Category Archives: Recurring Features

Good Mornings for a Wednesday (April 16)

The blogging hiatus has to end – I miss you folks! And as much as I enjoy other social media outlets (I think my blog-lag began when I joined Twitter), I’ve missed blogging, big time. And like I tell my athletes: If it matters to you, you’ll make time for it.

So it’s time to make time!

Plus (just wrote ‘pus’ – that would be a gross way to get back into things!), I have race reports, training logs, funny photos, and stretches to share. (Thankfully, no pus.)  But let’s start with a nice gentle re-entry: a “Good Morning” post!

[These are basically a way for my non-Instagramming self to photo dump on you, and share little anecdotes/funnies/musings/Singapore sights, without being my usual wordy self.  But if you’re a new reader, feel free to check out this Welcome! post a quick orientation and some background info.]


I made falafel for dinner last night.

My recipe is all kinds of delicious, but without being bitter at all.
It’s easy and soooo tasty.
Fried is tastier than baked, so I use a bit of olive oil and call it ‘healthy fats’!


Love notes from my boss…

As a running coach, I use just my big voice to yell to my groups.
But in the cycling room, with music pumping, a mic is necessary.
Mics are finicky. They get broken, sweaty, and bent.
And my bosses are always reminding us of this (with good reason).
Consequence: An unacceptably high percentage of
mic photos vs cute baby photos in my text messages lately.
Those of you with cute babies, please help me fix this. STAT.


Pearl Izumi tank!

At least, that’s what I was trying to show off.
Instead, I discovered embarrassing grown out fuzzies on the back of my neck.
‘Out of sight, Out of mind.’  Quite literally.
Do I trust my husband with a razor to tidy things up until my next trim?
He shaves his face, so I have to assume he knows what he’s doing, right?


My Wednesday lunch. Every week.

I’m spoiled for choice for lunch options downtown.
But this one is reliable, convenient, and fuels me through my evening classes.
The veggie quesadilla has a spicy sweet mustard sauce that is magical.
And yes, I eat a cupcake like that.  Every week.
And proud of it.


Call it self-absorbed, but I enjoy selfies.
And bubble tea.

Bubble tea is on every corner here,
But this was my first taste of Artease tea.
I opted for the Cinnamon Milk Tea – delicious!
But the bubbles were a bit soft & chewy for my liking.




I’ll bet your day is better than his….

I step on that very spot sometimes when I go to the kopi (coffee shop).
Selfishly, I’m glad the cave-in didn’t send my leg through the pavers.
Still…I felt bad for the owner.
[But not so bad that I didn’t snap a photo…]
I wanted to stick around to see how he got out, but had to zip to work.
This spot is now roped off with CAUTION tape…

What are you “making time for” this week?

It’s been awhile, so tell me something random about you, your day, or your week!

Good Mornings for a Wednesday (January 22, 2014)

I have four “unclaimed” hours between classes this afternoon, and I intend to spend them holed up, catching up on all of your blog posts from the past 10 days.  In the meantime, what better way to slide myself back into blog-land than with a Good Mornings post?

Lake Effect Shirt

USA, I’m with you in spirit!

We’re having a cold front in Singapore, too.
It’s hardly broken 85°F this week…

Lasagna in a Loaf Pan

Which of course makes for….perfect lasagna weather!

My new trick: Use a loaf pan to make lasagna for two.
I resurrected my Mom’s spinach-mushroom lasagna recipe.
A year apart from that deliciousness was far too long…

Basik!It’s…basik!  basik855, that is…

Socially responsible bags made from traditional Cambodian ikat fabric.
I helped fund a Kickstarter campaign for some new prints,
And my backer reward arrived in the mail last week!
[This is the first ‘clutch’ that I’ve ever owned, folks.]

Odd Bean OutI found a stowaway in my can of garbanzos!

Caption contest winner, Jenny T:
“It’s living its dream of being turned into hummus.
‘They said I could be anything, so I became a garbanzo bean…’ ”
[And she gets bonus points for a double-correct usage of it’s/its.]

Spinning with CompressionCoach Holly: Bringing compression to indoor cycling.

I’ve been subbing to cover a lot of RPM classes.
Add them to my running,
and the result is some very knotty calves.
This look is odd enough that folks can’t take their eyes off me during class.
^Every instructor’s dream.

Libby's Pumpkin PricingThat’s $6 USD for the big can of pureed pumpkin.

And that, my friends, is why I microwave & puree local pumpkins to make pie.
Yes, Thanksgiving was two months ago.
But we’re having friends over to celebrate again this weekend.
I love cooking Thanksgiving food, so why the heck not?

This post has two Drew University references in it.  Anyone?

Do you puree your own pumpkin?  Or eat pumpkin pie after December?

Continuing the “random” theme: What made you laugh today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what do you do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday: Gift & Food Shopping Marathon with Dad

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

Tuesday: Run (5.5 mi)

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

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

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

Wednesday: Cooking

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

Thursday: Eating, Hosting, Partying

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

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

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

Friday: Run (7.5 mi)

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

Saturday: Goodbyes and Hellos

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

Sunday: Travel & Cheese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join Me On This Run: Sussex County, NJ

It’s no secret that I love to run.

I love running in Rochester…my running family is there, and the city has some incredible parks to explore.
I love running in Los Angeles…the sun is always shining, and there’s an odd beauty to the dusty, dry mountains out there.
I love running in Singapore…gear requirements are minimal and the same all year, the rain is NEVER cold, and I know that running in the humidity makes me stronger.

But my favorite place to run is…New Jersey.  Sussex County, to be specific.  This is where I grew up, and where my parents still live.  Any season, any time – it’s impossible for me to run here without a smile on my face.  While I’d love for you all to come visit me, so I could take you on a running (or walking!) tour, I know that’s impossible.  So instead, I’m bringing the run to you!

[Note: I got my first Smartphone after moving to Singapore.  A year later, and I finally realize: DANG those things are pesky in the cold weather!  I had to pull my gloves off every time I wanted to take a picture!]

I figured that 6-8 miles would be a good distance.  So we headed down the driveway:

Ready to rock & roll.  See that enormous pine tree behind me?  Trees just aren't that big in Singapore.

See that enormous pine tree behind me? Trees just aren’t that big in Singapore.

I decided to take a picture at every mile.  In retrospect, I should have run this route backwards, to save the best photo for last, rather than for Mile 1:

Culver Lake.  I think there's a #lakelove Twitter hashtag floating around somewhere for pics like this....

Culver Lake. I think there’s a #lakelove Twitter hashtag floating around somewhere for pics like this….

This photo was taken just after 1 PM.  There were some dark clouds around, but the afternoon didn’t feel quite as dark as this photo looks.  Mile 2 shows the lighting a bit more accurately:

A bit brighter.  And look - telephone poles!!!!  [All cables are run underground in Singapore.  It's easy to get used to NOT seeing this cluttering the roadside.]

A bit brighter. And look – telephone poles!!!! [All cables are run underground in Singapore. It’s easy to get used to NOT seeing this cluttering the roadside.]

I was running next to the highway at Mile 3, so I didn’t stop for a picture.  But here’s a picture from Miles 4 & 5 (a one mile out-and-back):

Not quite the angle I wanted...but I didn't feel comfortable asking someone if I could climb on their roof for a better shot. :)

Not quite the angle I wanted…but I didn’t feel comfortable asking someone if I could climb on their roof for a better shot. 🙂

Look what coincided with Mile 6!

Nature is powerful...

Nature is powerful…

At Mile 7, I was surrounded by naked trees on both sides, so I snapped a picture of the road I was running along, to show you how empty it is.  This wasn’t a coincidental shot – except for the short highway stretch, this is what all the roads I ran along looked like:

Rolling rural roadway....

Rolling rural roadway….

Up some hills, and half a mile later, we were done.  Good thing, too – because the cold weather and a lack of stretching (bad Coach Holly!) tightened up my IT band.  Gotta take care of that right away!!

Thanks for joining me!

Thanks for joining me!

Thanks for joining me!

Thanks for joining me!

Anyone else enjoy a nostalgic and awesome run thanks to travel over the Thanksgiving holiday?

How are you returning to your workout routine, on this (for some, post-holiday) Monday?

Do you enjoy this kind of “Join Me On This Run” posts, or think they are boring?

Fortunately/Unfortunately (Nov. 26, 2013)

Coach Holly here, reporting, live and well (fed) from northern New Jersey, folks!  I think travel inspires me to write Fortunately/Unfortunately posts, so here’s a peek at Sunday’s travels:

Fortunately, modern technology (and the trick of time zones) allows me to wake up in Singapore, and go to sleep later (much, much, MUCH later) the same day in New Jersey.  Only 24 hours of travel are involved.  Living far from family is hard; airplanes make it much, much easier.

Unfortunately, I must wake up at 3 AM in Singapore to make this trick happen.

Fortunately, I can step out of our apartment in Singapore at 4 AM and hail a cab off the street.  When we first moved, we’d pay the extra money to book early morning cabs in advance.  Then, we realized there was really no need for that.  Available cabs are much easier to find at 4 AM than at 8 PM!

Unfortunately, I left my adorable husband sleeping in bed.  I miss that crazy dude!

Fortunately, my first flight (to Hong Kong) was very, very empty.  I had two empty seats next to me!  (Although I would have happily traded the empty seat if I could have had KMN with me.)

Unfortunately, that flight was only 3 hours.

Fortunately, Transfer Security in Hong Kong was completely empty.  Usually, it’s a little nutsy, but I was they only person there this time.  And I didn’t even have to unload every.single.electronic.device from my bag (this is normally what happens to me in Hong Kong, for some strange reason).

Unfortunately, my second flight was totally packed.

Fortunately, I promptly got trapped in the middle of the plane when the first pass of the drink cart started while I was in the restroom.  I got to stand for a solid 15 minutes, bouncing and stretching, without being told to return to my seat.  YAY!

Unfortunately, another American in the same predicament complained and sighed about it.  Some people will complain about anything!  I tried to keep him distracted with some idle chatting – turns out he works in China, and he asked me how long I’d been visiting Asia.  When he learned I lived in Singapore, he contributed this annoying quip: “Well, those of us who live in China think you folks in Hong Kong and Singapore are cheating.”  Thanks for that unsolicited opinion, sir.  For your information, I’m not living in Singapore to put some Asian feather in my American cap.  But thanks for the judgment.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Fortunately, my seatmates were calm and quiet, and I passed an uneventful 14 hours napping, watching one episode each of NCIS, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, and whatever other crime shows were on offer, as well as Monsters University (cute!).  I also read Drift, a mature young adult novel co-written by Steph Campbell and former classmate of mine Liz Reinhardt.  Nothing too deep, but these ladies have become my go-to for a light, fun in-flight read.

Unfortunately, the overly salty in-flight food on United’s international flights is becoming increasingly gross to me.

Fortunately, I came in armed with plenty of my own snacks.  NO, not the Tim Tams pictured in my packing post – I brought apples, granola bars, trail mix, Oreos, and some salty-but-at-least-tasty snack mix.

Unfortunately, there weren’t very many water walk-throughs.

Fortunately, there’s a secret water stash at the back of the plane (big bottles of water and little cups).  I just brought my bottle back and refilled it.  Repeatedly. Hydration is important on long haul flights!

Unfortunately, our descent into Newark was a little bumpy. Although it didn’t seem particularly unusual to me, both the people sitting next to and behind me used their air sickness bags.  I get sympathetically nauseous, so I hope they weren’t *too* offended that I closed my ears and eyes.

Fortunately, the immigration, baggage collection, and customs process took less than 25 minutes.  Easy, breezy on a Sunday afternoon, for some reason.  And from this point forward, my “Unfortunatelies” disappear!

My parents were waiting for me (with more snacks and fresh water!), and the drive home was uneventful.  I went for a short run – which was chilly, but invigorating and awesome, then took a MUCH NEEDED shower.  Seriously.  The shower after 24 hours of travel is beautiful.  Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner of roast chicken, salad, and pierogies.  [Gotta work a little Polish tradition in there somehow!]

And from there, it’s been Thanksgiving preparation, a bit of running, a lot of eating, and the perfectly usual jet-lagged sleep schedule of 11 PM – 2:30 AM and 5 AM – 9 AM.  Sure, why not?

I won’t be taking an extended Thanksgiving blogging break, so you’ll see plenty of me around here in the coming week – but I would like to wish safe travel to those of you traveling in the coming days, especially if you’re traveling along the eastern seaboard. And if your travel plans involve airplanes and airports, breathe deeply and remember:

“The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones.”
-Solomon ibn Gabirol (poet and philosopher)

If you could watch one TV show for the entirety of a long flight, what would it be?

Fill in the blank: “On my ideal international flight, every meal service would consist of only ____________________.” (one food item ONLY!)

Coach’s Corner: What Winter Running Gear Do I REALLY Need??

“How does a gal living in the tropics of Singapore have any business writing about winter running gear?”

Dealing with uber-humidity? Sure, she can totally write about that.

But freezing temperatures, icy winds, and blowing snow?  Give me a break.

But wait-wait-wait just a second, and give me a moment to explain.  You see, prior to living in Singapore, I spent six years living and running in Rochester, NY – which is, quite literally, just across the lake (Lake Ontario, to be exact) from Canada.  My qualifications for writing about winter weather running can be explained with just a few Rochester statistics.  Rochester, NY experiences:

1. Average low temperatures below freezing for five months of the year (this is where they usually sit for 6 AM runs);
2. Nine hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year.  That’s, like, 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM; and
3. An average yearly snowfall over 90″.  This ranks it as the 11th snowiest city in the US; five of the cities ranked above Rochester are within a 2 hour drive of Rochester.

Yep, that'd be some wintry weather.  Also, take note of the jacket - we'll come back to that shortly.  Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

Yep, that’d be some wintry weather. Also, take note of the jacket – we’ll come back to that shortly.
Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

So with that, and with apologies to Karen at la chanson de ma vie (who doesn’t like this kind of repetitive list/advice – I generally agree with her, but am making an exception here), let’s talk about winter running gear.  [Unless, of course, you live in Singapore, or you still doubt my credentials.  Then click on, close this window, and go enjoy general dog-text hilarity.]  I’m making an exception in writing this post simply because I’ve received so many requests for such a topic lately.

Usually, these requests go something like this: “Hey, I just started running this spring.  I paid a lot of money for new sneakers, and some tech shirts, and (maybe) a fancy GPS watch.  I don’t have much money left to spend on running gear, but winter is coming and my GPS watch doesn’t keep me warm.  How should I spend my limited remaining funds?”  And really, this is a great, practical question.  Keeping in mind a few simple rules (dress in layers, avoid cotton), here are my answers, in order of importance:

[*Note: Any brand references and links are provided by me, for your convenience, because I love the product.  I get nothing from these companies if you click the link or buy the product.]

1. Safety equipment.  With shorter daylight hours, the likelihood that you’ll be running after dark is much higher than in the summer.  A reflective vest or belt is a necessity, and a headlamp is important if you’ll be running in an area that lacks streetlights.  An additional blinking red light for your back is optional.  Headlamps come in all price ranges; personally, I like Black Diamond products, but anything will do to get you started.  Amphipod makes the best and most comfortable reflective gear that I’ve found (their Xinglet is amazing).

Winter Trail Racing: Headlamp? Check! Xinglet? Check! Cheapo gloves? Check, check!

Winter Trail Racing: Headlamp? Check! Xinglet? Check! Cheapo gloves? Check, check!
Extra safety pins? Missing, apparently.
Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier

I'll admit that I eventually had more than one weatherproof outer layer (as you can see in these pics).  But this jacket was by far my favorite.

I accumulated more than one weatherproof outer layer – but this jacket was by far my favorite.

2. A warm, light, water-resistant/proof jacket.  I suggest a running or cycling jacket, as these tend to be less bulky than “every day wear” jackets.  Purchase one in a slim cut, but with a little extra room for a few layers to be worn underneath.  Reflective stripes/strips/spots/panels are a bonus, as it will likely be dark when you are out at this time of year.  This will probably be the priciest item you purchase ($100+) – but I urge you to save your pennies first, then splurge on a high quality product when you do buy (only exception would be if your climate gets two days below freezing every year).  You will probably wear this piece for every outdoor run, for many months.  Most of the typical running/cycling brands make a good product. My Sugoi jacket and I passed many happy miles together, and even just looking at the photos of it (see right) makes me a bit nostalgic.  That was a great jacket, and it would still be going strong for me, if I hadn’t moved to the tropics…

3. Thick running tights.  In the beginning, any kind of “bottom” will do – warm up pants, yoga pants, etc.  A tighter fit is preferable, and some wind/water resistance might be beneficial, but just wear what you have.  When you’re ready to purchase, I suggest selecting a pair of tights that will be appropriate for the average winter conditions where you live, and I strongly recommend tights over pants (less bulk, less annoying, less to get wet in the slush/snow, and often warmer).  On the very coldest days, you can fake an extra layer with a pair of cheap “warm up” pants or your running capris/shorts on top.  If the fitted profile makes you uncomfortable, wear shorts or a cover-up athletic skirt on top.  On warmer days, your capris should to fine.  Again, stick to a typical running apparel brand and you won’t go wrong, and expect to pay $50-80.

4. High quality winter socks.  Running shoes have lots of breathable mesh, which allows a cold wind or icy puddle to sabotage your toasty toes.  While a double layer of your regular socks might do the trick for awhile (and except in the coldest places, your toes will warm up after a few miles), the best protection against chilly feet is a pair of wool-blend winter socks.  If you’re on the taller side, I especially suggest a higher cut (usually found as “Hiking” not “Running”), to help protect your ankles when your tights ride up.  Smartwool and Darn Tough are two great brands – these socks don’t come cheap (~$8-25/pair), but you will wear them for many years to come, and your toes will thank you!

5. Long-sleeved top-half base layers.  The trick to dressing for cold weather running is layers.  If you have any technical gear from your warmer weather running (bra, tank, short-sleeved shirt), then put that layer closest to your skin.  On top, add one or two or three (as the temperature dictates) more layers, preferably technical gear, but whatever you have will do.  Bonus features on this layer include a higher neck and/or thumb holes (especially for those with long arms!)  Finish with your jacket (see #1).  You can get as simple or as fancy with your base layer as you want; usually, mid-quality base layers can be found for $20-40.

6. Hats/gloves.  These are essential items that you should be wearing as soon as the temperatures drops – in fact, I’ve been known to wear shorts, short sleeves, and gloves:

But gloves and hats are at the bottom of my “to buy” list because, in my experience, it’s not usually worthwhile to spend extra money on these layers, especially at first.  Go digging in your closet for an old earband or hat, and see what kind of gloves you find while you’re at it.  Usually, the items you find will be made of some sort of synthetic anyway.  I grab the cast-offs (ones I wouldn’t normally wear in every day life), and banish them to the running basket.  This is where the hats in the above photos originated.

And frankly, after losing 2-3 pairs of pricey winter running gloves (when my hands got warm, I’d take the gloves off and shove them half into my shorts/pants), I gave up and bought a pack of obnoxiously colored, one-size-fits-all gloves.  I’d double them up if it was very cold, and I’d add a layer with the “finger mitts” on a few of my technical tops.  And I did keep a pair of wind-resistant mittens around, for the very coldest days.

Also on the coldest days in the coldest climes, you may want a scarf or balaclava to protect your neck and face, and to help warm the air slightly before you breathe it in.  You can fashion this with an old scarf wrapped over your nose/mouth and tied behind your head, or splurge on a specialized product.  This really depends on how cold it gets where you live.

Now, the final question: Where should I buy this gear?

I MUST start by recommending your local running/walking store.  I don’t mean a big-box sporting goods store – I mean a specialty running/walking store.  Shopping at such a store lets you try on various brands/sizes, feel the fabric options, and talk to the staff.  Seriously – the staffers at such stores are usually amazing resources – they should be runners themselves (if they aren’t, find another store), and can talk you through the details of each product in far more detail than this blog post can provide (materials, wind/water-proofness, pockets, reflectivity, etc.).

[Personal plugs: If you’re in Rochester, go to Fleet Feet Sports Rochester.  If you’re in Central NJ, go see Meghan at Princeton Running Company.  And on the off chance you happen to be near Gig Harbor, WA – then go visit Alexa at Route 66 Running & Walking!  If you’re anywhere else and need a suggestion, drop me a line.  I can’t make any promises, but I’ll do my best. :)]

Once you get a feel for the products, what you like, what sizes you wear, etc – of course you can go online.  There are lots of benefits to shopping locally, and I urge you to do so.  However, I can’t deny that I stalk my favorite apparel sites at the end of the season (at the end of this winter, you can get great deals for next winter!), and I do order my fair share of discounted apparel from Sierra Trading Post.

And that, I believe, is a cold weather wrap (or Snuggie, whatever you prefer).  If there’s interest, I’ll talk about dressing your feet (beyond socks) for winter weather running in a future post.  But for now, my temperate-climate-dwelling friends, grab some hot tea and a slice of pumpkin pie, prop your feet up, and have a great evening.  Here in the tropics, I’m off to put on a running tank, and chill an isotonic beverage for post-sweaty-run rehydration. 🙂

Tell me about the coldest/nastiest condition you’ve ever run through.  What piece of apparel did you want to marry at the end of that run?

Did I miss any essential winter apparel items?  Think I made a mistake in the order of importance?  Feel free to discuss and disagree in the comments!

Any winter-weather-topics you’d like me to blog about?


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.]

Friday Gym Fun #2

A long, long time ago – aka, earlier this year, when I was but a baby blogger, I tried out a “Friday Gym Fun” post.  The assignment to a Friday was random,  and it’s been quite awhile since that first one – I’ve had a partial draft of a second saved for quite a long time.  And now, I’ve finally accumulated 5 more tidbits to share.  Do keep in mind, it’s been awhile.  How long is “awhile”?  Well, #1 should give you a hint…

#1: But Easter isn’t a holiday:

[Background information: Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and religions (Bhuddism, Christianity, Islam, Taoism, Hinduism, and others).  There are several public holidays “allotted” to each religious group.  The Christian holidays are Christmas and Good Friday.  On all public holidays, my gym has adjusted hours and a special class schedule.]

As I was leaving the gym on Thursday, the day before Good Friday, the desk attendant reminded me that the gym would be on a public holiday schedule the next day.

Me: Ah – yes, thanks.  Is there a special schedule for Sunday?
Her: *looks confused* Why?
Me: Erm…for Easter.
Her: No.  Sunday’s isn’t a holiday – tomorrow is the holiday!
Me: (understanding what she meant, but still amused) Erm…just don’t tell the Christians that!

#2 Looks can be deceiving: I was on the treadmill one day, and a big, burly (weight-lifting style) guy claimed a treadmill two down from mine.  A moment later, his big burly friend came by and took the one between us.  I sighed, anticipating a sweaty, clompy, testosterone-laden passive aggressive race to start up next to me.

But these fellows surprised me so much.  They started at a walk, then proceeded for 30 minutes of very responsible, reasonably-paced run/walk intervals – exactly the kind of thing I would prescribe for my runners-to-be.  I felt so happy for them – and slightly disappointed at myself for pre-judging so quickly!

#3 Karma: I was in an RPM class recently when, about 20 minutes into class, one of the gentlemen near me started to smell quite bad (it definitely wasn’t me).  I sighed inwardly, rolled my eyes outwardly, and breathed through my mouth for the rest of class – all the while grumbling in my head about deodorant, clean workout gear, etc.

Two days later, I was in BodyPump when, halfway through class, for no apparent reason (my clothes were clean when I put them on that morning, and I showered/powdered/deodorized), I started to stink.  I got stinkier and stinkier as class went on.  Although I don’t usually smell like a rose by the time class ends, I seldom stink quite as badly as I did that day.  On a normal day, I think that only I, and KMN, get close enough to me to notice the stink.  But on this particular day, I had a much larger than normal “stink radius”.  Karma was most definitely at work here.  Henceforth, I shall try to be less judgey about smelly gym goers.  Maybe their laundry detergent was just having a bad day.

#4 Quotations from the Spin Room: Speaking of spin, one of my RPM instructors came out with this little gem sometime in June –

“You should now have a bit pf perspiration on your forehead.  If you don’t, you aren’t working hard enough.  Sweat is what tells you that your body is getting stronger.”

Well gosh, if that’s the case, I’m going to be muscle-woman by the time I leave Singapore.  I break a sweat walking to the bus stop!

#5 Two are better than one: Each of the vanities in the locker room has two hair dryers.  A few evenings ago, I saw a woman standing at the vanity, one hairdryer in each hand, aiming them at opposite sides of her head.  If that’s not Singaporean pragmatism and efficiency, I don’t know what is.

[Yes, this does mean that “Foodie Friday”, from my new blog plan, will have to share space with “Friday Gym Fun”, every once in awhile.  I think they’ll both survive.]

Seen anything unexpected/funny/surprising/hilarious at the gym/track/trail/running path lately?

Weekly Workout Round-Up (Oct. 7-13)

Last week was characterized by two things:

1. Not much running.
2. A return to yang yoga.

Both of these were good things.  As I’ve said before, I tend to use the post-long-race week as both a physical and mental break from training.  I take a step back from my intense Sunday afternoon workout scheduling session, and just do whatever workouts I feel like – or don’t feel like – doing.  I put zero pressure on myself to do anything, and if I want to lounge around and read a book instead, or sleep in for an extra hour, I let myself.  So after last weekend’s 50K, my workout week looked like this:

Monday: Yin yoga.

Basically, I fell asleep in a candle lit room while ostensibly stretching my hips.  Glorious.

Tuesday: Yoga by the River

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday.  I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head...

I also used a hair dryer on Tuesday. I did not, however, carry a flower pot on my head…

A new East Coast Lululemon showroom opened last week in Singapore.  In preparation/celebration, the owners organized a series of free Tuesdays by the River Community Yoga classes during September and October.  This was my first time in attendance.  There were over 100 of us – probably closer to 200 (?) with our yoga mats spread out on a pedestrian bridge at Clarke Quay.  The guest instructor demonstrated and led from the broad concrete railing.

This was an interesting experience, and I’ll admit that I left with conflicting emotions.  First of all, doing open air yoga with like-minded folks after sunset was REALLY COOL.  But Clarke Quay is a pretty popular evening hang-out for expats, professional locals, and tourists.  Our group occupied most of the bridge (leaving just a narrow space for people to pass by), so we were impossible to miss.  As my mat was located next to this walkway, I heard lots of comments as people went by – and a fair share of them were from groups of men, to the effect of, “Whoa, it’s our lucky day!”  Then, they pulled out their phones and started snapping pictures.

A week later, and I’m still not sure what I think about this.  On one hand, we are opting to practice yoga in tight clothing in a very public setting.  And there were plenty of groups, women, and couples staring (and photographing) too.  I mean, we were quite a sight:

Yoga on the BridgeOn the other hand, such blatant discussion and admission of oogling makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable.  But, I think I’m filing this one under “Live and Let Live,” though – and I’ll probably go back this week.  [Tonight, actually – locals, come join us – BYOM (bring your own mat)!]

Plus, this yoga session reminded me of how much I’ve abandoned my “other” yogas (Hatha, Flow, Vinyasa) in lieu of Yin.  Although Yin is great for stretching and relaxing, I do enjoy the challenge and strength required by yang yogas, and want to ensure I fit in a class or two each week in the coming months.

Wednesday's dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan.  Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday’s dinner: Dahl and homemade Naan. Maybe not much to look at, but soooo good!

Wednesday: RPM

I have lots of team-teaching to do in the next two months, so you’ll be seeing a lot of spinning going on.  This was just a little test/warm-up.  While I didn’t kill myself with resistance, I was quite pleased with how good my legs felt – generally quite strong, just a touch of residual fatigue when I pushed the hills or sprints hard.  Three cheers for speedy recoveries!

Thursday: Short run/walk & Yoga

This was the Grand Opening of the Lululemon store I mentioned above.  The owners and managers of this store are an energetic, passionate bunch, eager to share their love of fitness.  In fact, I’m working with them to dream up some joint Lulu-RWH programming, so locals, stay tuned!

Anyway, they invited me out for the opening, so I joined an excited, chatty group of 30-40 athletes for a 2-3K run/walk to and through some of East Coast Park.  There, we enjoyed half an hour of waterfront yoga.  Delicious!

Our instructor kept saying, "Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall," then catching herself when we all laughed.  I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Our instructor kept saying, “Reach to the ceiling/mirror/back wall,” then catching herself when we all laughed. I think she needs to lead MORE waterfront yoga!

Next, we headed out for a ride around the East Coast area and tour of some local yoga and pilates studios…on a Hippo tour bus (don’t ask me why it’s called a Hippo bus; it doesn’t look like a Hippo):

Hippo BusMy job rocks.  I spent the morning working out, then sitting on the sunshiny, breezy upper deck while riding around Singapore (and ducking the occasional low-hanging branch), talking to yogis and runners, people for whom fitness is a passion – and in many cases, a profession.  The morning ended with mini cupcakes and Chinese treats back at the showroom.  Overall, a very fun morning.  Good luck with this new adventure, ladies!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to "test drive" - the blue & white striped tank.  We'll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

I also left with my very first Lulu apparel to “test drive” – the blue & white striped tank. We’ll see how it fares after a few weeks with me!

Friday: Good intentions, zero execution

Saturday: Communication Fail

I was supposed to shadow an RPM class on this afternoon; but some miscommunication meant that I got to the gym…but didn’t end up shadowing.  Unfortunately, I was wearing my flip flops, and carrying my cycling shoes, but was absolutely without sneakers – so an alternative workout would’ve been hard.  I did some stretching, then came home and finished up my book (Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell – total brain candy).

Sunday: Long Run (9 mi)

GCA has been hankering to try out a new park connector, so I met her, and another of her friends (A), for an early morning run from Buona Vista MRT out to Pandan Reservoir.  This was super fun for me – Pandan Reservoir is near to my in-law’s place, so this is where KMN and I used to run when we would come to Singapore to visit.  This run was made possible by the construction of a new, shiny, loopy bridge over the AYE (freeway) that just opened.  The bridge is really quite impressive; I should have taken a picture – but I’m a bad blogger, and failed to take ANY photos of this group adventure.

We took the pace nice and easy, and the miles passed quickly with company.  My knee did just fine until about Mile 8, when it started to twinge a bit.  After a few twinges, I dialed back to a walk to the finish.  Walking, bending, squatting, and all other activities were fine for the rest of the day.  For now, I’ll continue to treat with rest (or at least, stick to short runs), and add in a bit of quad/hamstring strengthening.  The beauty of being post-key-race is that I have the time and freedom to let this run its course, without being anxious about training that I’m missing.

Anyway – I thoroughly enjoyed getting out for miles with friends – and meeting a potential new running partner *A*ahem*A*!  AND, the run ended with a trip to Ghim Moh market, where I was reunited with my first (and still favorite) tau huay (soybean pudding):

There's nothing like your first time.  Especially when it's as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet...

There’s nothing like your first time. Especially when it’s as good as this one: smooth, creamy, just the right amount sweet…

I only wish I had thought to bring another five containers home, to eat this week.  Instead, I’m just going to need another excuse to go join GCA for a run in her neighborhood. 🙂

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of post-ultra-week.  Total Workout Time (including stretching & rolling): 6 hr, 19 min.

Coming up this week?  Lots of spinning, and some more non-yin yoga (and, who am I kidding, some yin yoga, too!), and probably some short runs.

Public group yoga: Awesome, or uncomfortable?

Beach yoga: Yay or Nay?
[I hate getting sand everywhere, but have to admit that the views were spectacular!]