The Bull Gets a Bike

Wednesday, 4 June 2008  |  Gear + Gadgets

Last Sunday, I dropped by my brothers’ place to pick up my new old bike.  One of my brothers unselfishly agreed to lend me his mountain bike so I could gradually dip my feet into the world of cycling.

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– My new hand-me-down bike –

I have three brothers.  And they have three bikes, if I’m not mistaken.  

The eldest brother was a cyclist in his 20s.  Having an 11 year age gap, I remember watching him in awe as a little girl every time he got ready to leave or returned from his cycling adventure wearing his cleats (which looked so high tech at that time).  I recall his tattered, overused logbook and how he tediously monitored his distance, time, and everything else in it.  He taught me that wearing the yellow jersey was the coolest thing in the Tour de France.  

One time, while on my way home to Makati riding our school bus along Marcos Highway in Antipolo, I was pleasantly surprised to see my Kuya waving from outside my window.  My bus mates suspiciously asked who it was I was smiling at.  And, I replied with pride “That’s my Kuya!”

My two other brothers enjoyed cycling too, but never got into it as seriously as the eldest.  It was the 2nd brother who lent me the mountain bike.  The 3rd was asleep (at noontime!) when I picked up the bike.

So, before they allowed me to bring home the bike, my two kuyas commanded me to test ride the bike.  I rode it up and down the driveway.  Okay, it looked like I passed that test.

Next, they demonstrated how to shift gears and how to reattach them should the gears fall off.  Easy peasy, I thought.

Lastly, they showed me how to remove the front wheel for transporting the bike.  Wait a minute, run that by me again.  They showed me a 2nd time and asked me to do it myself.  I did it twice.  Then, they told me to load the bike unto my car.  Such tough instructors, I tell you!

When all that was said and done, my eldest brother gave his final words of advise much like a nervous dad discussing the birds and the bees with his teener.  Spinning his hands in the air, he said “Don’t push down with your feet.  Focus on circular motions.”  Okay!  “When you are about to climb up, shift your gears, take a deep breath, and push forward.” Got it.  Then he looked at the bike and said, this time like a mother giving her baby away for adoption, “I’m going to miss you!”

I felt pangs of guilt, but I knew that he knew his baby would be in good hands.  I will try to ride the bike at least once a week.  And, hopefully, I’ll enjoy it.  I’m sure not as much as I love running though.

Spenco In My Step

Thursday, 27 March 2008  |  Gear + Gadgets

For the past two weeks now, I have enjoyed every bit of all my short runs sans the pain. What has made all the difference? Nope, it wasn’t Dr. Pribut’s ultra conservative recovery program (I heard knee clicks and experienced soreness even with the gradual progression from walking to running) nor my self-discipline, patience, or unwavering faith in the gods of running. It was Spenco.

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– Spenco Orthotic Arch (Full Length) sitting comfortably in my beloved Wave Creations –

Yes. Believe it or not, a pair of arch supports have brought me back into running. It was Dr. Canlas who—after I consulted in absolute desperation and depression two weeks ago (which I intentionally did not share over here because I was mad, mad, MAD!)—told me quite simply that all I needed were arch supports and motion-control shoes. He even added, to make me feel better or hmm maybe worse, that my 2-month abstinence from running was completely uneccesary. I could’ve ran continuously had I just learned about this magical solution early on!

No use crying over spilled milk. I am a much more positive person now that I’m getting my daily dose of regular runs. Why, you’ll even notice me running with a new Spenco…I mean, spring…in my step.

The Spirit of The Marathon

Friday, 7 December 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

COMING SOON! The first ever non-fiction movie that captures The Spirit of The Marathon.

You have to see this trailer.  Awesome!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8XSit8XyeM]

So, what’d you say?  Let’s all watch this movie together with tons of bananas and gallons of Gatorade.  I can’t wait!!!

Visit The Spirit of the Marathon website here.

Thanks Taki for telling me about this!

Garmin vs Nike+: A Test of Accuracy

Monday, 12 November 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

[ OBSERVATION ]

NOV. 3, SATURDAY. This was the first time I used my Garmin on a long run. Our goal with Annie, my running buddy, was 15 km around Ayala Alabang. We agreed on taking our usual 12 km route and just let our feet carry us an additional 3 km anywhere from that point. Boy, were we in for a surprise.

At the 12 km mark (according to Nike+ in the past), the Garmin recorded a distance of 9.5 km. “9.5?!” Annie shrieked in disbelief. I was likewise stunned at the awfully large discrepancy. At the very least, I was expecting to hit over 10 km by then.

Which gadget was telling the truth? Had I been logging less kilometers than I actually ran for the past 5 months? Should I have followed Nike’s directions and calibrated the kit before using it? All these questions were floating about in my mind as Annie and I plodded on with an unxepected 5.5 more kilometers to run.

[ TEST ]

NOV. 10, SATURDAY. At the risk of looking like Inspector Gadget, I wore both the Garmin and Nike+ on my next long run last Saturday.  Our goal this time was 18 km.  Again, we ran the same initial 12 km route then ran halfway through that same route making our way back to the starting point.

At the onset, both gadgets recorded the same distance.  At least, that’s how it was at 2 km.  But, as we increased our distance, the discrepancy increased as well.

For the pace, there was a significant 30 second difference too; the Nike+ giving me a faster pace than the Garmin.

At the same 12 km mark (based on the Nike+ in the past), the Garmin, much to my delight, registered the exact distance as the past week’s run: 9.5 km.  I pretty much knew which gadget was more accurate at that point.  And, sadly, our once favorite 12 km route needed an immediate name downgrade to “10 km route.”

[ RESULTS ]

Here are the actual data from both the Garmin Forerunner 305 and uncalibrated Nike+:

GARMIN: Time 2:01:15/ Distance 18.2 km/ Ave pace 6:4/ Calories 1028
NIKE+: Time 2:00:08/ Distance 20.5 km/ Ave pace 5:5/ Calories 1148

I get goosebumps thinking of what could have happened had I used the Nike+ to train for my upcoming marathon.  I would’ve been led to believe that I trained at my maximum 32 km when it might have been only 30 km or less.  Scary isn’t it?

* Note: At 8 km, I accidentally ended the Nike+ workout when we paused for a water break.  I started a new workout and added data from both workouts.

[ PREDICTION ]

I predict my Garmin Forerunner 305 will be my new best friend.

I predict my Nike+ will gather dust at home.

I predict I’ll get death threats from Nike+ fanatics who are running 2 kms less than they actually are.  (Please don’t kill the messenger.)

Roadtesting The Garmin Forerunner 305

Saturday, 10 November 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

I took my brand spanking new Garmin Forerunner 305 out for a spin at the Mizuno Run Club and boy did it impress me yet again. I’ve used it a couple of times already, but it was only during this run that I had the opportunity to utilize its lap feature.

For this run, I used the default lap screen of the Garmin and pressed the lap button at every round. There was one lap where I forgot to press the button (darn it!), so it’s good to know there’s an autolap button screaming “Try me! Try me!” for my next run.

I ran 7 laps of what was supposed to be a progressive run around the inner circle of Bonifacio High Street along with other beginner/intermediate runners (such as Renz, Totoy, Tina, Mandy, Gelo, Pablo…hey guys!) while the elite, as always, left us eating their dust even if they ran the larger circle around the same area. There were quite a few friends who were itching to run but couldn’t, so they ran vicariously through us: Ben (injured), Tricia (colds), and Marga (smoked two sticks!)

After the run, I eagerly downloaded the data to my mac. For the first time in my life, I welcomed information overload with open arms! Clearly, I saw the time and pace at which I ran each of the 7 laps (Lap 2 to 7) and the consistent distance for each (Lap 2 is a combination of Lap 2 & 3). I was also thrilled to discover that when you click on a lap, it is automatically highlighted on the map below. So cool! (If you look close enough, you might even see Starbucks there!)

Well, now you all know that I also failed miserably at my attempts at a progressive run.

Garmin Data

Before I go, here’s what I love about my Garmin so far:

  1. Accuracy. I’m pretty confident about the accuracy of the Garmin. Garmin users I know can attest to it. Personally, I’m impressed with the accurate readings of the laps above. I’ve also taken it on two long runs and it registered the EXACT distance when I hit the 9.5 km mark (which the Nike+ recorded as a whopping 12 km! More on this in the next post.)
  2. No interruptions. There’s a lot of talk about satellite interruptions with the Garmin, but I never experienced any stalls/ glitches/ breakdowns so far. Well, I don’t really run in shaded areas anyway.
  3. Readable screen. It is easy to see my data while I’m running (just don’t let the sweat drip down into my eyes!) I particularly enjoy using the backlight during night runs. It just makes me feel cool. Hah!
  4. Lap feature. I am overjoyed that I finally get time and pace readings for my laps. The Nike+ will show pace for a certain distance in each run, but one couldn’t specify at what point you wanted a reading.
  5. So easy to use. I haven’t gone through the entire manual so I’m sure I’m not fully utilizing all the features of my new little toy. Despite this, I’ve been able to use the Garmin with ease during my past runs. It literally takes seconds for me to put the Garmin into its dock which I attach to my mac via USB and it automatically syncs with the Garmin Training Center.

What I don’t like about the Garmin:

  1. Comfort. The first time I used this, I got scared. It slid down my wrist and hit my bone almost every 10 minutes. I thought I made a big mistake buying it. Turns out, it takes some getting used to. It wasn’t comfortable for me at the onset but I’m slowly finding the perfect wrist adjustment for it. I think it must be Extra Tight.
  2. Useless indoors. The downside to a GPS unit is that you can’t use it on the treadmill. I run twice a week on the treadmill so I have to resort to my Nike+ to get a pace reading.
  3. Attracts too much attention. No one saw me that night. They only noticed my Garmin and befriended it. God, I thought they were my real friends! (I’m kidding, Happy Feet!)

Ben and Garmin

– Do you think Ben will trip me, stomp on my wrist, and grab the Garmin in the Milo race next week? –

Next post: Comparing the Garmin and Nike+ data during a long run. Who’s telling the truth?