Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Singular Resounding YES!

This line came to me as I was running yesterday... and I have been using it endlessly, shamelessly. This is what I will wave madly in welcome of 2011 - a singular resounding YES!

YES to Running challenges aplenty... scary commitments made, I'm all signed up, so I just need to make it happen!
- I signed up for the LA Marathon in March, hoping to tag on my first full marathon and international running event onto the end of a business trip! I also have a backup/potential additional plan in the Sundown Marathon in Singapore in May. I want to ensure that I will manage at least one Full Marathon before mid year!
- I aim to also improve on my Half Marathon and 10km race times over the course of the year.

YES to staying healthy all round...
- With a short training cycle running up to LA, I need to balance up my focus on the finish with the need to make sure I stay well and injury-free... to keep my head about me as I push myself to train hard, but make the tough calls if and when I need to hold back. This is a wise lesson - I envy those who can keep going and never seem to hit their limits... I am still unfolding the layers of yoga wisdom - ambition with acceptance, effort with surrender...
- I will keep up with cross training at least 1-2 times per week, as well as stay diligent with stretching and foam rolling... I'll get my core/strength sessions in 2-3 times per week as well.
- Healthy eating and enough sleep is also priority. Luckily, the diet piece is usually manageable for me, although my sleep quality leaves some to be desired.

YES to keeping things simple... I have numerous other things floating about as I think about 2011... but then I realise that I can only do a few things to do them well. So this year, mindfulness and simplicity will be my only other (non-running) key theme...
- 10 minutes quiet time daily
- TV time will be kept to 5 hours or less per week
- 'Consume less'... simplicity in life for me means 'needing/wanting' less because I already have plenty. This means shopping less, wasting less, using less, but with mindfulness of abundance.

In some ways, I have become someone I never specifically aspired to be but I am glad I am slowly becoming - I stop myself in surprise every so often with the feelings of gratefulness and content and optimism that fill me. I honestly couldn't and wouldn't ask for a single little bit more... a truly blessed and happy space to be in. At this end of 2010, I give thanks.

Friday, 3 December 2010


I've been surprisingly chilled out this week... haven't done much and haven't really fretted about that fact. I have a 'store' of desire to get out and run, but my body isn't quite ready I don't think.

Weds - 4km plus strength/core - was nice and easy, but my feet hurt just proximal to the balls of my feet, I imagine where a lot of tendons insert to my metatarsals?
Thurs - easy yoga
Friday - spin class - wow this was hard work! my AHR was 154, but taking away the warm up/cool down sections, I think I was averaging around 160 or 87% of MHR. Feet hurt and were crampy again, same area.

Will do an easy run this weekend and depending on how I feel, go for 1-1.5 hours. Can't wait!

Had a couple of Amazon deliveries this week. It's getting close to Christmas and I decided to start Christmas shopping (for myself, fancy that?!!) early! hehe.
In addition to a couple of books I picked up in the bookshop recently, I now have all these awaiting me (and it is all I can do to control myself and not attack them all at once!):

Dean Karnazes' Ultramarathon Man and 50-50
Pam Reed's The Extra Mile
Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run
Elaine St James' Living the Simple Life
Julia Glass' Widower's Tale (one of my favourite authors, Julia Glass - check out The Whole World Over and Three Junes!)
Pauline Chen's The Final Exam

I have the whole holiday season to revel in all that and get inspiration from some more vegetarian recipes (my neighbour just lent me Gourmet Vegetarian). I always think that my life is a story told in the books I read - I like how things are going right now!

Next week, I should get up to 2-3 runs, but will give myself another easy week since I'm going away for a long weekend anyway. After that, I should work back up to 30km pw and then build from there! Happy weekend now!

Sunday, 28 November 2010


36 hours since my very first half marathon... and I am still feeling the after-glow of pride and pleasure. I had said before that I would be proud no matter what the outcome, but beating my stretch goal certainly makes it all the more satisfying. Not that I ever doubted it... but now I can savour the outcome of what it is like to invest daily and slowly towards a goal that I couldn't see before. And I was lucky because I was relaxed and positive for most of the week, and managed to stay quite cheery even at the start line as you can see! Way to go - a vast improvement from my 10k race just a couple of months back!

It was an early (and not very bright) start... was up at 4am and out the door by 4.45. Arrived at Hong Kong Disneyland by 5.30am, which left me with just the right amount of time to get ready. It was a very nice 19-20 degrees celsius - I reckon anything between 15-20 degrees is optimum, easy to get warmed up and acceptable when standing in line without a sweater on, but not too sweaty/toasty by the end of the run.

My plan was conservative - go out nice and easy at a pace of between 6 and 6:30 (min/km) for at least the first 5km and then just play it by ear (hopefully at least holding pace or speeding up depending on how I felt). I don't recall much of the first few km until we hit the waterfront next to the Airport Express trains - this was around the 5-6km mark when I was starting to wonder about where the first water stop was! I stopped at the water stations around 6km, 9km and 15km (the first and last roughly coinciding with my slowest splits), skipping the one in between because I was feeling slightly lightheaded and nauseous around those few kilometers. Fortunately, that came and went for about 5 km before going away for good, after which I was able to step it up - my last 6 splits were comfortably under 5:50 (which, adjusted for the inaccuracy of my footpod, would have been under 5:35).

Here's me powering down the final few hundred meters. Looking nice and strong huh? You miss the painful scrunched up face from this view! :) All things considered, I was feeling good enough to give it a real push!

Very pleased after the finish...
Note on kit - Running Room vest, Lululemon tights (note to self - there was a threat of inner thighs chafing just below where the shorts ended, may need longer tights in longer races), smartwool socks, Mizuno LSD shoes, Nike running pack (for my ipod Shuffle and my Clif bloks).

Time on my watch... (notice the distance, which was about 5% off). Just finishing would have been a PB, so this was a PB with a big smile! This can really get addictive! :)

I haven't been feeling too tired since the race although my quads and knees have moaned a little going up and down stairs. Other than that, I feel like I could be back to my regular schedule in a couple of days... not the best idea, I'm sure. Today and tomorrow are complete rest days, before a light gym session and 3-4kms on Weds. I'm going to start working in earnest on my marathon training plan - I have a few weeks to play around with before it all starts for real again! :) 26 weeks counting down now... the next couple of weeks will be 'training on paper' - finding the best amalgamation of plans that will become MY plan... I'll mainly work off the Runner's World and Furman plans, while picking up tips from Greg McMillan, Hal Higdon and Running Planet etc.

Next up -
Clearwater Bay Chase 10km in Jan 2011
Sundown Marathon in May 2011


Friday, 26 November 2010

Trivial Friday...

  • Do it... Do it today... Do it NOW!!! signed up for my first Marathon - Sundown Marathon in Singapore, May 2011 - Asia's only nighttime marathon!
  • Reading Dean Karnazes' book 50-50 and am amazed - he is able to run sub-4hour marathons at a heart rate of 110... that is my heart rate at a brisk walk/slow jog!!! He has also run 350 miles NON-STOP (over 80 hours!), 24 hours on a suspended treadmill over Times Square, in addition to his ridiculous 50 in 50 in 50.
  • Onto real human beings instead - for every person who starts thinking about getting out of their seats to do some exercise or contemplates the possibility of extending their limits, for each thought that says "Maybe I can do that too..." or "Today I could start here...", for every contagious enthusiastic vibe that I send out into the world... here's a big smile on my face!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Run run run run run....

I run because...

- Running, Life and Happiness are so inexplicably intertwined (read Kirsten Armstrong's latest article... I love her writing)

- No matter what happens on Sunday, I will be proud of myself :)

I know I am a runner because...

- I considered my travel options into work today and factored in whether it would be easier to read Runner's World on the bus or on the train

- I am feeling little tingles of excitement inside from the thought of a 2011 marathon dangling in front of me

- My post-race plans include... testing out some neighbourhood trails, running home from Hang Hau MTR station after work, body pump and spin class...

Crazy crazy crazy... have you caught a fever too?

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

On my mind...

This Sunday, I will be doing my first Half Marathon... 21 km... not easy, but not too difficult. And I ask myself to just push out those limits a tiny little bit more.

I want to do a full marathon soon but today, I found out that I am a month late registering for the StanChart Hong Kong marathon. Life is short and I don't want to wait until next autumn... but there aren't a wealth of choices here in tiny Hong Kong :) oh, well, so I will live to run the next marathon I can find - watch this space...

Shoring up on courage and strength for Sunday - these will be among the thoughts/people on my mind...
Bart's dream to complete the Comrades - I almost teared up reading this... it made me happy and proud, to be alive, to have dreams, to live to dare. Running is a celebration of humanity and of our connectedness...

Mark Hellenthal went from being overweight at close to 400 pounds to running a 100 mile race just recently. He sounds like a bit of an addict gone the other way, but I can relate to that...

My partner, who stubbornly, daily, chooses to be happy, optimistic, resilient, full of faith and hope.

Athletes everywhere, but Challenged Athletes particularly - watch the videos!

Dean Karnazes' book 50-50 is on my bedside table, my iPod shuffle will be loaded with my faves (for the tough second hour of the run!) and I'll be surfing the net on Saturday for more inspiring stories!

The world is out there for the taking!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A little something today

So I haven't been writing much... sorry to all my loyal fans out there, all 3 of you :)

But I have had time to set up my RSS feeds so I can track all the fantastic bloggers out there... Vanessa - if you're there, thanks for mentioning RSS at the weekend...

so just leaving you with a little inspiration today - read about Bela and hope that it makes you feel that sad and yet triumphant strength that comes from having faith in our human-ness.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

For all the crazies out there...

On running and yoga, on moving and then, stopping, just for one moment, on the flip side of the physical to the spiritual, on figuring out where you go from here, on breathing in and breathing out until you can finally take another step, on grace and faith and love, on what to do if what you love is lost, on living and learning and growing... read about it on this fantastic piece on the New York Times.

(PS i nicked this photo off a yoga website on the internet... am I allowed to do that?)

Monday, 1 November 2010

The streak continues...

Howsabout that huh? :)

Keeping up with the streak of records, this week I NAILED all of the following:

Toughest speedwork session - 14.5 km with 5 mile repeats (8:50- 9 minutes each)
Longest Long Run - 2"03! or approximately 16.5-17km
Highest weekly mileage - 45km

2 more 40+km weeks and then taper, leading up to the Unicef Run for Charity Half Marathon being held at the Hong Kong Disneyland at the end of November. Trying to rest lots, foam roll and stretch, do my core/strength work at least twice a week (would be ideal if I could get it up to three times!), eat really well…

The weather has been on my side too! It’s in the low 20’s in Celsius, with humidity in the 30’s-40’s… the sun was shining all weekend with a good but not too stiff breeze. Somewhat hazy but that’s just Hong Kong. I have a slightly irritated throat now and I think it’s related to running outdoors with the pollution, but again, that’s Hong Kong. I only hope this doesn’t do any long term damage to me…

Feeling good. Trusting time and the effort that’s being put in. Believing that I will do as well as I can. Happy about that.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

No better reason...

Coming off my record long run on Sunday, this week has looked like this so far:

Monday - 2 hours tennis
Tuesday - 6km easy run and light core work
Wednesday - 20 min cycle and core/strength work

i can't quite decide what this week is supposed to be. I haven't followed the 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy rule as closely as I had originally intended (it's been more like alternating weeks - Will that affect my HM performance?!?!!), so I can do pretty much anything I like. Having said that, this will likely be an 'easy' given the Super Typhoon (yes, officially, Super) coming our way this weekend which does not bode well for outdoor activities of any kind.

I'll keep this short. I mainly wanted to share a fantastic article that Kristen Armstrong has written. If you ever wonder what it's all about, why you bother, what joyfulness truly is - you'll find some answers here.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Personal Bests...

In life and in running, you would like to think that we will touch PBs every now and again. After all, motivation is about making progress... and progress is about stretching to reach those goals, whatever they may be in our lives today.

So I have a couple to share:
1) Long run PB
Yesterday I ran for 1 hour and 52 minutes. I didn't cover too much distance (probably around 14km) but as 'time on feet' goes, I did well. I eventually need to get myself up to 2hrs 15 mins in the next few weeks before tapering down in November. So lucky girl, I will be PB'ing quite a bit in the next few weeks! :)

2) 10km race PB
New Balance Tai Mei Tuk 10k on 10th Oct 2010
I made it in 53:51 (official chip time)/53:57 (personal Garmin time)! 9 minutes faster than my 10k race time in November last year.
How's that for progress - 2008 10k race (slept in and didn't even bother turning up), 2009 10k race (1:03) and 2010 10k race (under 54 mins)!!! What about 2011?!!

I was so nervous and I wanted so much to do well. I did everything 'right' - had pasta for dinner, slept reasonably well, packed and prepared the day before etc. But my nerves made me a bit of a grump on race morning and I found it hard to enjoy myself. It turned out a very 'serious' race... my breathing was harsh, I was pushing quite hard, I felt mildly sick at times... but I made it and surpassed my own expectations!
It's a journey of discovery - learning to toe the fine balance between being focused and goal-oriented, and being relaxed and accepting. While my nerves did not (as far as I can tell) adversely affect my performance, it did not help my enjoyment of my day or of the achievement. It is not wise to get sucked into the spiral of goals and expectations if it leads into performance anxiety and fear.
So Big Pat on the Back, Gen! Carry that confidence over the next few weeks as training ramps up for that final peak before taper. Six and a half weeks to go! I want to be happy on the morning of my first HM, I want to feel excited and open to the day's joys. In fact, I want to have, no, live that attitude more than I need to do a 2 or 2:10 HM.

I love running and racing so much because it's like life. Every PB is backed by hour upon hour of training, by daily decisions ( go for a run or just take a nap?), by the extra core/strength work, by giving up that night out or greasy meal. But every PB takes you a little further than you ever thought you could, teaches you of your potential and all the possibility that lies in store for you. It's about choices, daily dedication, patience, about having a long term plan and trusting the process to get you there even though you cannot quite see the end.

And this is the great equaliser - it's all the same, for you and for me and for every person in this world. No matter how it looks or what the end goal might be, to be a better person (physically, emotionally, spiritually), the power is in your hands. But have faith, be patient and make your choice in every moment of every day. If you want to have an open relationship with a difficult parent, then don't change the subject when a touchy topic comes up but sit with your discomfort and answer with grace. If you want to stop smoking, just focus on saying no to the next cigarette and don't worry about what comes after that. If you want to run your own business, then figure out What and How and take the first step in front of you. If you want to run an ultra marathon, then get out and do your first 10 minute run right now. We live now and the choice is now, so make the right decision and the future will take care of itself. The 2 things that ever stopped people from getting to where they want to is (1) not moving, (2) choosing to go in a different direction!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The Engine that won't start...

how do you go from "I just don't feel like it... boo :( " (my facebook update a half hour ago) to absolutely raring to go?

It's been a really hard last week to ten days... extended PMS I reckon, because I can't see any other reason. I'm so exhausted every night my head hits the pillow, but I wake up in the early hours and sleep poorly till the morning. So most days I'm sleepy all day and simply not up to any of my workouts. Yes, even my easy runs are a trial, a test of my willpower, a routine 5km turned into a mental tug of war. And... have I mentioned this already - I just keep EATING! This is crazy PMS, definitely not my usual.

So I'm trying now to get properly psyched up for my tempo run after work. It's mid afternoon and my eyelids are drooping. In my head, I'm walking through all the reasons I'm such a lucky girl - I'm young, healthy, free... I get to go and run... I have a dream to accomplish... I do because I can! I try to focus on my goal of hitting the high 30's in mileage this week... I think about my races coming up.

... but I'd still prefer to curl up in bed right now... seriously, I cannot be bothered.

So the usual tact won't work...
Instead thoughts running through my head are much shorter-term - finish this tempo run and I won't need to do any strength and core work... (chomp chomp, chocolate is good! mmm...)... get through today and I get 2 days off/easy... finish up at the gym and I can go home and go to sleep.

I feel ever so slightly better now... the chocolate especially helps.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Here's the tough thing...

So I had a great day. Went out plant shopping and came home with a number of new orchids and various other houseplants. Also got myself a new pair of Mizuno LSD 3 - I wanted a lighter shoe with a thinner heel that would facilitate more of a mid foot rather than heel strike, and also one that would give me that extra buzz I need for the races coming up. So in bold black and purple, I found it. I chose this over the Asics Skysensor, which probably would have been the more 'serious' racer but was just a little tight in the toebox area so would not have provided the space required for more 'natural' foot action. It was super comfortable though, but I'm keen to test out the whole minimalist running trend.

And then I went out to test my new shoes and was thrilled. They felt very much like my old Wave precisions - so easy to like... much less clunky and 'stable' than my other runners (which are Kayano's and NB1225's at the moment). I ran about 7.5km in just over 53 mins, a respectable 7 min/km pace. It felt so good... days like these, I feel like I'm running for the pure joy and ease of it! for every day like this, I have at least 2 that I drag myself through and another 3 that I just do for the sake of it. But for every day like this, I would do it all again :)

And then I come home to a lovely bean pasta and roasted squash. Yum.

So my challenge tonight is forgetting the 1 hour I spent hunting around EVERYWHERE for my Garmin ANT+ USB stick... which I am now convinced I have dropped at the gym or hidden away in some corner so obscure it is effectively lost. I hate losing things... and I especially despise myself when I recall having that premonitory feeling (while I was putting it away wherever it ended up going) that I quite possibly going to lose it because I was being lazy.

but so there you go... that's the tough thing... not letting a minor annoyance like that ruin my wonderful day and long weekend. After all, to put it into perspective, I haven't even been syncing my data onto my computer. I'm really an old school type of girl who prefers to still have my training log down in black and white. So what's the big bloody deal about that dang thing? You know exactly what I'm talking about...

at least I feel better reading on Amazon (I can buy a replacement stick if i want one!) that others have complained about the USB stick being small and easy to lose...

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Legs like Logs

i like the sound of that... although i do not love the feel of it! legs like logs, legs like logs... you like the play on sound?

so I skipped my run yesterday and did yoga instead... I also gobbled my way through 1 chocolate bar, a small pack of really yummmy Vicenzi malt Pan biscuits, a packet of peanut M&Ms throughout the course of the afternoon and evening (in addition to lunch and dinner!). I'm still stiff this morning walking around the office and I'm not looking forward to my 12km with 4 mile repeats. oh oh...

So it's finally starting to dawn on me... that it might be That time of the month... early, but the signs are unmistakable. I'll know for sure soon enough!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Losing steam...

Just a little...

I hit 37.5km last week, with a really great 13km long run on Sunday. Easy day yesterday at the gym with a short session on the bike and some core/strength. But today, I just cannot find my mojo. Annoying morning with the rain and computer problems... I have the serious munchies (come to think of it, I've been having a real snacking fever for quite a few days now)... and just feeling a bit stiff and sleepy all round too.

So maybe it's just the grumps combined with a couple of nights' of poor sleep. I shouldn't start thinking I'm losing motivation to run, or overtraining.

I might actually just skip my easy run today, do a bit of yoga/core work and then aim to do a good speedwork session tomorrow (mile repeats x 4). Let's play it by ear, no point stressing out more than I need to. I'd rather focus on the quality rather than just get my mileage up. I could do with a good stretchy yoga session anyway :)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

I wish I could remember...

... do you remember that life changing moment when you decided you would finally DO it?

One day about 18 months or so ago, I decided I would finally get off my arse. I just ran out of excuses, for one.

I started with yoga and after feeling the positive effects, began to think about other things.

Running... well, I don't really know how that one came about. I only remember wondering why I limited myself by saying "I'm not a runner! I can't run?!!". That thought slowly evolved into the distinct separation between I can't and I won't - the latter implying a choice that I didn't know I had.

A CHOICE which I had! and therein lay the empowerment that got me out the door.

I missed my long run on Sunday due to crazy rain. Substituted in a long yoga session which left me aching on Monday.
Monday - 6km plus strength/core
Tues - 10 km with 6km at tempo
Today - tennis
I'm aiming for a 35km week to make up for last week!

Friday, 10 September 2010

Beginning Today

Fear not that your life will come to an end but that it will never have a beginning
- JH Newman

My life's triumphs have been borne of new beginnings... And these new beginnings? Of loss, of choices, of fearful trepidation proven false, of faith guiding me, of big and of small, of my everyday today.

I have had many lives and many beginnings - girl, Singaporean, rebel, idealist, Christian, escapist in foreign land, life wanderer, patient, Doctor, lesbian, homebody, fitness nut, believer...

This day is a new beginning of sorts. Yesterday morning, my legs were sore, my upper hamstrings were like taut wires connecting the back of my legs into my buttocks... pulling and reminding me each time I stood up and took a few steps. Last night my quads and glutes still burned walking up stairs. I scheduled it to be a rest day, thankfull. and Today I am new again :)

Gym later today, can't wait! 6km easy with some core work after.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Small everyday Victory...

"Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."
- Ronald E. Osborn

So it's been a while... Very glad to say that the running has kept up even though the blogging hasn't.

Today is a tough day... I'm aching (my upper hamstrings - from stability ball heel digs and/or superman that I did on Monday and Tuesday) and grumpy... and it's Speedwork day - I'm going to do 3-4 mile repeats in 9-9:30 at the gym. So the quote is a good one to focus on - difficult is good, challenge is growth, going beyond is where I want to be.

All in all, training has taken off nicely this year. I now run 4 days per week, do 3 sessions of core/strength work, plus cross-training in between and 1-2 days of tennis. I'm up to 30+km per week and (touch wood) have kept quite injury free except for niggly knee pains a couple of times.

I'm now working towards -
NB Tai Mei Tuk 10km race in October
Unicef Run for Charity Half Marathon at the end of November

And I'm hoping to do the Half in under 2:10... as a half-marathon virgin, I don't actually have any idea if this is do-able or if I'm going to completely smash the time. I walk the fine balance between wanting to push it (2 hours?) and holding myself back so I don't get injured or (worse still) disappointed. There is some fear, but I would like to think that there is much humility... I trust the hard work I'm putting in, I trust my body to do the best it can, I trust my mind to make the appropriate decisions, I trust my will to push me as far as I need to go, I trust time to give me the progress that I earn, I trust the process and leave the result up to the heavens to gift me.

Today is a hard day... life is not just about making decisions but about managing them daily. Today I choose to turn my back on the little demons taunting me and instead aim to do my best.


I did 12km with 4 mile repeats (1.6 km in 9:28, 9:02, 8:56, 8:31). Upper hams screamed at me through warm up and my first repeat, and again while I was cooling down and stretching. Tonight calls for more stretching and tomorrow, I may suffer the consequences. But today - I won a small victory, in my head first and therefore on the mill.