Pilgrim’s Progress

With only 2 days left to cover off 3 tube lines the pressure was on today.

All started positively as my hacking cough ensured I had a spacious seating arrangement on the tube as it transported me across to the other side of the metropolis.

Pilgrims Progress

I started to feel a bit more jaded as I headed up towards city boy land and already my plan to tick off two lines this evening was beginning to seem a bit optimistic.

Running alongside pubs spilling out at the seams with pinstriped blokes holding cold beers is not appealing to me very much at the moment. I’m quite looking forward to the return of my genteel river runs and an end to public transport, running in bus lanes and pretty much anything east of Westminster Bridge.


The new Garmin wasn’t performing very well either. Out in the sticks the 405 seems noticeably faster than the 305 but within the square mile it is equally useless, the Nokia N82 in contrast was able to pinpoint my location in seconds.

I’m going to have to do some considerable jiggery pokery with the route before I can publish the map, it didn’t lock on to a signal until I found myself wandering around a beautiful burial ground right at the city limits. Bunhill Fields hides the bones of many plague victims, tipped into unmarked pits as well as some fine memorials to notable authors such as Bunyan and Defoe.

Moorfields Eye Hospital

I came out of the graveyard to find all the passers by had lost an eye. It was quite surreal, I must have passed about 10 people with either bulging eyeballs or whopping great bandages obscuring half their face. I was a little worried to proceed lest a similar fate should befall me.

Round the corner I found my explanation. No need to fear daylight attacks by the walking undead.

The Bank branch of the Northern Line was not too inspiring, apart from the dead people, and by the time I’d completed it I was losing the will to live. Walking takes too flipping long, so I bailed on the Victoria Line and went home to open my Big book of Symptoms on the tuberculosis page.

Salomon Challenge – An Introduction

I was enjoying a nice leisurely Saturday evening when JogBlog reminded me that today was the start of our double challenge combo.

Snazzy Free Stuff

Some months ago, Salomon contacted me (and several others) with the offer of oodles of snazzy free stuff in return for the completion of some crazy running feat. I am quite prepared to commit to almost anything 2 months prior to any requirement to expend actual energy, so I said yes, thought up some crazy feat, then sat back and forgot about it while enjoying the snazzy free stuff.

Unfortunately decisions made in haste have a tendency to turn around and bite you and today is the start of that lesson.

The Salomon Challenge

My challenge is to recreate the central London tube line (zone 1 and most of zone 2), running between stations to create my own GPS version of the underground map. Over on the right sidebar you can see a my challenge widget kindly provided by Salomon. It suggests that I will be doing this in a mere 11 days. This is a LIE. The challenge was for a crazy running feat not a suicidal one. My aim is to complete the task within 31 days. I’m also not a “he” but I’m prepared to let that one pass.

I’m not entirely sure what I have committed to, beyond the obvious – hours spent wandering around in circles trying to find the shortest route to the next tube station on the brown line, heck, maybe I’ll even get to learn the names of all those tube lines. It’s very difficult to work out the distances between stations. The London tube map is not to scale so I’ve been printing off geographical versions, tracing pieces of string around the track and totting it all up on my abacus.

An incredibly inaccurate estimate of the track length is 100km, but when you factor in the above ground restrictions, I can imagine my total distance coming closer to the 100 mile mark. This then explains the second challenge. JogBlog is aiming to run 100m in a month as part of her Salomon challenge so we’ve decided to coincide start dates for a little bit of competitive rivalry. Can either of us actually hit the 100m target? Can I do it first?

If I win I may even be tempted to throw a game of scrabble for her.

Anyway, back to today. By 8pm the pressure has built up sufficiently for me to consider a run. I grabbed the Garmin, Nike+, N82 with Sportstracker and iPod. Tooled up with hundreds of pounds worth of gadgets I get on a bus and head towards one of the seediest areas of West London. I was not in slightest bit surprised that when I puffed past a group of lads on the North End Road one of them said “Shall we mug her for her….” I didn’t hear the what for part, I wasn’t really hanging around at the point. Maybe they took a shine to my incredibly red Salomon XT Wings?

I wanted to start off slowly today so aimed to tick off one of the smallest sections of tube line on my map. That’s the district line (green line), Kensington Olympia branch and Hammersmith branch. I made a bit of a bodge though and included West Brompton into the mix which, although part of the district line, is actually on the Putney branch. So I messed up on the easiest section of the whole month, I may have to write tube names up my arm for the trickier sections. As it is, I’m running with the Nokia N82 in my hand watching the little dot moving around the google maps image.

View Larger Map

So todays tally:

Salomon XT Wings Challenge
6 Tube Stations complete
5.26 km total
Sports Tracker map with photos.

Warriorwoman vs Jogblog 100m Challenge Combo
3.3 miles total

…and in case you are all feeling sorry to be missing out on all these challenges, there is a third one starting on the 1st of June. Tis the annual Juneathon where you commit to run every single flipping day for a month. Head over to Joggerblogger’s joint to sign up and if you have a Nike+ thingummy you can join the challenge here as well.

Death by Garmin

Stella Artois

It’s true, my Garmin is trying to kill me. While the BBC are issuing warnings for the UK softies to stay indoors for fear of catching a chill in the forecast cold spell, my Garmin thinks it would be fun to give me hypothermia. It has me standing outside, scantily clad in running gear, hopping from foot to foot while it lethargically glances from one satellite to another. I wouldn’t mind so much but the N82 locked onto a signal from indoors, and I don’t mean indoors but dangling from out of a window either – I was in the basement changing room of the gym. How does it do that?

I’m sneezing now.

New Years Eve turned into a productive, if quite expensive, evening, I was stone cold sober as I’ve gone tee total-ish (6 out of 7 days) and I spent the evening scouring the net for interesting races. I’ve signed myself up for the next 6 months. The next biggy is the Wilmslow half marathon at the end of March, so just as I was feeling smug that Jogblog had to stick to a punishing 1/2 mara schedule, I find myself needing to get up close and personal to the weekly long slow run myself. Aargh!

Stella Artois

I signed up first and did my research later, which explains how I managed to enter a half marathon with a cut off time of 2:35:00. Flip! That also explains my rash decision to ditch the Stella, I don’t think I will knock 20 mins off my time through training alone, but surely life will be easier if I ditch a couple of stone by the wayside. I’m leaving 1 day of Stella in the mix to celebrate my weekly lsr, lets call it motivation.

The Long Road to Pyjamas

Running route

Having spent the whole of boxing day sitting in my pyjamas it’s not all that surprising that today I felt the need to both take some exercise and find a replacement for my now threadbare sleeping attire.

So this morning I togged myself up in my classiest luminous yellow running gear, slung the salomon pack on my back, synchronised 2 gps gadgets, plugged in the iPod and set off for a little jaunt along the river in search of M&S. I normally avoid the sales like the plague but I think I got something right today. I was able to jog past the queues of impatient cars honking at each other and once in the shop people just seemed to make way for me. Maybe I dazzled them with my top or perhaps they were running scared of my sweaty, muddy body. Either way I had a clear path to the pyjama section, grabbed my prize and was out in no time.


From the shop I ran on to the allotment where I was greeted by the remnants of a recent massacre. Someone or something had been using my plot as an operating theatre, bright red beads of flesh where sticking to my dibber and not far away from that lay a jolly fresh liver. Not pleasant, but what is worse is that I forgot all about it and at some point during my general pottering around on the plot, I managed to step on it and squish it into the sole of my shoe.

Still, I got over it and after a bit of digging I was off again, turning quite a productive day into a useful 6.8 km training run. That’s 6.8 garmin kilometres, the N82 and sports tracker came out with a very generous 8.2 km estimate. Mind you, I left the sports tracker function running on the phone while I went into the store and although the output appeared to suggest that the N82 was still holding a signal while I was wandering around it must have gone a touch haywire. There is no way I walked 1.4 km in search of those pyjamas!

Running route

Latest N-carnation

I’ve had the Nokia N82 for a few days now so its time to update on my early impressions.

I was quite intrigued to see what the N82 actually had to offer, a quick check on the Nokia site seems to suggest that it is damn similar to the N95 apart from the obvious visual differences.

N82 N95 Front

So its got the 5MP camera, same Carl Zeiss lens, GPS, basically everything the N95 has, in fact if you compare the two side by side on the nokia site you will struggle to find any difference at all between the specs.

Makes me wonder what is the point? It also makes me worry just a little bit, this newer phone might in someway be an improvement on my own phone, and that just won’t do, especially as I have to send it back.

N95 N82 Rear

So when I opened the box I was a bit relieved/disappointed. The N82 isn’t very exciting to look at. It’s even worse to caress as it feels like a plastic kids toy. I don’t know why Nokia keep insisting on putting together some really desirable packages and then wrapping them in crappy cases. Gadgets need to be sexy. The N95 isn’t really that great to look at either but the burgundy back plate sure beats the awful pearlescent number on the rear of the N82. Both phones are improved by the addition of the battery, the extra weight seems to make you feel a bit more confident in the kit.

If you believe the spec list (which obviously I don’t) the only difference is in the case and style of phone. You can see this from the photos but basically the N82 is longer, thinner and a bit lighter. The N95 is a slider though and it becomes a bit longer than the N82 when you open it. I can’t stand the buttons on the new phone, you have to twist your thumb on its side and use the nail to dab at the ridiculous bumps. Maybe my thumb is too big and I really need a special needs phone. The only exterior improvement is the lens cover, that has an incredibly satisfying motion, I just sit there clicking it open and shut. I may have OCD as well as a special needs thumb but its very therapeutic, just like popping bubble wrap.

As soon as you start playing with the lense cover you notice how much faster the camera is to respond. It engages immediately, none of the 10 second delay that you have to get used to with the N95. The responsiveness applies when taking a shot as well – instantantaneous. This results in a better photo, the two cameras may have the same lens but there is much less camera shake with the N82 and the Xenon flash is much better (more powerful or something), shots taken in dim light are very impressive.

The screen is a touch smaller but has the same resolution and is crisper, brighter and appears to have more colours if thats possible. The screen rotate function works pretty well as you move the phone round as well but I think you can download an app for the N95 to get it to do this too.

All the features seem just a little more refined on the N82 but I still wouldn’t swap it. The case is just too unappealing and I’m clearly a gadget whore requiring more than just a good personality. This is a phone for someone with more sense than me and so long as they don’t hold it before the battery goes in, I’m sure they will be impressed. It’s encouraged me to go through the palaver of upgrading the firmware on my N95, hopefully that will reduce the gap in performance just a little bit.

*Two Week Update*

After playing with the N82 for almost 2 weeks now I have to start thinking about sending it back. Trouble is, I really don’t want to.

I still hate the silly little buttons but I’ll live with them because everything else about the phone is so swish. I wonder if they’ll notice when I stuff the N95 back in the box and keep the N82 for myself?

There are two major improvements over the N95 and these are the radically enhanced GPS reception and a much improved camera facility. The GPS picks up almost instantly and even seems to hold the signal indoors, it beats my Garmin Forerunner 305 by minutes and the N95 trails in last place, occasionally failing to pick up a signal at all before I’ve decided to give up and start my run anyway. Now that I’ve got myself addicted to Sportstracker I don’t want to lose the functionality.

Then there is the camera, I’ve already commented on the responsiveness and snazzy lens cover but the quality of the picture is much improved too. I don’t think there is much difference in quality when the light conditions are good but when the flash is required you want to opt for the N82 and on the night scene setting I’ve witnessed amazing results.

I’m even beginning to think it’s an attractive phone, in its own special way.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Chrimble BPTT

Today was the annual showing of the Christmas Bushy Park Time Trial and I’ve been looking forward to this particular event for about 340 days, since my first introduction to the wonder of the time trial phenomonen back in February. It would have been easy to stay in bed this morning, it was dark and gloomy and of course presents awaited. Still, you can’t really resist that level of anticipation.

As I cycled through Richmond Park in the light drizzle, I puzzled a little over the knowing looks I received from the exhausted reindeer. They obviously knew what was in store for me – that’ll teach me not to leave any carrots out on Christmas Eve. When I mentioned yesterday that a downpour was required to wrap up a thorough test of the Salomon pack, it really wasn’t meant as a Dear Santa letter. I could have waited.

The rain held off for most of the run and I was able to “enjoy” the 5k amongst good company. I was adopted at the midway point by a first-timer and her motivational cousin and was able to experience a vicarious boost that carried me over the finish line relatively unscathed.

I even remembered the new phone this morning so I got to try out the Sports Tracker Beta application. It required a little bit of juggling to switch on both the garmin and the N82 without dropping the phone into the path of a couple of hundred runners but then it is a bit overkill to use two different devices. Sports Tracker has been around for a while and I remember Jogblog took it for a whirl a while ago, but the new version is quite impressive. The phone application links flawlessly to the website offering a live update of your progress, with your route appearing online as you run. Pretty nifty stuff.

sportstracker The website is particularly attractive and displays some respectable charts. You can view the page for the BPTT workout to get an idea of the detail available.

I can imagine this service being quite addictive and the stats will only get better as you add more workouts. I’m going to be using this again and have already downloaded the application to my N95, I’ll be interested to try it out on my next commute where I tend to have more trouble picking up a GPS signal. I’ll have the two phones going head to head against the garmin to see how reliable the reception is.

So, back to this morning, did I mention that it was raining? I finished up at the time trial and set off on the bike for 7 mile ride home. I was dreaming of roast potatoes and yorkshire puds when the sky starting lobbing buckets of gritty, grimey rain water at me. When I finally got home I was just staggered by the amount of water I’d managed to absorb and peeled the Salomon Raid Revo off directly over the bath expecting at least half a bucket of gulley water to come rushing out of the mini plug holes. As it happens the inside of the pack was still dry which is quite impressive given that no other part of me remained “dry” even my goretex jacket had failed under the onslaught.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

Just made it back from todays running commute, it felt like a tough one but it was improved by the queues of festive travellers, I get a buzz from overtaking cars.

We were released from work a couple of hours early so I got to run on the scenic side of the river and cross the bridge all before it got dark and spooky. Of course today I was due to take my trial package on a test run, the package is the Nokia N82 Limited Edition Adventure pack which contains the phone, bundled with the Nokia Sports Tracker beta and the Salomon Raid Revo 20. A great set for the runner but not the forgetful runner – I now have two phones on the go and managed to forget both of them! I did remember the Salomon pack though.

Salomon Raid Revo 20

This is a super lightweight package but unfolds to handy size. I got my trousers, shirt, coat and assorted “stuff” inside the pack with quite a bit spare and no need to use the compression webbing for attaching my undies. Good job the extra space wasn’t required as I somehow managed to break the webbing attachment within minutes of removing it from the box, it sort of unwound into a bundle of fluff right before my eyes.

The pack is made of very thin material and I’m not sure how it would stand up to rain, the pack has a couple of plug holes at the bottom for water to drain away, which makes me think it isn’t going to make much of an effort to keep the rain out. The zips look pretty snazzy though, they appear to seal up as you close them so maybe it is more water resistant than I think. Will update next time I get caught in a downpour.

It’s a pretty snug fit on the back, it drapes over your shoulders like a soft cuddly bear (yuk) and the chest and waist strap holds it secure. The chest strap is a great design as it slips up and down the pack to ensure a damn near perfect fit. All in all though I think the fit is just a bit to snug, the pack sits flat against your spine. By the end of the run my back was feeling hot and sticky and this is on a bleak mid winter day, run with this in the middle of summer and I think you’ll pass out before 10 k is up. In contrast my Asics Barrios has a layer of bumps that hold the pack well off your back and is relatively cool to wear.

So the pack is a good size, has really neat waist band pockets big enough to hold phone, keys and iPod securely but its held too close to your back, meaning that the padding will absorb loads of sweat and is bound to stink within a few months. I hope the Inov 8 proves to be a better solution, when it finally turns up.

*UPDATE* I got my wish for a downpour, and I have to say that the backpack held up very well. Check out the details here.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

It’s Christmas!

You should see the floor of my flat – tis littered with no end of exciting possibilities. I could of course take a snap and show you but then you’d see the truth, which involves an awful lot of boxes, wrapping and all those other things that I haven’t quite got round to putting away yet.

There are about 5 more months to go before I get thrown back into exam anxiety so in the meantime I’m needing a new project, that’s in addition to the running project and the allotment project which have ceased to be a new and have now slipped into the realms of “norm”. In times like these my fall back project always seems to be “teach yourself programming”, so here I am with a floor full of teaching manuals. The trouble with programming is the plethora of different languages out there, and then there are different variations of the same language like C, C+, C++ and C#, what is the novice supposed to make of it? As I can’t be bothered to research this too much I’ve opted to dabble with two languages at the same time: Python and VB.Net.

I’ve got python cos its free and sits nicely with computer that I just broke and accidentally forced into being a linux machine and VB.Net because that goes with my windows laptop and because Sporttracks, the best program ever (that I should have written) was developed in dotnet.

I’m sure no one is interested in all that but the other thing fighting for space on my floor is a little package that I’ve been asked to trial. Inside is a running rucsac the Salomon Raid Revo 20 and the latest Nokia N-carnation, the N82. What joy eh? I can see that I’ll have to go out and do a bit of running over the hols to try both of these gadgets out. Is it possible that the N82 could beat the N95 as running gadget par excellence?

The Raid Revo 20 is particularly welcome, I ordered the Inov8 Race Pro 18 ages ago but it seems to have been lost by the Royal Mail. I’ll try the salomon substitute tomorrow on my running commute and report back.