low volume hearing

nosound

Allergies have been bad. More than the usual itchiness and sneezing, it’s graduated to my eyes hurting and for the past few days, one of my ears is blocked. I’ve tried the usual methods, irrigating it and adding oil.

It’s my left ear so it’s the less dominant one. I guess I’m just an average person in peferring to listen with my right ear.

I suppose I should go to the doctor’s to have it looked at, since I’m experiencing small headaches like if I clench my jaw too tightly. I’m sort of enjoying the lower volume though, less ambient traffic sounds, and I can use it as an excuse not to talk.

neighbourhood walk

chi154stwalters

Nice day to go out for a walk around the neighbourhood. Clear skies but dry enough that I’m not dripping with sweat. Quite pretty around St Walter Church.

chi166house

The houses in this area are pretty. To my standards, they are all large and even the ones that look small from the outside are deep so there is plenty of space inside. This interesting one has the remains of a wall around the front gate. I wonder what the story is.

chi168breadbottle

I walked to the orphanage again, and over to this small store. It’s a pokestop too. But I didn’t go inside, apparently it’s a dodgy place where suspected drug dealers hang out. Safe enough during the day (from across the road) but I won’t go near it when it’s dark.

There were very few pedestrians around. This being America, with drive-thru restaurants and ATM machines and even drive-thru postboxes, most people out and about were driving. I saw a postal worker delivering mail, a couple of people walking their dogs, a kid on his bike, people waiting for the bus, that was about it. There was a group of 4 women having a picnic at the lawn near the church. Perhaps having lunch? It was around noon.

foam roller bottle

foamrollerbottle

I’m not running, and one of the consequences is I get more aches and pains than before and I need to roller my back fairly often. I’m starting to think about what to pack for chicago and mulling whether I should take my foam roller. It comes with a travel bag and I can just take the outer one and stuff clothes and shoes inside. Still, it’s not practical; it’s too bulky.

Sis shared this roller bottle with me. Two purposes in one. Stainless steel bottle and the whole thing tested for 350 pounds. Most pictures show people rollering their feet or arm so I wonder if it’s strong enough or large enough for using on the back. I guess the 350 pounds bit means it does. Is it hard enough? And most importantly, it seems a tad small to cover a large area like the back. $40 is expensive too, considering a regularfoam roller is under $20. There’s another brand for arund $28.

The biggest advantage is convenience, especially for travelling.

I’m undecided.

almost #breaking2


2:00:25.

So close. Eliud Kipchoge almost succeeded in Nike’s #breaking2 marathon challenge at Monza F1 course. Even if he had gone sub-2 it wouldn’t have counted as a world record because he had 30 pacers and a lead car. Plus Nike’s Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes and sports drinks delivered by moped were questionable against IAAF rules.

The amazing thing is, he was on pace until around 30km, when he dropped back. Regardless of whether it was a staged event, and regardless of the fact that he didn’t go sub-2, it was still, as the Guardian said,

the most glorious of failures.

breaking2split

Just look at his splits. Wow.

vlm2018

vlm2018

I’ve gained all the weight I worked hard to lose, and then some. I’ve lost every scrap of fitness I also worked hard to get.

I’ve made a couple of pathetic attempts at running in the past 13 months but currently I’m unmotivated, lethargic and alternate between having zero interest in or mildly angry at the world around me.

It must be some sort of pavlovian response. See that it’s the week VLM lottery is open, click on the link, fill in the form.

Sod’s law means the year I’m in no shape physically or mentally to train for a marathon is the year I’ll get in the lottery.

allergy alert

pollution
photo courtesy flickr user darkwood 67 under cc

I got hit by a massive allergy attack today. Non-stop sneezing, out of control runny nose, and itchy nose, sinus, throat. It is spring weather, but it’s cloudy, breezy and cool, which normally doesn’t suggest a high allergy day. Then again pollution is largely invisible. I don’t know what exactly I’m allergic too, seems to be pollution, some plants, cats.

In total I took 3 claritins, equivalent to 30mg, over 12 hours. I know, recommended daily dosage is 10mg but it’s never enough. I’ve had to take 2 tablets a day almost daily since March. There was one day a few weeks ago I took 4 during the day and it only started working late into the evening.

In the end I had to take another medicine I got from the ENT doctor last year, to stop the runny nose and be able to sleep. Trying zyrtec tomorrow.

spring marathons #bostonstrong

It’s spring marathon season. Brighton was last weekend, Paris was yesterday, London is next weekend. Today is Boston, which is an anomaly in world marathons in that it’s run on a monday.

I’m mesmerised, watching how they let pedestrians cross the street in the middle of the marathon course. Effective and using low tech ideas. Just a few officials, a couple of signs, rope and a rectanglar box in the middle of the street. Very clever.

switzer

And talking about Boston, it’s the 5th anniversary of the bombing so #BostonStrong. The biggest finisher wasn’t Geoffrey Kirui or Edna Kiplagat (yay for Kenya) but bib #261, Kathrine Switzer, aged 70. Ms Switzer was the first woman to officially run Boston in 1967, having registerd as K.V. Switzer. The iconic photo of the race director trying to grab her mid-course seems so ridiculous now, but what she did for women’s sports was set a fantastic example and role model. 70 years old and she finished in 4:44:31. Amazing.

The BAA has retired her bib #261, in her honour.

illustrated marathon maps

marathondrawinglondon

Went running the other day, did 5k around the reservoir park. Extremely slow and there is no doubt I’ve lost 100% of my fitness, probably more since I need to lose weight too. It’s been a year since my last serious run. I still follow Paris Marathon on social media but I don’t dare think about any of it. I wonder when I’ll be ready to go back to running.

Saw the reddit thread by an artist who produced illustrated marathon maps. He’s done maps for Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, MCM, New York, Pittsburg, San Francisco, and Tokyo. All the drawings are fantastic, my favourites are London and Tokyo mainly because these are two cities I know and love. Definitely worth checking out the full gallery.

marathondrawingtokyo

The prints are available for sale. $28 isn’t too bad though I wish they sold postcard sized too so I can get the whole set. If they did a Paris map I’ll consider getting the print; it’s the one that got away, innit.

running, christmas pikachu

5.25km 47.25min 9.02min/km

My last recorded run was in June. My last serious training run was in March. It’s been a long time. I’m not sure if I’m ready yet, but an occasional 5k will do me good. Luckily, the charmander nest had gone from the small park, so only regular walkers were there. The gps went a little wonky, I was able to estimate total distance. The usual complaint, slow af.

pokepikachuxmas

Went to morse park after the run. The new nearby screen had a christmas pikachu and I was able to find it easily. The new nearby screen is both good and bad; it enables us to go after pokémons that are spawning near stops but the ones that aren’t near stops are totally invisible and depend on luck to find them. It is what it is.

vlm ballot result

vlmsorry

Not that it was a great surprise, but I didn’t get a place in the london marathon through the ballot. This makes it 0 for 4 or may be 5. Why was I not surprised? Because it’s a scam. There are barely any places for people who just want to run, people who don’t want to be blackmailed into a charity place.

You get a free e-magazine as commiseration but I didn’t even click on it, because the sorrynotsorry email was already full of charity places! charity places! charity places! I have no doubt it’s the same inside the magazine.

Disgusting.

Sour grapes? I don’t think I’m the only one who feel this. Others have described the whole thing as disgraceful and obscene. Even someone who ran it before with a charity has said never again because of the

extortionate

amounts required by these scammers masquerading as charities. They want thousands of pounds. Thousands. If that’s not blackmail what is?

I agree with the ballot approach. It’s the only solution to a race that is so oversubscribed. But they need to be more transparent on how many ballot places there are vs charity spots. And to avoid turning it into a charityfest.

Of course, London is only one of many spring marathon possibilities. One of these days, I’ll be mentally strong enough to apply for Paris again. And of course there is always Brighton, Edinburgh (which is offering guaranteed places for London rejects for only £55), Barcelona, Amsterdam…and many others.

Someone commented that Chicago has pretty good chance (50% or higher) because they want payment upfront. May be that’s what VLM can do too, to get rid of those who enter on a lark. I guess until they start charging, I’ll still do my sign up for your free “sorry” magazine in october next year.

sore from climbing

Not too much side effect from the dinner, a bit tired because I didn’t go to bed till 2am and woke up at 8am. The side effect from the wall climbing was very evident today. Arms a tiny bit sore, no big deal. My back, on the other hand. Ouch. Needed 2 panadols when I woke up and getting up from a sitting position was a slow affair. Once I got up and standing or walking it was okay. Used muscles I probably never used before.

#46 wall climbing

bbwallclimbing01

The one task I didn’t fully complete from 101.1001 was #46, to go wall climbing. I counted it as complete because I made the booking before the end of the challenge. So today was the booking.

I got to the ymca around 20mins before the course, to fill in forms and give them a couple of photos. There are 2 sections there, and one of the sections had a kid’s birthday party going on. It was a small class, just me and 3 young women, friends from Singapore I think. The first hour was going over rules, safety and first of all learning how to fall. Then it was earning how to use the harness and belaying system. Learning how to make knots, use a carabiner, use a <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigri_(climbing)” title=”wiki’>grigri. We could climb up to 3m without a harness but anything above that we need someone to belay.

We were then paired off for our first climb as a team. Learned how to belay and steady our teammate. Checking each other’s equipment was paramount, as were the signals we have to give. Also learned how to fall and brace someone who is falling. The first time I did the fall I pushed off using my arms only and fell upside down, hahaha.

“Climbing.”

“Okay.”

“Tension.”

“Lower.”

“Falling,”

Climbed up and down a few times. I got stuck at the bit that was an outcrop but it didn’t matter. It was fun.

After 2 hours’ instruction was the assessment. Went through everything that we learned so far and made sure we did everything correctly. I was nervous and didn’t do too well. Was tired at that point too so couldn’t even climb very far. But I passed the assessment, so yay! Now I can book climbing sessions myself, but obviously without a teammate can only do the 3m or less bouldering. Definitely need more practice.

global running day

globalrunningday2016

5.0km 38.11min 7.38min/km

1 June is global running day:

a day for people around the world to celebrate the joys of running. Participation is easy—just pledge to take part in some type of running activity on June 1, 2016. It can be a solo lap around the block, a long run with friends, or even a game of tag with your kids. The key is to share your passion for the sport and inspire others to get moving

Brooks made a bib template to encourage people to participate in the event. I asked G if she can draw something for my bib. She didn’t use the template but what she gave me was a million times better. So cute!

running20160602

We’re under the first big heatwave of the year, temp up to 32ºC. Not wise to run during the day so I ran around the streets downstairs after dinner. Started faster than I’ve run recently, but then the heat got to me and I slowed down a lot.

running20160422

running20160422

5.25km 43.41min 8.19min/km

Small steps. Most of the run was in the rain,;not heavy enough to bother me as I had a hat but heavy enough to make puddles on the path. The last 400m or so I heard incoming thunder so I got out of the park asap. Went inside: market, had my glasses fixed, shuttle bus home.

Chicago marathon application just closed; Brighton and Paris marathon applications are still open. London is this weekend so applications will likely open soon. Sigh. Not sure if I should run one more marathon or give up and switch to halfs.

Get back to running regularly and building base first. Plus I’ve probably lost close to half a stone in a month. It’s a good thing, losing the weight. Now need to build up fitness. Keep healthy. Small steps.

10-apr

12.30am the nurse came to fetch us from the waiting room. We suited up and were at his side.

Good bye and thank you from my heart to Papa. 1.18am. Love you.

Went to bed for about 4hrs. The morning was spent letting friends and family know. The afternoon aunt J and uncle A came with us to get formalities sorted.

09-apr

Such a tough guy, he survived through the night. So proud. Even Doc T, Doc W and all other doctors agree on his toughness.

But chances not good. 5%.

08-apr

Supposed to be transferring today but origin hospital not cooperating. Stonewalling and bureaucracy. Harrowing wait all morning and afternoon. Finally Professor T had to call himself. Transfer finally going ahead, I had to sign AMA. Mum and I went by train and taxi to new hospital to get registered. Sis went with ambulance.

Still very precarious. Lots of things wrong and we’re desperate.

Spent the night at hospital waiting room, sleeping on the sofa. We made the right decision.

barkley marathons

This weekend is the barkley marathons. And no, there is no typo, it’s marathons. Barkley is one of the toughest and secretive ultramarathons in the world. 100 miles in the Tennessee wildnerness. Registration, course and even start time are secretive and all up to the organiser Laz. The course is a 20-mile unmarked route,

with no aid stations except water at two points along the route and the runner’s parked car at the beginning of the loop

plus an elevation of over 50,000 accumulated climb. There is a “fun run” at 60 miles, with a time limit of 40hrs. The race itself has a time limit of 60hrs, or 12hrs per loop.

Since its inauguration in 1986 only 15 winners have won. The race mystique was increased this year with the release of a documentary.

rhonda

This year’s race is covered widely on twitter via #bm100. One of the most remarkable runners is Rhonda-Marie Avery, a blind runner who will run with a guide. This is her arriving after completing one loop in 32hrs. She tapped out at one loop but what an achievement.

Edit: the race was won by Jared Campbell, his third finish. What an achievement.

day of paris marathon

pm0k

I’m been switching between local and Paris time occasionally during the day. I was in the last coral, scheduled to depart at 10.35am CET. I was looking at the clock around 20mins before, and felt a small pang of sadness. Then we went to the hospital and there was again an improvement, which immediately took the sadness away.

When we left at the end of visiting hour, it was around 2pm CET, so I was imagining where I would have been. I got home, showered and it was nearing 3.30pm CET. If I were aiming at 5.30, I would have been around 5k from the finish. Realistically, I was probably at around 35-37k. Slowness, tiredness and definitely stopping to take pictures.

pm30k

The official fb page has been posting pics. This is a nice one at 30k, can see part of the Eiffel Tower. They have a nice set showing the glorious day (may be too sunny) and the magnificent city the route takes.

Found a google earth route. I’ve been wondering about what it would be like at the 2 borses. I guess it’s difficult unless you’re there in person.

The women’s race was won by Visiline Jepkesho (Ken) at 2.25.53 and the men’s race by Cybrian Kotut (Ken) at 2.07.11.

ZERO regrets about missing the race.

01-apr

Had to go to the doctor myself today. Almost 1hr wait in a completely full waiting room. It’s good to see how everyone shifted and tried to accommodate everyone else so all of us had a seat. Doc said cough and allergy, gave me scads and scads of medicine. Plus cleared my ears for good measure.

Was at hospital on my own. Tough. We were trying to make sure everyone gets rest. But I think I’ll suggest at least 2 people, or staggered timing.

it’s cloudy in Paris

parisweather

I should be on the plane. May be I’ve been watching episodes of bake-off, or a noisy adventure film, the type I love to watch on the plane. Or I’ve managed to sleep and am just waking up. Flight is due to arrive at 0655, my plans were for us to get the Roissybus to Op&#232ra and then either taxi or metro to our hotel. If we can check in, great. If not, we’ll leave our luggage there and go to the nearby Treilhard covered market, which on google maps is 10mins’ walk away. In the afternoon, I was going to let Mum rest at the hotel while I go to the expo to pick up my stuff. Then we’ll venture out in the evening.

Ah, plans.

I’m not on the plane. I watched this week’s bake-off on tv and there’s no available noisy adventure film. My dad is still in the hospital so the entire trip is cancelled. What’s more important, his health or my piddly marathon? Do I even need to ask this question? A part of me is disappointed, of course. But mostly, it’s the right decision.

I contacted the travel agent to cancel the flight+hotel package. Not sure if we’ll get the refund as it’s the cheapest class ticket. The French airbnbs I was able to cancel and get a refund less fees, the London airbnb I only get 50% refund. Car rental: refund less fee. Ferry: refund less deposit. Just by cancelling online I get around 25% back. What I can’t get refunded, I’ll try to claim travel insurance. All this comes later.

A bunch of really fantastic people sponsored me for the race and we’re up to around USD500 already. The Board is helping me contact them with the latest news and to give them a couple of options. Hopefully everyone isn’t too disappointed, I hate that I’m not delivering my part of the bargain. I think they will understand, my friends are good people who all agree that family and health takes precedence. There will be other races.

Eddie Izzard 27 marathons in 27 days

Regardless of what you feel about Eddie Izzard, my hat off to him for completing 27 marathons in 27 days. He did 2 on the last day and raised more than £1 million for charity. Awesome.

BBC3 has been following him on his quest, the clip of his last day shows dedication as well as humour. Yes he has a team supporting him but it seems so lonely to run mostly on his own. I bet he got a lift from supporters running with him and cheering him along the way. And why did they make him climb up those stairs to Nelson Mandela’s statue after he ran 56 miles that day?

Someone posted a really funny comment on runnit:

As far as I can tell, Eddie Izzard’s daily schedule looks something like:

5.30 am, Alarm goes off
Brush teeth
A quick before breakfast marathon
Shower. A healthy breakfast
Get dressed. Try on a sequined dress. Look fabulous
Change of mind. Put on a suit
A brisk 26.2 mile jog into work
Start shooting scenes for pilot of tv show. Nail every scene
The odd marathon between takes
That’s a wrap
After work drinks
Marathon
Dinner
Marathon
Head downtown to do a standup show. Audience is in stitches
Leave stage
Fit in a quick marathon before returning to thunderous applause to perform encore

Teehee, I love reddit.

#41: running PR

running20160314

Task #41 of 101.1001 is to break a running PR.

When I started the challenge, I thought I’d be able to get a PR at one of the races if I pushed myself to do marathon training. It’s been very difficult to gain speed, and I’ve all but given up.

The weekend long run went well, so while I had a little time before we need to set off for our cruise, I went off for a quick run. It was pretty good, even a little flow-like. Felt like old times.

The problem was the GPS. There is no way I did km 3 in 1.37. That’s equivalent to running 100m in 9.7 seconds. Km 4 and 6 were weird too. Luckily I was running at the baseball park so I was able to estimate distances. I think the GPS overestimated my run by around 1km.

wonky GPS: 8.0km 46.59min 5.52min/km
more realistic: 7.0km 46.59 6.43min/km

If we believe the GPS, it’s a PR by 1 second. Of course, it’s more realistic to stick with the 6.43 number, which is close to what used to be my baseline of 6.40. This is the best since I started 101.1001 and is basically telling me not to write myself off. May be there’s time to get a real PR in the next few months.

running 30k

running20160312
30.36km 4.36.18hr 9.06min/km (I took 7 minutes off for stoppages, see post)

It’s been said that a marathon is a 20-mile warm up followed by a 10k race. There is definitely something mystical about the 20-mile marker. It’s the longest long run in many training programs, and is also the point where the wall hits.

After bonking last weekend’s long run, I approached this weekend’s milestone 20-miler with trepidation. Argh the first few meters: shoelaces felt too tight, knee brace kept falling down. Not a good sign.

20 miles is 32km, so I mentally split the run into sections: 12k, 20k, 27k, 32k. Increasingly smaller distances between breaks, because inevitably I get tired towards the end. Surprisingly I got to 8k and felt all right. Had a stroopwafel and the green tea I brought as hydration at 12k. Another fuel break between 19-20k of gu and water. Went over to the smaller park for the final third. Slow for a bit, another gu break at 25k after which somehow I found second wind. Legs even felt fresh at that point. Huh.

I stopped at 30k or almost 19 miles because I ran out of time–I volunteered to get dinner, prices go up after 6pm and it was 5.45pm. Could I have gone another 2k? Yep, I was slowing down a little, but not significantly.

Overall I think I did some stuff right. Mentally I wasn’t putting pressure on myself. I foam rollered my ITB beforehand. I made myself take fuel breaks, because I remembered that by the time you feel you need food and/or water, it’s too late. Unlike previous long runs, I didn’t physically stop for fuel breaks; I kept walking. Although I did take 7mins off my total time for stoppages–traffic lights and water fountains.

Quite pleased with completing this milestone training run. Legs were okay afterwards, I walked around the shopping centre in search of dinner and walked to the bus stop without too much pain. This is the key. If I’m pain-free on race day, I have a chance of finishing in decent shape. It’ll never be a PR time, I think those days are gone. Still, if I’m able to replicate today’s performance in 3 weeks’ time, I’ll be okay.

Japanese marathon monks

Something else I’ve been reading up on the last few days is the Kaihōgyō 回峰行 or circling the mountains meditation challenge that is undertaken by the so-called marathon monks of Mt Hiei, just outside Kyoto.

As part of a 7 year quest, a participating monk runs or walks 1000 marathons in 1000 days:

  • year 1: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
  • year 2: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
  • year 3: 30-40km every day for 100 consecutive days
  • year 4: 30-40km every day for 200 consecutive days
  • year 5: 30-40km every day for 200 consecutive days
  • end of year 5: survive 9 days without food, water or sleep
  • year 6: 60km every day for 100 consecutive days
  • year 7: 85km every day for 100 consecutive days

They don’t just walk along paths in the mountain, they stop off at places of worship too. It was moving to see in the film how people bowed and kneeled along the path of the kaihōgyō in order to be blessed by the monk.

The monks are part of the Tendai school of Buddhism, and only 46 monks have ever completed the challenge. Traditionally after the first 100 days, the monk must either complete the challenge or commit suicide if he fails. In practice, a solid selection process means no one has had to commit suicide for over 100 years. Upon successful completion, the monk achieves the revered status of living Buddha and become celebrities.

They don’t walk or run with the type of gear used by modern day runners. Their shoes are handmade from straw and they wear their white monk’s habit. What’s most amazing, as writer and runner Adharanand Finn discovered when he met one of the monks and tells a story of someone meeting a marathon monk on the last day of his challenge, expecting to see his feet all swollen and sore.

“But they were smooth and clean,” she says. “As though he had been floating over the ground.”

bookmarathonmonk

The term marathon monk was coined by John Stevens in his book of the same name. Himself a marathon monk, with 35 years experience living in Japan and an expert in aikido, this is a book I’d love to read.

The reader will learn about the monks’ death-defying fasts, their vegetarian training diet, their handmade straw running shoes, and feats of endurance such as their ceremonial leap into a waterfall

Perhaps not to buy. I don’t think the library has it, it’s a shame.

running with medication

running20160306
17.21km 2.50.32hr 9.55min/km

Worse.Run.Ever.

The plan was 12 miles or 19km. I thought I’d split it up into 11-12km, a break for fuel then the remainder. Started off fine. First 10k was okay, the slower paced bits were either stoppage for traffic light or water fountain.

Convenient break at 11km at one of the parks. Had a stroopwafel and a bottle of energy drink. The second part of the run, argh. Went 500m then had to stop and walk. Simply had no legs to run for anything more than 1km or so. Ran some, then had to walk. Gave up at 16km and walked home. Out of breath and no energy. This is ridiculous, I did 28km last weekend and two 13km runs mid-week. I can’t go 11km and then bonk.

The only significant change from last week was starting on HBP medicine. It’s the third day but BP hadn’t gone down. [edit: measured at night before bed, 131/88. Okay, silver lining.] There is some anecdotal evidence that hypertension medication may aversely affect performance. ACE inhibitors and their cousins ARBs, of which Blopress is an example, are supposed to:

have no major effects on energy metabolism and cause no impairment of maximum oxygen uptake. In general, these drugs have no deleterious effects on training or competition.

In fact, one study concluded that ACE inhibitors enhances peak exercise capacity.

A couple of things may be at play here. First, I could have just had a bad running day, it happens. Second, medication affect different people in different ways. My body is not used to medication apart from anti-histamine and the occasional panadol. Mentally my head keeps telling me it doesn’t like the prospect of being on long term medication, and therefore may have contributed to a bad run.

There’s less than one month to go do sort this out. Adding to the stress of moving, unpacking, trying to find space to put stuff, selling things, finding an estate agent to list the flat for sale. Ha, no wonder my BP is high.

health check results are out

cholesterol201603

The results from the health check came back. Apart from high blood pressure, the rest were all right. Saw both the doctor who did the checkup and a dietician, which is part of the package. The report highlighted readings that were outside the acceptable range and both pointed out the highlight in HDL, or good cholesterol levels. The dietician actually said she has to congratulate me. I like this dietician, she said to continue with what I’m already doing in terms of food and exercise. She also agrees with me that we shouldn’t become overly dependent on medicine and supplements. I told her I take a multi-vitamin whenever I remember, but I’m not in the habit of laying out a row of pills in the morning that I have to take. She was supportive of this mindset.

Of course the big worry is BP. I know this for a long time, and have been avoiding it. May as well face the music. Went off to see sis’ family doctor who gave me blopress which apparently is a newer medicine with fewer side effects. Not sure why she said newer, if it’s already available in generic form. Low dosage, I’m to measure BP daily and go back to see her in a week. Just what I hate, seeing a doctor especially since it’ll possibly mean regularly. Let’s see how it goes, it takes a week or so to fully take effect.

running 13km | myrtl routine

13.0km 1.51.13hr 8.33min/km

This is a very busy week for me, I’m at sis’ a couple of days and staying over on friday. The movers are coming thursday so I have to go home tonight to finish packing tomorrow. Plus there are a couple of people who want to buy the stuff I advertised.

Have to fit in running in between, as much as I can. Did the midweek 8-miler early as I won’t get the time later. Only one more month. Haven’t been running well the last couple of times, there’s a pretty sharp pain in my left hip and, no surprise, down the ITB. I thought the squats and lunges I’ve been doing would help.

myrtl

Found another routine that target the hips called the Myrtl routine. Takes 5-10mins. Some of the stretches, like the fire hydrant, seems to be working new muscles, although i’m still hurting. Not a lot of time left to get rid of the pain. Sigh.

running Paris marathon for the GCLS

I’ve done the running sponsorship once before and that’s it. I remember telling my friend CC about Chicago marathon and her first reaction was to reach for her wallet and ask “who are you running for?” So sweet, but I explained that I wasn’t running for any charity. She was puzzled; like many non-runners she associated races with sponsorships. All well and good, but that’s one of the reasons I don’t run for charity–while I cheer on the fundraising and good cause, I hate the way that races have been taken over to the point of being hijacked by charities. How many years have I entered for the VLM lottery? 100% failure rate.

parismarathon

I guess it’ll have to be a really great cause to get me to go the race sponsorship route. I’ve been involved with the GCLS for a few years now, I feel like I’m contributing, and they appreciate my efforts by giving me an award last year. As the organisation grows, so do operating expenses and the need to provide even more to members in the form of scholarships and technology. It seemed an opportune time to combine Paris marathon with the GCLS.

As I don’t live in the US, I approached the Board to figure out a way that works best for everyone. I initially thought about having sponsors fill out a form (so I can track total amount) and then donating directly. The Board did one better: they kindly created a fund just for me, to provide a convenient place to make and collect donations. That’s simply…awesome.

Here is the call for sponsorship that I posted on fb earlier, and is also on the description on the fund page:

On 3 April 2016 I will wake up early, gobble down several delicious French pastries, lace up my best running shoes and participate in the Paris Marathon. This is my 5th marathon and my first race on Continental Europe. The course takes us past sights such as Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

This year, I will run in honour of the GCLS.

As many of you know, the GCLS is close to my heart and I am involved in their mission to educate, recognise and promote lesbian literary work. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organisation, entirely run by volunteers and funded through donations. Please consider sponsoring me in my efforts to help in their cause.

Here’s the link to donate online: http://www.goldencrown.org/donations/fund.asp?id=14228

Every little counts! Thank you in advance for your sponsorship. Look out for updates and race pics in April.

running around day 2

I need to get a medical certificate for the marathon, so I booked an appointment for a health checkup. It’s high time I had a checkup anyway. I very rarely go to the doctor’s so I was a bit lost about what to do. Basically the routine is go from one location seeing one nurse or doctor or specialist after another: take BP, take history, physical examination, blood test, EKG, chest x-ray, cashier. Went from LG1 to LG2 to 5th floor to ground floor of a 5 wing hospital. Argh.

Some of the nurses and specialists were nice. The one nurse ‘in charge’ of me was especially great. The doctor who did the physical exam I didn’t like. Not only was he completely without expression, it seemed like he was going through the motions. Plus he wanted to charge me local $500 ($65) for signing a simple medical cert. The checkup nurse pulled me aside and advised me to take the report and go to a family doctor. Well, she actually said my family doctor but she wasn’t to know I almost never go to the doctor. I have been to one near mm a lot of years ago, or I can use my sis’ doctor. Let’s see.

By the end of the tests I was hungry and thirsty–no food or drink (except a little water) allowed for 8hrs prior. So I quickly made my way to the nearest housing estate to have breakfast. Then it was neither here nor there. It was 11am, I was at the other side of town, I had an appointment at 2.30pm. What to do with the time. At the end, I went home. But better to spend 1hr getting home and having a cup of tea and relaxing than wandering around aimlessly for more than 3hrs.

The appointment at 2.30pm was with my FA, to sign some forms and talk about strategy in light of recent market downturns and the pound’s devaluation. I wanted to buy some more GBP since it’s so cheap. So we decided to take some profit in one of the USD funds and keep the GBP either as cash or in money market bonds. Then when GBP goes back up again, sell and repurchase other funds. We met a a coffee shop and since I hadn’t had anything since breakfast, the berry tart was my lunch.

noodleskale201602 barbaresco1996

Went over to sis’, she invited me for dinner. We had another vegetarian meal, this time of rice noodles and baked kale. I could have finished the entire try of kale myself. I brought over a bottle of wine from my collection–time to start drinking up my stash, in the new spirit of downsizing I going to work at reducing the size of my alcohol stash. This was a Barbaresco 1996 I bought in Verona when I was living in Zurich. It means that it’s been shipped 1.5 times around the world. The cork was a bit soaked and soft but I carefully took it out to prevent the wine from being corked. Immediately I could smell the fruit. Peppery, rich, fruity. Good wine.

Finally, the end result of another running around day. No real running, must go tomorrow. My right arm has a big bruise where they took a blood sample. It’s a sign of whether the technican is any good, I’ve had blood taken out with just a pin prick and no bruise. This time, it was quite painful when she was drawing blood (even though I’m not afraid of needles or having blood taken) and now there’s a 10p coin sized bruise. On my left side, I banged my little finger against something on the bus and it’s now swollen, feels bruised and I can’t bend it. Argh.

#40 walk to mordor 1779 miles

mordorwalk1786

20.75km 2.56.00hr 8.29min/km

Task #40 of 101.1001 is to complete the walk to mordor challenge of 1779 miles / 2863km.

With today’s long run, I’m now at 1786 miles / 2874km, so I’ve reached the target. This is the last part, when the fellowship broke up at Rauros. Frodo and Sam travelled 470 miles to Mt Doom in a tough 30 day journey, first paddling and then climbing, climbing, climbing. Plus meeting and fighting Gollum.

mordorwalk1786chart

It’s taken 26 and a bit months to do this. Some months I clocked more than others. Initially I was just getting through the minimum and then marathon training helped a lot–probably if I weren’t training for 2 marathons I may find if hard to finish.

To recap:

  • 458 miles: from Hobbiton to Rivendell
  • 462 miles: set out with the Fellowship from Rivendell through Moria to Lothlorien = 920 miles total
  • 389 miles: from Lothlorien down the Anduin to Rauros Falls = 1309 miles total
  • 470 miles: Frodo and Sam on the quest from Rauros to Mt. Doom = 1779 miles total

101.1001 challenge done, but the overall challenge continues. I wonder how long it’ll take me to complete the remaining 1618 miles / 2604km that takes the fellowship from Minas Tirith back to Bag End especially since there’s no deadline. I work best with a target date.

running 20160207

running20160207

10.13km 1.15.17hr 7.25min/km

An unremarkable distance over an unremarkable time. But it’s my first run in 12 days, so it’s a small achievement. I’m ignoring that according to the training program, it’s supposed to be a 17mile/27km run this weekend. I need to slowly get back on track.

I have a suspicion that the GPS is short when I run along bowen road. It felt slower than 7.25. I don’t remember stopping halfway, even though the app says I did. Hmm. The first dip is a long uphill stretch and the last 2 dips are for uphill and traffic light.

I’m still coughing, but I don’t feel like I’m coughing up my lungs constantly. It’s gotten better the last 1-2 days but I know it’ll take a few more weeks to clear.

Another positive: no knee pain, yay.

comfort food

Some comfort food I go for when I’m sick.

ldn061bagelsoup ire029shepherdspie

Soup. Most people will say chicken soup or chicken noodle soup. My preference is vegetable soup; sometimes chicken soup is even too salty or oily when I’m feeling poorly. On the left: vegetable soup with added kale. And what better to go with soup than something stodgy. On the right: shepherd’s pie with bean soup in Dublin. The ultimate comfort food combo.

udon201411 kor759porridge

Sometimes it’s less easy to make soup or shepherd’s pie. Comfort food when I’m sick and need to eat out: noodles and congee. The thick softness of udon noodles is so easy to digest, and usually tasty too. If I completely have no appetite and am feeling extremely sorry for myself, then the only solution is congee. Takes zero effort to eat.

training break

hottoddy01

Ugh. Caught a cold. Started with a sore throat, then stuffy nose and now it’s coughing. Stuff going on down my lungs. Taking a break from training. I ran a HM race with a bad cough and it was terrible. Not being able to breathe properly and having to stop periodically for coughing fits, while asking my lungs to go the work of running–should have known better.

When in doubt, always

obey your body and the thermometer–not your training program.

So for the next few days it’s panadol, cough syrup (this one tastes surprisingly good) and lots of honey & lemon.

atlas wearables fitness tracker review

tl;dr: crowdfunded a fitness tracker from atlas wearables, delivered one year late. Has some potential, functionality hit and miss, doesn’t track running. First impressions: a disappointment.


Two years ago I saw a project on indiegogo, a fitness tracker wristband by a startup called atlas that not only tracks exercises but learn new ones based on the user’s body movements through the device’s motion sensors. At that time (Jan-2014) it seemed to be a really great invention. The wearables market then wasn’t as huge as it is now; fitbit and pebble were new, most people’s idea of a fitness tracker were running watches with heart-rate monitor straps like garmin or polar.

I paid US$175, not an early bird price but one of the second wave backers. For that, I was promised one atlas wristband as well as a technical t-shirt. The t-shirt duly arrived around april. It’s nice, I wear it quite often on runs.

The delivery date of the wristband itself was initially late 2014, in time for Christmas. The first sign of trouble was when atlas’ lead engineer was hired away by apple, presumably to work on what we now know as the apple watch. Late 2014 came and went. Delivery date was pushed back to april 2015. Another email in april 2015, stating delivery

late June through early August

and that there will be

no compromises

Ha! Guess what, they went back on their word. They stopped sending detailed timelines and switched to vague traffic light updates.

I thought, summer 2015, I’ll at least get to use it for chicago marathon training. Ha! October 2015 came and went, and still no sign of delivery. There were emails enthusiastically saying “soon, soon, soon” and then hints that we’ll be getting emails to confirm our addresses shortly. People were getting frustrated and angry, for good reason. But short of asking for a refund, nothing much we could do.

Backing people on crowdfunding platforms is not buying. There have been sordid tales of kickstarter campaigns completely failing to deliver, or the originators disappearing with backers’ money. Someone described crowdfunding as a donation, so basically donor beware.

Finally in november, an email that said emails to confirm addresses have started and the devices will be shipped imminently. But to add insult to injury, instead of fulfilling backers’ orders, they had a black friday sale that promised delivery in 30-45 days. PEOPLE WHO BUY IN NOV-2015 WOULD BE GETTING THEIR DEVICES BEFORE PEOPLE WHO ORDERED IT IN JAN-2014. There was an uproar, again for good reason. They backtracked and clarified that black friday orders will not be sent before backer orders. Yeah, riiight.

At that point, I was this close to writing in for a refund. There wasn’t a lot of patience and goodwill left. Then I realised they were probably victims of their own success and I should give them one last chance. I decided to stick with waiting and see if it delivers the great functionalities it promised.

When they asked me to confirm my address in december, I told them that I don’t want it to be sent to the US anymore since they missed the windows of time when I was around. I refused to pay international delivery, and they relented. Honestly, if they’d asked me to shell out US$15 for delivery I would have asked for a refund there and then. Anyway, I got my atlas wristband just before Christmas, almost 2 years after I ordered it.

atlas01wristband

I watched the intro videos and downloaded the app. The impression I had gotten when I ordered is that I can just put it on, press a button or two and start working out. It’ll then track the exercises. Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. Here’s one month’s experience.

setup
The device seems sturdy and well manufactured. Chunkier than I thought. The tracker snaps into its slot on the wristband and is held in place by a magnet, so there’s little chance of it falling out. Charging via micro-usb, the port is on the inside of the tracker so it’s protected from the elements. On the minus side, the screen is small and a bit too sensitive to touch. It’s also designed to be used on the left wrist; it’s possible to wear it on the right, but it’s awkward to control.

The tracker has to be synced to the app. In fact, all controls are via the app which then syncs to the tracker using bluetooth. Many complaints on the atlas fb page about units in pounds and feet, it’s straightforward to change to kg and km on the profile page on the app.

exercises
The device comes pre-loaded with a workout called #firstworkout: 10mins of jumping jacks, burpees, crunches etc. There are other pre-set workouts on the app: a strenghten 4 week series, one called the core blaster and one called wods.

What I figured out is that the system works on a 2-step process: a) set the exercises I want to do on the app; b) sync to the tracker. So if I want to do the core blaster, I have to sync it to the tracker and it will replace #firstworkout. This means there can only be one routine on the tracker at any one time.

own workout
I can set a routine by selecting from a bunch of available exercises on the app then sync it to the tracker. The list of exercises include the usual suspects: bodyweight exercises like crunch and pushup as well as a bunch of dumbbell, kettlebell and TRX exercises. Some are not available, like planks.

atlas05trx

To actually do the exercises, the workout routine has to be synced to the tracker. Only one own workout can be loaded to tracker at one time, so own workouts replace the stock ones. I made one with my usual routine and another TRX one. It says 8mins, I doubt I can finish all those in 8mins.

freestyle exercises
A second slot on the tracker is for freestyle exercises. Like the stock and own workouts, these have to be pre-loaded to the tracker. I can pre-load up to 15 of these.

The biggest problem is the pre-loading. Yes, 15 exercises should be enough but what about when you’re in the middle of a freestyle routine and want to do an exercise that you haven’t pre-loaded? You have to stop what you’re doing, open up the app, select the missing exercise, sync to the tracker. Or, not track that particular exercise. It’s a PITA.

The tracker is supposed to recognise exercises based on body movements. This I find to be hit and miss. It recognised and correctly tracked tricep dips and burpees from the get go. It needed a few times before recognising crunches and mountain climbers and it didn’t count correctly every time. I gave up on having it track squats. It doesn’t track lunges, so I end up with data that is never 100% complete.

atlas06freestyle

When I finish and sync back to the app, I get some basic stats. I spend a lot of time editing the exercises, both the name and the number of reps.

running
It doesn’t track running: this is a MAJOR disappointment for me, and looking back at the indiegogo campaign, running was one of the ‘exercise footprints’ advertised.

atlas02fingerprints

We’re told to use heartrate mode. Okay, yes it tracked my heartrate and time and calories, but no distance. Plus I don’t believe I burn 570 calories running 50mins. A game tracks more than this dedicated fitness tracker. This is utterly useless.

atlas07running

battery
According to atlas, the battery is supposed to last an entire week of 1 hour workouts. I find that to be a blatant lie. I switched it off at 100% one night, and when I woke up, there was 4% left. Running for just under 1.5hrs causes the battery to go from 100% to 58%.

Like iphones, the battery is housed inside the tracker and can’t be replaced. We’re told the tracker has

a tested lifespan of 2-3 years, which is standard in the electronics industry

Wait, wait, what?! It only lasts 2-3 years, then it dies? Oh, I see. I’m expected then to buy a new one, at full retail price. It’s currently US$225, so who knows what it will be in 2-3 years’ time.

You know what, atlas? When my device dies, I will definitely buy a new fitness tracker, and based on how I feel now, it almost certainly will not be your product.

running 20160116

runningfield201601

6.03km 47.15min 7.50min/km

Weather is grotty: heavy rain and windy yesterday, less heavy today but still steady. Swapping the weekend long run with monday’s short run since it’s supposed to be at least not raining on monday. Ran around the field I discovered last week. The field was actually very quiet during the week, with around 10 walkers and runners plus one kid playing basketball. Today there were baseball lessons for small kids, and one team was there practicing.

Like all parks here, it’s gated and staffed by a cleaning crew so there is always someone around. Makes it a bit safer, even though generally it’s a safe area. What I like about it is that I don’t need to cross any main road or traffic lights to get to it. Leave our building, turn right, right again at the bottom of our street and straight up. Most of the first 1.5km is uphill, which also means the last 1.5km is downhill. Wheeeeee.

running 20160101 | baseball

baseball20161010

13.01km 1.42.36hr 7.53min/km

I really didn’t want to go running but somehow forced myself outside. Couldn’t be bothered to trek all the way to the parks I normally go to, just ran up to the sad housing estate and back a couple of times.

The second cycle I went into the estate via a different street and saw a pedestrian bridge leading what what looks like another park. This one is well hidden between buildings and a giant flyover. I thought I’d go exploring.

Turned out to be quite a large flat area. One basketball court and the rest is dirt field. Today there were lots of teams there playing baseball. There were at least 3 games going on and the rest of the field were occupied by teams practicing. One or two runners there running around the entire field. I knew baseball is played here, an ex-colleague used to play (still does, I see her posts on fb), I didn’t know where. Now I know. Seems like this is one of a few local venues.

Oh, running. Not too bad. Between foam rollering, squats as part of the 30 day challenge and wearing a sturdy knee brace, the pain has subsided a fair amount.

running 2015

running2015

Summary of 2015 running, by month, showing total distance and average pace. Combined with walking and biking. More stationary bike and walking during early months; a lot of walking in March and April during our Europe trip, which still didn’t make up for the lack of running. Looking back, slow pace especially during the summer months wasn’t just because of heat and humidity, there was also the hip/knee injury that I ignored. The sudden speediness in July was due to shorter indoor runs at the hotel treadmill.

By the numbers in both km and miles:

running2015table

High points: finished Chicago marathon
Low points: finished Chicago marathon in a crap time; injuries

Someone on reddit asked if you could have one wish for your running in 2016, what will it be. Run Faster? Run Longer? Run Injury Free? For me, definitely injury free, because:

injury free –> consistency –> longer –> faster

Interestingly, a commenter said,

if I was offered a deal by a genie that I get my sub-3 marathon, have to miss a month due to injury, then can come back healthy, I’d take it

If a genie offered me a 4.30 marathon but I have to miss a month’s running due to injury, I’d take it. If the genie offered me a sub-4 marathon then have to miss running for the rest of the year, I’d take it too.

#43: 101 crunches

30daychallenge

Task #43 of 101.1001 is to do 101 crunches.

Compared with 101 squats, this took longer to achieve because I’m poorer at crunches than at squats. What helped a great deal was I’ve been following a 30-day challenge that focused on crunches, squats, lunges and wall-sits. Started with 10 crunches on day 01 and reached 100 crunches (plus 75 squats and 100 lunges) on day 30. Not a problem to add one extra to get to 101.

A bunch of other people on fb are also following the program, which makes it more fun. It’s well known that crunches, squats and lunges are beneficial for all levels of fitness. I should continue the program to help strengthen my hips and core for running.

bbmm shunde 02

No social or other obligations, so we stayed in to enjoy our tea and coffee. Played a bit of marble game too. Still full from last night so we ended up skipping lunch.

The main itinerary for today was to go to the massage place. Had full body and foot massage for 4hrs. Ate 3 oranges and 2 bowls of herbal jelly as sort of lunch substitute. My muscles completely ache all over now. Surprisingly, I thought my left leg where the ITBS is would hurt, but it didn’t. I got a long lower feet and hand/arm massage though, that was sorely needed.

sde012lambhotpot sde013lambhotpot

On the way to town we saw a sign for a lamb place so we went there for dinner. Hotpot with all sorts of lamb parts that can be ordered. We had the set, which included sliced lamb, bones, belly, offal, claypot rice and green vegetables. Would have loved to try some more, like blood or marrow or placenta, but too full.

The gas meter was fixed, so there’s hot water. And now the washing machine isn’t working. Argh. Too sore from the massage, and no internet so I was asleep by 10pm.

running 10 miles

running20151222

16.42km 2.13.36hr 8.08min/km

The 5-day rest seemed to have helped. I rearranged this week’s runs since I won’t have time on saturday or sunday to do the long run. Started off fine, pretty decent (for 2015) pace and good range of motion around hips and knees. Slowed down as I got tired. Around 12km the spot above my knee started to hurt, and it persisted till the end. Overall, the pain was manageable.

I split the run into 3 different missions, with two drinking breaks between missions. Miscalculated a bit, should have doubled back 500m or looped around a side street. The scheduled run is 11 miles or 17.6km, I was short 1km.

What I don’t like about zombiesrun is that it doesn’t give pretty graphs like nike+. I suppose I can turn on both nike+ and zombiesrun, they seem to coexist happily enough. It’ll be a drain on the battery.

running rest

bbktapeknee

Last run was Tuesday. Have only been walking and doing bodyweight exercises since then. Knee, hip and sometimes calf hurt. Taking a leaf out of how elites treat ITBS in 5 days:

  1. stop running — the advice is simple: if it hurts to run, don’t run
  2. increase strength — the #30daychallenge I’m following has squats, lunges and crunches, it’s perfect for my injury
  3. massage the injured area — foam rollering every day, it’s painful but needs to be done
  4. sleep more — trying, but not always possible

Honestly I’m not seeing huge improvements. I did some running on the spot and it still hurts. I can feel the tightness even when I’m sitting down now. Let’s see how I feel over the weekend, may be a short run.

hip stretches

I decided that my ITBS and loss of pace are both partially due to hip issues. The tightening of the hip flexor makes the legs feel heavy and severely limit the range of motion around the hips and knees. Started training for a week now and each run is accompanied by either hip or knee pain, sometimes both.

This is the first time I’ve had hip pain. So I added hips to my foam roller routine. I’ve also been doing some of the back stretches I found earlier this year when I had lower back pain, because it’s all connected. The hip flexor group of muscles goes from the lower spine through the pelvis and to the thigh. The hours spent sitting on a chair all day fix the muscles at a compressed position. Obviously the less time sitting the better, but other than that I need to find a way to release the shorted muscle group.

This is one hip flexor exercise I found on youtube. Initially I was only able to hold the position for 10 seconds, especially with the problematic left side. The purpose is to reverse the chair sitting posture.

crescentlunge

Looks similar to some yoga poses, like crescent or low lunges.

It’s hard to tell whether any of this is effective. The weekend run was faster, although I’m pretty sure it’s because it was absolutely pouring and I was hurrying home. The long run today was just as slow as before–there was knee pain but minimum hip pain.

paris marathon training

higdonparismarathon

5.51km 45.44min 8.18min/km

18 weeks before the marathon means the start of training. Higdon novice 2 got me through chicago, but I felt undertrained. The difference between novice 2 and intermediate is the extra weekend run (in red). I’m going to try to add more miles if I can; I doubt I will make all the extra runs, let’s see.

The 5k today to start the program is supposed to be easy. No more excuses of hot and humid weather. It’s around 23ºC in the afternoon.

But hell damnations. First run of training and within 400m it’s ITBS. Bloody hell. And I rollered it beforehand too. Hoping that rollering, stretches and squats will improve hip extension and loosen the IT Band.
 

paris marathon prep

Am I still going to Paris marathon next April? France has extended its state of emergency for 3 months, and Belgium is on lockdown. Germany, Holland, the UK, Spain and all European cities are on high alert.

If I’m still going, training starts next week. 18 weeks isn’t a long time for the state of alert to die down. Then again, if we give in to our fears, then the terrorists have won. I’m going to go on the basis that I will be there, unless the organisers and/or the French government say otherwise. Last year’s race went ahead 2 months after Charlie Hebdo, so I think they will try to keep business as usual as much as possible.

Flights are still expensive, they’re mainly booking for Christmas now so I’ll look later. There are plenty of options on where to fly into. Aside from Paris itself, London, Barcelona, Geneva, Brussels, Amstersdam are all reachable by train. The problem is, it’s the week after Easter so I have to be careful of blackout periods.

parismarathonmaphotel

What’s more pressing is finding somewhere to stay for the weekend, starting from expo to at least the day after the race. I started looking in the area close to the start and end of the course. The race starts on Champs, just down from Arc de Triomphe (blue circle centre right of map) and ends on Avenue Foch, near Port Dauphine (red checkered circle left of map). All the red blobs are hotels that are fully booked, and of the blue ones left many are expensive.

The good thing about making hotel reservations is I can hold it till nearer the time and keep searching. I made 2 reservations, on the basis that mum will be travelling with me. One is within walking distance of both start and end (white label)—perfect location but €240 per night, yikes. I’m only holding onto this one in case there is nothing else. The other is €150 per night, one stop NW of the map on line 1. I’ll keep looking, and at first glance on airbnb there may be something more affordable.