We got a little turned around in NYC, but it’s hard to get truly lost with an iPhone and Google Maps in your pocket.
Remember when we went to Iceland back in 2014?
Well, I took a few thousand photos and while I uploaded a bunch to the web and Karin made a nifty little book out of some others, and still more I’ve used in various blog posts that I’ve published, there were a small collection that I handed over to Google Maps.
Those photos needed to be “views” — images that showed a place, avoiding recognizable people and well composed. Some could argue: why give your pics away? But Google Maps is a tool I use and if I can give a little something back to make it better for someone, why not?
Well, Google sent me an email yesterday: apparently it’s helped about a quarter million people… so, warm-fuzzy for me, huh?
Charting and mapping my virtual run for 2013. From the corner near my house to the Great White Norths of my own beautiful country, these are the klicks I might have run had they been strung end-to-end from the first of January to the end of December. Brought to you by the magic of obsessive data tracking, GPS technology, and they letter Y.
The race against myself goes on. And on. And on.
I’m making good progress, too.
It helps that my goals changed over since starting this effort, of course. On January 1st I was only half-seriously contemplating a marathon. Now, obviously, I’m training for one. My mileage is up. My distances are longer. My frequency is more… uh, frequent.
According to my tracking calculator, as of writing this post I should have logged a little over 834 km.
According to my actual distance logs, I’ve run a little over 925 km.
And with a couple big –BIG– long runs coming up in the next weeks, that distance is due to cross into the quadruple digits by right around months-end. Last year, that took me all the way until the end of October to do that.
Barring injury, I’m set to hit my goal well before New Years.
Of course as a tangible distance, we’re getting up in the stupid-zone. I set out to run –virtually, of course– to Yellowknife. The current track has me logging a distance that has taken a winding, curving, slooping tour through Northern Alberta and at my current tally, I’m approaching the Northern border of the province and about to step imaginary foot into the North West Territories.
I’ve never actually been. And it almost makes me want to get into a car and follow the same route… some day.
I thought it might be helpful, too, to nab a couple pictures off Google Street View of the local scenery: so far… lots of trees.
But it’s a (virtual) run. And it looks like it might make a nice real one, too. (As long as there are no bears!)
Once more it is June. Again. And again I embark upon that epic effort of daily blogging, take three, wherein I call upon myself for a kind of rambling focus, picking from a list of daily topics, and with neither planning nor advance writing, strive to pepper this blog with the free-thought, free-writing wonder that is another one of Those 30 Posts in June. Today, that post just happens to be:
June 29th // Something You Want To Tell Others
I’ve been drawing routes again.
It’s a tough slog. I’ve become not only the group leader, but somehow also the group pathfinder.
Yet, somehow I don’t mind.
Tonight I plotted out our runs for tomorrow morning. We’re doing two loops, a convoluted pair designed to accomodate a couple of groups running different distances as well as some rebellious folks who signed up for the Canada Day run on Monday morning.
We’re running my new 14 km jaunt first.
And then those that survive the first round will be joining in for a second 15 km loop called, Dreams of Doggs.
Two new loops, fresh of the presses, and I’m excited to tell all the others in my group tomorrow morning… and just see all their expressions. Fear? Excitement? Dread? Or what will it be?
Coming out to join us? As always: we leave at 8:30 am sharp!
Perhaps it’s a little bit crazy, but I’ve been drawing maps.
At the root of it is the same sort of thing that generally happens when I get involved with something: it turns techie. Not always in a bad way. This time I stuck my own foot in it, so to speak.
Mostly, I think she just meant that I should go over to the running maps website, the one that pulls Google Map data and allows you to plot a distance-measured route layer atop it and share it around. Which is fine. And for most people, it would have been good enough to just do that, save some routes and share the links around.
But then I got it into my head that I wanted a better way to organize it, and to be far less dependent on one single application platform that might suddenly stop working or put up a pay-wall or something.
Oh, and it wouldn’t it be fun to make a little document management project out of it? I do that sort of thing, you know… mostly just to keep my skills sharp.
And, oh look… now I’ve already plotted out a dozen or so of our regular routes and saved them as screenshots in a blog-like, mobile-template-ready format that we can use from our mobile phones while we’re running.
Drawing maps is not actually that tough, it turns out. I’ve got fairly proficient at using vector tools like Inkscape (that being my favourite, the Swiss-army-knife of open source vector programs.) Maps are really just lots of curvy lines and a bit of text mashed together to look nice. It’s putting the lines in the right place that’s the tricky part: Pulling a few bits of reference material from the existing screenshots and adjusting, supplementing, and amending it (from a runner’s perspective) for my own purposes, I managed to create a fairly elaborate master map of about a hundred square kilometres (which sounds like a lot, but really isn’t all that big) of the neighbourhood and trails surrounding where we run out of. It highlights major roads (those with run-able side-walks), the asphalt trail systems accessible from our start point, and some of the un-groomed trail systems we’ve been known to take in on our more adventurous runs. It also leaves out those minor roads that we don’t run on because they either (a) lead no where or (b) are not run-able.
…the crazy is beginning to pay off…
I’ve been using this master-map, growing it, adjusting it, and improving it from my own knowledge of the area where we run, then using that to highlight routes, tag them with navigable details, and then cataloguing them by distance and features in a little WordPress-based website I’ve been building. (No link for you yet, but soon…) There is still lots of work, but the crazy is beginning to pay off as the website I’ve been picking away at for about a month now is nearly ready for launch. Nearly.
(More on that… in Part 2)
I am a bit of a hypocrite in writing this. My intention was to go out on my vacation last week, bring along my gear, do a couple “on the road” runs through interesting and unfamiliar landscapes, and report back here with some quasi-useful advice on how to “git’er-dun” while out travelling. Instead, I got sick and not only did I miss my running opportunties as I hobbled around the province on a near-zero energy vacation march, I didn’t even have the motivation to write the blog post about it.
But I’m back. I’m feeling much improved. I’ve been out for a couple solid runs since returning (albeit back at home) and I already made my five-point list. So, the (slightly delayed) “week of lists” continues with some tips on getting out running while your out exploring the world.
1 = Map Routes Ahead
Technology here in 2012 is amazing for runners. We have so many tools at our finger-tips that to ignore them for their planning potential would be a monumental mistake. The bounty of mapping software available online — tools like RunningMap.com or any “google maps pedometer” tool — let you zoom into your upcoming destination and not only plot out some of your own routes nearby a hotel (or wherever you’re staying) but often let you search out local routes saved by other users. We carry so much tech with us when we travel that I just save these for later reference, but printing off a few potential routes along your travel path will get you one step further to the front door of your hotel.
2 = Find a Vacation Race or Group
Even better than building your own route is to join someone else’s. All across Canada, for example, you’ll find various Running Room stores (no affiliation — I’ve just been running with them for five years now and think it’s a great program) with their Wednesday evening or Sunday morning runs. I’m sure other running stores have similar gigs going on — and probably websites to help you locate that information. Even better, travelling in the summer and over a weekend, you can almost always find a local race. In Edmonton we have hundreds of races each year. I could run a race every weekend. And travelling? Well, not only do you get your run in, but you’d probably get a souvenir shirt as well.
3 = Share Your Schedule and Plan an Activity for Your Travel Companions
Unless you’re travelling alone, you’ll likely have some other folks with you. Slipping on your shoes and disappearing for a couple hours might even help with the long-lasting harmony of otherwise close-quarters travelling. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be nice and at the very least (a) let others know well in advance of your running plans, and (b) come up with a few suggestions for what they could do while you’re out and about. In fact, giving travelling companions an alternate activity tends to have the bonus effect of ensuring they don’t feel like they’re giving you the shaft visiting some local attraction without you while you’re busy running. Plus make it a good enough alternative, and they’ll be kicking you out the door to make sure they don’t miss their thing.
4 = Don’t Be Afraid of Treadmills
I hate treadmills. No… really. I’ve tried running on a treadmill a few times — often for a couple sporadic months of wannabe training — and always it has been an epic failure. I could never get into it the same way that I get into the whole feet-on-asphalt genre of running. But not only does nearly every hotel I’ve stay at in recent memory have a treadmill, they are almost always free to use and a hop, skip and a jump from where you’re sleeping. So, my travelling (for work or pleasure) rule is that a run or two on a treadmill is a small price to pay for just getting a run in. Also, I can watch TV.
5 = Realize Your Routine is Already Broken
If you are a struggling runner-of-routine like me, charting your progress, logging your clicks, and measuring every metric of your training, going on vacation can seem to be a nightmare to this schedule. Nothing makes sense. You get up at weird times, you eat at strange points in the day, and you’re bedtime routine is completely out of whack. And, I’m sorry to tell you (if you haven’t already figured this out) this disruption is virtually unavoidable. So… embrace it. Deal with it. Get over it. Your routine is broken the minute you do up the zipper on your suitcase… all you can do it just make sure you pack your shoes.