Saturday, November 9, 2013

Splitting Blogs

So the primary purpose of this blog was tech reviews about alternatives for cable.  I have obviously migrated to "this is the blog of my life".  Things have changed, and I created a new blog for all my favorite life events I want to share with the world.  You can find that new blog here:

I will still write in this blog but I'm going to try to keep it down to just tech stuff.

Until the next time.

Monday, September 30, 2013

100 Day Burpee Challenge, Garden 1/2 Marathon, etc...

100 Day Burpee Challenge

So today marks day 8 of 100 in the burpee challenge, and I'm beginning to see why its a challenge.  For those who don't know, a burpee is an exercise where you start standing with arms at your side, go down do a pushup, then stand back up and jump as high as you can.  The 100 day burpee challenge is where you have 100 days of doing burpees.  On day 1, you do 1, on day 2, 2 and so on all the way to day 100 where you do 100.  We started this challenge with exactly 100 days left in the year, so we finish on new years eve.  I'm quite excited about it.  The best part is, if you want to join its not too late, you just have to do all the burpees that you missed to catch up, if you start today you just have to do 36 :) .  If you want to join drop me a note and I'll add you to the bookface group...

Here is a video on how to do a burpee:

Garden 1/2 Marathon

I went and picked up my race packet on Friday afternoon with full excitement.  I asked the lady distributing bibs how many runners there were, she said about 400.  I got kind of nervous at this point because this was by far the smallest run I've ever been a part of.  After a quick chat with L I realized there was nothing to be worried about.  She explained smaller runs are great as they are more casual and you don't have to worry about traffic (people, not cars) as much.  I agreed with this theory, and the nerves subsided.

The weather was set to be a little cool at the start, but I was really looking forward to this run.  I had my normal race day breakfast, peanut butter toast with banana on top.  I got to the course a little early, and had the honor of watching the sun rise over the Lake Monona.  What.a.view!  Sadly I left my phone in my car, so sorry, but just imagine a really pretty sun rise over a lake with trees and stuff :)

The race was set to start at 7am, so we thought.  People started to gather around the start line at 7, then the lady said, the race will start in 15 minutes.  Some people were grumpy about that, complaining about the cold, risk of injury, blah blah blah.  The organizers were rushing to get everything set (the timer didn't get setup until about 5 minutes before the start), but they were doing there best and it all worked out in the end, kind of.

Before we knew it the start had begun.  I started off WAY to fast, again :\.  I told myself, just take it easy, let your body get use to the cold air. The first mile, 7:08 (PR), flew by.  I didn't even look at my split, the second mile went by quickly as well, 6:53 (PR).  That one caught my eye and I literally said, "oh boy, I need to slow down".  I then just kind of maintained for the next 10 miles at about a 7:15-7:30 pace.  Once I hit the last water station at mile marker 12 I looked at my watch and noticed it was only at mile 10.x...  I quickly looked for another runner to validate I'm not crazy.  I found a couple and they all had the same thing.  When I crossed the finish line and handed my 1/2 marathon medal I checked my watch, it read 11.7.  I felt kind of jipped.  I saw a couple other people continuing to run to finish it out for there watches (and because they are crazy, like me :) ), but I had already hit finish on my watch.  I decided to just run another 1.4 miles to finish it out on a separate run.  Thankfully Endomondo has a "merge" feature.  The bummer is after being stationary while I made this decision my muscles had time to realize the pain they were in.  So my first 11.7 miles was at a 7:22 average pace, my last 1.4 was at about a 8:30, still not bad, but I feel like I could have been faster if I just stayed on it, or if the course was actual distance :)  I ended up with a 1/2 marathon PR of 1 hour 38 minutes, a 2 minute improvement!

But distance/speed aside, what a view!  This run went all the way around lake Monona in the beautiful city of Madison Wisconsin.  It was actually quite peaceful.  After the group spread out over the first couple miles, I didn't really see any runners until the end.  Half of me was relaxed, the other half was freaked out and felt like I was off course.  Better course marking would have helped.

I'm giving the organizers a little slack since this was there first race.  They are going to have it again next year, hoping they will be a little better prepared.  Overall I give it a 7 out of 10.

By the way, cookie monster was there!

Sadly though, he didn't have any cookies...

Here is the official results:

My take away thoughts, this race gave me the exact motivation I was lacking the week before.  I am now looking forward to my next challenge, the Madison Marathon in November, and maybe the Haunted Hustle, maybe...

Life and Stuff

So a couple life updates.  I had my family here for my big 3 0 birthday.  It was really great having them here.  I got to show them all my favorite spots of Madison, they all said they had a great time, so did I.  I think the biggest difference I noticed in being 30 is I'm in a new race bracket, other than that, SSDD.

I got a new kitty, her name is Mia Mittens (with a British accent and everything).  I got her so that my other kitty would have someone to play with while I'm at work.  I read Think Like Cat because I already had it from my previous cat, who had some bad habits.  I recommend this book to any cat owner with a misbehaving cat, or if you are into learning more about cats.

Using the plan in the book, here they are together cuddling w/in a couple weeks!  If you know anything about my big cat, you will know that this is amazing.

I think that is all for now.

Until next time, burpee UP and run on!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Madison Mini-Marathon Race Recap

I first have to say, what a well organized event!  Thank you to all the volunteers, police, medics, pacers, and fireman that came out to support this event.  The race started at 7:00am, holy hell it was early.
I got there super early for me (6:00am) because I heard that parking can be a pain in the butt downtown for this race.  I got right in my first pick parking spot with ease, but I think if I would have waited much longer it would have been a problem.  I did my normal warm-up routine, Kashi cereal at 5 (2 hours before), 1/2 Clif Mojo "Sweet & Salty Trail Mix Bar at 6 (1 hour before).  Then a couple Stinger gummies at the start line.  I think that prep fuel helped, but I might cut out the Kashi next time, or replace it with something a bit lighter.  I had a minor stomach cramp at mile 2.5.

The race started off by the union, I started in corral E.

Everyone was in high spirits, and the weather was absolutely perfect.  At the start it was about 64 degrees.  By chance alone I ran into my friend Glen from the Tuesday night Endurance House run group.  It was really cool, him and his family came out to support us!

The start happened really quick, but it was fun.  Like sheep we were herd into corrals, ready for the start. The first mile I tried so hard to not run fast, tried :-)  I really wanted to do a 9 minute first mile, ended up doing an 8. I looked for my friends Patrick and Cassi in the crowd but there were so many people, I missed them. I continued on, trying to catch-up to the 1:40 pacer.  The race continued to the farmers market on the capital square, then a straight shot down State St.  From there we went by the Kohl Center, and continued down by my work (yes I waved at the building).   After that we ran through the zoo park area, then through the arboretum.  During this point I saw my favorite signs.  1) "You paid for this", 2) "You got the runs", and 3) "There is cookies at the end".  The arboretum was also really beautiful, I wish I had a picture. The crowds were quite amazing, talk about positive energy! We continued on toward the water. To get to said water we ran 1 mile through parking lots with no shade, there was a heavy metal band though. When we hit the water I was so warm! We had to take a right to continue on but straight forward was a dock into the water.  I seriously thought about it for about 30 seconds, buuuut I didn't. Finally we shot up the trail along the water to the finish line right in front of the union.  The crowd was there, screaming cheers of joy, it was awesome!

My chip time was a 1:40:40.  That was an average pace of 7:42, way faster than anticipated.

We were greeted by awesome volunteers with metals, bananas, cookies (the sign was not a lie), water, cheesy popcorn (which I'm eating as I blog), and other treats. YUM!  I started walking down the finish area to meet up with people.  I was really excited my good friend Amelia came out to support me.  It really shows a lot that we can still be supportive of each other :)  I also met up with Kris and Glen from Endurance House Tuesday night run (you should come check it out some time).  Kris also ran it.  It was really great to have friends there, thanks again for coming!  We sat and hung out, listened to music, and just chatted about how we did.
le band
The After Party at the Union Terrace
Final thoughts: I had a lot of fun, and I would totally do this race again in a heartbeat. Very well organized with a great view of the city including: farmers market, state st, arboretum, the lake trail, and an after party at the union. No wonder why it was ranked the #14th best 1/2 marathon in the country (out of thousands). My shoes were also really great, I love Newtons.

Oh, and one more thing (totally took that from Steve Jobs), I got some PRs during this...

  1. Longest distance ever: 13.1 miles
  2. Fastest Half-Marathon : 1:40:40
  3. Fastest 10K : 46:31
  4. Fastest 5K : 23:07

Today was a good day!

Monday, May 27, 2013

My First 10K and Adapting to Newtons

I broke through my race wall this past weekend by finishing my first 10K race.  Fun fact, the best part about running a new distance is its a guaranteed PR.  The first couple miles were great, but I was running way too fast (7 min/mi pace instead of 8:30).  I hit the 5K mark at 24:03, which is a 5K PR for me, which got me all worried.  The hamster started running and I started doubting myself.  By mile 4 I started to slow.  This continued through the next mile when all of a sudden a voice said, "hey, how's it going?"  I looked to my left and saw a fellow running along side.  He just started talking about how he is running the 1/2 marathon tomorrow, and this is more of just a warm-up for him.  He was "taking it easy".   I kind of chuckled at that since I thought I was going to die at the moment.  He encouraged me through the next mile and a half to the finish.  What an awesome person, just what I needed to clear my head.  I told him thanks and started sprinting for the last .2 miles.  As I was running down the final stretch they called out my name, which was very exciting for me because every run before this I never heard it called.  I crossed the finish line and got my finishers metal.  

What a great feeling of accomplishment.  I looked back and saw my 5.5 mile coach finish and we walked the cool down together.  They provided water and pizza at the finish so we sat down, stretched, and just chatted for a bit.  It was a really cool run through the campus of UW-Madison.  The worst part for me was Observatory drive where it is a wicked hill climb of 89 feet in .25 miles.  However it was also the best part because as you rise over the crest of the 1/2 way point you get an amazing view of Lake Mendota.  So that was my race, I'm looking for the next one to come about.  I think I am going to sign up for the Madison Mini Marathon (a 1/2 marathon) that is in August.  It might be super hot but I wanna do it, its a perfect setup as its 12 weeks out.  That is a normal allotted time to train for said event.  Anyone else have any running plans this year?

I went to pickup my race packet at the Monona Terrace, little did I know there was a running expo going on.  I browsed around a bit, and noticed Endurance House (my favorite triathlon/running store) had a big tent setup.  I noted they had 35% off there shoes (which were all last year models).  I tried on a couple of pairs, but what really stuck out were these Newton mv2s.  
They are a mid-strike shoe and they felt really weird.  They feel like you have a pivot point on the ball of your foot.  At first I was hesitant, but the guy said if you want to go the minimal route this would be a good shoe to get started with.  I have heard that minimalist type running is better on your knees, which has been a problem for me in the past.  I thought, "heck, they give you a 30 day back no questions so why not? Especially with this great deal ($85 instead of $140)."  I took them out for a 2 mile casual run today and they felt great!  It kind of makes me feel like I am running like a velociraptor.  In case you don't know what I mean by that:
I ran a bit faster and there is more spring in my step.  I am planning an changing over completely to these shoes but not just yet.  I did some research and you are actually not supposed to just switch, but more use both shoes until your muscles can adjust.  Here is Newton's transition video:


So that is where I'm at with running.

On a last note, I found this quote and wanted to share:

    "Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life." - Omar Khayyam

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Netflix vs. Hulu; Fight!

Netflix is a 2 part business.  The first part is a DVD by mail system that many people use instead of going to Blockbuster.  The cost is around $8 per month for 1 DVD at a time.  This is becoming a smaller part of there business as the world moves to streaming media as a primary source of entertainment.  Which brings me to there second piece of business, online streaming.  For $8 per month you get unlimited streaming.  There library is vast with shows/movies you have never heard of.  They also have shows that are mainstream, but not the most recent season.  The best thing about Netflix Streaming is no commercials, I repeat, NO COMMERCIALS!  It makes sense, I mean, you pay for that via the $8 per month ;)  Don't get me wrong about there library, it has a TON of great shows/movies, but its flooded with stuff that is less than desirable to the masses.  I personally only have streaming, and I use it everyday to watch shows.  To me not having the latest season is okay since I'm so behind in every show. #TooManyGoodShows

Netflix is also really good about being on every device you have.  From your PC, to your Mac, to your Smart TV, to your smart phone, they have all bases covered.

Hulu kind of went in a different direction.  Its free, they only provide a streaming service, they have commercials, and you can only stream on your computer.  What they lack in service, they make up for the latest content.  A lot of shows are available the next day after they are on the air.  Hulu is good for people that want to keep up to date on shows that like to watch on there computer, and they don't mind commercials.  HuluPlus is another story.  Its a $8 per month service that gives you more content and less commercials, but still has commercials.  It also allows you to watch on all your devices.  I also feel that Hulu is lacking when it comes to movies.

My Conclusion

Netflix > Hulu for me.  I am so far behind in shows that I'm okay with not having the latest season.  Its a trade off; commercials and latest seasons vs. no commercials and one season behind.  To me having no commercials saves me time, so I can watch 3 episodes of Lost on Netflix in the time it would take to watch 2 on Hulu.  The great thing about both of them is you can unsubscribe at anytime.  So if you were a new streaming goer (yes, that is a word) I would suggest Netflix to catch up on all the shows/movies, then switch to Hulu if you get bored with Netflix.  I watch so many shows, by the time I get done with them all a new season is available.

Some may ask, why haven't you talked about or HBOgo?  Well, you have to have cable plus a subscription to showtime or HBO to get said services.  If you want to go that route then it will cost you, a lot (see Ground Zero for details on that).