Monday, February 6, 2017

Using Google Maps offline

Quick and dirty tutorial on downloading and searching coordinates on Google Maps. It's not totally intuitive, and it's changed recently.

This guide is written for Android, though iPhone I would hope is similar.

Open the Google Maps app. Tap the 3 horizontal lines in the upper left of the app (I've heard this symbol called the 'Hamburger')

Touch the 'Offline Areas' menu option
Touch 'Custom Area'.
Use the box to download a selected area. Pinch to zoom or expand the area as needed. Touch 'Download'
Watch the progress of the download.
Once the area is completely downloaded, you can test the process by going to your phones settings and putting it in 'Airplane' Mode, even in airplane mode the GPS should still work (if not, go to the settings option 'Location' and turn just that option back on). Search for a known GPS coordinate within your downloaded area, and it should display on the Map. Even without cell service you can use maps!

While this doesn't give you turn by turn navigation, it does give you the ability to search coordinates.

Other mapping software uses similar methods for offline use of maps. Personally, I have the paid version of Gaia GPS, which has USGS maps, as well as some open source hiking trail maps.


Friday, December 9, 2016

I May Run Like a Turkey...

...but at least I don't sound like one (usually)!!

Run Report Card

Friday Nov 18 - 20 - nada
Monday Nov 21 - 2.38 miles running

Tuesday Nov 22 - 2.21 miles running

Wednesday Nov 23 - 10.5 mile section hike on the Appalachian Trail. My dad and I hiked SoBo from Wolfesville Rd to Rt 40 in Maryland.

Thursday Nov 24 - Turkey!!! (and Sloth)
Friday Nov 25 - 2 miles walking - Opted Outside - Went to Bears Den and took a friend out on a small section of the AT. Drank a beer outside of Dirt Farm Brewery, since I was in the area. Flew drones with my buddy.

Saturday Nov 26 - 1 mile walking - Christmas tree hunting, mostly.

Sunday Nov 27 - 1 mile walking, 3.25 miles running

Monday, November 21, 2016


Challenges this month will be a few. The days continue to get shorter, and shorter still after Day Light Savings takes effect. Colder temperatures will insist I stay indoors, a notion I will need to ignore and go outside anyway! I traveled for work for a week and a half. And I got sick (booooooo to whoever hand this off to me).

I am hopeful I can overcome these hurdles and continue progressing and maintaining. I am feeling better every run, stronger, faster. On travel, I'll be in San Francisco, right on Fisherman's Wharf - there's plenty of places to run right out the front door in either direction on the San Francisco Bay Trail.

But I digress! That's last week, here's the last several weeks:

Tuesday Nov 1 - 3 miles walking, 1.43 running
Wednesday Nov 2 - 1.92 walking, 1.09 running
Thursday Nov 3 - 1.74 walking, 1.4 running
Friday Nov 4 - Sunday Nov 6 - A slovenly waste of nothingness
Monday Nov 7 - 2.52 walking, 2.05 running
Tuesday Nov 8 - 4.68 Running

Wednesday Nov 9 - Friday 11 - Traveled on Wednesday, worked early to late Thursday and Friday, plus sick!
Saturday Nov 12 - Walked 2.37, Ran 1.13
Great run in Los Gatos with Daniel, my cousin. He knew of some great trails right by Testarosa Winery. Great views, nice trails. Beautiful day for it.
Sunday Nov 13 - Walked 2.65
Monday Nov 14 - Walked 1.89
Tuesday Nov 15 - Walked 1.71
Wednesday Nov 16 - Walked 3.75, Ran 2

Thursday Nov 17 - Walked 3.63, Ran 1.8

While in San Francisco I got the City Pass and on Sunday went to the California Academy of Sciences, and took a boat tour with Blue and Gold Fleet from Pier 39. The following day took the Muni Cable Car to work and went to the Aquarium of the Bay in the evening. I wanted to also go to the Exploratorium but ran out of time to get down there.

I really enjoyed the Californian Academy of Sciences - the planetarium show was very engaging, the Earthquake house, the aquarium, and the green roof were all very cool exhibits.

The Blue and Gold Fleet boat ride was great, especially the timing. I went on the last ride of the evening - sunny on the way out, and the sun set just as the boat was going under the Golden Gate, then the Super Moon was coming up over Alcatraz as the boat was coming back into port.
The Muni Cable Car wasn't a bad option for a commute - though Uber is faster, the view was way better as the Cable Car goes up over some hills. The operators are all very good at their jobs, for a task that takes a lot of skill and practice.

The Aquarium of the Bay was smaller than I envisioned, but in that small space they crammed a lot of decent exhibits. The aquarium tunnels were very cool, being able to see fish in all directions was awesome.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Crispy, Crunchy, Dash thru Autumn

Another wonderful autumn week, full of chills and thrills - and some ghouls and goblins. I always say, run like death is chasing you. Ok, I've never said that, and death would've caught me long ago. More like run like a crippled ground hog with a bad attitude is thinking about eventually starting pursuit.

Tuesday Oct 25th -  2.8 walking, 1.3 running
Wednesday Oct 26th - 1.3 walking, 1.4 running
Thursday Oct 27th - 1.6 walking, 2.1 running
Friday Oct 28th - Trail Run!
Route 9 Keys Gap crossing of the AT SoBo

This turned out to be a great part of the AT to run. Forgiving, in that it's not too rocky or rooty. Most of the inclines and declines are shallow enough that you can keep running up them without getting really winded.
I ran up over the high hill beyond the David Lesser Shelter cut-off, onto Buzzard Rocks and down the hill beyond that. I was running to 4 miles, then turning around and heading back.
I have noticed that it takes me a solid 3 miles to warm up; the first 3 are torturous, my shins just really hurt and it's really a mental battle to keep pushing. Once I'm warm though I don't want to stop, I'm able to pace myself and not get my heart rate up too high.

Sunday Oct 30th - 1 walking, 1.8 running
Monday Oct 31st - A nice cool day, I decided to try the W&OD. The main multi-use path is blacktop, but right next to it the is a dirt/gravel path that is perfect for trail running. The other nice part of the parallel path, beyond staying out of the bikers way, is that it gains and loses elevation way more than the blacktop path. I appreciate an incline and decline occasionally! 
Google Fit
MapMyRun (by Under Armour)

I'm testing different apps side-by-side. I'll write another post on my finding and review several before publishing my findings.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Shoes Post - Brooks Cascadia 11

I've not run for... awhile. I've hiked, oh how I've hiked, but running - not so much.

In fact my running shoes are from 2009. Saucony Omni 8's. Since then the world has changed, I've changed. I've hiked a few thousand miles, I even jogged a few of those miles. But most of those miles have been on trails, and many of those miles were in the Salomon X Ultra 2.

For the past couple weeks, I'd broken out my old running shoes. The rubber on the bottom felt a bit odd, like it had hardened over the years. The running itself felt good though! On my trail runs I've been wearing my hiking shoes - Salewa Wildfire. The Wildfire is a great shoe, but it's an approach shoe, not designed with trail running in mind. Both, while comfortable enough, leave something to be desired.

Songbird and I went to Potomac Running Store yesterday at the Village of Leesburg to browse some shoes. Fortunately this store has a good selection of trail runners too, unlike their other stores. I tried a few on, while also researching online and I found the Brooks Cascadia 11 to be the most comfortable. I'll give a decent review of the shoe once I've put a few miles on them. The employees at the store were super helpful too. Songbird also got a pair of shoes while we were there, and I think she may have tried on every pair they had available! But I think she did great to find the perfect pair to meet her needs.

Of course, when you get some new kicks, you also need to get new Green Superfeet insoles and some awesome new Swiftwick cushiony socks too!

And it's a great day to throw out some OLD shoes!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A New Hope

Since the trail run a couple Thursdays ago, I've been slowly training and upping my activity levels (going from a stroll around the block to anything is upping!). First couple days after the trail run my muscles were awesomely sore! I rested a day and dove back in.

Below is my weekly(+) summary of activities.

Friday Oct 14 - 2.3 miles walking, .4 running
Monday Oct 17 - 1.3 walking, 1.2 running
Tuesday Oct 18 - 2.8 walking, 1.6 running
Wednesday Oct 19 - 2.5 walking, 1.2 running
Thursday Oct 20 - 1.8 walking
Friday Oct 21 - 1 hour stationary bike
Saturday Oct 22 - 1 hour stair-climber
Monday Oct 23 - 3.1 walking, 1.2 running

Not a terrible start to do after work, and on a cruise in the Bahamas. Definitely need to begin extending the runs, but it for sure feels better already. Plus the cooler weather is awesome to run in! This week I'll see some time to do another trail run on Thursday or Friday.

Some challenges up-coming will be a bunch or travel, cold weather, and shorter days. I'll negotiate them all and keep posting progress!! Songbird and I will be doing cross fit which will definitely help get us through both dark and cold times! Work travel, I'll need to very actively set time aside in the morning or evening to hit the treadmill or find area close to the hotels to run.

On the note of the cruise, went out of Miami for a work knowledge exchange. Good to see a lot of familiar faces, really good to catch up with everyone! While only a long weekend, the trip was enjoyable!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Trail Runner

I've been needing a personal physical goal for awhile. After completing the Appalachian Trail in 2012, it took me a year to not have incredibly vivid flashbacks pretty much all the time. So that was really a recovery year.

Lately I've been way less active than I've wanted to be; hiking on the occasional weekend, backpacking a few times a year, a very infrequent bike ride. Goal-less.

When Songbird asked if I wanted to join Crossfit, I said "No", I didn't feel like doing that. When she alluded to it in conversation I didn't respond, when she asked again more adamantly I began to introspect as to why I had no interest. I found that I didn't want to do it just for the 'health' of it. I would, however, want to do it had I a goal. I am very goal oriented.

Well, the last hike I did was nearly 25 miles - 16 miles the first day, the rest the following day. We'd started at 10am and finished by 4. We had 30+ pound packs. And WOW was I sore the few days afterward. Really muscle sore. But the thing is - I LIKE muscle soreness. Maybe not that sore though. I began thinking about that trail in particular. We could've done it in a day. Easy(-ish). Started earlier, carried less. If I could've easily (I say that sarcastically because it would've whipped my butt, more so I know I could've been able to to complete it - I would've had to dig deep though) done that trail in a day, could I go further? Could I go much further? Could I do the Four State Challenge VA to PA (43+ miles)? Could I do 50? Could I go all the way around the Massanutten Trail (71 miles)? Could I do the entirety of the AT in Shenandoah (105.3)? I might be able to - with training.

Karl Meltzer is 48, and a bad-ass. Anish is just an ultra-bad-ass.Jennifer Pharr-Davis. Scott Jurek. All recently have beaten the AT speed record. Now I'm not saying I'm going to try to attain that, or even any Long Distance hiking trail. I don't have the desire to do that for 48 days. But if they can do it for 48 days consecutively - I might be able to do it for a SINGLE day, right?!

A did a few marathon+ plus days while hiking the AT. My training ground was... every day before that. I can't train that way any longer, I've obligations, an awesome understanding wife that I like to see, a wonderful house that I like sleeping in, and great friends I get to see on the weekends and during the week. Doing Crossfit as part of the equation makes sense. I've got my goal now. I want to see how far I can go on foot, more importantly, on a trail.

To that end, I began today. I went for a 5.5 mile run according to the mapped mileage (5.9 mile run according to GPS, which is what I'll be posting). It felt GOOD. After I warmed up. I walked up the hills, and ran on the flats and downhill sections. I trip less and have a more surer gait when I'm going fast. I focus on the trail in front of me, get into a zone, and feel like I'm floating over the terrain - rocks roots and all.I've done bits like this before, but never in a premeditated way with a goal.

I'm going to begin posting here weekly with stats for the week, including when I start Crossfit with Songbird, and what other activities I'm doing. I'll be using this as a log for myself, as well as a convenient (and public!) place to track progress. Also, to tell others a goal is a way to keep focused and to keep training! I'll also use this as a place to rate the trails I'm training on, when I'm able to actually train on trails.

I ran from Route 7 to Raven Rocks. I actually really like this for this type of training. At close to 6 miles out and back it can be done fairly quickly. It also helps this is the closest nice trail to the house. It has a lot of roots and rocks, with some nice gentle grades, as well as some steeper sections. And the view at the mid-way point is great, with some nice rocks to lay down on and stretch out on, if need be (I needed it!). It took me about 3 miles to warm up, but on the way back from the view after the short rest, I felt awesome, really loose and limber. A wonderful fall day, with squirrels everywhere, deer, and a few backpackers that offered to be my support staff when I go to break the record (whoa there fellas, don't put that on me!!)