Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ragnar memories and impressions

It's hard to figure out how to start a Ragnar race recap.  It is a race which has changed me in ways which I am still discovering, further cemented my love of running and the challenges which come with it, and comes with the hugely added bonus of a multitude of crazy, funny and amazing new friends.  I was so lucky to stumble into an amazing team of runners and their friends who had been planning and talking about this race since New Years and who happened to have a space open up on their team.  Yes, we are the RVA Pitbulls!
We're really an Ultra team, but the van decorator may have had a few drinks
 Before getting to the race, more about my team of misfits.  Hector, Kimberly, Brittany, Eric, Matt and Justin.

So happy to have only 4.5 miles left.
Hector - Mister enthusiastic.  I could say he's got the Latin zest for life, but that fails to capture Hector's enthusiasm and excitement.  He started the trek with wine and celebration, decorating our team van, sending out Facebook status updates about how jazzed he was for the race, texting during his runs to let us know of his latest kill (passing another runner on the course).  Hector takes life and sucks the marrow out of its bones and shares the love with everyone.  And even when things got difficult out on the course, he was still able to manage to get the rest of us cranked up for the next leg.

Kimberly at leg 30
She's still smiling after almost 26 miles.
Kimberly - Kimberly is hard to describe in a pithy phrase.  People who I talked to and mentioned that I was running with Kimberly described her as a "running fanatic" (she runs even when injured) and "sports bra girl" (I think she runs that way for comfort, but she's got abs that I envy, even if they might not look right on me).  But she is also kind, loves animals, is a vegetarian, and super supportive of her teammates.  Still tough to describe in one phrase.

Almost there.  The final leg still to go.
Brittany - Quiet speed demon.  Brittany was another last minute addition to the team.  The rest of the team knew her, but I didn't get to meet Brittany before the day we left.  She is friendly, happy, works as a lobbyist, so she's obviously good with people, and she can run like the wind without seeming to try.  She qualified for the Boston Marathon on her first try (I think it was her first), and she cruised up hills like no one's business.

Eric - Mister consistent.  Eric is a self-deprecating, funny guy who undersells himself.  He's a strong, consistent runner and powered over the early hilly/mountainous sections of the course with a steady pace.  What he lacks in speed, he makes up in sheer grit and doesn't seem to trust us when we tell him how amazing he did.

Matt - Mister competitive.  Matt is fast and relished each and every kill.  He ran people down, even passing them in the final few feet of their section.  He was a huge asset to the team and kept us going and on pace.

and Justin - Driver and booster extraordinaire.  Justin handled the difficult task of getting the team between relay points and keeping us laughing and our spirits high.  Consistently assuring us that we would be taking home the Ragnar Cup, he would keep track of our start times, expected arrival of the current runner, and managed to stay awake the whole 36 hours while driving.


The actual running of Ragnar was fun and exhausting.  Potentially the perfect combination of the two.  Each run, while challenging, was not insurmountable.  Without doing a complete play by play, my race sections were REALLY hard.  Or at least, hard on me with a lot of uphill climbs.. just look at the pictures of the elevation changes.

This was the elevation diagram for the entire course.

I was Runner #2 -

Leg #2 - 6.3 Miles

I started a little after 11 a.m. as Kimberly finished her 4.4 mile trail run around Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park.  My leg started with a 2 mile climb followed by 4.3 miles of steep descents.  I started out strong with my iPod and external speaker blaring "Who Let the Dogs Out!".  We are the RVA Pitbulls, after all!  Once the song was over, since I rarely run with music any more, I slipped the iPod back into the pouch on my running belt and cruised up the hill.  Two miles.. oh those first two miles.  I'm generally strong on uphill segments and pushed to keep my times manageable.  The team had planned on a 9 min/mile pace for me, and I didn't want to disappoint on my first leg.  The downhill section was fast.  So fast, in fact, that I worried about shin splints.  If you've never had them, you don't want them.  And if you've had them, you know why I was worried.  Trying to keep a manageable stress on the shins and knees while running just over a 7 min/mile downhill meant my quads were burning by the end.  The burning of my quads and my fear of shin splints were big factors in subsequent legs and this was just the first little hill of the course.  I say little, because Eric had the next leg which looked like this:

Notice the description of difficulty.
You've got to be kidding me!

I didn't know it at the time, but that's my next leg in the background.
Leg #8 - 6.8 Miles - What the Hill?

So, what we'd like you to do is run down that hill
and then over that mountain in the back.  Sound good?  Okay, go!

Fortunately after my first leg, I had a few hours of rest while the rest of the team rocked their segments.  But at approximately 4 p.m., I was back on deck.  This section is the second most difficult leg of the course (at least according to the race directors.)   This section started off with a steep plunge down into a little valley along the freeway and then began a steady moderate climb through 3 miles.  Then, the downhill segment continues for 3 1/2 miles.  This was the section where I was sure I was going to let my team down.  Try as I might, I couldn't continually run up the hill.  I knew that this was only my 2nd leg, and when I finished, I would have completed just over a third of my mileage for the whole course.  While I managed a respectable pace over the first 2 miles, the final climb dropped me to a 12 min/mile average.  To catch up to a 9 min/mile pace, I'd have to fly down the mountain, which is difficult to do on already burning quads and feeling the pounding of your feet on the pavement.  At various points I was hitting a sub-7 min/mile and hanging on to a 7:30 pace for a good section.  At the end of the leg, I arrived at the van to the sight of Hector warming up the spaghetti and meatball sauce he had prepared before the race.  Never before has food looked so good.  After passing the slap bracelet baton to Eric, we all piled into the van and headed to the next exchange to eat!

Leg # 14 - 4.5 Miles

Such a beautiful sight.
Only 4.5 miles and relatively flat.
The third leg, which came between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. at night was a relatively moderate and level run with a moderate hill at the end. By this time though, it was getting late, and the run was through the countryside with certain sections carrying a strong odor of skunk.  While running from the smell increased my speed, I was rapidly getting tired.  I pushed through the final leg up into town (the first "city" running of the entire trip for me) cursing the final little rise before the exchange point.  At that point, I was ready to get some shuteye before my next difficult leg.

Leg #20 - 6.9 Miles

At 3 a.m.?
Do I really want to do this?
The fourth leg was from 3 a.m. - 4 a.m. and involved a few miles of flat running followed by a 300 foot climb over a 1/2 mile, 1 1/2 miles of rolling hills, and a downhill plummet for 2 1/2 miles to finish.  At the exchange before we started, we had caught up to the Richmond Nutz 2 team which hard started at 7:30 that morning.  There I met Henry, originally from South Africa, who knew many of the same runners I did, and we chatted for much of the race.  Henry, however, was on his second leg, and I was on my fourth.  The legs were already feeling it.  When we got to the steep incline at mile 2 1/2, I walked.  Henry opted to join me.  But when we got to the top, Henry was met by his teammate Hugo, who ran with him part of the way.  While I was able to catch up on the downhill segment at the end, when the final flat section of the course came up, I could no longer feel my right leg and had to watch Henry slowly pull ahead.  Realizing that I hadn't eaten for a number of hours and had not eaten lunch, I realized that I was probably running out of energy, so I encouraged my team to eat up to ensure they didn't run out of reserves.  At this point, at last, I think I may have managed to get 45 minutes of sleep while Eric ran his next leg.

Around dawn of Saturday.  So pretty, and still miles and miles to go before we sleep.

Leg #26 - 2.8 Miles

While I don't think I will ever complain any more about a 3 mile run, I can't begin to describe how glad I was to see this leg of the race.  Not only did it mean I was almost finished, but it was so blessed short.  The fifth leg was a short morning jaunt of 2.8 miles, primarily downhill.  In fact, despite my exhaustion, I was so glad to have such a short leg that I flew down the hill.  Meanwhile, my team did a quick trip to Burger King to pick up some breakfast.  Of course, I only found that out when I arrived to find no Eric to pass the slap bracelet to.  Out came the phone, quick text to Hector, and a few minutes later, I got to hop back into the van.  But they didn't know what I wanted to eat, so no food for me (yet!).  I got some about 50 minutes later.  A foot long Subway sandwich which I polished off, along with a diet Coke and half a bag of chips.  Oh, but real food never tasted so divine!

Leg #32 - 6.9 Miles

Don't let that elevation map fool you.
That's a brutally steep climb at mile 5.
My final leg was 6.9 miles, the first 5 of which would normally be relatively easy, gentle downhill and flat trails followed by a half mile of an almost vertical climb followed by another 1 1/2 miles of steep rolling hills.  Instead, it started out as a bit of a nice run at a decent pace with a guy training for his first marathon (Philadelphia) who happened to see me moseying along and ran with me for a while.  At this point, I was already over marathon distance and every mile was a struggle.  Eventually, I needed to walk, the guy ran on his way and I worked at trying to pick off some slower runners and add to our team's kill tally.  The climb up from Chain Bridge was a brutal hike which I death-marched through followed by some punishing downhill stretches where I felt like my legs were going to shatter and stress fracture at a sedate 9 min/mile pace.  Eventually I turned the last corner after a final steep climb and collapsed wearily into the van!

Can you tell I'm happy to be done?

My legs were sore, the quads tender to the touch, and getting into and out of the van was difficult at the end. But we were so excited to see Hector finishing the last stretch.  We ran in together, arms held high, and collected our Ragnar medals with a beautiful orange ULTRA RUNNER ribbon attached.

This is what Ultra looks like!

 I have never been so glad to be done running for a while than I was at the end of that last leg.  A total of almost 35 miles.  Our team finished the entire 197 miles (with an additional 3 miles added due to being lost on portions of the course) in 31 hours and 16 minutes.  We took 2nd in our division and might have even taken first had we not added the additional miles.  We also had many more kills than you can see in the picture below.  Eventually, we were just too tired to stand and draw them on the side of the van.

 And to top everything off, my beautiful wife and daughters greeted me at the finish line and were also able to see me start my last leg of the race.

Not every runner can be married to such a hottie!

K2 trying to pretend she is Christopher Columbus.

Ragnar DC - Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC - pre-race buildup

It's hard to describe a Ragnar Relay.  The part that people latch onto first is the 200 miles of running.  For some, the astonished and disbelieving stare is about all you get out of them.  For others, the words "You're crazy!" leap from their mouths almost unnoticed.  And for the precious few... friends like mine.. "Sounds awesome!"

I sort of fell into Ragnar DC.  I had heard people talk of the Florida Keys relay, another Ragnar race.  Running from Miami to Key West.  And since I have not yet been to Key West, I had sort of mentally added it to my bucket list.  What better excuse to go to Key West, right?  So when someone posted on the Richmond Road Runners Club's Facebook group that there was a group that was still looking for a runner, I tossed my name in the ring.

Now a Ragnar Relay can be run either as a regular team or an "Ultra" team.  A regular team has 12 runners who rotate through the 36 legs of the race, with each runner having about 12 hours between runs and a total of 15-18 miles over the course of the race.  That sounds totally doable.  Almost easy, especially with being a coach for the Marathon Training Team.  We would be at a scheduled 16 mile run for that weekend, so having the total mileage split over 2 days wouldn't be bad at all.  An Ultra team, however, is limited to six people, which means double the mileage and half the rest time.

To cut to the chase, I ended up joining an Ultra team because the regular team had already filled their open slot.  The Ultra group had been planning for and talking about the race since New Years, and here I was, a last minute addition to the team, trying not to let everyone down.  They had also run with and had fun with each other for years, so I was an unknown element being added to the mix.

A full race recap is in the next post.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Richmond Marathon - Race Recap and the best finish line crossing ever!

The day dawned bright and clear. Beautiful blue sky. Up bright and early, ready to go. My oldest daughter was volunteering at the finish line, picking up my neighbor Jaideep for his first marathon, and a quick ride to downtown RVA to meet my MTT training buddies for pictures before heading to the corral.

Everything is running smoothly. Until... Jaideep forgot his Garmin. But we're almost downtown, and I've got to get #1 signed in for volunteering, and then the pictures, and then we've still got an hour before the start. Hmm.. what to do.. I don't want him to have a bad first marathon worrying about his pace and how he's doing.

Finish the drive to downtown. It's just 5 minutes. My sister-in-law drops me and #1 off.. We'll take care of what we need to do, she'll take Jaideep back for his Garmin. We work out a meeting place and how she can get him closest to the starting line, and the pictures aren't that important anyway. You can barely make anyone out, because there are so many people.

Jaideep at Mile 4.
Jaideep at Mile 16.  Still smiling!
#1 dropped off? Check! Meet my MTT buddies? Check! Pilot Phil and I had decided that we both wanted to shoot for a 4:00 marathon. Doable, right? Totally. Pacing set. We head up to the starting line. But we get separated. I call Jaideep. He's back and dropping off his bag at bag check. We huddle up ready to go. He'll run his own race. I'm faster, and he's had a few stumbles in the last few training runs. He'll do great, but no pressure to try to keep pace with me. But where's Phil? Gone. Ack! Time to go line up.

Inside the corral, I see Babz and Sean and Babz' husband. Oh, and there's big Tom. A bit of waving, a bit of hollering, and we're all assembled. Can't see Phil, but I've got a plan, and either I'll see him or I won't. The gun goes off, and we slowly head out over the starting line.

About 100 yards out of the gate, I see Phil. The back of his shirt is emblazoned with "Lemmings Unite! Follow me!" A brief burst of speed, and now my running planets are aligned. We laugh, we joke. We try to break the facade of serious running plastered across the faces of everyone near us. We're right on track. Maybe a little slow. But we know that we need 9's for 26.2 miles. No need to rush. At the beginning of Mile 3, we're about 40 seconds off pace. Phil starts to get antsy. We begin to push our speed up. Then Phil, the king of sacrificing his running pace to support others, breaks down. "I want that sub-4," he says softly. "Me too! But we can do it by sticking at 9's and pushing on the second half." 8:15 for mile 3. A bit too fast.. Slow it down to 8:30s.

Mile 6, we head towards River Road. People are still running silently next to us. "I'm looking for someone to follow who looks as good as I feel," I shout to Phil, as he runs beside me. Not a smirk.. not even a giggle from the intent runners beside us. Phil is running the sidelines giving high-5's to little kids. He dodges back in next to me and shares the love with an exploding fist bump. We will enjoy this run, because why else would we do it? We've both proven that we can run 26.2 miles. Nothing special about that. So let's enjoy it.

Phil and Sean!  This is why we run.  Because it's fun!
Phil still having fun at mile 25.
We fly down River Road. 7:59.22 We cruise through the party zone. We're running 8:20s for miles 8 and 9. Mile 10 is the first batch of hills. I'm already flagging, but Phil is looking strong. He cruises up the hill. I walk for 25 yards and still end up with 8:40 for the mile. Mile 11, Phil is a machine. He pulls away on the long uphill, and I let him go. I still manage an 8:40, but I know I can't keep it up for another 15.

Miles 12-14, I'm still okay. Hi Blair! Another quick run past the 2nd party zone, and I get a half-marathon PR. 1:54:27. I'm FLYING! I've just broken my previous half-marathon record by 5 minutes. From there, I slow down. I've got a bit of a cushion. And I can't keep up that insane pace.

At Mile 16, the push of the previous 15 miles begins to take its toll. I always get tired at Mile 16. Every race. Have to figure out how to push through it. I start to walk. A mysterious figure sidles in next to me. "How you feeling?" Ramage!!! Crap! Now I have to start running again. Sean is one of the MTT coaches, and got his first sub-4 marathon the previous month.  Sean was great, asking how things were, complimenting me on a strong start, and, most importantly, listening to me gripe about the lack of waterstops.  I mean, Mile 16 already.  Where is the freakin' Powerade!!!  I'm feeling a distinct lack of energy, despite downing a Gu at Mile 8 and another at Mile 14.  At Mile 18, when the Powerade finally comes into view, he drops back and heads to help more MTT-ers.
Mile 16.. the beginning of the downhill slide.

By Mile 18, I knew two things.  First, I should have probably stuck with the Brooks Adrenalines which I had at least run 30-40 miles in.  I'd been running a lot recently in some New Balance MT101 minimalist trail running shoes.  I loved them.  They were light, inexpensive, had helped make my shin splints and plantar fascitis disappear, and had the worn out soles to prove it.  They were also almost (at least it seemed like to me) flat.  A 9 mm drop from the heel to the toe.  Relatively little padding, particularly compared to the stability shoes like the Brooks Adrenalines, which I have sworn by for years.  Now though, the Adrenalines felt stiff.  My running form had changed, and I tended to heel strike more while wearing the Adrenalines.  In fact, after my 20 mile training run wearing the Adrenalines, I could have sworn I had bruised my heels.

Now I really wanted another pair of MT101s.  I had been logging hundreds of miles on them, and the soles evidenced every mile and the weird wear pattern caused by my goofy right foot.  So I tried to replace them 10 days before the race.  No go!  What, New Balance?  You're going to take away my new favorite shoe?  Favorite shoe, even though the first few runs completely hashed my pinky toe with massive blisters.  Favorite shoe, even though the soles wore out faster than I had hoped.

Instead, I picked up the New Balance Minimus MT20.  It's another trail running shoe.  It's got a Vibram sole and a very minimal upper.  But it's also even flatter. A 4 mm drop from heel to toe.  Even more like running barefoot.  But having experienced the sore calves caused by moving from the Adrenalines to the MT101s, I was nervous.  The 8 mile training run before the Marathon made me even more nervous.  The calves felt tense and a little strained.  I couldn't do a full 26 in those and be confident.

Off to the Internets!  Ahhh... super sale at the New Balance website.  MT101s for only $55!!!  You can't beat a deal like that.  Buy 2 pair!  Yikes, they won't arrive until Thursday and the Marathon is Saturday.  But they arrived, and I did a short run in them.  Feeling quick and confident.  Calves still a little sore from the 8 mile run, but that'll end quickly.  And off to race day.

By Mile 18, my pinky toe was hamburger.  I knew it.  I didn't have to take the shoe off to see.  I had dutifully bandaged it ahead of time, knowing that the shoe would rub.  My innovative lacing should have given me the necessarily wiggle room, and my previous pair had eventually settled down.  But this pair hadn't yet had time to adjust.  And so it hurt.  I didn't want to take off the shoes, because I knew that I wouldn't be able to put them back on.

The second thing I knew, was that because of that sore pinky toe, I had been running funny, and now my knee hurt.  The kind of pain which makes it difficult to run for long.  The kind where walking is easier, because it doesn't jar the knee quite so much.

Mile 18 was run at 10:43.  In the middle of Mile 19, I had been caught by Babz.  She wanted me to run up the Sportsbackers hill with her.  She had always run it with Phil or Brooke, but now it was me.  And so I ran.  Up to the top of the hill.  "Go on!" I said, feeling like I was shooing off the mustang who had been captured in the corral... Run your race, Babz.  You're strong and confident, and I'm gimpy.. I couldn't keep up, so no point in slowing her down.

Mile 20 I dropped even more time.  11 minutes, just struggling to keep on.  Trying to keep up with the 4 hour pace team.  And then they pulled away.  Brooke passed me a few minutes later.  First marathon, and she blazes past me to pull out a 4:03.

The next few miles were a struggle between walking and jogging.  Hi, Don.. Head of all that is MTT.  Am I okay?  My knee hurts.  No point in mentioning the toe.  Nothing he can really do about the knee.  But he runs with me for a bit, and then I send him off to help another MTT-er.  There's no question in my mind about finishing.  I can limp the rest of the way, but I'll still finish.  A sub-4 is no longer a possibility.  At 20 miles, I was at 3:03:30.  I needed to run 9 min/miles to finish at sub-4.  I was doing 12's.  Now my hope was to beat 4:15.  As long as I could keep up the pace, I could still finish strong.  A lot of the other runners with whom I had trained at various points throughout the season started to pass me.  Back at Mile 5, I had left them behind, streaking forward with Phil on his rampage to a sub-4.  And now, at Mile 23 and Mile 24, they slowly pulled ahead.  Stephanie, who I'd run with a few times in June and July, pulled ahead.  She was still running 10's.  Tonia, who had run the NY Marathon the week before, pulled ahead at Mile 24.

Finally, at the beginning of Mile 26, a blaze of MTT coaching glory.  Maggie, who I've known for years, who I met as she began her love affair with the glories of marathon running, and who had challenged me to run a marathon so many year ago, suddenly appeared.  I've run with Maggie all summer, into the fall.  In the rain, up hills, in the dark.  Maggie, who always pushes me to 8:20s and 8:40s, and who had probably already logged 20 miles that morning, came cruising up.  "Come on, Mike!  You stay 3 feet off my back.," she hollers, as I go stumbling after her.  Even slowing down to walk a few times during that last mile, I clocked 8:59.
Running fast at Mile 26, thanks to Maggie.

At the final turn, I look for my wife and 2 younger daughters.  No sign of them.  I couldn't wait though.  Perhaps they were closer to the finish.  Down the hill, feet moving in a blaze, hoping not to trip and fall flat on my face.  Oh no!  The clock above the finish line reads 4:15:50.  I struggle to pull ahead.  Must finish!

At 4:16:00, I cross the finish line.  I know I have some cushion, but not how much.  As I stumbled down that final stretch, I had seen my sister-in-law and my 2nd child over on the sidelines.  Now, I looked for #1.  There she was.  Last year, after my 5:24 showing, she had hung the medal around my neck.  I wanted a repeat.  But she wasn't by the medals today.  So I hollered to her.  She skipped over, hung my medal around my neck and said "Good job, Daddy."

The next hour and half was spent limping along the sidelines cheering on my running buddies as they came down the final stretch.  I took great pride and happiness in their accomplishments, watching some of them join the club of marathoners for the first time, and others cross the finish line having overcome their personal race challenges of flu, pain, aches and nerves.

But race day wasn't quite over for me.  After crossing the finish line, I learned that my wife had to take the youngest to the doctor and couldn't make it down to to celebrate.  As I finally got home, I entered the front door to find the archway to the great room decorated with balloons and ribbon.  Atop the archway, my finish time was emblazoned on a piece of paper, and a streamer stretched across the gap.  And so I got to have a second finish line crossing, holding the hand of the sick 4 year old as she joined me in a tape-breaking trot through that streamer.

And that's what I may forever call "the best finish line crossing ever."

Running Richmond... the prologue.

Saturday was the culmination, in some respects, of over a year of training. True, the Sportsbackers Marathon Training Team was only some 20 weeks long. So the official training regimen began in June. But mentally, I had been preparing for this run since last year's 5:24 finish. So first some background, and then the race recap.

It is hard to imagine the changes which I have made since the last Richmond Marathon. Beginning almost immediately after the race (the following Monday night, in fact), I was determined to improve my time. I ran 5 miles that night, pushing to keep at a 10 min/mile pace. Not fast.. at least not as fast I would become, but a push for someone coming off a 5:24. I had caught the marathon fever, and a desire to lose the elements which were keeping me above a 5 hour finish.

20 lbs. came off between November 13 and January 1. Despite all the holiday temptations and my impending birthday celebration, I avoided and conquered and ran, and ran, and ran. And then, although I had only dreamed of it in passing, I signed up for the National Marathon in D.C. Suddenly I had a goal. Not just a vague "Next Year!", but a looming 6 weeks in the future goal. I had been increasing my mileage, thinking about doing a half marathon. But no!! Time to go for the gusto.

Prepared.. confident.. and weak. The hamstring injury, which I suffered on an 18-mile training run for the 2010 Richmond Marathon, and which almost kept me from running the race, had been allowed to lapse into relative painlessness. Occasional soreness in the belly of the hammie.. a bit of favoritism during the runs... and unwillingness to push on the hills.. all part of being a smart runner.. Right? Instead, the compensation was making me just a bit weaker... I had become faster. Running 9 minute miles easily... Occasionally a sub-9. But one day on the treadmill, back spasm. I seized.. I almost fell flat on my face. And just a month to go before National. Add to that the other stresses of life at the time, and it was all unfair!!! But no!! I'm in charge.. I've got a goal.. I've been doing my training.. I couldn't be more ready.. And so I saw a chiropractor, a triathlete.. an Ironman.. He knew what my motivation was.. I could run, he promised.. But I needed to do some more work.

National was a success, but also a disappointment. I had my minimum goal - to finish. My real goal - to finish in under 5 hours. And my secret dream goal - to finish in 4:30. I knew the dream goal was possible. I could run 9's. That wasn't hard. And 4:30 would let me run 10's. But I still had work to do. Cold.. not confident with the hamstring.. the fear of the back becoming wonky again.. and that mental wall which I hit 16 miles in.. in every race to date.

I got my sub-5 that day. 4:48.51. Not the 4:30 I was hoping for. From Mile 13, as all the half-marathoners went to party at the finish line, I was routed behind RFK Stadium. A leper.. one of THOSE people.. who can't quit when it's time. The only witnesses to my half-marathon finish were a timer, a water stop volunteer, and someone handing out Gu. From there, my race slowly fell apart. Back out along the same path I had already trod for the first half. Back behind the Capitol, onto Pennsylvania Avenue. And then my mental and physical wall. I get tired at 16 miles. And that's where the end begins. Too much walking from Mile 16 on. Cold and lonely, until a nice little pick-me-up for the last 6 miles as my beautiful wife ran beside me, encouraging me to continue despite spasming, cramping quads and calves. When I ran, I ran fast. But I couldn't run long.. 100-200 yards at 9:30's, and then slow walking. Even as I passed a gangster funeral in Anacostia and trampled up and down the rolling hills leading to the bridge over the freeway. The last half mile leading up a hill to the finish line. The clock said 5:05. Fortunately, the chip time was better. But I knew I had come nowhere near my dream goal.

But I knew that a new marathon.. MY marathon was coming up again. This time that 4:30 would be mine.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Not sure exactly what the changes are going to be, but I'm going to be leaving my current law firm and either working at a new firm, or going into business with some partners. Time will tell.

We also just found out that we're going to have a baby in November. Since no-one reads this blog, it's mostly just for personal record keeping, but expect a new addition to the family in the first part of November if everything goes according to plan.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Something to kick this off again

I don't know why it is so difficult to keep something like this going. I have about 8 different posts which I began, but never completed about various topics in the news. Like why I think iTunes enabled phones won't ever really take off (hint: battery life) and whether or not we should open the H1-B visa program to every brainiac from a foreign country (if it leads to growing innovation and an increased desire for American goods, then why not?). But those never got anywhere.

So, instead, I'm just going to turn this into something of a journal site, since that accomplishes the dual purpose of continuing to foster the writer within and to keep track of things which might be important to me. So, without further ado, the life and times of ME!


I'm disappointed that the summer soccer season is over. For a change, we were not the last place team. Not much of an honor, but for our ragged bunch of misfits, it wasn't bad. We got some help from some Latinos in the backfield and I had a great time playing in the 95+ heat of the East coast summer. And there is nothing better to counteract the time spent sitting behind a desk arguing over how something is going to get done. I did get to score a few goals, which made the season that much sweeter, along with providing a few beautiful bruises on each knee. We even made it into the playoffs to the semifinal match, due to a lucky game against the first place team. Hopefully fall season will offer some new challenges.

Other than that, there are no major events going on this summer. We are preparing for #1's entry into first grade and #2's potty-training. I can't wait to get rid of diapers again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Chrysler's latest auto stylings

Chrylser has definitely come a long way. The old Plymouth and Chrysler models were dull, boring, and the epitome of outdated American automotive engineering. So I have become a big fan of the Daimler Benz/Chrysler merger. The biggest benefit to Chrysler has been the opportunity to use some of the Benz auto body stylings to create some eye-catchingly beautiful cars.

I think the Chrysler "design revolution" technically began with the Plymouth Prowler. That is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest cars on the road. The retro look of a '30s street rod even looked good in the trademark purple paint. After building on that success with the PT Cruiser, I think they tried to see what else they could do with the body styles to get out of the Sebring/300M rut. Both of those vehicles were sleepers in terms of body styling and did not stand out at all on the road. The current incarnation of the 300M is stunning. I like the bold lines and the squarish feel gives me the same feeling I had as a kid watching the "tough car" barreling down on another car in cartoons I watched as a kid.

I think what Chrysler needs to do at this point is continue the process by either removing the Sebring from its vehicle lineup or restyling it along the lines of the Acura TL. Obviously, they don't want to pull any more from the Mercedes Benz styling, although I am very fond of the Mercedes SLK and MacLaren car bodies.

More about the DaimlerChrysler group of automobiles in a later post.

Monday, April 25, 2005

If I had a superpower...

Besides being able to remove vast quantities of paperwork from my desk quicker than the Flash could run to Tokyo, I have always wanted the following superpowers:

1) Instantaneous teleportation. I don't just want to get there, I want to get there NOW!!
2) Master of weapons. Not that I ever have need of this skill, but it would definitely make sure people paid attention.
3) Telekinesis. No longer would I have to fetch the remote or get my kids to do that, I could do it myself. If I put my mind to it.

This question used to be my "find-out"question. I just think that you can figure out a lot about a person by what three superpowers they pick. You want ESP? You might be a little nosy. You want to be invisible? You might have something to hide, you might not like people, or you might be nosy. You want to fly? You want freedom. You get the picture.

Speaking of superpowers, The Incredibles was an awesome movie. For a change, a kid's movie which deals with adult issues without those issues being innuendo or bathroom humor which flies just above a kid's head.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A placeholder to begin

This is just a placeholder, since I started this in the morning when my kids are awake and want attention. At some point, I will start my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything else. But mostly gadgets, gizmos, cars, and consumer product design and features.