Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sport Hooks Review and Giveaway.

So you just ran your first 26.2 miles and right after crossing the finish line you are given your coveted medal. This medal represents the amount of training, sacrifice, dedication that you have to put into your marathon training. As you go on to do more races and collect more medals each one of them tell a story and they deserve better than to be tossed in a drawer or shoe box never to be seen again. Your medals should be displayed proudly so that you can look upon them and let the medals bring you back to mile 1, mile 12, or mile 20. Sport Hooks by Heavy Medalz gives you some great options for medal displays to showcase your medals.


I chose the "NEVER GIVE UP" Sport Hooks medal display. It's a well made medal display that has 10 hooks which hold 3 medals each. They also sell add-on hooks for those that have a ton of bling.  My medal display cost $63.95 which was just about the same as other medal racks out there.

Magical Designs


Boston Marathon Designs


Spartan Race Designs


There are many other designs, jewelry, and stickers to choose from along with the ability to do your own customized medal displays. Check them all out HERE

You can get your own Sport Display by heading over to their website www.heavymedalz.com and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter to see more of their latest designs.

GIVEAWAY!!

Sport Hooks has generously offered one of my lucky readers a five-hook or ten-hook medal rack of your choice! Any sport, any style. (Just not the custom Disney ones as those are hand-painted to order) To enter, click on the Rafflecopter pic below.

Giveaway runs through June 23, 2014. The giveaway is only available to residents of the continental United States. Please follow the rules on the Rafflecopter application below to enter. I will be checking to make sure if you've commented, retweeted, shared, etc..



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spree Fitness Monitor Review


The Spree Fitness monitor is a new product out of Dallas, TX that you wear around your head by way of a headband and it measures your heart rate, body temperature and movement. Measuring body temperature is what makes Spree unique as I do not know of any other fitness monitors that do so in the market today. I've been using the spree off and on for the last month in order to bring this review to you. My reviews are of my own opinion and are not influenced in anyway by the Spree company.

UNBOXING

I made an unboxing video for the Spree Sports Headband Fitness Monitor which you can check out below. The packaging presents the Spree well and the contents include:
  1. Spree Performance Optimization Device (POD)
  2. Headband
  3. USB Cord
  4. Quick Start Guide

Lets look at the two main components of the Spree a little closer. 

SPREE POD

The small Spree POD weighs in at just 0.4 oz and it is essentially the brains of spree unit. You simply insert the Spree POD into the headband. Be careful to not lose your Spree POD as it can easily be popped out  of the headband when not on the forehead.


It has three sensors built into it to measure your heart rate, body temperature and motion. From what I can tell the two sensors, that I point out in the picture below, accurately measure the heart rate utilizing a plethysmograph which works by shining a light on the skin to detect the undulations of the blood flow through your veins. The contact of the Spree POD to your skin will also take a measurement of your bodies temperature as you workout. 


There is no on/off button on the POD. The POD will sense your movement and turn on automatically and then off again when not in use.

THE HEADBAND



The headband is made out of a special grade of silicone rubber. It's designed to hold the Spree POD and also when working out it helps channels sweat away from your eyes.


The Spree headband look will definitely get people asking about it. I'm not a big fan of the headband look but luckily for me Spree came out with a Spree SmartCap so it'll be a little more incognito when on.



SPREE APP



The Spree app, which is currently only available to Apple Iphone users with Iphones 4s and above, is available in the app store for free. With the app the Spree makes use of the phones GPS in order to measure your other metrics such as:

  • Time (PHONE
  • Distance (PHONE)
  • Speed MPH (PHONE)
  • Calories Burned (PHONE)
  • Cadence (SPREE)
  • HR (SPREE)
  • Body Temperature (SPREE)


The metrics that I would have loved to see added into the spree app are your overall pace, average pace, and lap pace. Pace measurements in terms of min/mile is one of the main measurements that I look for in a GPS watch or running app. 

ON THE RUN

To start your run you must first select your activity (running, walking, cycling, gym, skiing, other) and then enter your goals for your workout. If you look below at the image to the right there are dials that allow you select your distance, duration, etc.. I had trouble setting it to the exact value that I wanted as the virtual dial was too sensitive for me and would either go .1 above or .1 below the value I wanted. 


To start your workout put the spree headband around your forehead and press "begin workout" on your phone. On the run the spree felt comfortable on my head and the headband really did a good job of channeling the sweat away from eyes.


During your workout you'll have the three screens above to switch back and forth from. They are great if you are actually running with the phone in your hand and can glance at from time to time but who really wants to run with their phone in hand. This is where I believe partnering up with one of the GPS watch companies or a Smart Watch app would benefit the spree.  There are rumors of an audio cue update but as it is right now you'll have to hold the phone in your hand while running.   

Looking at the middle screen (in the above picture) you have your body temperature and heart rate gauges. How exactly do you read this? Well the spree gives you three colored training zones. Blue means you're either cold or have a low heart rate, Yellow is in your optimal training zone, and Red is the danger zone which means you should slow down. While you can check the numerical value for your heart rate there is no numerical value for your body temperature. I find this odd as when it comes to collecting data I would have loved to see what my temperature is numerically as opposed to a gauge or in colors. Nevertheless having a system to tell you that you are overheating will keep you from overexerting yourself when training. 



Once your workout is done you select "end" and you get a nice overview of what you just did. 

COMPATIBILITY 

Although, as of my review date, you can only use the Spree app with Apple IOS 7 or better compatible phones and tablets the Spree is compatible with other apps. When using the other apps you will only be able to measure your heart rate. They do plan on releasing an Android compatible Spree app in the near future. 

IOS:
  • Spree
  • Runtastic
  • Spinner
  • iBiker
  • Digifit Cardio
  • iRunner
  • Powertap
  • Runkeeper
  • Map My Fitness
  • Map My Run
Android
  • Runtastic
  • Runkeeper
  • Map My Run
  • Map My Fitness
PURCHASING SPREE

Spree Bluetooth Fitness Heart Rate Monitor & Smart cap combo retails for $199 on its Spree Store

PROS & CONS

PROS
  • Measures Body Temperature
  • Measures Heart Rate comfortably compared to a chest strap
  • Lightweight and comfortable
CONS
  • Doesn't give exact values for temperature
  • Spree app is Incompatible with Android 
  • Spree POD is small and can get lost easily
OVERALL

If you want a product that will measure your temperature and don't mind holding your phone in your hand at all times then the Spree Fitness monitor is for you. I would love to see Spree partner up with some of the GPS watch companies or Smart watch companies out there as an accessory similar to how the heart rate monitors are compatible with these devices. 

The Spree Fitness monitor and its ability to measure temperature makes it unique but its lack of audio cues, missing metrics (pace), and incompatibility with android all needs to be addressed in the near future.

If you have any questions about the Spree Fitness monitor Device please leave a comment below.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Leikr GPS Sports Watch Review

The Leikr GPS Sports Watch was first seen by many when the company went on Kickstarter to raise funds to develop and mass produce their watch. The Leikr team is made up of ex-Nokia engineers who are also active runners, swimmers, cyclist, marathoners, and triathletes. Basically athletes who wanted a GPS sports watch that would fit their needs perfectly. I contacted the Leikr group so that I could get my hands on one of their watches for a review and they kindly sent me one. My reviews are of my own opinion and are not influenced in anyway by the Leikr company.

The Leikr watch retails for $329.00 which is definitely set to compete with the big boy high end GPS watches out there. Let's see what it has to bring to the table.

Here is an the unboxing video I did for the Leikr when I first got it out of the box. It is a nice presentation upon opening the box and the contents include:

  1. The Leikr watch itself 
  2. Manuals (Product Safety information and Quick Guide)
  3. USB cord
  4. Charging Cradle




DESIGN



I really like the look of the watch. It has a high-end sleek look to it and the first thing that is noticed about this watch is how large the display is. It's a 2” TFT color 320×240 pixel 65K color with 11% reflectance display.  It is the largest GPS watch display of all the current GPS watches out on the market right now.


The Leikr's casing and strap are both made out of medical thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) plastic and rubber. This is to ensure that you will not have any type of allergic skin reactions while wearing the watch.


GPS watches are usually bulky thick watches but the Leikr is quite slim with the dimensions being 57.20 x 40.40 x 10.65 mm. When compared to some of my other GPS watches its definitely the slimmest but also the widest. 



On the wrist it feels light with it being only being 75 grams and while not uncomfortable on the wrist it does get some getting used to because of the length of the watch. I wear it a little further back on the forearm because of this. 


INITIAL SETUP

While you can use the the Leikr watch right out of the box you will really want to setup your watch first which can only be done by heading to their website on your laptop/desktop to configure your watch. These steps are necessary to configure your wi/fi, upload maps, and update the Leikr to the latest firmware. It's not a complicated process but it does take a bit before you can take advantage of all the features of the watch. 

After downloading the wifi driver all you have to do to update/sync your watch is to simply press the two buttons on the left side of the watch simultaneously.



The maps for the United States are not preloaded into the watch so you'll have to do it yourself through the website by selecting the areas you run in and then downloading those maps into your watch. The process for this is quite time consuming and I could see how this could get annoying if you do much traveling. 


Alright now that the setup is complete lets get to running.

ON THE RUN

GPS Acquisition

The watches GPS is always on unless you turn off the watch or set the watches "Sport Mode" to "Running Indoor" which will turn off the GPS. There is no way of turning off the GPS otherwise. 
Leikr's website claims that it has a "10 second assisted GPS locking" I found it to be more or less similar to other GPS watches when acquiring satellites which was about 2 minutes. The one feature that I did like was when a satellite is acquired the watch would vibrate to let you know. 

STARTING THE RUN

To start your run after your satellite is acquired all you do is press the upper right button and you're good to go. 


You have three screens to toggle in between during your run.
  1. Overall metrics screen.
  2. Lap metrics screen.
  3. Maps

The measured metrics are:
  1. Time
  2. Distance
  3. Calories
  4. Average Pace
  5. Pace
  6. Heart Rate
Again the watch was comfortable on my wrist on the run and the screen was easily seen especially when the screen was backlit. I do wish they gave an option to customize the screen to my preference. Some of the metrics are not needed during my run such as the measurement for calories and heart rate (I don't use one).

UPLOADING WORKOUT

To upload your workout all you have to do is sync it by pressing the two left buttons simultaneously which will then sync it directly through wifi to Strava, MapMyRun, and Endomondo. 

OTHER FEATURES


MAP DISPLAY FEATURE

The map feature is a nifty little feature. I could see it being useful for those running in a new area and needing to find their way around. The Maps screen is also the only screen to take advantage the color screen of the watch. Be sure to update your maps so you can actually see the maps. 

WORKOUT EDITOR

The workout editor allows you to input your workout or training program into the watch. It's pretty basic but gets the job done. 




WILL IT WORK IN THE WATER?

Unfortunately the watch was not able to get a IPX-8 rating so although it is water resistent it's not water proof. So there will be no swimming with this watch. 

BATTERY LIFE

In my experience when conserving the battery life to the max meaning turning it off when not in use. I was able to get just about the stated 5 hours of life. They are working on this and hopefully a future update will address this. 

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Processor - 300MHz Arm Cortex A8
  • On-board Software - Leikr custom software on Linux OS
  • GPS - Leikr optimized high-performance GPS
  • Display - 2” TFT color 320×240 pixel 65K color with 11% reflectance
  • Data and Map storage - 8 GB
  • Connectivity - WIFI 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0
  • Accessory support - ANT+ enabled accessories
  • Buzzer/vibra - Yes/yes
  • Battery - Build in Lithium Polymer
  • Battery time (active mode) - 5 hrs (current software)
  • Casing - Medical PC/TPU plastic
  • Waterproof rating - IPX-6 (water resistent)
  • Strap - Exchangeable, medical TPU rubber
  • Dimensions - 57,20 x 40,40 x 10,65 mmWeight75 gr
PROS & CONS

PROS
  • Large 2'' screen
  • Low profile watch
  • Nice backlight 
  • Once setup, easy to use
  • Vibrating alerts
  • Maps
  • Updates and good support
CONS
  • Price - $329
  • Lack of waterproofing - No IPX-8 
  • Lack of customizable data fields
  • Short battery life
OVERALL

As a GPS watch, it does everything that you would expect it to do and does it well. The watches large display is a big plus and the Leikr team does a great job of updating it's firmware. For the price of $329 the Leikr team really needed to make the watch waterproof and fix the short battery life, especially when trying to compete with watches at the same price point. It is a solid GPS watch but not for the price point that it is currently at.

To purchase the Leikr for yourself you can do so by following this link: https://leikr.com/shops.html

If you have any questions or comment please leave them below. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Super Spartan Austin 2014 Race Recap

Still working on the race recap but wanted to share the footage I took with my GoPro camera. It was a fun race and I do have a lot to say about it but that'll have to wait for another time.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Biggest Loser WalkRun Half marathon Race Report


The Golden Triangle Strutters held a contest where the winner would receive a free race entry along with having me pace them for their race along with my GoPro camera. This was a great promotion for our group and we were so glad to see that Biggest Loser came to our town to put on this race. 




Beaumont, TX has been rated one of the fattest cities in the nation in many polls. So having a big name like the Biggest Loser come here to help us promote running and a healthy lifestyle in the area was a pretty big thing in my opinion.

The run with Elise went fine. We went at her pace which was a 2 min run and 30 second walk. It was a good run on a warm day in Beaumont. Check out the video below to relive the race with me. :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spartan Training! Aroo!

Training for a Spartan race is tough. Luckily I have a friend who has made some obstacles in his backyard for us to train on so come race day I'll be ready.  Check out some of the training.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brazos Bend Trail Races 50 miler, 50k, 25k, and 10k - 2014

Ran the Brazos Bend 25k and afterwards I headed back on the trails on my mountain bike to help support my bro and capture some of his race on my GoPro. Here's the edited footage! Hope y'all enjoy.



25k Brazos Bend RACE REPORT:


Ran this race with my 2 brothers William and John. We were suppose to wake up at 4:30 am in the morning but all of us slept through our alarms and didn't end up waking up until 5:40 am! Because of this we were in a total rush to get in the car and go.  Willie was doing the 50 miler and was suppose to be at the race by 5:30 to start at 6 am and John and I were doing the 50k and 25k respectively and were suppose to start at 7am. The drive to the Brazos Bend park was about 40 minutes from my brothers house so we were incredibly late. 

We got to the park and had to first wait in the long line of cars to get into the park and then when we finally parked we had to walk what seemed to be a mile to the packet pickup. So not the best way to get a race going. When I got back to the car I realized I didn't have my planned shoes that I was wanting to run in. The only shoes I had were my 4 year old Asic Kayanos that I had planned to put on after to mountain bike with. I switched to minimalist running about 4 years ago so running in Kayanos and its 11.5mm heel to toe drop for 15.5 miles was not going to be fun. That's all I had so thats what I strapped on. I headed to the start line alone at 7:20ish since the 25k/50k start was at 7 am and was off. 

Miles 1 -5

My watch again never got satellite reception so I had to do this race all by feel. The Brazos Bend State park was really nice and the trails were packed dirt with areas of gravel. The first few miles I was alone and I was not enjoying running in the Asic Kayano shoes. I kept debating on whether or not I should take off my shoes and go barefoot. Once the gravel trails were gone I did just that for about 2 miles. It wasn't too bad but my feet did feel like they were getting raw and once the gravel trails returned I decided to keep the shoes on for good. 

Miles 6 - 10

More of me running trying my best to not heel strike and now I'm getting blisters around my heels and toes. UGH! At least there was no real shin splint pain like I had years ago while running in these shoes. The swamps at the park were really nice with all the wild life and yes there were plenty of alligators to be seen during the run. I'm finally catching up to some of the other runners so it's less of the running all by myself feeling.

Miles 11 - 14

My brother William catches up to because the 25kers didn't have to do an extra little loop along the course like the 50 milers had to do. We run together for much of the remainder of my race. I am struggling a bit because of the shoe situation but just push forward the best that I can.

Miles 15 - 15.5

I'm just about done and the finish line is within reach. I end up crossing at about 11:30 am and with my 7:20ish start thats a finishing time of 3:10ish. They didn't have chip timing so I'm not really sure of my actual time. Good race though. With the added run back and forth to the car beforehand I probably did about 17.5 miles.

It's always a good time racing with my brothers and it was a beautiful day at the park. Who knew a place like that existed no to far away from where my brother lives. The course was really flat and might just be a contender for a possible ultra for me one day. :)


After the race I headed back onto the trails to capture some video of my brother Willie's 50 miler race as seen above.

my bro and his medal