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Monthly Archives: May 2006

here comes tomorrow

This week is turning out to be a busy one for myself. I feel like I’m sort of putting the present on hold for a few days in order to enjoy one last bit of the past. My parents sold the only home I’ve known a couple months back, and will finally be moving out and moving on this coming Monday. While many people I know moved quite frequently when they were growing up, this house has been what I have referred to as “home” for all of my 27 years, even now as I live out on my own.

While spending my last few days in the house will bring back one last flood of memories of growing up, I will also be enjoying time with my parents who are packing up and heading off to the St. Louis area to join my brother and the rest of their family that lives there. I will be the last of my relatives to be left in Ohio. My parents realized that I don’t plan to stay here forever, and they didn’t want to end up being left here alone, so they’re moving to be close to the rest of their family, which I can understand. It’s just going to be a big adjustment to have them living a 10 hour drive away instead of a half hour.

So it looks like St. Louis is the big holiday traveling destination for me, just like it was when I was growing up. But at least I get to see all of my family in one spot instead of having to travel all over the place. Now the only question is when will I jump ship and abandon Ohio? Not even I know the answer to that one. Not yet.


a million reasons to vote

I was amused to read that Arizona voters will likely be voting on a proposal this fall that would award one random voter $1 million dollars after each election. The money would be taken from the state’s unclaimed lottery money. The aim of the measure is to increase voter turnout. Seems like a good idea to me. Some might argue that it would bring out a bunch of voters who have no clue about the candidates or the issues. Well, since when is that a new thing? Need I remind you who we just re-elected as our President?

I think a little incentive might help spur voter turnout. It’s not like Americans are opposed to the idea of voting. Just look at ‘American Idol’. There were 63.4 million votes cast last week, more votes than any U.S. President has ever received. I don’t think we could ever make politics as interesting to the Average Joe as something so important and socially relevant as ‘American Idol’. So why not resort to giving people the chance to win a million bucks?

plug in and run

Erik pointed out to me today the new joint venture between Apple and Nike. It’s a new wireless adapter that you can plugin to your iPod Nano and collect data from a small chip put in your Nike running shoes and can display and record your running data on your iPod. The info displays in real-time on your iPod, and you can later download the data onto your computer and track your runs.

I have really wanted something like this for a while. The best product like this out on the market today, the Garmin Forerunner, is a GPS-based device that runs about $200. This new device, which is being called the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, will only run $30. Obviously a bargain, though adding in $100 for some new Nike running shoes and another $200 for the iPod Nano makes it less attractive. Nike running shoes have never been a big hit with “serious” runners, though this is definetely a good way to try to secure some market share in the more casual runner crowd (like myself).

I might consider picking this up at some point if I find a pair of Nike shoes I like, and the price of an iPod Nano hopefully drops a bit. The $30 price tag concerns me a bit though, as it seems too cheap, and makes me wonder how accurate the sensor will be. One definite concerning thing is that the battery in it is not replaceable, though at that price I guess it’s not a dealbreaker. I will definetely keep an eye on this once it comes out and the initial reviews come in. The running audience is very fickle and if this device is even the slightest bit inaccurate, you can bet that it will be gathering dust on store shelves.

the long ride home

big arch
Originally uploaded by thespacerace.

Just got back last night from a five day trip out to Missouri. Kristy & I flew into Kansas City to meet up with our friends for what will likely be my last visit to KC since they are moving away in a month. It was the typical KC trip with BBQ and baseball and a little relaxing. I got to see my second favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals, crush the hapless Kansas City Royals. There were plenty of Missouri’s finest there that evening, averaging about a six pack a piece. I wonder how much was drank by the guy who ran out onto the field in just his boxers.

After a few days in KC, we picked up a rental car and drove out to St. Louis to visit my family, including my brother. It was my first visit back since I had helped him move there, and he seems to have settled in well. We ate way too much and listened to more than our share of Howard Stern (my brother is a huge fan). We also visited the Gateway Arch, which I had been to a couple of times but was a first for Kristy. It’s always fun to visit, except for the ride to the top in these tiny “pods”.

I got in late but being as stingy as I am with my vacation days, I went into work this morning, so I’m a bit tired at the moment. Not to mention the fact that my cat won’t leave my side since I got home. He spent 10 minutes licking my face when I got home last night. I guess it’s not so bad to know that someone missed me while I was gone.

nothing but green lights

Yes, that is a picture of yours truly at the finish line of the Flying Pig Marathon. The smile you see is a bit forced. I don’t think anyone feels like smiling after running 26.2 miles, at least not until they have a chance to get off their feet. But somewhere along the last mile or so, a guy behind me was explaining to the lady he was running with that it was very important to decide what pose you were going to do at the finish line. The ideas he threw out there were the thumbs up, flashing the #1 finger, doing the Hulk Hogan-esque arm flex, or just smiling. I chose the later. It sure beats the worn out look that most of my pictures typically have.

So the marathon was a fun experience. It started off with the not very fun chore of waking at 4:30am. I actually woke a bit before that because I was full of nervous energy, and was surprisingly not tired when I got up. Kristy was less than enthused to get up at that time, but I managed to get her up and out the door with me. The drive from our hotel in Northern Kentucky to the starting line went by fast, and we parked about 1/4 mi away from Paul Brown Stadium where the starting line was.

The first sight to greet us was the lines for the port-o-potties. There were literally like 60+ of them, and the lines were all at least 30 people deep. I jumped in line since I knew I would regret it if I didn’t, and they weren’t going to get any shorter. After that was out of the way, the race was only about 25 minutes from starting. I did a few stretches and tried to reassure Kristy that I would not hurt myself. With about 10 minutes left to start, we parted ways and I joined the mass of people at the starting line. There was the usual non-denominational prayer, cheesy local celebrity MC, and race organizer speeches. Finally at 6am, the cannon fired and we were off. It took me just over a minute to cross the actual starting line (thank goodness for timing chips) and it was on.

We wound through downtown a bit and I weaved in and out of people to try to get up to pace. We then headed over one of the bridges over the Ohio River and ended up in Kentucky. After a few miles in Kentucky, it was back over another bridge and back into Ohio. I had planned to run with the 3:50 pace group (around 8:47/mile), but I found myself ahead of them and felt I had a good pace going of around 8:30/mile, so I stuck with it. The toughest part of the course was between miles 5 and 9 when we faced a 400 foot increase in elevation. Fortunately it was a serious of hills instead of one long, gradual incline. I’m usually not good with hills, but I handled these pretty well (probably because it was still early) and kept my pace. Around mile 9 while ascending one of the hills, Elvis was singing and high fived me on the way by. A definite highlight. Another cool thing was a few miles later when we passed a senior center where about a dozen seniors were sitting in wheelchairs on the edge of the street, watching and cheering us on.

I hit the halfway point at about 1:51, only 3 minutes less than I had done in my previous marathon. So I knew I didn’t have much margin of error if I wanted to break under 4 hours. So I just kept plugging away, drinking gatorade every 2nd mile. I ended up using my Gu energy gel packs at around mile 10 and 20. Those, along with the gatorade and a few orange slices helped keep me somewhat energized. Surprisingly I had no knee problems the entire race, which is typically a nagging injury that shows up at least once a run.

When I hit mile 20, I knew the real race was just beginning. In my previous marathon, that was the point when the wheels began to fall off. I kept plugging away, resisting the urge to walk (except through a few water stations). Unfortunately, around mile 22 or 23, I felt a twinge in my left hamstring and had to walk it off for a couple of minutes. It never got back to feeling 100%, but I knew I had to get back to running. So I kept battling, with the occasional 30 second walk break. At the 24 mile mark, I felt good about my chances of breaking under 4 hours, but I knew I wasn’t in the clear yet. It wasn’t until mile 25 that I knew I pretty much had it in the bag. It wasn’t until that last mile that we got back to sizeable crowds, and there was no walking to be done amongst all of that cheering.

As I got closer to the line, I sped up a bit. I managed to see Kristy and knew I was almost home free. When I actually saw the line, a wave of relief hit me and it was a sprint (well, as much as I could sprint with a bad hamstring). I hit the line and made sure to flash the smile. Three hours, fifty-two minutes and twelve seconds. Fifteen minutes better than last time. Not bad. I was happy. But I just wanted to sit down. So I did. And it was over.

two down

Just got back from Cincinnati where I competed in my second marathon, the Flying Pig Marathon, alongside 4,171 other people. I’m happy to report that I exceeded my expectations and ended up finishing in 3 hours, 52 minutes and 12 seconds (3:52:12). This is more than 15 minutes better than the time from my previous marathon last fall. I had a great time down there for the weekend, and am looking forward to some much needed rest.

I will write more about the race soon, but here are my stats:

Final time: 3:52:12
Overall rank: 1116 of 4172
Class rank (men 25-29): 83 of 233
Pace: 8:51 per mile

off to the races

Well, I will be heading off tomorrow morning to Cincinnati since I will be running in the Flying Pig Marathon very early on Sunday morning. The race is scheduled to start at the ungodly hour of 6am. So by the time most of you get up on Sunday morning, I will (hopefully) be done, probably sometime around 10am.

I’m not sure if the results are going to be posted in real-time like the Akron Marathon was. I will be wearing a timing chip, so my time can be tracked electronically. I just don’t know if they plan to post it as it happens. So you may have to wait a few hours to see how I did.

The “carb loading” is well underway. Trying to eat as many carbs as possible to build up my body’s energy store, yet trying not to overeat and add unneccessary weight. Fortunately the nervousness has not hit me yet. I’m sure it will hit tomorrow night and make sleeping difficult.

it’s all about ergonomics

Had a pretty fun weekend, which is hopefully the beginning of a trend now that the weather is much improved. Started off by getting out of work early on Friday for a party for a manager that was leaving. Since it was not a company sponsored event, people seem to have taken it upon themselves to drink more than they normally would. So there was quite a bit of “did he/she really just say/do that?” as I was seeing people in a different light. Always interesting.

Saturday night, Kristy and I headed down to the Grog Shop to check out The Books. They are a two piece band, guitar & cello, that play over electronic samples and various sound clips. Their performance was awesome. We showed up late and only had to sit through one opening band. While the show was not packed, it was still pretty crowded. Even though the show was good, I was reminded of why I don’t go to many anymore. It was very ironic that a group of three people behind us were getting upset with a drunk guy that occasionally shouted stupid things, yet they ended up talking through most of the set. I’d rather endure the occasional drunken outburst than be subjected to constant chatter throughout a performance.

Sunday afternoon I got in a 10 mile run, my last long one before next Sunday’s marathon. Sunday night, I headed down to Jacobs Field with a few friends to take in my third Cleveland Indians baseball game of the season. It was a late start, 8:05pm, because it was the ESPN game of the week. It looked promising until late in the game when they gave up 6 runs in an inning which was too much to come back from. But it was fun nonetheless as we had excellent seats directly behind the Indians dugout. Plus it was dollar hot dog night, of which I limited myself to 2. The guy next to us literally came down with a box of them, of which I think he managed to eat 5 or 6 himself. I think the final numbers were 22,000 in attendance, and 35,000 dogs eaten. The ones they sold in the bleachers must have been soaked in beer, because the fans out there were very rowdy all night. While it’s one thing to get into the game, it seemed like they had their own little world out there that was only remotely connected to the game being played on the field.