Showing posts with label Qstarz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Qstarz. Show all posts

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MotionX looks cool but I'm going to miss my Blackberry

I received my iPhone 3GS a couple of days ago and it was DOA. I got a 3G loaner unit in the meantime and installed MotionX, an application that uses the location aware capability of the iPhone to capture data via GPS. I have not been able to use it yet but perhaps at lunch I'll test it out. This app creates a KMZ file like the Qstarz 1300S that can be overlayed on Google Earth to show path, speed and elevation data.

I'll admit to some frustrations with the iPhone. The text input is a few steps down from my Blackberry. There are many things that are simple on the Blackberry (like posting to my blogs) that are going to be difficult with the Apple. I'm actually using my Blackberry to do this post because, despite the iPhone's full browser capability with Safari, the Blogger interface doesn't work.

I know I'll eventually get it sorted out and I'm really excited to have a resource that can use GPS to capture running data and display it in real time (sorry Qstarz). I'll need to get a sleeve holder at City Sports for the iPhone so that I can run with it. Perhaps I'll use MotionX today to track my way and back to the store..

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Good things in small packages

Tuesday afternoon I was delighted to receive a pair of AKG K321 In-Canal Bud Headphones from the manufacturer. In the past I have written about running with a music player and my position on that has been quite negative. For one thing I'm reluctant to carry anything at all when I run so the thought of bringing along a device that weighs a third of a pound is unappealing. I've run with the Qstarz 1300S unit a few times, carrying the device in a holder that straps to my upper arm, so I've become a bit more tolerant about the idea. I've also had bad experiences with ear buds in general, their shape and my ear never seem to be compatible. I also have some hearing loss in one ear and that has taken away some of the pleasure of the headphone experience.

This is not my review of these headphones, only an initial impression. I will be posting a full review in Runner's Tech Review after I've had a chance to take them out on a few runs. I don't have my company-provided 3GS yet (I'm going to miss my Blackberry but I need the iPhone for research) so I borrowed my daughter's iTouch to try out the K321's. My first impression was "Hey, how come this doesn't hurt?" The ear buds conformed to the shape of my ear and felt fine. This was a good sign. I began playing a song and noticed that the balance was better than the outside-of-the-ear headphones that I usually use. Despite my asymmetrical hearing it sounded very natural. I haven't run with the headphones so I don't know how the fit will be when I'm bouncing down the street or following trails. Honestly, I don't think it's something I'd use for trail running anyway - I don't need any distractions when I'm doing that. More to come on those.

The other surprise I received in the mail this week was a nice plaque from the Long Island Marathon for my 2nd place finish in my age category in the 5K. I can't remember the last time I earned an award like that other than something related to business. I will display it proudly in my guest room next to my plastic Fun Run medallion.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Awesome day on the OCA

From a running perspective, NYC provides many resources either within the city or close by. Between the subways and the commuter train lines a number of great running paths, parks and bridges are just minutes away. While Central Park is a fantastic place to run it's sometimes a great change to explore other places. Through the spring AG and I have run in some interesting places in and around NYC. We were combining our weekly business updates with our runs but once summer Fridays started we've ended that shortened day with more recreational runs. I mentioned in a previous post that AG will be heading to grad school at Yale in August (but happily remaining an integral part of my team in a part time capacity) so we will soon have fewer opportunities to run together.

We decided to have at least one more running adventure before her new schedule takes over and we jumped on the Metro North commuter train to Irvington, NY with a plan to run 5 miles along the Old Croton Aqueduct. The trip from Grand Central Station was quick and we got off the train and walked a few blocks to the entry point of this trail that runs 26.2 miles (interesting that it's the same length as a marathon) from Van Cortlandt Park at the Bronx County/City of Yonkers border to the Croton Dam in Cortlandt. The trail is mostly hard packed dirt and fortunately the hard rain held off and that kept it from becoming too muddy. We both brought our trail shoes and they came in handy through some wet patches that we did encounter. In less than 5 minutes we had our first wildlife sighting, deer that were scattered on both sides as we ran by.

We saw many birds and at least one rabbit. The trail is basically flat which makes sense because the original use of this trail was to convey water to NYC. There were some uphill stretches and we wondered how they transported the water along those areas. Our plan was to run the trail south from our starting point to the Greystone train station and hop on the train back to NYC. We thought we'd built enough time into our run but near the end we found ourselves racing the clock and we covered the last segment at a faster pace before heading off to the street to run to the station. We made it with less than 5 minutes to spare and it was a bit of a shock to go from our hot, soggy, humid state to the refrigerated train car. Felt pretty good though.

I had forgotten to transfer the Garmin foot pod to my trail shoes so I had no way of judging distance or pace except to estimate that 50 minutes would approximate to five miles. AG wore the QStarz device and hopefully that will provide more data for us. It was a great start to the long weekend, a tough but exhilarating run that was exactly what we'd hoped for. I'm not ready to hit the street yet this morning but hopefully I'll be up for nice recovery run this afternoon. I might hit the trails at Stillwell or Bethpage some time this weekend. I definitely have less leg pain after running trails compared to running on pavement. Maybe it is the shoes.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A trail adventure with AG

My excellent vacation was topped off today with a Bethpage trail run with Adventure Girl. We decided to run the trails instead of the bike path and set off without a map relying solely on our sense of direction. We started the run by discussing the Garmin 50 and the QStarz Sports Recorder and how annoying it is when you do a run and forget to turn the thing on or off. After we ran a little more than half a mile (at one point through a barely-there trail with snakes!) we saw that our trail ended at the edge of the woods. I looked at the Garmin to see how long we had run only to discover that I failed to turn it on. That was indeed annoying but we turned back in the direction we'd come, a little more knowledgeable about the layout of the terrain.

We ran a number of trails, staying primarily with the wider cinder covered paths, until we reached a clearing and took what I believed to be a northern route. That trail eventually ended along a road and we soon figured out that we'd been traveling west. Instead of heading back on the same trail we hit the road (actually the sidewalk) and ran north to where we could get back onto the trails from a neighborhood entry point. We followed that trail and switched over to others that looked interesting as we went. It was a great experience, our pace was moderate and the tree cover was good. The path began to get sandy which was tough for running (for me, AG never ever complains) and we reached a point where we weren't sure where to go. The goal was to head south but AG thought it was one way and I thought the other. The sun was directly overhead so that gave us no help. I decided to go AG's way because she's more experienced and, well, she ended up being right.

We followed the trail south until it intersected with the bike trail allowing AG to experience my hated run-ending hill with me. We flew down the final hill and headed to my car for water and then to the shaded benches for shelter from the sun. We were very hot and sweat-soaked and splattered a little with mud but we agreed it was an excellent run. We headed back to my house and AG enjoyed some swimming races with my son in the pool before we shared a high carb lunch with my wife and kids.

We downloaded the QStarz GPS data, which was wacky because it not only recorded our run but everything afterward including the drive home. That certainly helped our overall pace! The QStarz again failed to export the real time recorded data and even after a reset and re-test it still fell short. Too bad - so much potential but so many problems.

It's been a great vacation and today's 4.x mile run puts me very close to 30 miles since I've been off. Tomorrow and next week I go back to the normal routine but I look forward to my early morning runs in the dark. Today was a blast and I couldn't imagine it any better.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day recovery run

This weekend has been busy between my daughter's birthday celebrations and Father's Day activities. I'm very happy to have found enough time to run on both days. Yesterday morning I got out a little later than normal and I paid for it with the hot sun and the humidity. The 6 mile run on Friday definitely fatigued me and I slogged my way through a 5K distance at a moderate pace and I wondered at the end whether I should have taken a rest day instead. I guess it makes sense that it would be tough going because I was covering 9 miles in a 16 hour span between Friday and Saturday.

There isn't much to say about that run except to say that I never really felt in synch with my form and pace and I was frustrated that three miles on a mostly flat course seemed harder than 6 the hard way. This morning was a much better experience although at the starting point I had some soreness in my right quadricep and groin area. I did some warm-ups (see the latest Running Gone Wild post for some examples) and that got me on my way. I started slowly to minimize any damage from the injury and hoped that the pain would dissipate with running. I cut over to neighborhood #2 and did a couple of miles crisscrossing those roads. I encountered another runner twice during that time and we remarked as we passed how nice the weather was for running. It truly was, cool and cloudy, just the way I like it.

I ended up covering 3.7 miles at around 9:10 which was fine considering my slow start. I would have run longer but I had an 11 year old at home waiting to celebrate her birthday and some things come first. Took the QStarz Sports Recorder with me and it dutifully recorded my run. One negative was that when I downloaded the data it showed a large margin of error in terms of route run versus route recorded. The QStarz seemed to cut corners, showing sharp vectors around corners rather than the actual rounding that I'd done. That probably accounts for the fact that QStarz recorded 3.3 miles when the run was actually 3.7. Too bad because the unit has a lot of capabilities but its limitations are problematic.

I'm happy to have covered over 12 miles between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning and that my first and last runs were very enjoyable. I'm hoping to do some long runs this coming week. Can't wait.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

11K is my Sunday best

I had high hopes for a 6+ mile run on Saturday but I only had time for 3.8 miles. Still, that meant at least 8 miles covered between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. AG told me she did 7.5 miles on Saturday and that inspired me to try for at least six today. My prior distance record was 5.95 miles, a point of frustration for me because I ran that with a poorly calibrated Garmin and I thought I had exceeded 6 miles on that run. I set off today armed with both the QStarz Sports Recorder and my Garmin 50 with a goal of running more than six miles.

After the first few minutes of slight pain from my right leg I felt good and I had plenty of energy for a long run. I made my way to neighborhood #2 to build some miles, and exited at the 3 mile mark as I made my way along the southern service road. I copied part of my route from Saturday but in an expanded loop and ran along the busy road that frames the western side of my neighborhood and meets Jericho Turnpike that parallels the north side.  I intended to exit into my neighborhood at the same place as I did yesterday but as I crested the hill I turned in sooner so I could run some less traveled side roads and accumulate more distance. I was pleased when I reached 5 miles because I knew that it would be at least one more mile until I reached home. I had a fleeting thought about running 7 miles but I thought that would be a fun milestone to break in the future. As I came around toward the middle school I saw that I had gone over a half mile past 6 and I followed a path that I know is exactly .25 miles from my driveway. As I ran by that point I noted my distance so I could benchmark the accuracy of the Garmin on this run. I still had plenty of energy when I reached my house and noted that I had covered exactly .25 miles from my marked spot so I had confidence in what the Garmin was reporting.

As I reviewed the run on the watch display I saw that I covered 6.62 miles (11K) at a pace of 9:12. I was very pleased by that. I did not look at pace data once through my run though I did think about moving along a little faster from time to time. I know I could have run a little faster at the end though I'm not confident I could have broken 9:00. Maybe. Overall it was a great run and I'm icing my quadricep with the Moji that is really a nice thing to have. My data from the QStarz was a little wacky, the GPS was confused at the beginning of the run so the distance didn't match. The additional data, like elevation is really nice to have. The Imperial measurement and the bias toward kilometers instead of miles is annoying because the interface doesn't give you good tools to modify these things. The exported XML file uses kilometers so while its great to see your speed every 30 seconds or so on the map you have to translate it yourself into miles.

AG and I are planning on a 6.2 mile run next Friday so I'm glad I got this one under my belt. A new distance record for the Emerging Runner. I'm halfway to a half marathon!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Faced the past, had a blast

Yesterday me and AG did our usual end of the week run in Central Park. We returned to the Bridle trail in Central Park that we ran a few months ago. That previous run was difficult for me. I wore a non-breathable rain jacket and between the heat from that plus the very giving mud-caked trail I had a hard time with pace and distance. Much has improved since then, the weather was cooperative but very warm and the trail was in much better shape than before. We ran the trail and circled the reservoir for a total distance of 4.6 miles (per Garmin) and 4.2 miles (per Central Park map). It was a great run. We didn't push ourselves and while our pace was moderate we had quite the workout. I was also able to carry on a conversation with a minimum of huffing and puffing. That may have had more to do with our pace than my fitness but I'll take it. Near the end AG decided to step up her pace and I watched her take off at a speed I could not match. I did try to keep her in my sight and though she finished well ahead I didn't embarrass myself.

This morning I switched my plans for a Bethpage run because the US Open has taken over that location. I was pressed for time so I did a 3.8 mile run in my neighborhood. I took a different route than normal and followed the western and northern boundaries of the neighborhood running parallel to a couple of major roads. The northern section has a decent hill that gave me pause but turned out to be much easier than I'd anticipated. I tested the QStarz sports recorder for the first time and was knocked out by the rich amount of information that it provided (click on the above picture to see an example of how it interfaces with Google Earth). I'm going to live with it for a couple of weeks and then post a full review on Runner's Tech Review. I'll use it again tomorrow when I hope to cover at least 5 miles.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Weekend plans

I'm looking forward to this weekend, not only because it comes with an extra day off but because, as of this weekend, I'll have an opportunity to jump in the pool after my long runs. I've been reading about different approaches to cross training and swimming appears to be a good choice. I'm eager to try running under water as a no-impact training alternative but mostly I'm looking forward to the instant cool-down after diving in.

Another thing I've been reading about is the relationship between speed training and distance. I've both read and have been told that tempo runs and intervals are extremely beneficial to distance runners, especially those that need to increase their anaerobic efficiency. I appreciate that but my reaction to anything like drills is fairly negative. I have done speed drills and I'm sure that it's helped me but what I really want to do is get into the zone and just run. I'm looking to combine tempo training and trail running this weekend. I'm targeting the bike trails at Bethpage State Park for that. I don't know what to expect from that in terms of surface. I know the bike paths are paved but I've also heard there are good dirt trails.

Instead of facing the treadmill this morning I ran 1.6 miles in Central Park before starting my work day. It was cool and sunny - perfect conditions for a light run. AG is doing her second consecutive weekend of torture, this time she'll be running up and down four mountains in the Patch Sprint race. I have about two weeks before my next race so I'll continue to work on distance and aim for 20 miles per week until then. It's been a great week for city running, once in Boston and twice in NYC. I'm dreading the heat of summer but I'm thinking that even on the hottest days, running in the early morning hours can still be bearable.

I'm using the Moji Knee this morning to see how it feels post-run. AG will field test it this weekend during her 12 mile mountain race and we'll report on its performance. So far I like the way it feels.

In addition, I will be testing a product from QStarz, a Hong Kong based company that makes the BT-Q1300S which, according to the company is "a GPS sports-recorder designed for out-door sports fans to set up the weight loss plan, Keep Track of workout status, and strive toward even the best record." I am eager to to try it.

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