Friday, July 25, 2014

JVC Sports Handfree Earphone HA-EBR80 Review

I have two more earphones pending for review and today I will share with you the JVC ear clip earphone model HA-EBR80 that comes in 4-color namely purple (A), black (B), red (R) and silver (S). The model that was shared with me is the B version and this review is based on the HA-EBR80-B or black model. This earphone cost RM149.90 and can be purchased at all electronic shops carrying JVC products (Radio Shack has them stocked).
The earphone in blister pack
Such fancy description, what is it anyway?
It is a sports clip headphones with 1-button remote & mic for hands-free operation ideal for exercises and fitness activities.  
Sport Remote+Microphone
What it really meant is, It is a sweat-proof earphone that is secured around your ears, with full hands free functionality and it will allow you to talk/answer phone while you are working out. 
Compatible smart phone models. Sorry, Androids not fully included (and I've tested on Xiaomi Mi3)
If your original hand free kit when you purchase your iDevices or Blackberry has been out of service and you are looking for an alternative, but hate Bluetooth devices (as it meant additional battery to charge on daily basis if used heavily), then this could be a good replacement. 
The clip (curve part) can be moved up or down
A quick jump to the features:
  • 1-button remote and mic for iPhone / iPod / iPad / BlackBerry
  • Sports clip headphones with adjustable clip structure which has five selectable position for secure fit (slide up or down)
  • Bass-boosting earpieces
  • 4 colour selections
  • Powerful 13.5mm neodymium driver unit
  • Conversion cable for compatibility of most of smartphones
  • 1.2m cord with gold-plated iPhone-compatible slim plug
Real Feel Usage
The unit comes with a one-button remote. It is compatible with most phones except some others (like my Mi3) that asked for more than one button to control media (volume, skip track etc).
    One button operation
    Minimal issue for me as I have little intention to use this on my Mi3. However, I have reason to use this for my daily conference calls with my other colleagues globally using my previous phone, which is an iPhone 4. It worked wonderfully as how an Apple device should be (minimalist one-button do it all kinda thing-a-gy-mah)
Ready for calls
Comfort wise, the unit was used for no less than 4-hours of call that day when I tested it. The adjustable clip were good, as I am able to adjust the position of the speaker to be directly, or a little bit away on the fly.
clip retracted
clip extended
However, what I found could be better is that the earpiece itself to have more silicon coverage. The existing setup is adequate, and has proven to be OK for extended (4-hours) of calls. It could be my personal preference.
Yeap, minimal

  • Sweat-proof as I used it for walking with my dogs. 
  • Tested 1.2m cable is long enough to comfortably stretch between the PC (if used with PC/Laptop) during calls.
  • Clips offer good secured grip over the ears. Did not came loose in use (including fast walk)
  • Good sound quality for both voice and music
  • Sensitive mic - listeners on the other end of my con-calls never had issue hearing me when I speak normally
  • Selection of color and black is fine for a more executive look, particularly when you are using it for a con-call requiring Office Communicator
  • Or maybe I am just boring (referring to the black above :P)
  • Cable at 1.2m is too long to be used with phone or to be used for sports activity. Not really a con as you can always tie them up or put a cable organiser in between
  • Stiffer earpiece/rubber moulding may reduce comfort on longer use for some that may prefer softer feel, or a more fuller silicon pad (no pun intended and don't think otherwise)

Good conference call tools - and for light sports use too
Note: This pair of JVC Earphone is courtesy of JVC Kenwood Malaysia as part of product testing. Retailing at RM149.90 at major electrical and electronic stores, and at Radio Shack Malaysia. Opinion set forth in this write up is not influenced by JVC Kenwood and remain as my personal review opinions only. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Revisiting Broga Loop And Training Fine Tuning

July 12, 2014
A ride from Batu 18 Ulu Langat towards Klawang before heading to Lenggeng and return via Broga is known as Broga Loop. There is what we called the Broga Pondan loop, as the direction of travel is the easier than going the other direction. I've written about it in 2008 and last rode it in 2010. It was a mixed-reaction type of ride as I was trying/fighting to get my blood iron up that year (2010). In fact, Broga loop is the often used route for those training for Ironman races in Malaysia and overseas. The distance is just nice, adequate refill spots and "oh those mother of climbs" gives this route a sense of achievement if you manage to ride it within 6hours or below for a grand total (back then) 140km max. Fast forward 4-years later since my last 2010 ride on this loop, it sure felt scary and daunting. Compound this feeling with the fact that I've spent close to 5500km on the trainer exclusively with the balance less than 400km on the road this year, I was afraid and i took the easy way by riding on my road bike.
Colnago Dream in Mapei color
With about 10 weeks (on July 12) to Ironman Langkawi, I have to get out and get a feel to know what else I need to do before the big day in September. Thanks to Rupert and his gang that are training for Ironman as well, I found myself eagerly present for the slaughter.
Then, I found out that those that came had been riding Broga loop almost every (if not, every other) weekends.
They eat Broga for breakfast
I would love to write at length about the whole ride. Due to time constraint and in line with the ride's objective to be honest with myself on improvement or which area requires more training, these are the positive from the Broga Pondan ride.
1. No issues on the flats. The trainer sessions running at 80rpm to 110rpm on 53 (chainring) x 15-17 (cogs) worked wonder. Ability to hold at 35km/h speed up to 10km distance with ease.
2. Bike handling still good. Confidence with bike going up or down hill. It matters as you may lose precious "free" speed if do not utilise gravity correctly. Case in point charging downhill to gain advantage on the immediate climb/bump. True for rolling hills route like Broga Loop.

And that was about the two positives I can think off. Now, here are the points for improvements
1. I must not take all training as "training on empty". My body is already efficient to the point I can go on without food up to 90km. Max. For long rides, the temptation NOT to eat is there - and could spell the end of my race (on actual day). 
Brought along, but ended up not taking any until past KM100, by then too late. And I thought I knew better.
2. I need a lot of work to climb hills. This used to be my strongest point where I can and used to ride up Genting Peras in no more than 53x15 combo. I used to be a power biker churning out raw wattage. That changed when I turned into an endurance junkie, and that itself threw that ability out of the window. That day, I cringe at 39x25 on the steepest section.
Struggled UP final 1km. Unlike me.
3. On point 2 above, I struggle up Jeram Toi. Was trying to prevent a 20 wheelers truck laden with cargo from beating me flat on the climb. It was embarrassing.
Chasing a truck that moves at no more than 10km/h
4. Up towards Bukit Tangga before Lenggeng. I was that slow that those that arrived before me was fully fuelled up and ready to go as I reached.
And I just arrived
I know that instance that I need to improve on my climbs to complement the flats. There is no two ways about it. Langkawi is not flat, but the distance itself will wear you out. The sun will tear you down. The wind riding up hill will break you up. I have to do something.
Fine Tune The Trainer Session
I realised the biggest mistake I've made was to leave out ride simulating climbs. This meant I have NOT went above higher resistance than 2 on the trainer. I took a drastic change and dedicated the trainer session to high resistance (8 was the highest I could go as the cable of the trainer wasn't allowing me to go up to 10) and set the gears to Granny and aim to work downwards to obtain the power and delivery.
Granny. Those on TT bike and familiar with thumb shifter will know I went all "light" on my gearing
It wasn't even funny trying to pedal at those resistance that I started questioning why am I torturing myself and letting the lactic acid floods every single muscles cells there was worth pushing. It was painful, but fun. 
155km was the Broga Pondan. Then It was all 30mins session at highest resistance. I've never ridden this slow (and short distance) on trainer!
With a lot of determination, I progressed past "granny" after 13th July. I started to crank on larger chainring (53 as opposed to 39) and push for the mid-range cogs (15-17). It was slowly paying off and each session was like working out in a gym where "everyday is legs' day". 
Then, a message from Rupert came... 
Lets go for a short ride tomorrow (Saturday). My recovery and I plan to do 100km max. Rushing for time as well.
Instantly, I told him we take the hilly route towards Titi via Kongkoi and back reverse Peras. That would give us loads of climbs and some flats. It was hard for him to say NO. The pain associated to climbs is too good to pass. 
July 19, 2014
Ready to Roll
I took my Orbea Ordu (TT bike) for this ride. I will be using this bike for Langkawi and I need to know if I can climb on this. I was pretty confidence after the 1-week intensive Pain-Like-Mad-Trainer session. I felt my quads and hams grew an inch, maybe two. Or perhaps it was the ego talking. 
I will not write in details of the ride. Suffice to say I was impressed with what I could achieve in that short period. Muscle memory came to mind, and in my case fortunately was true as I rode the climbs close to as fast as I rode the rolling hills and flats. At about K16 or 3K more to the top of Peras, Rupert caught up with me. I decided to put on more effort to climb - and what happened surprised me when I populate the graph at this section.

Uphill at 30km/h? I impressed myself!
I really thought Rupert was joking when he say we were climbing at 30km/h for about 1km. Only thing was I could not hold it off while he then left me in his dust at the last 1km of the climb. There is a reason why he is a podium winner and I am just a finisher. 
A short stop at Titi (midpoint) for food break (I as usual, skipped, read until the end to know why) and the legs felt refreshed. The return journey is approximate 43km with a good 12km of climbs over 3-peaks. It is the dreaded reverse Peras. If you can clock 67km/h coming down the hill, imagine needing to climb up the same steep incline. I was prepared. 
Upon passing Kongkoi's junction, the climbs gradually started. I tried keeping up with Rupert, Leo, Alex, Bryan and Andrew but they left me eating their dust. These guys can climb. Staying focused, I started to put what I've been training for (a week) to practice. The resistance climbing up was similar to Peras, maybe about 5% more effort needed. I keep check on my cadence and speed and was surprised I did really really well. It was very encouraging to know the effort I've put in is paying off. 
But hard to beat these chaps on the climbs
Heck, I even managed a Brick session after the ride at Tempo basic pace. Could had pushed more for it but this (running) too, need some normalisation and fine tuning. I need to make sure I can sustain a good pace throughout the 42km after the 180km bike ride. More to come on this!
Fuelling To Win
In this ride, I took my Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem tablets along with me and fuel at about every hour at one tabs. I need to start finetuning my fuelling as well and everyone is different. I also took the Endurolytes and Anti-Fatigue along and consumed 1 tab each every hour of the ride. The liquid fuel of choice was the HEED mixed in two 750ml Camelbak Podium. At mid-point KM50 (at Titi when we stopped for "breakfast"), I consumed only 1-bottle of HEED and replaced it with a cup of black coffee with ice. I am preparing for the potentially hard climb back up Peras; the caffeine may just give me the additional boost. I reckon I will need at least two more longer rides to arrive at the correct fuelling needs and each outing from now onwards will not be on empty. I've known my body well enough to understand the "switchover" between utilising glucose and fat for energy. 
More Fine tune Planned
Very much so. Watch this space as my final few weeks to Ironman Langkawi may just get more challenging. One of the reason this blog has not seen much updates is not because of writer's block, but because of increased work load and responsibilities in the office. I intend to make every single days used for training matters because I've been this far into the journey. I must say I am at 80% prepared - and that is right on plan.
Week 39 (last week)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

IRONMAN Training Goes Troppo

This just in. I missed out the news until I was prompted. Must be old age and over(I hope not) training for the race in less than 9 weeks time now. The Ironman ( has been featuring triathletes in their pages and this time around, my "bro" (because everyone is a bro to him, and I felt he is more than just a bro to me), Yusran was featured in the Ironman Webpage. 
Photo from Ironman Webpage
Yusran works on the middle of the sea (platform) and this poses a challenge to him and his training. In his own words : "Getting it done would mean running twice a day in 70 m circles on the helipad in 40 degree Celsius temperatures and strong winds."

It doesn't get more mental that this. But for this Ironman triathlon veteran, this is just his way of doing things. My hats off to you Bro!

Read here for the full text: Racing or not, one Malaysian IRONMAN fan can’t keep away from Langkawi Island.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dolce&Gabbana The One Limited Edition

The Original "The One"
Instead of getting the original packed The One, I received a Limited Edition fragrances and this is my first Dolce&Gabbana. 
The 2014 Limited Edition
Thank you to the good people in the PR team of Dolce&Gabbana, i received this at my office while I was away in the States. Came back with a big surprise sitting on my table and this entry should had been posted weeks ago. 
Limited Edition - For Men
The box were simple and was silver. Outline of (what was later revealed) bottle were subtlety printed on the cover. The Gold version is meant for ladies and we may head to the perfume store to smell how it is like compared to the men's version.

For this entry, Dolce&Gabbana celebrates the timeless elegance The One for Men with luxurious new Limited Edition Platinum bottles. I am not sure if plastic bottle or glass, as it will very unlikely to be metal (i tried putting a magnet on it), but it was sure nice and stood out differently in my toiletries cupboard.

Elegant bottle - smooth to the touch
Impeccably polished and refined to the touch, each precious Limited Edition bottle conjures the luxurious spirit of its contents.

Clad in a polished Platinum, The One for Men is elegant yet seductive. Rare to find and impossible to replace, its highly polished Platinum exterior speaks of assured self-expression and refined style.
An Oriental Spicy perfume which is developed from the harmony of Tobacco notes and refined spices. 
Very nice
A vibrant elegance of the top notes comes from the mouthwatering combination of Grapefruit, Coriander and Basil. 
This is followed by a spicy and warm notes of Cardamom and Ginger drive the strong sensual signature of Dolce&Gabbana The One for Men. 
The base, which will be there very much the whole time yields to the authentic masculinity of the deep dry down of Tobacco and Ambery notes along with Cedarwood. It reminds me of something matured - or maybe I am just getting old. 

PRICING (bold denote the item i received)
The One Limited Edition EDP 50ml RM 287
The One Limited Edition EDP 75ml RM 373
The One for Men Limited Edition EDT 50ml RM 212
The One for Men Limited Edition EDT 100ml RM 298

*Note: This bottle of perfume was courtesy of Dolce&Gabbana and the review are of my own opinion, riding on the press release (on description of the perfume), and verified with the usage of it on myself. Like all fragrances, the subtle chemistry between our skin and the product may yield different effect. We may smell the same using the same item, but that depends on how our olfactory senses works as well. 

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Spinnervals - The Interval Spinning That Leaves You Wanting More

Bored of spinning alone and not too sure what you should do for your spinning routine? Wondering how those hours on the saddle can be improved and translated to performance and fitness level you are looking for? Read on.
Recently, a group of fitness instructors (qualified ones, mind you) started a spinning class which aim to enhance your cycling skills on pedalling, cadence, gear change and core control. Before you think this is all hi-tech-cy, let me explain that spinning is a general term to describe putting a bicycle on a bike-trainer (read about it here on bike trainer) and you literally sit on your own bike and pedal away.
sample of (my) bike trainer
The class that will be conducted by Coach Jessen Lee happens on every Thursday night between 1930hours to 2030hours (7.30pm to 8.30pm).
Jessen (in mohawk) telling you how to "axe" it.
Jessen Lee is a professional bike coach and you may most probably see him in "Zero2Hero" coaching. (ed: Jessen has left Zero2Hero and now runs his own Ride School. Click Here to see it) The session is sport specific and you will need to use your own bike and bring your own trainer. Towel is a must as you WILL be dripping from head to toe (and a very wet shoe).
For more info, email : Karen at kiakaha dot com dot my for rates and to book a place.
I will be attending their class this coming Thursday and will go prepare for some sufferfest (and review of the class later).
Stay tune and keep spinning!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Week 38 Ironman Malaysia Training In Progress

Less than 90 days at the time this blog entry is written. 37 weeks is coming to an end and we are drawing closer to the D-day of Ironman Malaysia at Langkawi. Progress has been good, but can be better (it usually and always will be). Taking a look back at how things has progressed, I impressed myself for being able to clock in the mileage I am to share below. It serves as a reality that there is no such thing as "fluke" or "luck" when it comes to training and staying focused for a race.
Week 25. 5.9km!
My weakest discipline and the least trained. Up till week 25 with total accumulative distance of 5.9km has seen much improvement as my wife orchestrated swimming class for the kids on weekend - effectively allowing me some pool time while the kids learn to swim. Within 12 weeks, I've chalked up a good 16km additional and that has sort of given me much opportunity for stroke correction and re-learning to breathe. Not easy but definitely has been consistently done week after week. 
Week 37. 24.15km
Swimming is tough work. Mileage is always lower compared to the time invested, but it is essentially the first thing to be done with the Ironman league. My PB for 3.8km swim stays circa 1hour 40mins. I am expecting myself to slightly better this perhaps by a few minutes. I am being honest here, swimming is NOT my best league, no matter how much I tried to be good at it. 
But I am getting better.
Easily the most time spend on a single training module. With 180km in sight, it is easy to see why time investment on this league has been substantial. I've never had imagined myself sitting on the saddle in an stationary setup more than 30minutes when I first started. Up till now, the rear-end has pretty much gotten accustomed to no padding spinning sessions up to 3-hours long and I had successfully hammered on the trainer past 6hours mark. Insanity has a new name that may defy logic of such brutal torture I put myself through - it is called silly. 
Spin. It is safer option.
Some of the additional I've done to make the training more real was to actually place the whole setup under the hot afternoon sun. I am missing out on real road feel and weathering factor. Spinning under the afternoon sun provides good feel of the tropical heat. Take away the "wind" and land in the heavy humidity you get an almost real-like feel of Langkawi on a hot 40deg C (ground) afternoon burning up on you. 
Same reason for that, choosing the correct tire is essential. I melted this cheaper option just by spinning.
The holes, they are real. Caused by hot spot and the shavings were because of extreme heat generated from the magnetic trainer. Don't touch the metal, it burns, literally.
Mileage wise, nothing to be shy. 12 weeks and I've covered about 1200km. That is more than I ever cycled for a year after the last Ironman 2010; and that is just 12 weeks between Week 25 and 37. 
I've not been running as much as I wish I could. Surprisingly, one of my worse section has seen the best improvement with my lactate threshold speed to be at 4:24min/km. This is despite limiting the run to maximum of 3 times per week so I could allow myself to spend time with the family and doing other things that may matter more. I admit I am more biased towards cycling and that would maintain while I start to pick up the run mileage again. Travelling for one, which I am doing fairly frequent nowadays, allow me to hammer on the treadmill and outdoor a bit more often than when I have full access to the trainer/bike setup.
Like running Houston, Texas. Not everyday I get this chance!
Over the past 12 week, the running mileage is on the low side, though there are a many shorter runs I took that went unrecorded as I was reviewing new shoes from Skechers. Not counted too are the sessions I have walking/jogging my dogs and the longer walk I take as part of active recovery. 
The 42km will be done pretty much in the luxury of late afternoon sun and well into the earlier part of the night. I know I just need to keep moving and if I managed to keep a steady 6:00 pace, I would potentially cover the distance within 5hours 20mins, tops! Including water stop. Of course these are just wishful thinking and provided I managed to finish the 180km bike in the first place.
Nothing much change. I am still 69kg at sub 10% bodyfat level. My clothes feel loose (on some that I can't alter anymore) and the belt hole remains the same for the past 37 weeks. Some may say I lost more weight though. I would say I kept them pretty much stable. Challenge is always the availability of good nutritious food and I do sometimes worry I fall short of nutrition that I need. For that, I do resort to supplement in form of multivitamins and also time-released Vit C (1000mg). Essential as continuous training puts a lot a lot of strain to the body. I still have DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome (pain lah) when I put myself through more demanding routine - and for that reason alone, I rely on additional protein food as I can't afford to lose muscle mass. 
I can live on these alone.
I am also doing Intermittent Fasting (IF) as it is one way to allow the body to rest over the constant eating that we all do. It allow the digestive system to work more efficiently, and an opportunity to teach the body to utilise fat as energy. I've written extensively on this - and many may find this debatable. If you are keen, the link to Part 1 and Part 2 if you click on the respective highlighted link.
What Is Next
My career is taking off on a second or third wind. I am trying hard not to neglect this blog and the posting has been far and in between. It is a record of some sort that the last posting was June 19 and it has been 2-weeks since. Many backlogs I need to catch up on and it is another race to get them up in the blog. Do stay tune as this is one commitment I've put for myself (sort of KPI) to continue sharing and blogging. To put things into perspective, this blog entry was written last week and stopped at Para 2. Lucky today was a pretty good day with an hour and half to spare and here you have it, what you are reading today. 
I will be back!