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iPhone X initial impressions

After about 24 hours with the iPhone X, I wanted to write up some of my initial impressions of the phone. It’s the biggest change to the iPhone ever and I’m sure there are a ton of people who have a lot of questions.

For reference, I’m coming from an iPhone 7 Plus which, while unwieldy, had become something I’d gotten used to using.

First, after just powering on the phone, it feels really nice in your hand, almost like you’re just holding a screen. However, the “bezel-less” descriptor is not apt. There is still a bezel around the whole phone, it’s really just a removal of the iPhone’s chin and forehead. I actually like the little bit of bezel around the edge, though. It acts as a frame between the screen and the environment behind it. I’m not a huge fan of the Samsung Galaxy S8 design with the curved screen around the edge. I think that looks and feels awkward. So I’m glad for the bezel that is here.

The question about how annoying the notch is… it’s fine. Honestly, I don’t even notice it. It’s there, for sure, but it’s mostly up and away from where I am typically focusing on the screen. I do wish there was more space in the status bar, though. I miss not having the battery percentage or Bluetooth indicator. It’s all there if you pull down Control Center, though.

Speaking of Control Center, I’m not a fan of the new gesture to invoke it. Pulling down from the top of the screen is more awkward to me. I’d have much more preferred if Apple had used the same gesture from the iPad Pro where you swipe up all the way from the bottom. It could either have been an extension of the multitasking gesture where you just swipe further up or Control Center could have hung out to the right of your open apps like it does on the iPad Pro. Considering how much I use Control Center, this will take some getting used to.

As for the rest of the gestures and the removal of the home button, they’re great. The new multitasking gestures are pretty much perfect and feel natural to me. They took no getting used to. Swiping along the bottom of the screen to go back to the last app is super smooth and way better than anything before, even the 3D Touch swipe that I loved. I already don’t even miss the home button. Even after 9 years of using an iPhone, I don’t reach for it except to try to orient the phone as I pull it out.

Getting back to the screen, this is the one area where I have really mixed feelings. It looks really nice head-on, as good as any other iPhone. However, I notice blue shifting when looking off axis much more than I had hoped. It’s still good as far as OLED screens go, but it’s there much sooner when tilting the phone than I had expected.

I’ve also noticed that text looks like garbage while scrolling quickly. Almost as it there is no anti-aliasing at all or as if it’s dropping frames. However, as I’m typing this, I just tried to reproduce it and I can’t. Maybe it was just some weird hiccup while the phone This may not actually be an issue. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The design choice to leave empty space below the keyboard feels a little weird, but in usage, I think it makes typing easier than if Apple had put the keyboard all the way down at the bottom. The emoji and voice dictation buttons have been moved to this space and it’d be nice to see it used for additional things as well. Interestingly, my typing seems more accurate with fewer typos. This is especially interesting to me after coming from a Plus-sized iPhone with a wider screen and bigger keyboard. I seem to make fewer of my standard iPhone typos—hitting `i` instead of `o` and `n` instead of `space`. Maybe this is just thanks to the slightly different position of the keyboard in relation to my hands.

Okay, now let’s talk about FaceID. It’s good. Not perfect, but good. Maybe even really good. It’s generally pretty quick and, when it works properly, feels like you don’t have any security on your phone at all. You can tap the screen to wake it and just immediately swipe up. Don’t even wait for the lock to turn.

However, it seems to have problems with my sunglasses. I just wear a cheap $3 pair of sunglasses from Target and I’m sure this is very much a “your mileage will vary” kind of thing. With my regular glasses, though, there’s no problem.

Where FaceID has been breaking down for me is when I’m not looking at my phone head on. It picks up your face from a pretty good angle at the bottom, nearly 45º, but from the sides or top, it’s not nearly as good. If you often use TouchID to unlock your phone while it’s laying flat on the table, this could be something you’ll have to change. I do this a lot and I find myself having to pick the phone up to tilt it towards my face.

I’ll say this, though, in the last 24 hours, I’ve only had to enter my passcode two times. Which TouchID, I typically have to enter it around a dozen times a day.

FaceID does make notifications from the lock screen nicer. I have it set to hide the content of each notification until it recognizes my face. While this sometimes means there’s a half a second that I’m waiting before I can read notifications, usually due to not having the phone up to my face yet, it does serve as an additional visual indicator that the phone is unlocked. Once the phone has recognized your face, you can just tap a notification and it opens. No more having to tap and then move your finger down to TouchID. This is rather nice.

As for Animoji, it’s impressive and fun to play with and I’m glad 💩 is one of the options. I’ve been enjoying #AnimojiKareoke a lot. But beyond that, I expect the novelty to wear off quickly.

Overall, I’m really digging the iPhone X. It feels nice to use and the screen sucks you in. However, apps that haven’t been updated for the iPhone X and don’t make use of Auto-layout look pretty rough on the screen. I’ve seen some people say they just look like you’re using an iPhone 6/6S/7/8, but they feel worse than that to me. It’s worse than when apps weren’t updated to run on the iPhone 6 and were just scaled up. Instead, it reminds me of back when the iPhone 5 came out and apps weren’t updated for that screen size. It feels janky, but most of the apps I use regularly are already good to go.

All that said, what it comes down to is whether or not it’s worth $1000. That’s a tough question, but not because it’s not a great phone. It’s a tough question because it’s not really $1,000. $1,000 gets you the 64GB model, but if you’re getting this phone, you’re probably going to want the 256GB version for $1,149. And then on top of that, you’d be stupid not to get AppleCare+ unless you’re one of those weird people who have never once dropped a phone. That’s another $200, but if you Google the cost of screen repairs for the iPhone X, you’ll see why you need to just spend that extra money upfront. Now, you’re at $1,350, before tax

So that’s the question, is it worth $1,350. That’s more than my iPad Pro with keyboard cover and Apple Pencil. That’s more than an entry-level MacBook Pro. That’s a lot of money and I don’t know if I can answer this for you. I’m really liking this phone and I don’t have any buyer’s remorse. If you have the money and you want it, then you should get it. But it’s more than rent for a lot of people and it’s, honestly, just a luxury item. If you don’t have the money, I don’t think it’s worth being the thing you save up for. Next year, all new iPhones will likely follow this design. While you’ll miss out on Animoji for a year, that’s probably the only thing you’ll really be missing.

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2017 Chicago Marathon – 3:32:28

Chicago Marathon number three and my twelfth marathon overall!

Let me just say off the bat, I have weird mixed feelings about this race. It’s hard to complain about a 3:32 finish and a BQ, but I’m not exactly thrilled with how I got there.

But before I get into the race itself…

Pre-race

Danielle and I got to Chicago in the early afternoon on Thursday and, for the most part, I didn’t want to spend too much time on my feet, but Thursday and Friday ended up being bit more walking around than planned.

We went to the expo late morning on Friday after a short three-mile run around Grant Park and the Lakefront Trail (side note: on this run, we passed Matt Centrowitz, Paula Radcliffe, and Noah Droddy). The expo was busy and crowded already, but nothing like what I’m sure it became later on. Expos for big races are always hell for people like us who don’t like crowds…or even other people.

Look, it wasn’t my best finish, okay? 🙃 #ChicagoMarathon

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After getting my bib and shirt, we did a lap around the whole thing, took a couple pictures, met up with my friend Heather, had a sample of Goose Island Old Man Grumpy—which was delicious—and got the heck outta there. Dinner that night was a big messy burger from RJ Grunts with the always wonderful Parker Molloy and Kayla Pekkala. Sadly, I still have not met Meatball.

Hanging with Heather.

Saturday was a really easy and relaxed day. I did a two-mile shakeout run and not much else. Dinner was the standard never-ending bowl of spaghetti at Dolce Italian. Yum!

Typically, in the week before a non-Disney World marathon, I don’t drink any alcohol, but this time around I had a beer Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I mean…whatever. Beer is good. And carbs.

Good can!

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Flat Amy for #ChicagoMarathon tomorrow. For those cheering, there’s a 50/50 chance I toss the tank by mile three

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Race morning

I woke at around 5:15am for the 7:30 start. This gave me plenty of time to get ready and eat something—a crappy bagel from Starbucks and half an apple—without being rushed. Our hotel was in the Central Loop so we were close to the start which made for a nice quick walk over. I think I headed out around 6:15 and was through security by 6:30. Because I was a bit early, I had a short porta potty line. I was in the corral by 7, I think.

Nice sunrise over Lake Michigan.

Once things started filling up, I looked for the 3:30 pacers so I could start with them. I didn’t necessarily plan on staying with them, but I wanted to start with them. Because my goal was a 3:35 for the day, based on my training, I would have preferred to start with that group, but they were in the D corral, one behind me. The 3:30 pacers wanted to try to wait for the D corral’s 3:30 group so they could run together; they set up shop in the very back of the C corral and I figured I’d hang back there with them.

Pretty empty when I got in.

When the race started, however, things got a little busy and I went without them. Off on my own! Considering my best races recently have been run without any time with pacers, it wasn’t a big deal to me. I was just afraid of starting out too fast.

The first half

Right from the start, I took off too fast and I knew it. I could feel myself running faster than I should have been, but it was a comfortable rhythm and I just couldn’t get myself out of it. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep it, but my legs weren’t slowing down. In hindsight, I should have tried harder to slow down. Mistakes were being made and I knew it. My first mile was a 7:52, which was at least 10 seconds faster than I should have been.

Had my training been faster, this is about where I would have wanted to be. 16 weeks ago, my goal was to be able to average a 7:50-7:45, but my training didn’t end up being for that. Miles two and three were 7:52 and 7:51 so I was really locked in at exactly that pace.

Around the second mile marker, I took off my tank top to run in just my sports bra. It wasn’t super warm yet, but I was already sweating a lot and I knew the temperature would be going up into the mid 70s. I also knew I’d be seeing Danielle around the next turn and I wanted to be able to toss my shirt to her without having to hold it until the next time I saw her at 20k.

Around mile four, I heard a voice screaming over all the others in the crowd, but it took me a few seconds to realize it was my name being yelled. Before I even turned my heard, I knew that loud and obnoxious voice was none other than Lauren Bailey.

As the course continued up into Lincoln Park, I was contemplating what my legs might have for the rest of the day. I knew I wasn’t slowing down so I decided to just embrace the race I started and see what happened. I was lapping my watch manually at each mile marker so I knew my exact pace. Though, I somehow missed the 9th marker which meant I had to wait until 11 for an exact split.

My main concern in the first 10k was that I couldn’t get my glutes or hamstrings to activate. I’ve always been a completely quad-dominant runner, but this was something I’ve been working on all year and was a big focus in my physical therapy sessions. I actually had a lot of success in improving this and, honestly, credit learning to activate my glutes and hamstrings for much of my solid racing through spring and summer. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t do it this day.

My 5k paces through the first half were 7:52, 7:49, 7:51, and 7:51 with a half time of 1:42:50 (7:56 average). How’s that for consistent? Running an even effort is rarely a problem for me in the marathon and with Chicago being so flat that meant even splits as well.

Blurry Amelia at 20k.

I was taking water at about two-thirds of the water stops and only had one of my gels. I’ve been taking fewer gels during marathons recently than I used to and it seems to work out for me so I just took this one around mile six.

The second half

As we came around Willis Tower and crossed the halfway point, I was still feeling okay physically, but I could tell my body was going to be fatiguing faster than I hoped. Over the next few miles, I passed a few people cheering who yelled my name, but I couldn’t catch who they were. I later found out one of them was my coworker Malicia who was out there to support her fiancé.

By 15 or 16, some fatigue was starting to set in, but I hadn’t slowed yet. I wasn’t feeling a lack of energy, just my legs starting to tire. I popped my second gel and started with the mental tricks to try to preemptively keep myself strong. I focused on getting to Cowbell Corner at mile 17 and then the 30k mark.

30k was right on the money at 7:51 average, again. I was actually impressed with myself that I was running this consistent.

Unfortunately, that’s when the wheels started to fall off. I wasn’t surprised it happened, but I thought I’d have until at least 20 miles before I started falling apart. When it happens at 18.5 miles, it’s a long way to go until that finish line. I’ve done enough marathons now to know how to fight through to the finish, but I also knew to kiss that three-minute PR I was on track for goodbye.

I haven’t really mentioned much about the weather yet, but it was a warm day—low of 57, high in the mid-70s—and sunny with a ~10mph breeze. The breeze felt great in those temps. I’d like to blame the heat for my bonking, but I can’t. It was a non-issue for me. I was taking water and staying hydrated and, for someone who runs about my time, you can find a lot of shade on the course. I spent very little time having to run in the sun. I was worried about the temperature before the race, but it just wasn’t a problem for me. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was the case for a lot of other runners.

My 35k split was an average of 8:20. I had slowed a lot. By mile 20, I was walking through water stops. And once I start having to take walk breaks, I’m screwed. I never recover from that.

I started making deals with myself, “okay, no more walk breaks until the next mile” and things like that. I was struggling. My quads where shot. I still hadn’t been able to activate my glutes or hamstrings and I was paying for it now. At 40k, my splits had slowed to a 9:21 average. I was taking a lot of walk breaks.

It sucked. But I still had a smile on my face. Still, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I love the marathon. I think having races that are tough makes me love it even more.

Knowing the course, I knew what was left and just kept focusing on getting to the finish line. For the last 2.2k, I was able to do fewer walk breaks and pick my pace up a bit from where it was the previous few miles, but I was really ready to be done.

I looked out for the 800m to go sign and felt a little relief when I knew I was in the last half mile. As I climbed that stupid hill just as you’re hitting mile 26, I was so thankful the finish line was around the next turn.

I crossed with a 3:32:28 and was thrilled to be done and ready for my post-race beers.

Salt Face Amy.

Thoughts

While I was nearly four minutes from my PR, I ran a little faster overall than expected. I’m happy with my time—you really can’t complain about a 3:32 and a BQ. But I’m not happy with how I got there. Mistakes were made from the start and I paid for them. I knew I was making them and I’m disappointed in myself for making them anyway. I haven’t made this mistake in a marathon in a long time. I know better than this. And, to be honest, it was only my quads that bonked. My lungs, energy level, hydration, GI, and the rest of my legs were all fine.

Not only did the second half of this race suck, but it breaks a streak of five straight marathon negative splits. That’s probably one of my proudest things about my running, is having negative split five marathons in a row…until this race. But…it happens. I knew I had a decent streak of good marathons and was due for a rough one. They can’t all be winners.

26.2 miles, 2 beers, and nothing but smiles. #ChicagoMarathon

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Despite not being happy with my execution, I wasn’t really the least bit disappointed after the race. I love the marathon and I love this city and Chicago Marathon and I still had a good time (both in terms of finish time and having fun!). I had a smile on my face at the finish and all day after.

Races like this remind me how much I love the marathon.

I got beaned. #ChicagoMarathon

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Beeeeeer.

The obligatory post-race Beaning.

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A quick pre-Chicago Marathon training update

Since it’s sort of the last minute here and I’m planning to go to bed in an hour, I’m going to keep this short…at least for my standards. But I did want to throw up a quick little pre-race post regarding training.

Going into my third Chicago Marathon and twelfth marathon total tomorrow, I can’t remember the last time I felt this out of running shape. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel slow and untrained. However, the thing is, I’m not. I might not be in PR shape, but I’m actually in decent shape. I did the miles in training, more consistently than I’ve done for a marathon in at least two and a half years. I didn’t do any speedwork, but I did the miles. Six or seven weeks ago, I ran the Reykjavik Half Marathon—after two weeks of being on my feet for 15-25 miles every day traveling—just 20 seconds slower than my PR. And my last two miles were in the 6:50s, which is 5k pace for me. A few weeks later, I PRed a 5k after an 18-mile training run. And then just three weeks ago, I finished out the Newport Half Marathon with a 6:55 mile. So, I’ve clearly got a lot in my legs.

The lack of speedwork was mostly just due to having run Grandma’s Marathon exactly 16 weeks ago and me having planned to keep the miles easier effort for the first half of training.

Unfortunately, a big confidence problem for me right now is my right quad, IT band, hip, and adductor. Just that whole damn thing. The hip and adductor pain that started all the way back in March still isn’t 100%. I thought it had gotten there after my Europe trip, but it started coming back just a little. I’d say it’s like 95%. On the outside of my leg, down the length of my IT band, from hip to knee, has been bothering me for the last month or so. This is something I’ve been dealing with for years. It’s just a problem spot for me. I know how to prevent and rehab it, but I got busy for a few weeks and neglected it. It’s not a serious thing, but it is enough right now that I can’t completely ignore it.

Anyway, what it comes down to is that I’m really not sure what I’m capable of for tomorrow…which is the same position I found myself in last year. What I do have going for me, though, is a lack of pressure. I BQed here last year and will be running Boston in April. I no longer have a BQ hanging over my head. And I realized this wouldn’t work out to be a good goal race anymore weeks ago when my heart just wasn’t in the training.

So…I’m not gunning for a PR tomorrow. And that’s okay. I do want to score a BQ, though, just in so I have it in my pocket in case I want to run 2019 too. Still, it’s not a weight on my shoulders and I do think I should be able to run a 3:35 or better.

We’ll see how it goes! The weather is going to be a bit warm tomorrow so that could also be a factor.