Thoughts on HealthKit

Initially, I believed that HealthKit shouldn’t be panned as much as it is. I didn’t think the point of HealthKit is the Health app.

To me, HealthKit is just like HomeKit: it’s a clearinghouse (or wire nut) for information for one app to write to another. I currently do this through some hacky magic between Fitbit, Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal, and Strava. If Fitbit would write my weight to the health app and Strava and Garmin could read it from there, that would be great. People who open the Health app and expect magic are thinking of the “now.” Now that apps are out there, I think developers will start shaking out what they’re planning on doing.

Then, last night, I saw this commercial.

(I realize now that this commercial is old. I don’t watch much TV.)

Honestly, I wouldn’t be promoting the Health app yet. I would wait: let the app developers figure out what metrics they’re going to collect and upload to the app over the next year, let the watch come out and start recording fitness, etc. and then once people’s Health apps are already populated with a large corpus of information, start pushing Health as the dashboard.

Right now the app is empty. I have a 6, so it logs my steps, but they’re not my actual steps since I leave the phone sitting around a lot. If Fitbit could write the steps it records, that would be more accurate. Currently my weight is not automatically getting added, and I’m too lazy to enter it by hand from my INTERNET CONNECTED SCALE.

Hrmf.

Is 2015 the year of the multi-sport?

Last weekend I completed my first multi-sport event: The Mohawk Towpath Duathalon. It was a 2 mile run, a 17 mile bike, and then back out onto the running course for another 2 miles.

It was bitter cold and windy before the start. Don’t believe me?

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It was kind of a dreary overcast too.

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I set myself up on the back row of transition, furthest from the entrance and exits of the course, but I had tons of room. For my first time I figured that was important. I looked around at the other bikes, and they thankfully were quite varied, with everything from a kid on her 16″ bike, to a guy on a single speed cycle cross bike, to people on hybrids, to road bikes (of varying vintage), to the guys in the front row of transition with their Specialized Shivs and aero helmets.

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Everyone huddled around the start to get our instructions (and to stay warm).

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Off we went for our first 2 miles of running. I felt good, and I kept pulling myself back a bit because I didn’t want to go out too hot. About 15 minutes later, I came back into transition.

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Got my helmet and bike shoes on,

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And headed out for a 17 mile ride.

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Thankfully the ride starts on a downhill, which makes it easy to struggle with your clips. After that quick jaunt where I averaged just over 18 miles an hour (fast!), I climbed back up that hill to return to transition.

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After having shoe issues in transition, I ended up kneeling on my left leg for quite a while, probably close to a minute. It may look like I’m enjoying myself in this picture, but I’m really not. I can’t contract my left calf. It hurtssss.

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After about a quarter mile, my leg started relaxing. I wasn’t fast, and I wasn’t springy, but I was moving forward and that’s what counts. I must have made up time as my leg felt better, because my average pace for the second run was 8:06.

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Finishing in about ninety minutes, for my first multi-sport race, was really satisfying. TurnsOut(TM) that I placed third in my age group (we left before awards) according to the official results.

Of course, I was at Riverview Orchards, so I had to have some athlete food after!

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The Strava record is a mess from trying to “fix” it to show up as three sports. Here’s the Garmin version, it should be clear what the 5 laps are.

After doing this, I really want to do more of these multi-sport events next year. I just need to learn to swim (efficiently). And I want a watch that understands these things, but I can’t have everything.

So I bought a new phone

Release day, like an absolute tool, I was standing in line in front of my local Apple Store to pick up my new iPhone 6. Here’s what I think of it and iOS 8 after having it for a little over a month:

The size is ok. When I look at my 5c, it feels small, almost like the 4 to 5 transition. I don’t have any pocket fitting issues, but the cup holder insert that came with the car for holding the phone no longer fits the phone. Apps which needed to be scaled up to fit the phone (like Facebook until yesterday) had a bit of fuzz, but I enjoyed the larger text size. (I must be getting old)

It’s fast. I’m coming from a 5 and 5c, so even my wife’s 5s felt snappy compared to it. And ‘dat screen…

It’s thin, light, and wider. I was terrified of holding it until I stuck it in a case. I bought an Apple leather case like I had on my 5. It adds a nice feel to it.

Touch ID is nifty, but anything beyond laziness is limited for me. Some of the things that it unlocks like 1Password are great, but I’m not going to make my master password (more) complicated since I still have to log in on three computers and an iPad with a keyboard (like an animal).

I was super excited for HomeKit, but skeptical. ADT, Lowes/iris, etc. all make money through lock in. Collaboration and interconnection with other apps from other vendors did not seem like something they would partake in. I wanted to play with it too, but all hardware has to pass MFi, ruling out any hobbyist tinkering. I bought some GE Link bulbs which work with Wink, but without an API, they’re mostly toys. I have some Hue bulbs on my Christmas list, which I hope to get and play with.

I’ve used Apple Pay twice. The first time at Panera I had no idea what to expect, and I don’t think the cashier did either. The second was at a self checkout at BJ’s, where the only time saved was the time swiping the card, and it actually ended up being slower because I already have to get my wallet out for the membership card. First world problems.

I’ve got thoughts on HealthKit but I’m breaking them out into another post.

3 months with runcoach and look at me now!

This spring, on the advice of my sister, I read the Daniels’ Running Formula. It was a really good read, and I learned a lot about how to run from reading it. Before this point, all I was doing when I went out was aimlessly killing myself. I would run a couple times a week if that, doing 10 miles on a good week. My average paces were in the low 8s, but I would dread those runs. Leading up to my “May Racing Series” I ran only a few times, and I think the only reason I did so well at the 5k was that my body was used to racing.

The book explained a totally different way to think of running for me, focusing on the different intensity levels, something other than ass kicking. I must admit, the first couple times out at the “proper” “easy” pace were… aggravatingly slow. I tried building a schedule using what was in the Daniel’s book and floundered around a bit.

When Garmin announced their new API platform and the day one partners (Training Peaks and runcoach), I started poking around. I signed up for the trial of runcoach and set up the initial plan. The concepts they use are very similar to what were in the Daniels book, and it had the “direction” that I wanted. It has been awesome this summer. The first “Goal Race” I put in was the Sprint for Soldiers 5k which I won my age group in. That’s a result.

Turns out having a specific schedule each week building throughout the summer really works. Every weekend the past few weekends have been distance PRs for me on my long runs, and my track workouts each week have gotten faster and faster.

We’ll see how it pays off this weekend with my 10k, and the weekend following with my half marathon! Either way, I definitely got results out of it and am going to set up Mrs. Awesome with an account.

A new PR!

Yesterday morning Cate and I ran in the Sprint for Soldiers Niskayuna. When I saw it advertised, I figured it would be a small run on the super flat section of the Bike-Hike trail, and I smelled a good morning. I didn’t think it would be a great morning. The park is only 7 miles away along the trail, so to avoid the traffic snafu with the limited parking they have, we rode our bikes over. While we were on our way over, the cyclists who were doing the Erie Canal ride (Buffalo to Albany) were just getting onto the trail for their last day of riding, which made for an interesting amount of traffic.

The results were surprising. (Link to the ARE rendering, I can’t find the actual results posted anywhere.)

I lined up about 15′ back, behind the people who looked fast (and those who stood up with them), but still ahead of the majority of the field. I think I picked a good spot, because I only remember being passed by two people (one of whom I passed about a mile later), and only passed two on the way out. On the way back (it was an out and back), I ended up passing the last two people with about 3/4 of a mile to go. With about a quarter mile to go, I realized that there weren’t many people with bibs on standing around. That’s about all I remember because I just started pouring what was left on.

After I finished and rejoined my group one of them mentioned that I had finished possibly fifth overall. I realized at this point that I had likely placed in age group. As they announced the winners for the M20-29, I realized “I passed that guy…” “I passed that guy…” and then the DJ made the horrible Mark Wahlberg joke.

I won.

I mean, it was just my age group, but I got a medal that wasn’t a “participant medal” in a race.

After that, just because, I decided to scope out the course of a duathlon that I’m thinking of doing this fall. So you know, hammering out another 23 miles. Because.

(I’m going to sign up for that duathlon as soon as it opens. Hell yes. Not enough hills though, I’ll have to get good at cruising. And transition. Changing shoes twice scares me on what it is going to do with my time.)

((Who would have thought that I’d like hills so much. I wouldn’t have the first time I went up Snake Hill on my Hybrid.))

A great evening for a ride

Went for a ride with a friend after work. This of course is after I already ran 4 miles this morning, and woke up at 3:30 am for a conference call. But my Fitbit says I was lazy and only did four thousand steps. Ha!

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Now to get Wes to climb hills. The great thing about work is the easy access we have to some great hills to our west, both on the north and south side of the river.