Category Archives: Running

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Venus Run Cheer Squad 2014: JOIN ME!

In March of last year, I ran my first 5K race in Singapore: Venus Run 2013.  This women’s-only race had all of the hallmarks of a standard 5K: It was fast, flat (until a pretty serious climb into the Finish Line), and painful.  One thing noticeably absent, though, was any sort of cheering.  Even as I ran through the finishing chute, right among the Top 10 Finishers (I think I was 11th), no one seemed to be paying any attention, except the announcer.

I realized by then that this was quite normal for races in Singapore.  The volunteers provided directions and water, but not much enthusiasm/cheering/motivation.  [Note: Most race volunteers in Singapore are teenagers completing mandatory or extra-credit volunteer service.  They are plentiful, but most aren’t runners and don’t know how/what/when to encourage runners.  This isn’t their fault, it’s just a fact.]  The spectators were few and far between.  And even other runners kept to themselves after finishing the race.  All of this was a far-cry from the amazing running community that I left behind in Rochester, NY (*waves furiously* HI GUYS!!!!).

So right then and there, after catching my breath, stabilizing my legs, and downing some water, I decided it was time for a change.  I knew that I couldn’t just stand at the top quietly, watching so many people struggling up the slope to the finish.  The field size (~2,000 participants – small, for Singapore) and the location (wide, steep slope to the finish) were perfect for what I had in mind.  So I walked about halfway down the slope and started cheering, clapping, whooping, and just making a general ruckus – the way I learned in Rochester.

And it mattered – I could see a little push, an extra spring, a small smile coming from these ladies in the final meters of a race.  None of these women were “my” athletes – but these are the moments that a coach lives for.  This is why I coach. Why I teach. Why I learn ferociously about the body, how it works, and how to help it work better.  I live for that fire, that glint, and the pride and confidence that burst out when someone tackles a challenge – and crosses the finish line: SUCCESS!

But let’s not get too poetic.  The bottom line is, I stopped caring that “No one in Singapore really cheers,”* and started getting myself out there to cheer.  A crazy white girl yelling non-stop encouragement on a deserted section of a half-marathon course at 6 AM (or 11 PM) certainly garners her fair share of strange looks (and apparently, a bit of gossip as well) – but I don’t care.  I love watching people run, I love sharing their endorphins, and if I can make just one person’s race a little better – fantastic!

I’ve made half-hearted attempts to get other folks out to join me in the past, but nothing really stuck.  But I think the time is right. I think there are other folks – mostly runners – who want to share this experience, and be a part of helping improve someone else’s race experience.  So that (finally) brings me to the details:

Venus Run Cheer Squad 2014!

When: Saturday, March 8 (tomorrow) @ 4:45 PM
Where: Marina Barrage Building, at the bottom of the downslope closest to Gardens by the Bay [It’s a little annoying to get there – directions are here, or if you’re up for a 1.5-2K walk, you can walk from Bayfront MRT.  Look for the tall white woman in the Run With Holly shirt!]
Who: Anyone & everyone.  Family, friends, adults, kids, runners, non-runners…

What To Bring: Enthusiasm, Hydration (for yourself), Noisemakers (cowbell, clappers, etc.)

No experience necessary! We’ll rally up, and I’ll have some signs and a few pointers/suggestions for cheering newbies.  Depending on how many people we have, we’ll divide up and spread out along the latter half of the course.  The route is slightly different this year, but there are still some great cheer spots.  The race is 5K, so everyone should be finished in about an hour (of course, you can leave whenever necessary!).

I hope to see some of you there! =)

[And if you’re racing, feel free to come join us after you cross the Finish Line!]

Ever gone out to cheer for a race before?  Any notable cheering experiences?

Have you ever witnessed really spectacular cheering (either in general at a race, or by a group/individual in particular)?  Tell me about it!


*Yellow Ribbon Run and Standard Charter Marathon are two notable exceptions.  I have cheered at neither, but seen – and seen evidence of – plenty of folks cheering at these two events.

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

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

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

Lately, I’ve been stumped by a few questions.  So, that’s where you all come in:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year of Running: 2013 in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

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.]

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?


Great Eastern Women’s Run: A Strong, Beautiful Cheer-fest!

So this morning, this happened:

Strong is Beautiful

I heard from several running friends that the Great Eastern Women’s Run (5K/10K/21K) was one of the best races in Singapore.  This is the only female-only event in Singapore (or perhaps that I’ve seen ANYWHERE) that refuses to play up the “girlie” part of a female-only race*.  The shirts are red (not pink!!!!!), the message is health and fitness (not glitter!!!), and the execution is solid.  Although I opted not to participate this year, I will not make the same mistake next year.

So I did the next best thing to running: I went out to cheer.  The weather was a bit iffy – rain threatened all morning, and some parts of the course did get a bit wet/misty at times.  But the overcast skies and cool breeze definitely made me wish I was racing!!!

Grey morning skyline (taken from my 21K cheering spot).

Grey morning skyline (taken from my 21K cheering spot).

I spent the first part of the morning at the 14K mark on the half-marathon course, and of course had a blast cheering for everyone.  I loved seeing so many strong, intense, fierce looking lady runners!  The two funniest parts of the morning were:

1. Several times, ladies running past greeted me by name, “Hi Holly!” with enthusiastic waves.  I cheered and waved back – I suppose they know me from the blog and/or Run With Holly Facebook page – but I have no idea who most of them are.  I felt mildly famous, but wish I knew your names so I could have very specifically cheered back at you!

2. “Aren’t you supposed to be at Marina Barrage?”  This was the most common question I got all morning.  Marina Barrage is my usual cheering spot, for several reasons: It’s 4-5K from the finish, there’s not much else going on so encouragement is welcome, and the absence of housing means I can cheer as loudly as I want.   This morning, I just decided to do something a bit different.  Seems that I’ll have to do this even more in the future, just to keep you all on your toes! 🙂

When most of the half-marathoners passed, I decided to go across the river to cheer for the 5K, which was still going strong.  Unfortunately, the best way to cross the Kallang River was for me to walk back to the subway and travel one stop.  This was a bit pesky, but I hustled and managed to get across before all the runners finished.

The fun part about a 5K is that the distance is accessible to many people, and I saw ladies of all shapes, sizes, and ages out on the course, including an 80 year-old woman, walking with her daughter? grand-daughter? – so cool!

I opted to hold the sign this time (rather than prop it up – the drizzle was making things a big soggy), and was overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response it received.  After last week’s “glam” kerfluffle, I wanted the sign to remind all the ladies out on the course that their physical and inner strength is what make them beautiful.  But I saw so many smiles, fist-pumps, and cheers in response to a few simple words, that it was my heart that melted.  There were so many requests for photos that I should have made TWO signs!  When a woman came up to me and said, “See these goosebumps?  That sign just gave me these goosebumps,” I almost cried.

The overwhelming response left me feeling conflicted: Part of me was overjoyed that I could help spread such a powerful message; another part of me was a bit sad that such a message still needs to be spread.

The extra bonus of my 5K cheer spot was  the most active, energetic group of race course volunteers I’ve ever seen in Singapore.  These young ladies formed a mini cheer corridor, pulled out every language they knew (including English, Mandarin, Singlish, and Malay), and even ran next to some participants for a bit.  They were awesome.

Jia YOU, ladies!

Jia YOU, ladies!

The flood of runners turned to a stream, to a trickle, and then…the morning was over.  I packed up my sign, grabbed a parting shot of some Kalang Park roosters (don’t ask me…):

Yep, four roosters pecking along in the park (which is really just a strip of green between the river and the highway).  Toward the end, they even added their own "Cock-a-doodle-do"s to the cheering action!

Yep, four roosters pecking along in the park (which is really just a strip of green between the river and the highway). Toward the end, they even added their own “Cock-a-doodle-do”s to the cheering action!

and headed home.  I won’t lie: I was planning to go for a run when I got home.  But after two days full of early mornings and lots of cheering, I opted for a shower and a long afternoon nap instead.  Sorry I’m not sorry.  Now, I’m catching up on some work, writing some blog posts, and about to go find myself some dinner.  [Cheering is hard, hungry work.]  Enjoy the remainder of your Sunday!!

Congratulations to ALL Great Eastern participants.  You ladies did a fantastic job this morning!!!

*If female-only races leave you feeling a little funky, check out this post by Fit and Feminist (yes, I love her just a little bit): My Problem With Women-Only Races Is Not The Women-Only Part.  You’re welcome.

Did you run the Great Eastern race this morning?  Tell me about it!

Did you run another race this morning? STILL tell me about it!

What makes YOU beautiful (please think outside the lines of ‘traditional’ beauty)?
[Men, you can answer this question, too.  I think those of you out this morning supporting/cheering/pacing/sherpa-ing for your wives/daughters/siblings/friends were beautiful for your dedication, commitment, and love.]

ING NYC Marathon (2013): Race Report (Guest Post)

We’re mixing things up a little bit today. Instead of a Monday race/run report from me (yes, it’s Wednesday, shush), I’m turning this space over to Reuben, my second-cousin-in-law. [Not to be confused with my second *space* cousin-in-law.  Seriously.  He’s married to my Dad’s cousin’s daughter.  So I’m pretty sure that makes him my second-cousin-in-law.  But I’ll take confirmation – or correction – from any of you family-tree-making gurus out there.]

Anyway, I started coaching Reuben to help him get past some nagging injuries and safely train for his first 10K back in mid-2012.  About 6 months later, we worked together as he prepared for a half-marathon.  And just a few days ago, he crossed the finish line at the ING NYC Marathon.

He was eager to write about his experience, and I think that a race report is a great tool for helping runners process and evaluate their race day – so I encouraged him to do so. Then, I had the fantastic idea to share his report with you.  NYC is a big deal marathon, and although I didn’t run it, I no whave a way to bring you all a flavor of the day, through Reuben’s eyes.  [This was also his first marathon. I haven’t quite figured out how to break it to him that no other marathon will be quite the same experience as this one.  Maybe one of you could tell him for me?]

So with that, I’m turning things over the Reuben [with just a few Coach Holly comments added in bold]:

The day started at 4.50 am as I had to get dressed and make my way to the Meadowlands (across the river in New Jersey) to catch one of the shuttle buses to the start line. The buses were all scheduled to leave between 5 am and 6 am. There was a bit of drama getting to the buses, as there was only one parking lot entrance (due to poor organization) and only one lane, which was backed up.  People started heading up the outside lane and trying to cut in which made it worse. [Welcome to NJ, Reuben.  Hold on to your Kiwi hat.]  One person on the bus later told us, “I usually have faith in runners not being s— people, but what I saw this morning is changing my mind!” In the end, we got to the buses just before 6am.

Parking Madness

Parking Madness

The traffic to the start was a nightmare, the road into Staten Island was scheduled to close at 7am, so every man and his dog was trying to get in before the closure. People on the bus who had run the marathon before said that this wasn’t normal, and it usually took only 15 mins to get there. I, for one, was much happier sitting on a warm bus than at a freezing start village for a few hours.

Glamorous (and warm!) pre-race throwaways...

Glamorous (and warm!) pre-race throwaways…

I got to the village at around 7.45 am and began making my way through security, which took a while. Once I got to the village, I had my breakfast – this was about two hours before my start, as planned and practiced [Good runner!  Nothing new on race day!] – then proceeded to go to the porta john three times in the village. Cold and nerves, I’m sure.  I met two other Kiwis who were running, so I sat next to them and chatted till our corral was called. It was so cold that I grabbed extra layers out of the clothing bin after the first wave went, and later donated my pants to one of the Kiwis when I headed to the corral.

Once in the corral, I had to use the porta john again. By this time, the first cannon sounded and our corral started to move forward. At the start line, it all became very real and warm (don’t worry, that soon passed). I dropped the two jerseys I was wearing but kept my woolen hat on over my peaked hat. Our cannon went off, and off we went. It took 5 mins for me to cross the start line.

The Verrazano was awesome, best view of Manhattan I’ve ever seen, and it was quite neat to see all the NYPD helicopters circling. It was amazing how many people were on the top layer of the bridge (where I was) and the bottom.

Miles 1-10 were really good, there was good crowd support and I think this was the area with the most room to run, so runners were quite spread out. The majority of the terrain was a steady incline, not steep at all but just a rise. This was the area that was hit worst with the winds. Winds were reported to be 30 mph and the temp was around 44°F/6°C, but the wind made it feel 38°F/3°C. There was a bit of downhill as well, but not as much as the incline. [Ain’t that how it always feels, folks?] I was feeling great at this point and running around 10.15 – 10.25 min/mile. I would look down at my watch when sheltered from the wind and see it reading 9.15-9.50, and I would slow down. This observation helped me realize that I was probably running too fast for the windy conditions – I was maintaining my goal pace, but with too much effort, due to the wind.

Yep, just marker your name right on there.  You won't regret it!

Yep, just marker your name right on there. You won’t regret it!

Miles 10 – 13. This was my oh s— moment: Williamsburg Brooklyn.  There was still a lot of uphill, and although it was very sheltered and I sped up, I could feel myself fading a bit. This was when I knew I’d gone out too fast. I pulled back, hoping I hadn’t done too much damage and tried to bank the next 4 miles easy. Still, I averaged 10.20 – 10.30 min/mile for the next 3 miles, to the halfway mark. Williamsburg was also the beginning of the really amazing support. The first 10 miles were good, but Williamsburg was superb. I’m very happy I put my name on the shirt. [Note to those with upcoming marathons: Put your name on your shirt! People will cheer for you!]

Miles 13 – 15: Queens. As I came over the second bridge (which is actually a bit of a tough one) into Queens, I rounded the corner and was welcomed by a man who yelled, “Welcome to Queens, Reuben!!!”. I wonder if he knew that was my first time to Queens? Queens was really cool and mostly flat.  I thought this section would be average, but it was actually awesome. Coming to the end of Queens, I was starting to get tired. I had hoped this wouldn’t happen till the 20 mile mark. My pace was slowing to around 10.37. I did take a toilet stop at this point though, so I was probably still around 10.30.  [Depending on how many miles that is averaged over, your running time was probably much faster than 10:30.  I know guys pee quickly, but 7 seconds is pretty incredible.]

Miles 15 – 16 took me over the Queensborough bridge. We ran that entire mile on the bottom level of the bridge, and it was quite unnerving to hear cars going above you.  [You weren’t alone in thinking this, Reuben.  I actually read the same thing in several runners’ blog posts.] The bridge could really break you, because it just keeps going, and lots of people slow to walk. I passed my two kiwi mates from the start village – they’d slowed to walk, but I kept running.  The bridge afforded an amazing view of the city and the Hudson – I wasn’t stopping to look, but others were. I actually felt good on the bridge. I think it’s because when I run I mainly use my hamstrings (something I need to fix before my next marathon) and reasonably decent hills force me to use my quads.  [Look at this body awareness, folks.  I swear I didn’t teach him that – he figured it out on his own.]

Miles 16 -20. This was probably the most challenging part of the marathon. Heading uptown is 4 miles of steady incline. I hadn’t hit the wall but my pace was slowing. I was starting to pay for the first 13 into the wind. These 4 were also into the wind which wasn’t ideal, since I am 6 ft and 180 pounds. Guess I made a great wind breaker for those around me, though.  My speed over this period was 10.40-10.50 min/mile. I planned to try run my last 6 miles the fastest.  [This isn’t exactly what his coach advised.]  I was using mind tricks during this period: “Four more miles till you are out of the wind, then it is easy,” and “Toughen up – you aren’t going to look bad in front of this many people!”  First Ave had the most supporters by far, in many places they were 10 people deep. I saw Erica and Co [his wife & family] at the 18 mile mark with their sign, gave them a wave and continued on.

Reuben is a Kiwi.  Erica did her master's research with kiwi birds.  They met in New Zealand.  It's all very cute.

Reuben is a Kiwi. Erica did her master’s research with kiwi birds. They met in New Zealand. It’s all very cute.

Miles 20 – 21. Just before Mile 20, the course crosses the Wills Ave Bridge.  Some will tell you the Queensborough Bridge is the hardest they are WRONG! The Wills Ave Bridge is the hardest. It may not be the steepest or the longest, but it is dull gray and ugly and there are no supporters and the sun glares right at you. There are also a lot of broken runners at this point, and this adds to the “a lot of other people are walking, I can too” feeling.  I hated this bridge and for me this was the toughest part of the marathon.

I was also preparing myself for less crowd support in the Bronx, based on feedback from others. Well they were WRONG: The Bronx was awesome – there was a band and a big screen TV broadcasting us on the course – we could see ourselves on the TV as we passed. This was my pick me up.  It helped that there was a guy beside me who started to walk, and then a big muscly spectator dude said to him “I didn’t wake up and come out in the freezing cold to watch you walk!” So he kept going and it gave me a boost as well.  [Coach’s Note-to-Self: Reuben responds well to drill-sergent-style coaching.  Be less nice.] They also had bananas here so I ate half of one. Pace was around 10.50 min/mi.

Miles 21 -22 were pretty tough as well, we came out from the Bronx and crossed the last bridge – the Madison Ave Bridge. To be honest, once I came out of the Bronx, I started to feel pretty bad. I was now at the “one foot in front of the other” stage.  As I crossed the bridge, a volunteer must have seen me slowing and asked how I was feeling. I said 100% so he said, “Don’t slow down then!” So I carried on.  Drink stops were pretty much a godsend at this point – they are so congested that I had no option but to walk through, and this gave my legs a few moments to recover. Pace was at the 10.56 mark.

Miles 22 – 25, I was pretty much in “get to the end” mode. [Sounds about right.]  I knew that mentally it was just the same distance as the shortest run in my training schedule, and I was envisioning where I was at at each point in that distance training run. Mentally, I was really good. In fact, I was saying things to myself like, “OK, for the next one I need to cover more weekly mileage and get overall stronger, so I won’t feel like this” (pretty much everything Holly told me to do and I didn’t do as much as I should have). I know it sounds weird, but it helped that it was all uphill because I was using my quads more and my hamstrings were getting a break. The crowd support was outstanding as well, but by this point I had no energy to give the crowd a wave when they said my name. I needed that strength to keep moving. Pace pretty much at 11 min/mile at this point.  I also spotted Erica and Co again at the 23 mile mark.

Mile 26: Coming into Central Park.  My bottles in my belt were empty, and I thought, “It’s time to finish”. There were a lot of walkers at this point and broken people that were feeling my shoulders as I was coming through, tossers holding hands in long lines were being told to move (not just by me but lots of people). I basically sprinted to the finish (well, it felt like sprinting but it wouldn’t have looked like it). I passed my two Kiwi mates and floated up the last little incline and crossed the line. [Dang, floating is an impressive verb choice for your movement at the end of 26 miles!] It felt pretty cool to have the crowd yelling my name as I came through.

I was pretty sore when I finished, but not in need of medical attention like lots of others – vomiting, fainting, looking like they were having seizures, being carried etc.  [Eeks.  Also, I told you that you were sufficiently prepared….]  The next part of the race was the part that was poorly organized. I got my medal and heat foil, then walked down to baggage collection. Locals who hadn’t checked any baggage could continue out the early exit (a special pink wrist tag was required for this). Early Exit was at 77th Street. We got herded into corals and walked out to get our fleece ponchos (which was awesome), but then we had to keep going all the way to 62nd Street (this wasn’t awesome at all). Exit details had been kept secret for safety reasons, but I planned to meet my family back at 77th Street.  Whoops.

It was a bit of a mission to get back to NJ, but the bit of walking probably helped my recovery today. Once home, I had a shower and some pizza and about 1/3rd of a beer [talk about self-control….] before calling it a night. Not too sore today, and have been for a small walk. I’m heading into the city tomorrow to get my medal engraved at NYRR and will be getting Shake Shack afterwards! Then getting back to stretching and coming up with a way to get faster, fitter and stronger.  [<— Don’t you just have to love this guy?  I’m going to stretch and recover, then come back to it and get BETTER.]

Overall, I would say that the crowd support is what makes this race – you don’t really notice the city, but you definitely notice the people.

P.S. I’ve entered the lottery for next year, so fingers crossed.

Shake Shack + Medal.  Rockin'.

When you’ve just completed the NYC Marathon, you can put that medal wherever you want. Even in the middle of a tray of Shake Shack.

Now, back to Holly for the questions of the day:

Anyone else run a REALLY BIG marathon as their debut marathon?  What was it like to transition to a smaller second marathon?

Were YOU at the NYC Marathon this year (as a runner, sherpa, OR spectator)?  What was your greatest parting thought?

Other questions/comments/thoughts for Reuben?  I know he’d be happy to answer them!!!

A Message To Anyone Worried About “Unglam” Race Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Wear some make-up.

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

2. Tie your hair back.

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

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

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

4. Smile.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a painful place...

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Body:

Thank you for being awesome.


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

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

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

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