Run with the beat

Seldom that I set goals, financials especially. Don’t take this against me but I was never a guy who would plan. I’m not lazy but it’s just that I live one day at a time. I’m a self-declared minimalist, I’m contented. If I can avoid planning, I won’t do it. This year, however, was among the few exceptions. I had a simple goal in mind.

I passed up on running events no matter how tempting to prove myself. At an average, registration would set anyone back by Php 700. That’s for participating, finishing within the time limit and getting a medal just because you finished. You can sense my sour graping here by now but hear me. I was saving for something.

AfterShokz Titanium black

Instead of getting medals to show off that I crossed the line, I set my sight on getting an AfterShokz Titanium. The benefit of listening to music while running and at the same time still being able to hear the surrounding got my attention the first I read about bone conduction headphones. I didn’t have any doubts that bone conduction is possible as I read an article that explains why most people hate the sound of their voice when they listen to it from a recording.

It didn’t take too long before she swiped her card in this Hong Kong airport gadget shop.

Most of us are not aware that sound does not travel through our ear canals alone. In fact, the sensation of sound is also conducted or vibrated through our bones which is why there’s better experience when we both hear sound and feel it as well. Think deep base, think Atmos technology in cinemas.

And this is what AfterShokz headphones are all about. Instead of plugging the ears to feed sound directly into the opening, AfterShokz uses bone conduction technology to allow the ears to stay open thus letting runners enjoy stereo music and at the same time stay aware of sounds coming from cars or pedestrians that could be potential running hazards if unnoticed.

Here’s my run this morning with the AfterShokz.

AfterShokz Titanium costs close to Php6000 here in the country but it was cheaper by Php500 in Hong Kong. I’m aware that I haven’t skipped that much running events but the deal and the urge to get something at the airport shops was overwhelming. There goes minimalism. Oopss.

I have done two runs using this Bluetooth bone conduction headphones and it does deliver clear music even when in motion. The headphone isn’t annoying unlike when running with a wired earpiece that dangles back and effort. It is of course water resistant so I never worried if I had to pour water on my bald head while running. The manual shows the battery lasts 6 hours on full charge so I guess it will keep playing during a full marathon which by the way is probably my goal for next year.

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Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Feeling lethargic after that chocolate muffin for breakfast.)

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HK Day 2: Leg Day

I was expecting to taste authentic Chinese cuisine since we landed in Hong Long but I think we didn’t had any. At the airport we ate curry, the best curry I have tasted so far, and a chicken with mushroom menu which were surprisingly very good although heavy as both were served with rice.

Then last night’s dinner was also rice and pasta that I had so much carbs to burn just on the second day so I was eager to go to the gym.

Our hotel doesn’t have the gym but I was advised it’s in one of the affiliate hotels. Disney Explorers Lodge which is less than half a kilometer away from ours appears to be where the muscles are formed but it’s not here.
A few minutes more away from the second I found myself standing in front of Hong Kong Disney Resort Hotel.
And this pink corridor leads to the gym.
Even the gym room doesn’t look like any of those I’ve seen before.
The gym has complete and functional equipment. And it was cold. Will make me pick this anytime than the humid park.

I racked up 5K on the treadmill, did some weights and returned to Hollywood Hotel. I arrived with Marcus up and awake and everyone else eager to check out for the next phase of our Hong Kong trip.

Today’s main plan was to find stuffs on sale. It would be a long day. We transferred to Stanford Hillview Hotel which we accessed mostly by HK’s train (MTR) all the way from Disneyland station. All of us were spent (and silently grumpy) when we reached Jordan train station so lunch was the immediate agenda.

It was another meal that didn’t come close to what I had in mind for Chinese food. Specifically noodles. Marcus was looking for McDonald’s and found one so we settled for it as well. Nothing special there, FYI, except for the sight of expensive cars like Ferrari, Porsche, and Teslas passing in front of the fast food that kept Marcus entertained.

Our hotel was a short taxi ride away. We could’ve even made it on foot but everyone voted against and it was good decision. We didn’t waste much time upon checking in. We hit the streets with the first challenge of wheeling Marcus on a road with 1.5 slope that extends for several meters.

Pushing the wheelchair down and up is a challenge.

Initial destination was the museum with some side trips. We passed by Kowloon Park to check out the aviary. There wasn’t much to see there except for groups of familiar Filipino faces huddling together on their day off.

We reached the museum but scrapped the plan to get inside. Firstly, it was packed, then we learned there’s a schedule, and from outside I can see stairs. Not a place for Marcus. It was just about 3 PM so we decided to take the ferry to Central Hong Kong. Learning that it’s where there’s Jollibee for Marcus and cheap chocolates were compelling enough to stay exposed to the weird weather.

Clockwise from top left: Marcus on his first ferry ride; Posing in front of Hong Kong eye; View from our room; The iconic Hong Kong skyline.

Hong Kong Central was more crowded and busier. It was common to see people dragging luggage which I later figured are meant to store stuffs that they bought from the stores. Plastics are charged extra so it pays to bring luggage if you’re in for some shopping spree.

We covered almost 18 kilometers, ferry rides included, that afternoon.

It rained heavily in the afternoon so Marcus and I had to seek shelter while wifey and her sis did the bargain hunting. After what felt like hours we saw their faces emerge from poorly lit and crowded part of Worldwide House and with them was a bag full of chocolates. Never been happier to get out of a mall.

Arrived alive at the hotel.

Sun was still up but it was almost 7 PM when we reached the hotel. By then it already felt like I have used up every extra calorie I stored from eating magic cone that Marcus didn’t finish and scoops of White Rabbit and choc mint ice cream back at the ferry station. The last stretch running and pushing Marcus up the steep road had me accept that Jollibee chicken bucket was best recovery food that evening.

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Mood: 8/10 Honks! (Pushing away writer’s block.)

HK Day 1: Finding Mickey

Marcus once again had the opportunity to see the world outside our house, outside the country. Last weekend, with his now blue wheelchair, Marcus went to Hong Kong for his first Disneyland adventure.

The blue wheelchair gets its first airport sticker.
As expected Hong Kong was gloomy.
Our first taste of lost in translation.
Reached Disneyland Hollywood Resort Hotel to drop off our bags and go directly to the park.
First glimpse of Disneyland’s gate.
Weather was hot and humid, stress on humid. Later learned that HK being close to the sea has a lot to do with it.

Marcus watching the Toy Story parade away from the splashes.

Parade that afternoon featured Toy Story. The floats and characters sprayed water so we had to get Marcus out of range to avoid him and his wheelchair from getting soaked.
Our first Disneyland ride.
Waiting to enter the Iron Man Experience virtual ride.
Still reeling from the heart pounding virtual 3D experience.

Our check-in time at the hotel was 3 PM so we had to get out of Disneyland theme park coming from the Iron Man Experience with the plan to return right after we’ve settled.

Clockwise from top left: souvenir shop inside the hotel somehow made up for our lost opportunity to see the other Disney characters; Marcus got a discounted Simba plush toy; Food was pricey so we settled for something less expensive and doesn’t require reservation; Meal was heavy and Marcus was bored so we checked the pool out.

Hotel check-in was a breeze. We got room 6716 which has twin beds. It was comfy, so comfy that I woke up close to 8 PM. Nobody woke me up so I guess everyone wasn’t just vocal about it but the humid park wasn’t worth the return. I concur but it was a pity we didn’t see Mickey up close and personal.

The Garmin came handy in tracking places we visited. It recorded that we walked a total of 4 km just in this portion of the park.

To be continued…

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Mood: 8/10 Honks! (Been a while since my last post. Was busy and this HK trip was a blessing. Thanks wifey.)

I Have New Wheels. Sort of.

Karma must’ve caught on me. Our newly painted Honda City ’08 was a wreck after last week’s rear-ender. It happened fast, I didn’t see it coming. It was all routine drive until boom, everything inside the car got messed up. Coffee mug was thrown out of the cup holder, my shoulder bag went from front to the backseat, pairs of shoes mixed up, and the dashcam dangled like a pendulum after it got dislodged from its windshield mount. Saw all this after I found my phone somewhere on the floor. I wasn’t meant to be in the office that night.

Cars involved in the collision minus the truck that caused it all.

Good news is I’m still alive and writing and won’t be taking jeepney rides under this cruel tropical summer sun (heat index registering at 40 degrees Celsius lately) as the trucking company owner shouldered everything plus the loaner car. It was a bad experience but this guy lessened the stress of going through the police report and the repair process. God is good. As of this moment, my car’s damage is being taken care of at a Kia dealership that caters all-brand services.

Didn’t expect that a loaner car was an option in cases like this.

What I find funny is that this year we’ve been thinking of either getting a van or a smaller car–wherever that budget will come from is another story–that fits our garage and that could carry a wheelchair. Now it happened, I’m back to driving a Kia. This must be why they say be careful what you wish for.

So far I’m loving the automatic Picanto. It’s fun to drive, it’s easier to park and it can carry all three of us plus the wheelchair. Just this Monday the red compact car got the three of us to watch Avengers: Endgame. I just wonder though if 15 km./li @ 80 kph average speed is the best it can do. The old Honda City have done better. Think think.

(Draft first posted on my Facebook account.)

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (It rained and looking forward to see how the small tires would handle wet road.)

Marcus Got New Wheels

Marcus eventually outgrows his red wheelchair after three years. Last year he started complaining that his knees are already rubbing against the frame especially whenever I take him running with me.

My wife had this ingenious idea to cover the wheelchair’s area with bike frame foam padding. Of course, thanks to Lazada online shopping we acquired it with less effort. But it was only temporary. Marcus is growing fast, not fatter but just taller and heavier. He’s lean. He’d be about 5 feet tall if only he could stand.

He was all blue the day we got the wheelchair.

So last week, after weeks of waiting for the stock to be available, we met up with someone at the Festival Mall to purchase Marcus’ wheelchair. This time it’s blue, lighter than the old red wheelchair. And it is cheaper as well at P6000 only. Not bad except that the front wheels rub the foot rest when pulled backwards. We can deal with it.

Still using the trusty red wheelchair. Taken recently at a nearby carnival.

The new wheelchair comes with a lap belt which could come handy if ever we take it out for running. I also realize it will help when Marcus’ core muscles weaken further. Like last week he fell face first after slipping while seated. He got his lips cut but never cried–brave boy. It was scary for us though, signs of things to come. I can only pray the progression slows down.

This week is Marcus’ birthday. He’d be eleven. One day my wife asked, “What’s your wish?” “Last year I wished that I can walk, it didn’t happen,” Marcus simply replied. I looked at my wife faking a smile. His statement stings, we just don’t have an answer.

For now the wheelchair is what we have to make him mobile. We have the same wish for him, maybe dream is the appropriate word. I’m not pessimistic but I have to accept that him being able to walk will not happen in our lifetime. I just hope this new blue wheelchair brings us adventures and better memories.

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Mood: 5/10 Honks! (Monday. Marcus’ new therapy schedule.)

My Worked Out Hands Take A Rest

I must admit that I haven’t given my hands the care that it needs. Almost seven days a week I would have a workout that involves putting pressure on my palms and fingers. One day I’d be doing pull ups, next day push ups, and other days I’d do hand stands. Running days are only when the hands get its rest.

Then the bug finally hits me. Despite extra measures to avoid catching the dreaded cold virus that seem to have been all over since the start of this year, an unplanned trip to our clinic to visit a sick direct report caught me unguarded. The clinic was small and enclosed, I was in close proximity as we talked, I got nowhere to hide, and I forgot to wear mask like I would whenever I take public transport. Boom, sick me.

A week since then I had to take the needed break from intense physical activities. I was able to report to work but like the warning on my son’s newly downloaded F1 2018 game whenever he drives the cars too hard, I was forced to continue on low fuel mode. Slow pace in short, functioning in bare minimum just to survive the day.

But sometimes something good comes out of bad things. Sans workout sessions I noticed that my hands have become better. No more splits, no more cracks. Even the calluses are almost gone. “Looks like I have to change my workout routine, I’d do more running, ” I told my wife. “So?” she asked, question prolonged. “I need new running shoes, ” I joked, half meant.

Frankly, with or without new running shoes, I am excited to start fresh. I plan to workout again soon but I will pay more attention to hand care. I am currently using either O’Keeffe’s Working Hands cream (I keep this at work as it doesn’t have any scent that could annoy anyone nearby whenever I apply it) or Bag Balm which I should remember to use every after my exercise sessions. I also need to wear gloves consistently to prevent my hands from direct contact and pressure especially during heavy workouts.

Trust me, this is an improved state.

Now that I mentioned heavy, I may have to change my routines soon. Stuck on our refrigerator is a printout of my exercises when I still have my strap for suspension training. Last February, however, I responded to Decathlon’s Domyos strap recall and was surprised to learn that the only option I have is to refund the item instead of exchanging it. Now my suspension routines are permanently suspended (pun intended).

Looks like pomade but it’s for the hands.

Then there’s also Marcus growing up and heavier. He is starting to fall off the small foldable stool we bought at S&R back in 2018 when taking a bath so this week I modified his Medline Bath Safety Chair that he only uses to reach the bathroom sink so that this time it fits our narrow bath tub. Some elbow grease did the trick to bend the aluminum legs within 14″ width. Bathroom scale also shows he is now 60 lbs (27 kgs) which is why carrying him is becoming a pain in the back.

All these factors considered, I need to align my workout to the demand. Heavy lifting requires strength which means, obviously, more strength training than running sessions. For a while there, I thought I could engage my hands lesser but it wasn’t realistic expectation. So at least until I have recovered fully, the hands take a rest.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Tonight’ the night we make waves.)

So We Have A Dog

Six months later I noticed I haven’t had an entry about our dog. Once referred to as a small rat for being so tiny the first time wifey got it out of a box that was less than half of a regular shoe box into our house is now a grown up dog and we think it is still growing bigger and/or fatter.

Being cozy with Marcus.

Named after Marcus’ pricey smart toy dog he got as a gift while in the US, Shadow soon became house-trained. I’d wish it’s toilet-trained but the fact that it whines whenever it needs to “go” and do it outside, wherever it pleases, is good enough.

First day Shadow went farther from home.

It wasn’t all good and easy though having him around. With me especially. I had less tolerance to pet peeves so I didn’t deal with most of it too well unlike wifey. I was strict. However, what I didn’t learn from reading about dealing with pets, I learned from Marcus. Some the hard way.

An animal lover since he was younger, it was his wish to have another live pet at home after we lost our cat, Mittens, in 2016. We tried a turtle and we still have a dwarf hamster. It took a couple more years for us to test if we can have something furry and bigger. Hypoallergenic dogs are out of the question due to costs. Thankfully, Marcus never had asthma attack with the mongrel shedding all over. So far.

Disciplining the dog was always the issue. Marcus is so particular with how his pets are handled. He reminds me when to clean the hamster. He would protest whenever he sees the dog hurt. It was a challenge explaining to him why I need to keep the dog from doing stuffs. Why there should be rules on what the dog can do and can’t do. At least he now knows to keep Shadow at bay whenever necessary. I taught him that a slight tap to the nose works.

Pet peeves aside, Shadow as it turned out is an active mutt. It has short bursts of energy. It is playful at the same time annoying–I was drafting this post with Shadow licking my head, biting my elbows. It plays fetch inside the house, it runs and jumps around which is the very reason I decided to install an anti-tip strap to our flat TV. Marcus loves all these antics.

This is why I now appreciate Shadow more being with us. To see Marcus enjoy the dog’s company makes me think we made the right decision to get a dog and deal with pet peeves in the process. I think I have learned my lessons–continue to learn may be more appropriate. I’d like to believe I’m a better pet owner and father, while I’m at it. We’re now like an ideal family out of Marcus’ Sims game. If only this dog could get a job or at least run along.

Shadow loves the yoga matt and is always around when I stretch after running.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Second week to see the team.)