Friday, June 26, 2009

Buckeye Outdoors Plugin Update

If you are a user of BuckeyeOutdoors.com, then you should know that there is a new update to the SportTracks Plugin. Ben and I met last night and fixed many of the problems that have been reported by users over the last couple of months.

Last night's fixes include the following:

Timeout Issue is Fixed
There were many cases where a user would try to sync a workout and the program would throw an exception that says it timed out. This was fixed.

Invalid Category is more forgiving now
We had a slew of users reporting errors to the list that said the category was Invalid. You would get this error when you would use a category that was not recognized by BuckeyeOutdoors.com. For example, if you had a category inside SportTracks labeled "Hiking"; this is not a valid category on BuckeyeOutdoors and would throw an error.

When this would happen, it would throw a very unforgiving error that would stop the entire sync process and force you to fix it before moving on. Now, you simply get a red X with an error message, but the sync will still continue to process the other workouts.

Start Date Configuration
There were problems displaying the correct StartDate configured by the plugin. While the underlying value may have been set correctly, the display would always show a different date. This issue is now fixed, and the display will always show the correct StartDate that you configured using the plugin settings page.

Overall Plugin Refactor
It should also be known that I updated the underlying architecture of the plugin quite a bit to allow me to begin adding unit tests. For those that don't know what this means, it basically means that I'll be able to catch bugs in the plugin much sooner and much easier. :)

To get the latest version of the plugin, read this post on the ZoneFiveSoftware.com forums. Or you can simply watch this video tutorial: BuckeyeOutdoors Plugin Walkthrough

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Mohican 50 Mile Race Report

Let me start by saying that I had an overall great experience in my first attempt at the Mohican 50 mile trail run. Great race, great volunteers, poor course markings, yet overall awesome experience! Unfortunately, this race goes down as my first DNF (did not finish)! I made it a little over 38 miles and had to drop out. I ran for 11 hours, 21 minutes, and 15 seconds. I got to experience some of the highs, and some of the lows of this awesome sport of ultra running. I've heard that the longer the distance, the more extreme the high's and low's are; I experienced it first hand.


To sum it up, I screwed up the Purple loop, ran into some nasty stomach issues on the Orange loop and the cutoffs beat me at the Grist Mill. If I had enough time to gather my stomach at the Grist Mill, I might have finished this race and had a different blog entry. As it turns out though, I got to experience defeat on my first attempt at the 50 miler. I must say that DNF's suck... bad. Especially since I wanted to conquer this distance so bad. I'm actually kind of glad that I got this over with early in my ultra running experience (the DNF, not the 50 miler). I'm already very hungry for my next attempt!

Here is my story (if you're interested):

Start (5 am)
I made sure everything was packed and organized in my tent the night before. After the quick dinner and runners meeting the night before, most all of the runners went to their tents and tried to get some shut eye for the 5am start. It was pouring down rain and very dark. I was actually kind of excited to start with a terential downpour; it adds to the fun in my book. I threw off my head lamp, strapped on my hydration pack, and threw a poncho on and headed to the starting line. By the time the race started, the rain had left and it was looking like it was going to be a beautiful day.

Landoll's Castle (6:15 am)
Shortly after the race started, it was obvious that the rain was not returning, so I took the poncho off around mile 2 and tied it to my back pack; it was now dead weight. The first 10 miles were all road miles. It was actually very easy and enjoyable. I blew through this first aid station with a few drinks of water, a fig newton and some pretzels. One thing I forgot to pick up were some bandaids... wet shirts & bare nipples don't mix. They really bothered me for the next 5 miles, but nothing I've not experienced before.

Rock Point (7:30 am)
After the relaxing 10 mile run on the roads, I arrived at Rock Point and it was (finally) time to enter the forest. I grabbed a cup of gatorade, filled my water bottle with ice water, grabbed a few more pretzels, a fig newton and on I went into the woods. It felt soo good to be sloshing through the mud finally. There were a few slippery spots through here. It had rained most of the night and all of the front runners had really souped up the trail by this point.

South Park (8:30 am)
By the time I got to SouthPark aid station I was feeling amazing! It was about 15 miles into the race, and I had zero complaints. I dropped off the poncho and made some small changes to my hydration pack to make it less noisy and lighter. It worked and I was jamming onto the next aid station. There was a little river crossing and I made sure I got my legs nice and wet. I even stopped for a second and wiped off all the mud that had been sloshing up onto my shins. This was where the feet would be wet for the remainder of the race. This next section of the course had some killer hills and they really wore me down. I was staying strong through here, but the quads were really getting a work out through here.

Fire Tower (9:30 am)
I arrived at the Fire Tower aid station with open arms. A little boy met me on my way in and was assuring me that there was lots of food and water and that they had everything I would need. I thought it was great and I thanked him big time. :) I was feeling the hills from the last section, but overall felt great. My feul was spot on, I was taking my S! Caps religiously and my hydration was great also. I was in and out of the Fire Tower real quick and anxious for some downhills to the Covered Bridge.

The sun was out and in full force now. However, that's the beauty of trail running; it's all hidden above the trees. :) It was already muggy from the morning rain, but with the sun out in full force now, it started to get pretty intense. Everything was just "thick" and sticky. My clothes were completely drenched and I had rung out my sweat band about 10 times by now. No worries, I knew it was gonna be a hot one, so I'm not complaining by any means, just stating facts.

Covered Bridge (10:15 am)
This is where things went horribly wrong!!

I arrived at the Covered Bridge and was about an hour ahead of the cutoffs. I didn't think to much about not finishing this race at this point. It wasn't even in my train of thought. I knew that if I ran into some problems, I had a nice buffer to work things out and get moving again. The key to ultra running is to "keep. moving. forward." I was prepared for whatever that meant.

This next section was a very easy 4 mile loop through some crazy terrain. If you don't believe me, see for yourself:

Ascending Little Lyon Falls


Descending Big Lyon Falls
video
video
Courtesy of Nick's Blog

Anyway, I've done the Purple loop a few times before and while I got lost once, it was a pretty easy loop. I headed up to Little Lyon falls and climbed the crazy root system. The whole way there, people were passing me on there way back saying how pissed they were and warning me that there were NO course markings on this loop. I was confident that I've done it before and would have no problems finding my way... I was wrong. After I climbed up Little Lyon Falls, I turned left thinking that it was the correct way. I saw a few runners up a head of me and thought, cool I'll just hang with them. As I was running up to them, other runners were gathering from a SEPERATE path. Everyone was bitching that the course markings were gone. I didn't even think to stop there, think and turn around. Instead I hung with them. It wasn't until I had descended Big Lyon Falls and was heading back to the Covered Bridge that I realized that I didn't even run by the dam or do any of the road section. By this point, I was about 1/4 of a mile from the Covered Bridge.

When I got there, I spoke up and told the aid station captian that I screwed it up and asked him what I should do. By no means was I wanting to cheat this race. I could have very easily moved forward and nobody would have ever known, but "homey don't play dat". I told the guy that I would rather do it right and said that I'd just do the entire Purple loop again. That meant, climbing the root system and all. Whatever!! I asked him about the cut offs and he told me that I was 10 minutes ahead of the cutoffs by this point. I thought, "Ok, no big deal, I'm still in this...".

Shortly back up the Purple loop, I ran into Mary Anne Ramirez, an ultra walker from Texas. Again, the whole way up we kept hearing other runners complaining about the lack of markers. I vowed to stick with Mary Anne and show her the way now that I realized where I screwed up. I truly truly enjoyed her company. However, we (power) walked the whole loop. Typically, I would power walk up hills, jog the flat sections and run downhill. This was all new to me and it felt like we lost a lot of time walking. Regardless, I made a great new buddy on the trail and I know that I helped her through there. If I had to do it all again, I would have done it exactly the same way. Things happen for a reason, and I feel I was supposed to meet her on this section so we could tough through it together. Thanks for your great company Mary Anne!

Covered Bridge Again (12: 30 pm)
By the time we got back to the Covered Bridge we were about 10 minutes behind the cutoff and we both had a lot of time to make up. I was up to the task, because the next section is my favorite; the Orange loop. I loaded up on calories at the aid station, pounded some gatorade, and filled my water bottle with ice water, and began my jog across the Covered Bridge. This entire "Purple Loop Experience" took me about 2.5 hours. :(

I had one goal at this point and it was to make up for lost time and get back to "running". The first section of this loop is mostly up hill switch backs, so I power walked up them. By the time I got to the flat sections, I was pretty winded. I decided to do some fast walking for a while, but focused on keeping my pace around 15 minute miles until I can get enough energy to start jogging again. By this point, I had around 28 mile behind me and I was starting to hit the wall hard. I was in the woods and didn't think anybody was behind me, since I was already behind the cutoff. I was wondering if I was going to be able to finish this thing. Around this time, a runner by the name of Tim Harmon came up behind me and helped me take my mind off the pain. He and I talked for the next 4 - 5 miles and it helped me a lot. I began jogging the flat sections and downhill sections. He stuck with me each time I had to walk a bit, and I really appreciated his company. We just talked and talked the whole time and it helped a lot. I told Tim that I was good if he wanted to jam ahead. He did and said he wanted to get that medal. I didn't blame him and bid him farewell. If you're reading this post, thanks for sticking with me, Tim! :)

Hickory Ridge (2:15 pm)
I arrived at Hickory Ridge feeling... ok. I wasn't down and out for good, but I was still working my way out of a nasty slump. When I was gathering calories and talking cut off times with the aid station crew, I saw Mike sitting off to the side waiting for a ride back to the camp ground; he had dropped. He seemed ok with it, so I didn't feel too bad for him. Great job on a stellar 50k Mike! However, I must admit that this gave me a little bit of motivation to pick up the pace; I did not want to lose this race! I chugged two quick cups of warm (almost hot) Pepsi, at a banana chunk and grabbed a bag of M&M's to go. Amazingly my wall had been broken and I was running again. I felt great! I was running the flat sections, power walking the hills like nothing and keeping my pace very quick. I never did catch up with Tim, but I could tell that I was right on his heals.

After Hickory Ridge, my stomach was pretty touch & go. I was fine as long as I didn't think about putting anything in it. As soon as I would consider taking another S! Cap or even drinking water, I would get a sour feeling. I just kept moving forward and ignored my stomach. Mistake. Around 4 miles after the Hickory Ridge aid station, I realized that I had to do something because I was sinking back into a funk very fast. The sun was hot above the trees, which meant that it was very muggy and the sun would pound down on me between all the clearings. The next section to the end was all roads, which meant all sun, which meant all heat... which meant, I needed to hydrate now.

I decided to force a Honey Stinger into my belly and about 4 ounces of hot water. About 1 mile later I began an extremely violent vomiting fit. I stood in the forest with my hands on my knees vomitting and heaving louder than I've ever puked in my life. It almost sounded too dramatic to be beleivable, but it was 100% real and it was not fun at all. I felt like falling over and just passing out. Instead I made my way over to a tree and just propped myself up against it for a few minutes. My eyes were watering and my stomach hurt from all the contracting. All that time I had made up earlier was shot and the cut off times were back to haunt me. I knew I would be fighting the clock all the way to the end now.

After my pukefest, I forced water into my system again because now I REALLY needed it. Amazingly, my stomach accepted the hot water this time and it actually helped. I felt a little better by this point. I knew not to try to put any more Honey Stingers in my belly or anything solid though. My stomach was still sour, but I was able to move forward. Forget running, I couldn't run or jog at all. At this point, I was restricted to power walking. The thought of hopping up and down made me want to... well, you know.

Instead of forcing more water down into my stomach, I poured the remaineder of my water bottle over my head and was just shufflying my way to the Grist Mill aid station (3 miles away) in hopes that they could "fix" me and send me on my way.

Grist Mill (4:15 pm)
When I arrived at Grist Mill, I was completely spent. I literally fell onto the first thing that I could sit on. I put my head down and mumbled that I needed some help. The aid station crew was AWESOME!! They got me some Pepsi and put a bag of ice on the back of my neck while I was just sitting there drooling (gross, yes... sorry). Oddly, the place where I sat was directly under the sun, so the guys had me move into the shade. After about 10 minutes I was still feeling pretty bad, and I was about 30 minutes behind the cut off at this point. The remaining 13 miles of the race was all road miles under the sun...

I had to drop.

In hind sight, I would have probably done a few things different, but I'll keep all that all to myself and use it for my next attempt. :) I had a great experience and I'm not afraid to run the 50 miler again; I'm actually excited to run it again, and beat it.

If you enjoyed my story, or were grossed out enough by my story to want more, then please read some of my other running buddy's stories: Kim, Mark, Nick, Rob, Don, Mike P, Michelle, Mike, Ed, Marryann, many others... :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Alice In Chains

September is going to be a great month!! Not only is Pearl Jam releasing a new album, but I've just learned that Alice In Chains is also releasing a new album! I'm a huge fan of both bands, so I am ready for fall!

The big change for AIC's upcoming album is their new lead singer: William DuVall. This doesn't thwart my excitement in anyway! Jerry Cantrell is a huge part of Alice In Chains' vocal sound anyway, and I have heard that DuVall sounds a lot like Lane Staley. I just love the music that this band puts out, and it wasn't "just" the lead singer. Don't get me wrong, we'll all miss Lane Staley, but I'm sure that the guys picked up William DuVall for a reason.

Man, it's hard to believe that it's been 14 years since their last album! I feel old now.

Release Dates:
  • Pearl Jam - September 22nd
  • Alice In Chains - September 29th
Mark you're calendars!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Love of My Life


While the title may sound cliche, it's true. Jennifer and I are celebrating our 9 year anniversary today. This picture was taken while we were hiking with our girls at Flint Ridge State Park a few months ago. It was a happy day, just like all of the other 3,286 days I've spent with this ring on my finger. I'm a lucky man, and I realize it more and more everyday.

Happy Anniversary Babe!!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Four More Days

Four days and counting until the 20th Annual Mohican 100 Trail Run!! Though, I'm only running the 50 miler this year, it's great to be a part of this ultra tradition. I've been tapering for way too long now and I almost feel like I'm untrained after all this non-running. I'll get a few miles in today and a few more Thursday, but nothing too strenuous; I want my legs to stay uber fresh for my race.

The plan for Saturday is to just put one foot in front of the other until I cross the finish line. I'm going to pack everything with me in my CamelPak. This will include a change in socks, my calorie bars, my S! Caps, and various first aid supplies for the dreaded bloody nipples, blisters, chaffing, etc... My goal is to not mess with a drop bag if possible. I had considered packing a drop bag to hold an extra pair of shoes for the final road section, but I think I'm just going to trust the ol' ASICS for the full 50 miles. My biggest fear is that the change in the sole contour that late in the race would be more of a problem than a luxury. I don't know though, my mind may change as the date inches closer(?). For now the plan is to go out light and come back even lighter.

I truly can't wait!

Dear Microsoft Installer,

If you can't install yourself on my machine because there is an earlier version conflicting with your setup, then please tell me this up front. It is very frustrating to tell me about this after I have already waited 45 minutes going through the various steps, including a reboot. This has happened to me too many times, and I feel it's time to speak up.

Sincerely,
Luc

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Full Body Experience - XBox 360 Video Games

Too cool! I saw a retweet from Scott Hanselman on my twitter feed and had to share this!

It's simply amazing; especially when the guy breaks out an old game using his hands and feet to drive the car. The technology being used understands all the movements of driving, just like you would if you were mimicking driving a car to a friend.



This could add a whole new element to "air drumming"! That's what I'm most excited about I think. :)

The Dreaded Taper

This is my second week of tapering and I usually dread these times because I want to be out running. However, I gotta say it's kind of worked out OK this time. Last week, I got real busy with work and haven't really had time to get out and do any long runs. This last Sunday I forced myself out the door after a long crazy weekend and got in a meezly 6 miles. Tuesday I did 5 miles quick miles and yesterday I did a very (very) slow 3 miles just to get the blood flowing. I'm scheduled for a 7 miler today and will probably do it later this evening. Tomorrow, I'm going to do an easy 5 and then just relax and do no running over the weekend.

Next week, I plan to do two early runs in the week and then let the legs fully rest until Saturday... where I will be putting 50 long miles on them. I ain't scurred either! I'm actually excited to see how bad it's going to hurt. As my Dad says, "I must be a glutton for pain." :)

Good luck to all of my friends that will be running the full 100 miles!

Pearl Jam - Got Some

Conan O'Brien's first show featured Pearl Jam as his musical guest. Talk about a hell of a way to start things off, Conan!! Anyway, I watched this the night they performed it and it sounded very chaotic to me because I didn't know the song. However, they clearly rocked it out of course. Luckily I recorded it on my DVR and then I watched it like 4 or 5 times afterward to really appreciate it and allow it to ferment in my brain. It worked and I truly can't wait for their album to be released this fall.

Hope you enjoy it as well:

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

To Bing or Not To Bing, that is my Google Search

I saw today where Microsoft is really pushing a new ad campaign for their new search engine name in hopes that it will be the next verb for searching. As it stands now, when I need to find something, I just "Google it". That seems to be the words I hear from others as well. Google has literally become the word to use when you need to find something.



Microsoft wants to get people using their service and have renamed their Live.com search to Bing.com. I visited it today and do like how they've mashed up their various services. For example, they're using local.live.com maps as their interactive mapping surface. Not sure why they didn't stick with live.com? Perhaps live.com is too abstract for the general public. Where as bing.com just doesn't make sense at all and makes people respect it more. After all, that is what we, the people, look for in a url isn't it? Amazon, Ebay, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and so on... Before the internet, these words meant very little. Is Bing going to be the new everyday zany word for searching content on the internet? I'm gonna give it an honest try for a week and see if I like it.You should too.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ultra Runner Daizi

Lizzie and Jazzy had a track and field day at school a few weeks ago and they had a blast. They participated in various events including the long jump, a softball throw, a few other events, and various running events (my favorites). Lizzie ran a 100 meter race and a 50 meter race, and Jazzy ran a 75 meter race. We took video of all of them and they did great! They were so proud to get out there and run in races "Just like Daddy". It was so cute to see them give it their all out there and I was extremely proud of them and enjoyed it sooo much!

Poor little Daizi was too little to participate in the events and had to hang out with Jennifer and I the entire day. When all the events were over, she was begging me to let her down (on the verge of tears) so that she could get down and run. This is what happened:

video

I think it's safe to say that (if she has the slightest interest), she is destined to be an ultra runner. :)

Trained

I’m as trained as I’m going be for my first 50 miler in 3 weeks. Yesterday, I met Nick up at Mohican for 30+ miles of hardcore hills (my longest training run ever). We met at 7am with no cars in the parking lot but ours, and off we went. Be sure to read Nick’s story about his experiences with the Mohican hippie’s. :)

MoRun20090531 We started on the Red / Green loop very slow and kept a nice steady pace up the hills. I’ve done part of the Red loop before and part of the Green loop before, but have never ran either loop the full distance. The Red loop is 8 miles and the Green loop is 13 miles. I’d heard rumors that the Green loop is the meanest of all the trails at Mohican. I was destined to find out just what that meant today.

What started off to be a very chilly morning, turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous day; perfect for running in the woods. I’d told Jennifer that I was going to be running most all day today, so there was no hurry to get back home like I usually do. The Red loop was pretty easy for the most part. My legs were still pretty fresh and my water and fuel intake was going well. By around 9:30 we had hit Rock Point and we started on the Green loop. Immediately I was loving it because this was all going to be “new trails” for me, and I love that!

I really enjoyed these loops. There were a total of (I think) 3 river crossings and the river was cooold each time we crossed. At one point, I had water up past the knee caps and it felt good to give the calves a nice ice soaking as I made my way across. I also got to see how big that darn hill is on the Green loop and… man! It was a big one. Apparently the 100 mile runners will have to make that climb twice; ouch.

Around 12:30, we got back to the covered bridge. 21 miles were in the bag and we just had another 10 or so to go before calling it a day. Both Nick and I had empty stomachs and were drained of energy. Therefore, we hoped in the Jeep and headed up to McDonalds for some gorging. On our way back, Nick drove me through the road sections of the 50 mile course and I couldn’t believe how much road we’ll be running on; ~20 miles. It helped to see the road sections, because I decided to bring my old Cascadia 3’s for the road sections since they are on some pretty rocky roads. I’m going to set a drop bag at the first aid station inside the forest and switch to my ASICS trail shoes. I’m going to set another drop bag at the aid station outside of the forest for my 10 mile road trek back to the finish line with fresh socks.

After we got back from McDonalds, we headed up the Orange loop (one of my favorites). Instead of doing the full 15, we did a 10 mile version of it to get in 31 miles. I finished the day around 4:30 and headed home for some yummy burgers on the grill that Jennifer had cooked. My legs were pretty sore the rest of the evening, which means that the run was a great training run. I gorged at the dinner table, chugged two huge glasses of rich chocolaty milk and then chilled on the recliner the rest of the night with Daizi while Jen ran to town for the evening.