Category Archives: Motivation

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.]

“Deeply Rooted”

“You want to be purposefully rooted in the place that you live.”
-Scott Austin, Pastor at Artisan Church in Rochester, NY

Why yes I do Pastor Scott.  YES I DO.

All the way back in 2006, KMN and I were fortunate to stumble upon the young, vibrant Artisan Church community just down the street from where I lived.  Although work and travel often divided our attendance, Artisan quickly became our “church home” in Rochester.  And today, although we miss the community terrible, the wonders of modern technology and a few Apple devices deliver each sermon to our kitchen table over Sunday morning breakfast.

The quotation above was shared a few weeks ago by Scott during a sermon series entitled Gardening in Babylon.  The central passage from this series is:

“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you, and pray on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” -Jeremiah 29:7

To me, this sentence makes good, solid sense -and I don’t really think it matters what your feelings about Christianity are.  Take out the “pray” part, if you are so inclined.  No matter where you are, or what brought you there, I find it hard to imagine a situation where your well-being and that of your community wouldn’t be intricately linked.

To really, truly live somewhere means to make it your home, even if only for a few years – or months, if that’s how you roll.  That means investing – in the people, schools, local businesses, and infrastructure.  That means recognizing the community’s strengths, helping improve its weaknesses, and working consistently toward the dream of an even better place.  That means contributing, even in small ways, whether you intend to stay for a few months, a few years, or the rest of your life.  That means making the choice to help shape, guide, and grow this home into the kind of place where you (and hopefully other people) want to live.

To me, this is what being “purposefully rooted” means.  The idea of being rooted, of nurturing a relationship with a place and people, and of really digging deep into a community, strikes a chord with me.  Roots are important to me.  I grew up in one town – one community – and lived there for my entire life, until I left for college (which was less than an hour away).  In contrast, I’ve been a bit of a nomad for the past few years, moving from Rochester to Pasadena to Hollywood to Sussex County to Singapore.  Still, in all of these places – whether I lived there for 3 weeks or 13 months – I tried to be purposefully rooted.

Roots manifest in many ways – from community dinners to patronizing local businesses to volunteering down the street.  But (and you had to be expecting we’d come back to this eventually) one of my favorite ways to be rooted is to RUN.  Running is how I put down ROOTS – running lets me grab hold, take refuge, and secure myself in a new place.  This happens in one thousand different ways…

Running is what forces me to slow down enough to see the coffee shop on the corner, the yoga studio upstairs, and the sign advertising the Weekly Farmer’s Market.

Running is the first way I connect with my neighbors – the fellow runner along the canal, the woman down the street who walks her dog each morning, and the security guard at the building next door.

Running is how I make friends – from the local trail runners, to the track club, to the folks who read this blog and drop me an email.

Running is how I make a place home.  And I know that I’m home…

…when I can’t quite decide which group to join for a weekend run.
…when I learn the quickest traffic lights, the uneven spots on the pavement, and the undulations on my favorite trails.
…when I know where I want to go for a post-run snack.
…when I know the local races, their pros and cons, and the best spectating spot for each.
…when I can introduce my local clients to running spots they’ve never seen before.
…when I can step out the door, lace up my sneakers, breathe deeply, and feel…

…at home
…at peace
deeply and purposefully rooted.

Are you “deeply rooted” in your community?  How do you establish roots in a new place?  How do you deepen those roots after you’ve lived somewhere for some time?

[This blog will likely never dwell on my relationship with religion in general, or Christianity specifically.  But for anyone who is intensely curious…don’t be.  My position is unusual, but not especially interesting. I’ll only caution you against drawing any conclusions without really knowing the whole story.]

I don’t care if my legs tremble during Warrior poses. I need to run.

I have to tell you about my run on Friday.  Don’t worry, this isn’t an “I ran 28 miles on Friday morning, how crazy is that?” kind of story.  Rather, this is something of a love story, or maybe a “We renewed our vows” story.  Let me start by setting the scene:

Last week was my second week post-50K, and I planned to do some running – easy, casually, and as I felt inclined.  Then, I got bowled over by cross-training:

1. Tuesday was a public holiday, and so there were special classes at the gym. I opted for yoga and an extended cardio/strength combo class.  Both awesome, but involved nothing more than a few quick laps around the cardio studio.

2. Run With Holly will be leading some group runs from the newly opened Lululemon East Coast Showroom, so I spent a day or two meeting and doing a bit of yoga with the lovely ladies who own and manage the shop.

3. I’m in the final phase of RPM instructor training: Team-Teaching.  I spent a lot of time last week on the spin bike – shadowing, practicing, and teaching.

I'm loving this view more and more.  But preferably when my legs are spinning!

I’m loving this view more and more. But preferably when my legs are spinning!

Still, when Thursday rolled around, I said to KMN, “Wow.  Despite all the spinning and everything that I’ve been doing, my legs feel AWESOME.  I can squat so much weight in BodyPump, and my legs have been feeling really fresh on the bike, too!”

As the words were coming out of my mouth, I had my ‘DUH’ moment: That’s what happens when I’m running 15-20 miles per week, rather than 40+ miles per week, on top of all that other stuff.  Right.

And so I started thinking.  “Hmm…maybe I could get used to this.  I love how fresh my legs feel for other activities.  I’m getting plenty of exercise, both strength & cardio.  Maybe it’s time to *gasp* dial back the running a tad.”

For a few hours, that actually sounded like a reasonable idea (nevermind the fact that I just spent the last 8 months building my base up to 40+ miles per week).   I didn’t make any firm decisions, but I was toying with taking a little running reduction to focus on some other activities for awhile.

So that was my state of mind on Friday morning.  Now we can cut to the actual story:

On Friday morning, a felt like I might want to go for a run.  I didn’t have plans to spin that day, so I figured it would be a good day to test out my knee with a short run.  So I rolled out of bed and put on my running clothes.  But life got in the way, and I tended to emails, phone calls, chores, etc…and before I knew it, the clock said 4 PM.  I was substantially less enthused about the idea of running at 4 PM than I had been early that morning.  But I had evening plans, and 4 PM was my “now or never” moment of truth.

So I pretended that it wasn’t the hottest part of the day.  I put on my sunglasses, threw on my sneakers, grabbed my house key and headed out the door.  And do you know what happened next?

I didn’t care that it was hot.  I didn’t care that the sun was beating down.  I didn’t care about the traffic.  I didn’t care that I opted to forgo a shirt, and was making a slight spectacle of myself by running in just shorts and a bra top (pretty uncommon in Singapore).

I just ran.
I felt the breeze on my face (and stomach)!
I felt like I could really breathe – my lungs felt enormous and open.
I felt grounded, as my feet connected and pushed off the pavement.
I felt open, and free, and ready to fly.
I felt relaxed.
I felt release.
I felt endorphins.
I felt alive.
I felt freaking awesome.

And I was reminded – for the millionth time – why I run.  [Incidentally, why are we humans so forgetful, that we still need reminders of really obvious things?]  And just like that, my plans to dial back my running were dismissed.  I wondered how I could even contemplate such craziness!

So what if I have to hold my Warrior poses with trembling legs?  So what if my legs burn a little extra as I lead my class through a hill track?  So what if my alarm clock goes off at 5 AM for 10 miles?  So what if I have to sneak in hot afternoon miles on the days I ignore the alarm clock?  I don’t even care.  I just don’t care.  Let me run.  I want to need to run.

Of course, there is a time and place for everything.  There are seasons of my life when I run more, and some when I run less.  If I am genuinely and truly burnt out, I do turn away for awhile.  But I always find myself drawn back.  I can’t help it.  I can’t resist it.  My sneakers, my Garmin, “my” trails…they call my name.  They draw me in, they send me outside, and they give back to me ten times more than what I give them.


PS Last week, I said I finished my  Stretch of the Week Intro post thanks to some self-bribery.  Gummy Bear Mama asked what that bribe was, and I promised a photo.  Here you go:

Chocolate chip cookie dough!  Made safely (egg-free) from this recipe.  Not exactly a healthy fanatic's dream, but a little indulgence is fine once in awhile.  I used peanut butter instead of yogurt, so I had peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookie dough! Made safely (egg-free) from this recipe. Not exactly a healthy fanatic’s dream, but a little indulgence once in awhile is totally fine. I used peanut butter instead of yogurt, so I had peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  This tasted terrible, so I had to eat it all myself….

“Real” raw cookie dough, “Safe” raw cookie dough, pre-processed cookie dough nibs, or “Bake my cookies please”?

Runners: When was your last “jump up and down screaming ‘I love running!'” (on the inside, or the outside) moment? 

What’s calling your name today?
[Coffee, blogging, the spin studio, and possibly BodyAttack.]

On “bad bloggers” and “not runners”

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

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

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

[Oh, the horror!!]

[First world problems, anyone?]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 Miler (July 26th): Lessons in Chunking.

For those who may have missed it, my Weekly Workout Round-Up for July 22-29 included a Friday morning 22 mile run.

First of all, I must emphasize that a 22 mile run is not necessary for marathon training (Perth Marathon, Aug. 25).  In fact, I wouldn’t even put it on a marathon-training schedule for most of my runners (myself included).  But this run wasn’t really for my marathon training – it was a stepping stone to some longer distance training runs I’ll be doing to prepare for my first 50K (The North Face 50K, Oct. 5).  Basically, I have used marathon training as a motivator for me to increase my mileage over the past 4-5 months.  And I’m using the 50K training to keep myself honest about marathon training and my goal to build mileage – not (yet) to train for/run a super-fast marathon.  (I can’t do a 50K without decent mileage – but I can do a 50K without much emphasis on speedwork.)

So – 22 miles on Friday morning.  On Thursday night, I prepared some food, clothes, hydration, and an early alarm clock.  In the morning, I had some breakfast, finished prepping my supplies, and headed out for 22 miles.  Having grown bored with my regular routes, I decided to explore a path to the Botanical Gardens, run around/through the gardens a bit, then head back and finish in AMK/Bishan Park.  For fun and motivation, I decided to bring some friends along:

Obligatory Door Photo: Ready to rock & roll!

It didn’t take long before I got myself into route trouble.  Hint: “I think this will work” route planning on Gmaps isn’t *always* the best idea…

Long Run FB Update2

I don’t usually carry my phone when I run (mostly for moisture-related reasons – but there’s a lot to be said about this in some upcoming posts, thanks to Amy!).  However, for this long run, I knew that water stops might be few and far between, so I brought my hydration pack.  While my whole hydration pack gets sweat-soaked on a long run, it’s not *quite* as wet/dangerous for a phone as being shoved in my shorts pocket or bra top, and I trust my double-ziplock-bagging technique to keep it dry (enough).  So thankfully, when I got “stuck”, I just whipped out my phone.  [Note that, thanks to the humidity in Singapore, I only remove one of the plastic bags, and simply use the phone through the second…because the sweat on my hands alone would be enough to ruin my phone, if it got into the wrong cracks/crevices.]  And my persistence paid off, because I discovered a route/road that I will be using a lot in the future [Hint for locals: Kheam Hock Road lets you scoot right under the PIE – no sidewalks for a bit, but there’s not much traffic!]!

I made it to the Botanical Gardens, and set out to run one loop around the outside (Dunearn Rd > Cluny Rd > Holland Rd > Cluny Park Rd).  But I missed a turn, ended up almost in Holland Village, and had to double-back.  Then, while navigating the Tyersall Ave section (which I’ve never actually walked, run, or driven), I ended up climbing both Gallop Road and Gallop Walk (dead ends), before finally finding my way back to Dunearn Road.

In other words: Always expect that an exploratory run will take a bit of extra time/distance.  This had been my plan anyway – I had 22 miles to cover on one small island, so burning a few miles doing route investigation was no big deal!

For good measure, and to cement the correct path in my head, I ran a second loop – with much greater success, bringing my distance up to about 13 miles.  I swung through the Amenities Center in the Gardens to use the restroom, refill my hydration pack, and update:

Long Run FB Update 3

And with that, I left the Botanical Gardens (which seem considerably smaller when you’re running, rather than walking) and retraced my steps back toward home.  I took a short detour through Bukit Brown Cemetery – a spot which also deserves its own post.  Basically, I felt like I took a gigantic step back in time, running through this old, overgrown, mostly-neglected Chinese Cemetery.  Kinda creepy-cool, actually.

Also during this cemetery detour, I really started getting tired, mentally and physically.  I’d been cruising along just fine, but knew that it was time to start “chunking” the remaining miles.  “Chunking” is my favorite brain-tricking game for getting through a tough run, of any distance.  Basically, I divide the remaining run up into segments, by location/distance/time (depending on my mood), and simply focus on getting through the current segment.  This is a remarkably effective strategy for me, and it’s gotten me through many a tough run.  And no, the “chunks” don’t have to be equal.  On this particular day, my Chunks were:

Chunk #1: “Get to mile 16.  If you were Jeano, running the Hanson’s plan, then you’d be DONE at 16 miles.”

Chunk #2: “Get to 18.  You did 18 miles on the treadmill during the haze.  You can TOTALLY do 18 miles outdoors.”

At that point, this thought kicked in:

Long Run FB Update4

Chunk #3: “Get to 20 miles.  You did 20 miles two weeks ago in New Jersey.”

Chunk #4: “FINISH.  No, you do NOT need to stop for lemonade.  You have two measly miles left.  You can have all the lemonade you want when you get home.”

The truth is that the last 3-4 miles were really challenging.  My legs were tired and I was definitely dehydrated (despite consuming 3+ liters of water, 3 salt tabs, 2 packs of Sports Beans, and 1 pack of Honey Stingers).  How do I know I was dehydrated?  My body told me: The ONLY thing I could think about during the last 2-3 miles was an enormous, cold glass of lemonade or 100 Plus.  Yes, I was craving 100 Plus – definitely dehydrated!

[Safety Note: I was dehydrated, but safe – I was still taking in plenty of water, and not experiencing any symptoms of severe dehydration or heat-related illness: cramping, headache, chills, cessation of sweating, etc.  Running long distances in Singapore is dehydrating, and I know my body pretty well.  I wasn’t doing much damage by finishing out my last 2 miles before stopping for 100Plus.  If I felt that intense craving at Mile 10, I would have acted differently.  Safety first, people!]

Yes, I share your watermelon love, Brennan!

With 2 miles to go, I made myself practice the final miles of the marathon.  I’d be tired then, and have to keep running.  So I kept running, thinking to myself: “Quick turnover, light steps, drive your knees” (these are my form cues).  And finally…1 mile left.  “I can do anything for 1 mile.”  At that point, I knew I had it made.  For me, the last mile is usually much easier than the second to last mile!

And then…I was done.  I stopped at the first hawker center I passed to buy a cold 100 Plus.  When I got home, I gobbled down approximately one zillion slices of watermelon.

This run was exactly what I needed: Long, slow distance (9:40 min/mi pace), for both a mental and physical workout, as well as practice for a long run at Singapore temps – which will be crucial for the 50K!  And despite my end-of-run fluid cravings, my recovery went pretty well.  After refueling, showering, and propping my feet up for a few hours, I felt pretty good – and finally remembered to update my adoring bored public:

Long Run FB Update5

I even had enough spunk to meet a client for a short run, go to a Yoga For Runners class in the evening, and join KMN for a late-night-date-night at my current favorite post-hard-run spot: Fat Boys (a burger joint – very American, I know).  I ordered the chicken Caesar sandwich (I actually don’t eat beef burgers), fries, and a root beer float.  I finished every bite (so quickly that there was no photo taken!), then went home, and slept like crazy!

And that, my friends, is the story of my longest training run ever, in excruciating detail.  Thanks for playing along!

Have you ever FB-posted or Tweeted your way through a run?

How do you pick a “good” watermelon?  I poke them, smell them, and tap them – but honestly have no idea what combination of results to those tests means that the fruit will be sweet and delicious.

Do you “chunk”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

So today looked something like this:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Stop The Comparisons, and Start The Celebrations

This morning, I ran 18.2 miles.  If you want to skip the next 3 paragraphs, the summary is: It. Was. TERRIFIC.

Thanks for the company, G!

Thanks for the company, G!

GCA kept me company for the middle 8.7 miles, and I ran the first 6.5 and last 3 solo.  This is the longest long run that I’ve done in a very, very long time.  In fact, I’d have to dig out my training logs to figure out exactly how long.  But trust me, it will be measured in yearS.

And I felt good – both physically and mentally.  Yes, my legs were a bit achy at the end.  Yes, I was ready to be finished.  But I felt strong, powerful, and proud.  For me, there’s something about hitting 18 that makes 26.2 finally feel achievable and real.  [Yeah, yeah – I said 26.2.  But that’s a topic for another post, hold your horses.]

So around 10 AM this morning, I threw open the door to our apartment with tired legs, a very hungry tummy, and a great big smile on my face.  I hope you’re getting the picture here: I was feeling awesome.  Tired, but awesome.

Then, I logged onto my computer, and remembered…  In my 18-miler glory, I’d temporarily forgotten that someone I used to run with in Rochester is running her first 100 mile race (TARC 100 Miler) this weekend.  [Go, Heather!]  In fact, her Friday night start in the USA occurred while I was in the middle of my Saturday morning long run in Singapore.

Suddenly, my 18 miles felt very, very small.  Heather eats 18 miles for before breakfast.   And when she has 18 miles left on Saturday afternoon, she’ll be more than 80% finished with her race.  And here I am, getting all dizzy over running 18 miles?  My mere 18 miles this morning felt like nothing, when compared to Heather’s current undertaking.

I caught myself again, for the second time in as many minutes.  I was doing exactly what so many of my runners do: Diminish their own accomplishments by comparing them to someone else’s.  This behavior drives me bananas – when they do it.  If I had a dollar for every time one of them said, “Yeah, but I’m not a real runner.  I just jog 3 miles a few times a week. But you? YOU really run!  Like, you ran 18 miles this weekend!”, I would be…well, OK, I’d still be coaching.  But I could buy all my runners an extra Tech shirt, or post-workout ice cream, or something.

My response is always something like, “Look, if you run regularly, you’re a runner. PERIOD.  I don’t care how fast you are, or how far you go.  I care that you are getting out, and getting moving.  Everyone is in a different place, and has different priorities and goals.  My actions don’t diminish yours.”

Whoops!  Apparently, the time had come to give myself the same lecture.

I have to admit, I’m pretty motivating.

I also realized that the lesson is worth sharing.  It’s not rocket science, but it is so, so easy to forget.  Both in blog-land and in real life, runners can be a competitive bunch.  We’re often tracking our paces and our distances, our progress and our goals.  It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in (dangerous) comparisons: This person is running X miles this weekend!  She is doing her tempo work at X:XX min/mi!  Her marathon PR is X:XX:XX!

This is a self-defeating attitude.  It can be physically dangerous – when these comparisons lead people down the tempting road of doing too much, too fast, too soon.  It’s also psychologically dangerous, especially for runners who are just starting, or are tackling a new distance for the first time, or are returning from injury.  So if that’s you, then listen up!

Measure yourself only against yourself.  My weekly mileage isn’t your weekly mileage.  My tempo pace isn’t your tempo pace.  My long run distance isn’t your long run distance.  Pushing yourself – whether that means going one mile further in your long run, or increasing your run interval by 30 seconds, or running your tempo workout 10 seconds faster per mile – these are all accomplishments.  They are hard-earned, whether you are a new or experienced runner.  And they all deserve to be celebrated.

So tonight, I’m rooting for Heather – she is one of the strongest and most focused runners that I know, and I can’t wait to see how her race finishes (much, much later) today.  I’m simultaneously proud of my new long run distance from this morning – for me, this has been a long time (and lots of base miles) in coming.  And I am also proud of a runner I coach, who just graduated from 1 min walk/5 min run intervals to 1 min walk/9 min run intervals.  She didn’t think she could do it – but dang, she can – and did, and is!!

Today, running has challenged, pushed, and stretched all of us.  And we have risen to accept the challenge.  We’ve done our best, faced our fears, and seen new places (both physically and mentally).  For these reasons, and many more, we all have reason to be proud of our accomplishments.

My “race” isn’t yours, and yours isn’t mine.  That’s OK.  Actually, it’s much, much more than OK.  It’s pretty stinkin’ awesome.  Why?  Because if we all run our own races on our own terms, we are also free to stand on the sidelines for each other, cheering our hearts out.  And that is really, super fun.

Let’s be free-form today: Do you have anything to add?

Sundown Half-Marathon Cheer Squad: Ready and Reporting for Duty!


Sundown Half-Marathon 2013: GO RUNNERS!

Sundown Half-Marathon 2013: GO RUNNERS!

Tonight is the 10K and half-marathon portions of the Sundown series of races.  I’m sitting these out, running-wise, but I’ve scoped out a section of the course that should be far enough from civilization that I can cheer my fool head off.

On second thought, maybe I'll keep my head on.  But I'll still cheer!

On second thought, maybe I’ll keep my head on. But I’ll still cheer!

Find me between 15 and 16 km tonight, runners!

Be Strong!

I’ll be reminding you to…STAY STRONG!!

And keep smiling.  Because we're ALL a little crazy.  ;)

And keep smiling. Because we’re ALL a little crazy. 😉

Good luck, and HAVE FUN!!!

Keep Your Running Mojo Flowing, Even When Your Schedule Goes Wackaloon!

First things first: DUCK DERBY UPDATE.  In my last post, I included a photo of me posing with the Great Duck Derby sign (and large inflatable duck), and confessed that I had no clue what a Duck Derby was.  Well, nothing gets by my father (except how to post a Comment on my blog), so within 12 hours, the following appeared in my Inbox:

“I heard an advertisement for the Duck Derby, probably on my way to *someplace* from the airport. It is a fund raiser of some sort, the charity it benefits I don’t remember. But the gist of it was participants purchase a duck, and all purchased ducks are set afloat on the Indian River with the first duck to reach Capt Hiram’s getting a cash prize. Other proceeds go to the charity.”

And there you have it, folks: The Great Duck Derby.  And, my Dad.  Yup, he rocks.  🙂

Then, Kristen from Defy Your Limitations (who does know how to work the Comments section) mentioned that she’d attended the world’s LARGEST duck race in Dublin, Ireland.  And she described it basically the same way my Dad did.  Readers, you impress and amaze me every day!  Keep the good stuff coming, please!!!!

And now, let’s get on with today’s post:

The edge of the (Floridian) world...

The edge of the (Floridian) world…

Let’s talk about running.  And vacationing.  And unpredictable schedules.  Shall we? Yes, yes we shall.  This is my blog, and I make the rules!

[This is a running post.  Florida fun posts are here: Florida Recap #1 and Florida Recap #2.]

Now, you’ll usually hear me preaching about predictability, scheduling, and discipline to my runners – how they should schedule their workouts, block out their time, and keep their training times consistent.  I firmly believe this is the best way to establish a regular workout routine.

H o w e v e r, I’m not unreasonable, and I do understand that this simply may not be possible for all people, all the time.  It was most definitely impossible for me during my recent trip to the US, when I needed to be at “home base” most of the time.  Each day, I had a few small windows of time (less than an hour, usually) when I could go out, but their timing was not up to me, and I seldom had any warning of them.  It was more like: “OK, now!  You have 45 minutes – GO!”.  And while my particular situation was somewhat unique, I do know people, especially those who work from home, work across time zones, and/or are parents, who have similarly unpredictable and erratic schedules.  

As I didn’t have access to a gym, spin bikes, classes, or a pool – running became my go-to workout.  And over the course of two weeks, I used a few tips and tricks to help ensure that I got my workout in each day.  Some of these seem obvious, and others might seem silly – but perhaps you’ll find a useful nugget in here somewhere.

1. Dress for Success: When I got out of bed, I put on my workout gear.  Sometimes I was out for my run by 10 AM, sometimes not until 5 PM.  So I tried to choose clean running clothes (aka not stinky), and I kept them on until I got my workout in.  This way, I was ready to go at a moment’s notice.  [Thankfully for me, there was no dress code in daily life.]

I have fond childhood memories of visiting the Mel Fischer Treasure Museum.  Real treasure! From a real shipwreck!!

I have fond childhood memories of visiting the Mel Fischer Treasure Museum. Real treasure! From a real shipwreck!!

2. Accountability is Key: Putting on my workout gear had a secondary effect – it broadcast my intention to those around me.  Once my Mom knew I was planning a workout, she was quick to shoo me out the door when an opportunity arose.  And how sheepish would I have felt skipping a workout after I’d already “told” everyone I was going to it?  Right.

3. Fuel Smart: I really can’t run comfortably after eating a regular-sized meal.  In fact, I can’t run comfortably within five hours of eating a regular-sized meal.  [Poor KMN has been stuck on more than one moaning, groaning run with me before this lesson got pounded into my skull.]  But with time, I’ve taught myself to be able to run after a small meal/large snack.  During my two weeks in Florida, I never really knew when I’d be able to hit the pavement, so I opted for small, frequent snacks of things that I knew sat well in my stomach (cereal, yogurt, fruit, crackers).  This way, “I’m too full” never became an excuse not to run when the opportunity arose.  After my run, I refueled and continued eating normally for the rest of the day.

4. Be Flexible: I had broad running goals each week, but sometimes had to adjust my daily mileage to fit the schedule that day.  I mostly stuck to runs of 3-5 miles, but also managed to squeeze in a few double-digit runs while away (and I was prepared to break those into two shorter runs, if necessary).  They weren’t always on the day I’d planned, but if I had the chance, I took it.  And over the course of the week, this balanced out just fine.

I think I'm addicted to these photos because I can feel the breeze in them...  So lovely!

I think I’m addicted to these photos because I can feel the breeze in them… So lovely! And thank you, BodyPump, for that arm/shoulder/chest muscle definition!

A few other suggestions that weren’t in my bag of tricks on this trip – but have worked for me (and others) in the past:

5. Go Early: You may not want to hop out of bed at 6 AM, but if you get up and get your workout in now, you won’t have to worry about missing it later or disrupting the plans of your non-running friends and family.

6. Work In Your Workout: This may not apply for every situation, but if you have access to outdoorsy or athletic friends/family, make part of your trip a workout.  Go for a power walk on the beach or boardwalk, hike a nearby trail, or play hard in the pool with your kids.  These might not be your usual lifting/tempo/long-run workouts, but they will at least get you moving and trying new things – MUCH better than nothing!

In addition to my runs, I also snuck in a few walks with Mom.  Also? I love this photo.

In addition to my runs, I also snuck in a few walks with Mom. One afternoon, we ended up here.

7. Reward Yourself: Plan your workouts, keep them reasonable, and choose a reward for yourself for the end of your trip (or week, or month) IF you stick to your schedule. Choose your goal and your reward, then write it down AND tell someone about it (accountability, people…).  I prefer using non-food rewards: a new piece of gear, a manicure or pedicure, an hour of frivolous computer time, or even a stop at a favorite coffee spot are common choices – but I suppose that the only limit is your budget!

And there you have it, folks!  No rocket science here, but perhaps a little something to give you the kick you need to fit your workouts into a hectic time – whether that time is your day, your work travel, or your vacation.

Remember: No excuses, no regrets!!

Obviously: Am I missing any of your favorite tips/tricks for dealing with an unpredictable schedule?

What’s the most memorable museum you ever visited on a vacation? [Nerd Alert!!!!]
[I may or may not be trolling for possible vacation locations/awesome museums for future travel plans…]


Why Getting Started Is The Hardest Part (and what the dishwasher has to do with it)

A few mornings ago, I found myself avoiding a dishwasher full of clean dishes. The “Clean!” light was on, flashing for attention, but I ignored it (if I don’t look at it, it’s not on, right?).  I ignored it while making breakfast, while emptying the dish drainer, and while tidying up the rest of the kitchen.  I ignored it while having breakfast, and when I dumped my rinsed but dirty breakfast dishes into the sink, and as I sat down to start my work.

An hour or so later, I stepped into the kitchen to reheat my coffee. Ah yes…still blinking!  My standard coffee re-heat time is either 1:11 or 1:23, depending on my mood.  [I run many miles at a time, but please don’t ask my fingers to move an inch more than necessary over that microwave keypad…]  I briefly considered how to spend the next 71 seconds.  I could…

…stare at the microwave. [Boring.]

…eat pineapple tarts.  [Tasty, but I have a 2-tarts-per-day limit, and I didn’t want to eat my whole allotment before 10 AM.]

…clean up the…nope, the kitchen was already tidy, see above.

…well, since by that time there were only sixty seconds left, I figured that it wouldn’t kill me to empty a few items out of the dishwasher.

So, I pulled open the door (take that, flashing light!) and got started.  In fact, I got the whole bottom rack emptied, dishes put away, before the microwave finished.  And guess what? It wasn’t so bad.  [Shocking, right?]  In fact, it was so “not bad” that I decided I would just go crazy and empty the whole thing.  Not doing so just seemed…stupid, really.  And about 2 minutes later, I was finished: Order was restored to the kitchen, and I had a hot cup of coffee.

So what’s the point?  [Because I know that you didn’t come all this way just to read about my dishwasher.]

The point is that, sometimes, you just have to start. Whether your goal is to empty the dishwasher, tackle a work project, do some home organization, or get out for a run  – just start.  Set a timer for 2 or 4 or 10 minutes, and dig in.  Make the first part seem as easy and accessible as possible, to help conquer your initial reluctance.  Once you get started, you’ll probably find that whatever you’re doing isn’t so bad, and you won’t really feel so inclined to stop.

My muse.  And we're actually quite spoiled - very, very few people in Singapore have one.

My muse. And quite the luxury here – very few people in Singapore have one.

I’m a science-nerd at heart, so when I think about this phenomenon, I think of two science concepts.  Let’s take a quick look (don’t worry, this will be painless!):

Concept #1: Energy of Activation (of a Reaction)

The starting materials (reactants) are on the left.  Some initial input of energy (upslope) is required to get the reaction started.  Then, the reaction begins (peak), and as it progress (left to right), it releases energy.  The products are at a lower energy than the reactants, so this is a spontaneous reaction.

The starting materials (Reactants) are on the left. Some initial input of energy (upslope) is required to get the reaction started. Then, the reaction begins (peak), and as it progresses (left to right), it releases energy. The Products are at a lower energy than the Reactants, so this is a spontaneous reaction.

Concept #2: Static Friction > Kinetic Friction.

Friction is the force that resists two object moving against each other.

Static friction is friction between two object that aren’t moving (a heavy box sitting on the floor).  Kinetic friction is friction between two objects that are moving in relation to each other (that same box sliding along the floor).

Static friction is generally greater than kinetic friction – In other words, a greater initial force will be required to start the box moving, but once you’re sliding it along the floor, less force will be required.

Both of the above examples involve situations where a higher input of energy is required to get started, then a lower level of energy is needed to maintain the activity.  It works in chemistry, it works in physics, and it will work in your life.  So what are you waiting for?  Just get started!

Is there anything hanging out on your To-Do List today that needs a “just get started” jumpstart??