Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mohican Trail Run

I met up with some new friends at Mohican State Park today for a long trail run through the hills: 

Nick, Luc, Kim, Rob, & Mark 

These runners are all "ultra runners" which means that they all run races that are more than the standard marathon distance (which is 26.2 miles). Each of them had run 100 mile races before and were planning to run various ultra endurance races this year too. I told them right up front about my running record and they were all very supportive and congratulated me on my new passion. Before today my longest run was 13.1 miles, but my longest trail run was 12.4 miles... and anybody who reads my blog knows that I almost died that day. :) To even consider a 100 mile trail race was beyond me... Even after todays run. 

Kim, Mark, and Nick were all doing 20 miles, Rob was doing 40 miles, and I agreed to do 15 miles with them. This was the longest I've ever done at once. We started off at the covered bridge @ 8AM and ran through some of the technical hiking trails along the "orange loop". This run was a blast!! We started off with a walk/run pace taking it easy up the hills and jogging through the flats and down the narrow paths. The crew I was running with had strategically placed water jugs along the course so we could refill our water bottles at mile 5 and mile 10. The stops were perfectly spaced apart, for my water bottle was just about empty by the time we got to them; apparently these guys knew what they were doing. :) We basically ran to the water jugs, filled up our bottles and got moving again. Good thing too because it was really cold and standing still with all that sweat was not fun. 

While we were running, I was asking Mark and Rob them what the longest distance they had ran and both Mark and Rob stated that the longest they had run were both 100 mile races. I'm still trying to comprehend how this is humanly possible. They both stated that it was all mental really. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to think about these types of distances... For now, I'm just going to focus on 26.2. :) 

My total run today was 15 miles and it took me right around  3 hours and 10 minutes (not counting water stops). At mile 10, I ran into a nasty patch of frosted thick gooey mud and my shoe got sucked up into it while I tried to run through it. In order to get my shoe back, I had to slosh back through it in my bare sock and this was pretty unpleasant. I basically wiped my sock off with my hand and slimed it back into my shoe. Luckily, my foot warmed up rather quickly and I ended up forgetting about it after about 5 minutes or so. Needless to say, my new Adidas Quatra Trail Shoes are pretty gross looking right now (both inside and out).

About 1 mile later, my legs pretty much locked up on me; I had some pretty uncomfortable cramping in my quads. It was hard to walk for a few hundred yards at one point. I've had calf cramps before and those hurt, however I'd never had quad cramps before; it just felt weird more than anything (not "painful" though). I think this was my body's way of yelling STOP!! Unfortunately (for my legs anyway) I still had 4 more miles of trails to go. These next 4 miles were the technical ones too. The trail ran right along side the river and there were all kinds of roots, rocks, mud slicks and just nasty terrain. 

I would like to thank Rob for staying with me through my cramps because I didn't know where I was, nor how to get past these nasty cramps. It seemed like every time I tried to run again, my legs would start to lock up again. Rob stayed back and gave me some tips on how to get past this so I don't have to go through them again for my next trail run. Our whole conversation could be summed up with two easy words: "slow" and "steady". Thanks again Rob!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grand Island Trail Marathon

Call me nuts, but I signed up for my first marathon tonight and the one I signed up for is quite a doozy... I'll be running the Grand Island Trail Marathon in Munising, Michigan (upper peninsula) on July 26th!

I stumbled upon this race online the night that I realized that I liked trail running so much. A while later, I saw it advertised in my RunnersWorld magazine (clip shown on the right). In the full list of all upcoming marathons for 2008, this is the one that sparked my interest the most. Oddly enough, it had the least amount of information associated with it though. I guess there really isn't much to say about it; there doesn't appear to be much crowd support, it's not a good race for a "BQ", and the terrain is insane. To me though, it looks like the coolest one of all of them and I'm damn excited to be running it. When I realized that I had to do this, I got all giddy and told Jennifer about it. We're probably going to make a weekend trip of it and take the girls camping up there that weekend; fun for the whole family!

Honestly, the amount of hills and overall terrain of the course makes it a bit intimidating for me, but I'm totally up for the challenge. The blurb indicates that "hills are constant" and even mentions some of the mile markers to watch out for. :) Sweet! This does not put any less attention on my upcoming Trail Marathon in April. However, the Grand Island Trail Marathon has a major"cool" factor to it since it is run on a remote island out in Lake Superior.
"The water of Lake Superior is as clear and aqua blue as the Caribbean, with the kind of crystalline quality that lures you to cleanse yourself in its frigid embrace. You imagine you could walk right in and just just keep walking along the rock-strewn bottom in a beautiful blue purity."

Well, that all sounds "good 'n' gay", but check out the topo map of the course and notice the steep climbs and drop-offs in the chart at the bottom:

Crazy huh? That kinda voids the whole 'crystalline quality' and 'beautiful blue purity' if you ask me...

Judging from my near death experience with 12.4 miles in Hocking Hills last September, these trail marathons are really going to push my limits! I'm totally out of shape for these races, yet totally excited to do them at the same time! Luckily, I have almost 8 months to train for this nasty one. I plan to train hard because I want to make this one count...

And... go!

Richard Campbell - The Real Alpha Geek

.NET Rocks!: Richard Campbell Tells All!

Carl interviews Richard, who tells many stories of his experiences in electronics and computers. Don't miss the funny stories! This guy is insanely geeky and I solute thee.

If you think you know anything about computer, listen to Richards story:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Late Night Running

I've found that I've been doing a lot more of it... I had to resort to running at night because I can't find any other time throughout the day to run. Between the short days, spending time with my family and work stuff, this is really the only time that I have available for "me time". I've just learned how to dodge headlights. Needless-to-say, it is very relaxing and, well it also fits well into my schedule.

Basically, I run while others sleep. I've done quite a bit of night running these last couple of weeks. The first time was the most awkward really, because I didn't know what to expect. After I realized how relaxing it was, I discovered that this is really the best time to run. Jen has a head light that she uses for working around the barn yard after dark and I strap that on my head and go. I try to wear as much white as possible so that people can see me and my shoes reflect pretty bright, so it's fairly safe. I've asked Santa for some reflective clothing this year, so we'll see...

Here is my favorite late night path:

Basically, I park at my friend's house (thanks Tyler) and just go... I showed up at his house tonight @ 10:15 and took off running. I got back around 11:15 and then came home. The night after my company Christmas dinner, I actually ran a longer version of this loop and didn't get back to my car until about 1 am. :)

It's funny because a lot of the cops doing their rounds at night probably all refer to me as "that crazy guy with the head light" on their radios. I just wave at them... :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've always kinda taken charge at setting up our travels at work. As embarrassing as it is, I have to admit that I've been using this whole time. It has always allowed me to book my flight, hotel, and car in one stop. Since it was all I knew, I was happy... Well, I have a new standard. I recently had to book a flight and Issam sent me a link that blew me away:

This single site ties together lots of sites into a single list to filter, sort, and flag. Using the controls on the left, it's so quick to search for the exact flight you want. For example, on this trip I was trying to avoid a certain airport. With a single click, I was able to exclude all results that had layovers at this particular airport. Using the flight time sliders allowed me to only show flights that left within my defined time range. There were 250+ possible routes to get to the destination I wanted. However, after some simple clicking and dragging, I had my results down to 20 or so. From there, I simply checked the details of some and remove the ones I didn't want. I placed a flag on the good ones until I got down to about 5, then I just picked one. Picking one spawned off multiple site queries from various sites (including Expedia, Priceline, CheapTickets, Hotwire, as well as all the major airline's sites). I ended up buying my tickets from The entire process was so painless and I got the exact flight I wanted.

Conclusion: Next time you book a flight, use

Oh yeah, Expedia called and they want their 56k modems back...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Trail Running

Pretty Trail Pic from OKTrailRunning.comI found my new passion. Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend and had full intentions on going back to the office to work. However, after lunch I wanted to get in my run for the day while it was still light outside. I decided to go to Blendon Woods and run some of the trails. About 1 hour later I had ran every trail they had to offer and I wanted more. It was cold, my feet were soaked, my running pants were destroyed and coated in thick mud splat, my heart was thumping, and I was drenched in sweat... I loved it!

Since it was raining off and on yesterday, I decided to leave the iPod in the car and I just listened to my feet sloshing through the soupy grass. The whole time I ran, I was avoiding all of the roots, puddles, and mud slicks as much as possible. After about 45 minutes of this, I decided to just ignore the 3 inch deep puddles and I started sloshing through them... like a crazy man. It was in these moments that I decided road races were for the birds... I am a trail runner!

When I got home last night, I started looking up all the trail runs in this area. I was surprised to find that there really aren't a whole lot. The big ones around here are YUTC, Hocking Hills Indian Run, and the Mohican 100. I'm sure there are others, but I have yet to find them. I found quite a few in Michigan that I plan to sign up for, but not so many Ohio races for 2008.

The truth of the matter is that I should have known after the Indian Run that trail running was my true passion. When I did the Hocking Hills 20k Indian Run (my story) back in September, I admitted that it was the hardest thing I had ever done, physically. It really was! This is the race that I take the most pride in. Yeah, I did the Columbus 1/2 Marathon (my story) too which was longer in distance, but (like I stated before), it was easy compared to the 12.4 mile trail run. Next year I plan on signing up for the 40k (aka: 24.8 miles). In the meantime, I'm signing up for a full "trail marathon" in April called: The Trail Marathon (ironic?)

I am officially "in training" for my trail marathon (4 months away). When I told the wife about it, she threw her head back and told me that I'm crazy. I think she's right. :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

CodeMash Theme Song

There has been some discussion on the CodeMash discussion board about a jam session this year: Music at the conference?

After reading the thread, I saw where nobody had voluteered for drum-duty, so I did. I'm pretty excited about this, to say the least. I'm going to try and talk James into either singing or bringing his saxophone. :)

Flashback: Many years ago, Data Dynamics took a trip to San Fransisco and there was a band playing at one of the Microsoft after-hour events (making some pretty good money, I'm sure). We were all mingling about with our drinks in hand, and I went up to meet the band. I was talking to them (in between songs) and asked if I could sit in on the drums for one of their songs... surprisingly they let me! I'll never forget that. They announced my name and stated that I work for Data Dynamics (free publicity) before we played and then we ended up playing "Brown-Eyed Girl" for the crowd. The people I was traveling with (Tim & Ferhat, if I remember correctly) couldn't believe I even asked. :) I think Ferhat even took pictures (?). This was all before I was blogging of course, or this would have DEFINITELY made it on my blog.

Ok, back to present day... I'm hoping somebody will bring a digital camera and we could record the CodeMash theme song. :) If all goes well, we may end up travelling around the world opening for various pop stars... Ok, maybe not. Anyway, Scott is preparing a keynote presentation to tie many things together and he plans to stick around afterwards to talk to people and answer tough questions. This ought to be a great event. :)