Door County Sprint

Emily made a decision last year that she wanted to race the Door County Triathlon Half Ironman course.  When I woke up New Year’s Day, (she registered in the middle of the night) and we were talking about the trip up to Door County, I decided to register for the Sprint distance race.  This would give us something to do on Saturday morning of the weekend.  I’ll leave the weekend round up to Emily, but I wanted to talk about my race specifically.

I honestly didn’t have a lot of expectations for this race when I registered for it.  I really thought I would get out, have some fun, and then help Emily get ready for her race the next day.  I was a touch nervous the morning of the race and even had to go back to the hotel after we left to pick up my Garmin (if I don’t have it, it doesn’t count).


The water was calm Saturday morning.  There were a bunch of people warming up in the water, but I decided to hang out and listen to music.  This is the first time I have done this and it helped out a lot.  I turned the volume way down so that I could hear what was going on around me, but the music helped to keep me settled.  About race time, Emily and I ran into a guy wearing a Chattnooga shirt from last year and we talked to him and his family for a bit.  He gave us some insight into the Chattanooga race.  This was his daughter’s first triathlon, and they were there to support her Saturday, the following day he was going to be doing the half distance race.

Waves were sent into the water, but mine was about 30 minutes after the race start.  When it got close to time, I pulled on my wetsuit, my swim camp, pulled my goggles on to my head, and made my way to the beach.  Lots of nervous folks out there gave me a bit more confidence.  I have done this before, there isn’t anything to worry about.

The swim was not too bad.  There was a bit of a current that pushed me around a little, and that caused me to have to redirect myself a few times.  The water was very clear, so I was easily able to see the lines that the race volunteers had painted the night before, so getting back on track wasn’t tough.  We had recently listened to the DC Rainmaker podcast where he discussed how you can lose your watch if you have the quick disconnect on it.  So I had that worry going through my head about every 20 seconds.  Ultimately, I didn’t lose my watch.

Getting out of the water, I made my way to the wetsuit strippers.  They tore my wetsuit off quick (after deciding who was going to do it), but they took something else with them, which I didn’t notice for a few minutes.

Transition went pretty flawless.  Helmet on.  Glasses on.  Run to the bike out.  I made it to the mount line, but there wasn’t a beep when I crossed?!?!?!?  I looked down and noticed that I didn’t have my timing chip on.  So, it was back to my rack spot to see if it was there.  After a little digging I was able to find it tangled up in my wetsuit. I put it back on and was off again.  Once at the mount line, and jumped up and spun off.  About a minute later I slipped into my shoes and got ready for the next 18 miles.

Em and I rode the bike course a few weeks ago, and I knew what to expect for the most part.  We had also discussed what we thought I could hold for power over the course.  Em thought I could hold 160 watts or so for the 18 miles, and I guessed 180.  I averaged 185 watts and almost 21 miles per hour, finishing the bike in about 52 minutes.  That’s pretty quick for me, and honestly, a new expectation for myself.

It’s a great bike course.  For a little while you are in the woods, then you get a view of the bay before getting to the beginning of the city and turning around.  One thing I really remember from the ride was a great banked turn.  I remember it because I felt like I was flying, which I guess I was, since Garmin shows me at almost 25 MPH.

Bike Fast

The transition to run was a little less stressful, having not lost my timing chip this time.  But I did bring newer shoes that didn’t have speed laces on them, so I did actually have to tie my shoes (poor planning on my part).

The run is a simple out and back.  I ran past the parking lot, then a corn field, then the corn field again, then the parking lot again, then finish line.  And it felt that quick.  At just over a 9 minute pace, I killed any effort I have ever put forward.

I kept thinking I was going to hit the wall at some point, but I just kept going.  At one point I wanted to walk, but remembered that I have been talking to Emily about pace management instead of walking, so I just managed my pace back a little for a few minutes, then off I went again.

Run Door County Nick

Finish time 1:35:03 (exactly one second behind the guy who placed 15th).  17 of 36 in my age group and 222 of about 1000 total athletes for the sprint.  This is now my effort to beat for sure.  I can’t really match this up against the Elkhart sprint since the bike distances are different, but I can say my effort was better.  I am definitely interested in doing this race again.

Door County Tri really puts on a great race.  Everything about this was great (including volunteering the next day).  The food was good.  Beer was vast and they had music or a live band all day.  It makes me wish that Ironman would put the same effort forward for their races, but I realize they host a lot more athletes and are a bit more spread out.

sub-30 5K

Sunday, I set out with one goal in mind: sub-30 PR for my 5K.  I’m pretty much an 11:00-12:00/mile runner.  I never thought running 3.1 miles under 30 minutes would even be possible, as I had accepted my running pace.

During my off-season, my coach has been giving me what seems like endless running drills.  Most of which were completed on the treadmill; which makes them even more dreadful.  I knew the day was coming when we would put all of that hard work to the test….and Sunday was that day.

I did it!  I totally rocked my 5K PR at 28:59!!!

5K PR 28:59

Here’s to getting faster and stronger, and continuing to break records!

Sunday Morning and Hungry

Last week I took a trip to Michigan to do some recruiting.  At Michigan State I was well out of my element and someone pointed out that I was likely to never find a qualified candidate being a graduate of Penn State.  Whoever said that was sort of right.  I did find a few people that I thought were great, but on the whole, I am just not impressed with any college student.

That isn’t the point of the story, except that I was in Michigan and had to do a run there.

The point of the story is this.  Last weekend we had a workout on our schedule and it went like this:

Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile
Bike – 45 minutes on trainer
Run – 1 Mile


So, Saturday morning we were holding off on the work out.  We did other things like mow the lawn and plant some trees.  Then, in the afternoon, we were trying to decide whether or not to complete the workout Saturday or Sunday.  After a short debate, we decided to get it done.

As we started, I was having some issues with my rear derailleur.  After about 10 minutes, I jumped off my bike, took it upstairs and changed out a cassette.  This seemed to correct about 60% of the issue I was having, but it was still quite annoying.  The first set ended up being pretty easy, the run didn’t phase me at all.

By the time the second bike portion was complete, I was in my zone and had no issues at all.  Jumping off the bike with about a 1 minute tradition to put on running shoes and a hat, I was feeling unstoppable.

During the third set, I got a little bored on the bike and having done a little extra riding on the first 2 sets, I decided to cut this one to 30 minutes and run.

On the last of the trainer rides, I put on a GI Joe movie, which was quite entertaining for the last 45 minutes of riding.  For me, the bike trainer is all about finding something to zone out to, and in this case it was Chasing Amy and GI Joe.  Having had 3 awesome runs prior, I was thinking I would get off, finish the last run in about 8 minutes and then pop upstairs for dinner.  I was wrong.

The last run took me almost 10 minutes.  My legs were gooey and weren’t functioning properly.  It took me about 3 minutes before they worked properly and even then, they were tired and I couldn’t keep the faster pace I wanted to.  Either way, I finished.  Afterward, we went to get a burger from Culvers.  I was incredibly hungry after the workout and amazingly, Sunday morning, I still felt like I was in the initial stages of starvation.  Oatmeal and apples cured that.

A few things I learned from all of this.

  1. My clothes weigh about 10 extra pounds at the end of a long workout
  2. Garmin only allows 5 activities in a brick workout (come on Garmin, get it together)
  3. My legs are awesome for 3 hours, and then start to tired at 4.

I am very happy to have completed this and am looking forward to more awesome workouts prior to Austin in November.  We are now 29 days out.  Next years race schedule is being put together and we already have a race booked for the end of September.  More on that coming soonish.

Garmin Foot Pod Review

In December, my Garmin fenix 2 began miscalculating my pace on the treadmill.  Thus, skewing my data on Garmin Connect, including my VO2 Max.  Read more about it in my Unboxing post.

I ordered the Garmin foot pod at the end of January and after I calibrated it outdoors, I began running with it on the treadmill.  I used the Garmin foot pod as well as the Nike+ foot pod on the runs to compare the data.

Below are the distances calculated for 25 runs – 4 were outdoors and 21 on the treadmill.  The differences were mostly negligible.  There were a few runs, including the most recent, that had a difference of nearly 0.2 miles.  Although, over the course of the 25 runs, the Garmin calculated 1.33 miles more than the Nike+.

Date Run Type Fenix2 Nike+ Delta
1/29/2015 Treadmill 2.02 1.95 0.07
2/1/2015 Treadmill 3.11 3.15 -0.04
2/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.92 0.09
2/3/2015 Treadmill 1.76 1.77 -0.01
2/5/2015 Treadmill 1.37 1.30 0.07
2/12/2015 Treadmill 1.30 1.27 0.03
2/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.96 0.05
2/19/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
2/22/2015 Treadmill 3.10 2.98 0.12
2/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.97 0.04
2/26/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.94 0.07
2/28/2015 Treadmill 5.01 5.16 -0.15
3/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/3/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.90 0.11
3/5/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/8/2015 Outdoors 6.21 6.22 -0.01
3/10/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.93 0.08
3/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.94 0.07
3/21/2015 Outdoors 8.01 8.08 -0.07
3/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.91 0.10
3/26/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
3/31/2015 Outdoors 3.10 3.07 0.03
4/4/2015 Outdoors 8.01 7.98 0.03
4/13/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
4/22/2015 Treadmill 1.48 1.29 0.19
TOTAL 59.61 58.28 1.33

As far as ease of use, the Garmin foot pod connects much more quickly to the fenix 2 than the Nike foot pod connects to the watch.  The Garmin is also nice in that it uses a replaceable CO2032 battery which can be purchased just about anywhere for a couple of dollars.  Whereas the Nike foot pod does not have a replaceable battery, you have to purchase a new foot pod, costing around $20.

The Garmin foot pod connects directly onto the shoe with it’s included lace clip.  I typically leave it on my shoe and have not had any issues with it falling off.  The Nike+ sensor is not standalone.  You either have to wear shoes that accept the Nike+ foot pod or buy a pouch to connect it to your shoe.  The sensors are approximately the same size.

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Overall, I am satisfied with the Garmin foot pod.  It took one outdoor run to calibrate and I haven’t had any issues since.  My Garmin Connect data, including VO2 Max and pace, are back to normal.

Garmin Vivosmart Revisited

Just before Christmas, I posted a review of the Vivosmart.  At the time I was disappointed with a few things, namely step count accuracy.  Over a few software updates, I found that the device became far more accurate and didn’t count as much of my arm movement as steps as it had before.  The picture below is a comparison of the Vivosmart and the Fitbit One after a run today.  (Deduct 1200 from the Fitbit since I put it on earlier in the day)

I can’t say that I ever became a fan of the notifications on my wrist.  It just became more of a hassle than knowing what was going on with my phone at any given minute.  This is one of the reasons that I question whether the Apple Watch will be worth while or not.  I just don’t always need to see what my phone is doing or who is texting me, calling me, or emailing me.

I never quite got used to having a wrist worn tracker and just prefer to have the tracker out of the way in my pocket or on my belt.  It was nice, however, that the device was waterproof and I could keep it on when I went to swim (I didn’t have to remember to switch it to different shorts or take it off when I jumped in the pool) or lose steps when I was going to shower.

I’ll say again that I think any device that gets someone moving is worthwhile and picking the one you like is the most important part of that because if you don’t wear it, it won’t work.

A few pictures of the Vivofit

A few pictures of the Vivofit

A Quick Note on the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Collection

Folks, I have been torn for the last several months on the Apple Watch.  I wanted very badly to want one and use it for lots of great things.  I love watches.  I have read a lot of reviews and posts that have discounted watches, “they are no longer necessary”, “people use their phones to tell time”.  But not me, I like having a watch on my wrist.

Ultimately all the stuff that I review on this site, I buy for personal use.  It has to be something with at least some lasting value to me, and I just can’t say that for the Apple Watch.

With the exception of my running watches, I don’t get the impression that any of my other time pieces will go obsolete at any point in the near future.  My Seiko and Invicta automatics won’t even go obsolete when the battery makers decide to no longer make watch batteries.  The GPS watches will eventually have Li-Ion battery degradation.  Eventually new satellites will be launched rending them useless, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  Plus, the Fenix2 and the 920 have incredible battery life to begin with, so even degrading battery life won’t effect my usage.

My Watches

On the other hand, the Apple Watch will be obsolete soonish.  Eventually Apple’s iOS will no longer support the first generation watch.  Eventually the 18 hour battery life will degrade to 16 hours, then 12 hours, and eventually be totally useless as an everyday watch.

Watches are fashion pieces, and Apple very much understands that.  They are marketing them that way.  Why else would someone buy a watch for $10k vs $350 with identical functionality.  But some fashion lasts, it isn’t intended to be on a short term obsolescence schedule.

One last thing that I will say is that the Fenix2, the 920, and the Vivosmart all act as smart devices.  They will display texts and incoming phone calls.  I quickly turned this feature off on all of them because I just don’t need to see everything that hits my phone the minute it gets there.  Sometimes a little anticipation is good.

As I am sure you have concluded, I am not in the market for an Apple Watch right now.  Maybe sometime in the future.  I just don’t think that this current generation has lasting power to justify the purchase.

By the way, I know the title of this post and how much I wrote don’t sync up.  Sorry!

Mio LINK Continuous HRM

Ever been annoyed by the HRM strap while you are running or biking?  I have.  Often time I wear it a little loose so that it doesn’t bother me, but then I have the problem of having to pull it up during a run.  Sometimes I put it on tight so that it doesn’t move, but then I have to deal with it feeling very constricting.

I decided to try out the Mio LINK which is a wrist worn uses similar technology to a pulse oximeter to determine your current heart rate.  I purchased the small, but probably could have gone a size larger.

The device itself is pretty slick, comfortable to wear and only has a single button for control.  To configure the band, Mio offers an app from the App Store.  The configuration is pretty basic, 3 vs 5 zone training, lights on and off and bluetooth on and off.  The app itself is pretty light weight, but then again, there isn’t much to do.  The app will show your current heart rate, but does not keep a record.  For this you will require a different app on the phone, or you can pair it with a fitness watch, like I did with my Garmin 920XT.

I don’t see a substantial difference in the reading between the chest strap and the wrist worn device, but the downside to this is that it does not contain the same technology as the Garmin HRM-Run.  The HRM run has an accelerometer built into it to give the wearer information for the running dynamics screen (cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation).  I think I would miss these a lot on longer runs, but for short runs on the treadmill, for the bike, and for general exercise, I think I can do without.

Overall, I am quite pleased, but can’t see this completely replacing the chest worn strap.