Tools I Use For Route Planning

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

This week I’m in Northern Ireland visiting family and I’ve had to pull out my route planning toolkit, as I’m not too familiar with my surroundings.

I’m staying at my parent’s house and I need an 18-20 mile run this weekend.

PLOTAROUTE.COM

When planning a route I’m looking for safe roads with sidewalk for the duration, if possible. The first tool I use is plotaroute.com. I plan most of our group runs on this website and share the route with our crew.

As I map out unfamiliar terrain, I use google maps street view to check the route at various points to see if the road looks safe enough to run on.

When I save the route, it calculates the elevation gain and gives options for downloading. One of the dowload options is a GPX file.

View the route here.

GPXHYPERLAPSE.COM

I take my downloaded GPX file to gpxhyperlapse.com and upload it. It uses Google Street View to capture images for the whole duration of the route. You can add modify the settings on the video to include more frames, and the delay time between each frame.

If I wasn’t planning to share the route/video with others, I’d stop here. There’s a bit more work involved in sharing the video generated by gpxhyperlapse.com.

NIMBUS SCREENSHOT

Since gpxhyperlapse does not offer a download option, I used a Chrome plugin called Nimbus Screenshot & Screen Video Recorder to record the video. There is a download button on the screen when recording completes that will allow download of the video to webm format (mp4 and other video formats are available in the paid version).

ONLINE-CONVERT.COM

I’m using the free version of Nimbus, so I need to find a different way to convert the webm to mp4. In the end I used a website called Online-Convert.com.

YOUTUBE.COM

To enable easy sharing, I uploaded the video to YouTube as unlisted. I used YouTube’s online video editor to trim the beginning and end of the video.

Here’s the final video and I think it serves as a great tool to get a feel for the route

Why do you run, Shravan?

About Shravan

Welcome to a new blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Shravan runs with the Morrisville Run Club (MRC), and that’s where I met him. He’s one of our faster runners, and has the most graceful running form you have ever seen. 🤣

Why did you start running?

I started running when I discovered how unfit I became over the years. I kept running when I realized what I’m still capable of.

What keeps you motivated?

It’s a sense of self worth that comes with the fitness. The fitness (both mental and physical) that running provides is what keeps me motivated.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

That its never late for the mind to tame the body. That, Running is meditation and another means to get closer to Nirvana.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Its hard to say, I would probably bike! I don’t know what else I would do with myself 🙂

What’s your biggest running goal?

Right now, it is to finish my 1st full marathon. Eventually, finishing the Boston Marathon.

Follow Shravan

Why do you run, Amanda Headlee?

Amanda Headlee

About Amanda

Welcome to a new blog series called “Why do you run?“. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

Amanda works out of our office in PA. While she does visit our Durham office from time to time, we have not yet managed to schedule a run together. Until that happens, Amanda, and many other colleagues from across our sites, keep up with everyone’s activities in our Strava club.

Why did you start running?

There is something about being able to lose yourself while running that is so alluring. Up until 3 years ago, I was strictly a cyclist. Marathons were a pipe dream for one who could barely survive running a mile. I preferred cranking away on my bike than slapping my feet on the pavement.

Then 3 years ago I went through a life changing event that caused me to lose myself and my connection with the world. I found myself unable to concentrate while riding my bike, which the results of that could be quite deadly. And I lost my love for going to the gym and group exercises.

One day of feeling lost and incredibly out of shape, I went out for a walk in no specific direction and my body decided at one point to run. To this day I can’t tell you if I was running away or running towards something… and I honestly don’t care because it was in that moment I fell in love with running.

I have found that with running, I can escape quietly into my thoughts all the while pushing my body to limits that I never thought were achievable.

What keeps you motivated?

My heart and mind. Heart disease is unfortunately a threat in my family and I am sometimes afflicted by sadness. Cardiovascular exercises are the perfect medicine for both diseases as I plan to live happy and healthy well into my 100s.

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

That I am good enough.

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

I’d probably be hardcore into cyclocross. At the moment I am struggling to find the balance between running, cycling, and writing. Cyclocross has been put on the backburner for marathon training.

What’s your biggest running goal?

Causeway Coast Marathon in September 2019! Maybe one day I will do a Tri… if I can get into swimming.

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Marathon Training February Update

17 miles too long…

My friends and I are training for the Tobacco Road Marathon on 17th March 2019. For many of us, it’s our first full marathon. This post will bring you up to date on events since my last update.

Well, things have not gone as planned. Let me start way back where I believe my problems began…

I predominately run in the same brand of shoes — for the last 2 years or so. I’ve never had an issue until recently, when a new order of two pairs arrived at my house. I opened one of the boxes, tied up the laces and away I went.

I know how these shoes feel when they’re new and these seemed to be lacking that cushion I was accustomed to. My feet were making slapping noises on the pavement.

They were the same shoes as I always wear. It must be all in my head, right?

I kept on running in them, thinking I would break them in soon. After one of my recent long runs my right ankle felt a little sore, like I’d rolled it a couple of times.

I ignored the pain and continued to run through another week. At that week’s end I had 18 miles planned, with the potential of a couple more if I felt good. I was a little nervous going into it because the twinge in my ankle kept nagging at me.

I should have listened to my body. It was one of my worst runs on this training cycle. By mile 9 I had all sorts of new pains in that leg and by mile 14 buzzards (I may have been hallucinating) were circling above, waiting for me to collapse. I deviated from the planned route and arrived home with 17 miles.

The next couple of days my calf muscle was tight and sore, and the more I thought how unusual this was, the more I started to link my shoes to it. I decided to write to the shoe company and tell them of my experience. They immediately agreed to allow me to exchange them — even with 100+ miles logged.

Before I decided whether to return one or both pairs. I opened the second pair from the same order to try them out. I managed a short 3 mile run mid-week, and in my head, this pair felt more like they should have.

So good news — I don’t have to change shoe brands so late in my training! But I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sort it out.

Recovery Time

3 miles to try out the shoes was all I managed to run this week. I made the hard decision to not run this weekend and instead cross train on my bike. While it was fun to be still out there with my running buddies, I was wishing the whole time that I was running.

I cycled 6 miles on Friday and then 14 on Saturday. As well as trying to support the guys putting in the real work, I took the opportunity to record some video of everyone running on the Tobacco Trail.

The video was shot and edited completely on my iPhone.

Even in mid February, the Tobacco Trail is a lovely place to run. I keep looking at the new housing developments going up near the trail and thinking how nice and convenient it would be to live so close to it.

It’s not too late to sign up for the marathon!
Use code TRMRAVE19 to get $20 off.

I am hoping to get back out on my feet tomorrow for a short run and see how it goes from there. I am supposed to run 22 miles this coming weekend, but I’m not sure whether I just need to push that out a week and aim for the 14 I skipped this weekend.

The only (big) drawback with pushing out the 22 miler, is that weekend I’ll be in Ireland without my running crew to support me.

Why do you run, Nila Garriga?

Nila Garriga

About Nila

First of all, welcome to a new blog series called “Why do you run?”. I hope to publish inspiring insights from runners I know, on why they started running and continue to do so.

I met Nila a couple of years ago on facebook when I asked if it was OK for a man to join what seemed like a ladies only running club called MRC (Morrisville Run Club).

Fortunately for me, men were allowed to join, and I have met up to run with the group regularly ever since. I did find out later I was held with some suspicion at the beginning. 🤣

Nila started the Morrisville Run Club along with Niles. I am indebted to them both for this wonderful community of runners who continue to inspire and push me forward.

Why did you start running?

I initially started running 20 years ago as I neared graduation from college and realized that I had added way too many pounds while there! I dropped the extra weight rather quickly after I began running, but during that time I realized how much better I also felt in so many ways.

I played sports all my life but never ran track. Upon realizing how much I actually enjoyed running, combined with all the added benefits, and that sports in the adult world just weren’t as easy to come by, it just made sense to keep going — and that’s exactly what I did.

20 years later I’m still going! So my main reason for sticking with it for so long is simply how good it makes me feel! I love the spike of endorphins after a run, how you sweat, how your heart beat speeds up, running out the front door knowing that I can be outside and in nature pushes me.

So to sum it all up, I run for my health and I run for my happiness.

What keeps you motivated?

I am reminded daily why I keep running. I have 2 kids and I want to live a long healthy life so I can be with them. I love playing outside with them and running around (l’m a kid at heart). I also know if I don’t run that I just don’t feel good – I get cranky, annoyed and my husband can even tell when I haven’t ran!

What is the most important thing you’ve learnt as a runner?

“Embrace your pace!” You simply can’t compare yourself to others and as a runner that is difficult not to do. I use to be so competitive with myself-running a ton of races, trying to be faster, etc. and while that was fun, as I’ve aged as a runner I realize that it’s okay for me to just enjoy running for what it is.

Although I use to run a 7:30 pace, it’s okay that I don’t do that anymore. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, but it has made me enjoy running more!

If you couldn’t run, what would you do instead?

Freak out!!!! Seriously! I’ve done a triathlon, tried to do more swimming, joined gyms, rode my bike, attended group workout classes and nothing simply compares to running.

I certainly know that if there is a reason that I can’t run again, I will have to pursue other workout avenues — fingers crossed I don’t have to!

What’s your biggest running goal?

I want to be that woman with a grey pony tail running down the road. I don’t have any pace goals, race goals, or personal goals. Like I said, I just enjoy running for exactly what it is!

Added: The Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Mile Run (2019)

Disclaimer: I received free entry to The Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Mile Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Last year I volunteered at this race. This year I’m running it for the first time. I’ve heard so much about the Tar Heel 10 Miler and I know people who have ran it, and all they talk about Laurel Hill. More about that later. 👇

There is two races on the same day — a 10 mile run and a 4 mile run, but there’s three options when registering. You can sign up for either race OR you can sign up for both, which is known as the “Double Down 14 Mile Challenge”.

Those selecting the Double Down challenge will need to complete the 4 mile race before the 10 mile race starts, to stay in the challenge. 😲

I have signed up for the 10 mile race and I’m looking forward to running around and exploring Chapel Hill, a thriving student city in North Carolina.

I’ve been to Chapel Hill many times as my oldest son goes to University there, but I’m still not familiar with the layout of downtown. There’s nothing like a run to fix that.

The course looks amazing and there’s a good mix of downtown streets, parks and neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to this one. Hopefully I actually still enjoy running, after my marathon in March. 🤣

Laurel Hill Challenge

At mile 8.5 of the Tar Heel 10 miler is Laurel Hill. You’ll ascend 175 feet in just under one mile. Runners are encouraged to race UP the hill, as separate awards are given for the fastest times to the top!

I really hope to get out to Chapel Hill and make peace with this hill before race day. I think I can get a couple of my running buddies to sign up and train with me.

Represent Your School

If you’re local you can even represent your school and help get it to the top of the scoreboard! The top 3 schools registered (you select a school when registering if applicable) will get a t-shirt in their school colors. That is pretty neat!

Register and Save

So, don’t delay! Sign up now before the next fee increase and get 10% Off with code TARHEELBR10

Marathon Training January Update

I have only 7 weeks left until my first full marathon at Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC. I’m using the Nike Marathon plan and in short, training has been going well.

At this stage I have confidence that I’ll complete it. But will I walk away with a great result? Will I walk away at all?

I know a lot of runners aspire to quality for the Boston marathon. I’m not shooting for Boston — not this time.

But my heart is not set on running Boston. In fact, there’s many other marathons I’d love to run first — Big Sur! New York City! Missoula! Honolulu! Chicago! Check out the BibRave 100 for more ideas!

BTW if you do wish to qualify for Boston, the Tobacco Road Marathon is one of the best marathons to qualify with. It’s a fairly flat course and helps send many runners to Boston.

On race day I’m hoping for as close to 4:00 as possible, which would mean a pace of 9:05/mi or faster for 26.freaking2 miles. I’m not there yet. Not for that distance. I do have some encouraging news to share though.

Upon examination of my last few long runs, I’m seeing progress. Even though the runs are getting longer, I am running them faster! I just need to shave off another 15 seconds per mile, which I think is doable.

Long runs are scary.

Just writing this post is making me think about my next long run and freak out a little.

I’m still experimenting with fueling, not having gone this kind of distance before, and it’s been hard to get it right. At the moment I’m using a combination of gels and granola bars.

I do know that Chicken Biryani the night before is a bad idea.

So while I have 7 weeks left until the marathon, the hard work is nearly over. I have really only 2 super long runs left. 18 miles again this weekend, a drop to 14 the week after and then the big one — 22 miles! 😨

There’s still time to sign up. At the time of writing, both the half and the full marathon have slots available. Use code TRMRAVE19 to get $20 off registration.