Breaking the Wall

Week starting Jan 20, 2013

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Location:

Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986

Gender:

Male

Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  

 

Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.

Personal:

I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of nine children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary, and Bella.  We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

 

Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 83.04 Year: 3760.81
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 120.59
Brown Crocs 1 Lifetime Miles: 1509.03
Brown Crocs 2 Lifetime Miles: 987.95
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
66.500.002.500.0069.00
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 69.00
Night Sleep Time: 45.00Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 47.50
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
0.000.000.000.000.00

Day of rest. Went to church with the whole family. Took a nap in the afternoon.

Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 9.50
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
11.500.000.500.0012.00

A.M. 12 total. 8 with Benjamin, then ran with the other kids. Jenny and Julia did 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1. William was throwing up and did not run. 1 mile with Sarah. She got 4:52 for the first half, then walked/jogged  the second half with the 11:14 total.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 2.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 2.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
11.000.001.000.0012.00

A.M. Ran with the kids. Did 8 with Benjamin. Jenny and Julia did 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1. Then added a mile with Sarah. Total distance was 12 miles. Tested the Fast Running Friend . My GPS correction algorithm is very naive - maintain a window of 8 most recent points sampling 2 times a second. For each new point, calculate the average coordinates of the first 4 points and the the second 4 points. Calculate the distance between the two average points, divide the resulting distance by 4 and add it to the total. That was the first thing I thought of that I could code really fast that had some promise of defense against mild GPS randomness.. No attempt is made to judge the validity of individual points which is my next project. No attempt is made to deal with the lost GPS signal. But anyway aside from the bug that lost some distance (about 0.04 miles) at the start due to the GPS signal acquisition delay, and the algorithm deficiency in handling a 180 turn (lost about 0.01 miles) all of my marks were spot on. That is encouraging.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 8.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 8.00
Comments(1)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
11.500.001.000.0012.50

A.M. Total of 12. Benjamin did 8, Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5. Did a mile with Sarah, actually the distance is a little more than a mile, she did it in 10:00, good progress for her. Tested the Fast Running Friend. Found a bug - the back button should be deactivated when the timer is running to avoid accidentally terminating the timer.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.000.000.000.0012.00

A.M. Today was the record of slippage on the road. After running with the little kids (Jenny and Julia 3, Joseph 2, Jacob 1), I decided to wait to run with Benjamin and Sarah until later. Working from home permits such luxury. Even then, Benjamin and I took 1:11:06 to run 8 miles. The Fast Running Friend had its first test under cloudy skies and the naivety of its algorithm showed. Near the end of the first mile it spuriously added 0.08 to the distance while the immediate pace went crazy. Then it drifted another extra 0.04 miles over the next 3. On the way back it behaved. Bugs discovered:

 

  • Pausing the timer should not turn off the GPS signal because it takes some time to regain it when the timer is resumed.
  • When the time is paused, the back button should be disabled. Enable it only if the timer has been reset.
  • 00:13:14 pm for the time of day meaning 12:13:14 pm is wrong. Surprise from Java Calendar class.

To do list on the features for this week:

 

  •  Add battery usage information. I want to have a decent idea of how much longer I have left before I run out of battery and not take it to time something critical if I do not have enough.
  • Fix the GPS algorithm to reject the points that create an outlier in direction and speed at the same time. Make an exception for reasonable changes, e.g 180 turn, sudden turn on a windy road, etc. Make an exception for surges. But the idea is that it is very unlikely for a runner to change the direction and speed simultaneously which would happen if you had normal GPS data occasionally disrupted by an error.
  • Deal with lost GPS signal gracefully

For next week:

  • Add time of day synchronization via GPS so it would show correct time of day without the user having to set it.
  • Save the GPS data capture into a file 
  • Fix WiFi config and allow the user to upload the courses they run directly to Fast Running Blog Course Tool.

 

 

 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
12.500.000.000.0012.50

A.M. Got a stomach bug. As an interesting coincidence I happened to read Pres. Bensons talk on missionary work from the 1974 General Conference shortly after getting it. This helped me feel thankful for my afflictions. The missionaries in the early days of the Church would have gladly traded a few months of my stomach bug for their illnesses and other forms of adversity.

Dragged myself through 12.5 miles. Benjamin did 8, Jenny 1, Julia and Joseph 2, Jacob 1, William 0.5, Sarah 1. At the end of everything I was running with Benjamin and he heard lots of groans. It was just easier to deal with the pain if I groaned. Have not eaten anything today except an apple, and I am still not hungry, although I am feeling weak.

Coded up the battery usage feature in the Fast Running Friend, made version 1.1 release, and got to test it. Some observations:

  • Battery life of Fast Running Friend on MotoACTV with GPS and Bluetooth on is around 2:30 h. So I would have to do some tricks to make it usable for racing a marathon.
  • When the battery drops to 5% the GPS signal first becomes low quality (I got 1:28 per mile pace at the end)  and then the GPS is shut off by somebody outside of the application control (kernel or firmware, I imagine). With the GPS off the battery life is much longer, and it can go at 5% for some time.
  • The current Fast Running Friend distance algorithm needs fixing to deal with a cloudy day and other bogus GPS data. I do need to gather the data to a file to be able to come up with a good one, though, and I really did not want to do it in Java. So I learned how to use JNI with Android build, and started writing a C implementation of periodically flushing my circular GPS data buffer into a file. 
  • I am very pleased that aside from GPS signal and battery issues the Fast Running Friend has been reliable so far. I have tried a few GPS apps on Android before, and every single one of them ended up freezing my phone after about 4-5 miles. I have not debugged but I have an idea why. My phone is a low-end, the cheapest Android I could find with only 160 MB RAM. An app that is not careful with memory allocation will quickly run it out of memory and bring the whole thing to a grinding halt, and it is easy to be sloppy with memory allocation in Java when storing large amounts of data. Well, there is no such thing as freeing memory in Java except running the garbage collector, and it tempts me to use profanity. MotoACTV has 256 MB RAM, so a little better, but still you need to be careful, you cannot just run any app off the shelf and expect good results.

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 12.50
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Comments(6)
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
8.000.000.000.008.00

A.M. Took Benjamin and Joseph to a chess tournament in West Jordan. Benjamin reaped the fruit of his labors winning all 5 games and the top prize along with it in the Junior High division. Joseph on the other hand got a lesson in what chess tournaments are good at teaching - humility. His first game was a draw, he got another point in his second because his opponent did not show up, and he lost the last three. He is now more motivated to practice.

P.M. 8 miles total, all with Benjamin. Sarah did 1, Joseph did 2, Jacob and Jenny ran 1 in the AM, Julia was sick, William did 0.5. I was sick as well with the stomach bug (norovirus?) and did not feel good for the entire run. The highlight of the run was throwing up, it made me feel quite a bit better for the last 2 miles, although still not 100% of course. 

Green Crocs 5 Miles: 8.00
Night Sleep Time: 7.00Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.00
Add Comment
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance
66.500.002.500.0069.00
Green Crocs 5 Miles: 69.00
Night Sleep Time: 45.00Nap Time: 2.50Total Sleep Time: 47.50
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