Running, year 4

I’ve had this running habit for a while now. It’s become a central part of my life, and I look forward to my almost-daily run. Well, most days. Some days it takes a little extra motivation, but I never dread it. I recall before I picked it up in 2017 that running really felt like a chore. Wanted to like it, but didn’t. That changed quickly for me, and I’m thankful it has.

However, 2020 was such a different year. The obvious, of course, was/is the COVID-19 pandemic. But not just that.

Where I live and where I run made it possible to keep running without interacting with people. But I took a bit of a spill off a curb in March (coincidentally right when the first lockdowns were happening) and twisted my knee. That set me back a bit, limiting the number of days I could run, and really slowed down my pace for a while. I had been averaging a sub-5:00/km (roughly 8:00/mile) pace across all distances for a long time, but after the injury 5:20-5:30 became more normal. I finished with a 5:12/km overall average pace, my slowest in the 4 years I’ve been at it.

In September, western Oregon where I live was hit hard with wildfires, and the air quality became miserable for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t safe to be outside, much less exercise outside. So that was a good ten days without running. A very long stretch for me.

Then in December I re-aggravated the knee. Only three runs in the back half of the month. This was an unforced error, as I was over-training early in the month. Lesson learned.

My job at a large tech company affords me the ability to work from home (now, permanently, as my local office became a pandemic casualty), which meant that many of my runs this year were from home, which is in quite a hilly area, instead of the office, in a rather flat area. This was another contributor to my slower pace, I suppose.

With that, here are my 2020 stats:

  • Total running days: 264 (-29 from 2019).
  • Total distance: 2416.2 km / 1501.3 miles (-200.5 miles).
  • Average pace: 5:12/km / 8:22/mile (+0:22/mile).
  • Most distance run in a month: 265.7 km / 165.1 miles (May, -11.1 miles from March 2019).
  • Most days run in a month: 29 (January, -2).
  • Most distance run in a 7-day period: 91.4 km / 56.8 miles (early December, +8.9 miles). A personal record, and also injury-inducing, as noted above.
  • Average run distance: 9.16 km / 5.69 miles (-0.12 miles).

In 2021, I aim to continue running, improve my knee strength (through strength and flexibility training), and up my daily distance a bit. A 10 km / 6.21 mile average feels like an attainable goal.

Running, year 3

I guess this is a running blog now? In 2017 I started running, in 2018 I kept up the habit, and in 2019 I did a bit more.

Some stats:

  • Total running days: 293 (+19 from 2018).
  • Total distance: 1701.8 miles (+61.6).
  • Average pace: 8:00 / mile (+0:05).
  • Most miles run in a month: 176.2 (March, +16.0 from August 2018).
  • Most days run in a month: 31 (March, +6).
  • Most miles run in a 7-day period: 47.9 (-3.8).
  • Average run distance: 5.81 miles (-0.13).

Of those 293 runs:

  • 274 were more than 5 miles.
  • 120 were more than 10km (6.21 miles).
  • 22 were more than 8 miles.
  • 12 were more than 10 miles.

Personal records established:

  • 10K: 42:40 (September 22).

Running, year 2

I started running in earnest in 2017. In 2018, I kept up the habit, and increased my total distance a bit.

Some stats:

  • Total running days: 276 (-8 from 2017).
  • Total distance: 1640.2 miles (+238.7).
  • Average pace: 7:55 / mile (-0:19).
  • Most miles run in a month: 160.2 (August, +19.9 from July 2017).
  • Most days run in a month: 25 (multiple months, -4 from March 2017).
  • Most miles run in a 7-day period: 51.7 (+3.3 from December 2017).
  • Average run distance: 5.94 miles (+1.01)

Of those 276 runs:

  • 216 were more than 5 miles.
  • 120 were more than 10km (6.21 miles).
  • 35 were more than 8 miles.
  • 15 were more than 10 miles.

Personal records established:

  • Half-marathon: 1:40:03 (December 9th).
  • Longest race: 30K (Rainshadow Running Oregon Coast trail run).

My first all-electric car

Angie and I purchased a 2018 Tesla Model 3 last week. This car represents a number of firsts for us:

  • our first electric car
  • our first new car since 2002
  • our first car from an American manufacturer

And it’s certainly the nicest and fastest car we’ve ever had. It’s really cool!

I’m not a huge car guy, although I do love my two old Toyota Land Cruisers and I take some pride in acquiring and maintaining interesting old cars for my kids (old Mercedes 300Ds and a VW camper van). I’d really prefer to not have any cars at all, but instead use feet, pedals, and shared transport to get around. But in our current life stage, and where we live and where I work, having a car is useful.

At this point, only the long-range battery pack (~310 mile range) is available, which adds $9K to the “base” price. That’s a lot. Do I need it? No. I’m not unhappy that I got it though, so good on Tesla I guess.

In 2002, our kids were little and we bought a new Honda Odyssey. Nice van. Hated it of course. It was a minivan! But that was a good inflection point for us — we decided that we weren’t going to buy a new car again until we could get one that was all electric.

We waited 16 years for the right car to happen. Truth. I remember quite clearly on March 31st 2016 when Tesla was showing off the Model 3 prototypes, and opened up reservations for deliveries that wouldn’t happen for 18 months. I was sitting on the couch watching a replay of the reveal, and plunked down the $1000 to get in the queue. Certainly an impulsive decision, but it felt like our opportunity to get a decent electric car.

There are some good alternatives out there now. For a lot less money, the Bolt is uninspiring and has the fugly GM design choices, but is by all accounts a really good car. The new Leaf looks less like a deformed insect than the prior model, and also seems like a good choice. On the higher end, the Jaguar I-Pace will probably kick ass, but I’m not sold that it’s a better bet than the Model X. Tesla’s supercharging network is still a competitive advantage.

If you’ve followed the interwebs and feel concerned about the Model 3’s quality (fit and finish, manufacturing concerns) or the minimalist and software-driven interior experience, well, all of that is crap. Quality is high, the design is beautiful, and the minimalism and touchscreen approach are the future of cars. Well, at least the future of cars for humans to operate. The premium interior isn’t anything like, say, a new Volvo, but it’s still very nice. The driving experience is awesome. This thing is fast, quick, corners well, and stops well.

I don’t have autopilot configured. Can’t comment on that. It was a big enough step for me to move to a car with integrated bluetooth, antilock brakes, and a rearview camera. (Yes, my other cars are that old). I’m good with still being in charge of the vehicle’s operation.

The relative simplicity of an all-electric car really appeals to me. Absent are so many fluids, bearings, belts, hoses, sensors, fittings, etc. Fewer things to go wrong. Not being dependent on dino fuel is nice as well.

A year of running

I don’t post here much, but I did write a few times this year about running, and the process of becoming a runner. As 2017 comes to a close, I can happily say that I have caught the running bug. I went from being a maybe-once-per-month runner to an almost-every-day runner.

Some stats:

  • Total running days: 284.
  • Total distance: 1401.5 miles.
  • Average pace: 8:14 / mile.
  • Most miles run in a month: 140.3 (July).
  • Most days run in a month: 29 (March).
  • Most miles run in a 7-day period: 48.4 (Dec 3rd – 9th … even took a day off in that stretch).

My average run distance ended up at 4.93 miles. Of those 284 runs:

  • 141 were more than 5 miles.
  • 54 were more than 10km (6.21 miles).
  • 15 were more than 8 miles.
  • 4 were more than 10 miles.

Personal records established:

  • 5k: 22:18 (April 8th).
  • 10k: 43:15 (December 7th).
  • Half-marathon: 1:42:55 (December 9th).

I did have a few 5k splits that were faster (notably 21:02 on August 25th), but that one in particular was on an all-downhill section as part of Hood To Coast. The above times were my fastest at running that distance specifically.

Some charts, because why not?

And, while this wasn’t really the main point of plan to become a runner, I also dropped over 40 pounds. What a difference that makes in pretty much everything. Including, clearly, my pace improvement over the first 4 months of the year.

What will 2018 bring? As long as I stay healthy I see no reason to stop running. Should I run more or less? Faster or slower? Longer distances or shorter distances? No idea. Maybe I’ll just run and see what happens.

Still running, eight months in

Post four of a series. Previous here.

Eight months later, still running strong. Latest stats:

  • 936 – total miles this year.
  • 201 – days run this year.
  • 126 – total miles in August.
  • 5.24 – Average running distance (miles) per run in August.
  • 21:02 – 5K PR time on August 25.

My 5K time there is a bit flimsy, as it was part of a longer run in the 2017 Hood to Coast relay, and the run was mostly downhill. But still!

Speaking of Hood to Coast, this was my 6th time in the race, and my overall pace across the three segments was 7:31/mile. Way, way faster than ever before. Joe joined the team this year, which was awesome.

Oh, and I’m now down 44 pounds since the beginning of the year. Hit my weight loss goal of 43 pounds a few weeks ago, and now I’m in maintenance mode. Feels great. Considering a new goal of an additional 5 pounds, we’ll see.

Running update, day 181

This is the third post (see previous) on my running progress so far this year. 

Six months in, no sign of slowing down yet! My running pace is now regularly below 8:00/mile. Some numbers:

  • 645 – total miles this year.
  • 8:00 – average mile pace during the month of June.
  • 131 – total miles in June.
  • 27 – days run in June.
  • 147 – days run this year.
  • 37:27 – PR 5-mile time on June 28.

The only days I missed in June were days where I was in all-day business travel and literally couldn’t find an hour to run.

Combined with careful eating habits (but not too careful), I’m also down 40.0 pounds as of this morning. Feels great.

Running update, day 110

Following up on my last post about becoming a runner, I’ve made quite a bit of progress in the last 35 days:

  • I ran 33 out of 35 days.
  • Total distance: 153.25 miles.
  • Average distance: 4.64 miles.
  • Average pace: 8:23 / mile.

During this time, I set personal records in the 5K (22:18 = 7:19/mile pace) and 10K (47:29 = 7:39/mile pace). This is soooooo much faster than when I started, which was roughly 10:00/mile pace over three miles. This kind of improvement was … unexpected.

And my weight is still moving in the right direction: down 6.4 more pounds, for a total of 31.4 pounds since the beginning of the year. Less than 10 pounds to go. Yeah!

75 days, 25 pounds, 204 miles

I decided at the beginning of 2017 to become a regular runner, and lose the beer belly in the process. Today is the 75th day of the year, and my progress has been even better than I had hoped. I still have a bit of work to do, but I’m over halfway to my weight loss goal, and I have the running habit locked in. Feels great to run, and I look forward to my run each day.

I’ve been using a few apps on my phone to measure and gather data:

  • LoseIt. I track all food and meals here.
  • Nike+ Run Club. My phone is always in my pocket, and I’m tracking every run live.
  • Apple Health. Mostly as a step counter, but it also provides good integration between the Nike+ app and LoseIt, so LoseIt can give me calorie credit for my workouts.

Some stats:

  • I’ve run 53 times for a total of 204 miles (328 km) since January 6th. That’s 3.85 miles on average each time. Minimum 3 miles, longest 6.2 miles.
  • I’m eating an average of 1824 calories per day.
  • I’ve lost 25.0 pounds (11.3 kg).
  • My comfortable 4-mile running pace has dropped from 10:00/mile to 8:34/mile.
  • I’m earning an average of 649 calories per day with exercise. Which brings my net daily calories to 1175.
  • I’m averaging 11634 steps per day, including my running steps.

I try to be super-accurate with all my data entry in LoseIt. But even assuming I’m underreporting by, say 20%, I know I’m still way below what I used to eat on a daily basis. LoseIt is great. I know there are many apps like this, but this is the one I use, and it works well for me.

It’s winter here, so I’m running outdoors on roads and trails when the weather doesn’t completely suck and indoors on a treadmill when it does. About 60% of my runs have been indoors. Can’t wait for spring! I’ve played soccer a handful of times this year, but pretty much all my exercise is from running. I had an international business trip in February which limited my running for a week, but I was able to get lots of steps in on most of those days. I’ve been fortunate to avoid any injuries, although a mildly strained calf muscle slowed my running pace down a bit for a few runs. I’m not focused on running terribly long distances. Maybe later.

Going into this I was most concerned about my ability to keep the calories down. This has been surprisingly easy to do. I eliminated most calorie-rich carbs (potatoes, fries, chips, rice, etc.), got in to the habit of weighing foods to understand how much I was really eating, and just generally ate less. But I’m still eating three meals, having a small snack at some point during the day, and having a drink or two at night. Usually whiskey, but some beers like Guinness are pretty low in calories, so I mix those in too. IPAs have pretty much disappeared from my diet.

In the end, none of this is complicated. Eat less, and exercise. I hope to report even more progress soon.

Turn your old or broken Android phone into a home security camera

What to do with that old Android phone sitting in your drawer? You know, the three-year-old Moto G with the broken screen. That one. Here’s an easy plan: turn it into a home security camera on the cheap.

  1. [optional] Make sure you have anything of value copied off to a safe place, and clear off all personal data by resetting the device to factory settings. You probably should have done this before putting it into the drawer in the first place. Restart the device, get it set up, connect it to your wi-fi, and add a Google account so you can download stuff from the Play Store. If this is a real Google account that you use for email and such you might want to turn off all syncing.
  2. Install the IP Webcam app. There are other apps out there as well, and this has a Pro upgrade version for a few bucks which looks to have some nice features.
  3. Run the app and mount the camera in a place where:
    • it shows what you want
    • can be reached by a charging cable connected to a power outlet
    • isn’t going to be attacked by weather, kids, pets, etc.
  4. Note the IP address of the phone (the app will show you this), and play with the settings a bit. I turned on motion detection and video recording on motion. Consider enabling security features if that makes sense for your network.
  5. Access the video stream on the same wi-fi network. You can view it in a browser at http://phone-ip-address:8080. I’m using the VLC app on an old Android tablet to view the stream from my family room, connected to the stream at http://phone-ip-address:8080/video.

I mounted my camera in a window in a detached garage that has a good-enough wi-fi signal an a good view of the driveway. With blue painters tape and some cardboard. It’s not pretty, but it works!