Tag Archives: overlay

Race Report: 2014 Minnesota Half Marathon

A lot of people question the value of the Minnesota Half Marathon.  However, after the race this year, this event should be considered a staple of the Midwest outdoor racing circuit and anyone within reasonable driving distance should put this race on their calendar.

I have often felt that this race rejuvenates my confidence as a skater after the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, as I haven’t been able to keep up with the main pack at that race since I have raced it.  Coming out of the Chicagoland, I was aggressive with the two weeks of training I had getting ready for this race.  I like this race, generally, even if it is only a half marathon.  The road conditions are decent, there aren’t a lot of big hills, and the pace is pretty fast.  This is a local race for Minnesota skaters, and it usually draws a big crowd from the local speed skating contingent here.  This year was no exception.

I got out of the house and on the road by the time I had planned, but didn’t get to St. Paul, where the race took place, until 7:15 AM.  The race was scheduled to start for the Open Wave at 7:33 AM, so I was very late.  The line for parking was long, and I still had to get to packet pick-up and get my skates on before getting to the start line.  The gear drop was also in an odd place.  Thankfully, one of my teammates from Team Rainbo was kind enough to drop my gear bag for me at gear drop while I got my skates on.  When I checked in and got my bib, I didn’t get an ankle chip.

I made it to the start line, but just barely before the National Anthem.  I got in with the group of skaters in the open group, but was shuffled a couple of skaters back from the start line.  The conditions were tight, and it took a bit to get across the start line.  At the start, the pace was predictably fast through the turn around.  The main group filtered out after a couple of miles.  We had a solid group through the first half of the race.  Oddly, at about mile 5.5, I was pulling the line and found myself alone.  I looked back to see the line dropping off behind me.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold that pace through the rest of the race, and opted to let the line catch me.  We rotated out, I continued to draft, and as we approached the turn around a couple of skaters got away.  Cale Carvell gave chase, and caught the group on the flyer.  The line broke up a bit up the hill to the turn around, and I opted to see if I could catch the flyer. It took about a mile, but I managed to reel them in.  Unfortunately, the rest of the pack came with us.  The last couple of miles were very fast.  I managed to duck in behind Roger Olson and hang on to the finish.  We were cruising into the final sprint, and I looked to my right only to see one of the other skaters closing, so I shot my right foot out to cross the line first, finishing in the top 5 for the wave, first for my age group, and 33rd overall, finishing in 42:02.30.  Full results can be found here.  The open wave was lead by Matt Melanson, Cale Carvell, Roger Olson, and myself.  However, the official results list Dan Stietz as finishing first, though I don’t know we ever saw him in or around the main pack, and he finished about 3 seconds ahead of the pack.  There was some great racing in the open division this year.

Inline Skate Minneapolis‘s race report from the overall event can be found here.  Kelin Dunfree pulled out the overall win, followed by Rob Bell and Alex Fadek with Hernan Diaz and  Team Rainbo’s Steve Meisinger rounding out the top five finishers.  Kaari, over at the Longtrack Life also pulled out her inline skates and raced the event.  Her race report can be found here.

My technique was better in this race, but after watching the video and observing some of the other skaters, I can say that the big problem with my technique is where my center of gravity sits over my skates.  The other fast skaters have their center of gravity further back over the heels of their skates.  Mine tends to be over my skates.  I noticed this after the Chicagoland, but this certifies the problem.  I have been working on this aspect of my technique.  I need to get my balance and weight farther over the heels of my skates, and I will continue to work on this body position.  The big benefit of doing this is it forces me to push out to side more effectively, thereby transferring power to the ground more effectively to generate more speed.

The race was a little slower than last year, but my finish result was better in the main pack.  While there was a little hiccup with the timing because I didn’t have an ankle chip, the race organizers were very accommodating to add my time to the final results.  My helmet camera video follows:

I used DashWare to make the gauge overlay for this video.  This process is shockingly more cumbersome than using CycleCam.  CycleCam creates the gauge videos with just the use of the Garmin TCX file.  However, it doesn’t have very many options for gauges.  DashWare has considerably more gauge options, and the gauge designer is very powerful, though not entirely user friendly.  DashWare, though, is designed to make the entire video, start to finish.  DashWare has options for titling, but isn’t very capable as an editor.  I had to make a background to make the green screen so I could use chroma key to overlay the gauges on the camera footage.  I like the gauge options, but you have to render the video with audio in DashWare then edit the camera video and gauge video in Lightworks.  I am going to keep working with DashWare to see if I can construct a viable workflow.  I will have a review of DashWare specifically in the near future.


Race Report: Apostle Island Inline Marathon

I wasn’t planning on attending the Apostle Island Inline Marathon, but when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance.  My wife and I decided to make the trip to Ashland, Wisconsin, around mid-morning, and tried to set plans in motion to leave at the end of the work day the day before the race.  I hurriedly prepared gear and registered for the race while my wife found a hotel for us to stay at on Friday night.  The race was scheduled for the morning of June 14, 2014.  For those that are not familiar with this race, it takes place on Madeline Island which is off the cost of Wisconsin in Lake Superior near Bayfield, Wisconsin.  You get to the race by taking a ferry from Bayfield to the Island.  Once on the Island, it is a short walk to the start/finish line and the event location.  This area of the North woods of Wisconsin is beautiful, and we happened to be driving through a national forest on the shore of Lake Superior just in time to see the Honey Moon.  It was a fun, though impromptu, road trip to be sure.  We got to our hotel in Ashland, Wisconsin, late Friday night, and, after reviewing the schedules, determined we needed to be up early Saturday morning in order to make it from Ashland to Bayfield (a roughly 30 minute drive) and catch the ferry to the island.

Packet pick up is typically held on Fridays at the Amory in Ashland, and it stays open pretty late.  However, we didn’t arrive in Ashland soon enough, and opted for race-day packet pick up.  It wasn’t hard, and everything was very organized.  We got on the ferry and made it over to the Island with about 30 minutes prior to the start of the first race wave.  I signed up for the recreation/fitness wave because most of the guys I usually race with in the Advanced divisions signed up for that wave.  It was cold, probably high 40s for the temperature, and it felt like it was going to rain prior to the start of the race.  By the time I was dressed and took about a mile or so skate to warm up, I was ready for the race.  We lined up by division in our different waves, and the race organizers started the event promptly at 8:30 AM, with each consecutive wave leaving about 30 to 60 seconds behind each other.  The rec/fit men lined up behind the pro women.

The race is a three lap circuit around the island that is just short of 9 miles per lap.  The weather was mostly dry, a little cool, and I was worried it would rain during the race after looking at the weather.  We did get a little bit of rain, but only enough to wet the pavement.  It wasn’t hard or steady, and it didn’t seem to change the course conditions.  I chose to race on my 110mm World Record Wheel Truths that are 87a hardness.  This is stiffer wheel, and I was hoping to get good roll.  They rolled very well, with good grip, even in the wet conditions.  It wasn’t wet enough to get a good feel for how they would work in a steady rain, but they stuck during the race, and that is all I cared about.

We got the call for the start of our wave, and, as the gun went off, a group of about 1o of us came off the line and took the first tenth of a mile to figure out how the line would start.  One or two guys got out front, and as the line formed going up the first hill after the first left hand turn, we caught up and formed up in the line.  The pace started pretty quick and stayed there.  We eventually caught up with the chase pack for the pro women’s group and, at some point, the advanced skaters from the 50+ group.  There wasn’t anything really exciting that occurred during the race.  There weren’t any real attacks, but the faster skaters did pick up the pace when they reached the front and pulled the pace line.  The action didn’t heat up, really until the last lap.  There was a lot of anticipation in the pace line on that lap.  The pace didn’t start to pick up until about 4 miles in when people from the back of the line started to move up.  Those of us in the front of the pace line kept pace, and the attacks built until we were 6 miles into the lap.  At that point, the line broke up and everyone was skating for the finish, hoping to gap the group and lead a flyer to the finish line.  We finished as a pretty solid group, all within about a minute of each other.  It made for an interesting pack sprint in the last half mile.  Unfortunately, my helmet camera died and I didn’t get video of the pack sprint.  My wife did get finish line video, though.  What makes the finish on this course hard is the 90 degree right hand final turn.  It is narrow and sharp, and only leaves a couple hundred meters to the finish.  Once we got through that corner, which everyone seemed to take wide when I cut right at the curb, it was a full sprint to the finish.

My goal for this race was to hang on to the lead pack in my division.  I didn’t train for this race, had only done one interval skate, and was coming off of a training week that included a heavy lift and a tempo skate.  Even with 2 days off before the race, I didn’t feel 100%.  Also, sleep the night before was a bit elusive thanks to a fitful toddler that couldn’t seem to get comfortable.  So, with little or no preparation, I signed up for this race, and just hoped to finish, ideally with the lead pack in the wave.  I couldn’t be happier with the result.  I ended up pulling the line a couple of times and finishing with the pack in the pack sprint.  I used a lot of what I learned at the Joey Mantia Clinic the week before, and the changes in technique helped to insure I had the energy to finish with the group.  I plan on doing a lot more technique training, too, in hopes of increasing my average pace and have solid finishes in the rest of the races this year.  My finish time was 1:25:08, a new personal best marathon by nearly 7 minutes.  I also managed to win my division and finished in the top 10 or so of my wave.  It was a great race.

I can’t extol the virtues of this race enough.  The course is amazingly smooth.  I don’t think there is another Midwest race that has tarmac in such good condition.  This meant the pace was fast the whole race since we weren’t fatigued from rough road.  The weather was not as great as it could have been, but it was far from terrible.  The race was well organized and in an spectacular location that is only rivaled by the NorthShore for its scenery.  While the race can be a little hard to get to, it is a must for any skater that wants to skate a full or half marathon.  I had spent a couple of years trying to make it to this race, and now I never want to miss another one.  My helmet camera video follows.  Check it out:

New Video and the Taper Week

Last weekend, we got some really hot weather.  I guess it would be out of character for this part of the country, but I haven’t lived here long enough to credibly make that statement.  Temperatures last Saturday were in the high-80’s and the humidity was particularly high.  I helped a friend move, but still wanted to get a skate in.  Usually we do 20+ mile skates on Saturdays.  everyone else went earlier in the day, and based on the heat, I opted to get in a 10 mile skate Saturday evening.  It was still hot, but not unbearable.  Sunday, though, it was a little bit nicer, so I took advantage of the cooler temps to get another 10 miles in before starting my taper week before the Northshore Inline Marathon this coming weekend.  It was still a little more humid than I would have liked, but there wasn’t much wind.  At this point, I was still skating on my training set-up, with my now well worn Bont G4 Mint Green 85a wheels and Bont ABEC 7 bearings that desperately need servicing.  My average pace has been steadily creeping up.  I haven’t worked on this as much as I should be, and this will be a focus as I move into the off-season and contemplate a training plan for next year.  This outing ended with a pretty good 15.7 mile per hour average over 10 miles.  There is a new gauge that tracks this just above the date and time stamp at the bottom of the gauge cluster.  I shot video of this trip as a gear test for the race this weekend.  The video follows:

Training during a taper week always feels like a no-no.  However, I feel like you have to do something to keep moving or lose all of the progress that has been made since the start of the season.  It is an odd feeling to be sure, because, at this point, I should be in the best shape of the season.  I think my race times this year have been somewhat contradictory to that point, as Chicagoland was quite a bit slower than Roller-Dome, and the pace I managed at the Minnesota Half was beyond what I hoped to do after Chicagoland.  Regardless, in the vein of thinking it is good to keep moving, even during a rest week, I skated last night.  It was a quick 8 miles, partly to break in the cleaned bearings and get back on race wheels.  The Adam’s Swiss I have been using still do very well when clean and lubricated with Bones Speed Cream and Gun Oil, and don’t seem to be showing their age as much as I expect.  I am considering going back to Twin Cam ILQ bearings in my next switch, though, and lubricating them with Twin Cam T-Gel because I am very familiar with how durable those bearings are and they are very consistent in capability.  The average pace for the skate yesterday was only 15 miles per hour, but I wasn’t looking to push the pace more than necessary to make sure I am recovered for the race on Saturday.  I don’t know whether I will work out tonight, but if I do, it will be some light cycling just to keep the blood flowing in my legs.  Either way, I am looking forward to the race this weekend.  I should have video and a race report next week.

How To: Video Overlays (Updated)

Recently, I have had a couple of additional requests for instructions on how I make my race and training videos with the gauges showing speed, heart rate, and other metrics from the work out.  Since I last did a post on this topic, a lot has changed with the software I use to create the videos.  I used to have to jump through a lot of hoops, but now the process is a little more straightforward.

Disclaimer:  This process works for me after a lot of messing with the work flow.  Also, this process was developed for Microsoft Windows.  VeryMadMart has instructions on his site that works for Mac.  Linux users who have access to Lightworks can also try, since CycleCam is a Java application, but it has not been tested on Linux, so use it at your own peril.

Before you start, you need the following software:

You will also need some additional data to work with:  Your point of view video and GPS data in TCX format from your fitness tracker.

I suggest you use a .TCX file because CycleCam was designed to work with the Garmin proprietary format.  However, you can get this kind of data from most kinds of fitness tracking apps that are made for smartphones, like Endomondo, RunKeeper, and Wahoo.  After you download your GPS workout data, open CycleCam.


CycleCam is an open source project that is made by a guy in the UK as part of his cycling hobby.  I don’t get picky about features because the guy designs the software for free.  I tend to work with what he provides, and if I really want to get crazy with overlays, will look for a different product, like DashWare, in the future.

To use CycleCam, start the .jar file by double clicking it after the download.  It opens a window that has a blank layout on a black background.  If you have your TCX file, you can click the file button, and then click “Load Garmin TCX.”
CycleCam 1
After the TCX File loads, you will get a default layout with a variety of gauges on a black background.

CycleCam 2
To edit a gauge, double click on the gauge, and the gauge editing dialogue will appear.

CycleCam 3
With this dialogue, you can adjust all of the parameters tracked by the gauge.  Note that if data does not exist in your TCX file, the gauge will not do anything.  The TCX file predetermines the information for data sets like speed, GPS, and heart rate, based on the input.  Essentially, if you don’t have a heart rate monitor, but tell a gauge to read heart rate, it won’t do anything.  An example is my video of the Chicagoland Inline Marathon, which, due to my error, did not have heart rate data.  The result is a dead gauge that does nothing.  You can also add gauges using the “Add Gauge” menu.
CycleCam 4
Once you have your layout organized like you want it with various types of gauges, save it.  When you create your next project, you can load the layout from the File menu as shown here.

CycleCam 5
Once you have your layout, you are ready to make some final detail choices and create the gauge video.  First, in order to complete the overlay process in Lightworks, you need to select a Chroma Key because the Chroma Key effect will be used to merge the gauge video with the helmet camera video in Lightworks.  Chroma Key is a special editing effect commonly known as Green-Screen or Blue-Screen.  You can change the Chroma Key setting in CycleCam using the Chroma Key menu.

CycleCam 6
Once you have the Chroma Key color set, the background of the video will change to the desired color from black.  You next need to select your frame rate from the “Rate(12)” menu.  It is important to match your frame rate to the frame rate used by your helmet camera.  If you import the wrong frame rate into Lightworks, the video will play at the frame rate set in Lightworks for the project.  If the frame rate in CycleCam is higher, the video will play slower, and if the frame rate is lower, the video will play faster, resulting in video that cannot be synchronized, and causing odd results once the final video is exported from Lightworks.  I use a Contour+ camera, and have it set to shoot video at 29.97 frames per second.  You can choose to set the frame rate in CycleCam as either 30 frames per second or 29.97 frames per second.  Generally, I have better luck with 30 frames per second, and suggest you use that frame rate for your gauge video.

CycleCam 7
You can see in this picture that the background color has changed, and the data is loaded.  Once the frame rate has been set, you are ready to render the video.  Select the “Render” menu for these settings.  At this point, you have three options for the quality of the output video.  I tend to favor the lossless format.  It will have a larger file size upon export.

CycleCam 8
When you select your render setting, you will be prompted to save the video file.  When you are prompted to save the video file, you must also put an extension on the end of the file for the file type as CycleCam does not do this automatically.  The proper file extension is .mov, which is added to the end of the file name as shown below.  If you do not do this in CycleCam, you can add it later, but it is easier to do it as part of this process.

CycleCam 9
Once you have designated the file name and save location, the software will begin the work of rendering the video file.  This process can take several hours depending on how long your video will be.  The video produced by CycleCam will have the same duration as the recorded work-out.  For my Chicagoland race, it was approximately one hour and thirty seven minutes.  The render took several hours.

CycleCam 10
Once the process is complete you have a video with the gauges converting the TCX data into the information tracked by the gauges.  The next step is to convert all of your source video into a format that will work with Lightworks.  For that you need to use EyeFrame Video Converter.

EyeFrame Video Converter:

EyeFrame Video Converter is a piece of software developed by some Lightworks users to convert video into formats and codecs that work with Lightworks Free and Pro.  I work with Lightworks Free and convert all of the video using the default EyeFrame settings for Lightworks Free.

A tutorial explaining how to do this can be found HERE.  I won’t reiterate the process as it is handled completely by this tutorial.

Once all of your source video is converted, you can bring it into Lightworks for editing.

Lightworks Free:

Working with Lightworks can be complicated if you have never used a video editor before.  I suggest you review all of the offerings for tutorials on the Editshare YouTube page before working with Lightworks.  Of particular note, you will want to know how to install the software, start a project (use 30FPS settings), and import videos.

Once you understand how this process works, follow the tutorial concerning the Chroma Key Effect that follows:

Once you have your video edited together, you are ready to export the video.  Follow the tutorials on the Editshare YouTube channel on how to export video from Lightowrks.  Use the 10 bit video using the uncompressed YuYv AVI or MOV format.  This file will be very large, and you will need to use another piece of software to compress the file to a file type that will work for uploading or storing locally.  Unless you have access to limitless digital storage, you will want to compress your 20+ gigabyte videos using Handbrake, AnyVideoConverter, or EyeFrame.

Video Conversion:

This process will require the use of EyeFrame, AnyVideoConverter, or Handbrake.  Select settings from these applications that fit your purpose.  Generally, I try to keep the quality of the video as high as possible while getting a file that is as small as possible.  My video from the Chicagoland marathon was approximately 30 gigabytes upon export from Lightworks.  I used AnyVideoConverter, with settings for a .AVI file using the xvid codec, MP3 audio, and an 8000 bitrate.  It reduced the file size to around 3 gigabytes.  I have also used Handbrake.  I have not tried EyeFrame for final video, but since there are settings to make video specifically to upload to YouTube or Vimeo, I will experiment with it for future projects.

Finished Product:

In total, this is a bit of an involved process, and takes some tinkering to get the kind of video that you want.  All of the videos on InlinePaceline, with rare exception, were made using some version of this process.  If you want a solution that will produce the videos with gauges for you, consider DashWare, but note that it costs $60.  My goal with this software workflow was to develop a process that used free software.  This makes the steps a little more complicated, but provided you have a camera and a device to track your work outs that will output data in TCX format, you can start creating your own overlay videos and share them with the world.  Please let me know if you have any questions or if I did anything wrong in the comments.