Tag Archive: “running”
After a relatively leisurely winter, I started running in the morning (sometimes early in the morning) this spring. In my experience, running first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day – it wakes you up, and you feel like you’ve already accomplished something by the time you sit down to breakfast. Despite those advantages, I’ve rarely managed to run in the morning on a regular basis until this year, so it has been a worthwhile project.
In early May, I ran in the Binghamton Bridge Run half marathon. It is a flat course through familiar territory. I only put in a week or so of distance training before race, but I was content with the 1:37:57 I managed to run.
On June 16 I ran in the Vestal XX, a pretty hilly 20k race. I ran it last year, too, and was pleasantly surprised to improve on my time by a few minutes, for a 1:33:29 this year. My strategy going in to the race was to “run smarter” – to refrain from going too fast early on in order to avoid running out of energy in the second half of the race, as I did last year. This strategy paid off, and I enjoyed one of the most competitive racing experiences I’ve ever had (moving up in a leapfrog fashion with a small but growing pack) through much of the second half.
I’m not sure what my next event will be, but I’ll post another update here once it happens.
Posted on Saturday, June 30th, 2012.
First, a caveat: What I like about running, as a sport, is that it’s such an elementary activity. There is very little expense or equipment required to get started. All you really need is any old pair of sneakers (if even that). Yammering on about particular kit is a favorite activity of enthusiasts of all kinds, but an interest in details should not be construed to mean they really matter, or that you must be equally familiar with them to be considered legit. Bear that in mind as you read on.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m about to tell you about my shoelaces.
You know the cliché about how long it takes some women to “get ready” to go out? That’s me, getting ready to go for a jog. Indecision about what to wear, or whether I need a hat. Another sip of water. And most of all, tying and re-tying my shoelaces. I’m like Goldilocks: it’s gotta be just right. Not too tight; not too loose. (I’m talking about the shoelaces now, not Goldilocks.)
So, I bought a set of Lock Laces on Amazon for like five bucks. The locks themselves are little spring-loaded plastic stocks for your shoelaces. Press the button to adjust the tension and release it to clamp the laces in place. The laces that come with Lock Laces are elastic, although I suspect they’d work fine with regular laces.
The point of all this is to make it easier, and quicker, to adjust the fit of your shoes. At this point some readers may wonder whether I am in fact even capable of knotting shoelaces in the regular fashion. I am! (And I remember the exact moment, kneeling before the living room stove, when I learned the knack of it.) But it’s nice to get the right fit without a lot of fiddling, and to be able to make adjustments while you’re on the go without pausing for more than a few seconds. That’s especially helpful in winter, when fingers may be too numb to knot laces with aplomb.
There are additional benefits similar to those yielded by the traditional double (or triple) knot: your laces don’t come untied, and the risk of having your foot broken by a shoelace caught in your bike’s chainring is greatly reduced. (Has that ever happened to you? It’s happened to me and it’s terribly frightening, as if an unseen hand had suddenly burst from the earth and gripped your ankle with the ferocious tenacity of the damned.)
“My shoes have stayed securely in place on my feet and my feet have been pretty comfortable. What more can you ask?” – tl;dr summary
Anyway, I have been running with these laces for the past week or two. So far, I like them. I can’t say they’ve really cut down on my “getting ready” time (distractions are easily substituted), but my shoes have stayed securely in place on my feet and my feet have been pretty comfortable. What more can you ask? I do think the elastic laces may count for more than I had originally thought, especially with a combination of flexible shoes and vigorous motion (they stay snug without feeling restrictive as the shape of the shoe changes).
All of the pleasing benefits I have enumerated here probably also apply to Velcro shoes. Sadly, there seems to be a near-total dearth of Velcro shoes marketed to the ambulatory adult crowd.
And yes, my running shoes are fluorescent orange. It helps low-flying planes avoid my wake.
Last but not least, for more more information about shoelaces and knots than you ever knew existed, go check out Ian’s Shoelace Lace.
Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2012.
A haiku about running in the winter, composed while running in the winter:
Footprints in the snow:
I’m tracking other runners,
racing against ghosts.
(Running west into a bracing flurry on Clifton, I noticed another runner behind me. Our paths soon diverged. Coming down Fuller Hollow twenty minutes later, I saw recent prints, stride-lengths apart, smoothed by just a dusting of snow, and knew I had come upon the trail of my pursuer. As I ran where the other had ran before we met, I came up with these lines to remember the moment.)
Posted on Sunday, February 12th, 2012.
Why don’t more people lace mini LED lights into their shoelaces? Probably because it would be distracting and useless. It sure looks cool from six inches away, though.
Posted on Sunday, February 5th, 2012.
Training continues. I’ve been at 35+ miles a week for two weeks now, and I’ve got a time trial on the track scheduled for this afternoon. Not sure exactly what we’ll be doing, but it will be interesting (and probably humbling) to put some numbers on my performance. Whether I stay at this mileage or bump it up again may depend on the time trial results too.
I recently read Once a Runner, a novel by John L. Parker, Jr. on loan from a friend. As promised, it delivers some amusing and inspiring passages about the experience of running: that peculiar mix of exertion, exhaustion, and exhilaration.
The new bike has been working great – I’ve been riding it exclusively since I finished putting it together. I tweaked the seat height and handlebar angle a few times, and now it’s set up quite nicely.
The only mechanical problem I’ve experienced is throwing the chain off the front derailleur, the risk of which can be minimized be adjusting the derailleur set screws. Right now, the derailleur moves over a larger range than is necessary to switch chainrings.
The bike is fast and I really like the brake setup.
Posted on Saturday, May 14th, 2011.
Here’s an update on some of this year’s objectives.
I resumed running in March. My intent was to run six days a week, but the weather and other circumstances dictated a few extra days off, so it was more like five days a week. Still, I logged about 110 miles over the course of the month. That works out to about 27 miles a week. To put things in perspective, a marathon is 26.2 miles. Later this year I intend to run in a few hours what I currently run in a few days.
Today I did an interval workout on the track with my friend and running mentor Pre. It was difficult, but fun to run fast. (Most of my daily runs have been at a pretty relaxed pace.) In post-run conversation, it was decided I will bump up my weekly mileage quite a bit in April.
The plan is to run this November marathon, not just survive it.
All the technical pieces are in place for this endeavor. Now just I need to get my rear in gear if I want to make it happen!
In semi-related news, I placed my first Bricklink order today. It’s like eBay for LEGO. With prices for most elements in the couple-of-cents range, I see the temptation that leads some hobbyists from creativity to collection. Anyway, my order was actually inspired by a request I received to model a new part, similar to what I described in this section of my last update. Three bucks for a bunch of novelty parts.
I pulled the trigger on parts for a new touring bike last week. I did consider some nice name-brand bikes (I looked at a 2009 Jamis Aurora Elite, a KHS TR-101, and a Cannondale T-2 locally, as well as many other models such as the Surly Long Haul Trucker online), but ultimately I decided to assemble something myself, mainly so that I can make the claim of “and I built it meself!” once I ride it somewhere. With a frugal mix of parts, I’m coming in under the cost of most commercial alternatives, too (but I will be paying higher in total once you factor in time and effort).
Of course, this was a bit of a gamble, especially since not every dimension is documented online as well as I might like (generally, though, the attention to detail among part vendors is high). Now that most of the parts have arrived, it turns out that I seem to have done my homework – everything fits good! Well, one thing doesn’t fit – the rear brake hangar - but that’s a $3 doodad. Also, the nice brake levers I got from Velo-Orange fit well, but I realize I would prefer to route the cables under the handlebar tape, for reasons to be documented in future updates, which requires a different lever housing design. I also forgot to order a headset (ironic, after learning all about them). So, back to the drawing board on a few fronts.
Some basic specs for any bike nerds in the audience: 56cm aluminum frame, green; hardy 36-spoke wheels; 2 x 9 speed drivetrain (ensuring those parts cooperate will have to wait until assembled); cantilever brakes; bar-end shifters; platform pedals. Progress photos will surely show up on Flickr once I start assembling things.
Bit by bit, I’m studying and brushing up on some remote sensing topics with the intent to create a competitive portfolio of image analysis skills. Topics include DEM extraction, mosaicking, and land cover/vegetation classification. I have not yet collapsed the portfolio wave function to a single objective; conceptually, it still exists in a superposition of ecological interests (content focus) and commercial image acquisition/processing (technique focus).
I have a meeting this week to discuss Long Term Plans with the boss-man. My present position is potentially as good a launch pad as any for the first option, especially given the fledgling “urban ecology” focus in the biology department where I work. On the other hand, my interest in launch pads is not wholly metaphorical: I’m resigned to the fact that I probably won’t ever pilot my own starship – but imaging satellites are real!
Posted on Sunday, April 3rd, 2011.
Here is a progress report on some of my 2011 objectives, roughly a month in to the year. (But don’t expect this to become a regular thing. What do you think this is – some kind of blog?)
Like a million other people, I went for a run on New Year’s Day.
Unlike most of them, I’ve continued running, in hardy defiance of the Dark and the Cold and the Wet. I ran in two January Freeze 10ks – my first races at the 10k length. As reported elsewhere, I even sustained minor flesh wounds in the second race. I’ll spare you photos, but it was rad.
Three weeks in, I got a cold. I took about a week off from running to let my damage repair crews immune system restore full respiratory function. Went back out for a jog today to shake the kinks out. Felt good to rev the jets up above idle again! A week off really sets you back, though.
Fitting a run into the daily schedule can be hard, especially in winter. For me, the hardest part is not coping with the cold or negotiating snowy paths (hell, that’s the fun part; see e.g. here) but just crossing the threshold from indoors to out. I find that focusing on getting outdoors by just putting on some running clothes before I’m entirely out of workday/errand mode helps make that happen. A little attitude helps, too. (“Yeah, it’s 16˚F out and I’m running. You’re not. I win.”)
What’s in store for this month? There’s a 5k coming up in a week or two I’d like to do. Otherwise, just get in the habit of running and work on a modest base to launch from once spring hits. My friend and running mentor Pre promises me it’s gonna be brutal.
2. Brick Blueprint
I enjoy fiddling with LEGO and LDraw software. Most of the models I build these days are built with pieces from specific sets. I started a Flickr group called LEGO Remix for these sort of creations, and it seems to have caught on. I’ve thought about combining these interests with a little modest capitalism for a few years. Now I’m going to give it a shot.
Brick Blueprint is the working name for an online store where you will be able to buy affordable high quality instructions for new models you can build with the LEGO sets you already have.
There are already some great sources out there for awesome custom models, such as Brickmania. Two things set Brick Blueprint apart, and will, I think, make it appealing to a broad market:
- The instructions are the only product. With no inventory of bricks to acquire, assort, or ship, low costs will result in low prices – on the order of a few dollars, rather than a few dozen or a few hundred.
- Cheap instructions are no use if you need a million bricks to build the model. By using the palette of parts available in existing sets, fans and parents can get instructions for new models that don’t require a huge collection or a separate part order.
There’s not much to report on the web site side of things, but a few pawns are in place. (Incidentally, the Brothers Brick posted an interview with four part resellers today – some of them full-time.)
If I’m going to design many models using parts from popular sets, I don’t want to be hung up by the absence of certain new or unusual parts in the LDraw part library. I’ll need to be able to draft them myself. Towards that end, I’ve modeled a newly-introduced canopy.
I used SketchUp to generate most of the shape, and a Ruby script based on Jim Foltz’ su2ldraw to export the SketchUp model to LDraw format. I intend to post my version of the script once I get a chance to clean it up a bit and add some more error handling.
More images documenting my part-authoring experiments are posted here. My canopy part is now in the library tracker and progressing towards certification. (That’s a lot of big talk for a digital model of a model toy, I know, but hey – geek cred where credit is due.)
Is announcing your intent to build something fun really much of a new year’s resolution? I guess this questions applies to objectives 2 and 3.
The goal of this project is to build a new bike for my stable. I already have a couple bikes, but I look forward to the process of picking out individual components and assembling a machine tailored for my needs and interests.
Earlier this week I was actually thinking about building two bikes – one city bike for errands and commuting, and one touring bike for trips and more recreational rides. Then I realized that duh, I already have a solid city bike. (Insert lesson about candy-shop greed here.)
A few repairs and additions (lighting and new brakes, for sure, and maybe a rebuilt/replaced rear hub) will bring the Schwinn up to the desired level of performance and reliability that lead me to think about a new city bike – for far less than the cost of a new bike. (When I say “city bike” I have the upright posture and relaxed handlebars of a cruiser in mind. It’s about comfort and everyday practicality.)
So, the new bike will fill the go-fast/go-far niche. It will be heavy by racing bike standards, but light and zippy compared to my cruiser or mountain-bike-hybrid-street-stomper. Its load-bearing capacity will rival the hybrid’s, with less of the Frankenstein’s monster look. Chances are good it will begin with a Nashbar touring frame, but I’ll have to have a look at some of the area bike shops that sell parts and used machines before committing to any components.
SIGINT sources report low to no chatter on this channel.
Posted on Sunday, January 30th, 2011.