H2O Audio Review/Test

My parents got me the H2O Audio Interval and 2nd gen. Ipod Shuffle for my birthday. I'm hoping to improve my swimming this year, and I thought this might help on my long endurance swims. Masters is anything but boring so I don't need it there, nor would I want to wear it during masters class, But that's only twice a week so I plan on swimming in addition to masters, and I think one of those workouts is going to be a long endurance swim - maybe an hour of straight swimming or I might break it down into sets of 20 or 30 minutes. Either way, I thought music might help keep me from getting bored.

So today I gave my H2O Audio its first test run. I went to the Y to work on my backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and flip turns. That was the first half of my workout. Then I figured I'd get my music set up and swim for a while to get in some easy distance and test out my new toy.

The first thing I learned is that setting up the H2O Audio while you're in the pool and soaking wet isn't the easiest thing to do. I think your best bet is to get it set up while dry in the locker room and do your entire workout with music. That's my plan for next time. It's not that it's tough to set up; it's just a little tricky because your hands are slippery.

The mistake I made was not testing out the headphones prior to swimming. You get several sizes of ear plugs because you need a tight fit. They come with mediums on, and I thought those would be fine...nope. I needed small, possibly extra small. Changing the ear plugs while standing on the side of the pool was tricky, but I got it figured out.

Once I got the headphones in my ears, I pulled my swim cap over my ears to help keep water from pulling the headphones out. They stayed put while swimming, but I think they could come out if you don't pull your swim cap down to cover them up.

The main question everyone wants to know - and I was curious myself - was if you could tell you had an MP3 player strapped to the back of your hea
d while swimming. And, how it is during flip turns.

I figured I would be able to hear the music well enough, because without that H2O Audio doesn't even really have a product. So my main concerns were it catching water and pulling my goggles do
wn....and comfort. I thought it would drown out all sounds and all I would hear was music, but that's not the way it works. You can still hear the water splashing as you swim but it's muffled. It's kind of cool, actually. The music sounded great. No complaints on the sound quality. And I didn't notice it at all. I was amazed. I forgot it was back there, and flip turns were no exception.

As for actually swimming with the H2O Audio, there's not that much to say. I didn't notice it and the music sounded good. Getting it set up so the ear plugs are in good and the cords are tucked out of the way so you can pull your cap down and then getting your goggles situated is the toughest part about this product. It doesn't make it difficult to use; it's just more challenging than normal headphones.

I think the next time I use it I'll get it set up in the locker room where I'll be dry and I can use the mirror. Then I'll do my entire workout with music and see how that goes.

All in all, I'm really happy with it. This was a great present and I think it's going to help a lot on my long swims. I didn't swim very long today, but time went pretty fast. I'll post updates as I use it mor

Here are a few pics:

It's pretty small. I almost used my credit card to demonstrate the size, but then
I realized putting a picture of my credit card on the Internet isn't very bright.

Here it is on my goggles.


The road to Kona isn't paved....

People often refer to Ironman training as a 'journey,' and I think it's appropriate. There's more to it than just swimming, biking and running. You have to sign up for the race one year in advance, so you have 12 months to train. A lot can happen in one year. There are a lot of sacrifices to make, a lot of decisions to make. There are highs and lows. There is also a lot of self discovery, which I think is where the 'journey' analogy comes from. You learn a great deal about yourself through a year of training for an event many believe to be downright crazy (wondering if you are in fact crazy is often part of this journey).

Your discipline and dedication is tested constantly, in the winter when you have to drag yourself out of bed on a cold, snowy morning to swim, in the summer when friends are cooking out and lounging in the pool and you have to bike 100 miles under the scorching sun. There are easy workouts, and tough workouts. There are aches and pains, but hopefully no injuries.

The Ironman isn't just about race day; it's mainly about the training. Race day is just the culmination of 12 months of training. That's when you find out what you're capable of, but mainly it's a test of your dedication the previous 12 months. It's easy to train the weeks leading up to the race. It's hard to train in 9 months prior to the race. It's even tougher to train hard 9 months before race day, to dig deep, to suffer....all in the hopes of being only slightly faster/stronger in your next workout.

So I'm about to embark on another Ironman journey in a few days, and this one promises to be different from the others. Will it be better or worse? Only time will tell. All I know right now is that it will be different. The race is the same as two years ago, but the stage is different. I have two IMs under my belt so this time I'm not training out of fear of not finishing (this fear is an incredible motivator). I know I can do the distance so my goals are different: Kona. I need to be fast, which means there is no room for mistakes or weaknesses. This journey will be challenging, that much I know.

The Ironman journey is not a solo endeavor, and I think I have better support this time. As much work as there is ahead of me, I'm looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. Even if it doesn't lead to Kona, I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy the ride. It's guaranteed to be an adventure. The stage is set.


With IM training still a few days off, I've been taking a lot of rest days, eating anything I want and generally taking it easy. This weekend I didn't do any workouts. Last week I biked once and swam twice. I haven't run in more than 2 weeks. I've gained weight and feel out of shape, but I think that's a good thing. My body needs to recover from the past two years of training.

Yesterday I went hiking around Devils Lake.....

Balanced Rock, although I think it should be called Balancing Rock.

West trail.

Devils Lake. This picture make me want to swim.



Jeff more or less forced me to go to masters swim on Monday. I wanted to go, but having never been to a masters class and only really knowing how to do freestyle, it was easy to find excuses not to go. I said I'd spend some time learning backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly, and then join masters late winter. Jeff had other ideas. He showed up at 8:30 to pick me up and I went to my first masters class having no real clue what to expect or how to swim anything other than freestyle.

My backstroke wasn't horrible, I don't think, but I'm definitely not fast. Breaststroke looked a little like the above picture. Butterfly looked like this...

...okay, I didn't actually look like a can of Spam out there, but I'm sure I looked like a total spaz. I imagine I looked like I was being electrocuted. Not bad for a first attempt.

The whole point of masters is to improve my swimming. In order to improve, you sometimes need to step outside your comfort zone and push yourself. That's what masters is all about. It's outside my comfort zone, and hopefully it will force me to dig deep and push hard and the result will be an increase in swim speed next summer.

I have very aggressive goals for IMoo 2010, which means I'm going to need to step outside my comfort zone quite a bit over the next 10 months. I need to push myself, which in some cases means allowing others to push me. That's what I've been lacking in a lot of my training, and that's going to change. I plan on doing more group training. Luckily(?) I have some friends who enjoy seeing me suffer so I can always count on them when I need a push. In fact, they're so happy to help out they try to make me vomit. Good friends....good times.

Training officially begins a week from Monday. I've got a training plan to work on...but first I'm going to nap.

I felt the need to include a picture of a nap (why, I do not know) and did a google search and came up with this picture...

I'm still gonna nap, but it's not going to be so easy now. That picture's creepy.


Looking Ahead

Yesterday was my birthday: 35. There's something about birthdays that make me think about life, my life, life in general...where I've been, where I'm going. I kind of fear the idea of getting old so birthdays aren't my favorite days. In fact, I dread them. They remind me of days gone by, missed opportunities and good times that will never be relived. I have a knack for bringing myself down on my birthday.

But yesterday I didn't do that. It's not that I forced myself not to; I just didn't. I looked forward. Instead of missed opportunities and experiences and good times that will never be relived, I thought more about what's to come. What's on the horizon. Where is this crazy ride called life headed?

34 wasn't the easiest year of my life. It began with me finding myself alone in Madison, alone in an apartment that was supposed to be temporary. It seemed like I spent the first few months answering the question, "Where's Cheri?" And just as I finally become "Mike" instead of "Mike and Cheri" the whole relocation BS happened, which isn't entirely over since my job hasn't ended yet.

But I'm over it. My job is what it is, and my life is headed in a new direction. I no longer feel trapped in Janesville, which is liberating. I have friends and family in Janesville so I still visit, but I never felt like I fit in when I was in Janesville. I feel comfortable in Madison. Madison is my home now, and I feel almost no connection to the city I spent 32 years living in. Kind of strange if you think about it.

My mistake last year was not signing up for IMWI, so I did the Great Floridian instead. It was a good race, and kept me focused on training, but the race didn't go the way I'd hoped. This may sound strange, but I think that was perfect. Had it gone really well, I could've come out of it feeling too confident. Right now, I feel like I have a lot of work to do to reach my goals and coming off a race that didn't go as planned has me very motivated to make sure IMWI 2010 goes as planned.

So I say the hell with 34. It's over. Good riddance.

35....I have no idea where it's going. But after the last 12 months and all the changes and stress I've had to deal with (still am), I figure 35 has to be better. I'm signed up for a race I'm very excited about, and confident that the changes in my life this year are going to be positive (they actually were last year, just not easy to deal with). So although I have no idea where I'm headed, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Life is an adventure. Bring it on.

[For those more accustomed to my pessimism, do not fear, it will return tomorrow]


Since this is typically just a training blog, and I know how much everyone loves to read about my geeked out training sessions, I thought I'd throw in a brief training update: not doing much right now. November is my month to be lazy, eat garbage and get fat and out of shape. I'm doing a spectacular job. Training for IMoo begins Nov. 30.


Disney World

The funny thing about Gatorland is that I wasn't freaked out by the gators. For those unaware, I'm afraid of birds and there were a lot more birds there than I expected. But I managed to keep enough distance between me and the rabid birds to make my way to the gator wrasslin.


When at Disney World, start here....

...and load the kids up with ice cream. Then....

...hook the girls up with backstage passes at Beauty and the Beast (connections). Then....

...you take your nephew on lots of rides. And finish off the day by treating the kids to dinner....

That's all there is to it. Piece of cookie.

We were planning on eating dinner at Epcot, but that's a challenge. I asked the kids what they wanted to eat. "Pizza." "Waffles." Okay...."find Italy." I figured pizza was our best bet. I was tired of pizza, but when in Italy....

When we finally found it, my dad charged right up there and bought this tiny thing for $5....

The look on his face was priceless.

"Who wants cookies for dinner?" "ME!!!!" Problem solved. The cookies were actually quite a bit bigger than the pizza.

So we sat on the stone wall and ate our cookies. Katie sat next to me. She crossed her legs and ate her cookie as though she was doing something sophisticated. Then she said, "This is nice. Perhaps we should do this again tomorrow." I said, "Perhaps we will." What I didn't realize was that this statement, to a 9 year-old girl, was a promise. The next day she told everyone Uncle Mike promised to buy her another cookie, so I had to pony up for more cookies for the kids.

Here's a picture of Abby ready for Disney Day 2. You see a little girl. I see a coiled spring.

Here's Katie on the bus. Katie is a 9 year-old adult and I wasn't sure if she was on her way to Disney World or the office.

A few more Disney pics...