Category Archives: Uncategorized

(My) Father’s Day

So after gooshing all over the blog for Mother’s Day, I had a similar post planned for Father’s Day. But between working, training, and preparations for our US trip, I didn’t ever actually write the post, anywhere other than in my head.  My Dad, the gracious (and forgetful!) guy that he is may not have even noticed, but my oversight has been bothering me for the past month.

RWH's Dad, in his element! [Sussex County folks, you know this spot!]

RWH’s Dad, in his element! [Sussex County folks, you know this spot!]

But – BUT – today is his birthday.  And I can think of no better way to (try to) make up for that – and the fact that our gift to him won’t be arriving on time (sorry, Dad) – than by writing a Birthday/Father’s Day combo post right now.  Besides, you must all be tired of training updates anyway, no?

So: Dad.  His material ‘wants’ are incredibly simple: comfortable shoes, a nice big mug for his tea, and his iPad or a crossword puzzle.  Since his retirement a few years ago, he is perfectly happy living a slow-paced, uncomplicated life.  I will probably never live life at his pace – but when my world feels like it’s close to spinning out of control, I think of Dad.  I think of what’s most important, of concentrating on one task, and of slowing down.

My Dad taught me to care for other people with my actions: Not with grand gestures, but by doing small, every day things.  Dad fills his days caring for the house, yard, and “buggies” (cars); planning and preparing meals; playing guitar; and doing crosswords.  He works in an unhurried way and with singular focus.  If I call on Thursday morning, I know he’ll tell me that he’s cleaning the downstairs.  On Friday, the upstairs, so that things are spic-n-span for my Mom, for the weekend. He doesn’t think of these so-called chores as good or bad – they are just the things that he will do.  He doesn’t dislike doing them – in fact, he actually enjoys doing them, as a way to help, respect, and love my (not-retired) Mom.

He finds value and purpose in these daily tasks – as well he should.  When I start feel exasperated that the daily household tasks fall primarily to me in my marriage right now (this is a practical, not gender, issue – KMN can wield a toilet brush quite handily) – I think of my Dad.  His example reminds me that maintaining a house is a labor of love – and just one of many ways I can show my love for my husband and family.

Dad brought music into my world, early and often.  As far back as I can remember, there was always music playing in the house.  “Spinning 45s” was a legitimate Saturday afternoon activity of my youth – often accompanied by the gymnastics mat and impromptu performances by my sister and I.  Long before the days of digital music, we (mostly my Mom, really) bought him a 99 disc CD changer – probably the most thoroughly-used gift ever.  He loved filling all 99 slots, then setting it to “DJ Random”.  And random it was!  My Dad has a taste for music of all kinds, from classic rock to Weird Al to rap – as long as it has a good beat, it’s on his playlist.  My father is the reason that, when I was a kid, riding in a car with a friend’s family, I could sing virtually whatever came on the radio.  “You know this song?” was a common question of my childhood.  [Well, duh – of course I do.  That’s how I can sing along with it….]  He’s also probably the reason that I spent 16 years playing the clarinet, why I can clap on the 1/3 beats OR the 2/4 beats, and how I managed to find – and spin on – the beat well enough to pass my RPM Instructor Training.

He also knows how to bust a move on the dance floor.

He also knows how to bust a move on the dance floor.

My Dad, who taught middle-school math for his entire career, also shared his love for numbers with me.  Square One TV was pretty much the only show that my sister and I watched as children, and to this day, we can recite portions of Mathnet (and sing the Fantastic Number 9 song).  Our household delighted in palindromes and “stand-on-your-head-indromes”.  In fact, he was a data nerd before me, too. Dad was the one who kept a weeks-long tally of the songs that came up on “DJ Random”, to find out if the random setting on the 99 disc CD changer really was random.  Was this some crazy foreshadowing of the many yeast colonies I counted/tallied during my PhD…?

He's also a baseball fan.  The NY Yankees were "our" team, but we twisted his arm to attend a Dodgers game in LA last summer!

He’s also a baseball fan. The NY Yankees are his team of choice, but he didn’t turn down the chance to attend a Dodgers game in LA last summer!

My Mom was – and remains – the dynamic, go-get-em figure in our nuclear family.  For a large portion of my life, I was 100% my mother’s daughter – in fact, I was a more intense version of my mother.  But watching my father over the last 6 years has inspired me to grow into my own mixture of both of my parents: To practice being thoughtful and patient.  To remember that perceived slights are usually just that – perceived.  To think first and speak slowly (still working on this).  To sometimes let my actions speak, without any words at all.

And although he’s not the big, effusive cheerleader that my Mom can be, I know his love for and faith in me is unwavering.  He delights in the “Marimba” music that signals an incoming FaceTime call (always from me).  He asks about every race KMN & I run, and researches the details better than we do, sometimes.  He’ll talk paces and splits and times with me ad nauseum (he’s not a runner).  And if ever there was a doubt, this is the song he chose for our Father/Daughter dance:

Father Daughter Dance II

See the moon roll across the stars
See the seasons turn like a heart
Your father’s days are lost to you
This is your time here to do what you will do.

Your life is now, your life is now, your life is now
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now.
-Your Life Is Now, John Mellencamp

Dad: Happy Birthday, and Happy Father's Day Love, Big Kid

Dear Dad, Happy Birthday, and Happy Father’s Day!
Love, Big Kid

Does your family (*ahem*Dad*ahem*) have its own code, like ours does (“buggy”, “shed”, “DJ Random”)??

Anyone else out there raised on Square One TV?  Mathnet?  Kate’s Bum Wheel? 1-1-2-3-5, Eureka!  Come on, the blog-o-sphere is a big place.  Anyone?

Fourth of July Done Right

There’s lots to blog about trip-wise, but for now, let me offer you a glimpse into how we celebrate the Fourth of July, Run With Holly style!

1. Alarm at 5:30 AM.  Consume red, white, and (unfortunately) no blue breakfast (quinoa, Greek yogurt, raspberries).  In retrospect, I wish I’d taken 30 seconds to wash a few blueberries.  That would’ve helped the holiday theme.

2. Take the pup out.  My parents currently have temporary custody of an adorable little Yorkie, and I forgot that dogs need to go out the.minute.they.hear.you.up.  So out we went.

Take me outside, and I'll love you forever.  Or at least until my favorite human gets out of bed!

Take me outside, and I’ll love you forever….or at least until my favorite human (my Mom) gets out of bed!

3. Run Twenty Miles!  [I swear I’ll tell you all what I’m training for in a post soon. I’m not trying to be secretive, really, I just haven’t written the post yet.]  A few things really made today’s run a success:  The weather was extremely humid, but cooler than Singapore, I was fortunate to be able to vary my route a lot, and two awesome family members stepped in to help me pass the time.

I did the first 6 miles solo, on my standard “Lake Loop”.  The roads were all quiet, and I just soaked in everything.  Well, everything except the ginormous, ostentatious new houses.  I scowled at those.  Progress. Pshaw.

After a brief stop home, where I picked up my hydration pack and my husband, we set out on a one-way run up to my old high school.  I’ve actually never run this whole route before, and I entertained KMN for most of the 9 miles with stories of where my car broke down my senior year, and where my bus used to drive, and where the really curvy parts are, and “Hey that General Store didn’t used to be there!”.  He was riveted, I swear.  We also passed a (very) small local zoo, where one of the employees was rescuing a small turtle who was trying to cross the road.  I hope they both had a happier July 4th as a result!

We arrived at the school, where my Mom and her friend were doing a walk/run workout on the track. I joined them for an interval or two, then set out to complete my last 4 miles as small loops and short out-and-backs.  I explored Pigeon Hill Road (not much has changed), made some parking lot loops, decided a full-on tick check wasn’t worth it for two miles on the cross country trail, and instead looped around the athletic fields.

KMN joined me on the track for my last mile. And while my body appreciated the springy track surface, my mind seized as it realized it had to do FOUR laps.  But I took them one at a time (and KMN talked me through the last two) – then BOOM, twenty miles in the books!  Done, and done.  The annoyance of those track laps melted away, and I was a happy girl!

4. Quick recovery: Hydration, electrolytes, and some stretching.  And rolling.  Always rolling!  Over the next hour, I grazed on blueberries, eggs, and toast – all while working on….

Foam Rolling on the Fourth

Repeat after me: I pledge allegiance, to the foam roller…

5. Party Prep!  A few dear, dear friends of mine are coming over for a casual BBQ this afternoon, so I got busy making chocolate chip cookies, quinoa salad, and cornbread.  As tempting as it was to sit down and rest, I think that I maintain momentum best after a long run by…not stopping.

6. And now, I’ve paused to write this post.  We’ll see how things stand when I, well, stand – but I’m optimistic.  My legs are tired, but feeling good.  Plus, I’ve dressed in a very patriotic black and white outfit, from head to toe.  I must confess that I regret having left my red calf sleeves in Singapore, though.  They would have been the perfect accent piece for today!

Calf sleeves: Almost as many blog appearances as my husband!

Calf sleeves: Almost as many blog appearances as my husband! Please ignore the gnarly feet…

We made a balsamic blueberry pie.  I'll let you know how it is...after we taste it!

We made a balsamic blueberry pie. I’ll let you know how it is…after we taste it!

Do you have a favorite red, white, and blue food?  

Is eating red, white, and blue food on the Fourth of July strange?  I think it might be, but I’ve been brainwashed by seeing so many of those strawberry/blueberry flag cakes on Facebook that I’m not quite sure anymore.

Rochesterians: We’re heading your way tomorrow!  What are the awesome happenings for this weekend??

 

 

The Essentials Are Packed, So Let’s Roll! (Or…Fly!)

First things first: Singaporean runners, never fear.  I know, I know – we missed the chance for a Group Cheer Squad at the Mt. Faber Run this weekend.  I’m super bummed myself.  But I’m sure we all agree that postponing the run (because of the haze, if you’re just tuning in) was a prudent idea.  BUT stay tuned and keep an eye on the blog – I have some exciting things in the works, and believe me: There will be more organized cheer sessions, starting in mid-July.

Secondly: I survived the treadmill run.  Special thanks go to The Closer, all of your encouraging comments (which I read during two very brief walk-breaks), and the inspiration of some friends who were embarking on similar long, haze-induced treadmill runs for getting me through.  My take-away message from this run is: Chunking (breaking down a large task into many smaller ones) is a powerful psychological trick!!  I’ll be revisiting this lesson in another post soon.

And thirdly: It’s time for another adventure!  At the moment, I’m sitting at Changi Airport, listening to a (very depressing) program on the kidnapping and selling of children into the sex trade in Southeast Asia.  This is not exactly happy material, but ignorance is no solution either.

On the brighter side, in less than 30 minutes, I’ll be boarding a plane headed for New Jersey (via Narita, Japan).  If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, then you know that love New Jersey.  This trip is quite a lot more celebratory than the one earlier this year, so I’m pretty pumped.  I’ll be hitting up some of my favorite cities on the East Coast: Home, the greater DC area, and Rochester.  I just checked a bag that contains, among other things, my running gear, a sizzling red dress, and appropriate footwear for everything from trail running to wedding dancing.  I’ll be carrying the following onto the plane:

1. Extra layers

1. Extra layers.

2. Plenty of snacks.

2. Plenty of snacks.

3. My smile (and shiny forehead).

3. My smile (and shiny forehead).

Twenty four hours of travel, here I come!!

What are your favorite plane snacks?

What will you be doing to stretch your legs this Monday, while mine are squinched in Economy Class?

 

Thanks, Mom(s)!

Let’s kick this off on a serious (but oft over-looked note): Extra love to all of you out there today who are, for whatever reason, missing your Mamas.  Maybe they’re far away (physically or emotionally), or have already come and gone from this world.  I can’t imagine how hard this day is for you.  Ditto for those who are yearning to be Mamas, but aren’t (yet) – and anyone who has ever, ever lost a child.  Please know that I’m sending love, and strength, and peace to you all.  If I know your situation, I’m sending it very specifically.  But there’s also plenty of unlabeled love going out indiscriminately, just waiting to be claimed.  So close this tab, then breathe deeply, and take care of yourselves.

All that being said, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a few minutes to brag about my Mom:

Mom & I: Two peas from the same pod.  Don't ask me what KMN just said...

Mom & I: Two peas from the same pod. Don’t ask me what KMN just said… [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

She’s an amazing lady.  Her example taught me to be strong, independent, and brave.  [“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid.  If you’re not afraid, you don’t have to be brave.  Brave means you’re afraid, but you do it anyway.“]  She taught me not to care what other people said, but to find my own way.  She spent years reminding me that being smart was OK, that being different was awesome, and that, one day, all the pettiness of middle and high schoolers wouldn’t matter.  [She was right.]  She stood up for me when necessary, but coached me on how to stand up for myself the rest of the time.

When I was in college, I wanted to take a month-long winter-break trip to Eritrea (a little country next to Ethiopia that almost no one has heard of) with a small group of students and a professor.  She wasn’t exactly thrilled with this idea, and we discussed it for a long time, even after I sent in my application.  Ultimately, I was accepted to go, and I distinctly remember writing her a letter in an attempt to secure her blessing for the trip: “It’s your fault that I have grown up into a strong, independent, and stubborn woman.  You taught me to be all of these things.  So the fact that I want to go on this trip – and intend to go almost no matter what – is basically your fault.  Would you rather I be less smart, strong, and independent?”  She grudgingly supported my participation.

Mom Hug on Wedding Dinner Day.

Mom Hug on Wedding Dinner Day. [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

She identified my now-husband as, “a really good guy”, years before we started dating.  And when I told her I was in love with him – but his family lived exactly on the opposite side of the world – she didn’t even (outwardly) flinch.  Instead, when he and I got engaged, she applied for a passport so she could come to our wedding celebration in Singapore.  When I told her that KMN and I were planning a four month, round-the-world trip (8 years after the Africa thing), her only requests were: “Have fun, and email us sometimes.”  And when we decided to move to Singapore, I know that she wasn’t overjoyed – but she never, never asked me to make a different decision, and has always been supportive of our decision.

Also?  She is Run With Holly‘s #1 Cheerleader. 🙂

She was, is, and always will be my first Mom.  But she’s also one of the people who taught me to “share the love”.  So now, I’d like to acknowledge a few of the other awesome mothers in my life:

My mother-in-law (Mum, or Mama): She raised a smart, compassionate, and confident son, who knows how to love and respect all people – especially his wife.  I don’t have any statistics to back me up here, but I think that most of the men who marry strong, independent women were also raised by strong, independent women.  Thank you, Mama, for a son who respects – but isn’t intimidated by – me.  Thank you for raising a boy to become a man with a strong moral compass and values, who thinks independently and can speak directly.

We're a mixed family now!  Moms & Kids.

New family: Moms & Kids [Photo Credit: Mindy Tan Photography]

Mama opened her arms to an ‘ang moh’ [Singlish slang for Caucasian] daughter-in-law, and supported KMN and I unconditionally, regardless of our continent of residence.  From my first visit to Singapore, she shared her country with me – and answered my silly, ignorant, and occasionally rude questions about Singapore and its people.  She tirelessly cares for and watches out for all of her family.  Since our move to Singapore, she checks on us regularly, and always calls to make sure I’m OK whenever KMN is out of town.  She is the loving and persistent glue that keeps our extended Singaporean family together.

My Science Mom: Dr. Temple took me into her lab, sight-unseen, as a sophomore at Drew University.  She immediately let me start work on one of her projects, and then permitted me to hang around until literally days before I left for graduate school.  She taught me molecular biology – but more importantly, she taught me how to be a scientist.  Under her guidance, I learned how to keep a scientific notebook, to manage a lab, to handle data, to prepare projects for new lab help, and to present my work to other scientists.  With her support, I traveled to international conferences, and I spent a summer in a lab in Vancouver, melding that lab’s work with what we were doing at Drew.  Unquestionably, Dr. Temple’s support and guidance is the reason that I was accepted to every graduate program to which I applied.  Dr. T, thank you for helping me become the scientist I am today – and please don’t take my hiatus from research personally.  Science and I aren’t finished yet.

My Running Mom: I started running really seriously while living in Rochester NY.  I learned bits and pieces about running and training from many people those first few years. But few have the level head, vast experience, gentle manner, and infinite grace of Kathy R.  She taught me to be patient, to race smart, and to always be a gracious competitor.  At a time when I was far away(ish, everything is relative) from my “real” Mom, she was my cheerleader, and a life consultant (you can cover a lot of ground on a long run).  Also, she WILL help me figure out how to properly use salt tabs to stay electrolyte-balanced in the tropics.

Kathy is on the left.  This was after my final race in Rochester.  And I cried like a baby on her shoulder minutes before this photo was taken.

Kathy is second from the left. This was after my final race in Rochester. And I was crying like a baby on her shoulder minutes before this photo was taken. [Photo Credit: Barb Boutillier]

My Coaching Mom: Ellen is the co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports, and was the first person to gamble on me as a coach, over 6 years ago.  At the time, she taught me everything I needed to know for my first few seasons as a coach.  She also demonstrated for me how to motivate and inspire runners tackling new challenges.  Most importantly, she opened my eyes to possibility.  Ellen (along with her husband and their dedicated team of employees and supporters) have shown me that running changes lives and can transform communities.  I cannot even describe how they have changed the face of Rochester and its athletic community.  People are starting to run, they’re running longer, they’re forming groups to run, they’re running races – which are growing like crazy.  I may be a bit biased, but this little city, plopped down in a lake-effect-snow band in upstate NY, is becoming a running haven.  And Ellen (and her team) are the driving force behind the transformation.

OK. That’s more than enough mush and gush from me for now.  Happy Mother’s Day to all my running, or blogging, or college-friend, or high-school friend, or even random stranger-friend Mommas out there!   I hope you have (had) a lovely day.

Did you do something nice for a Mom (yours, or someone else’s) today?

Essential Reading For Anyone Designing a Public Restroom. [Optional – but hopefully amusing – For All Others]

*Note: This post has NOTHING to do with running, plantar fasciitis, the gym, science, or food.  It hardly has anything to do with Singapore.  However, it *does* have to do with toilets (tee hee hee!), so read on!

I posted the following on Facebook yesterday:

“Place I do not value creativity: On the signs differentiating the men’s and women’s restrooms.  Please, just plaster it up there in big, bold text so I don’t have to hesitate and look like a doofus.”

Although my phraseology isn’t exquisite, based on the number of ‘Likes’ this status received, I seem to have touched on a somewhat common restroom experience.  This got me thinking…perhaps my public-bathroom-related pet-peeves are a more shared human experience than I previously thought.

So what the heck…let’s share, feel all warm and snuggly, and bond over some shared experiences/impressions.  Note that what I’m presenting here are peeves that are unrelated to cleanliness or other bathroom users.  They are purely logistical/functional, relating to the construction of the restroom and its facilities.  [I also know they are first world problems.  YES, I have visited places without flushing toilets.  YES, I am thankful for modern sanitation.  YES, I realize how good I have it.  YES, I will still proceed.]  Without further ado, and in no particular order..

Holly’s Top 5 Public-Bathroom-Design-Pet-Peeves

1. Poor Door Labeling.  I don’t care if the restroom is tucked in the back corner of the restaurant, or off the breezeway, or out in the back. That’s totally fine.  I can always ask where it is.  But once I’m standing in front of it, please for the love of my un-creative mind, keep the labeling simple: “Ladies” and “Gentlemen”, and a simple, skirt/no skirt stick drawing will do just fine, thanks.  Don’t make the label tiny.  Don’t hide it in the corner.   Don’t substitute a stylized drawing for a label.  Honestly, don’t even be creative.  “Cowboys” and “Cowgirls” makes me feel like I might walk into a hoedown when I open the door.  No, thanks, I don’t mix my do-see-doing with my pee-pee-peeing.  No, siree…

2. Entry Hall/Doorway Is Too Narrow To Accommodate a Line: If the bathroom is in a busy mall, and there are THREE stalls, there will sometimes (often? always?) be a line. If it’s for the Ladies room, there will sometimes (often? always?) be squirmy kids and big strollers in line.  So please, please, please give us enough room to stand.  And don’t use petite, Chinese ladies traveling alone when you decide how much space is “enough”.  Remember the kids, and strollers, and the elderly aunties with canes.  Squeeze three meters from the retail space next door – just make the hallway wide enough so that those leaving the restroom can walk out without risking indecent contact with those on line to go in.

3. Bad Automatic Flushing.  This has a variety of manifestations.  Most commonly, it goes something like this:

I’m getting ready to sit (2 flushes).
I’m sitting perfectly still, not bending/leaning/reaching for my purse on the door – just sitting still (1 flush).
I hop up so my tush doesn’t get sprayed during the flush.
I sit (another flush…repeat stand/sit/flush/jump cycle).
Finally, I sneak onto the seat, hold my breath, and do my business, muscles tensed and prepared to leap at any second, should a flush initiate.
Stand up (distinct absence of flushing).
Gather bag (still no flush).
Dance in front of sensor (still NO FLUSHING).
I reach over and touch the manual flush button (EW, because this means I’m leaning over the bowl while it starts flushing…).
I turn, unlock door, start to walk out of stall (FLUSHES AGAIN).

Dear Whoever Designed These: Please make them better.  And never make them designed to flush as I leave the stall.  This leaves me paranoid.  I mean, what if I walk out, and it doesn’t flush?   At best, I’m alone in the bathroom, and can just pop back in and flush it.  At worst, there’s a line, and someone has already stepped into the stall and will forever think I’m a gross non-flusher.  Fail, fail, FAIL.

4. Over-Exuberant Flushing: There is no reason whatsoever that any of the water in that bowl should ever ever EVER leave during flushing.  I don’t care that it’s probably the “clean” incoming water that sends a few errant sprays out.  Use less water. Make a deeper bowl.  Use less force.  I don’t care – but get your engineers on it, because my shoes do NOT want that kind of bath.

5. Automatic Sinks With A 5 Second Water Limit: You know the feeling – You wave your hand around, finally get some water running, wet your hands, pump some soap on them, start to lather and…the water shuts off.  And no matter what you do, you can’t get it back on.  You repeat your motion sensor dance (which is no more effective than it was in front of the Toilet Flush Sensor). You wave your hand around like a fool.  You accidentally touch the inside of the sink, shudder because you know about sink germs, then wave even more desperately.Eventually, you are rewarded with another short burst of water, which is enough to rinse the soap from half of one hand.  Wave, wave, wave, rinse, repeat until your hands are passably soap-free.  And don’t even think about trying to fill a water bottle in one of these.

OK – It’s your turn.  What have I forgotten?

Welcome New Running Friends, and a Food/Workout Update

First, a bit of housekeeping.  We seem to be experiencing a sudden burst of popularity over here at Run With Holly. [Thanks, Venus Run organizers!]  So, for those of you who have just recently found your way over here: Let me extend a hearty WELCOME!!  Thanks for the click!!

[Venus Run has also set up a separate page to aggregate blog posts about the run.  I’ve never seen this done before, but I love the idea.  Check it out!!]

If you’re impatient, you can jump directly to my Venus Run Race Report.
[Or simply scroll down – it’s just below this post.]

If you’re curious about me, check out the About Holly page.

If you’re curious about why I’m in Singapore, and why I might be able to greet you with “Makan orready or not?”,  it’s all his fault.
[But he’s cute, and I quite like Singapore, so it’s all good. ;-)]

If you’re curious about the coaching that I do, check out the “About Run With Holly” tab at the top.

If you want to read previous posts on something specific, check out the categories on the right.  I’m a little obsessive, so the organization should be pretty good.

If you want to know what workouts I did last week – or what I ate – keep reading.  I’ll try to keep this brief.  Monday and Tuesday are detailed here.

On Wednesday, Holly did Hot Yoga and took a Spin class.  Then, she ate a chicken salad and pastina for dinner.  She did not use that old phone in the background.

On Wednesday, Holly did Hot Yoga and took a Spin class. Then, she ate a chicken salad and creamy pastina for dinner. She spent her meal marveling at that relic of a phone in the background.

On Thursday, Holly started the day with a big bowl of Cheerios, topped with bananas and raisins.  In the evening, she did BodyPump and Hot Yoga. KMN had a dinner meeting, so she scoured the fridge for leftovers for dinner.

On Thursday, Holly started the day with a big bowl of Cheerios, topped with bananas and raisins. In the evening, she did BodyPump and Hot Yoga. KMN had a dinner meeting, so she scoured the fridge for leftovers for dinner. Leftovers were less photogenic than the morning’s cereal.

On Friday, Holly went to an evening spin class, then went on a date with her husband.  She inhaled this lovely plate of rice + fish.

On Friday, Holly went to an evening Spin class, then went on a date with her husband. She inhaled this lovely plate of rice + fish. Well, not the plate. Just the fish + rice.

Sorry, gratuitous husband post.  Love this guy!!

Sorry, gratuitous husband photo. Love this guy!!

On Saturday, we had a gym date.  I swam 1.5K and did Hot Yoga. He BodyPumped.  Then, we went to Ajisen Ramen.  Nothing special, but still a tasty post-workout treat.

On Saturday, Holly and KMN had a gym date. Holly swam 1.5K and did Hot Yoga. KMN BodyPumped. Then, they went to Ajisen Ramen. Nothing special, but still a tasty post-workout treat.

*Note: Holly does not usually post about herself in third-person.  That happened accidentally, and is over now.

And that, folks, was my food-and-workout lead-up to Sunday morning’s race.

There are a lot of cool things coming up on the blog, though – including:

  • STRETCHES, like crazy (back, hip flexors, hips)
  • A Newbie Runner’s Guide To Gear
  • A plantar fasciitis update, and why having PF has been good for me as a coach
  • Some expat thoughts, specifically: The Hardest Thing About Being 8,000 Miles From “Home” (whatever “home” means)
  • A slow-cooker chili recipe
  • My trip to IKEA and the subsequent hilarious taxi ride that I, and my new drying rack, took
  • 7 Days of New: I’ve gotten a little too set in my habits lately. Time to shake things up a little!

So come on back, and read all about it.  If you don’t like browser bookmarks, you have a few other options:

1. Add me to your Feed Reader.
2. Sign up to receive posts by email, using the button down in the lower right.

Then, you can get this bloggy goodness delivered to your electronic doorstep EVERY! DAY!

And with that, I’m outta here.  There’s a homemade chicken salad sandwich in the kitchen with my name on it. *chomp!*

Done anything that’s shaken you out of your comfort zone lately?

New Readers: Anything you’re dying to know about me?
[Aw, what the heck – new or not, ask away!]

More Than Just a Pretty Picture…

We’ve all heard the complaint: “Social Media *Insert Name* is so fake.  People only put up photos of scrumptious-looking food, cute babies, and vacations.  They never write about the hard stuff (or ugly babies), and they just try to make their life look perfect.”

Stonehenge!

See? Stonehenge. I can post vacation photos with the best of ’em.

For the record, as long as your content is legal and respectful, I support your right to post it.  And I have no problem if you carefully cultivate what you post.  After all, social media is a public realm, and you don’t “owe” me any information you don’t want to give out.

That being said, I want this particular forum to be open and honest.  I’m writing this blog for a few reasons, including:

  1. To share some of Singapore, and my life here, with friends, family…and anyone else who cares to read my ramblings;
  2. To help those that I e-coach get to know me a bit better; and
  3. To provide some information, motivations, and inspiration (mostly with respect to athletic endeavors) to anyone who happens to stop by.

I don’t further any of these goals by only sharing the good, hilarious, and delicious bits.  So sometimes, you may just get some tough, sad, and bitter bits, too.   If you don’t like them, just politely spit them into your napkin, or leave them on the side of your plate.  I won’t know the difference.

Shrimp & veggie tempura

Date night wasn’t all crispy, light, delicious tempura. (Ichiban Sushi)

What will they look like?  Well, it depends.  But mostly that I’m a real person, living a real life, and sometimes I face real (albeit “first world”) challenges.  Let’s take date night with KMN as an example.  From the snippets I posted yesterday, our evening looked all fun and happy and delicious.  Indeed, it was – but toward the end, it digressed into a Holly Therapy Session, when I had a small breakdown over my relationship with science.

You see, for those who are new(ish) here, I have a PhD in Biochemistry. I actually sort of adore science, and teaching/sharing/exploring/learning about science.  Experimental science can be a cruel master, but seeing proof of a never-before-known/considered/demonstrated phenomenon for the very first time affords its own kind of high.  So does wracking your brain to figure out why something isn’t working, then coming up with an elegant/clever/MacGyver-esque solution.  I love shooting the s–…errr, science, with other scientists, tossing around ideas, hypotheses, theories, and questions. I advocate for science and research whenever possible, and am thrilled when a “non-scientist” nods and asks a relevant questions after I explain what I study.  I am the child of two educators, and science is in my blood.

Unfortunately, my graduate school experience was less than stellar, in oh-so-many ways that we won’t belabor here. Let’s just say that science – and especially graduate school – can be a very humbling experience.  And for someone who’s placed a fair bit of her self-worth in her academic success, it can also be a degrading experience.  When all was said and done, and I finally defended my thesis, I felt three things: relieved, cynical, and just plain beaten-down.

That was when KMN and I took a bit of a sabbatical to do some traveling.  Then came a summer in LA before we moved out to Singapore in October.  For the last 2-3 months, I’ve been settling us in to Singapore (I’m seriously awesome at assembling IKEA furniture), preparing for the holidays (cookie making champ), prepping and launching a coaching business (lovin’ it), and “looking at but not touching” too many job postings for scientists.  [Don’t worry – no plans to leave the coaching realm any time soon.  I just don’t know if it’s a full-time job for me.]

I fully admit that I’m privileged to be able to take this time without a strong, steady income – all thanks to my incredibly hard-working husband.  This is time that most newly-minted PhDs don’t get, as grad school doesn’t allow one to amass much extra savings.  So, they run directly from PhD into the arms of a post-doc-dom.  For better – or worse – I’ve had some time to consider this at greater length and with some extra perspective.

But now, the time has come: I want back in to science.  Where?  Well, that’s much harder to answer.  Research still calls to me, but the academic system is broken, and I’m not sure that I have a long-term future there.  Teaching is a second option, but better in Singapore than the US, if you aren’t running a research program too.  There are other kinds of opportunities, to varying degrees, in industry and business.  What will be exciting, fulfilling, and provide long-term opportunities, in Singapore – and in the US, if/when we return?  And that’s about where I lose it – every single time.

I’m overwhelmed by possibilities, and afraid of making the wrong decision –  or maybe even the right one.  I’m afraid I won’t get hired, and I’m afraid that I will.   I’m afraid it will be the wrong job, that it won’t be a good fit, that it will be awesome but only on a 2 year grant, that it will cause me to resent science more, that I’ll love it but then we’ll move, that in 3 years I’ll be right back where I am now.  Sometimes, the possibilities, fears, and uncertainty of it all gets so overwhelming that I close the 16 zillion search windows on my computer and put my head down on my desk.  I suspect that this just means I’m normal.  But it doesn’t mean that I won’t sometimes lose it at the end of an otherwise lovely dinner date and end up with morning-after puffy eyes:

Holly with puffy eyes

Ugh.

Thankfully, my husband is a man of great patience.  In an attempt to inspire and refocus me, he turned to running analogies.  I don’t remember the examples that he used, but I hopped on his train of thought.  I thought back to the times when I was in Serious Training Mode, facing a really hard workout. Starting a few days before, I used to worry and stress and grow increasingly anxious about how – and if – I’d be able to finish the workout.  Finally, I’d had enough, so I made a deal with myself: I refused to give the workout any more power over me.  I refused to worry about it for days (or even hours) in advance.  I’d do my part – rest, eat, hydrate, pull on my sneakers – then, I’d give that workout all I had.  I wouldn’t let the worry rule my life – I’d bide my time, then look it in the eye, and kick its butt.

So that’s the plan, folks.  I’m making the decision to hold the doubts, fears, and uncertainties at bay as best I can.  I’m going to put my best foot forward (ha, ha), believe in myself, and explore where this path leads.  It might be hard or painful sometimes, but I know that handling those parts will make me stronger.  I will keep moving forward, one step at a time, with as much faith, confidence, and grace as I can muster.  Because really, the journey is what will prepare me for the destination.  

Running is the teacher.  I am the student.  Lessons abound.

Any tips for avoiding those puffy, morning-after eyes?

How about lessons learned in unexpected places?

Blog, meet KMN. KMN, meet Blog.

Sorry, folks – I neglected a very important introduction yesterday.  I’ll get back to 2012’s Running Review shortly.  But first, some clarification, in case you were worried about the seemingly random stranger who jumped into my previous post.  You know, that sweaty (so was I, as you can see from my shirt) guy in the first photo, on the Hooker Valley Trail:

Hooker Valley Trail, New Zealand, Trail Run

Hello there, sir.  But…ummm…Who are you, and what are you doing here?

Well, it turns out that he’s my husband (although some of you already knew that, and the rest of you probably figured it out). I mean, I like a photo op with a stranger just as much as the next gal, but that gets sorta awkward when I have to ask for permission to post said stranger’s photo on the blog…  So mostly, I think I’ll be sticking to victims I already know, and can harangue/bribe for permission.

Fox Glacier, Hike

Pleeeeease let me post photos of you with a glacier, honey. Please??? [Hiking Fox Glacier in New Zealand]

Since I spend a lot of time hanging out with him, you’ll probably be seeing him fairly often.

Route 1, Drive

Pit stop during our drive up Route 1 from LA to SF this past summer. There were elephant seals behind us, too, but they didn’t sign a waiver (something about missing thumbs???) so no blog appearances for them.

He is also my biggest fan and supporter, and basically the best thing that has ever happened to me. We’ve known each other for more >12 years. We’ve been together for 6 years, married for 3, and living together for just over 1 (long story, another day).

Chinese Wedding Dinner, KMN

We celebrated our marriage a number of times…this was from our Chinese Wedding Dinner in Singapore.
Photo Credit: Mindy Tan, Mindy Tan Photography

Din Tai Fung, dumplings

He also takes me for dumplings at Din Tai Fung whenever I ask. Those suckers are GOOD.

In answer to the most frequently asked questions about him: He’s Chinese/Singaporean/American, he speaks English perfectly, he works as a fancy-pants corporate attorney, and he has a heart for helping…pretty much everyone.  He likes guitars, food, a sleek Scandinavian design aesthetic, playing with new technology, traveling, and most of all – when I stick a camera in his face while he’s eating dumplings.

I still don’t really know why he married me, but I’m not gonna argue with that kind of luck!

And with that, I’m done being mushy.  No glitter, no lace, low-mush…are you starting to get an idea of how we roll (run) around here?

Hiking, Vibrams

Feet. A picture of feet. That can’t possibly be mushy, can it? Except for our matching Vibrams, that is. Dang!

So, as a matter of housekeeping, let’s stipulate (as an attorney, he appreciates having things defined and/or stipulated) that henceforth, “he” shall be known on the blog as “KMN”.  This doubles as his airport code, by the way. (<—A joke for you frequent fliers, all credit goes to my college roommate.)

Cool.  I’m always awkward with introductions, so I’m glad that’s over with.  And now, I’m off for a run.  Have I mentioned that I can practically see the trailhead from our apartment?  Oh, I haven’t?  Well, you’ll just have to pop back soon to hear all about it!

Take your mark, and….GO!

I don’t like frilly lace.  I don’t like glitter.  And I don’t like lots of pomp and circumstance. So while January 1 would have made for a symbolic and easy-to-remember Blogiversary (and I’d never forget to buy the blog chocolates, flowers, etc.), it just didn’t really feel like the right day for a first post.  Plus, you’d all likely be in sleeping, ibuprofen-ing, resolution-ing stupor following your New Year’s Eve festivities.  But I do believe that “January 8” has a nice ring to it.  So without further ado…

Welcome to my inaugural ‘Run With Holly’ blog post!

As some of you may know, I’ve been pondering, speculating, poking, considering, and creeping around the edges of starting a shiny new blog for a few months now.  During 2012, I worked on a few short-term blogging projects (for example, our trip around the world and our road trip across the US).  But for a variety of reasons, I knew the time had come to branch out to my very own Big Girl WordPress Blog.

So I did some research, dragged my feet, began dabbling in some new (to me) technologies, worried, over-thought, went to Bali, delayed, conquered, procrastinated, drank a lot of coffee, and ultimately took the plunge.  And while I was less than enthusiastic about working through some of the technical hurdles (buying a domain name, and server space, and getting everything talking to each other, and learning a tiny bit of code to tweak things), the process has actually been quite fun – and educational.  I still have plenty to learn – so thanks in advance for you patience and flexibility while the look and associated pages undergo some changes in these early days. I just couldn’t wait another second to get the blogging started!

So now, I have my very own space in which I can rant/tell stories/soapbox about all sorts of things.  [Facebook friends, I will stop clogging your newsfeed with 5-8 line posts.]  I promise these things will include: running, cycling, swimming, coaching, food, living in Singapore, being an expat, traveling, marriage, science, some light feminism, hilarious signs I see, and probably more.  Heck, as long as there’s no mold growing and no health department hazards (and things remain respectful), I reserve the right to do what I please with it.  I will, however, do my best to keep posts well categorized and tagged, so you can easily decide what you do (or don’t) want to read.  I’ll also try to keep things interesting…to me, at least.  No promises for you.

The blog will also be loosely connected with another project I’m working on, as a way to give people a glimpse of who I am and what I like (and don’t like) to do.  For example, so they know that I won’t be the one wearing the frilly pink lace dress.  Unless, of course, my Dad sees fit to dig out that 25-year-old photo of me from a single, ill-fated session of ballet…. (No need, Dad, no need!)

So here’s to a new year, to new adventures, and to embarking on this journey together. Let’s get this party started!

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