Tag Archives: race

Tech Review: @Jaybirdsport Bluebuds Review

I’ve been eyeing up a set of Bluetooth headphones for a while. My wired headphones are light and comfortable, but the darned cable is consistently a pain while I’m running. It gets caught on my FuelBelt, or I snag it with my hands as they are swinging. I was looking at several different sets, but kept coming back to Jaybird and their Bluebuds X. Honestly, the only think that kept me hesitating was the price tag. Retailing at $169.95, it seemed a steep bet if I ended up not liking them. Plus add the fact that I have a headphone problem. I seriously have about 15 pairs of earphones. I have different sets I’ve bought, the sets that have come with devices… it is a tad silly.

That changed for me in November 2013, when I flew out to Las Vegas to run the Rock-n-Roll Half-Marathon. While at the Pre-race Expo, I stopped by the Jaybird booth, and was able to try them out. I was really pleased at how they sounded and how they felt. I got to the Expo late in the day, and by then Jaybird was all sold out of their Bluebuds (which were nicely discounted), but to make up for it, they gave me a coupon code for the same discount so I could buy online. Hesitation over.

Product Overview:

I ordered my Bluebuds almost first thing when I arrived home from Vegas. I didn’t want to miss out on the discount. They were shipped pretty quickly, and I soon had them in my grubby hands. The first thing I had to do was open up the accessory pack and find the insert and ear “wing” that fit me best.

Accessory Pack

 

Inside the Accessory Pack

Inside the Accessory Pack

I had to pick the biggest ones, because, let’s face it, I have big ears. 🙂 Once assembled, here is what they look like:

Bluebuds out of the box

 

And here is how they look in my big ear

IMG_2912

 

That little wide box on the line you see there is the controller. Here is a closeup of it.

IMG_2909

 

The controller has three buttons on it. The top and bottom (or left and right as I have it pictured) are for skipping music tracks. The center button is for powering on and off, for answering a phone call, or activating Siri if you have an iPhone.

The headphones charge via USB. The right earbud has a little cap on the back you pop off and insert the USB plug.

IMG_2906

 

You can sort of see the red LED hidden in there, showing that the unit is charging. The LED light turns green when your Bluebuds have a full charge.

And lastly, they come with a nice hard clam-shell carrying case.

Carrying Case

 

I like the case quite a bit. It is easy to find in my running gear bag, and keeps my headphones safe from getting tangled up with all of the other junk I carry in there.

Okay, so that is what they are. Here is the lowdown on how I feel about them.

What I like:

  • They were really easy to pair with my iPhone. I turn them on, they connect instantly.
  • The sound is really good. I didn’t realize how little I could hear with my old pair. These sound amazing.
  • I can take a phone call with them. If I forget to turn on Do not Disturb mode while I’m running, I can talk easily with these. The sound quality is really good.
  • They are super-sweat-proof and guaranteed for life. If your Bluebuds bust because you got too sweaty, they’ll replace them.
  • They have “Jenna” inside of them. Yes, the headphones have their own voice, and she talks to me. Pretty cool.
  • The battery lasts a nice, long time. The site touts 8 hours. I haven’t tried them that long yet, but my Bluebuds have hung in for 13.1 with me so far.
  • There is NO CORD to plug into my iPhone while I run. I feel so free not having that tether in the way all of the time.

What I don’t like:

  • The “Signal Plus” feature touts that the headphones won’t lose signal with your device based on location. As long as your device is on your body, you’ll get a good signal. I haven’t found this to be true. I often get a choppy signal when I turn my head to look for traffic, or if I found my phone has slid around in my arm band and is closer to my body. Granted I have been running in very cold temperatures lately, so I’m open to give this some more time.
  • Again with the cold temps, these are sort of hard to put under your hat or headband. For me, my hats or headbands tend to push these into my ears a little too much, and after an hour or so of running my ears get sore from them.
  • When I don’t have my hat or sweatband pushing these into my ears, they tend to slip out once I get really sweaty. I have been wearing them under-ear and am going to try them over-ear and see if that makes it better.
  • They sound REALLY good. Part of that means, when I’m outside running, these really block a lot of the outside sounds I need to hear, like cars coming up behind me, or other runners telling me they’re going to pass. I find I have to keep the volume really low on these so it isn’t dangerous for me to run around outside.
  • They are still expensive. I got them at a discount (20% off from the race Expo), but these are not cheap headphones.

The Verdict

Despite their drawbacks, I really like these headphones. I’m willing to keep working with them to make them work perfectly for me. They sound great, they are guaranteed for life against sweat (and I certainly sweat a LOT while I’m running), and there is NO CORD holding me back. Did I mention that there was NO CORD? 🙂

You could do a lot worse than Jaybird Bluebuds X if you’re looking for a great pair of sports headphones.

Do you run with headphones? If so, which are your favorite? And why?

2013 Kris Kringle 5 miler

This has been my last race of the year for 2 years now. I’m kind of fond of it, despite how much this race tends to suck. Last year, this was my first time doing a 5 mile distance. I had only done 5K’s up until then. And for the 2012 race, it snowed quite a bit the day before the race, and much of the Kringle was run on a snow-packed trail. I thought 2012 sucked.

That was until the 2013 race. This year, instead of snow, we were graced with just-slightly-above freezing temperatures and a steady, soaking rain. Runners are a stalwart lot, however, and the crowd seemed undaunted.

Just a tad less than 600 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

Just a tad less than 500 runners showed up to race in the cold December rain

I’m not one to complain. I learned during my years in the U.S. Air Force that people are waterproof. But I really, really dislike being wet. Just a preference thing. I bundled up as best I could.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

Multiple layers to combat both cold and rain, but not turn myself into a furnace during the race.

When the race started just after 11am, it was 38 degrees Farenheit ( a tad over 3 degrees Celsius) and the rain was coming down light but steady. Just enough to get everything nice and wet.

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Runners starting to gather in the cold rain

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

Waiting at the starting line as the rest of the runners make their wet way

I’ve been running 5 miles as my go-to distance lately as I’m ramping up for my spring race goal, so I wasn’t worried about making it to the finish line this year because of the distance. The conditions, however, really gave me a challenge this time:

  1. About 15 minutes in my iPhone did a panic shut down. I think it must have gotten moist in my “waterproof media pocket”. But this left me with no RunKeeper stats, and no music for the whole race. Not unbearable, but different from my normal. Not good for race day.
  2. Did I mention that I really dislike being wet? Bad military training memories. I got soaked. My older and well-traveled rain coat I was wearing totally failed me. I was soaked all the way through everything I was wearing on top. I would have been way more comfortable if my rain coat had worked.
  3. My running shoes are not waterproof. Puddle after icy puddle I stepped in bathed my feet in their frigid wetness. My toes started going numb just before mile marker 4. They didn’t get really bad because I kept moving, but each puddle made it a bit more miserable for my toes.

Okay. Enough whining. Here’s the stuff I really love about this race, no matter what the conditions are:

  1. You get a hoodie instead of a race shirt. I love seeing the older ones appear on race day, and really enjoy wearing mine throughout the colder months.
  2. The race starts out flat, but within 5 minutes goes up a really challenging hill. I train hills all the time, and just love leaving people in the dust as I power up the big hill. It gives me a real boost.
  3. It is the last race of the year. It is awesome to cap out the year’s races with a good distance like this.
  4. Even though it is after Christmas, the festivities continue for a bit. I love seeing the costumes and jingle bells out one more time for the season.
  5. I improved my time a little over 7 minutes from last year. 2012 time was 54 minutes. 2013 time was 46 minutes. Yay!

This really is a great race, and despite my grumbling about the conditions each year, it is a good challenge. There certainly are times when you have to dig down deep and get your mind over the matter. And as my training instructors in the Air Force used to say, “People are waterproof as long as they keep their mouths shut.” 🙂

How do you like to wrap up your racing year?

 

 

 

 

My Runner-versary

I read somewhere (probably in Runner’s World Magazine) that you are officially “a runner” after you run your first race.

I ran my very first competitive race on September 30th, 2012, exactly one year ago today. It was Zane’s Run in Sugartown, PA. It was chip timed, and not quite a true 5K, measuring out at 2.8 miles in the end, which was a little disappointing for my first time. I finished in 28 minutes. And yes, that is all from memory. I think it’s like your first date, or the day you purchased your first car, or even your wedding day. Which is why I’m calling today, and every September 30th from here on out my “Runner-versary.”

In the spirit of any anniversary, I think it is worthwhile to spend a little time and reflect on the events of the past year and speculate a little about the next year.

From a year ago today, I am 20lbs lighter. I have raced competitively in over 15 timed events. I have increased my race distance from 3.1 miles (5K) to completing my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). I have gotten my 5K PR down to 24 minutes, which is pretty fast for an old desk jockey like me.

For the next year, I’m already training hard for my next half-marathon, which I will run in mid-November. After that, I’m planning on setting my sights on a full marathon some time in the spring of 2014. Very loose plans on that front for now. I will spend the winter running again, as I did last year, competing in some of my favorite local races like the Shiver by the River series, and the Chris Cringle 5 miler just before Christmas.

My thought for the last year. Something I have noticed frequently when I talk to others about being a runner. Nearly every time, I hear at least two or three excuses why a person can’t run. Then I talk a little about the excuses I used to give for not running. I used to always say my “Golden Rule” was that I only run when I am chased. It would always elicit a chuckle or two, but it was an excuse nonetheless. I used to have trouble with my knees. It was my biggest excuse for not running. It turns out that my knees hurt so much because my legs were weak. Once my legs got stronger, my knee pain disappeared! I mean completely disappeared. I also used to not run because it made me feel terrible. Once I got stronger, lost some weight, and built up a little endurance that went away, too. In fact, I feel worse on days I don’t run now. I certainly understand that some people have legitimate reasons why they can’t run, such as past knee surgeries or the like. Those are legitimate reasons and not excuses. I’m really just speaking to the excuse-makers here.  My challenge to you, excuse-maker, is to create two or three excuses for why you CAN run.

My very first timed race, Zane's Run 5K in Sugartown, PA, September 30th, 2012

My very first timed race, Zane’s Run 5K in Sugartown, PA, September 30th, 2012