GenCon 2013

GenCon 2013

Well, another year, another GenCon down!  I can’t believe that this is the 9th straight year I’ve managed to get to GenCon at this point.  Its always a fun time to see my friends from the Academy (who I see once a year at best…once every few years more often) and game with them again.  Some years the con itself is just ‘ok’ but this was not one of them.  This might have been the best of the 9 years I’ve attended so far actually.  Part of that had to do with good planning on our parts and the rest was just that we lucked out into a lot of great games all weekend.

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Working from Home

There are good and bad parts about working at home.  The best part is I can cook all my meals if I want to (and I cook most of them!)  Even breakfast…such a simple meal in general is just so much better at home.  Fresh fruit, eggs are from a local chicken (no, seriously), cherrywood smoked bacon, and a fresh baked biscuit (it comes as frozen dough…ready to bake).  Does it get much better than this?  In the words of Brian Regen “I submit that it does not!”


2 Weeks In Europe

2 Weeks In Europe

Well, I finished my two weeks in Europe this past weekend and I really had a blast.  I was going to stay with my buddy Steve in London and then from there jump to the main continent.  I’ve been to England before but nowhere else in Europe so I was pretty excited about the trip.  The plan was to do England, Germany and France though my planning didn’t take me much further than that!  Its ok, I ended up doing quite a bit.

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Final Photo Gallery

Final Photo Gallery

I swear, its the last change to my photo gallery! ;)  Maintaining it fully myself would have been nice but ultimate it was just a lot of work to set up.  The upload process was also a real pain to get things into the gallery I set up here since my server is a bit limited.  I could fix that but it would have been a lot of work.  The multi-level photo gallery was also proving to be a lot less convenient to navigate than I thought.

So, I figured out a way to get my Picasa/Google+ gallery linked to here.  So now I have the hosting power of a professional gallery but I can still show them at the blog.  For, you know, all 3 of you that read this.  (Are there that many? ;) )

Marineland Triathlon Race Report

Marineland Triathlon Race Report

The race was the Marineland Triathlon about 20 minutes south of St. Augustine  FL. The day before my girlfriend and I spent the afternoon in St. Augustine seeing the fort, walking around and taking a ghost tour. If you’ve never been to St. Augustine, you should go. Its a neat little town.
Race day I woke up and things weren’t starting off that great for me. I could tell something was off. But we got everything packed up (seriously, running a tri really is a pain hauling so much gear!) and made it to Marineland for final registration. I almost forgot to fill my water bottle for my bike but my girlfriend was on top of things!

I was pretty nervous before my first race and mostly for the swim. A month ago I was feeling very confident but in early March I suffered a ski injury that kept me from training for almost a month and really set me back. I knew I could complete the swim in a pool but not in open water. The seas were pretty rough looking…one of the buoys got torn out 3 times.

The race started and I lagged slightly to the back so I didn’t have to contend with people bumping me too much. It was a small field anyway (31 people) so it wasn’t that big of a deal. The tide was still out so the swim was a bit weird since you could really walk all the way out out to the swim lane and then almost could walk the whole thing! The really rough part for me here was just that this was where the waves were breaking so it was very uncomfortable for me to do the swim. I drank and breathed in a bit more sea water than I would have liked!

I got back up to the transition and I was already near dead last (didn’t really care for my first race) and I decided to try and push it on the bike to make up some time. The route itself was pretty nice. Its a really pretty area of the state. My only real complaint is that instead of doing 2, 12 mile loops, I wish we’d just gone out and back. I did learn I need 2 water bottles with me since I ran out about halfway into the ride. Breathing in all the sea water combined with the weird feeling I had in the morning was starting to really bother me too (turns out I was coming down with bronchitis…still recovering)

I made it back for the run transition and its funny that a few years ago I never would have viewed the run as the easy part but I run so much now that it was. It was a horrible run for me but I ended up next to a guy out of the transition who was running my pace so we ran the entire 10k together. It was actually very nice to have someone to talk to for the hour it took us. Both of us were joking about coming in last but we knew there were 2 people behind us as we got close to the end.

Him: “Well, at least we’ll beat two people”
Me: (with a grin) “Well, one of us will beat two people, the other will beat three”

My only victory of the morning was beating him at the end in our own little race.

Overall it was a great experience. State of Mind Sports, who ran the event, did a great job hosting it. Very organized and very helpful to the newbies like me. I’m excited for my next one, maybe in July, when hopefully I won’t be suffering from bronchitis! I also need to focus some more on swimming because I need to be much stronger there.

My final time was 3:17:39.


Running Goals Update

Running Goals Update

Well, this past month unfortunately wasn’t the month I was hoping for. It started off with such promise and hope! It did, unfortunately however, quickly go downhill. In the week leading up to my ski trip I was really struggling to get any training in – running or otherwise. But no worries! I had down over 25 miles the previous week so one down week leading up to my ski trip seemed ok. And it would have been if I hadn’t managed to go and badly hurt myself while skiing. This is the reason I didn’t really want to do any ski trips leading up to my marathon. I was afraid I’d hurt myself and miss the race. Fortunately for my ski trip the fall came at the end of the last day. I felt a little lame as I left the slopes since it didn’t really hurt much yet but it turned out to be a good choice. By the time I got on the plane that night it hurt a lot. Turns out I (at the minimum) bruised my ribs. Its possible I even fractured them but I never went for x-rays since the treatment is the same – nothing.

So for about 2 1/2 weeks following that mishap, I couldn’t run at all. I could barely sit up to get out of bed for the first week. I tried a run early on and it hurt a lot so that was the end of that. Finally this past week I was able to hit the road again. Its still a little achey when I run but not painful enough to keep me from going out. I do have a triathlon soon after all! So unfortunately that means last month I did around 27 miles.

My total for the year stands at 170 miles which puts me on pace for ~700 miles this year. That’s not even half of my original 1500 mile goal so I’m going to have to step it up to hit 1k which I’m sure I can still do. I do have to average about 92 miles a month to get there but that should be easy enough. I guess this is the price of having too much fun skiing.

Rough Week for Training

Rough Week for Training

So this has been one of the worst weeks of training in the past 4 months. Not sure why. Saturday I did go for a 33 mile bike ride and I did 4 miles running on Tuesday morning followed by 3 miles Wednesday morning. The plan was to wake up this morning and hit the pool and then get 5 or 6 miles in, which would have left me feeling not great about the week but at least not unhappy. Not sure what happened but definitely wasn’t me waking up on time. I must not have set my alarm or something (I remember setting it…its possible I accidentally turned it back off before I went to bed.) I don’t really know. But since it was 7am when I woke up, my workout time was long gone. I need about 2 hours to work out plus another hour or so to get ready for work. I try and be at the gym no later than 6am but I really try and get there 5:30 – 5:45.

So 33 miles biking and 7 miles running and that was my week. No swimming. No spinning. I’ll be skiing the next 3 days so no more training. I might have needed an easy week though. My ride and runs all felt wrong to me. I didn’t take any rest after my half marathon. I think my body needed some recovery time. I just can’t let myself continue what I did this week. So next week, its back to closely watching my bed time. Asleep by 11 – 11:30 is just a must.

Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Report – My Half PR!

Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Report - My Half PR!

Well I did it! I can’t believe that since November, I went from frantically realizing that I was in deep trouble for my Disney marathon to reaching a really big goal of mine, which was a sub 2:10 half marathon.

Everything went about as perfect for me today as I could have hoped. My legs have felt great for weeks and I just knew I had a great run in me for today. My goal was somewhere between 2:05 and 2:10. My final time was 2:04:26 which is a huge PR (personal record for you non-runners). I PRed while training for Disney at a half marathon in December. That was 2:18:57. I can’t believe I shaved almost 15 minutes off of my previous PR. But I always have felt if I could just keep my training consistent, I could do it.

The race was a little warmer than I would have liked but while the start was around 69 – 70…it never rose from that either. I started off a little faster than I had intended but after 3 miles I decided I was going to have no trouble holding that pace. My splits are about as consistent as I could have asked for.  I was in the 2nd wave for all of the people expected to finish over 2 hours.  This is a medium sized race so there was only two waves.  With about 4500 total participants, that meant I was running with about 2000 other people.  Since I started at the front of the wave I had open roads for the whole way.  The streets were pretty wide the whole time so I never felt like I had to slow my pace any.  The worst thing that happened was during mile 3 I had to stop and tie my shoe.  Somehow that was also my fastest lap so not really a big deal.  (You can see the splits and route in my link below from my Polar GPS)

Gasparilla Half Marathon 24.02.2013 06:10.

The coolest thing happened before I even started.  A minute or two into the race, the route passes over the mouth of the Hillsborough River and onto Davis Island where the first 5 miles take place.  From the starting line, you have a great view of the bridge and can see the runners still in a big group running over.  I don’t ever spectate a race so it was a really cool thing to see.  The race was well stocked with aid stations with bottled water (thanks Zephyrhills!) and Gatorade at every one.  There was a boil water order for the whole city of Tampa so the fact that we had bottled water was the only reason there was a race.  There was really nothing notable about the course itself.  I run it frequently on my own since Davis Island and Bayshore is a beautiful place to run.  Seeing the bay in the darkness was beautiful.  Then Ilisa was waiting at the finish and I was able to actually see her cheering for me as I sprinted home.  Nice feeling to see someone there for you!  All the races I’ve ever run over the years I go by myself so the past couple races have been amazing for that.  I can’t imagine standing there waiting for me to run by in an instant is all that exciting so I think its pretty awesome, personally.

Overall, I love doing the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Last year was the only year since 2008 I didn’t run it and I really regretted missing it. It was the first race, the 5K, that I did back in ’08 when I first started running and its a really well run local race. The expo is always really nice. I’d say the only disappointing thing for me this year was they didn’t do their official gear with Nike and the quality really suffered from both the give-aways and the merch to buy. My favorite running gear is some of my purchases of Gasparilla gear over the years.

I’m not sure what’s next for me. I only have a 5k booked next month which I’d like to PR and I’d like to PR a 10k and 15k this year as well to complete the set. I’m training for some triathlons during the summer and then next fall I have a 10 miler at Disney in October and I may do the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon again in November.

Been a great year so far though…can’t wait to see what else I’ll do. 8)


They Got My Order Wrong

They Got My Order Wrong

So I came back from my dentist appointment this morning and stopped back at Starbucks on my way home to get a turkey bacon, egg white sandwich (no cheese of course!).  I already had had my morning cappuccino on my way to the dentist but I didn’t want to eat until afterwards.  The store was empty except for one person walking up to the counter so I figured I’d be in and out really quick!  The guy had been staring intently at the menu and when he started to order I realize this was going to be interesting, to say the least.

Guy: “Ok, I’d like a grande caramel.”

Employee: “Caramel what?”

Guy: “A caramel.  Grande.”

Employee: “Do you want a caramel frappuccino?”

Guy: “Yes.”

The guy then goes on to order something else for his sister (I couldn’t hear) and went into some spiel with the girl at the counter.  Apparently he was supposed to get this drink free for some reason.  She goes to check with the manager and he turns to me.  (By this time a line is forming…)

Guy: “I don’t normally come here.  But the other one got my order wrong.  That ever happen to you?  I think they gave me the wrong cup or something.  My sister’s order was completely wrong too.”

Me: “Nope.”

Guy continues to babble at me.  I pray the employee comes back quickly.  Which she does not.  I mostly ignore the guy and he mostly ignores that I’m not paying attention and continues to babble until she returns.

Employee: “Ok, that’s fine.”

Guy: “Ok, just want to make sure you get it right.  My drink is a sweet drink right?”

Employee: “Yes, its a caramel frappuccino.  They’re sweet.”

Guy: “Ok, so its like got creamy stuff in it?  I don’t want to taste the coffee.”

Employee: “Yes, its coffee, caramel, blended with ice and sugar and milk.”

Guy: “Ice?  Its a cold drink?”

Employee: “Yes, its a frappuccino.”

Guy: “Oh, I want something hot.”

The employee changes his order and he walks off to go babble at the girl making the drinks with his same ‘story’.  I can’t possibly imagine how his order was ‘wrong’ last time!

World’s Worst Marathon Training Plan

World's Worst Marathon Training Plan

So I never really talked about my marathon training ‘plan’ for lack of a better word.  Training disaster?  I’m probably really, really lucky I didn’t injure myself.  Several times I suspected I was close to getting shin splints.  I signed up for Disney almost a year in advance and decided that last year would be a year of almost no races in order to focus on building my base and slowly building my mileage up so that, by October, I’d be in the best running shape of my life.  Wow, how that completely fell apart.  Instead I had the worst year of running in 5 years and by October I was running only every couple weeks.  Very inconsistent.  I had signed up for the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon as well which was in early November.  I thought that would have been a great prep race.  (It would have been)

Fast forward to the first week of November when I got back from my cruise.  I was a bit panicked and went for an 8 mile run.  Or tried to.  I walked about 3 miles of it.  Took me over an hour and a half to finish.  There was only 9 1/2 weeks until the race.  The most aggressive plans I ever saw were 12 weeks.  Polar’s site wouldn’t even let me create a marathon plan for that duration.  And, realistically, I knew I needed 2 weeks of taper so I had to be ready for the race distance in 7 or 8 weeks.  I could barely run 5 miles.

A little luck and a lot of listening to my body and focusing harder on recovery than I ever had before, I was able to coax out the mileage that I needed on a weekly basis.  I got stronger by the week and faster.  I refused to push myself when I knew I shouldn’t but I did push when I felt it was safe to.  The only part of that that sucked was I skipped my annual Thanksgiving morning race.  It didn’t fit with my schedule.  My goal was to do a 20 mile run on Dec 30th.

I decided the only way to make it was to commit to increasing my long run by 2 miles a week.  This was risky as I was increasing my mileage by 25% a week early on rather than the much safer 10%.  By Thanksgiving I realized there was a half marathon around the corner from my house in a couple weeks that fit perfectly with my training schedule.  So I signed up and suddenly, that’s when the entire sense of where I was in my training changed for me because I PRed the race by 6 minutes.  I knew at that moment that I’d complete the marathon and feel pretty good about it.

A few weeks later, I did my 20 mile run in 3.5 hours and a week ahead of schedule.  I thought I was on track for a 4:30ish marathon time.  Unfortunately extremely hot weather conditions got in my way but overall my crazy training plan really worked.  I highly suggest no one follow my 9 – 10 week race training plan but if you’re careful, its also not impossible!