Tag Archives: Fitness And Running

We’re In The App Business, Baby

There’s few things better in life are than the feeling of achievement. Unlike most project that I work on this took more or less only 3 weeks from idea to a product.

Last summer after running the Edinburgh marathon, I thought that there must be a better way of creating split times when preparing for a race. (Split times are used by runners to help them run at a consistent speed through out a long race.) Initially I though it should be a website that would help generate them I quickly let go of the idea as I didn’t think I could recoup the money I’d need to invest in it. As you probably know, I’m not a programmer, and I would have had to hire someone to come code it for me.

Then around mid April this year I was listening to an interview of Ryan Carson on the Pipeline podcast where he was talking about the importance of passive income. In the interview, Ryan mention a website called smartpassiveincome.com where the author, Pat, blogs about different passive income streams that he’s been able to create. One of many things he’s doing is developing iPhone apps. As he’s not a developer, he outsources the development work via various outsourcing websites. I guess hearing how little you can have something developed inspired me return back to the idea of making something that helps runners create those split times.

The process itself was almost scarily fast. I mocked up about four or five screenshots in Photoshop to see how the app might look. I then posted a job on a freelancer outsourcing website. Few days later I had enough proposals to choose from and in another 2 weeks the app was ready! Once the ball was rolling, it took surprisingly little time to get it finished.

So what’s the app then? It’s called Split Times. Check out the video below to see how it works. Or get it in the App Store, it’s only 99¢.

After the Race

I had no idea how hard it would be. Absolutely no idea. And this is where I would want to be a great writer. I would love to tell you in saturated technicolor how the race went; how my body performed and what went on in my head as the mile marks passed.

I finished the race in 4 hours 29 minutes and 29 second.

I started of with the pace of about 9 minutes per mile* which, if you can keep it up, gives you just under 4 hours as the final time. First 2 miles in Edinburgh are downhill, which is great. Nice easy Sunday jog down Regents Park, fantastic scenery, wide roads to accommodate 14000 people flowing down in unison. 4 mile mark was the first where I thought: ‘What a nice distance to comprehend, one sixth done’. Little did I know.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


Anyhow. It’s funny how quickly the first 5 miles went past but soon we arrived at the beach. It was becoming clear that the weather report wasn’t wrong this time. It was going to be the hottest day I’ve ever spent in Scotland. Marathon or not. Sun was blazing from a clear blue sky, directly ahead of us down Portobello promenade. I knew Darina and her family would be somewhere there so I was looking forward to that but still.. it was about 20c hotter than I had hoped for.

By this time I really had to wee. There was the relay change over spot but no loos right next to it to conveniently use. I waited until right after 10 mile mark – while on the phone to my brother who was helping me do Twitter updates – I saw an open gate that led to a field where it’d be easy to relieve yourself. And I did.

Timing for big events like these are done with little RFID chips you wear on your shoe or – like now – around your ankle. All you do is run over this mat and it knows your there. It’s a pretty cool application for simple technology that could be more widely used. I really wonder how they did runner times for large scale races before RFID. Sounds impossible.

At 2:03:25 I stepped my foot on the half way timing point. Pretty steady speed I had kept up from the beginning.

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Click to enlarge

Darina had just phoned me so I knew to expect them somewhere after 15 miles. This stretch after 14 miles was annoying if anything else. We saw the soon-to-be-winners of the race. They had a big Mercedes SUV in front of them with the time 2:03. (Winner of the race, Martin Williams, came in at 2:18:24.) Strangely and very unlikely for Scotland, the weather wasn’t turning for worse. Or it was, not just in the way you’d expect when saying it was getting worse. It was getting hotter and hotter and the last turning place wasn’t even close.

Probably one of my favorite bits of the race was before Gosford House on a field that led to a forest, one of the only places that had shadows. I think it was the variation that this field gave to the endlessly long, almost straight roads.

I wonder if they allow visitors at Gosford House, it looked pretty nice.

After the forest, we got back to the road leading back into Musselburgh. About 7.5 miles to go. I can’t remember if it was just before or right after the 19 mile mark but it was by far the most de-moralising part of the day. The water point that was supposed to have water, energy drink and gels was dry. No water, no nothing. We had already done a good couple of miles in the fields since the last water point and people were pretty angry to not get anything. What made it worse was that we had no idea if there’d be any more water before the finishing line. It was pretty bad.

I’m pretty sure we passed another one or two dry water points, guessing from the clusters of empty bottles we passed. Luckily there was a ten-year-old girl spraying water on us from the curb. I stopped to get some refreshment from the ice cold water. That was pretty sweet.

It must have been around 22 miles when we got more water and energy drinks, not too late but it took a while to get recharged.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Last miles went by really slowly, I had to walk for 50 meters three or four times, just to get motivated to continue. It wasn’t that my leg were hurting; joints were fine and I had no chafing, just really, almost completely, exhausted. Mad feeling.

But, like many things, it finally came to an end. Darina and Eilish were there just after 26 mile mark and I could see the finishing line. I crossed it and I cried like a little girl.

It was absolutely amazing.

–kristian

*as big of a metric fan as I am….

Pre-posting update:
It was a massive mistake and a failure the organiser did with the water stations. Not only was it annoying, it was literally putting runners lives in danger. 5000 out of the 13000 runners who started pulled out. 10 treated in hospital and 160 by medical staff by the route. There was also other issues that the organisers will have to improve upon for next year. More toilets along the course and better signage all around the event. I was quite disappointed to find in my goody bag a t-shirt meant for ‘the Hairy Haggis’ – relay team. It wasn’t a problem getting a new one sent out after I called them today.

With all the problems they had, I’m definite that I’ll run it again one year. They will listen to the criticism and make it a better event. It’s a beautiful and a fast route and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Few more photos from Edinburgh Marathon:

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London's Finnish Running Club – FinnRC

Just to tick those things of my list of things to do by the time I’m 29, I’ve started a running club for Finnish – and like minded – people living in London. It’s nothing formal, especially as it only has one member, myself, but would be nice to connect all those runners around the area. I guess this is another attempt to de-solitaries running.

The club has a website at http://finnrc.info, check it out and join if you feel this is something you’re interested. Or at least tell your Finnish friend about this, perhaps they’ll know someone who can’t stop talking about running.

Brighton Half Marathon – Live Tweeting

I started exactly half a year ago to train for running the Brighton Half Marathon*(**). 185 days of sore legs, buckets of sweat and a bit of blood is culminating this Sunday the 22nd of February as the race begins. Few of you will be there in Brighton watching me – as well as Mike and Colin and 6000 others – grow weary as the kilometers pass. Running is a solitary sport so it’ll be fantastic to see familiar faces along the streets cheering us on.

Another way to make it a little less solitary, to share my experience of the run as it happens, I’ve decided to live tweet along the way. Don’t ask me how it’s going to happen in practice but it will involve an iPhone and a Tweet Relay HQ at the University of Oulu. More details of this closer to or after the race day. Is this a stupid idea and is it going to enhance my performance? I don’t think it’s _that_ stupid but it’s also most likely it’s not going to make me run faster (you know, just talking while running is pretty hard, let alone tweeting). It’ll just be nice for my friends and family to be able to follow the race from further away.

So how to join the fun?

Easy, just go to twitter.com/kristian and click follow, if you’re on Twitter or just keep refreshing the page if you’re not. All my tweets will be tagged with #BrightonRun so they’ll also appear when searched for that tag. Depending on the level of my exhaustion, I’ll keep an eye on @kristian ‘s in case you want to cyber-cheer me to keep going.

The race starts at 09:45 GMT on 22nd February. That’s 11:45 (EET) in Helsinki and 22:45 (NZDT) in Wellington. I’m hoping to finish the race in under 2 hours which should be well doable.

Thanks!

–kristian

* Technically speaking I had another goal at the time but this is a good mid point before Edinburgh Marathon in May.

** The official name is The Sussex Beacon Half Marathon 2009 Brighton but as it sucks we’ll just keep calling it the Brighton Half, OK?

[Update I: fixed grammar]

[Update II: hashtag is now #BrightonRun]

Running Update – Day 35

First month or so has gone really quickly and surprisingly painlessly. Only after about a week of running it started to feel easy and I found myself waiting for – rather that fretting – the next run. I started of with really shorts runs, only about 3 kilometers, and have steadily increased them so that today I ran 13.8 kilometers – longest distance so far. That’s more than I did during the whole of first week of running. It felt really good. Total distance: 112 km.

On top of the goal of reaching 300 km total by 15th Dec, I’ve decided to signup for the Brighton half marathon which is in the end of February. Thanks to Mike and Colin for persuading me to join them. Both goals are well doable, what makes the difference is the time I want to do them in. I’ll set the goal for Brighton closer to it so I wont set it too low as I did with the 300 km run. Then again, it doesn’t really matter, main thing is to have fun and feel fitter and healthier.

Ok, that’s it for the first update (I know, it was a bit more than 10 days…), next one coming at 200 km mark.

kristian

300 km Challenge

So we’re going on a big trip to New Zealand around christmas this winter. We’ll be there for about 4 weeks; camping, hanging around on long sandy beaches, drinking wine and eating. I need to get into shape to survive all that. That’s why I’m starting the ‘300 km challenge’. Aim is to run a total of 300 km before 15th December. That’s not that much, only an average of about 2.6 km a day. But if I miss a day, the next day I’ll have to run 5.2 km to keep up. Simple.

Two incentives for me to complete this challenge:

  • 1. For every kilometer that I’m short of 300 km, I’ll donate £1 to a charity chosen by readers. Vote below in the comments.
  • 2. I’d like to invite you to run with me. It’s easier to commit to things when you have someone to do it with. No pressure, thought, it’s not a competition. We’ll just try and reach 300 km

I’ll be posting here every ten days on my progress, so stay tuned!

Thanks,

–kristian

[Update] I’ve started yesterday by running 3.1 km. Days to go: 115.