Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Headphones For Air Travel


If you travel by plane a lot, particularly on long-haul flights, choosing the right kind of headphones is probably just as important as choosing your seat. I remember when my then-fiancé-now-loving-husband gave me my first Bose QC 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones as Christmas present a few years ago. I thought they were the best thing ever and they certainly made my travels more fun! But with many brands with their numerous headset models, choosing the perfect pair can be very tricky nowadays. Thankfully, Headphones Unboxed just made it very easy for us.

But first, HU suggests you consider these factors when choosing your air travel headphones:

  • Noise cancelling or noise isolation feature. Airplanes and airports can be extremely noisy with constant stream of people, engine sounds and announcements blaring through loudspeakers. Investing on a good pair of noise cancelling or noise isolating headphone will make your waiting and travel time more pleasant.
  • Portability. Headphones that are lightweight, durable and easy to pack make for great travel accessory.
  • Headphones that don’t leak sound. As much as we like to indulge ourselves in some in-flight film and music entertainment, we also wouldn’t want the noise to be leaking out of our headphones and disturbing our neighbours.
  • Sound quality. Of course, none of the first three will matter greatly if the sound quality – sound reproduction, clarity, balance and bass – is poor.

Lastly, you would want to pay the right price for your headphones and not feel as though you had just been robbed of your precious dollars. For headphone model recommendations, check out HU’s list here.

I thought it was perfect timing that I came across Headphones Unboxed just as we were contemplating retiring our QC3, which has fallen into serious disrepair after 5 years and not enough protection against humidity and heat exposure. We considered switching brands, testing out a few sets each time we’d make a trip to the mall, but we always find ourselves favouring Bose – stopping short only when we consider the price, which is still relatively higher than most headphones out in the market. Thankfully, we qualified for the upgrade promo and ended up paying only a little above half of what it would’ve cost us to purchase the amazing QC25 Noise Cancelling headphones  off-the-shelf!

Bose QC25_vickyras
Still the best air travel headphones for us.

Aside from the QC25’s indisputably fine sound qualities, I’m also a big fan of its more compact look and sleekier design, not to mention the around-ear fit of the headphones. The semi-hard case that the headphones come with is noticeably smaller than that of the QC3, so it’s more convenient to lug around.

Something tells me we are going to have an awesome time in the plane on our upcoming long-haul flight!

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UNILAB Run United 2012


I haven’t been around road races lately but UNILAB Run United 2 has, more than anything, shown me just how huge the running community has grown since I became part of it in 2009. Until Sunday, five thousand half-marathon runners were unheard of in the Philippines. In a way, it’s nice to see more runners taking more risks when it comes to pushing their capabilities. That most of them don’t just look at 5k or 10 and stop there is, I think, a very good thing – not only for physical fitness but also for general wellbeing. There most certainly is a good deal of pleasure to be had in besting one’s personal record and moving on to longer distance categories.  Trust me, I know, because I haven’t been able to shake-off the urge to keep doing better in whatever race I join – even when the odds are stacked high against me.

Run United 2 Expo

Just like this Sunday. I woke up around 3am to aching joints and that all too-familiar abdominal cramps. Yep, it was day one and what do you know, it was raining too! I briefly contemplated ditching the race and continue with my dreamy slumber – bed weather and all.  But after consuming six heaping spoonfuls of Nutella the day before, along with a few other unhealthy nibbles, I was too guilt-stricken I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to burn some calories – even when in period-related discomfort and pain.

We reached BGC twenty-five minutes before gun start and I was pleasantly surprised to see the starting line crawling with runners; all of them oblivious to the steady drizzle drenching everything on sight. After dumping our bags at the luggage area, we made our way to the barricaded starting line, where the marshals were no longer allowing anyone to check-in until the first two waves of 21k runners have been released. We wound up on wave 3 – Bave, Cris, and I – and we snaked our way just a few layers behind the lead pack.  You see, I am not a fast runner but I kind of resent getting stuck behind runners much slower than I am. When this happens, first, I get exceedingly bored and then gradually, my temper starts to bubble up at the surface. I suppose it’s called aging, this ‘getting annoyed so fast’ syndrome.

Team Reebok with Eric Caramay and Sir Rene ‘Jazzrunner’ Villarta at the Unilab Media and Bloggers area (Thank you, Unilab!)

I have always enjoyed running in the rain so I started skipping happily past the starting line, momentarily forgetting about the painful spasms. Now I must say that Run United 2 has done very well with hydration. I’m not much of a hydrabelt-sporting runner but it was clearly unnecessary for me to worry about that in this case because hydration did not leave anything to be desired. There were piles of banana and sponge in some water stations, too, much to the runners’ delight. At least, I thought it was delightful! I had half a banana at one of the stations and chewing on it helped get my mind off the cramps I’ve been battling since I woke up.

Now the fun thing about starting at wave three is that you get to pass by so many runners from the first two waves who have slowed down. Not that I got any faster but I suppose they were more tired than I was, so I managed to squeak past a number of them.

Team Reebok

And then there was the finish line, with the digital timer blinking away beautifully. It was just the respite I needed. The pain in my abdomen did not recede one bit and in my drenched state, I was exceedingly uncomfortable too. One of those days when being a woman is not much fun.

After crossing the tape, I immediately went in search of my luggage so I can take my digicam and snap photos of the post-race revelry while waiting for my teammates to arrive. I visited the Reebok booth and was glad to see Ms. Yoya and Villy, both of whom have been very supportive of the team for a year now. We saw some of the latest designs in running shoes and apparel and they all look pretty ingenious! Too bad, most of them are for men.

Reebok Phils. family

Polecats Manila was also there and I stood there in awe of the grace and athleticism of the pole athletes led by Ms. CD. I really shouldn’t have stopped at just three lessons. I had been busy with work and travel that I wasn’t able to make time for it but now that I’m here and actually have a few days before I leave again and again, I’m definitely enrolling for some pole fun! My dream to become a pole athlete is still very much on.

Now that’s pure athleticism – with a sexy twist!

Now I have heard so much hype on the 3-piece RU2 medal, each piece of which you will have to collect for every RU2 race you join, and I can totally understand how so many runners have bought into it. The idea itself is nifty and it creates some form of loyalty from the audience. Since I wasn’t around when RU2 Leg 1 happened – at that time I was fighting for BDM 102 recognition with blood, sweat, and tears – I don’t have the first piece of the medal puzzle. So if there’s anyone out there who wants the second piece of the puzzle (I dunno. Maybe you were ill or incapacitated last Sunday and couldn’t run), I’m willing to donate mine. Kidding. Or not.

Thank you Mr. Photographer!

All in all, I thought UNILAB and Run Rio did an amazing job with Run United 2, which turned out to be a mega success despite the inclement weather the night before and on race day itself. The celebrity sightings and mini concert also added flavor to the show and even though I did not stay long enough to check out the booths and other activities at the Expo, the runners all seemed to have enjoyed themselves immensely that day.

By the way, here’s my 21k race results and analysis. I wasn’t fast enough, it seems. Oh well, let’s hope I do even better on my next full-mary: the 36th MILO Marathon.

***

Race outfit: Reebok top, Reebok RealFlex shoes (since it was raining, I wanted to go lightweight with my kicks), pink Newton socks, Smith Optics Pivlock shades, and a bright smile.:)

And so it begins…


Filed under something new. The time has come for me to conquer one of my greatest fears. This comes only second to recycling an Ex and/or vice-versa. Totally kidding, you guys!

Have a lovely weekend ahead, dahlinks, even though the weather during the past three days have been anything but. When all else fails, there’s The Avengers to watch. Beefcakes never go out of style.

Picstitch: Because I’m too lazy to do a proper blogpost…for now.


The weather is cruel at 5 degrees with rain showers and strong gusts of wind so we had to abandon our plans for staying outdoors and doing outdoorsy things. But, we made up for it by spending more time on the dining table and playing hide-and-seek with the adorably cute, incredibly smart, undeniably sweet kids named Raphael and Claire. I mean, seriously, with kids as beautiful as these two, who would need dolls?

All things bright and beautiful...
All creatures great and small...
All things wise and wonderful...

Obviously I’m too lazy to do a proper blogpost so i’m letting these photos do the talking…for now. I’ll be back once i’m properly acclimatized. In the meantime, we have one and a half more days to spend with Chris’ family before we set out on our own Paris adventure. I have said it once before and I’m saying it again: All things considered, I know I got a good man right here. Yes, Salt n’ Pepa, a mighty, mighty good man.:)

 

CW-X Stabilyx: Love at first tights!


In my nearly three years of running, I train mostly in shorts and have never worn stability tights or compression socks, although I have always been very curious as to how they feel and what benefits they offer.

Before the 2012 Bataan Death March (BDM) 102, I flirted with the idea of buying a pair of compression socks and possibly running in them. However, my friends advised me against trying something new on race day. I can, however, try them on during my recovery run, they said.

Good thing, I didn’t buy at that time because manna came to me one day in the form of CW-X Stabilyx tights and just like that, it was love at first tights! Thank you Toby’s!

Advertised as Stability conditioning wear, CW-X Stabilyx tights is powered by the patented CW-X Support Web™ technology, which mimics kinesiology-taping techniques. This conditioning web is strategically positioned to band together the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg to stabilize the knee and reduce vibration for increased efficiency. The CW-X Support Web also harnesses the midsection, supporting the lower abdominals, hips and back to channel power through the core. There are various models of CW-X tights, each with a varying focus of physical benefits.  These tights are priced starting from P4,000++. The CW-X website has a useful chart that will help guide you to which tight is the best for you. CW-X markets the Stabilyx tight as their best all-round stability tights, meaning, it is NO longer just for running but is now being marketed as a multisport wear. So whether you’re into basketball, football, zumba, triathlon, gym training, etc, you can wear the Stabilyx tights in your training and be assured of great workout benefits.

I first tried my raspberry CW-X tights the night after my BDM 102 race. No, not for running because honestly, I was in pain the next four days after BDM that I couldn’t even think of doing a proper recovery run. Instead, I wore my CW-X to sleep just to sort of support my leg and thigh muscles, which took quite a beating during my 17-hour Galloway ordeal marred by several injuries.

I followed the instructions on the package and carefully pulled the tights up my shins and aligned the support bands across the knees and over the muscle zones (quads and ITBs). The support bands in the fabric crossed both below and above my knees and felt good. The XS size is just perfect for me and the fabric weave is definitely tight and dense I could feel it working just after putting it on! It does take some pulling to wear them, but once I had them on, they felt naturally comfortable.

With my good friend Neb whom I bumped into at the race. Glad to see him embrace running, passionately.

Finally, after shunning the road for about six days, I ran 6k in the Stabilyx tights at the recently concluded St. Luke’s Eye Run at Bonifacio Global City and though my left leg – which by the way swelled up to epic proportions it made me look like a polio victim for a few days – was still cranky, I was able to run relatively well.  Noticeably slow and limping most of the time but not totally wrecked, as I probably would have been if I were wearing normal running shorts.

St. Luke's Eye Run 2012
With radio darling DJ Chloe and Newton-certified Coach Julian of Turtle Pace. (Notice my still-swollen left thigh and leg?)
My raspberry CW-X tights just meshes perfectly with my hot pink Reebok and Smith Optics ensemble, I love it!

So if you guys are thinking about getting a pair of compression tights, I strongly suggest you try CW-X. I guarantee you will love it! I know I do.:)

I’M A SURVIVOR: My BDM 102 Story


Unlike many other decisions I have made impulsively over the years (some I regret having made but let’s not get into that), joining the Bataan Death March (BDM) 102 was a deliberate one. Except for the timeline, which was rather hard to ascertain because of the nature of my job. Will it be in 2012? 2013? I really couldn’t tell for sure at that time. Late last year, however, I had made my intentions to run BDM 102 known to my runners friends, and of course, Mr. Baldrunner himself, and the feedback were all positive. So when KB Runner signed me up on the last day of BDM 102 application and I eventually got accepted (Note: There are certain criteria to be met for one to get accepted as a BDM race participant), I was 50 percent sure I’d do it – the other half is obviously dependent on my work schedule.

Registered!

2011 ended and while nearly all of the 2012 BDM 102 runners were busy planning for the race and training properly by logging  precious mileage and incorporating heat training into it as well, I was busy working. And working some more. In fact, since 2012 started, I think I was only able to log a total of 40k running mileage and by ultramarathon standards, that is far from ideal. And then I was supposed to be somewhere for a company event on BDM 102 race dates so it didn’t occur to me to make time for some strength training at least. I was prepared to just cut losses and perhaps go at it next year. Next thing I know, our event was moved at a later date which leaves my March 3-4 weekend wide open for some ultrarunning action. By then, I only had three weeks to put together a game plan; look for kindhearted friends willing to be my support crew (whom I have found, praise God!); and psyche myself into BDM mode. Just to make sure my legs are still in good running condition, I joined two 10k races and carbo-loaded. I must say that was the best part of my preparation – EATING. I ate more than my usual amount of food intake, constantly reminding myself each time I would feel guilty that ‘Yeah, i’m going to burn all of it anyway come BDM 102!’ And so I ate like the buffet cart was going to run out soon.

The only time that the enormity of my decision to run BDM this year dawned on me fully was when I attended the Briefing Ceremony and Carbo Loading party two nights before the actual race. Seeing nearly all of the BDM 102 runners there and making a mental note of how strong and capable they all looked, I began to doubt myself. Seriously, what was I thinking?! It’s one thing to do 50k or even 65k and perhaps finish sterlingly (I did so with my two 50k races but DNF’d with my 65k race in Nuvali) BUT 102k is clearly something else! Reylynne and I would find ourselves staring blankly at the projector screen while BR was doing the briefing and clearly not able to put a finger to what it was that we were both feeling at that time. Nervous, unsure, excited, confident are only some of the decipherable emotions at play that night.

2012 BDM 102 Briefing and CLP at Camp Aguinaldo
BDM warriors with Sir Jovie aka Baldrunner, the brains and might behind Bataan Death March

Finally, it was the night before race day. I had been long done shopping maniacally for supplies (thanks, too, in large part to my brother who shared my BDM grocery expenses with me!) and I already have my Reebok gear, Lightwater and VitaminBoost, Smith Optics Pivlock shades, reflectorized vest with lamp from ARC Ph all locked-and-loaded. JJ of my running group Team UNGAS, also gave me some supplies for the race – all of which came in handy, especially the first aid kit. My amazing support crew which I’m sharing with Cris Dela Cruz, consisting of Eric Caramay, Running Atom, and Jennybave were likewise ready to rock and roll. I went to the salon for foot spa hoping it will relax my mind so that I would at least be able to clock-in some decent zzz time. Weirdly enough, I found myself tossing and turning until about 2:30am, playing scrabble on my iPad. It seemed my mind decided to race ahead of me because I would see snippets of various BDM scenarios being played out in my head! I woke up at 6:30am and even though gun start is not until 10:15pm, I couldn’t convince myself to sleep some more. Instead, I spent my time making cheese pimiento sandwiches, boiling eggs, and packing my running gear and accoutrements.

At 4pm, we were on the road to Mariveles, Bataan.

We made a short pitstop at NLEX to have lunch. In my nervousness, I forgot to eat something during the day. Funny story: Just as we were leaving HenLin, we were sandwiched by this small crowd of people having their photos taken with this guy who turned out to be friggin’ Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and I didn’t get a chance to have my photo taken with him because he was quickly whisked away by his posse before I could even reach for my camera or BB! Nakakainis lang!

With my support crew and runner friends.

We reached KM0 in Mariveles, Bataan at around 8:30pm and as much as we wanted to cram sleep, we opted to prepare for the race. Jennybave took pains in taping my feet, especially my toes which are all blister-prone. I had wanted to use my Reebok Zigtech but after the layers of Leukoplast on both feet, the shoes were already a bit tight for me ( I must remember to get a bigger size next time!) and so I wore Claudia instead which was a good size bigger and has had an ultramarathon experience at last year’s 2nd PAU T2N 50k. It’s important that I give my feet some room to breathe given that it’s inevitable that feet will expand due to constant battering during the race. With my running gear all in place, I looked just about ready to head out to war.

‘Ultra Vicky’ says my ARC Ph shirt.:)

At the KM0 marker, ultrarunners gathered and chatted away. Photos were being taken, as well. In just a few minutes, Baldrunner would call everyone to order and he appointed some runners to sing the US, Japan, and Philippine national anthems. And then we were told to move to the starting line for the prayer and gun start.

Dear God, we pray for safety, strength, perseverance, and courage as we conquer Mariveles, Bataan all the way to San Fernando, Pampanga…

At 10:15pm, we were off like a marauding colony of worker ants. Destination: KM 102 marker at San Fernando, Pampanga. Cris, my BDM partner, and I started off strong. Even while taking it very easy in the first 6kms which was a steep uphill climb, we managed to clock-in sub-6 for the first 42km. And just as I was feeling somewhat invincible, I was brought down to earth when I heard my left knee give off a loud click followed by a very sharp pain I had to cry out. It reminded me so much of my trail run in Nuvali where my knees locked and I couldn’t move and I had to be carried back to the start/finish line on a stretcher, bereft of pride. Hello, deja vu. We immediately called on our suport crew to assist me. Bave put cold compress on injured knee and gave my legs a good rubdown. I put my knee support back on and continued running. Just a few kilometers after, my right knee gave a similar jolt. That’s when I got scared and slowly see my BDM 102 dreams fall apart piece by piece. Knee injury at any race is never a good thing. I decided to take Arcoxia to manage the pain. Cris, too, at around the same time, twisted his right ankle. And so it came to be that we were both limping even before we reached KM50.

Oh my knees! (Subtitled: Parang mag-gi-gym ka lang ah!)

At KM48, I was starting to feel very sleepy I felt like a somnambulist. I told Cris that I would need a 10-minute nap once we reach the pitstop if I am to perform well in the second half of the race. And so we both cat-napped and our support crew woke us up in time for us to see the sunlight slowly peeking out of the night skies. To feel better and refreshed, I brushed my teeth, washed my face with Physio Radiance (yes, plugging!), and brushed my hair. JJ also forced me to eat puto and drink coffee to send me on my way. My knees were feeling better but there was no telling when both will go bust again. We knew it was going to be a very sunny morning/afternoon going into Dinalupihan and all the way to San Fernando so I made sure to protect my eyes with Smith Optics Pivlock V90 Max.

Good morning sunshine! With my Reebok cap, play-dri top and shorts, you can always tell I mean some serious running business!

Just when I thought my painful knees were all that I had to manage, my left shoulder also caved-in due to the pressure of swinging my arms for a long period of time. It got so painful I had to beg RA to administer makeshift arm sling just so I can keep it stable and not moving to and fro much which only aggravates the pain. So with my knees and left arm now all in pain, I couldn’t possibly suffer more, right? I mean, Murphy could not possibly be that cruel, surely? WRONG. Because when the sun finally came out, the heat emanating from that cosmically-gargantuan ball of fire nearly burned everything on terra firma, including my skin. I thought all those years of sunbathing in the beaches of Boracay, Phuket, Davao and Bali will give me some advantage but NOTHING could have prepared me for the kind of heat that confronted us from Dinalupihan all the way to KM83 where I nearly passed out – hungry, dehydrated, and burning up!

Check out my cool arm sling!

It was then that I seriously considered throwing in the towel and calling myself a loser. I was too weak and in so much pain to even consider going further. I wanted to quit and probably never show my face at races anymore. I prayed hard for God to give me one last boost and as a testament to just how faithful HE is to his promise of keeping us safe under his care, my boost came in the form of my support crew and running group friends JJ, Leya, and Ambo. They refused to hear my protestations and declaration of surrender and instead, pushed me to give it one more go. In between force-feeding me with fruits, making me drink Oresol, and wrapping my burning skin with very cold towels, they would encourage me to get up and run the remaining distance and lay claim on my BDM 102 trophy. My support crew realized that I have not exactly been eating all this while. I would have a slice of apple, orange, watermelon, and a piece of banana and nothing more. My hydration, also, left a lot to be desired. I would only take a few sips of Lightwater, VitaminBoost, and Pocari and feel as though I’m drowning in my own skin. So weird! At KM83, my apparel were soaked and the heavy fabric of my top and shorts were weighing down on me so I changed into fresh top and running bottoms. I also discarded my knee support and patella band because at that point, the contraptions were impeding blood circulation.

With barely 2 hours left ’til the 18-hour cut-off and still 12kms away, I regained some of my strength and my stride went from power walking to what my support crew surmised to be almost 6:30 pace all the way to the finish line. I took back the lead some of the guys snatched away from me when we were forced to just walk from KM70 because of our injuries and soon after, managed to squeak-in a strong finish with more than half and hour to spare.

Nearly there…
KM 102, come to Mama!

Seeing the FINISH LINE tarpaulin and the runners who crossed way ahead of me, including all the support groups, standing just behind the arch waiting to welcome the finishers was INCREDIBLE! That 500-meter stretch to KM102 was for me the best 500 meters I would ever cross – except maybe when I get married and have to do the same ceremonial crossing, only this time, down the flower-decked aisle and preferably with the feel of powder-soft sand beneath my sandaled feet. *ahem. ahem.*

I FRIGGIN’ MADE IT TO THE FINISH LINE!!!

And here she comes barreling through the odds stacked up against her…Vicky, FTW!!!

It was such an emotional moment for me that I couldn’t contain my tears. I cried and Bave cried with me. I have wanted that BDM 102 trophy and medal since the first time I tried ultrarunning at Mr. Pinatubo and now it’s mine! And I have a laundry list of friends and sponsors to thank for making my BDM 102 dream a reality. Thank you so, so, sooo much! You guys know who you are.:)

Oh, and one more thing. If you ask me what else would I write down as great BDM moment for me, I would have to say — and you gotta keep your mind open about this and your sense of humor ready just in case — those times where I would no longer care where and how I pee. Honest truth! Bear in mind that I was competing against a lot of runners and this is where being a lady is sometimes a disadvantage – but I learned to adjust, adopt, and accommodate. Grassy patch, behind the car, in between car doors, in a dried-out canal, inside a held-out malong — name it, I’ve done it all! But only during night time when it was dark and there were hardly any people around. During the day, I would knock at people’s homes and gasoline stations and beg them to allow me the use of their bathrooms. Those times, I was never without my wet wipes which I would now declare to be among the essentials a female ultrarunner must have when running an all-nighter.

BDM 102 now officially crossed-out of my bucket list! BDM 160 na ba?;)

Pains and killer heat aside, I would say my BDM 102 experience is something I will never EVER forget. On the 3rd of March 2012, I went berserk and made true my dreams of doing the ultimate ultra – not for cash or freebies BUT for pride, honor, glory, and that little kilometer marker trophy I have always wanted to have. I am no longer just a road warrior dreaming dreams of pushing myself the limits, I am a survivor – A BDM SURVIVOR! 

My BDM 102 story.

Thank you REEBOK, ARC Ph, Lightwater and VitaminBoost by Suncoast, Smith Optics, Toby’s, CW-X, Chris Sports, FTW magazine, Team Reebok, Team UNGAS, my fellow BDM-initiate and partner Cris and my amazing support crew! To those who prayed for me and wished me well on my BDM journey, my deepest gratitude as well. We’re all made of WIN!

Almost BDM-ready.


So I guess this is it. The day of reckoning has come for me. Since I started developing deep passion for running, I knew I wanted to be an ultrarunner. Lucky for me, we have a very dynamic running community in the Philippines. As D-day nears, I am overwhelmed by excitement and trepidation. Do I have what it takes to complete 102 kilometers? Is my body up for some serious pummeling by the intense March sun? Knowing how highly competitive I am, I know I will fight tooth and nail to cross that finish line. True, I haven’t had the luxury of training for this but I have made this commitment and I will make sure I see it through to its end.

As I have mentioned in one of my previous entries, I am running BDM 102 in support of the Black Pencil Project’s advocacy program called Run For Pencils. I have already received pledges and it is such an incredible feeling making a difference this way and inspiring people to do the same. It doesn’t matter if you pledge a peso or five pesos for every kilometer I cover, that amount will certainly go a long, long way. I’ve heard it said before that one should give until it hurts – so please, I am encouraging you to share a little bit and let me worry about the hurting. I have my first aid kit and health card for that.:) The Mangyans and I will be eternally grateful for whatever support you can give.

My most heartfelt gratitude also goes to Reebok Philippines, Toby’s, RUNNR Philippines, CW-X, Smith Optics, Lightwater/VitaminBoost, FTW magazine and my support crew composed of Eric and Running Atom and Team UNGAS. To those who have given their pledges for the Mangyans, especially my Boss – THANK YOU ALL for your love , support, and prayers!

LET’S DO THIS!