This is my life. Sometimes shown through the eye of my camera phone, and sometimes not. I'll talk running, gadgets, music, and whatever else I stumble on to

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pushing the envelope

Mile splits 2-8-09
Mile splits for the Feb. 8 Melbourne, FL half-marathon

I was going through the stats of my last two longest runs, including the stats from the Feb. 8th half-marathon and found something interesting...

Mile splits 2-14-09
Mile splits for Feb. 14 seven mile long run

One of my running goals going into 2009 was to push my pace a little more than I'm used to. Since I started running in mid-2007, I've been pretty conservative about my pace during training runs. A lot of this had to do with a fear of getting injured, and not really knowing what my limits were coming off of such a long layoff (25 years to be exact).

If there's one thing my run in the 2008 Chicago marathon taught me is that my body is quite capable of handling almost anything. The pain I fought through to finish that race made me realize that if I push myself a little harder, my body will know what to do.

While training for the Melbourne half-marathon, one goal was to make it a point to record negative-splits in my long runs. Basically, negative-splits are when you run the 2nd half of your route faster than the first. This saves energy for when you need it most- near the end. In looking at the two charts, I've been doing just that. It paid off at Melbourne by posting a personal best in the half-marathon. The nice thing is my body is handling it pretty well and I've been able to recover from those runs much faster than this time last year. I hope to keep it up- it can only make me stronger.

In other news... I can say with fair certainty that the rather serious left knee issue I experienced since early January has disappeared! My long runs of plus 7-miles have been pain free and I'm quite smitten about it. It's boosted my confidence enough to know that I can pretty much lick those sorts of injuries fairly quickly if I do things right- and at least know what caused it. In this case I think it was the heavy treadmill work I did after Christmas. I just hate that horrible thing.

Lastly, running this winter has been difficult at best. I've resorted to staying fit with smaller runs when I can during the week, and really concentrating on my long runs on the weekend. It seems to be working out just fine. This Saturday I have 16 miles on the schedule, and a 20 mile run the first weekend of March.

The St. Louis marathon is only seven weeks away (gulp). I have some catching up to do.

...and I really should blog more. Seriously.

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 16, 2009

Palm to arise from the ashes: Meet the Palm Pre!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Meet the Palm Pre.

This is Palm's answer to their old and frail Palm OS and line of Palm-based smart phones that have been overshadowed by the mighty iPhone. So far, at least according to all of the recent chatter, this new handset is poised to become the iPhone killer. We'll see.

I want one. Now.

Before it was even announced, I was making plans to get an iPhone once my contract was up with Sprint this May. Currently, I'm a happy owner of a Palm Centro, but I'm kinda bored with it and want something new as a true gadget geek does on occasion.

I'd consider myself a fairly heavy mobile user as the Centro has become a useful tool for my day to day adventures. Having a high speed data connection available in your hands wherever you go has gotten me out of trouble, and well, into trouble too :)

I knew Palm was planning something big, I mean, they seriously have to hit a home run here if they're going to survive in an iPhone world. So far, and with everything I've seen about this new phone, they've got a hit on their hands.

There isn't much I can say about the phone that hasn't been said already. Here are a few expectations with my current Palm Centro in mind:

- Laptop tethering:
The convenience of plugging my Centro via a USB cable into my laptop for instant data access anywhere is critical.

- GPS: I currently use a 3rd party GPS app on my Centro. To have this built in would be a plus.

- Google Maps with My Location: My most used app on the Centro.

- Document viewing/editing: Not super important but needed for email attachments.

- Hardware keyboard: The Pre already has this. I simply cannot get used to the on-screen keyboard of the iPhone/iTouch.

- One handed navigation: I have to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel while using the phone :)

- "Cloud" based or wireless synchronization: USB sync is sooo yesterday.

- Messaging and chat across all platforms (TXT, Facebook, Google chat, AOL, etc.): I hardly ever talk on the phone nowadays.

- Decent camera: Good for those spontaneous photos. The Centro is good at this.

- Support for Palm-base applications: A big question mark on the Pre.

- Streaming Media support:
Knowing that Pandora is developing an app for the Pre makes me feel all mushy inside.

- Pleasant web browsing experience: The iPhone is great at this. The Centro and it's clunky Blazer browser? Not so much.

For those of you looking for all of the Palm Pre features known to date, Mobile Crunch has kindly summarized it for us here.

I've been a Palm user for many, many years going all the way back to the original Palm Pilot. I wasn't quite ready to give up on Palm, but the temptation to break my contract during the initial release of the beautiful iPhone was excruciating to say the least. I'm glad I held back, because the Pre looks to be everything I've been looking for in a mobile device and more.

Now... how about that release date Palm?

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Race report: Melbourne half-marathon 2-8-09


Date: 2-8-09
Where: Melbourne, FL
What: Melbourne & Beaches half-marathon
Time: 01:59:22 PR (old 02:01:54)
Place: 17 out of 31

Okay, so maaaybbee I had a PR goal set in the back of my mind should I go through the Melbourne half-marathon without major trouble. And just maybe, if all systems were go, I’d run the best race of my life yet. Don’t get me wrong, the achy left knee was a huge burden for me to bear leading up to this trip, and I was not expecting to finish. I’ll be honest about that.

Well, it happened. I came through the Melbourne & Beaches half-marathon with a personal best in the half of 01:59:22 (official) and in 17th place out of 31 in my age group. A sub-two hour half marathon was something I wanted badly, even before the Chicago Distance Classic half-marathon last August (my first major race). I missed that goal by two minutes in Chicago.

Action shot: Running over the first of two ginormous bridges on the course.

My strategy to ease into the first bridge on the first part of the Melbourne course worked. It’s hard to really describe how daunting these two bridges were once you come upon them. They are long, and steep. I slowed down to an 11:30 pace on the way up, coming down from a near 9:15 pace. I took little steps, and was slightly disheartened to be passed by so many people, but I made a mental note of each one, so I knew who to pass when I neared the bottom.

The downhill was just as slow. My training run in Milwaukee last weekend taught me a good lesson- the downhill slope on that run killed my knee. I knew that if I took it easy on the way down, I’d be okay. I was way, way nervous. I was nearing five miles here, and I’d never made it past nine with my bad knee.

Fortunately, the rest of the course was pancake flat. Once I reached the bottom of the first bridge, I brought my pace back up. My knee at this point felt a little stiff, but I wasn’t in pain at all. Once I reached the half way point, I started to reel in the people that passed me on the first bridge- one by one. I negative- split the second half with sub-nine minute miles. I was feeling great.

Once I neared the second bridge at mile eleven, I took a deep breath, and ran as fast as I could all the way up. I was only three miles from the finish, and if the knee went on me now, I’d have room to walk back. Fortunately, the knee held up. Thank god. I sprinted to the finish.

The beauty of an endurance event is not knowing what’s around the next corner. The mystery of the unexpected is part of why I love it so much. So many things can go wrong, that you must react to the situation at hand, or suffer the consequences. I was not expecting to PR, let alone finish the damn thing. But now that it’s happened, I’m on top of the world.

Thanks to all of you for your support. This one’s for you.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Melbourne, FL - The story so far


I'm into my 2nd day here in Melbourne, Florida (Saturday) to run my half-marathon, which is tomorrow. The flight in was smooth, and uneventful. The weather has been cool here, with temps in the upper 50's yesterday, and a little warmer today. The sun's been trying to peek out of the clouds all day today.


On my way to the hotel from the airport, I crossed over one of the inter-coastal bridges that make up the marathon and half-marathon route. I was shocked! The bridges are huge, and quite impressive. The rest of the course seems to be rather flat. The bridges are going to be the highlight of the run, I think. I'm hoping my knee holds up on them, but I've set aside some bio-freeze to deal with the pain, if it decides to show itself :)

Today I took a walk through Melbourne's historic district, and jumped into a couple of surf shops. Besides the runners, there aren't many people out and about. My guess is that's it's a little too cool, or maybe it's just February. The beach has been mostly empty. I'm not complaining about the weather- it's sooo nice to NOT be around snow and 20F degree temps for a change.

So the race is tomorrow (Sunday). I'm going to do the best I can. The scenery looks very nice throughout the route. This is the debut for this race here in Melbourne, but it appears to be nicely organized so far. I ran two miles on Friday down the street from my hotel, and my knee held up okay, but it's not 100% yet.

Check out photos from my trip on my Flickr here, or my usual chatter over at Twitter.


Happy running. See you all on the flipside of 13.1!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

It's race time!

This will be my last post before I leave for the Melbourne and Beaches half-marathon in Melbourne, FL this coming Sunday. I can't wait.

My left knee is still not 100%, but I had a great 9 mile run along a nice chunk of Milwaukee's lakefront last weekend. The 5 mile out-and-back I mapped out had a steep, sloping hill that was a welcome surprise, since Sunday's route contains two of them as we cross over the Eau Gallie and Melbourne Causeway bridges for the 13.1 mile loop.

The course map can be found here.

During my second trip up the hill, my knee started to hurt quite a bit as I made my way back down. I think part of my strategy for Sunday will be to walk the hills depending on how steep they are to take care of the knee. I'm no longer concerned with besting my 2:01 time in the half-marathon, but instead I'll be concentrating on having a good time. I think that's a good plan.

My flight leaves at 6 a.m. on Friday morning and I expect to arrive in Florida around noon. I'll have a nice dinner Friday night, pick up my race packet, and then Saturday I plan on relaxing at the beach and hitting the expo again before retiring early. The start on Sunday is 6:45 a.m. EST.

The temperatures are expected to reach a high of 75F on Sunday, but remain in the low 60's at start time, which is ideal. I'll be packing a sleeveless technical top, shorts, and a long sleeve that I can dump later to keep warm as I wait.

Be sure to watch my Twitter for all the juicy updates, of course, and I'm sure you'll see an update or two on here as well.

Oh... and I've registered for the Bank of American Chicago marathon again this year. I'm in for a little revenge on last year's effort. More on that later.

Wish me luck!

Labels: , ,