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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

It’s been a busy weekend, with a lot of new devices on the plot – here’s what I was up to the last two and a half days.

1) Starting using the Garmin Vivoactive

After I landed from Bahrain early Friday morning, a box arriving from the US concurrently followed me out of Aéroport Charles de Gaulle, ultimately arriving a few hours later in the city.  That box would have a bunch of stuff in it, including the Garmin Vivoactive and Vivofit2.

There’s obviously been a lot of interest in the Garmin Vivoactive, partly because of the small size, partly due to the price, and partly due to enablement of Garmin Connect IQ apps.

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In any case, I got it all unboxed, and before it even knew what was going on it found itself in the shower for some water tests, which you can see in the below video.

I also ran with it as well, where it seemed to do fairly well.  I’m aiming for a review by the end of the month on it.

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As always, you can drop Vivoactive related technical questions on Vivoactive preview post, where there’s already a fair bit of discussion going on.

2) Took a lot of photos of cupcake stands

With the cake studio (second location for Bertie’s CupCakery) in full swing we’ve been meaning to do two tasks for a while.  First is to take photos of all the cake stands we have.  In addition to selling cakes and cupcakes, we also rent cake and cupcake stands to go with said gâteaux.

The challenge is that we haven’t really had a good inventory of all these stands.  We buy the vast majority of them during our trips to the US, usually picking them up at TJ Maxx or Marshall’s, or basically anywhere random discount kitchen stuff is sold.  But when it came time for customers to know what we had…that was sorta a mystery.

So we set about on Saturday morning to photograph all the stands.  Or at least, a good chunk of them.  We had been collecting leftover cupcakes all week (anything not sold gets tossed at the end of the night).  But for photographic purposes they’d do just fine.

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And then the photography began…

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We started off as a seemingly straight-forward affair ended up getting more and more elaborate on our prep table

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It was a tag-team operation between The Girl and I, bouncing positioning ideas off of each other.  We make a good team for dessert table layouts.

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At some point along the way we decided to actually just move some of the numerous tables we setup into the main display windows.  Which, then also brought with it setting up some semi-transparent backings (read: I got to take out the power drill and assert my manliness).

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In any case, here’s a handful of what came of it:

Not too shabby…

3) Spent some time setting up the Vasa swim trainer area in The Cave

My power drilling continued downstairs, where I installed a small TV over the VASA swim trainer that I setup last weekend.  I did a super quick video walk through of it, as the trainer supports ANT+ and can transmit pace/speed, power (total and left/right), as well as cadence (stroke rate) and distance.

And here it is now with the added TV.

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It was basically a TV that’d been floating around both our apartment and The Studio since we moved years ago, without any real purpose in life.  So I stuck it on the wall and called it macaroni.  It would also work as a secondary display for the waterproofing chamber, if I wanted to twist it that way.

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I figured that I could run apps with it, such as TrainerRoad, which works with the VASA Swim trainer.

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Or, it’ll just sit there looking pretty.  Either way, it’s not sitting on the ground looking dumb, so I figure that’s an improvement.  And again, I got to use power tools and drill into concrete/stone from a century ago – also a win.

4) Went out to a restaurant test dinner

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Saturday night The Girl and I joined two friends to partake in a bit of a trial run for a restaurant opening next week.  This particular restaurant already has an existing locale just a few blocks away (Verjus) that we love, and that one of our friends previously worked at as a chef.  This new place (Ellsworth) is designed as kinda tapas style, but with US southern comfort food that has a twist on it.

The way it worked for the test dinner is that you only pay for the wine.  It’s their opportunity to get a few full seatings in and work out any last kinks.  The interior was largely done, though there wasn’t yet any signage outside.

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Looking a the menu, we tried about 8 different dishes.  For example, the rabbit sausage corndog – which was pretty awesome.

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Or a pigeon pappardelle:

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They also make sourdough bread in house, which is very rare in Paris.  There’s very few locations to find sourdough here in the city, so we were even more thrilled when we got to take home a ball of it:

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Which, made perfect sandwiches the next day for an early evening snack:

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Definitely looking forward to going back to the place after they open later this week.  Good stuff.

5) Went for my first run with Recon Jet

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Finally, this weekend one of the guys from Recon Instruments flew into town to walk me run me through a first workout with the Recon Jet heads up display.  I’ve covered the unit over the last two years or so as it has worked it’s way from announcement to being on the verge of shipping.

For a very brief primer, the Jet is a heads up display that shows you your pace/distance/heart rate/etc…, ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensor data, as well as maps of where you are.  That’s a super simplified version, but I’ll get into more details later on.

Their purpose here was to get me started with a production unit, and no better way to do that than a 10-mile run around the city.  So, we strapped on some units and headed on out.

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Our journey would take us through all the major tourist sites – sorta my standard ‘people from out of town’ route.  I vary it slightly depending on how much someone wants to run, or how much time we have.

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Running with the glasses largely worked fairly well.  Though as one might guess, we got lots of looks.  Approximately everyone to be precise.  I think personally I’d prefer the grey/black one over the white one – it seems to be more ‘slimming’, if that makes sense.  And of course, I suspect it’ll look a bit more blended while cycling versus running (since the helmet comes down to ‘meet’ it.

Right now the units are in production, and will ship from their manufacturing facility in San Jose, California on March 30th to pre-order customers  Once the pre-orders have been fulfilled, it’ll hit start shipping to retailers and distributors.

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My current plan is a review in mid-April or so, once they finalize the software (right now the software piece is still beta, though, felt largely pretty solid).

With that – thanks for reading!  It’s gonna be a busy week ahead.  Got the Epson 810 running GPS watch In-Depth Review (with optical HR), plus some more worthy news stuff to check back in tomorrow morning on.

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49 Comments

  1. S-Go

    All sports glasses are usually extremely dorky but those Reconjets take the (cup)cake.

  2. Sylvester Jakubowski

    Any first impressions on the recon jet?

  3. Hi Ray,

    I’m going to pre-order the Vivoactive but am still trying to decided on whether to get the the strap or not. I already have a Scoche rhythm + which I’ll use most of the time but I’m curious to see what, if any, benefit I can get from VO2max and recovery. 2 multi-part questions:

    1. Can I get that data if I use another strap like a Wahoo Tickr? Or do I need the official Garmin strap?

    2. Is that data really useless? Is it too inaccurate? Or does it not change very often?

    Thanks for all the great info.

    • No VO2Max stats on the Vivoactive, so that’s a wash there. And I didn’t see any recovery data either.

      Thus, to that end, it wouldn’t really matter whether or not you had a Garmin strap. The Wahoo TICKR will transmit HRV/RR data though, in the event Garmin adds it later.

      I don’t often find the recovery data that valuable, it seems to kinda be a bit variable.

  4. Francis c

    I’ve been debating getting the reconjet for my half IM in August. I’m somewhat hesitant because of their constant and their blog had been very quiet. I know the battery won’t last for the whole bike and run segments, but is the screen good enough so that I don’t have to look at my watch or bike computer? Obviously, I won’t be bringing my phone so will it work well as a standalone? Hehehe. Nice cupcake:)

  5. gabriel horeica

    i just wait to read the full review on vivoactive. allready got one on preorder… i made the order at the same time with the fenix 3. fenix arrived a few days ago, but it apears that the vivoactive will take a little longer until it will get here.
    the cupcakes looks delicious , especialy when bikes are arround :)
    next time when i’ll get in Paris i will come to buy some.
    as for the glasses… i think they’re a little too big

  6. Josh

    Curiously since I see you have a swim trainer, do you have or use a rower too, specifically one like in the show House of Cards with the water tank in front? Thinking of adding something like this to the home gym.

    • Actually, this converts to being a paddling trainer. :) You can check out Vasa’s site for all the details there (they sent a paddle actually, haven’t quite poked at that piece yet).

    • jd67

      I love my WaterRower. It is much smoother and quieter than the Concept Ergo rowers and great for the house because it is so quiet and stores away easily. The slooshing of water is also quite therapeutic! The only downside is that the software for recording rowing workouts is not currently up to scratch, but I get around that by using my Scosche Rhtyhm+ with iPhone to record HR data, before exporting it to Training Peaks and adding the distance rowed. Not perfect, but a good workaround.

  7. Sean

    I don’t know if it was a glitch, but the Nasa video started showing subtitles about halfway through…

    …and they were hilarious.

  8. Aaron

    How is the VivoActive’s touch screen? The prototypes previewed back in January seemed to have quite the delay when you swiped to another page, is it more instant now (with dry hands)?

    Thanks!

    • Craig

      I was concerned about that as well. The demo units (in the original video) seemed sluggish and, unfortunately, the shower video didn’t seem to indicate much improvement in that regard.

      I trying to decide between the VivoActive and the Polar M400. The snappiness of the VivoActive touch screen vs the standard button layout of the M400 may be the deciding factor for me. I do, however, like to looks of the VivoActive better.

    • I just uploaded a non-water video, which shows it seems pretty responsive when water isn’t sitting on the display: link to youtube.com

    • Chris

      Ray posted a video on that as well:

      link to youtu.be

  9. klonnolk

    That looks, maybe because of 3 watches? :)

  10. Kyle

    Is that an Epix next to the F3 on your right wrist?? I hope so

  11. Long Run Nick

    Hi Ray, an observation about step count. Your VVA showed 19K+ steps for 13.3 miles. This may be a given, but steps can be a little deceiving. Cadence and step length have a whole lot to do with total steps. For me, around the same amount of steps my 920 shows 10.1 miles-which is pretty accurate. Having slowed over the years I find my cadence for EZ runs is around 165- which for me translates to about 11-11:20 per mile. With a 1/2 mile dog walk, an 8 mile EZ run and a 1/2 mile cool down+ my “normal” 1,000 steps for shower, shaving, and primping I get to 19,000+ steps which shows 10.1 miles. I share that because I am a body metrics geek and possibly alert folks that not all steps
    are “equal”.

  12. Robert

    That is depressing, you throw cupcakes away?!

    Even though I don’t have all the technology you review, its cool to read about it – thanks.

    • Indeed. Every day the cupcakes are baked fresh. Anything not used gets tossed, or occasionally given to various friends in the neighborhood.

      We’ve tried donating to shelters, but that eventually resulted in messy situations with folks following the ‘breadcrumb trail’ back to the shop and waiting out front or causing problems with our staff. So we unfortunately had to stop there. :(

    • Can’t you deliver them by drone to your readers? I’m sure the technology must be available. I can give you my coordinates right now :)

  13. Kevin in MD

    What bench are you using with the Vasa? The one you have doesn’t seem to be for sale on their website, and it has a headrest?

    If you can look up at that TV screen while using the trainer, you’ll have serious neck muscles; I have to improvise a headrest as it is, much less looking up.

    • So the portable bench (officially called ‘Folding bench’), is sorta an interim model for them. They noted to me it’s made by a company called Halo, and it’s somewhat temporary until they finish making their own.

      I’ll include photos of the non-folding version from the same model I had back in DC when I initially tested it.

      I do agree on the TV, I’m not entirely sure how well it’s gonna work…but gosh darnit, I got the TV mounted somewhere!

  14. Joel Reeves

    Ray,

    The “Girl” may want to look for a nearby homeless shelter or soup kitchen to give her stale cupcakes a second chance. Many will send someone to pickup her donations.

  15. Garry Curley

    Morning Ray,

    If you or Bertie ever want any customised perspex stands made, for custom orders like weddings, birthdays etc, let me know. My fiance makes lots of them for friends (as a hobby, no money) with her Lazer cutter.

    Only in the UK so posting to Paris is no problem.

    Could make some with the cupcakes logo on for example or different colours.

    Anyway, just thought I would offer to help you out as you help us all out.

    Kind Regards

    Garry

  16. Tim Grose

    The vivoactive (all lower case ???) looks quite like a MotoACTV and both can (or could) do run, bike and golf! Look forward to the golf section review :)

    • Unfortunately there probably won’t be a lot on the golf section…I like any athletic capability there (unless it has miniature golf courses with windmills and all).

      As for the all-lower case, yeah, it’s a Garmin thing. Something I completely ignore as it looks stupid in normal writing.

  17. Tyler

    Any way to get a preview of the music player functionality on the vivoactive?
    Can it store music files on the device and broadcast via bluetooth without a phone?

  18. Todd Bray

    So what objectives are you setting for using ANT+ power with the Vasa? Could you explain a sample workout?

    I’m curious if one should perform intervals like you would on a bike to build power over time? Is there such a thing as Swim FTP or what metric would be used as the baseline to build fitness off of? Like the 8 minute or 20 minute FTP test, I’m wondering how one would go about this? Any ideas?

    Also, just out of curiosity….what bracket did you use for the tv? I like the setup! :)

    • I’m honestly still getting to that aspect of it. They sent me some workout to utilize as a starting point. With the goal I suspect being to increase the power to pace or power to HR ratios in some way. I think I’ll be stumbling through that as part of the review (process).

      As for the TV bracket, it was honestly a complete no-name brand that I picked up at Leroy Merlin (like our Home Depot). It was I think 29EUR on some sort of sale. They had a giant palate of them piled up, and apparently no takers.

    • Todd Bray

      I appreciate your honest answer and have gotten the same response when I’ve asked several other owners of the ERG. This being said…..what’s the reason to spend the additional monies for the power meter? Is there one? Is there anything coming in the future that will make the data more useful?

      Thanks!

    • I think right now that answer is a bit tough. But, it was the same when power meters first started trickling out too – the ‘how to train by it’ aspect just wasn’t there yet.

      Now, with swimming we’re lacking the ability to also measure it in the pool today. There’s been some chatter on doing aspects of that (within the industry), so eventually there’s no doubt we’ll get there. Not this year, or probably not next, but sooner or later.

    • I think the power meter is the key to the ergometer, much like a bike powermeter, you can track stroke rate and power output and build power based training sessions. The PM has some great functionality, allowing you to view right arm vs left arm watts in real time. This gives the athlete feedback to work on stroke.

      The Ant+ PM is compatible with trainer road. you can build your own power based workouts, and save the data. This can be transferred to WKO+ for detailed analysis. This swim data is not available in the pool, so can give important insight into swim performance.

      Lastly, data gathered from the PM can be invaluable if you are working with a coach which is familiar with the Vasa erg.

      Hope this is helpful. I have been coaching swimmers and triathletes with the ergometer for years and find it a key part of our training.

    • I have been playing around with various types of swim FTP tests on the ergometer for a few years. we have tried 20 min Time trials, but power and form drops off too much to be valuable. I have found a 100m TT and 400m TT to be the best measures for setting up workouts.

      the 100m TT gives you max sprint power, while to 400 is a good measure of sustainable power. I like to keep intervals at 200m or less, so the 400m is a good Field test, plus its easy to replicate without taxing the athlete too much.

      knowing your pool stroke rate is important, as is maintaining good form and finishing the stoke on the back end. when doing the Field test, aim to keep stroke rate close to that of swimming for the accurate power data.

      I’m interested in what other use to test power on the ergometer.

    • I have used a couple of different distances for determining FTP on the Erg.
      For less experienced swimmers, the 400M distance that Tim Crowley mentioned is ideal. I have found for more experienced swimmers using 1000M distance to be a better gauge.

      The Ant + power meter allows you to experiment with various stroke rates. This allows you to identify your best sustainable power. Similar to cycling, some athletes will be limited by their ability to sustain stroke rate, while others will be limited by their muscular endurance.

  19. Ashraf

    Can’t decide between the new pebble or vivio active.
    1. Does the vivio active push a notifications?
    2. Does the time remain displayed all the time?
    3. Does it allow you to set daily alarms?

    Thanks

  20. Oscar P

    Personally the Vasa Trainer or any swim trainer seems like a really odd concept to me. Personally if I can’t get in the pool I would opt for a different type of workout.

    I’m however excited about the Recon Jet! and the potential for this tech in the sports field. A Recon Sea or something of that sort would be sweet!

  21. Steven Weber

    How are you using the Vasa in conjunction with TrainerRoad? It sounds like a great idea!

    • In this case, just recording is my plan. I haven’t dug into seeing if there are some plans that would mesh well with it.

    • Phil A

      So, I know it has been awhile since you posted this, but I was wondering how the VASA ERG trainer is working for you, has it helped, and have you figured out how to utilize the power?

      Thanks.

  22. Gloria

    Hello,

    I am looking forward to reading your review on Vivoactive. I am planning to finish my first ironman 70.3 this year and looking for a watch. I am going to choose between 910 XT tribundle or Vivoactive.

    Your comments are highly appreciated,

    Thanks,