Sunday, August 13, 2006

Nike + iPod

I missed the initial release of the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, but the day I read about it and discovered the relatively cheap $30 price, I headed for the Apple store to get one. I am completely impressed with it. The shoe-mounted sensor and the receiver are tiny, and the data they provide me during and after my run is excellent. Before I could use it the first time, I needed to modify my armband so the receiver would fit and find a way to secure the sensor to my Asics.

I'd seen a couple of ways to attach the sensor, but was turned off by the price (Marware, for example) or the sewing (velcro method). Instead, I decided to go with a small plastic bag. I found a small, sturdy bag that previously contained some random computer screws and dropped the sensor into it. Perfect fit, but the bag was too wide to fit into my shoe easily. I cut the bag in half, taped the side shut with packing tape and tried again. This time it easly slid under the laces near the front of the tongue. The bag protects the sensor from getting wet and holds it securely under the laces. It didn't move at all during my 9-mile test run.

With that problem resolved, I moved on to the armband. Unlike many runners, I actually like the original Apple armband. It holds the Nano securely, doesn't block the screen, allows easy access to the click wheel, and is very small. I looked at the Nike + armband at the Apple store but decided against it due to price, size, and because it blocks the screen. Instead, I decided to cut a slot in the bottom of the Apple armband so the iPod would fit with the receiver installed.

Using a new razor blade, I carefully cut a small rectangle in the neoprene just large enough for the attachment to poke through. I managed to make very straight, clean cuts until the very end, at which point I accidentally cut a little too far on one side. Neoprene stretches slightly as you cut into it, so adjust accordingly to avoid the slightly less-than-finished look of mine if you do this. The end of the armband is now missing a fair amount of material, but it still has more than enough to hold the iPod in place. Though the neoprene is sturdy, I still take care not to rip it by shoving the iPod into the armband too roughly.

The modifications took under 10 minutes and cost me nothing, and the Nike + iPod Sport Kit works perfectly. Now I can use the $130 I would have spent on the Nike + shoes and a new armband for something more exciting, like Balega socks!

I'm back!

Not that anyone actually reads this thing, but just in case. My injuries are gone (finally) and I've been running again for the last 3 months. I've lost the few pounds I added while sitting around doing nothing, and I've started to ramp up my base mileage in anticipation of training for the 2007 Houston Marathon in January. I registered for it last week so I wouldn't change my mind. I'm going to use one of the Pfitz training plans this year, which combined with lower weight should produce a far faster time than the '06 marathon. Hopefully the temperature will be lower this year as well. I've been running mostly in the afternoons in 95+ degree heat, but by the time the marathon rolls around my body will have forgotten what that's like. Last year I definitely didn't take in enough fluids or salt, so I've been careful to drink a lot to get my stomach used to it.

I'm also training for the Conquer the Coast 65 mile bike ride in Corpus Christi at the end of September. I bought a new Trek 1500 and all of the various gear and accessories to help ease the human/bike interface points: feet, hands, and butt, all of which hurt after 15-20 miles. I've been riding mostly on the weekends, with a couple of longer rides with friends out in the burbs. I hate leaving the loop, but riding in the city can be a little hair-raising. I've found the bike to be a great way to do speed workouts without all the banging on my legs, and I've been able to ride and get a good workout in when my knees/shins/feet/ankles don't feel up to running. It's definitely a good workout; there have been times when I can barely walk when I get off the thing. I have a far deeper respect for pro cyclists now that I've tried it.