Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Additions Part 2

This one not quite so permanent as the tattoo (more on it later), but T and I both just upgraded our cells phones...we had them for two years and it was time for a new phone.

T got a cool red razr and even though I got a new PDA back in Dec/Jan I got this and let me tell ya...mine is AWESOME.

Without revealing details of our plan, we are getting more stuff and paying less than before.

It's pretty cool to be able to check my email from the middle of Costco, and to have everything at the ready...contacts/tasks/calendar. I've only had it less than a week and it has been nice.

For example, T and went to some wineries this past weekend and I was able to type in a few notes about specific wines that we both enjoyed without having to pull out my PDA or a notepad. Just typed it into my smartphone.

Tattoo Update: it is healing quite nicely. Since I posted the picture (it was taken right after it was done) the colors have changed quite a bit. The yellow is much brighter and I will post another pic in a few days after it has completely healed along with some other thoughts about it as well (just because Mr. Cramer asked so nicely).

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Not that I intended it to (hell, I'm not exactly sure what my intentions for this were when I started it) but a significant portion of my recent blog entries have been about running and my attempts at the Grand Rapids Half Marathon and then the Flying Pig Half Marathon. I've been running consistently for four years now...started down this path so I wouldn't look like a Jabba the Hut impersonator at our wedding back in 2003, and I'm still at it. It's something that I enjoy doing (and enjoy the health benefits) and it has afforded me the opportunity to meet a great bunch of people, both locally and around the country via the interweb and the 30's thread on Cool Running. See link to the right. It's also provided a sense of accomplishment. That's hard not to realize after crossing the finish line of a race like the Flying Pig.

Hopefully I'm not boring you too much with all of this...

So, I decided to make a statement. I consider myself a runner - race results are not a criteria - and decided to commemorate that fact. With a tattoo.

Maybe I'm crazy but I like it.

And before anyone asks...no, it really didn't hurt. More of an irritation than anything.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Land of Confusion...

I've entered that nebulous time of year where I'm not sure what to do with myself...summer.

Most of my professional life, ok all of it but one year, I've had the luxury of having large junks (June & July) of my summer off from work. Sometimes there were no expectations to be in the office, others my contract was only for 10 months - paid over 12 of course! Learned that lesson the hard way. It's that time of year again...

I've got some projects...organizing and cleaning around the house, but on a day-to-day basis I'm not sure how to fill the hours of the day!

So far I'm successfully sticking to my training plan and the extra time helps with that and I'm thinking of taking a class at the institution where T works, but beyond that I'm at a loss.

Anyone have any books the suggest for my summer reading list?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Green Thumb?

I've often mentioned to T that when we have a house of our own I'm going to grow a garden. We still don't have a house of our own, but I do have a garden.

After many months of our apartment feeling very unlived in, we went to The Home Depot yesterday to procure some supplies/advice on growing some vegetables on our deck (which actually has some size to it). We came home with the following plants: a tomato, a roma tomato, a hot banana pepper, a cucumber, rosemary, and basil, pots for each and some soil (ok, we got too much soil, but that just gives me the excuse to go back tomorrow and get bell pepper and squash plants).

Put in an hour or so today to get everything potted and going. Here is how things look on day 1. There will be periodic updates on how things progress throughout the summer.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Recent Upgrades

T and I decided to spruce up the place a bit...last weekend we cleaned the house top-to-bottom, hung some pictures (no comments on how long we've been here and we are just now hanging pictures), etc.

This weekend has an outdoor focus. Spent almost $200 at Home Depot on supplies to grow some veggies/herbs on the back deck and a table (no chairs - couldn't find any that we really liked) for the deck.

You might say it finally looks like people actually live here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Spiderman 3

"Batman & Robin" has often been cited as the movie that killed super hero films. Come on, admit it. You went to see that great film starring George Clooney!

Well, as I walked out of the theater Saturday after seeing "Spiderman 3" I looked to T and said, "That movie just killed the Spiderman franchise." As a huge comic book fan/reader growing up I'm just hoping that it doesn't kill off all comic book movies!!

Don't waste your money on this one.

1) The visual effects are not anything you haven't seen in a film - nothing ground breaking.
2) The script was way over the top: Peter Parker re-enacting the strutting down the street scene from "Saturday Night Fever" actually made me laugh out loud, the whole "I forgive you" moment at the end, and so many characters and plot lines I wanted a cheat sheet to help me!
3) The acting. Tobey Maquire does not do "bad guy" very well at all. Kirsten Dunst does NOT need to star in any musicals ANY TIME SOON. But then, the script may have been at fault.

It would be interesting to see how much the ticket sales drop off was from opening weekend to this past weekend. I'm just glad we went to a matinee.

Also, this is just my opinion (ok, not just mine, T agrees with me) and I'm not a movie critic.


Well, she did it. T graduated this weekend. Many of you are probably scratching your head right now and thinking..."she graduated? thought she did that last summer?"

Not her PhD people! That was last year.

She graduated from the Couch-to-5K (C25K) training plan yesterday morning. Nine weeks of struggling to get used to running paid off Saturday when she successfully completed the 5/3 River Bank Run 5K here in Grand Rapids. She ran with great effort, met her two goals (not to walk, finish under 40 minutes - 37:15 finish time), and managed to run negative splits for the race.

Needless to say, I am very proud of her.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Even More Flying Pig

Group shot of the 30-somethings (from www.coolrunning.com) at the expo:

Three of us crossing the finish line together...like the cool t-shirts?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Flying Pig

Ok, so I've completed two half marathons. Six months apart. Second one was 9 seconds faster than the first. To give some perspective on the two courses degree of difficulty I've posted elevation charts generated via my FR305 and www.motionbased.com.

The Grand Rapids Half Marathon:

The Flying Pig Half Marathon:

See the difference? Makes me really happy with my time/effort last Sunday.

2007 Flying Pig Half Marathon

Beware! Long post to follow!

Flying Pig HM Race Report:

Made it to Cincy Friday afternoon after a stop at REI near Ann Arbor/Detroit (couldn’t pass up the anniversary sale). Had plans to meet up with the rest of the 30s from www.coolrunning.com on Saturday at the Expo. After a brief sight-seeing tour of downtown T and I made it to the expo with time to spare, so I grabbed my race packet, got my shirt/bag/poster, and browsed all of the exhibits before meeting up with the group.

What a group! Bob, his wife Maggie, Joe (Voodoo), Joe (Mmoon), Frankie, Ann, Beth, Amy, her husband Brian, Kris, her friend Nick, Elizabeth, Charles, Larry, his family, Kathleen, and Robert…after some great conversation (with a bit of healthy teasing thrown in for good measure) we made way over to the restaurant for dinner, Campanello’s. The most interesting thing about dinner: our waiter didn’t work there, he was asked to help out since they were so busy that night! Nice first day on the job…here’s a group of 21, oh and by the way, we put them on top floor of the building! Food was good, but nothing spectacular. Made it back to my parents’ (yet another nice thing about this race, no hotel to pay for) and was in bed by 9 p.m. for the 4 a.m. wake-up.

Thanks to a small dose of Ambien (prescription drugs rule!) I slept surprisingly well. I wouldn’t want to get up at that hour everyday, but I was ready to go. Managed to make it downtown – I know downtown Cincinnati the worst of any place I’ve ever lived – and park without any trouble. Made our way to the rendezvous spot and met up with the group. Pictures were taken, strategy discussed, and the early hour was discussed before we made our way to the start. Quick pit-stop in the bushes – no I wasn’t the only one – and we were ready to go.

Kathleen, Ann, and I were running together since our goal time was pretty much the same. We lined up behind the 4:30 pace group and started people watching prior to the start. Let’s see, we had a guy dressed up as Mr. Incredible (and believe me he shouldn’t have been), a guy wearing a rubber pig mask, and various other people dressed like swine.

Starting to get nervous.

National Anthem.

BOOM!!! – they actually started the race with cannon – and we were off.

Mile 1
I struggled to find an even pace at the start, mostly due to a typical early race crowd, complete with passing a ton of walkers in the first mile or two. I had my FR 305 set to auto lap every mile, and again like a typical race it was signaling mile marks just a bit ahead of where they were on the course. Lap time: 10:37

Mile 2
First bridge of the course, started to get a bit more comfortable as the crowd started to thin a bit. Lap time: 10:23

Mile 3
Second bridge of the course…mentioned to Ann and Kathleen how much nicer/easier this racing this is when you have people to run with! Lap time: 10:27

Mile 4
Last bridge and we were back in Cincy. Saw T and Maggie on the course. Lap time: 10:00 even thanks to the down portion of the bridge.

Mile 5
Mostly downhill along the river. Started to get myself prepared for when we turned North and the hills started. Still feeling pretty good at this point honestly. Lap time: 9:53

Mile 6
Now the race really starts. We turned north and started climbing. Gained just over 100 ft of elevation in this mile. Lap time: 10:26

Mile 7
Here’s where things really got tough. We turned on to Gilbert Ave and really started to climb. We gained another 125 ft of elevation or so before we even turned into Eden Park and continued to climb. Legs were feeling it bad. If it hadn’t been for Kathleen and Ann, I would have really slowed down at this point. Lap time: 10:41

Mile 8
Finished off Eden Park – nice view of the river – and the big hills. Lap time: 10:29

Mile 9
Running through Walnut Hills…starting to see more people along the side of the course. Just enjoying some flat ground…ok, not really FLAT, but at least there were some downhill portions mixed in! This is where all of us half marathoners split from the full people and headed back towards downtown. Lap time: 10:08

Mile 10
Ok, we thought the hills were done, but we’re still climbing! Not enjoying this as much anymore. By the marker for mile 10, my FR305 was off by a good 0.10-0.15, so as we crossed the marker I hit the lap button so I could keep track of the last 5K. That’s right, only 5K to go!

Mile 11
Ahhhhhh, downhill!!!! Kathleen (who I think held back just a bit to run with Ann and I) let gravity take over and pulled away. I tried to do the same, but wasn’t as fast as her. Felt nice to run fast and not really have to work for it. Lap time: 9:07

Mile 12
Legs are tired now. Starting realize I didn’t drink enough. Ann and I turn around and find Joe (mmoon) next to us! Where did he come from! Lap time: 9:43

Mile 13
Enough with the hills/inclines! Lap time: 10:06

Finished in 2:14:57 (a new PR). All three of us, Joe, Ann, and myself. Grabbed our medals, and hit the food/water. Could really tell I didn’t drink enough on the course. According to my FR305, I ran 13.39 miles (10:08 pace) as compared to the official results of 13.1 miles which works out to a 10:18 pace.

I’ll take either.

So…overall very pleased. The Pig half was a MUCH tougher course than the Grand Rapids half. The Pig averaged a 9.7% grade on the hills while Grand Rapids was flat. While my training left something to be desired this time around, I was better prepared for the Pig. I still need to be more consistent with my training – which is what I’m focusing on over the next 2-3 months – and have a better race plan (fluids, etc) when I give this distance another shot.

I had a great time and met some great people. Only question left is this: where will the next 30s meeting be?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nervous Much?

We leave for Cincy tomorrow - stopping by REI near Ann Arbor/Detroit to hit the anniversay sale...not to mention it's been 9 months since I've been in an REI and once you get used to having one 5 minutes away that amount of time away is HARD.

Only 3 more nights of sleep until the Pig.

I'm sure I'll do fine.

The race is offering text message tracking for runners...if anyone out there is interested in following my progress email me your cell phone number and I'll include it when I'm at the Expo.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Four and Change

4 Days, 22 Hours, XX Minutes according to the Flying Pig website.

Down to the last few runs, hoping to get in my last hill workout today if the weather holds off...heavy thunderstorms last night and the will sunrise happened about an hour and a half ago, you really can't tell because the sky is that dark with clouds. So, I'm holding off on my run until later this afternoon.

So, am I prepared? Think so. Especially with everything I've dealt with...my leg, the crappy weather (both during the winter and in April), the mixed up baseball schedule that really made it challenging to get my long runs in.

I do remember the point that was driven home by the Grand Rapids HM was that I needed to be more consistent with my training. Have I been? Yes, and no. I've done better, but if my goal is to move up to the full 26.2, I've got to do better. Maybe I need to go back to my idea of using this blog as a way to "hold my feet to the fire"...you know, put my training plan on here and hope that the 2-3 of you who are reading it will not let me off the hook when I rationalize my way out going for a run.

Starting to feel the nerves a bit about Sunday...1) while yes, I feel better prepared than in October, I'm afraid/nervous that I will be DFL. 2) Meeting some fellow posters in the 30s thread on the coolrunning.com forums (see link at right) and yes I'm afraid I'm going to embarrass myself. 3) Worried that asking her to get up with me and get to the race for a 6:30 a.m. start might be a bit much to ask of my non-morning-person-wife

I know, I know, I'm probably crazy.