Boxing Days Are Here

I hate to admit it but running starts to become too much of a routine. More often lately it feels more like an obligation than a stress reliever that I started to cut my running days and participated less in free running challenges recently. The mileages I used to monitor closely after each run don’t seem to give that much satisfaction anymore and the body weight workouts I used to enjoy have been set aside more often and it doesn’t feel right. I realize a balance must be set.

Work-life balance

Few days ago I deleted my Adidas Runtastic app and started to review my favorite workouts before the treadmill came. As I look at my faded cheat sheet that I pinned on my bedroom door I even had to figure out how some of it are done. Windshield wipers, pistol squats, and atomic crunch for a sec sounded foreign. That long since I stuck to my body weight workout plan. Don’t get me wrong, running isn’t a real bore but as they say “too much of a good thing is bad.” I need to mix things up. (FYI, I still have my Garmin Connect, Apple Fitness, Pinoy Fitness, and Strava apps. Runtastic was just something that’s not user friendly and maybe was the trigger I ended stressed out after running.)

After long consideration, and amid anxiousness of making an impression that purchasing a pricey treadmill was a bad idea, I finally decided I could use another workout though one that involves an additional equipment in my already crowded space at home. So yesterday—lo and behold, wifey like it or not (hehe)—the 2nd heaviest sports item I bought online arrived. I now have a 20-kg punching bag.

I need gloves. Those hand wraps take time to put on.

The last time I remember boxing was way back when I was very young. Young like early elementary days young. Back then local amateur boxing was famous in our place so my parents hang a sack filled with sand in my father’s workshop. I had boxing gloves and I even sparred with some neighbors of my age. I didn’t have the chance to compete locally but I think I boxed better before than when I grew older. I had martial arts lessons in college and from my previous job but I feel I was more of a better kicker than a puncher which is why I don’t really hit the bags in the gyms and not even shadow box when there are people around because I think I have an awkward boxing form.

But things could change soon now that I have a punching bag hanging at home, ready to be hit anytime. I’m excited to box and with the constant stress and the regular feeling to hit some people in the face, I don’t think I’d have a hard time finding motivation. Kidding.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Extra day off and sleepy weather.)

Garmin or Apple Watch?

Another day, another activity involving my car. This time I’m exposed in the open and just under the shade of a tree at a parking lot somewhere in Solenad Nuvali. No TV, no comfy leather couch like I had in Honda Santa Rosa last Monday. No complaints, at least I’m free from mediocre Filipino comedy movies. Hoping this backup camera installation gets done faster. So far my Mickey Mouse watch face shows an hour since installer guy started.

Finally, I now have a Mickey watch.

I need to do something instead of checking my watch back and forth and thinking if I change my watch face to Explorer or Minimalist or one the would show my photo. Or bugging the guy if he’s able to do it or not, a review of Garmin versus Apple Watch would be more productive.

It’s been couple of weeks since I received my Apple Series 4 Watch so I think I have enough to write about it. I was racking up 5K runs with goal to hit 505 kilometers by end of March for one of the Garmin challenges so I had some anxiety giving up my 5-year old VivoactiveHR when the Apple Watch arrived after being held by customs. For several days I wore both watch, each on different arms, wanting to know if both would record similar pace and distance. Eventually I realize I look silly even while running indoors.

Seeing double.

Day one with the Apple Watch I achieved the elusive sub-30 5K run but my Garmin shows otherwise as it displays I hit 5K 32 minutes and few seconds later. As much as I’d like to believe the data by Apple, its app suggests running outdoors for 20 minutes to calibrate it. So there, not Apple’s fault. (Had my first outdoor run last Friday and it confirmed the watch was off. It now calculates close to Garmin’s data.)

First outdoor run map.

Then comes data sharing. The Garmin Watch paired with the Garmin Connect app allows sharing run statistics with an option to overlay it on photos. This is what Apple doesn’t offer. At least the Series 4 model doesn’t but still a shame considering it came out two years after my Garmin. Apple Watch Activity app data show as much as Garmin’s Connect app but it’s boring to share. Garmin-1, Apple-0.

This is only image you can share. Colorful but too much numbers is still boring.

How about the look and feel experience? The Apple Watch is slightly heavier and bulkier than the Garmin VivoactiveHR and it’s because the material of the Series 4 watch is mostly glass plus its sensor at the back is metal (it is charged wirelessly through a magnetic charger). The Garmin is mostly rubber and tough plastic which makes it lighter. In this aspect, I’m torn between liking or hating Apple so I will leave this part a draw for now even if the Series 4 can be easily replaced and customizable.

But the Apple cannot lose, right? Setting aside running comforts and statistics accuracy, the Series 4 model has definitely more to offer than the VivoactiveHR watch. Let me count what I’ve used so far: It has ECG to measure heart activity sans the sticky electrodes; Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity are available separately; Writing pad is cool as it allows me reply using my own handwriting that watch converts to text; Spotify can be accessed from the watch. And so many others that my current Garmin doesn’t have. Garmin-1, Apple-1.

And of course there’s that X-factor Apple devices exude and only Apple users, me now included, know this. In a matter of days I swallowed whatever negative I said about it. I concede, now trying to save for my next Apple. Free ones preferred of course.

***

Realized I haven’t published this post I drafted weeks back and I have just added new images showing recent dates.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Had a good 4-day rest. Back to the rat race later.)

Expensive Apples

My Apple story started with an interesting chat. “Cris, I’d like someone who would appreciate the features of an Apple Watch. Would you use it?” It was a question that only merits a yes. Few moments later the offer went further and better. “I realize it needs to be paired with an iPhone. Are you willing to let go of your Android?” Some hesitation on my end but another big yes followed. An Apple for a Redmi? Go figure. I’d receive the package in a few days.

It was all excitement and anticipation until that fateful call from FedEx. “Sir, we have your package but it exceeds the allowed value and you don’t have an importation license. There would be Customs fees and duties. “

Customs. Fees. Sucks.

What could have been a week or less of delivery soon dragged. I had to accomplish an itemized list of the package contents that I don’t have any idea what were exactly packed. I waited while my package undergoes customs process. Physical inspection among them. It was uncertain if they’d open the box. Whatever they plan to do I was only interested in the two costly Apples—phone and watch. The process felt like an eternity. Like bad constipation.

Sender was bugging FedEx in the US for not setting clear expectations—blame fine prints? While I stay still and helpless, avoiding Philippine Customs from doing something that could be to my disadvantage. I was going with the flow.

Three weeks later I heard from FedEx Philippines. I was advised I’d be paying almost Php18,000 COD on top of what was paid in the US. I didn’t dispute, just wanting to be done and over with it. Besides, I wouldn’t get an iPhone XS and an Apple Watch, even pre-owned, with that price. Just an unexpected expense but still worth it. Been thinking of getting a new Garmin anyway.

The package arrived intact. Looks like it was never opened nor tampered. I was also surprised that sender actually had the Apple Watch and iPhone in their original packaging like it was brand new. I was Impressed. I won’t regret paying Php18K.

Cleared by our own sniffing dog.

Remember how this all started? Well there’s more to it as eventually I got a refund. Not from FedEx, not for Customs either—never in our lifetime these guys will do that. Sender was so kind enough to make sure I don’t spend anything out of my shallow pocket. So I’m now here at a Honda dealership for a scheduled maintenance of our 11-year old City using the money I got back. Thanks again!

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Under the mercy of mediocre Filipino film on TV)

100th Video…With Voice

For a couple of years already Marcus has maintained his own Youtube channel. Called 11 AM Guy, his channel houses videos he personally created which are mostly about his favorite games and lyrics videos of Taylor Swift songs. He’s a big fan.

Today, over lunch, he introduced to us his 100th video since he started the channel in 2018. With his recent rate of uploads, 100 videos was just bound to happen this year so what really surprised us was in this latest video, he talks. He recorded his voice for the very first time.

https://youtu.be/n1qAaB096Tw

Like any other first times, the voice over could definitely be better, however, what’s remarkable here is that Marcus was able to control his stutter on the recording. In this past months Marcus has been stuttering more and more–one of the signs of DMD progression–so I was listening closely if it’s going to be evident. There were some wheezing but nothing very significant. Good job son! We are proud.

***

Coincidentally, today is the 7th day after I had Marcus’ Youtube channel logo tattooed on my left arm. As expected the scabs are starting to fall off and overall the tattoo is healing nicely. Only issue is that I had it placed to cover an area that itches and sheds skin a lot–I suspect it’s psoriasis, no thanks to Google self-examination. First couple of days my hopes are up that the head will hold but as the first week approaches the ink was obviously fading away. I can live with that but I need another tattoo design soon.

Day one

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Long weekend is bliss)

Tech Booboos

There’s such thing as digital karma. Last weekend I jokingly posted on Facebook: “Good news: vaccines are here. Bad news: I got used to working at home.” It was half meant. Well, more like 90-10 in favor of working at home. But soon enough, karma reared its ugly head as it didn’t last long before I had to report to work after more than six months.

My HP laptop died on me while I was  working, close to ending a Monday night shift. There was a click before the monitor went black, keyboard backlights out too, and never to be turned on again. All files worth most of my 2020 gone just like that. Joke was on me.

On Tuesday night, against my will, I was back at the office with the hope to get a replacement. Bummer our IT can only give me a desktop and cannot commit if I could get another laptop again. Next day though I returned to find out I’m getting a small form CPU which I actually liked. (Also learned that I have free shirts, a jacket, and a Timex watch from Christmas so I called it even. I’m easily pleased you know.)

Then today I discovered something that I should have had a year back. While inside my idling car, waiting for my turn at the veterinary clinic (with my ever whining dog, Shadow, in the backseat) I played around with my phone to kill boredom. For a change, I switched back to the phone’s default SMS app instead of Messenger, then gave my BDO bank app another try, anticipating disappointment. But guess what, I was in for a surprise that a simple switch fixed a year long issue.

I’ve had several of this error and already gave up.

So if there is anyone out there with the same issue adding their device to their BDO app, here’s a solution: Do not use your Messenger as your SMS app. You can thank me later.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Survived the week of lost Excel files.)

2020, 50/50

Another year is about to end in four hours and counting. Most, if not all, will surely agree that 2020 wasn’t an easy year. A year we all want to forget. Or so it seems.

But not all is lost in 2020. For one, mine started with a trip to the US. My second business trip which lasted for a week like one I had in Wisconsin back in 2001. Kansas was colder though in January.

Had the chance to experience this.

On my return flight was when things started to get freaky. While onboard the plane I learned Taal volcano spewed large volume of ashes. Flight was diverted to Cebu but I eventually got home on the same day. Weeks that followed we had to wear masks and little did we know that it was an introduction to the what will happen in the next months.

Park close to work used to have grass.

The ashes soon disappeared, the roads were no longer dusty. But 2020 had more bad tricks up its sleeve. COVID-19. This time it’s not just people within the 15-20 km radius of Taal who are affected and had to wear masks. This time the whole country went on panic mode to stock up on surgical masks–and alcohol. March was the beginning of what everyone would soon realize as the new norm.

Isolation became the name of the survival game. We soon got used to hearing and talking about social distancing and working from home started to be popular. Thanks to our company’s business continuity efforts, we soon saw ourselves among those who’d be doing our jobs in the confines of our own home. Have I mentioned I got promoted?

Beating boredom and so called cabin fever–which I’m sure is a term most of us only heard in the movies before COVID-19–internet challenges trended. People were baking, concocting Dalgona coffee, doing TikToks, and some took on physical challenges.

Wifey’s Dalgona

Having started working at home since years ago, I took on the #25pushupchallenge immediately after I got tagged. It wasn’t easy, to be honest, but it was fun. I completed the required 25 days and learned other pushup varieties along the way.

Like finishing a Netflix series, the end of the pushup challenge left some sort of void. Many times I pondered running again, maybe early mornings will do, but the thought of picking up and bringing home the virus had me cancel all plans of hitting the road again. But then comes online shopping and the mysterious relevant Facebook ads. I soon found one that sells treadmills.

To cut the story short, wifey approved and pitched in to purchase a NordicTrack S20. The treadmill alone initially costs Php72K but I got it for just about Php62K (AVR included). It was bang for the buck. I was soon back to running after more than seven months hiatus.

First weeks on the treadmill and face tells the effort.

Routines at home also changed. A lot. Our bedroom also soon functioned as my office on weekdays. I had to relocate to avoid crowing roosters from joining my meetings. Thankfully, wifey willingly gave up her freelance job station to me in exchange for a simple chair and desk setup.

Perks of working at home is I can make faces during meetings

Our son’s schedule altered as well. Few weeks after I started working at home his sleeping time changed significantly. From the usual 2 AM it extended until 5 AM–almost a full night shift. It took me some months to adjust to his recreation time yet I somehow managed to adapt to it. It is now common for me to stay up around past 3 AM on weekends for Xbox games with him.

Weekends are raw and simple

All things considered, 2020 wasn’t bad at all. There’s no point caving in to fear of the ongoing uncertainties of the lingering pandemic. Like most things, the sooner we accept change, the faster we transition to the new norm. We all hope of course that we get the COVID-19 vaccine so we can face 2021 with more sense of security and confidence. Fingers crossed.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Happy New Year!!!)

Marcus Can (Still) Draw

The house has been free of bullets zipping past from left to right and grenades exploding like they were nearby. We played one Call of Duty Zombies last weekend but that was it.

Marcus had his sight back on Minecraft and that’s a good thing. I’m an eager block builder on his command. Creative games are good breaks from shooting games.

I sensed he got bored winning over me in Call of Duty as there was a day when he was just hunched over his phone longer than other days. I soon discovered he was sketching a plan. Something he will soon build on Minecraft.

The plan.

I was impressed when I saw the sketch thru a drawing app which he soon tested how it would appear on Minecraft Xbox One by building it on his Minecraft phone app.

The draft on his phone app.

Next step was more challenging. He finalized his concept by doing it on survival mode. Minecraft players know how tough it is to build while on this mode. The resources are limited, the health degrades, you can’t fly, and there are creepers and other annoying creatures to deal with. And the character has to sleep (this I like).

The final build.

The colored blocks are the hardest. Unlike in creative mode wherein these are readily available, on survival mode each colored block must be crafted using different materials depending on the color. His build has several colors and I can’t imagine myself doing it. I can’t even craft in the first place after all these years of playing with him.

While Marcus has been out of school for years already, he still continues to surprise me given his lack in mobility. Despite lack of books he learns from his games and online. He is smart and that is good enough for me.

***

Drafted this weeks ago and I just got time to publish this. I’m on long weekend and it’s my birthday, that’s why. And by the way, we started playing Call of Duty again and yes,I’m still settling for second place on a good day.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (No cakes, no big celebration but still happy to be with Marcus and wifey.)

Nike-Free

Give me a treadmill and I’m good. That was a lie. Weeks after running on the NordicTrack S20 I feel like had this urge to check my gait, like I know how to do it. Thanks to YouTube I had some tips what to look for. Spoiler: shoes talk next.

I am flat-footed and by definition is an overpronator. In shoes terms, I need stability running shoes. I knew this for a fact long time ago which is why I’ve been looking for a shoe that would fit me best. Commonly known shoes are Nikes but for serious runners not all Nike running shoes are equal. Nike’s Structure is what I need but far in several visits to shoe shops and Nike factory outlets, Structure isn’t always available.

Two years ago I bought a Skechers Go and on the same month I received a Nike Free Rn. I liked both and started to love the minimalist Free Run. Long term use, however, cushioning and support seem to matter. The Skechers Go has more cushion but support is a question.

Back to result of my own gait self-test, video of me running reveals that I actual don’t over pronate. My amateur eyes say so. Wear patterns show the same thing though. My soles have even wear.

Two years later this is what my Skechers Go’s sole look like.

Last Monday I braved traffic and chances of getting COVID-19 just to confirm my gait analysis. Runnr stores are known to offer this test so I purposely went to their Ayala Town Center branch. It was a disappointment. Their equipment was under repair and their staff lack empathy (oops, work stuff).

Good that ATC has options. I moved around and found stores with accommodating sales persons. Mizuno had tempting offers. Buy a pair of Inspire 13 and get other models for P500-P1500 only. Inspire 13 is their stability running shoe that cost around P6K. It looks solid but felt heavy.

Next store was it for me. Asics was selling their pricey Gel Kayano 26 for just P5.5K but only for their gray pairs. It didn’t take long for me to swipe my card as Gel Kayano always appears among the top recommended stability shoes.

My first ever Asics shoe.

I have racked up 15Km with the Gel Kayano 26 and the forefoot cushioning is obvious. Heel seems stiff until now but I’m not complaining. Few more break-in runs and that should improve. Besides I land heel first on my slow paces. Yesterday I hit 6.8 min/km using the Gel Kayano 26. Today I did 6.6 using the old Skechers Go. Hmm. Maybe I need to try a Hoka. Whatever, I’m Nike-free.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Can’t believe November is almost over.)

Out of Running Grave

I spoke too soon, gave up on running again too soon. This week (despite a day after suffering an upset stomach and nausea) the product I ordered online from Chris Sports store finally arrived. My most costly expense, the NordicTrack S20 treadmill.

Yes, believe it or not, I purchased a treadmill online. Almost foolishly, I didn’t even verify if the website was legit. Haha. And I once thought my wife was too compulsive online. But after 14 days of anxiously waiting, I was looking at the heaviest package ever delivered at home so far (Props to husband and wife tandem who brought this via their Transportify).

Not just big, it’s heavy too.

The treadmill requires assembly. Wifey said it was my Lego. Fighting lightheadedness, I got the pieces all together in more than three hours. The instructions are easy to follow but I discovered it requires a 3/8 ratchet socket wrench which thankfully I have at home. The treadmill’s kit only includes an allen key.

Major parts (fan stand not included)
Spent after three hours of mechanical work.

It was only today, three days later, when I finally tested the treadmill (Day one was wifey). I was slow for so many reasons and one of which is this is my first run after almost seven months. No thanks to this pandemic. I was only able to peak at 10 speed setting. The NordicTrack S20 has 20 max speed and I am quite sure is more than enough than I can handle. This treadmill is bang for the buck at Php65K or approximately $1300 (including the 3000W AVR) which is intially priced at Php73K without the AVR.

Face shouts effort!

So there, story of my life. Broke but happy. More running days ahead.