Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lila!

Posted by ShoZu

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Rain Delay

No running for me this morning - Tropical Storm Fay is still blustering its way through my area. Last night we had Tornado Warnings through most of the night. The rain was so heavy, at points, that at about 2:00 AM we gathered up the kids and pets and went into our "safe room." We spent a good portion of the night watching the news and listening to the rain pelting the windows. It was not fun. This morning the effects are still being seen. It looks like there was some tornado damage in areas not far from our home, but we appear to have survived unscathed thusfar. Definitely not safe to be outside running, though. I'm not yet sure whether my office will be open today. School is out, and government offices are closed.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Feel The Need... The Need.... For Sleep!

Wait, no, that's not right.

This morning I woke up raring to go. Yesterday my attempt at a morning run was thwarted by uncooperative technology: my iPhone was of the belief that it had no music or podcasts on it (SO not true, iPhone!), and it also decided to stage an impromptu app-strike - all apps kept quitting on launch. Restarting didn't cure anything, so a full restore was in order. I was all geared-up and outside and everything, but defeated I headed back in. I'll get you next time, gadget!

Today was different. The sun was shining, birds were singing, and all my tech was reporting G-for-go. Run Keeper established a GPS lock so quickly that I feared it might actually not be working. The dulcet tones of Robert Ullrey's voice piped merrily through my earphones. The run was uneventful and great.

Since RunKeeper worked well this time out, I actually have a map I can post of the run, generated in real-time as I ran. Only 2 miles, but that's W2D3 of C25k for you. As I ran, I thought about last night's Olympic Marathon and how amazing those runners are. My goals aren't nearly so lofty: I just want to get in shape.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Runs, 2. Runs Kept, 0.

Whew, this morning it was a balmy 2345345 degrees outside with 34123123123% humidity! It felt like I was running through a bowl of hot jello. Or so I imagine: I've never actually tried running through hot jello...

I did W2D2, and I must say it kicked my butt just a tad. It was good to be out there, though. At the end of the run the sprinklers celebrated my arrival back home. Those things must have either a motion sensor or a sense of humor. They always get me!

I was looking forward to today's run: Now that I know about (and how to avoid) the bug I inadvertently discovered in RunKeeper that kept my run from being uploaded the other day, I was excited to have this be my first recorded RunKeeper run. Sadly, RunKeeper was unable to lock on a GPS signal the entire time. I don't blame the app, I blame the GPS of the phone. But the end result was the same: nothing recorded this go-round. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We are Borg.

Today I've added a bit of new tech to my run: RunKeeper, an iPhone app. I'd say it shows promise, and I'll probably wind up loving it, but right now I'm still working out a few kinks and so I recommend it but with reservation.

[EDITED TO ADD: I wrote to the author of RunKeeper with a description of the problem I was experiencing. It's a known bug that has already been squashed in an update that will be available shortly at the app-store. I now recommend RunKeeper with no reservations whatsoever - it's a great app, and well worth far more than the $9.99 being charged].

The interface is spot-on. It's exactly how I would have designed it myself. It gives a very Nike+ minute-by-minute bar graph of your run as you go. It acquired a GPS lock very quickly. Unlike Nike+, there are no audio prompts to cue you in to how far into your run you are. Your phone has to remain on for the duration, so battery life is going to be an issue (though the developer says they're working on possible solutions to make it better). For what it's worth, I ran for a half hour, starting with a full battery, and at the end of my run I was STILL showing a full battery. I was listening to music as I ran, and I would have expected a noticeable amount of battery drain. It could be that there was a glitch in the battery display.

At the end of the run, I was given the option of saving or discarding the data. I saved it, and RunKeeper is now keeping a history log of the runs (again, just like Nike+).

The big problem I'm having is that RunKeeper was supposed to automatically upload the data to their website, to display it on a map, but 10 hours later it still hasn't done so and I haven't figured out how to force it. I tried a second test and that got uploaded to the website quickly. (But still not the first one).

[EDITED TO ADD: As stated above, this is resolved in the upcoming update. Occasionally, if you quit out and then resume, the whole run's data will be viewable on your iPhone but only the portion prior to your closing out the app will upload. This morning, it happened that I quit out almost immediately, in order to start up my music].

And, interestingly, the map doesn't look super-accurate. It showed my general path, but where the road curved it mapped it out as if I was running dog-legs, as though the GPS is being polled for data points too infrequently or something along those lines. If that's the case, I question the overall accuracy of the distance it is reporting. I have an e-mail in to the developer to see what input he can give me about these issues I'm having. We'll see what he says.

[EDITED TO ADD: Per the developer, the better the GPS signal, the smoother the map tracking will look. This makes sense. I'd have thought I had a pretty good signal, given that I was out in the open, on a clear morning, but maybe it wasn't that great. I wish there was some way the iPhone could show you how many satellites you've acquired, like a dedicated GPS does...]

Running with the iPhone is actually much better than I anticipated it would be. I'm used to having my phone with me when I run, and the iPhone is a bit larger and heavier than my old phone, but not by much. I'm pretty happy with the Marware Sportsuit Convertible Armband.

As for today's run, I did W2D1. I was going to continue on with W1D2, but iTunes deleted that podcast from my iPhone and I didn't realize until I was already outside. Fortunately, I already had week 2 uploaded and so I just did that instead. And it was good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Sort-of-Triumphant Return

Like Rocky Balboa, a cockaroach, or bad Mexican dinner (choose your metaphor), I am back! This last month away from running was just a brief intermission, prompted by my getting an iPhone. I carry my phone with me when I run, stashed in an armband, for emergencies. The new phone necessitated a new armband, and it took me a while to find the right one and then get around to ordering it. (Once I finally ordered, though, it came near-instantly: I ordered on Wednesday night, and it arrived at my doorstep on Thursday morning. I wasn't sure how that was even physically possible, until I looked at the return address: apparently Marware is located just about 20 miles from my home).

I also used the month away to see if my left knee would start feeling any better - it had been a bit achey. There was zero change after a month, and so I figure that it's probably not running-related. Since running doesn't seem to make it any worse, and not running doesn't seem to make it any better, and I enjoy running, I decided to get back on track.

As for the armband, I'm pretty ambivalent about it. It's a Marware Sportsuit Convertible. It is designed to be an all-in-one phone case. It has a belt clip attachment, or it can be used without the clip as a sleeve. It has an armband attachment. It even has a little key pocket attachment. It slices! It dices! It even plays Crysis! It's a breath mint! It's a candy! Tastes great! Less filling! ...Whatever. The belt clip seems too flimsy to trust, and I don't like the case enough to use it on a 24-hour basis as a sleeve, which means I'm going to be switching cases every other day. All in all, a minor nuisance. The armband part is super-comfortable, at least. On the bright side, the iPhone means that I no longer need to wear an ipod armband on my right arm and a phone armband on my left arm, making me just a teensy bit less geeky-looking as I run.

Since this was my first run in a month, I decided to take it very easy and just did W1D1. During the walking segments, I took a few photos of my route using the iPhone's camera. It was a morning run through the park, not a weekday-dead-as-night early morning run. No sense posting pictures from those, as they would just be black squares.

1. Leaving my development...

2. Greenacres Park, about a quarter-mile from my home. Ah, Greenacres - it's the place to be. (Official City Motto. No kidding).

3. Running through the park...

4. Some wildlife: a couple of geese, an egret (I think), a squirrel, some white birds, some ducks. Camera-shy: Snails.

That last one is near the area where I once saw a small alligator. That was several years ago. Which means the next time I see him, he'll be a big alligator....