The ramblings of a working, knitting, writing wife and mother.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Runner Five

So, I’m a runner.

Oh! Sorry - I should have warned those who went to high school with me that I was going to start with a joke like that so they would have known not to take a sip of coffee right then. Yeah, sorry about making you spit it all over your monitor – shall we try again? Ok, put the beverage down.

I admit, the running is new, and I’m actually more of a brisk walker / jogger than a runner. Before I got pregnant the first time, I attended a gym regularly and had started in the running thing – my personal best being 2.6 miles at 4.5 miles per hour. I think the first time I ran my first mile straight (in like fifteen minutes), I went around to everyone in the gym and made them give me a high five. But two babies, fifty pounds, and a little over four years later, I’d definitely lost any ability or drive.

Enter my mother who showed me a coupon for a 5k race close to my house. She wasn’t horribly out of the blue; I was four months into a weight-loss journey to gain at least my pre-pregnancy body back if not better, but even considering that, she showed me the email without any sincerity. I laughed at it with her until stuff started resonating in that tiny little piece of my spirit that contains anything like ambition.

It was a Pumpkin themed 5k the first week of October. I love pumpkins. I adore October. There would be a Tshirt – with a pumpkin on it. There would be a medal for those finishing the race – also with a pumpkin on it. I wouldn’t have to drive far to participate. Walkers were welcome. And with the attached coupon, the registration price was cheaper than a delivered pizza. I spontaneously decided that I could definitely walk 3.1 miles and paying that price for a Tshirt and a medal (did I mention the pumpkins?) would be an experience I was willing to have. I registered.

And I meant to walk, really, but since it was early summer it crossed my mind that I could maybe try to at least jog. Right? Would I really be ok wearing that shirt or that medal without even really trying? I googled a 5k running schedule and that was the first time I learned of the existence of Zombies Run.

I watched the trailer, read a bit about it, and wanted it more than I have ever wanted anything close to a video game in my life. How motivating would that be to train for a 5k while running away from zombies! Unfortunately, I did not at that time own any kind of device that would support the app. I trained for my pumpkin 5k with the Couch-to-5k (C25K) schedule, which is also very good, and worked well enough that I did indeed run the entire 5k to earn my Tshirt and medal, but there was a significant lack of zombies in my life that I felt deeply.

Small surprise that last Christmas, upon receiving my first smart phone, the first thing I did after adding some music was download the Zombies, Run app. There is also a Zombies 5k app, but since I had kept up my running after my first race, that seemed like not enough for my level (oops, sorry, maybe just refrain from drinking until you’re done reading, eh?). I was ready for the main app, and now that I’ve done a few different things on it, I’d like to pass on my review to those not sure.

Why on earth are you not sure? It’s like reading a story, engaging in a role-play, real-life video game, and getting your exercise all in one! What’s not to like? Buy it! Buy it now!

What? Not convinced? Fine - Here we go. Reasons to purchase the Zombies, Run app.

1.     British accents. I didn’t realize, but this is a UK-run app. With a bit of Scottish peppered on top. Because the only thing better than pretending to outrun zombies is having someone British shouting encouragement to you to outrun zombies.
2.     It’s a story. Yeah! A continuous story with over 120 missions. Reoccurring characters, bits of drama. Stuff to make you think while you’re running to take your mind off of how much it sucks to be running.
3.     It works with your playlist. Depending on how long you set your mission length (30 minutes or 60) a bit of mission transmission will play, then one or two songs from your playlist, then another transmission. Or you can choose not to have any music at all.
4.     Once you are done with the mission transmissions, but aren’t necessarily finished with your run, an imaginary radio station picks up to keep going with your playlist as long as you like. Well, maybe it does have limitations, but I haven’t exhausted them yet. (Don’t run that long.)
5.     It works on a treadmill or with GPS – versatility is good for those of us who might not want to go any farther than our backyard some nights while we’re being a single parent.
6.     You don’t have to run. You can still get out and exercise while doing missions with this app at a walk. Your pace, your level, no problem.
7.     It has oodles of options. Mission length, playlist selection, GPS or accelerometer, do you want zombie chase enabled or not.
8.     It has the option of an “Air Drop” mission for those with GPS devices. Pick a spot on a map, a real map, like if I wanted to run to the library and back. You can pick if you want it to be a one-way or return mission and the app will build an adventure around your chosen distance.
9.     There are race options – 2 each for a 5k, 10k, and 20k (I think). I haven’t done these yet, but I’m sure they are awesome.
10. Did I mention the zombie chase? If you have GPS on, every once in a while a little voice pops up that says, “Zombies – 100 meters” and that means you have to increase your pace by at least 10% for 60 seconds to avoid being caught. Or you can turn it off if that freaks you out.
11. You can’t actually die in the game (no starting over!). If the zombies are too close (you get caught), you drop some of the supplies you’re carrying to distract them and get yourself away. While it’s no fun to lose your hard-earned supplies, at least you aren’t dead.
12. This app keeps track of all your statistics. It has run logs so you can see what happened on every run you did (where were your fast points, your average speed, how far did you go, how many calories did you burn, check your route out on the map). It also keeps track of total stats – how many total miles (or kilometers if you prefer) you’ve done playing the game, how many calories, how many hours have you been running, how many zombies have you avoided, how many sports bras have you brought in to help Abel township. What was your fastest ever time?
13. Have I talked about Abel township yet? No? It’s the imaginary base where you live with your still-human survivors. As you run, you aren’t only avoiding zombies but you collect things to bring back to the base – batteries, tins of food, clothes, pain meds, whatever. When you are done with your run, you can sync your app to ZombieLink, a website that also keeps stats. With the supplies you collect, you can improve Abel by updating defenses, constructing new buildings, all of which increase your township’s population, safety, and morale. You’re a hero!
14. Also on the website are a collection of achievements to unlock. Tons of them, and they are all cleverly named.
15. You can go back and rerun any episode you like, or play them out of order.
16. You can also, once you’ve unlocked a sound bit in a mission, you can go online and play it again, individually. Which is good for kids like me who are all, “hey wait, what did they say?”
17. Sam Yao.

Is there a downside to this app? Maybe. Here are two (that’s it, could only think of two).

1.     It crashes. I’ve only had it happen once, and it was because someone called my phone in the middle of my run twice within a 60-second window. It crashed my app. I’ve heard of other people having similar problems. I was extremely disappointed. I’d had such a great run; I was almost finished, and I didn’t get to hear the very end of the mission. On the up side – the run did appear in my stats page so it wasn’t a total loss and the likelihood of that happening again is very minimal.
2.      Price. The initial $3.99 purchase will get you three of the six races, season one, access to airdrop missions, and I think seven episodes of season two. After that, if you want to continue (Of course you do!), the remaining episodes and races are available for additional purchase. I believe that a full access pass to everything (initial app and ALL the seasons) is about $20. But hang on a second. Let’s put this into proper perspective. Think about all that stuff this app can do. Stats, missions, storyline, GPS tracking, interval training, playlist maintenance – all of that stuff, plus we’re talking about hours and hours and hours of missions here (and I hear they are making a Season 4, so there’s more to come!) for the price of ONE workout DVD. Hmm. If you’re like me, and if you’re reading my blog I suspect that might be so, I bet you have one dusty workout DVD on your shelf / in your closet that cost more than this app and was way less satisfying.

So there you go. Zombies, Run – super fun. I find my runs, even on the treadmill, extremely less tedious, and I look forward to hearing what’s going on in the story next. Incredibly motivating all around.

And it made me a runner. Runner Five!