March 28, 2007
It's been three days since I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon. Monday (the day after) my calves were a bit sore; I felt pretty good to have gotten by so easily. I had spoken too soon; Tuesday was worse. My thighs hurt a bunch. I could still go up and down stairs and sit down/get up, but I felt every step. Fortunately, today was much better.
The race organizers posted the results. I finished 1032nd out of 1406 half-marathon runners, 634th out of 765 men. Even though I was really just aiming to finish, these results bummed me out at first. I was used to finishing at or above the mid-point in the 5K runs I've done previously. However, I realized that there are probably fewer casual runners in a half-marathon than a 5K. That made me feel a little better. Need to stroke my fragile ego in any way possible. I would have needed to run over a minute a mile faster to finish in the top half; that's pretty close to my 5K pace. No way. (Not yet, anyhow.)
March 25, 2007
Hooray! I ran the Mercer Island Half Marathon today, finishing in 2:06:23 (this is my watch time - actual gun time will be about 2:08 since it took me two minutes to get to the line after the start). This works out to be 9:34 minutes/mile on average. I'm very happy with these times; they're way faster than my goal times (I was shooting for 2:15 overall.)
I'm also happy that I didn't feel any real discomfort during the run and feel good now (we'll see how tomorrow is.) Somewhere around six or seven miles in, I got a small stitch in my side, but I managed to work through that. I was actually mostly concerned at the start about being cold and wet. We started out in a pretty heavy rain, so the waiting around part basically sucked. Fortunately, it cleared up during the run, so I wasn't uncomfortably cold, wet, or hot.
As with most races, I started out quick and kept having to hold myself back to keep on my target pace. I did an OK job following my plan of slowing on the uphills and speeding up on the downs. I walked through the water stations, taking Gu gels every forty minutes or so. I also walked a bit on the uphills in the last few miles as my heart rate was starting to get high (like 195). With maybe .8 miles to go, I caught up to Eric, and we both sprinted to the finish. Well, I should say he sprinted to the finish. I sprinted to about 50 yards short of the finish and staggered across the line. (I like to think I let him win. He has a fragile ego...)
The biggest issue was the hills; this is not a flat course (my GPS says it +323/-494 which is a lot of up and down when you're running). Worse, from 10.95 miles to 12.21 miles, there's a 150 foot climb that sucked the life out of me. (Fortunately, the last .9 mile is downhill.)
I must say, one of the nice surprises were the little kids cheering by the side of road. They'd hold their hands out to high-five the runners. I always got a charge out of that and found new energy. Thanks, kids. It was also great to have Kellie and Kristen come out to cheer us on at the finish. Bruce, of course, was already at the finish too and was very vocally supportive.
After the race, my calves cramped so I had to stretch for a while. I had hoped there would be Gatorade or something at the finish, but they just had water. (The run was well organized, but they certainly were not extravagant with perqs for the runners.) A bunch of us went out afterwards for lunch at the Seattle Yacht Club. Nothing like a Bloody Mary, a bacon cheeseburger, and fries and onion rings to celebrate an accomplishment like this.
All in all, I'm really happy with how things worked and feel good about having done this. Not sure what's next, maybe the Issaquah Sprint Triathlon. Right now, a nap sounds good...
March 24, 2007
I love potato chips. They're like the veggie brother of bacon. I almost went to MIT instead of Stanford because I fell in love with Cape Cod Chips when I visited Boston. Really. (Thank goodness I didn't since by senior year, we could get Cape Cod Chips in Palo Alto. I got to be in shorts in February and eat yummy chips. Top that, MIT!)
I've eaten potato chips around the world and loved almost all of them, but the very best chip (or should I say crisp?) in the world are Cheese and Onion Tatyo Crisps from Ireland. These are the most popular crisps in Ireland (the dark horse is Kings, made by the same company and very good, but just not world class.)
I typically shy away from flavored chips, but these don't hit you over the head. They're thin and crispy like Lays (vs. the heavier crunch of Cape Cod or Tim's). Simply heavenly with a pint of Guinness.
They have a "smokey bacon" flavored chip too which I have not yet tried; those might actually be the best chip in the world...
For years, I've relied on friends traveling to Ireland to feed my need (thanks to Fergal to bringing me back a few bags recently to remind me of the old country). However, I just discovered that you can mail order Taytos from Ireland to the US. Of course, they're not cheap. US$20.59 for twenty snack-sized bags plus $31.88 shipping to Seattle (ten day service).
This is an affordable luxury and a small price to pay for such delight.
Three months ago, I signed up for the Mercer Island Half-Marathon to motivate me to work out. I have mixed feelings about it now that I'm facing the run tomorrow. My eleven mile run two weeks ago was a big confidence builder, but I have some pre-race jitters as I think about the hilly course and all of the random things that can happen during a run.
Just to get my excuses out into the public light in case I need them later:
Still, the race has already accomplished its goal: it got me to work out more regularly and longer. I wasn't as diligent as I'd hoped, but I'm certainly stronger than I was three months ago and have lost a few pounds.
So, with any luck, I'll finish the race tomorrow without injury. With a little more luck, I'll actually run this in pretty good time (anything sub-2:30 would be awesome). I'll be running with Eric and Bruce plus some other friends like Kristen will be there to cheer us on, so I'm sure it will be fun no matter what.
March 19, 2007
As my runs get longer, I'm getting bored of the music I'm listening to. Any ideas for upbeat songs to keep my mind occupied?
March 12, 2007
There's just two weeks left before the Mercer Island Half-Marathon. I've been having a little trouble with my shins; at first I thought it was the increased mileage, but then I had the same realization I had given Bruce grief about: it was time to replace the shoes after so many miles (about 250 running plus a bunch walking). So yesterday, I bought a new pair of Saucony Grid Omni 6, the updated version of the Grid Omni 4 I had been using.
I set out for my long run today with my new shoes. It was raining pretty steadily (I know, hard to believe it's raining in Seattle in March) and I considered bailing. Fortunately, it was pretty warm (58F). I was aiming for two hours and at least ten miles - both new records for me. I finished the two hour run with 11.28 miles, an average pace of 10:12/mile. If I run my half at that pace, I would finish in 2:13 (that's two hours and thirteen minutes); I'd be super happy with this time, especially since the Mercer route is so hilly. I felt good through the whole run with only the hint of cramps in my thighs at eleven miles; I know could have run two more miles. I'm feeling much more confident about the upcoming race.
Today was the day to try things out. In addition to the new shoes, I had a new Amphipod RunLite TrailRunner belt; this belt lets me carry two 10oz water bottles and a pouch for Gu gels and other stuff. It's much more comfortable than my old water belt and it has room to carry the gels I need for the run. However, my iRiver Clix player doesn't clip on well to the belt (sizes don't match); I discovered this when my Clix took a dive off the belt and skittered across the sidewalk. I carried it in my vest pocket the rest of the time. (Fortunately, the Clix survived.) I won't be carrying my water for the race, but I need it for my long runs. I may carry my own gels; we'll see.
I was also trying out a pair of Smartwool socks and Pearl Izumi Infinity shorts. I like them both, especially the shorts. I didn't think I could tell the difference between shorts, but these were really comfortable; the liner is especially nice. Nothing like trying out a pile of new stuff just before a race.
I still need to settle on a playlist for the race. I had my Clix on random shuffle, going through everything on the player. I forgot I hadn't taken my Christmas music off the player, so I had a bunch of random holiday tunes playing for much of the run.
March 4, 2007
Irene, a dear friend of mine from many years ago, recently sent me six pints of ice cream from Graeter's Ice Cream, a famous shop in Cincinnati (and now other locations in the Midwest). Many consider it to be the best ice cream in the world. I'm a believer.
Irene sent us two pints of black raspberry chip (her favorite and their signature flavor) and a pint each of caramel, cookies and creme, chocolate, and coffee. The flavors and texture are amazing; for instance, in the caramel, there's a lovely burned-sugar taste. The taste is very natural, unlike Haagen-Daz, my stand-by, which has a more chemically taste. The ice cream is incredibly rich and has a great mouth feel. Graeter's makes their ice cream by hand using a French pot process in two gallon batches, hand packing them into the pints.
You can order the ice cream over the Internet and have it shipped (which is what Irene did). The pints come packed in a cooler with dry ice and were frozen solid; frankly, they were so hard we had to let them soften in our freezer until we could scoop them. (Dry ice is so cool.)
The Graeter's was a special treat and a wonderful surprise. Thanks, Irene!
(Of course, Wikipedia has more on Graeter's.)
March 3, 2007
Once again, the Japanese government has stepped back from accepting responsibility for their atrocities during World War II. This time, no less than Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that with respect to Japanese wartime sex slavery "there was no evidence to prove there was coercion as initially suggested". This statement is unbelievable in light of the overwhelming evidence. Furthermore, previous Prime Minster's have acknowledged (and here) that "comfort stations" existed, were run by the Japanese military, and the women were often coerced. They've even accepted moral responsibility (if not legal.)
This isn't some reasonable academic debate about what happened thousands of years ago. The people who were there are alive and have told their story. There are statements and books by Japanese soldiers who admit their role. Perhaps an even bigger affront (aside from insulting the intelligence of the entire world) is to the women who were forced into sexual slavery and are still alive today. The Japanese government continues their torture these women sixty-five years later.
The contrast with Germany is amazing. In Germany, Holocaust denial is illegal; in Japan, the equivalent is a governmental pastime. To deny this crime happened is irresponsible and frankly incredible. I'm beside myself with anger. I'm terrified of a re-armed Japan taking a larger world role if their leaders have not accepted their historical responsibilities and learned from that history. Nothing reassures me that this won't happen again.
March 1, 2007
Those of you who read the blog from the site (vs. an RSS feed) may have noticed I was playing with Snap Preview Anywhere. This is a neat service that provides popup thumbnail views as you hover over links on a web page. It was super easy to add to the site (put a few lines at the top of my web page).
Unfortunately, while the idea is interesting, the script they were loading and running was just too slow. It really bogged down the load times of the page.
So, it's gone.
I'm often proud of the work Microsoft does; I think the software we make and the impact we've had are great. However, the thing that really makes me proudest is the charity of the company and the employees. Our employees donate more per employee than any other company, and the generous matching program we have makes those dollars go even farther. (And don't get me started about how cool the Gates Foundation is.)
Now, the Windows Live Messenger team has kicked off the i'm initiative, a program where Microsoft will donate a portion of the Live Messenger advertising revenue to a cause you select. You can choose from the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, National AIDS Fund, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, ninemillion.org, Sierra Club, stopglobalwarming.org, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Unicef.
There's no cost to the participants, and Microsoft guarantees at least $100K to each cause with no cap. The only real bummer (aside from having to pick between these causes) is that the program is only available in the US right now.
I know the cynics will say we're just doing this to drive Messenger usage and for PR. I'm sure that's part of it, but there's real money going to really good causes here vs. just buying an ad somewhere.
So, check it out and send some IMs.
(In case you're wondering, I chose stopglobalwarming.org. It was a tough call, but at the end of the day, I really think global warming will be the biggest crisis the world faces with the hardest solutions. We need to start now.)