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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Walkman W252

Someone up there must like me. Just after I talked about having free products testing, got an email from Sony Singapore to 'stress test' their latest product. Talk about coincidence!

From the maker of the original Walkman, Sony has now come up with the Walkman 252, a MP3 player designed specially with the runners in mind. Which makes me wonder, why not call it the Runman 252? Er I guess Walkman 252 sounds better than Runman 252 right?

After a short 1 hour of charging, the Walkman 252 is ready to go for a run but unfortunately I am not so let's look at the features first:

Out of Box

 The most unique feature of the Walkman 252 is that it is 'wireless' but not wireless as in bluetooth or wifi. One of the big bugbear of runners who run to music is the annoying earphone wire and the need to carry the MP3 separately using an armband. The Walkman 252 cleverly overcomes all this by incorporating the MP3 into the earphone so volia - no wire.

It is sleek and looks damn cool. The MP3 comes in 4 colors, Black, pink, lime green and white. The test model I have was black all the better to blend in with the hair. Wait a minute, maybe I should have a white piece since my hairs are all white now! At only 43g, it is light weight and fits snugly in the ear.

The other main feature of the Walkman 252 is that it is water resistant. That should eliminate the perennial problem of most runners that the earphones get ruined by all the sweat from running. The Walkman 252 is supposed to be water resistant from fresh water, tap water and sweat but no swimming though! And no washing or rinsing under the tap.

Switching it on and off is simple - just magnet it together to switch off and un-magnet it to start playback.

Under the Hood

Its comes with a 2GB storage enough for roughly 500 songs. According to the press release, this is due to finding the right balance between the usability, performance and affordability. For this release, the playback is a solid 11 hours on a full charge of 90 minutes. It also has a Quick Charge function which allows the 252 to play up to 90 minutes with a short 3 minutes charging. Unfortunately, it does not come with a separate power adaptor charger so charging is only via the provided USB stand.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pipeline Reserves

On a hot sunny morning, 5 of us decided to tackle Bukit Timah Hill. The last time we came this way, we started from MacRitchie Reservoir and ran out of steam at the foot of the hill. So this time round, we played cheat a bit and started from Ngee Ann Poly which is like 1.5km away from the foot of Bukit Timah.

Still, it took a lot of effort and a fair bit of walking to reach the summit. And then to return to the foot. That short distance from the Poly to the top and down to the foot took us almost 45mins. [shake head]. Like that how to complete TNF in one piece?

Anyway, from there we went on to Rifle Range Road and then climb over the crash barrier somewhere in the middle and down to the Pipeline reserve. The last time I came here, we only reach the last year support table location but I have always wanted to go the full distance and see how far the pipes lead to (yeah I know it's Johore) but up to which point before it become 'unrunnable'. Unfortunately, the hot weather and slothfulness got to us and we ended up only at Zhenghua Park before we blakan balik.

With this run, I just realised I have completed the whole of the North Face route! Yipee. While others do it in 1 run, I did it over 5 runs. Ha ha ha.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fresh Air Fund - NYC Marathon

Unfortunately no I am not doing the NYC or New York City Marathon much as I would love to unless somebody want to sponsor me?

From time to time, I get requests from people, mainly strangers to promote some sites or review some products. These have include websites like painting, testing of some computer software, etc. Most time I ignore them unless it is something self serving (my interest of course) or a request from a friend. Sad to said though, is how come I never get a request to test something cool like Garmin watch or new shoes? That one I will gladly write more? So how about it, Nike, Asics, Adidas, 2XU?

There are times when I get requests to write about a cause and generate some publicity for it and most of these I am very happy to oblige and do my little bit to help. But of course I do find it strange that some of these requests come from overseas. I don't really think my little blog is that well followed but like I said anything for a good cause.

The NYC marathon is one of the big 4 marathons in the world (together with Boston, Berlin and London). This year it will be on 7 November. A special feature of some of the oversea marathons is that most of them are big on charities and charities organisation can sign up and runners can pledge funds for these charities and run for the charities. This year, one of these charities is the Fresh Air Fund, an organisation that provides free 'summer experiences' to children from disadvantages communities.

So anyway, if you are reading this from NY or anywhere in the USA or the World and is taking part in the NYC marathon, why not consider signing up as a Fresh Air Fund runner? More information about the Fresh Air Fund here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

POSB Run for Kids 2010

2nd year running I'm doing this event as a run marshal instead of as a participant. This time round, got upgraded to the 4.5km. The run started  a bit late and as usual it was hot in Sengkang. But still the participants don't seem to be affected too much by the heat.

Just about 1 km after the start, saw a guy went down clutching his chest. OMG, a real life crisis. Wiped out my phone to call the chief marshall but fortunately for the chap, there was a medic nearby and when he came I chased after the pack of kids. Those darn kids can run damn fast.

Had an enjoyable time though. I ran, walked, ran again, walked. It was interesting to see especially the young kids most of them still in primary school completing the 4.5km in fine form while the adults were struggling.

Some of the highlights:
The run and bike marshals pre-run 

Participants waiting for the start of the 4.5km race

Runners on the verge of completing the race

The Run and Bike marshal's post run

More photos on facebook

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Socks

So there I was walking aimlessly at the sale and then I saw this:

This looks like a perfect fit for barefoot running. Very light and thin and totally flexible. And only $15.90. So I grabbed one just to try try.

A quick search on the internet and found out it is called a water socks for people who engage in water activities. Nevermind, still can run right?

The first opportunity I have, I took it out for a short run. So how did it feel. First, it was slightly too big. I had chosen size 43 cos when I tried on the regular 42, it felt a bit small but the minute I started running, I knew it was too loose. The feeling was like it could fly off anytime. In fact I think if I just give a flying kick of sort, it will definitely fly. Maybe a pair of socks would help. Then I started getting irritation just below where the tongue should be right on the instep. Oh oh, this could be the start of a blister. A quick stop to check what's wrong and discover it was some label affixed there that was causing the problem. So probably need the sock after all!

Anyway, on with the run. The sole was thin enough to feel every little piece of pebbles and roots and what's not on the ground but it provide sufficient protection. Other than the fear of it coming off, it felt like, how to describe? running in flip flops. But anyway, as the run progresses, got more comfortable with it and managed to complete 40mins without any issues.

Have I found the perfect solution to barefoot running? My joy was marred when I turned over the shoes or socks to inspect the sole and found that it had worn down considerably. At this rate, it wouldn't last another 20km. 

Oh well back to square 1.

Anyway, while surfing, came across this review of similar water shoes here. Hmmmm maybe just maybe....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Barefoot Running

I am still curious enough about this barefoot thing. I am convinced by all the literature out there and the testimonies from runners (yes I mean you Mr PuaJ and a few others). There were a few doubters too but overall I think the pro outweigh the con.

Nevertheless, I am not prepared to go out and run barefoot all over Singapore. Firstly, I don’t like all the stares and secondly I don’t really relish the thoughts of getting my foot cut on nails, broken glass, drinks stubs etc. And of course, there is always the big B – blisters which my left foot seems in particular to be very prone to. But confining all my barefoot runs to the stadium track seem too restrictive. Yet kiamseap me also don’t think it’s worth spending over $200.00 for a pair of VFF which is what appears to be the only option currently available in Singapore and which to me is just a pair of glorified foot gloves.

At the end of the day, I believe that since we are talking about barefoot running (not forefoot), there is really no need to have a pair of minimalist shoes or any shoes in fact. What is required is only a foot protection system and the people behind the huaraches idea has got it right. Having said that, I think it is not really practical to make a pair of huaraches. A runner friend did one recently. He told me he paid about $12.00 for a pair of black rubber sole from a cobbler and a pair of SAF shoelace. Guess what, the thing gave way after 4km. So dollar for dollar, that is $3 per km which is kinda expensive compared to the typical cost of a running shoe and a lifespan of say 400km.

After looking around, I think the best option is to get one of those Panther track shoes that I used to wear when I was just a skinny little kid back in the late seventies and early eighties. Those old enough will remember that it is thin at the sole and very soft without any cushioning. That I think will do nicely as a foot protection for barefoot running. Problem is, is it still in production nowadays and available here in Sg?

And then while out shopping one day, I came across this pair of shoes which cost only $15.90 and 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Silly and Stubborn

I have always heed the age old advice of never wearing brand new attire for a race. I even use it as a mantra to all my running friends.

So what behold me to ignore my own advice? Maybe it is vanity, maybe it is old age. As everybody knows, old people can be silly and stubborn.

So what did I do? To complement my black look, I decided to put on a brand new pair of black Injiji toe socks. This to go with the black Zoots calf sleeve, black Zoots tights, black/green Nike t and black/orange Nike Lunarglide. And what did I get? This freaking blister! and 1 bruised toe nail!
Oh and it has to be the socks since I have worn the Nike Lunarglide for a few long runs including the KL Marathon without any problem. Oh well maybe I just go sockless?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sheares Bridge Run Army Half Marathon 2010

Possibly the last chance to redeem myself this year but I blew it. So sad:(

This old body is no longer capable of doing a sub-2. I thought I can do it, what with the longer runs for the past 2 months but instead I ended up with a timing that was even worse than the KL Marathon where I believe the route was much tougher to run.

The start time of 5.15am was supposed to be conducive for doing a good time and possibly even a PB. But that didn't happen. Of course I can blame it on the moving; been doing a lot of packing, unpacking, rushing here and there; late nights and even the humidity. Maybe they all contributed. Oh wait, blame it on the Injiji as well.

Anyway, back to the race. We arrived about 5am and was walking towards the start when the MC announced the start of the race. What the hell! It started 5 minutes early. Oh well, caught at the back, we just walked until the start line where I managed to do a shuffle of a run for the next 5 minutes before managing to move on to a slow trot. This year, the route has been changed slightly to take in the Marina Bay Sands so we u-turn at McCallum Street and headed back to the start point via Robinsion Road. Interestingly but maybe not so surprising after all, there were people already walking!. Down the familiar Raffles Boulevard and then it was up the Bayfront Avenue bridge. The very first upslope! We passed by the MBS before turning left to the ECP and up the long slope.

I was doing an average of 6 minutes pace at this point and I realised if I don't increase the pace, I will not be able to make the sub 2. However, weak mind conquers desire and I just continue because it was a comfortable pace. 10 km came and 58 minutes +. Hmmm, to get a sub 2, I need to do a negative split. Can I do it? 11km in 62 minutes? Possible but tough. The humidity was getting to me. There wasn't much of a breeze and my whole body was soaking wet. At 15km I entertained thoughts of walk but remembering the nightmare of the Timex run, I decided to plod on. Saw some friends in front and decided to catch up with them and see whether I can ran ahead of them. Managed to did that. But it was now 19km and with 2 km to go, I had only 11minutes to make my sub-2. Still possible but the 19 km seemed extremely long and when I hit the 20km, I had only 4 minutes left. There goes the sub 2. Oh well, so be it!

And so end my quest to regain the sub 2. I think it is longer doable for me so I shall now relax and enjoys my run instead of being so obsessed with a timing that actually serves not much purpose other than to put pressure on myself.

Next up, the TNF 50km duo!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

TNF Progressive Run @ Lorong Asrama

Decide to throw $16 and join in this last (?) TNF Progressive Run. Actually quite silly to spend this type of money to run but the location was a restricted area and this was like the only chance to run there since I am not doing the 100km Duo or Solo. And so this here is a sneak preview for those who are wondering what is being the gates.
This is where it all begin. A SAF training shed behind the gate of Lorong Asrama

The start of the run. A wide open concrete/asphalt road. Far away in the background, there is a troupe of soldiers.

And off we go!

Going up a gentle slopes. Actually, there are gentle slopes, steep slopes, rocky slopes and all types of slopes including a 'unrunnable' slope!

Lallangs that are taller than the runners

Remember this training shed well for.......

Behind it is the dread Marsiling Hill 265. Remember the 'unrunnable' slope? This is it!

Runners walking up the hill
A look back down at where we came up

A wet portion of the route. Runoff from a nearby stream. This will be a 'river' if it pours!

Abandon prawn pond aplenty

Another long and rocky slope

And last but not least, Uncle Tekko in person!