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.

***

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

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20K With Nike Free RN 2018

I already ran a total of 20K using a pair of Nike Free RN 2018. That’s an average of 5K per run and the good news is that I still don’t feel any discomfort despite using this shoe designed for neutral arc. This is definitely a plus.

Back to the highway.

This Nike doesn’t only feel good but is likewise aesthetically appealing for those into minimalist design. It can even be paired with casual clothing and is comfortable for walking inside malls or parks because it has good traction. I discovered the Free RN 2018 grips wet smooth pavement (e.g., tiles) better than my Nike Zoom Vomero 10.

There’s a downside to this shoe’s sole though. What provides traction is also the same thing that I’m having issues with. Like other Free RN series, its sole’s slits and gaps pick up and trap pebbles and other stuffs like mud and broken glasses which are very common where I run. Either I find a new route or just have to pay more attention where I land if I want to preserve this shoes.

The debris trap.

Another thing I recently learned is that there are insole replacements available in our country. I once thought it only exists in annoying pop-up ads. The Athlete’s Foot store we went to in Robinson’s Mall Bacolod sells several insoles that support flat-foot arc like what I have. My in-law paid for one but didn’t fit well in the Free RN as I was not wearing it that day so I used it for my casual shoes and it felt like a charm. Next time I’ll research if there are people who use them in running shoes.

I plan to run straight 10K wearing the Free RN in the next days so I can check how it would be like. I actually did two sets of 5K on our last day in Bacolod as I stopped by my parents’ house to chitchat and take my dose of protein shake. That was a good run.

I used to be a stickler for shoes that fit my arc type but this experience with the Nike Free RN 2018 make me start to believe I can use other designs. If the shoe fits, wear it must be true after all. If I can afford is another story.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Back to work. Hope I can type.)

Fat Or Thin: GOrun or Free RN

Christmas vacation and the tug of war between staying in bed and running is ongoing. The good thing about anticipating the dilemma is that I have made sure that I’ll have a reason to get up early and burn whatever I had the other day.

We are on our day 3 back where I grew up, Bacolod, wherein I’ve already eaten more than I would or should’ve have weeks prior to this trip. But God is good, I quickly recovered from cold and survived a cat bite and so I’m back to my running form.

The next day after we landed I tested for the first time my first ever Skechers GOrun shoes. I decided to get it after several failed attempts to find a pair for my flat feet at the Nike factory depot in Paseo, Sta. Rosa.

Typical Skechers thickness.
The sole reminds me of Hoka.

Surprisingly I liked GOrun. Firstly, it is cheaper than any Nike pair I was looking at. Secondly, this Skechers cushions like a pillow. Two days running with it, 15K total distance, and my feet aren’t hurting. P3,700 (discounted) seems worth it.

Then there’s Santa who gives to both naughty and nice. Yesterday I got a nice pair of Nike running shoes. It was a Free RN 2018 which I have been wanting because of its weight but reviews say it’s not for flat-footed runners like me so I avoided it. And now that I have it, I’m not complaining. Few minutes after this dark chocolate Swiss Miss and puto for breakfast settle I’ll go out run using it. Plan is to go slow and see how it feels. Wish me luck.

Santa knows my size.
The second shoes I’m keeping the original lacing out of the box. I’m becoming lazy.

***

Mood: 1/10 (Christmas so far has been fun.)

Live The Beat

Marcus collected our Fitbars and finisher medal.

Run with music? It took me only a couple of days to decide that this is the second official running event I’d do this year the first time The Music Run PH appeared on my Facebook timeline. The words discounted registration rate for early birds was also a come-on. It was only July then but I could already smell November immediately after I filled in my personal details and clicked submit.

The next runs were soon more purposeful. My plan was to beat the 10K PR I did in February when I joined 7-11’s running event. I finished it after an hour and 6 minutes but I knew I can do better.

The twist came though when Marcus got the hang of running with me few months later. He must have loved the feel of his wheelchair moving faster that it would at home or in the malls and so he’d say yes whenever I ask if he’d like to go out and run with me. He got hooked so the training strategy changed.

I got this.

I wasn’t really sure then if organizers of The Music Run PH would grant my request but I sent a message anyway. Their response was quick, they said yes I could bring Marcus with one simple rule–stay on the left lane. The update got me very excited. The weekends that followed we logged runs farther than 5K, progressing each time.

This Saturday the months of anticipation and training was tested. Wifey supported our adventure so we all checked in at one of Marcus’ favorite place–the Acacia Hotel in Alabang–which was perfect due to its proximity to The Music Run PH’s venue.

Loading up on McDonald’s carbs.

Powered by McDonald’s spaghetti happy meal for lunch, I finished all the French fries even, we set off. The venue was five minutes away from the hotel and the quick trip on foot also served as my warm up run. There was no gun start so we joined the other runners as soon as we reached the start gate at about 4:30 PM. Weather was nice and warm.

Several people, participants and marshals included, cheered for Marcus. The energy was contagious and it motivated me more. The road was almost packed so I tried to steer clear of other runners and stuck to the left lane as agreed but every now and then I’d overtake those who paused and walked. Loudspeakers playing upbeat music were set up along the route so I was tempted to do the floss at some point but decency kept me from doing it–old guy doing a Fortnite emote doesn’t look good around sweaty millennials. So I pushed forward instead. Marcus shared his Skittles whenever I stop for my Gatorade.

Two loops later, we reached the finish line. It was already dark, though night was young. We clocked 10 minutes more of PR but that’s good enough considering the wheelchair. A quick random interview and we’re soon out of the event’s ground, happily on our way back to the hotel with our first ever 10K finisher medal. The race was tough as I have imagined but I think we’ll do this again.

Two loops of this. We were hamsters in a music trail.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Early morning bit looking forward to buffet lunch.)

First Fun Run

We’ve had morning runs in the past and we’re even in attendance in a fun run event which I recall was during the adoption awareness week about nine years ago. But wifey and I were never together as registered participants. Last week we had the chance to see ourselves run side by side.

Eager 3K runners.

The Sto. Tomas Color Fun Run, an organized though small running event, got all three of us in our running sneakers. On Friday morning we gathered with other excited runners at the starting line just few meters away from home, our aspin dog tagging along.

Dog panting but enjoying.

It was wifey’s first time to run again after several months, stuck normally at home doing her freelance jobs, so I paced with her. Basically, it was skip, hop, and jog for me, just to keep Marcus entertained, until the second kilometer. I started picking up the pace and left wifey behind on the last 1K stretch. Less than 10 minutes later, Marcus and I saw her cross the inflatable finish line arc. Not bad.

Post-run recovery was free Jollibee Yumburgers but three of us shared just one of it. I haven’t event burned the carbs I took prior to this. So barely exhausted and not wanting our dog to get lost on its way home, I decided that Marcus and I can still run with the dog. My Garmin registered about 6K total that morning.

This shouldn’t be our last. I want the three of us to join another event soon. Practice runs won’t be bad as well.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Hot chocolate at the car wash.)

Red Wheelchair’s Farthest Run Ever

Stopping for his chocolate chip frap at Starbucks Sto. Tomas.

I ran with Marcus. Yup, not just for Marcus. A dream coming true for me even if he’s on a wheelchair. For two days in a row we covered the most distance and we achieved more running this time. In his gaming parlance it was “achievement unlocked.”

Saturday’s run on a route we once took with wifey earlier this year was short and quick. Seeing two clowns on a motorcycle was the one of the highlights of this run and although Marcus neither saw goats nor cows, he found a compound with Ostrich. An animal sighting made the 3K session worth it for him.

The next day Marcus wants more of it. I thought he won’t ever ask to do it in succession as he’d have to deal with smoke-belching vehicles, dusty road, and was exposed to the sun for a longer period. But I was wrong. Marcus didn’t mind staying out in the open on his red wheelchair. Our second run is proof that he loves to do more.

Sunday afternoon we started earlier. At about 4:30 PM we met the blinding sun head on. He refused to wear the visor cap which he calls a stupid hat because he finds it weird that the top portion is open. So I gave him the option to wear his Batman baseball cap and told him to just look down and avoid staring at the sun rays. We reached shade more than a kilometer later. Running was easier at this point.

Marcus was chatty almost the entire time and it was a good thing. Having a conversation with him diverted my thoughts away from the effort I was exerting to keep running. I would only check my Garmin whenever he’d ask how much distance we’ve covered so far and that’s only when I’d also see my heart rate and pace info. Every now and then he’d look back to check if I was sweating or not. I’d respond back that I’m fine.

We hit the 7K mark at exactly an hour later just in time before dark. His Starbucks chocolate chip frappuccino we got halfway of our run is already consumed except for its whip cream when we stepped back inside our house. I’m not sure when the next time is but I would love him to join me again while I try to rack up more miles this October.

7K with Marcus.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Air time for Marcus in few more days.)

Should We Take Our Playlist When We Run?

To plug in or not to plug in, that is the question. Everyone would agree that music does affect the way we do things. While we have individual genres, whatever that is in our playlist influences our behavior whether we’re up for a long night of school work, crunch numbers at the office, finish a writing deadline, or when we want to get in the zone during a workout.

I have this wired Phillips earphones for about 10 years already.

Whenever we want extra focus we shut the rest of world out and enter our invisible cocoon, we play our favorite song. Others seal themselves completely, almost air tight, thanks to headphones. Introverts know this better.

Back in my younger days I was a fan of earphones or headsets. Yes, those Walkman days and then MP3 players. I don’t know when I stopped but I believe it was when I realized I need to talk to people. When I became mature–let’s say that’s true.

Safety was also an issue which is why I use less of the earphones especially when I’m mobile. When I started running more and read more about this sport, it seems that the number of cons against running while plugged in outnumbers the pros. There are so much road hazards that runners need to be aware of so being able hear a wayward driver coming from behind, for one, is a big advantage.

My opinion against wearing another set of technology in the form of the earphones remained until the day I sought that extra push to hit the steep Baguio terrain. That cold early morning I took my phone, plugged my very old but trusty wired Phillips earphones and ran. That was my first time running with Arnel Pineda, Big Fat Joe, Depeche Mode, and the rest of my Napster tracks (oopps) playing along. It made the trip on the undulating road to Burnham Park and back less tiring and stressful. Music saved the day.

For days since then I was back to wondering if these bone conduction earphones I’ve heard of months ago are worth buying. But this morning I got my answer from an unlikely source. A Facebook friend not so known for being minimalist posted a YouTube video about using technology instead of it using us. For me, the video’s message was clear and it takes me away once more from the urge to run with earphones plugged. For how long though, I don’t know.

***

As a frustrated writer, I also appreciate having music in the background. In my freelance days, I’ve finished countless articles, met writing deadlines with the help of the right music. And alcohol. I have likewise composed better blog post when music sets the mood and motivation.

My bluetooth headset we got in the US.

Few days ago I was contacted for a part-time writing job and so it seems that I would need to once again isolate myself for hours (if) when the job orders start coming in. Maybe that bone conduction earphone I see online is worth having after all.

***

How soon before someone becomes a freelancer? I’d say ten. Last week Marcus got his first feel of his mother’s home-based job when she asked him to encode few numbers from PDF to Excel while she took her break and surprisingly, wifey said he got the numbers right. Maybe, he’ll earn his first dollars soon. Haha.

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Mood: 2/10 Honks! (900-calorie breakfast after a 5K.)