Trying out Spotify Running

Spotify came out with the Running segment recently.

While Spotify has always had a workout playlist segment, what’s interesting about this segment is that it could detect your pace and changes the songs accordingly.

This feature is also available for free subscribers (although the playlist is limited and you can’t skip songs), so I gave it a try last week.

Songs can be very motivational to a runner and the right type of songs can even help a runner to carry on and even move faster. Spotify Running

I tried “Blissed out” and the  songs were quite organic in the sense that they were essentially the same songs, but the higher (or lower) the bpm are, the faster or slower the songs go.

All in alI, I found the experience interesting. While listening to the songs, some felt uplifting and some were epic which made my run a pleasure. But as much as I enjoyed them, I though they were limited and definitely not enough to carry me through a 5 km run.

I signed up for the Singapore city Run recently, and last weekend, I’ve completed my first week of training . While it went fine so far, I haven’t been running for a while and I’m feeling apprehensive this time round. I keep wondering if I could actually do this.

Even though I’ve completed a marathon last year, I don’t feel the same bravado I did in the beginning and I’m so scared of injuring myself. Urgh! What am I doing? rinaz cry

They say that Marathons are too fragile for a woman

The Boston Marathon is probably one of the most prestigious marathons in the world to participate in. Not everyone could participate as you’ll need fit certain criteria – such as having participated in an official marathon, and depending on your age and gender, completed it in around 3 hours.

Marathons in general, has always always been for exclusively for men as it was widely believed that women did not have the physical capability to run 42 kilometres. Even if there are records that indicate that a woman completed a marathon all the way back in 1896.

I got to know recently the story about the first  registered woman to participate in the Boston Marathon.

Determined to prove her coach that running a marathon was not too far for a ‘fragile woman’, and also inspired by the first female finisher, Bobbi Gibb who ran unregistered a year earlier.

While running the actual marathon, she was accosted by the race official who tried to physically remove her from the race, and I bet that it would have been rather scary to be in the same position as her at that point of time!

First registered woman in Boston Marathon

It took another 5 years before women are finally allowed to compete in the Boston marathon. For sure, I don’t think that I’d be able to do it any time soon as I’m not fast enough, but I find the story quite inspirational.

p.s. Cart and I are probably going to go back in Singapore in late December. While I really would like to participate in the Standard Charted Marathon, it’s not within our timeline. But Singapore City Race sounds interesting. I’d join that!

Completed the 90 day body revolution!

I’m not sure if you’ve watched this video of the first woman to complete American Ninja Warrior.

A better quality video here.

Watching her go through all the obstacles was so impressive that I was left enthralled and inspired. She’s like a real life Lara Croft!

The obstacles even looked fun and reminded me of the ones that I went to for school camp. For a brief moment, I wondered if there was something similar (but less daunting) in Rome. I found the Spartan Race while searching online although I’m hesitant to join as it seems quite demanding. 30 burpees for every obstacle you fail to pass. Yikes!

Body Revolution

Anyway, the past 3 months I’ve been busy doing Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution where you do 4 circuit training (or phases) and 2 cardio exercises, 30 minutes each, a week over a course of 12 weeks.

Here is a taste of phase 1 :

It started out as something I wanted to do for fun. As I did her 30 day shred before, naturally I wanted to progress to something a little more. I liked that we didn’t need any fancy equipments – all we needed was a stretch cord, a mat and some hand weights all of which I already had. By right we are advised to have a pair of 3, 5 and 8 pound weights but all I have are a pair of 1 kg and 1.5 kg weights which I use together in combination for the heavier weights.

Body Revolution

For those who have already done the 30 day shred would probably find weeks 1 & 2 easy. Jillian uses quite a number of familiar moves like bicycle crunches and chest fly’s. Nevertheless, I still feel sore the day after. I regularly find myself red faced and completely drenched with perspiration at the end of each workout. Body Revolution

Each workout changes every 2 weeks and gets progressively harder, with the same philosophy I suppose as a P90X workout where your body doesn’t adapt to the same exercises, preventing a plateau and get continuous improvements.

Seeing physical changes didn’t take very long neither, and by the end of the first month, I could already see changes in my tummy, chest and arms. Although admittedly my tummy pack disappears as soon as I eat a meal.

Nevertheless I’m quite happy with how I look like. I feel that I’m more toned compared to how I looked like before and I enjoy looking at my shape in the mirror in the nude.

At the end of the first month. Please excuse the splotchy mirror : Body Revolution

At the end of the second month : Body Revolution

And at the end of the third month : Body Revolution

My arms and shoulders look so different! At the risk of sounding so conceited, but It’s hard to imagine that I am even trimmer compared to myself in 2012.

If you were wondering, I haven’t lost any weight with this program, which is good as I didn’t plan to. I think I’ve reached my optimal weight at 56 kg. I probably could look even leaner if I followed the diet that Jillian recommends, but with my experience after doing the marathon this year, I’d prefer not stick to a  daily 1200 calorie diet as I am a fairly active person and eating too little will make me very tired and grumpy.

Now that I’ve finished the 90 day workout, I’m taking a break. In all honesty, I don’t know if I want to continue with it again. Even though I loved the results, I find myself always procrastinating when it comes to workout time, considering that it is only 30 minutes, which is not a good sign.

There were times when I didn’t want to exercise at all as I felt weak from the workout from the day before. I had to remind myself that I’ve already done so many weeks, it’ll be a waste to quit now. The time when I felt most motivated was in workout 12 when everyone cheered and clapped at the end.

Body Revolution

(Image from Gosh, Jillian looks crazy evil here.

And there were those times when I find myself in pain and left hobbling a couple of hours after doing the exercises. I seem to still have issues with my left knee and I don’t want to risk injuring it  and had to modify my movements. This training has A LOT of jumping and squatting which is not good for those with bad knees.

But who knows what will happen in the future. Hopefully my knee will grow stronger and maybe I could find something else to challenge myself for the fun of it.

If you’re thinking of taking up the 90 day body revolution, be forewarned, it’s VERY tough especially from week 3 onwards and can be quite a commitment. But it works in the end. It really works. Give it a try if you have the courage 🙂

And so I end this post with a picture of my posterior courtesy of the body revolution. Body Revolution

Kim K who?

The most beautiful bicycle bag you’ve ever seen

After wanting a bicycle for the longest time, I got for myself one yesterday. It’s a B-Twin Elops 3, has a 5 speed gear and it has a dynamo light in front of it which I thought was really functional. At about 200 euro, I thought that it was quite expensive compared to the ones I see sold in Singapore, but I guess it’s the standard here. B-twin Elops 3 bicycle

It’s been a while since the last time that I’ve been cycling but it’s a skill that you never lose. In no time at all, I was up and around the neighbourhood. It’s really nice being able to reach a place in just a few minutes compared to probably 3 times longer when you’re on foot.

But the thing that I didn’t expect was how my neighbourhood is full of slopes which can be quite tiring when you’re going uphill. You don’t feel it so much when you’re walking leisurely. But I felt it today! My thighs are surely going to be sore tomorrow. At this point of time, I don’t feel too confident of straying too far away from my neighbourhood much less even think of joining a duathlon.

The bicycle that I have is a women’s version – the crossbar is lower so that the woman could cross her legs over daintily and wear a skirt if she fancied. But I noticed that on my bicycle, you need to pedal more compared to a regular bicycle. And considering that it’s a women’s bike, it’s quite heavy at 17 kg. I don’t trust leaving it outside and lifting it up the stairs is a bit of a pain since it doesn’t fit in the elevator. I’ll just think of it as a form of strength exercise. Basil Bicycle Bags

Nevertheless, I’ve been looking around for panniers which I think would be extremely useful for carrying things, like grocery shopping. Quite by chance, I found these : Basil Bicycle Bags Basil Bicycle Bags

Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous? In a sea of industrial looking pannier bags, these look so feminine and charming. It also comes in blue and black, as well as other designs but I find the red one particularly striking.

This bag is from a company in the Netherlands called Basil and they specialise in bicycle assortment from bicycle baskets, bags to accessories. Basil Bicycle Bags

From the site, I also found side-bags which doubles up as regular shoulder bags. There is a hidden flap in each one which reveals a hook which you attach to your carrier. Basil Bicycle Bags Basil Bicycle Bags

I think it’s a genius idea and I wouldn’t mind getting one of that. It looks roomy enough for me to stuff a lot of things inside.

And there is also the milk-basket which gives you the convenience to put which ever bags and items you want in.  And it still looks cute. Basil Bicycle Bags

Which one would you get? At first I wanted the pannier, then I thought the bag would be great, then the basket …  I can’t make up my mind!

Nevertheless, anything that is imported from outside Italy, almost always costs a bomb with the additional tax and whatnots so it’ll have to wait for a while …

Fasting month is here again

It’s now almost a fortnight since Ramadan started. It has been quite challenging as it’s about 18 hours abstaining from any consumption of food and water. Coupled with the fact that it’s currently summer and the temperature is rather balmy, making me feel dehydrated and fatigued if I’m out for too much. sunrise

But contrary to what I anticipated, it’s actually doable. It’s not easy forcing myself to get up at 2.30 am for sahur and then breaking the fast at around 8.50 pm, but I’m quite surprised that I could actually get through fasting all through these hours.

I don’t want to overly exert myself which was why I haven’t been exercising. Although I kind of miss going for my jogs. Which is surprising as the truth is, I hate exercising, but I do love the adrenaline rush when I am done. @ CSC Run by the bay, Singapore

Prior to this, I managed to complete Jillian Michaels 30 day shred and I really like how my body looked like. I’m lighter compared to the first time I did it, so my body looked more defined. Unfortunately, these days I’m slowly becoming soft again. But I’m keen to continue doing circuit training again after this.

I should try to do more low impact workouts to retain my muscle mass like going for my daily walks like how I did last year. It’s just that without participating for a race, there isn’t that much motivation. Yeah, I’m like that. Don’t judge me.

So at the moment, I’m content to just stay at home and watch Breaking Bad. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s awesome! I got hooked from the pilot episode on the get go! breaking bad

I don’t want to give any spoilers but in a nutshell, it’s about a chemistry teacher who isn’t doing well financially so he starts using his skills to make quality meth.  It’s a gripping show and I’ve just completed season 1 yesterday and I can’t wait to finish the rest of the seasons. Heh heh heh.

The hidden costs of running in Rome

I was looking through several listings online for some running events in Rome when I noticed Corri Roma. Corri Roma

Corri Roma is a  yearly 10 km running event that is held in the Summer during the evening. The route goes through Central Rome and I thought that it would be an interesting event for Juli and I to participate in as it passes along different historical sites in Rome – a sort of smaller version of the Maratona di Roma.

I’ve never done a night race before so it will be an experience. So I proceeded to sign up through the website thinking that it would be easier this time round as the steps were pretty much the same as  when I registered for the Maratona di Roma. Corri Roma

In Italy, races which are 10 km and above are usually categorized under professional runs and there are several mandatory steps in participating in one.

Theoretically it should be easy.  You just pay a registration fee and upload a copy of your sports association membership card and your sports doctor medical declaration. Corri Roma

But in reality, I think that it is quite a daunting and costly experience especially for non Italian residents. Juli found out that her doctor’s medical certificate wasn’t valid as it had to follow a specific template. And so when we went to a private sports doctor here, we were quoted 40 euro – not including the urine test.


And then, calling up the organizers to clarify a doubt that we had revealed that they did not provide the one-day sports association membership any more. I suppose that the regulations have tightened since there was an athlete who died during this year’s Roma Ostia Run. So instead of paying around 7 euro for a daily membership, it would cost around another 30 euro.

  • 15 euro for registration
  • 40 euro for sports doctor certificate
  • 30 euro for a sports association membership

85 euro!

It’s not so bad for me as the certificate and membership lasts for a year and I can use them for participating in other races in Italy since I live here. But for a foreigner who is on a short term visiting, paying a total 85 euro for running a 10 km race is ridiculous. #rinazdoes42km

I’ve always believed that running should be free or at the very least just enough to pay for the organizers to deal with the security, refreshments and whatnots.

Suffice to say that Juli and I are not participating this coming Saturday. We’d really love to, but it’s just too expensive.

Is it a big deal to bandit a race?

Not too long ago there was a runner who participated in a marathon. To pass time, she decided to take selfies to keep herself motivated. Quite harmless fun.

Personally I’ve never thought of doing that as when I’m running, the only thing I’m focused on would be to finish the distance in one piece. Besides, I don’t look very photogenic when I’m all huffing and perspiring. Unlike this guy :

Nevertheless, the post got so popular, it went viral. Which was probably the inspiration for another blogger to do the same thing.

The thing was, she didn’t pay for the registration and crashed in the event. It was made worse when she was disrespectful to the other athletes and making inappropriate jokes. It was also reported that she took the refreshments during the event and a medal at the end.

When I first read about this, I was quite put off. And as expected, a lot of people were not happy about her behaviour. Going through the comments, the crux of it was because of her not paying for the event. Part of the costs to go for safety, security, refreshments and whatnots.

And that’s how I learnt about the term, “race bandits” – people who crash in running events without paying for them.

A non relevant picture

I don’t condone her behaviour. And I was bothered by how rude she was to other people and she took food and a medal when she didn’t pay for it. But the thing is, it doesn’t really bother me that she crashed in the event.

Because possibly a number of people have bandit-ed a race at least once in their lives be it intentional or not.

While I haven’t done such a thing personally, I have thought about doing it. As I live in an urban area, it’s not such a big deal for 10 km runs and under. However while I was training for the marathon, going for distances 20 km and over, it can get quite challenging to plan for a suitable route – no running children, no traffic lights, no cracked concrete side-walks etc. #rinazdoes42km Training

I was stressing so much about my 32 km path that Cart said that I could crash in the Roma Ostia Half Marathon that coincided that day. Even a mutual friend who was doing the half marathon suggested the same. At first I thought that they were joking, also it feels shameless to be doing something that I didn’t pay for. But the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was and the more willing I was to give it a go.

It’s not an issue about not being able to afford paying for the event. And I am not convinced that bandit-ing is being disrespectful to people who has taken the time to train and travel to the race.

For the Maratona di Roma event itself which I participated in, there were a total registration of 19 thousand. However on the actual day, only around 15 thousand turned up for the actual event. Around 20% of the registrations unaccounted for. Which probably means that the organizing would be 120% ready right? #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It’s just that the final 10 km while I was doing the race, there was a crowd of workers hovering around the refreshment tables, the porta-potties that I saw were completely stuffed. I was surprised to see that there were people already disassembling the barricades and at the end of the race, I didn’t get a thermal cover and there were no massage kiosks to be seen. Something I was really looking forward to with my sore and aching feet.

I know that I’m one of the last few runners but it seems quite disrespectful.

But please don’t misunderstand. I am not complaining and overall, I did have a good experience. But my point is, regardless if a person have paid or not for an event, stuff like this happens. Sometimes kiosks run out of food. Sometimes there isn’t enough stuff to be given out at the end of the race. I don’t think any organization would be 100% smooth, 100% of the time. #rinazdoes42km

Which is why I don’t see the big deal about bandit-ing. Typically around 10 – 20% of the registrars don’t show up for an event anyway, so I don’t see how it’s taking away from another person. I mean it’s already there as a public commodity – the path and the barrier. Might as well take advantage of it.

Of course, if it were me, what I would do instead is to :

  • Go right back at the end of the line and start probably 30 minutes after the last person has passed.
  • Respect registered athletes
  • Never take any of the refreshment.
  • Obviously not take a medal
  • Not turn this into a regular basis.
  • Don’t do it unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be discreet about it.

In the end, I didn’t bandit the half marathon due to the weather forecast. But if you think race bandits are bad, I think jeopardizing a race like this is even worse :

I am now a marathoner

Hi everyone!

After 16 weeks of training, I finally did it! I completed my first full marathon yesterday and it still feels so unreal to me that I actually did 42 km at the 20th edition of the Maratona Di Roma. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

The entire week leading to it, I was carbo-loading with food like pasta, risotto, pizza and sushi. I had such a ravenous appetite that even Cart was worried that I was eating too much.

On a normal day, I think it would be unhealthy, but after doing my 32 km training, I understand that my body needs plenty of fuel for long distance running. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon! (Delicious pizza with tuna, onions and balsamic vinegar)

On Sunday morning, I woke up at 5 am feeling butterflies in my tummy. Despite all my trainings, I didn’t feel prepared. I didn’t feel the same excitement I felt when I did the half marathon last year, and the thought of doing 42 km was so daunting to the point that I was actually thinking of not going. But I tried to quell all those negative thoughts by doing my pre-long run routine. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

(look like I’m going camping)

I was contemplating on bringing my water bottle, but then I realised that it would be an additional weight as the organizers will be providing us with water, energy drinks and solid food. Moreover there are an abundance of water fountains all over Rome.

Cart drove me to the nearest metro station and while waiting for the subway to arrive, I did some dynamic stretching. When I finally got on a coach, there were already a lot of people inside wearing red for the 5 km fun run and with all the excitement, I actually started to feel quite charged. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I dropped off at the Circo Massimo stop where I saw a number of athletes walking towards the Arco di Costantino. It was around 8 am, and the air was extremely crowded and chaotic with over 14 thousand other athletes. I had a hard time trying to find the lorry to deposit my bag and in the end, I found that it was the last one, a distance away.

I wished that there were more signs so that I could avoid the human crush. By the time I deposited my bag, the clouds were starting to get dark. The weather forecast said that it would rain the entire day but I was in denial, hoping for a sunny day. Unfortunately, while we were queuing up at the corral, it started to rain quite hard. While normally the rain would be a demoralizing experience, this time round, it wasn’t so bad with all the other people around me giving each other motivation. Moreover I’ve been in worse conditions during my training. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

The race was supposed to start at 8.50 am but due to the amount of participants, we were only able to inch forward bit by bit. I only managed to step on the start line around 10 minutes later. But once I got to that point, things got real for me. That I am actually going to run a marathon!

We started running towards Via dei Fori Imperiali and I saw a lot of people going really fast. I wasn’t disheartened and kept my pace slow and steady so that I didn’t exhaust myself, but mostly not to risk injuring myself. That’s the hazard of running too fast – In fact, I saw a number of athletes limping quite early on – at less than 10 km in. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

As we went though the different locations and monuments in Rome, I felt a sense of happiness going through the places that I was familiar with. With the roads barricaded for us, jogging through these area on foot gives me a new visual perspective on my adopted home.

And there were even some paths that I haven’t discovered before. At every corner, there were so many supporters clapping and cheering for us, giving us motivation which was really nice. It was heartening to see so many. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

As much as I enjoyed the sights, after a while everything seemed like a blur to me and it was difficult for me to remember what I passed by. Mostly it was because I was more actively looking for the distance indicator banner, telling you how much you’ve run. I felt really good and felt so motivated each time I went past each mark and I mentally high five’ed myself at each one.

  • 10 km done,  you can do another 10!
  • 20 km done, lets do another 10!
  • 30 km done, don’t give up now. You can do it!

When I reached towards the 32 km mark, it was the start of  my longest distance to date. I anticipated the same feeling as I did when I did 32 km, but interestingly I didn’t feel overly tired because we were given plentiful of fresh fruits and energy drinks along the way.

I munched on a slice of apple or banana and sipped on some water, and did a quick stretch at each stop. It was enough fuel to top my glycogen reserves,  so I didn’t feel hungry and I’m amazed that I didn’t hit the wall this time. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

While my energy level was great, my feet were pulsating and it got more challenging to run with my minimalist shoes on the cobblestones when we reached the city centre. I had to tread carefully to ensure that I didn’t trip. I doubt that Abebe Bikila himself would appreciate running on these if he was still alive.

After jogging for about 4 hours or so, I felt the need to pee but opening a portable latrine door near the Auditorium refreshment stop, I saw something so nasty that I was immediately turned off.

By the time I reached 33 km, my Garmin was already starting to run out of juice, so I couldn’t tell how my pacing was and just went as best as I could. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

Eventually I reached the 40 km mark near Piazza di Spagna and I felt so relieved that I gave out a whoop. Just 2 more kilometres to go!

And as I returned back to Via dei Fori Imperiali,  there were so many people clapping and cheering. The end is near! I saw the finishing gate and spotted out a line of Roman Gladiators towards it. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It was such a rush of emotion for me when I went past the line. I raised my arms, so grateful that it was over, feeling a sense of personal achievement that I’ve overcome this fear.  It wasn’t an easy run, but I managed to do it! #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I am now a legit marathoner 🙂

My timings may not be anything to shout about. 10.35 min/km for the first 5 km? Yikes. I’m probably one of the last few to complete the race.

Nevertheless, I’m quite happy that I managed to stay on a constant speed throughout the marathon. Plus I was slightly faster than my expected time of 6 hrs 59 minutes and 59 seconds 😛 #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

It was only when I went past the stop point, stopped jogging and started to slow down was when I felt my legs and feet pulsating badly. Every step felt like I had weights on my  legs and my feet felt as if they were on fire. It was so painful and the ironic part was, that the bag deposit lorry was located really far away. I don’t think even the little mermaid felt like I felt when she first got her legs.

As festive as the air was all around me, by this time, I really wasn’t in the mood for taking pictures. All I wanted to do was to get back home, shower, rest and be in clean, warm clothes. I could only manage to walk slowly as each step was excruciating.

Luckily Cart was waiting for me at the Constantine Arch ready to drive me home. I was close to tears, being so profoundly grateful as I just couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk all the way to the metro, with the crowd of people. I sat in the car and pulled off my wet socks and shoes and gave a quick massage. My feet were all wrinkled from all the rain. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

I’ve heard horror stories about long distance running and I’m grateful that I didn’t get black toenails, had very minimal chafing and got just a little bit of sunburn on my neck due to the rain washing away my sunblock.

When we reached home and when I tried to leave the car, my back ached and I had to take a full minute just to stand straight. I imagine that this is probably how I’ll be walking like when I turn 80 years old. I did my best to do my after run stretches, had a quick shower and then concussed on the sofa.

Interestingly, I didn’t feel that hungry. Probably due from all the food I consumed during the run. In the evening, my legs were pulsating very badly. I think this was probably due to my adrenaline levels crashing down. No matter how much I changed position to make myself comfortable, I was in so much pain that I was in tears. Foam rolling, muscle cream and ibuprofen helped, but just a little bit.


Thankfully, I managed to sleep soundly and I’m feeling a lot better now. Although I think that my immune system is not great at the moment, so I’m going to take it easy for the next few days to avoid catching a fever.

Now that the marathon is over, my routine is probably going to be quite different now that my 16 weeks are done. Looking back though the 4 months, all the training, the fear, the sweat and tears, it was all worth  it and the marathon was a satisfying conclusion.

I think that I could probably do better, but at this point of time, I don’t think I want to do another marathon any time soon. At the same time though, it would be a waste to lose this level of fitness that I’ve already achieved so far. #rinazdoes42km Completed my first marathon!

To end this post, I would like to give thanks to everyone who has ever given me love, support and advice, to those who liked my #rinazdoes42km posts and for all who were with me in my marathon journey these past 4 months 🙂

#rinazdoes42km? #rinazDID42km!