Photos from the 2017 Oakland Marathon: Semereab Gebrekidan and Katherine Klymko win

SEMEREAB GEBREKIDAN

Semereab Gebrekidan (bib #260), a 32-year-old from Oakland won the 2017 Oakland Marathon with a time of 2:35:54.  Katherine Klymko won the female field with a finishing time or 03:09.02.   Semereab has won a number of other running events, including the Treviso marathon in Italy last year.

KELSEY GURGANUS

Katherine Klymko (#344) of Berkeley won the womens field.  She’s barely visible here, hidden behind the 2nd place finisher, Kelsey Gurganus (#276) of Indianapolis and the 5th place finisher, Jacqueline Sloves (#778) of Oakland.

 

Gabrielle Maudiere (#657) of Larkspur, pictured here with the 3:20 pace group,  finished 3rd among women.

EAST BAY ATHLETIC CLUB Oakland Running Festival - 2017

The East Bay Athletics Club men’s relay team (#9226) was first at mile 5, and finished 3rd overall with a time of 02:36:28.

SFRC RACING TEAM Oakland Running Festival - 2017

The SFRC racing team (#9224) won the mixed relay with a finishing time of 02:24:13, good for a 5:30 pace.

EXCEL Oakland Running Festival - 2017

The Excel men’s relay team (#9034) finished 1st for the men’s relay with a time of 02:26:51.

PIMP MY STRIDE

Mixed relay team Pimp my Stride (#9174) finished 3rd with a time of 02:54:24.

Ivan Medina at the 2017 Oakland Marathon

Perennial contender Ivan Medina (#417) of Hayward finished 2nd overall with a time of 02:39.03.

STRAWBERRY CANYON TC Oakland Running Festival - 2017

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club men’s relay team (#9219) finished 2nd with a final time of 02:31:44.

DENNIS LEFBOM Oakland Running Festival - 2017

And as always, Dennis Lefbom (#686) ran with his Hawaiian shirt.

 

 

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How bumpy is my baby’s ride in my jogging stroller?

Stroller bumpiness, measured with an iPhone accelerometer

When our daughter was younger, I tried to quantify the "bumpiness" of her rides in strollers.  We had two strollers, an older Bugaboo Bee (can't find a link to the older version) and a Thule Chariot Cougar (single, not double).  We had the normal stroller attachment for the Chariot Cougar and the jogging attachment. 

Bugaboo bee
Thule Chariot Cougar with stroller wheels
Thule Chariot Cougar with jogging attachment

In addition to comparing the differences between strollers, I wanted to compare the "bumpiness" differences when walking and running.

Data collection was messy, as you'll see below, but hopefully the results are still interesting.

Measurements and Methods

I used an old iPhone 4S with an data logging app to measure its accelerometer output while the phone was placed in the bottom basket of the Bugaboo and in one of the front pockets of the Thule Chariot Cougar.

I used two different apps to record the data:

  • Axelerom: For measurements of the Bugaboo and the Thule Chariot Cougar with stroller wheels
  • xSensor: For measurements of the Thule Chariot Cougar with the jogging attachment

Both only recorded data when the phone screen was on, so I had to stop once and a while to make sure it was still recording.  The Axelerom readings were taken at 5Hz and the xSensor at about 19-20Hz.  The Axelerom readings were also somehow strangely rendered out of order in the data file.  I had to resort the data by timestamp.

Upon analyzing the data, I realized that 5Hz wasn't fast enough to do anything other than measure acceleration.  Even the xSensor measurements at 19Hz weren't that great.  This was a bit of a problem, because I couldn't reliably measure the "jerk", or the rate of change of the acceleration.  The jerk can have a large impact on the perceived quality of a ride.  A good analogy is the difference between slowing down in a car at an intersection and abruptly letting off on the brake when the car comes to a stop rather than gently easing off of the brake pedal.

Coincidentally, I learned during research that 5Hz is roughly the resonant frequency of important parts of the body, and possibly the least comfortable vibration frequency to experience.

The measurements were taken on the sidewalks and streets in Oakland, California, mostly along the same ones for each stroller.  I didn't take the exact same path or streets for each stroller though, so this is another potential source of variation.

The smoothest ride was with the Thule Chariot Cougar

Stroller bumpiness, measured with an iPhone accelerometer

The Thule Chariot Cougar looks like a SUV next to the Bugaboo Bee stroller.  It's got two 20" wheels with pneumatic tires and a suspension on the back.  The Bugaboo's wheels are suspended too, but are much, much smaller.

One can observe the difference in forces measured in the stroller on the graph: the pointier the curve, the smoother and less bumpy the ride.

The numbers

The Thule Chariot Cougar with the stroller wheels (in green in the chart above) provided the smoothest ride, with a minimum measured acceleration of 0.399 Gs and a maximum acceleration of 2.231 Gs.  The standard deviation was 0.108 Gs.

The Bugaboo Bee was the next smoothest, with a minimum measured acceleration of 0.087 Gs (nearly freefall, for a split-second at least!)  and a maximum measured acceleration of 2.452 Gs.  The standard deviation was 0.165 Gs.

As one may expect, the bumpiest ride was with the Thule Chariot Cougar with the jogging attachment, recorded while running.  I regret that I did not perform measurements while just walking with the jogging attachment installed to have that as a point of comparison.  The minimum measured acceleration was 0.089 Gs, the maximum measured acceleration was 2.382 Gs, and the standard deviation was 0.242 Gs.

What does this all mean?

It was really interesting to find that the maximum and minimum recorded accelerations for the Thule Chariot Cougar with jogging attachment, while jogging, was similar to that of the Bugaboo Bee.  And the Bugaboo Bee is a pretty smooth rolling stroller.  I found that to be pretty reassuring.  Though the ride while jogging was definitely bumpier, the maximum acceleration magnitude was smaller than that of the Bugaboo.

This was kind of just a fun exercise, but there are a couple of conclusions I came to:

  • The Thule Chariot Cougar is a very smooth-riding stroller.
  • Running with the Cougar's jogging attachment is sorta bumpy, but probably not way worse than the Bugaboo Bee.

 

 

 

Hiking at Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park

We started out at the Hetch Hetchy Campground, in Yosemite National Park, and spent the evening there before making a short backpacking trip up to Laurel Lake and back.   It’s only a 5 or 10 minute walk to the O’Shaughnessy Dam from the campground, so we headed over there before it got dark to check it out.  We had taken care of reservations a while back.  Our lodging: our tents, hammocks, or just sleeping bags.

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The reservoir appeared to be pretty full, which is good drought news!  Looking at the dam, I couldn’t help but wonder what the valley must have looked like before the dam was built.. and what our water situation in the Bay Area would be like without it.  We read about the construction of the dam, John Muir’s opposition, and the interesting Pelton turbines used for power generation.

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We returned to the campsite, had dinner, and spent some time together under the stars before going to bed.  The milky way was easily visible, as well as multiple planets – I think Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were out.

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The view from the tent:

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It was a warm night and a warm morning.  Lots of neat driftwood in the Hetch Hetchy reservoir.

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The metal signs were nice to look at, but I don’t think very accurate.  Perhaps the trails have changed over the years.  The below sign indicated that Laurel Lake was 7.6 miles away, but by my measurements, we only backpacked 6.9 miles.  We did not go to Beehive meadows.

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There was quite a variety of scenes in those 6.9 miles though.  Mossy pines:IMG_4245m

White flowers.  I tried to study the wildflower sign before I left, but sadly did not remember any of them.

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Waist-high ferns in a previously fire-damaged area that was coming back to life.  The abundance of sunlight due to the lack of trees made for a verdant scene.

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After making it to the lake, we all jumped in to cool off and refresh ourselves.

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It was a nice site, with very few traces of humans who had been here previously.IMG_4193m

We weren’t far off from the solstice, so we were treated to a lot of daylight.IMG_4211m

Christian tried fly fishing, without much luck, unfortunately.IMG_4212m

Laurel Lake was still by 11pm.IMG_4227m

I managed to sleep pretty well, so I didn’t catch the lake at dawn.  But the water was pretty glassy at around 8am.

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We had a leisurely breakfast and then made our way back towards the reservoir.

Just before a stream crossing: this butterfly was still alive, but not doing so well.

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Another photo of the previously fire-damaged area.IMG_4262m

We managed to see a bear on our way back, near the dam.  I didn’t take photos of it because I was shooting with a prime lens and my other lens was tucked away in my backpack.

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We started and ended the hike at the dam, which was at about 2950 feet elevation.  According to the GPS, we maxed out at around 6600 feet near Laurel Lake.

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Which heart rate monitor with GPS should I buy?

(This is a work in progress.  I’ll continue to update it as I can, as I proceed with my search.)

After going a few years without training with a heart rate monitor with GPS, I’ve decided that it’s time to look into getting a new one.

I still own a Garmin Forerunner 310XT that I hope to never use again because it’s been fairly terrible.  I used my Forerunner primarily for running, but did some cycling with it as well.  It was probably an 80%/20% split.  I originally chose the 310XT because of its long battery life, and of course, for its heart rate and GPS features.  I had previously run with an old Polar, maybe a S625X?  It worked pretty well, but I was intrigued by the idea of using GPS to track my workouts.

In theory, based on the features, the 310XT was a cool product, but in practice, it was burdened by awfully buggy firmware that made it unusable most of the time.  I’ve had such a profoundly bad experience with that watch, that I’d rather not buy another Garmin device again.

What am I looking for?

I’m looking for most or all of these features, not necessarily in any particular order:

  • Logging for post run/ride analysis
  • Easy data transfer from device to a PC or phone for analysis
  • Strava integration
  • Reliable performance
  • Non-creepy data storage.  I’d like to not have to rely on a company’s website to look at my information, and I’d like to choose whether that information is private or not.
  • Good heart rate measurement
  • Good GPS
  • A decent display for monitoring heart rate, total distance, current speed, and so on
  • Battery life: 8 hours would be great, so that I could use it on longer bike rides.
  • Waterproof, because I sweat a lot.  I don’t really swim, but riding and running in rain happens not too infrequently.

So, what’s out there now?

I bought the 310XT in early 2012, and the Polar many years before that.  Things have changed a lot, and there are new players in the game.

My phone

My iPhone has GPS built in, and if I want heart rate data, I can get a “dumber” device that measures my heart rate and have it sync with my phone.  I usually don’t run with my phone, though, and on longer bike rides, I’m concerned about battery life.  So I’d prefer to look for something different.

Fitbit

Fitbit has a wide range of devices available now.   On the higher-end is the Charge HR and the Surge.  The Charge HR is their “Active Fitness” device, and the Surge is their “Performance fitness” device.  The Charge HR will track steps and heart rate, but has no GPS.  The new Blaze just came out too.  It has a heart rate monitor, but does not have an embedded GPS.  One nice thing about the Fitbit devices is that they can measure heart rate without the chest strap – a sensor is part of the wrist band.

One can use any of their devices, or none at all with their app’s “MobileRun” Feature.

Garmin

I’m not going to buy a Garmin, but I still am interested in knowing what their product offering looks like.

Their vivofit line includes 3 models of interest.  The Vivosmart HR contains a heart rate monitor that measures from your wrist.  It does not contain a GPS.  The vivofit vivoactive does contain a GPS, but has no heart rate monitor.  The vivofit vivovactive HR has both, and would probably be the device I’d consider if I were considering Garmin at all.

Garmin also offers a fenix series.  Only the fenix 3 HR contains a heart rate monitor and a GPS receiver.  All of the other fenix models (fenix 2, fenix 3, fenix 3 sapphire) have various levels of GPS functionality, but do not have a wrist-based heart rate monitor.

Suunto

Suunto wasn’t ever high up on my list, but I wanted to see what they have to offer.  Browsing their website, I found three models that may fit my criteria.  The Traverse, the Ambit3 Vertical and the Ambit3 Peak.

Polar

Working on it..

TomTom

Working on it..

Basis

Working on it..

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Photos from the 2016 Oakland Running Festival Marathon and Marathon Relay

Oakland Running Festival 2016

This year’s 7th Oakland marathon took place on a cloudy morning.  It started raining around noon, so most runners just escaped the rain.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

A runner (9119) from the Olympic Club male relay team was the first runner through at mile 4, escorted by a few cyclists.  They finished in 1st place for the male relay category, with a time of 2:21:44.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

This runner (bib 9181) from the SFRC Racing team was the second runner through at mile 4, they finished 2nd in the mixed relay category with a time of 02:41:43.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Carrying the baton for Shabo TC, this runner (9186) helped his male relay team capture 3rd place in their category.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

After the first batch of relay runners, we started to see the marathon runners, seen in the lime-colored bibs.  This is Alex Battaglino (217) and Patrick Donnelly (924),  both of El Cerrito, within footsteps at mile 4.  Alex eventually won the race, and increased their separation from a couple of feet to 8 and a half minutes by the end of the race.  Alex Battaglino won with a time of 02:34:51, and Patrick Donnelley finished 3rd with a time of 02:43:25.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Oakland Running Festival 2016
Oakland Running Festival 2016

Ivan Medina of Hayward is a perennial top finisher at the Oakland Marathon.  This year, he finished in 2nd place, with a time of 02:41:25.  He ran it quite a bit faster in 2015, having finished that race with a time of 02:30:07, which would have been good enough to win this year.

]Oakland Running Festival 2016

Here’s a runner from the Habitat for Humanity team, who ran in the mixed relay.  They finished with a time of 4:16:37.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Christopher Jackson of Berkeley finished the marathon in 6th place, with a time of 02:55:17.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

The #GUforit with the That’s Fine Track Club finished first in the mixed relay.  Here’s one of their runners at mile 4.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Rob Nachtwey, of Berkeley, is another perennial contender who is easy to pick out because of his pink hat.  He finished 2nd in 2014, and this year finished 4th, with a time of 02:50:55.
Oakland Running Festival 2016

This is Patrick Madigan of San Francisco, who finished in 13th place with a time of 03:05:36.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Team Worse Chemistry (9048) from Berkeley finished with a time of 03:24:05, good for 6th place in the Mixed Relay.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Team Soil Joggers, from Oakland, finished 8th in the Male Relay with a time of 03:26:34.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Runner 462 is Spenser Talkington, who ran an amazing 03:05:13 at only 17 years of age!  Congrats, Spenser!  Fernando de Samaniego Steta of San Francisco (960) finished in 5th place with a time of 02:54:34.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

The Strawberry Canyon Track Club Women of Berkeley finished 3rd in the female relay with a time of 02:59:21.

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Rohit Mitter (478) from New York finished 18th, with a time of 03:12:12.
Oakland Running Festival 2016

Joshua Lerner of San Francisco won the Masters category with a time of 02:49:50.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Eric Obeng (686) of San Francisco finished 11th place with a time of 03:04:13.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Alexander Kramer of Calpella (858) finished 19th with a time of 03:13:06.   Nelson Osaky (448) finished 382nd with a time of 04:41:12, and it appears that Holly McIlvaine dropped out of the race or her timing chip didn’t register.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Joshua Bornstein (135) of the Tamalpa Running Club from San Rafael finished 7th with a time of 02:58:35.  Erik Donohue finished 26th with a time of 03:18:16.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Andra Enoiu from Richmond finished 63rd overall, but 4th among women, with a time of 03:34:06.  She won her age group.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

This guy (9212) ran for team StephCurry4Prez.  !

Oakland Running Festival 2016

Hawaiian Shirt guy!  I love seeing runners who do this race nearly every year.

Oakland Running Festival 2016

I think this is the same guy who ran with a hemp shoulder back back in 2011?  Nice to see him running again.

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Coffee & Crema was a little hole in the wall in a building in Greenville, South Carolina

I had an espresso there before they closed.  It was a little hole in the wall at the entrance of a building in downtown Greenville on Main St.

coffee and crema greenville sc

I wonder why they closed – they had another location in a mall that they closed a number of months earlier.

coffee and crema greenville sc

According to GreenvilleOnline, they closed because of the weather and additional competition.  It’s a bit of a sad end for a place that “helped create a true coffee culture in Greenville”, but former owner Shannon Hudgens leaves a glimmer of hope: “I may not come back as Coffee & Crema in the same form that people are used to, but it doesn’t mean that I’m dead either.”

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Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert

Visiting the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest National Park was one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of my life, and especially so because I didn’t have big expectations for the park.  Lower Antelope Canyon was amazing, but I had seen many pictures before, so I expected it to be amazing.  I didn’t have any for the Petrified Forest or Painted Desert.

This was despite what I’d heard growing up at home – my Dad talked about the place a lot.  He had gone on a trip in the Southwest with coworkers more than 20 years ago.. but he went to Arches National Park.  I remember that he purchased the VHS tape from the gift shop and had us watch it a few times after he got back.  Over the years, he talked about the Petrified Forest it enough that somehow I got the impression that he’d been there before.  But it wasn’t until we went on the trip that I found out that he had never been.

It was mid-afternoon when we arrived, and it was still hot.  Like in the mid-90s maybe.  But luckily, it was also pretty breezy, which made the heat more tolerable.

We pulled up to a fairly empty visitors center.  We learned that the painted desert was named by an expedition of Spanish explorers who called it “El Desierto Pintado.”

One could see for miles and miles, and the hills were full of different colors.  We picked up a map from the NPS and started driving to the different scenic viewpoints.  You enter along Route 66, and can drive about 25 miles south through the park along the designated road.  We stopped for views at Kachina and Chinde point.

There’s a cool part of the park where you drive over Route 66 as you head south.  The landscape changes over a bit, revealing striated badlands with some pretty amazing topography that stands in stark contrast to the blue sky.

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There is a short, paved and gravel hiking loop around the Blue Mesa area, where the hills are covered with a “bluish bentonite clay”.  Walking around there felt particularly … lunar to me.  There were only 2-4 other people in the entire area other than my dad and myself, which made it even easier to imagine that you were on the surface of a different world.

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This is where I was first able to see the petrified wood of the national park up close.  Little pieces were littered across the flat areas, as if the trunks had rolled down the hills and shattered.  It’s interesting to think about the unique circumstances that cause wood to become petrified.  There had to have been a forest here so many years ago.  It’s hard enough to imagine the area covered in a dense forest.  Then the area needs to be covered with silt and volcanic ash and cut off from oxygen by some large-scale event.  Then groundwater would seep in to allow the silica to diffuse into the wood.  And then, through lifetimes of erosion, the logs are finally revealed.

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It was getting to the late afternoon as we continued along the drive.  The Agate Bridge (not pictured) is a well preserved log that formed a bridge across a small ravine.  In 1911, supports were added underneath to prevent it from falling apart.  The National Park Service has adopted a different philosophy now; today, the bridge would be allowed to continue to crumble and left in its natural state.

As we headed further south, we ventured into areas of the park that had bigger and bigger logs.  We walked a loop through the Crystal Forest and enjoyed a silty-white landscape littered with logs and an expansive sky that was deep blue and orange because of the setting sun.  I feel the need to reiterate how profoundly beautiful this experience was.  The air was still warm, there was a strong breeze flowing, the sun was low in the sky and getting lower.  The ground was white and littered with petrified logs and chunks thereof.  You could see for miles and miles in each direction.  And there was nobody else around other than my Dad and I.

Walking along the loop, we could get a close-up look at the petrified logs.

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As the sun set further, the whitish logs became a deep golden color.

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This scene was particularly beautiful and amusing to me.  It reminded me of those idyllic scenes with a tractor and hay bales – except the bales in this case were petrified logs weighing hundreds of pounds.

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Somehow, impossibly, the scenes continued to get better.  The sun continued to set, and the sky lit up with pink, wispy clouds, and the landscape lost its long, harsh shadows.

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We pulled over to the side of the road where two other cars and groups of people stood to catch the sunset.  We watched this one cloud hover and change for a long time.

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On the way out of the park, we passed by a few touristy gift shops that were selling petrified wood.  They were closed due to the time of the day.

We got dinner at a steakhouse in Holbrook, Arizona.  When’s the last time I ate from a salad bar like this?

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After dinner, we headed west on 40 to our next destination: Flagstaff.

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