Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekend Madness

3 days left.

I can hardly believe that Christmas is here.  As of last Friday I was officially finished wrapping.  It feels good to be done the weekend before.  But man did this weekend feel insanely busy!

     Wrapping Central.

After I finished with my wrapping it was 5:30pm and I seriously started debating about whether I wanted to get my run in.  And if I did where was I going to do it.  I had packed my gym bag with the best of intentions.  After quite a bit of debate I ended up heading over to the gym to get it done.  I knew I wanted a yummy carby dinner to prep me for 15 miles the next morning.  And I didn't want to try and fit this in on Sunday.  I generally hate running on the gym treadmills because they always feel harder. But Friday night wasn't too miserable.  But LORDY was it hot!

                                      Fancy new gym treadmills.  Plus my Kindle. 

Early Saturday morning we headed out for our long run.  It was 40 degrees and overcast.  Felt lovely.  Since I had to drop my daughter off for an activity we got a somewhat late start. I had checked the weather app multiple times and it always said no rain. I didn't take my rain coat and talked my husband out of his.  Couple miles away from the car it did start raining a bit.  Damn weather man!

     Jordan River Parkway.  A bit of trail we picked for probably only a quarter mile. 

After that we headed over to pick up cash for our babysitter and grab some gas at Costco.  Hello $2.10 per gallon .. YES PLEASE!  However, because it's so cheap at Costco right now that also means everyone and their brother is there.  We were literally there for 30 minutes!  And then the next morning it had dropped to $2.05 when I was there getting groceries.  Darn it!

When we finally made it home all I had time for was to make my list to pick up ingredients for my cookies/bars I was taking to my exchange the next day.  Originally I had planned to bake them that afternoon.  But there was not time.  Before I knew it I was off to meet my bestie for a pre-Christmas gift exchange/movie date.  We saw, "Wild" .. eh ..  I liked it until the end.  I thought the end was lame.  So rush to Target to get my supplies .. rush home .. shove some dinner down my throat and at 9pm I BEGAN baking.  I had 9 dozen cookies/bars that needed baking.

     This was before it got messy!

                                      You don't bake in your PJ's?  I had lots of helpers too. 

                                                      One of 3 kinds.  S'Mores Cookie Bars. 

I finished at midnight.  15 miles in the morning with a midnight bedtime and I was one tired Mama.  While my last cookies cooled I rushed into the shower and dried my hair, rolled it up in socks so that my hair would be "done ready" in the morning.  Which was the BEST decision I made all weekend!

Sunday was equally busy.  I got up, unrolled the hair, threw some make up on and out the door I went with all four kids in tow.  Costco and Target here we come.  Another post for another day but I spend SO much time stressing about getting my oldest son to read that I almost missed that my middle son (yes SON, boy likes his long hair) is starting to get the reading bug!  He read to himself the entire way through Costco.  LOVE him.

After that was a mad rush home, unload groceries, put them away and back out the door to go to my cookie exchange.  Which was fun like always.  I think it's such a neat idea and if I didn't already go to one I would host one myself.

     Oliver turns four.

We wrapped up the weekend at my parents celebrating December birthdays. I love love when my whole family gets together.  It's always so much fun.  We had 3 birthdays to celebrate, one of which was my youngest son Oliver.  I can't believe my BABY is FOUR!!  It was a great warm up to the Christmas festivities that await us this week.

And THAT my friends is the play by play of my weekend.  It was a busy one, but I'm really happy to say that despite the busy I got all my runs in.


Tell me at least ONE thing about your weekend?

Are you ready for Christmas?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fitbit Charge vs. UP24

I'll warn you right now.  This is a LONG post.  I've been wearing both of these suckers for almost a month now at the same time.  But I wrote this because I would have liked to have read this kind of information prior to committing to one of these gadgets that seem to be growing in popularity.  I paid full price out of my OWN pocket for both.  Nothing free here.

Back in August I picked up a Jawbone UP24 band.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I felt like it was extremely eye opening.  To sum things up it confirmed what would be a given, on days I ran I hit my 10,000 step goal with no effort at all.  I should back up a step, I have a desk job.  So for 9 hours I pretty much sit behind my computer at my desk.  When I got my UP24 band the market seemed to be getting saturated with the Fitbit family.  I had even bought a Fitbit one many months before and returned it.  I had wanted to use it with the LoseIt app only to find out that once I had bought the Fitbit I could only use it with that app if I paid for the premium version of the app.  I wasn't interested in doing that.

So back to summer.  I went with the UP24 because I knew a couple people that had that one and liked it.  The first one I received actually was an out of box failure and I had to take it in and exchange it.  I guess it's internal battery had depleted past the point of recovery.  But since then I've had no issues.  The band itself works exactly as it's supposed to.

I'm kind of a numbers geek.  I like having goals and hitting them.  So while I knew I would kill it on days that I ran I was more concerned with how I did on non-running days.

My favorite features of the UP24:

UP App  -  I love love the app.  It's WAY better than the Fitbit in my opinion.  However, it can be glitchy.  My band will disconnect from it and I have to kill all my apps and sometimes even reboot my phone to get it connected again.  I have an android phone for personal and an iPhone for work. I recently had to move the UP app to my iPhone because when I got the Fitbit I started having all kinds of app issues.  Apparently Fitbit asserted itself over the UP band.  Since moving, I've had very few issues at all.

At a glance I can see my sleep and steps % to goal.

Smart Coach  -  I LOVE this feature.  It actually gives you tips that are specific to you and your activity.  For instance mine tells me every weekend how consistent I do with bedtime during the week and to keep that consistency that I should be in bed by 11:44pm in order to not mess up my sleep patterns.

Step Tracking  -  I like this better on the UP app.  You can see the range for the day, versus just a number.  Plus there are times attached to this information.

If you hover over this in the app it tells you the specific time.

Food & Drink Logging  -  I like this a little better on the UP24.  But it's not a feature that I tend to use a lot.  With my Weight Watcher points tracking app, I just don't log food a second place.  I also don't like to see my exercise add more calories into my daily allowance.  I have used My Fitness Pal with the UP24 and they weren't fine together.  You can take pictures of your meals (that might actually be fun), barcode scan things, track your water intake.  And it gives you a food score based on what you log.  I like the simplicity of this.

Sleep Tracking  -  In short I prefer this feature on the UP24.  The only bad thing is you have to manually tell it that you're going to bed.  But the info you get is far more superior to Fitbit.  And accurate, for instance last night I got up TWICE to pee.  UP24 captured this, Fitbit did not.

UP24 vs. Fitbit Charge

Smart Alarm  -  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this feature on both.  You set the alarm on the app.  The only reason I give UP24 one up on this one is that it has a cool wake window feature.  Where you can choose for it to wake you up as early as 30 minutes before you need to get up.  It identifies when is the "best" time to wake you up.

Idle Alert  -  I LOVE this feature.  Fitbit Charge doesn't have it.  But you can set it to buzz you on your wrist if you're inactive for a designated period of time during a period of time.  For instance I set mine for 30 minutes of inactivity between 8:30am and 5:00pm on weekdays.  This is when I'm in my office. It will buzz and I'll find some way to get up from my desk.

RAZZING your friends  -  Way better on the UP24 app.  You can write comments on their steps, their sleep, what they eat (if they log food), their badges they earn.  You name it.

Features I don't really use:

Goal Setting - This allows you to personalize what your steps, hours of sleep and weight goals are.

Other stuff:

Battery says that it's good for up to 14 days. I disagree.  I'm lucky to get 7 days.  But it charges within 30 minutes back up to full charge.

For Water Resistance it says it's splash proof.  I however had just barely gotten it when I took a trip to Lake Powell at the end of the summer.  I jumped in the pool multiple times with it on, completely submerged and then threw it out to the side.  As well as the lake.  It survived all these things.  Although I wouldn't recommend swimming in it on purpose. I also take it off to shower.  However, one thing worth noting, is that this is REALLY easy to get on and off my wrist (unlike the Fitbit Charge)

UP24 Price:  $129.99  
**  Currently you can score one of these at Costco for $99.99

So if I loved my UP24 so much then why did I go out and buy a Fitbit Charge?  Mainly because I know a lot of other people that have the Fitbit.  I had grown to love the interaction with "friends" on UP24. I only had one friend however, one of my sister in laws.  But that's because I just don't know anyone else that has this one.  I loved seeing how many steps she had each day and working to keep up.  She has consistently given me a run for my money and she's NOT a runner.  I added one more friend over the weekend.  But I don't really know her all that well.  But it's nice to have another person on there now.  So for my anniversary my husband bought me the Fitbit Charge.

My favorite features of the Fitbit Charge:

Fitbit Dashboard

Caller ID  -  The UP24 doesn't have this.  It's kind of a cool feature.  The biggest help I've found is that it's not necessarily seeing who's calling.  But it's nice when I have my phone on silent or vibrate and don't realize it's ringing.  I wouldn't buy it for this feature alone.

Watch  -  It displays the time when you press the button.  I thought this would be cool.  But you have to press the button to get the time to display, the rest of the time it's just dark.  I think it would be better if the display stayed on.

Visual Display  -  I like that you can see how many steps you're at without opening up the app on your phone.

10,000 Step Goal reached  -  I REALLY like that the device vibrates on my wrist when I hit the 10k step mark.  UP24 doesn't do this.  More than once I've popped down on my treadmill right before bed in slippers and PJ's just to walk and hit my goal for the day.  With the UP24 I have to keep refreshing the app to see if I've hit the mark. 

Battery Life  -  While it says it's good for 7-10 days which is estimated to be less than the UP24.  I think it's a more accurate statement with the Fitibit Charge.  I wonder if I turned off the Idle alert on my UP24 whether this would help extend the battery life.

Features I don't really use:

Floors Climbed - I just don't really care.

Fitbit Charge Price:  $129.95  (5 cents cheaper?)
I may attempt to return my Fitbit Charge.

Stuff that's basically the same on both:

Activity Tracking / Steps & Distance Tracking / Calories Burned -  These are basically the same on both devices.  I find that UP24 is giving me slightly more steps than the Fitbit.  But they're both pretty close to each other.  

Wireless Syncing  -  They both sync to your phone app through Bluetooth.  Although my friend has pointed out that the Fitbit forces her Bluetooth to turn on, whereby draining her phone battery.  It's not an option to stop it from doing that.  I don't notice this I guess since I don't turn the Bluetooth off, but I do know that the Fitbit totally messed up my UP24 from syncing properly which was why I had to move it to my iPhone.

Leaderboard  -  You can get a snapshot of the leaderboard of how you compare with your friends on both.  UP24 however you can see much more specifically what your virtual "friends" are up to.  Whereas on the Fitbit all you can see if the 7 day average.  Well when I want to text my bestie and tell her to get her ASS moving because she's been sitting on it all day, you can't do that with Fitbit.  

So which would I recommend??

You probably already know that the UP24 would be my preferred device.  For me I like the friendly competition.  I also like to be able to encourage my friends and tell them how great they did on a given day.  It's kind of like the Facebook of activity trackers.  And the UP24 gives you much more detailed information not just on your friends but on yourself too.  However, it's a much more smart phone based device.  Whereas I think the Fitbit is more computer based.  I don't want to have to log on to a computer to razz my friends. I want to do it from the grocery store check out line.  If I were to go spend my hard earned cash I'd spend it on the UP24.  Not to mention they've got a new UP3 coming out "soon" (WHENNNN????).  I will probably get one of those when they're finally released.  This incorporates heart rate based information.  I wear my heart rate monitor when I run 100% of the time, so it's not surprising that I would want to include some daily tracking there as well.

Even as a runner currently 5 weeks into my training my UP24 band keeps me focused on moving on my non-running days. I take walks when I didn't feel like I needed to before.  I am more active on my non-running days.  It has brought an awareness to me that I didn't have before. I have also become much more focused on my sleep. Knowing exactly how much sleep I'm getting each night forces me to make sleep more of a priority.  And that's good for my training.

And on that note .. my Idle alert just buzzed at me so I better get my butt out of my chair and MOVE.


Do you have an activity tracker?  Let's be FRIENDS if you do!

Why would or wouldn't you want one?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New age group debut.

Thanksgiving happened to be my 40th birthday this year.  I had no problem when I turned 30.  But 40 was a bit more intimidating.  I can't even pinpoint why, but it was.  I wasn't looking forward to it.  I guess the good news is that the first thing out of peoples mouth is surprise.  I struggle with comparing myself to some of my favorite bloggers .. which is really silly because I'm a good 10+ years OLDER than pretty much all of them.

It's become a bit of a tradition to participate in the Thankful 13 event here in Utah.  It's one of the few events that run this late in the year and the only half marathon distance that falls into the Turkey Trot category.  Plus there are no buses involved which means no super early wake up call.  The night before arrived and I regretfully set my alarm for what I thought was the latest possible time but still enough to arrive with time to spare.  Alas, I forgot how LONG my husband takes in the mornings.  Unlike me he doesn't get all his gear together the night before.  So while he's pooping and yelling at everyone because he can't find his stuff (not at the same time), I'm getting quickly irritated because he's going to make us late.  We needed to drop the kids at my parents still and I was STRESSED!

     Sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains.

 We were blessed with a beautiful sunrise as we drove up to my parents.  Quickly dumped the kids and were back in the car racing down to Thanksgiving Point.  To be honest I've had issues every year with this race series.  Historically they run out of medals as well as the correct size shirt that you ordered with your registration.  This year however this wasn't a problem.  We literally arrived with five minutes to spare.  Threw our gear on and walked down to the starting line.  I don't think there were as many people as last year.  Within minutes we were off.  This was to be a training run for us.  I wanted to have a pace right around 10:30.  My husband likes to go out fast and it was cold so I was anxious to warm up.

It wasn't long before I heard what sounded like a stampede of horses coming up behind me.  As I turned my head I saw that it was actually a group from a National Guard running in their combat boots, carting along flags with them.

So. Cool.

My husband can be pretty funny sometimes.  At one point we were approaching a team of military folks.  My husband goes on to thank them for their service and pass comment on my lack of American citizenship. I reminded him that although I'm not an American I am British and by definition one of America's closest allies.

     Another look at those Wasatch Mountains. 

We were not spoiled for views along the course.  The course itself was about the same as last year.  As we passed through the 5 mile mark we picked up a couple GU's.  I always bring my own, just because I'm used to races running out.  I think I'll always be finishing in the back half of the pack and that always means provisions can be questionable.  But when they're available I pick up a couple since that's what I feel like I pay for as part of my registration.  When we came back through the same aid station on the return trip they were out. So I was glad we got some when we could because we would have been hurting on that back half otherwise.  I felt strong until the last mile.  It's solid uphill and a killer.  At that point I was tired and Jeramie was starting to race ahead a bit.  I just didn't have the gas in me to race uphill at the end.

We finished with a solid time however.

Finish Time:  2:16:56
Age Group:  34/70
Average Pace:  10:29 (SPOT ON)

As we approached the finishers chute we saw our oldest son with my Dad and he jumped in and ran the rest of the way with me.  

My outfit was pretty perfect for the weather conditions.  It was in the 40's. My legs had been a little chilly early on but I was comfortable most of the time.


Jackson came down with my Dad and they ran/walked the 5k.  Jackson surprised my dad by running a good 2/3 of the course.  So I'm excited to sign up for another and RUN the whole thing together.  I totally think he could do it!  Maybe even pick up an age group medal!  Sailor (my mum's dog) raced with them as well.  So proud of this guy!  He's already excited to do it again.

     Love this family of mine.

We went on to spend the day with my family.  Stuff our faces full of turkey and then Mum and I hit up Target and Walmart for a little pre-Black Friday shopping.

I absolutely LOVE getting up and knocking out some decent mileage before the Thanksgiving Day activities begin.  Overall I would totally recommend this race to any locals.  It's not a "big" race with "big race" frills.  I think the post race goodies are lacking.  However, I also think Pumpkin Pie is disgusting and therefore do not see that as a fun post race treat.  My husband would tell you otherwise!


Would you race on Thanksgiving morning?

Do you like Pumpkin Pie?

Do you pick up "your share" of race fuel?