City bookend run

Yesterday afternoon AG and I completed our last city run before she heads back to school. The weather predictions were for storms through the afternoon so we switched our plans to run the trails in Van Cortland park in favor of the West Side bike path. Instead of rain the weather turned extremely hot and humid as we made our way west from the office. I wore my iPhone with MotionX GPS to track our route and also used the Garmin 50 for comparison.

Before we started our run we had some honey energy chews, but nothing for lunch. About 15 minutes into the run I began to feel tired which I’m sure related to hunger. It reminded us of how I struggled the first time AG and I ran together. It was on the bridal path in Central Park where the heat, hills and mud made it a rough time. In between these tough ones were a bunch of great runs. That’s not to say that yesterdays run wasn’t great. We moved along well and ducked into Chelsea Piers where we could run some blocks free of the sun. The run along the water was beautiful and the breeze was welcomed but the heat forced a quick hydration stop after 3.8 miles. We ran another mile before calling it a run. Despite the conditions we averaged 9:13/mile. I’m going to miss these summer city runs.

We have some guests this weekend so I got out early before they were up and ready. I used the iPhone again and the GPS application did much better outside of the city. In the interest of time I kept it under 50 minutes covering 3.8 miles at 8:53. That’s another $20 to the Garmin fund but with MotionX I’m re-thinking whether to even make that purchase.

The great experiment

One reason I enjoy running is that the sport allows me to indulge my interest in technology. From my first few months using the Nike+ Sportsband to my switch to the Garmin 50 I have tracked my performance and progress and studied the results. Technology isn’t limited to sports watches, I started a site within emergingrunner.com called Runner’s Tech Review to provide feedback on every type of fitness technology I use. To be sure, some of this technology is battery powered but much of it isn’t. Sports drinks, running shoes and energy bars are all technologies in their own right.

I’ve just replaced my Blackberry with an iPhone and I’m learning to deal with it. In many ways it’s a step down from its replacement but it offers some capabilities to runners that the Blackberry cannot match. For one thing I can finally look at comments posted on my Runner’s World Loop blog without being tethered to a PC. I thought I would have better tools for mobile posting using Safari but Blogger doesn’t really work right. There may be issues with Flash or Java. I can post simply by sending an email to a special address so I’ve found a good solution for that. The big exciting technology opportunity is leveraging the GPS capability of the iPhone. I mentioned MotionX yesterday and put it to the test walking a few places in the city. The system had a difficult time acquiring a signal but that could be related to the many tall buildings in mid town NYC. Today I will try a run with the iPhone using MotionX to track my speed, distance, elevation and route. I’m hoping that it works better than the Qstarz Sports Recorder.

To hedge my bets, I’ll have my trusty Garmin as backup and it will be interesting to compare results between the two. The only concern I have is the weather. Storms are expected and I don’t want to soak the iPhone.

MotionX looks cool but I’m going to miss my Blackberry

I received my iPhone 3GS a couple of days ago and it was DOA. I got a 3G loaner unit in the meantime and installed MotionX, an application that uses the location aware capability of the iPhone to capture data via GPS. I have not been able to use it yet but perhaps at lunch I’ll test it out. This app creates a KMZ file like the Qstarz 1300S that can be overlayed on Google Earth to show path, speed and elevation data.

I’ll admit to some frustrations with the iPhone. The text input is a few steps down from my Blackberry. There are many things that are simple on the Blackberry (like posting to my blogs) that are going to be difficult with the Apple. I’m actually using my Blackberry to do this post because, despite the iPhone’s full browser capability with Safari, the Blogger interface doesn’t work.

I know I’ll eventually get it sorted out and I’m really excited to have a resource that can use GPS to capture running data and display it in real time (sorry Qstarz). I’ll need to get a sleeve holder at City Sports for the iPhone so that I can run with it. Perhaps I’ll use MotionX today to track my way and back to the store..