Mercer Island Half-Marathon

Well, that worked out better than expected: 1:41:37 for the half-marathon, or just under 7:45min/mi. That’s over 10 minutes faster than my earlier PR of 1:54:18 (which is from 2.5 years and 35lbs ago, though), and even beats my goal of 1:45. That’s also, interestingly, exactly my 10K pace, so I need to push a lot harder in my next 10K (7min/mi? But that’s my 5K pace – it never ends!).

Mercer Island is really very hilly. I didn’t mind the hills early on, which were not very steep and I was still fresh. But they started to get to me around mile 11 or so. There was a particularly nasty one around there that just would not end. The downhills were pure bliss, though.

There is a hill and a drop at the very end. I had seen that hill on my way there, and it’s not particularly bad, but it’s just before the finish. The top of the hill is just after mile 13, and then it’s a few more steps downhill to the finish. That entire last mile was no fun. There are a number of sharp turns, which I really didn’t care for. There were also two hills in that mile, and I wasn’t sure if I was on the last one until I saw that final stretch. They also lead you onto a short bit that’s on a piece of trail (presumably to hit the exact distance of the race), which could cause a bit of a backup. Luckily, the folks around me at the time were all going as fast as me, so no issues there.

What was annoying, though, were the walkers. Most of them stayed on the right, so I barely noticed them. But when there are three of them abreast, leaving barely enough room for a single runner to pass, it gets annoying. I understand why they start the walkers before the runners (so they overlap and they don’t have to keep the course open for so long), but that also makes it much more likely to cause issues. In the Seattle Marathon, I hit the walkers just before the part that’s going through the I-90 tunnel, so there was plenty of space to go around them there. The roads on Mercer Island are much narrower though, so this a much bigger issue.

The organization of the race was generally pretty good, with some gaffes. They apparently got many more late registrations than planned, so they actually emailed participants that they would likely run out of finisher medals (which they had ordered a while ago). They also didn’t have a long-sleeve t-shirt for me when I picked up my race packet (about a half hour before the start, long story), though they did tell me to come back after the race to get one, presumably from the ones they had set aside to sell. That worked out nicely, so I got my shirt in the end (and also my medal, there were still plenty when I came in).

There were also plenty of water stops, including some “unofficial” ones (where people just set up a table and some cups with water), plus lots of people cheering along the entire way. The weather was also perfect, with some clouds and lower 40s in the beginning, which soon gave way to sunshine and upper 40s. And Mercer Island is quite beautiful, with lots of trees and some pretty amazing houses.

So yeah, great race. Not easy, but worth it. And hard to beat as an early, local half to start the season with.

Mercer Island Half-Marathon: http://mercerislandhalf.com

Activity on Strava: http://www.strava.com/activities/123363324

New 5K PR, and a good race

I just ran the Valentine’s Day Dash 5K around Green Lake in Seattle, and finished in 21:37. This is almost four minutes faster than my previous 25:21, and also pretty good given my goal to come in under 23 minutes.

I knew I had to go 7:20/mi to 7:30/mi to hit the time, and was hoping to run a fairly constant pace. When I was going at close to 7:00 pace shortly after the start, and feeling quite comfortable, I decided to stick with it for a while. It soon became clear that this was my pace, so I just kept going.

My other goal was to bring the hammer down at the end, and sprint at least the last .1 mile. I did that too, and ended up going faster than I had expected to (under 5min/mi), despite some people getting in my way. I certainly could have started the sprint earlier, but I didn’t fully trust myself to not blow up before reaching the finish line. In hindsight, I could have sped up a bit earlier and then sprinted the last quarter mile or so, and still finished at full tilt. Oh well, next time.

I don’t typically warm up before runs, but this time I did about a half-mile jog and then two short sprints. That really helped get things going early, I believe, and I felt ready right from the start. For a short race, that is really key.

I finished in the top 9% overall, and top 22% in my division (10-year groups), so not too bad. My Garmin watch now estimates a VO2Max of 50, and a 5K time of 20:50 - so I have a new goal to work towards.

The old eagerfeet is gone, and it’s not coming back

The last posting here is from over a year ago. If it hasn’t been obvious: this site is dead. It’s too bad, and I’m not proud of it. But there’s no point in pretending it will come back. I simply don’t have the time, there are many other projects out there, and there are now also alternatives.

So I’ve decided to just turn this site into a little running blog. I’m just a regular runner, so don’t expect too much. Just little bits of wisdom, as well as reports from runs, like the upcoming Big Sur Marathon and maybe an ultra at some point.

As for alternatives: Nike now lets you export directly from your activities, and there are sites like Matt Stuehler’s Nike exporter and this Nike+ Data Exporter. My plan to build some visualizations around the data never panned out. Instead, check out Strava and SmashRun, they’re both doing interesting things.

The Nike export thing was always just me scratching my own itch, and it kind of spiraled out of control from there. It was fun to build this site, and I learned a lot about node.js and other things. But exporting data doesn’t excite me, and there are people who spend much more time on building interesting visual representations of run data than I ever could.

So farewell old eagerfeet, and hello new eagerfeet!

Some New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! First the bad news: the site is not back yet. What I want to do in this posting, though, is explain where we are, and introduce my new information policy, which I call “telling people stuff rather than being silent” (good name, right? I picked it myself).

About a week ago, I replaced the front page with a static one. This was part of my server move, and it also makes my testing easier. There was also no point in keeping up that login link when you couldn’t actually do anything once logged in.

I know how frustrating it is when something isn’t working and there is no information on when it’s going to be back. In the past, I haven’t been very forthcoming with information when I didn’t feel that there was something to say (and, unfortunately, that’s been the case for about half a year now).

Going forward, I’m going to change that. I will tell you when I work on the site (not here, but on twitter). I will continue not making promises, since I know that it’s even more frustrating when you’re promised something and it doesn’t happen. I will tell you about things that work once they do, and about new features once they’re live. But you will get a better sense that I’m not just writing postings instead of doing actual work.

Finally, my goal is of course to get the site back up as soon as I possibly can. I’m not promising a particular date, but I promise that it will be soon.

EagerFeet is not dead, just asleep

I’m really sorry for the lack of updates and the long delay. The site is close to being back, I just haven’t had the time to do the rest of the work that needs to be done.

I will work on it over the next few weeks though, and will bring it back late this year or very early next. Promise.

Switching to HTTPS, Site Will Be Back Soon

Things have been quiet here for a while. Between a job change, travel, and a whole bunch of deadlines, there hasn’t been a whole lot of time to work on the site. I know that it looks abandoned, but it is not. I don’t want to promise a particular date right now when it will be back, but it shouldn’t be too long.

Let me explain what has happened and what is going to happen next. The key issue that has caused things to slow down is that I need to get your email and password to log into Nike+ to retrieve GPS data. I really dislike handling passwords for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that a lot of people reuse the same email/username and password combinations on lots of sites. My concern has therefore been to not have to store passwords and to transfer them from your browser to the server in a secure way.

The storing part isn’t actually that problematic, I solved that fairly quickly. The trickier part is the communication, though. I spent some time coming up with a clever encryption scheme only to toss it once I found something called Off-The-Record Protocol that handles not just encryption but also key exchange (the weak part of my home-grown scheme). For a number of reasons, that has turned out to be more of a burden than I thought, slowing down the site more than I was hoping it would.

This weekend, I finally figured out the right way to do this: use HTTPS, like any grown-up website. Why didn’t I think of this right away? Because SSL certificates are expensive, or so I thought. But it turns out that my domain name registrar has a pretty good deal for single-domain certificates, so that’s what I’m getting. There are some administrative issues that are slowing this down right now (read: crappy website won’t process my request), but this should not take very long to get. Once I have the certificate, I will need to do a bit more work and testing, but then the site will be back.

Once the new site is up, you will be redirected to the HTTPS version automatically, so no need for any changes on your end.

I know it’s been a while, and I’m sorry for the long down-time. But things are happening and the site will be back before too long.

Another Delay, Unfortunately

I’m afraid I have to push things back once more. I will be traveling for the rest of the week, and things aren’t entirely working yet. I’m pretty close though, so I really hope that I will be able to finally get it done next weekend. But that means a few more days of no data export again.

Let me assure you that I’m as tired of making excuses as you are of reading them. I’m not happy about this, but I only have so many hours in my day. The wait will be worth it though, I promise.

Quick Update

Things have been a bit slower than expected unfortunately, mostly due to time constraints (Lake Union 10K yesterday, for example). I’m making progress though and hope to get things running by Tuesday night.

An Update And A Plan

There hasn’t been much activity on the site or on twitter the last few weeks, and I want to apologize for that. Nike’s latest change has made it a lot more challenging to get to the run data. I should perhaps explain that the GPS data is not yet available through the official API, but there was a simple loophole that made it possible to get it anyway. They closed that a few weeks ago, and as I tried to explain, that made a lot of things much harder.

While that presents a challenge, and I’m usually up for a good challenge, I really have no interest in an endless cat-and-mouse game. My other concern is that I do not want to have to store passwords on my server. As I’ve briefly explained recently, I have a plan for how I can get around this, but implementing this takes a bit more time.

At the same time as the changes, my day job has gotten a lot more demanding, so I’m really pressed for time right now. So things haven’t progressed nearly as smoothly as they should have. I have a handle on this now though, so I think I can now commit to a plan that I will actually be able to follow.

So here goes. I’ll be working on the site starting tomorrow, and GPX downloads should be back by the end of the weekend. I’ve tested the individual parts of my plan, and I’m very confident that it works, but there are a few pieces that will need considerable testing. I don’t expect any major stumbling blocks, though, so I think this should work this time around. I’ll keep you posted on Twitter and here on the blog.

Q

Anonymous asked:

Hi, when I try and connect with Nike+ through your site I get a message in the new Nike window that opens saying "we have encountered a problem loading the partner data". Can you tell me what the problem is?

A

There is currently an issue with Nike’s new API login. They are looking into it.