Gadget Review – Fitbit Zip


The Fitbit Zip is my new favorite gadget. It’s a pedometer. Yes that’s right, my current favorite gadget is a pedometer. I bought this recently to gauge my level of everyday activity. I work from home so outside of my running I wanted to know exactly how much movement I was getting in each day.

The result was not good. On days that I don’t run I get a very pathetic amount of steps in each day. They say to aim for at least 10,000 each day as the baseline standard.

I now find myself running around like a mad man just to get my step totals up. I park as far away as I can at stores in order to pack on some steps on my way in. I walk around the house with my 8 month old daughter just to get in some extra steps. It’s fun! Anything that gets you up and moving is a good idea.

What I like about the Fitbit Zip is that it is very accurate. It needs to do one thing; count steps. It does it very accurately. The nice thing about the zip is that it runs off of a regular watch battery so there is no need to constantly charge it every few days. I believe this battery lasts upwards of 4 to 5 months so you never need to worry about it. Just clip it onto your belt. Throw it in your pocket. Women can clip them on their bra. Just have it on you and it will count your steps as you go.

Outside of steps, it tracks a rough estimate of distance traveled, calories burned throughout the day, the time of day, and a little character guy that will smile and make faces at you depending on how your activity level is going. It syncs up with where you can store all of your stats and earn badges for various feats.fitbit-zip

I highly recommend one of these to everyone. Go ahead and get one. Get one for your spouse as well! Have fun and compete on a daily basis. They come in a variety of fun colors and run around $50. Try to get active. Your heart will thank you.

Fitbit has a couple of other versions if you’d like to look into those as well. The Fitbit One is $99 and will do everything the Zip does but adds on sleep tracking, vibrating alarm, stair tracking, and activity timer. There is a new product, the Fitbit Flex that is a wristband that does everything the Zip does but adds the sleep tracking as well as the vibrating alarm.  The Flex is the one I’m very excited about. I won’t ever have to worry about forgetting it again. It’s waterproof so you can wear it all day, even in the shower. Wear it at night and it tracks your sleep patterns. Set a vibrating alarm for the morning and you no longer need an alarm clock. Good stuff! I preordered it on Amazon and it is due to arrive sometime in May. I will be doing a review on that model as well.

Race Report – Baystate Half Marathon

Race Reports, Running

Distance: Half Marathon

Official Time: 2:58:07

Location: Lowell, MA

A year ago after my first half marathon I said to myself “I’m going to lose a ton of weight and come back next year and crush my half marathon PR”. Well, things didn’t exactly go according to plan, but I did at least beat my PR (but only by 3 min 27 sec).

Training for this race was going reasonably well up until my daughter was born. Once she arrived I sort of took a running vacation for a while and didn’t focus on weight loss like I should have. Oh well, life gets in the way, happens to the best of us.

I decided to run the Baystate Half Marathon because well, it’s in Lowell, and well, that’s where I live, haha. Didn’t feel like driving all the way out to Albany again. Another reason I decided on this race is because I plan on one day joining the Greater Lowell Road Runners club (GLRR) and they actually put this race together.

The weather was FANTASTIC. The route was not quite as flat as they made it seem, but I’d say 90% of it was pretty darn flat. But that hill going up over Rourke Bridge got the best of me a couple times. The volunteers were FANTASTIC. Overall I had a really fun time and plan on doing this race again in the future.
Since my training was a mess I had a hard time figuring out my game plan for this race. I spent the majority of the year doing various run/walk versions and didn’t know if I should stick to a strict run/walk interval throughout, or if I should just wing it and run to certain spots I picked out and give myself some walk breaks. At 256 lbs I knew I’d be walking chunks of it, just wasn’t sure if it would be planned or not. I started off doing 2 minute runs, 1 minute walks and figured if I could just maintain that then I would be able to last the 13.1 miles. Well the intervals last a few miles then it pretty much became just winging it, running when I could, walking when I had to.

I was doing the math in my head the whole time and after the first half of the race figured I had a good shot at beating my previous best half time of 3:01:32. In fact at the halfway point I was WELL ahead of that pace. Unfortunately the familiar calf muscle cramps started happening and got the best of me the last few miles once again just like last year.

I felt like passing out a few times, haha, but kept plugging away. I took a GU at a very critical point and it really provided the boost to help get me to the end. I never plan on being this unprepared for a long distance race like this ever again. I never plan on being slow as molasses like I am right now ever again either. When I run a half next October I want to get at least 2:45 or better. That is still slow but would be a significant improvement for me. If I drop 50 more lbs I should be able to do much better with my running.

When I came down the homestretch I heard some yell “I love big guys!”. I couldn’t tell if I should be offended or not. I think he just meant that he loves when big guys get out there and do something so challenging despite the disadvantages. Well that’s how I’ve decided to take it anyways. After that random comment, I really got a surge from the crowd. Then I caught a glimpse of the clock and it said like 2:59:40. Once I saw that I took off like a bat out of hell. I knew I easily had sub 3 with net time, but I want any pictures to reflect sub 3 on the clock as well, haha.

I really had a fun time at this race. I LOVED the fact that my two kids and wife were there to greet me at the end. Next time, I plan on being much faster, but hey, I accomplished my goal, speed doesn’t matter.

Official time was 2:58:07. A new PR.