The Art of Running: LED Traces

The Art of Running: LED Traces

I love the tracing where I’ve run.

Until now, with The Art of Running I’ve typically used a GPS device to leave a virtual trace, a set of coordinates which can then be overlaid on a digital map (such as Google Earth) to bring the run to life online.

It was during the short winter days and long dark evenings (when I would typically run) that I had the idea to illuminate my path using LEDs. Teaming up with an LED specialist in Akihabara, I began to kit myself out with metres of lights, powered by some hefty batteries I’d carry around my waist.

The initial motivation came from wanting to bring the same smiles and laughter to people’s faces at night that I had done in the day. It turned out to be extremely effective; provided I had enough power on me I could light up both the streets – and people’s faces late into the night.

Returning home one night in my gear I decided to experiment with some long-exposure shots using my DSLR, mounted on a tripod, with a 10 second exposure. The results were pretty interesting, resulting in a whole new style of trace. Below are some of my favourites.

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[Video] Running the Imperial Palace: High Five Camera

Here we are again then – reposting posts from my other website! You can slap me if you’d like to.

I love running the Imperial Palace loop. Over the past few months I’ve come to recognise quite a few of the other regular runners – and as you can see from this video, they’ve come to recognise me too. There’s a great sense of community, and a lot of laughter and smiles.

I would just point out that I had nothing to do with the kid falling off his bike! I thought it was bit odd the way his saddle flew off too!

Also spot the arrival of some VIP (Imperial family member?) – if I’d been there seconds before I might have had the chance to impress the emperor with the latest in running technology!

I thought I’d use this mornings helmet-cam footage to test out FCPX’s image stabilisation feature.
I also need to sort out this problem with my helmet tipping to one side with the weight of the camera!

Still, no matter. This is more for my own personal records than anything else!

Can’t see the video on your device? View it here.

Interview on Bunka Housou: Kunimaru Japan

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I originally posted this over on josephta.me, but I’m so efficient/lazy/busy I’m reposting it as it is right here.

With this month marking the second anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake, a lot of media are focusing on stories connected to the horrendous events of that March 11th.

Back in 2011 I took The Art of Running to Tohoku, teaming up with Jamie of It’s not Just Mud and Dean of Intrepid Model Adventures to run a 30km map of Ishinomaki (full story here).

It was against this background that I was invited to appear on Kunimaru Japan on the Bunka Housou radio network. (Listening to it now makes me laugh – my habit of saying ‘ano’ because much worse when I’m a little nervous!). It was a lot of fun to do though – we’d had a meeting beforehand in which we’d discussed the contents of the interview so I could prepare to a certain extent. On the day itself I was in two minds as to whether or not I should wear the iRun or any part of it – and in the end opted for the helmet. I’m glad I did as it had quite an impact upon everyone in the studio, and really set the mood for the whole thing.

In the interview we discussed the Tokyo Marathon project, before going on to focus on the Ishinomaki run.

I’ve thrown in some photos and a little video footage from the marathon to illustrate the story.

Enjoy (if you understand Japanese).

Tokyo Marathon 2013東京マラソン2013

Tokyo Marathon 2013

Since it began in 2007, the Tokyo Marathon has continued to grow in popularity. In 2013 over 300,000 people applied to run the full 42.195km race, meaning that there was only a 1 in 10.3 chance of being awarded one of the 35,500 places available.

Until last year I had always been lucky with the lottery: for the first 3 years I applied through the usual channels, winning every time. Seeing applicant numbers increasing, in 2012 I decided to join the ‘One Tokyo’ members club, which increased my chance of winning a place by 50%. Once again, I was lucky.

josephtame_tokyo_marathon02However, when it came to applying for the 2013 marathon, my luck ran out – I didn’t make it through the One Tokyo lottery, or the subsequent general lottery, or the second general lottery. Whilst disappointed, I didn’t despair: the marathon organisers had recently introduced a new category of runners: ‘Tsunagu Charity Runners’, who in return for a charity donation of 100,000 yen (US$1,000) would be guaranteed a place. A few years back I would never have considered donating that kind of money to enter a race (bear in mind I wasn’t at all interested in running until 2008), but by last year the Tokyo Marathon had become an important part of my identity – both for others and for myself – I couldn’t not run it. And well, if the money was going to a good cause… so I made my donation, and secured a place in my 5th Tokyo Marathon.

Technology

When it came to the technology, I decided to give myself a bit of break in 2013, opting for a simple live streaming solution (more on that below). In previous years I have always sought to push the boundaries of the possible, using cutting-edge live streaming devices that were yet to be widely adopted. Whilst this did mean I was able to share my runs with a global audience (in 2012 I had over 42,000 live viewers join me during the run), it also meant that I had to deal with a significant amount of stress and subsequent disappointment when the devices didn’t live up to expectations. It also meant that I was unable to interact as much as I would have liked to with the other runners and supporter lining the streets – I was far too taken up with concerns about battery life.

The decision to simplify my live-streaming gear coincided with the release of the iPhone 5 and the widespread deployment of LTE networks by Softbank, Emobile and Docomo. In addition to this, LiveU have recently released an app for the iPhone that allows you to use LTE and wifi simultaneously – meaning that if you carry an LTE pocket wifi device with you, you can stream a single iPhone video signal over two 4G networks (the signal is split over the two and then recombined by a LiveU server) – this makes for a far more stable stream than if you were relying upon a single network.

This year, I carried:

  • 2 x iPhone 5 connected to Softbank LTE (used for the two main cameras)
  • 1 x iPhone 4S (Runkeeper & Glympse GPS apps)
  • 1 x iPad Mini (strapped to my wrist to check Twitter etc)
  • 1 x Emobile LTE pocket wifi
  • 1 x Docomo LTE pocket wifi
  • 1 x Wimax pocket wifi
  • 1 x Emobile 3G pocket wifi (backup)
  • 2 x 5 meters of RGB LED strips for my legs
  • 3 x 18,000mAh batteries
  • 4 x assorted USB / GoPro batteries
  • 1 x GoPro Hero 3 Black (shot 100GB of video during the run!)
  • 1 x Sony Action Cam (unused)
  • 1 x Cerevo Liveshell (unused)
  • 1 x bGeigie Nano Geiger Counter provided by Safecast

In the end I didn’t use the Sony Action Cam that was strapped to my helmut, or the Cerevo Liveshell – this was due to a problem I had with the Wimax router which simply wouldn’t connect once I arrived at the start point. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to sort it out, so I simply opted to use the iPhones instead.

As you can see, I also carried a huge number of batteries with me. In previous years battery life has been a huge issue. For example, back in 2009 the iPhone (3G?) used so much power to live stream video that even if it was plugged into a decent battery from the start it would end up depleted after a couple of hours. Power management and battery life on the iPhone 5 are just fantastic though. I opted to keep them both plugged in to relatively inexpensive USB batteries, and was very happy to see that when we reached the goal we were still on 100%.

The biggest surprise though was the reliability and speed of Softbank’s LTE network. Considering they only started the rollout a few months back, it’s impressive just far reliable it is. Of course, it also helps that there are currently very few people on the network, meaning that speeds are excellent. The same goes for Emobile LTE (now owned by Softbank). Docomo Xi (LTE) was as it always is, reliable but not all that fast. Wimax also lived up to its reputation – i.e it was pretty much useless!

The result of these tech advances was that I was able to carry less weight than in previous years, the stream was far more stable (only going offline when people tired to call me!), GPS tracking worked well, and above all, I could kind of forget about the tech – which had been the purpose. So, a big success.

The Run

In addition to reducing tech-related stress, I also wanted to reduce media-related stress. Previous years have seen a huge amount of press coverage in advance of my runs, with features on CNN, the Associated Press, and all major TV networks in Japan. That was not accidental. It also meant many late-night interviews, and having to co-ordinate meeting camera crews along the way (I’ll never forget the fun I had with Fuji TV back in 2009, before the era of widespread adoption of smartphones in Japan). This year I chose to keep it relatively quiet, just telling friends and family via Twitter and Facebook (despite this, we still had over 6,000 people tune in on the day).

We were fortunate with the weather – with clear skies it was beautiful, albeit a little cold. I arrived a little later than planned due to the time it took to get into my gear, so didn’t make it to J-block, instead being stuck right at the back of 36,000 runners! The mood at the start was just great, everyone excited, happy to be a part of this huge running festival. Many people remembered me from previous years, further increasing this sense of community.

25 minutes after the start gun went off I finally made it across the start line. Not wanting to end up right at the back being chased by the buses that sweep up slow runners, I tried to make my way fairly quickly through the pack. This paid off later as never once did I see those buses close behind (unlike in 2011!).

joseph-medal-300The race was the most enjoyable I have run to date. In addition to the combination of great weather, the lack of tech problems, and my increased enjoyment of running – there was the support, and this year it seemed to be on a whole new level. I don’t know how much of it was due to the fact that I had my name written in bold black letters on my helmet (as I always do), and how much of it was due to the fact that many people remembered me from previous years, but it was basically 5hrs 30 mins of people shouting “Joseph!! Ganbatte!!” The psychological impact of this was huge, and at times I felt like I was floating along the road, carried along on the wave of support.

I also made a point of cheering on not only the other runners around me (Minna-san ganbarimashou~~~!) but also of ‘supporting’ the supporters, especially in later stages where they tended to be cold and tired from all the standing around. Of course, by enthusiastically calling out to the supporters, I and the runners around me were rewarded with a sudden burst of energy from the sidelines.

A couple of the other runners I met again and again. Two in particular stick in my mind (and I have enormous respect for them): the guy who played the guitar for the entire 42km, and the chap who was a one-man-band. How the hell he ran 42km carrying that thing I don’t know. Just brilliant. Both of them finished within minutes of me – nice to see them at the finish line and congratulate them on their success.

I was also fortunate to have my own friends supporting along the way – many thanks to Nami and Phil who, as they do every year, provided me with a steady supply of food, drink and spare batteries! Tetsuya Sashiki, Mario and the gang were there at Takebashi, and Yoji on the way down to Shinagawa. Daniel also joined us at the finish. Very grateful, THANK YOU!

joseph-nami-phil-danielThe online viewing community was also very supportive, providing me an endless stream of virtual support via Twitter which was so precious for those sections where there was little in the way of real-life supporters. Thank you to everyone who tuned in and / or tweeted.

Looking back on this year’s marathon, I can see how it has helped to further deepen my love for this city and its people. It’s a very special day, when Tokyo really does come together as one. Whilst you do see similar festivities on a smaller scale across the country, to have the metropolis unite for a single cause (36,000 people completing a 42km challenge) is quite something to behold. Unforgettable.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s race (however I get in!). In the meantime though, Spring is just around the corner, meaning far better running weather! very excited about that!

Anyhow, thanks again to all of those who played a part, no matter how big or small, in making this year’s marathon such a success. I really appreciate the support.

See you on the streets! (just look out for the windmills!)Tokyo Marathon 2013

2007年から始まった東京マラソンは毎年、参加人数が増えています。今年は30万人以上がフルマラソンに申し込んだそうで、選ばれた35,500人に入るには10倍強の競争率だったみたいです。

僕は去年まではラッキーにも抽選に当たっていたのですが、今年は申し込み人数が増えたこともあって、当選確率を上げるために2012年からは東京マラソンの有料メンバーになりました。

josephtame_tokyo_marathon02でも、2013年のマラソンに申し込んだときは運が尽きてしまったみたい!メンバー抽選も一般抽選も二次抽選も落ちてしまいました!がっかりしましたが、諦めませんでした。東京マラソンはチャリティー用のカテゴリーも近年では作っていたので、「つなぐランナー」としてチャリティーに10万円を寄付して走ることにしました。数年前だったらそんなお金を払ってマラソンに出るなんて想像もできなかったと思うけど、去年から東京マラソンは僕だけでなく他の人にとっても「ジョセフ・テイム」のアイデンティティーの一つになっていたので、走らないという選択肢はありませんでした。もちろん、お金も良いことに使われる訳ですし… なので、今年は寄付をして僕にとって5回目となる東京マラソンを走ることになりました。

技術面

技術面で言うと2013年は少し控えめにすることにしました。シンプルなライブストリーム・ソリューションを使いました。それまではいつも世間ではまだあまり知られていない最先端のライブストリーム技術や機器を使っていたのですが(2012年はそのおかげもあって42,000人が中継を見てくれました)、新しい技術を使いながら走ると多くの機械トラブルを解決しないといけないし、中継の質が良くないと期待してくれる視聴者の人もがっかりさせてしまうので、今回はシンプルな技術で走ることにしました。それまではバッテリーの問題ばかり気にしていましたし!

今回は iPhone 5のSoftbank LTEネットワークが LiveU が新しく発表したiPhoneアプリのおかげでWifiと平行して使えるようになったおかげで、LTEのポケットWifiを持たなくてもiPhoneからの動画を二つの4Gネットワークに乗せて配信できました。(電波は2つに分けられ、LiveUのサーバでまた1つに融合さます)これで1つのネットワークのみを使用している時より信頼できて、安定した中継をすることができました。




今年持って走ったもの:

  • iPhone 5 Softbank LTE(メインのカメラ1・2として使用)x 2台
  • iPhone 4S (Runkeeper & Glympse GPSアプリ用) x 1台
  • iPad Mini (腕に付けてTwitter等を確認) x 1台
  • Emobile LTE ポケットwifi x 1台
  • Docomo LTE ポケットwifi x 1台
  • Wimax ポケットwifi x 1台
  • Emobile 3G ポケットwifi (予備) x 1台
  • 5mのRGB LEDライト(両足に付けた)x 2巻
  • 18,000mAh バッテリー x 3台
  • USB / GoPro用バッテリー x 4台
  • GoPro Hero 3 Black カメラ(100GBのビデオをマラソン中に録画) x 1台
  • Sony アクションカメラ(使用しなかった) x 1台
  • Cerevo Liveshell(使用しなかった) x 1台
  • Safecast社のbGeigie Nanoガイガーカウンター x 1台

結局、ヘルメットに付けたSonyのアクションカメラやCerevo Liveshellは使わなかったんだけど、それはWimaxのルーターの問題で使えなかったから。なのでiPhoneを使用することになりました。

2009年からいつも一番大きな問題はバッテリーだったけど、今回はたくさんのバッテリーを持っていきました。今回、iPhone5をバッテリーに差し込みながら使ったら、ゴール地点でもまだ電池は100%残っていました!

Click for full size map一番驚いたのは、SoftbankのLTEネットワークの速さと信頼性でした。数ヶ月前に始まったにしては、とても信頼できるネットワークでした。もちろん、LTEの使用者がまだ少ないことも影響していると思いますが、とても速かったです。EモバイルのLTE、どこもXi (LTE) も安定していたのですが、そこまで速くありませんでした。Wimaxは今回は全然使えませんでした!

結果的に、こうした技術の発展は僕が前年よりも軽い装備で走れるきっかけにもなったし、ストリームも、より安定していました(オフラインになったのは、誰かが電話してきたときだけ!)GPSトラッキングもうまくいったし、何よりも技術面の心配はせずに走ることが出来ました!

マラソン

技術面のストレスも無くなって、メディア関係のストレスも今年は減らしたいと思いました。去年まではマラソン開催前からCNN、APや日本のメジャーなテレビ局で取り上げられていました。そのため夜遅くにインタビューがあったり、取材班とマラソン途中で待ち合わせたりしなくてはなりませんでした(スマートフォンが今ほど世に普及する前、2009年にフジテレビと収録した時はとっても楽しかったのは今でも覚えていますが)。今年はあまり大きく宣伝しないで、友達や家族にだけTwitterやFacebookで知らせていただけでした。それでも当日は6,000人以上の人が中継を見てくれました!

今年は運良く天気も味方してくれました。少し寒かったけど、気持ち良く晴れました。コスチュームを着るのに時間がかかり予定していたよりも少しスタート地点に到着するのは遅くなってしまって、僕がスタートする「Jブロック」まで辿り着けず、約36,000人居るランナーのほぼ一番後ろになってしまいました!スタート地点のムードは最高でした。皆がワクワクしててハッピーで、この大きなイベントの一部になれたことがすごく嬉しかったです。前年のマラソンから僕のことを覚えてくれていた人たちも居て、今まで以上にコミュニティが出来上がっていると感じました。

マラソン開始の合図から25分後、やっと僕もスタートラインを超えることができました。今年は脱落者を乗せるバスに追いかけられたくなかったので、なるべく早めに前に出るようにしました。このおかげもあって2011年の時みたいにバスが後ろ近くに寄ってくることはありませんでした。

joseph-medal-300レースは今まで走った中で一番楽しかったです。天気にも恵まれ、技術面の問題も無く、もちろん皆さんからの応援もあって、すごく楽しく、今年は新しいレベルにいけたような気がしました。いつも通りヘルメットに名前を書いたボードを乗せていたからか、以前のマラソンから覚えてくれていたのか、その両方のおかげもあってか、走っていた5時間30分の間ずっと皆が「ジョセフー!頑張ってー!」と激励してくれました。これは精神面でとても助かりました!道路の上を浮いて、サポーターの人たちの波に持ち上げてもらっているような感覚でした。

僕は他のランナーだけでなく、応援してくれている人も応援しようと思いました。特にマラソンの後半の方では応援の人も寒くて疲れてきてしまうからです。僕が情熱的にサポーターに声をかけることで、僕や僕の周りのランナーに大きな声援が皆さからも返ってきました。

他の何人かのランナーにも途中途中で何度も会いました。その中の2人は特に印象的で(と同時に彼らをとても尊敬しているのですが)1人は42kmをギター弾きながら走った人。もう1人はワンマンバンドとして演奏しながら走ってた人。どうやって彼が42kmもあんな大きな物を持って走れたのかはわかりませんが、素晴らしかった。2人とも僕とは1分以内の差でゴールしていました。最後に彼らとゴールラインで会えて、彼らの完走を祝えて良かったです!

友人達のサポートもすごく嬉しかったです。特に奈美とフィルは毎年ポイント毎で食べ物や飲み物、そして替えのバッテリーを渡してくれました!サシキさん、マリコやチームも竹橋で応援してくれて、ヨウジも品川で応援してくれました。ダニエルもフィニッシュで合流してくれました。本当に感謝しています。ありがとう!!!

オンライン視聴者の皆さんもすごく支えてくれました。路上ではサポーターが少ない場所でもTwitterで途切れなく応援メッセージを送ってくれて、本当に助かりました。皆さん見てくれて、そしてメッセージを送ってくれて本当にありがとうございました!

joseph-nami-phil-daniel今年のマラソンを振り返ってみると、僕の東京という町に対する愛や東京に住む人たちへの想いもどれだけ深いか気づけた感じがします。東京マラソンは本当に特別な日であり、本当に「東京がひとつになる」日だと思いました。もちろん似たような大会は日本各地で行われていますが、1回のイベントでこの都心を36,000人が42kmを目指して走るという、このイベントは特別だと思います。忘れられない経験でした。

僕は今から来年のマラソンを楽しみにしています!(抽選に当たるかどうかはわからないけど!)それまでは、もう少しとなる春の訪れを楽しみ、暖かい良い天気の中で楽しんで走りたいと思います。楽しみ!

今回の東京マラソンのプロジェクトに色んな形で参加してくれた皆さん、ありがとうございました!今年も無事に大成功に終わらせることができました!応援、本当に嬉しかったです。

また街のどこかで会いましょう!(風車を目印に探してね!笑)