A blog by runners. For runners.

Keep on running – Apple and Nike+ Sport Kit Launch Party Chicago

Earlier today I mentioned I was heading over the Apple store for the Chicago launch event for the Nike+ Sport Kit. Well, it was at the Niketown store instead I discovered but it was on my way so all was well. The store was mobbed and I soon discovered the focus of the event was a 3 mile training run with volunteer pacers while you tried out the new Nike+ Sport Kit with a nano, headphones and Nike+ running shoes all provided. They also gave me a drifit t-shirt for registering to demo it and since I still felt good despite running 5 this morning, I bought a pair of socks and a pair of shorts and joined in.
The first pair of running shoes on offer for for the trial were Nike Air Zoom Moire – low cut, lightweight in black and red with a single “zoom” pocket. I asked for a shoe similar to the Nike Air Structure Triax 8 which is a stability shoe and was given the Nike Air Zoom Plus which is still made for normal runners instead of pronators like myself. In the left sole of the shoe you remove the inner sole to reveal a pocket to hold your Sport Kit+ sensor, replacing the foam insert. It was a little fiddly to remove the foam piece but the sensor went in easily and I replaced the inner sole. The iPod Nanos they gave out came preloaded with all the current Nike+ sport mixes and some extra songs which was fun to play around with as we waited for the pacers to line up outside.
A Nike representative demonstrated the operating procedure for the new functions to get you ready to workout. I entered my weight to enable the calorie counter and we selected a power song for the run. On the new menu you have the option of time, distance or calorie based goals and each has a series of submenus. Once you make the selection of say, a basic workout we picked a playlist to run to. The Nano asked me to walk around to activate the sensor so the Nano could sync up and then it asked me to hit the center button to start the workout.
I joined the 8 minute mile group and the pacers headed left out of the Nike store and then the first left all the way down to Lake Shore Drive. As you run you can hit the center button at any time to get a check on your time, distance and current pace which as an option can be read to you by a male or female announcer. This is great since it means I don't have to risk running into a tree to check the display for updates :-) The other in-run feature we used was the 2 second hold of the center button to trigger the “power song”. It reads out your statistics before giving you the boost song selected before the run. The idea is that this kicks up your training intensity by playing a song to really make you kick out but we were in a pace group so I held tight.
I ran with one of the pacers most of the way talking about running marathons and he gave me some tips for running slower than race pace but generally it was “check your splits each mile” which I feel is a little late to realize you ran too fast. I think on Saturday I'll try the 1/4 mile splits suggested by George in response to this morning's post.
We turned back at the shack on the beach and ran back to a running track for 3 laps before heading back to the Apple store where the gear check had been moved. You will notice that the setup didn't involve any calibration for leg length etc. I'm not sure how it works but several runners compared their displays and all read 3.7 miles or thereabouts.
As we walked upstairs there were Nike staff giving out “Tune your Run” towels to the runners and gift cards to download the Crystal Method Nike+ Sport Mix. At the top of the stairs we received a raffle ticket to win one of two iPod Nanos and one of two Sport Kits but of course I didn't win :-( There were JambaJuice smoothies, $1 gift cards for Jamba Juice (I know – $1!!?) and free bottles of water and Clif bars. The event was well worth it and the Apple store also gave a demo of what happens after you run.
When you connect your iPod Nano to the computer it downloads your run data and then uploads it to the Nike+ website. The Nano can hold 1000 runs but the website will “save an unlimited number forever” – this is an internet term I'm sure but you get the idea. The Nike+ website has a preview you should definitely check out if you are interested in the Sport Kit. It tracks your runs in a format that is easy to see your progress and each run can be reviewed on a graph to show how your pace changed throughout the run and each time you hit the status button during the run is marked so you can review each marker. This is a nice feature for bookmarking parts of your run like reaching the crest of a hill or turning to head home. It also shows a huge red dot on the run whenever you hit your “power boost” song button too so you can see how you worked harder at that time. There are too many features to the site but those are the ones I picked out.
After the event when I got home I downloaded the Crystal Method mix with my free gift certificate and I have to say it was really good. Forty five minutes of mixed music at a gradually increasing intensity with a good beats per minute to allow you to count out your “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8″ as your feet hit the pavement and you try to set your pace.
All that remains is for me to say that if I didn't have a wedding coming up in just over 2 months I would have bought this today and a Nano – it was that good. The shoes were disappointing for me as they were a little narrow but I'm sure they'll come out with wider fitting shoes soon. In the meantime, an employee at Niketown pointed out that the only thing different about these shoes is the ready made “groove” for the sensor to slip in, which means you could easily try and DIY on an old pair of your favorite running shoes to make it work. No embedded RFIDs or devices to tell the sensor to work so I am just hoping someone is nice enough to buy me one. I'll add it to my Amazon wishlist tonight and maybe someone will be nice enough to pick it up for me. The name in case you are generous enough is Adam Howitt, Chicago ;-)
For now I'll just have to use WalkJogRun to find out how far I run and how many calories I burn.