The fenix 3 is Garmin’s latest flagship GPS sports watch, boasting an incredible array of features. It is not only a very capable watch for running, cycling, hiking, etc. but also doubles up as a smart watch, providing the user with notifications directly from their smartphone. I am currently waiting for the Apple Watch, which like many others, I patiently preordered on the 10th of April. Unfortunately, my patience has begun to run thin, and there is no sight of me taking delivery of my Apple Watch. Well, not least until May 27th-June 9th, which is my current ‘shipping window’. But I digress.
I run around 6 days a week, and often listen to music when out for my morning runs. I usually run with an iPod shuffle and a set of wired Apple headphones. Although I can get by with the average sound quality on the Apple headphones, they simply are not designed for sports use, and frequently fall out of my ears. This proved to be a frustrating affair for some months, after which I moved over to some Sony wired headphones. Luck would have it that after a year or so these broke, so I was back to my Apple buds again. Being in the market for a few months now, I tried a few headphones, but could not find anything suitable for my needs. In the end, I simply gave up listening to music whilst on my training runs. Fortunately, I was contacted by Mpow and asked if I would like to try out their new Sport Bluetooth 4.1 Cheetah headphones and write a review for them. They kindly sent me a pair and I took delivery of these on the 18th of April. Having tried them out now for around 10 days, here are my thoughts.
When Apple announced the Apple Watch in October last year, like many other tech enthusiasts, I was overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation. Finally, in January 2015, we got word of an “official” release date; 24th April. Preorders were due to open on 8th April, 8:01 GMT. Excited as ever, I did some research and decided to preorder (online) a “42mm Space Grey Aluminium Case with Black Sport Band”. Like a child on Christmas morning, as soon as preorders went live, I logged onto the Apple website to confirm my (pre)order. To my disappointment, the website was still being updated! I waited until 8:05am like this, finally reading on a macrumors forum that the app was working fine. I made my selection and proceeded to the checkout, receiving a confirmation order email at 8:08am. I was disappointed to see that the estimated delivery date for my order was shown as 18th of May, almost a month after launch! A simple 8 minute delay in preordering resulted in this.
The same day, I went into Brighton to collect my race pack for the Brighton marathon on Sunday (12th April). I decided to visit an Apple store there to take a look at the watches in person. They were all located behind a secure glass cabinet, so potential customers could look, but not touch! I was fortunate enough to be booked into an appointment at the store shortly after, to try on the watches in person.
The Brighton marathon is the second largest marathon in the UK, after London. Attracting around 10,000 runners and running through one of England’s most beautiful cities, it truly was an epic event. I spent the night before the race at Gatwick Airport Hilton, taking the 7:26am Southern Rail train into Brighton, arriving just after 8:00hrs. Having already collected my race pack before the event, I was all good to go!
Alighting from Preston Park station, I walked to the start in Withdean Park, which was around 10 minutes away by foot. The main mass start was in Preston Park, however, I was fortunate enough to have secured a place in the “elite” wave start. The start here was a fair bit quieter than I had envisioned, with some very serious looking runners warming up. There was also a secure elite tent and portaloo area, fenced off from everyone else, housing the ‘true’ elite athletes!
The adidas Boost shoe range boasts some of the most impressive running shoes to ever hit the streets. Dennis Kimetto smashed the marathon world record at Berlin in 2014 (link here), running in a blisteringly fast 2:02:57. It was interesting to note that he was wearing the adizero Adios Boost shoes. The adizero range from adidas feature a “light weight design for better speed and performance”. As a committed runner, I have become much more serious about my race times, so it seemed like a logical step to try out the adizero range.
There are four adizero shoes available here in the UK, however, I was particularly drawn to the Takumi shoes, in no short part due to their weight. At a mere 170 grams (size 8.5), they were the lightest of the bunch and featured a continental rubber outer sole, which seems as though it could take some wear and tear. The limited reviews available also suggested that they are designed to encourage the runner to go fast, something which I welcome very much!
The half marathon is probably my favourite racing distance. It is long enough to feel like a challenge, yet short enough to do without the immense preparation demanded from the marathon distance. There is a also a significant sense of achievement after running 13.1 miles at a hard pace. Checking over my Strava record, I can see that a half marathon took me 1hr 45 minutes last year this time. Fast forward to October of last year, I achieved my currently held PB of 1:23:39; a feat I am most content with.
I raced a half marathon 2 weeks ago at the adidas Silverstone event, falling short of a PB by one minute. Given the conditions on the day, I was not disheartened by my performance. Yesterday, I took part in the inaugural Hampton Court Palace half marathon. The race started in the Hampton Court Palace grounds, and took runners through scenic views and a mixed combination of grass, towpath, gravel walkways and road. The course was generally flat, with some very mild undulations, and may have carried PB potential. I was planning to race fairly hard, but not too concerned with breaking a PB (although was not ruling the possibility out!).
On the 25th of March 2015, adidas hosted their first ever #boostlondon, “the energy takeover” event. Much of the event was kept under wraps and hushes, and runners who signed up had little clues as to what the run entailed. The only concrete information I could find about this run was the following:
-It is a 10km run.
-The start is located in Elephant & Castle, Lambeth.
-There will be a labyrinth/maze concept to the run.
-Runners need to bring a fully charged smartphone (to help ‘navigate the Labyrinth’).
-And that this event will be “like no other”.
Registration was limited, and hopeful runners could sign-up for the event, with only a handful being successful. Apparently, the selection process was random. Although I am not aware of the figures, it would appear that there were between 200-250 runners there on the night. Before the event, runners were sent a race pack consisting of an adidas branded “energy takeover” T-shirt, a smartphone armband (which is suitable for an iPhone 5 sized mobile) and an information leaflet.