Instrumenting My Marathon

I’m running the Kroll’s Diner Bismarck Marathon on Saturday. This will be Marathon #18 in my quest to run one in every state. I’ll be there for a couple of days so I’m open to any restaurant recommendations y’all might have.

I’ve decided to try something different on this marathon. While I always wear a watch, I’ve never tried to instrument myself “real-time” for the race. Until recently, I’ve been using a Garmin 305, but it broke this summer when I was in Europe and I switched to RunKeeper on my iPhone.

I’ve really enjoyed RunKeeper and even started listening to music on some of my runs again since I had my iPhone with me. I signed up for RunKeeper Live and have been broadcasting my runs publicly to anyone who cared, which is primarily Amy.

The marathon starts at 7:30am Central Time on Saturday. I’ll be broadcasting my progress on this link – you should be able to pick it up after I start the race. Since I’ve always been running, I’m not 100% sure how the UI works on the “watching someone” end of things, but would love to hear feedback from anyone who takes a look. Oh – and cheer me on!

I’ll be wearing my Fitbit also (which I love – and am an investor in). It’s fascinating to me the step variance on the different marathons I’ve done – my stride length clearly varies with the shape I’m in and the shape (or hilliness) of the course. I’ll also check and see which is more accurate over 26.2 miles – the Fitbit or RunKeeper.

I might wear my new Nike+ SportWatch GPS, but so far the Nike+ website has been basically unusable due to performance issues so I don’t want to count on it.

Bismarck – see you tomorrow.

  • very cool. i’m a big @runkeeper fan too – super service. Agree on nike+ They are missing a decent opportunity here. All their stuff is unusable for me, so i’ve given up. They should stick to sneakers, not software (or open an API, and let other people do it).

  • I, too, have given up on Nike+. I still send data but I don’t bother with the website anymore. The RunKeeper real time data should be fun to watch. It will be like F1 telemetry!

  • Jeff Sherard

    What do you do about battery life on your iPhone?  does it last for the whole 4-5 hours over the course of a marathon??

    • We are going to find out if it lasts the whole run!

      • Pete Griffiths

        There’s an easy hack – just run faster.

      • I ran a very slow marathon with runkeeper and pandora in April and my iPhone made it.

  • Make sure you turn off wifi & bluetooth and any other apps than Runkeeper.  I love Runkeeper, but it (or the constant GPS pinging) seems to drain my battery quickly. I ran through a complete charge in under 3 hours on a long walk with Runkeeper running this past weekend.

  • Brad –

    My in-laws are from Bismarck and I was just there a few weeks ago.

    If there is a “must do” dinner in Bismarck, it’s Pirogue Grille (http://www.piroguegrille.com)

    As an aside, you should know that this isn’t the *standard* marathon course due to the flooding that they’ve had over the last few months.

    If you had some extra time I’d highly recommend a drive out to the Badlands – Roosevelt State Park, etc.

    r.

    • Thanks for the dinner recommendation.

  • I use dailymile.com with my Nike+ watch and love the combo together.

    The flash heavy Nike+ website is an unusable sales fest..

    Paul

  • One other RunKeeper iPhone tip: I’ve found that the screen doesn’t seem to auto-lock on its own.  So don’t forget to lock the screen after you get going, otherwise it’ll stay on and drain the battery.

    • Good suggestion. I’ve noticed that also.

  • One other RunKeeper iPhone tip: I’ve found that the screen doesn’t seem to auto-lock on its own.  So don’t forget to lock the screen after you get going, otherwise it’ll stay on and drain the battery.

  • My wife and I are doing a weekend offline this weekend, so I won’t be watching realtime. This stuff definitely fascinates me though. I think my fitbit over estimates the distance (maybe I should lengthen my stride?)

    Best of luck and thanks for being an inspiration.

    • Have you calibrated the Fitbit by measuring and entering (in Edit Profile) your walking and running stride lengths? That makes a huge difference on accuracy. See http://blog.fitbit.com/?p=143

  • Lars

    Good luck on race day! I’m also a big RunKeeper user and fan (Elite Member), after trying several alternatives.  Never used the “live” feature, though – it will be fun to watch.
    Let us know what is your target pace (will you enable audio cues?), so we can actually see if you’re doing better or worst than planned…

    Greetings from Rio, Brazil.

    • I’d be happy to break 5 hours on this one.

  • A marathon in every state, a great, ambitious goal! Have you ever run a marathon with no electronics? I can’t I have — I take the pacing very (too) seriously — but there’s something to be said about racing by feel, and enjoying each mile individually.

    Be healthy and have fun Brad. (And you’re already done, says RunKeeper)

    • I haven’t yet done one without instrumentation but I plan to at some point.

      • Pete Griffiths

        You absolutely musn’t do one without metrics.  No validated learning – that’s so not lean.  Eric Reis will swing by and kick your ass.

  • A marathon in every state, a great, ambitious goal! Have you ever run a marathon with no electronics? I can’t I have — I take the pacing very (too) seriously — but there’s something to be said about racing by feel, and enjoying each mile individually.

    Be healthy and have fun Brad. (And you’re already done, says RunKeeper)

  • Patrick Nickles

    So, was your Runkeeper distance tally accurate? In my last race it showed twenty SEVEN point two miles at the end of the race… (and this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed RK struggling.)

    I’m running the MCM later this month so I’ll have one more data point soon.

    Strongly considering going Garmin but I really don’t want another battery-operated-device to charge/carry.

  • So… how’d it go?

  • So… how’d it go?

    • Solid – http://www.feld.com/archives/2011/09/krolls-diner-bismarck-marathon.html

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