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Mar 24, 2019

Rock CF Half Marathon

Yeah, it's been awhile since I've posted, I know.  I am still running but only 3 days a week.  I'm filling the rest of my time with biking and rowing.  It's been really good for me as the cross training has made me stronger.  I'm not as fast as I once was but I've kept my fitness overall.

Today I ran a half marathon.  It's funny, I thought this race was my 50th half marathon.  As it turns out, I'm a complete idiot and I missed writing down a race that I did last year that was ACTUALLY my 50th half marathon so this was number 51.
Very happy with sub 2 hour
The race went well overall.  My only goal was to come in under 2 hours to keep my streak of having all my road half marathons be under that time.  I squeaked by with 1:58.  Given I'm running less and I have not been running this fast in training, I'm happy with the results.  I suspect I'll be a little sore tomorrow so bonus rest day.

The medal was very nice
Have a great day and.....Keep Running!!!!!

Jul 3, 2018

Amazfit Bip GPS Watch review

Amazfit Bip
I've been wearing the Amazfit Bip GPS watch for the past three weeks.  I was a little apprehensive about testing this watch as I love my Garmin but not everyone can afford a Garmin, especially as fast as they update them, so I figured why not try this out.  Retail on the watch is $99.99.

The Amazfit Bip is a tracking device that tracks your steps as well as all your activities.  The packaging looks very similar to a well known competing company.  Very nice presentation.  As you can see below, the watch comes with a little note and that's about it.  I will say that fits in line with all other GPS watches out there.  Nobody gives any paper directions anymore.  Fortunately for this watch, one is not really needed since it's very simple to use.
Upon getting the box open, you get a nice view of the watch itself.  Looks very similar to an Apple Watch.  In fact, I think that most, if they didn't look close enough, would never know it.
Box presentation
The watch also includes a charging cable to charge the watch.
What you get
I plugged mine in right away and let it charge for a few hours until it was ready to go.  One thing I can say about this watch is that no competitor can even come close to the battery life.  While I charged it a few times while testing it.  I probably could have made it with one single charge in three weeks.  The battery is amazing and I love not having to worry about being low as I do with my Garmin.

The watch
As you can see, the watch is quite thin, it's very light and super comfortable to wear.  One drawback is that they don't recommend you shower with it, although I do wash it off after my workout and rain does not effect it at all.
Side view
The watch has several pages that you can scroll through.  All you do is press the watch button on the right side and that allows you to use the touch screen.  This is a great feature as there is no worry about starting something you didn't want to start. 

Status gives you a summary of your day including steps, heartrate, miles moved, calories used, and sessions in which you have not moved in over an hour.
Status page
While it's a useful page, I downloaded a custom watch face as shown below that basically gave you a summary of those items.  Note the watch is set up for 24hr time so you need to download a watch face if you want to be on a 12hr time.
Watch face
Next comes activity.
You can set it for Outdoor running, Treadmill, Cycling, Walking, Activity History, and Activity Settings.  I'll go through a few for you.
Outdoor Running
First of all, you need to complete an activity.  When you are ready to start, you can press cycling and it will start to find the GPS.  Yes, it's much slower than the big names but not really much longer (maybe 30 seconds longer).  Once it's finds your GPS position, you can press start and it gives you a countdown.  Not sure I really like that feature as I want it to start tracking as soon as I push start but there's no way to change it.
When you are done with your run or ride, you can hard press the side button and it will ask you if you want to continue or save it.  It's really that simple.  You can also set the watch to hard press the button and it will start the activity you use the most.
Activity History
Once you are done saving it, you can look at the History on the watch or you can sync it to the app on your phone.  I'll get to the app later.
History page 1
The watch has several screens under history so you can see all the details of your activity.  In this case, the ride I did.  I really like the Climbed distance.  That's one I have not seen on other watches.
History page 2
The watch will keep numerous activities on the watch.  There were 13 activities on my watch now.
History page 3
You can also see the route you did on the watch which is a cool feature.
History page 4
Also, it shows you the uphill and downhill elevation.  All the stats you need are readily available on the watch.  This works the same whether it's a run, bike, etc.
History page 5
Next up is some of the other features on the watch.  First up is the weather application.
It gives you a nice summary of a couple days.  As you can see, it's been quite hot here.  The app syncs to where you are automatically and works well.
Weather page 1
The watch has an Alarm.  I know many complain about other watches not being able to wake you up.  This one vibrates quite strongly to wake you up.  I never slept through it.
The watch also has a timer as well as a stopwatch should you need one.  Didn't really use it but then I never use a timer or stopwatch for anything.
The watch comes with a Compass as well.  That could prove useful if you are in an area, such as when you trail run, and you don't know the area well.  Again, not really a feature I use but handy to have on your watch.
Of course, there are Settings on the watch.  Here you can change watch faces, change the long press button, Adjust the brightness, Find your phone(very handy actually), do a Factory reset, and Turn it off.  I never turned it off the whole time I used it as it was either charging or on my wrist.
You also have the ability to set up Alipay, although good luck finding anything that has this.  I assume this is more for overseas rather than in the US.
Another great feature that all watches should have is notifications.  I like how they have this set up much better than Garmin.  I can detail exactly the kind of notifications I want on the watch.  For example, I can put just my Facebook notices if I want.  You can't do that with Garmin.  You need to pick social media and it picks everything you have which can drive you crazy.  On this watch, I just set it up to get texts and missed calls.  I love having this in the office and the range from your phone is great.  I was able to see missed called in another part of my building without my phone next to me.
Notifications - blacked out for privacy
As far as the app goes, it's got much of the same information many of the watches out there give you.  My biggest issue with it is that it won't sync with Strava - you need an upgraded watch by Amazfit for that but the app is good enough if you just want to track your runs and not be social.  While I have not tested their other watches, they too, look pretty awesome at a reasonable price.

You can see your steps as shown below.  You can also see your sleep.  I did notice that sleep tracking was not that accurate.  I had several days it said I only slept four hours which I know was not true.  I do think it got a little better after using it longer but still was off quite a bit.  It's not really a function I use anyway, even on my Garmin.
My day
It keeps a nice log of your activities.  You can also see all of them, the last 30 days or the last week.  You can see below that I ran on Tuesday and Thursday and also did a bike ride on Saturday.  I'll get into the details of each activity shortly.
My week
You can also get more details on the sleep activity.
My sleep
You can keep track of your weight as shown below.  It's funny this says I'm underweight when all other scales tell me I'm overweight by about 15 points.  I'm hoping to get back to my goal weight.
My weight
The watch also tracks your daily activity as you meet your goals.  It even gives you your streak record - 5 days for me (I had it set at 8,000 steps/day)
Streak times
As shown below, there was one error I received when syncing and could not get the data into the app.  Not sure what happened but it was the only time it happened.
All activities and error
After you ride, you can go into your phone and see all your stats.  Lots of information here regarding your ride.  Once again, I really like the climbing statistic.
Cycling data
As you change pages, you can see the speed for each mile as well as your fastest and slowest speed.
Speed data
You can also see your speed and heartrate on a charts as seen below.
Speed/heartrate data
It also gives you a great picture of your route with paces changing colors.
Map from Ride
The app also tracks running really well too.  Total time, pace, etc.
Run data
You can also see detailed splits.
Pace data
And again it shows a pace charge and heartrate chart.
Pace/heartrate data
As well as a map.  As you can see below, the map is kind of fragmented below.  I'm not really sure why it did this, however, it did it for at least 3 of the 15+ times I used it.
Map error
You can see below, this is what it should actually look like (although it was on a different run in the same area).  The error did not effect accuracy though which, by the way, is excellent.  It took a few activities in the area but after that, my Garmin and Bip were pretty much spot on for distance.
Correct map
The app does a great job at also tracking your steps so you can see those for the day as well as the distance I've run/walked and calories burned.  How do you like that stat on the gas saved too?  4.85 pt of gas.  Ha, nice!  That's a new stat I've not seen.
My steps
The watch also breaks down your day in details.  Probably too detailed actually.  I'm not sure how I would use the below information (other than to know that I'm active)
Details of day
It's funny that some of my running shows up as fast walking.  What can I say, I'm slow while running on the trails, but again, it's quite accurate.
More details of day
Overall, for the money, this is one of the best tracking and GPS watches I've ever used.  There's several things that I loved about the watch:

  • It's light and comfortable (you don't even notice it's on your wrist)  It's much more comfortable than my Garmin HR and much smaller too.
  • It's surprisingly accurate.  I was within 0.05 of most activities compared to my Garmin.
  • It's inexpensive.  For the price, you can't beat this watch with all the features.
  • It comes with a good app with all the data you would want.
  • The battery is unbelievable.  I can get a week out of my Garmin but I'm sure I could have gotten 3-4 weeks from the Bip without charging.  No GPS watch I know can do that especially considering I'm using the GPS on average 5 days a week.
  • Notifications are nice and the watch and app remain connected.  It was very reliable.
The only real drawback for me was not being able to sync to Strava (although Amazfit does offer ones that do sync with Strava).  If it had this function, I'd probably drop Garmin and go with this full time.  This is certainly a GPS watch considering if you are looking for basic GPS and tracking capabilities with a few smartwatch features thrown in for good measure.  In my opinion, there's not a better GPS watch out there at this price level.  It's worth looking into if you need a new tracking device.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Note:  I received an Amazfit Bip in exchange for a review.  All opinions are my own and I was not required to give a particular opinion.

May 29, 2018

Grand Prix 5000 race review

Grand Prix 5000 (no race shirt for logo so I used the bib)
Short Version
Finished in 27:21 (official time); no new PR
Overall Place:  82/356
Men 40-49:  22/51
Men Overall:  64/167
Master:  36/105

Timed race #126

It's been about 10 months since my last race!!!!!  Holy cow I miss racing.  For those of you that didn't know, I was injured (hurt my back).  I started running back in December again but I didn't really feel like pushing myself in races so this is why it took so long to get back.

Anyway, overall I had a great time at the Grand Prix 5000 put on by RunDetroit.  The race was well organized, as I would expect from any race they put on.  The weather was warm but at least it was sunny.  The course was very unique - running on the Detroit Grand Prix race track.  The theme was fun and the amenities were unique.  Overall, a great race that I recommend people try out.
Long Version
Registration/Packet Pickup/Start Area
Registration was online and very simple.  Five minutes and I was ready to go.  As with most races, the earlier you register, the better the price.  I registered in February so it was $35 plus registration fee.  Well worth it!
Alia registering runners who didn't pick up their packet early
Port-o-potties were spread around the area, not just the start but that was because they were setting up for the race which is the first weekend in June.  Parking was about 1/2 mile from the start.  The race had a shuttle to take runners if you wanted to get a ride but I decided to walk there and back which was a nice warm up and cool down.
Plenty of port-o-potties
It was fun to walk/run on the course.  You don't get an opportunity to do this so it was very unique.  I've actually never been to the actual Detroit Grand Prix but it would be fun to see the cars driving on it after running this race.  The race had discount codes for tickets too if you chose to also go to the race.
On the course on my walk to the start
If you have been to Belle Isle before, it was quite different with all the race course and stands set up.
On the red bridge
We were right at the checkered flag start/finish.  Very cool to be right there!
start line
It was already very hot that morning since it was going to be in the high 90's.  Greg Everal was working hard getting things set up.
Greg setting up
They had a pace car there too.  This car took us out on the course and the runners followed it along the course to the finish.  So fun and I really love the Corvette!
Pace car (used in the 5k too!)
Race results could be seen immediately following the race from a computer.
Race results
Registration tables were set up with food tables.  Bathrooms write at the start.  Given this is a smaller race, no lines!
Packet pickup
They even had a race car you could get a picture with.  So awesome!  I'm surprise the car was not roped off.  You could get right up to it.
Race car!
Before the 5k, they also put on a kids race where the kids got capes and sunglasses too.  The kids (and parents) seemed to love it!
Kids race before the 5k
Soon it was our turn to take to the course.
People head of me
People behind me
The course is pancake flat.  You can see the elevation grayed out below.  You can't get a much flatter course.  The course was an out and back so you needed to remain on the right side so you wouldn't run into faster runners.  My only plan was to beat 30 minutes.  Not a huge goal but then I have not been running fast at all so I'll take these results.  Also, note 3.11 on my Garmin.  Can't get better than that distance for a 3.10 race.  Perfection!
Map and Pace

Everal Race Management has a great new website too.  It had race results as seen below, your free race pictures (which literally came within hours after the race) and finisher certificates.  Really nice website with all the important information on one page and easy to download anything for your information to keep.

Official results by Everal Race Management
With a horn to get us started, we were off.  Actually the start was very nice and you could feel a slight breeze but that sure didn't last long.
And we were off
Note that everything is caged in for the race
 The curves of the course for the race cars were my favorite parts.  I loved the blue and white stripes.
Lots of curves
As we go further, the course had orange cones to keep you on your right side given the out and back nature of the course.
It was a beautiful and hot day
The course had lots of ads for car related companies.
Lots of signs/ads
It was one of the more unique courses I've run in a race and a really fun theme especially if you are a car nut!
I liked the corner were painted

Soon enough, we were already at Mile 1 and the mile marker was about perfect with my Garmin.
Mile 1
Before we knew it, the pace car was passing which meant the first runner was already coming back towards us.  Holy cow, he was super fast and the heat didn't seem to bother him.
Pace car coming up

Cones to keep runners on correct side
I noticed just about the 2 mile marker, there were several runners who needed to stop running because they were not feeling well due to the heat.  I tried to keep my pace but definitely slowed.

Mile 2
At about the 2.5 mile mark, I had to stop and walk for just a bit.  The heat was starting to get to me.  I took a short walk and then started running again.

More curves made for a nice course.  I would have loved to be able to drive my car on the course.  Haha!

The trees in parts of the course also helped shade us from the sun but only for short periods.

The race course had these awesome We Love Detroit signs.  I think I saw 3 of these on the course itself.
Great Detroit sign!
Mile 3 could not come soon enough.  I was so hot!!!!
Mile 3

Finally, I was at the finish where the photographer was taking pictures of us.
Aid Stations
The race had one aid station at about the half way mark.  Pretty much all that was needed for a 5k.  I also carried water primarily because it was so hot and didn't want to wait that long.  Many 5k's I never stop for water but I knew personally I'd never make the full course without my water given the heat.
Aid Station
Finish Area
After the race, the course had Granola Bars and Bananas ready for the runners as well as water.  I would have like to see the waters in ice given the heat but at that point I was just happy to have anything liquid in me.
Bananas and Granola Bars
 You could also check your race results immediately with your bib number.  A nice touch.
Water and immediate results
For your registration fee, you received a chip timed measured course. 

You also received a pair of Tifosi sunglasses which is essentially in place of a tech shirt.  I loved this idea mainly because, if you run a lot of races, you have a ton of shirts - many that you don't ever wear so this was a great change.  I'm partial to Tifosi since it's all I wear when I'm running or doing races.  I love their glasses.  They are great quality and inexpensive.  While I opted for a pair, for $7 less, you could have opted out of the sunglasses if you didn't want them.  They are completely worth the extra money though.
Tifosi Sunglasses
You also received a RunDetroit sunglasses case.  I didn't even know we were getting this when I registered.  I love it!
RunDetroit sunglasses case
The medal itself was very nice and had a race car on the front.  It's hard to tell in the picture but it's about the size of the palm of your hand and quite heavy.  It's a super nice medal for a 5k race.
Race Medal with ribbon
Look at the detail in this medal......for a 5k.  Amazing.
Close up
The race even had the Grand Prix course (complete with the turn numbers) etched into the back of the medal.  What a great idea!
Back of medal
The race also offered free race photos for download.  I had numerous pictures to choose from.  Here's the one at the finish.  (I have to shut my Garmin off now!  haha)  You could also buy discounted Grand Prix tickets if you wanted to see the race.
Free race photos!

The organization was fantastic for the race.  Well planned website with all information noted.  All questions answers.  RunDetroit posted about the race on Facebook too and answered runners questions too.  The parking was very clear.  They had a shuttle going back and forth from the parking to the start.  The packet pickup was well organized and you could get it at RunDetroit with plenty of times to get it early.  There was gear check if you wanted it.  The start and finish were well organized with plenty of room for runners to wait to start.  The course distance was perfect according to my Garmin.  The follow up for results was amazing and within hours we had result AND pictures.  I've never seem them come this fast in any race I've done.  There was even a follow up thank you email.  The only thing that could have been better was cooler weather.  Ha!

Overall a really fun race car theme 5k.  It's one that if you are going to be in town for Memorial Day, a great way to finish your Holiday weekend.  The unique course is what got me to sign up for it along with the outstanding amenities for a fair price.  RunDetroit has always done an awesome job at races and I always look forward to running any race they organize.  For a unique course, this is one to put on your list to run.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!

Note:  I paid for my full registration fee and all opinions are my own.