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5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Here’s the rundown on what I’ve been up to the last few days!

1) Flew back from Dubai

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I started off my weekend working my way back from Dubai.  It’s only about a 6hr flight from Dubai to Europe, so on a redeye flight it fits in that slightly awkward timeframe where you actually want more flying time to sleep more.  No worries, with the final hop from London to Paris I made up for it.  I’m not exactly sure where our plane went during that normally short flight time, but the trip took far longer.

Soon, I was home.  And thankfully customs at Paris Orly (the smaller of the two major Paris airports), is awesome-quick.  It’s a relatively small airport, with a bunch of separated terminal chunks.  Kinda like Washington DC’s DCA/Regan airport.  Plus, it’s right on the edge of the city itself.

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2) Tested various trainer software

While I had hoped to have the trainer software app roundup out last week, my impromptu Dubai work trip sorta skewered that.  So, I spent a bit of time this weekend working through some of the trainer apps.  For example, I tried out the FulGaz app, which has recorded outdoor ride videos that you can ride indoors and have the app control the trainer.  Currently, it controls the Wahoo KICKR.

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Cool stuff, but more on that on later this week.  As noted before, my roundup will be more of a collection of all of the trainer apps out there – rather than a specific set of recommendations.  Of course, I’ll give my opinions along the way (as always!), but it won’t be in-depth reviews of each app.  Think of it like a buffet – something for everyone.

3) Walked over 20 miles

With The Girl’s Dad in town, we’ve been busy enjoying the city from end to end.  While he’s been many times before, it’s always fun to walk around.  In our case, mostly in the pursuit of food.  But occasionally we’d do something touristy, like look up at the Eiffel Tower:

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But of course the fall colors are in full swing now (it’s always a little bit later here than in the states it seems), so lots of prettiness to look at:

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And on top of fall leaves, it’s also the start of the various Christmas related stuff here.  For example – the windows at some of the major department stores are out in full decorative force!

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And then the Christmas Markets opened up on the Champs-Élysées.  While it’s more or less the same stuff each year, it’s still fun to go for a wander up and down on a nice evening.

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In all our walking, it was just a bit over 20 miles over the course of the weekend.  And that’s in addition of course to runs and such.  Yet somehow, it feels completely normal here.  You simply just walk where you go and enjoy the journey.

4) A very wet evening run

As Sunday slid towards darkness the rain continued to increase.  Unfortunately, I had a bit of a run to knock out.  Though the silver lining (in the many wet clouds) was that the closed highway was mostly empty of other people.  It’s usually closed on Sunday’s, but oftentimes it’s packed with other runners/cyclists/skaters/dogs to dodge.

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The secondary benefit of this route was that I was able to test a slew of different GPS devices and see how they handle tunnels and loss of GPS signal.

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This specific route has two tunnels in it.  The first (above) is short – perhaps .15 miles long or so and perfectly straight.  The second is much longer – about .50 miles long, and curves slightly underground in an s-shape.

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When going through tunnels, I’m specifically looking at these core items:

1) Does the watch utilize a secondary method for pace in the tunnel (i.e. wrist or footpod)?
2) When it fails over to that secondary method from GPS, is the pace relatively consistent – or are there issues with non-GPS pace calibration that must be looked at?
3) Is the distance increasing using the secondary method?
4) Once I exit the tunnel, I ensure that it doesn’t ‘double-up’ the tunnel distance again.  Sometimes watches will have bugs that cause this.
5) Once I exit the tunnel, does the GPS track show a relatively clean pickup of the GPS signal?  Sometimes watches will show a GPS track pickup hundreds of yards/meters away from the tunnel exit.  The GPS device should ensure the accuracy of the signal is reasonable before switching back to GPS.

In this case, three of the four devices did the above without issue.  The fourth device didn’t support accelerometer based pace/distance, thus, it didn’t do anything in the tunnel.  Further, because the tunnel has a bit of an s-curve aspect to it, it meant that it actually shorted the distance a little bit.

By the end of the run, some 11 miles later.  It was still raining.  A lot.

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But, at least it was mostly a warm rain.  Which is a thousand times better than a cold rain.

5) Ate a lot of food around the city

With The Girl’s Dad being into trying all sorts of foods, we made our way around the city eating all over the place.  It was sorta like a pub crawl…but for food.

We went back to one spot we hadn’t been to since last Spring with friends – La Veraison.  The below was a soft-boiled egg that once broken spilled out into the chanterelle mushrooms and bacon.

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And the dessert there was just as good.  Obviously, we had a bit of a sampler platter of desserts:

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We also tried out a new place we hadn’t been to yet (13-A Baker’s Dozen), that opened up this past winter.  It’s a bit of Southern US style food, though with plenty of French touches.  Great stuff.

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Along the way later that day we were walking on one of the islands and found a new pastry place, which makes choux.  These are pastries which are then injected with a crème.  Often used in French style wedding cakes in a croque-en-bouche.

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Pretty good, better than I would have expected actually.  I might even go back again…

Speaking of food places we go back to – I put together a few weeks back a small page of some of the Parisian restaurants that we visit semi-regularly.  They’re all located here, for those who are in town and looking for some of our favorites.

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!

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49 Comments

  1. Aasen

    Please note that the front page pic is in breach of copyrights…

    link to digitaltrends.com

    • Not really. Per the very article you linked to, the Society behind the Eiffel Tower has made it very clear that images published for personal purposes (even in social media channels), are perfectly fine: link to facebook.com

    • Aasen

      Did see the distinction after I posted. Just remembered the article when I saw the picture. However, strange thing to copyright even for commercial pictures.

    • Bachoo

      So a blog that has a commercial compontent and also promotes commercial enterprises is “purely” personal? Good luck with that.

    • I’m not terribly worried about it. If they want to tell me to remove my image that promotes the city as part of the things I did this weekend, then go for it, I’ll do so. Sounds like you’re more worried than I.

      (Also, despite various US/UK news organizations just finding out about this, it’s been in place for years. I know of nobody whose had issues with them coming after them, and I’ve done numerous posts in the past with images of it at night.)

    • Greg

      Dont you all have better things to do tham flame DC R’s blog? You obviously read it and appreciate it, so let it be.

    • Jim

      Thanks Greg. Now I can’t get the song out of my head. I just can’t let it be. ha.

    • merdle

      Typical Ray response. “F you if you don’t like my actions. I’m too cool to follow the laws.”

    • Again, read what was written by the CEO of Tour Eiffel. It’s quite clear that posting images that aren’t for commercial use/re-use are permissible. The non-permissible aspect is commercial use/re-use of imagery for sale. This really isn’t that complex.

  2. Greg

    OMG… Bacon and runny egg – a runner heart attack meal! Yet, it makes me want to fry up some bacon right now

  3. Dave

    The flight from Dubai is taking longer as they are having to fly “around” Iraq and Syria…. Well they did on my flight back to UK the other week. Added about 45mins-1 hour on!

  4. barrie gibson

    They have the same restrictions for images of the Atomium here in Brussels

  5. Scott E

    Very cool to add an eatery page – Viva la Food!

    A favorite places page would be cool too. I walk most cities in which I travel, and find randomly interesting places that would not normally show up in quick internet searches.

  6. Greg

    OK, so which GPS devices did you run with and which ones fared well and which one failed? Or do we have to wait for a “GPS Accuracy test” post?

    • The four were:

      1) FR920XT
      2) Microsoft Band
      3) Epson 810
      4) Bia Watch

      The Microsoft Band ran out of juice about 3/4ths the way through. The Bia Watch does not utilize the accelerometer when going through tunnels. Beyond those caveats, they all tracked fairly well.

    • Greg

      Cool! Thanks Ray!

    • Steven Knapp

      920XT and Fenix2 behaviors in the tunnel pretty similar? or 920XT better? ty.

    • It seemed similar, or, at least expected. The pace differential in the tunnel was negligible, which is good. It didn’t double the mileage upon exit (also good), and upon exiting the pickup of satellites didn’t result in any more than about a 10-15m offset for the first few seconds (reasonably good) and then immediately snapped back in place.

  7. Sauzee

    Magic post! Trying to wangle a trip to Paris with work so appreciate the tips.

  8. Hi Ray, congrats for your blog that I always follow with great interest. I’m an Italian triathlete working and training in Nigeria! Planning to spend a 30 hours stop in Paris on my way to Yaounde. Any advise for hotels that is both near to airport (or just well connected) and a nice running course?
    Best,
    Luca

    • I’d probably avoid staying near the airport. In general, it’s more expensive, and it’s really near nowhere.

      The RER-B train goes direct from the airport to central Paris. It’s impossible to mess up, since it ends at the airport…and is the only train there going to Paris…and is labeled a gazillion ways. :)

      I’d look at using AirBNB or Booking.com, both are the best bets for finding cheap places. I’d look at staying somewhere between Notre Dame and the Arch de Tripomphe – so basically the main sections of Paris. Or, if you stay anywhere within 5-10 blocks of this route, it’ll work out great: link to dcrainmaker.com

      30 hours is plenty of time to see tons of cool stuff, and to get in a nice city run. You can see my Parisian running routes here: link to dcrainmaker.com

      Enjoy!

    • Thanks Ray,
      Let me know if you are planning a run in Paris the next 23rd of november so I will join you for the training!

    • I probably won’t run this Sunday, but do have a run set for Saturday. If you’re able to keep pace (about 7:00-7:30/mile, 4:20-4:40/KM for 10 miles/15KM), happy to have someone along!

    • Well, I’ll land in CDG at 6.00 am sunday morning and take off at 2pm monday afternoon.
      I’ve founded a great hotel at bois de boulogne that has a 33mt indoor and a 46mt outdoor heated pool for swimming!!!! So in my 30 hours I will run sunday or monday morning and swim when I wont run. The pace of 7.00-7.30/mile it’s ok and if you change your plans and want to run sunday or monday morning it will be a pleasure to share the training with you. my email is gertdalpozzo40@gmail.com
      Luca

    • Anthony C

      Hi, Ray

      As the one guilty for putting your Tri bike through the mud towards Fontainbleau a while back, I’d be happy to ‘repay’ by joining you on a run. I live near the Bois de B but can move / join you part way through. Let me know if interested.

    • Hi Ray, so no run together on Sunday or Monday morning?
      Let me know…
      On your opinion where can I go to fix a Cervelo S5 Vwd seat post saddle attack in Paris?
      Unfortunately I’ve broken my back-up one.
      Best,
      Luca

    • Just sent you an e-mail about morning.

      As for a Cervelo, if you’re looking to fix something on a Sunday – nowhere. None of the bike shops in Paris are open on a Sunday/Monday in Paris. :(

    • Luca

      Hi Ray, I’m sorry, unfortunately I’v never got your email! At the end I’v ran 10miles in bois de boulogne and had a great swim in the 33mt pool all just for me. Hope there will be another occasion, contact me if you travel to Nigeria or Italy!

    • I had thought it was strange you hadn’t replied! Bummer!

  9. Nicholas

    I’d love to read some more posts from you or “The Girl” about the job/business climate in Paris. As an American, some media often portray it as the worst situation France as the worst economic climate possible. I’ve read stories about zero job growth, two tier employment systems as a norm, and riots and entire sections of towns that basically should be avoided because they are akin to hellholes. I don’t know if they are true, exaggerated of completely fabricated. I’d love to see some thoughts on this from you two with regard to what you see and experience. No politics or viewpoints need be expressed. As an example you mentioned how long the lease renewal took. Strange as it may sound, I’d love to know more about that sort of stuff. Great pictures (authorized or not) and the bureau of tourism probably owes you a favor.

    • The media often makes it worse than it is. This is true of business related news, or even the various articles about the Eiffel Tower at night as seen above. All of those were written by various English language publications – mostly US/UK, and none of them appeared to actually ask Tour Eiffel. Which, is often how much of the reporting is done about France by English papers. Essentially, it feeds the stereotypes that English folks like to perpetuate.

      That said,yes, there are many aspects of the business/job climate in France (or at least Paris anyway), that are mind boggling. There is nothing pro-business, or pro-small-business about it. The roadblocks are there at every turn, and even native Parisians shake their heads at it. It’s no surprise that the unemployment rate is high here.

      The biggest challenges we have are mostly around staffing. While we have a core team that’s very good working for us year round, it’s very difficult in France to hire temporary emplyoees. You have very limited avenues you can use, and you can’t use them often or for long. This makes it difficult when you want to hire seasonally, but still be able to have someone available to fill in randomly – like when someone calls in sick or is on vacation.

      So we give our core employees full time jobs (with all the benefits) – which are unheard of in France for this line of work (or for their ages/experience). But that’s not realistic for seasonal jobs (such as our busy seasons in the summer or Christmas). So you end up either closing for days in order to not hit work limits, or you hire people on temporary contracts even though you’d love to have them around longer.

      Effectively, such laws basically mean that we’ll close (and pay nobody) for Mon/Tues in the winter rather than being able to hire (and pay someone), because the math doesn’t work out on having to hire someone we trust full time, versus hiring someone we trust part time. Training multiple sets of new employees every 6 months to only work part time isn’t worth it. It’s a great example where the policies hurt the overall economy. Many of the major retail chains are fighting the similar issues with Sunday work (which is generally prohibited outside very narrow allowances). The employees largely actually want to work, whereas the government doesn’t permit it. This has led to some stores actually taking the fine and staying open on Sunday – such as our equivalent of Home Depot.

      If we look at commercial lease contracts, it’s just as painful (actually, more painful). The way they are structured as well as the execution of them hugely slows down business.

      Looking at business costs, costs are high, but not actually as bad as people make it out to be. At least for core goods like ingredients and employee wages. Obviously the French government covers healthcare, but we have much higher social taxes we pay on their hourly wages. While it’d be cheaper in the US as a minimum wage job without benefits, once you add the cost of benefits in the US (assuming you’d pay them, which seems the right thing to do), then it’s not terribly different here percentage wise.

      As for riots and such, they’re usually demonstrations that have gotten out of hand. There are some exceptions, such as the seemingly pre-planned New Years Eve type riots, and those pertaining to soccer/football. But to a large degree the paths for those are well known and usually fairly well controlled despite how it may appear.

      Of course, just my two cents based on our specific situation in running a food oriented business. I’m sure others have different experiences.

    • Bruce Burkhalter

      I’m always amazed at how much time the Girl spends away for the shop on trips with you. It is a real testament to the core employees you have working there. Unless, of course, you just close the shop. :-)

    • Steve E.

      After sucking up so much of your tech posts, this is strangely fascinating to me. Apparently government red tape doesn’t stop at any borders. It’s interesting to see what you have to do to work out a successful system.

  10. Paul in Kirkland

    How long have you been living there now? Two years? Has your French improved?

    Just wondering.

    • Yeah, we moved in June/July 2012, so about 2.5 years. My French is much better in reading than spoken. It’s tricky in that my work is almost exclusively in English. So while I’m very good with foods and random day to day things, and I can understand a lot of what I read, it’s me speaking that’s trickier.

  11. Spencer

    Love your blog, reviews, etc. Jealous of your life!

  12. matthias

    hey ray,

    are there any awesome deals coming for black friday? you see, i got some extra cash burning a hole in my mattress.

    • There’s some solid deals coming up. I’m getting clarification on when exactly I can release the details of those. You won’t see anything on brand new products (i.e. stuff just released/announced this fall). As usual, you’ll see deals on products that are slightly older – i.e. from early summer or mostly older.

  13. Laurens

    Isn’t it time to go take the plunge and go metric after 2.5 years? Sure would make it easier for me to read your posts (.15 miles…)
    But I enjoy them just the same, keep up the good work.

  14. Zanza00

    Any tips for running in the rain? Iran only 3 km in the rain i found it pretty miserable :/

    • Not many, other than just hope it’s not cold rain.

      I had a light shell jacket on, but that was honestly soaked by about 10-15 minutes into the run. Thankfully it was somewhat warm out.

      It’s mostly mental though. If you just go into it as a fun run in the rain, it’s not too bad.

    • Rob

      FWIW, I run with one of these caps from Inov-8 when it’s raining:

      link to amazon.co.uk

      It’s not going to keep you dry (nothing is when running), but it keeps the rain from falling directly into my eyes, which helps.

  15. Thomas

    It would be cool if you did a post about cold weather/rain apparel that you use for running. The weather just changed in the Southeast and I need to pick up some new gear.

  16. Tracy

    Hi, just wanted to say that when I’m looking for some new training gadget or information on a product, yours is the website I turn to, as I know I’ll be reading a thorough and straight forward accounting. (Terribly long sentence, sorry.)

  17. Pavel

    As you mentioned about the tunnel sensivity, how does Garmin 220 manages? I am thinking about getting this running watch and one of my favourite routes goes through a tunnel (aprox 400m). I am not thinking getting the step meter. I had some therrible results (broken avg pace, distance etc…) in the tunnel with tracking with my phone on runkeeper.

    PS – Thanks a lot for your reviews it really helped a lot.

  18. David

    I just had to write in since you never get reports of things going right. I ran a half marathon last night which featured a tunnel, with a bit of a twist. We entered the tunnel ran about 0.3 miles, then turned around in the tunnel and came back out the same entrance. I was running with my 920XT without a foot pod. It also happened that the 1 mile, mile marker was in the tunnel. I figured there was no way that the watch would get that right, so I hit a manual lap at the marker, and continued on figuring I’d probably need to fix the watch again at mile 2. As I approached the mile 2 marker, about 50 feet in front of it, the watch auto lapped. As far as I’m concerned that was perfect. When I checked at home my first “mile” split was 0.91 miles. The total race showed up as 13.09 miles. So I think even with the exceedingly difficult tunnel scenario, the watch performed great. I’ve only had it about a month and a half, logging about 200 miles of outdoor running with it.