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.)

Run With Marcus

It’s been my dream to do something physical with Marcus, run with him. But his wheelchair sets some limits among others. Weather and outdoor condition are other factors as he’s had history of allergic reactions.

Yesterday seems to be the perfect condition although it was a bit windy late in the afternoon. We set off anyway, stepped out of the house with my running shoes and Marcus looking forward to see the goats along the way.

I ran and pushed at the first kilometer until the goats appeared. Then it was mostly run-walk from then onwards. I let Marcus cherish the moments to see nature and animals beyond Ultra HD 4K.

We conquered 200 meters. Flaring nostrils not shown.

If only we had this Adaptive Mobility Freedom Push Chairs which I saw first on Facebook page of Athletes in Tandem. This push chair would allow me to run with Marcus better and safer. His current wheelchair rattles and it poses a challenge when going uphill thus the need to take extra care not to over tilt him backwards. The mobility chair’s price is stiff though at $900 excluding shipping since it would come from USA. Maybe soon.

We covered seven kilometers yesterday so this red wheelchair is good enough for now.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Today’s agenda: Learn the floss. (No) thanks to kid’s Fortnite game.)

First 16K

Can I run farther? I asked myself immediately after I crossed the finish line of the Run 7-11 10K category a month ago. I wasn’t all spent while slowing down towards the staging area so I think I could. Since then I set my mind to try 16K.

Next weekends, however, I was grasping for motivation. Why should I? What for? I seem unable to justify why I would torment myself running farther when 10K seems to be good enough for regular runs. And the funny thing is, in the past weeks I didn’t even do 10K anymore. I also did 5Ks just because my workout plan that’s stuck on our refrigerator says I need to. Telltale signs of boredom.

My Garmin capturing the spike of elation?

Thanks to running and fitness pages I follow on Facebook, I got back on track. Surround yourself with like minded people they say. People who had the same challenges, same people who despite challenges have beaten the odds. So this morning I pulled myself out of Netflix’s Ghost Wars. I ran while it’s still dark.

The plan was to cover 12 kilometers only. It’s the distance set based on my newly discovered pre-run meal: .5 multiplied by bodyweight multiplied by number of hours left before run. I read it yesterday, not the whole article but I was eager to give it a try. It says it should be good for an hour’s run.

Experts say that pace is key to avoid early burnout on long runs. I tried slowing down but every time I check my Garmin it shows my 5K pace which is a bad sign if running economy is considered. I was planning my turnaround point at the 6K mark but my legs still seem up for two more kilometers.

An hour and a half later I was on my home stretch. Sun’s already up, school kids already being dropped off, and the Monday chaos starts to set in. Before my watch hits the second hour I finished my run. Not fast but I did it. My 16K baseline has been set.

Sweet potatoes for recovery.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (God is good.)

Alcohol-Free, Almost

Me according to Marcus.

As parents, we play different roles. At some point we are either any or a combination of being a superhero, a soldier, a doctor, a nurse, a driver, a bank teller, a teacher, a preacher, a clown, and a friend. Our children expect us to be as flexible as Mr. Fantastic and our children keep a keen eye on us day in day out. What we do is what they would become.

It is imperative that we pay attention to our actions. The sooner we realize that we have greater responsibilities the moment a child becomes part of our lives, the better. Parenting is complicated, I know, and it is normally easy on theory but a whole lot different when everything happens right in front of your face. Kid cries, kid wants food, kid poops, kid pees, kid makes a mess. And kid gets sick. And some kid, later on, would have special needs.

There is no turning back. Hard truth. It takes someone strong, wherever that strength may come from, to say “I can do this.” A good parent commits, a good parent loves…without condition. Child first, everything else takes a backseat.

It took some time to get my acts straight when it comes to alcohol. Several times I was behind the wheel under influence with Marcus inside the car, I had days I missed getting him to bed because I can barely hold my own, and there was one day I missed him blowing his birthday cake because I’ve passed out. Been that bad father.

This was a sign.

Honestly, I somehow miss drinking with friends. Those days when cheeks would get warm and tight. Those days when eyes drop halfway, then the world starts turning. Those days when inhibitions are lost and words come out freely and without care. All for the heck of doing it. In vino veritas. But perspectives and priorities changed.

I haven’t stopped drinking entirely but since the red wheelchair came the drinking became less and lesser. Occasional isn’t even a close definition. I could count with my fingers the number of times I went drinking especially last year. Running and working out helped me avoid the urges. (FYI, six bottles of low-calorie beer is equivalent to one meal or a third of a day’s calorie allowance. That’s excluding finger foods!)

I am alcohol-free, almost. I’ve made myself 24/7 for Marcus as much as possible. I’m his fireman who would jump the pole and would be there for him in no time. I would only drink if Marcus is not around or if I know Marcus’ needs are all taken care of. I think I could now qualify as best parent yet not. Others have far challenging stories. So to all of you out there who continue to make sacrifices and continue to love their kids with special needs, hats off to you. Happy Sunday.

***

Mood: 1/10 Honks! (Just in time for the adobo.)

More Than Just Physical

What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve. It’s a twist to a quote by someone named Napoleon Hill (if Google is to be trusted) which everyone might have heard or read already. Such is cryptic however or sounds cliche, even irrelevant for anyone who hasn’t realized that at some point it has happened to them.

This concept became apparent when I started going to the gym. Like most noobs, I went to the gym without understanding fully what it takes to be there. I first set foot in a gym at Intel just because it’s free, cold, and equipment are mostly top of the line. I was there thinking I would lift whatever my physical strength allows me. If I cant, I won’t, I’ll just call it a day.

Few years later, I became more focused on strength training when we first learned about Marcus’ condition. It was something that we need to be prepared of, physically in one aspect. So I went back to the gym again. This time I paid some attention to my nutrition. I eat rice before each session and it was key to lifting relatively heavier weights. But other guys I see can do more.

I was back to the drawing board. Then I saw on YouTube about the mental aspect of lifting. It got me interested and excited. The last gym I had was few meters from our old home so I would time my visits when there are less patrons. I worked out noon time while Marcus is in school or after I have dropped him off. I gradually worked my way up the dumbbells and few sessions later reached the heaviest weights of the rack. True enough, I soon see myself bench pressing two 50-lb dumbbells. It gave me confidence to workout even when the gym is packed.

I haven’t gotten back to the gym for years but thanks to this free Kindle book by Dan Kavadlo, I continue to do my bodyweight workouts at home. Running too is now part of my training plan.

Time and again my body would make up alibi to stay sedentary. “It’s a weekend”, ” it’s cold outside”, “Netflix is calling”, ” bed is better”, and so many other temptations to stay put. Maybe it’s the body’s instinct to preserve itself from stress which is when it becomes more mental than physical. It pays to listen to your body but not all the time. You should know better.

Sometimes when the body says dizzy, you say 5K. That’s just what I did today. Same story as before. And guess what? In this dizzy state I broke my personal time. I’m now two minutes away from my sub 30 goal. See.

The leg says run, the mind thinks pizza!

***

Here’s a confession. I haven’t heard Sunday mass for a long time–me and Marcus. But this doesn’t mean I have become less(er) pious. In fact, it is when I workout and run that I pray more sincerely than when I’m in church. In training, I’m alone, focused, no annoying churchgoers, no distracting females who continue to play dumb by defying the church’s dress code. Oopps. Sorry Lord, my bad.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Getting gloomy, so it seems like ditching the Hot Air Balloon show was a good idea.)

I, Runner

“However you run, as long as you run, you are a runner.” Words of wisdom from an online article but whether the writer behind it was just meeting word count quota or an avid runner who knows what (s)he’s really talking about, I would like to believe that I deserve the title now. Even just for a day.

This morning I conquered what I’ve been preparing for. I’ve been running several 10Ks lately as tracked by my Garmin but haven’t joined any organized event to test myself how I would perform against others. So when I learned last December about Run 711 2018 I willingly let go of my precious 700 pesos to register.

A week of preparation, diet, cross-training, and mind conditioning paid off. The day prior to the race was most critical as I followed my plan based on tips I’ve read. I had carbo intake (thanks to wifey’s tuna pasta), performed light bodyweight exercises, and drank just enough coffee. I missed my weekend Fail Army viewing session with Marcus as I hit the sack earlier than usual.

A good luck letter from my fans.

I was in Alabang about an hour before the start of the race. Early morning was cold and I was a bit dizzy but the moment I heard go at 4:45 I ran along with the pack and surprisingly picked up the pace. My Vivoactive HR shows 1 hour 7 minutes when I crossed the finish line–a minute less than my fastest record on Garmin Connect. It made me feel like the race winner.

Run 711 2018 10K route.

***

I am about to conclude that Run 711 is more organized than the Nat Geo Earth Day Run I attended seven years ago–yes, seven. Well, almost organized not until I realized that I was supposed to have a finisher shirt and a finisher medal. Pictures online and the race packet show that all finishers get one. All I got was a free paper fan, a Red Bull, and a Pocari Sweat. I bet the medal’s plastic anyway.

I didn’t have any picture except for this race tracker.

***

Official race time isn’t available as of this writing. Already had my Sunday nap but myruntime.com/connect still does not show my result. Nat Geo Run had its race result faster. By the way, I finished my Earth Day Run 5K after 41 minutes but I now cover 5K at an average of 32 minutes. Next goals: sub 30 5K and sub 1 10K.

***

Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Heartbreaking news and overeating.)

Ten Years, 10K

WordPress says my blog turns 10 this month. Must be the domain marcuscanblog.com itself but actually I’m not so sure. Why? Two things do not add up. Firstly, my archive dates back 2006 while Marcus arrived November 2008. Either way I accept the nice achievement badge.

My WordPress laurel.

***

Run711.com now shows the respective routes of next week’s race. Personally, race is a strong word though in a sense may be correct if by racing it means beating nobody’s record but my own. We’ll see. Here’s the road to my first official 10K.

Image from run711.com

***

Mood: 5/10 Honks! (No run weather.)