This morning, I got up early and went for a 10K run around the park. I decided to wear my slow shoes (Adidas PureBoost), instead of my fast shoes (Asics SortieMagic), because I did not feel like running fast.
First few kilometres went well but I somehow went a faster than I planned. By seventh km, I felt tired already and was unsure if I could finish 10K.
I thought, “Maybe a fast 8K is enough for this morning?”
But as I completed 8K, I glanced at my old faithful Casio digital watch and was surprised that I was around 50 seconds ahead of my normal 8K time mark. By now I told myself, “I ran too fast. If I run at a slower pace and focus on keeping running, I may be able to finish the next 2K.”
So I paid close attention to my breathing and focused my run one step at a time. I tried to relax a bit, but kept myself going. Eventually, I forgot about my tiredness and finished the next 2K.
As I stopped the stop watch, I was even more surprised than 2K ago. I slowed down much less than I planned. I finished the run at 59 minutes 20 seconds – my fastest time.
Amazed and elated.
A couple of mornings later, I put on my fast shoes and tried to replicate the achievement. It was an epic fail. I focused too much on the time target that I failed to sustain a good rhythm and was exhausted at 40:27.
I am not into races at all; in fact, to date I have never enrolled in one. I just wanted to know “what if ..”, so curiosity drove me to try again.
Seven days after my 59:20 run, I went out in late afternoon with my SortieMagic. This time I focused on the journey: my breathing and my rhythm. Fixing the technique took care of the time.
I do not see any reason to go faster than 58:27, so this is my current personal best and maybe for the foreseeable future.
I did not grow up drinking coffee, but during college years, I started drinking coffee out of necessity and I eventually grew to love the taste. Lately, I am enjoying coffee more and here I share a few things that I do in the hope that they can be useful for others.
Years ago, I saw in a film documentary that coffee tasters tested the coffee brew at cooler temperature. Out of habit, I kept drinking my hot coffee at brewing temperature. But roughly a couple of years ago, I tried drinking my hot coffee a bit later after it is brewed and I learned that I enjoyed my coffee better when it has cooled down.
And with good coffee ground, the difference was more noticeable.
I can drink coffee in a hot state; I am used to it. But when it is a few degrees cooler, my tastebud can taste the richness of the coffee better. Fruity beans show forth their colours and chocolatey beans make me wonder if somebody sneaked in some cocoa beans in the bag.
Yes, it is that much better for those who wait.
We do not need to imitate everything the experts do, but it helps to understand why they do things they do.
I typically brew the coffee manually in a cup. Similar in style to French Press, except without the “press”. I gave away my French Press a very long time ago and have learned the necessary technique to drink from the cup as is.
Coincidentally, waiting for my hot coffee to cool down a bit has a positive side benefit, besides helping me enjoy the taste of my coffee better. This technique reduces the floating coffee ground, since there is more time for them to sink to the bottom of the cup.
Obviously using French Press or coffee filter might be nicer, but this method means there is only one thing to wash. So there is pro and con to it. And I am used to drinking coffee this way for years, so it works fine for me. But be warned, this method is not for everybody.
One thing to note. The “body” of the coffee is different when you drink coffee this way versus using filter. (By “body”, I am referring to the mouthfeel of the liquid. Similar to the way you recognise the “body” of a wine.)
Obviously, there is more than one way to accomplish something. We need to know when to be dogmatic and when to be flexible.
I have always bought ground coffee until recently. A few months ago, I started buying whole beans coffee after I bought a coffee grinder, the Hario PRISM.
PRISM is a hand-wound manual grinder. It takes me a few minutes to grind enough whole beans to make my cup. It is not hard work, but still it takes effort and time which turns drinking coffee into a more deliberate activity than before.
Sometimes I wish I had bought a coffee machine that could grind the beans and spits out the liquid hot coffee for me. But that thing tends to be noisy, so I think I will stick with the manual grinder for the time being.
But manual grinding is not for everyone.
So far for me, manual grinding is turning into some sort of relaxing tactile ritual.
Obviously, there is more than one tools to do a “job”. And sometimes, a tool can serve more than one “job”.
Well, that's it for now. There is still much to learn, so maybe I will post more on this topic in the future.
Here's to a nice cup of coffee.