Murphy, Give me a break

“When it rains your poor” a friend once jokingly said about his equivalent of the more popular “when it rains, it pours.” But while that’s funny, come to think of it, his version actually makes sense. Case in point, this month—of all months.

I don’t consider myself careless nor clumsy so breaking things aren’t normal for me especially if in succession. However, it looks like sh*t does happen because it’s just past half of the month and I start to feel I have reverse Midas touch.

First to go was my 8-year old Starbucks steel spill-proof coffee tumbler. It was a gift from my wife which was my companion during countless sleepy drives. It was even with me on my trip to cold Kansas. All that considered I’m keeping it, sealing the flip top for good and using the tumbler to keep my drinks warm and crossing my fingers I don’t spill coffee on my desktop while using it. (I’m not clumsy, I’m not clumsy, I’m not clumsy…)

Then there’s my treadmill’s cup holder. I’ve had so much trust about the Nordictrack S20’s durability that I have been slamming my drinking bottles and aerosol cleanser until I noticed recently the cup holder’s screw mount broke off behind the control panel. Like my Starbucks tumbler Mighty bond also did the trick but I’m more gentle this time and paying attention how I place my running bottles while at the same time checking my cadence, my pulse, and if I’m about to pass out or not.

My progressive glasses was next victim. Didn’t sit on it but I did something foolish. I’m still able to use it at work, thanks to work at home, but I’d look stupid if I wear it in the office with half of its temple broken. I now feel like I’m wearing a monocle. By the way, Hitler wore a monocle, FYI.

Promoting a new fashion trend.

But Murphy’s law isn’t done yet and this time it targeted our car’s battery. Discovered it fully drained just this past weekend when I was about to go out for a drive to pick up the Conti’s choco overload cake Marcus requested to celebrate his 13th year. It pays to have an in-law with a spare car.

Then there would be another. Last but not the least because obviously this one is the most expensive. How about breaking an Apple Watch? This one really sucks because I just had it this year as a gift. What makes it worse seeing it drop and break is that it occurred just when I’m starting to enjoy the convenience of wearing it while running as it streams music directly from Spotify. I think I can still use it but the crack on the screen will likely take in water so I have to be extra careful I don’t drop sweat on it. (May be too late but I found out that there’s a bezel being sold online that I could attach to protect the screen. Bought one anyhow in an attempt to save this watch.)

Chipped!

Quite a list already on my birth month, right? I’m never superstitious but I can’t help thinking a knock on wood wouldn’t hurt. Or maybe staying indoors until end of the month a better option? Common Murphy, give me a break. No pun intended.

***

Mood: 5/10 honks! (Fingers crossed not to break more things)

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.)

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!!!)

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.

Weight a minute

Day 30. Or 35. Whatever. Anyhow, it’s been a long while since I ran past the 10K mark not until yesterday. Thanks but no thanks to our screaming bathroom scale. What I find funny is I bought my AfterShokz for the very reason I wanted something to pump me up in my attempt to do another 21K and farther. It hasn’t happened since then until plus seven pounds later. Procrastination sucks, right?

I still do regular 5Ks, however, and I think I’m improving the form and pace is getting steady and at times a bit better. Like last weekend I did another at my favorite uphill route which was when I achieved another fastest mile. It was going downhill when I hit the new record but a win is a win.

Marcus having his first sushi.

Then there’s also Marcus being a factor. He’s just getting heavier. Still relatively slim but trust me he’s got mass–his skinny body is deceiving. Thus my plan to shift from endurance training to more on strength is becoming more compelling. I need more muscles to help Marcus’ lack of muscles.

This is why I’m getting anxious whenever I step on the bathroom scale. Half of me wants to maintain a leaner form while another half wants to bulk up and be more muscular. Like today I checked and I’m 141 lbs yet thankfully my shirts and pants still fit. Must be growing muscles then, not fats. I’d like to believe so.

***

So how does it feel to gain seven pounds? To remind myself that I shouldn’t go any heavier I’m looking at weight gains in different perspective.

Gaining about three pounds is like buying frozen whole chicken and carrying it the whole day. Not much though an extra weight nevertheless.

Ten pounds on the other hand would feel like a having a grocery bag filled with five kilos of brown rice bag. This will slow one down significantly. I’d start to get worried here.

Then twenty pounds would be tougher. This is equivalent of going daily to the airport with a hand carry bag stuffed to its limit. This is the number to be avoided really.

***

Months overdue, we finally returned to the doctor to have Marcus checked with only his 2D echo test results available after giving up on him being able to successfully do the spirometry test back in January. The findings were relatively better. Marcus still has good grip, which I did not doubt as he can still hold the Xbox controllers the whole day. While he can’t stand, same amount of leg control is still present although leg extension have lessened from 60 degrees to 70. The doctor said Marcus’ arms strength is what weakened but said exercise, no weights and no resistance, may still benefit.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Having foot spa while waiting for Marcus to finish his therapy.)

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.)

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.)