Fenix 2: Part 1 (Nick)

So, it has been about a month since I started running/riding with my Garmin Fenix2 and it is about time that I put up a review and post about it.

I have been running with the Nike+ GPS watch for the past 2 years and it has served me well, but as I start to participate in other sports, it just wasn’t going to cut it.  It was at this point that I decided I needed to look into a multi-sport watch.  After doing a bit of research (thank you DCRainmaker), I found a few suitable options, but based somewhat on form factor, I chose the Fenix2.  I was lucky enough to catch it before it was completely sold out.  I ordered mine from Amazon, but did not order the bundle with the HRM.  Given that it will track Cadence, Ground Contact, Vertical Oscillation and VO2 with the HRM, I did order one separately.  It arrived just prior to my trip to Germany and I was able to have it set up and ready to go before the trip.

My first impressions after getting it set up:

Compared to the Nike watch, the Fenix2 connects to sensors and satellites very quickly.  It was not an uncommon experience for me to be standing in front of my house waving my arms around hoping that a different position would allow the Nike watch to find the satellites.  Sometimes this would last several minutes, and sometimes I would bite the bullet and just start running in hopes that it would connect within a few minutes of starting my run.  This is a huge benefit that I see to the Garmin, the watch connects to the satellites within seconds and I believe that it is their expertise in the field that helps this.  Other first impressions on the Fenix2 are that the watch control dynamics are sometimes confusing.  There are a lot of options to choose from and it can be difficult at first to figure out what each of them does.  The watch is comfortable for my arm, and having read complaints about the size, I was surprised to find that it was not much larger than my Nike watch.

Comparison to Nike+ GPS Watch:

Just a quick comparison of data shows that the Fenix2 often tracks a bit off the path and Nike tends to be on the path.  I believe that the Nike software snaps the runner to known paths when the data is uploaded.  On a one mile test run, the Fenix2 showed slightly lower distance, however very close to within the margin of error.

Data collection is far greater on the Fenix2, but certainly that is a function of the watch and not a comment on how the watch functions.  The size and form factor of the watch are comparable to the Nike watch, as I stated before, but one thing that I really like is that I can display more than one data set on a page.  There is no reason to scroll through to find different data.  This is a huge benefit over the Nike watch, which I found myself constantly scrolling through to find the data I was looking for.

There is a replaceable band on the Fenix2, but this is more of a convenience/fashion choice than a necessity.

Functionality:

The watch and Garmin Connect software perform well.  The first thing that I love, and I have already mentioned, is that data is visible on a single screen.  User defined screens come in quite handy as I am currently concerned with my cadence and heart rate and the watch allows me to put those on the same screen.  This negates the need to flip through to see different data sets.   I would say that there is almost too much data visible during the run to fully track all of them while running.  One of the things that isn’t necessary to flip through for is the Training Partner.  Instead, I have set a pace that I have run and the watch will alert me when I am ahead or behind that pace.

It is the mass amount of data that I truly love without having a million things to connect.  Cadence, heart rate, vertical oscillation, elevation, ground contact, and temperature are just some of the things that can be tracked, but it extends beyond that.  For instance on my bike, I have added a speed and cadence sensor which are certainly helpful to me as I start cycling.  The watch also tracks barometric pressure and temperature on a normal basis as it functions as a watch.

Vertical Oscillation

 

 

 

 

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Cadence

 

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Ground Contact Time

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Temperature

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Heart Rate

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Elevation

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Pace

 

 

 

 

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Initial Conclusions

Overall I am impressed with the watch and love the data that it provides.  I intend to do a more thorough check between the Nike and Garmin watches during a long run, as of now I have just done this on a 1 mile run.  I will follow this review up in the following weeks with more information.

Ready for the Swim

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I stocked up on swimming items this past weekend.  I purchased a swimming suit, goggles, a kick board, and sandals at Academy in hopes that I would be able to start swimming on Monday.  Well, Mother Nature had other things in mind, it rained most of the day Monday and Tuesday.  Today the weather began to clear up, so Nick and I went to the recreation center and purchased pool passes for our neighborhood pool.  I’m excited to get in the water soon, if the weather cooperates!

2014 Ironman Texas

We’ve been looking forward to this past weekend for quite a while.  The Ironman Texas is raced a few miles from our house.  Last year we happened upon it, and therefore made it a point to watch the race this year. Now that we have interest in triathlons, we put time aside on Saturday to spectate.  As you read about it in the next couple of paragraphs, keep in mind how incredible it was for us to see swimmers still fighting to finish 2.4 miles within time only to get out of the water and mount a bike to ride for 112 miles, and then have to finish by running a marathon.

We started our morning off early and made it to the race just after 7am.  We weren’t there in time for the start, but we were able to see the leaders of the swim make the turn and head back toward the canal.  Racers came through slowly at first, but what followed was crowds of participants who had to make a turn and swim in a congested area.  By the time the crowds entered the canal we had moved and were right on top of them.  We noticed quite a few people that don’t do so well with spotting and had gotten off track several times.  From my view, it is amazing that there aren’t more injuries from being kicked or beat in the head during the swim.  Apparently people are nicer than they appear from outside the water.  We walked along with the swimmer to the T1 area where we witnessed the wetsuit “strippers” unceremoniously ripping garments from people’s bodies so quickly that I would assume there were some rug burns later.  This is also the time where we probably saw some of the best signs of the day meant to inspire the athletes.

DSC_2620 We moved along the transition area.  People were getting everything in order to begin the bike portion of the race.  We saw people yanking sleeves onto their arms, eating ham sandwiches, and running out of the area with their bikes.  At just over 2 hours, there were still quite a few bikes remaining in the area, which I am sure lead to a lot of disappointed athletes when the 2h20m time was up for the swim.  Walking along the start, the riders were getting on their bikes, many not even in their shoes yet, saving time by strapping in once they got moving.  Some were trying to get food down, and on one bike we saw 8 gels taped to the frame.  As more and more people filtered through it was quite impressive to see how dedicated these folks were to not only have finished a grueling swim, but then, with energy, get on their bikes for 112 mile course that laid ahead.

At this point we took a break.  There would be several hours that we would have before a bike came through to the finish line.  We walked around a bit, grabbed a bite to eat, and then returned to the final straightaway to catch the finishers on the bike.

The funny thing about this part of the race is that it was apparent that there were some folks in the area that were either unaware of the race, or didn’t care that it was going on.  Several people walked through the path of the race and a few were riding bikes in the path.  When the leader was about to come through a guy strolled through the path, luckily he was out of the way before the leader arrived.  At first there were sporadic groups coming through, then more, until finally it seemed like there was large groups consistently coming in.  We spent a few hours watching bikes come in until we finally decided to head over to the finish line because we were sure that the first finishers would be coming in.

Surprisingly enough, we made it to the finish line about 10 minutes ahead of the first finisher.  We were able to cheer him on as he completed the race in just over 8 hours.  We were impressed.  What a great race the first finishers must have had, though they were the elites, so I guess it was to be expected.  I watched through the first 10 to 12 finishers then decided my sunburn gave me reason to go home for a bit.

Bevan Docherty, Overall winner 8:09:37

Bevan Docherty, Overall winner 8:09:37

Matthew Russell, 2nd place 8:14:53

Matthew Russell, 2nd place 8:14:53

Throughout the day we talked to people who were out watching family and friends, many of whom had already completed an Ironman or two themselves.  We realized that an Ironman is within our capabilities.  There was something about watching these athletes that inspired us, what a feat they had accomplished.  We enjoyed the day and it gave us further motivation to start adding distance to our bike and run.  While I still think we will complete some short races first, followed by a 70.3, I am now sure that I want to complete a full Ironman.

A Weekend Ride, er Run

As with the past couple of weekends, we went out for a 12 mile bike ride and the intent of doing a 5K run.

Once I started running, I actually got to thinking that I would run 4 miles, so I was off.  I was averaging a 9 1/2 minute mile and feelingreally good.  When I got into mile 3 I started having some severe side cramps.  So I walked for a minute of so and then picked it back up again.  About the end of mile 3 the cramps came back and I decided that I would just dust the run off when I got to the truck, this happened to be at about 3.5 miles.  So, I had an overall good day, but had a slight failure.

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Emily on the other hand completed her 4 miles.  During the run she spotted a deer on the running path.

Photo courtesy of Kellie.

Photo courtesy of Kellie.

I asked why she didn’t get a picture with the deer, but apparently that didn’t occur to her.

We are both really enjoying cycling.  I find that it is a great warm up for my runs and it is working a totally different group of muscles.

This weekend, we are delaying our training by a day so that we can go and spectate the Ironman Texas, which is just up the road from us.

In other news, we do have a twitter account started (@cajunmile) and hope to be posting more frequently there.

The Garmin fenix 2 has Arrived

Unwrapping the new Fenix 2

Unwrapping the new fenix 2

I’m so excited, look what I received today!!!  My Garmin fenix 2 was delivered today, only 2 1/2 weeks after I ordered it.  Notice my fenix 2 has an orange wristband (sold separately), to help me and Nick differentiate between the two watches.    Now I’m off to read the owner’s manual to find out everything it can do.

Fenix2 on the wrist

Garmin fenix 2 on the wrist

Adding Strength Training to the Routine

After running our first half-marathon, we decided we needed to do more than cardio.  We needed to add strength training to our routine.  I began looking at several dvd options.  There were requirements, though.  1)  I wanted a program that was less than 1 hour per workout.  I completed P90X a few years ago, and knew I didn’t want to do another P90x program.  The workouts are too long, and Tony drives me crazy after a while.  2)  I didn’t want too much cardio.  We already run and walk for our cardio.  3)  I wanted something that was going to work my arms and legs as well as core a few times a week.  4)  I didn’t want to have to purchase a lot of equipment.  I knew I would have to get weights, but didn’t want to buy much more than that.  5)  I wanted something I could do at home.

ChaLEAN ExtremeAfter talking to a few people and looking online, I decided to purchase ChaLEAN Extreme.  I like that she uses weights in the routine and the workouts are approximately 30 minutes.  There are three phases in the program – Burn, Push, and Lean – each are done for four weeks.  Furthermore, each phase has three different workouts to do per week, as well as two cardio/abs workouts.  This seemed like a good way to keep things from being too repetitive.

The Muscle Burns Guidebook breaks down each phase in the program.  There are instructions for each exercise and a calendar to show you which workout to do each day of the week.  It also shows you where to take body measurements to document your progress along the way.  Also included in the kit is a body fat tester and a Fat Burning Food Guide.  The food guide has recipes that are meant to compliment each phase of the workout program.

The intention of starting the ChaLEAN Extreme program is for us to start adding strength training.  Our plan is to lift weights three times a week, during each phase of the program.  We are not going to worry about the cardio and abs workouts for now; we will continue to run and ride bikes for our cardio workouts.  I will give updates after each phase of the program, every four weeks.

Spectating the 2014 CB&I TRI

DSC_2418This past Saturday, Nick and I watched our first triathlon.  The CB&I TRI – The Woodlands Triathlon is a very popular local Sprint distance triathlon, including 500-meter swim, 10.6 mile bike, and 5k run.  It accommodates approximately 1300 participants and sells out within a few weeks of opening registration.  This year the event sold out in 10 days!  We had a few friends racing, so we decided to get up early Saturday to spectate.

We parked at a nearby shopping center and walked across the bridge, arriving just as the whistle blew for the first wave of swimmers to enter the water at 7am.  We knew this was the elite category, nonetheless it made me excited and nervous to watch how fast they completed the swim loop.  As the swim leaders were making the last turn, Nick and I walked down to the other side of the bridge where the bike route began.  Before we could reach the bike course, the first place guy had finished the swim (in 6:38 with a 0:38 transition) and was already on his bike.  We decided to stay here for the majority of the race, as it was a prime spot – just beyond the transition area, with a view of the beginning and end of the bike course as well as the beginning of running route.  The finish line was not too far behind us.

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Watching some of these athletes mount/dismount from their bikes was amazing; they did so with speed and grace.  I thought about how long it takes me to get ready for a bike ride – I have to put on the helmet, shoes, and gloves, and then meticulously place my pedals so I can clip in with one foot, steady the myself, then push off with the other  – several minutes at best for me to get all of this in order.  And these athletes made it look effortless, some making it through the transition area in under a minute!  After watching the elites and then more casual athletes, Nick and I realized how easily the transition time can get away from someone.  There are ways to reduce the transition time, and we noted several things we saw the athletes do to minimize it.

The athletes ranged from obvious professionals to people just out to have a good time.  This race seemed to be a bit relaxed with enforcing the rules, similar to a 5k in running.

At about 9 am, we walked over to the finish line to watch for our friend Kellie.  She was one of the last swim heats, so we were able to see several of the bike and run participants.  Once she crossed the finish line, we walked around the exhibit area for a little while.  Around 10:30, we decided to leave and get something for lunch.  As we walked back to the car, Nick and I were super enthused and decided we really need to start swimming soon, so we can sign up for our first triathlon.