5 Random Things I Did This Weekend

Here’s what we’ve been up to over the last few days here on the home front.

1) A bit of a long run

Saturday afternoon I headed out for my long run.  In this case it was about 1hr and 15mins at a Z2 HR, and then I’d do a simple mile after that at about 6:20/mile (I read it wrong, it was supposed to be 6:00/mile).  In any case, I was mostly using the Vivoactive on this run.


After leaving my hood behind I crossed over the river and then up towards Bastille along the canal:


From there I wiggled around the police barricade and protestors du jour to cross over the plaza.



It was a pretty tame protest, with only a hundred people or so.  Protests are a dime a dozen here.

From there I jumped up onto the elevated walking/running trail for a few mile traverse across the city without having to deal with traffic or roads.


I then arrived into the Bois de Vincennes for some meandering.  I did a few loops around various lakes before exiting and heading home.


By this point it was too dark for photos while running, so I just nailed the various paces and kept a nice low heart rate.  Though, the last few miles were directly into a stiff head wind – so I did take a slight hit on heart rate here.  Despite that I was basically at a faster pace for the entire run than my half-marathon two weeks prior, and did so at a significantly lower heart rate.  Go figure.

In any case, I wrapped things up on the quay before heading back inside.


Just as I finished up, The Girl was finishing up her run as well.  So we met inside and then did some core work together.  We’ve been mostly following the Daily Burn videos.


They work fine for our purposes, and in this case it was just 20 minutes – so perfect to follow-up a longer run.  The times goes by quick, so that’s a plus for me since I’m not so much of a big gym person.

2) They broke our hot water heater (and thus heat for our apartment)

In general we’ve gotten the hang of all the slightly process-for-the-sake-of-process driven quirks of living in France.  But every once in a while…failboat.  Friday would be an example of that.

Our landlord has been bugging us for quite a number of months to provide proof of a boiler maintenance contract.  In our apartment, the boiler provides hot water for mundane things like the sink and showers.  But it also provides hot water for the radiators in the home.  Being the winter, that means the heat for our apartment.

I’d first question why we as the tenant have to pay for maintenance on the boiler, or, that we have to have maintenance at all.  But, we’ll ignore that.  Fighting the system rarely works, and there are endless examples of forced fees here (for example, medical certificates for running a race).  So we gave in, and just had them come out and ‘inspect’ the unit.  A unit which was working quite fine up until 1:35PM on Friday.


The man spent about 50 minutes doing god-knows-what to the inside of the boiler and the tubes connecting it to somewhere.  After that time and 125EUR later, he said he was all done and gave me the golden ticket that I needed to give to the management agency.  He left, and I left to walk the three blocks away to the management company to drop off the paper.

We’d come home about 6-8 hours later and notice it felt a bit chillier.  But with the up and down temps it’s always a bit tricky to chase the weather.  As you can see above, there is no specific temperature setting.  Just a slider.  Sometimes it’s too cold, other days too hot.  Depends on the weather.


In any event, it was cold.  And, as I’d soon find out – so was the water.  And thus, no hot showers, no warm bath for Lucy, nor any heat for the house.  So we ran down to the studio and grabbed some space heaters we have there.

But I can’t help but wonder how is it that we went from a fully functioning boiler to paying 125EUR to a company to basically break our boiler.  Yet another thing to have to deal with in the morning.  Sigh.

3) Played in the forest with Lucy

I know a number of you have been asking for a bit of a Lucy update, since it’s been almost a month since the last time she made the cut for a post.

She’s been doing quite well, and slowly adjusting to city life.  By slowly, I mean at the most turtle-like pace possible.  For example, walks down the street?  90 year old grandma’s on one leg pushing a wheelbarrow of cinder blocks pass us.


And she’s learned new tricks, like popping the top on her little travel kennel.


But, once you get her out into the forests, she does really well.  She’ll walk all day long out there, playing with the leaves and being endlessly curious about the tiny little flowers in the grass.


And occasionally pushing over large trees:


Sometimes when she comes back to the city after our trips then she’s quite confident walking down the street again with the crowds.  She’s learning, slowly but surely.  She’s also been out on a trip with a few other dogs

She’s also gotten used to taking baths.  Or, showers of sorts.  Due to the hot water heater fiasco this weekend we went with lightly warmed buckets of water.


Though, she’s not a terribly big fan of them yet, as one might assume from the photos.

So there ya go – a (little) Lucy update!

4) Inside riding on Zwift


After returning from another park/forest journey with Lucy on Sunday, I jumped on the trainer to knock out about a 90 minute ride.  I could have ridden outdoors, but by time we got back it was just after dark and a bit chillier than I felt like riding in (yes, I was being wimpy).  But Zwift seemed like a viable alternative.


The company has made good progress over the last few months, with continued updates on both the desktop app as well as the handy little smartphone controller app that allows you to control aspects of the experience.

IMG_5603 IMG_5594 IMG_5602

For example, you can take a screenshot from the app.  Though, regrettably it doesn’t transfer the photo back to the phone – rather, it’s only kept on the desktop.  I feel like this is a bit of a lost opportunity for social media exposure, since most people will share from their phones, and not from a desktop – especially a desktop that might just be dedicated to your trainer.

There also isn’t yet the ability to create quick YouTube video clips.  I’d love that, as I would have included one in this very post if so.  Instead, creating something like that manually is just a pain in the butt.  But perhaps we’ll see something like that down the line.

Still, the scene was full, some 75+ other riders were looping around the island.  Albeit some of them sitting still – but the majority moving.  And sure enough, a few DCR readers were among the groupings.  Here’s a short gallery from tonight (and the Strava file here):

I don’t have a set date for a Zwift review.  I’ve always kinda kept it on the schedule of ‘once they exit beta’.  Right now, they’re still in beta – and thus free.  At some point they’ll exit that status (or, when they start charging), and I think that’s probably the best time for such a post.  Still, in the meantime it’s a sweet way to make 90 minutes fly by.  And, remember you don’t have to make it out to be a race.  I just worked on staying within a zone for the vast majority of it (well…except a few short 10 second sprints where I couldn’t resist…).

5) Planned a sweet DCR-focused trip for early April:

I’ve been meaning to hit up a number of companies for both ‘Behind the Scenes’ style posts, as well as just some general catch-ups.  So this weekend I solidified a sweet schedule for a number of companies – all within a single 5-day set.  I suppose 6 days if you count the Sunday departure from Paris.


I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out who I’m visiting where.  In some cities above I’m visiting more than one company.  And in others merely changing flights.  Tricky I am, no?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week ahead!


Hopefully, you found this post useful. The website is really a labor of love, so please consider becoming a DC RAINMAKER Supporter. This gets you an ad-free experience, and access to our (mostly) bi-monthly behind-the-scenes video series of “Shed Talkin’”.

Support DCRainMaker - Shop on Amazon

Otherwise, perhaps consider using the below link if shopping on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. It could simply be buying toilet paper, or this pizza oven we use and love.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

Click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. Sirolf

    Ctrl+F “Bit Zwift seemed like a viable alternative”, bit > but

  2. Bruce Burkhalter

    Hopefully you aren’t just changing flights in SF. :-)

    Here are some guesses:

    New York City: ?
    Minneapolis: LeMond
    Rapid City: Quarq
    Denver: Training Peaks
    SF: Strava and Fitbit
    Austin: MapMyFitness
    Dallas: Changing flight

    • Tim

      MSP could also be a layover for the Quarq visit, or… Kurt Kinetic? North Pole Engineering (makers of WASP)? Or maybe just a strong desire to stop enjoy running around our lakes and rivers? :)

    • Bachoo

      Don’t forget Styrd is in Boulder.

    • David Althoff

      MSP are you stopping to see HED Wheels.. To pay Respects to the owner that past away this Winter? and to see there new Wheels?

  3. Anthony anicete

    You can do an open water swim in aquatic park in San Francisco.

  4. Same story here with the boiler/heater. Guy came, made some mess around the kitchen where the thingy is, and left. Few hours later we could feel a strong metan smell so we had to call him back. At least in our case the landlady payed for everything.

  5. It’s good to see you have also taken up the hobby of photographing your pets pooping. I have quite a collection between my dogs and cats. Looks like Lucy has adopted the ‘front paw lift/concentrated stare’ method.It’s a modern classic.

  6. Neil

    I see you HR took almost a mile to raise and stabilise. Was this a hardware issue, or just a genuinely easy start ?
    How is the vivoactive behaving ? Still not sure if I love it or hate it! :)

    • Mostly strap related, was just a bit dry. Once I adjusted slightly it ‘clicked’ instantly.

    • Neil

      Chest strap ?! If so, have you been having issues with the optical tech (you use a schoschcchhschsche arm strap usually?) that have pushed you back to the old way, or are you comparing tech ?

    • Just comparing. Was taking the HRM-RUN data into the Fenix3 and was going to show the different calorie calcs between the F3 and the Vivoactive on the same run (they use rather different algorithms).

  7. J

    Hot water heater… why do you heat your hot water? ;)

    Only level 1 on Zwift!? :-o

  8. remco Verdoold

    Wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘handy man’ forgot to reconnect the spark plug or fouled it (with grease or water) during the maintenance. Or even worse forgot to op the gas main tap. The next claim will be it is to old for fixing. (Assuming you are renting, it should be in the contract who is owning and responsible for it).

  9. DD

    Hi Ray,

    I am French, so I can give some explanations regarding the boiler. The law indeed says that the inhabitant (not the owner) of a house or flat must every year ensure its maintenance. Which mainly means that a guy checks that it does not emit carbon monoxyde or gas, that burning dirt is removed and that the main pieces, pipes, cogs or whatever work well. But this is just what maintenance means here. If there is indeed a problem on the boiler, then the owner has to pay for the fixing, not you. Besides, it is often interesting to pay a yearly subscription, so it is less expensive to have a guy come.

    Regarding your comments on the process for the sake of the process (which no one likes, not even the French) or on paying hidden fees in all circumstances, I think it is a matter of perspective (and it’s not that nice toward the French). You’ve been raised in a country where things are made differently but it does not mean there is only one way to make a society. France, and most of western Europe, has a tradition of welfare state where the State does mandate people to do this or that, and sometimes it does indeed make things a bit tiresome or too invasive. The credo is that it is for the greater good. As the American credo may be for many US citizens that the State should just ensure the minimum welfare and then let people decide for their life.

    • Hi DD-

      Thanks for the explanation on the boiler, good to know!

      As for the process, no doubt, I have a different perspective coming from the states. And there are many things in France we prefer to the States. And indeed there are many things that are better for the greater good – we see that in Paris with much of the cultural aspects and places like parks. There are no doubt many things in the US I can be critical on too. I think it’s important that in general folks show awareness where thing work…and where they don’t. Or, where they are for putting money in someone else’s pocket just for the sake of it.

      At the same time, we’re also in a bit of a unique spot in that with owning a business we also get to see that aspect as well – and converse with many other French small business owners about what it takes to run a business in France. The reality is that little of the system is geared towards truthfully operating a small business (and why many of our employees initially question that we actually officially record all of our sales – which is not common for small businesses in France, or at least Paris). Or which days a business is allowed to be open. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. That’s of course a bit of a bi-product of some of the overhead of process, and some of it due to the tax scheme. There’s obviously a ton of conversation around how long such a model is economically sustainable within the country, with most trending towards ‘not terribly long’.

      But…that’s probably getting a bit off-topic… :)

    • Martin R.

      I agree. Europe is for “chilling”, the US is for “working”. Besides, in France kidnapping the boss usually pays off… :)

  10. PurdueMatt

    Lucy is adorable

  11. Steven Agar

    San Fransisco, early April? Gotta be the Apple Watch, right ;-)

  12. S.Ormerod

    Love the blog and was really enjoying the pictures of Lucy. Got to the part about Zwift and love seeing peoples feed back as I have been enjoying it with my Canadian winter hitting repeated -40 days. Then I see my name on the screen shot right above you!

    Probably just a slow Monday but it made my day :)

  13. Trevor

    Any comments on the Lezyne gps products announced last week? Any chance you’ll be reviewing them?

    • I’ll likely at least poke at them. I think their success will depend fully on the software element to it. That’s what makes the Edge 500 so successful (ease of use, tons of options/functions/etc…).

      If after initial poking I’ll definitely write up a piece. If not…I’ve gotta find some way to write a shorter ‘review’ that explains why I think something isn’t worth the time. Lots of things fall into that category and today I just don’t bother to write anything.

    • AC

      they seriously dropped the ball by not being compatible with Garmin mounts, IMO. I WOULD have bought one to try at that price point without a second thought. Changing mounts on multiple bikes depending on which computer is in use that day is a PITA that I will not be taking on. My bet, 2.0 version is garmin mount compatible.

    • Trevor

      I’m very curious to what they’re actually like. I recently purchased a new bike, and was looking at bike GPS units, as my FR220 is a pain to use for riding and running. It amazed me at how few good offerings there were, and how pricy Garmin’s offerings were.

      For example, to get a unit that has ANT+ support with bluetooth notifications, you need to go with the 810, which starts at $400 US. Now of course it comes with a crippled of features, but personally I could care less about touch screen, etc. The most basic unit from Garmin with ANT+ is the 500, and even it still sells for close to $200. The Polar v650 is an interesting entry to the market, but lacks ANT+ (my Giant has a nice integrated speed/cadence sensor that is ANT+).

      Given what some new smart watches, smart phones, and other similar tech is going for, it just amazed me that nobody else was really competing in the market. My boss is actually in a similar situation…looking for a bike GPS, ANT+/bluetooth support, but doesn’t want to drop ton on it (we’re both non-competitive riders).

      Additionally, while Garmin’s offerings are usually solid products, my experience with my FR220 has left a bad taste in my mouth. Their software/firmware I’ve found leaves me wanting (I should note that I’m a web app developer myself). Garmin Connect I find to be pretty brutal, and the whole $5k API fee is ridiculous (for example, I have my own logging platform that I integrated using their web plugin…but there’s no way I could drop $5k just to integrate).

      In the meantime I grabbed the Timex Global Cycle Trainer for $85 US and it’s done me pretty well, and I’m working on creating my own OS X sync software so I can easily upload it to Strava (as the training peaks sync software is a joke).

      Anyhow, I know Lezyne is using FIT files and seems to realize that a lot of cyclists use Strava and other platforms…so hopefully those devices play well with others.

    • davie

      The super GPS could be everything that the 510 should have been.

      Proper bluetooth compatability as well as ANT+
      Glonass support as well as GPS (makes a big difference)
      Ability to upload from a phone
      not too big

      I am a casual road/mtb rider who has outgrown the phone and is looking for my first computer. I believe there are lots like me.

      If Lezyne can get these 2 things right, they will sell lots:

      Easy/Automated way to auto synch with Strava (and map my ride etc)
      Altitude measurement using barometer (not yet confirmed by Lezyne)

    • davie

      I did a bit of reading today about the mount. But there is not much information out there yet. Apparently it is a quarter turn mount but it requires some sort of push to unlock before you can do the quarter turn. Does not say if the quarter turn is the same type as Garmin?

      Not sure if Magellan/Mio have the own mount or use the garmin standard either?

      This extra locking push step may be an advantage as it will reduce the incidence of devices falling off the mounts by accident.

      The edge 510 has a mount for a leash. that is a good backup incase the quarter turn comes loose. Wonder if these have the same?

  14. Charlie

    Hey Ray, if you’re going to be in NYC and have any kind of downtime, I’d love to (try to) make my way out there and maybe go for a run. I’m in NJ and good for a 7:45-8:00 pace up to over 10 miles, although I know that’s a bit slow for you lol

  15. Jackson

    As to the boiler…it provides hot water for sink and showers and provides hot water for the radiators. Please tell me its a split system…you’re not showing in your radiator water…are you? :-)

  16. staralliance

    Timex on the list for visit? I have had the One GPS+ for a month now. Super accurate GPS tracks compared to 910xt,920xt,Fenix 3. There are some bugs with it, but finding it very difficult to escalte these. Timex has no forums and their Tier 1 support is not helpful. Would like to get a feeling on how committed Timex is to this platform as it is a very unique running watch and doesn’t have much competition in the live/sans phone connected space.

    Safe Travels!

    • It’s not on the list, though, they’re pretty responsive to items I stumble into. So, if you’ve got a list of issues – feel free to post them here and I’ll validate that I can repro and forward (both those that I can and can’t repro).

    • staraliance

      *Stats Field “Current Time” (in workout mode) displays current time in military format even though ’12-hour’ is selected in the ‘Time Format’ options in the global settings.
      *Auto-Lap There seems to be an issue with how the ‘Auto-Lap’ feature marks laps when writing the *.tcx file. I have the auto lap feature set to ‘On, 1.00 mile’. After completing a workout I navigate to History-> ‘Workout Details’ on the watch and see the laps are split unevenly. Several laps are 1.01, 1.02, .99. When reviewing the *.tcx file that Timex emails upon completing a workout, this behavior is reflected as well. This issue is visible in all runs that I have completed. Important to note, Timex only emails the *.tcx file to you if you haven’t linked your Timex account to Strava or one of the other connected services. I use TrainingPeaks and Final Surge and both these platforms expose the un even laps upon uploading the file.
      *Would like to see the mobile software or the workouts create and configure workouts and send them to the Timex similar to how Garmin does. I know you can create the workouts directly on the watch but this can be a pain as you know scrolling and flicking on the tiny screen.
      *I had an instance when I completed a run and the watch indicated ‘upload successful’ but never received the email with the *.tcx file (checked the usual suspects, SPAM filter etc). From the watch, you only have the option to re upload your most recent workout to the cloud if the watch determines your workout ‘failed’. The flaw in this is if your workout gets stuck out in limbo, you are SOL in trying to retrieve the workout. Connecting the watch via USB does not help as you only have r/w access to the music folder and do not see a folder with *.tcx files.
      Thank you for taking the time to review and passing this on Ray.

    • staralliance

      *Would like to use the mobile app or the website create workouts and send to the watch
      *From the watch, you only have the option to re upload your most recent workout to the cloud if the watch determines your upload ‘failed’.


    • Staralliance

      Hello Ray,

      Another bug I’ve encountered:

      I have the watch set ‘auto lap’ at 1.00 miles. While running and passing a mile, I get the notification banner with the lap number, lap time, and pace (similar to a Garmin notification) flashed onscreen for about 10 seconds. After mile 5 or 6 and for the rest of the run, this auto lap alert will fail to appear. Note this is different from the ‘Auto Stats’ option that can be configured, I currently have this feature disabled.

      In the month having the watch, I am very satisfied with the watch. Screen readability is crisp, accuracy is on par with 910xt/920xt, and the live tracking feature works well. I’m going to take the plunge and use it in lieu of my trusted 910xt in Boston next week.

      Best, Dan

  17. Errol

    Hi Ray! I esa wandering how do you manage your nutrition between so much travel as you continue working out.
    And when will you visit Costa Rica for some relaxing time??

    • I just eat what seems appropriate. I often gravitate towards Subway and other healthier options, simply because I have a rough idea of what I’m eating (calorie-wise).

      As for Costa Rica, ya never know! Right now it’s not on the docket, but I don’t even know my travel schedule for next week yet, so…we shall see!

  18. Greg

    You think Zwift will include advanced metrics in the future? Also, include averages?

  19. Robert

    The boiler story reminds me when I lived in Germany we had to pay additional funds for heating oil as part of our rent year around despite only needing it in winter.

    your comment about how fast Lucy walks is pretty funny!

  20. Jonas S.

    how long are you going to stay in New York? Just a transfer or heading out from the airport as well?

    • I’ve got about 20 hours. I come in Thursday night late, doing some stuff early morning, then some meetings. I *may* have time for a run with folks in Central Park in the late afternoon. Just trying to lock down all the exact times still. A bit of a juggling game.

  21. Mark P

    Dog treats while showering will reinforce a good ‘experience’ and easier washing in the future.

    Will probably work for Lucy too :)

  22. Greg

    You ever the uncanny similirities between the zwift default rider and you? The default rider seems to be this tall lanky guy with a build like yours and the same hair. I think you should sue for rights…like the NCAA players


  23. Greg

    I used to love running with our dog (boxer) when she was younger. From about 1-4, I could do 3-4 miles and she still had enough spunk to chew up my running shoes when I was not home! Now at 6/7, she is content with a few laps around the backyard, getting up to bark at the mailman and the weekend trail walks to chase squirels.

  24. Raymond_B

    Too bad you are not staying over in DFW. You’d like the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth, I’ve never run in Dallas so I can’t comment on that section :)

  25. Ginster

    Please please please can we have an early review of the 4iiii Precision. Dithering between Stages (now) or Precision (May?) here in UK.
    Should I wait?!?

  26. Ian

    Did you get the Zwift mobile app from the app store, or via an invite from them? I am on the desktop app, and contacted Zwift support about the mobile which they said wasn’t available yet (this was probably 3-4 weeks ago) however I can’t see it in the UK store as yet…

  27. James Coates

    Clever shipped out my Vivoactive on 3/23. Hoping it shows up today!!

    • Anonymouse

      James — When did you order? Still waiting for mine to ship and have no idea what the queue looks like.


    • Vivoactive CT Stock (current as of 3/26/2015 1PM Eastern):

      Black Base: Fully in-stock*
      Black Bundle: Fully in stock*
      White units: Pending Garmin shipment a few weeks out.

      *Any remaining backorders of these are all shipping out today, with units that arrived this morning.

      Cheers and thanks for the support!

    • Anonymouse

      Thanks, Ray. Just got the shipping email about 10 minutes ago. Yahoo!

  28. jaja

    “Fighting the system rarely works, and there are endless examples of forced fees here (for example, medical certificates for running a race).” As an American living in France for the past 20 years I got quite a good laugh out of that sentence. You’re right – fighting the system rarely works which is why the French are constantly trying to find a way to shirk the system.
    Here’s a tip for the medical certificates (which drive my GP crazy!) : have your doc give you a printed version (not handwritten). Scan the document then open it in Paint. Just change the words (course à pied becomes triathlon) and the date and you’re set without ever having to ask for a medical certificate again. My GP just laughed when I told him what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years.

  29. Brandon

    Being from South Dakota my whole life I am a little ashamed of myself for not knowing that Quarq is based out of Spearfish until just now. I am guessing this isn’t your first trip there, but if you haven’t tried Sanford’s you should eat there. It is one of my favorite places to eat in the black hills.

  30. Changren Yong

    Haha. That’s me right behind you, trying to catch up to you.

    link to dcrainmaker.com

  31. alex

    Hi Ray,
    You seem to be using the Garmin vivoactive quite a bit at the momemt. Obviously your just putting it through it’s paces for the main review but could you see this potentially as being your main running watch given all its capabilities plus also looking good on the wrist to wear as a day to day watch. It seems that from my point of view that they seem to have nailed it but given you have had some hands on experience with it are there any negatives that you can see that would make you consider not buying it

    • Yup, expect something in the next 7-10 days. Overall it’s pretty good, but there’s a few minor bugs I’m running into. No show-stoppers, just little things here and there like some data fields incorrectly displaying, or the phone randomly disconnecting.

  32. Chris O.

    Hey Ray,

    Spending any time in the Denver area or just a transfer?