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Coffeeshop Talk with Racer Serene Yang

Posted by Edmund Teo on

Previously we had loan Serene Yang a Ticwatch 2 Snow for her to try out. (For the uninitiated, Serene Yang is considered one of the fastest half-marathon female racers in the local running scene.) So sometime last week we sat down with her to have a chat about her running journey, comments on the running scene as well as thoughts about using the Ticwatch.

Where It All Began

E88: Hi Serene, thanks for making time out of your busy schedule to talk to us! For the benefit of our customers who may be hearing about you for the first time, would you care to give us a quick overview of how your running story began?

Serene: (Thinking) Well I first started running when I came back from UK after my studies as a form of getting to know Singapore all over again by foot. Prior to that I didn’t have any running experience.

E88: Oh, wasn’t the UK a conducive environment for you to start running? I would assume there would be quite a number of running clubs over there.

Serene: (Laughs) Yes, but the weather there was always so gloomy and wet so it’s not like I was tempted to go running in those kinds of conditions! I was often quite injury prone back when I was younger so most of my exercise during those times was during course electives.

E88: Ah so I guess our sunny weather here might have actually encouraged you to start running(+1 for Singapore!) With all the sightseeing runs that you would have been doing, what made you decide to go for a race in the end?

Serene: After I been doing casual runs for a while I decided to take the plunge and signed up for 10K at Standard Chartered Marathon and finished in sub 1 hour.

E88: Oh I see. But given at where you are right now as one of the fastest half marathoners in Singapore, when you completed your first 10K you were still pretty much still at the casual running stage. What was the turning point when you decided to become a more serious racer?

Serene: (Reflective) I did start racing more seriously due to my colleagues at work actually, but I think the turning point for me was during my first Powerman race in 200X. I was okay with the running, but I was really slow during the cycling segments. I eventually dropped out of the race halfway through because there was no way I would have hit the cutoff timing by then.

Because of that, I knew I wanted to come back one day and properly finish the race but I wouldn’t be able to do so with my current training regime. That was when I eventually came into contact with a Coach who took the time to correct my running postures and techniques. When I eventually returned to the same race, I came in fifth place!

Notable Chapters of Serene’s Running Story

E88: One of the things which I had noticed about runners is that so many of them often have a personal favorite story to share. And half the time, it’s not even about winning a prize! So what’s the highlight of your running career so far?

Serene: Oh wow that’s hard! I ran in quite a lot of races over these past few years, but if I had to choose, it would be the time I broke my PB(Personal Best) at the Gold Cost Marathon.

E88: I think I might have heard about that one. Was it the one where the runners ran at the airfields beside the airport? What made it so memorable to you?

Serene: Oh that’s only for the 42K runners, for the 21K runners we actually ran in the opposite direction. For me, it was the 3rd time I been back in the Gold Coast Marathon. Because of that I got to be in the priority start, which meant I got to be close to the starting line when the race starts and I got to see some famous faces! (Editor Note: Serene actually couldn’t remember which famous runners she saw, but perhaps that’s a story for another time. ^^)

I supposed what made it so memorable was that as it was my 3rd time back, I was pretty acclimatized to the whole weather and road conditions by then. Apart from the crowd cheering you on throughout the race, I had friends who specially flew down to support me and they drove from checkpoint to checkpoint just to cheer me on. It was quite a carnival like atmosphere throughout the run actually. =)

E88: I don’t think we have such a culture in Singapore come to think of it. I always felt like everyone just ran their races, took a few pictures and went home. Do you think we Singaporeans should strive more to be like that?

Serene: (Vehemently) YES! IT would definitely help the local racing scene to grow even larger than it already is. It would be great if some of the larger races like Standard Chartered could help to organize the races to be more spectator friendly as well. While on the topic of being racing friendly, I also want to share about one race experience I had in a 42K race in Xiamen.

I was struggling with getting my water bottle from my backpack during the run, and the next thing I knew, one of the fellow runners stopped in his track and took it out for me and passed it to me. Maybe I must have looked like an amateur runner because for the rest of the race, different runners I met along the race route constantly helped me to take refreshment drinks at the checkpoints. I even got advice from other runners during the race itself who commented (in Chinese) that my running was really bullish and I would not be able to sustain the pace. And they were right, because my speed started to fizzle out during the end.  It’s moments like this that made me feel so at home and it’s the warmth of the fellow runners that made the running experience rather amazing. It just makes me want to go back again.

Overall I thought it was quite an interesting experience, because it rarely happens in Singapore. But it’s all the little things like this that makes the running community more bonded and makes you feel like you’re a part of a big family supporting each other.

Ticwatch 2: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

E88: Thanks for letting me live vicariously through your racing experiences, but perhaps now it’s a good time to talk a little bit about the Ticwatch 2 we loan you last month. What do you think of it? What are some of the things you like about it? What are some of the things you don’t like about it?

Serene: Well for one, the watch is extremely user friendly and ease free to use. The display itself is also pretty bright which means I don’t have to strain my eyes when I’m doing night runs. Honestly, I was quite impressed by the sms reply function and the voice calling. The SMS reply function was able to decipher my sentences with an almost 100% accuracy rate apart from the more local Singlish terms. The voice calling function was extremely helpful for when I’m driving too. Probably because this is the very first true smartwatch I used, I must say I was quite impressed by these 2 functions.

Looks wise, it goes well with anything. In fact, it has become my go to watch for casual outings on the weekends. The white silicone straps is surprisingly resilient to dirt and dust. I put it through the paces as you suggested, but each time I thought it got stained I always managed to wipe it off with a cloth.

I still carry my phone with me when I run, but I find that the music control of the watch is quite convenient as I don’t have to remove my watch from my pouch when I want to adjust the volume or switch to a different song.

Lastly I thought the wifi function on the watch was quite convenient as it makes downloading watch faces and software updates quite convenient.

E88: Do you have a favourite watch face that you like to use?

Serene: So far I been changing it every day depending on my mood. But the ones I use most consistently are Metal Orange and Calendar. Metal Orange because the numbers on the watch face are quite huge and easily readable. Calendar because it has all the essential info I need on one watch face like battery life and steps count.

E88: I’m quite flattered to hear that you are liking the watch so much, but I noted that you only been talking about the lifestyle functions of the app. How would you feel it fares up against some of the more prominent sports watches in terms of its fitness apps?

Serene: The battery life is pretty short and if I were to use it as a sporting option, I need to be conscientious and charge it up beforehand. It’s fine as a lifestyle watch since I get to recharge it at the office but if I’m using It for a run, the entire battery drains out in around 3 hours. Its good for casual runners but more serious runners like the 42K runners would probably be looking for something with more substantial battery life.

The GPS tracking accuracy seems to be slightly off compared to other running watches that I have used, and the stats it collects are not as comprehensive as other dedicated running watches out there. But that is not a necessarily bad thing. I loan the Ticwatch to one of my casual runner friends and she got it instantly. Normally when I loan her my other running watches, she just gets so confused by all the various technical terms such as splits and cadence which are essentially meaningless to her.

E88: It seems like while you like the Ticwatch on the whole, the watch fitness apps itself might be too simplified for someone of your runner caliber. If that’s the case, who would you recommend the Ticwatch to?

Serene: (laughing) Definitely not full marathon runners! I think the ideal target would be a 10K runner or very fast 21K runners. Guys training for IPPT 2.4 should probably find it useful as a relatively low cost investment for a GPS smartwatch.

Off the top of my head, I think the Gym goers and Yoga practitioners might be keen to try out this watch as a companion to their exercise regime based on some of the comments I been getting from my friends. But I can’t speak from experience if this would be useful for them!

E88: If anything, you definitely given our marketing department quite a few things to think about! ^^

When Serene is not training for her next race or at work, she also co-blogs on running, the arts or travel experiences at www.thirty3pillows.com
If anyone has a running story they would like to share do feel to contact us at sales@eway88.com or reach out to us at our Facebook page!

People who are interested in the Ticwatch 2 Snow can purchase it at $299(SRP $359) using our special promo code EWAY60!

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