Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Happy Holidays to those celebrating.

I've been doing some treadmill runs lately. Ugh. I definitely need to move somewhere warmer...

My last run was yesterday, and it was outside. I didn't do my "long" run on Sunday because of the rain, so I did it yesterday afternoon. I knew I was near my goal, so I ran past the bus stop I usually stop at, and went almost all the way home.

When I got home, I uploaded the run, edited it, and added up the totals. Depending on where I look I get different totals. But the one in my sidebar is the one I've been going by. Take a look:

1000.07 miles.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Product Review - Airdrives

I'm long overdue on this, but I might as well get to it...

Some time ago, I was contacted by this company. They offered to send me a set of headphones, and I'd review them on my blog. I've actually gotten a few of these offers over the years. Not many, but a few. In general, I've refused them, but this sounded interesting.

The concept behind these headphones - called AirDrives - is that they are the opposite of isolating headphones. They allow you to hear your environment. They're also designed for use during sports. In the setting of all the recent hullabaloo about headphones during races, I thought this might be a good alternative.

So I agreed, and they sent me a pair. They came in an attractive little carrying case. It was actually handy, since my shuffle could be squeezed into the case as well.

The style of these headphones is that they have a soft rubber hook that wraps around your ear. The actual speaker part sits over your ear, and not in it. I found that the ear hook takes some time getting used to. It's very flexible. I guess that's good because it will fit most people. But on the flip side, you can keep fiddling with it until you feel comfortable. Also, when you put it into it's case, it can get bent again. Until you get used to how you like it shaped, it's a bit annoying.
Once you do have it on, I found that it stayed put during running. The earhook really works, and is fairly comfortable as well. I have to say that I generally like earbuds, but for people that don't, this is a really good alternative. Definitely better than regular foam pad headphones.

In terms of hearing the environment, they seemed to work. I felt very aware of all the sounds around me. But then I went back to my iPod earbuds, and I still seemed to hear the surrounding environment. I didn't do any scientific tests, but it didn't seem that different to me. I think that since I'm used to earbuds, when I used the Airdrives I just turned to volume louder. I think you can use it at a lower volume to be more aware of your surroundings, but I didn't.

In summary, I think they work ok. (They actually got a pretty positive review on CNET.) If you really like earbuds, you probably won't go for these. I personally have gone back to my iPod earbuds. If you don't like earbuds, this might be a good alternative - especially if you want to be aware of your surroundings. They sell for $99. More than I'd pay for any headphones, but perhaps there are some audiophiles out there that feel differently.

That's all I have to say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Joe Kleinerman 10K

I raced another 10K on Sunday. On the good side, I set a new PR. On the bad side, they didn't have donuts. :-)

I signed up for this race about a month ago, along with a bunch of friends. We don't actually race together, but it's fun to go through the experience together. We can talk about it before, go through it together, and then rehash it afterwards. I always try to draft new runners into running races with me. I'm usually asked "why do I have to pay money to run 5 miles, when I can do it for free myself?" Once they try it however, they're usually hooked.

So anyway, this race was in Central Park as usual. We met up just outside the park. I thought we started out pretty early, but by the time we got everybody together, used the portapotties, and put our baggage away, we were late. (The baggage was far from the start which is always annoying.)

It still amazes me how many nutcases there are out there who run races in the cold winter. The official race temperature was 36 degrees, and there were 4844 finishers. Coming late to a crowded race is a bad idea. We started way in the back which made for a very difficult race.

In the beginning I had no room at all. I ended up being one of those annoying runners jumping on and off the curb, just to find room to run. I know I'm not going to win the race, but on the other hand, I don't come to (and pay for) races to do another training run. And so it felt like a cross country race going up and down onto the side of the road.

I somehow managed to finish the first mile in about 8:12. (I'm estimating, because I forgot to start my watch until a couple of minutes in. Sigh.) That included the first part of Harlem Hill.

Mile 2 had the second half of the hill, but a little more room. I finished in 7:59.

I was actually pretty tired at this point, and wondering if I was pushing too hard. I think I backed off the intensity a bit, but with the hills behind me, my time improved. My next few miles went by in 7:33, 7:35, and 7:31.

As I headed into the last mile, I was pretty psyched with all of my last few splits. I knew I was going to set a new PR so I sped up a little. Mile 6 went by in 7:17. As I crossed the mile marker I turned on the jets for the last 0.2 and finished them in about 1:18 (or a 6:30 pace).

My finish time was 47:23, for a 7:38 pace, and a new PR. I'm excited to keep setting PR's, but I feel that I'm capable of more under better race conditions. (Which is good, because then I can set another PR next time!)

As for the donuts, I thought this particular race always had donuts. Something about Joe Kleinerman liking donuts. I was looking forward to them, because they're somewhat "guilt-free" coming at the end of a race. (Actually, the person who originally told me this was NYFlygirl. I saw her after the race, and we shared our disappointment about the donuts!)

In terms of my 1000 mile goal, I actually did get a run in on Friday. And now, depending on which log I look at it, I'm over 966 miles. It's definitely within reach.

In terms of the next running goal, I'm still not sure. Some friends of mine are running half marathons on January 27. Some in NY, and some in Miami. I did the Miami one last year, and I'm still considering a return. I'll have to make up my mind soon. My plantar fascia has actually been bothering me more, and I'm not sure I should do a half anywhere. We'll see.

Also in January are the Thursday Night at the Races. These are some short distance races on an indoor track. I'm kind of interested to see how fast I can bust out a mile. I always mean to do these races, but then have trouble getting there. I'm going to really try to make it this year.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Hannukah!

Hannukah has started, and so it's time for my annual video embarrassment to make its appearance in the sidebar. Enjoy!

I've been a little bad with the posting, but the biggest reason for that has been my Garmin. For the last year or so I have had trouble downloading my runs. First it seemed to be the serial cable. I would have to twist it a certain way to get it to work. I even marked out a spot on the wire which had to be face up, and that seemed to help. Eventually, I got tired of this and ordered a new cable. I had exactly the same problem.

Lately the problem got really bad, and was really frustrating me like crazy. I switched cables back and forth and it didn't help, so I finally figured that it must be the bracket. I took it apart and saw that the uploading part of the circuit board was loose. With the cap off, I was able to plug in the cable, hold down the components, and download my run.

Now I was psyched that I had figured out the problem. I called up a friend the next day who has a soldering iron, and headed over to solder the component down.

(blurry cell phone shot)

Long story short(er), it was now completely broken. Sigh.

I contacted Garmin. (Actually I had contacted them earlier, but when they didn't respond right away I had taken the thing apart.) I told them my story and asked them to send me a new cable. To their great credit, they did! My Forerunner was 2 years old, and they sell newer products that don't even use serial cables, but they still satisfied the customer. I've always been a Garmin fan, but this really put them over the top for me. Go Garmin!

Anyway, the new bracket came today. Actually a whole package came but all I needed was the bracket. I plugged in the cable, and like magic, the run downloaded without any trouble. (Makes me feel stupid for waiting so long.)

So... I want to take it apart to see where I went wrong with the other one, but the one screw in it won't loosen. Maybe it's for the best. The other cradle still works to charge, so I can keep that plugged into the wall.

If you're still reading by here, I did manage to get a few runs in lately. 6 mile tempo run on Friday. Sunday I was busy and didn't run, but I still snuck in a 10 mile long run on Monday afternoon. I ran between 8 and 8:15 pace for 10 miles without even realizing. Ridiculous. Today I went to the track for 4 x 1200m. 5:24, 5:07, 4:59, 4:55.

I bought Asics Nimbus IX's earlier in the week, but was never really happy with the fit. I tried them today and I really wasn't happy. I'm going to have to return them, and hope that I can still get the VII's online. (Why do they have to fix what ain't broke??)

I'm at about 955 miles for the year. I'm not sure I'll have time to run Friday, and Sunday I'm scheduled to race a 10K. I'll then have 3 weeks to run 39 miles to reach my goal. My knees have been a little sore and stiff in the cold weather, but I'm still planning on hitting the big 1,000.