Saturday, March 24, 2018

Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Headphones, my review.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

U2 Joshua Tree, side 1, cut 2

Jaybird X3 Bluetooth Headphones
I'm training lone wolf style for the Manitoba Marathon in June and it gets lonely.  I just read The Loneliness of the Distance Runner, but that's for another blog.

Distance running  is lonely business. We become lost in our minds as time and distance swirls by and by. We run through pain, boredom, and joy... and it gets lonely. Within this loneliness we learn to let go, to forget, to be at peace, and to love oneself in spite of our flaws.

Music simply dulls the boredom and takes our mind from the pain.

My current non-bluetooth Bose earbuds sound very good albeit a little heavy on the bass, but that's a Bose thing.  As good as they are, the fit is poor.  The weight of the cord and the friction of my sweaty running shirt pulls them from my ears. They are good for light runs with a toque to hold them in place, but for longer runs I'm forever cramming them back into my ear canal. Not cool.

Being the modern man that I am (insert sarcasm emoji), I thought I'd go Bluetooth. Fun fact, Bluetooth is named in honour of 10th century second king of Denmark, King Harald Bluetooth whose claim to fame lies in uniting Scandinavia. I don't make this stuff up, Check it out here if you don't believe me.

While shopping at Best Buy I texted my friend Steve for his opinion. He returned my text with a phone call within 30 seconds.

I trust his word because he's fussy like me and he's researched hours into Bluetooth earbuds.  His recommendation to me is Jaybird X3 with the caution the range is less than 20 feet. This is a sore point for him as he uses them to watch his tv screen while logging miles on his treadmills. His complaint is the sound is sometimes lagged with the video.  This isn't a problem with me as I'll be using them exclusively for running outdoors with my iPhone. Be warned.

These aren't your parent's headphones!  The sound quality is exquisite and the bluetooth convenience is a huge asset. The charge lasts about 8 hours which is more than enough for a 50 km run.  A 15 minute fast charge will provide one hour  play time. The sound can be customized from a number of presets or you can create your own sound.  Pump up the bass? No sweat! Max out of the highs? Ezy pzy! Create a warm sound? Yup you can do that too!  Loving The Clash? Rock out!

The down side is it takes time to customize the fit. There's several variables which take time to figure out.  I'm at the end of week one and I'm still not satisfied with the fit after numerous variations of fitting.  There are many fitting options far too complex to get into here.. G-it and dozens of websites and youTube tutorials pop up.  What you need to understand is patience is required to find the proper fit.  It is absolutely not a plug and play device.

I'm really close to finding my perfect fit, but  still haven't found what Im looking for.  Patience will prevail and it will be worth the effort.

I have Broken Social Scene and The Bahamas lined up, just waiting for the next lonely run.

Would I recommend these headphone?  Absolutely yes!

Are they for everyone? No, they are designed for the discriminant audiophile with a deep pocket.

Will they help me achieve a PB at the MB Marathon? Nope, but they will relieve the loneliness of the distance runner.

It's a good day to be alive.


Saturday, March 17, 2018

City Park Runners Taproom Run

Oh in the kindest hours
I feel my heart

Broken Social Scene, Old Dead Young (from the album Hug of Thunder, side d)

By all accounts the second annual City Park Runners Taproom Tour was another resounding success.  Officially it's the Brooks Taproom Tour, but the heart and soul of this fine 'peg City event rightfully belongs to Erick Oland, local independent, owner operator of City Park Runners.  Ninety-one runners registered, eighty-two showed up for this blissful romp through gritty Winnipeg streets. Erick, gentleman that he is, allowed a few late entries so as not to disappoint.  It was entirely groovy happening and I'm of the generation that invented the word so I say it with fidelity.

Half Pints
photo credit Carly Walsh
Six O'clock on a Thursday evening, temperature hovering around zero, lots of blue sky, no wind, absolute idyllic conditions for a run. There was no official start, no timers, no whistle, no stretching (thank goodness),  just a few words from Erick reminding us to be safe then a "okay, let's go eh".  Wanting to avoid overburdening any one taproom we split into two large groups on Ness Avenue with one group running the course clockwise and the other counter clockwise.  It worked, kinda, sorta but I think the counter group was larger.
Torque Brewing
photo credit Carly Walsh
Thirteen kilometers and five different taprooms, a beer every 2.6 km, not bad!  We are greeted enthusiastically by servers at all five taprooms. We were a friendly group, if not an oddity (what, you run AND drink beer at the same time). Smiles and good cheer flourish. The pours are suitably small, about two ounces, just enough to catch the nuances and subtleties of craft beer. Some had the beer pre-poured (it was kind of flat and warm at One Great City), while others took orders. And then we move on, in search of another ale oasis in a sea of warehouse grunge.

Oxus Brewing (a stone's throw from Garbage Hill)
photo credit Carly Walsh
Half Pints, One Great City, Torque, Barn Hammer (my fave), and the new kid on the block, Oxus participated. Oxus won't be open until late August but -good news- their beer is available at MLCC.  The owner, Sean, is doing all renovations of the old warehouse by himself which explains the delayed opening.  Like all good things it will be worth the wait. Oxus is a stone's throw from Garbage Hill; how cool is that, a hydration station right where it's needed most!  Ted's Run for Literacy has a few ideas up our sleeve.

Barn Hammer
photo credit Carly Walsh
Erick ordered dozens of pizza from Carbone Wood Fired Pizza but there were slim pickings when my crew arrived.  Apparently some runners have big appetites, really big!  No matter, we found a few crumbs in the boxes and there was plenty of beer from all five tap rooms available. The store was packed and the vibe was contagious.  Great fun was had by all.  It was a class A party!

One Great City
photo credit not known
Erick sends a shout out to the staff at Barn Hammer for their exceptional hospitality.  About 30 runners arrived  simultaneously at Barn Hammer unannounced to the serving staff (is it possible Tyler forgot to tell them?).  Erick explained the event and lovely Tamara, after asking who will pay, shifted into 5th gear and said "Okay then, what can I pour you?".  Erick said Tamara was cool, calm, polite, and very friendly.  Way to go Barn Hammer, way to go Tamara! That's local service for you fast and friendly.
Shameless self-promotion. Three Ted's Run for Literacy board
members participated in this event. Yup, we like beer!
photo credit Carly Walsh.

I asked Erick why local independent businesses support one another rather than compete.  He replied it's because local independent small businesses face similar challenges.  They compete against giant international chains that would just as soon see the locals fail and would happily stomp them into oblivion.  Local businesses need each other to slay the giants and to encourage Winnipeggers to keep their money in the city. They look for original ideas to attract customers.

Last year this event sold out in about 12 minutes.  This year, with double the numbers, it sold out in less than 24 hours.  Many others tried to register but couldn't because it had reached capacity. Will Erick host the Taproom Tour again next year?

"I think the Taproom Tour was a great experience for all and I will certainly explore doing this again, or something new!"

Here's hoping!
My feet move. My heart pumps. My mind floats. My spirit soars.  

With thanks to Half Pint, Oxus, Barn Hammer, One Great City, Torque, City Park Runners, Brooks, and Erck.  In gratitude I will display your logo on the sidebar for one month.

It's a good day to be alive,


Saturday, March 10, 2018

That's A Pneumonia; Ruminations of a Recked Runner.

When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie, that's amore

That's Amore, Dean Martin

A lung infection caused by bacterial or viral infection in which the air sacs fill with pus and may become solid. Inflammation may affect both lungs, one lung, or certain lobes.

That's a pneumonia, Dr. Google

On the bright side, I can now spell pneumonia without using spell-check. (Caution rant...and what's with the silent 'p'?  It's hard enough to spell without adding red herrings).

Based on the data from the previous ten years, my mid-March mileage should be hovering around 250 miles.  Alas, it presently sits at a middling 98.2 miles.

That's a pneumonia.

I usually go to Goodlife Body Pump at least twice a week. I haven't been in three weeks.

That's a pneumonia.

I usually eat three solids (not including second breakfast at 10 AM) every day.  Now I have no appetite and all food is tasteless, blah.

That's a pneumonia.

I used to smoke cigi-butts but I quit in my young thirties.  DuMaurier, Player's Light, I still get a tingle. I'm now winded like a pack-a-day wheezer.

That's a pneumonia.

And here's the kicker; at my doctors suggestion I got the pneumonia vaccine ($130) in September, three months before being diagnosed.

I am back running as of today.  I managed a single 3.5 mile loop and it knocked me flat. Literally flat, I just woke up from a 2 hour nap.

At a 1/2 mile in I considered turning back. I didn't.  At one mile in I felt like crawling. I didn't.  At 1 1/2 mile I coughed up a lung and left it in a slush pile on Wellington Crescent.

At 2 miles I met Junel Malapad who was out for a 100 km jaunt.  He was at 39 km when we met.  He kindly ran with me and listened to me wheeze, cough, and generally complain like the old man I am.  He's a good person, but this we already know.

Running is such a gift. It gives us untold joy.  Our minds brighten, our bodies hum, our loads become light and insignificant in the moment.  We become all that we can be; happy, purposeful, bright, and kind.  We are invincible. We are proud of our accomplishments and wise in our deeds. We are strong, resilient, and we glow with health and spirit.

That's a running.

Like Joni Mitchell's paved paradise we only miss running when it's gone.  Enjoy it now friends for one day you will have only the memory of running and that's a sad memory.  Enjoy it now.  Embrace it now.

Love the day that is now.

I am happy to be back among the land of runners.  I will visit with the back-of-the pack group for a few weeks and hope to move up to my mid-pack homies within a few weeks.  Manitoba Marathon is still on the radar, but my lungs will tell for sure.

It's a good day to be alive.