AfterShokz Xtrainerz Review

Since I spend a lot of time swimming  I was delighted to be given the chance to test out the new AfterShokz Xtrainerz Headphones. Swimming can be boring at times and the most entertaining thing is trying to figure out what lap you are on. So as soon as they arrived I planned my swim session for that evening.

Bone conduction technology introduction
This technology was new to me and I have been doing some research on it before I knew I was going to get a chance to review the Xtrainerz. I guess we are all used to traditional headphones where we put them over our ears or buds into our ear (known as air conduction) but what about placing them just in front of our ears. It definitely seems like a strange way to listen to music. But AfterShokz headphones  work by generating miniature vibrations which travel through your cheekbones. The vibrations go directly to your inner ears (cochlea), bypassing your eardrums. Because of this, you are free to enjoy music without blocking your ears. This leaves you with situational awareness and comfort.

Setup
After I unboxed these I connected the cable and hooked it up to the computer. It was an easy drag and drop action into the TrainerZ folder. I then powered on the headphones and music was ready to go. From wireless headphones I have used in the past they were by far the easiest to setup. The main takeaway from this is that you need a computer to set these up.
 
First Test
Off to the pool I went with my new gadget. I had never used bone conduction headphones before so I was also curious to test out this technology. I turned them on before I jumped into the pool and straight away I noticed the sound quality, it was as good as having ear buds. I wasn’t expecting that to be the case when underwater. Xtrainerz provide an equalisation mode to optimise the sound quality underwater. This makes them loud, with plenty of bass. They fitted nicely, felt secure and didn’t get in the way of my goggles and were comfortable under my swim hat. And now it was the real, I jumped into the water and as soon as I started swimming the quality of the sound seemed to improve. They never once moved during my session and at no stage did they annoy me, if it wasn’t for the music I wouldn’t have noticed them on me.
 
As I left the pool one of the lifeguards was curious to see what I was wearing as she was looking for something to use in the pool and hadn’t found anything she liked.
 
Other features worth mentioning
Xtrainerz are IP68 waterproof which means they can be submerged in up to 2 metres of water for 2 hours.
 
Pros
– Sound quality is exceptional
– Comfortable to wear when swimming and running and feel secure when on
– Makes swimming much more enjoyable
– Quick and easy to get setup and use
 
Cons
– There is no Bluetooth so you have to download your music in the days where streaming is becoming more popular
 
Overall
I would definitely recommend these. When it comes to swimming, Bluetooth is not going to work so it is essential that MP3 is available. The sound quality is amazing underwater and when my swims get longer these will make every session more enjoyable. I can’t wait to get back to the pool.
 
Where can I buy these
You can go here if you are interested in Xtrainerz.
 
Technical Specs

Part number

AS700

Frequency response

20Hz-20KHz

Battery

Lithium battery

Battery Capacity

183 mAh

Speaker type

Bone conduction transducers

Sensitivity

96 ± 3dB

Compatible profiles

MP3, WMA, FLAC, WAV ,AAC

Weight

1.06 oz ( 30g)

Continuous play

Up to 8h

Speaker impedance

DC:8.5Ω±20%

Charge time

< 2 hours

Warranty

2 years

Water resistance

IP68

Maximum output power

0.6W

Maximum charge voltage

5.25 V

Memory

4GB or 1200 songs

Part number

AS700

Frequency response

20Hz-20KHz

Battery

Lithium battery

Battery Capacity

183 mAh

Dublin Marathon 2018

Build up

The build up to the race went better than expected. I avoided any serious injuries and managed a half marathon PB in my block of training. I used many races as part of my runs to help break up the long runs. With the help of the St Catherine’s members doing the marathon we put in some excellent and tough long runs. These gave me the confidence I needed and for the very 1st time I managed to get a 21 mile run in as part of the block of training. Thanks to Brendan, Keith, Pat and Ted who joined me on those long runs. My goal was set at 3:30, I felt I could achieve this.

Race weekend

The weekend started with a wedding in Cork on the Friday. My alarm was set for 5am on Saturday where I set off on the drive to Poolbeg parkrun. The weekend was not just about the marathon but the ASICS Frontrunner team were having our meet up. We would be racing, pacing or cheering on at parkrun but plenty of other activities throughout the weekend. I got up there in time and managed to get in a couple of photos on the beach before everyone came along. It was great to see everyone and catch up, some team members I hadn’t met before so it was a good way to get to know more about each member. We see each other everyday on social media and we probably know more about each other than some of our friends but you can’t beat a face to face meet up and hear some stories, get advice and get to know each other even more. I was cheering on and it was great to see so many of the team have top performances as well as pace excellently and a few PBs in there as well.

Once that was done it was time to get some photos in before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the expo. I found myself on stage with Holly, Lauren and Kerry. I nervously answered a few questions. Time then to collect my number and meet up with Damian and a few club mates.

We headed out that evening then to the Irish Whiskey Museum, I learned a lot from it, some history that I didn’t know that I feel I should have know but of course I was never going to have the tasting but it was good to watch everyone’s faces as they tried it out. Food and awards followed before I jumped in a taxi home, of course I was going to have an early night big day tomorrow.

Race day

The extra hour in bed made no difference to me as I was up nice and early. The excitement was starting to hit but no nerves. Went down and met the team and had breakfast. Porridge, toast, egg and a bowl of Coco Pops was the perfect combo. We had a taxi booked for 8:15 so we didn’t have the extra few miles, anything to save the legs. The weather was perfect. There was a worry it would be extra cold and I brought layers just in case but in the end I only needed arm warmers. We got a quick snap, dropped off our bags and then Peter, Holly and myself made our way right to the front of the wave. Sarah, Becca and Lotta stayed further back. We were being brave standing on the line, now just to control ourselves. I had decided I’d go for 3:25, this would give me a buffer if I needed it.

Off we go

The countdown was almost at zero and then bang, its time to go. I sprinted off like I was doing a 100 meter race, but once I got around the corner I calmed down and decided it was a good time to get into the correct pace. Holly caught up with me and I could only laugh as she was wondering what was chancing us as we went off so fast.

Since we were in the 3rd wave it was extra important to be up the front. It was a strange feeling having open roads in front of us as we went through the 1st few miles. We would meet some of the runners from the 1st two waves but overall we had plenty of space to get into a proper rhythm. Holly had decided she would pace me around, with the crowds behind it would be impossible to meet others on the course, so looks like I was stuck with her for 26.2 miles. Going through the course it brought back memories of 2 years ago and flashbacks to parts I could remember. The 1st 5 miles flew by, 7:39, 7:43, 7:44; 7:41 & 7:41. You are into Phoenix Park at this point and you hit some big pockets of supporters. It was getting noticeably busier alright but with a long straight ahead of us in the park it was easy to find space. It was going through the gate at the end and back on to tight roads was when things started to tighten up a bit and it wasn’t long until we started to hit the large pack of runners from the 2nd wave. As you come back into the park it has a lot of twists and turns and the crowds got even bigger.

The never ending drag with some downhill for a break

The next 5 miles (6 to 10) looked like 7:42, 7:47, 7:31, 7:40 & 7:39. I remember thinking at mile 6, “damn I have 20 miles to go, how am I going to do that”. I needed to get that out of my head and break it back down. There was huge support by Chapelizod and that definitely got the hairs standing up as I knew what was coming next after the Rock ‘N’ Roll half had this as its last few miles. In this section Holly had to inspect the portaloos a couple of times but she came sprinting back, no such thing as slowly catching back up. We met some great characters as we moved through the crowd here, Holly took the chance to take out the gopro and ask them a few questions. We had a guy in full army clothing, 2 guys dressed up as a rowing boat running together, Jerry who is one of Corks most recognisable athletes and top wheelchair athlete, Sonic made an appearance as well along the way. What faced us next was pretty much a long drag through half way. It was great to see Sarah R and Alechia at about mile 12 for a bit of support, the crowds are huge but its always good when its someone you know. Miles 11 to 15 were 7:45, 7:43; 7:49; 7:48 & 7:45. I passed through half way in 1:41:50, that was a whole 10 minutes faster than I did 2 years ago. I was feeling good through 15 miles but the race was only getting started then. Mile 16 to 20 looked like 7:40; 7:45; 7:45; 7:42; 7:41. I was really surprised with my consistency here. It certainly didn’t feel like it but I was knocking out some steady miles. But after this is where the marathon really begins, it is the time where people start to slow down

The miles started to get hard, almost as hard as the Jelly Beans

Miles 21 to 26 were 7:44; 7:46; 7:39; 7:33; 7:52; 8:00. This is where things started to get tough and if I was on my own I’d have so easily have given up or dropped off the pace. I felt a bit light headed at around mile 21 so I asked Holly to grab me jellys next time she saw someone giving them out. And she did, I grabbed them, threw them in my mouth and was expecting some soft haribo but instead they were rock solid jelly beans. My back tooth didn’t agree with them and next thing I know I’m chewing on bits of my tooth. I had somehow cracked my tooth on a sweet – I couldn’t make it up if I tried,  now I am down the majority of a tooth. Hollys response to it was – you are lighter now so you can run faster. Good advice.  So I had to forget about the tooth and continue on, but I was starting to struggle to stay focused now. My legs were getting tired, my head was saying you are done and I wanted to slow down. This is where Holly really offered the best advice and support. We took it one mile at a time and she ran in front and I had to keep up. It could have been so easy to just say no but I had to dig deep and say I can do this. I knew we had a good downhill and flat finish so I just needed to get to there. When I look at my mile splits now I see I wasn’t struggling physically and I was tipping away at a good pace. But just before mile 25 was where I was looking forward to all day. The ASICS Frontrunner cheer zone was located here. You could hear them from far down the road. What a bunch of legends. Cheering & motivating people a lot longer than I was running the marathon. The good vibes as I ran through gave me the much needed energy, you could really tell they were enjoying it.    Looking at mile 26 will annoy me though, just because every other mile was below 8 minutes but as you can see I did lose some time over the last couple of miles but I’m not going to complain too much about that.

And the shuffle to the line

The last few 100 meters felt like they would never end. The crowds on either side were huge but I was just looking ahead at the finish line. Holly kept encouraging me right up to the line.  It worked and I crossed the line with a massive PB finishing in 3:23:26. A hug for Holly for getting me the PB, picked up my medal and then got my phone out and powered it on as I wanted to check how everyone got on. My phone started alerting with everyone I was tracking and some amazing results there.

Thanks

There are so many people to thank:

Martha for giving me the time to put in the long runs, the short runs and the races, which meant I was out of the house a lot. It isn’t easy with a 2 year old and she sacrificed plenty of mornings and evening so I could train to get the target I wanted.

St Catherine’s members for the training. From speed work to long runs it always helps to have a good team around you.

Damian for all the advice on the build up to it and for years of encouragement. He helped me break 4 hours 2 years ago and he smashed through the 3 hour barrier this year.

ASICS Frontrunner team for keeping me relaxed on the build up to the race right up to when the gun went off. They offered great advice and gave me the confidence on the day and the work they put in at the cheer zone was appreciated by all.

Gazz & Holly for giving me the opportunity to be part of the frontrunner team and to run the race with ASICS and have the best kit for it. I hadn’t planned on doing it until they provided us with the chance. And then a huge thank you to Holly for her help on the day. I definitely would not have been able to do it on the day without her. Maybe up to 21 miles I’d have been ok but I would have fallen away after that but for the advice and encouragement she provided. It was really enjoyable to run with such a great runner who made things look effortless. No doubt everyone will want her as a pacer now. You can thank me later Holly.

After

After relaxing with a hot chocolate it was back to the hotel for some downtime. I do regret not joining the team at the cheerzone. You can check out the fun they were having here. That evening we all went out as a team for burgers and some celebration drinks (water for me). My burger was gone in seconds. Some went the extra mile and went out in fancy dress. My evening was about to end early after a long day but a call from Damian meant I was back out to meet him.

Overall

What can I say, this weekend went perfect. The race was the icing on the cake. The frontrunner weekend really helped relax me before my ‘A’ race and I’d like to thank the frontrunner team for everything. I really can’t wait for the next meet up. I’d definitely advice people to get out and do Dublin next year. The support was exceptional, the organisation was perfect and the course it tough but fair. To have over 16,000 finishers and have it run so smooth shows you how well this race is run and no wonder it continues to sell out and is a must do race. Well done to everyone who took part in the marathon, park run and cheered everyone on. Each of your deserve to the celebrations. Some amazing results out there.

What next

It is time now to relax and use Vegas half marathon as a fun day out. I don’t see myself racing for the rest of the year and come back fresh next year for more big challenges.

Photography – Carel Du Plessis CDP Photography Ltd & Jack Schofield Stage 7 Photography

Dungarvan Tri 2018

Dungarvan was last Tri last year and it was to be the same this year. You can read how that went here.
The build up to it wasn’t ideal. A total of 70km cycled in the previous 7 weeks was never going to be good prep but after having my best race of the year in half marathon the Saturday before I felt fit and ready for the challenge. Then Sunday came and I hurt my back. The next 3 days were spent slowly walking around the house trying to mind my back. Sitting for more than 10 minutes hurt and it looked like I’d have to skip the race. On Thursday evening I went for a slow swim and it went ok. On Friday I went for a slow 5km jog and was fairly stiff after it. But I was able to do it so I went ahead and started to get my kit ready for the next day.

Race Day

I was up early to have small breakfast and load everything into the car. Got down there in good time and just like last year the weather was looking good. I got registered and proceeded to get my bike racked and my transition area set up. All the club were in the same area so we were all kind making sure we had enough space to lay out our kit right.

Swim 00:29:06 (9th of 143)

The swim is always my favourite and look forward to getting under way. The swim had an Australian Exit which always makes things interesting. It was a beach start and as soon as the countdown was complete off we went. Sprint into the water only for all but the bravest to slow right back down as we ran over rocks after rocks. Clonea beach is shallow so it was a a small bit of running and dive, followed by up I get again another bit of a run and dive. I got into a good rhythm straight away and even though it looked smooth from the beach there was a bit of a current which meant you were fighting against that the whole way out to the 1st buoy. Around the 1st buoy and then straight line to the next. I found myself right next to teammate Shane. When we got to the next buoy we had to go back at an angle to the exit. It was fast on the way back in. I can a good push from many waves, felt like I was flying at times. I got out of the water and around the flag. I was 11th after the 1st lap. Straight back in and dealt with the Australian Exit a lot better this year than last year. This time it felt like I was going nowhere trying to get to the first buoy. But once I got to it I was able to get around and find that rhythm again. On the second loop when we got to the second buoy you had to go at the opposite angle and toward the lifeguard building. I was feeling good and pushed on. When I looked at my time I was a bit disappointed and was a lot slower than last year. Almost 4 and half minutes but it was a lot tougher swim and definitely was a bit longer. To my surprise I was 9th out of the water

T1 00:01:47 (47th of 143)

Hit T1 and Brian and Shane were in there at the same time. We were close to each other coming out of the swim. I was throw out by the fact my fulfill bar was taken from its wrapper so I had no fuel, and I was hungry. Put my socks on and took my time getting ready. Then it was time to motivate myself for my least favourite part of the day.

Bike 01:18:34 (77th of 143)

What can I say about the bike that I haven’t already said before. Because there were so many sprint cyclists on the road I felt I was going well on the bike. The course has a lot of ups and down and is fast start, tough after the turnaround and fast finish. I kept to a good pace and before I knew it I was going through the sprint turnaround. At that time I was wishing to myself that I could turnaround there as well. Hitting the 20km mark which was a small bit after the turnaround point I was averaging over 30km/h but that was mainly aided by the fast downhill we hard before the turnaround. At the turnaround point I was told I was 33rd through, so that meant 24 people passed me up to then. Unfortunately we had to go back up it and I felt I was going backwards. This didn’t help my average and did take it out of me and took a while to recover on the flat. Once frustrating thing was the trains of cyclists (mainly from the same club) passing me. With drafting being illegal that did annoy me as that was an even bigger advantage to them as they were gone within seconds of passing me. But I was there to race my own race and struggled on. Comparing to last year I averaged 1.5km/h faster. So even though I had done almost not bike training this year I did better but it wasn’t as windy this year also. I had a lot more pass me on the bike right up to the end.

T2 00:01:24 (83rd of 143)

It may feel like I stopped for a cup of tea with the time spent in T2 but after being passed by a few just before the end of the bike I was behind them going into T2. And 1 person missed his rack space and had to double back (you know who you are Aidan :-)). I didn’t mind and there was a bit of joking between us. Got my stuff together and on went my new Asics Dynamis 2 which make it very easy in transition, no worrying about tying laces and off out to the other part of the race I don’t mind.

Run 00:44:09 (13th of 143)

First thing I did to throw me off was when I was re-configuring my watch selected bike instead of run for the last part. So straight away I couldn’t use my watch for lap times etc. Well it had 5km lap splits. But that is probably a good thing. Go out and see how I would do. Last year I set myself a goal to have at least 4:30 min/km but failed to do that so that was this years target. I knew I could catch a few on the run and make up for lost time on the bike and I did that straight away. Martin gave me a nice slap as I passed him, I think that help me speed up – mainly to get away from him :-). It is interesting comparing last year and this year, even though my pace was much faster this year it had the same look on the graph. I slowed down in the same parts and picked it up again in others. I was hungry during the run and started to struggle a bit but was able to keep a decent pace. I had one person pass me throughout the run and he was out of sight in no time. That was close to 8km in and he finished strong. I still think doing more work on the bike will also help my run leg. I was happy to cross the line and grab some water and cakes.

Overall 02:35:02 (28th of 143) 

I was delighted with the way the race went after the week I had. I didn’t think I would get near last years time but there was only 1 minute of a difference and that was mainly due to the tough swim. I picked up time both on the bike and the run so overall it was a good day at the office but also shows yet again I have to work hard on the bike. For me it is easy to skip

Thanks again to all in Tried & Tested Triathlon Club for putting on another great race this year. I will be back next year to see where I am at and see if I actually do put more effort in getting out on the bike.