Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ultra Training in the Snow

Yeah, yeah, yeah... :) I haven't posted any news lately with my training and I guess people really do care about how it's going. Actually, I've been keeping up with my training very well lately. I've reluctantly moved back to 3rd shift over the last few weeks which translates to "I've been busy as hell". Regardless, I'm finding time to get my runs in and I'm still doing pretty good with my pushups. The only difference is that I'm only squeezing in my training where I can. Last night (for example), I ran 5 miles on the treadmill @ 3am. The night before that, I did 3 miles at 4am.

I had a "Blackhand Gorge Sunday" this past weekend. This is where I ran from my house down to Blackhand Gorge, and then hit every trail that Blackhand Gorge had to offer, and ran back. When I upload my workouts to BuckeyeOutdoors, I'll update my post with a link to the map. I went out trying to do 20 miles, but bonked about mile 13 and called it a day after only 17 miles. I hadn't been sleeping good before my run, so I think that had something to do with my performance.

The best part about my run was that it was freezing cold, so when I got home, my girls all gathered around had fun playing with my beard. It was a huge block of ice and they thought it was the coolest thing. :) Even though I bonked early, it was a good training run for me. I really got to see how much work I have yet to do before MO.

I'm scheduled for 14 miles tomorrow and 8 on Sunday. Oddly, I'm looking forward to them both.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Trapper Jazz

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the girls have the day off of school. I'm down in the basement working, and Jennifer tells me a funny story. Before you can appreciate the story, you have to know a little fact about our farm: We are constantly fighting with coyote's out here. Grady (our dog) keeps them away for the most part, but they are a very real threat to our goats.

So any, Jazzy makes a little mound of snow with her hands and then comes to the back door and tells Jennifer the following:

"Mommy, I made a coyote twap... Now when the coyotes come thwough ouw yahd, they'll twip on the snow, then Gwady can come and eat them." - Jazzy (5 yrs old)


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Forget the PR, Mohican 50k

My good buddy, Rob, has coordinated a new race this year called "Forget the PR, Mohican 50k". Today, I found out that I'm able to run it after all!!

Long story short: I signed up for the race on the first day of registration, because I was so excited about it and failed to check my schedule, to make sure that I could actually run it; I got ahead of myself. A few weeks after I registered, I learned that the race date was the day after our check-in date at Disney World down in Orlando, Florida. That wasn't going to work. :( Well, when I got back from CodeMash this afternoon, Jennifer and I sat down and were just talking about everything and we decided that we couldn't really do the Orlando thing due to our finances, etc... As much as I hated the fact that we couldn't take the girls to Florida this summer and see Mickey, I was (secretly) excited to be able to run the race after all. :)

Rob, COUNT ME IN!! I can't wait to get my first ultra belt buckle!

Friday, January 09, 2009

CodeMash 2009 - Day 2

Today was a bit rough after drinking with the geeks and then fighting my bout with insomnia last. I woke up at 7:30 and headed down for breakfast. Eric Meyer gave the keynote this morning about how "Javascript Will Save Us All". It was pretty interesting and he provided a lot of useful information on how people are able to get around various problems faced on the web today with a little bit of Javascript. I had a hard time keeping my eyes open and caught myself dozing off here and there.

I decided to head back to my room for a "quick nap".

About 4 hours later I woke up. I ran down to the lunch hall to see if I could catch a bite to eat real quick, and I did. My lunch consisted of watermelon and cookies. :) After lunch, I went to see "A Programmers Guide to User Experience" by Josh Walsh. It was very informative and it gave me some ideas on how to approach some of the problems I'm currently facing with a project I'm working on. Josh clearly knew what he was talking about.

From there, I attended James session on "Practical Data Visualization", which looked very familiar to say the least. :) James did a great job and I think the others in the room did learn a thing or two on good charts vs. bad charts. Well done sir. :)

After James' session, I v-lined it for Dustin Cambell's session on "Multi-threading Mojo with F#". I've seen Dustin talk about F# in the past and he is a very good speaker. He get's everybody in the crowd involved and has a great sense of humor about what he's teaching. He showed off some pretty amazing stuff with the various asynchronous features that F# has to offer. The amazing thing to see was how much code it took to do the same thing in C#. Crazy difference.

The giveaway session was pretty funny and Joe Wirtly didn't win anything this year! :) He's won the main prize the last two years (of all the people here, he won). Ironically enough, this year the main winner was sitting at his table. I plan to sit next to Joe next year... Save me a seat please Joe. :)

Anyway, after the giveaway, James, Raji, Mike, and I all ate down at the restaurant before they had to all go their separate ways. I came up to my room, researched some stuff, chatted with Jennifer for a while, then did my 4 miler on the dreadmill, and then chilled. That's where I'm at now... TNT has some pretty good movies on and I have all my stuff packed waiting for the morning. CodeMash 2009 is in the books. Great event!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CodeMash 2009 - Day 1

Well, I arrived at CodeMash last night right before the roads got bad. Found my old DD family immediately as I walked in the door (James, Mike, and Phil). They helped me move my drums in (thanks guys) and then we headed out to get some dinner. I ended up eating WAAAAAY too much and wound up refunding my dinner later that night into the porcellan bucket. I suffered from some insane insomnia well after that ordeal and didn't get to sleep until after 3am.
I wanted to wake up early and get in my 3 miler, but ended up sleeping in til almost 7:30am (alarm clock "am/pm confusion" issues). Since breakfast was almost over, I just grabbed my room key and headed down to the dining area to get in on the feast. Breakfast was excellent and I made sure I didn't over indulge this time. :)

Venkat Subramanium keynoted here at CodeMash this morning and he was a great keynoter, I laughed a lot and learned a lot. The first session I attended after that was 'Introducing Prototype and Scriptaculous" presented by Leon Gersing (aka: FallenRogue). He talked about using Javascript utilities (namely Prototype and (as well as various references to JQuery)) and I must say that it was very informative. I couldn't find any gleaming reasons for me to switch from my focus of learning JQuery to using these though (thoughts?)... I think I'm full speed ahead on my endevor to master JQuery. (Sorry Sergey) :)

The next session I attended the "Developing for Microsoft Surface"computing by Jennifer Marsman and... "Joe" from VectorForm (sorry Joe, great job though) :) It was very cool. They showed how all the pieces work together to provide the rich experience, including the way that real world objects can be recognized using a new type (infinitely unique) "bar code" pattern. Jennifer Marsman sat down and even took an old WPF sample app and converted it to a Microsoft Surface app using simple RegEx find/replace in the XAML, and had it running on the Surface in less that 2 minutes (literally). This is not recommended of course, but the fact that they CAN do it says that it should be fairly easy to get geeks using it. After the session, I went out and tinkered on one of them in the hallway. They are very cool to play with, but that's about it for me...

After that, we broke for lunch and then I headed to the "Adobe Flex with MVC Frameworks" session by Robert O'Malley. Unfortunately I thought it was something that it wasn't and I wasn't understanding anything that he was talking about. I think the session assumed that I was familiar with (at least) one of the technologies that he was talking about, and I wasn't. :( I turned to Mike and we went out into the hallway and geeked out on our laptops instead and talked about some programming issues we were both struggling with. Much more funner?? IMO. :)

The next round of sessions, I chose to attend the "Functional Concepts for OOP Developers" session by Brian Webber and it was pretty intense. It was well done, but it covered a lot of different functional syntaxes (namely Haskell) and functional concepts (namely these) that I simply wasn't familiar with (YET). I was able to "keep up" for the most part with my understanding of how implementing the same object oriented concepts would work, but the talk was a little more involved than I thought it would be, to say the least. 

For the last session of the day, I headed over to see the "Microsoft Virtual Earth Now in 3d" session by Aydin Akcasu. The last talk I saw from this guy included a Wii remote sending data to a C# app that (in turn) controlled a robot bird (that flew) the he let people fly over the crowd using bluetooth to send commands to it... again, using a wii remote. Talk about cool!? Anyway, this session Aydin showed people how to EASY it was to embed rich 3d mapping technology into existing apps with absolutely zero effort (3 lines of HTML, that's it); here is the page he built to give his talk with, right click and view source to see what I mean. Basically, Microsoft Live Maps offers a free mapping technology that lets users (ie. anybody that has a web page) expose an interactive 3d world (think Google Earth... but...) inside a web browser. To extend it and make it do things, simply create buttons with javascript to call methods on it. Beautiful! At the end of his talk, I went up to shoot the breeze with him and he showed me this cool 3d mouse called SpaceNavigator that he used to fly around the (virtual) world with. Very slick!

Dinner was damn good, then I hit the gym to get in my 3 miler before attending the jam session. The jam session was really cool! I only played a couple of times, but I did got to rock out with Carl Franklin, Brian , , and . It was a very bluesy mix this year. Last year was mostly acoustic and low key for the most part; whereas this year was ampliphied crowded and bluesy. Carl rocked out like a true entertainer, and I got to see Dustin Cambell jam on a guitar too (that dude is good). Corey Haines brought his harmonica and guitar again this year, and he played some really cool stuff (major talented musician). Surprisingly (maybe not?), there were a lot of poeple playing instruments this year, and it was much more "the norm" this year than last year. This was awesome to see. CodeMash is so cool. Plus I think they're starting bring out the good musicians (marketing ideas guys, Jim, Jason, Jeff,..). :) 

I ended the night with a bunch of geeks down at the bar. We discovered that Raji loves to buy drinks for people, just don't ask him for water... :)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Dark, Wet, and Quiet Long Run

I wanted to wake up and get my run in early today so I could spend my day being productive.As it turned out, I suffered from some pretty bad insomnia last night and we had company most of the day. By the time I was able to get out the door and head to town, it was already 4pm and I had to go to WalMart first. Around 5pm, I got my car parked at the YMCA, put on all my reflective gear, grabbed some drinks and gel packs, and headed down the road. 

It was cold, rainy, getting dark, and I couldn't wait to get started. Turned out to be a great and stress releiving run. I pretty much covered the upper west quadrant of Newark, Ohio. There were a few parts that had me creeped out, but it was my own mind playing tricks on me. :) While I was up in the rural area, it was just black at time and I was running all by myself in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone (again, it was raining). Anyway, it turned out to be a great run and I'm excited to be back to running agian. :) My break from distance running was too long. 

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

JetBrains ReSharper vs. DevExpress Refactor! Pro

My good buddy, Sergey left me some comments on my blog post about Refactor! Pro and that is what finally made me try out ReSharper. I get so comfortable using what works for me that I don't look around to see what might be better... familiar?

Almost everybody I know uses JetBrains ReSharper, and they all give me that confused look when I tell them that I use the DevExpress Refactor! Pro product. I never ventured outside of my bubble of comfort to see what I have been missing until last week. Why fix what isn't broke? So anyway, I finally installed ReSharper and disabled my Refactor! plugin. I'm slowly learning the keystrokes for refactoring and generating code, and it's getting easier. I felt so backwards for the first few hours, and spent a lot of my time inspecting the menu options to see what is available and how to use the features that are available.

There are a LOT of features with this product and I must admit that it's pretty overwhelming at first. It has taken some getting used to, but I'm starting to be productive with it. Rather than remapping the shortcuts to be the same as Refactor!, I'm forcing myself to learn ReSharper shortcuts to give it an honest attempt. So far, my favorite feature of this product is the 'Clean Code...' function (keys: [Ctrl][E],[Ctrl][C]), the 'Refactor' function (key: [Alt][Enter] (equivalent to Refactor! [Alt][~]), and most importantly the feature rich scroll area with warnings and errors.

To be 100% honest though, there is nothing that ReSharper is offering to me yet that I can't do with Refactor! Pro. I probably only used about 40% of Refactor! Pro's featureset, but I used the crap out of them. Plus I really enjoyed the UI experience in Refactor! Pro a hell of a lot more than I do from ReSharper. The guys at DevExpress made sure they didn't bother me with unecessary prompts as I coded and I miss that while I learn ReSharper. Simple things like renaming variables, reorganizing parameters, and auto cleaning my code should not prompt me with wizard dialogs, it should just work.

For now I'm still evaluating and will continue to give ReSharper an honest effort. I'll use it until my evaluation expires then decide. So far Refactor! Pro is still my choice, but ReSharper is creeping up as I use it more and more... :) I'll post more later as I continue to use it.

My Running Resume

I started this crazy running thing as a new years resolution to "get healthy" for 2007. As a result, I found that I love running.

That first year I did a bunch of 5k's and really enjoyed being outside in the elements while I trained for those races. Later in 2007, I ran my first trail race and immediately fell in love with the brutality of trail running. :)

My new years resolution for 2008 was to run a trail marathon, so I did. And then I ran another... and then I ran a trail ultra marathon, just to prove (to myself) that I could. I finished my 2008 year with a great (road) marathon PR of 4:27:31. I would have never guessed that!!!

The the best thing about each race I ran this year was that I outdid myself on each one.
  1. My first marathon took me 6:52 minutes to finish.
  2. My second marathon took me 4:57 to finish.
  3. My ultra marathon took me almost 8:30 to finish.
  4. My third marathon took me 4:27 to finish.
I'm setting my sights for farther distances for 2009. This summer, I want to try a 50 miler, and if I survive that, I'll look for a 100k (~62 mile) race in the fall. For now, I'm just building my base back up since I've let is slip since my last marathon. I needed a break honestly, but... 2009, here I come!