Monthly Archives: February 2014

Location broadcasting beta

london map

I’m lucky that many of my friends and family want to come and cheer me on, but how can I make life easier for them by letting them know where I am and when I’m due at their vantage point?

Given the wealth of running apps that log your location, it seems bizarre that these don’t easily broadcast location when required. As well as helping supporters track progress on race day, this kind of functionality could be really useful for those days where a long slow run turns out to be even longer and slower than anticipated, leaving a worried partner at home wondering if you’ve collapsed.

I’ve been pondering this one for a while, and came up with a few options:

  • Google: Latitude has been retired, but this feature has been wrapped into Google+, allowing real-time location sharing, with different granularity by sharing. However, the location is only available to those viewing via the Google+ app.
  • Runkeeper: This has long been by running app of choice, and its Elite (paid-for) layer enables Runkeeper Live, which broadcasts location and allows sharing via web, Twitter and Facebook
  • Glympse: This is an app which allows the user to broadcast location for a specific period of time, choosing to share with individuals, groups, or via social.

I’ve decided to road-test Glympse when I do the Reading Half this weekend, as this allows me to embed my live location map on my site.

My live location beta is here.

I’m looking for one or more people to beta test this for me on Sunday (2 March). I’ll be broadcasting my location between 10.30 and 12.30. If you’re awake at this time, I’d be grateful if you’d take a note of where I am at a specific point in time (or take a screengrab), which I can compare after the event.

Please share your beta test maps or notes in the comments below. If you’ve got any ideas for how I can make this work as well as possible, let me know.

Join the Distance Disco

Apple headphones

This weekend I’m running the Reading Half Marathon for the third time. This is the final time I’ll be running in race conditions before the big one, so it’s the perfect opportunity to test out how I want to take the race on marathon day – and I need your help.

For other people, a training race is a chance to test an approach to pacing, clothing or hydration and nutrition strategy. But for me this is a test run for my Battery Strategy and my running music.

I’ve been training without my Pebble as the Bluetooth connection drains the iPhone’s already lightweight battery, but I really want to use it on race day. Last year, I challenged my friends to cheer me on on race day via tweets sent to my Pebble, and to choose my running music for me via a collaborative Spotify. It was a miserable, wet and cold day, but the stream of good wishes and ace tunes kept my spirits up and saw me round the 13.1 grim miles, and I’m sure it’ll do the same for the full 26.2.

So I’ve ordered a Moophie Juice Pack and am using this weekend’s race to see if it’ll keep my phone in enough power to feed me tunes and tweets all morning.

And just like last year, I’m asking for your kind words and excellent taste in tunes.

In last year’s race, every time I was feeling tired or demotivated, a cracking tune would come on and cheer me up. This year, I need it even more. If I’m going to get around twenty six long, long miles, I’l going to need a party in my ears.

I’ve set up a collaborative playlist here, and I’d love it if you would add any tunes you think might keep my motivated on the big day. Together, we can create the perfect distance running disco.

The rules:

  1. I won’t look at the playlist before I start – I want it to be a surprise
  2. You have until 8am on Sunday, 2 March to add your tunes – that’s when I’ll switch the playlist to offline
  3. I can skip if I’ve heard a tune before (the Rickroll Rule)
  4. If there’s a tune that doesn’t help me pick up/keep up the pace, or which I really hate (or both), I can skip past that too (the Hawkwind Rule)

I’ll be reading my tweets on my Pebble, so tweet me your words of encouragement @sharonodea. The race starts at 10am on Sunday 2 March, and all being well I’ll be over the finish line by 12.30.

EDIT: Someone on Twitter came up with the idea of offering a prize. Great idea! I’ll be handing out the finest gift my husband can find in Reading on Sunday morning to whoever adds the track which is on when I cross the finish line. So add those tunes now and be in with the chance to win.

Why couldn’t Pheidippides have stopped at mile 15?

runners legs

I returned from my last long run clutching two Sainsburys bags full of ice and granola bars, shaking. I was tired, bored and weary. My entire body hurt. I’d run 28km– my furthest yet – but it hit me that in two months time I have to do all of that, with nine more whole miles on the end.

Then, following advice I’d read in Runner’s World, I attempted an ice bath. I filled the bath with cold water, chucked the bags of ice in it, and got in. My husband handed me a mug of green tea as I sat, waist-deep in the freezing water, shivering: “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Ice bath….it’s supposed to help” I replied, between howls of pain.

“That’s just mental”

After the five longest minutes of my life, I got out, and wept. The last three miles were awful. I now know what people mean when they talk about hitting the wall. I spent the last half hour of the run plagued by self-doubt, thinking there’s no way I can do this. Every step was a desperate internal battle.

When I got my marathon place, I knew it’d take over my life in the months leading up to it. But I hadn’t really thought about what that meant. My weekends are no longer spent seeing friends or spending time with my husband. Instead, they’re measured in distances. 22, 24, 26 kilometres.

When colleagues ask me on Monday morning what I did at the weekend, there’s only one answer: running. From waking up on Saturday morning, the entire day revolves around it. Breakfast: running fuel. Let it go down. Plot route on Mappedometer. Pound the pavements for hours. Stretch. Shower. Eat. Sleep. Rinse and repeat.

We went out on Saturday night after one of my big runs recently. I had nothing to talk about apart from running. All I wanted to do was eat and go home. I have become a running bore.

I’ve started obsessively reading running blogs, studying my time and distance data, and find myself Googling recovery methods, interval training and nutrition strategies when I’m lying in bed. Other people have started to associate me with running (something I still find a little odd, given I don’t really consider myself a runner). They ask me how it’s going, what time I’m aiming for. I smile and say it’s going ok. I don’t tell them about the toenail that’s looking iffy or the chronic bra strap chafing that no amount of Vaseline seems to solve.

Having now run almost 18 miles – which took me three and a half hours – I truly appreciate what a bloody long way a marathon is. That’s the kind of distance one would not normally balk at taking two or more trains to cover. I only recently learned the marathon distance was supposed to be 25 miles, but the additional 1.2 were added at the 1908 Olympics so the route would pass the King. I’d never had any particularly strong feelings on the monarchy, but the thought of this one act of subservience that’s condemned hundreds of thousands of runners to an additional ten minutes of agony is enough to turn me into a hardened republican.

Someone asked me if I’ll do another marathon after this. Clearly, they haven’t run a marathon themselves. If they did, they’d know the tedium of spending most of your free time either running, recovering from running, or thinking about running.

I replied that it was highly unlikely.

“That’s a shame. You’re on 18 miles with over two months to go. That’s brilliant.”

And finally, for the first time since Saturday, I smiled. Yeah, I guess it is.

Photo credit: Dave Morris (flickr)

Long Slow Run Report: hitting the finish lines

The Mall

With two and half months to go, it’s time to start building my endurance. After last week’s 22km, this week I was aiming to add another two to that.

I began by plotting out a route on Mappedometer, all through pretty familiar places which meant I wouldn’t need to keep checking maps.

Hammersmith: fugly

Hammersmith: fugly

I set off, from my house in Barnes, and headed north. I crossed the river to Hammersmith and made my way round the pedestrian’s nightmare that is the Broadway shopping centre/rounsabout/bus station. It occurred to me that if London was ever invaded, Hammersmith would be the western front. An invading army would take one look at the place – with its flyover, its ugly shopping centre, miserable high street, and the monstrosity that is the Ark – and turn around and go home.

I left the place as quickly as possible, and headed through Olympia and on to Kensington High Street, where I dodged slow moving, bewildered tourists – something that were quickly to become a theme for the run. I turned into Kensington Gardens, which was much better running territory, although there were still far too many tourists. I looped around the top of the Serpentine in order to cross where the finish line was for the NYD 10k only a few weeks ago. I thought about how hard I pushed to get there in under 1 hour, and really picked up the pace here.

I carried on through the park to Hyde Park Corner, where I stopped to drink some water and take a really rubbish selfie. Then set off again, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace and down the Mall. By this point I’d really got into my stride. As I tried to picture myself running across the finish line there on 13 April I experienced a proper rush – I was actually enjoying  this. It felt odd.

I took a quick snap, then turned south through St James Park and through the backstreets of Westminster, close to where I used to work. It was odd to see how much had changed since I was last there – shops closed, others opened.

From there I turned on to the embankment, and headed along the river, taking the same route I took when I ran home last week. In Pimlico I passed a petrol station and considered stopping to refill my water bottle, but decided against it.

This was an error. It turns out it’s feckin’ miles until the next one. This stretch of river seems to go on forever without passing anything much. After an age – in which I was really parched – I reached World’s End in Chelsea and turned toward Kings Road. There’s a Shell garage by this junction, so I stopped here and bought a Lucozade. I still had my headphones in, and it was only when I went to pay that I realised I was heavy breathing and looked an absolute state – no wonder the people in the queue gave me a very wide berth.

From there it was a relatively straight run down Kings Road and over to Putney. This final stretch – the last three or four kilometres – was unbelievably hard. Every step felt like a challenge, and I had to force myself to keep going.

I made it – 24.52km – but was disappointed when I worked out this is closer to 15 miles than 16.

There’s still a very long way to go.