Monday, January 30, 2012

What I got for Christmas...

I had a really great holiday season this year, and I’m really thankful for all the great stuff I got.  In fact, I can’t really think of a holiday season that topped this one.  (Although, the one where I got Voltron was right up there…)

Probably the biggest gift was the house that Lana and I bought.  There was a day, not so long ago, when I had to give up just about everything material I had ever worked for, and start over.  I’d like to say that experience has provided me with some transcendence over material possessions.  That wouldn’t be the truth though.  I’m certainly less dependent on, and in some ways distrustful of material goods, but the fact is, having a place in the world that is all mine feels pretty good. 

On Christmas Eve-Eve I made Christmas dinner for Lana and William.  There was a fire in the fireplace, Christmas music playing, we opened some presents, and it was really good and all sorts of Norman Rockwell.  An opportunity for us to all be together was another great gift. 

On Christmas Eve I took William to my mom’s house for Christmas dinner.  Lana was at work, taking care of the sick.  I was having some awful stomach cramps that had actually started the night before, which wasn’t so great, and I guess made me one of the sick... When I got to Mom’s we ended up going to see a Doctor.   When the doctor was reviewing my vitals he questioned my resting heart rate, which was in the mid 40s.  Before I could answer, mom jumped in and told the doctor “he’s an athlete.”  Mom was pretty proud of me, it was cool.  But my mind was drawn back to thoughts of this other guy I knew.  He was in the same coaching group as me.  He was an athlete, like but much better than me.  He was healthy, successful at work, and had a family.  He died 26 miles into a PR marathon this summer.  Later that night after the doctor decided I probably wasn’t dying I sat around the table with William and my family and just enjoyed their stories and soaked it in.  I was thankful for the moments I have, knowing that none of us are invincible and that a Kona or Boston slot doesn’t promise health and longevity.  There are no guarantees, and none of us are invincible. 

On New Year’s Eve we had some friends over to our new place.  I cooked some stuff that turned out kinda “meh.”  We ate too much, drank a little wine, and had a great time.  The next morning, New Year’s Day, we met up early for a 12 mile run.  Balance is a wonderful gift I’m just really learning to understand. 

I’m now 12 weeks into the off-season, and it’s been good.  Really good.  I really love the centuries and long long runs that in season training brings, and those things will be there again, but it’s nice to have the opportunity to focus on some other stuff for a change. I’ve been able to refocus on what I want out of the next few years of Triathlon, and the next few years of life. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Your Treadmil Lying To You? Treadmil Accuracy and Calibration

Tis the season when the ice gets the best of us, and we move some of those runs indoors.  We are lucky enough to have a treadmill in the basement OF OUR NEW HOUSE this year! That's good.  But...when I run on it, it seems a little fast...  Easy paces aren't so easy.  That's bad.  But is the computer lying to me?  Or am I big pansy?  Honestly, I don't know.  Either is possible, of course. But luckily for you, dear reader, I'm not just another pretty face dumb jock.  I'm also an engineer, and this is the kind of problem we live for!    As I write this, I have a notebook full of data, ready to be evaluated.  So is my treadmill accurate?  Let's find out.  Is your treadmill accurate?  Here's how to tell...

So, we need determine speed.  That's distance covered / time (except in the case of the kessel run, but we won't talk about that).  We will be figuring out how far the belt went in a given time. 

Step 1.  Determine how long your treadmills belt is.  The best way to do this is to tape some string onto the belt, and then push the belt around once, until the string is taught around the outside of the belt.  And then...measure the string.  My belt was 128" long.

Step 2.  Put some type of easily seen mark on the belt.  Turn on your treadmill and set it at your normal run pace.  Then grab your iPhone. 

Step 3.  Start your stop iPhone's Stop Watch as soon as the mark passes the bottom of the deck, then count 30 (seemed like a good number) passes of the mark on the bottom of the treadmill.  Do this three times.  You should get similar results all three times. 

My results:
30 Revs @ 6 Mph
Trial 1:  35.6 sec
Trial 2:  35.5 sec
Trial 3:  35.5 sec
Average: 35.5 seconds

You're free to stop right there, but I wanted to make sure the Treadmill didn't vary at higher or lower speeds, so I tested at 8 mph and 4 mph as well. 

30 Revs @ 8 Mph
Trial 1:  27.3 sec
Trial 2:  26.7 sec
Trial 3:  26.6 sec
Average:  seconds 26.8 sec

The belt count got more challenging at 8 mph, and that's about as fast as I run, so, good enough.

I also did 1 trial at 4 mph.  I got bored...

10 Revs @ 4 Mph
1.  16.2 sec 

Step 4.  So, now we can compute.  Lets start with 6 Mph.

So, the belt revolved 30 times and it's 128 inches long.  That means it moved:

30*128 = 3840 inches.  (Yes, we should be using the metric system, yes imperal measure is assinine, but I run in minutes/mile so if you don't like it...get your own blog.)

If we cover 3840 inches in 35.6 seconds, how many inches will we cover in 3600 seconds (1 hour)?  Enter algebra 1.

(3840 inch/35.6sec) = (x inches / 3600 sec)  Cross multiply and divide and we get...

388314.61 inches = 32359.55 feet (/5280 feet/mile)= 6.12 Miles.  But, wait...the treadmill was set at 6 Mph.  Houston, we have a problem. 

Checking 8 Mph we get:

(3840 inch/26.8sec) = (x inches / 3600 sec) = 506373.63 inches = 7.99 Mph.  I think we can call that 8. 

Checking 4 Mph we get:

(1280 inch/16.2 sec) = (x inches / 3600 sec) =4.48 Mph. 

Seeing the trend here?  It appears the that treadmill is pretty much right on (and maybe a little slow) at top end speeds but at the low end, it's quite a bit faster.   In my easy pace zone, it appears to be about 10 sec/mile fast.

So now what?  I dunno.   I think I'll run a few more trials to be sure and then call the manufacturer.  I can certainly just adjust my paces...but I'd prefer it if the computer's output = reality.  Story of my life.  Anyway, I guess stay tuned for part 2?