Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Color Purple

I started running with the Nike+ System for a little over a year now. In that period, I saw my metamorphosis from being an average guy with a pot-belly to running my first official half-marathon.

Just this morning, I finished my weekly workout. A nice 2 hour run at the gym. When I went to the changing room, a fellow gym-member walked up to me and asked me what is the secret of my running? How is it possible for someone at my age to run for 2 hours? I told him the same thing I tell everyone. There is no secret. You just have to commit to it mentally and keep running - making sure that you challenge yourself by increasing the distance or the speed slowly every week. That is exactly what I did and that's why I can run for 2 hours.

The workout itself catapulted me to my next Nike+ Level. The Color Purple. This color is assigned to those who complete 2,500 kilometers. This means that I have run an average of 200 kilometers every month or about 6.5 kilometers every day for 30 days in a month. Any way you look at it, that's a lot of running.

When I uploaded the run, I was immediately greeted with a video from Nike+ congratulating me on achieving the Color Purple.

Last June, when I reached 1,000 K, I had predicted I would reached the Color Purple in February 2011. I missed the target due to the 1 month vacation that I took in December, and also the slowing down of my running recently, in order to focus on the half-marathon.

Now the only challenge left is the final color code. The Color Black. This is like the black belt of running and is assigned to those who complete 5000 K of running.

At my current pace, I should achieve this in May 2012. Well, if the world doesn't end before that, of course.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My First Half-Marathon.

Yesterday, I ran my first official half-marathon race. Today, I can't walk.

As my wife massages my sore muscles with Iodex, I have to ask myself. What is the difference between running 21K every Saturday morning on a treadmill without any pain, and running the same distance on the road and having my body in complete ruins?.

I think I know the answer: Heat.

It was a nice and sunny day, as I headed out with the family to the Marina Mall - where the race was scheduled to begin. I had not run for the last 6 days to ensure that my legs were well rested, and I had plenty of sleep the night before. I was feeling good.

I collected my timing chip, and mingled around as runners started turning up. It was a very good turnout. Nearly 200 runners for the half-marathon and a similar number for the 10K run. The race was scheduled to start at 8:00 AM.

Everything was really well organized, and the race started at the scheduled time.

The start of the half-marathon. Photo by bloggermathai.
I started off really well. My Nike+ GPS app alerted me that I had completed my first KM in 5 minutes. If I could maintain that pace, I was pretty sure I would get a nice place. However, it soon became apparent to me that I would not be able to maintain the same pace because I started feeling the heat. Heat is something that I am not accustomed to when working out on the treadmill. I had earlier participated in a 10K race in November - but during that time, the weather was very nice and I never felt the heat. But this time it was different. The heat was hard and direct - and even my patented silly hat was no match for the heat.

As I continued running, I started noticing a second problem. The drinks. We had been briefed that there would be drink stations along the route serving water, Pepsi, and Gatorade. The problem was picking up the right drink. I would have preferred to sip Gatorade throughout the run - in order to maintain salts in the body and avoid cramps, but it was not apparent which glass contained what (unless you stopped by to inspect). Most of the time, I ended up with a glass of water. This was not a good sign.

By the time we reached the half-way point, I was really tired, and my pace dropped considerably. It was now 6 minutes for every kilometer. On my return trip, I tried to be more choosy on the drinks - even stopping by twice to make sure that I got Gatorade.

The heat was really intense and maintaining pace was now a struggle. I felt I should stop, but I carried on. At the 17km mark, I suddenly got a cramp in the calf and stopped in sudden pain. After drinking some more water, I started again - this time being very mindful of the cramps developing.

I was determined to finish the race under the 2 hour mark and I am proud to say that I did it. I completed the race in 1 hour and 55 minutes, and my official position was 60th out of 150 runners who completed the event.

The only strange thing I found was that my GPS shows that I completed only 19.7Kms, while the distance markers showed that I ran 21K. I don't know which is correct.

All in all, it was a well-organized event. I hope the organizers make this an annual event for Kuwait.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fry foods without oil?

The Philips Air-Fryer.
I first heard about the Philips Air-Fryer when a local business posted a Facebook contest. The contest was very simple. Write a comment about the Air-Fryer and you could get a chance to win the Fryer.

Of course, I never win anything. But that did not stop me from posting a random comment. Also, as a marketing gimmick, it worked. My first thought was: "What the heck is an Air-Fryer?". Philips claims that you can cook tasty fries with 80% less fat than a conventional fryer.

80% less fat? That's very impressive. My heath antennae immediately went into overdrive. My kids regularly eat fried food so cutting the fat percentage by 80% would make me feel a little bit less guilty. Reviews suggested that this is the real deal. Even though the price is a bit on the steep side (KD 75/- or around $260), I thought the health benefits will make the device pay for itself so I went and bought it the very next day.