29 July 2017


It is Public Service Announcement time!

As Samuel L. Jackson might have asked in a TV commercial, "What is in your wallet, MOFO?"  Some day the majority of people will do everything with their smartphones and may not carry a wallet any more.  For now, most of us still do and sadly, sometimes the wallet get lost or stolen.

I read a tip a long time ago that said we all should regularly lay out the various cards we carry in our wallet and photocopy them for record-keeping.  I know, photocopy, I said it's an old tip, didn't I?  These days everything is photographed by the smartphone, like I just did below.  Of course yours won't have the white rectangle when you do it.  Yes, I have many more items in my wallet, but the four shown are enough to illustrate the point.  Yes, I like reward accounts.

The idea is to have all the important info from the cards in your wallet in a convenient location.  You would have the cards laid out, snap a photo, then flip them over and snap the other side.  Ten cards per layout may be the optimal number.  Should the unfortunate thing happens (your wallet is lost!), you would go back to these photos and call your credit card companies etc to cancel the accounts or update them on your situation.  Sure you can be more diligent and create a spreadsheet, or something better, to track your wallet, but I am sure snapping photos works best for most people.

It is probably best to print out the photos you took and keep the prints in some safe location at home.  If your wallet is stolen, the smartphone may be stolen along with it.  To be extra safe, delete the photos from the smartphone, or whatever camera you used to snap them, no chance the info is gleaned should someone play around with your phone.

May your wallet be with you for a long time!

23 July 2017


Captain America appears a few times, in the form of a pep talk video, in the movie Spiderman: Homecoming.  One of the topic he talked about is Patience.  Sometimes you need lots of it.

I have an intense interest in seeing my map updated in CityStrides. But I need a lot of patience.  It is nice that syncing happens transparently but there is a big backlog that resulted during the transition period.  I'm now at 13% completed for Brooklyn but I only noticed it today.  While I don't run in Brooklyn as much as I like to, I do try to target not-yet-ran streets and that strategy seems to pay off.  I just have to be patient and wait for syncing to happen with Strava, which seems pretty quick, but with Runkeeper the activities usually show up 24 hours afterward.  I usually use Strava for runs then keep track of walks in Runkeeper.  I don't want to inundate my Strava feed with the short walks that I do during lunch or at places of business that I visit.  Once the activities show up, you have to be patient and wait for the Streets Completed and Streets Progressed to be calculated.  A little more time then the city completion rates will be calculated.  In this case, Patience has its rewards.

There is a forum where questions get answered by James Chevalier himself.  I visit it from times to times to see what's going on.  If someone already asked a question that I have then I'll just wait for it to be answered instead of throwing out more of the same questions.

One interesting tidbit I recently learned is that city percent completion has little to do with street length.  Personally I like to run long, like from one end of town to the other, as far as possible without being late for work or other important aspects of life.  One long line by one long line I would have a grid created.  While the map then looks nice, if those streets I ran are long and I don't have them 90% completed, then they don't contribute to the percent completed.  On the other hand, if I find the many short streets and complete them, my percent completed will shoot up sharply.  It feels like cheating but that's how it's done.

Given enough time, those big zeroes for Streets Completed and Streets Progressed will be resolved to some non-zero numbers.  Unless I ran in some big parking lot just because I like to have lines all over the super-block.

New on the 13% map is "Adam" and his cowbell in Sunset Park, the inaugural Coney Island Creek 5K, which took place inside Kaiser Park, which I already ran many times, but thanks to a short pre-race warm-up and a post-race walk, a few more streets turned purple.

18 July 2017


I'm pretty good at spelling out letters and words during my runs, as seen in "Crystal" and "Heather" below, some recent samples.

Naturally, my friends asked if I ever drew actual pictures, not just letters and numbers.  While I did a few, the majority of my run arts have been limited to just letters and numbers.  With my special block-cutting technique, technically anything can be drawn, given enough time and proper planning.  And so I did, recently, advance to the next phase of my run art, with "Jimmy" and "Adam". 

With the "Jimmy" piece, there is this roundabout traffic circle in Glen Oaks, Queens that I have yet covered on my CityStrides map. I have this friend Jimmy who is well-known for his strong appetite. The roundabout made a perfect food item, whether a bagel or a donut.  The fun got better as I tried to include a bite mark in the food item.  Of course, I had to use my virtual trespassing technique to make the bite mark.

Adam is another friend in the run community.  A great runner himself, he loves to cheer fellow runners with his cowbells.  Not just the small cowbells somewhat cube-ish type, but the real, rectangular ones.  Every year, Prospect Park Track Club has a dinner party at which members receive awards as voted by the club.    In past years, the awards came in the form of a plaque or similar form.  In 2016, someone came up with the excellent idea of awarding cowbells!  So useful!  Adam won in two categories and now often carry them to the cheer zone, thus in my run art there's a cowbell after his name.  To achieve the angular shape of the cowbell, I again resorted to cutting through city blocks.

15 July 2017


I like pleasant surprises.

My friend Josh was instrumental in helping to bring back the Brooklyn Triple Crown series of footraces.  The series ran for many years but after Hurricane Sandy hit New York the series went away.  I already knew about the Staten Island Triple Crown and even ran two out of the three races.  The same people, Complete Race Solutions and the Staten Island Athletic Club, organize both series.

For some reason I thought the Coney Island Creek 5K (CIC5K) was going to take place on a Sunday.  It's summertime and the family wants to have things to do on Sundays so it appeared I wouldn't be able to participate.  What I love about the CIC5K is it was really close to home.  It is basically within Kaiser Park near Mark Twain Middle School.  I used to run there regularly.  I cannot stand races that require me to travel more than an hour, wait around perhaps another hour, then do the race in 30 minutes or more, then another trek to get home.  With the CIC5K, I would be able to just walk over, 20 minutes maybe, 30 minutes top.

Eventually I realized that the race would be on a Saturday.  Sure I could register but I was going to take advantage of the special discount on Independence Day.  I should have registered during the day because in the evening the family watched the fireworks display on the beach of Coney Island and the exodus from the area was horrible.  I don't know for sure what caused the traffic jam, maybe just too many cars leaving the area at the same, from the fireworks and from the soccer game at MCU Park.  Or maybe it was because of some FDNY truck blocking one of the lane.  Whatever it was, I got home really late and missed the discount deadline.  I was bummed.  But then Thursday night I happened to pass by the packet pickup site, VitaminShoppe at Caesar's Bay.  I figured it's a local race that I want to support so I finally registered that evening.

I did walk to the race site, in 31 minutes according to Strava.  I met friend Sheldon for a warmup run on the nearby streets.  At the NYRR Queens 10K a few weeks ago, I also had a warmup run and I felt better during and after the actual race.  I thought from now on I should always have a warmup run.  Besides, I need to cross off a few streets in the area, for CityStrides.com of course.  I am sure I ran the nearby streets before, somehow the lines don't show in CityStrides.  As more friends show up, I learn that Jimmy is in my age group and I joked that my hope for first-place age group is dashed, I would have to settle for second-place.  With the typical NYRR and NYCRuns races, the number of participants is so large that the chance of a slowpoke like me winning anything is infinitesimally small.  The chance is greater with the smaller races and there are many such races in the City.  I recently turned 50 years old too so there is hope there too.  One popular joke is that if you live long enough, eventually as long as you finish a race you'll win because you'll be the only person in the Age Group.  There weren't that many people at the CIC5K but I didn't know who else were in my Age Group, other than Jimmy.  I would just have to do my best and hope for the best.

There was no start mat.  When the time came, the race director walked the group over to the starting line and, after a few speeches, gave us the signal to go.  I was only a tad behind the starting line, probably at the fifth row, with about five or six people per row.  I jokingly asked "Where is Corral L?"  There was no need for a corral, just a small group of people.  During the warmup run, my left knee felt a bit weird.  The pain seemed to travel down below the calf but it went away afterward.  I did more stretching during the wait for the race to start.  Whatever it was I held back a bit in the beginning.  It was a bit scary to see all the runners in front of me taking off.  I just kept my regular pace.  There was no need to dodge slow runners because there were not that many people and the course was wide enough.  One by one I passed the kids then the women who went into walking mode.  I know, nothing to write home about, but in the running world, lots of time the little kids are pretty fast and so are the women.  Just as I started to pass the front of Mark Twain M.S., some guys started to pass me.  I thought they were such fast runners that they already started to lap me, even though I didn't even hit the first mile yet.  I found out later that they were late-comers, speedy ones, who thought the race was scheduled for 9 A.M.  It was 8:30 A.M. but got delayed a bit.  I kept moving and again passed two more women.  There was a third woman but I couldn't catch up to her in the first mile.  By the second mile, she had to take walking break and it was my chance to pass her but before I did that she resumed running.  A short while later, by the sandy portion of the course, she walked again and this time I actually passed her.  My lead was short-lived as she resumed running shortly after I passed her and she regained the lead.  Unfortunately for her not long after passing me she had to walk again.  I once again passed her and kept going.  I should have studied the course better and only knew vaguely that it was two times around the park, that the third time I hit the entrance to the track I should enter it for about a loop of the track.  I wasn't sure by the time I finished the second loop of the park and had to ask the race director to confirm.  I was so glad it was over.  Hot and humid weather does not work well for me.  I perform better in cold weather.

Award ceremony took place by registration table.  First we had the overall winners then came the Age Group awards.  Many of my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club won Age Group awards, many in first-place.  For my Age Group, 50-59, when the third-place winner was announced and it wasn't me, my hope was dashed.  Oh well, run faster or find another small race, I thought.  But it turned out I was the second-place winner, with Jimmy in first-place, just as I joked before the race.  Pleasant surprise indeed!

Last month I ran the Harbor Fitness 5K in Bayridge.  There were many raffle prizes given out but I didn't win anything.  In the days leading up to the CIC5K, Josh had many announcements on Facebook about so-and-so sponsors had come on-board and will offer raffle prizes.  In addition to the Chipotle BOGO coupon and $2 (?) Coney Island Brewing Co. that every runner would get, that is.  There were indeed many prizes, ranging from baseball caps to socks then $15 Grimaldi coupon and $25 Brooklyn Running Co. gift card.  There were other very high-valued prizes too that I cannot recall at the moment.  Knowing my luck, I didn't expect much but when the winner for the last $25 BRC gift card was picked, the person wasn't present and my number was picked!  Woohoo!  Second-place Age Group AND a $25 gift card, the day sure started on a good note!