Monday, February 20, 2012

Running Blog Database Week One Status

It's been about a week since the Running Blog Database started becoming known outside of my own computer.  Thanks to all the bloggers who have embraced the idea and helped spread the word.  After blogs like Tall Mom on the Run, Mission to a(nother) Marathon, and The Studly Runner, to name a few, featured the database, my web traffic count went wild.  I kinda felt like Mark Zuckerberg in the movie 'The Social Network' after he created "Facemash", except for the part of almost getting expelled from Harvard.  And that little detail of becoming a billionaire afterwards.
Am I distracting?
So far, the feedback I've received has been positive, and the database's exposure has exceeded my expectations.  In the last week the database page has been viewed over 1000 times (pretty hefty numbers by my standards), and over 160 new blogs have been added.  As of this writing, the total number of blogs in the database is 664.  Please forgive me if any of my enthusiasm is coming off as boastful.  I'm fully aware that whatever technical skills I have are mostly offset by my creative writing skills.  I am just an engineer after all. ☺ 

It's been kinda nice to have the database to talk about since I haven't been able to do any running while giving my hip flexor more time to heal.  I've spent quite a bit of time this last week improving the database's code, making corrections to blogger data, adding pictures, reading new blogs, and responding to emails; not to mention checking out the latest worthless shows on A&E like "Parking Wars."

Speaking of Harvard earlier...  I've been fascinated with the story of the undrafted New York Knicks guard and Harvard alumnus, Jeremy Lin.  For those outside of New York who don't know, it's an underdog, rags-to-riches type story featuring the first Chinese-American to play in the NBA.  He came out of nowhere, that is, if you consider Harvard nowhere.  Likewise, if you play basketball for Harvard, you've probably never heard of the NBA either.  It's great Jeremy Lin had the NBA to fall back on since apparently a Harvard Business degree wasn't cutting it for him.

Notes:  I hope to eventually have over 1000 blogs in the database.  Do you think there are at least 1000 running blogs in our universe?  I would still appreciate a mention on your blog if you haven't tagged the database already HERE.  Also, let me know if you find any information that's incorrect or that you need me to add, including pictures.  Thanks.

Have you gotten some good use out of the Running Blog Database yet?  How has it been useful?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Check it Out: The Running Blog Database

I might not be one of the popular (running) bloggers.  I might not be one of the better looking bloggers (which might help explain why I'm not the most popular).  I'm not the funniest (The Boring Runner, perhaps), nor the most entertaining blogger.  I'm sure I'm not the smartest blogger, and despite my porn name, I might not even be the most perverted blogger (SUAR?).  However, I do appear to be the only blogger who mixed an idea with some know-how to create a tool for the running blog community to interact with.  I refer to it simply as the "Running Blog Database".

My attempt at a logo.

As the name alludes to, it's foundation is a database full of running blog information.  From the user's perspective, it is an interactive webpage that allows people to submit and/or find other blogs like a directory.  Here is a partial list of how I think it can be utilized:
  • Submit blogs for you or others to find and reference.
  • Browse running blogs for fun or curiosity.
  • Find that new person to stalk.  Just be ready to go to jail.
  • Sort blog list by State, City, or Blog Title.
  • Search for blogs by specific States, Blog Title, or Blog Author.
  • Find other bloggers in your area.
  • Find other bloggers at your race or vacation destination.
  • Cross reference blog authors to their blog's title, and vice versa.
  • Get available email addresses.
  • Find your soul mate (look out eHarmony).  Use someone's profile picture to jump to conclusions like if they have a compatible personality, or are at least good in the sack.  Disclaimer:  Just about everybody in running blogland is married including 2Slow4Boston, sorry ladies.
This Running Blog Database, started out as a wish to be able to easily look up my fellow (run) bloggers.  After I had awhile to think about it, I came up with a plan, kinda like a MacGyver who branched off into computers.  Then a couple weeks ago, I took some of my average skills from my day job as a computer programmer, and applied them to the world wide web.

Sample listing from the Running Blog Database.
I hope everyone who has made it this far clicks on the link to check it out (after you finish reading what I have to say, of course).  Currently there are over 500 running blogs listed, and I've been trying to add about 40 per day.  Not that I'm the only one who can submit blogs to the list.  I have put a section toward the top to allow anyone, a.k.a. you, to add their favorite running blog(s).

While I have tried to keep the database centered on running, there are plenty of blogs that fit into a gray area, like those snobby multitasking triathlon blogs, whose authors like to remind us runners that they know how to swim, and while they're at it, post pics of their thousand dollar+ tricycles tri-bikes.  Despite our differences, I figure if those Iron men and women post about running, subscribe to runner's blogs, and interact with our blogs, then they deserve inclusion.  Walk like a duck, quack like a duck, yada yada.

I went ahead and included some blogs in the list that appear dormant just in case they ever become un-dormant, but just so you don't think I'm too easy, I omitted any blogs that were restricted to invites only.

The most time consuming part for me has been the data entry.  I haven't had any problems finding new running blogs yet, but to get as much data entered as I can, I view each individual blog and find all the pertinent info to copy.  On the plus side, I'm getting a diversified look into the running blogosphere and finding some blogs I would like to start reading.  On the down side, I've been missing out on several episodes of "The Big Bang Theory."

I'm about to get all nerdy up in here if I haven't already given you that impression, so either skip this next paragraph, or find out why some people find me boring.

The most technically challenging part of putting this webpage together turned out to be getting everyone's profile picture since it is not readily available.  First of all, I don't think everyone has one shared to begin with, and I haven't looked into how to obtain any of them from Wordpress blogs yet.  Hence, only Blogger blogs have a chance at getting displayed on this site.  Secondly, the algorithms I used to obtain said pictures seemed to take more processing power than what my web hosting provider could support and it led to unstable results for the user (occasional Internal Server Error), meaning I spent half of a weekend on it until I got plan C to work good enough.  On that note, I'm pretty happy with how things have turned out to this point, however, this project is a little out of my programming field, so if you encounter any problems with it, or have some constructive criticism on making things more user friendly, please let me know.

I hope everyone ends up liking it, using it, and maybe putting a link to it on their blog.  If you think your blog's sidebar needs more flair, feel free to add a widget to your blog template and use my graphic from the top of this page to link to it.  My wish is that it becomes a resource for the running blog community that people want to bookmark and use from time to time.

Go check out the Running Blog Database.  I guess if you're already listed there, that means you're somebody.  :-)  Please tell me what you think.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Nipples Are Out of Shape

Even though I've always been too busy to post every few days, I still feel kinda guilty that this is my first post about my running in almost a month and a half.  To my credit, I did spend a fair amount of effort last month putting together an interview with a local running celebrity who ran in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Part of my reason for not posting much had to do with me taking some time off from running thanks to a hip flexor injury that had me sidelined for the month of January. Like most running injuries, it can be attributed to too much intensity, not enough rest/recovery.

Starting last week, I eased back into running even though I can tell I'm not 100% healed. Just 3 miles last Monday as I wanted to see how the hip felt the rest of the day. I ran 6 miles on Tuesday, then 8 on Thursday. I had been keeping up on cardio so I didn't feel out of shape. However, it's impossible to stay in running shape when you're not running, so my muscles did get sore despite my workout's lack of distance or speed. Saturday I went to the gym where I ended up running 12 miles, and riding a stationary bike 22 miles. It was at this point where I looked at my shirt and saw my right nipple had been bleeding.  I can't remember the last time my nipple bled after only 12 miles (I don't think ever). Usually a 20 miler gives me a 50/50 shot at being blood free without Body Glide. I guess as my running goes, so do my nipples.

Another reason for being absent on the blog front lately is because I've been working on my blog behind the scenes. I won't go into too much detail at this point because I've still got a kink or two to work out; I'll dedicate a whole other post to it soon, but I have been developing a Running Blog Database (See the tab menu item). The easy part was getting it set up and programming the webpage for it. The time consuming part is populating it with as many running blogs as I can find. That might be a never ending task. I got the idea for it because sometimes I have difficulty remembering which blogger belongs to which blog when I try to look them up. Hopefully, other bloggers will find as many practical uses for it I I do and bookmark it.

Last but not least, Jill sponsored a popular Secret Santa gift exchange over the holidays and this is my first opportunity to blog about it.  Besides being 2 Slow 4 Boston, I'm also 2 slow to post about a Christmas exchange before January ends.  I wasn't sure beforehand if I was even going to post about the exchange, but turns out my Secret Santa really hooked me up and I felt it deserved mentioning.  Johann from across the pond in South Africa was my personal Santa. I found out that the South African mail system is about as screwed up as our political system, seeing as how it took the package almost a month to reach me. Johann sent me a Comrades Marathon hat, a South African edition of Runner's World, and a microfibre towel.
Gifts from Johann

One thing I found fascinating about reading a Runner's World from another continent was their different use of the English language, along with different units of measure.  Below I took a snapshot of one example where they used kilojoules to indicate how much energy is supplied.  I had to look it up but 1 calorie equals 4.1806 kilojules.
Excerpt out of Runner's World's South Africa edition.
Now that I've got a Comrades Marathon hat, I feel an urge to run the race.  It would be a good challenge.
Thanks Johann for the
Christmas presents!