  I, however, needed a full length, all to myself, for non-stop swimming.  After waiting for half an hour, I lost patience, abandoned the swim, and got right to my run.  Four miles on the treadmill was just what I needed.  What I didn’t need?  Forgetting (and thus losing) my goggles at the pool.  Double-Swim-Fail.

Laksa!

Laksa!

On Wednesday, I made myself some laksa for lunch.  Laksa is one of my favorite Singaporean dishes: noodles, tofu, hard boiled egg, and fish cakes in a spicy, coconut-milk based broth.  I bought a laksa spice blend, and boiled the broth and prepared the add-ins all by myself.  It came out pretty good – but not as good as the auntie’s down the road.  I guess there’s something to be said for experience!

In the evening, I went to Alan’s spin class.  I’m definitely liking the new RPM release, but also very much ready to start mixing up the tracks!

On Thursday, I went out to Queensway Mall on a hunt for a few sports-related item (including new goggles).  Queensway has a high concentration of sportswear/sports gear stores (and print shops, apparently – weird), and it’s definitely an “old-school” Singapore mall: complicated floor plan, tiny stores, narrow aisles, makeshift dressing rooms, and some shops that still only accept cash.  Ultimately, I came out with two items:

A pair of capris (a few of mine have bitten the dust lately), and a Nathan running belt.

A pair of capris (a few of mine have bitten the dust lately), and a Nathan running belt.

I’d been in the market for such a belt for some time, and this was the best one I could find.  Review forthcoming.  Ultimately, these errands took considerably longer than intended, so I only had time to catch a yoga class at the gym.  This was a good zen-end to a complicated a slightly stressful afternoon of shopping (I don’t like to shop, folks).

Friday (Good Friday) was a public holiday here, and I met a new friend at MacRitchie for one nice easy loop.

Who doesn't love some 6AM pre-run foam rolling?

Who doesn’t love some 6AM pre-run foam rolling?

I enjoyed meeting another local runner – in fact, the company and chatter were so good (and distracting) that we were, quite literally, back at the starting point before I knew it.  I’d been intending to turn off the trail a bit early for a shortcut back home, but ended up finishing the loop out, since we were in the midst of some intense discussion about…something running-related, I’m sure!  Total for the morning was 7.6 miles.  I neglected to take a photo of us together – but thanks, Charlene!  [Who was super-sweet, and even brought me some post-run chocolate milk and a banana!]

Overall, the plantar fascia was pretty well behaved this week.  It was a little tweaky again on Wednesday and Thursday, but apparently it just likes long runs, because it had pretty much sorted itself out again by the weekend.  *whew*

Stay tuned, because upcoming posts include Sunday’s race report, Nathan belt review, and foam rolling the calves.  Also, I’m making pesto for dinner tonight.  Using lemon basil.  Fingers crossed that comes out all right.

And with that, I’m off for some yoga.  My hips need it!

Which part of your body needs some yoga love tonight??

Club sandwich / jackfruit / noodle soup / laksa: Which one do you want to try??

Views From Last Week: Workouts, Food, and Plantar Fasciitis Continues To Confuse

First order of business: Apologies to anyone who viewed my last post (on censorship) on the web.  I didn’t realize right away, but some weird coding in the links actually chopped the middle part out, resulting in an awkward and confusing topic switch smack in the middle, for about 12 hours.  But it’s fixed now.  Sorry, folks.

Moving on: While I was all busy last week making random lists about myself and answering deep, philosophical questions about the world (or myself), I was also (gasp!) working out.  And it actually ended up to be a pretty solid week, workout-wise.

Let’s go back 2 Sundays – as I alluded to in my “Days of New” post, my plantar fascia started feeling better last week.  After deciding to treat it with things that made it feel good (support, stretching, rolling, brownies), but to otherwise stop thinking (errr…obsessing) over it, that finicky PF started making drastic improvements.

On Sunday (March 17), I went for a 6.5 mile run.  No PF pain during the run, and it felt good for the rest of the day, even though we were bopping all over the place running errands.

Post-run Treat: Banana bread with Nutella.

Post-run Treat: Banana bread with Nutella. I think this is also a reasonably good plantar fasciitis treatment.

On Monday morning, I did a spin/yoga double-header with the awesome Sherlin.  If you have to do frog pose, you might as well giggle your way through, right??  [Frog pose = groin and hip agony.  In a good way…]

After an early morning workout, I was looking forward to gobbling up these roasted potatoes, leftover from dinner a few nights ago.  When we initially made them, I kept sending KMN to put them back in the oven, because they weren't crispy enough.  Well, when I reheated them, I sure did get them crispy...

After an early morning workout, I was looking forward to gobbling up these roasted potatoes, leftover from dinner a few nights earlier. When we initially made them, I kept sending KMN to put them back in the oven, because they weren’t crispy enough. Well, when I reheated them, I certainly got them crispy “enough”…

On Tuesday, KMN and I went out for an evening run.  This isn’t our usual habit, but he worked from home that day and had a few spare minutes in the evening.  We ran about 4 miles on a sidewalk/canal path loop near our apartment.  I was anxious to get back to the trails, but didn’t want to put too much extra stress on my arch, which was feeling pretty good.  My IT bands were tight, but that was expected after Sunday’s run.  And I had a little competition when I went to break out the new foam roller that night:

I did have to wrestle the roller away from Rhino and Ellie, who agree that it's the best new toy EVER.

Rhino and Ellie think this is the best new toy EVER.

On Wednesday, I tried a pilates class at the gym: disappointing.  I think the instructor was trying to teach a class appropriate to many levels, but never once did I feel like crying during the class.  My face didn’t even contort.  And I wasn’t sore the next day.  The best part of the whole thing? I walked into the studio in bare feet (this is standard), and my plantar fascia hurt…not at all.  Whoot.  And my workout was salvaged by a good, hard spin class with Alan afterward.  That RPM new release (58, I think?) has a LOT of sprinting intervals in it. Whew!

KMN and I usually spin on Wednesday evenings.  The class we take finishes at 8:45, so I usually try to have something in the slow cooker, ready for us to eat when we get home, tired-and-ravenous, around 9:30.  On this particular day, I had chicken soup in the slow-cooker, and I’d also set up the bread machine.  In a hurry to get to class, I had grabbed my breadmaker cookbook, flipped through, and hastily picked a slightly new recipe: “Oh! French bread! That would be nice with soup!”

I started throwing ingredients in the pan on autopilot.  When everything was added, I got to the actual text of the recipe, “Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until almost stiff and soft peaks are formed.”  Where were my egg whites?  At the very bottom of the pan, already under flour, gluten, sugar, salt, yeast….  Whoops!  So I did what any busy, waste-not, want-not gal would do: Stuck the pan into the breadmaker, and started it up.

The resultant loaf may have been a bit...dense, and not too fluffy or French-y, but it still tasted pretty good!

The resultant loaf may have been a bit…dense, and not too fluffy or French-y, but it still tasted pretty good!

Especially when paired with a bowl of chicken soup and a glass of cold lime juice!

Especially when paired with a bowl of chicken soup and a glass of cold lime juice!

On Thursday, KMN and I went for another short (4.5 mile) run, on half trails/half road.  Foot looooved the trails.  Foot loved the road.  I loved the foot.   🙂   In the evening, I dragged a cranky-pants Holly to yoga, and felt considerable better for it.  This also helped me feel better:

I felt even better when the falafel I made came out...SOOOOOO tasty!!!  I could have gobbled them all up, straight from the pan.  Gonna test a few tweaks, and will post the recipe after that.  This is a GOOD one, folks.

The falafel I made came out…SOOOOOO tasty!!! I could have gobbled them all up, straight from the pan. Gonna test a few tweaks, and will post the recipe after that. This is a GOOD one, folks.

I recently discovered that Sherlin teaches spin at another nearby branch of my gym, mid-mornings on Friday.  Not a convenient time for most people – but perfect for me.  I spun for 50 minutes, then rested/rehydrated/computed for an hour (thank you, Fitness First, for your handy lounges with Wifi!), then did BodyPump.

This is how the local coffee shops do "take away" (to-go).  I repurposed my purse-hanger as a coffee-bag-holder in the study.

This is how the local coffee shops do “take away” (to-go). I repurposed my purse-hanger as a coffee-bag-holder in the study.

I really appreciate that BodyPump only has 2 (out of 9) tracks that focus on the legs.  This means that I can get in a great upper body strength workout without killing my legs.  Depending on the rest of my workout schedule, I may keep my weights super light (or go without weights entirely) on the leg tracks.  This was the option I chose on Friday, just an hour after spin, and right before a long run on Saturday morning.

After the gym, I ran a few errands, snagged a little caffeinated pick-me-up, and made it home juuuust before a big rain storm.  Good thing, too – because I hadn’t brought my umbrella.

So the take-away message here is that I had a solid workout week, and plantar fasciitis is still super confusing.  For no particular reason (that I can identify), mine experienced a dramatic improvement on Monday and Tuesday, and was basically pain free from Wednesday onward.  I wish I could tell you my secret…but alas, I have no stinkin’ clue.  If I knew, I’d be bottling it up and selling it. Or giving it away.  Because no one should have to deal with the frustration of PF.   But for the moment, I’m feeling good.  Bonding time with the foam roller and calf stretching will continue regularly, though, I can assure you!

And with that…well, with that, it’s almost time to write THIS week’s workout wrap up.  Have a good one, folks!

Drinking coffee.  From a bag.  With a straw.  I love Singapore...

Drinking coffee. From a bag. With a straw. I love Singapore…

Are you one of those people who hates when bloggers post all about their workouts and their food?  Ooops…better remove me from your Reader, then….  😉

Which of these foods looks tastiest to you, RIGHT NOW?

Ever drink a warm beverage through a straw?  Does it feel weird to you?  (It does to me.)

7 (or 6) Days of “New”

I like order, organization, and a schedule just as much as (nah, probably more than) the next girl.  But about 2 weeks ago, I started having a feeling that my days were getting too set, too scheduled…too predictable.  I wasn’t going new places or trying new things, I was just hanging out happily and comfortably in my structured little world.  So, I decided to shake things up a bit – I decided that, every day for the next week, I would try/do something new.  I was pretty liberal with my definition of “new”, as you’ll see.  But this was the perfect solution for popping me out of my rut…just a little bit.

So what did I do?  Well, gosh, I’m so glad you asked!

On Wednesday (this is now all the way back on March 13): NEW haircut!!  Caucasian hair wasn’t designed for a tropical climate.  My hair fell flat when I tried to style it with body, and frizzed when I tried to dry it straight and smooth.  It got all wingy-dingy when I worked out, and weird-flippy when I smoshed a cap on to run.  Evidence in recent race posts: Venus Run and Zoo Run, just for a few examples.  I spend a fair portion of my days going to, participating in, or coming from workouts – so this whole situation was not good.

Besides, I really think I was meant to be a short-haired gal.  Someone please give me a reality-check the next time I threaten to grow my hair out…

Semi-artistic side view.

Semi-artistic side view.

Front view

Front view

 

 

These aren’t the best photos in the world, but if you’re new here – don’t worry. I post plenty of photos of myself.  You’ll have more chances to see the cute new ‘do.  I LOVE IT.  My hairdresser is a genius, and I FEEL FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!  <– Did I mention that I’m a short-haired girl?  And we won’t discuss some of the less-flattering short hairstyles I’ve sported over the years, OK?  Awesome.

I also did the “NEW RELEASE” (58?) of Les Mills spin on Wednesday night.  But I’m not really sure that’s far enough out of my comfort zone to count as a “New”.  Good thing I got my hair did.

On Thursday, I did some business/running-related reconnaissance (<— it takes me at least six tries to spell that word, FYI).  Can’t say too much about it now, but it was both fun and encouraging – and left me dreaming of possibilities.  The best!

The offending sock.

The offending sock.

On Friday evening, I tried out a new “Intermediate” Spin class at the gym.  The way my training schedule works out, I often find myself in the market for a spin class on Friday afternoon/evening.  I may have found a winner at Paragon!

Although, FYI – “Intermediate” spin class just means the regular Les Mills RPM, but with two extra tracks thrown in to round it out to an hour.  I also (apparently) spun for the first time in these trusty socks, which have never given me trouble for the two years I’ve owned them.  But about 10 minutes into class, the side of my foot (right where that line of strings is) started to burn like crazy.

I adjusted my shoes, but it was no use – the burning sensation increased steadily until mid-class, when I resigned myself to getting an enormous blister.  [Yes, I care more about completing my workout than about avoiding a nasty blister.]  This distracted me for the last 30 minutes (and some of the toughest climbing) of class, as I had nightmares about a very painful post-cycle shower.  As soon as we were done, I freed my foot and saw…nothing.  Not a single mark.  It wasn’t even red, scratched, sore, or swollen: nothing.  So apparently, Friday was also the day that I had a magical non-blister.  Whoot!

On Saturday, I did LOTS of new things.  First, I bought this:

I can stop forever stealing the trainers' foam roller at the gym now!!!

Now, I can roll ANY. TIME. I. WANT.

I know the trainers at Fitness First will be sad that I’m not constantly nabbing their roller any more.  I’ll still do it sometimes, though, just for kicks.  Or, rolls.  Whatever.  Anyway, this was a long time coming, and after thinking/talking/debating about it for at least 3 weeks (just ask KMN), I finally caved and bought it.  [I obsess over most purchases before making them. I can’t help it.]  Anyway: It’s here now!!!

Then, I went over to the Fitness First branch at Marina Bay Financial Center.  This is one shmaltzy gym branch, I tell ya.  Have a look at the building:

MBFC Tower 1

The one that says DBS on the top.

In honor of International Fitness Week, Fitness First launched a new HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class at this particular branch on Saturday. I decided to go check it out. Thankfully, I got there early enough to reserve my spot, and got to preview this 30-minute class that (I guess) will be coming to more branches….soon?  [This was billed as a ‘preview’, but it hasn’t shown up on any permanent schedules yet.]

HIIT training basically combines intense cardio bursts (running in place, jumping, burpees) with strength training (push-ups, squats, bar lifting).  The class certainly got me working hard and sweaty, and would make a solid thirty minute “blast”, if that’s all the time you have.  It was fun and fast-moving, and I would do it again if I wanted to mix things up a bit.  However, it doesn’t really fill a niche in my training rotation: It’s not a full-on endurance cardio workout (>45 min running, cycling, swimming, etc.), it’s not targeted strength training (pilates, Body Pump), it’s certainly not stretching….so I’m not sure it will ever be a staple in my regimen.  But, it was still fun to try out!

For work-related reasons, Friday Date Night was moved to Saturday that weekend, and we enjoyed a short film (more on this in another post) and dinner at Ramen Champion (Iluma, at Bugis Junction).

KMN's choice (from Bario?)

KMN’s choice (from Bario?)

My choice (from Aoyama)

My choice (from Aoyama)

Mojito?  Yes, please-ito!

Mojito? Yes, please-ito!

This was our second visit to Ramen Champion, where six different Japanese Ramen shops have set up to “compete” for Top Ramen Shop.  We each tried Ramen from a different spot, and shared a bit.  KMN liked his, but I found it a bit too garlicky (both during and after the meal), and neither of us cared for the extra thick noodles they use.  I preferred my ramen, even though it was a bit heavy/greasy.  Both were tasty, but we still dream of Daikokuya in LA…

We finished up the evening with drinks in the lounge area at the Intercontinental Hotel.  No more pricey than a bar, and a considerably better ambiance for relaxing and talking.  We dreamed/speculated/thought/planned/talked about some upcoming travel we’re planning.  To be revealed…eventually. 😉

Date Night is the BEST!

Date Night is the BEST!

On Sunday, I decided to stop obsessing about my plantar fascia.  I declared it on the blog, then put my words into action and took that sucker on a 6.5 mile run.  The declaration represented a new attitude, and although the six mile run certainly wasn’t new to me, it was my first run that long in a few weeks.

Fingers crossed that I'm doing the right thing!

Fingers crossed that I’m doing the right thing!

Verdict: Success!  He was well-behaved the whole time. I’ll provide an in-depth update soon, but suffice to say he felt great for the rest of the day, and even better the next day.  This was last weekend (March 17), but this run kicked off a much-improved week of training (last week).  *whew*

Pre-gym on Monday morning.  Still very, very dark.

Pre-gym on Monday morning. Still very, very dark.

On Monday, I got myself out of bed, fed, dressed, blogged, to the gym, and perched on the spin bike by 7:15 AM.  WIN.  I love early-morning workouts, but for logistical reasons, Mondays mornings can be very hectic and I usually don’t get in my workout until the evening. But on this particular Monday, I was thankful to have cleared my schedule enough for a back-to-back spin/yoga session with one of my favorite instructors.  By 9:45 AM, I was home for a phone date and productive day of work.  Good stuff!

On Tuesday…I fell off the “New Things” Train.  I got caught up in work, family stuff, etc…and fell into my old schedule.  The “newest” thing I did was go for an evening run with KMN, instead of our usual morning run.  But that’s not all that new/exciting.  Still…I’m OK with batting 0.867 for the week.

And I’m pleased to say that my 6/7ths of a week of “New Things” did successfully jolt me out of my rut.  In the week since it unofficially “ended”, I have been conscious of adding a little more variety to my days.  And now, I’m off to write some blog posts about a local indie movie, my new foam roller, and a few more things I have written down…somewhere.  Guess I’d better start by finding that scrap of paper!!

Done anything NEW lately??  Tell me about it!

“Friday Gym Fun” (this may or may not become a Friday series)

If you go to the gym regularly, you’re bound to see some strange things.  I’ve already written a post about weird things that I’ve learned at the gym. But recently, I seem to have witnessed more “warm and fuzzy” moments than weird ones.

I need some variety.  A girl can watch herself roll her own calf for only so long...

I need some variety. A girl can watch herself roll her own calf for only so long…

And, since it’s Friday (or late on Thursday, or early on Saturday – depending on what time zone you’re in), let’s have a little “Fun Gym Things” Friday celebration, with some moments I’ve witnessed over the past 2 weeks.  [Nope, I’m not linking up with any other bloggers for this. It’s not a Twitter hashtag.  I just made it up, on the spot, just a moment ago.  But if it takes off like crazy, just remember you saw it here first.]

 

#1: Rodeo Bull Riding  When you’re a runner, who is mildly cursing running for probably contributing to your current bout of plantar fasciitis, watching bull riding while plodding along on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical is an AWESOME idea.  In comparison, the sport of running sounds just about as safe as staying in bed. [See Mom and Dad, I could have picked a really DANGEROUS sport!] I mean, seriously.  Those guys strangle their hands with a rope, hunker down really tightly, then hold on for about 6-whiplash-full seconds, before falling at the feet of a bucking, thousand-plus pound bull.  *shudder*  [PS Bull riding accounts for 50% of all rodeo-related injuries.  Go figure.]

#2: Jumping rope A young lady was working with a Personal Trainer, and obviously learning how to jump rope for the first time.  Really cute.  And after a few hesitant turns, she really was getting the hang of it.  I love seeing “learning” connections made, whether in the classroom or on the gym floor. Made me smile!

And I needed a smile.  THIS is how I usually look while foam rolling.  Cute, right?

And I needed a smile. THIS is how I usually look while foam rolling. Cute, right?

#3: Friendly Motivation I saw a group of four friends having an impromptu plank competition, good-naturedly arguing over whose butt was disqualifyingly high in the air.  Love seeing friends support each other on their way to their fitness goals – and peer pressuring each other into good form, too!

#4: Family Motivation I saw a mother/daughter team working with a Personal Trainer.  Mom seemed skeptical about the whole thing.  I know nothing of their history, and heard none of their discussion, but the story I made up in my head involved the daughter signing up with her Mom, in order to convince her Mom to get started at the gym.  I also love seeing FAMILIES support each other on their way to their fitness goals.

#5: Do I Know You? Random guy giving me a “smile and nod” on our way into Body Pump yesterday.  After I got my place set up (while wracking my brain over who he was) I had to go over and admit defeat: “Sorry – you obviously know me, but I don’t know you – can you help me out?”  Embarrassingly, he was on the bike next to me in spin class the previous evening.  We’d even lamented to each other over a particularly loud track during the session.  But this was at a different branch of the gym, in different clothes, and I definitely didn’t recognize him. [And, I’m sorry to admit, that sometimes Chinese guys “all sorta look the same” to me.]  Ooops.  But he was super-nice, and even insisted on getting me two more risers for my step, even though I really insisted that I didn’t need them.  [Either that or he was trying to kill me during the new-release “starfish jumps off the step” set at the end of the second legs track.]  Anyway, I plan to remember him from now on. 🙂

So there’s a quick look at what has been making me smile lately.

Seen any smile-worthy moments at the gym (or otherwise) lately?

This Week’s Workouts, and Life Lessons From Yoga

Ever since Sunday’s race, things have been pretty quiet over here, folks.  Mostly just workin’ and workin’ out.  As I consider the latter, it strikes me that yoga this week has been conspiring to try to teach me a thing or two.

On Monday, I went for an easy 2 km swim and took a Hot Yoga class.

Lesson #1 (Monday): Just try, and have fun with it.

I’ve been doing different kinds of yoga in various studios and at home for many years.  I find yoga to be many things: Centering? Yes. Calming? Usually. Challenging? Absolutely. Rewarding?  Mostly.  It’s also been a pretty serious face activity, for me.  The instructors are serious, the participants are serious – everyone is dedicated and intentional – and very, very serious.

Enter Sherlin.  She’s an instructor at the gym I attend, and about a month ago, I started going to a Hot Flow Yoga class she teaches.  Honestly, it’s really more of a Yin Yoga style class – lots of stretching, long holds, relaxing deeply into poses, etc. We don’t really flow that much.  But I appreciate the stretching, the timing is convenient (right after BodyPump), and Sherlin doesn’t take herself too seriously.  If you want a deeply meditative class, this isn’t the right one for you.  Sherlin passes the time in the long holds by helping us steady our breathing, by reminding us to stay strong…and by telling stories and jokes.  I must laugh out loud at least three times every class.  This is so different from most other yoga classes I’ve attended, where even cracking my knee too loudly, or clearing my throat, seemed to draw unnecessary attention to myself.

So in class on Monday, we were working on a complicated balancing pose.  She was talking us through the steps to get into it, and just before the release to balancing, lots of people were hesitating.  She kept talking us through it, encouraging, prodding – and eventually she said, “Guys! It’s OK!  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  You might fall forward (safely).  But try!  Just have fun with it, and try!!!!!”

Fun?  Yoga?  To be honest, this was a new idea me.  The thought has stuck with me throughout the week: Treat your practice seriously, but don’t get carried away.  Enjoy moderation, take a few risks, and have a little fun!  Not a bad life lesson, either, eh?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

Mud on the hat increase my trail runner cred, right?

On Tuesday morning, KMN and I did one round of MacRitchie Reservoir (7.2 miles, to-and-from our front door).  We got out pretty early for our run, and I really enjoyed it – legs felt pretty good, despite Sunday’s race.  We were stalled briefly by a tree that had fallen on top of a swamp-surrounded “boardwalk” section of the path.  Eventually, we got down on our hands and knees and slithered under the trunk, getting cozy with some of the branches.  In the evening, I went to BodyPump, which was a pretty standard class.  However, I do think it’s about time to bump up some of my weights (chest, back, biceps)…  Encouraging, but a little scary!  I thought about tacking on a yoga class, but had some work to finish – and didn’t want to have a bad practice, just because I went in already wiped out from run/Pump.  One thing I wasn’t too wiped out for?  Cooking up some delicious shrimp for dinner, as an accompaniment to my quinoa salad:

The recipe is simple: Heat oil.  Saute garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. CHeck color to make sure shrimp are fully cooked. Enjoy!

The recipe is simple: Rinse and dry shrimp. Heat oil. Saute chopped garlic ~ 1 min. Add shrimp, cook ~2 min. Flip shrimp and pour in ~2 glugs of white wine. Cover and let reduce for ~2 min. Check for done-ness. DEVOUR.

On Wednesday evening, I did a “real” Hot Flow class (not with Sherlin) and followed it up with a spin class.  Man, Hot Yoga + Spin is a ridiculously sweaty combination.  Extra training for running in the tropics, I guess!

Lesson #2 (Wednesday): Be flexible, in all aspects of your practice.

Our instructor began by reminding us that yoga is about flexibility – of the body and the mind.  It’s also about the element of surprise – and being ready and able to adapt to whatever poses the instructor chooses on a given day.  This was an important reminder for me, too: Don’t get ahead of yourself (or the instructor).  Relax, open your ears, and work through whatever is asked of you.  True in yoga, true in life.

KMN was stuck working late that night…so I enjoyed an egg salad sandwich on homemade (bread maker) bread, and a tangy coleslaw salad, with Mr. Lenovo:

Between the dressing on the closeslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich - I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night!

Between the dressing on the coleslaw, and the pickles on the sandwich – I certainly got my vinegar hit for the night! And yes, those are Wednesday’s leftover shrimp making a second appearance on the coleslaw!

I’d planned for a run today (Thursday), but my heel was feeling a bit sore this morning (Jeano, if you gave me your Foot Thing, then mine had better fix itself just as fast as yours did…).  So instead, I spent some time with ice and my tennis ball, and by tonight, it felt well enough to handle Body Pump and Sherlin-Style Hot Flow.  So, I headed for the gym.

Lesson #3 (Thursday): You thought you got the hang of Lessons #1 & #2?  HAHAHAHA!!  Try again!!!

Based on my experience on Tuesday, I increased some of my upper body weights for BodyPump, and thoroughly lifted my muscles to jello.  Sweet!  Then, I walked into yoga…and Sherlin wasn’t there.  We had a substitute instructor.  And he really wanted to flow.  We planked, and chaturanga-ed, and upward/downward dogged, and lunged…all while my exhausted muscled protested.  I didn’t want this challenging practice.  I wanted a nice, simple, hip/hamstring stretch session.  I was tired.  And although he seemed like a pretty nice guy, I got mad at the instructor (in my head).

Then, I remembered Wednesday’s lesson: Be flexible.  And I remembered Monday’s lesson:  Just try, and have a little fun.

So I worked on relaxing.  I tried to embrace my shaking legs, to breath through the tiredness, and to accept my practice where it was on this particular evening.  I tried to give the poses my best, to not be afraid, and to have fun.  I did the first two, although the third may have been a stretch (ha, ha) tonight.  But as class closed, I realized that my body was feeling good – tired, but light, limber, and stretched.  That’s some yoga magic right there, folks.

And finally…I love this shirt.  Thank you, Rozzy!

Please ignore the serious face.  A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Please ignore the serious face. A self-portrait this good requires lots of concentration, apparently.

Have your workouts taught you anything important lately?

Do you eat approximately 75% of your meals out of a bowl??
[I do, apparently.]

Good Mornings for a Thursday (Feb. 7)

*These are actually leftovers from last Thursday. Enjoy!

1 Mendon Mauler Shirt

I believe these two items were meant to be worn together.
How did I not realize this sooner?
Mendon Mauler T-Shirt (~2009?)
Athleta skort (no longer made)

2 Hard Boiled Eggs

This makes me giggle.
But it’s necessary, since we almost always have both kinds of eggs in the fridge.
Hard boiled eggs make a terrific snack (1 whole + 2 whites only).

3 Nuun All Gone!

Bad surprise! Bad surprise!
Someone finished the last Nuun tablet and didn’t tell me!!!

4 Brand New Sneakers

Good surprise!  Good surprise!
I broke out a brand new pair of road sneakers today.
Remember, sneakers have a running life of just 300-500 miles!

5 Triple Gym WorkoutSuccessful completion of a Thursday triple-play:
Run, BodyPump, Hot Yoga
This was a “mental endurance building” day.
By the time I hit the yoga studio, I was wiped,
and I got through yoga class by focusing on one minute at a time.

6 Chicken Tarragon DinnerRefueling with a nostalgic dinner…
Chicken Tarragon was the first thing my Mom ever cooked for my Dad.
Love my parents.  <3

7 Birthday ToastI ended the evening with a Birthday Toast to a dear friend.
Who cares if she was drinking coffee, and I was drinking wine?
10 hours later, we switched places!

Do you have any “nostalgic” meals that you love to make?

Getting new running shoes: Love It – or – Hate It?

I Married Into a Matriarchy

I married into a matriarchy.  WINNING. Read on for the full story:

On my way to a matriarch lunch.  I totally married into an awesome family (for lots of reasons)…

In some ways, Singapore is like the United States: A nation of immigrants.  Some of the first to arrive in Singapore (and the rest of the Indonesian archipelago), in the 15th and 16th centuries, were Chinese.  Many of these early inhabitants became traders, and worked with the British, Chinese, and indigenous Malay populations to facilitate the exchange of goods and services.  These groups often inter-married (or at least had children together), and developed their own unique culture.

In Singapore, the descendants of this group – who “look” Chinese, speak Baba Malay (a Malay dialect), and have their own blended traditions – are called Chinese Peranakans, or just “Peranakans”.  [To be thorough, I must note that “peranakan” is actually a Malay term that translates exactly to “locally born”.  There are also Peranakan Indians and Jawi Peranakans, who are the descendants of local Malays inter-marrying with South Indian Hindus and South Indian Muslims, respectively.]

Historically, Peranakans had their own style of dress, marriage ceremonies, language, and food.  But for a variety of reasons, in Singapore today, Peranakan culture is gradually disappearing back into Chinese culture.  For example, KMN’s mother is Peranakan, but dresses in a Western style (or in a Chinese cheongsam for special occasions) and cooks Chinese food.  She does speak Baba Malay, though, and both KMN and his sister know a little bit, as well.

As someone who married into a Chinese/Peranakan family, then, how does the culture impact me?  Well, KMN’s family does hold fast to one Perankan tradition: a powerful matriarchy.  The women plan the gatherings, steer the families, and in my observations, usually have the first (and last) say on many matters of importance.  Now this is a tradition that I can help carry forward!

In celebration of this matriarchy – and for a farewell visit with several family members who are returning to their lives abroad – the ladies in my mother-in-law’s family all went for lunch together this past week.  I was lucky enough to be invited to join them.  I really do love seeing families together – and witnessing this gathering of 12 women, spanning three generations, was awesome.  

These women have witnessed the entirety of Singapore’s modern history: from colonial days to independence, from swamp to urban hub, from just developing to positively developed.  Few places moved through these stages as quickly as Singapore, and I can hardly wrap my mind around how much change some of these women lived through – all while working, raising children, loving, laughing, and supporting each other.

We enjoyed a lunch of fellowship, but unfortunately I had to zip out early for a meeting across town.  As my cab driver pointed out, I was going far…like, all the way to the other side of the island:

So how far do you think my trip was, exactly?  [Hint: It cost me $16 USD.]

So how far do you think my trip was, exactly? [Hint: It cost me $16 USD.]

Thankfully, I didn’t need my passport (to get all the way to the other side), and I arrived in the nick of time for my meeting.  Quote from meeting: “The science center is very old. It was built in 1977.  We just opened a time capsule that we sealed a long time ago.  There were a lot of antiques in there, like a very big TV and a CD player.”  Lovely.

Bearing in mind that I’m approaching “antique” territory, I followed up the meeting with an attempt to  fight the aging process.  KMN and I met for a spin class, and somehow, we were on the same wavelength (or our instructor that even was especially inspiring), because we both left everything on our bikes. After our 50-minute class I lounged on the foam roller for a few minutes, in a weak attempt at actually rolling my legs out.  Finally, we called it quits, hit the showers, and dragged our (aging) selves home around 10 PM.  I was beat, but rallied to throw together another multi-bowl meal:

Holly's 3 bowl dinner

Me:love when I cut the pineapple at the perfect time.  It is perfectly ripe and very sweet, but none of it has gone bad/mushy yet.
KMN: Mmmm…
Me: Yeah, I know you don’t really care for pineapple, even if it’s cut at the perfect moment.
KMN: I do if it’s on Hawaiian pizza!
Me: *gag*


So really – how far do you think my taxi ride was?  [Singaporeans, you all sit this one out, OK?]

Pineapple on your pizza: yay or nay?