Category Archives: Spinning

“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?

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Oct. 21 – Oct. 27)

It’s Nov. 20…so I have exactly 1 day before I’m a month behind on Weekly Workout Round-Ups (except now, in the time between draft and publication, it became Nov. 21 in Singapore.  I’m officially a month behind).  Thankfully, I have a pretty detailed workout log and my photos to help me recall each day, plus whatever notes I throw into this file as a draft – and I actually like writing these recaps, so I’m not sure why I keep falling behind.  Ah, well.  I’d abandon the idea all together, except I actually really like having the record for myself – and publishing it publicly reminds me to keep up (usually…hmph!).  So here we go.  Since the days are flying by so quickly anyway, let’s take a moment to rewind back to October.

Monday (Oct. 21): RPM practice

This week I moved intensely into my Team Teaching, so I spent a bit of time in the studio alone, learning, practicing, and reviewing the tracks I’d be teaching during the week.

Tuesday: Run (6.8 mi) & RPM Team Teach (TT)

I ran a loop of McRitchie first thing in the morning, and collected some bugs on my shirt (better than in my mouth!):

The front of my shirt.  I wore yellow, to better highlight the collection of bugs.  You're welcome.

The front of my shirt. I wore yellow, to better highlight the collection of bugs. You’re welcome.

I team taught with a new mentor this day – and for some reason, the feedback she provided really clicked for me.  I felt excited to practice, and retry my tracks the next day.

Wednesday: RPM (TT)

Oatmeal = Fuel

Oatmeal = Fuel

Fueled by a great big bowl of oatmeal, I was ready to team teach with another mentor (we typically work with 2-3 mentors throughout our training) than on Tuesday. Although getting feedback from different people is important to help me develop my own personal style, I’m struggling a bit with trying to please too many masters.  I’m also working to adapt my running coach style to indoor cycling coach – some elements transfer easily, but others require some adjustment (for me, at least).  This topic will probably warrant a post of its own at some point in the future.  But for now, I’m trying to stay flexible, open to constructive criticism (so hard sometimes!), and learn as much as I can.  I know that, soon enough, this mentorship period will be over, and I’ll be on my own – so I need to soak in as much as possible right now!

Thursday: Run (3.1 mi) & RPM

There was nothing terribly notable about either of these workouts, but in the evening, we debuted a dish that has since reappeared weekly:

Pan-cooked portobello mushrooms with melted goat cheese and sauteed peppers and onions, with a side of quinoa salad. SO MUCH YUM on that plate, folks.

Pan-cooked portobello mushrooms with melted goat cheese and sauteed peppers and onions, with a side of quinoa salad. SO MUCH YUM on that plate, folks.

Friday: “Rest”

I had grand plans for some kind of workout (run and Body Pump, I think?).  But then, around lunchtime, I walked into our guest bathroom and found this:

That is laundry detergent.  It is brown because it leaked through the cardboard box on the left.

That is laundry detergent. All over the floor. It is brown because it leaked through the cardboard box on the left.

And thus commenced the Great Detergent Clean-Up of 2013.  Just think for one moment…about the logistics of cleaning up ~120 oz of laundry detergent.  [Those Costco containers hold ~180 oz of detergent, and the one whose corner cracked was about 2/3 empty when I finally discovered it.]

I did my best to avoid that scene in the Curious George book where George makes a huge mess at home by trying to use the washing machine (at least I think that’s what happened…I’m a bit vague on the details, but I have a very clear memory of the illustration, and didn’t want it to happen in our bathroom).  I also gave copious amounts of thanks that, in Singapore, most bathrooms have a floor drain – and our shower head is on a hose.

Needless to say, after three hours of cleaning up this mess, I had no desire to workout.  I finished up some computer work and let KMN take me out for dinner instead.  See, even running coaches skip their workouts sometimes…

Saturday: Run (8.8 mi)

KMN had a long run on his schedule for the day. I wasn’t interested in his 16 miles, but I joined him for the first half.  We actually ran the first 10 miles of the TNF 50K course – this was my first time running the whole section since race day.  I was of two minds: A bit relieved that the training was over, and a bit sad that the training and even had come and gone.

[Incidentally, I think this is a great thing.  Target races should be like relatives coming to visit: You are mostly excited and slightly nervous about their impending arrival; by the time they leave, you are half sad, and half relieved.]

KMN has a pretty carefree training attitude, and I was just out for fun, so we mugged for the camera a bit.

26 Pre-Run

I also nabbed some contradictory monkey signage:

"I may rummage through your bag.  Please do not leave it unattended."

“I may rummage through your bag. Please do not leave it unattended.”

"Please keep a distance of 2-3 m away from me as I am easily frightened."

“Please keep a distance of 2-3 m away from me as I am easily frightened.”



Yes, both signs refer to the very same monkeys.  I can assure you that the left one is far more correct.  Watch yourself when you pull out that package of Honey Stingers on the trail….

When we got to Bukit Timah, we took a break for some water, KMN refueled, and I headed out to the bus stop while he turned around to run back.  I know I’ll be excited for long runs again really soon…but right now, I’m happy to be holding around 10 miles.  I was also thrilled that my knee felt great and seems to be well recovered from whatever twisting/wrenching occurred during the 50K.

I also managed to drip sweat all over the floor of the bus on the ride home.  Shhh....

I also managed to drip sweat all over the floor of the bus on the ride home. Shhh….

Sunday: Rest

And that pretty much wrapped up the week, with a Total Workout Time of 7 hrs, 15 min – and 18.7 miles (and one laundry detergent debacle).  Not awesome, but acceptable – I expect the next week to bring more Team Teaching and, hopefully, a bit more running.  [Spoiler alert: Not so much of the former, but definitely more of the latter.]  I was also hoping to smush two weeks of workouts into one post, but this post is already 1,000 words, so I’m cutting it off here.

How do you remind yourself to stay receptive to constructive criticism without getting defensive?

What’s the biggest, stickiest, most annoying mess you’ve ever had to clean up?
[Note: Not necessarily the grossest…just the most annoying/hardest.]

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Oct. 14-20)

I had to look at the calendar – twice – to remind myself that last week was really just the second week after my 50K.  My legs felt…awesome.  I was doing much more cross-training than running, but BodyPump and RPM (indoor cycling) aren’t exactly gentle on the legs.  Here’s what happened:

Monday: RPM

Also, I had too many heavy things to buy at the grocery store (yogurt, milk, juice, hard cider), so I broke out the “Auntie Cart” for a walk:

Holly, listening to ChinesePod, and rockin' the Auntie Cart.  Awesomeness.

Holly, listening to ChinesePod, and rockin’ the Auntie Cart. Awesomeness.

Tuesday: Yin & Roll, BodyAttack/GRIT combo, Yoga on the Bridge,

This was a holiday (Hari Raya Haji) in Singapore, so there were special gym classes.  I started off the morning with “Yin & Roll”, a yoga class with one of my favorite yoga instructors.  We spent 75 minutes rolling sore muscles (mostly in our butts & hips) on tennis balls, then holding extended stretches for those same areas.  This was painful, but good.  I was also reminded of how spoiled I am by my foam roller – wiggling your IT band on a tennis ball requires much more core and arm strength/control than it does on a foam roller!

I took a break to do some computer work for an hour, then headed into an intense cardio/strength/HIIT workout.  This was a special combo class, and super intense – but fun.  In the evening, I joined the Lululemon crew for another night of free Tuesdays by the River Community Yoga.  [There are 2 more weeks left, by the way!  I should be there next week – come join me!]  Yes, there was more staring and maybe a few photos (as I described in last week’s Workout Round-Up), but I was prepared and determined not to be fussed by any of it.  Success.  By the time I rolled home around 9:30, I was ex-haust-ed.

But really, how better to spend a public holiday than tiring out your muscles with excellent workouts all day long?  🙂

Also?  This.  Steamed rice, salmon sashimi, seaweed, sprouts, and black inspired by a FB chat with GCA.

Also? This. Steamed rice, salmon sashimi, seaweed, sprouts, and black fungus…as inspired by a FB chat with GCA.

Wednesday: RPM & lots of stretching!

Just like running, spinning can do a number on your quads, hip flexors, and litttttle tiny hip muscles – and the five minutes allotted for leg stretching in class just isn’t quite enough.  I always try to hit the mat for another 10-15 minutes of stretching on my own, whenever possible.  And of course, I’ve tried to keep up with my bedtime rolling routine.

Thursday: RPM & BodyPump

This was my first morning (7:20 AM) RPM class in awhile – and from the stage, I could see that most of the class was definitely still waking up.  In fact, my team-teaching instructor told me that he tries to keep the music a bit more mild for this class, since everyone is still in their morning lull.  I chuckled, thinking of friends in the US who are pumping out intense workouts on their spin bikes at 6 AM…  The gyms here definitely don’t believe in (aka, there’s no demand for) super early morning classes.  So interesting…

The (blurry) detritus of good hydration habits....

The (blurry) detritus of good hydration habits….

I was able to sneak out to the gym again in the evening for some Pump.  I was…pumped! (har, har)

And there was veggie stir fry for dinner!

And there was homemade stir fry for dinner!

Friday: Run (4.1 mi)

My first run of the week – and the one I wrote about in yesterday’s post (I don’t care if my legs tremble during Warrior poses. I need to run.)  Friday was kind-of my rest day for the week.

Saturday: RPM & Run (7 mi)

As a participant in a spin class, I don’t much care what my fellow class members are doing/feeling/giving – I’m there to do my own workout, with the instructor.  However, as an instructor, I’ve quickly realized how different classes have a different “feel” or character.  As I mentioned above, early morning classes are a bit more mellow – but the Saturday afternoon class is considerably more energetic and intense.  This is not a better/worse characterization – just an observation.  And I’m rather amused that I didn’t really notice/care much about this as a participant – but it’s so obvious now that I’m on stage.

KMN procrastinated his long run until Saturday evening – which was, surprisingly, OK for me.  I don’t usually enjoy evening runs, but since this one was purely “for fun” for me – I had no pace goal – I headed out with him around 6:30 PM.  We did one loop of McRitchie Reservoir together, before I headed home and he continued on for another 6 miles in the park (it was too dark for another trail loop without headlamps).  I was excited that my knee felt great, despite the uneven, technical terrain.  He came back, we were both ravenous, and we went out for Indian food for dinner.  Palak paneer, I love you.

Sunday: BodyPump

KMN, GCA, and I all headed in to an afternoon Pump class.  Although the class time is a bit disruptive (3 PM), some afternoon lifting was a great way to end the weekend, and complement the previous day’s cardio.

All in all, I’m happy with the week.  I will be doing quite a lot of RPM in the coming weeks, so I was glad to get in four classes this week.  And although I didn’t do much running, Friday’s jaunt was a good reminder that I need to keep lacing up my sneakers – especially now that 50K recovery is complete.  My goal for the last 8 months has been base building – now that I have the base, I definitely don’t want to lose it!  So definitely look for some more running, starting next week.

The week’s run mileage was just 11.1 miles (although it would be considerably higher if the indoor spin bikes had odometers!), but my Total Workout Time was 12 hours, 2 minutes.

Early morning gym classes: Yay or Nay?

Is “early morning” 6 AM, 7 AM, or 8 AM?

When you have lots of miscellaneous stuff in the fridge, what do you turn it into, and what is your carb of choice?
[Interesting cultural difference: My inclination is to mix it up with some canned diced tomatoes and go “Italian style”, serving over pasta.  But my husband’s first thought is to make a fried rice type dish.]

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Sept. 23-29)

In the spirit of staying up-to-date and organized (See: Order On The Blog!), here’s the scoop on last week’s workouts.  Do note that this was my first taper week for The North Face 50K on Oct. 5th.

Monday: BodyPump

Tuesday: Run (6 mi)

I joined KMN for his tempo run in the morning.  Since I was planning for fewer overall miles this week, I figured I could handle his long tempo pace (slightly faster than my Easy pace).  We did a 1 mile warm-up, followed by 5 miles at tempo pace (Goal: 8:30-8:45 min/mi), although we ran a bit faster.  This was a solid, but not exhausting, effort for me.  As this was KMN’s workout, I let him take the lead, and we actually ended up with a progression run.  Splits for the 5 tempo miles were:

8:33 min/mi

Not exactly a steady-effort tempo workout, but it’s very important for our marriage that I not coach my husband.  He was happy with the workout, so I was happy.

There was also much stretching, and a 1 min, 50 second plank.  I don’t have any designs on being able to hold a  5 minute plank or anything (not that cool/don’t have that much spare time), but I’d like to work my way up to about 2.5-3 minutes – and add some plank variations to work other core muscles (side planks, mountain climbers, etc.).

Wednesday: RPM & Yin Yoga

I arrived early for spin class so I could practice for my test on Saturday.  Then, during class, I focused on my technique (proper cadence, stabilized core, correct arm position), knowing that all of those things would be important for my test – and subsequent teaching.  They are also much easier to think about when taking a class, as opposed to coaching a class.  Once I start opening my mouth to coach, I start paying less focused attention on myself (obviously).  Thus, my technique needs to be second nature.  This was a solid session, and got me *very* excited for teaching my own class.  I love spreading the workout love.

Thursday: Run (5 mi), TRX, & RPM

Singapore is always humid.  This particular morning happened to be especially humid.  Check this out:

Can you see the sweat?  That is genuine knee/calf sweat.

See all those glistening drops? That’s genuine calf sweat, people. Totally the norm out here. There’s a reason we keep a pile of junky towels at the door….

Indeed – about an hour after I returned from my run, the skies opened.  The rain let up in time for me to head out for a lunchtime TRX class.  I’ll blog a bit more about TRX another time, but in short, it is a workout done using only your body weight and two straps suspended from the ceiling.  This was my very first TRX class, so I took things slow and easy, but did inadvertently decimate my triceps.  Those weakling triceps were sore for the next four days – no lie.

I finished up my trip to the gym on…yep, you guessed it:

My precious....

My precious….

After hitting the shower and changing into clean clothes, I realized…my clean clothes were basically an exact duplicate of the sweaty ones I’d just taken off.  I wanted to wear a sign or something that explained the situation, so no one assumed I was just a gross, lazy, non-showerer.

Friday: Run (5 mi) & BodyPump

After my run, I succumbed to peer pressure – Elizabeth (My Neon Running Shoes) posted about the delicious egg/spinach/cheese wrap she had for dinner (Picture day. Wraps. Nestle Tollhouse!), so I raided the fridge to recreate hers as best I could for myself:

I only had enough eggs for one, though.  The other contains a bananas, a smear of peanut butter, and a bit of Nutella.  Both tasted terrible.  That's why I didn't share with you. :)

I only had enough eggs for one wrap, though. The other contains a banana, a smear of peanut butter, and a bit of Nutella. Both tasted terrible. That’s why I didn’t share with you. 🙂

Friday is usually date night around here…and we started our date off with a BodyPump session, and ended it with ramen.  Date-night-perfection, if you ask me!

Saturday: Run (10 mi) & RPM Instructor Test

I already blogged about both of these things in my post Recipe for a Most Excellent Saturday.  And let me tell you…”just” 10 miles?  Felt amazing after a few weeks of super long runs!

Sunday: Big, fat, GOOF OFF.

And I didn’t feel the least bit guilty.  And, OK – I didn’t really goof off.  I went to church, did some work, took a nap, picked up my 50K race packet, had dinner with family, etc. etc.

This was the first week of my 2 week taper, and I logged just over 26 running miles.  I was aiming for about 30, so I’m content.  Still, with some cross training and a fair bit of RPM prep and training, I still hit a Total Workout Time for the week of 11 hrs, 45 min.  Now, it’s time to bring on the serious, week-before-the-race taper.

Fill in the blank: Disaster is…trying to coach/teach my significant other______________________________.

Gosh, it’s late and I’m tired.  I just dozed off, and awoke to a very unusual sentence written here.  Ever sleep-type?
[And with that, I’m outta here. It’s bedtime in Singapore!]

2013 Weekly Workout Round-Up (July 15-21)

In case you missed my last post, I’ve suspended other posts until I catch up on my Weekly Workout Round-Ups.  If you’re uber-curious about what my workout weeks look like, they are all Categorized under 2013 Weekly Workout Round-Up (two vacation weeks end June/early July are missing – I’m working on those, too).

But for now, let’s hop back 2 weeks, starting with:


The week was off to a great start when KMN spearheaded the dinner effort on Sunday.  Simple Asian/American chicken noodle soup.

The week was off to a great start when KMN spearheaded the dinner effort on Sunday. Simple Asian/American chicken noodle soup.

Monday (July 15): Rest

After back-to-back 10+ mile runs over the weekend, I took a rest day.  I think I planned on going to yoga class, but decided that the transport time wasn’t worth it, so I just did some stretching at home.  In retrospect, I wish I had done a workout – but hey, hindsight is 20/20.

My only exercise was sporting this fabulous hairdo.

My only exercise was sporting this fabulous hairdo.

Tuesday: Tempo Run (6 mi)

The whole workout was improved by my NoBo cap.  [NoBo is a Learn To Run program that I used to coach when I lived in Rochester and LA.]

The whole workout was improved by my NoBo cap. [NoBo is a Learn To Run program that I used to coach when I lived in Rochester and LA.]

A few of you asked about my Tempo workouts back when I shared my marathon training plan.  This particular workout was:

12 min EZ
(5 min @ Tempo / 2 min EZ) x 4
12 min EZ

Average Tempo Pace was 7:10 min/mi.

Wednesday: Spin, Yin Yoga

I wanted to check out the studio where I would be doing my Spin Instructor Training, so I popped over for a lunchtime spin class.  I scoped out the bike I wanted, and was even able to meet the instructor who would be conducting the course.  Sweet!

I also discovered that this particular gym (Fitness First Capital Tower) has a spectacular pool, as far as Fitness First pools go: kick boards, pull buoys, and lines on the bottom of the pool.  Clutch.  Although it’s a bit out of my way, I may start making the trek once or twice a week to swim.

Thursday: Sick day

On Wednesday afternoon, my stomach started feeling a bit funny.  By Wednesday night, I was totally disinterested in the idea of dinner, and suggested KMN go find something for himself and eat it somewhere that I couldn’t smell it.  [No, I’m not pregnant.]

I went to bed to try to sleep off whatever was brewing.  This was only marginally successful, as I was completely unable to get comfortable.  My body responds to most microscopic intruders with some kind of crazy inflammatory response that makes my back, hips, and knees ache – even if the initial insult is something gastrointestinal, and not terribly severe.

I never really fell super sick, but spent most of Thursday on the couch, alternately sleeping and working – and not eating.  As someone who hates to throw up, my response to a queasy stomach is simply…to stop eating.  If there’s nothing in there, I’m less likely to throw up, right?  My biggest workout was walking around the apartment.  On the plus side, since I sat immobile in front of the fan most of the day, I didn’t get any of my clothes sweaty, all day.  Win?

Friday: Rest.

I originally planned to do my long run on Friday, since I would be in Spin Instructor training all weekend.  But given that I hadn’t actually eaten anything until Thursday night, and had an intense weekend ahead of me, that didn’t seem like the wisest decision.  So although I was feeling better, my only workout was to make sure I ate.  And when KMN asked what I wanted for dinner, I said “Indian” (something mild, guys, don’t worry) – and knew I was back to my normal self!

Saturday: Spin Instructor Training Day 1

Not much to add – although I estimate that I spent about 3 hours, 30 minutes in the ‘saddle’.  We did one 50 minute class, 60 minutes of technical work, one 60 minute hard ride, and then in the evening, I spent about 30-40 minutes alone on the bike, practicing my test track.  Biggest lessons from this particular day were:

#1: Endurance running builds physical and mental strength.
#2: Holding lecture in the tiny spin room is “cozy” and uncomfortable.  After all the time we spent riding, no one really wanted to sit ON the bike to listen to lecture.  Floor space? Nil.  We crammed onto the window sills.  Not comfy.

Sunday (July 21): Spin Instructor Training Day 2

This day included three cycles through the current RPM release (50 min each), plus a little bit of solo practice – for a total of about 3 hours of spinning. But the spinning today passed very quickly, since the students were doing the teaching.  I was leading Track 5 (there are 9 tracks in a workout), so the first 4 tracks always seemed to pass quickly, then I taught my track, spent the next track relieved to be done, pedaled through Track 7, then it was time to cool down/stretch.  Three times (morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon) went pretty quickly, although my legs (and butt) were definitely feeling tired and sore by the end!

I brought my lunch and lots of snacks, but at lunch break, I still ran out to buy some electrolyte drink, soybean curd, and a coffee...

I brought my lunch and lots of snacks, but at lunch break, I still ran out to buy some electrolyte drink, soybean curd, and a coffee…

This second day was actually quite fun, and I also got to know some of my fellow trainees a bit better.  There were people from all walks of life, training for all different reasons – but all with a shared passion for fitness.  Pretty neat, really.

The outcome for me was good, and I passed my initial training module.  Whoot!  Just a few more steps before I can officially be on my own in front of a class in Singapore.  I’ll be talking a bit more about the rest of my training as it progresses, but basically – I can’t wait!

But by the time training was finally finished (around 6:30 PM), I was toast.  I called KMN: “I need ramen.  Now.”  He came out and met me for big bowls of delicious, salty noodles.  I was too tired to remember to take a picture, and even walked right by GCA, who happened to be eating at the same place (Singapore is a very small country; there’s only so much ramen).  She recognized me, though, and popped over to our table to say hi.  I may have said something coherent.  I hope…

So…this may not have been an ideal training week, six weeks away from a marathon.  If you go back and calculate, there is exactly one run there.  NOT ideal.

But total workout time for the week topped out at 10 hours, 10 minutes – which is decent (especially since I actually had 3 rest/sick days in there).  Ultimately, I’m OK with this.  I still got extended cardio work, and trashed my legs pretty badly.  I’m sure that instructor training took an equivalent – or greater – toll than a weekend long run, anyway.

Next up: This past week’s training.
Hint: There was plenty of good running involved.

Spin/indoor cycling instructors out there: I know the RPM way to teach indoor cycling, but I’m interested in learning more – especially about using indoor cycling as a proxy for outdoor training.  Anyone have any books/resources to recommend?

What did you enjoy eating after your long/hard workout this weekend?

When was the last time you were the student, in a formal setting?  Was the experience good, bad, or ugly? 🙂

What do you get for spending the weekend at the gym?

I spent almost 24 hours in a Fitness First gym this weekend.  My results?

LOTS of sweaty clothes…

I think my bag of clothes weighed 3x more coming home than it did when I left the apartment in the morning.

I think my bag of clothes weighed 3x more coming home than it did when I left the apartment in the morning.

At least 50 repeats of Danny Byrd’s “Daydreamer”…

[And we’re all daydreaming now – dun, dun, dun – dun, dun, dun!]

More bottles refills than I care to count…

I mostly drank water, but there was some Nuun and, in a pinch, 100Plus consumed, as well.

I mostly drank water, but there was some Nuun and 100Plus consumed, as well.

[You know your sweat glands work in overdrive when the guy – who weighs 150% of what you do – on the bike next to you suggests that the two of you are in close competition over who has dripped more sweat on the floor during the ride.  I think he won – but only by a few drops…]

And in the end:


Passed! But is it wrong that I want to take a red pen to that lower part?
“Physical execution and choreography ARE mastered.”

There are still more steps between me and a final certification, but this was the first big one.  I’m excited to brush up my own spinning skills, learn some more choreography, and (eventually) be released in front of a live class!

This weekend’s training challenged me as an athlete, a student, and a coach.  It also provided a place for me to connect with a room full of people for whom fitness is a passion and/or career.  Although I was pretty exhausted yesterday, both mentally and physically (Nadia was right when she suggested that I’d be getting awesome sleep on Saturday & Sunday nights!), today I am feeling recharged, energized, and thankful that I can help people get fitter – and change their lives – every day.

Good thing, too – because I have lots to do after spending all weekend hiding out at the gym.  I hope your weekend has left you feeling similarly recharged and ready to tackle the week!

The RPM 59 release is now seared into my brain – what’s currently stuck on repeat in YOUR head??

Were you inspired by anything this weekend?  Tell me about it!

Another Reason That Running Rocks my Socks – Or, My Spin Instructor Training

So, in addition to holding out on the marathon news, one of the *other* things I neglected to share with you in advance were my plans for this weekend.  Essentially, I’ll be making lots of work for myself on Monday:

Goal for the weekend: As many sets of sweaty, stinky workout gear as possible!

Goal for the weekend: As many sets of sweaty, stinky workout gear as possible!

Normally, my plans wouldn’t be particularly notable, really (I’m usually running, cleaning, and hanging out with KMN) – but THIS weekend, I am taking my initial (emphasis on initial) Les Mills RPM Spin Instructor training module.  !!!

According to the course manual, I am/will be learning “secrets to changing the world one class at a time”.  I’d make fun of this, except I’m the one who touts all over her website that “Running changes lives!”  So instead, I’ll just say that LIVES had better watch out, because I’m coming to CHANGE THEM.  [In a little while.  I’m still an uncertified newbie instructor.]

So today looked something like this:

1. Wake up early.
2. Pack 7 zillion snacks/lunch, 6 changes of clothes, cycling shoes, and lots of technology into several bags.  I should report that the infamous jelly actually made quite a nice PB&J sandwich.
3. Go to the gym to (successfully) stake out THE bike I wanted to ride.  Trust me, the way the spin bikes get packed into the room, I DEFINITELY wanted the “window seat”!
4. Master Class.  For additional comments on this, see RWH on Facebook.
5. Intro to RPM “Choreography” (integration of music, cues, and moves).  Bottom line: Very scripted, but learning to read the keys/cues is like learning a foreign language.  Thankfully, it took about 5 minutes to pick up, rather than 5 years.  Each student is assigned one track to present in a Final Assessment on Sunday afternoon.
6. Interactive Technique Lecture, and LLoAL: Learn Lots of Acronyms Lecture.
8. More technique.  Very sweaty.  Air con, where are you…?????
9. Practice calling cues for each other for our presentation track.
10. Realize that although RPM Instructors make this look VERY easy, it’s HARD.  Especially the first time.  When I’m fighting with someone else’s iPod so the screen stops turning off.  And trying to listen to the music, and myself, at the same freakin’ time.
11. Get frustrated and slightly panicky, but realize I’m in too deep to stop now!
12. Move spin bikes to cooler room.  Aaaaahhhhhh….
13. For about 5 seconds, until we start an intensive spin session.
14. But not before I grab some Sports Beans and lots of water.  Hey, don’t judge.  I knew they’d sit in my stomach just fine, despite the upcoming activity.  Thank you running, for teaching me how to stay energized and hydrated during intensive athletic endeavors.  [There was Nuun consumed today, too.]
15. Feel tired, but STRONG during this challenging ride.  Give MASSIVE thanks for being a well-trained endurance runner.
16. Repeat #15, about 10 times over the course of an hour.
17. Coursework DONE for the day.
18. Return home, and inhale: 10 Pringles, 1 slice banana bread, several glasses of water.
19. A Great Technology Battle: Struggle to get music onto my iPhone.  Persist, albeit very grumpily.  Snap at husband.
20. SUCCEED!  Feel immediately better.
21. Catch bus, and spend the 30 minute ride rehearsing song and cues (“choreography”) for tomorrow, while trying not to bounce, bob, gesture, or sing out loud TOO much.
22. “Sneak” into the empty spin room at the gym (different gym: had to relocated somewhere that was open laaaate on Saturday).  Except the lights are off, and I’m afraid that if I ask for them to be turned on, someone will tell me I’m not supposed to be in the room.  And I NEED to practice this choreography!!

90% of the room might be dark, but there's light coming in through the door.  Good enough for me!

90% of the room might be dark, but there’s light coming in through the door. Good enough for me!

23. Spend the 45 fastest minutes EVER on the spin bike, rehearsing 7 minute song approximately 45/7 = 6.5 times.  [Lie. I actually rehearsed the beginning more than any other part. I think a strong start is important – plus, the end is pretty repetitive.]
24. Zip out just before gym closes.
25. Take my sore tush (and a few other bits…chafing isn’t just for runners, ya know) home.


Despite some panicky moments earlier today, I’m actually feeling pretty good about this.  I know my song (keep in mind that this is just 1 out of 9 that go into a full-length class), and feel moderately confident in the choreography.   I am by no means an expert, or anywhere near ready to teach a class myself.  That’s why this is just the first step in my training.  Provided that I pass tomorrow, I’ll work with a mentor for a few months, before submitting a final teaching sample for evaluation.

Today’s experience has also reminded me of what it’s like to be a student – the moments of panic when you think you can’t possibly master this, then the moments of insight and pride when you realize that maybe you actually can.  It has also made me exceptionally grateful that I have the strong legs, heart, and lungs of a distance runner!!  Annnnd…My fingers are crossed that the time tested method for drying wet sneakers (stuffing them several times with newspaper) will work just as well on my sweat-soggy cycling shoes.  Otherwise, my toes are gonna be very prune-like tomorrow!

I’ll be back to all YOU blogs soon – as soon as tomorrow’s course is over!  Until then…happy running!  (Or spinning!!)

Runners: When was the last time a situation made you REALLY thankful that you were a runner?

Anyone: What was the last NON-running challenge that you conquered that left you feeling really, really accomplished?
[And give yourself a pat on the back for it.  Good work!]

Fortunately/Unfortunately (May 17)

Fortunately, today is Friday (for me!).

Unfortunately, I totally got up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday morning.  [Does anyone else think the use of ‘on’ is weird in this phrase?]

Fortunately, both feet still hit the floor before any other body part, so no injuries were incurred.  [And our bed, according to all the friends who take a tour of our apartment, is “really high”.  So this is good.]

Unfortunately, after waiting >20 minutes for a bus, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to make it in time for an early morning Body Pump class.

Fortunately, I realized this while still at the bus stop, so I cut my losses and walked back home.

Unfortunately, I was victim of several really poor umbrella habits along the way.  Shaking your umbrella out is fine – shaking it out on my feet is considerably less fine.  So is blocking the narrow walkway with your GINORMOUS umbrella while you try to talk on the phone, juggle the umbrella, and walk at 0.2 miles per hour.

Fortunately, I don’t melt.  And I got in an extra hour or two of work.

Unfortunately, I had to go see a New Doctor.  Finding new doctors is the second-most-annoying thing about moving.  What’s the most annoying thing? Finding a new hairdresser.

Fortunately, his verdict was that I can keep all my moles (for now), and in celebration, I treated myself to a Toast Set:

Strong local kopi (coffee), runny eggs, and toast. Yum!

Strong local kopi (coffee), runny eggs, and toast. Yum!

Eh. Who am I kidding – I’d have had the Toast Set even if he had proclaimed that ALL of them had to be removed.

Unfortunately, we (the modern world, although the United States is a particularly serious culprit – and I’m sure Singapore wouldn’t be far behind, per capita, if anyone bothered to crunch the numbers) mindlessly generate way too much garbage.  This is considerably more problematic than anyone leads us to believe. I’m currently reading Garbology, by Edward Humes.  It’s pretty sobering.

Fortunately, this read provided just the kick I needed to re-establish an indoor vermicomposting system.  I will tell you lots more about this next week (when my supplies will arrive), but suffice to say: Worms will be eating our garbage once again!!!!!!

Unfortunately, I have had a mess of trouble getting the cleats I need on my cycling shoes for spin class.  The problem was a combination of my inexperience, some mis-direction at the bike shop, and generally inferior (compared to the US) customer service practices in Singapore.  I was royally peeved on Wednesday when I realized I’d been sold a $30 set of cleats that were the “only ones that would fit on my shoes”, but were not the right ones for spin (the salesperson told me this after the cleats were mounted – they were not returnable).

Fortunately, my husband is neither surprised nor alarmed to come home to find bike shoes and cleats and screws running all over the kitchen table.

This is a re-enactment.  Things were a bit messier in the heat of the moment.

This is a re-creation. Things were a bit messier in the heat of the moment.

And little more research on my part indicated that the bike shop salesperson was totally wrong.  So I mustered up my courage and indignation, remembered I’d have to stay culturally sensitive (in Asia, you have to point out a mistake without making the person look or feel ashamed or embarrassed – this lets the other person ‘save face’), took a few deep breaths, and went back to the bike shop.  Once I pointed out the problem and the path to a solution, she quickly made the necessary changes and refunded me the difference in cleat price, since the cleats I really needed/wanted were only $10.  This ended up being so much easier than I’d worried it would be.  Also filed in my “future posts to write”: an informative, clear, and simple guide to bike shoes, cleats, and pedals.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t test them out right away at a spin class.

Fortunately, I got to swim, Body Pump, and do some yoga instead.

Unfortunately, KMN’s crazy job kept him going for 36 hours straight the last 2 days.

Fortunately, he finally finished up around dinner time and kept himself awake long enough to enjoy some homemade falafel with me!

The falafel are there, under the lettuce, I swear!

The falafel are there, under the lettuce, I swear!

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet written about the trail race I did on Saturday. 🙁

Fortunately, I am going to do that TODAY!

Happy Friday (or late Thursday), everyone!

Are you as befuddled by cycling shoes, cleats, and pedals as I was/am?  Anything specific you’d like to see in a post about this topic?

What’s your Fortunately/Unfortunately for today?

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!

Bug Collecting, Spinning ‘Til You (Almost) Cry, and Lazy Breakfast Dinner

I intended to go out for my run first thing Tuesday morning.  My good intentions were foiled when I made the mistake of opening my computer while my Garmin located its satellites (which, for some reason, takes twice as long here as it did in LA or Rochester. ?????).  An hour later, I was finally ready to hit the road.  And the trails.  So I wore my Salomon Cross-Max sneakers, which are specifically designed to handle a mixture of road and trail conditions.

I actually don't have cankles in real life, believe it or not.

I have rather normal-looking legs in real life, even though this photo suggests otherwise…

I had a 4 mile run on my schedule, so I did an out-and-back, road-and-path combo in MacRitchie.  The weather lately has been (comparatively) cool, and there was a nice breeze when I wasn’t on the actual trail sections.  I also managed to collect some “friends”:

Guess I was moving faster than I thought.  THREE bugs plastered to my forehead (my legs had some, too).

Guess I was moving faster than I thought.: No fewer than THREE bugs plastered to my sweaty forehead.

Thankfully, none went in my mouth (as far as I know).

I've got my eye on Chicago next...

Look out, Chicago!

After cooling down and cleaning up, I had a productive day of work – interrupted only for a few games of Pocket Planes.  Seriously…anyone else as addicted to that game as I am?  When KMN first started playing, I thought it was silly.  Then one day, with a few minutes to kill, I took over a game he had going on the iPad (he’d started playing on some other device anyway).  The rest is history.  I’ve built up a nice little network up and down the West Coast of the US, and am working my way into the mid-West.  Watch out, United airlines!

Somehow, relocating to a coffee shop helps me stay focused and productive, so I spent some of the afternoon working at the Starbucks at Fusionopolis.  The price tag is a little higher than I prefer for coffee, but in exchange I get a few hours of air conditioning, free WiFi, and a lot accomplished.  A decent trade-off for an occasional afternoon, I’d say.

Bonus: My evening spin class at the gym was just an elevator ride away!  This was a new class for me – an “Interval” spin class being taught by one of my preferred Hot Yoga instructors.  I’m not sure I understand the difference between “Interval” and “RPM” classes, though – We rode a recovery, then raced, then climbed, repeat – it seemed pretty similar to RPM to me.   Except WHOA – I didn’t realize how stern a task-master my yoga teacher would become in the cycling studio!  And she knows my name.  Killer class + Instructor calling me by name = Holly busting her tushie.  Or, rather, her quads.  I’m pretty sure I left more sweat on that bike than in any other spin class to-date (don’t worry, I wiped it down when I was finished).

And there were definitely a few points in class when I hit that face-squinches-up-near-tears moment.  [Dear Body: WHY?  WHY do you think that diverting energy to cry at this stage is a good idea? Do you realize how much energy that will take?  And the snot-consequences?  Can’t we just focus on pedaling? Please???]  At times like these, I have a special place I go, in my mind.  I may be spinning as hard as I can, legs burning, pushing to stay on the beat during an intense climb – but I close my eyes and envision myself in the final half mile of a hard running race, pushing to the finish line.  This is a feeling I know.  I may not like it, but I’m familiar with it, and I embrace it as part of the running experience.  So I relax my face and pretend that I’m running, running, running to the end of an intense race.  I give it all I have.  And I remind myself, repeatedly, that my hard work on the bike today will pay off during a future race moment, making it a little stronger, a little smoother, and a little faster.

After rolling out my legs – IT bands and calves, which have been rather tight lately – I headed home.  I used the subway ride to revise our dinner plan.  I’d intended to make crispy pan-fried potatoes and omelets, to use up some of the extra veggies we had hanging around.  But I was tired, and hungry.  So instead, we made a cop-out recipe that looked something like this:

1. Microwave potatoes and cut into bit pieces. Put on plate.  Add salt & pepper.
2. Scramble eggs.  Put over potatoes.
3. Saute garlic, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Put over eggs.
4. Reheat cooked chicken breast.  Put over veggies.
5. Top with pepperjack cheese.

Not pretty, but health and filling!

Not pretty, but healthy and filling!

We eat dinner pretty late around here, so by the time we ate, cleaned up, and chatted with my Dad (Hi Dad!!), I was done.  I was even too sleepy to muster one final bedtime round of Pocket Planes! Sorry, travelers – I left everything on my spin bike tonight and have no energy left to be an air traffic controller.  You’ll just have to be patient until the morning!

Are you a face-squinches-up-toward-tears athlete?  How do you fight off the feeling?

Any Les Mills trained spinners out there able to explain the differences between “Interval” and “RPM”?