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This past weekend was the Boulder 70.3, which I was really looking forward to – even with mixed feelings (nervous about contact and choppy waters on the swim, and not sure if my foot would hold up).

On Friday afternoon, I biked up to the Boulder Reservoir (“The Res” for us lazy locals) for athlete check in.  The whole process was super fast and smooth, and within just a few minutes, I was all tagged and ready to go.

As I was wandering out of the Ironman Village area, I glanced to my left and saw some familiar faces hanging out and doing autographs and pictures.

rinnyReigning Ironman World Champion, Mirinda Carfrae (Rinny), and Tim O’Donnell – two AMAZING triathletes

Well, that was cool!

On Saturday, I headed over to the Res and checked in my bike (they now have a mandatory bike check on the day before to the race).  Everything was quick and easy, and I was even surprised that the traffic and parking at the Res wasn’t that bad.

Sunday dawned bright and early at 4am.  Fortunately, I live right by the race venue, so I didn’t have any crazy travel time.  It was actually a rather relaxed morning!

I headed out to the Res at 4:45am, and by 5:15, I was through the traffic, parked, and getting my things organized in the transition area.  The first thing to do was pump up my tires, since you always make sure to let the air out when you have to rack it the day before (sitting out in the sun all day can overheat your tires and cause a blowout – not good).  As soon as my tires were pumped up, I stashed the pump back in my car and headed back into the transition area.

On my way back into transition, I found a tri club friend who was doing body marking.  She wrote all over me (and only now, several days later, is it almost gone – that was some magic sharpie!), and then I headed back to the rack to finish sorting out my space.

In transition, I found a few friends from my tri club (including one who was racked right next to me), and chatted with some of the women in my age group.  This race had our bib numbers organized by age group, so all the 30-35 women were racked together.  Some people didn’t like that (theoretically, this could cause crowding in the transition area since we were starting the swim with our age groups), but I didn’t notice a problem.  Plus, these ladies were super nice, and great company during a chilly pre-race morning.

I laid down my small towel (NOT a full size towel – don’t be that guy), on top of which go:

  • Bike gear (in the front half of the towel)
    • A small throwaway squeeze-type water bottle (to wash the sand and gunk off my feet before putting on my shoes)
    • Bike shoes and socks
    • Sunglasses
    • Jersey/tri top
    • Spray sunscreen
  • Run gear (in the back half of the towel)
    • Running shoes
    • Hat
    • Belt with bib number already attached
    • Handheld water bottle with run nutrition in the pocket
  • On my bike went:
    • Bike garmin
    • Helmet
    • All nutrition

For the swim, I was wearing my tri shorts, heart rate monitor, sports bra, and bia watch (my review here).  Plus the obvious wetsuit, goggles, and swim cap.

After laying out my transition area, I stalled as long as possible before having to ditch the jacket and flip flops at the tri club tent – it was chilly out!  But once the sun really started to come out, things got much better.  And by the end of the day, we would all be wishing for those cool temperatures again.

I wandered down to the beach with my tri club friend who was racked next to me.  We had quite a long wait until it was our turn to start.  The pros were starting just after 7am, and our wave wasn’t until 8:05.

We ended up hanging out on the beach and watching the waves go before us, and before we knew it, it was almost our turn.  The few of us who had been chatting headed over and joined in with the other silver-capped swimmers just a few feet from the start line.

Oh shit, now I was really nervous.

I should mention that I haven’t done much swimming during this round of training.  It’s always the first thing to go when things get busy and you’re trying to squeeze things in.  Plus, the last race-setting open water swim I had done was Ironman Lake Placid, where I was miserable and getting beat up the entire time.  PLUS, on top of that, the day before this race, I had gone for a “nice little open water practice” at a local reservoir, and it had been HORRIBLE.  It was super choppy, and everyone was having a terrible time fighting the chop.

So now I was panicking a bit.

I could see that the water was calm, so that was fine, thank goodness.  But I still was really nervous about contact on the swim.  When you’re just watching from the shore, you can’t see the free-for-all that can be an open water swim.  People get punched, kicked, and smacked all over.  I have been kicked and punched in the face and chest while swimming on more than one occasion, and let me tell you, it’s not fun.

While we were all standing around waiting for our turn, we were chatting a bit.  Turns out, the women in my age group are AWESOME.  Everyone was so nice and sweet.  And all everybody wanted to do was get in the water, do their thing, and not get beat to crap.  There were plenty of us saying “if you don’t hit me, I won’t hit you, buddy!”  So it was good to know that I would hopefully be surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The 30-35 men went off.

Oh shit.  Now it’s our turn.  Shit shit shit.  I don’t want to get punched in the face.  Ahhhhhhh!

We shuffled into the water, about waist/chest deep, and waited.  There was a five minute gap between each wave.  People (myself included) were bouncing around, talking, laughing, and “dancing” to the music.  (I was mostly doing this to distract myself, and not let others know how much I was freaking out.)

I positioned myself in the back of the group, to give myself even more of a chance to not get caught up with anyone who was going to beat me up in the water.

The gun went off.

Oh crap.  Here we go.  Just stop thinking and start swimming.  It will be fine.

The Swim

For all my worrying, this swim was fantastic.  I have never had a better, or more contact-free swim in a race.  And I think that had everything to do with the age group wave start.  So, thank you, 30-35 women.  You are a pleasure to swim with.

One of the annoying things about swimming at the Res is how murky the water is.  I had heard about this ahead of time, so it wasn’t a surprise, but I was still amazed at how little I could really see.  I could barely see my own fingertips when they were stretched out in front of me.  Where this could become a problem is that you can’t see the feet of a person who is swimming ahead of you.  So to prevent face kicks, you have to keep an eye out for people as you are sighting for the buoys.  It took me a couple minutes to get used to this, but as soon as I did, things opened right up, and I had pretty much clear water the whole way.  There were a handful of accidental body bumps along the way, but nothing that was problematic.

We swam out from the shore for quite a way, then made a right to do the top end of the upside-down triangle that was the swim course.  On this second leg of the swim, I noticed a couple hot pink swim caps creeping up on me.  These were the fast people from the wave behind me (women, 25-29 – those young whippersnappers – before the start, our wave had been joking about forming a human wall to block them on the swim).  But no major problems here.  At this point, we were spread out enough that they could navigate through us slower folk.

After what felt like an eternity, we made another right turn and started heading back to the shore.

Oh my god, this leg of the swim took forever.  I think I was just getting tired, but WOW did it feel long.

I kept wondering when that stupid arch would look any bigger.  Plus, I was starting to get a bit toasty in my full wetsuit.  The water was warm enough (high 60’s) that I could have managed just fine with a sleeveless.

Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…

FINALLY, I put my feet down and felt the bottom.  Hooray!

I’m always a little dizzy and lightheaded after a long swim, so I took my time standing up and walking out of the water.  I felt like it took a bit longer than normal for me to get my bearings back, which I’m guessing has to do something with the altitude (even when you live here, you can still get a bit oxygen-deprived on the swim).  Or it could just be a lack of swim conditioning.  Also highly likely.

I crossed the timing mat, stopped my watch, and made my way to the transition area.

Swim time: 45:17 (Just a couple minutes slower than I had hoped, but I’ll take it, given my nerves and lack of swim training.)

T1

After walking off the dizziness, I jogged down the bike racks, found my spot, stripped off the wetsuit, and got to work cleaning off my feet.

Shoes and socks go on, jersey on, helmet on, sunglasses on.  (Always put your helmet on before unracking your bike – you can get DQ’d if you don’t.)

Good to go!

I took my bike off the rack and jogged to the mount line.

Transition time: 5:51 (Not bad.  Could be faster.)

The Bike

I made my way out of the Res and onto the bike course.  The first several miles of the course are a long, gradual, nearly imperceptible uphill.  This, combined with the fact that it’s the start of the bike and I don’t yet have my bike legs going, is so frustrating.  I felt like I was working so hard, and going nowhere.

In addition to that, due to the age group wave start, I was constantly being passed by the fast people from the waves behind me, which is incredibly demoralizing.  The wave starts were wonderful for the swim.  Less so for the bike.  But after 20-25 miles, people were mostly settled in with riders of similar speeds, and that stopped.

We made our way up Route 36 and north out of Boulder.  This part of the course is really beautiful as you ride right along the edge of the foothills.  There are some decent-sized hills that aren’t quite rollers, and aren’t quite climbs.  They’re just enough to make you work hard.  But they’re over in a minute or two.  I’ve ridden this part of the course many times with my tri club, so I felt very comfortable on it, and just kept chugging along.

Eventually, we made a right onto Route 66.  Once you get to this part of the course, things flatten out and you can really start to get some speed.  I actually averaged 16.3 mph for the first hour (which included all of that long gradual climb, and just a little bit on 66), which I was happy to see.  16.3 is still slow for many people, but it’s improvement for me!  In previous years, I always seemed stuck at 15 mph, so I’m very happy to see those numbers creeping up (albeit slowly) now.

The next hour of the course was the fastest section.  It’s mostly flat, with some rollers, and just a couple steep (but very short) climbs.  I was feeling good, and picked up the pace a bit.  For the second hour, I averaged 17.2 mph.  I was starting to get excited now.

The third hour of the bike, I was unfamiliar with the course, and didn’t know what to expect.  All the times I’ve been out to ride, I’ve ridden the course for the full.  The courses are the same for the first 30 miles or so, but then the split.  I was anticipating that this last part of the course would be mostly flat with some rollers, and a fast ride back to the Res.

I was wrong.

There were a LOT of long, gradual (but somewhat steep) climbs in this section!  I was getting frustrated, because I had been excited and getting my hopes up to keep my average speed around 17mph, and now I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  But then, I realized that I was still averaging more than 16mph, which is what I was originally estimating, so I couldn’t really complain.  For the third hour, I averaged 16.3 mph

Eventually, we turned right back onto Diagonal Highway, and we were nearly done.  We rode our way back into the Res and to the dismount line.  I got off my bike feeling good, and very happy with how the ride went.

Bike time: 3:23:01 (16.55 mph average)

T2

T2 was a quick change.  Rack the bike, helmet off, shoes off, jersey off.

Running shoes on, tri top on (it was getting hot and I was desperate for a sleeveless), hat and sunglasses on, race belt on, grab water bottle, and GO.

Transition time: 4:52

The Run

Heading out of the transition area for the run, I had absolutely NO idea what to expect.  My foot had been painful on only a two mile run just a few days earlier, so I wasn’t expecting anything good.  I was fully prepared to stop running and accept the DNF the minute my foot started hurting.  This race was not my A race for the season, and it just wasn’t worth risking the Ironman – which was only 7 weeks away.

I started running out of the Res and made the right onto the dirt road that goes around the lake.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it very far before I started to notice some tightening in my foot.  This was not a good sign.  I was only two miles in, and had 11 to go.  I wasn’t in pain, but I knew that I would be long before I finished the entire run.

The question was, was it worth it?

I stopped on the side of the road for a minute and thought about my options.

  1. Keep running and finish the whole thing, regardless.
  2. Keep running, finish this loop (it’s a two loop run course, so each loop is 6.55 miles), and see what happens.
  3. Stop running, and walk the rest.
  4. Stop running now, accept the DNF, and don’t do any more damage.

I ended up picking door #4.

I know I could have run further that day, but I really had no idea how much further.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to do the whole 13.1 miles, so finishing the run wasn’t going to happen anyway.  I figured it was smarter of me to stop at 2 miles before my foot started to get painful (at this point it was just getting a little tight, but that’s how it starts), and avoid any further damage.  I may have been able to make it through the whole first loop, but even that was questionable.

As I was standing there on the side of the road, the roving medic came by and asked if I needed anything.  I told him I just had an ongoing foot injury and wasn’t going to be finishing the run today.  So he took my timing chip, and I slowly walked back along the course, cheering as I went.

It was a bummer to DNF, but I know it was the right choice.  I really didn’t want to make my foot worse and not be able to race Ironman Boulder in a few weeks.  So even though having a DNF sucks, in this case, it’s better than the alternative.

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Somehow, the year is flying by, and we’re already only one week out from Ironman 70.3 Boulder.  When did that happen???

It’s been a tough couple months trying to get training in, but I’ve been doing alright.  As usual, not as well as I had originally hoped, but my conditioning is pretty decent, and somehow I seem to be getting faster (thank you, living at altitude!), so that’s good.

Going into the 70.3 this coming weekend, my goals are pretty much the same as usual:

  1. Have fun and enjoy the day.
  2. Give it my best effort.
  3. PR if possible – given my recent biking and running paces, I should be able to do this if nothing unexpected happens.

Ideally, I’m expecting something like:

  • Swim: 42-43 minutes (I might be a bit slower on this one since I haven’t swam much.)
  • T1: 5 minutes
  • Bike: 3:30 (16 mph average)
  • T2: 5 minutes
  • Run: 2:04 (9:30/mi average)
  • Total time: 6:27:00

So we’ll see what happens.  The foot has been doing much better, but it’s still a question mark on anything longer than a few miles.  I’ve been trying to take it easy and give it a chance to rest and let the irritation go away.  So far, so good.  I’ve been able to run 3 miles with no pain during or after, so that’s progress.  I’m hoping to get in a couple 6 mile runs this week to get a better sense of how things are going with the recovery.

This weekend I got to do my first open water swim of the season, and it went surprisingly well.  The first OWS is usually a bit bumpy and there are usually a bit of early season jitters.  But this time I felt great.  I never got jittery, and actually had a really nice time in the water.  My swim conditioning could use a bit of work between now and the full in August, but I should be fine for this coming weekend.  And I have a few more OWS practices coming up this week to make sure I’m comfortable and ready to go.

One thing that’s been really great is riding with people from my tri club.  There’s a fantastic group that goes out for a weekly no-drop ride, and I’ve been loving riding with them.  We had a great 59 mile ride after our OWS on Saturday.  It’s fun to ride with them because it’s a low stress group that still pushes me a bit, so I’m improving quite a lot every time I ride with them.  Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people, since I’m still pretty new to the area.

Another awesome thing about Boulder – so many group workouts and races to choose from!  I now have SIX different OWS chances throughout the week, plus the weekly Stroke and Stride series, and multiple weekly tri club rides and runs.  It’s fantastic!

Anyway, it’s late, and I need to get some sleep.  Lots to do tomorrow!

About a year ago, I heard about this awesome-sounding kickstarter that was making a new GPS watch – the Bia Sport Watch.

When I first checked out their site, I was really excited and intrigued. There were five things that made me interested in this watch:

  1. The quick-connect GPS
  2. The SOS alert
  3. The 17 hour battery life
  4. Live race day tracking
  5. WATERPROOF, baby

The quick-connect GPS sounded fantastic.  I can’t even count how many times I had stood at my front door, just waiting and waiting for my Garmin (Forerunner 305) to find satellites.  Or how many races I had started with no satellite connection, and then missing data for the first part of my race.  Grrrrr…

As for the SOS alert – safety is always on my mind whenever I run alone.  I loved the idea of just being able to push a button, and having my exact location sent to my loved ones for help.  That’s some great peace of mind right there.

The 17 hour battery life is AMAZING when you’re doing Ironmans.  I don’t have full data for either of my Ironmans because I couldn’t wear my Garmin in the swim, and the battery would die about 2/3 of the way through the run.  It drove me nuts!  Since one of the Bia creators does Ironmans, this was something they kept in mind in developing the watch.  Hooray!

Another awesome thing about this watch is the plan to have live updates and tracking right on their website.  This is FANTASTIC for race day!  For now, we’ve been making do with my family tracking me using the “find my iphone” app, which works well, but drains batteries, doesn’t update as quickly as would be useful, and is only good if the other person has an iphone themselves.  This live updating on the website would be the perfect solution for race day!

Also, this baby is designed to be worn while biking, running, AND swimming.  So I can strap it on my wrist in the morning and be good to go through the whole race!

So after lusting over the Bia for a while, I decided to go for it and pre-order one.

Throughout the production process, the Bia team kept everyone well up to date with everything.  It wasn’t without its hiccups and setbacks.

The wait was long, but it was totally worth it.

A little over two weeks ago, my Bia arrived!  The production and shipments for pre-orders were broken up into four batches.  I had been jealously watching all the people in the first two batches happily posting about their awesome Bias, and I was so excited to get mine.  I tore into the box like a kid at Christmas.

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The setup

Setting up my Bia was super easy and quick.  All I had to do was plug the charger into the USB and charge up the Go Stick – the brains of the operation.  The Go Stick houses everything for over-the-air software updates and the GPS.

Once my Go Stick was charged (which only took a few minutes), I logged on to the http://my.bia-sport.com/setup site and created my account.  Directions were clear and easy to follow.  Everything was done and ready to go in about five minutes.

Size and comfort

One of the unusual things about the Bia is its shape and size.  Most GPS watches are huge and bulky.  The creators of Bia put all the necessary pieces into a separate piece – the Go Stick – so they could design the watch however they thought would be best.  This resulted in a smaller, thinner watch, that sits at an angle to make it more comfortable and easier to read while mid-workout.  While I’ve never had an issue with my Garmin sitting uncomfortably on my wrist bone, I definitely love how small and light the Bia is in comparison.

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Don’t mind the beach pictures.  I already gave my Garmin to my friend and forgot to take my comparison pictures before I did that.  So we reunited the Garmin and Bia during a day at the beach.

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Size and comfort:  Bia wins, hands down.

Go Stick

The Go Stick is the brains of the operation.  It’s a small piece that is separate from the watch, that you clip somewhere (I put mine on my waistband).  For best results, you should clip the Go Stick on the same side of your body as the watch.

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The Go Stick is charged through a USB cable that attaches using the clip.  (The watch itself never needs to be charged.)

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Make sure to connect the metal circles on the charger with the two metal pins on the Go Stick (see below).

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When the light on the left is orange, the Go Stick is charging.  It turns red once it’s fully charged.

You turn the Go Stick on by shaking it for a second or two.  Once it’s on, a green light flashes on the front for a few minutes.  The light shuts off after a bit to conserve battery, but it remains awake for about four minutes if it doesn’t connect to the watch before then.  Once it’s connected to the watch, it will stay on until the workout is over.

At first, I was paranoid that the Go Stick was going to fall off while I was running, so I was constantly checking for it for the first few runs.  But it seems very secure, and I haven’t had any problems at all.

Go Stick: Since the Garmin doesn’t have one, it’s hard to compare, but I’ll compare charging time, since this is the unit that needs to be charged.  The Bia Go Stick can be fully charged in 60-90 minutes, which is about the same as if I were to charge my Garmin.  Some people might be annoyed by the two-part design of the Bia, but I actually like it because it makes the watch smaller.  Once the Go Stick is clipped on, I barely notice it at all.  So I’ll say it’s a tie, with a slight edge to the Bia here since it ultimately makes the watch smaller and more comfortable.

Wristband

The wristband that comes with the Bia isn’t the greatest.  This is something that the Bia team has openly acknowledged throughout the whole process.  They’re working on new, and more secure band designs, but those are still to be determined.

HOWEVER, the current band can easily be modified (using o rings, rubber bands, Road ID badges, etc.) to make it more secure.  I actually swapped mine out completely.  The Bia design works perfectly with an ankle Road ID!  (If you keep the stock Bia band, it’s the perfect size to pop your Road ID badge directly onto it as well.)

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The original stock band

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Using my Road ID ankle band – I trimmed off the extra neoprene (the stuff that overlapped a lot).

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I love it with the Road ID band.  It’s super comfortable and feels really secure.  Plus, now I have two of my essential running things in one!

Wristband: With stock bands, the Garmin is better and more secure.  However, with customization (like putting on my Road ID band), the Bia is more comfortable, and equally secure.  So… a tie?  As stock products, the edge goes to the Garmin (less comfortable, but more secure).  With modifications, the edge goes to the Bia (more comfortable and just as secure).

Quick-connect GPS

One of the absolute best things about this watch is the quick-connect GPS.  How many times have we all stood around waiting and watching that “Locating Satellites” screen, only to see the bar get to almost 100% and then jump back down to 50%?  It takes forever sometimes!  I’ve had several races where my Garmin had so much trouble locating satellites that I’m missing data for the first couple miles of the race.  It makes me nuts!

Not with the Bia!

The Bia Go Stick contains the GPS portion of the watch.  Once you shake your Go Stick and wake it up, a green light will appear on the front of it.

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Awake!

Then, you press the button on your watch (there’s only one button – simplicity at its best) to turn the watch on.

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The start screen has three options:  Run, Bike, and Swim.  You can also access other options (like Tri Mode – not yet functional, but it should be very soon!) and the settings menu by pressing the down arrow in the bottom left corner.

To begin a run (or bike, or swim – I’ll just use run for now), you select “Run” on the touchscreen.

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A new menu comes up with the options: Just Run, Run/Walk, and Indoor.  For now, only the “Just Run” setting is functional.  The interval and indoor functions are still in development and should be rolled out over the auto-update in the near future (Disclaimer:  As I am not a part of the Bia team, I have no idea what the “near future” actually is.  But the Bia team is constantly working on developing these, so I imagine it won’t be super long.)

Once you press “Just Run” on the touchscreen, the watch connects to the Go Stick and gets the GPS location.  This happens so quickly that I wasn’t able to get a picture in time before, so I had to go back and do it again with my camera ready to shoot as soon as I pressed “Just Run.”

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Total elapsed time:  About three seconds.

GPS connection speed:  Bia wins!

Ease of use

Another nice feature of the Bia is how easy it is to use.  It was designed with only one button and the touchscreen.  You use the large button to turn it on and off, start and stop a workout, and send an SOS alert (I’ll get to that in a minute).  For everything else, you use the touchscreen (this includes when you finish a workout and it says to touch and hold to finish – touch the screen, NOT the button).  By the end of my first run with my Bia, I felt like I could use all the features without a problem – and I didn’t have to read a manual to figure it out.  There is no excess of menus to scroll through, and no wondering what button does what.  The trade off here is a decrease in features (compared to a Garmin).  However, the Bia team is constantly rolling out new functions and is open to suggestions.  So I have no doubt that with a bit more time, the Bia will have everything you ever used on your Garmin.  And really, it pretty much already does for most people.

Ease of use:  Bia wins again

Visibility

The screen on the Bia is simple and uncluttered.  During a workout, it has three main displays: elapsed time, distance, and pace (the default pace is average, but you can switch that to current pace as well).  Along the bottom of the screen, it displays time of day, heart rate (if you connected it to your HRM – which you do using the small “+” symbol in the bottom left corner just before pressing the button and starting your workout), and Go Stick battery.

The only downside with the Bia here is that it doesn’t have a backlight for when you’re running in the dark.  It was in the original design, but had to be taken out due to design limitations.  However, the next generation of Bias should have the illumination, and anyone who has a Bia 1.0 will be given the option to trade it in for a new one, for only the manufacturing cost (as per one of the backer update emails we got over the past several months).  I plan on doing this once that version is out, since having a screen that lights up is really nice for those darker runs.

Visibility:  Slight edge to Garmin for now.  Once Bia 2.0 is out with illumination, tie.

Accuracy

For my first run, I was curious how the accuracy of my Bia would compare to my Garmin, so I wore them both.  They ended up being exactly the same.  Occasionally, there’s a little GPS hiccup, where it looks like you’re suddenly running in the middle of the road, but the Bia team is currently working on making the GPS accuracy even better by smoothing out some things with the software, so that accuracy should become even better with time.

Accuracy:  Tie – some people have noticed the Bia is even better than the Garmin for swimming.  I have yet to try that.

SOS Alert

One of my absolute favorite Bia features is the SOS alert.  I am always very aware of safety when I run alone, and have had many times in the past when I have actually skipped a run because it was dark out and I didn’t feel safe running by myself.  I live in a very safe area, however, (I hate to use this excuse, but it’s true) as a female, you’re always abundantly aware of your physical safety.

The SOS alert is, in a word, brilliant.

If I was out for a run and something were to happen, I can send an SOS alert to my loved ones by pressing the large button and holding it down for three seconds.  This sends an automated text alert to my contacts (which are easy to set up right through the http://my.bia-sport.com/setup website).  I set up three contacts, so that way it increased the chances that one of them would see the text right away and could call for help.  (NOTE:  When you are setting these up, it would be a good idea to text or call the person beforehand to give them a heads up.  As soon as you enter them in as an emergency contact, they will get an automated text saying they are an emergency alert and this might concern them if they don’t know it’s coming.)

When the SOS alert is triggered, your emergency contact(s) will get a text saying you need help, and your exact location.  It will update your location every 60 seconds until the alert is canceled.  You cancel the alert by pressing and holding the large button for another three seconds.

SOS Alert: Bia wins!  Garmin says “what alert?”

Auto-uploading to website

Another sweet Bia feature is how it automatically uploads your workout to your Bia activity log as soon as you’re done.  No need to plug it in to your computer to download your data.  Instead, the Go Stick uploads your workout data over the cell network.  If you finish your workout and you are out of cell range, the Go Stick saves it and will upload it to your activity log as soon as you get back in range.

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My runs are sad this week since I’m still recovering from my foot injury.

You can easily export your data from the activity log in .tcx format so you can upload it into any other tracking program you like.  The Bia team has also set up options to auto-upload your data to Strava and MapMyFitness.  Other options (TrainingPeaks, etc.) are also possible in the future.

Auto-upload:  Bia wins again!  No more need to plug in my Garmin and download stuff.

Auto-updating of software

Since the Bia is still very new, there are frequent updates being rolled out by the Bia team.  Fortunately, they had the foresight to build in the ability for these software updates to be done automatically over the air.  So any time a new function is ready to be rolled out, or a bug is fixed, the software is automatically updated on your Bia – no need to plug it in, or download anything.  Everything is taken care of for you.  The most recent update (the only one I have experienced so far) took about a minute to do when I turned on my watch before a run.  So it’s nothing that takes hours and hours and throws off your planned run.

Or if you really want to make sure it doesn’t interfere with a planned workout, you can manually check for updates at any time in the settings menu (use the down arrow in the bottom left hand corner when you turn on your watch).

Auto-updating:  Bia wins!  I don’t think Garmin does this at all.

Battery life

Currently, the Go Stick has a battery life of about 6 hours.  (I believe.  I haven’t let it run long enough to die yet.)  However, one of the upcoming features is 17+ hour battery life.  This was another of the big selling points for me.  As an Ironman athlete, it drove me NUTS that my Garmin couldn’t make it all the way through the day.  The Bia is designed to do exactly that.  The extended battery life isn’t out yet, but it’s in progress and should be coming out soon (I hope).  We’ve gotten hints of it in our backer emails over the last couple months, so I imagine it’s not too far off.

Battery life:  Currently, Garmin wins this one.  But as soon as that 17+ hour battery life is out, Bia wins.  No contest.

UPDATE:  According to the Bia Facebook page, the 17 hour battery life is now rolled out to all watches.  Hooray!

Triathlon mode

I can’t write much about tri mode quite yet, because it’s not yet functional.  However, it’s in the works and looks like it should be out in the near future.  The Bia team has been testing it at some early season races, so hopefully we’ll see that roll out soon!

Tri mode:  For now, Garmin wins.  Once it’s out, I imagine it will be a tie.

Swim mode

For now, the only swim mode that you can use is “open water.”  There are also indoor modes (lap swimming) that will be coming down the line.  I have yet to test my Bia on a swim (tonight, hopefully), so I can’t say much about it yet.  However, many people have already been swimming with their Bias and things seem to be working well.  A recent poster on the Bia Facebook page found her Bia to be even more accurate than her Garmin for open water swimming.

One key with the Bia for swimming is to clip your Go Stick somewhere where it is mostly out of the water (like on the back of your goggle strap, and/or secured under your swim cap).  This allows it to find and hold the GPS signal easily, as well as easily communicate with your watch.

Swim mode:  Based off of others’ experiences, I’ll give the edge to the Bia since it appears to be more accurate than the Garmin.

The Bia team and community

Lastly, I had to mention the Bia team (and the Bia community), because I think they are one of the things that makes this watch so fantastic.

Creating something from scratch is daunting.  And this small group of butt-kickingly awesome people has managed to create an incredible product.  In addition to that, they are incredibly customer-friendly and responsive.  They genuinely want to hear from Bia users for feedback, suggestions, and questions.  Any question or suggestion is quickly responded to via email or through their Facebook page (on which, you will find an awesome community of proud Bia owners).  I can’t say enough good things about this group.  I am super happy and proud to be an original Bia owner, and am looking forward to many, many training sessions and races with my new Bia.

The team:  Bia wins.  No contest.  Try getting Garmin to ask you for suggestions for future features!

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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