4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

Street Running Comment

with one comment

I usually keep my complaints and ranty comments to myself, but on my run today I got so mad about something, I just can’t contain it to myself.

The problem: running in the street in the same direction as the traffic.  I am a self-professed street runner.  In fact, I did a guest post on this topic over at Running Down Dreams just over a year ago.  I generally run in the street and avoid sidewalks.  You might think of NYC as a crowded place and not a safe place to run in the street, but that is not the case.  In NYC, the streets are wide, parking lanes, bus lanes and/or shoulders on each side of all streets and avenues usually provide space to run, and the recent proliferation of bike lanes actually creates a much safer environment.

Common sense tells many of us to run against traffic, and by and large, I usually see people running against the traffic in the street.  I covered the reasons why in the aforementioned guest post and so won’t repeat here.  However, just because a street has a bike lane, which is car free, you do NOT have license to run in the same direction with traffic.

I went for a long run today, which took me over the Williamsburg Bridge, and up through Brooklyn and Queens heading for the Queensboro Bridge.  Bike lanes connect several of the streets with the Williamsburg Bridge, including Driggs, which is where I was running.  I was, as usual, enjoying the day and the comfort of the bike lane.  I was running north, while the traffic was heading south.  In the span of less than a mile between the bridge and McCarren Park, there were 3 incidents of people running in the street with traffic.

I first encountered a guy running with the traffic in the bike lane.  While I would usually just let it go and mind my own business, for some reason today I felt like I needed to say something.  So as I approached the guy I said “Dude, look out for the bike” and motioned behind him.  That got his attention as he knew he could not see oncoming bikers.  He turned his head to see what was coming.  Of course there was nothing, but I quickly said, “See, that is why you should be running AGAINST the traffic – you can’t see the bikes”.

About 3 or 4 blocks further down I noticed 2 women running towards me side-by-side (with traffic) in the bike lane.  I might not have said anything (for some reason I am more hesitant to say things to women in these situations), but I could not believe what I saw as I got closer.  Behind them, on a leash, was a dog running behind.  So I ran straight at them, threw up my hands and said “You guys should be running against traffic, and with a dog no less”.  I was not surprised to see both of them wearing headphones.

A couple of blocks later I saw another woman running with traffic, but not in the bike lane.  I decided not to say anything that time.

Why do people do this?  Yes, it is technically safer to run with traffic in the bike lane as the cars will more naturally not be in that lane, but you are only creating potential hazards for everyone else on the road.  If you are running in the bike lane with traffic, you will not see when a bike is coming up behind you.  The biker will have to go around you, into traffic, to get by.  You also won’t see if a large bus or truck is coming by and needs more clearance, etc.

I know I’m preaching here to the people that know better, and I know that some of you non-NYers live in the burbs where this action might be just fine, but it makes me feel better to say “PEOPLE, PLEASE RUN AGAINST TRAFFIC FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY”.

I do feel much better now…

Written by SCL

February 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Bike Lanes, Rant

GPS Course Measurements

with 7 comments

We are all complainers by nature, and I do it too, especially on Twitter where there is an audience of other complainers to fuel the fire.  While in real life I am typically not a complainer, there are certain things that do get me all riled up.  Usually I ignore it, and every once in awhile I get riled up enough to blog (edit added: and therefore complain myself) about it.

You sometimes hear people complaining after finishing a race that the race was too long because their GPS watch shows a longer distance than the length of the race.  I’ve run local races myself where I’ve wondered about the placement of mile markers and felt some miles were shorter and longer than the rest.  In fact, in the Red Bank triathlon, I mused that perhaps the last mile was short as I clocked an unbelievable 8:06(ish) for that mile.

However, this is a ridiculous notion when it comes to major marathon events.  You can be sure the length of the course is accurate.  After the Chicago Marathon, I heard from several people complaining about how much ‘further’ they ran then 26.2 miles.  Again yesterday, after the Marine Corp Marathon, I started seeing other people with the same complaint.  This time, rather rudely, I posted my protest of the comment in the places I saw it.

Please check out these 2 really informative posts about GPS and race measuring, and then come back here.

  1. This guys blog is the most informative I’ve ever seen about running, biking and swimming, and my newest MUST READ blog.  He recently re-linked to his 2009 posting about understanding how courses are measured.  http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/03/racing-line-understanding-how-courses.html
  2. I randomly saw a link to this in my Twitter stream recently (had been retweeted by Tracy http://twitter.com/#!/Nemtynakht).  Not sure how old this is, but it covers much of the same territory. http://www.hamptonrockfest.com/hamptonhalf-GPS.html

Thanks for coming back…

So, at the end of the day, the GPS in your watch is, quite simply, not completely accurate.  Also, to run the minimum distance, you have to run in a straight line all day, and perfectly cut the corners in every spot.  It is simply not possible.  Personally, on everyday runs, I use the GPS to guestimate my distance, but then I almost always re-measure on DailyMile, RunKeeper, MapMyRun, or some such mapping site, to get a true distance.

Check out the map of my Chicago Marathon run, which ridiculously came in at 27.3 miles! If you zoom in, you can start to see the imperfections and the not-so-straight-line course that it plotted.  http://www.trainingpeaks.com/sw/3MJ3MGV34VXQ365LXPRLA7KNXU

OK, I feel better now…

Written by SCL

November 1, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Rant