It's here! My Adidas micoach Pacer arrived via UPS today. I was afraid it might not make it, despite the OUT FOR DELIVERY status on the UPS tracking site, being that we're under a Winter Storm Warning here in central Texas. It's snowing as I type. Walking snow, the big, globby kind that soaks you to the bone if you spend any amount of time in it but looks so lovely as motes in the beam of a lone streetlight. I'd like it a lot more if it was night, I guess. Right now, it's just cold and messy.
But, now I have it. My first gear haul of the blog. Along with the micoach Pacer, I also received a pair of Under Armour Spectre women's running shoes in graphite/carnation, which is just fancy talk for gray and pink. I'll review those another day, but UA has never let me down yet, and just from my initial try-on, I can tell these shoes will work well for me. *knock on wood*
This is about the Pacer. Most of you have probably never heard of it. I know I hadn't. I stumbled on it quite by accident last week when I was plotting how to spend that Tax Return money that was fixing to be burning a hole in my debit card at any moment. The only running gadget I had at the time was my Mio Classic Pink heart rate monitor. See link in sidebar. That's also a review for another day. I was looking for something a little bit more comprehensive that would give me pace information and have continuous heart rate monitoring. All my runner friends (are coming over tonight, damn you Hank Jr., get out of my head) rave about their Garmin Forerunners, the 305 in particular. When I started my online search, I had narrowed my choices to the Garmin 305, which has come down in price and can be had for around 150 bucks, or the Nike + system. Nike had everything I needed, since I'm not THAT keen on GPS. I've never had GPS in anything, so I don't feel the need to complicate my running further with that. Although, I did once get lost in my own neighborhood. For that problem, I've since acquired a cell phone. Tracy phone home. Problem solved.
So, I looked at Nike + first. For about 60 bucks, you can get the stride sensor and wristband which tells you distance, I guess, and not much else. For 30 bucks or so, you get the chip to plug into your iPod nano, and the stride sensor, which is wirelessly connected to the chip. After your run, you can plug the chip into your computer and upload all kinds of nifty stats to the Nike + website, chat with friends, and be part of a wonderful community. You can also download workouts, and miracle of miracles, a voice will talk to you through your .mp3 player to let you know how fast and how far you're going. I liked that idea. A voice coming through my .mp3 player seemed like a pretty novel idea. Sure, it doesn't really tell you anything you couldn't get off the wristband, but it's a voice. In my head. A voice! Yeah, I'm easily amused.
So, that's all good. Now the cons. One, the Nike + can be used with any shoe, but doesn't come with a means of attaching it if you don't have the Nike + compatible shoes. Con number two, the Nike + interactive system only works with the iPod nano. I have a Sandisk Sansa Fuze, two of them, which I am more than satisfied with. I don't want to spend the 30 bucks for the Nike + system only to fork out 150 more for the nano. I will say, though, it was a tough decision, because the new generation nano has a video camera in it, and I'd very much like a small, portable video camera to make vids for this blog. But that's not high enough on the priority list right now to warrant the extra expense. I have a clunky camera with vid capability that I can use in a pinch, and the miCoach works with any .mp3 player. Finally, the Nike+ isn't always accurate, distance-wise, but that wasn't a huge worry of mine, either, since I am now using MapMyRun.com and will probably continue to do so. No loss there.
In favor of the miCoach, the voice in the .mp3 player is an actual coach that tells you your workout stats as well as when to speed up or slow down. He (or she, depending on which voice you choose) knows what to tell you based on workouts you download to the Pacer via the website which are either part of one of their many training plans or made and fully customized by you. Which means, if you're already doing a training plan, like FIRST or Hal Higdon, you can use those workouts at templates to devise Pacer workouts online and then download them onto your Pacer so that your coach can keep you on track. Awesome. And the miCoach works with any .mp3 player. So, I don't have to trade in my Sansas. On the downside, it costs about 140 bucks.
Deciding against the Garmin was a little harder. It's only ten dollars more than the miCoach. It does way more than the Nike+ or the miCoach, so much, in fact, that I don't even know everything you can do with it. In short, probably more gadget than I need. When it came down to it, two things made me decide for the miCoach instead of the Garmin, and they're both kind of shallow. The first: the miCoach is new, and shiny, and I wanted to be the first kid on my block to have one. The second: hubby just bought me my Mio Classic for Christmas, which is a heart rate monitor that goes on my wrist like a watch. His feelings are going to be hurt if I replace it with a new watch-gizmo-thingie in February. Now, I'm essentially still replacing it, but since none of the miCoach gear goes around my wrist, I can still wear the Mio and hubby will think the rest is just add-ons. Plus, the Garmin isn't going anywhere and will probably get cheaper by the time I'm bored with the miCoach. Here's hoping so, at least.
All that being said, because of the snow, I'm not able to try out my miCoach just yet. It's currently charging, anyway, and the initial charge is supposed to take around 2 hours. That won't stop me from posting about my initial findings, complete with piccies and Tabby approval rating.
First, there was a box and some shoes. Okay, a couple boxes inside of one big box, one of which yielded shoes.
And then, there was Tabby, in for the ever important bomb sniffing test.
She said, no bombs on board, safe to be proceeding with caution.
But I know what you're all thinking.. WHAT'S IN THE BOOOXXXXX?
This is where my first criticism occurs. You can't tell from the picture, but the box did not survive the ordeal unscathed. Seriously, why must boxes be folded into impossible contortions so that one cannot even find where they're supposed to open, let alone pry them open once you do? Okay, so I probably could've figured it out, eventually, but at that point, I was deep in the throes of, 'OMG! Gimme my new toy, right now-itis.' Spoiled kids have nothing on adults who've spent their own hard-earned money and then had to wait, almost a full week to receive the goods in this instant gratification age.
Needless to say, the box eventually opened. It may never close again, but it is now open.
So, what is all that? On initial inspection, I found three black pod thingies, a silver whatsit that resembled a very large watch battery, an elastic strap with a snap on each end, and a baggie of cables and cords. One of the cables was obviously a USB. The other had male connectors on both ends, and I won't even go there... The last looked like .mp3 player earbuds but only had one bud. ONE earbud? And it's not even the kind that won't fall out of your ear when you're exercising. I had a momentary panic attack, imagining my favorite tunes with only ear bud and constantly having to put said bud back into ear, but then I read that you can use any earphones you like. So, I'll be using the ones I have now which hook over my ears and have as many buds as I have ears. I'll leave you to guess how many that is.
It took me less than five minutes using the included Quick Start Guide to find the necessary port and plug the main unit into my computer to charge. My comp automatically downloaded the driver and took me to the Adidas miCoach home page where I then made such important decisions as: how many and what type of workouts to load, what voice my coach should have, and what do I want my coach to tell me when I press the magic button on the center of the device that gives automatic updates. ('You're hot, and your butt is getting really tight' was not an option.) Now, in anticipation of receiving my toy, I had already gone online and registered with the site as well as picked out a workout program that's supposed to help me train for the 10k I'm registered to run in April. I went with the Run Faster option, rather than the Run A Race option, because I already know I can run 10k. While I don't have any visions of posting an awesome time in my first race, I want to at least race the race to the best of my ability. So, yeah, I have 30 workouts already planned over the next 8 weeks, and they automatically loaded onto my Pacer. There's also a place where you can change your heart rate zones to suit you better, since everyone is different, which is one of their selling points, and a neat assessment workout that's supposed to take 12 minutes and take you through all the training zones in a progressive manner so that you and your coach can get to know one another better. LOL.
One criticism that I have for the site as well as with the Nike + site is that there is no way to enter data that does not come from a device. I found a spot where I could enter numbers manually, since my micoach didn't arrive until after I'd already completed one of the workouts, but I couldn't get the numbers to stick. It still says I never completed this workout. And it will always say that, because I'm not going backward on my calendar. One thing some users might not like, as well, is that so far, there's no social networking feature to the adidas site. No message boards or challenges. Just you and your micoach. This is fine with me, as I spend too much time online anyway. Ask anyone who's waiting for me to post the next chapter of a story. :/
I'd say, within half an hour I had my device all set up the way I want it, got one of the other beanpod thingies, which turned out to be the stride sensor, attached to the laces of my new shoes (yay adidas for including the snap-on lace attachment) and got the third pod attached to the elastic strap, which is the heart rate monitor.
Now, I've never used a chest strap heart rate monitor before. I know they need to be snug, but when I first put this on, I was really skeptical. It couldn't possibly need to be that tight, could it? On first inspection, there didn't seem to be any way to make it bigger that I could see, only smaller. After I wore it for a few minutes, though, it made itself bigger, and when I took it off again, I facepalmed just a little. Once it was adjusted, it was still tight, but I stopped noticing it, so I guess it's fine. I don't see how it could restrict breathing at all. If you're breathing that high up into your chest, then you're doing it wrong, I think.
But still, the wearing of elastic around one's body parts always makes me leery. I don't know if any of you watch the Spike channel? There's a show on there called... I'm guessing here... "1001 ways to die." Have you seen it? The 1001 ways vary from moderately amusing in a 'anyone that stupid deserves to die,' sort of way, to completely gruesome and tragic in a way that will make you lose sleep. (Don't ever watch a marathon of it. You'll be scarred for life.) Anyone remember the one where the dude strapped a sausage to his thigh and then went to a club to attract some females of the species? He died of a blood clot that went to his heart or something like that. I am sad to admit that this image pops into my head every time I strap on the armband for my .mp3 player. And now, my heart rate monitor. Has anyone ever died from that?
Ah, so, now I'm all set up. My battery is fully charged and flashing green. Only thing left to do is tie on my shoes and go for a run.
Except... it's still snowing. Hard. And in about 15 minutes I have horses to feed and a sink full of dishes to wash before I can start dinner. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day.
To close off this initial reaction post, I turned the floor over to Tabby for her final inspection of the product.
While the box passed the Box Sturdiness Test with flying colors:
It left a little to be desired in the Box Fit Test, as she could not fit inside with the lid closed:
So, 4 paws out of 5 from Inspector T.
Chuck declined to comment:
Til the next bend in the road, watch out for plot holes.