Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Routine Post

  • I have joined the Fitness Fervor bandwagon. Learn more about its objectives here. The list of fitness cabals I'm a part of grows further.
  • March comes to an end. It was an excellent month for running. For the first time, my monthly running mileage has crossed the 200 KM mark.
  • I officially announce that I quit my kickboxing classes at the beginning of this month. BAM! Take that!
  • Now that I no longer have kickboxing to occupy myself in the evenings, I need to take up some other activity.
  • I have been watching the video below at least 5 times everyday since Sunday morning. Always makes me want to go out and run more.

Monday, 30 March 2009

5K Personal Best

It had been a long time since I ran a fast 5k. All my other personal bests -- for 10k, half-marathon, 8k -- were done in recent times i.e. 2009 (and in India). Only my 5k personal best was recorded way back in November of 2008 in lovely Oregon, with a time of 24 mins and 47 seconds.

So yesterday, I decided it was time to go all out and run a fast 5k.

Venue of run: Bagmane Tech Park.

All warmed up, I switched on my Garmin. It started looking for satellites, and I started getting impatient. Then suddenly it beeped: it had located the satellites but the batteries were low. Darn it! Rather than recharging it, I decided to start my run.

1 KM down I see that my pace was 5:10 -- more than 10 seconds slower than the target pace. I increase my pace. Then when I look down again, I see that the expensive gadget had decided to shut itself off. Darn it! Darn it! Darn it!

I was frustrated, but I still went on to complete my run. Nobody will never know, what my exact time was, but I decided to approximate it to 26 minutes (modest, humble me).

The scene moves on to today evening. I decide to pull the same stunt as yesterday. But this time around I remember to charge my Garmin. See ... I'm smart.

Venue of run: NGV (National Games Village).

NGV is a residential locality. So there were people all over the place and I had to dodge, sidestep and slow down to avoid the many walkers, strollers, cell-phone-babblers, aunties with sports shoes, cyclists, sleeping dogs, parked vehicles, moving vehicles etc. But on the plus side, you have many female beauties sauntering along -- keeps you motivated (a huffing, puffing, sweating runner does turn girls on, right? right?).

Interestingly and sadly, I didn't spot any other runner.

At the end of it, I managed a time of 24 mins and 39 seconds. It was a tough run for a shave of a measly 8 seconds. I'm happy, but I need to get better.

Upcoming race: Bangalore Sunfeast 10k

So after a lot of going back and forth, the Sunfeast 10k organizers finally settled on a date (May 31st) and opened up the registrations. I want to run it seriously and am aiming at a sub 50 minute target time -- pace of 5:00 min/KM or 12 KM/H. My current best 10k time stands at 54 minutes 40 seconds.

Now, I want to follow a training plan, but there is a problem. Most 10k training plans which I saw have a very short long run (oxymoron alert!). My conundrum is that I want to run a marathon in August. It will be my first marathon, but like an idiot, I'm not sticking to any training plan. Confident (arrogant?), that if I maintain (or increase) my current weekly mileage and manage to do a 20 miler before the marathon, I can cross the finish line.

So on the one hand I want to train for the 10k and finish with a fast time (well, at least according to my standards), but on the other hand I don't want to risk loosing out on my weekly mileage. Wonder what to do?

But apart from all that, I feel that a 10k would be an enjoyable event for beginner runners and others alike. If you have some running base, go google for some beginner 10k plans and see what fits you.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Nandi Hills Run

We started early morning at 5:15 AM -- woke up at 4 AM.

It took us a little more than an hour to reach the base of Nandi Hills.

The run up to the top is around 7.2 KM. The first 5 KM is a gradual incline and the final stretch is steep -- really steep. In the steep part, the speeds were reduced to a 9:40/KM pace (around 6.5 KM/H), which is more like brisk walking than running -- but I was running.

Traffic was sparse, except for some really speedy bikers (there were a bunch of cyclists as well). Few harmless monkeys were also spectating.

The first run up took just under 50 minutes.

Downhill, was fun. It's relaxing and you get to appreciate the sights of Nandi Hills more, as compared to when you are on a bike or in a car. First downhill took me 41 minutes. At the end of the first round we had covered around 14.4 KM.

The second round uphill was pain, lots of pain. The sun was up and the hill wanted more respect. I jogged the first 5 KM and for the hard part, I ended up doing a run-walk-run. Second uphill time was 61 minutes. At the end of which, we goofed-off a bit and clicked more pictures.

The final downhill run was in the sun. And it was done leisurely. The sun was really beating down and towards the end I was really thirsty -- all water was consumed during the uphill run. Last downhill was around 59 mins.

Final statistics:

My longest run till date. The pace (7:10/KM or 8.5 KM/H) is nothing to write home about, but it was a great experience overall.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

OnLive: Streaming games

OnLive is a service which touts that it will let you play all your regular games over the internet. So instead of having to worry about upgrading your graphics card or buying a new console, you can just play it live over the internet (watch the video).

Obvious concerns are lag and you are dependent on the service being up. And yeah, you would want to have really broad broadband -- in the Mbps range.

Ctrl-Alt-Del has a nice article describing OnLive. First heard of it from Penny Arcade.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Sansa Clip Saga -- Part 2

Following my post about the poor experience I had with Sandisk support regarding my malfunctioning Sansa Clip player, I was contacted by Kevin from Sandisk. In the email which I got him, he apologized for the support I received and said that he would readily ship a new Sansa Clip player to me.

I have sent in my contact details and eagerly awaiting the shipment.

I'm happy that the Sandisk support didn't turn out to be as bad as I first assumed. It's also good to know that there are people at Sandisk who care about the consumers and the quality of support they receieve. I hope that mine was an isolated incident and not the norm.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Sansa Clip Saga

In November 2008 I wanted to buy a portable music player to keep me company on my runs. At that time I was undecided between the Sansa Clip and the iPod Shuffle. I finally decided to go for the Sansa Clip: it gave me double the space as compared to the Shuffle (4 GB vs 2GB) for the same price; it could play more audio formats; it had a built-in radio; it had an OLED user interface; it had an audio recorder. The player was purchased from Amazon and yours truly proceeded to happily use it on runs.

I didn't face any problems until January this year. I was running on the treadmill, with the clip attached to my t-shirt, when suddenly one side of the clip broke off. The music player was still working, just that I couldn't attach it properly to any part of my clothing. As the product was still in the 1 year warranty period I decided to mail Sandisk's support desk and see if I could get it repaired.

So I took photos of the broken clip. Dug up my purchase order from Amazon and compiled an email asking the Sandisk support people how they could help me.

And then, I waited ... and waited ... and waited ... and waited. Just to get an auto-response email, giving me a support request number, took them 3 weeks. A week after that I got a response saying that the clip is not covered in the warranty. I was disappointed, but at least I could still use the player.

Then at the beginning of this month, while I was listening to music on the clip, the player suddenly shut off. At first I thought that the battery had drained. But to my surprise, when I plugged the clip to charge, it just wouldn't and neither would it turn on.

So once again, I dug up my purchase order and typed out an email to the Sandisk customer service. And again I waited for a response.

Today when I checked back on their customer support site, I saw that my request had been closed and their justification for closing it was left out blank!!

To put it lightly -- this is truly unprofessional and I feel cheated as a consumer. Needless to say that I'm not going to recommend any music players from Sandisk. Maybe I should have gone and bought an iPod. Maybe I will.

Update (20/3/2009): I stand corrected. Continue reading on what happened next.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

1000 KM

Without even realizing, I crossed 1000 KM of running today. The momentous occasion must have happened when I was doing the second round of the Cubbon Park 5-K Loop, but I didn't know it then. It's only now, when I was entering the day's run into my log, that I saw I had crossed the 1000 KM mark.

Lately my weekly mileage has also been increasing: earlier I used to be satisfied with anywhere just over 32 KM a week, but now it's tending towards 50 KM -- at least for the past 3 weeks.

It's been fun.


Monday, 9 March 2009

Time Of Your Life -- Greenday

My attempt at playing Greenday's "Time of Your Life". No vocals -- my singing is worse than my 'guitaring'. I finger-pick the intro and the ending. There is quite a lot of background noise -- sorry for that!

Routine Post

  • I have been having a nice relaxed long weekend. Yesterday and today, I have done nothing but stay at home, eat, sleep and play the guitar. It has been a long time since I completely lazed out on a weekend, and I was missing it.
  • Songs which I have been trying to play (and sing along) are "Make You Feel Better" and "Desecration Smile". Both by Red Hot Chili Pepper and are beautiful songs. The chords are pretty simple. It's just that I suck at singing. Interesting side note: a few days back I thought I had "invented" a strumming pattern (rhythm) of my own, just to discover that it's actually the same as the one used in "Desecration Smile". Anu Malik, I empathize with you.
  • I saw the movie 13-B on Saturday at PVR. Looks like the recession has hit the movie goers as well, because we booked the tickets on the same day (earlier you could never get weekend tickets, unless you were booking on Wednesday) and managed to get it! The movie is supposed to be a horror movie, but the director has tried to squeeze in comedy, songs, family-drama, sex and violence. It's three hours long and I actually felt that it was a good time-pass (although that could very well be because I was in a really good (crazy) mood). Is it scary? Nah.
  • I'm having serious doubts about continuing my kickboxing classes. The pain in my right shin, from the last sparring session, is still there. The cuts which I got on my lips haven't healed, but have turned into mouth ulcers which hurt me with every gulp of water or food. The risk of injury weighs quite heavily on my head.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Longest run till date

I ran 28.2 KM yesterday at Cubbon Park. My longest run till date. We reached Cubbon at 5:30 AM and started the run. I wanted to break my previous best long run (24.5 KM), so I was at the back of the pack from the beginning.

My run consisted of 4 loops of Cubbon park -- each loop being 5 KM -- totalling 20 KM. At the end of that I was feeling it, so I thought I will just run rounds of Queen's Park, which has a much shorter loop -- 730 m. I ran and ran and ran and could have run some more, but it was time to head back home.

At the end of it, my Garmin read 28.2 KM in 3:05:36. Average pace being 6:35 (9.1 KM/H).

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

First sparring session

I had my first sparring session, in my kickboxing class, today. After training for almost two months I got to spar only now. I was confident of doing it almost a month back, but every Wednesday -- which is supposed to be the day when the sparring sessions happen -- there would be a shortage of people bringing their boxing gloves. Well, today was not so.

The rounds were of 1 minute each. The rules, though unsaid, were simple: two persons to a fight; kick and box; nothing below the waist. Ashwin was keeping a watch.

After my first round, I was asked if I was tired. I said "No". So I was asked to go against another new opponent. After that got over, I was asked to go against another opponent. So three rounds continuously for me, on my first day. The first two rounds were against guys, the third one against a girl -- where Ashwin told her, "Finish him off; he is tired". Reassuring.

The three rounds were decent, and I was content for having landed a fair number of punches and kicks, while not being completely dominated.

The fourth round which I fought -- after letting others have a go at it -- was against a towering, potent guy who holds an orange belt. I don't remember as much as touching him, but I got my ass whopped. People watching commented that I have good defence technique and thank god for that.

Things learnt:

1. While sparring don't get angry and fight. The person whom you are sparring against is only your opponent, not your enemy. You don't want to go all out.

2. Thinking while fighting is hard. You can't do something like, "OK, so ... ummm ... let me do a left jab, right hook and follow up with a roundhouse kick ... oh no wait ..." BOOM! You get hit.

3. Keep your guard up; protect your face; all the time. I think I was left standing in the fourth round, only because of that.

4. Don't turn away. I saw many people doing this. They would throw some punches, kicks, get tired, turn and walk to create some distance between them and their opponent. When you show your back, you are giving away free hits. You keep guard in front of you, not behind.

5. Running helps. I'm in pain, but not tired.

6. Sparring is not pretty to look at. You might get some solid knocks, but there won't be people doing cartwheels and kicking you at the same time.

I like sparring, but I don't want it to affect my running. My right shin has been paining for more than an hour. So is my right arm. I have nice little red marks on my face. I hope everything becomes all right by tomorrow morning.