Broken

Twice, over the last week, I’ve found stuff to be broken on my blog, and I rather suspect it’s due to the ancient Movable Type installation this thing was running on, so I’ve taken the plunge and gone to a different solution.  Since I rather don’t have the time to mess with templates, software installations and all that jazz, this blog is now running WordPress.  Expect things to be broken for a while – static content is missing, text content is wrong (It didn’t pick up formatting of my entries correctly, so I’ll have to go back and, slowly and manually, editing pages until they work. Also, while Cool URI’s don’t change, I expect some of them to actually have broken.

Nathan HPL #020

This year, I’ve signed up for my first marathon, following a plan from Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. Training for a marathon involves running. A lot of running, at least by my previous standards. I’ll be clocking 50-70 km/week, possibly more if I can stay injury-free. Some of these runs are long, and with summer coming up, I figured I was going to need a hydration solution.
Now, for hydration, I’ve been looking at a number of other solutions, and I’ve never much liked any of the ones I’ve tried. Carrying a bottle for two and a half hours: Forget it, the water splashing around in the bottle gets tiring very quickly. A hip belt with a large bottle worked no better – when I first tried it, I turned around before five minutes had passed, and left bottle and hip belt at home. Hip belt solutions with small bottles may work well if your hydration needs are small, but for a 2.5 hour run in 30℃, it’s just doesn’t provide me with enough fluids. So, I started looking at hydration packs (for the non-runners: That’s essentially a backpack with a drinking bladder and tube you can drink from). Most of the ones I tried would either bounce around quite severely on my back, or be ill-fitting to me.

Quite by chance, I came across the Nathan HPL #020, dubbed a The ultimate trail and ultra running hydration vest. by Nathan Sports.

I’ve now tried it on a couple of runs, including a [half marathon training/transportation run from home to work], and I have to say I’m convinced:

  • It’s very lightweight – empty it weighs less that 400g (14 oz), which means that you’ll hardly notice it when running.
  • The fit is very comfortable. When I was shopping around for vests, I dismissed a number of them because I could instantly feel I was wearing the vest. I figured that if I noticed that before even hitting the road, it would be a pain half an hour in, and even worse at two. With the Nathan, I couldn’t really tell I was wearing it.
  • I have a fairly normal build and chest size, and there was very little reason for me to adjust anything when I first wore it: I put it on, adjusted the chest strap, and that was basically it.
  • It doesn’t bounce. This is quite unlike any of the other vests I’ve tried. While that may have been due to not having properly adjusted any of the vests I’ve tried, this was a huge surprise, as I’ve also heard other people complain about running with vests due to the bounce they add.
  • It’s not constricting – I can run without altering my form or arm swing.
  • Enough fluid, but no more. At 2.1 l, I can carry enough for a 2.5-3 hour run, even on a warm day. It also has a few pockets for carrying gels, small items like keys and phone.
    However, before buying a vest like this, you need to understand that it’s not a vest for transportation runs:
  • With the bladder in, there’s not really room for other than small items – you won’t be able to keep an extra change of clothes in (but a lightweight running jacket may fit under the external shock cord.
  • If you only ever run less than 60-90 minutes, I probably wouldn’t want to bother wearing one. Above that, I probably would (even if I’ve gone out on 2.5 hour runs during winter without carrying water).
  • The reservoir is easy to clean, as the slide-top allows for turning the bladder inside out. It also means though, that it’s not quite as easy to fill as bladders with a cap top. In the future, I might try to see how other reservoirs fit in the bag, like Camelbak’s Antidote.

2011

So, 2010 passed, and it’s time to sum up the year, and plan the next one. First, here’s the summary of 2010 (it’s all about running, I’m afraid):

  1. In total, I ran 533.8 km through the year
  2. On April 24th, I finished my first 10km race in 53:05. I had set no other goal than to finish, hopefully in less than an hour.
  3. On September 26th, I reached my real goal for the year, the half marathon distance at Oslo Marathon, which I completed in 1:57:17.
  4. In October, I bailed on a run home from work, because my left foot went numb on me during the run. For various reasons, it took me two months to get my running shoes back on. In terms of performance, there is a setback, but I fully expect the performance hit to be temporary. Either way, I’m faster now than I was at the same time last year.
  5. I started the year weighing 93 kg, and was down to 82.5 before that October run. In the two months since then, I’ve gotten a few kg back, but I’m still considerably lighter than I was at the same time last year.
  6. I gave this barefoot running thing a try. And yes, my shoes are awesome.

So, in short, that was 2010. Now for 2011:

  1. In terms of distance, I am going to have to cover a lot more than I did last year, for reasons I’m about to mention. Also, my running program is going to be a lot more structured
  2. Also, I signed up for a gym membership, to add in some strength training, at least during the winter and spring. I doubt I will have much time for it from May or thereabouts, though.
  3. Last year, I ran Sentrumsløpet in 53:05, as mentioned above. I’ve signed up for this year as well, and my goal is to finish in less than 45 minutes. This does however, require a more structured approach – When March hits, my current thinking is that I’ll be following one of Hal Higdon’s programs for this – either the spring training one, or one of the 10K programs.
  4. I’ve signed up for my first marathon this year. 42195 meters of fun. My current plan is to finish in less than four hours. I believe this is achievable, but, as with improving my 10K time, it’s going to require structured training – again, I’m looking at one of Hal Higdon’s programs. I’m open to suggestions here, though
  5. For some of the training runs, I plan on running to or from work, and possibly ride a bike there, as permitted by any cross-training plans in the program.

Running

Not having written here for a long while, I thought I’d start with a diversion from my previous writings, into my new spare time passion: Running.

After starting work at Opera a bit over five years ago, I let my more leisurely sides prevail, and put on some weight. I went from a bit over eighty kilos to, at the worst, 106. Without exercise, I managed to lose a few of those, with the scale tipping just below a hundred. Carrying that extra weight sucks, for so many reasons – going size 32 pants to size 36 doesn’t exactly do wonders for your confidence, nor does it do wonders for your body, having aches and pains that makes you feel like 76, not 36, your body begging for mercy. My resting heart rate had risen to almost 80, and my blood pressure on my check-up, while not being dangerously high, still was higher than I had ever measured.

So, I woke up one day, honestly fearing that this life of physical inactivity would kill me prematurely, whatever “prematurely” means in this case, tomorrow or in twenty years, so I decided I needed to do something about it.

While having owned a Wii for years, with both Wii Sports, Wii Fit and EA Sports active, I didn’t really feel it provided enough workout opportunities to really burn off all that excess weight, and definitively not being a gym guy, I wanted to do something, preferably something that wouldn’t take too much time away from my other responsibilities, such as my then-to-be-born daughter.

A brief history of running

So, I bought running shoes at a half-price sale, and geared up.

I always hated running with a passion. When I was young, I avoided sports that involved great amounts of running. I quit football (that’s soccer for you americans) when I was 12, because I didn’t particularily enjoy running. I did wrestling and played volleyball.
When I served in the navy, I passed every other physical test, apart from the 3000 m. On my first attempt, I would run it in seventeen and a half minutes, feeling like a complete wreck for days afterwards, with shin splints, and leg pains everywhere. On my final try, I would improve it to just below sixteen minutes, still being wrecked afterwards.

After the navy, I absolutely refused to run. I would ride a bike for aerobic exercise, and I also started practicing taekwondo, something I enjoyed for five years, before moving away brought an end to that. After that, sports faded into the background of my life, only doing occasional exercise, with occasions becoming fewer and far between.

So, I geared up for something I had always hated with a passion, and headed out. On my first run¸ I could barely run for a few hundred metres before being terribly out of breath, taste of blood in mouth, croaking over, and generally believing I would fall over dead before I got back home. I had set a goal for the run, getting around a particular course I had set out to do, which I estimated to be between four and five km. I would run as far as I could, then walk until I felt able to run again, finishing on willpower alone, because I was truly ready to puke when I got back home. I used something like 42 minutes on that particular run.

I probably should have hated running after that first run. Yet, I didn’t. I didn’t feel like an old, beaten carpet. I went out a few days later, being able to run for longer stretches before I needed the walking breaks.

So, I kept running. Before long, I wanted variations in my run, and added a route that’s a bit over 6 km long. On my first run of that route, I used 48 minutes, being completely dead when I got back home. And I still didn’t hate it. I still didn’t have shin splints, knee pains, painful hips or back aches.

Fast forward

Sometime during 2009, I decided that I wanted to run the half marathon distance in this year’s Oslo Marathon, and during last winter I signed up. My girlfriend bought me entrance into Sentrumsløpet, a 10km race through the streets of Oslo. I started the race with a goal of finishing in under an hour. I finished in 53:05.

The first route I ever ran, the one that I spent 42 minutes on, heaving like a whale, I last ran in 24:40. My personal best for the six-something km route is down from 48:00 to 0:34:20.

This last Sunday, I got on my shoes, pushing over twenty kg worth of toddler and stroller in front of me, on that very same route. I finished in 39 minutes, 57 seconds, looking down on my phone sometime during the run, seeing that my pace was 4 minutes 30 seconds per kilometer.

In other words; I have become a runner. I’m looking forward to the half marathon. Next, I want to finish a full marathon. My ultimate dream is to some day run a proper ultra.

Gear

One of the things I enjoy most about running, is that anyone can do it. The only thing you really need is enough clothes to not get arrested on sight. Oh, and most people will probably want shoes in addition. Not that shoes neccesarily are a requirement – Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton has finished 74 marathons barefoot, and one shod.

So, on shoes: After all these years, I think I have figured out why I hated running when I was young. Back then, during the eighties and nineties, padded stability shoes with enough cushioning for an army were all the shit, and was really all you go if you went into a chain store that happened to sell running shoes.

While some people might need that kind of shoes, I’m not one of them. Upon buying my second pair of running shoes, I went to Löplabbet, a chain of running gear specialists in Sweden and Norway. They analysed my foot, and my gait by putting me on a treadmill, filming my foot as I ran: My natural running style is to land mid/forefoot, with neutral pronation. The padded-shoe hell forced me to run in a way that was not at all natural to me, causing all of the problems I experienced back then. By dumb luck, my first new pair of running shoes was a neutral shoes that easily allowed for midfoot/forefoot strikes.

So, my current shoes

  1. Adidas Response Cushion 17: While the Amazon page linked speaks of heel strikes, the shoe fits the neutral foot quite well, and won’t punish you for running midfoot. These were the shoes I bought at half price, giving me a low entry fee into running.
  2. Mizuno Wave Ronin 2. These were the ones I got after the visit to Löplabbet. At this stage, I had decided that I wanted to have less shoe. These are, for me, a truly amazing pair of shoes: They are light, and aids my running form, forcing me to be more careful about my step. I tried a lot of other shoes at the store, both lightweight trainers and XC flats, from Nike, Saucony, and others. Some of the pairs I tried felt like running on stilts. The Mizunos just mostly felt like a gentle extension of my foot, not prohibiting in any way, and felt closer to the ground. They are still forgiving of the occasional heel strike, yet they don’t permit constant heel striking, like I sometimes tended to have at the end of longer runs.
  3. Vibram FiveFingers Bikila. I got these only last week. My intent with getting the Mizuno racing flats was to eventually transition to a “barefoot” shoe. These are it. I will probably write more about these shoes later, but for now, let’s just say that they are amazing to run on. The feel of the ground, and keeping the foot’s natural tendency to spread the toes on landing makes these a very comfortable experience, forcing me to run correctly. The general advise on wearing barefoot shoes is that you take a good time to transition, just starting out with a few hundred metres on your first run in this, and alternating between using these and your regular shoes. Having trained barefoot for my years of taekwondo, and having run almost exclusively in the Mizunos for some time prior, I didn’t have much of a transition: I went 2.4 km on my first run, 6.5 on my second, I have only felt gentle soreness in my calfs after the first run, and only feeling great after the second. Running in these is a whole other experience.

As for other gear: I have provided a lot of RunKeeper links here: My phone is an indispensable tool for running – I use it as an MP3 player, and I use RunKeeper to track the runs themselves, providing me with training workouts through user-defined interval programs, or running on target pace. Recently, I have also incorporated training sessions where I switch the music in favor of listening to a 180 bpm metronome, downloaded from here, to try and sync to the optimal 180 steps/footfalls per minute.

Final words

Oh, finally. That seventeen-and-a-half minute 3km from my youth. I last ran 3km in less than fifteen minutes, on a crap day, having planned to run longer. If I prepared for it, I could probably push it into something like 13 minutes now. My resting heart rate is now down to 53 bpm, and I believe it may even drop a bit further.

IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL

I’ve personally, for the most part lived a Windows-free life since 2005. Only occasionally, I’ve used a Windows machine, for mundane tasks such as looking at some web page without having brought my own laptop, or had a brief look at my dad’s machine to fix some trivial problem, and I had a [brief intermission](http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2007/09/me-and-vista) with Vista, when I got this laptop in 2007.
A few days ago, my girlfriend’s kids’ laptop broke down, an aging Toshiba, broke down, and had to be reinstalled – I was fortunate enough not to do that installation myself, but just got the laptop back, and needed to get it online. This is where the horror starts:
1. It can’t connect to wireless, which is fair enough, given that WPA2 (or WPA) wasn’t around when XP was released, and the machine hadn’t touched a network during or after installation, and was installed from the original Toshiba rescue disk.
2. So, I set forth trying to update it, and Windows needs to update Windows Update, and reboot before continuing installation.
3. After having installed updates for Windows Update, it needs to update Windows Update again – this time the ActiveX control. There’s a “Yo dawg” hidden inside here somewhere, but I’ll leave that to the educated reader.
4. So, now Windows Update is actually ready to start. My previous experience with Windows taught me that it’s most of the time a good idea to go for the custom update, instead of the simple update, because there’s usually hardware drivers missing, and a few other components missing. It’s missing an extended mouse driver, Media Player and a bunch of stuff. Windows Update finds this, and 91 other updates, and installs them
5. Reboot. This works.
6. Still no network. Let’s see what Windows Update says.
7. Oh, that’s right, this update did _not_ pick up Service Pack 2. Install.
8. Wait, wait. Listen to disk grinding. Wait some more.
9. (Intertwined in all of the previous points, there are times where disk activity is low enough to warrant a check, to find out that a dialog needs to be handled).
10. Roughly two and a half hours into this ordeal, Service pack 2 claims to be installed.
11. Reboot
12. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
13. What the flying fuck‽
14. Try to reboot in safe mode
15. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL.
16. What the flying fuck‽
17. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
18. Try to reboot in safe mode with command line.
19. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
20. Consider boarding flight to Redmond to force Steve Ballmer to eat the fucking laptop.
21. Suddenly remember that amidst all dialogs answered, there was one about a mouse driver, served from *Windows update*, not having undergone Windows Logo testing
22. Unplug mouse
23. Reboot
24. (There have been points through this where I’ve done some pretty liberal swearing on IRC over this ordeal, not included, because it would make this text unsafe for any viewing.
25.
26. Discover that XP SP2 did _not_ solve the problem described in the very first point of this list. Namely that the wireless network didn’t work. The difference being that now it pretended to be able to connect, whereas it didn’t in the first case, and it didn’t give a sensible error message.
27. Go to Windows update, get Service pack 3.
28. Be a tad amused, alternatively annoyed, that Windows was able to go directly to SP2, while skipping SP1, while being unable to skip SP2 in favor of SP3.
29. Install XP SP3.
30. Wait 30 minutes for installation to finish.
31. Reboot
32. Pray to whatever deity that there are no critical updates to install before wireless works
33. Try plugging in mouse, because using the touchpad sucks.
34. IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
35. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
36. Reboot
37. Pray to whatever deity that there are no critical updates to install before wireless works, because I am now _three hours and fucking forty minutes into this ordeal_ and I’ve *really* had it.
38. ???
39. Profit
My last list, about a Vista in a similar state to this one, when I took it over, was sixty-three items in before it involved installing a different OS. This XP experience was 37 items in before the system was in some semi-usable state. Despite fanboy marketing, and the discovery two days ago that [Windows can’t delete files named “…”](http://twitter.com/arveb/status/1639457227) (Including Windows Se7en, thankyouverymuch), I really have no hopes at all that Windows will ever get to some manageable or usable state.