Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hi, I'm a Mac

Jennifer and I broke down and got ourselves some MacBooks. She got a standard MacBook for her photo taking, Facebooking, eBaying, and CraigsListing. We got all the photo's moved over to her machine, since she's the one that manages the pictures. They sync up to our Time Capsule so we have a pretty solid backup solution now. She switched from Picasa to iPhoto and she seems to like it. Other than that, she mainly uses Safari for everything else...

I on the other hand got a MacBook Pro, and it acts as my new development machine. Already, I'm loving it. It took a while to get used to the new keyboard setup, but I'm getting better each day. As a programmer, I rely very heavily on key combination's, and the Mac keyboard is quite a bit different from what I'm used to (to say the least). I installed Windows 7 on a second partition through BootCamp. I then purchased a license for Parallels 5.0, and run my BootCamp partition through a virtual machine. My Windows 7 setup has everything needed to be a full blown development machine. I have SQL Server 2008 with Analysis Services, Visual Studio 2008, Office 2007, SubVersion, Total Commander, Daemon Tools, Paint.NET, Reflector, ReSharper, etc...

Aside from my Windows VM, I also installed Ubuntu on a separate VM so that I can play around with MySQL and learn the basics of Linux. My goal is to use it as a database server while I play with with Ruby on Rails. I'm using SSH for the first time in my life, and it's quite the learning curve for me. I'm forcing myself to to keep my console on my Mac open. I'm also forcing myself to NOT install TextMate and learn VI. I think it's safe to say that I've been spoiled with Visual Studio's IDE for waaaaaay too long. :)

Also, I purchased a family pack license of the iWorks suite and I'm really liking it so far. Numbers has some pretty cool functionality in it. I especially like how you can add multiple tables on a blank canvas and size them independently. The summary feature is slick too; it allows me to highlight a range of cells, and drag / drop one of the summary values into a new cell to build a separate table of summaries however I see fit. The presentation options are much better than Excel in my opinion, and it's much easier to get a spreadsheet into a "report mode" using Numbers than Excel as well... again, in my opinion.

Of course, the girls really like the Photo Booth app. Of all the things this Mac can do, they ONLY want to play with Photo Booth. Both Jennifer's and My MacBook are polluted with pictures of little warped kid faces. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pilot Mountain Payback - Canceled

The Pilot Mountain Payback Marathon has been canceled due to trail conditions. In all honesty, I haven't been training that well lately, so it's kind of a relief for me. I was anxious to get out on the trails and push to the finish line. However I knew it was going to hurt real bad. I had no doubt I'd finish, but I did fear that I would be in dead-last place. Between the weather and my schedule, I've been in a deep deep funk. I was so far off of my training schedule, that I decided to just go to the race and get into a zen state until I crossed the finish line. I was prepared to let this race teach me a lesson. As it turned out, I got lucky this time.

The race has been rescheduled for April 10th, but I'm not going to be attending it. Instead, I'll be helping my buddy, Rob, prepare for his Mohican 50K race. This is going to be my first volunteering job at a race and I'm looking forward to it big time!

My new goal is to focus on barefoot running all spring and summer. My Vibram Five Fingers are on their way to my house as we speak, and I can't wait to get them. I actually tried my first barefoot run the other night on the treadmill and... let's just say I have a long way to go.

My training is officially back on schedule.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Barefoot Running

I think I'm going to give this a try very soon.

Let me first state that I don't get foot or leg pains when I run. I'm just slow, and a bit overweight. However, I'm always open to improve my running form, as I've been running for +3 years now and it seems as though I've gotten slower over the years. Last time I ran, I tried using the Chi Running technique of "falling forward". Basically this allowed me to shorten my gait and I focused on a slight forward lean the entire run. I was amazed at how much faster I could run with less effort. Instantly, I knew that I'd been running wrong for too long and needed to open my eyes to different techniques if I was going to run my sub-4 hour marathon this year.

Tonight, I got an email from an old buddy who linked me to a study on barefoot running. I read the study and it has opened my eyes. I've heard a lot about barefoot running, and actually suggested barefoot running it to him a few months back. He stated he was having very bad shin splints, and a few of my running buddies have resorted to barefoot running as a way to avoid various running injuries and get back in touch with their caveman roots. I had no experience with it myself, and I was merely suggesting it to him in passing. To my surprise, he took my (untested) advise and has become a very big advocate of barefoot running. It seems to have fixed his shin splints.

Here is a nice video that shows some of the benefits of barefoot running:

So if you see me out running with no shoes this spring, you'll know why. :)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Running in 2010

Well, I'm still running. I'm just not running as much these last few weeks; though, again, I am running. I did a long 16 miler 2 weeks ago, down to Dillon State Park and back. I pretty much took a whole week off that next week. This last week, me and a buddy ran 10 miles at Dillon State Park, and this weekend I'm scheduled for a 15 miler somewhere... Probably at Dillon again since it's so close. Unfortunately, I don't have any record of these events since my SportTracks data went with the Toshiba, and my BuckeyeOutdoors updates went with my SportTracks data. I hope to have this issue fixed sometime this week so that I can pummel my twitter followers with my workouts when I upload them all. :)

My last two weeks have really been hit and miss. My work schedule picked up a lot recently as we're approaching a hard deadline, and it got me into a horrible sleeping / working / family schedule. Needless-to-say, my running schedule got shot in that mix. I didn't feel like running in the dark in single digit temperatures for no good reason. It has taken me a few days, but I'm trying to get back to the first shift schedule so I can get back to some normal activities rather than just coding all the time. Oddly, I still feel like the night time is my best time to zone out on work, so it's still a struggle.

This year is kind of a bummer year for some of my favorite ultra races too. As some of you know, Mohican State Park is one of my favorite place to run. I was really looking forward to the Mohican 100 this year, because the 50 miler beat me bad last year. They are redoing the course for this years race and I wanted to be a part of the "new course". As it turns out, we'll be taking a (long overdue) vacation to Maine that very week! I'll take that trade off anyday! However, it was pretty heart wrenching when I found out that I'd be missing my chance to beat the 50 miler. I do plan to come back to next year's run with a vengeance.

Also, my buddy, Rob, just announced that his Mohican 50k race has sold out. Way to go, Rob! More money for that killer softball team! :) This means that I won't be attending that one either. So far I only have one race scheduled for this year, and it's in 3 weeks: Pilot Mountain Payback Trail Marathon. I'm considering keeping it a low key year and only run at my own leisure til I decide to attempt my 4 hour marathon (which I will do).

Perhaps a Mohican fun run is in my near future... Rob? Nick? Kim? Mark? Anybody?

It Ain't Personal

Facebook is a great application, really. However, it has it's side effects here and there. I get friend requests from random people from time to time. If I don't know the person, I'm not at all ashamed of clicking the "Ignore" button. Sometimes it's a legitimate person that I actually knew as a child though, but have forgotten over the years. In such a case, I'll send them a message asking them to remind me how I know them. For example, there is one name that keeps coming up as a friend request, and I keep clicking "Ignore". Each time I click Ignore, it comes back a day or two later. I know the name, but can't quite remember how I know the name. I finally sent a response back and asked them to help me remember. Perhaps it would be easier to just include this information on the 2nd or 3rd or 4th attempt to become my "Friend" on Facebook...(?) Kind of awkward IMO.

Anyway, a funny thing happened at dinner tonight with my family. It all started a few months back. This one lady, who was about 5 - 10 years older than me, kept sending me friend requests. I kept ignoring them. I had no idea who she was. I recognized a few of the people that we had in common, but I didn't even really know them that well either. Anyway, I ignored her requests about 6 or 7 times, before I finally blocked her from sending anymore requests to me. She was starting to weird me out. She had more than 500 "friends" on Facebook, so I couldn't understand why it was so important for me to accept her invitation...

Fast forward to this evening when Jennifer and I took the girls out to the Texas Roadhouse. We were sitting at the table having a good time and this exact lady walk right by our table. Amazingly she didn't even know who I was. Hmm, perhaps it's because I didn't know her!

Luxury for a Princess

Sorry Mother Nature, but we bought an SUV this weekend.

Jennifer and I paid off our Honda Odyssey last year. Rather than putting a little more money into it and driving the wheels off of it, we decided to just get a whole new vehicle all together and start from scratch.

We retired the minivan because we really needed something that was made to pull a popup camper. We've used our Odyssey to pull our camper all over (Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan, South Carolina, Ohio, :P, etc..). The bottom line is that they just weren't made to do this, and it was only a matter of time before our transmission blew up on us.

We test drove a couple of fun vehicles, including a Chevy Avalanche, a Ford F150, and looked at some other vehicles, but settled on a 2003 Ford Expedition. Jennifer found it on the internet and just had to have it:

It's an Eddie Bauer Edition, which means it has heated leather seats, a moon roof, 3rd row seating, a 6 disk CD changer, heated leather seats, a tow package, running boards, a utility rack, and heated leather seats. The kids like it because it has rear controls for the radio and air. Best yet, almost everything can be managed from the collage of buttons on the steering wheel (volume, radio stations, cabin temperature, fan speed, etc..). I'm sure a lot of this is standard with most of todays model vehicles, but it's the nicest thing we've ever owned.

Next stop: Maine!