Thursday, January 22, 2015

Exploring the Unbeaten Path with Google Glass

+Google Glass recently announced the end of its Glass Explorer program leading many technology pundits to declare Glass a failure.  There were certainly challenges to widespread adoption, but I think the device was under appreciated for its hands-free utility while running, riding, skiing, kayaking and snowshoeing.  

Our increasing desire to share outdoor & athletic adventures shows no signs of slowing down.  GoPro's, selfie sticks, GPS watches, heart rate monitors, self following drones are becoming more common and spewing off mountains of data & imagery via social networks.  Like it or not, "face computers" aren't going away - the Recon Jet lives on, Merrell is offering virtual hikes with Oculus Rift and Microsoft just launched the HoloLens.

What differentiates Glass from the three previously mentioned wearables is that it's not designed for one activity (Recon), meant to replace reality (Oculus) or be completely immersive (HoloLens).  Lightweight and sleek, Glass is designed to let you focus on the world around you and be available when & if you want to be connected or share your outdoor activities quickly & easily.  

For me, Google Glass is still immensely useful and I use it regularly.  Now that Glass has graduated from Google[x] and strikes out on its own, I look forward to seeing what comes next.

The following article was originally written for Google's Glass Journal.  

Kayaking on the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon.

"Trail runners are an elusive lot. They often run trails to get away from it all.” This is how a longtime friend described our tribe 15 years ago before trail running became mainstream and the rise of social media changed what it means to “get away from it all.” Today I’m still an avid trail runner—traveling fast and light—exploring the world beyond paved roads while staying connected and sharing my experiences from the trail.

Trail running with the Strava app for Glass.

Trail running with Gary & Nancy in Switzerland.

While trail running, it’s not uncommon to come around a corner and see something surprising, unusual and often fleeting. Wildlife up close and personal, clouds in motion dissipating on the backside of a mountain ridge or the first light of sunrise beaming through a dense green forest—just a blink of an eye for Glass to capture the moment, all without breaking stride.

Previewing the World Masters Mountain Running Championships course in Austria.

Sub-zero morning run in Bennington, Vermont

Runners often joke that if a run is not on Strava it didn’t happen. Strava is how I track, share and measure my off road adventures. “Did I set a personal record to the summit of Black Mountain?” I get immediate feedback. It shows distance splits in the heads up display, plays audio cues and provides the ever addictive segment split times. And with Strava, I have extra motivation because my friends and teammates are always watching.

Start of the junior women's race at the World Mountain Running Championships in Italy.

Cross country skiing at Mt. Bachelor, Oregon.

In the past 12 months Glass has been my exploration companion while trail running across the United States and around the globe. I’ve run mountain trails in eight US states, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Canada, Mexico and captured them all through Glass. While I often run alone or in small groups, Glass keeps me connected with my once elusive and now larger community of trail runners. Now they see what I see and trace my route from afar.

Sucking wind after a tempo run up Black Mountain.

Goodbye Glass Explorer Program - Long Live Google Glass.

To see more of my Glass photos see my Best of Glass photo album.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Snowshoe National Championships

Yup, I've been remiss in updating my blog (again) - sorry. You can always follow my daily workouts over on Google+.

Since moving to the left coast my snowshoe racing career has big hit due to.......hummm.......well, lack of snow & races.  That said, I have many fond memories of snowshoe racing in New England (your fault +Dave Dunham) and consecutive snowshoe nationals appearances from 2002 until 2006.  Since then I've only raced in snowshoe nationals when they have been in the Northeast US (2010) or Oregon (2009 & 2013).  In 2013 I didn't actually race because I was co-race director when the event was held in Bend, OR. Returning to nationals in New England has been a chance to catch up with my many trail running & snowshoe friends and catch up on old times.  Old times and new tech - most of the photos on this post were taken with +Google Glass.

Me (far left) and my Central Mass Striders teammates

February 28, 2014 - So, there I was, back in New England at the most competitive snowshoe race ever held in North American and my most recent snowshoe race was at the 2010 snowshoe nationals 4 year earlier.  Ouch, this was going to hurt!  It was well below zero but that didn't stop us from waking up early for a morning run AND then running the 10k course mid-day.

Running up to the Bennington Monument - sunny & -15 degrees F.

Running the 10k course with Ken Tripp & Dave Dunham the day before the race.

Race director & masters trail running champion +Tim VanOrden. Great job on the course Tim!

What are these things on my feet! It's just like trail running - only slower!

March 1, 2014 - Race Day!  Over 200 men toed the start line including 2 elite Canadian runners & former +US Mountain Running Team members Scott Gall, +Kevin Tilton+Dave Dunham and a whole mess of really strong trail & snowshoe runners from 22 US states and 8 countries.

My good friend & executive director of the +American Trail Running Association +Nano Hobbs took this photo just prior to the start.

Early in the race before I was too winded to wave & smile.

My plan was to start the race "easy" & stay in control for the first 2k and then hammer the hill from 2k to the summit at 5k.  It seemed like a good plan until I got to 2k and was already at the limit.  Instead of picking up place on the climb, I ended up loosing a few and watched Dave pull away from me.  From then on I struggled to hold position - especially through the twisty single-track downhill and 2nd uphill to the 8k mark. 

Here's what the downhill single-track looks like - from our course preview the previous day.

The last 2k of the race was almost all fast, wide downhill.  I hoped that saving a little on the previous climb and not forcing my way past several slower runners in the single-track would save a little energy for the final push.  When we came out of the woods onto the wide trail I put the hammer down and finally started passing people again.  It wasn't all smooth sailing as race director Tim Van Orden put in some soft, narrow switchbacks within sight of the finish line to catch out runners with soft, lactic acid filled legs - like me.  I fell in one of the corners - thanks Tim.  Tim also added one last small uphill in the final 200 meters where I got re-passed by teammate Todd Callaghan after working my ass off to catch him.  Thanks again Tim.  No matter, it was all good fun and good clean competition but I was really glad to cross the finish line and get that suffering over with.  In the end I finished 31st overall and 4th in my age group.  It was my worst place finish in the 8 times I've raced snowshoe nationals.  No worries - I had fun and that's what really counts.  My GPS & heart rate data for the race is here.

The top 10 men at snowshoe nationals.  Frosty finished 8th.

March 2, 2014 - Relay Day!  Snowshoe nationals has a tradition of holding a relay race on the Sunday after the main event.  It's always a low key affair with pick-up teams and many fewer participants.  It's still a whole lot of fun and a chance to burn out your lungs over a 2.5k "sprint" course.  I joined my Central Mass Striders buddies for a masters team and took the first leg.

This is what the start of a snowshoe race looks like through +Google Glass.

Yes, costumes are encouraged for the snowshoe relay.

+Ben Nephew handing off to +Tim VanOrden for the CMS open team.

Race director Tim cheers on runners after finishing his leg of the relay.

This is how snowshoe racers do "Rock-n-Roll".

Me with Ken Tripp and Dave - thanks guys!

Dave Dunham wrote about the snowshoe nationals relay here and the 10k championship race here.  Tim Van Orden's excellent video promoting snowshoe nationals is here.  See you in 2018??

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year in Photos

January 2013 - Macchiato in Portland, OR

January 2013 - Barista, my favorite coffee shop in Portland, OR

January 2013 - Taking the Torpado for a spin in Fremont, CA

February 2013 - Injuries put me back on rollerskis in Mountain View, CA

February 2013 - Injuries are an opportunity to try swimming in Mountain View, CA

February 2013 - There's always time for coffee. Cafe Grumpy from New York City.

March 2013 - Start doing online marketing for the +American Trail Running Association

March 2013 - Road bike ride in Silicon Valley, CA.

March 2013 - Get back on the trails and try to stay healthy in Cupertino, CA.

April 2013 - +Salomon Running Team Camp in Ogden, UT.

April 2013 - +Salomon Running Team Camp in Ogden, UT.

April 2013 - Bringing mad trail running skills back to California.

May 2013 - My first race of the year. Pacific TherX 5k in Portola Valley, CA.

May 2013 - Snowshoe "run" to the summit of Mt. Bachelor, OR.

May 2013 - Kayak on the Deschutes River in Bend, OR.

May 2013 - Mountain bike the "Whoops Trail" in Bend, OR

May 2013 - Bike / trail run from Bend to Tumulo Mountain Summit and back.

May 2013 - Aborted Mt. Hamilton bike race in San Jose, CA.

June 2013 - New York City adventure.

June 2013 - New York's Citibike program is launched.

June 2013 - My first run on the High Line, New York, NY.

July 2013 - +Google Glass at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, UT.

July 2013 - First trail run with +Google Glass

July 2013 - 1st place at the Skyland Mountain 10k in Los Gatos, CA.

August 2013 - World Masters Mountain Running Championships in Czech Republic

August 2013 - My good friend +Nano Hobbs won her age group at World Masters.

August 2013 - Hike to the highest point in the Czech Republic.

September 2013 - Mandy Ortiz becomes a World Champion in Poland.

September 2013 - +Joseph Gray at the World Mountain Running Championships in Poland.

September 2013 - Ran a +5 Peaks Adventures trail race in Canmore, Canada.

October 2013 - More rollerskiing and a +GoPro camera test.

October 2013 - Still great weather for road bike rides.

November 2013 - At the USA 1/2 Marathon Trail Championships in Moab, UT.

November 2013 - First cross country ski at Mt. Bachelor, OR.

November 2013 - Sunset in Bend, OR.

December 2013 - Snowshoe run at Meissner SnoPark near Bend, OR

December 2013 - Cross country skiing in the rain. 

December 2013 - Run, bike, ski, snowshoe, swim, roller-ski or kayak, here's to a healthy 2014.