Wednesday, 04th June, 2014

Open Notebook Science

I have been horrible with updating the blog recently, and I'm offering no excuses for this. The reason for this update is the Open Notebook which I established on the Wiki of University of Vienna. I will keep the notebook in the spirit of Open Notebook Science for projects where this approach seems suitable. I wish I could do this with all of my projects, and I may indeed start to do this at some point, but for now I will just test the concept. The first project where I'll try this is exfoliation and characterization of 2D crystals, which we are carrying out with a couple of students here at the Uni. We'll start with mechanical exfoliation, and carry out optical microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy on the samples. Let's see how this goes.

The main reason for trying this out is the need of centralized notebook for the project and the appeal of open science. The final push for trying this out came from a presentation by Peter Murray-Rust given yesterday (3.6.2014) in Vienna (organized by the Austrian Science Fund).

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Thursday, 25th April, 2013

Barefoot(ish) running

Since Fall 2012, I have been collecting minimalistic running shoes in the hope of starting to evolve a more naturalistic running style. The first pair I bought was the EVO I from Vivobarefoot (on the left in the image below), which I initially used at gym and for walking. Unfortunately, they seem to be a bad match for my feet: the toebox feels too large and the edge of the shoe above the heel irritates my skin. The next pair was the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS (on the right), which I bought in Finland a couple of months ago. The latest addition is the Merrell Vapor Glove (I have the green version; in the middle). Unfortunately, I didn't dare to really run in any of these before the Vienna City Marathon was done, except for a couple of really short runs (none of them were longer than 3km). I also recently ordered Xero Shoes both for myself and our daughter. I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival within a week or two :)

Minimalistic shoe collection
Minimalistic shoe collection

Since the marathon on the 14th, I have been conditioning myself to the new stride involving a shorter step and a more pronounced forefoot strike. So far, I have finished four runs in about a week (5.71km, 5.32km, 5.19km and 9.26km). Initially, I felt some soreness in calfs and shins, but it has more or less disappeared already. Because of this, I don't think I have started too fast, although many people suggest an even lighter transition period.

On the one hand, the most interesting change in running so far has been the new springiness of legs with the shorter forefoot strike. It feels almost as if running on actual springs, which I really enjoy (my heels don't typically touch the ground at all while running with the new form). On the other hand, the strangest thing is the soreness of my toes, which started a day after the last run (the longest one so far). Honestly, I don't know whether it is due to running or not, but I have never felt anything like it, and therefore I'm inclined to attribute it to the forefoot strike. Now three days after the run (yes, I have had two rest days from running already) the toes feel already mostly ok.

After my transitioning period is over with the Fivefingers, I'm planning to try some actual barefoot running, as well as the rest of my collection. Or... maybe I should already go for the next run with the Merrells? In any case, looking at the great weather outside (it's sunny and about 25┬░C), and taking into account that our gym was closed today for no apparent reason, I think I will take a long lunch break and go for a run before continuing to work at home.

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Monday, 15th April, 2013

VCM 2013: 3:18:14

I ran my third marathon yesterday (14.4.2013) here in Vienna, Austria. I ended up making a new PR, despite some worries I had beforehand.

My training was largely limited this year because of travel (in Austria, Germany, Finland and Spain), and partially also because of a really nasty cold in February. I ended up making only six runs in January and two in February. Luckily, in March I was able to log ten runs, although none of them were much longer than 20km. The weather was also exceptionally cold in Vienna this winter (I remember reading from somewhere that this was the coldest winter in Vienna in 130 years).

The run itself went very smoothly until about 26km (the time for the first half marathon was 1:34:21). This was at about 11 o'clock. Then, the Sun started to show its power, and running became a struggle. Looking back at the readings from my GPS watch, the real problems started at 30km. At this point, I had to take a few extra walking steps after each refreshment point, which shows up clearly both in the pace and in the heart beat rate charts. Nevertheless, I managed to force myself to run until the end and finished the second half with 1:43:52. The official netto time for the full run was 3:18:14, which means I was able to shave away more than ten minutes from my previous race in Wachau.

Out of all marathon runners, I finished with rank 688 (104 in M-30 class). I was the fastest runner carrying the Universit├Ąt Wien shirt. Out of the 68 Finnish marathon runners, I was the sixth fastest. Overall, I am very happy with the result.

Runnning at about 41 km (Photo credit: Stella)
Running at about 41 km (Photo credit: Stella)

My races so far
  • 13.5.2006 — Helsinki City Run (half marathon): 1:29:16
  • 19.8.2006 — Helsinki City Marathon: 3:24:48 (1/2 1:37:04)
  • 15.9.2012 — Wachau Marathon: 3:28:27 (1/2 1:40:26)
  • 14.4.2013 — Vienna City Marathon: 3:18:14 (1/2 1:34:21)

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