Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Five Heroclip Uses for Runners

The Heroclip (Medium and Small versions)

  I first learned about the Heroclip earlier this year while looking for carabiners, or D-rings most of us called them in the military, for some of my camping gear.  I saw Heroclip on Amazon and their product immediately intrigued me.  I bought one and got it a few days later.

The Small Heroclip: Backed with an Indiegogo campaign
  I later backed their expansion campaign on Indiegogo in which they wanted to create and offer smaller sizes and test out a variety of colors.

  I also took advantage of a Black Friday discount code and picked up a regular one on Amazon as well.

  So both came in within a few weeks of each other and I tried them out with some of my running gear to see what additional purposes a runner could use them for.

The Swiveling Hook
  The main feature that separates Heroclip from other carabiners is the swiveling hook.  This hook is very handy to have since it creates a hanging spot almost anywhere.  And it is this feature that makes the Heroclip a great asset for my training runs and post-race antics.

The Heroclip: Hanging up a wet, stinky shirt
  The first way that a Heroclip helps me is I can hang some of my running attire to air and dry after a long run.  My running shirts get soaked with sweat if I run more than four miles so while I’m wearing my after-run shirt, yes on most races I keep an extra shirt in my car, I hang up my used shirt to dry and keep off my seats.

Hooking my trail shoes
  This can also apply to hanging shoes if you hook the carabiner through the shoelaces on top of the tongue or even use the back tabs of running shoes.  This comes in great if you do a trail run and the route is muddy or if you do an obstacle course race and you don’t want to track race mud in your vehicle.

A good sweat towel
Setting up the Heroclip
  Just like the shirt and shoes, you can use the Heroclip to hang up a freshly used towel.  This would have been very handy after my obstacle course races that I’ve done in the past, and you can bet I will use it at the Rugged Maniac OCR in Charleston next year.

It holds water bottles very well

  I also found having the Heroclip on a water bottle to be useful.  I can hang my water bottle in a variety of places and have it waiting for me with easy access.

Using the Heroclip on my backpack

  The carabiner works phenomenally to keep water bladders up while you wash your gear or yourself after a mud run as well.  Just attach the Heroclip to the bladder or a backpack and then hook the ensemble to a high spot such as a tree branch, a pole, or even a ridge on the roof or trunk of your SUV and you’re set.


  And one added bonus of the Heroclip comes with its versatility on running vests.  Just clip it through a loop and you have an emergency hook or carrier with you.

Check my YouTube video here: 

You can purchase the Heroclip at one of the links below:

Heroclip (medium)

Heroclip (small)

Disclaimer: this description contains affiliate links, if you click & make a purchase then at no additional cost to you this channel earns a small commission, which will go to support the production of the content I make.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium - Headphones for Runners

  Black Friday came around and I put my name on a list for a special offer from Aftershokz.  Aftershokz ran a special “BOGO,” meaning you Buy One set of Aftershokz Trekz Air or Aftershokz Trekz Titanium, you can Gift One set of Aftershokz Titanium for free. 

The Aftershokz Box (look, Priority Mail!)

  Aftershokz’s headphones are not the normal kind of listening device.  They don’t go in the ear; instead, the headset wraps around the back of head and the speakers sit in front of your ears.  They produce vibrations that travel through the cheekbones to the inner ears. This design allows for uninterrupted sound for your enjoyment WHILE you are still able to hear your surroundings.  As I write this, I currently have music playing and the people sitting next to me cannot hear a thing coming from the headphones, while I on the other hand, can hear everything they say.

  I first experienced Aftershokz’s products when I attended the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo earlier this year.  I found the bone conduction technology fascinating, but didn’t buy a pair then for two reasons: 1) I still run almost exclusively with my Microsoft Zune (if it’s not broke, don’t fix it) which is not Bluetooth compatible and 2) the Trekz Titanium retailed for 99.95 USD and the Aftershokz Air for 149.95 USD.  As long as my Zune stayed as my primary form of running entertainment, I couldn’t justify paying for a set of headphones I would use occasionally, no matter how great the Titanium headphones were.

  Fast forward to Thanksgiving time, and I seriously contemplated getting a pair.  My Zune has lasted almost a decade now and Microsoft stopped making that MP3 player several years ago.  At some point, it will die on me, but I’m still amazed at its battery life and functionality.

Brand new in box
 When I received an invitation from Aftershokz for their BOGO #GiveGoodVibes campaign, I signed up.  Aftershokz set the initial limit to the first 2,000 orders, and just because I registered for the event did not mean I had to commit to the deal.  Well, during Black Friday, or rather Thursday evening before Black Friday, we casually went shopping and the window opened for the BOGO offer.  I thought and thought, and after an hour, I looked at their website and saw that not only did the BOGO offer was live, but Aftershokz ran a discount on the Trekz Titanium and the Trekz Air.  The Aftershokz Titanium went from 99.95 to 79.95 USD and the Air went from 149.95 to 119.95 USD.  With a discount AND the BOGO offer looming over my screen, it didn’t take much to place my order.  Aftershokz later extended the deal for additional 2,000 sets on Friday.  

    Less than two weeks later, I received my order in the mail.  A nice blue, decorated box with the Aftershokz logo and priority mail postage sat at my front door.  I opened it and there sat two pairs of Aftershokz Titanium: one in a normal box and the other in a gift bag marked with the #GiveGoodVibes tag.

  As much as I wanted to rip into the box, that particular set was reserved for someone else in my life, and I had no problem with taking the gift bag set.  The gift bag held the Titanium headset, a pair of earplugs, a USB charging cable, spacers for the headphones in case someone has a smaller head, the warranty card, a quick start guide, and a multi-language maintenance and support sheet.

  Aftershokz sends out its headphones with half a charge, but I wanted to charge mine all the way before I played with it. 

the multi-function button
the volume buttons
The Titanium has a multi-function button on the left side of the headphones and two volume control buttons along with the charging port on the bottom of the right side.  

    To turn on the Trekz Titanium, you hold down the volume up, or “+,” button.  Seems pretty simple.  I also keep finding out my Titanium’s battery when I press the “+” button as well.

  I’ve tested the Aftershokz in several different environments: leaf blowing, a phone call, music from my laptop, a game on my cell phone, and general wearing.  While I worked on my backyard with noisy equipment, I could easily hear my playlist with no distortion from the leaf blower.  As for the phone call, I honestly did not know the Titanium worked as a speaker and listening device; I thought I purchased just a listening set.  I tapped a button on the headphones and amazingly, the call picked up.   This also threw my brother off as well, since as much as I love technology and trends, I am slow to actually buy things for myself like that.

How the headphones sit on my head
  After doing yard work, I went inside, synched the Titanium with my laptop and listened to music while I worked on some other things on my laptop and later around the house.  The bass on the Titanium is even better than I remembered from the running expo earlier this year.  And when I paired the headphones back to my cell phone to play a game, I heard subtle sounds the game programmers put in the game; sounds I couldn’t pick out on my phone’s own speakers.

  I will say that you shouldn’t set the audio volume to full on the Titanium when playing music.  I listened to a particular Krewella song with some good bass that vibrated a lot on my cheeks due to the Aftershokz’s bone conduction method.  It felt very weird before I finally turned the volume down. 

  It’s really amazing how I could listen to my music and hear my surroundings every time I used the headset.  They stayed firmly on my head with no bobbing or bouncing around.  I presume the spacers will do the same for people with smaller heads, if they are properly placed on the headset.

  These headphones are great for hearing whatever I want to listen to while also letting me stay aware of my surroundings because I can hear noises that would otherwise be drowned out by normal headphones.

  If you are on the fence about getting a set of Aftershokz’s headphones, any of them, I suggest checking out a store that sells them because quite a few have a demo pair nearby.  Also, Aftershokz does run the occasional sale and discount.  Amazon sells Aftershokz products and if you have a gift card this Christmas, birthday, or any other occasion, they would make a good choice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The 2018 Savannah Bridge Run Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Savannah Bridge Run because of my agreement to share footage I recorded during the race.

  I first learned about the Savannah Bridge Run while I researched hotel accommodations for next year’s Cooper River Bridge Run.  When Enmarket’s Savannah Bridge Run popped up during a search result, I dove deeper and learned quite a bit about “the South’s Toughest Bridge Run.”  This particular race offered three distances: the 5k, the 10k, and “the double pump” which is a combination of the two for a total of 15 kilometers.

  The 5k race starts on Hutchinson Island and crosses the Talmadge Bridge in a north to south fashion before finish a block away from the Savannah Civic Center.  The 10k starts at the Savannah Civic Center, goes across the bridge to the 5k start point and turns around to complete at the same finish line as the 5k.  The Double Pump has participants run with the 5k crowd and then take off with the 10k people during the start time. 

  Working with one of the organizers, I opted for the 5k race since the vast majority of the up-to 3,000 participants does that race.  I guess going over the bridge once is enough for most people.

  As usual, I had my GoPro set up a week before the race. I studied the course map, looked at previous years’ results, and prepared my race attire for a balmy run.  But as the week went on, a cold front took hold of my city and had me a little worried.  I thought that if a cold front hit central South Carolina, what would take its place when it finally lifted?  I checked the weather and from Columbia down to Savannah, meteorologists predicted warmth with some rain from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.  Each passing day, I looked at updated weather information for Savannah, and while prospects of delayed rain sounded good, I added my GoPro selfie stick to my gear list in case the weather worsened. 

  We made our way down to Savannah Friday afternoon and had rain showers teasing us along the way.  I almost got ran off the road by a moving rental truck because the driver didn’t pay attention while changing lanes; these were not good signs. 

  We arrived at the Savannah Bridge Run expo with 40 minutes to spare, but from planning ahead earlier in the week, I asked a fellow Team Red White and Blue member to pick up our packets.  She worked a booth for the Publix Savannah women’s half marathon & 5k and happily handed us our shirts, bibs, and safety pins. 

  After checking into our hotel, I looked at the weather once again.  This time, weathermen predicted the rain would hit the Savannah area at 7 AM.  Up until that time, 7 AM on a Saturday, looked like 20% chance of rain with 90-100% happening after 1 PM.  Great, I thought to myself, I really did not want to aim the GoPro at myself the whole race.  But that is the only rain-proof set up I have for my GoPro. 

  Now, the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run uses an app to push out information in addition to having a dedicated website.  According to both, 5k participants were highly encouraged to park at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, located right next to the 5k starting line.  Trolleys would bring people from the finish line back to their original spots.  Since we left our daughters back at the hotel, I parked near the Civic Center and we caught a race trolley up to the starting line assembly area. 

  At the starting line, I saw a plethora of ruckers, quite a few costumed individuals and families, a handful of Team Red White and Blue shirts and apparel, and many, many people gathering around and talking.  I almost felt like I was back in Charleston for their Bridge Run.  The race announcer came on the speaker systems several times to put out information and one of the biggest for everyone out there was that runners should form up on the left side of the start line and walkers should go to the right side. 

Near the start. Runners to the left and walkers on the right
  We were supposed to start at 8 AM for the 5k race.  Here is where I tip my hat to the race organizers; the last race trolley carrying runners from the main land got stuck in traffic and they didn’t want the runners to miss out, so the race organizers held off the start by almost 15 minutes.  I believe this to be a good decision on their part.  There may have been almost 2500 people already at the start line, but that last bus of about 40 people would have missed out on an electrifying time.  No one complained or booed when the announcer explained why the race didn’t start on time.

  As per usual, I make my way to the very back of the crowd before the race started.  I really need to gauge crowds better, because once the race officially started, it took me three full minutes to cross the actual start line.  AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck” played at the signal of the race start, and it sounded almost done once I had room to run.  I’m not fast anymore, but according to Strava, it took me 10 and a half minutes to complete my first mile, mostly from being around the back crowds.  But I still had fun because I knew I couldn’t compete with the likes of sprinters, fitness fanatics, professional runners, and people still in the military.  I will say that my mile times throughout the race got better as I moved past people and as the crowds thinned out.

Near the 1st mile mark. Still crowded but thining.
  That first mile may have been very crowded, but it didn’t have the huge incline.  The second mile contained all of the bridge, and while the top of the bridge was only 100 feet higher than the rest of the ground, that incline got to a lot of people.  I thoroughly enjoyed it though, which is surprising because that incline is a steeper angle than what takes place in Charleston.  Once I crested the top of the bridge, that steep incline gave way to a steep decline, but I still ran with a relatively smooth pace or at least what felt like a good pace.  

Here comes the exhaust fumes
During my time on the bridge, I paid sharp attention to the traffic.  Everyone running in the race stayed in the marked-off right lane of the right side of the bridge, with the left lane of the right side of the bridge allocated for traffic going the same way as us.  The left side of the bridge had two lanes open for oncoming traffic.  I wish the right side of the bridge was completely shut down for just pedestrians and vehicle traffic restricted to the left side of the bridge.  This thought came to mind as a semi-trailer rolled past a bunch of us and we breathed in its exhaust.  Fortunately, that was the only big vehicle going past us during the race.

  The third mile occurred during the off-ramp and contained the one other incline for the race, something that mentally caught me off-guard.  But that was uneventful and my third mile time jumped back to a somewhat normal 8:30ish mile time. As I neared the finish area, I saw a supportive crowd behind pedestrian gates.  I rounded that corner and saw the finish line, got my finisher’s medal after crossing and looked for a bottle of water.  The overall atmosphere at the finish line felt festive. 

  One of the biggest things I think about when it comes to a race is water station placement.  I am used to water stations near mile markers or at easily accessible spots along the course.  This course had two stations: one around the .4 mile mark and again at the 2.7 mile mark.  I presume the organizers placed the water stations before and after the bridge due to space limitations on the bridge itself, but I know I was not the only one who would have enjoyed a refreshing drink after running a mile.  I found the water table after the finish line and two different size water bottles were offered to finishers.  I also got to eat some fruit; there was no shortage of bananas, much to my delight.

  The medal itself looks very nice and I’m quite impressed with the weight, feel, style, and overall composition of the bridge medal.  The long sleeve race shirt is a thin Delta Dri shirt and will definitely be worn in cool weather while I’m running.  

It is a nice view up here
  Other than the weird water station placements and traffic driving in the lane next to us on the bridge, this was definitely a nice experience and something I recommend to anyone who would be in the Savannah area in early December.  Walking or running over the Savannah River on the Talmadge Bridge is not something that can not normally be done unlike the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston.  So when an event like this happens, that is your ticket to conquer this particular bridge.

You can check out what the race looked like around me with this video: