The FitnessBank Step Challenge with Des Linden

Disclaimer: I participated in the FitnessBank Des Linden Spring Step Challenge 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!

Have you ever wondered how many steps a two-time Olympian, AND Boston Marathon winner takes in a day? I have.

Thanks to FitnessBank partnering with Des Linden, I can actually find this out.

By joining the FitnessBank Des Linden Spring Step challenge, you not only getting to step along with Des, but have many opportunities to win great prizes, including Brooks running shoes, and free race entries for a year, etc.

You do not need a FitnessBank Bank account to participate to use the Step counter or participate in the challenges. The group on the FitnessBank app is called Des’ Running Group.

I’m a bit of stats freak and track daily steps with my Garmin watch. I was happy to find out that my Garmin account is automatically synced with my FitnessBank account. This means all I need to do is pull up the app and see how I’m doing against the competition!

What a crazy time we’re living in! The gyms are closed, fitness classes are canceled, and cabin fever is rearing its ugly head. A lot of people are looking for alternative ways to keep fit. Walking and running (while practicing social distancing) are some of the activities people are exploring more, and counting steps is a great way to stay motivated.

The actual challenge runs until the end of May, so jump right in now for a chance to win. The FitnessBank step is free, and can be downloaded from the Android and Apple stores.

How To Create Multi-Frame Run Photos

I’ve been creating running photos like this for a while now and recently people have been asking how it is done.

It started off with a fascination with floating photos, where both feet are off the ground. I expanded this to pull multiple frames from the same video and stitch them together to create images like above.

The complete process is carried out on an iPhone using apps Snapseed and Over. These apps are free and are available for both iOS and Android.

The Process

When I first started posting floating shots, the technique behind that was to take some slow-motion video (to provide the most usable frames) and screenshot the frame I needed.

This process builds upon that. You start with some slow-motion video, ensuring the background does not move. Then screenshot a number of non-overlapping frames from the video.

Before merging begins, you may want to enhance the individual frames in your favorite mobile photo editor. I use Snapseed for this task.

If you decide to crop, ensure each frame is cropped identically. I recommend leaving cropping and any straightening until after the merge stage.

To merge the frames I use Over, as it supports layers in a project. I load in the first image, and then immediately load the second image, ensuring it is sized and positioned correctly.

For some reason, Over adds subsequent images a little smaller than original size. To fix this, use the resize tool to increase to 125%. Be careful, not to move the photo.

Once it’s positioned correctly, use the mask tool to remove just enough of the 2nd photo so you can see yourself underneath. If you use the feathered mask tool, it will blend a lot better.

If you are a bit too aggressive with the mask tool, Over has a reverse mask tool to allow you to put pieces back. You can also zoom in to work on more intricate areas.

Continue the process of adding images for as many frames that you captured. Once all layers have been merged, export the image from Over.

Once exported, I usually bring it back into Snapseed to straighten and crop. It is now ready to post on your socials! I would love to see your creations, so please tag me if possible!

Here’s a video of the process I made while processing one of these images.

Why do you run, Alastair Vance?

About Alastair

Welcome to a 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.

It’s-a-me! I’ve blogged about many other runners over the course of this series, and now with the launch of the #releasetherunner movement, it felt like a great time to share my own story.

I was never an athletic kid. I was the kid who dodged team sports and would rather spend the time in the band room, or art room. I suffered from childhood asthma, so it never took long for me to lose my breath when forced to participate.

It was my wife Liz that first started to run. I had absolutely no interest in it. She would keep asking me to join her, or try it for myself — and I did — but it never lasted long.

To find out what finally kicked my butt, and made me stick at it, keeping reading…

Continue reading “Why do you run, Alastair Vance?”

Hot Chocolate 15k Minneapolis Has Been Cancelled

Disclaimer: I am promoting Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis 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!

Running a Hot Chocolate Race in Jan 2019

Attention: A Due to the concern surrounding the coronavirus, and the government’s rolling mandate around no public gatherings, we have made the unfortunate decision not to hold the upcoming Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Minneapolis race at Boom Island Park. Registration is currently closed, but you can register for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Virtual Run here. is in effect for Minneapolis.

This news often brings a bit of disappointment for runners, especially if we’ve been busy training and preparing for a race for weeks and weeks. It can also bring further headache when flights and hotels are involved.

Unfortunately this is the season we are in.

The first thing to remember is that race directors are on our side. They are in this business for the same reason we are — the buzz of race day! A lot of work goes into putting a race on, so cancellation is not an easy decision for them to make.

In a lot of recent cases the decision is totally out of the race director’s hands and mandated by the town/city, or even the state.

When it comes to the Hot Chocolate 15k Minneapolis, I was only helping to promote it, not run it. However, at least five of my other actual races have been either cancelled, postponed, or converted to virtual. And that’s just through April!

The Hot Chocolate races are awesome! I’ve ran Hot Chocolate Charlotte a couple of times. It’s a huge and well organized event. Like any large event at the moment, it presents many opportunities for the COVID-19 virus to meet new people and travel back to new areas.

Fortunately, Hot Chocolate are offering all their runners a virtual option, so you still get all that amazing race swag, delivered straight to your door. You can then run YOUR race anywhere and upload your results to the Hot Chocolate website.

So, you still get all the gear and you can still (and should) run the distance — don’t let all that training go to waste!

What about flights & hotel? I have no personal experience with flights, but I did have a hotel booked for a half marathon in Virginia Beach this weekend. In fact, I’m supposed to be there right now, partying with my BibRave peeps at a Summit I’d been looking forward to all year.

I’ll be honest, when other races were starting to cancel, I was still considering driving up with my wife and having a quiet weekend at the beach. Then things started to escalate so quickly and it became apparent that it would not be a wise decision.

I was able to call the hotel and get my reservation cancelled and fully refunded, even though it was past the normal cancellation window. They were very understanding and took care of it without any issues.

I’ve heard similar stories for those who had booked flights. Airlines are being flexible and allowing passengers to re-book flights at no charge.

So I think the key is, to stay calm and make alternative arrangements to run your race locally. I do not encourage you to organize a large group run to complete your virtual race, but maybe throw on your AfterShokz, call a friend and have them support you throughout your run — from a distance.

And for no other reason, other than that last line reminding me of the song. Apparently even God is practicing social distancing. You’re welcome.

Body Helix Compression Sleeve Review

Disclaimer: I received a Body Helix Elbow Compression Sleeve to review 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!

Let me tell you a story.

For Christmas I received a gorgeous new GPS watch. My wife had totally surprised me. She had spent way more than I would have, if I’d have been shopping for myself, and she also played me.

You see, leading up to Christmas, my friend PRETENDED he was looking for a new Garmin watch and was fishing for recommendations. Well, it wasn’t my money, so I recommended the Garmin Fenix series, or the Forerunner 935/945.

Turns out he wasn’t looking a new watch at all! My wife was orchestrating the whole thing behind my back to try and find out what watch I’d like.

The day after Christmas I headed to the track with my shiny new Fenix 5X Plus — the watch of my dreams….

About a mile or so into my workout, I started to get a pain in my left side. I just knew it was the watch, since I used to get similar issues when running with a water bottle in my hand. The Fenix weighed more than twice the weight of my previous Forerunner 230, but it was still only 96g. Good grief! I just needed some time to get used to it, I thought.

I continued to train with the watch, and I continued to end up with more aches and pains. A few weeks in and now I was experiencing pain in my elbow and wrist. This wasn’t getting better.

In the end, after much deliberation, I returned the Fenix 5X Plus and ordered a Forerunner 945 instead. Best decision ever! I still had some pain but I knew the Forerunner wasn’t contributing to that. I just had to let my arm recover now.

As if by divine appointment, an opportunity to test Body Helix compression sleeves came along at exactly the right time. I opted for an elbow sleeve and as instructed online, measured my arm to ensure correct sizing. When the sleeve arrived it fitted perfectly.

I have ran multiple track workouts, long runs, interval sessions, all while wearing the Body Helix elbow compression sleeve. You can feel the extra support as soon as you slide it on.

It was the support my elbow needed. I started to wear it for all my runs and it has been helping tremendously. In only a few short weeks my arm is almost back to normal.

I have been through a ton of compression gear over the last year for different injuries and pains, at times even sending products back because they didn’t fit properly. I have not had that kind of experience with Body Helix. They have definitely helped me, as their tag line states, “move through it”.

Here are some things I really like about Body Helix and their wraps/sleeves:

  • You can choose from a large range of sleeves for upper and lower body.
  • Body Helix take fit very seriously! Recently they noticed one customer on Instagram whose sleeves were bunching up. They sent him new sleeves in a better size. That’s amazing customer service!
  • You can put these sleeves through the washer and dryer with no issues.
  • The material and build of these sleeves are of very high quality.
  • The material seems to be fairly breathable and is very comfortable to wear.
  • Body Helix products are recommended by doctors and rehab specialists.
  • They are based in North Carolina!
  • And last, but not least, you can take 15% off your order on BodyHelix.com by using code BH15BR

If you’re still not convinced, or you’re looking for a review on one of the other Body Helix products, check out the following:

2020 Krispy Kreme Challenge – Race Review

Who runs 2.5 miles, eats one dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and then runs another 2.5 miles to the finish — all within an hour? Not this guy…

You see, I already learnt my lesson. I just can’t eat that many doughnuts. I tried the challenge a few years ago and could only manage nine doughnuts before I’d had enough.

So this year I grabbed my box, ate two, then pushed through the crowds and ran on. In the same period, my daughter consumed five doughnuts. I’m saying nothing.

I run this race for the buzzing atmosphere, for the people in ridiculous costumes, and for the puddles-of-puke obstacle course. It’s also for a great cause, with the proceeds going to North Carolina Children’s hospital.

There was one guy, back on the course after the doughnut stop, still trying to swallow multiple doughnuts that he’d crammed in his mouth. He was running with a group of friends. I heard his friend encourage him, “Think about the kids!”, as he continued to gag.

There was two lads in a horse costume, the guy at the back running completely in the dark. I heard someone shout, “any chance of a ride?”. I bet they’d heard this a dozen times throughout the race, but they replied in good humor, “Sure, hop on! It can’t get any worse!”

One other memory is of a poor guy in a Care Bear suit. I was actually worried about him. His face was pained, red faced and he was breathing real loud and heavy. I had doubts he’d make it, but he survived. I saw him at the end.

Is really is an event for everyone!

Why do you run, Brendan Mulholland?

About Brendan

Welcome to a 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.

How do I know Brendan? This man is like a brother to me. I’m known Brendan for years and always try to catch up when I’m back home.

Some of my first memories of Brendan is him running 16 miles out along country roads, and past my house. I used to think he was absolutely crazy.

I’ve also watched him participate in triathlons down at Daft Eddy’s, which is a wonderful spot for a pint if you’re ever in Ireland.

These days, he’s not as active as he used to be, but still enjoys getting out for a run. 🙂

Continue reading “Why do you run, Brendan Mulholland?”

Reading in 2019

Of all the books I read in 2019, the following deserve a mention. Did you read any of these? Or do you have some recommendations for my 2020 reading list?

  • In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Small Fry: A Memoir – Lisa Brennan-Jobs
  • Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigations of a Lifetime – Ron Stallworth
  • The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery – by Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile
  • Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future – Pete Buttigieg
  • Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E. Frankl, Harold S. Kushner (Foreword), William J. Winslade (Afterword), Isle Lasch (Translator)
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church – Rachel Held Evans
  • David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants – Malcolm Gladwell
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis – J.D. Vance
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Foreword), Patton Oswalt (Afterword), Paul Haynes (Contributor), Billy Jensen (Contributor)
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption – Laura Hillenbrand

Running in 2019

  • Ran a half marathon in Ireland — so scenic!
  • Ran my first full marathon EVER. Meh.
  • Had my first serious running injury — Peroneal Tendonitis. Spent 4 weeks in a boot and many weeks recovering.
  • Fell out of love with Hokas.
  • Used an online running coach to help me get back on my feet.
  • I got in a few runs in Maui, HI. Can I go back?
  • Started an effort to radically reduce meat in my diet — and yes, it was before I heard of, or watched Game Changers. 😉
  • Welcomed Hokas back into my life.
  • Didn’t trail run nearly as much as I should have.
  • Started a new training plan – Hanson’s Half Marathon Method. So rigid and mileage heavy, but I like it.
  • Started training for the Anthem Shamrock Half Marathon in Virgina Beach. Hoping for a PR.
  • Fell short of my annual 1000 mile goal, but ran my biggest month EVER in December at 160 miles.
  • Back again in 2020 as a BibRave Pro.
  • Fell out of love with Hokas again. I need new shoes.

Lightweight Running Mittens from Turtle Gloves

Disclaimer: I received a pair of Turtle Gloves Lightweight Running Mittens to review 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!

While mittens can look like sleeping bags for my hands, don’t be fooled, Turtle Gloves convertible mittens are more functional than they first appear!

If you don’t know already, mittens are generally considered warmer than gloves. This is because our fingers can generate quite a bit of heat when they are together rather than separated by fabric.

If you don’t know already, mittens are generally considered warmer than gloves. This is because our fingers can generate quite a bit of heat when they are together rather than separated by fabric.

The drawback with mittens, is that you don’t have full use of your fingers. Well, Turtle Gloves has solved this by introducing mittens that can convert quickly to expose your fingers.

This is an easy procedure that can be done on the run without the need to stop. I had to do this on practically every run, not because I needed my fingers, but because they were too warm!

I have tested the gloves in temperatures ranging from the mid-twenties to late forties, so the fact my fingers got too warm is amazing because these gloves are so thin.

The particular model I was testing is not available for purchase yet, we were fortunate to try out the prototype. They are made from Polartec Power Dry fabric, which means they are lightweight, moisture wicking, fast drying and water repellent.

And bonus – you can safely machine wash and tumble dry them!

The gloves go up the arm, covering my watch, so I ended up wearing my watch on top of the gloves. This wasn’t an issue at all, since the material is very thin.

I definitely plan to continue using these gloves for the remainder of my winter training. I run outside a lot, and the flexibility of these mittens avoid me having to interrupt an interval session to remove gloves and store them in my pockets. With Turtle Gloves, I can just flip them over and roll them back as needed.

I have a discount code that will take 15% off at turtlegloves.com. Just use code TURTLEGLOVESBR when checking out.