Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thank you RunKeeper for 2.0

What a great update.

The guts of RunKeeper having been getting better and better with each point release during RunKeeper 1.0-1.4 but the user interface has been getting cruftier and crudtier with each added feature. The interface was starting to get in the way of using the new features. 2.0 reworks the interface to make it beautiful, useful and streamlined. I can now take a picture with a couple of taps (one of them being the shutter), I can see my mile splits during a run, the map is way cooler and more responsive, I can more easily set the training work-out and what music I want to listen to. Solid release. This program keeps getting better.

Getting started. Super easy to select music and interval style from the start screen:

The information provided during the run is split intelligently across three intuitive screens: Map, Splits and Pace. Splits were previously available only on the web after the run. You just swipe side-to-side to move from splits to map to current and average pace. Also new is calories burned. Previously this was just available on the web. One of my favorite features is that the camera is available from all three screens.

 I used the 2.0 update for the first time on this 10 miler:

Monday, December 7, 2009

I think we're going to Banff

Sweet trail running here I come!

This will be a great warm-up to the big Aggressive Deer camping trip at King's Canyon.

Link collection:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The autopsies are final

The Detroit Marathon fatalities are ruled to be heart disease.

Strange that they didn't report acute MI after the anatomical path was done in the first week.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Engage with grace blog rally

Last Thanksgiving weekend, many bloggers participated in the first documented “blog rally” to promote Engage With Grace – a movement aimed at having all of us understand and communicate our end-of-life wishes.

It was a great success, with over 100 bloggers in the healthcare space and beyond participating and spreading the word. Plus, it was timed to coincide with a weekend when most of us are with the very people with whom we should be having these tough conversations – our closest friends and family.

The original mission – to get more and more people talking about their end of life wishes – hasn’t changed. But it’s been quite a year – so we thought this holiday, we’d try something different.

A bit of levity.

At the heart of Engage With Grace are five questions designed to get the conversation started. We’ve included them at the end of this post. They’re not easy questions, but they are important.

To help ease us into these tough questions, and in the spirit of the season, we thought we’d start with five parallel questions that ARE pretty easy to answer:

Silly? Maybe. But it underscores how having a template like this – just five questions in plain, simple language – can deflate some of the complexity, formality and even misnomers that have sometimes surrounded the end-of-life discussion.

So with that, we’ve included the five questions from Engage With Grace below. Think about them, document them, share them.

Over the past year there’s been a lot of discussion around end of life. And we’ve been fortunate to hear a lot of the more uplifting stories, as folks have used these five questions to initiate the conversation.

One man shared how surprised he was to learn that his wife’s preferences were not what he expected. Befitting this holiday, The One Slide now stands sentry on their fridge.

Wishing you and yours a holiday that’s fulfilling in all the right ways.

To learn more please go to This post was written by Alexandra Drane and the Engage With Grace team. If you want to reproduce this post on your blog (or anywhere) you can download a ready-made html version here

Monday, November 23, 2009

This is what is supposed to happen if you develop sudden cardiac death during a marathon

More on the Detroit Marathon deaths.

The most likely natural explanation for the deaths is sudden cardiac death (an heart arrhythmia). This can be reversed by electrical depolarization of the heart, i.e. shocking him. You've seen it on TV a million times:

1...2...3...Clear. Shock!

It is a pretty successful therapy. In fact, in the NY Marathon a guy collapsed at mile 19 and was saved by defibrillation. See here and here. He even has a twitter account. (Immediate follow)

I passed two of the resucitaiton efforts and they had defibrillators at the scene. This was no sudden cardiac death.

Cool street level tour of the NY Marathon Route

From the New York Times.

Newton Running Shoes

cool video about their philosophy behind the shoes

Nice article about this at Popular Science

Chris McDougal was on the Daily Show!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Christopher McDougall
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sergey Brin is wearing VFF KSOs!

What Would Google Do? Apparently run barefoot style.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Marathon was hard as hell

As the weeks go by I have begun to forget how hard the marathon was. I just got my pictures and this is a great reminder of how I felt.

One of the Detroit Marathon deaths ruled: natural causes

According to the Free Press:

Rick Brown, 65, of Marietta, Ohio, died of natural causes when he collapsed during the half-marathon, an autopsy concluded. Autopsy results still are pending in the deaths of 36-year-old Daniel Langdon of Laingsburg and 26-year-old Jon Fenlon of Waterford.

They article specifically addressed the internet speculation about poison:

Because the three runners collapsed in such a short time this year, the deaths sparked some speculation in Internet postings as to whether the men may have been given tainted water as they ran. Brown's autopsy included toxicology screening, which was negative for alcohol, illegal drugs, prescription medications and poisons.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two great runs in Canada

The first one was in Montreal. On the first day cathy and I rented Bixi's and rode from our hotel to Mount Royal

The ride was in heavy traffic and uphill. The whole way was uphill. Including two really steep blocks that were killer.

We ended up both burning out and running out of daylight so we only got to spend only a few miles in Parc Mont-Royal.

Here is the end of our bike ride:

The next day Cathy stayed at the hotel to study for the LSATs and I went for a run. I ran right back to the park. For the first 3 miles I climbded 600 feet to the top of Mont-Royal.

On the way to the park I passed this delightful Nissan Figaro.

I then started running through the woods on these great trails. Unfortunately, I ran out of light. The total run was a wonderful 8 mile run.

The next day we rented a car and drove to Quebec City. Super cool European Gem. Its a walled city, right out of the Middle Ages. Our second day in Quebec it started misting late in the day and I found a couple of hours before dinner to get out for a 4 miler. It was great. Again I was running in the dark and it was a little wet but running around cobble stones, cliffs and old walls was awesome.

This was another  run on hills I never see around here. I did a 200 foot climb and then a 400 foot descent and concluded with a 200 foot climb.

Industry on the St Laurence River

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dr. Spitz agrees with me: Poison

This just in from WXYZ an update on the Detroit Free Press Marathon deaths. Dr. Spitz, of President Kennedy autopsy fame, weighs in on the potential causes of deaths. The money quotation:

Dr. Werner Spitz: “It raises big questions about something that may connect the three cases that needs to be ruled out as soon as possible for fear that there may be other people who may suffer from same thing.”

What Dr. Spitz does not believe is that the runners contracted an illness from one another.

Dr. Spitz: “Highly, highly unlikely. You need time for that to develop. You need time for the disease to take hold of the certain areas of the body, especially the heart muscle.”

He is not officially involved in the case. But based on what has been reported so far, he speculates that their deaths could be the result of poisoning—accidental or intentional.

Spitz: “Maybe they all ate the same cookie that had something in it, or who knows. That is why it is so important to hurry up and do it.” 

 Like I said, "Someone poisoned the water hole!"

My feet are better

Last night I ran a half mile in my socks and this morning my feet don't hurt. Literally, after 330 consecutive days of aching feet in the morning I wake up and they feel normal.

Barefeet FTW.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Listening to Born to Run

I ran a 5 miler tonight and for the first time took off my shoes and ran part of it in socks. I'm going to give it a try.

Lots of Barefoot Running resources out there:

Newton makes a shoe designed to push you out of heel striking and using the forefoot/mimdfoot strike. They have a blog.

Google group with special guest Barefoot Ted.

A site about the Vibram Five Fingers.

Should be an interesting trip. Start slow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I did it.

On November 1, from 10 AM to 2:09 PM I ran the New York Marathon.

Here's my story.

We flew to NY on Friday after work. I met Cathy and the kids at the airport.

We arrived at Lagurdia and went to Lynn and Harald's. We arrived around 9 and fed the kids and crashed.

That night I read on the Twitter that @lanceamrstrong was running the next morning...

So, against all advice I had ever heard, I decided to run the morning before the storm. Super cool of Harald to join up with me.

The next morning we rolled out of bed, strapped on the sneaks and headed to NikeTown. We saw Paula Radcliffe speak but we arrived late and I didn't really hear much of what she had to say. I only knew her as one of the voices on Nike+. Paula, Lance and Tiger, Pretty rich company.

We went outside and then Lance's bus arrived. He came out and started running. No speech, no gather round announcement. He just pulled up 10 or 15 minutes after 9 and then let's go.

We all started on this nice and easy run but pretty quickly it deteriorated into a sprint to get up to the front to talk or see Lance. I fell for it. I wish I knew how fast the party was but RunKeeper was not cooperating.

This is the approximate route. I remember seeing both the 24 and 25 mile banners. I also got to gaze upon the Apple Cube. Note Route 25 in the bottom right, that is the Queensborough Bridge, the site of much excitement the next day.

I flashed up to the front and grabbed a couple of pics. I Gasped out a greeting to Lance who regarded me and asked, "Are you going to run with that backpack?" I smiled and said, "yes." He kind of rolled his eyes without being obvious. The only other thing I remember him saying was calling out the runner's aphorism that "...when you reach the 20 mile mark the race is only half over." [For an explanation of why I planned to run with a backpack see this post]

A sentiment I had yet to experience.

Then I got dropped. I couldn't keep up with this crowd. By the end of the 4 mile route I couldn't see even one other person that started with Lance (except for Harald).

After the run I deleted RunKeeper from the iPhone and reloaded it. That solved my issue and after that RunKeeper would load right up with no hesitation or crashing. Then it was off to the Expo at Javitz. It was pretty cool. The line was epic. I had never in my life seen so many runners. This same jaw-dropping experience occured over and over again every time I interacted with the race. This thing is huge. I couldn't get over that there were this many people that were able to run this thing.

I got my number
I got my t-shirt
I met Anthony Edwards
I bought PowerBar Gel
and I kept thinking about what Lance had
said about the backpack...

The Expo was cool but it was time to get back to Brooklyn Halloween. And what a Halloween it was. Witches, cats, Storm Troopers, I mean Clone Troopers, and a Candy Corn Fairies (The first of two types of Ferry's/Fairies).

Trick-or-treating in Brooklyn is a new experience. Fun. Unique.

Colonel Sanders and his
chicken family

Post-It note

Sean of the Dead
All while we are Trick-or-Treating I am regretting my run. I am tired and a little run down. My confidence is knocked down. My feet hurt. And I can't stop thinking about what Lance thought about the back-pack. I'm convinced he is telling me, "...don't be a fool. Don't carry that weight if you don't have to..." At the same time, I am thinking about how chafed my neck is from the 4 mile jaunt this morning.

We get home and get take out (its New York after all) pasta and Pizza dinner.

About half-way through dinner I begin to freak-out about the marathon. I decide I can't wear the backpack. This means I have to carry my iPhone plus extended battery in my pocket. Not ideal. I set aside my clothes and supplies. I finalize my play list. Lynn gets me a car service. I set my alarm after setting the clock back for day-light savings.

I have no trouble going to sleep.

The next morning its off to the Staten Island Ferry by car service. (The first of many forms of transportation.) Then on to the Ferry.

Then we board a bus for the starting park.

I have never seen more Port-a-Johns in one place.

Everyone seems to love the bananas

I get off the bus and I have to pee.
I walk to the center of the camp and I have to pee.
I drop off my bag at the UPS truck and I have to pee.
My ADH is completely suppressed.

Caffeine, nerves or just a little too much water loading? Who knows?

No marathon induced hyponatremia for me.

I drop off my stuff at the UPS truck and go to my start position. The whole time I'm walking in the shadow of the Verizano bridge. It's huge.

My final twitter before the race. Strip off my sweater and sweatpants.

America the Beautiful.

The gun fires... and we are off.

The bridge is crowded. People are bumping you; it's hard to find a hole to run in. I am on the lower deck so there isn't much of a view, but the roof is really high, so no clausterphobia.

It feels like an easy pace. It's really exciting. The TV news helocopter flies close to the bridge to get some cool shots. Everyone cheers.

The bridge is long and we finally emerge at the two mile mark.
Into Brooklyn. People stop for a pee break.

I loved the run in Brooklyn. I was moving pretty quick. Gaining confidence. I kept a close eye on the 4 hour Pacers. I admit to myself for the first time that getting under four hours would be cool and plan on sticking with this pacer crew.

The first water break is around 3 miles. At four miles I hear the first person give me a personal cheer, "Looking good, Joel first time!" It feels great.

This way to Central Park!

I see Cathy and Lynn at 7 miles and never see them again.

We turn off 4th avenue.

Then in to the Black Neighborhoods, the Hipsters ghetto and then to the Jewish Black Hatters neighborhood.

And then across Pulaski Bridge and the thirteen-point-one half-way point. Into Queens, borough number 3 of 5!

We go through Queens and on to Queens Blvd and all I could think about was Entourage.

We leave Queens by crossing the Queensborough bridge. It's a long climb. Way longer than any parking garage I have climbed around here.

We arrive on the Island with 16 miles in the bag and a wall of sound from everyone cheering you into Manhattan. Number 4 of 5.

Ten miles to go. At this point I'm slowing down but still on pace for a 4 hour marathon. After meeting Cathy and Lynn in Brooklyn I haven't seen the pace team at all. I can see pretty far ahead of me and no balloons so I figure they must be behind me.
We turn on to 1st Avenue and essentially we just need to run up to the end of Manhattan, cross into the Bronx, curve into Harlem and race for the finish in Central park. Up. Over. And back.

First avenue is lined with people, 5 deep. There is a PowerBar Gel station and a wet sponge station. I eat my third of four Gels at mile 18. Four miles up First avenue and into the Bronx. Passed a fire at an apartment building. They actually drove a firetruck on to the course.

It's a quick trip through the Bronx with the highlight being a Chinese drum line banging on some huge drums. Very cool.

Cross the Madison Avenue bridge and we are in Harlem, bback in Manhattan. We have been to all the boroughs.

I am really starting to sag as we pass 22 miles. I tried to eat my last Gel and nearly vomit. I spit it out and hope I don't hit the wall.

Just before 23 miles we start running along side Central Park. Yea.

Then we enter the Park and I am really lagging. I have 2.2 miles to go and I don't think I can make it.

I see signs that say:
Pain is temporary. Dignity is forever.
It keeps me going. I start bargaining with myself. The logic goes:
If I walk now I will feel like I need to run another one so I finish. So the only way to avoid this pain in the future is to keep going.
I pass the 25 mile mark and still don't think I can make it.

A sign tells me half a mile to go. Sounds impossible.

400 meters. I can do it.
300 meters. I think I can.
200 meters, I can see the end.
The finish line. Did it.
Done. Done. Done.

Faster than Oprah (4:22:00), Faster than the average finishing time in the U.S. (4:16:00), just a minute behind Anthony Edwards.