Monday, August 30, 2010

Red/Green Loop at Mohican

Yesterday was my longest long run of the season since my Forget The PR 50K. That race put me in a hospital boot for a week due to my poor approach to being a "minimalist" runner. Basically I had got my VFF's, decided I was going to run in them, and did. I didn't do any of the prep work that went into transitioning from a shoed runner to a barefoot runner; I just did it. Oops.

Anyway, I had trained all summer in my VFF's and it has really changed the way I run. I'm still slow, but I'm a more elegant slow now. I now land on my forefeet and watch my every step. I now lean forward with my ankles after Dan told me about some "Chi Running" book (which I still need to read). I really believe that I can run farther and less strenuous in my VFF's than I ever could in my shoes. Yesterday was my day to prove this point.

Dan (ma dood) was gonna run with me on this run. I had sent around an email earlier in the week to invite other runners, but nobody responded except for Dan. I decided to arrive at Mohican a little early so that I could drop water at Rock Point and and a few other areas. I got to the area around 7:15am and went looking for where I thought Rock Point might be. I drove around for about 20 minutes and then ran into Rob, Michelle, and Terry & Mark Lemke. I asked how to get to Rock Point and Rob told me that I was pretty much off course. He gave me directions and I started heading that way. About that time, Dan called me and said that he tried to get down to the Covered Bridge, but it was blocked off. I told him to meet me at Bridle Staging area, so I headed there to meet him. By this time it was around 8am. Dan and I drove to Rock Point to drop water, then to the Fire Tower and again where the Green loop crosses over RT97.

Old pic, but I didn't have a camera today

We got back to the Bridle Staging area around 8:20am and started our 21 mile journey through the woods. This was the first time I'd been on the "official" Red loop in a very long time. I think the last time I was on this was when I ran with Nick, Bret, and Luca sometime last spring. I forgot how cool this loop was. We did the river crossings and the water was pretty low on most all of them. The last water crossing was pretty deep and Dan tried to keep from getting his feet wet. It backfired and he actually got more wet than I did, but he spent more time doing it. :)

We arrived at Rock Point and chugged our water. Dan fixed his feet for a few minutes, then we began on the Green loop. The last time I ran the "official" green loop was at last years 50 miler. We ran into a few horseback riders and a few donkey riders as well. :) It got pretty sketchy after crossing RT97. We made our way up the hill after the road crossing and then trekked down some gravel roads to the "big hill". This is where I got a little turned around. I wasn't sure exactly which way to go, so we ventured down each of them only to realize that I STILL didin't know which way to go. We picked one and stuck with it and it turned out to be pretty close (if not exactly correct?), for we were able to make our way back to the FireTower after some long journeys along the gravel roads.

I must pause and mention that VFF's and large gravel rocks don't get along too well. My feet are pretty bruised today from walking on the gravel for so long. I'm sure Dan was a little frustrated as to how slow I had to move through here, but I (truly) couldn't go any faster. Each step hurt pretty bad. This is the one downfall to my VFF's and I may have to do some research to see if there is going to be many gravel roads at Oil Creek. If so, I may need to incorporate my Cascadia's on some of the sections...

After the FireTower, Dan and I were pretty spent. The heat was getting to us and we were drenched in sweat. Luckily the water that we dropped at the FireTower was still pretty cold so we took turns dumping it on each others head. It was so cold that it actually took my breath as it hit my neck. It definitely helped and I could feel my core cooling down after this. I'm sure the people that were playing football there thought we were quite the spectacle. :)

We journeyed from the FireTower down to the Covered Bridge and I had to hobble over more gravel through here. After the gravel sections, I was able to run, but it was a slow-go on each service road we came to. It kind of sucked actually. Regardless, we made it to the covered bridge and kept right on trucking up the road to the beginning of the Red loop. The Green loop was officially conquered and now we just had to tie up our loose ends on the Red loop. It was a 3-4 mile jog (uphill) to the Bridle staging area.

We journeyed up the hill and had to pause every now and then to allow the Mountain bikers to pass us. We did that about 7-8 times and then we were able to split off of the mountain bike trail and onto the horse trails. The horse trail was a bit more steep, but we weren't surprised by fast riding mountain bikers anymore; a welcomed change. We made our way to the section that follows RT97 back to the Bridle Staging area and I had gotten a 3rd (maybe 4th) wind. I picked it up a bit, even though the balls of my feet were pretty bruised from those damned rocks. We got back to the car with 20.37 miles. I think I did screw up the course somewhere before the FireTower, but I didn't care at this point. :) Our map can be found on my

Upon arriving at the cars, I toweled off my sweat, changed my clothes and then we sat in the shade to chug some Gatorade and gorge on some cold Pizza. Thank you, Dan!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Long Runs and Race Season

Up to now, I've been running great and keeping up with my schedule pretty good. However, I must admit that I've been pampering my long runs and cutting them short for the silliest reasons. Some weekends I get a late start and have to get back to the house for some weird reason. Other weekends I decide that I can cut a 15 miler into a 12 miler because I'm doing my P90X and feel it's a fair trade. Yesterday, I went out for a 10 miler, then told myself that I could do 15. I got back to the car at 10.5 miles and I was out of water. The plan was to go up to the gas station, buy some water then come back and do 4+ more miles. Well, that changed once I got into the car completely dehydrated and drove to the gas station. I decided to just come on home and call it a day.

Starting this week, it will all change. It is officially race season and I'm going to be pushing myself on every run until I cross the finish line at Oil Creek. This weekend, I'm heading up to Mohican State Park for a 22 miler. Next weekend, I'll probably do the same for my 25 miler. The Indian Run 60K is only 3 weeks away. This is one of my favorite races and I plan to leave nothing on the course this year. Last year, I wasn't able to run it because I was in France. This year, I'll make up for lost time and plan to finish strong.

I also just confirmed with my old college buddy, Farley, that I'll be running beside him in the Woodstock Hippie Half Marathon at Pinkney State Park, in Michigan. Pinkney was where I ran my first marathon 2 years ago.

If you see me on the streets running in my VFF's, you'll know why: It's go time!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Trail Running in Vibram FiveFinger KSO Treks

I've not ran in shoes in a very long time. I have fully transformed my running style this summer, thanks to my VFF's. I used to be a knee pounding running that sat back in my stride and let my legs pull me forward. In only 6 months, I've re-taught myself how to run more efficiently.

My stride is more foot and leg friendly now. I've taken tips from a few friends, I've read many blogs from other minimalist runners, and I've also learned a lot on my own through trial and error. I've learned that posture and leaning along with toe strikes and a slightly angled lean can make anybody run more efficient.

Here is my new stride, and I must say that it works:
  • Hands hanging in front of my pelvis
  • Elbows slightly bent, not raised to be parallel with ground
  • Chest up and shoulders back
  • Shoulders relaxed against my body
  • Knees bent slightly at all times (during landing and pushing off)
  • Pelvis tucked in, but not too exaggerated
  • Lean at the ankles, not my waist
The last tip was taught to me by my buddy, Dan. He told me about this technique from a book he read Chi Running. I've not read the book, but I've adapted Dan's explanation to me with great success.

It used to be that when I would get tired out on the trail, I used to tilt my entire upper torsoe forward and slump over in exhaustion. I would let my legs catch me as I fell forward with each step. This resulted in stomping and quad thrashing. It almost took more effort to keep myself upright with this stride.

I now keep my waist strait and tuck in my pelvis, then with my shoulders back and chest out, I tilt at my ankles. This works much better! I still fall forward, but in such a way that I can maintain my toe strike and allow my feet and knees to act as shocks while my center of gravity keeps me moving forward. I no longer rely on my legs to pull my slumped body forward. I let gravity pull me forward and I use my feet and legs to keep my from falling on my face. :) It really works and there is hardly any extra effort used with this new approach.

Injuries have not plagued me this summer with my new running style. The only "injury" related complaints that I have are from running on gravel in my KSO's. These shoes were not made for running on average-to-large sized gravel rocks. My feet get bruised and this is really the only thing slowing me down now. Therefore, if I decide to run a Gravel Marathon or something, I'll be sure to wear my shoes. Otherwise, I'm in my VFF's.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Configuring ASP.NET MVC on Window Server 2003 x64 with IIS6

I'm posting this because it could save somebody hours or days of searching. I wish I had written this before I ran into the problem... (?)

At work today, I was trying to install our ASP.NET MVC web application on a Windows Server 2003 box that was running a 64 bit version of IIS 6.0. I had set everything up just as I have for every other test server that we were using, but this particular machine was giving me big fits.

I would map everything up and no matter what I did, I would get 404 Page Not Found errors from IIS. I made sure that my aspnet_isapi.dll was mapped for a wildcard filter, but still nothing. I was able to get the site to work if I added a custom route inside my Global.asax file to use {controller}.aspx/{action}/{id}. However, I wanted an extension-less approach to our pages that didn't use the "aspx hack" (as I so call it).

After looking all over MSDN, on every ASP.NET MVC guru's blog, and scouring StackOverflow, I finally got the tip that I needed deep within a list of random comments from an old haacked blog entry:
As an additional tip, please make sure you pick the correct version of aspnet_isapi.dll when you are running a 64-bit version of Windows/IIS. Sounds obvious but trust me, it'll give you a major headache if you don't.

Erik Burger
At the time it didn't make sense to me because there's only one aspnet_isapi.dll... or so I thought. The user was very vague and provided no additional information as to what he meant. However, this comment got to thinking that perhaps there was another aspnet_isapi.dll specific to 64bit web sites. I went searching, and in less than a minute, I found that there was!

For 32bit websites use this in your wildcard mapping:
For 64bit websites use this one:
Once I did that, things started working… You're welcome.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Software Architect or Software Developer

Not sure which is better: designing complex systems on the whiteboard or coding and debugging the implementation on my computer?

I honestly think that I like the software architecture aspect of my job more than the actual coding. Nothing beats those glorious "AHA!" moments. Sometimes they take hours, sometimes days, and sometimes even weeks to figure out. I just had one hit me that has taken me almost 2 years to figure out!!? It's not like I was trying to figure it out for 2 years and couldn't, but more like I have been blind to it and didn't give it much attention. I'd been working around my own nasty design for 2 years and I finally sat down and figured it out tonight.

This system I'm building has been extended so much over the last 2 years, and I'd complicated a particular piece of our product so much that every change I was making was adding to the headache. We are constantly adding new functionality to our product, and it's usually done is such a manner that it needs to be done sooner than later. The core foundation of our solution has been refactored a few times in the last year or so and it is very solid. I have squeezed in a week or two here and there to ensure that it is able to scale as needed. However, as things got further from the core, they seemed to get more convoluted and I was breaking out into multiple branches of (very) similar logic. Tonight I was able to doodle up the entire system on my whiteboard with letters, circles, arrows, rectangles, reds, blacks, and blues. Then once I had it all visually mapped out, I did a few swipes and connecting of objects with my dry-erase markers and was figured out!

Who am I kidding though? Tomorrow, I get to sit down and apply the code to make it happen and that's pretty damn fun too. It's always nice to see your ideas go from a concept to an actual working system. Especially when that working system is a more efficiently designed working system.

I love my job.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

P90X Phase 2 Begins

Ok, so I made it through Phase 1 of P90X and I have noticed a huge difference in my overall energy levels. My shorts are fitting looser, my shirts feel looser, but best of all, I feel lighter on my feet. This is the whole reason I started P90X in the first place; to run the Oil Creek 100k trail run. I started the program at 220 lbs on July 5th!! I KNOW, AND I RUN REGULARLY!!? I'm what us distance runners call a "Clydesdale". :) Anyway, I'm now down to 205 lbs, and my running has benefited so much from loosing just 15 lbs.

The first week of P90X was sheer pain. After about 3 days into it, I didn't want to move, let alone do another workout. I only lost about 1-2 lbs after the first week, but I built a lot of new muscles. Believe it or not, I've actually been keeping up with my running schedule pretty well even while doing the P90X program. I think doing my running has actually what has helped me loose more weight than the P90X program. My upper body strength is 100% due to the program, but the weight loss and smaller mid-section is mostly due to the running I've been doing.

Some days I do my runs first, but I find it better to do the strenuous workouts, and THEN relax on a nice trail run. Sounds crazy I'm sure, but it works for me. The 2nd and 3rd weeks were hard, but not as hard as the first week. After the second week I'd dropped 8lbs (total) and after the 3rd week I was down 12lbs total. This last weekend, I weighed myself and I was down 15lbs!!

I actually did the 3rd week twice. We were in the middle of getting our house ready to sell, so on Thrusday, rather than killing myself with guilt to get in a run, a workout, clean the house and yard, write code, and also sleep, I decided to just take the 1+ hr 'workout' out of the plan. It worked out great because I was able to pick right back up where I left off after we had our open house. That next Monday was back on track so I guess you can say I got in 3 extra workouts. :)

Yesterday was my first day in Phase 2 and it SUCKED! I was weak, I was sore, and I was sweating like a fool. Today my muscles are very sore, but I feel strong. I am anxious to get into the 2nd and 3rd weeks of this Phase 2, for I know I'll be ready to keep up with the program once I get past these sore creaky muscles from week 1.

So between my P90X and my 25+ miles a week for the last month, I'm kicking butt and I'm really not that scared of the 100k race. I'm anxious, but I'm not scared like I was in June. :) By the time it gets here (October 16th or 66 days from now) I am hoping to be down to 185 lbs or so. This will mean that I'll be floating through the trails in my VFF's with 35 less pounds. I will earn this buckle: