Saturday, September 21, 2013

Product Review and Recipe - PearSports Mobile and Pear Crisp

Disclosure - I have absolutely zero affiliation with PearSports.  I did not get any swag, money, props, bribes or cool stuff of any kind for writing this review.  In fact, I'm quite sure PearSports is blissfully unaware of my existence and will continue to be so for quite some time, if not forever.  All of these opinions are 100% my own.

I'm not a bad runner.  But I am, let's say, a confused one.  I'm confused about correct form.  I'm confused about how to get better without injuring myself.  In the last six months I've needed PT for both knees, both hips, I've hurt my ankle, my back, and most recently sparked up some PF issues.  Grace, thy name is not Miranda.  I'm also quite honestly often confused as to how people who love running.... love running.  I've spent most of my life hating running.  Previous to six months ago, there were two things that would motivate me to run:


Being chased by a T-Rex

And that was it.  I mean, what the heck - people do this voluntarily??  Insane.  I'm also usually running alone because of my crazy work/schedule.  So when SwimBikeMom posted her review of PearSports Training Intelligence system, I thought hey - something that, for the low price of sub $100, will whisper sweet nothings in my ear telling me how I'm supposed to be training, encouraging me, and otherwise keeping me company on my long fall and winter of running, I got one pretty darn quick.

I love this system.  It's a heart rate monitor, special fancy earphones, and IPhone app.  My IPhone is pretty much surgically implanted, so one more gizmo to use with it was an added benefit.  The heart rate monitor is surprisingly comfy - I actually often forget I'm wearing it after a workout until I shower (which realistically isn't always immediately).  The headphones come with three different sizes of keep-it-in special comfy earpads.  I was actually so distraught at losing one of my size small earpads on a run that I went back to find it the next day in the rain.  The headphones also have a volume switch and a little button that clips to your shirt, and will tell you relevant stats (pace, mileage, heartrate) when you press it.

But the best part of all is the software itself.  First, it lets you listen to your own music while you work out - syncs right into your ITunes.  There are multiple training plans you can download (I'm doing the 10K running plan), with structured workouts that you schedule on given days of the week.  A coach (a famous one, if you are aware of such things, which I am not) will coach you all the way through each workout - giving you tips on form, reminders of what zone you are (or are supposed to be) in, etc.  The dialogue is often, but not so often that it becomes obnoxious or interferes with your tunes.

The home screen

In addition to running plans, there are spinning programs, strength training workouts, and even a guided meditation that you can download and use a la carte.  Yesterday when I couldn't get to the gym because work kept my late in the home office waiting for a critical email, I jumped on the trainer instead and logged a 50 minute spin workout.  The intensity was perfect, the coaching good, and except for the coach calling me "a monkey's uncle" when I was in the wrong zone (British? Aussie?  Just not sure...) it was pretty good.  There is also a free-form workout option that tracks your HR, distance, etc. but doesn't hold you to any particular program.  I've used this for races, and for runs that are longer than what I should be doing per the 10K plan (bad bad athlete).

38%?  I told you I was non-compliant...

At the end of your session, you can see your stats, a graph of what your heart rate was compare to what zone it should have been, and a map (if you workout was non-stationary).

A few nice-to-haves would be if it automatically synced to other apps like MapMyRide (it synces to some, just not my favorites), and if it was a little more flexible it letting you schedule and reschedule your workouts.  Maybe part of coaching is learning to stick to the plan?  I wish the HRM was a little more sensitive too - when I put my phone in my saddlebag on a long ride, it lost signal a lot.  A handlebar mount for the phone would probably fix that (more toys for my toys!!!).  Ditto for Boot Camp.  But that's pretty standard for BlueTooth...

A couple of thoughts on heart rate training, specifically for running.  Mainly, it is confusing as all anything.  I've spent all of my time to date trying to go FASTER.  You can't do that with heart rate training.  The voice in my ear wants me to actually warm up and cool down in Zone 1.  Which is just about walking for me.  Today I had a 4 mile "long" run.  (See how I had to put "long" in quotes?  Clearly I still have attitude....)  The first and last half mile the system wanted me in Zone 1 (walking fast) and the middle part in zone 2 (running not at my fastest pace, or even my almost-fastest pace).  For part of the run I was above in Zone 3, and when the electro-coach rebuked me I thought "Ha! I am BEATING heart rate training!"  Oh wait a minute....

Posting my runs to Facebook (which this system also does, even allowing you to select which subset of friends you irritate by doing so) isn't as much fun as usual with these slower paces showing.  Not that I was impressing anyone before, mind you, but still.  My run this morning ended at my kids' soccer practice - if you were to  look closely at my HR graph you would see where I started running again lest anyone not watching their little darling on the field glance over and think I couldn't hack a 4 mile run.  Because I'm crazy like that.  Clearly there is some mental re-shuffling needed to adjust here.... I'm working on it....

On the subject of pears, let's flip over and discuss how much I LOVE fall recipes.  Butternut squash, pork roast, pumpkin pie, baked apples - you name it I love it.  This is by far the best time of year for food (good thing I'm still running, huh?).  My family has been doing more than our fair share of apple picking.

Up on Jedi's shoulders

Which leads to much cooking of apples.  Much like after peach picking, I am over-run with apples.  So I make apple butter, apple sauce, and my favorite - apple crisp.  I'm the only one in the house that likes it, but that's ok because I am more than happy to eat the ENTIRE pan by myself.  Judge all you want.  I'm a triathete.  So shush.  Ha!

She's got a little bit of Evil Queen from Snow White vibe going-
I think the pirate scarf helps....

My favorite crisp recipe is actually equally good with pears (Bosc are best) or apples, so I'll share it here:

Maple Oat Pear [or Apple] Crisp

  • 4-5 large pears or apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup (real if you have it)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lay the sliced fruit in a 9x9 inch baking pan.  Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of melted butter and the syrup.

Add a little lemon juice to keep fruit from browning, if you like

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.  Pat onto the sliced fruit to make a more or less smooth layer.

Oven ready

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the apples are just starting to be soft.  This is personal preference, but I feel like most apple crisps are too sweet, and too overdone.  To the point of applesauce under the crust.  This recipe is much more like sliced fruit under and oatmeal cookie.  In fact, that's what my kids call it - "apple oatmeal cookie thing".  Serve with ice cream, with whipped cream, for dessert, or even for breakfast.  After all, it does have fruit and oats....  I dare you!


The rain is just starting to fall here, and will continue through tomorrow's 10K race that I'll be taking on with Gypsy.  We will be soaked.  I'm not sure I'm even going to bring my IPhone and Pear system, because I don't want them to get ruined.  So think warm, cozy, fall thoughts for me and enjoy!

Happy Fall :)

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