Posts Tagged ‘garmin’

This will be just a quick post this evening. Things are going well at the new job. We are learning how to adjust to the changes around the house.  While we were working on our cell phone plans to make them less expensive, I found a way to get my GPS tracking back without buying a new garmin.

I broke my smartphone a couple months ago. Phone-wise, I have been fine with my older phone. But, my smartphone was how I tracked my rides and runs. Without it, I fell back on known routes and a stopwatch.

In the process of swapping phones, I found out we couldn’t activate my wife’s smartphone on my account and lower the rate.  It was going to just be left aside, but then I got a brilliant idea.

Since the phone would still connect to wifi and I knew that Strava would work as long as it could access GPS, why not use it for runs.  Sure enough, after downloading, installing, and setting up Strava on the phone, I could use it like a garmin.  I took it out on this morning’s run.

Worked like a champ. Yet, there are a few tiny drawbacks.  I have to pull up Strava and make sure I am logged on before leaving the house.

Additionally, it will not sync new runs or rides until it is connected to wifi again. But, those are small problems indeed.

Keep this in mind if you have an older phone around or just have to upgrade. That older smartphone could be put to use for yourself or another runner.  And, another good mark for Strava.  Happy running!

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Well, it is my last “free” weekend before going back to the world of work.  But, please don’t think that while I have been out of work that it has been “free” time at all.  Looking for a job in this day and age is challenging, frustrating, and just plain difficult.  It is only free in the sense that as of tomorrow morning, I’ll be back among the employed.  Hallelujah!

I can certainly tell from my time without a job that I am not cut out for being without a job or retired just yet.  I do need things to do.  Though, if I didn’t have to look for work, I do think I could think of enough to keep me busy.

Running of late has also been problematic.  I put it down to age, but the cold weather has been unbearable.  We in North Texas are experiencing a colder weather than we have had in the past couple of years.  It’s probably not too abnormal, but we are not used to it.  Last Tuesday, we woke up to a blanket of unexpected and unforecasted snow-like stuff.  It wasn’t snow in the pretty flaky sense.  These were little round snow pebbles.  We spent most of the week not getting hardly above freezing all day and the mornings have been mostly 20’s.  Brrrrrrrrr!!!!

I just wasn’t able to force myself out the door after these same temps have been with us off and on for a few weeks now.  I stayed on the trainer most of the week and even was desperate enough to get on a dreadmill at the fitness center for a couple of miles.  Friday turned out gorgeous and in the 60’s so I even broke my usual Friday rest rule and went out to run a couple of miles in the evening.  It was good to do, but they were a couple of tough miles.

Saturday morning was finally normal at 41 degrees and I felt reasonably good enough.  I debated how many miles I should run…three…four?  It is usually my routine to ride on Saturday morning but I needed to not be out too long so I elected a run for this time and didn’t want it to be a short one.  At Running Bear park (about two miles out) I went for broke and headed off for six miles.

The weather was good and I was dressed right for it.  I just wore a long sleeve tech-T and running pants.  I was comfortable and had set a comfortable pace.  I hadn’t run any hills since December and now would run three this morning.  Things worked well and through miles four and five, I felt really good running.

The city recently finished the addition of a small trail near a park I pass at about the end of five miles.  I thought I’d try it out.  It was really well done and brightly lit.  I took me around to an alternate street I could run down without being off course too much.  Since I was without a garmin I had to guess, but I think it was just enough to make my usual 6.14 miles into an even 6.2.  I finished up in 1:17 exactly and was ready for the day.

Winter running can be really hit and miss.  All I usually have to deal with is the cold, but even that can be daunting.  Everyone reacts to temperature stress differently.  If you’ve been running a while, it’s really frustrating to be off your schedule, but you just have to be patient and wait for the right time.  Treadmills have helped a lot of folks keep up in the Winter.  I use my bike trainer a lot, too.  You have to get creative.

Hopefully, with a return to work I’ll get back into my regular routine.  That should help me a bit and then I can get my miles back up to where I want them.  I’m working on getting back to and holding 20 mile weeks.  I’d like to get my long runs to about 10 miles.  I would like to be ready at almost any time to run a half marathon, though this year I might need a registration fairy for that to work.  Regardless, running is still well worth doing.

I guess I have wasted enough time away from finishing my algebra homework.  My semester is almost done and I’m ready to get it over with.  So, while I work on geometric progressions: Happy running!

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Lots of folks that are running or cycling have used GPS watches (is that the right term?) to record their routes, pace, training, etc.  For a few years, I also used a Garmin 305 that I was given at Christmas.  It is the one piece of gear that is hard to give up.  We runners especially often want to know our pace and distance.  I have seen that quite a few folks have switched to using their smartphones for the same purpose.  I also tried to use mine in place of my Garmin, but wasnt’ very satisfied.  That was until a friend suggested I use Strava.

In early September, my faithful Garmin gave up the ghost.  Since they are kind of pricy, I couldn’t just go out and replace it.  I needed another option to carry me through marathon training.  Yes, in keeping with Murphy’s Law, it chose to die right when it’s really needed.  I had used another app, which shall remain nameless, when I first got my smartphone.  However, it was kind of a memory and power hog on my phone.  It required access to the GPS and the 3G at the same time.  Therefore it was not a good option.

I spent a good deal of the Fall just using a stopwatch app and running already well tracked routes.  I could probably write a whole post on low-tech running, though I think there are many other proponents already.  It was enjoyable.  I had to run just on my own pace monitoring my breath and body to do things correctly.  For the most part, it did work, but that’s another story.  I missed my Garmin, but I needed a quicker, cheaper alternative.

Then, a friend told me I should try Strava’s app.  Strava.com is one of the newer on-line ride/run loggers.  I had looked at them briefly, once, but didn’t think about trying them further.  When my friend gave them a good mark, I thought I’d try them out.  Now, I see why.

Rather than a large unwieldy app, Strava breaks theirs into two apps, one for cycling and one for running.  Their basic screen isn’t any harder to use than a Garmin or a watch.  What sold it to me was it’s ability to run in airplane mode.  On smartphones, there should be an “airplane” mode where you can kill all of the radios for wi-fi and 3G/4G (whatever they’re calling it today).  However, since GPS doesn’t usually transmit, it’s still on during airplane mode. Getting to use Strava during airplane mode means a great power savings during my runs and rides.

The app is alright to be disconnected during airplane mode and when I press pause on the screen, it doesn’t automatically try to upload the data.  Instead, there is a separate button to do so.  Therefore, I have time to put my phone back into regular transmission modes and then allow Strava to finish the run/ride and upload.  You can view all your routes and workouts on the smartphone or on the web.

The second feature that I like is that on the phone, it provides splits and speeds.  Since I use Linux and Garmin does not have a Linux version of Garmin Connect, I cannot view my splits across my runs.  I don’t have to worry with that now since I can see mile splits on the phone as soon as I’m through running.  In addition, on the cycling app, I can view a graph of the instantaneous speeds and see if I’m travelling well.    With the speed graph, I can see where my speed is peaking during the ride. This is kind of important since I’m an urban rider and getting your average speed which includes all your traffic stops is misleading.

The only problem I have run into with Strava, and it is a small thing, is that it counts movement time.  I would prefer a setting that allows me to deselect that feature.  I like to measure myself the same as it would be during a run or ride where all the time counts.

I’ve used the Strava app for both running and cycling for a few weeks.  It has been as easy to use as my Garmin was.  Since I carry my phone with me, it might as well be doing something useful.  Strava works simply and without drawing on as many resources as some other apps do.  I think I’ll keep using it.  Merry Christmas to all and happy running!

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You will be lucky today as I’ll get two posts out on the same day.  Actually, since I’ve already posted a short update on my tech blog, I think I might be setting some kind of record on productivity.  In any case, I wanted to jot down some of the important things from the past week and I also wanted to do a review on Premier Protein’s shakes and snack bars.  I didn’t think the two would go together, so I’ll just write up two for the day.

I’ve been getting busy this week on the job search front.  I have a good friend that is helping me with that process.  He and I talked this past Saturday and now I have a good bit of resources on what to do next.  I’ve spent the week going through a process guide he gave me and it has helped.  I’m trying to get my resume done up correctly.  You wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but I happen to be trying to switch careers.  I’ve done a lot of IT work over the last four years, and a lot of similar type of work in the years before that.  I’d really like to keep it going.  I have some disadvantages in that I don’t have all the little alphabet soup certifications after my name.  I just happen to know how to do the work.  I’m kind of weird in that respect that actual experience and merit count for more than just tests, exams, and paper.  Not that I haven’t done those either.

However, today, I thought I’d spend a little time just doing things I like.  I have a web site of my own that I run and it needs some work.  It’s kind of the “cobblers children never have any shoes” syndrome.  If you sit on a PC all day doing coding and IT work, you don’t often wish to do it when you get home.  Therefore, my little site is kind of drab and needs some sprucing up.  It doesn’t do much and unless you’re a serious geek it may not mean much.  However, if you just want to see what happens, look at it every now and then and you’ll see it start changing as I work on it.  You can find it here, it’s called the T.A.R.D.I.S. Server Project II; mostly just an information type page.

Running has gone well this week.  My foot’s tendonitis is still acting up a little, but I’m trying to take good care of it.  It hasn’t cost me any days yet.  I have almost finished my second week of marathon training and I guess this week is the week of forgetfulness and loss.  Twice this week, I’ve forgotten to plug in the garmin and had to use my smartphone’s abilities instead.  One of those was my tempo day, so no HR controls.  And, my SmartCoach plan on Runnersworld.com got messed up again.  I got it back, but it’s off a little so I am adjusting as I go.  I’ll run my 12-miler on Saturday and that will finish out a good week of running.

Next week will be triathlon week.  Yeah!  I only go round to setting up and planning for just one triathlon this year, so it’s kind of a big deal for me.  It’s the same sprint tri I did last  year in September.  This will make my second tri and I’m hoping to see improvement over last year (which wasn’t bad at all BTW).  I will once again take the Fuji out for the bike portion (do not fix what ain’t broke).  I’m also making some last minute decisions on how to handle some other issues with transition.

The transition area at the Rose City Tri is very sandy, so I’m concerned about my bike shoes.  I wear Speedplay pedals and I know I won’t have time to put on or take off the covers in the bike out area.  I also haven’t learned how to lean over and do my shoes up on the bike (I don’t balance well).  The reason it’s of a concern is that the cleats on the Speedplays are big open holes that can easily clog up.  We’ll have to wait and see on that point.

I am also taking a hat with a bill this year for the run.  Last year, I just turned my cycling hat around and wore it on the run.  But, the run portion has a lot of east-west running and it’s right in the face of the sun.  I’m not a fan of that on or off the bike, so a hat will be a help.  It doesn’t take long to put on in transition.  Finally, swimming should be better since I can do the whole distance with freestyle strokes now.

I started with “where to go from here”, but I think I have a good idea where that will be, or at least I have an inkling.  I will say, as I did earlier on Twitter, that it feels very odd not going to work every day.  Yes, it’s only the first week.  However, in thirty years or so of work, I’ve not had very long between jobs.  It feels as if I’m breaking some kind of rule.  As if there is some rule encoded in the Universe that says we are supposed to be at work every weekday.  There is one like that isn’t there?

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I count myself a lucky person.  I was fortunate enough to get to do two rides, back-to-back, in the same month.  If you’ve been riding, running, or tri-ing for a while you probably have figured out it’s a little expensive sometimes.  I am on a budget, both of time and money in regards to my “hobby”.  Therefore, I usually only do one ride or race activity per month.  However, because of a lucky set of circumstances, I got to ride the Tour dePepper on June 9th and the Tour d’Italia this past Saturday.

This was my fifth Tour d’Italia and was my best so far.  For those that haven’t caught on yet, the Tour d’Italia is in Italy…Texas.  We have most of the world’s great places here in Texas: Paris, Italy, Athens, New London, and Rhome.  There might be others, but I haven’t discovered them yet.  Italy is a small town in Ellis County south of Dallas County, where I live.

The Lone Star Cycling club puts on the Tour d’Italia each June to benefit the Italy High School athletic program.  There are rides from 12 miles up to the 100K that I rode this year.  I’ve ridden the 40 and 50 milers in the past.  However, I like to ride the TDI (as it’s called for short) because much of it runs through Navarro County to Italy’s south.  That’s where much of my Texas ancestry comes from.  Riding the TDI helps me remember places where I grew up as a kid fishing with my grandfather.

Though this is my fifth TDI, it is only the second 100K that I have finished.  I was plagued on the first three by mechanical issues, mostly breaking spokes.  The second year I had the Fuji, but only rode the 5o-miler as the Fuji and I were not completely up to making 63 miles.  However, last year I finally broke the barrier and rode my Trek for the full 100K and this year, finished in good time with the new and improved Fuji (and me too, I think).

The course for the TDI runs over a lot of country pasture and farm land through Navarro County, although it does get near the Navarro Mills lake area for a while.  One of the best rest stops on the tour is the 30-mile stop at the park near the dam.  These guys put out a great snack feast for the riders with fig newtons, plums, and nectarines. It is also the first spot on the tour where you can get a towel soaked in ice water.  In June, that’s pretty helpful.

This year, as we rode west on Highway 31 toward the 30-mile point, and just as we were going to turn north to the rest stop, we saw something interesting.  A lady rider was walking her bike back to the turn from further down the road.  Not too unusual.  I’ve missed turns before.  However, just as we were turning, she asked, “Where does the 30-mile route turn?”

What?  I had looked at my Garmin just a little back and we had crossed 28 miles.  Most just encouraged her to turn with us, but she also learned she had missed the 30-mile turn quite a while back.  By the time she made the rest stop, she had her 30 miles done.  I didn’t find out what happened, but she had a couple of choices: finish out with 50 or 60 (she had also passed the 40-mile turn), or SAG back and finish with her 30.  Yep, she done had her 30 for the day.

The TDI course is a lot less hilly than the Tour dePepper I rode the week previous.  I was able to keep up a good pace.  By 30 miles I was still at 14 mph average.  I started losing it somewhere near the fourth rest stop around 45 miles.  Even though we had some south wind, it wasn’t atrocious and it didn’t benefit us much as we turned north.  Though the morning was cool for June, it began to heat up as we crossed over 3.5 hours.  However, everything held on pretty well.  I finished up my 63 miles in 4:49; breaking five hours only about the third time since I began riding.

The TDI and the Tour dePepper will finish up my Spring riding.  I am glad to end it on a good note.  I’ve put three good 100K rides together this Spring: Head for the Hills, Tour dePepper, and the TDI.  I’m going to ride round here for the next couple months while I get ready for the Hotter-n-Hell in late August.  I have a good running/cycling/swimming schedule put together, and  if things hold together, I should be able to do the 100-mile in under 8 hours.  At least for now, the bike is doing well and I’m doing well.  Enjoy your Summer.  Happy cycling!

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This past Saturday, I ran in the first race since Bold in the Cold 15K in January.  I have been rebuilding my running since shortly after that race because of a swimming injury.  The Beat the Heat 5K was my first race since the injury and I think I can count the injury “under control” at least.  In addition, I had a good time at a small, quite new race in my town of Irving.

This was the second year for the Beat the Heat 5K and fun run.  They added a 10K and hired a local race director to oversee the racing.  Both were good choices to keep the race improving and getting runners to come out.  The normal time for the race is in late April and that’s where I think it gets its name.  North Texas heat sets in early in our neighborhood.  The race benefits Family Promise of Irving, a chapter of Family Promise that seeks to overcome homelessness among families in our area.  The organization partners with local churches to provide temporary shelter and day services to assist families that are recently homeless to get back on their feet.  My church is one of the partners as well as many others in Irving.  This race is one way that Family Promise of Irving raises funds for their mission.

I chose to run the 5K at this race because I wasn’t sure where I would be in mileage at this time.  However, my longer runs are up to 6 miles and I have begun to build some speed also.  Since this would be a 5K, I was hoping to see how well I could run.  My goal was to see if I could break the 30-minute barrier.

The morning was cool, but not too much; yet, the wind was fairly strong.  The race was held near Las Colinas Elementary in north Irving.  There are some  pretty good hills around the school area that would give us a challenge.  The race organizers invite the churches involved with Family Promise to set up booths at the race and my church was well represented.  We have a good group of older guys that do a lot of cooking for different things and they came out to help serve goodies for the runners.

We had a good selection of goodies for the race.  Chik Fil A had donated chicken biscuit sandwiches and Einstein bagels provided…well…bagels.  There were also fruits and pastries as well as a good supply of coffee.  The guys were trying their best to peddle the chicken sandwiches and other goodies before the race, but with little luck.  They weren’t aware that a lot of runners won’t eat much before a run or race, especially shorter ones.  I had a banana just to make sure I had something in my stomach, but I was waiting until after the race for the better stuff.

There was a little disorganization evident with the race start and the sound didn’t work out.  However, they got the kiddos off on their fun run on time and got set up for the 5K/10K.  We would start at 8:30AM after the kiddos were finished.  The little guy that came in first ran his mile in 6:05.  Someone should keep an eye on him.

We started just a little after 8:30, I think, but close.  The gate narrowed us down a little, but the field wasn’t huge so we all got out quick.  I took off too fast, but tried to hold it as far as I could.  I had to back off at about 3/4 of a mile.  I could still hold a good pace, but it was slower.  We went down a long hill on Kinwest Parkway right off the bat.  This looked like it would be our “demon” coming back up for the finish.  We turned a corner onto a side street at about a mile out.  By then we were at our second water stop.  I didn’t stop at this one and at the first, I barely slowed down.  I got a little bit in me and some on me.  I still haven’t’ figured out how to drink and run; just not that coordinated.

Our turnaround came up fairly quick and not too long after I saw the leader going back.  There were several friends from my church that were running.  One of our preachers was about a half minute in front of me at this point, so we saw each other on the turn around.  There was a lot of uphill going back, but I kept my pace pretty well.  On a side note, this was my first race to use my Android phone instead of my Garmin.  It worked well, but with it in my back pocket, I don’t really know what my pace is.  In the future, I should probably stick with my Garmin for races since it lets me see the pace and control it better.

I didn’t see a sign for the second mile.  Yet, I knew where I was since “the hill” was here.  I kept my pace as well as possible up the hill, but had to slow down near the top.  It was…large.  However, I made it over and that left only a short run up to the finish.  I saw a shadow of a couple that kept pace with me near the end coming up from behind.  That was all I needed to put in the kick to get to the finish.  I could see that the gun clock was just barely over 31 minutes.  Not the goal, but still a PR.  Now for that chicken sandwich.

I waited around and talked with other folks and watched to see one friend come in from the 1oK.  When I left, I stopped by the table to see the postings for the 5K.  My final time was 31:14, but I was sure the counter was wrong since it listed that I was the 19th runner in.  I chalked that up to technology and just went home.  When I checked the web site posting later, I was amazed.  I finished first in my age group (50 -59) and was 19th across the line of 97.  So, not just a PR, but a win as well.  That was still hard to believe.  My preacher had also finished first in his age group.  And, for the naysayers, we weren’t the only ones in the division either.

This is a great little race with lots of good volunteers, a challenging course, and for a great cause.  They are still going through birth pains and learning how to do things, but for just their second year, they are doing great.  I had a good time and got to run with friends, which I don’t often get to do.  The goodies to eat were exceptional and our swag bags weren’t bad either.  It’s a race I will certainly sign up for next year; maybe the 10K next time.  Happy running!

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And, a good time was had by all.  That’s just the best way I can say it.  This is my third year to ride the Moritz Chevrolet Ride for Heroes in Aledo, TX.  Even though I chose not to do the whole 63 miler, it was a great ride.

One couldn’t have asked for better weather on this April Saturday.  It was 49 degreesF when I got up and the high was forecast for only 74.  In addition, the winds would be light.  I did better this year by going ahead and planning for the cool weather.  We had a similar cool morning last year, but the day was warmer, I believe.

I had not been able to do very many longer rides in preparation, so I was a little apprehensive about doing the 100K route.  However, I saw that I could bail onto the 44-mile route if I needed to do so.  Somewhere around 20 miles or so, I realized that I should since tomorrow, I have a five hour safety class on the bike.  To make the class, I am going to  have to ride to church, leave a little early, ride to the class, and then spend most of the day on and around the bike.  It was better to have a fun ride today and not risk a bad day tomorrow.

And, that was a good plan.  The riders spread out fairly soon enough that by 10 miles or so, riding was pretty good.  The courses for the Ride for Heroes ride is very hilly.  My choice to take my Trek with the compact chainrings was a good idea.  I’m not sure me and the Fuji are ready for almost straight up hills.  Fortunately, there aren’t too many of those.  Just enough to keep one humble.

This is the 10th annual Ride for Heroes and it raises money for several of Parker County’s Fire departments and the Parker County Sherriff’s Reserves.  The ride starts and ends at Aledo High School and the students are many of the volunteers.  It is very nice to have them encouraging riders coming and going from the rest stops.

Additionally, this is also one of the better supported rides I attend.  The Parker County city and county law enforcement folks do a great job of guarding the intersections and corners where the cyclists turn.  Knowing we will have a safe path to ride makes any ride better.

The roads around the routes vary quite a bit.  Some of them are in wonderful shape, while some are not as good.  You do have to be on your toes to avoid bumps and ruts.  I do think a lot of this comes from the gas drilling equipment that plies the county’s roads.  However, the routes are scenic and well laid out.

Having frequent course changes during a long ride is a preference of mine.  Since the Ride for Heroes routes are well marked, I enjoy getting to change direction quite often.  Some rides will have very long straight stretches of road that make you wonder when the road ends.  Getting to change direction fairly often keeps the monotony down and the morale up.

If there was a down side to today at all, it was that my Android died right at the end of the ride, with all my GPS tracked route on it.  I did have my Garmin on and working, but I also forgot to switch it to cycling.  I had to do math in my head while riding to know what my mph’s were.  In running mode, the Garmin only gives minutes/mile.  The dead phone also meant I had to ride around the parking lot until I spotted my wife’s car.  Fortunately, she hadn’t moved far.

The final time tally didn’t show it (3:31:10), but I believe I rode much better than I had been riding.  I definitely know I handled the hills better than in the past.  I probably just spent too long at a couple of rest stops.  No flare ups from the left foot was a good bonus, and a good reason to stop at 44 miles.  Now that I’ve gotten the season’s first ride done, I can look forward to more rides where I can handle the bigger challenges.  Hotter-n-Hell Hundred is on my list again.  Happy cycling!

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After seeing all the things that my daughter’s and other folks’ smartphones could do, coupled with lower prices, I decided it was time to upgrade.  I had known for a while that there were several  features of smartphones that could help me as a runner and cyclist.  So, I went to my provider and picked out one of their android-based smartphones and took off.

Well, sort of, took off.  There is a bit of a learning curve for smartphones, but not a great one.  More of it involves getting used to the change in speeds of things happening, but more on that in a bit.

I chose an android-based phone for several reasons: 1) it’s not Apple, and 2) the android operating system is based on Linux/Unix.  I’m not exactly an Apple-hater, but I dislike their prices, their exclusivity, and their fakery.  Yes, fakery.  Underneath Apple’s fancy OSX disguise is just a regular old Linux kernel.  The same kernel that runs my own PC.  Whether that carries over to the iPhone or not, I don’t know.  And, since the android OS is based on the Linux kernel, I am comfortable working with a Linux OS if I need to or want  to do so.

To describe what I expected to happen as far as running and cycling goes with a smartphone, let’s start with how I normally ‘hook up’.  Generally, when I am running, I carry my Garmin 305 and an iPod nano (Yes, it’s Apple.  Please remember what I said about ‘exclusivity’).  On top of this outfit, I also would carry my cell phone for emergencies and contact.  My hope was to reduce three devices into one with the smartphone.

Now, how was I going to do that?  The android smartphone has two ways to handle music; on board mp3 playing and Pandora.  Playing your mp3 files on an android phone is about as simple as the iPod, though getting them there is not.  In order to move my mostly iTunes-based library over requires some artful digging into folders and some conversion work.  Then I have to dismount the micro-SD storage card, put it in an adapter, plug the adapter in my PC and move the files then vice-versa.  Quite a bit of work.  It would be much easier if I could just move my iTunes library over.

But, remember that word exclusive I used in context with Apple?  Yep, you guessed it.  Can’t do that.  Since the android OS is a part of the Google system, and iTunes is exclusive to Apple stuff, I can’t get iTunes for my android smartphone.  So, my library transfers are a work in progress.  Though, for getting new music, the Amazon mp3 store is a good alternative.  And, that brings me to Pandora.

Pandora is an online web site/service that has an app for the android phone.  In Pandora, you look up styles, genres, or artists in music that you like and it builds a “radio station” around that choice.  Pandora streams music to your phone that are similar in style to your primary choice.  As an example, I have a Roy Orbison station on Pandora.  It then sends music from Orbison, but also from Chuck Berry as well as others from the same era or style.

However, Pandora has some features not conducive to all types of running music.  It’s a bit slow to start up because it depends upon your connection to its servers.  It requires a lot of data transfer so you best have an unlimited plan, and you can’t go backwards on the smartphone (you can on your PC).  In addition, whether it’s Pandora or your own mp3’s, the tactile feel of changing songs or stop/start on an iPod is still superior.  However, I have found that on shorter runs so far, in town, that it works well enough.  Oh, and don’t forget, they play ads too, but not as many as a regular radio station.

Now, for the Garmin stuff.  I use MapMyRide.com to log my rides/runs and they offer an app for the android OS to have MayMyRide right on my phone.  In addition to the regular features of the web site (adding routes, logging workouts, logging calories), the android app uses the GPS of the smartphone in order to log the route and the workout simultaneously.

The first time I tried this out was on a walk during my injury recovery.  It was less than stellar.  I couldn’t quite figure out how to change stations, so I was stuck with the shuffle feature of Pandora.  I have since figured that out but I still wouldn’t recommend changing a station mid-run.  Difficult and lots of dead air.  The MapMyRide workout recording did well, but I had a severe problem starting and stopping the workout.  MapMyRide’s server connections are severely slow and too much dependence on that keeps things slow.  They would do better writing the app to use local resources on the phone and only up/download at the beginning and end of the workout.

I have since taken a couple of short runs using just the smartphone.  I have been able to improve upon my use by adjusting what I am doing.  I start Pandora and choose my station before I leave the house.  I start the MapMyRide app and let it sit idle and getting ready right up until I start my run.  I know I have to get the phone back out before I end the run and make sure it’s ready to stop the workout recording before I get to the end.  And, it’s important to keep the MapMyRide app on your display so you don’t fumble with that when you’re ready to stop.

Smartphones can certainly make things easier on cell phone users and athletes.  However, they come with their own new set of difficulties and limitations.  In their place, they operate just fine.  Out of their place, our older devices will still work better.  I am just starting to test the use out on bike rides.  That’ll be a future post.  For now, I will continue using my smartphone on shorter runs (<5K) and stick to my Garmin and iPod for my longer runs. There are probably lots of other apps for android and iPhone users that might be better, simpler, faster, and/or easier.  If you know of them, comment and let me know.  Happy running!

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This past Monday, I decided to restart my speedwork again as it groweth closer to Cowtown time again.  None of my speed workouts for my marathon training were pickups, so I had not done any for several months.  I thought it would be a good time to run some (not so) gentle pickups again.  And, as usual, I would run mine with my trusty Garmin and heart rate monitor.

Now, if you’ve read my original post on doing pickups by heart rate, you know that I set a heart rate alarm on the Garmin that is slightly under my max heart rate.  My max heart rate had been running about 180-182.  When I first started running with the Garmin, I calculated my max HR (220 – 50; my age) at 170, but I measured my heart rate going to 180 when running flat out.  For a couple years, I’ve been using an alarm setting of 172.  When my HR gets to 172, I hear the beeps and run out the pickup for as long as I can hold, then slow down.

As long as I have run, that formula has worked just fine.  Until last Monday when I took off on my first pickup and kept going and going and going.  No beeps.  No alarms.  I look down and the Garmin says, “162.”  Ok, so slow down, jog a while and try it again.  My HR drops back to 130 and I start off again.  Maybe I didn’t run the pickup out fast enough?  You’re only supposed to reach about 80% of top speed.  Maybe I am just out of practice.  So, I’ll make this one faster.

I’m waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the beep.  None comes.  I’m going all out now and I look down, “164.”  What’s wrong?  Why won’t my HR go up?  I run the rest of my pickups by feel and just monitor the heart rate.  It never exceeded 167, and that was on the last one.  What has happened?  I know I’m fit.  Has something change?

Of course it has.  I’ve dropped 30 pounds!  And, I’m slightly older now.  OK, so my age only drops the max HR by 2 bpm, but when you go in with the idea that I’m now back to my calculated HR (220 – age), which is now 168, almost 167, you see the difference.  My extra weight artificially raised my max HR because of the extra stress.  Now, I need to figure out a new HR limit for pickups and try it again.

Of course, now, I’m not sure when that will be.  Tuesday evening I went for my regular swim.  Every time I tried to fully kick in the freestyle stroke, my left foot hurt.  I eased up on my kicking and could keep the pain under slight control, but at least once every lap, one strong kick would make me wince.

Just when I crossed 800 yds., it got worse.  Now it was throbbing and moving up the leg.  I stopped and made it back to the shallow end to see what was going on.  I could feel a large knot on top of my foot near the ankle.  It wasn’t hard and after a while, the know moved when pressing on it.  The pain was increasing.  My friend stopped to see how it was and I told him I was done for the night.

I hobbled home and put some ice on it.  I took some ibuprofen and wrapped it for the night.  It remained quite painful all night, but when I got up, the pain when down, the swelling went down, and I could walk.  I went two days at work with no real problems at all.  No problem walking.  I jogged a little coming home and didn’t feel anything either.  However, I got up this morning and could see a small bruise down near my toes.  That was odd.  I didn’t have any pain down there.

I thought I’d try spinning and see if that would be a problem.  For 52 minutes, it wasn’t.  Then it started again.  I got off and checked.  Sure enough, the swelling was back and the bruise had gotten larger.  Well, that bites.

Now, I am going to have to stick to my plan to do no workouts until Monday at least.  I can’t find any medical conditions exactly like it on the Internet.  The only one that is close sounds really bad.  I don’t think I’ve ripped a ligament or tendon.  That pain would remain…I think.

Well it happens.  You can’t get everything right.  I’ve gone a considerable length of time without an injury.  I guess you might say I’m overdue.  It’s just not a good time with a race coming up.  I’m going to be patient and wait until Monday.  Then, I’ll have to reassess whether this needs a doc or not.  I sure hope not.  They tend to go overboard when there is an injury.  And, my experience with a lot of docs is they aren’t all great diagnosticians.  But, we’ll just have to see.  Be careful and have fun running.

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I’m not quite sure how to put this, but…I finished my ride today, but didn’t.  If you think that is worth investigating, please read on.

The Head for the Hills Rally was my choice for today’s ride when gas prices got too expensive to go to Austin.  They moved the start in Cedar Hill this year over to a shopping mall called “Uptown Village”.  It looked like quite a plush place and since there was a bookstore, I knew my wife wouldn’t be too bored waiting.  I also ran into a good friend that I wasn’t sure would make it.  We rode together as much as we could.  I finally took off at about 30 miles.  I might should have waited and then missed all the adventure I had. (more…)

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