Category Archives: Fitness quest

My unofficial fitness log

Fitness Quest

I changed the category of “Running Quest” to “Fitness Quest” since I don’t run anymore.

Last November, I discovered and I have been consistently doing their workouts at home. Working out at home is great because I don’t have to spend 2-3 hours traveling time to get to the gym and back.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated some workout gears. Some of which were actually shipped to Singapore from the US over four years ago. I like the FitnessBlender videos. The structure is easy to follow, but the workouts can be quite tough. But I can feel that I’m getting better at it.



I am still going to the gym for group classes, particularly for Body Pump and RPM during the weekends. Eventhough I burn about the same amount of calories both with FitnessBlender and the gym classes, I think my muscles are more sore from gym classes. I slack off more at home.

I definitely enjoy the strength training workouts much more than an hour on the treadmill. I still like the idea of running, but I just haven’t been able to consistently run so that I won’t feel like my heart will jump out of my chest even when I’m doing my slow shuffle. I think my knees also can’t handle the pounding much now.

NYC Marathon 2009

I just found out that I’ve been accepted to the ING New York City Marathon 2009. Since there’s always a very large pool of applicants, there is a lottery system for the entry to this marathon. I submitted my application sometime in May, right after watching the four Biggest Loser semi-finalist complete their first marathon.

If they can do it, maybe I can do it too…

It’s only after I submitted my application that it sort of dawned on me that I’ve entered into a contract that if I am chosen, I’ll be paying $171 for the marathon fee. If I back out, I would have paid $171 for nothing.

Just before the lottery results were announced, I started to doubt this spur of the moment decision. A marathon…6 hours of pain on marathon day, not to mention the discomfort of over 16 weeks of training to run 26.2 miles. I think I was hoping that I would not be chosen.

But I was chosen, so it’s a bittersweet thing. Sort of like “Yayyy!!! Oh no….”

I’m kind of excited that I have the opportunity to participate in the NYC Marathon. If I can endure through 6 years of graduate school in the US (so far) and the chronic stress of dissertation research for the past year and probably another 8 more months to go, I can endure 6 hours of running/walking. It’ll be great that when I finally reach the finish line because then I would have completed something from start to finish this year.

Dissertation research can get very disappointing, especially when it drags on and on and each day only results in one data point. So many more uncertain days to go. It’s also sad when I see friends finishing their research and graduating and I’m still here, struggling through another day for another data point.

I guess I’m trying to run off the frustration!

Anyway, here is my brand new marathon training blog: Run Ailsa Run

Running again

I thought I’ve given up on running since my right knee hurts when I ran. But after talking to another runner friend, I realized that my running shoes may be expiring thus causing all the problems. So I got a new pair of running shoes and tried to run again and so far so good. Surprisingly, after 2 months of spinning classes, my heart and lungs are coping slightly better when I run.

Nowadays, when I go out for a walk/run, besides my nike+ipod, I’ll also put on my Timex heart rate monitor (HRM). So many gadgets for such slow running 🙂 but I really do like the numbers and stats. Here is a summary from both gadgets for today’s run:

Time: 1:17′ 46″
Distance: 8.33 km
Average pace: 9’19″/km
Calories: 557

Timex HRM
Time: 1:20′ 54″
Average heart rate: 151
Peak HR: 184 (too high: a clear indicator that running is still not easy for me)
Minimum HR: 86
Calories: 1088

The calorie count on the Timex HRM is definitely off. The nike+ipod calorie counter is more accurate. I wish the HRM calorie count was accurate though. 1088 calories is about equal to the BK Whopper plus medium French fries that I had for lunch 2 days ago 🙁

I found another feather today. To make my runs less boring, I scan the grounds for feathers and golf balls. Five feathers and four golf balls so far.

Spinning again

Spinning (Indoor cycling): I absolutely love it. I’m not sure why I like it so much. During spinning, I have to physically work really hard, but at the same time, the rhythm of the cycling movements is very relaxing.

It is also a relatively “easy” form of exercise. Since I am controlling the resistance of the spinner (stationary bike), if it gets too tough, I can turn down the resistance or cycle slower. And there’s no choreography or movements to memorize (such as those in dance or aerobic classes).

Spinning is definitely less strenuous than running. Running is hard. I think I have given up on running. I started running just to push myself to do something that I never thought I would do. Even though I ran consistently for many months, I don’t think I really enjoyed running. I was slow and it was really tough mentally and physically to keep going and going.

Yeah, I love spinning 🙂

Oh, did I mention that I was in extreme pain after my first spinning class? And the extreme pain lasted 4 days!

My legs (especially my thighs) hurt so bad. It was painful to stand up. It was painful to sit down. It was painful to walk. It was painful to go down the stairs. It was painful to get into my car. I could hardly sleep because of the pain. I never imagined cycling could cause such intense chronic pain.

Thankfully, the pain went away after 1 week. Now spinning is pure enjoyment. However, it’s hard to sell spinning to my friends. I tell them it will hurt like crazy for 1 week but they will really like it after that. But my descriptions of my extremely painful week must be scaring them off.

Or maybe it is this Danish instructor that is scaring everyone away from spinning? 🙂


I’ve stopped running for quite a while now. My right knee hurts when I run, and even after a prolonged period of no running, it still kind of hurts when I try and run. So I’ve sort of given up on running. Nowadays, if I do go out to the trail, I’ll do intervals of fast and slow walks (e.g., 3 minutes of brisk walk followed by 2 minutes of relaxed walk).

And for the summer, I signed up for a spinning class. What is spinning?

Spinning is an aerobic exercise that takes place on a specially designed stationary bicycle called (obviously enough) a spinning bike. As you pedal, motivating music plays and the instructor talks you through a visualization of an outdoor cycling workout: “You’re going up a long hill now, you can’t see the top yet.” During the class you vary your pace — sometimes pedaling as fast as you can, other times cranking up the tension and pedaling slowly from a standing position. This helps you to focus inwardly and work on your mind as well as your body. (Neporent & Chiocchi)

That’s just a picture I got off the web, and it’s not the gym at Lehigh.

Today, I went for my very first spinning class. Totally clueless about how to set up the bike. After a short lesson from the instructor, I was ready.

And she started:
Turn up the resistance, stand up and “run”
Let’s do 30 seconds.
Reduce the resistance, and “sprint”
Turn up the resistance, run and place your hands at the top of the handlebar.
Repeat 3 times.

And me:
Ouch! My thigh hurts 🙁
OK, I got to sit and pedal, the “run” is too tiring.

And she went on:
One more round, and we’re done with the warm-up.

And me:
What??!! That’s only the warm-up??!! Oh, no, what have I done? This spinning class might turn out to be not such a great idea after all…

And she:
OK, now we’re going to some jumping.

And me:
How on earth do you jump of a stationary bike?!

Surprisingly, I slowly adapted and managed to last till the end of the 1 hour class. When I got off the bike, my thighs felt numb. And when I walked, I felt like my legs would give way and I would crumple to the ground. But I managed to walk to the car. I wasn’t even sure if I could step on the accelerator and brakes properly. And I drove, up the mountain, down the mountain, all the way home.

Since the campus is located in a hilly area, I would often see cyclists slowly riding up the steep hill. Whenever I see one cyclist making his or her way up the hill, I would think, “These people are crazy. I would never ever attempt to ride up this hill, in the name of fitness or challenge or whatever. That’s just too much of a torture.”

Today, I spent an hour cycling on a stationary bike, going nowhere, making my way up imaginary steep hills. And at the end of it, I drove up over a small mountain to get home. How ironic! I guess I’m the really crazy one here…

Spinning terms:
Run = cycling while standing up on the pedals
Sprint = cycle as fast as you can
Jump = intervals of standing and sitting while pedaling

Will write for free stuff!

Last week I got an email from the company. I bought a shoewallet from them that’s probably how I ended up being in the mailing list. The first part of their email was about a special 10% discount, which I thought isn’t such a big deal. Besides, the shoewallet that I have is well-made and from the looks of it, it will probably last the whole of my running “career”. But the email continued on and I read this:


Free Shoewallet Offer

Did you know your word of mouth is what continues to help active people learn that our Shoewallets are available to solve their headaches of where to carry cash, keys, ID, credit cards while on the go? Help us build the momentum by talking about us at, Facebook, Myspace, Squidoo, Blogs, Newsletters, Health & Wellness programs at work, etc.

*When you do, just send us the link(s) where you talked about us. Be sure to include your Shipping address and we’ll immediately send you a Free Shoewallet at $0.00 charge.


I’ll definitely write something for a free shoewallet. I quickly took a picture of the shoewallet attached to my shoe, uploaded the photo, and then wrote this and posted on this blog. I sent the link of my blog to the shoewallet company and they replied almost immediately that they’ll send the free shoewallet the next day!

I still can’t get over this free shoewallet offer. It’s like it’s too good to be true. But here it is – the free shoewallet. It arrived today and it’s on its way to my Tai-Lo in Malaysia: a non-surprise Christmas gift.

Jingle Bell 5K Run – 35:31!!!

It was windy and subfreezing cold. I had on 3 shirts, fleece pants, hat and gloves. For this race, I decided I won’t listen to the iPod. During my last 5K race, I couldn’t consciously pay attention to the music, all I could think of was “run, run, don’t stop, don’t stop, why did I sign up for this?”

Since I ran this same course last year, I was prepared for the hills. I was also determined to run continuously (no walking allowed) during this race. In the end, I did walk for several seconds at the water stop (running and drinking from a cup can be very tricky), but other than that I ran the whole way and completed the race with a new personal record!

My basic running gear

There are several things/gears that always go along with me on my runs:
1) My Asics GT-2110 running shoes
2) My iPod nano
3) My Nike+Ipod kit which includes an attachment to the iPod nano and the Nike shoe sensor
4) My shoewallet, which is attached to my shoe and holds the Nike sensor, a small ID card (just in case I passed out on the trail, thankfully that has yet to happen), and my keys
5) My Timex watch with the interval timer function
6) My tattered Michigan cap

I got the Nike+iPod kit with the birthday gift certificate that Victor gave me. I have to say the kit and my iPod nano are two of my best loved gadgets. I also like the nikeplus site where I can keep track of my runs, set running goals, watch my progress, and also join some running challenges.

When I got the Nike+iPod kit, I already had my running shoes and I didn’t want to spend more money on a pair of special Nike shoes that has a special compartment to hold the sensor. So I searched around for other ways to attach the sensor to my shoe. I found several types of shoe wallets/pouches that will hold the sensor, but I needed something a little bigger to hold my keys as well. I finally settled on the shoewallet. It has worked well and has become part of my regular running wardrobe.

This Saturday, I’m running in the Jingle Bell 5K run. I ran the same race last year. This is the race where the runners and walkers tie jinglebells on their shoelaces. I’m aiming for a new 5K PR in this race, and “regression to the mean” is in my favor 🙂

My beloved running trail


I had a really good day today. I went for the women’s conference in church from 8.20am- 2pm. Then dropped by the grocery store to get collard greens and turnip greens (will blog on these vegetables later). Went home, took a short nap, then went out for my 50 minutes of continuous running. Came home, took a short shower, rushed off to evening service. After the service, went to the chinese buffet to tah-pau some food for dinner. I thought I’d go to bed early since I’ve been running around a lot today but the iMovie bug would not let me sleep. So here is my latest iMovie about my beloved running trail. I’ve sort of mastered the Ken Burns effect. I’m still having trouble with the transitions and I save my work obsessively. I think I’m getting better at this. What do you think?