Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dog camp

We dropped Jasper off at the Shady Groove dog kennel. He loves it there. They have an interesting little marketing differentiator. Every morning you get an e-mail, supposedly from your dog, with a picture. It's fun to see that he's having a good time. Of course now he is going to want his own pool.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Running in Michigan

I am up in Michigan this weekend, visiting with Julie's family. Lots of stories and pictures once I get home and can get things off my camera and phone.

Meanwhile, I found a 10k run right here in Royak Oak. Looking for any excuse to push myself in a race, I signed up. I lucked up and had gorgeous, cool weather. Three weeks ago I ran a 10k in Raleigh. I did 8:28 miles, so I figured I would shoot for 8:10's this weekend. I did the first mile at 7:40 and thought, uh-oh, gonna die soon. Instead, I just kept cranking out 7:40s, finishing in 47:39. Julie and her mom even came out to cheer me along. Much appreciated!

This is the best run I have had in quite a while, so I'm pretty stoked. If I can just keep on knocking off 50 seconds per mile every three weeks, I will be a world class runner by August. Ok, so it doesn't really work that way.

Actually my objective is to get me left heel to heal. It's been painful lately. Must stay healthy! Ice and Ibuprofen are my friends.

UPDATE: Now I have been able to go through the results. I came in 186th out of 814 finishers. I was the first finisher from the state of Utah (only 1), first of people with a last name of Joyce (only 1), and would have also been first from NC (actually zero, because I entered from Utah). If there was an age group for men, age 47, I would have been 5th.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Visiting mom

My mom lives in Crownsville Maryland, which is just outside of Annapolis. I was up there this past week, just hanging out. Here's mom as we just finished a walk around the neighborhood.

Her neighborhood is an interesting place. It is in an area called Herald Harbor, just off the Severn River. Most of the houses used to be tiny summer cottages, but over the years the close proximity to Annapolis, Washington and Baltimore, combined with the deep water docks and waterfront views have made it a compelling place to live. The houses are an almost bizarre mix. They range from little two-room tear down shack built decades ago to multi-million dollar palaces, and of course, everything in between. The funny thing is that they are sprinkled in throughout the neighborhood so looking at one house, there is no predicting what will be next door.

Here is mom's abode. A nice two bedroom house, fitting comfortably between the cottages and palaces. During my stay, mom had a fox come wandering through the back yard.

The waterfront views are wonderful. The Servern is a deep river, great for boating, with lots of little coves to dock and protect your boat.

The Blue Angels were in town to do a performance for the graduation ceremonies at the Naval Academy. They fly down the Severn River and do their turn arounds right near mom's neighborhood. We walked down to one of mom's friend's house at the point to watch the planes fly by. Her friend was out on the dock with her little doggie, a bull mastiff.

He was a giant, playful dog, as nice as he could be. Just the same, I worried about him knocking my mom or his 80 year old master off the dock. Here he is basking in the sun in front of my mom.

On the way back to NC, I stopped in Old Alexandria to have lunch with Jim Covaleski. This area of Virginia is prettier and most interesting than I remember. It has been decades. After walking down to the Potomac River, and then finding lunch, Jim walked me past this house. It is very well kept, freshly painted, and not that much wider than the door. I just can't imagine what they do for furniture. The insides must be like a submarine. Tiny little stairs. Bunk beds attached to the walls. It would certainly be interesting to get a tour.

Back in NC now and ready for whatever the Memorial Day weekend brings.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chasing the endorphins

Yesterday I accomplished one of my numerous running goals for the year: my first run over an hour. My traditional training has been to pick a pace and just keep grinding out longer and longer runs. This time I am trying to mix slower and longer runs with some fast interval training. I anticipate better conditioning this way, but who knows.

The important thing is the introduction of endorphins, which act like opiates. Running for 45 minutes sucks. It is long enough to get boring, but too short for the body to start releasing endorphins. For me, right around one hour I start getting the "runners high". It isn't really a buzz, just a visit to la-la land. From that point on, the fact that you are still bored just doesn't seem to matter as much. Mentally, the first hour is hardest. Of course physically, it's the other way around.

I feel like I have been lucky so far. I am running without any of my normal pains in my right knee and the accompanying tight calf. Instead I have found a tender left heal. I am convinced that part of the problem was the trail shoes I was running in, so I threw some money at the problem and got some of these stylish Saucony Omni 7's. Not a great fashion statement, but so far they seem to be helping.


Dining with the Covaleski's

Jim and Kathy Covaleski were nice enough to drive from the DC area into Annapolis to meet me for dinner. We just don't get to see them enough!

You can get crab cakes almost anywhere, but even at their best, they just don't compare to getting them in Annapolis. Delicious!

This week is graduation week for the Naval Academy midshipmen. They were wandering all over the streets of Annapolis attired in their dress whites. It's actually pretty impressive. This is a view looking from Eastport back towards the main docks in Annapolis and the academy.

As much as I love Raleigh and Park City, neither have the water. There is something both relaxing and beautiful about the water, the boats, the sunset, ... This wasn't even a colorful sunset and yet it is still quite the vision.

The end of The Freakness

I am up in Annapolis this week, visiting with my mom. The Preakness horse race was held this weekend at Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore. It was a great race. The first filly to win in 70+ years.

The more interesting story is the one in the local papers. The owner of the racetrack is out of money. They plan to auction off the track, which may result in the Preakness leaving Baltimore. So, if you are the owner in need of a lot of money, what do you do? How about finding a way to chase off 35,000 of your spectators?

The infield gathering at the Preakness is a HUGE party, often referred to as The Freakness. It seems to compare to the things I have heard about like the Kentucky Derby and the Indy 500. It gets pretty wild, so it is convenient that the families and respectable people are in the stands and the more energetic (drunken) people are off to themselves in the infield. When I went, I was in the infield. This year they decided not to let people bring any alcohol into the race. The result was a very calm, nearly empty infield. No drunken party. No topless women. No guys using the porta-potties as mountains to climb.

Also, no 35,000 people in the infield at $60 a person. I guess the owner sure showed them! Clever. My lesson: if you have a business plan where 35,000 people will come out to a party and pay you $60 per head and all you have to provide is a big field, some portajohns and a cleanup effort, take the $2.1M and be happy.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still want to ski?

Snowbird still has a mid-mountain base of 110". They will be open for another month if you want some late skiing. Me, not so much.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hubble's wonder

The nice astronauts are about to launch a fairly dangerous mission to go upgrade and repair the Hubble space telescope. The mission is dangerous because they aren't in a normal orbit and if anything goes wrong, can't get to the space station.

The Hubble has taken some of the most breathtaking photos of space imaginable. You should wander over to the Hubble web site and look through the photos. There is a section labeled Wallpaper if you want something more appealing for your desktop background than that Microsoft crap.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Park City is winning

The kids are back in school but Park City has 31 confirmed cases of H1N1 pig flu. Not bad for a town of 7,000. Over achievers!

The joys of running

I went out this morning to run in the Capital City Classic, a 10k race in downtown Raleigh. It is my first race of the spring and I had low expectations.

First, let's just get the whining out of the way. I've only been running a month since taking off the entire winter, but this race is a wonderful opportunity. The beginning of May in Raleigh is gorgeous. The normal low is 53 and the race started at 8:30. Oops. The forecast high for today is 90. At race time, is was 77 degrees, bright sunshine, and 130% humidity. OK, I am not sure about the humidity but it had to be at least 100%. I don't think I ever got what would officially be considered heat stroke, but it has to feel something like what I felt.

My goal was to run at 8:30 miles, and sure enough, Mr. Goal-oriented did 8:28's. Not bad, not great. The best part was just getting back into the racing mentality.

I find that when I go to running races, I always bring home two distinct types of motivation. The first is the excitement of a race. Hundreds or thousands of runners gather. The jitters before the run. The sprint to the finish. The cheering for the runners finishing behind you. It makes the training runs worth it. Then there is the other motivation. Looking around at the other runners and realizing that you are still 20 pounds over a good running weight. Seeing them drop their chin to their knee to stretch. (I can touch my knee, but using my hand.) Running along, finally getting loosened up, only to realize that the winners are already finishing. Seeing a 65 year old who finished, got a drink, stopped by his car, and is cheering for you as you finish.

The good news is that both motivations work. Now I just need to keep piling up some base mileage so I can run all summer without injury. So far, so good.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Running with an iPhone

I have found a pretty cool combination of technology for running. When I do my long runs, often down a highway, I would like three things:
  • A phone, in case something goes wrong
  • Something to keep track of where I go and how fast I run (or slow)
  • Some tunes to break up the boredom
The answer is my iPhone 3G. The phone part is obvious, it's a phone. The tunes are simple because an iPhone has all the functions of an iPod and I have about 100 albums on my phone. The third is an application called Runkeeper Pro.

Runkeeper uses the iPhone's GPS to track your path, distance and speed. While it isn't perfectly accurate, both the iPhone's operating system and this application have improved over time. As I run along, listening to my music, a little voice chimes in "1.0 miles". If I touch the phone, I get "8 minutes and 25 seconds". When I get done with the run, it automatically uploads it to the Runkeeper web site. I can check out the map of where I ran, splits along the way, elevation changes, and more. It keeps a history of my runs. It is smart enough to know that bike riders like mph while runners like minutes per mile.

This thing is slick!

Here is my run (ok, jog) from this morning. I ran 5 and walked 2. Double-click to see it closer to real size.

If you are a runner or biker with an iPhone, I can highly recommend buying Runkeeper Pro. It is good now and they are making rapid improvements.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Golfing in Pinehurst

For the third year in a row, I joined a group of Mark Reid's friends and cohorts for three days of golfing down at Pinehurst. With lots of thunderstorms in the forecast, we only ended up with about five minutes of rain.

Fantastic! I am golfing better! Day one, I finish in 4th out of 14. On day two I tie for second and win some money. Awesome! Going into the final day I am in 3rd place overall. Oops. Never mind. I still suck at golf. I play as bad as I ever do and plunge out of the money and down towards the bottom of the list. Why do I bother?

Here we have the only foursome I captured. Billy, Chris (from Minneapolis), Mark and Jody.

Mark is ready to start on day 3 at Pine Wild. The course wound through a very pretty neighborhood, but you can almost see the humidity in the air.

Oh come on, it's just not that important! Too much information is a bad thing.

My swing on day 2 at Little River. At this point I was still golfing fairly well. However, you won't see this swing on the tour. I'm just happy when I hit the ball and don't hurt myself.

This is a great group of guys. Everyone is easy going, enjoys golfing, drinking, eating, gambling, ... Now if I can just learn to golf three days in a row.

Park City gets the swine flu

We are in Raleigh, so it isn't impacting us directly, but Park City has a confirmed case of the swine flu (H1N1 for you pig lovers). There are five more probables. Since it started with a high school kid who came back from Mexico, they decided to close down the high school until at least May 11th. They've canceled the prom and are having to pull out of some sporting competitions. Bad news for the boys soccer team who is (or was) about to win the state championship again.

Let's make sure this all gets cleared up quickly!

UPDATE: One day later, four more probables.