Tag Archives: heart rate

Review: Mio Watch

explore_mio_products_product_lineup_v1Source: www.mioglobal.com

If you know me well enough, you’d know that I am probably the most low tech person, EVER! Of course, I am talking about running gadgets and running gear.

I bought my very first pair of running shoes 2 years after running around in my “shopping-trainers” (the equivalent of Converse). And I got my first running outfit a year later.

GPS watch? Don’t even go there, I am not there yet. I own a G-Shock which tells me the time. I ONLY started using the TIMER function after being pressured by my friends who kept pestering me about my finishing time (after EVERY race!). Previously, I would just take the difference between the flag off time and the time when I arrived at the finish line. And that was it. Ask me down to the very second and I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer (that’s what timing chips are for, right?).


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When Mio approached me to try out and review their new Mio Alpha 2, I did not hesitate. Because, why not? It was good to see effort in numbers. And your heart rate is the best way to measure effort.

Like I said before, you can fool your brain but you cannot fool your heart!

 Mio Alpha 2

135Z_2Source: www.mioglobal.com


Ok, this is actually THE BEST thing about Mio (to me). I own a heart rate watch that came with a chest strap. Let’s just say the chest strap has never seen the outside of the box.

I find chest straps uncomfortable – I just don’t like having a tight strap around my chest. For us women, it is even more of a hassle. We have to attempt to make the chest strap play nice with our sports bras. Too fussy!

Previously, I used a chest strap when I did the VT1 and VT2 test on a treadmill. Just when I was about to hit my max, the chest strap slipped off, and I had to hold it up against my chest to get it to continue recording my heart rate!

With Mio, I don’t have to deal with any chest straps!

How does it measure heart rate?

Mio measures real-time heartbeat with an electro-optical cell and two green LEDs. Together, they detect your pulsing volume of blood flow. This technology is also used in oximeters in hospitals.


Is it accurate?

Well, Mio Continuous Technology boasts that it is highly comparable to ECG and chest strap readings. If you are interested, you can read the study done here. It is also very accurate at high speeds and performance training with 99% EKG accuracy. You can check out the study here.

IMG_3948This was from my interval training. As you can see, the warm up was done in zones 1-3 (easy); sprinting my heart out in the red zone 5 peaks (MAX) and rest in between zones 3-4 (moderate).

I was skeptical at first but after taking it out for a spin, I found that IT WAS very accurate. I was out on my easy run and my heart rate matched exactly what it should be based on my 10KM race effort.

Keeping Tabs on Your Heart Rate Zone

As mentioned in my previous post, it is important to be training in the right heart rate zone.

The Mio Alpha 2 allows you to do JUST that. You can put in your maximum heart rate (MHR) based on what you know or you can use their formula.

For males: MHR = 214 – (0.8 x your age in years)

For females: MHR = 209 – (0.7 x your age in years)

The heart rate indicator light will flash different colours of light according to the zones that you are training in (real-time). You can choose either the 5-zone training mode or the 1-zone alert mode.

5-zone Training Mode

Light Blue – Rest

Blue – Very Light

Green – Light

Yellow – Moderate

Pink – Hard

Red – Maximum

1-zone Alert Mode

 Blue – Below Target HR Zone

Green – Within Target HR Zone

Red – Above Target HR Zone

Based on your maximum heart rate, the watch automatically sets the heart rate zones. But you can opt to customise them manually. Also, the different zones can be set based on beats per minute or as a percentage of your maximum heart rate.

If you have enabled audio alerts, it will beep whenever you switch between the different zones.

Get Connected

I pair my Mio Alpha 2 with the Mio GO app on my iPhone via the Bluetooth Smart (4.0). You can use it as a GPS device if you pair it with your phone (I don’t really bother much about the distance and pace so I have yet to try this out!). You can also pair it with your GPS watch and/or bike computer and they are compatible with a few popular fitness apps for both Android and iPhone. You can check out http://www.mioglobal.com/apps/ for more information on compatibility.


Track your progress with the Mio GO app! Training with the Puma Running Club members!

Other Features:

-It has a back-light! I cannot stress how important this is to me! I don’t know how people can survive without a back-light. I’m an evening/night runner so I love this feature. PLUS, the light comes on AUTOMATICALLY! Just position your wrist at an angle and VOILA! Or, you can double tap the screen for the light.


BIG buttons! You know how I always fail to press the buttons on my watch? Is it just me or does anyone else have this issue too? But yeah, this definitely comes in handy.

-Built in accelerometer to track distance, speed and pace without the need to connect to your external GPS device (phone, watch). However, I found that the distance was not that accurate. But I am not aiming to track my distance (I use Google Maps for that) so it doesn’t really bother me.

-Gives accurate measures of calories burned after every workout. I am not looking to lose weight but it is always good to see how many calories I managed to torch with each run!

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-Records lap time

-Up to 20 hours (workout time) of battery life. I was able to use mine for close to 2 weeks before needing to charge it again.

IMG_4091-The watch itself can store up to 25 hours of your workout, after which it will overwrite the oldest data. Sync your workouts regularly with your favourite app to track your progress!

-It has a countdown timer, repeat timer and chronograph. But I just use the timer. I like to keep things simple.

-The watch is water resistant up to 30m.

Soft and comfortable silicon strap!

-1-year warranty!

-Comes in 3 different colours (Black, Yellow, Pink!). The Black and Yellow colours have longer straps compared to the Pink (available in June!).

But it doesn’t come with a GPS function!

I have survived my whole running life without a GPS watch.

Do you really need one? Well, I would say not really. Yes, there are many benefits of having a GPS watch which can accurately track distance covered and pace (among many other things!). However, if you are seeking for improvement, having a GPS watch is not as important as having a heart rate monitor. You need to be training at the RIGHT intensity to elicit the necessary training adaptations (Read about it here).

What about judging your effort based on pace? Well, you improve overtime so how would you know that you are doing your best at that particular pace? Again, your heart knows best!

Why do you need a heart rate watch?

-Train smart by training in the right heart rate zone

-Know when to pull back, maintain or push the pace

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetResting Heart Rate

-Prevent fatigue and injury caused by overtraining. Your resting heart rate can give you an insight into overtraining syndrome. An elevated heart rate of more than 5bpm over several days would mean that you need to schedule in REST!

If you think the Mio Alpha 2 is a bit too big and chunky, check out the MIO Fuse!

mio-fuse-hrmSource: www.evanscycles.com

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSleek!

Mio Fuse is very much the same as Mio Alpha 2 with an added all-day activity tracking (steps, calories, distance) feature. The interface is also a bit different (swipe the screen to change modes instead of having to press any buttons). Also, instead of beeping when you switch between the heart rate zones, it vibrates! It comes in two different colours with different strap length (Aqua – shorter, Crimson – longer).

The good thing about Mio is that it works for anyone who wants to improve their fitness – whether it is performance training, aerobic conditioning, weight loss, anaerobic threshold training or just wanting to maintain general health and fitness.

Ultimately, it tracks your heart rate and your physiological response to ANY type of exercise.


Mio was kind enough to offer my readers and friends a 10% discount if you order through me with the code MIO 003!

-Mio Fuse (Crimson – longer strap & Aqua – shorter strap): RM639 (Before discount)

-Mio Alpha 2 (Yellow & Black – longer strap; Pink –  shorter strap): RM799 (Before discount)

Email the following to michelle.tan@distexpress.com.my

  1. Code: MIO 003
  2. Full name
  3. Address (for courier, free shipping
  4. Contact number
  5. Email address
  6. Product, colour & quantity


You can drop me an email at adele.wlp@gmail.com with the above details.

Hurry! The discount is valid for 1 month from this date!

Where can you get Mio?
Connect Stores
– Fahrenheit 88, KL
– KLIA 2, Sepang
– Mid Valley Megamall, KL
– Pavilion, KL
– Sunway Pyramid, Selangor
– 1 Mon’t Kiara, KL
– Publika, KLMachines 
– IOI City Mall, Selangor
– Mid Valley, KL
– Sunway Pyramid, Selangor
– Suria KLCC, KL
– The Gardens Mall, KLMac Studio
– Bangsar Shopping Centre, KL
– Jaya Shopping Centre, Selangor
– Paradigm Mall, Selangor

– Bintang Plaza, Sarawak

The Marathon Shop
– Lot 10, KL (Coming soon)
– Sunway Pyramid, Selangor

– Gurney Plaza, PenangUrban Republic 
– Gurney Plaza, Penang

Baik Shop (Online)

If you are just getting started on your fitness journey, I highly recommend getting a heart rate monitor. We all start from somewhere. I never knew how important it was to be training in the right heart rate zone. You can learn from my rookie cookie mistake and train smart with a heart rate monitor!


If you have been training hard but have yet to see any changes, give this a go! It is good to break away from your routine and try something new!

*Drop me a comment or an email for further enquiries!*

Keep Running!

Post-Race Report: Superheroes Race 2015

hugh-jackman-the-wolverineSource: http://www.filmdivider.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/hugh-jackman-the-wolverine.jpg

“I’m the best there is at what I do, and what I do best isn’t very nice. I’m the Wolverine.”

My all-time favourite Superhero – THE WOLVERINE!

The Superheroes race was yet another last minute sign up! My legs were itching to run and I realised that the Superheroes Race was coming up! Ariff and Rashid spoke of this race earlier on in Feb/March. But as usual, I procrastinated. I think I like the thrill of signing up at the very last minute!

I buzzed Ariff about the race and he so graciously offered a FREE SLOT! Thanks man! (This was Wednesday, 29th April)


The flu bug hit me 2 weeks ago (after Earth Day Run) and my body was still picking up from where it left off. Mileage has been relatively steady but I was lacking key workouts. I kept it nice and easy throughout the week focusing more on my core and cross training. I didn’t want to do too much too soon!

I spent much of my Labour Day (Friday) morning stretching and foam rolling after missing out on Cari’s training session at Desa Park City. This alarm issue is not limited to race day!

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Labour Day lunch! Healthy food to prep my body for race day!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe carrot cake was infused with RUM! SO GOOD! Topping off my glycogen stores (Haaaaa!).

The rest of the day was spent cleaning out my room and packing some stuff for donation. It was a SERIOUS WORKOUT! My body was aching the next day!

fsafeAlso, it was my Dad’s Birthday! The man who has supported EVERYTHING I did/do. He was always there for me, through thick and thin. Words cannot express how much he means to me. I thank God for blessing me with an amazing Dad.


Race Day

I had planned to go to bed by 11pm but “The Fault in Our Stars” ruined everything. The next few hours were spent bawling my eyes out. Yes, I’m pretty sensitive.

Anyway, I still managed to put in 4 hours of quality sleep! And, I set 3 alarms!

Breakfast was biscuits and banana because I ran out of bread! GAH!


The race was at the Bukit Jalil Stadium. Funnily enough, there was another race going on at the same place, side by side (Carpark B and C respectively).

We were there by 5.20am to collect my race kit! Kevin and I parked our car and we went straight to the counter. I was standing in line for about 20 minutes before I finally got my bib! I was feeling a bit queasy and my stomach was acting up. Took 2 gastric pills 20 minutes before the flag off.

By the time I got my race kit, I didn’t have enough time to warm up. Strolled to the starting line at 6.20am. It was great to see a few familiar faces before heading off!

The crowd was small and manageable. I don’t like it when I have to stand shoulder to shoulder with everyone towering over me.


Because there was another race going on, some of them (who were supposed to be at the other race) were standing with us before the flag off! That’s the problem when you have two different races side by side. It was funny to watch!

The countdown was on and we were off! I love the fact that the flag off was early. It was still nice, dark and cool! The weather was great but the roads were wet! I faced the same resistance struggle as I did during the Shape Night Run! URGH! Every stride was tough. FullSizeRender

The struggle is REAL. It is a constant fight with the part of me that wants to give up! You just have to dig DEEP and pull through!

I started out pretty fast to pull away from the crowd. Spotted a foreign lady runner ahead of me but I kept to my pace. The route was relatively flat with a few hills that were evenly spaced out! Enough recovery time before the next one!

This route is my new favourite! I don’t like running around Bukit Jalil but things have certainly changed! Oh, and the distance was pretty accurate too (10.0KM-10.2KM)!

IMG_4090Thanks to my MIO Alpha 2, I can finally see my effort in numbers! Drop me an email/comment if you are interested in getting yourself a MIO watch (special discount!).

I don’t exactly know what pace (ignore the pace and distance) I was going at but I made sure that my watch flashed one colour – RED (zone 5). I was running alongside this other guy. I guess we were both pushing each other! It is always fun to use somebody as a point of reference.


As you can see, much of my time was spent in Zone 5.

There were not many road marshals along the way to direct the runners but it was not easy to get lost. So, that wasn’t a big problem. When we made the final U-turn, I could almost smell the finish line!

As I was approaching the stadium, I sprinted a bit too early because I saw the wrong finishing line (it was the Larian.my finish line)! That was a real killer. Just when you thought it was coming to an end and then BOOM, you have another 300m to go!


Thanks to Running Malaysia for this picture. The final sprint! This counts as my “Superhero suit” because Superheroes love the colour RED, right?!

Made the final turn where Khairul was at (marshal) and he cheered me on! And then YAY! The No. 2 tag was hung around my neck. FINALLY, IT WAS ALL OVER! They were serving 100plus at the end but I needed water! Thanks to Zhaff who went and got me a 1.5L bottle of water! Such a dedicated team of people! Thanks a lot!IMG_4115Always refusing to take a decent shot! Grrrr!


Oh hey, fancy meeting you here! Bestie alert! So happy to see her there!


Ariff! The organiser and also the reason I got a chance to participate in this fun-filled event!

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They were all in sync. 2 thumbs up and 2 peace signs! Haaaaaaa!


The after run party! There were many things going on that morning (Zumba dance, Lucky Draw, Superhero appearances etc). The energy from the crowd was amazing. It was so fun to watch everyone dress up AND run! Omg, I don’t know how they do it! Kudos to those who did. It was a great family event where parents and kids can have fun while doing something HEALTHY together!

We had more than 2 whole hours to kill! It was a great time catching up with all the runners. Spotted some Puma Running Club members too! They all did so well! WHOOP!

IMG_4084After the big hoo-ha, the lady who came in first was disqualified and I made my way to 1st place. Pleasant surprise! 🙂


Group pic.

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Post-race grub!

Ahhhhhhh! 🙂 Thank you once again for having me at this awesome event! It has been a long time since I had this much fun post-race! Perfect ending to this 4-day holiday!

So, uhhhh, when’s the next Superheroes race? 😉

Keep Running!

Train in the Right Heart Rate Zone to Maximise Fitness

Picking up from where we left off, we’re going to talk about the MOST vital organ in the human body – the HEART!

IMG_3827Post-run heart rate.

 Heart Rate (HR)

Our hearts are constantly beating (to pump oxygenated blood around the body) to keep us alive. Heart rate is usually expressed in BPM (beats per minute). The rate at which the heart beats varies for every individual. This is why the resting heart rate (RHR) of an individual is a good indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness. The resting heart rate is the number of times the heart beats per minute while it is at rest. The more physically fit you are, the stronger your heart is, which results in a lower resting heart rate. A strong heart is able to pump more blood around the body with each beat (therefore, your heart rate decreases).

The whole point of exercising is to raise your heart rate (to stress it enough to elicit change and adaptation). You can see why knowing your heart rate and how it responds to exercise is one of the keys to fitness.

Measuring your Resting Heart Rate (RHR)

The best time to accurately measure your resting heart rate is the moment you get out of bed. Make sure you wake up peacefully and not by the buzz of the alarm or the thought that you are late for work. This may lead to inaccurate readings because your heart rate probably shot up 100 beats to cope with the stress (Ok, kidding!). But yes, it will affect your resting heart rate.

You can use a heart rate monitor/watch (what I do) or do it the old-school way – manual palpation.

Manual Palpation:

-Place your index and middle fingers on the radial artery (as shown in picture)


-Set your timer for 60 seconds and start counting!

-Take your average readings over 3 days and voila, you have your resting heart rate!

The normal range: 60-100 beats per minute [1]

Don’t be alarmed if your resting heart rate falls below the normal range (my resting heart rate is between 48-51 BPM). I am sure many of my crazy running friends are well below that range too! Well trained athletes have resting heart rates that can go as low as 40 beats per minute!

Take note:

*The resting heart rate is influenced by many variables – stress, drugs and medication, caffeine, body composition, fatigue, fitness level etc. Make sure that you are not on any drugs for at least 12 hours prior to taking your resting heart rate.

*Your resting heart rate (RHR) provides an insight into overtraining syndrome. If you have an elevated RHR of over 5bpm (over a few days), it is time to schedule in REST.

Maximum Heart Rate (MHR)

The most accurate way to determine your maximum heart rate is to undergo a physical test at a physiology lab. But not everyone has access to these facilities so here are a few alternatives:

-Fox, Naughton & Haskell Formula: 220 – age = Maximum Heart Rate

-Tanaka, Monahan & Seals Formula: 208 – (0.7 x age) = Maximum Heart Rate

-Gellish et al. Formula: 206.9 – (0.67 x age) = Maximum Heart Rate

Adapted from the ACE Personal Trainer Manual, 4th edition, ACE (2010)

Please note that these formulas are a rough guide. Your maximum heart rate may differ by 7-12 beats on either side of the value.

 Heart Rate Training

Hitting the Target

So how do you know whether or not you’re doing too much or not enough? You certainly do not want to over- or under exercise.

The next thing you want to know is: the right heart rate zones that you should be training in.IMG_2984

Heart Rate Zones

Most heart rate zones are calculated using the percentage of your own maximum heart rate. There are actually many limitations that come with this method because it doesn’t take into account the resting heart rate. Remember how the fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is? Again, I will leave that for another post. This should suffice for now.

Let’s take a look at the different zones:

Zone 1: Very Light

About 50-60% of your Maximum Heart Rate

Training in this zone improves blood circulation. Your heart rate is probably here if you’re taking a stroll in the park, walking your dog or shopping.


Zone 2: Light

About 60-70% of your Maximum Heart Rate

Training in this zone also improves blood circulation. This zone is ideal for warm ups, cool downs and recovery periods after a hard workout. If you’ve ever heard of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State training), this is the zone to be doing just that.



Recovery run/walk

If you’ve just started your fitness journey, you can spend about 30 minutes in this zone. It helps to build a good stable aerobic base with HEALTH as the primary goal.

Activities in this zone include: recovery runs, jogging, brisk walking, power walks etc. This zone is also known as the “fat burning zone” because you’re mainly using FAT as fuel. This zone is pretty much aerobic and fat metabolism requires oxygen. However, if you are talking about fat loss, this is not the ideal zone to be training in (it gets complicated). I can elaborate on that in another post so we’ll leave it at that for now.

Zone 3: Moderate

About 70-80% of your Maximum Heart Rate

Zone 3 is where you perform your easy runs. You can comfortably hold a conversation when you’re running/working out in this zone. This is where you’re able to work on general fitness and build up on endurance.


You will burn both carbohydrates and fats in this zone. Lactic acid slowly rises in this zone but your body is able to clear it efficiently.

Zone 4: Hard

About 80-90% of your Maximum Heart Rate

This zone is where your anaerobic limit is at. It is where you perform your tempo/threshold runs.

These runs are done at your lactate threshold, the highest speed at which your blood lactate levels remain steady. It places just enough stress for the body to raise the lactate threshold. Tempo runs prepare the body and the mind to adapt to hard running over longer distances. It also works to build on endurance and helps the body delay fatigue caused by lactic acid.IMG_3761

Working out in this zone should feel comfortably hard.

Zone 5: Maximum Effort!

About 90-100% of your Maximum Heart Rate

What most people term as “ALL OUT”. If you are performing interval runs, this is THE zone – MAXIMUM! It is a pretty tough zone to be in and it is usually attained by trained athletes. This zone can only be sustained for short periods of time such as doing 400m sprints.IMG_2773

Interval runs improve your VO2 max – the maximum volume of oxygen that your blood can deliver to your muscles when running at high speed. This type of training aims to increase tolerance against lactic acid build up and allows lactic acid to be cleared more efficiently. This results in improved speed and performance.FullSizeRender

If you have just started out, don’t worry about not being able to hit this zone. Be patient.

To Sum it All Up

Being aware of your training intensity (by knowing your exercise heart rate DURING the workout) helps you determine when to slow down, maintain or kick it up a notch!

Use these tools to determine your resting heart rate (RHR), maximum heart rate (MHR) and the appropriate zones that you need to be training in to maximise your fitness goals!

Get a Heart Rate Monitor

I am currently using the MIO Alpha 2 (www.mioglobal.com). It is an idiot proof watch that does all the work for me (well, except the running). It accurately detects my resting heart rate and exercise heart rate. I just have to make sure that I hit the right heart rate zone!IMG_3734

I’ll do a review on it in my next post!

I hope you found this useful!

Till then,

Keep Running!

Training at the RIGHT Intensity

We all know that adaptations occur when we subject our bodies to training and exercise. What adaptations (if any) occur depends, in part, on the intensity of the workout.


I never knew how important it was to be training at the right intensity. When I first started running, my goal was to just run. I had no idea about the time, duration, intensity, distance, pace etc. I just did the same thing over and over again. To me, exercise was just exercise.


A lot of my running was (and still is) done based on how I feel. To make sure that my runs were “quality” runs, I always ran to the point that it felt hard (but not too hard). Essentially, I was eliciting some adaptations to my heart and lungs, but they were not specific enough. Even though I did “intervals”, I don’t think I was working at the right intensity that was meant for that training. I tend to remain in the “comfortable zone”.

There is nothing wrong with running/working out based on how you feel, except for the fact that “feeling” is very subjective. On a bad day, your perception of an easy workout may seem very hard.

Why It Matters

Everyone is different when it comes to personal fitness goals and training approach. This is where specificity comes in whereby you train using different modes to bring about specific adaptations. The SAID principle is sometimes used to refer to this specificity: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands [1].

For example, distance runners will spend hours of their time training at specific intensities (sub-maximal effort) to elicit specific adaptations (ie. to become an efficient fat burner, enhance endurance etc). A sprinter, on the other hand, will spend more time doing short intervals (maximal effort) to build speed and power.

IMG_3513Kicking it up from tempo to negative splits!

Training at the right intensity is key to achieving your goals.

I have people telling me that they’ve trained XX KMs per week but have yet to achieve their goal time in a marathon/race. Why is that so? What was the intensity of those training miles? If most of it were done at what is termed as “easy”, then you would have developed enough aerobic fitness to allow you to comfortably cross the finish line. However, that sort of training will not give you much strength or speed.

Same goes to weight loss. People claim that they exercise 6 times a week but they don’t see any changes. It can be due to many factors (nutrition, recovery, rest etc) but it is usually the intensity of the workout. Your bodies adapt, which means that you have to increase/change the intensity or type of workout every 3-4 weeks to shock your body into change and adaptation. What was once difficult became easy and your body stopped responding to the workout.

Your Heart Knows Better

Having the WOD or the run menu of the day is pointless if you fail to train at the right intensity to elicit the necessary changes.

The intensity of a workout is also relative. A high intensity workout may seem easy for a trained athlete but might spell hell for a beginner. For the workout to work for both a trained athlete and a beginner, base it on something that is unique to the individual – their heart.

You can fool your brain but you cannot fool your heart!

IMG_3262That heart bursting moment when you reach the top!

Judge Intensity using Your Heart Rate

As the intensity of a workout increases, your heart beats faster to meet the demands of the workout. The intensity of the workout (based on your heart rate) will determine which energy system and fuel source your body is using during that time, and ultimately the adaptions that will occur along with it. With this in mind, you can actually devise your own training/weight loss plan.

Now What?

To fully maximise your workouts, it will help to know your heart rate, heart rate zones that you are working in (intensity) and heart rate reserve (HRR). More on that in my next post!

Just Remember

If you don’t train at the right intensity, the necessary changes that are expected to occur from the workout WILL NOT take place.

Snapshots from EARTH DAY RUN 2015!


With our plants!


It was a killer route! SO TOUGH! You know how I usually dart out at the start? Yeah, that day was different. I didn’t start out as fast as I usually do. I picked up the pace when we were going down hill!

And then…… we had to go through the same loop AGAIN! I don’t think that I’ll be going back there anytime soon!


With Snoopy who was errr…sniffing his butt.


Post-race grub!

Till next time,

Run Hard. Run Fast. Run Strong.