Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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We Can Rebuild It

I like when websites have fun “we are down” pages. I mean, if I’m going to be inconvenienced with the site being down, the least they can do is make me smile. Just saw this one when I went to enter today’s treadmill run into Runkeeper:

Runkeeper Down

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The Run That Didn’t Want To Happen

So, I’m running a half marathon in just over day and I hadn’t been out for a run in nearly two weeks! Zounds! How did that happen??

Well, I committed myself to running the weekly long run in the half marathon training plan that I use and the last long run was two Sundays ago, when I ran 20 km. The training plan includes some tapering, where you do some short runs, but nothing long and intense, to give your body some time to “recover” from the training and get into optimal shape for the race. However, due to my insane schedule the last couple of weeks, my “tapering” has equaled zero running at all! Now, I had a few short runs booked into my schedule, but things always came up that interfered with me doing them – an extra teleconference here, and I’m-not-yet-done-my-assignment there. Extraordinary circumstances, as they say.

But I decided that since today is Friday, I could take some time out of my evening to go for an after-work run. Mainly because I wanted to make sure that I still remember how to run and that all my running parts were in working order before Sunday’s race. As the work day ended, I noticed that my phone’s battery was rather low and since I’d forgotten to bring my charging cord to work with me1 and since I use my phone to track my runs, I’d have to do some charging when I got home. No matter – I used that time to get my running gear on and do some stretching/rolling.

I decided that I would just do a short, easy run along the New West pier, because I love running next to water and the pier is really nice. As I headed out, the sun was on its way to setting, but it was very clear, so I grabbed my sporty sunglasses2. And as I went to put my sunglasses on, I snapped them right in half3. OK, I thought, looks like it’s going to be a squinty run for me, as about half my run was facing directly into the setting sun.

And then I heard the train. You see, to get to the New West Pier, you have to cross a train track. Which you can’t do when there is a train on it. And because this train is going through a heavily pedestrian area, it goes really, really slowly. And it blasts its really, really loud horn. No matter, I thought, I’ll just go up the big set of stairs to the pedestrian overpass – NBD4. So up I go. Up and up and up to the very top… where there’s a sign that says “Danger, do not cross.” Now, usually when I see a sign that says not to do something, my natural inclination is to do said thing5. But when the thing that I’m being told to not do is cross a very, very high bridge above a very, very deadly train… well, apparently that is where I draw the line on my rule breaking. But no matter!, I told myself, I’ll just consider the stairs a warm up! I am out for exercise, right? I even got back down the stairs in time to do more stretching as I waited for the slow, slow train.

Eventually the train passed by and I was off on my run! Despite spending half the run squinting6, it was a lovely evening for a litte run. And at the end of said run, I checked my Runkeeper app to see how far I’d run and it told me this:

not really what I did

Apparently, despite the fact that I’d run for more than half an hour, Runkeeper thought I’d run for a grand total of 4 seconds and covered a distance of 0.1 km7.

But never fear! It at least recorded what time I started and I checked the clock when I finished, so I knew how long I’d been running. And I also knew where I’d run, so I was able to map it out to find the correct distance!

This is what I actually run:

the run I actually did

Beth 1, Universe Trying To Stop Me From Running Today 0.

  1. My phone battery is craptastic, so I usually bring my charging cord with me to work since I often need to charge it up during the day, despite it having charged overnight. []
  2. As opposed to my blingy sunglasses or my Lindsay Lohan sunglasses. []
  3. It’s not a huge deal because they were just cheap sunglasses. Because I don’t buy expensive sunglasses because I have a tendency to do things like snap them in half. Or lose them. []
  4. No big deal. []
  5. And take a picture of me doing said thing. []
  6. Due to aforementioned sunglasses breaking incident and my determination not to go back to the apartment to get another pair lest I be tempted to just give up on the whole endeavour. []
  7. I recently updated a bunch of apps, including Runkeeper and it seems a bit glitchy on my ancient iPhone 3GS. Must find some time to go get me an iPhone 5! []

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Run It!

As you know from my constant yammering about it, I’m training to run the Victoria Half Marathon and my IT band is not happy about it. I had to run 18 km today – my second last long run before the actual race – and since the hilliness of New Westminster seems to be what’s being kicking my ITB’s ass, I decided that I should trek out to my old non-hilly stomping grounds to do this one. So I headed off to Vancouver to do a nice seaside run along the seawall that runs along the south side of False Creek, starting a bit east of the Cambie Bridge and going all the way to Jericho beach – and back! My knee definitely wasn’t 100%, but it was better than it has been the last few weeks1.

What wasn’t as successful, though, was my Runkeeper app. As I’ve mentioned before, I use the Runkeeper app on my iPhone which uses GPS/cell phone towers to track my runs; it periodically notifies you of things like how far you’ve run and how fast you’ve run while you are running by having a voice come over your headphones with said information. I usually set mine to notify me ever 2 km, but since this run was an 18 km one where I wanted to run 9 km (i.e., an odd number of kilometers) out and then turn around and do 9 km back, I set mine to notify me every 1 km instead. And it worked just fine until about 12 km, after which it went totally insane and told me every minute or so that I’d just done another kilometer. Now, as much as I’d like to, I really don’t run a kilometer in a minute. And its really super annoying to be trying to listen to your music and enjoy your run when a voice pops up every minute and a half telling you such lies. It also *completely* defeats the purpose of helping you set your pace when you have no idea how far you’ve run or what your pace is.

Essentially what’s happening is that the GPS/cell phone tower tracking is getting confused and thinks that I’m somewhere that I’m not and then finds where I actually am and thinks that I’ve run that distance in a split second. Here’s a section of the map it produced with its idea of where I’d run:

The run I didn't do

I can assure you that I did not, in fact, go for a swim through False Creek at breakneck speeds.

The run I didn't do 3

Notice that my pace is completely reasonable and consistent until about kilometer 12, at which point it goes apeshit.

I’ve had this issue on a few runs recently, but I thought it was because I was out in remote – and presumably cell phone tower-less -areas of Vancouver Island or because I was running under the Skytrain and my iPhone couldn’t “see” the satellites/cell phone towers properly. But this is a route that I’ve run many, many times in the past without incident2. What I also don’t get is why it was able to track my run along this route just fine on the way out, but on the way back along *the exact same route*, it suddenly can’t see the satellites/cell phone towers properly. Can any tech nerds explain this to me – or, even better, tell me how to make it work?

For the record, here is the section of that route as I actually ran it:

The route i did run

  1. This is probably also due in part to the magic of the foam roller! []
  2. Or with one incident like this on a run, not dozens of screw ups []

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A graphic look at hill runs

I’ve mentioned before that I’m using the RunKeeper iPhone app to track my training runs. One of the things I really like about RunKeeper is that it gives you a graph of your pace and the elevation of the runs you do.  And you know I’m a sucker for graphs.

This is a graph from last week’s hill run1:

hill run The blue line represents pace, which is in mins per kilometer – that is, how many minutes it takes to run you one kilometre. It’s a little counter intuitive at first, because lower = faster (unlike speed, where higher = faster). Incidentally, I’m not sure why they have “speed” in the legend, since they don’t show speed on the graph2.

The green line represents elevation – it’s easier because higher on the graph = higher in real life.  You can tell the app isn’t perfect though, because on this run I ran up and down *the exact same hill* four times, so the elevation at the 1 km mark, which was the bottom of the hill, should be at the same elevation as the other troughs in the graph3.

Also, I’m a little surprised that pace doesn’t mirror elevation – I feel like I run so much faster on the downhill than on the uphill.  It’s starts to show up that way a little near the end, but I would have expected it to be more pronounced.

Also, I think the graph is missing a line.  If I were the one drawing the graph, it would look like this:

 

hill run 2

Where the red line = will to live.

I hate you hill runs. I hate you long time.

  1. I’d show you the graph of today’s hill run, but the end of it got b0rked, like this one []
  2. I think you can select “speed” instead of “pace” as your default measure in settings, but pace makes more sense to me when I am running, so I prefer it []
  3. i.e., just before 2km, ~ 2.5 km, and at the end of the run []

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Running App FAIL

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my run tracking app, which uses the iPhone’s GPS to map out where you run as you run,  occasionally has crazy ideas about where I actually ran.  In the comments, extragoode mentioned that it was possible that sometimes the phone might lose its GPS connection for a second and jump to using cell towers instead until the GPS kicks back in.  I’m guessing that’s what happened on tonight’s run (planned route in blue, “actual” route in red):

Running route FAIL

because I’m pretty sure I did not traverse False Creek like this!

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Apparently I scale walls when I run

So yesterday I was out for a run and, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m using an iPhone app that tracks my pace.  The first few times I did it, I was constantly checking my iPhone because I didn’t really have a good sense of how fast I needed to be running.  Now that I’ve done a few timed runs, I’m a little more familiar with how fast a 6:30 pace feels, so I find I don’t need to check it as often.  Anyway, I needed to do a 4 km run yesterday, so I had planned out a 4.5 km route, to give me some room for a bit of a warm up and a cool down walk.  I set off on my run, checked my pace early on and, seeing that I was on target, didn’t check it for awhile.  When I got to what I thought was ~3 km mark, I checked my iPhone with the thought, “I must be close to the end of the 4 km,” wondering where I was supposed to stop running and start my cool down walk.  And my app said I’d run ~1.5 km.  What the what?  I was sure that I’d mapped out a 4 km route, I was sure that I’d followed said route and I was sure that it wouldn’t have taken me this long to run a meager 1.5 km!

As it turns out, I must have accidentally hit the pause button when I first checked the app, so it wasn’t recording the running from that point until I again checked the app, about 2 km later.  I hit the resume button so it would at least record the rest of the run.  Here’s what the map showed after my run:

route

The blue line is the route I’d intended to run and the red line is supposed to be what I “actually” ran. Notice how I disappear at the bottom right of the map and then magically appear a several blocks southwest of that?  Apparently this app thinks I’m magical!

Even funnier, though, is the elevation diagram, which shows me instantaneously at a much higher elevation1 than I was the moment before at around the 1.5 km mark:

elevation

At least my app has faith in my super human abilities!

  1. and pace, though that is because I’d slowed down to a walk to try to figure out what was up with the app []

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Running – Time To Kick It Up A Notch!

After the half marathon last month, Alicia and I had a chat about our next one – the Royal Victoria in October.  Alicia really wants to train to improve our time on the race (as opposed to our usual “we are happy to just finish the race”).  At first, I was torn. On the one hand, running is my de-stressing time – I get out on the road, either with my tunes or my running buddy, and just enjoy the movement and the scenery, pounding out my stress with each step. So part of me thinks, “I don’t want to be constantly checking my watch for my pace, stressing myself out over how long I’m taking.”  But on the other hand, one of the main reasons I sign up for these races is to scare motivate myself into doing the training (otherwise, I’m just too lazy and don’t do any exercise).  But since I’ve now done four half marathons and know that I can get away with just doing the long runs and skipping most of the short runs and I’ll still be able to finish the race, just planning “to finish” isn’t meeting my self-scaring-motivating needs.  So I agreed that picking a goal time and training for that time would be the way to go.  Now, the training plan we’ve be using (i.e., the one “to finish” a half marathon) is from the Running Room’s Book on Running, but the next option in the book is “to finish in 2 hrs.”  Which seemed to me to be a pretty big jump given that we’ve been running ~2 hr 23 mins half marathons.  But I agreed to give it a whirl.

So first I needed an iPhone app that would track my pace for me, because I knew that if I had to plan out a route where I knew where all the km marks were AND check the timer on my watch AND then calculate my pace from that while I was running, my head would explode.  I had been using the iMapMyRun app, but it puts the pace in a teeny tiny font that I’d never be able to read while running.  But Dr. Dan told me about an app he uses called “RunKeeper,” so I checked that out and lo, it did show me my pace in all its large fonted glory!  With that, I was all set to try out a timed run!

The “finish in 2 hr” training plan requires you to do your short runs at a pace of 5:55 mins per km.  And I tried to do that and nearly died in the process.  Seriously, that’s way, way faster than I can run!  Here’s a screen shot of the Runkeeper app from my first attempt to run a 5:55 three kilometer run:

IMG_0773

FAIL!

Yeah, totally not able to run a 5:55.  And was totally miserable the whole time, knowing that I couldn’t run any faster and I wasn’t fast enough.

Two days later when it was time to do my “long” run, I decided to give it another go.  The long runs are supposed to be done at a pace of 6:15-6:30 and since it’s early in the training, “long” is pretty short – just 7 km.  So I went out on a lovely route – along the False Creek seawall.  And I tried. And again I failed. I ran my the 7 km with a pace of 7:08.  And I was absolutely #$%ing miserable the whole time.  Now, when I look at this objectively, I can see that both of these runs are a vast improvement over my usual lackadaisical runs – I just checked my training log in MapMyRun and it appears that my training runs for the last race were all around a turtle’s pace of 8:00 per km.  So running at 7:08 and 6:14 is something I should be proud of!  But since I’d set this crazy goal of following the 2 hr training plan, all I could think the entire time was “this is not good enough.”  The other thing that started creeping into my mind: “Setting myself up for failure.”

After that run, I decided it was time to get more realistic.  I looked for a training plan that would give me a finish time of ~2:15.  I couldn’t find one exactly, but did find that if you go on the Runner’s World website you can use their “Smart Coach” online tool, where you put in things like your height and weight and last race time and how hard you want to train and it will put something together for you.  The plan I got from there is a bit different than the Running Room one, but I sort of extrapolated from it that I should be running my short runs at around a pace of 6:30 and my long runs at about a pace of 7:30.  So I’ve been doing that this week and guess what?  I can actually do that!  It’s a challenge, but it’s doable.  And now I’m back to not hating my runs again, so I’d say that’s a victory!

Anyway, all of that was sort of a preamble to what I actually meant to blog about today – but now I’ve gone on and on and on and probably no one is even reading this posting anymore. And it’s late and I’m tired.  So I’ll blog that other thing tomorrow!