Bryan's Weblog of Stuff

Recently...
I Believe
Mount Removable Drives in WSL2
What I’m Listening To
My 5-Star Rated Books From 2018
My 2018 Year in Books
Books section of the site, I love to read. I read a ton as a kid, but that diminished quite a bit as an adult. Over the past few years, I’ve started reading more, including 52 books in 2017." class="sidenavlink">My 2017 Year in Books
Cutting The Cord, One Year Later
We Cut The Cord!
DIRECTV NOW Update
New "Books" Section

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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

I Believe

I believe it takes no effort or brain power to help spread the disinformation of the president and his sycophants, especially when your only sources for "news" are the networks and websites who actively help spread, and in some cases create that disinformation.

I believe it doesn't take too much more effort, but does require an ability and desire to think for yourself, use common sense, and look beyond your normal sources, to cut through the disinformation and see it for what it is. Unfortunately, I didn't do enough of my own homework in 2016, and voted for an independent candidate, rather than voting for the only viable candidate who could've kept the current administration out of the White House. I regret that choice every day.

I believe Joe Biden is the best candidate available. He isn't perfect— no candidate is— but he has empathy, kindness, integrity, wants what's best for our country, holds himself accountable, and has a plan for the next four years. Considering the alternative, that is more than enough to earn my support, making Biden the first non-conservative presidential candidate for whom I've voted. But that's just the beginning, because I've finally acknowledged that nagging voice inside my head that, for quite a long time, has said "this version of the GOP is not for you."

I believe in a woman's right to her own body; that Black lives matter; anti-racist policies; gender equality; the rights of LGBTQ+ persons; protecting the environment; protecting our public lands; science; affordable and accessible education for everyone; that healthcare is a right, not a privilege; law and order; and that the health and wellbeing of our country and all its people is more important than any political ideology.

Not only did I vote for Joe Biden for President, but I also voted for every other Democratic candidate running against someone who has enabled the current administration. I view continued support of the president and his enablers as an indefensible position.

By Bryan at 11:15 AM , in Politics - Permalink
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Thursday, September 3, 2020

Mount Removable Drives in WSL2

Windows Subsystem for Linux doesn’t automatically mount removable drives, which has long been a source of frustration for me. I want to leave a note to myself with my findings. If this helps anyone else, even better!

There are two approaches I’ve used:

  1. Bash script to mount removable drive
  2. Utilize /etc/fstab to mount removable drive

Bash Script Approach

Using a bash script is a straightforward way to mount drives. My script is very simple, first checking if the directory I’m going to use with the mount exists, and if not, create it, and then mount the drive (I’m a bash newb, so please feel free to suggest improvements):

#!/bin/bash
readonly DPath='/mnt/d'

if [ -d $DPath ]; then
        echo "$DPath already exists"
else
        sudo mkdir /mnt/d
fi
sudo mount -t drvfs D:\ /mnt/d

Utilize /etc/fstab

I recently stumbled upon this option, in which WSL processes /etc/fstab at instance start. This is basically set it and forget it. Here’s what I added to my /etc/fstab: D:\ /mnt/d drvfs

Useful Links

By Bryan at 9:12 AM , in Notes To Myself - Permalink
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Saturday, November 23, 2019

What I’m Listening To

I’ve had a Podcasts page on this site for quite a while now, but it’s never been anything more than “hey, I listen to a bunch of podcasts.” Tonight that changed. Tonight I added a list of my podcast subscriptions.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Including a list of podcast subscriptions was the entire reason for creating a Podcasts page, but the app I use to listen to podcasts doesn't provide a public API, so I put it off. And I kept putting it off. Sure, there’s a way to extract an OPML file, but that would involve messing with XML, and that’s so…I dunno…mid 2000s (full disclosure: my career was built upon XML—creating systems that generate/modify/consume XML—I didn’t want to do it here). Just give me a JSON file, and let’s call it a day!

As it turns out, I was able to grab my podcast subscription as JSON via a private API, and decided that would have to do. So, while my list of podcast subscriptions isn’t real time, it doesn’t require much for me to update it, and rendering it over on the Podcasts page was trivial. Please peruse the list of podcasts; I hope you find something new and interesting. Of course, I’d love to hear about any podcasts you enjoy!

By Bryan at 10:17 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Saturday, January 5, 2019

My 5-Star Rated Books From 2018

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that of the 62 books I read in 2018, I rated 14 as 5-stars, meaning that I thought they were amazing, according to Goodreads' rating system. Since I also suggested that they would make a good list for anyone looking for books to read, I thought I'd do that here (yeah, I also wanted to knock out another post in 2019).

Title, Author

If you end up reading any of these, please leave a note, letting me know what you think.

By Bryan at 5:41 PM , in Books - Permalink
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Friday, January 4, 2019

My 2018 Year in Books

62. That’s how many books I read in 2018. I think that’s a lot of reading. Once again, I participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge, with a goal of 52 books for 2018. I reached that mark in early September. Obviously I slacked off after that. However, I feel like I finished strong, with 5 books in December.

Here’s the number of books completed by month:

MonthBooks
January9
February9
March 7
April 5
May 3
June 5
July 7
August 5
September 3
October 1
November 3
December 5

Of those 62 books, I enjoyed all of them. If I’m not enjoying a book, or able to identify some high value in finishing it, I put the book down, often for good. To be sure, there were a handful of books that I simply wasn’t able to get into during the year. Some I will come back to, others, well, I gave it a good try. Here’s the final rating breakdown:

Rating Books
14
43
5

I try to follow the Goodreads guidance when rating books, which is: 3-stars: I liked it; 4-stars: I really liked it; and 5-stars: it was amazing.

My overall favorite book in 2018 is American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West, by Nate Blakeslee. I won’t provide a review here, but know that if you enjoy great story telling, adventure writing, and nature writing, move this book to the top of your to-read list NOW. Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover is a very close second place, and should be placed right behind American Wolf at the top of your to-read list. Since both of those books are non-fiction, I’ll include my favorite fiction book: Reincarnation Blues, by Michael Poore. Favorites aside, if you’re looking for books to read, the 14 five-star rated books I read in 2018 (the 5-stars are listed first, but ignore the order within each star grouping) is a great place to start, IMHO.

What’s next? My focus is currently on Limits of the Known, by David Roberts. Following that, I’ll be tackling: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright; The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah; The Order of Time, by Carlo Rovelli; and Home Grown, by Ben Hewitt.

Finally, here’s a link to my Year in Review that Goodreads put together.

By Bryan at 10:55 PM , in Books - Permalink
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Thursday, February 1, 2018

My 2017 Year in Books

As I mentioned in the Books section of the site, I love to read. I read a ton as a kid, but that diminished quite a bit as an adult. Over the past few years, I’ve started reading more, including 52 books in 2017.

This change is due in part to the unprecedented access to books that we now have, thanks mostly to the rise of Amazon, ebooks, and good ebook readers, but also to me finally getting my own library card *and* using it—wearing it out, if we’re being completely honest. Speaking of the library: after sharing Julie’s library card for several years, using it to access ebooks, and now with my own card in hand, I finally took full advantage of what the library offered, and started placing holds on physical books (I even successfully requested a book not already in their catalog).

There’s probably one other component responsible for the uptick in how much I read, and that’s the use of Goodreads (if you want to change something, start measuring it). To further encourage reading, I’ve participated in the Goodreads Reading Challenge the past couple of years, and my goal for 2017 was 52 books, which you already know I hit, seconds before midnight on New Year’s Eve (a signed copy of Andy Weir’s Artemis FTW!). Due to logging what I read in Goodreads, I am able to present to you my 2017 Year in Books.

image

I read a ton of fiction, mostly science-fiction, with a fair amount of non-fiction sprinkled in. I don’t typically force myself to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying, so there’s not a book on this list that I didn’t enjoy, and most books I enjoyed immensely. I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading—I can never have too many book recommendations!

By Bryan at 10:50 PM , in Books - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Cutting The Cord, One Year Later

As I realized that we’d hit the one-year mark since cutting the cord, I also realized that I’d failed miserably with my plan to provide a glimpse into our journey. Sorry.

Not as a replacement for all of those things I was going to write about, but simply as an update, we’re still cord-cutters. We have an internet connection, and that’s it—no cable or satellite subscription, and no landline phone, for that matter. We have a fairly typical set of streaming products that we subscribe to: Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, and DirecTV NOW. Over the course of the year, we’ve also subscribed to others services, like Hulu—typically to binge on a specific show—for short periods of time, and then cancelling. Additionally, we have an HD antenna setup, which feeds OTA broadcast signals to our TVs.

So far, so good. We don’t have the ability to DVR shows at the moment, but we’ve hardly missed it. The kids, of course, were already accustomed to streaming almost exclusively, and even the adults have adjusted. Aside from the impact on our wallet, the biggest change cutting the cord has had on our family has been a big reduction in time spent mindlessly watching TV, just because it’s there. Also, I was able to read 52 books in 2017.

By Bryan at 10:55 PM , in Cutting The Cord - Permalink
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Friday, January 13, 2017

We Cut The Cord!

cord-cuttingToday I called our internet, cable, and landline phone provider, Frontier, to “cut the cord.” By now, most everyone has a general idea of what it means to cut the cord, though the specifics often vary from person to person. To us it meant getting rid of cable and our landline phone service. Over the next few weeks, I plan on writing a series of posts on our cord-cutting experience.

Before I get into that, let’s see how the Oxford Dictionary defines a cord cutter:

A person who cancels or forgoes a pay television subscription or landline phone connection in favour of an alternative Internet-based or wireless service:

‘the ranks of the cord cutters are growing, adding to the incipient rebellion around pay TV’

In the series, I will first tackle our motivation for cutting the cord. I’ll dig into all of the reasons why we decided to cut the cord, and perhaps some of the perceived reasons not to cut the cord. After that, I will discuss what was involved in our personal journey from a family of 6, seemingly at the mercy of the monopolistic cable company, with their hundreds of channels and prices to match, to a family of 6 happy without that overhead. Finally, I will talk our experience as cord cutters to date, and offer up all of my resources.

When it’s all said and done, if by sharing our experience, we’ve helped even one person or family decide whether or not cord cutting is right for them, then these posts will have been a success. To help keep up with the posts, here’s a handy list. I’ll add links as new posts become available.

Posts In This Series

  • We Cut The Cord!
  • Our Motivation For Cutting The Cord
  • How We Cut The Cord
    • Preparing To Cut The Cord
    • Ditching The Landline
    • Ditching Cable
    • Making the Call To Cancel Services
  • A Cord-Cutting Retrospective
  • Cord-Cutting Resources

By Bryan at 10:43 PM , in Cutting The Cord - Permalink
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Saturday, January 7, 2017

DIRECTV NOW Update

A quick update on our DIRECTV NOW experience…

We're doing our best to avoid using our cable boxes and use DTVN for any live TV, with okay results. The main issue we're running into is the same that everyone else using DTVN is running into—buffering and needing to reset the app. It's a pain. However, it also led me to hook up our HD antenna so that I could distribute it throughout the house, which has been a success. We no longer rely on DTVN or cable for anything local.

I’ll write more on us testing the cord-cutting waters when I get a bit more time.

By Bryan at 9:45 PM , in Cutting The Cord - Permalink
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Thursday, December 15, 2016

New "Books" Section

A quick heads up to let you know that I’ve added a new page to my site—Books. This page currently features a list of books I’ve recently read. In the future, I’ll probably include a list of books I’m currently reading, as well as my list of books to read.

I hope you take a look, and even find one or two books to read. Perhaps Disrupted, the book I just finished.

By Bryan at 10:12 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Site Refresh

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was overhauling the site—in case you’re only reading this via the RSS feed, the overhaul is here! The most obvious change is the look, but the changes go much deeper. In fact, aside from the underlying data store, the entire site has been rewritten, along with a technology refresh.

For those of you interested in the details, the site is running ASP.NET MVC 5 and Web API 2 on .NET 4.6.2. Since I’m a developer, not a designer, I leveraged the very popular Bootstrap framework for a little help with the UI, along with a theme from Bootswatch for a slight variation on the out-of-the-box Bootstrap look and feel. Additionally, I’m utilizing Font Awesome in a couple of places. Of course there’s the actual code that makes it all go, which is C#, and my own custom blog/CMS engine, which has its roots in the blog software I wrote 13 years ago, and utilizes a couple of open source projects, including a slightly modified MvcSiteMapProvider, and Ninject. I've also replaced my own comment engine with Disqus.

With this update, it’s my hope that everything available on the old site is available on the new site. There is one exception to this, and that is any Url that includes a blog post id, rather than a blog post title, will not work. Several years ago, when I went away from using the blog post id to look up posts, I kept that functionality around to avoid any broken links—as of right now, those links are broken, though I don’t know how many still exist. I plan on providing a fix, involving a permanent redirect, but it’s not in place yet.

If you have any questions, or notice anything out of place, please let me know!

By Bryan at 7:45 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Monday, December 12, 2016

DIRECTV NOW: My First Impression

As each new cord cutting option comes online, I take a look, but aside from buying an HD antenna a couple of months ago, I’ve not taken this cord-cutting idea any further. Based on reviews, channel selection, and a very attractive introductory offer, I took the plunge and signed up for DIRECTV NOW, the cord-cutting offering from AT&T owned DirecTV, if only to be able to rule them out as a viable alternative. After a weekend with the service, here are some of my thoughts.

Features

The first question I had when I started looking into streaming options was “does it have DVR capability?” The answer is no, unfortunately. At least that’s the answer right now, though they do plan on offering DVR functionality in 2017. Though they do have a growing on demand offering, if you’re not able to watch something live, you might need to find an alternative viewing source, at least in the short term, or see if the channel is included in their 72 Hour Rewind feature.

Another question that comes up often is “how many streams are you allowed?” DIRECTV NOW currently offers 2 streams. Beyond that, you’d need another account. Hopefully they’ll make it possible to purchase additional streams for a nominal fee in the future.

Finally, where would any of this technology be without devices? DIRECTV NOW is currently available on Amazon Fire TV devices, Apple TV, Chromecast (for Android only), most modern computer browsers, Android phones and tablets, and iOS phones, tablets, and the iPod Touch. Support for Chromecast (for Apple iOS), Roku, and XBOX One is coming. Here’s the official current list of supported devices.

Plans

DIRECTV NOW offers 4 plans, with an increasing number of channels and cost. At the low end is “Live a Little,” which is advertised as having 60+ channels for $35/month. This is followed by “Just Right,” which includes 80+ channels for $50/month. Next up, and this is the plan they hope to snare folks with at launch, is “Go Big,” which includes 100+ channels and a limited time special introductory price of $35/month as long as you remain a subscriber (regularly $60/month), and finally “Gotta Have It,” with 120+ channels for $70/month. In addition to these four plans, they also offer two add-on packages for $5 each/month—HBO and Cinemax. Here’s a comparison of the channels included in each plan.

Additional Offers

There is currently a 7 day free trial, and some free equipment if you prepay for 1 or 3 months. If you prepay one month, you will receive Amazon’s all-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, and if you prepay for 3 months, they’ll send you an Apple TV.

Quality

You should know that my experience thus far has been limited to my web browser. I’ll be trying it out on our Fire TV Stick soon, but I haven’t yet. That said, the picture quality has been at least as good as any other streaming provider. DIRECTV NOW streams all programming in HD, and downgrades the quality as necessary, depending on your bandwidth (they recommend 2.5 – 5.0 Mbps for HD quality).

Overall Experience

Using DIRECTV NOW web app should be intuitive for anyone familiar with using other streaming sites, and the channel guide is similar to most cable guides. However, I do have a couple of suggestions that I think would greatly enhance the user experience with the guide:

  1. When navigation from watching a channel to the guide, open the guide at the channel that is currently being watched, not at the beginning of the alphabetical channel list.
  2. Add some info in the guide for specific shows. For example, a show summary, episode info, and for sports, the teams that are playing.

Those two things would go a long way to improving the usability of the guide.

While I am ready to cut the cord, I’m not sure that DIRECTV NOW is the right solution at this time, mainly due to the lack of DVR functionality. As I mentioned earlier, they say it’s coming in 2017, but it’s already available with PS Vue, and Sling released a beta DVR service. That said, the $35/month special introductory offer is quite compelling, and just might be good enough to entice me to stick around while the work on the DVR. Though the thought of not being able to watch what I want, when I want, even if for a short time, feels like a huge leap back into the stone age.

Additional Information

Here are some links that you might find useful:

By Bryan at 5:25 PM , in Cutting The Cord - Permalink
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Return To Higher Volume Running

I was able to take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday (and having extra family around) to get in some longer than normal runs this past week. I didn’t really start the week off with high mileage in mind, rather, I was just hoping to get back to some consistent training and perhaps burn a few extra calories. As it turned out, I burned a lot of extra calories—and good thing, too, because I consumed my fair share, on my way to 45 miles on the week.

While I might not hit 45 miles again in upcoming weeks, I do hope to be able to continue getting out for some longer runs. I really do enjoy getting the extended time out there, especially now that we’re finally experiencing some cooler weather in Texas. In case you’re curious, here’s what the week looked like:

  • Monday: 5 miles
  • Tuesday: 4 miles (tempo intervals)
  • Wednesday: 6 miles
  • Thursday: 8 miles
  • Friday: 8 miles
  • Saturday: 4 miles (felt good up to 3.5 miles, then the fatigue of the previous 2 days hit hard)
    • Also did some upper body strength training (need to get back to this being a regular thing)
  • Sunday: 10 miles (felt great!)

So what’s next? Well, as I mentioned, I do hope to keep getting out for some longer runs on a consistent basis. Beyond that, I desperately need to clean up my diet and drop some weight that I’ve picked up over the past 2.5 years. Perhaps I’ll start looking for some races, too.

By Bryan at 3:17 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, November 21, 2016

It’s Been A Long Time

I’m in the process of overhauling this site. A process that includes not only a new paint job, but also getting under the hood and swapping out the engine. All right, enough with the car metaphor. The point is things are changing.

Actually, the point of this post really isn’t to say all of this. More, it’s to wonder how in the world I got here—that is, in 6 years time, I’ve posted 6 times. That’s pretty shoddy work, if you ask me.

As part of the aforementioned overhaul, I am planning on spending more time here. I’m not sure what I’ll write about, but whatever the topic, I’ll at least be writing, and that’s better than not. I’m not promising a ton of new content, because I’m not sure I have that much to say, but I will promise a semi-regular stream of new stuff.

One last thought before I go: if you’ve never read it, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of John Adams by David McCullough.

By Bryan at 12:04 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Return to 5K Racing

Like most adult-onset runners, I got my start running in 5K fun runs, and between late 2007 and early 2010 I ran in quite a few 5Ks. However, I’ve not run a 5K since April 2010 when I ran the inaugural (and only) America’s Run 5K. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to start racing more often, and with a busy family life, that means shorter races, like 5Ks and 10Ks. To that end, I actually went out and signed myself up for an honest to goodness 5K race! Oh, and it’s this weekend!

Kicking it to the finish of the America's Run 5K While perusing the various running websites that list local races, trying to decide which race offered the best combination of easier course, reasonable start time (not too early and not too late—must beat the heat, after all), convenient parking, not too many people (I know I won’t be setting an all time PR here, but a guy can still dream about a top 3 Age Group finish, right?), and decent SWAG, I came across the Heroes for Hope 5K, which has a couple of things going for it—first, it benefits St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (and Bow Dazzling), and with four kids of my own, I’m all for anything benefiting children, and second, it starts and finishes at Martin House Brewing Company, with BBQ and beer. No brainer.

As I said, I have no grand expectations of setting a new all-time PR at this race. After all, I’ve only been running consistently for about the past 6 weeks, with very little speed work. Also, it’s summer. However, I will be racing in a new age group for the first time, so as long as I finish, I will have a new age group PR. While I want to post a respectable time, I also don’t want to make this age group PR too hard to break. Right?

By Bryan at 6:15 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hello…is anyone out there?

Holy shit! 3+ years since my last post here—are you kidding me? I guess between raising 3 (now 4) kids, along with keeping up with my own interests, this website has fallen by the wayside. I’d like to tell you that is going to change, and that I’m going to be writing here more often, but that’s simply not something I can guarantee. That said, I’m going to try.

The last time we spoke, I had failed miserably at my attempt to run a 1:50 half marathon, and even failed to better my PR, which was nearly 5 minutes slower than my goal time. Of course that’s old news now. What you may not know is that a few weeks later I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon with my wife (her first half), and had a great time. Since then, I also ran my very first marathon, The 2014 Cowtown Marathon with 3 friends. Let’s just say that an injury derailed any time aspirations that I had (torn hamstring 4 or 5 weeks before the race), but I finished.

I’ve decided to start racing more often. It’s been over 4 years since I last raced a 5K, 3 years for a half, and nearly 6 since my one and only 10K. It’s time to change that! I’ll be looking for some 5Ks, 10Ks, and even a half or two to do over the next several months. I’d love to do the Durango Double in October, but I’m not sure how realistic that is.

Well, that’s it for now.

By Bryan at 4:31 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, April 25, 2011

2011 Cowtown Marathon Race Report

I will summarize my 2011 Cowtown Half Marathon experience for you: the hardest race I’ve ever done. In hindsight, it is mostly my own doing, with a good mix of physical and mental challenges that I wasn’t able to overcome. Since almost two months have passed since this race, I’m going to post wrote in my running log:

In the days leading up to today's race, I came up with an A, B, and C goal. Truth be told, I also had an A+ goal, that would've been my A goal under better weather conditions. For some reason, I started today's race as if the A+ goal was realistic. Here were my goals:

  • A+: Hang with the 1:50 pace group through the finish.
  • A: Half Marathon PR (current PR is 1:54:57, set at the 2010 Cowtown).
  • B: Beat my time from the Denver Rock 'n' Roll Half (1:58:07, but at a mile elevation).
  • C: Come in under 2 hours.

Now, I've put in the training, I think, and I really did want to push myself, so I was stubborn and started with the 1:50 pace group. My goal this morning was simply to hang with them as long as could...hopefully to the bottom of the monster hill at the start of mile 10. Instead, I lost touch with them somewhere past the 10K mark (new 10K PR of 51:31—a 3:50 PR!). By mile 8 I was dying. I didn't want to run anymore, even though we were running downhill at that time. [note: into a 15 mph headwind]

I sucked it up, and kept going, though I eventually gave back all of the time I had built up in the first 10K, coming in 31 seconds off of my PR.

The weather was the biggest culprit. The last temperature reading I saw before the start was 65F, with 90%+ humidity, and 10 mph winds (gusting to 25 mph).

I will tell you, it doesn't matter what the conditions are like, when you bust your ass like I felt like mine had been busted, and then come close, yet short of a PR, it stings. I'll get over it.

I’m still a bit torn on how to feel about this race, and it all comes down to the primary goal…

If my primary goal was 1:50, then I gave it my best, and failed—there’s no shame in going for it and failing. The only shame in the race is how easily I gave in to the voices in my head that told me it was okay to ease up.

If my primary goal was to set a PR, regardless of time, then I failed all the way around. I failed to adapt my race day plan to the conditions. Had I not been so stubborn, and backed off for the first half, there’s no question in my mind that I would’ve come in with a PR of a couple of minutes.

By Bryan at 1:19 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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February 2011 Running Recap

The shortest month of the year, and one of the “lightest” running months in a while. February started off with a couple of severe winter storms, featuring ice, snow, and record low temperatures, which meant quite a bit of treadmill running. The month ended with unseasonably warm weather. Unfortunately my race was at the end of the month (more on that in a separate post). Despite the winter weather early in the month, I was able to get in most of my key workouts, and the ones I missed on were typically due to a busy schedule, not the weather.

Here are the stats:

  • Total Miles: 151.4
  • Total Time: 22:59:27
  • Average Pace: 9:07/mile

Additional Notes

Reviewing my training log, the month looks pretty good, and I ran consistently. I even had a string of running 7 days in a row, which hadn’t happened in some time. If anything, I didn’t run easy enough, or take the time to rest and recover properly.

  • Easy: 11
  • Tempo: 2
  • Intervals: 3
  • Long: 3
  • Race: 1
  • Shortest Run: 4 miles
  • Longest Run: 14 miles

You might notice that I didn’t do any hill workouts in February. That probably wasn’t the wisest move, given the hilly Cowtown Half Marathon course. Live and learn. Anyway, this month was the 19th consecutive month over 100 miles, and the 7th consecutive over 150 miles—barely.

By Bryan at 12:25 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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January 2011 Running Recap

Yes, I know this is seriously late—late to the point of why even bother. Yet, for some reason, I am going to bother, if only so that I have it for later.

As you may or may not recall, December was a trying month, with a stomach bug that made the rounds early in the month, and IT band/knee issues in the middle of the month. You might also recall that while the IT band/knee issue eventually got better, I was no longer comfortable continuing to train for a marathon, when I might be teetering on the brink of injury, so I switched my registration from the Cowtown Marathon to the Cowtown Half Marathon.

So now that I’ve jarred your memory, let’s talk about January.

Here are the stats:

  • Total Miles: 176.2
  • Total Time: 27:31:14
  • Average Pace: 9:23/mile

Additional Notes

I ran 18 out of 31 days during the month. Doesn’t seem like much, does it? However, I obviously ran a lot, as the 176.2 total miles indicate. Three of my long runs were 16 miles each. I also did the longest tempo run I’ve ever attempted—8 miles at tempo pace, plus warm up and warm down. That was a tough run! I also added in some hills, working on both uphill and downhill running. Here are the number of times I did each type of run, as well as the shortest and longest run in the month:

  • Easy: 7
  • Tempo: 2
  • Intervals: 2
  • Hills: 2
  • Long: 5
  • Shortest Run: 3 miles
  • Longest Run: 16 miles (3x)

January marked the 4th time I’ve gone over 170 miles, and the 176.2 total miles is the second most for one month. January is also the 18th consecutive month of running 100+ miles, and the 6th straight over 150 miles.

Next up: February 2011 Running Recap, which includes the Cowtown Half Marathon…

By Bryan at 12:04 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, January 7, 2011

December 2010 Running Recap

Whew! Another month of training is in the books! Going into the month, I thought it would be an awesome month for marathon training. I had 3+ weeks of vacation scheduled, which meant plenty of time for running. I should’ve known it wouldn’t be quite that simple…

Early in the month, our household had the pleasure of dealing with a stomach bug that Sam brought home from daycare. He got it, Julie got it, and then I got it. The bug derailed training for 3 days, though it did lighten the load a bit (not a recommended way of dropping weight, by the way). As if that wasn’t bad enough, once I started feeling better, and resumed training, I got a sharp pain on the outside of my left knee, towards the end of a 9 mile run.

For those of you keeping score at home, my left knee is my good knee. This also happened to be the first run of my 3+ week long vacation. So much for running to my heart’s content! As it turned out, the pain was caused by a tight IT band, which I immediately began to rehab, spending lots of time with the foam roller, and within a week I was able to run a 12 mile long run before experiencing anymore pain. A week after that, I made it 15.5 miles before feeling any pain, and the following week I hit 16 miles with no pain or discomfort whatsoever.

As December neared its end, the IT band seemed to be on the mend. Unfortunately, during the 2 weeks that it took to rehab, I missed an 18 mile run and a 20 mile run, and I still didn’t know if I’d be able to make it back to 16 miles (the 16 mile run came on January 2nd) without pain. This was causing me to seriously reconsider running The Cowtown Marathon at the end of February. To further press the issue, The Cowtown organizers would begin charging a $20 race change fee after December 31st. I had a decision to make!

On New Year’s Eve, after considerable deliberation, I decided that it was in my best interest to forgo the marathon for now, and changed my registration to the half marathon. While I’m disappointed at not doing the marathon, I know that there will be more opportunities, and my ultimate goal isn’t to run a marathon, it’s to run for life. To achieve this goal, I need to run smart, and remain healthy. On the bright side, I’ve already put in several long runs beyond the half marathon distance, and I’ve run already run 2 tempo runs that matched the longest tempo runs of previous half marathon training, as well as another tempo run that exceeded those. I’ve got a great base to build on over the next 7+ weeks of training!

Now that I’ve thoroughly bored you, let me bore you some more with stats from December:

  • Total Miles: 175.5
  • Total Time: 27:26:03
  • Average Pace: 9:23/mile

Additional Notes

Even with the illness and injury, I was able to run 20 out of 31 days (keep in mind that my marathon training plan only calls for 4 days of running per week). I also ran my longest tempo run ever—7 miles (that’s not counting warm up and cool down miles), and even did 11 and 12 mile “easy” runs during the week. Thank goodness for that vacation time!

In the past, I’ve broken down the monthly mileage by the type of run, but since I don’t always separate out my warm up or cool down miles from tempo or interval miles, the numbers can be a bit skewed, and inconsistent. Instead, I am just going to list the number of times I did each type of run:

  • Easy: 14 runs (did a double on 12/31)
  • Tempo: 2
  • Intervals: 1
  • Hills: 2
  • Long: 2
  • Shortest Run: 4 miles
  • Longest Run: 15.5 miles

December marks the 3rd time I’ve gone over 170 miles in a month (3 of the last 4 months), and the 175.5 miles is the 2nd most miles I’ve ever run in a month. December is also the 17th consecutive month of running 100 or more miles, and the 5th straight month over 150 miles.

By Bryan at 11:00 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

November 2010 Running Recap

Well, another month has come and gone. With November’s passing, so too does my Movember mustache. Losing it was almost like losing a friend…almost. Other notables for the month: I started training for my next major race, though I didn’t register for it until December 1st. I also logged my first 16 mile run, which for now is my longest run by 1 mile, and by just under 8 minutes.

Let’s get on with the stats:

  • Total Miles: 172.1
  • Total Time: 27:00:26
  • Average Pace: 9:25/mile

Additional Notes

the-end-of-movember In November, I ran 22 out of 31 days. Yes, that’s 9 days of not running, which is a bit high, but it’s what my current training calls for. Oh, regarding that training—it’s for The Cowtown Marathon. That’s right, I’m training for my first marathon! The training plan has me running 4 days a week, with 2 easy runs (currently 8 or 9 miles each), a tempo or interval run (again, the total mileage is at least 8 miles), and a long run. That’s definitely a lot of running/day, and I’ve been tempted to spread the easy runs out over two days. I am now 4 weeks into the 16 week plan, and it will be interesting to see how the training plays out.

Now on with the specifics of November’s training:

  • Easy: 80.1
  • Tempo: 21
  • Intervals: 12
  • Fartleks: 9
  • Long: 50
  • Shortest Run: 4
  • Longest Run: 16

November is the 16th consecutive month of running 100+ miles, the 4th straight month over 150 miles, and the 2nd time over 170 miles (2 of the last 3 months).

By Bryan at 11:53 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, November 19, 2010

October 2010 Running Recap

Another month, and another running recap severely overdue. Life goes on. October was an exciting month for me, as Julie, Sam, and I took a trip to Colorado where I completed my 2nd half marathon—the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon, and got a lot of nice running in while I was there (besides the race). October also brought an end (mostly) to the extremely warm/hot days of August and September.

Again, since this report is so late, here are the details from the month:

  • Total Miles: 156.4 miles
  • Total Time: 24:11:07
  • Average Pace: 9:17/mile

Additional Notes

IMG_4045 In the month of October I ran 24 out of 31 days, racking up a 3rd straight 150+ mile month, and my 4th overall. October was also the 15th consecutive month of 100+ miles.

As I mentioned earlier, I ran one race in October, my 2nd half marathon, which I finished in 1:58:07. Using a conversion tool I found online (I’ll add link later), this time converts to a 1:52:30 half marathon at sea level.

Here’s how the miles stacked up for the month:

  • Easy: 101.2
  • Tempo: 12*
  • Intervals: 0
  • Fartleks: 6
  • Long: 24
  • Race: 13.2 (so I didn’t run perfect tangents)
  • Shortest Run: 3
  • Longest Run: 14
  • Max Elevation: 7,171 ft. (in Salida, CO)

* The tempo miles listed are the actual miles run at tempo pace, and no longer include warm up/warm down miles. Those miles are now included with the easy miles.

By Bryan at 1:43 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Denver Half Marathon Race

It’s been nearly 5 weeks since I finished my second half marathon, the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon, so it’s way past time to capture my thoughts on the race before I forget too many of them.

Before I get into the details of the race, I want to thank all of the volunteers, the spectators, the cheer squads, the bands, the organizers, and the city of Denver, as well as its citizens, for putting on and putting up with this event. This was one of the best run events I’ve participated in—those Competitor folks have this down to a science—and I’m seriously thinking about making this an annual destination race for myself. Finally, I can’t say enough about how much energy all of the spectators, cheer squads, and bands brought to the race! Without it, I very well might’ve missed my goal.

At the starting line on the eve of the race. After getting up to Colorado a few days early, getting in a few runs, including one that shook my confidence to the core, when race day arrived, I was ready to go. Like usual, I woke up before my 4:30 AM alarm and began to get ready for the day. We were staying in a hotel downtown, so compared to some race mornings, this one was very relaxed. The first corral was set to go at 6:55 AM, with my corral (the 3rd) to follow a minute or two later, and since I had no desire to stand around unnecessarily, we didn’t leave the hotel until nearly 6:30. After a short walk/jog down the 16th St. pedestrian mall, we arrived at Civic Center Park, the epicenter for the race. With a quick kiss from Julie and Sam, I headed to the starting line, while they headed out on the course for their day of cheering.

After finding my corral, I jumped in at the very back, just ahead of the guy holding the rope that separated corral 3 from corral 4 (Cowtown Marathon organizers take note, and separate your corrals in 2011). We waited for the typical pre-race stuff—the National Anthem, some words from the race director, and then the 1st corral was released. The excitement in the air was palpable, and it wasn’t more than a minute or two before it was our turn. As I headed out on the course, I spotted Julie, who was doing her best cheering to get all of the runners going!

The first part of the course was slightly downhill, faster than I wanted, and wound around downtown, going past the Pepsi Center, through LoDo and by Coors Field, before finally heading east and over to City Park. As the course left downtown, we were greeted by a really fun hill, and by “fun” I mean sucked big time! I remembered this hill from my time working in downtown Denver—I had to walk down it and up it every day for a month and a half, while I lived in a corporate apartment that we’d soon be running past. It knew it was coming, but that didn’t matter. I’m just glad that the spectators were out in full force on the hill, because their cheering really helped.

Beyond the hill, the course continued through some cool looking neighborhoods, and within a block or two of the hospital where Jacob was born over 10 years ago. At this point I was feeling good, trying to keep the pace a little slower than what I would’ve run if not at altitude. The most challenging aspect of the early miles of the race was letting runners go. I was being passed left and right, and my instinct was to pick up the pace and go with them, but I was too afraid of blowing up 3 miles from the finish.

As we prepared to enter City Park, the sun finally announced its presence, and in a big way. Even with a visor and sunglasses, I found myself squinting and even ducking down some, just so I could see. The sun was absolutely blinding! The course through City Park was pretty average as far as parks go. It was pretty flat, and we just made a large loop. The one thing that I didn’t like was that we were able to see a long out and back stretch that we’d be hitting once we exited the park. Even worse was actually running this out and back section.

By the time I was headed back on the out and back section, I was 9 miles in, starting to feel pretty tired, but I was able to keep up my pace, and I knew that I’d finish the race. The only question remaining was would I be under 2 hours, and if so, by how much. In my training, I did a lot of my longer runs where I’d push the pace in the last few miles, working on running hard when fatigued, so I felt pretty confident.

As I neared mile 10, fatigue started to set in bad, and for the first time since the 2008 Buffalo Boogie, I walked in a race. This brief walk was at a water station and nearly unavoidable, as the person right in front of me stopped abruptly. However, I didn’t fight it. I got my drink, drank it, and then started up again, as quickly as I could.

It wasn’t long after this water stop that the course made a right-hand turn and begin slight downhill. No wonder I was so tired, I’d been running uphill for the last 1 1/2 miles! Unfortunately the downhill didn’t last long, as we turned into Cheesman Park, and up another hill. The course through Cheesman Park was very nice, and normally I’d really enjoy running through here, but I was getting so tired that I really couldn’t have cared less about the scenery. I was soon over the initial hill into the park, and on a very nice downhill section, which could only mean one thing, since we were doing a loop through the park—a nasty uphill was sure to follow. It did.

It was during this stretch of the race, miles 11 and 12, that I turned in 2 of 3 9:00+ miles: 9:21, and 9:02. I was hurting. I even considered walking up the nasty hill, but talked myself out of it, using the logic that walking would just make the hill take longer. Just past the top of the hill, as we exited the park, the half and marathon runners split, just before the mile 12 marker (thank goodness I was almost done!). At this point the course had us pointed west, catching glimpses of the mountains, downtown Denver, and best of all, it was downhill to the finish!

Still worried about blowing up before the end, I cautiously let my pace pickup on the downhill, slowly easing past some runners who I’d let go miles earlier. As I closed in on mile 13, there was one more obstacle—a great big downhill into downtown to match the uphill we faced leaving downtown. I didn’t know how my legs would hold up on such a steep downhill, but I gave it a go anyway. Before I knew it, I could hear the crowd roaring and I was making one last turn towards the finish line. At this point I felt like I was redlining and had nothing left to give. I was running to the finish stride for stride with a guy that I knew I should be beating, but I just couldn’t bring myself to kick. As we neared the finish line, I considered kicking one last time, but since he didn’t seem interested in kicking either, I eased up and finished at the same time.

den-half-medal I made my way to the people handing out the medals, and through the finishers’ area, and eventually to the family reunion area. It would be another 30 minutes before Julie and Sam would find me (thank you random person for letting me use your phone—I’m not sure Julie would’ve found me if I hadn’t been able to let her know exactly where I was). After our reunion, we found a nice patch of grass and relaxed under a clear blue sky, before making our way back to the hotel.

My official time for the race was 1:58:07, which is probably better than what I expected, but about in line with what I had hoped for. Adjusted for altitude, I supposedly ran the equivalent of a 1:52:30 half marathon at sea level. Not bad.

By Bryan at 10:55 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Loaded Oats

I was recently craving oatmeal raisin cookies, which happen to be my favorite cookies in the whole world. After trying to ignore the craving for a week or two, I finally caved, and ventured to the store to get the missing ingredients. In addition to buying the missing ingredients, I also came across 100% whole wheat flour, which I’ve never used, so I bought some.

bag-of-flourI have a handful of recipes that I use for oatmeal raisin cookies, depending on my mood. There’s the recipe from my great-grandmother, the recipe from my very first cookbook (I must’ve made that one a million times!), and then there’s the old stand-by recipe that’s typically on the oats container—I chose the last one.

For those of you who know my cooking style, I like to take recipes and make them my own, and this time was no different. I substituted the 100% whole wheat flour for all of the all-purpose flour, added an extra cup of oats, added raisins (recipe didn’t call for any), used milk instead of water, added ground cinnamon and ground cloves, and used butter instead of shortening. I pretty much kept everything else the same.

Here’s the recipe, or at least as close as I can recall:

Loaded Oats: Oatmeal Raisin Spice Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup Sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup 100% whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups raisins
Ground cinnamon (to taste)
Ground cloves (to taste)
Honey (just a kiss)
1/2 teaspoon Salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease cookie sheet (I used a Silpat instead). Beat sugars, butter, milk, egg, and vanilla until creamy. In another bowl combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt (optional). Add to butter mixture; mix well. Add raisins, cinnamon, cloves, and a kiss (to taste) of honey to mixture; mix well. Drop rounded teaspoons (I used a tablespoon) onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Let stand 1 minute before removing to racks to cool.

(Using teaspoon sized drops it should make 6 dozen. Using tablespoon sized drops I got just over 3 dozen. Your results will vary depending on how much dough you eat).

rack-of-loaded-oats

That’s it. This recipe turned out some of the best oatmeal raisin spice cookies I’ve ever eaten. Soft and chewy, just how I like them!

By Bryan at 6:44 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

September 2010 Running Recap

Way over due, I know… If August was the most grueling month of running, for non-running reasons, then September has been the most grueling month for running-related reasons. Actually, it wasn’t so much that it was grueling as it was time consuming, and challenging, as I hit the meat of my training for my 2nd half marathon.

Since this report is so late, I’ll just get on with the details:

  • Total Miles: 179.3 miles
  • Total Time: 27:51:51
  • Average Pace: 9:20/mile

Additional Notes

I ran 24 of 30 days in the month, with my highest mileage ever for a single month (by 25 miles), and most time spent running (by 3:53:01). September was my 3rd month of 150+ miles, the first of 160+ miles, and the first of 170+ miles. It was also the 14th consecutive month over 100 miles.

Here’s a breakdown of my runs for the month:

  • Easy: 108 miles
  • Tempo: 18 miles*
  • Intervals: 11.2 miles*
  • Long: 42 miles
  • Shortest Run: 4.2 miles
  • Longest Run: 15 miles**

* I started tracking warm up and warm down miles that were part of a tempo or interval workout separately from the actual tempo or interval workout.

** My longest run ever.

By Bryan at 10:44 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Playlist Suggestions For My Next Half Marathon

With just two and a half weeks until I race my second half marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver 1/2 Marathon, it’s time for me to start putting together a playlist of songs to listen to while I’m racing. First, let me get a few things out of the way…

  • Yes, I’m planning on wearing headphones during the race.
  • Yes, I know the controversy about wearing headphones during races—this post is not the place for commenting on that debate.
  • Yes, I realize that there will be bands playing every mile along the course.

So here is what I’m interested in:

  • Good songs.
  • Songs you like to run to.
  • Songs with a tempo—not too fast & not too slow.
  • Songs that will inspire me to keep going, when by legs are screaming for me to stop.
  • I really don’t care about any particular musical genre, as long as the song fits in with the bullets above.

You might recall the playlist I used for my first half marathon. Look it over if you want to get an idea of music I’ve run to in the past. I will likely use that list as a starting point for this new list.

If you have any song suggestions, please leave a comment below. In case I forget to say it later, thanks for the suggestions!

By Bryan at 7:09 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August 2010 Running Recap

One of the most grueling months of my short running career has finally come to an end. It wasn’t the running that caused the month to be so challenging, it was the weather, which should come as no surprise—this is Texas, after all.

For August, the average high was 100.5°F, and the average low was 79°F. For 30 of the 31 days the high was >= 90°F, and for 22 days it was >= 100°F. For 16 days the low was >= 80°F. To me, that’s the single biggest issue I have with Texas summers—we don’t cool off at night. Now onto some running…

The rest of the summer hasn’t exactly been a piece of cake, but it wasn’t quite as bad as August. However, I did a heck of a lot of running on the treadmill during June and July. That all changed when I started training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver Half Marathon the first week of August. I knew that since the race would be outside on the road, I needed to be running on the road, not inside on the treadmill. This change led to a couple of other changes: 1) I started getting up early to run before work, and 2) my average pace has gone up significantly (I tend to run at a faster pace on the treadmill, rather than raise the incline). Here are the stats for August:

  • Total Miles: 153.1 (2nd highest total ever)
  • Total Time: 23:56:43
  • Average Pace: 9:24/mile

Additional Notes

I ran 22 out of 31 days in the month. Compared to July, I ran 15.9 more miles in August, and my average pace slowed by 4 seconds per mile. August is the 2nd month of 150+ miles running (the other was February of this year), and the 13th consecutive month of 100+ miles. I also went over 1000 miles for the year in early August.

Here’s a breakdown of how I spent my time running:

  • Easy: 78.1 (13)
  • Tempo: 19 (3)
  • Intervals: 7 (1)
  • Long: 45 (4)
  • Hill: 4 (1)
  • Shortest Run: 4 miles
  • Longest Run: 12 miles

As you can see, the long run has returned in a big way. In the month, I did two 12 mile runs, an 11 mile run, and a 10 mile run.

By Bryan at 1:10 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, August 2, 2010

July 2010 Running Recap

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written a running recap (March to be exact), and with some milestones being met and coming up, along with some additional news pending, I thought it’s time for an update. I won’t bother going back and providing a full month-by-month recap since March, but I will sprinkle in any pertinent information.

Since the March recap, I ran one race, in April—the America’s Run 5K, where I set a new PR with a time of 23:34. Also, as you all know, Julie and I had a baby, Sam, who was born in late April. Since then I have been in maintenance mode, doing my best to get in some miles, along with one or two quality runs per week. However, I’ve not concerned myself with getting in any specific type of workout, and the long run (at least the double-digit variety) has almost completely disappeared from my running log. Onto some stats—first with a quick hit on previous months, and then the full stats for July:

  • Total Miles / Total Time / Average Pace Per Mile
    • April: 119.4 / 18:16:17 / 9:11
    • May: 135.3 / 20:37:53 / 9:10
    • June: 133 / 20:10:54 / 9:07
    • July: 137.2 / 21:18:58 / 9:20

Additional Notes

In the month of July I ran 24 out of 31 days. As you can see above, I ran 4 more miles in the month, compared to June. However, due to a decreased pace, I spent an additional 68 minutes on my feet in July. Roughly 10 minutes of that additional time is due to putting in a few miles with Julie, as she makes her post-baby running comeback. The rest is due to slowing down for the hotter, more humid weather of July. I’m sure that August will slow down even more.

July was the 12th consecutive month of 100+ miles, and in those 12 months I’ve run 1567.2 miles—averaging 30 miles per week and 130 miles per month. Since my return to running in March 2009, following knee surgery in early February 2009, I’ve run 1984.6 miles. I’ve also run 967.5 miles in 2010. I should cross 1000 miles for the year sometime in the next week.

Here’s a breakdown of miles by the type of runs I did in July:

  • Easy: 62 (13)
  • Fartlek: 4 (1)
  • Hill: 12 (2)
  • Intervals: 16.2 (3)
  • Long: 18 (2)
  • Tempo: 25 (4)

What’s Next?

What’s next? That’s a good question. I really want to do another half marathon this year, and I’ve even contemplated doing a marathon late in the year. To that end, I’m thinking about signing up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Denver 1/2 Marathon, which is October 17. Along the way, I’d schedule a 5K or two, as well as a 10K, if possible. I might even use the half marathon training as a springboard to doing a marathon in late November or December (I’ll take a wait and see approach on that). In the meantime, does anyone have any words of wisdom for preparing for and running a race that is held at an elevation 4500 feet higher than where I live and train?

By Bryan at 5:20 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jacob Turns 10, Sam Turns 12 (weeks)

Wow. It’s been a while, huh? As I’m sure you know by now, Julie and I have been very busy with our little baby boy, Sam, along with traveling all star baseball and t-ball. I’m sorry for not posting anything here, but I’m sure you’ve seen all of the details on Facebook or elsewhere.

Today is a very big day in our household, as it is Jacob’s 10th birthday (I know, can you believe it?!?), Sam is 12 weeks old, and Julie is back to work for the first time since Sam was born—all in the same day! Of course, this also means that Sam is now at daycare. Today is actually his second day there, as we took him yesterday for a while, so that today wasn’t such a HUGE day for him and Julie.

Sam seems to have done very well with his first day at daycare, and was in a very good mood for most of the evening. Julie also seems to have handled the first day away very well—she was smart and occupied herself with a spa day (part of her birthday present). It will be interesting to see what sort of effect daycare has on both of them.

As for the birthday boy, Jacob got to get the birthday celebrating kicked off a little early, with a trip to Houston this past weekend to visit my in-laws. While in Houston, Jacob got in some fishing, go-cart riding, movie watching, and of course some cake eating. The celebrating continued with breakfast food for dinner last night. Since he’s going to be with his mom this evening, he also got to open his gifts from us. The poor kid has been so busy with baseball this summer that he hadn’t taken the time to properly inform us of all the things he wanted, so Julie had to do some last minute shopping, after finally getting some ideas from him.

That’s it for now. I promise I’ll write again soon!

By Bryan at 3:57 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Friday, April 16, 2010

The Inaugural America’s Run 5K Race Report

This past Sunday, I, along with my brother-in-law, Steven, and 1200+ other timed runners, raced the inaugural America’s Run 5K, at Cowboys Stadium. In addition to the 1200+ timed runners, there were an untold number of untimed runners participating, making it an extremely large field for the 5K.

Steven and I had talked about him doing the Cowtown 5K back in February, but scheduling conflicts kept that from becoming reality. Instead, he suggested doing the America’s Run, which was promoting it’s finish on the field at Cowboys Stadium. I’d heard about the race, and finishing on the field sounded cool, but the price of the race and having to pay for parking had kept me from signing up. However, once Steven said he wanted to do it, I agreed, and signed up. With the race falling 6 weeks after the Cowtown Half Marathon, it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to take advantage of a big training base, and go for a new 5K PR.

In the week before the race, I felt like my training had fallen off some, and I wasn’t feeling really confident. I was starting to wish that I’d done a 5K two to three weeks after the Half, rather than waiting six weeks; I felt like I’d lost my edge. Fortunately a good final interval workout helped to boost my confidence, and I decided it was time to set my goals for the race:

  1. 23:30 – Ideal conditions, and my big base pays off. This would exceed all expectations.
  2. A new PR (24:28, set on 10/24/2009) – 24:00 even is what I expected.
  3. 25:00 – Would be disappointing, given my fitness level, and the course.

Race day started typically enough, with me waking up a few minutes before my 4:15 AM alarm. I quickly turned off all of my alarms (I set 3), and got going with my pre-race routine. (I like to allow a couple of hours for my body to get ready, before we need to leave.) I had my typical breakfast of toast, with peanut butter and honey, some water, and then showered and got dressed. (Who else showers before a race?) by 5:45 AM, the house was buzzing with activity, with Julie, Steven, and my sister, Tracy, all getting ready to head out. A little after 6:30 AM, we were out the door, and on our way to the race.

Aside from a longer than normal drive for a 5K, we had no problems getting to the race, or parking. I guess when you host a race at a location that is used to handling 100,000+ people for events, a few thousand for a 5K and half marathon is nothing! Once parked, we headed toward the start, which was just outside the south side of Cowboys Stadium.

Steven and I spent about 10 minutes warming up, and then we headed into the starting area. We took care not to get too close to the front, but we didn’t want to be too far back either. Once in the starting area, I noticed that we had a lot of runners around us and in front of us without timing chips. Not a good sign. I also noticed a lot of runners around us and in front of us who were wearing their race t-shirt for the race. Also, not a good sign. We briefly contemplated moving forward some, but these folks were all over, and all the way up to the front, so we stayed put. After a couple of instructions from the announcer, we were off!

I immediately regretted not moving forward, but I made the best of it, and quickly picked my way through the crowd of “fun runners,” taking care not to weave too much. By the 1/4 mile mark, I was finally getting clear of most of the traffic. In order to hit my “B” goal, I planned on running an evenly paced race of 7:45/mile, which would allow me to kick at the end to get under 24:00. By the half mile mark, I had settled into my target pace, and after a half-mile uphill from Cowboys Stadium past the Ballpark, I finally hit the 1 mile marker in a time of 7:46. Taking advantage of a downhill for the next little while, I increased my pace slightly, and eased past large groups of runners, going through mile 2 in 7:35. At this point I was starting to feel the burn, but knew that with just 1.1 miles to go, I could hold on to my pace. I continued to pass folks, and took advantage of the downhill return to Cowboys Stadium to pick up the pace a little more, and hit the 3 mile mark in 7:26. It was at the 3 mile mark where the fun really began. We heading down into the stadium to field level, and then onto the field, where we had a straightaway finish on the 50-yard line. Once I saw the finish, and hit the turf, I was off like someone had fired my afterburners—it was an awesome feeling! I crossed the finish line with a new PR of 23:34.

After the finish, I grabbed some water, my medal (yes, a medal for the 5K), and souvenir towel, and hung out on the field waiting for Steven to finish. I didn’t have to wait long, as Steven exceeded his goal by over 3 minutes, coming across in 26:56, for an excellent time in his first non-fun run 5K.

Steven and I made our way into the stands, where we hung out with Julie and Tracy. We cheered on the other 5K finishers, including Chris from @journeytv, and awaited the arrival of the half marathon finishers, including Troy Aikman. All in all, I thought this event was very well run, especially for a first-time event; Steven and I are already making plans to run it again next year, as are Julie and Tracy.

By Bryan at 2:14 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

March 2010 Running Recap

Another month has come to an end, and for those of us running in north Texas, that means spring is finally in full effect, along with everything that comes with it—wind, warmer temperatures, wind, allergies, and wind. Did I mention wind? Seriously, I think we had a week straight of winds gusting 25-30+ mph! Not fun.

Aside from battling the wind, March was a pretty boring month for running. Sure, I was accepted into the Brooks ID program, but I didn’t do any races, didn’t hit any new mileage highs, dogs chasing me, or coyotes running with me… Wait, I didn’t tell you about the Brooks ID program? Shame on me! Brooks ID stands for Inspire Daily, and this is what it’s about:

Brooks I.D. stands for Inspire Daily. These two simple words guide the principles of the program. Brooks I.D. is made up of over 2,000 members who are active in their running communities and share a passion for the Brooks brand. They are runners who are winners in their own right: Winning their age divisions, accomplishing their personal goals, pushing their own limits, and, by extension, encouraging others to do the same. They are coaches, mentors, and leaders.

Read more about the Brooks ID program…

So yeah, that’s pretty cool, and I’m excited to be a part of that community, and do what I can to live up to its mission. I’m sure that there will be a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

Moving on to my running, here are the numbers for the month of March:

  • Total Miles: 141.1
  • Total Time: 21:57:12
  • Average Pace: 9:20/mile

Additional Notes

I ran 23 out of 31 days in March. Compared to February, I ran 13.2 fewer miles, spending a little more than 2 less hours on my feet. March is the 8th 100+ mile month in a row, and the 10th in the last 11 months. March was also the fourth consecutive month over 140 miles.

Here’s a closer look at the type of runs I did:

  • Easy: 78 (14 runs)
  • Fartlek: 4 (1 run)
  • Hill: 6 (1 run)
  • Tempo: 6 (1 run)
  • Interval: 20.1 (4 runs)
  • Long Run: 27 (3 runs)
  • Longest Run: 10 miles
  • Shortest Run: 4 (3 runs)
  • Best Paced Run: 8:34/mile (intervals)

By Bryan at 4:26 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Cowtown Half Marathon Playlist

I meant to do this last week, but forgot. I thought I would share what was on my playlist for the Cowtown Half Marathon. You can laugh, but don’t judge…

  1. In The Air Tonight – Phil Collins
  2. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  3. Paralyzer – Finger Eleven
  4. Use Somebody – Kings of Leon
  5. I Gotta Feeling – The Black Eyed Peas
  6. Shattered (Turn The Car Around) – O.A.R.
  7. Please Don’t Leave Me - Pink
  8. Second Chance - Shinedown
  9. Say Hey (I Love You) – Michael Franti
  10. Somebody Told Me – The Killers
  11. It Keeps You Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
  12. Living On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
  13. Hey, Soul Sister - Train
  14. Tik Tok - Ke$ha
  15. China Grove – The Doobie Brothers
  16. Fergalicious - Fergie
  17. Your Love – The Outfield
  18. Stronger – Kanye West
  19. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
  20. Uprising - Muse
  21. All The Right Moves - OneRepublic
  22. Roll With Me – Montgomery Gentry
  23. Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
  24. Viva La Vida - Coldplay
  25. Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z
  26. Don’t Stop Believin’ - Journey
  27. Stayin’ Alive – The Bee Gees
  28. Right Now – Van Halen

The list got its start back in the late fall, as a training run playlist. It evolved over time, with songs coming and going. In the days leading up to the race, I fine-tuned the contents of the list, and gave some thought to the order of some of the songs, and the timing of where I’d likely be when they played (though Living On A Prayer should’ve come a little later, as it played before I was halfway there).

The list did what it was supposed to do—give my mind something else to focus on from time to time. I kept the volume low enough so that I could hear what was going on around me (the crowd noise, etc.), and still be able to hear the music when I wanted to. Oddly enough, the last song I remember hearing was Don’t Stop Believin’, while I was still about half a mile out. I couldn’t tell you if the other 2 songs played or not, or if my headphones were even in…I didn’t hear any music as I rounded the last couple of turns and headed to the finish. Those last few minutes alternated between being so completely focused that everything else was tuned out, and enjoying the cheers from the crowds that lined the route.

By Bryan at 2:20 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

February 2010 Running Recap

When it came to running, February was all about the Cowtown Half Marathon. Every run was done with an eye towards how it would help me run the Cowtown. There was a brief time when my motivation slipped, but I never lost sight of the end goal. I pushed through the motivation issues, and completed all of my training runs; I might’ve even enjoyed some of them.

In case you missed it, I raced the Cowtown Half Marathon, my first half marathon, this past Saturday. Here’s the race report, as well as some additional data. My official time was 1:54:57, which was well under my goal of a sub 2:00 hour half marathon.

Here are the numbers for the month:

  • Total Miles: 154.3
  • Total Time: 24:08:50
  • Average Pace: 9:24/mile

Additional Notes

Compared to January, I ran 11.2 more miles, in an additional hour and 53 minutes. I set a new high for distance run at one time, doing two 14 mile runs during the month. February is the 7th 100+ mile month in a row, and the 9th in the last 10 months. February was also the third consecutive month over 140 miles. The 154.3 miles for the month is also a new monthly high.

Here’s a closer look at how my runs broke down in February:

  • Easy: 69.1 (15 runs)
  • Tempo: 21  (3 runs)
  • Interval: 10  (1 run)
  • Long Run: 41.1 (3 runs)
  • Race: 13.1 (1 run)
  • Longest Run: 14 (twice)
  • Shortest Run: 2 (twice)
  • Best Paced Run: 8:44/mile (tempo)

By Bryan at 1:27 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The 2010 Cowtown By The Numbers

I thought y’all might like to see some of the numbers behind my race.

Garmin data:

Total Distance & Time: 13.14 miles in 1:54:57

Mile Splits

  1. 8:52
  2. 8:57
  3. 8:49
  4. 8:43
  5. 9:01
  6. 8:52
  7. 8:51
  8. 8:41
  9. 8:37
  10. 8:38
  11. 8:35
  12. 8:48
  13. 8:26
  14. 1:02 (the final .14)

Average Pace: 8:45/mile for 13.14 miles
Heart Rate: Avg HR – 174; Max HR – 193

Next up is the placement info:

Overall Place: 1005 out of 4777 (21%)
Age Group: 104 out of 297 (35%)
Gender: 729 out of 2334 (31%)

Here are some links with more data:

Official Results: http://bit.ly/az1Akq
Runpix Finish Order: http://bit.ly/2010CowtownHalfRunPix
Garmin Data: http://bit.ly/99Y6W7

By Bryan at 12:21 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Cowtown Half Marathon Race Report

I’ve started and stopped writing this race report at least half a dozen times. I’m still not sure that I’m happy with it. This report will take you through the end of the race, and then I’ll follow up with some post race commentary. Fair warning, this is a long one!

This past Saturday morning started off like most race mornings—up before the crack of dawn. However, unlike other race mornings, I was going to be running my very first half marathon, the Cowtown Half Marathon. Though I tossed and turned most of the night (thank goodness for getting to bed early all week), I managed to get up with my alarm at 4:20 AM. For once, I planned ahead, and had all of my stuff ready to go the night before, so that I had little to worry about while getting ready. Of course, with the temperature hovering around freezing, and not supposed to be a lot warmer by the start, I was a little concerned that I would wear too much…or not enough. Either way would not be pleasant.

Julie and I headed out the door at just after 6:00 AM—right on schedule. Our plan to park in our work parking garage worked out perfectly, and we were able to skirt around the traffic jams as everyone else tried to fight their way into downtown from the other side. After a quick stop in the office to use the restroom, and make a final decision on clothing, we headed to the starting area, where I ultimately decided to strip down to my running shorts and shirt, leaving only gloves on as extra precaution against the cold. Julie took a quick picture and gave me a kiss, and I headed to the starting corrals.

I made my way into the corrals, between the sign for Corral B and C (my corral), just as the wheelchair competitors started on the course. Any nerves that I had were now replaced with a feeling of excitement. Due to poor planning with the corral setup (no barriers separating the corrals), I ended up being held back with Corral D, along with a lot of other Corral C folks. Not to worry, the race was being chip timed, but it did mean I’d have quite a few more slower folks to work my way past. It seemed like I was in the starting corral forever before it was finally our turn to go, but eventually the starting gun sounded, and the race was on.

As expected, the start was quite congested, and there were a number of slower runners and even walkers to work past. Even with the extra traffic, as we exited downtown, heading down the bridge to the Trinity River, I couldn’t help but to have the biggest smile ever! This was going to be an awesome day, and I was going to soak up as much of it as I could.

Somewhere between miles 1 and 2 a spectator shouted that we were “almost there!” Seriously. If you’re going to cheer at a race, that’s great, but please don’t tell a runner that they’re almost there, unless you can see the finish line, and even then maybe not. Mile 2 felt a lot harder than I expected, and it had me worried, until I remembered that it was all uphill.

As I rounded the turn off of Main Street, and onto 20th Street, a girl wearing all pink, including a pink cowboy hat, ran past me. I remember thinking “please don’t let her beat me.” A little later, as we approached the fluid station around mile 3, I ran up on a woman whose t-shirt said “baby on board.” I really wanted to ask her how far along she was, but she stopped for water, and I didn’t see her again. The craziest thing I saw in the first few miles of the race, aside from all of the guys running between buildings and behind bushes to pee, had to be the guy wearing his bathrobe. At first I thought about considering him a “costumed runner,” and staying ahead of him, but he was too fast, so I let him go.

My primary focus through the first 10K of the race was to hold a steady effort up and down the hills, and through the water stations, which was easier said than done. It seemed like for every downhill section, there were at least two uphill sections. As I completed the first 10K, I refueled, and started to settle into a little quicker pace. My 10K split was 55:19, a new 10K PR by 3 seconds.

If I thought the hills in the first 10K were tough, the next 4 miles featured a series of unrelenting, rolling hills, and then the bricks of Camp Bowie! Before spitting us out onto Camp Bowie, this section of the race went through some nice neighborhoods, with quite a few people out in front of their houses cheering us on. This was also where I was finally in some familiar running territory, as the course overlapped with some of the Run for Dad 5K course that I raced in June, 2008.

It wasn’t long before we were through the neighborhoods and running down Camp Bowie, heading back towards downtown, and on the bricks. The bricks sucked. SUCKED! I knew from the Run for Dad that my hips and knees did not like running on the Camp Bowie bricks, and this was really the only time during the race that I felt any joint or muscle discomfort. I could not get off of them fast enough! My 10 mile split was 1:28:12, a new 10 mile PR (of course this was my first 10 miles in a race).

With 10 miles behind me, and only the final 5K between me and a finisher’s medal for my first half marathon, I finally let myself start thinking about finishing the race. As luck would have it, this is also when my stomach started to turn against me, and I seriously wondered if my fluids and Shot Blocks were going to stay down, and if I would even finish the race after all. As it turned out, luck was on my side, and everything stayed down.

My goal for this race was to finish under 2 hours. After passing the 10 mile mark with 31 minutes and change to spare, I knew I could cruise in at 10:00/mile, and meet my goal. There was a brief, but very real battle between the desire to slow down and take it easy, and the determination to kick this race’s butt. Fortunately kicking butt won the day, but just barely. As I headed down 7th Street, all I thought about was the hill looming up ahead—the 2nd to last hill of the race, and one heck of a good demotivator.

As I approached the hill, more and more people were walking. As I ran up the hill I experience the first of several little muscle spasms in my calves. This was new territory for me. I’ve heard too many horror stories of cramps and spasms taking people down towards the end of a race—I was worried, but I kept on running. Soon I was up the hill and only a mile from the finish. It was time to pick up the pace, but dang it, there was one more hill. Damn that hill up Lancaster. I thought the hill at the end of 7th Street was a good one, but it had nothing on the demotivating powers of the Lancaster hill. People were walking left and right, and encouragement from fellow runners did little to spur them on. It was time for me to turn my attention inward, and focus on my race.

I made it up Lancaster, and turned onto Throckmorton. I was now ½ a mile from the finish; it was time to pick up the pace again. As I rounded the turn from Throckmorton onto 10th Street, I thought about asking the guy next to me if he wanted to race it on in. Thankfully I kept my mouth shut, and instead picked up the pace a little more. At this point, there’s just a quarter mile to go; one final turn, and then it’s the home stretch! One time around the track—I knew I could do that. It’s time to pick up the pace again. I pass the mile 13 marker, there’s just a tenth of a mile to go “kick, kick, kick! Ok, at least try to kick!” I don’t even know if my Zune is still playing or not, because I’m so focused on the finish line, and all I can hear is the crowd. One last kick to the finish and it’s over. 1:54:57—my first half marathon is complete.

Here are my thoughts as I crossed the finish:

  • Stop the Garmin! Stop the Garmin!
  • Dude…don’t stop just past the finish line, unless you want me to run you over.
  • Where’s the guy with the medals? There he is. Hold on a second while I rest my hands on my knees and try not to fall over.
  • Water! I need some water! Screw this, it’s taking too long. I’ll get some water later.

Check back later for the post race highlights!

By Bryan at 7:00 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Quiet Before The Storm

It’s 5:18 AM, and I’m in the middle of my pre-race routine—eating some toast with peanut butter and honey (what you were thinking…). The Cowtown Half Marathon is this morning, and as you all know, this is my first half marathon. I’m excited, and I’m nervous. Really, more than anything, I can’t wait to get this show on the road. Let’s just skip past the rest of the pre-race stuff, and start the dang race! I don’t need to mess with traffic, parking, the crowds, or freezing my you know what off waiting for the start. Let’s race!

I’ll leave you with a couple of things: my goals. (Yes, I have them.) This being my first half marathon, the ultimate goal is to finish the race in one piece, and maybe even enjoy the experience. That’s really it, just finish. Okay, I do have a time goal that I’ll share with you. When I first signed up for a half marathon, back in the spring of 2008 (for the San Antonio Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon), I put down an estimated finishing time of 2 hours and 20 minutes. Two years later, after a knee injury that kept me from running the SA R’n’Roll Half, and one year after knee surgery, I am shooting for sub 2 hours. I feel good about hitting this goal. In fact, my training indicates that I could do better, but I’m not sold. Time will tell, huh?

I’ll be back later in the day with an update. Follow me on Twitter for earlier results. (No, I won’t be tweeting and running.)

By Bryan at 6:32 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Road To The 2010 Cowtown Half Marathon

At 7:30 AM, this coming Saturday morning, a gun will go off, signaling the start of the 2010 Cowtown Marathon, Half Marathon, Ultra Marathon, and 10K. A few minutes later, my corral should be released, and I’ll be starting the half marathon. It’s been a little over 72 hours since I finished the last key workout of my current training cycle, a 14 mile run (my second). In a little under 72 hours from now I will hopefully be finishing my first half marathon.

While running the Cowtown Half Marathon comes at the end of a 16 week training cycle, the road to the starting line began long before that. As some of you might recall, in March 2008, I registered for the inaugural San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, which was held on November 16, 2008. Training for that race went well until week 10 of a 16 week training plan. In the middle of a 4 x 1 mile interval workout, my right knee started to hurt. Bad. We’re talking sharp, shooting pain. IT band, I thought. IT band, the doc thought. IT band, the PT guy thought. I went to PT appointment after PT appointment; I tried to keep running; I failed at continuing to run; I canceled the trip to San Antonio for the race; I rested completely; It still hurt.

After 12 PT appointments, a couple of follow-ups with the Doc, and the pain was still not any better, I went for an MRI. It showed a tear in the medial meniscus, as well as a ganglion cyst on the lateral aspect of the knee. Surgery was scheduled. Surgery was performed (February 3, 2009). No tear was found. Instead, a lot of loose cartilage and tissue on the outside of the knee was cleaned up. I began the recovery process.

By March, I started to ease myself back into running. By May, I hit my first post-op 100 mile month. In June, I ran my first post-op race—the xSIGHTment 5K, and set a PR. In July, I found myself needing to back off of the running some and began swimming. In August, I began ramping my mileage back up, and started a streak of 100+ mile months which is still going today. In October, I started to think about a race schedule for 2010, and put together a list, which included the Cowtown Half Marathon. I also ran my second post-op race—the Running Scared 5K, and set a PR. In November, I created a 16 week half marathon training program, along with a 6 week 5K program, using the Smart Coach tool at Runner’s World.

The two programs started off similarly enough that I used the 5K program (my first structured running in nearly a year) to get ready for a 5K race in early December, and then switched over the half marathon plan after that. The half marathon plan featured long runs and interval or tempo runs nearly every week. It also featured cut-back weeks every few weeks. As the plan progressed, the specified paces became faster, and the distances greater. Before I knew it, I was running 6 miles @ tempo pace, and 5 x 1 mile intervals, along with 13 and 14 mile long runs. This past Sunday’s long run marked the last of the key runs. All of the pre-race hard work is done. I am ready. There is not much more I can do over the next couple of days to gain fitness. The hay is in the barn.

By Bryan at 3:10 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

10 Days Until The Cowtown Half Marathon

It’s 10 days and counting until I run my first half marathon, the Cowtown Half Marathon. This past weekend I ran 14 miles for the first time ever. It was miserable. The wind chill was in the 20s, and the winds were steady at 11 mph, gusting to 38 mph (I think mostly gusting). As tempted as I was to call it a day after the first half mile, or to do half of it outside and half of it on the treadmill, I stayed the course, and did it all outside. I figured it would be good practice in case we get another shot of cold, windy weather for the race.

Monday was a rest day from running, as well as from work, so I made it a total day off. Instead of training, I spent the day with Julie, just taking it easy, and running a few errands (like picking up Baby D’s crib, and paint for the nursery). Yesterday, it was back to running, with 6 miles easy. While my heart rate and pace were on target for an easy run, my legs weren’t onboard; they felt absolutely awful. This got me thinking: should I really be doing a 6 mile tempo run tomorrow, and: should I really be running another 14 miles this Sunday?

I know people taper for 2 to 3 weeks for a marathon, but what about a half marathon? So as I head down the homestretch of my half marathon training, I thought that I’d show you what training is left, according to my plan, and seek some feedback. Maybe the plan is fine, or perhaps I should scale back the remaining key workouts, reducing the quantity, not the quality. Let me know what you think.

Week 15
Day Workout
Monday Rest/XT
Tuesday Easy Run
Dist: 6 mi @ 9:50
Wednesday Easy Run
Dist: 5 mi @ 9:50
Thursday Tempo Run
Dist 8 mi, inc Warm; 6 mi @ 8:33; Cool
Friday Easy Run
Dist: 5 mi @ 9:50
Saturday Easy Run
Dist: 5 mi @ 9:50
Sunday Long Run
Dist: 14 mi @ 9:50
Total 43 miles

Week 16
Day Workout
Monday Rest/XT
Tuesday Easy Run
Dist: 4 mi @ 10:08
Wednesday Tempo Run
Dist: 5 mi, inc Warm; 3 mi @ 8:34; Cool
Thursday Easy Run
Dist: 4 mi @ 10:08
Friday Rest/XT
Saturday Race Day
Dist: Half-Marathon @ 8:32 Time: 1:52:02
Sunday Rest
Total 26 miles

Notes

The training plan has race day as a Sunday, when it’s actually on a Saturday. To account for this, I removed an easy run from Wednesday in week 16, and shifted the remaining workouts one day earlier. Alternatively, I could drop the rest day on Monday of that week, and run easy instead.

The questions I have are:

  1. Is the 6 miles at tempo too much, just 9 days before the race?
  2. Do I need to move my last long run from Sunday to Saturday, so that it is a week before the race?
  3. Is a 14 mile long run too long, just 6 or 7 days before the race?

My half marathon training plan was generated using the SmartCoach training tool at Runner’s World.

By Bryan at 12:22 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Countdown To The Cowtown

Today, in preparation for the upcoming Cowtown Half Marathon, I ran the second of two scheduled 13 mile runs. The first 13 mile run (my first ever) was two weeks ago, and I was eager to see what it would be like the second time out.

Typically I struggle with a new long distance the first time out, and then do much better the second time around. However, with 13 miles, I didn’t really struggle the first time out, even though the last half was run into a 14 mph wind that was gusting to 22 mph. I was curious to see how the second time at 13 miles would shake out. Of course, the purpose of the long run is not to compete against previous long runs, so I was really just looking to see how it felt to cover the distance again.

My goal was to run comfortably for most of the run, sticking with the pace prescribed in my training plan. I succeeded for the most part, not pushing the pace until the final two miles, which I ran at the pace that my training plan says is my half marathon pace (I thought it was more like my 10K pace). I also ran the same route as the first 13 mile run, but in reverse. This meant more hills in the second half, when I’d likely be tiring. I did this because I’ve neglected hill running lately, and I knew it would force me to keep the pace honest. It worked.

So here I am on Sunday afternoon, relaxing, recovering, and feeling good about where my fitness is for the upcoming half marathon. I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to hit the pace from my training plan, and I’m not sure I want to try, since this is my first half. You know everyone always says that the goal for the first time out should be to finish and have a good time—no time goals. We’ll see about that.

I’ve got one more interval workout—the hardest to date (5 x 1 mile; half mile jog recovery; 10 miles total, including warm up and warm down). I have one more hard tempo run (6 miles at tempo pace, 8 miles total), plus a shorter tempo run the week before the race. I also have two 14 mile runs. Every other run over the next 20 days will be easy, and somewhere between 4 and 6 miles. So there is still some improved fitness to be had.

20 days to go; see you at the finish line.

By Bryan at 4:52 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Motivation Waning

I feel like my motivation to train has been waning over the last couple of weeks. I’m not really sure why. It isn’t that I don’t want to run, it’s that I don’t want to be bound to a training schedule. I don’t want to be required to do 6 miles at tempo pace, or 5 x 1 mile repeats. I just want to run. 3 miles, 4 miles, whatever—just don’t tell me how fast or how far.

In trying to pinpoint the exact point in time when I first felt this way, I’d have to say it was after I finished my 12 mile run at a pace that would have me finishing a half marathon in under 2 hours. It certainly didn’t help that a week later I did my first ever 13 mile run (tacked on an extra tenth to hit 13.1) at a pretty easy pace, in 18 mph winds that gusted to 33 mph, and finished in 2:04 and change. My goal has been to run a two hour half marathon, and it would seem that I’m currently capable of doing just that, given the right conditions. If this is the case, then can’t I just cruise through the next 3+ weeks until the race? Do I really need to keep pushing myself?

Yes. Wait, no. Yes. Oh, I don’t know. I guess so. I want to be as prepared as possible, and with 3+ weeks to go, I’ve still got 3 tempo runs (including a really short one the week of the race), an interval workout, and 3 long runs left. That’s plenty of time for those workouts to have an impact on my race. And even though this is my first half marathon, wouldn’t it be nice to actually race it, rather than just survive it?

Surely I’m not alone in feeling this way. This is something most other runners experience, right? Right?!?

By Bryan at 1:56 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, February 1, 2010

January 2010 Running Recap

First, you should know that since it is now February 1st and I’ve not yet posted my 2009 Running Recap, there will be no “year in review” post. Sorry. I know you’re really disappointed, but you should also know that I’m not planning on making it up to you. That said, here’s my January 2010 Running Recap…

After coming off of my two highest mileage months ever, and having allowed myself quite a bit of running freedom in December, combined with the need to really start focusing on training for my first half marathon, January figured to be a bit of a drag. There would be no more “I’m just going to see how I feel and do ‘x’ or maybe ‘y’.” Instead, it would be “the training plan says to do ‘x’, so I’m doing ‘x’, even though I’d rather do ‘y’.” The training plan also called for fewer miles per week than what I’d been running. I’m like most runners in that I don’t like to scale back my mileage.

On top of all of this structure I had to deal with in January, it wasn’t even a week into the new month, and I was already faced with missing several days in a row. As with most other things, I’ve got no one to blame but myself. It was me, after all, who at the last minute talked my brother-in-law into going to see Texas vs. Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game. I’m in Fort Worth, the game was in Pasadena, California. We bought the tickets the afternoon before the game, and then started the long drive to California. From Wednesday afternoon through Saturday morning, we spent most of our time getting out there and back. As nice as it would’ve been to run along the way, there simply wasn’t any time, so I didn’t run Wednesday – Saturday of that week. Fortunately there was an extra week built into my training plan, though after going nearly 3 days without sleep, I really wasn’t feeling good on my runs for another week.

So that’s my story. Here are the numbers:

  • Total Miles: 143.1
  • Total Time: 22:15:03
  • Average Pace: 9:20/mile

Additional Notes

Compared to December, I ran 7 fewer miles in 68 fewer minutes. I ran long twice—a 12 miler (9:07/mile), and my first 13 miler. The 13 miler ended a tenth of a mile from the house, so of course I ran the additional tenth of a mile to the house, to make the run 13.1 miles. January is the 6th 100+ mile month in a row, and the 8th in the last 9 months. January was also the second month in a row over 140 miles.

Here’s a closer look at how my runs broke down in December:

  • Easy: 68.04 (12 runs)
  • Hill: 8 (1 run)
  • Tempo: 13 (2 runs)
  • Interval: 13 (2 runs)
  • Fartlek: 16 (3 runs)*
  • Long Run: 25.1 (2 runs)
  • Longest Run: 13.1
  • Shortest Run: 4
  • Best Paced Run: 8:50/mile (Fartlek)

One last note: Earlier in the post, I mentioned a half marathon—the Cowtown Half Marathon. I registered for this race, and barring any change of plans, it will be my first half marathon. It’s the 27th of February.

* Most of the fartlek runs were on the treadmill and involved tenth of a mile repeats, with a tenth of a mile recovery. The intervals were a mix of speed and hill intervals.

By Bryan at 12:38 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, January 11, 2010

December 2009 Running Recap

Whew…what a finish to the year, and what a whirlwind the last few days have been (more on that in a later post)! If you’ll recall, I finished up November with a 1 mile run on the treadmill, just so that I could hit 130 miles in a month for the first time. Well, November has nothing on December…

The month started off slowly, with 20 miles in week 1 and 26 miles in week 2. The low mileage was due to a couple of things—first, I was recovering from a pretty nasty cold and was resting up for a race, and second, we went to Birmingham, AL for Julie’s grandmother’s funeral. However, by the end of week 2, I’d started a running streak that would see me cover 124 miles in the final 21 days of the month—18 days of running, and 3 days of rest.

During those 18 runs, I always ran at least 6 miles, and often would run more. I wasn’t exactly sticking to my training program, except when it came to tempo and interval days—I always got those in according to the program. I haven’t gone back to see how many miles I should’ve run during that time, but it is a lot less than what I did run.

  • Total Miles: 150.1
  • Total Time: 23:23:12
  • Average Pace: 9:21/mile

Additional Notes

Compared to November, I ran an additional 20 miles, taking just under 3 extra hours to do so. I did my first trail run, at Eagle Mountain Park. It was 6 miles of ups and downs along the shore and bluffs of Eagle Mountain Lake. I hope to run out there more often. I only ran long once, but it was for 12 miles—my 2nd ever 12 mile run. December is the 5th 100+ mile month in a row, and the 7th in the last 8 months. December was my first month over 140 miles and my first month at 150+ miles.

Here’s a closer look at how my runs broke down in December:

  • Easy: 74.07 (12 runs)
  • Hill: 18.01 (3 runs)*
  • Tempo: 35.02 (6 runs)
  • Interval: 11.01 (2 runs)
  • Long Run: 12.02 (1 run)**
  • Longest Run: 12.02
  • Shortest Run: 4
  • Best Paced Run: 8:41/mile (Tempo)

One last note: In the November recap, I mentioned that I would be running a 5K in early December. Unfortunately, I didn’t run that race, as we left for Birmingham a few hours before the race.

* One of these runs was my trail run at Eagle Mountain Park.

** This long run was unsupported, meaning nothing to eat or drink during the run.

By Bryan at 1:27 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, December 25, 2009

1000 Miles In 2009

Yes folks, I finally went over 1000 miles for the year. I’m actually quite excited about this, as this is only my 2nd year running, and in case you forgot, I did have knee surgery earlier in the year. For the record, it was a  6 mile tempo run that put me over the top (in 30 mph winds, no less).

With a week of running to go in 2009, I am at 1000.6 miles. For the month of December, I’m at 119 miles, with a week to go. I think I’ll top my best month to date, which was last month, at 130.2 miles.

I will have a full write up later. In the meantime, I’ve got to get some sleep. There are some little boys who will be getting up mighty early in the morning, and it’s nearly midnight.

By Bryan at 12:58 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

November 2009 Running Recap

Hey, what do you know…it’s only December 2nd, and I’m writing my November recap. Not bad. Speaking of “not bad,” that’s how I’d describe my running in November.

As I mentioned in the October 2009 Running Recap, I started using an honest to goodness training plan towards the end of the month. The training plan carried me through the month of November, and is wrapping up this week. I’ve been able to get in all of my training runs, though I will admit that it has taken some time getting used to using a structured plan again. Knowing what each day holds for me for the next six weeks—being able to dread intervals or a tempo run from multiple days away. On the other hand, I really liked not having to think about what sort of run I was doing. Instead, I just ran. Whatever the plan called for, I did it. On to the results for the month:

  • Total Miles: 130.2
  • Total Time: 20:29:57
  • Average Pace: 9:27/mile

Additional Notes

Compared to October, I ran an additional 20.1 miles, taking an extra 3.5 hours. I ran long each Sunday in the month, something I hadn’t done in quite some time. Those long runs helped slow my average pace down from 9:15/mile in October, to 9:27/mile in November. November is the 4th 100+ mile month in a row, and the 6th in the last 7 months. November was also my first 130+ mile month.

For the month of November, my mileage is as follows:

  • Easy: 39 miles
  • Hill: 15 miles
  • Tempo: 17 miles*
  • Interval: 10 miles*
  • Long Run: 49 miles
  • Longest Run: 11 miles
  • Shortest Run: 1 mile**
  • Best Paced Run: 8:46/mile (6 mile tempo run)*

One last note—I didn’t race at all in the month of November, though there were a handful of races that I considered doing. In the end, our calendar simply didn’t cooperate. However, I am racing this Saturday, pending full recovery from the cold I have been battling.

* Distance includes warm up and warm down mileage.

** This was on the treadmill, on November 30th, on a scheduled XT/Rest day, just to hit 130 miles for the month. I couldn’t resist.

By Bryan at 4:18 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

October 2009 Running Recap

I know, I know…we’re 1/3 of the way through November already, and I’m just now writing my recap for October. Sue me. And yes, I also realize that I haven’t written a running recap in months, so you’re probably wondering “why start now?”

For the first time in a long time I’m using a structured training plan. It’s nothing special, just a 6-week long 5K SmartCoach program from Runner’s World, based on my most recent 5K time (from a couple of weeks ago—a PR, by the way). Since I’m using a training plan, I thought it finally made sense to do a recap (though I didn’t start the training plan until the last few days of October).

  • Total Miles: 110.1
  • Total Time: 16:58:21
  • Average Pace: 9:15/mile

Additional Notes

October was the 3rd 100+ mile month in a row, and the 5th in the last 6th months. This is by far the highest volume of training I’ve been able to put in during my short running career. Prior to the last 6 months, I’d only run 100+ miles in a month 3 times. The first 100+ mile month was followed by an injury and reduced mileage for 2 months, which was followed by a 2 month 100+ mile streak,  and then 6 months of reduced mileage as I dealt with my knee injury, and surgery. Yes, I’m knocking on some wood right now.

During the month, my mileage broke down as follows:

  • Easy: 41 miles
  • Hill: 24 miles*
  • Tempo: 23 miles
  • Interval: 19 miles
  • Race: 3.1 miles
  • Longest Run: 8 miles (once)**
  • Shortest Run: 3 miles (once)
  • Best Paced Run (non-race): 8:27/mile (6 miles, Intervals)
  • Best Paced Run (race): 7:52/mile (5K)

* Though Hill runs might have been at an easy pace, the routes consisted of a significant number of hills, and the focus was to work on running hills. Thus these runs are listed as Hill runs, and not Easy runs.

** For those of you paying attention, you might’ve noticed that I don’t have mileage listed for Long Runs. Indeed, I didn’t run any official “Long Runs” in October. My longest run, 8 miles, was actually an interval session—7 x 1/2 mile with 1/4 mile recovery jogs.

By Bryan at 11:01 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Running Scared 5K 2009

Yesterday I raced the Running Scared 5K, my second race since knee surgery, and my first race since early June. The Running Scared 5K is put on by the City of Watauga’s Parks and Community Services folks, and is held at the city’s Community Center. This was the 3rd year for the race, and while it is a small race, it is growing at healthy rate. It’s well organized, with mile markers, and times being called out to runners at each mile. Though this year’s race was hand-timed, I hear that they are looking at being chip-timed and having the course certified for next year.

Unlike past races, in the lead up to the Running Scared 5K, I didn’t openly obsess about my goals, pace strategies, etc. Instead, I spent the week leading up to the race in a quiet “preparation” mode, so much so that Julie was surprised that I was even racing. Even in the day before and the morning of the race, I never mentioned anything other than what time the race started, and when I wanted to leave the house. I’m sure Julie wondered who kidnapped her husband, but not wanting to jumpstart my obsessing, she kept quiet. While I haven’t been putting in any structured training, I did have some specific goals for this race:

  1. Sub-24:00 – This was my “the race exceeded all possible expectations” goal.
  2. New P.R. (24:56, set 6/6/09) – This is what I expected to do. I had 24:30 in mind.
  3. Anything slower than 25:00 – This would be a disappointing result, given the course and expected conditions.

Saturday morning was a typical race-day morning, it just got started a little later than normal. One thing I really like about the Running Scared 5K is its 9 AM start time. That, coupled with its close proximity to our house, makes it a perfect race option. After a leisurely breakfast of toast and peanut butter, and a little water, I got dressed, and we headed to the start. With the temperature in the mid-40s at 8 AM, I found another reason to be glad for the 9 AM start. Once we arrived at the Watauga Community Center, I swapped my Youth Large t-shirt for an Adult Large, found a restroom, and then headed out to warm up. After a quick change of shoes from my New Balance 758s to my Zoot Ultra TT 2.0s, I headed to the start, a couple of blocks away.

Being a small race, and knowing it was hand-timed, I made a point to line up closer than normal to the starting line. After a few words from the race director, the gun fired, and we were off. As the mass of runners surged, a woman right in front of me, running with her dog, did a perfect Superman impersonation, as she face planted and then slid several feet. With a quick jump, I narrowly avoided going down too (I hope she’s okay). There was a nice little rise in the first quarter mile, which I hardly noticed due to surge of adrenaline, and the downhill that followed allowed me to settle into a nice pace, and begin passing as many people as possible. I came through mile one in 7:50, feeling pretty good.

For the second mile, the race veers off of the road, and onto a paved path around a small lake. As I moved from the road to the parking lot, I caught my left foot on some uneven pavement, and nearly did a face plant of my own. Fortunately I was able to catch myself, and barely broke stride. Mile 2 was almost entirely around the lake, and was mostly rolling. I was able to continue passing people, and avoid being passed. In fact, after the initial surge of the “sprint and die” crowd at the start, I was not passed. I finished mile 2 in 7:55, and was really starting to feel the effort.

With the start of mile 3, I headed back out on the road for the return trip to the community center, and the finish line. Within a couple of minutes I passed the last female that I would see out on the course. Unlike the xSIGHTment 5K Run, I would not get “chicked” in the Running Scared 5K. At this point I was really starting to feel the effects of the hard effort, and I can’t help but think about the downhill near the start that now becomes the uphill near the finish. To take my mind off of it, I began focusing on picking off the remaining runners on the road ahead of me. Before I knew it, I was approaching the 3 mile mark, which is usually where I start my finishing kick. However, the hill took so much out of me, that I just wanted to stop. I passed the mile 3 marker in 7:57, and did my best to imitate a kick to the finish. It took some loud cheering from Julie, and seeing how close I was to 24:30, to finally muster up any semblance of a kick, but I did it. The final .11 of a mile took 45 seconds, for a 6:37 pace—not that great. In the end I finished in 24:28—a new P.R. by 28 seconds!

Based on last year’s results, I knew that my time could be good enough for 2nd in my Age Group, and possibly even a spot in the top 10. Unfortunately with the growth of the race, there were nearly twice as many runners as in the previous year, and I ended up 4th in my Age Group, and 18th overall. On the bright side, I did finish ahead of the overall female winner—a first for me.

Here’s the Garmin data from the race: http://bit.ly/RunningScared5K-2009.

By Bryan at 11:47 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First Pass At 2010 Race Schedule

Planning out a race schedule for the year isn’t something that I’ve done in my short time running, but it’s something I’m going to do in 2010.

In 2008, my first full year of running, I raced six 5Ks, and one 10K. I also registered for a half marathon, and made it through 9 weeks of a 16 week training plan before a knee injury eventually derailed my training. Through it all I remain motivated, in part because I had something to train for. Since starting my comeback, following knee surgery this past February, my running has been fairly unstructured, and I’ve sometimes found myself lacking motivation. Along the way, I’ve only raced once—a 5K (and a PR, by the way).

While I do enjoy running just to run, I miss racing. I want to race more. However, every time I find a race that could work, I find an excuse to make it not work. Part of it has to do with not having had any structured training, and of not having the confidence to give it a go. Racing more often, and having a training plan that is structured around a race schedule, should help me to feel prepared and confident. Also, I imagine that registering for races as soon as registration opens will prevent me from backing out at the last minute, and save some money in the form of reduced registration fees.

Without further ado, here’s what I’m thinking for 2010:

Do you have any suggestions for my schedule? Races I must do? Exotic locations to travel to? One thing to keep in mind regarding races requiring travel is that Julie and I are expecting a baby around April 19th.

By Bryan at 11:39 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Site Updates

Just a quick note in case you notice anything crazy going on…

I’ve been making some small changes to my site over the last couple of days. You might have noticed the little Twitter-like bird poking its head through the page—it’s new, as is the Twitter feed. Gone is the Facebook feed.

I’ve also added support for Gravatars. If you don’t have one, go get one. Now! Of course, you’ll only notice the Gravatars if people comment, and nobody does that anymore. It might help if I post more often.

Finally, I’ve started messing around with some jQueryUI stuff. So far, I’m only testing on the Archives page.

I think that covers it. Don’t be surprised if the entire site gets torn down—it’s been that long since I last updated it. Don’t worry, I’ll rebuild it.

By Bryan at 6:56 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Third Annual Tequila and Salsa Party Recap

It’s been just about a month since Julie and I hosted the Third Annual Tequila and Salsa Party. This party, unlike the previous two parties, was the first to involve a broader invite list. As such, it felt much more like a “regular” party, and a lot less like a “special event.” This isn’t to say that it was a bad time, it was—it just left me wanting more. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Maybe it means we need to have a winter and summer version of the party…

As usual, the tequila was stellar, with the top tequila award going to the brand new Republic Tequila. Other tequilas included one from Tabasco, Don Eduardo, Patron XO Cafe, Senor Frogs, and more that I can’t recall now. The surprisingly good Tabasco Tequila made for a really nice, spicy margarita.

The Tequila and Salsa Party would not be complete without an assortment of salsas—homemade and store bought. There were red salsas and green salsa, hot salsas and mild salsas, and even a fruity salsa. One thing that stood out to me was the lack of smoky salsas. Compared with years past, the chipotle was only a small part of the show. I know my salsas were all about fresh ingredients. Personally, I made a couple of red salsa, and a couple of tomatillo salsas, including one using the drippings from a green chile brisket.

And now we come to the real star of this Tequila and Salsa Party—the food! This year’s party featured a taco bar, with all of the fixings. For the filling, we had smoked pulled pork, the previously mentioned green chile brisket, and shredded chicken. All 3 made for excellent taco filling, though the pork and brisket were the favorites. Mix in an assortment of fillings, like diced jalapenos, pico de gallo, cilantro, chopped onions, cotija, jack and cheddar cheese, and even lettuce, guacamole, and sour cream, and you’ve got perfect tacos which were cradled perfectly inside of corn and flour tortillas.

Thanks to everyone who made this party possible, especially our friends Erin and Sara. I’m looking forward to the 4th Annual Tequila and Salsa Party, and perhaps a “3.5!”

By Bryan at 11:57 AM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What’s Up?

Hey folks, it’s been another few weeks without a post here. I really am sorry, and no, I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. I post a lot of stuff here, and here. I never intended for those two things to take the place of this site, but they have, at least lately. I’ll try to do better—I promise!

Onto more interesting things…running things…swimming things… Yes, I said “swimming things.”

As I mentioned back on June 23rd, I’ve been back running consistently since March. Recovery from knee surgery has gone pretty well, but at the time of that post, I was starting to experience swelling in the knee that wasn’t subsiding, at least not in time for my next run. It got to the point where I was experiencing pain in the knee for the first .5 mile – 1.5 miles. It typically went away after that, but still, it wasn’t good. So after wrapping up June with 117 miles, I backed way off during July.

For the month of July, I typically ran only every other day, 3-6 miles—no long runs. The first week of July I ran a whopping total of 8 miles! As the month wore on, I gradually increased the miles, and occasionally ran a couple of days in a row, letting my knee guide me. By August 2nd, I did my first “long run” since June 21st—10 miles, and topped 25 miles for the week. At the end of July, I’d tallied a total of 80 miles.

Whatever you runners out there might think, this cutback in running wasn’t a bad thing. I really did need to give my knee more time to recover, and I also needed to focus on strengthening the knee and the supporting muscles (which I’ve done, and continue to do). I’ve also taken up swimming as a means of cross-training.

At first, it was just a way of getting in some exercise while we were in Houston visiting family. Once I realized that I could swim for a decent length of time, without totally wiping myself out, I began swimming regularly—like every other day, 1250-1600 meters. In fact, I swam 13 times in July. I’m not fast, I’m not efficient, my form isn’t very pretty, but I’m sticking with it, and working at getting better. Best of all, I’m getting a great workout, and allowing my knee extra recovery! Of course with all of this swimming, talk has now turned to the possibility of giving triathlon a try. We’ll see…

By Bryan at 11:13 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where Would You Live?

On the way to a family gathering in Dallas this past weekend, Jacob made a comment on how it was too bad we couldn’t just think of someplace and be there instantly. I told him that sounded cool, and then asked everyone in the car this:

If you could travel anywhere, at anytime, instantly—where would you live?

The only rules are: you can travel directly to public spaces, your own property, or where you’ve been explicitly invited, and then only during a specific window.

The freedom this functionality would provide would be incredible. You’d no longer be bound by geography when it comes to work, family, or really anything else. Want beignets for breakfast? Travel instantly to New Orleans and Cafe du Monde. Feel like an afternoon swim in the ocean or drinks on the beach? How does Hawaii sound? A slice of NY style pizza for lunch? There’s no reason to go to the pizza shop by your office when you could go get the real thing in NYC, and be back in plenty of time for your 1 PM meeting. Want to be close to your parents, so that you and your kids can spend more time with them? Hey, there’s no need to move to their city, just visit instantly, whenever you want…

Personally, the answer to this question comes down to where do you want to lay your head down at night, and where do you want to wake up in the morning? Or perhaps this: when you look out the windows of your home, what do you want to see?

For me, the answer is that I would live in the mountains. Probably Colorado, because that’s what I know best. But perhaps I’d stay right where I am for a year or so, until I had a chance to explore other mountainous areas.

So how about it, where would you live, and why?

By Bryan at 10:57 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just A Little Running Update

Awhile back I promised an update on my running. So far I’ve failed to deliver. (Yes, I know that I also promised some pics from the 5K two weeks ago…) Well, hold your breath no more, because here’s an update on my running!

As you all know, I had surgery on my right knee in early February, which was followed by PT, and a gradual return to running. At my 1 month follow up, the doc said it would probably be a couple of more months before I could return to my pre-surgery activity level.

In March I started running again. First, it was just a couple of miles at a time, every other day, eventually working up to 10-12 miles per week. Throughout April, I continued to add miles, still running every other day, until I was closing in on 20 miles per week. At this point, most of my runs were in the 3-4 mile range, I was able to go up to 6-7 miles a couple of times. Once May rolled around, I started to add short tempo runs and short intervals (neither of which matched the intensity level of their pre-surgery counterparts). I also continued to up the mileage, and started hitting 25-30 miles per week. Now, with 7 days left in June, I’m running 5 days per week, averaging almost 30 miles per week, and have upped the intensity and duration of the tempo runs and intervals. And just this past Sunday, I went 10 miles—the first double-digit run since 11/1/2008.

With one week remaining in June, here’s a breakdown of the last 3 months:

  • April: 70.1 miles
  • May: 116.3 miles
  • June (through 6/23): 95.2 miles

Here’s a breakdown of last week (6/15/2009 – 6/21/2009):

  • Mon: Full body strength training. No running.
  • Tues: A.M. – Easy 3 miles; P.M. – 3 miles @ marathon pace
  • Wed: A.M. – 4 mile hill run.
  • Thurs: A.M. – Easy 4 miles; P.M. – 4 x 800m intervals w/400m recovery jogs; 5 miles total.
  • Fri: Upper body strength training. No running.
  • Sat: Easy 4 miles.
  • Sun: Long run – 10 miles.

If you’re paying attention, you probably noticed a couple of doubles last week—this was a first for me (and probably not the last). I feel like my body was able to handle the doubles pretty well, and I can definitely see myself running twice a day a couple of days a week.

This week I am breaking my first new pair of shoes since the surgery—Brooks Defyance 2. I took them out for a test run this morning…a 6 mile tempo run on the treadmill. They passed the test with flying colors.

Well, there you have it, a little running update. See you on the road!

By Bryan at 11:46 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Energy Cookies

The other day the boys and I got the taste for something sweet, but we didn’t have anything in the house, so I suggested that we make some cookies. Of course they thought that was a great idea, and I went to work finding a recipe and gathering ingredients.

The cookie of choice was oatmeal raisin, because that’s my favorite, and we didn’t have any chocolate chips. Fortunately we had plenty of oats, and raisins, but the only two eggs were about a month past their expiration date. I went ahead and cracked them open, just to see if they were still good, and while they didn’t stink, I decided not to use them.

Here we are with all of the ingredients except eggs. I really didn’t want to go to the store, so I searched (binged, not googled) for egg substitutes in baking. Among other things, I found a site that said I could use ground flax seed mixed with warm water as a substitute for the eggs. I thought “hey, we’ve got that!” And I set off mixing some flax seed and water, and making the cookie batter.

Before I added in the oats and raisins, I asked the boys and Julie if I should add in some peanut butter. They all agreed that I should, so I did (note: I didn’t substitute it for anything else, which I would do next time). I then added the oats and raisins, spooned the mixture out onto a cookie sheet, and went about baking the cookies, sampling a healthy portion of dough along the way.

The dough tasted good, so I was optimistic that the cookies would taste good, too. I was not disappointed. There was a hint of the peanut flavor, and some added nuttiness from the flax seed, and the texture was spot on. If I didn’t tell you that these were egg-less cookies, you would probably never know. The boys even loved them.

So there you have it, my oatmeal raisin energy cookies. I used the recipe off of the Quaker Oats container, adding a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter, and substituting ground flax seed mixed with water for the two eggs. I also used the “baking” Splenda, instead of regular white sugar. The next time I make these, I will leave out some of the butter for the peanut butter, and I might experiment with some different dried fruit.

Let me know if you try your hand at these, or something similar.

By Bryan at 11:44 AM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

xSIGHTment Run 5K Race Report

…or…

I Got Chicked

…or…

I Had A Faster Chip Time, So It Doesn’t Matter

As I mentioned in my last post, I finally did my first post knee surgery race—the xSIGHTment Run 5K, put on by the Colleyville Lions Club. I really didn’t know what to expect with this race, and I was even less sure what my goals should be. In fact, as Julie and I were driving to the race, I was still working them out.

I knew that my training had been solid over the last two months, with 70 miles in April, and 116 in May (okay, perhaps I’m ramping back up a little too quickly), but I had put in little time doing speed work. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t running everything slow (slow being relative, of course), but I certainly hadn’t had any specific speed sessions—just some runs that were faster than others.

Searching my mental training log, I looked for proof that I could run a time close to my PR (25:12). I certainly had runs that came close, including one particular run done in brutal conditions. That was it—if I could run 2 sub 8:00 miles, back-to-back in the middle of the afternoon, in hot, humid weather, plus a 9:00 minute mile, then surely I could run something within 30-60 seconds of my 5K PR in the morning, with relatively cool, dry weather. I now had my plan—8:20/mile, speeding up if I felt good, otherwise just holding on.

Finally, we arrived at the race, and immediately got to work getting ready—put our bibs on, sipped some Gatorade, found the timing chip table, and started our warm up. After 10-15 minutes of easy running, plus some strides, we made our way towards the starting line. We deliberately stayed well away from the front, but made sure to line up in front of any strollers or young children. Within a few minutes, the gun went off and we were on our way.

I was immediately boxed in, and had to do a little maneuvering to find some open space. Once I was in the open, I proceeded to go at a pace a little faster than planned. After settling in somewhere between 8:10-8:20 pace, I focused on running with a nice, relaxed form, as the course made its way up the first of 4 hills.

Mile 1 ended on the backside of the first hill, right before the start of hill number two. I hit the marker at 8:16—right about where I wanted to be. I passed tons of people in the first mile, and was passed by just a few folks. Feeling pretty good, I brought the pace down a bit, and found some targets up the road to reel in.

Through the turnaround, just past the halfway mark of mile 2, I still felt strong, continued passing people, and started to pass some of the folks who had passed me. Things were going pretty good, and I headed towards hills 3 and 4. Somewhere between the final two hills, I hit the two mile mark, going through in 8:08—not bad, and still feeling pretty good.

With just over a mile left, I began focusing on holding onto my form, running relaxed but hard up the hills, and letting gravity pull me back down. At this point, the pack had thinned out considerably, but I was still reeling in runner after runner, including everyone that had passed me at the beginning of the race. What a great feeling! With about .4 of a mile left, I made the final turn, and headed down the home stretch.

At this point, I was averaging a low 7 min/mile pace, and was just trying to hold on. I passed a couple more people, and could finally see the finish line, along with a couple of more folks that looked to be catchable. I passed the first, a very fit looking teenage girl who was not looking so great at that moment. A funny thing happened when I passed her though—she came to life. Within a couple of seconds of passing her, I sensed a presence off my right shoulder, and an extra shadow confirmed that someone was there—the girl I’d just passed. She stayed put for a few more seconds, and I tried to lift my pace. She stayed put, but only for another second or two, before picking the pace up another notch. She made her move to pass. As she opened up her stride in front of me, I knew that catching her would be a tough task, but I tried to find an extra gear and go with her. On this day, I didn’t have the speed to match her finishing kick, and she cruised to the finish line a second ahead of me.

I’d been “chicked.” Or had I? Sure, she passed me right before the finish line, but I hadn’t seen her the entire race. It wasn’t until the very end, right before I passed her, that I saw her for the very first time. I suspected that while she would have a faster gun time, that I’d end up with a faster chip time. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch her bib # before she left the finishing corral.

Looking at my time, I quickly forgot about getting “chicked”—I had a new PR! 24:56! My first sub 25:00 5K. I couldn’t believe that I did it. I really didn’t set out to attempt a PR. I just ran my plan, and felt good enough to keep pushing the pace all the way to the end.

Knowing that Julie would be coming in soon, I made my way back out on the course a bit, and cheered her home. She had a great race herself, finishing with her 2nd fastest 5K time!

After some pancakes, we made our way over to look at the preliminary results. What do you know, we both placed 5th in our Age Group. Not bad for a race that attracts a fast crowd! I also noticed one woman with a gun time that was just a second faster than me, and a chip time 9 seconds slower than me—that had to be her! As it turns out, she won the 15-19 AG, and she did out kick me at the end. I can handle that.

Later in the weekend, as race photos became available, I was able to confirm that this was in fact the girl. I’ve got a great series of photos from the end of the race, which depict me getting “chicked.” Wouldn’t you like to see them?

Here are my splits (according to Garmin):

  • Mile 1: 8:16.69
  • Mile 2: 8:08.73
  • Mile 3: 7:48.09
  • Final .12: 0:42.84
  • Total: 24:56.35 (3.12 miles)

Look for pictures in a future post.

By Bryan at 12:11 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back To Racing

Just a quick update regarding this morning’s xSIGHTment Run 5K race—first let me say that this is an excellent race, and that the Colleyville Lions Club does a great job putting this on. Thank you very much to everyone involved!

We’ve got to head out to a birthday party, so I don’t have time for a full race report, but here’s what I will tell you: I set a new PR for the 5K, finishing in 24:56, which was good enough for 5th in my age group. I have no idea by how much I missed a top 3 spot, but I’m guessing a few minutes—there are some fast runners at this race. The overall winner came in under 15 minutes.

Mark this one on your calendar for next year, I know I am!

By Bryan at 12:24 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 5, 2009

Signed Up For My First Post-Op Race

Well, it’s official—I’ve signed up for my first post-op race. Tomorrow morning, Julie and I will be running in the xSIGHTment Run 5K, which is put on by the Colleyville Lions Club.

Being that this is my first race since knee surgery, and that I’ve only just recently started training again, I’m not expecting a whole lot from this race. (Regarding my training, I did go over 100 miles in May, but I’ve not started back to any formal training, and I haven’t really gotten back to doing any speedwork.) Looking at the results from past years, this race attracts some fast runners. So even though it isn’t a big race, I have no delusions of placing in my Age Group. Honestly, I’ll be lucky to get a top 10 AG finish.

With that in mind, I’ve been trying to come up with my goals, because you know you should always have a reason to race, and a plan in place for the race. My reason to race is that I desperately want to get back into it. I haven’t raced at any distance since a 10K last September, and haven’t done a 5K since last June’s Run for Dad. Also, I want to run this year’s Run for Dad, but I don’t want it to be my first race back. Considering it is in two weeks, tomorrow’s xSIGHTment Run seemed like a good choice. So that’s the reason, but I’m having a little more trouble with my specific goals.

Of course the most important (and obvious) goal is to finish the race. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Even under ideal circumstances, I think a PR is unrealistic, but I’m having a tough time deciding how to pace this race. Do I just go run and have fun? Do I shoot for a pace I can maintain all the way through? Do I go out a little conservative, and then ramp it up? Do I go out fast, and see how long I can hold on? I really don’t know. I’m torn between running an evenly pace race and trying to hold on as long as I can. You’ll have to wait for the race report to hear what I decide.

By Bryan at 10:51 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Salsa King 2-Peat

I started this post on Cinco de Mayo, but got distracted, so I hope you all had a happy Cinco de Mayo! I hope you enjoyed mucho tequila, chips y salsa, and whatever else it is you might celebrate with. At work we celebrated with a potluck lunch, and another salsa contest. Just like last year, my salsa reigned supreme!

This year, I entered another roasted chipotle salsa. That’s my salsa with roasted tomatoes, chipotles, some other roasted peppers, roasted garlic—basically roasted everything, but the cilantro. It was might tasty.

I also made another salsa, this one had a ton of roasted jalapenos, roasted tomato, and fresh everything else (garlic, onion, and cilantro). And NO chipotles. It was my favorite of the two. The jalapeno pepper flavor really stood out, but it wasn’t too hot, as I stripped all of the seeds and most of the ribs out.

Look for a running update very soon.

By Bryan at 10:21 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Getting Ready To Ramp It Up

It’s been nearly three months since my knee surgery, and two months since my last visit with the doctor. At that appointment, he encouraged to take it easy while I regained muscle strength and endurance. He also said that it would likely be a couple of months until I was able to return to running the same quality and quantity as I was pre-injury.

Heading the doctor’s advice, I’ve gradually built my mileage back up, mostly running every other day, and just easy or moderate runs. I’m now approaching 20 miles per week, on 4 days of running, and was able to run 7 miles yesterday. It certainly feels like things are finally getting back to normal!

As I start increasing my running above 20 miles per week, and I move beyond the 2-month window the doctor warned about, I’m beginning to thing about racing again. I know that I really need to continue rebuilding my base before adding speed work, and that my muscle strength and endurance still isn’t quite what it was before, but I’m getting the itch to race. And it’s starting to get warm out. I sure would love to get a 5K in before the heat really cranks up.

By Bryan at 1:40 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Patriots’ Day

Good morning, and happy Patriots’ Day to everyone! If you’re a runner, or from New England, you know what happens on Patriots’ Day—The Boston Marathon. The elite women will be starting in a little over 20 minutes (9:32 AM ET), with the men starting at 10 AM ET.

My DVR is set. Universal Sports will be broadcasting the event, including streaming online, if your cable or satellite provider doesn’t offer the station.

Due to a couple of high profile American runners making their Boston debut, there is a great deal of additional interest in today’s race. Ryan Hall, making his Boston debut, leads the men’s field with the fastest PR, though it was set on a relatively fast course at the London Marathon, rather than the more challenging Boston course. Leading the contingent of American women is Kara Goucher, who is also making her Boston debut, has openly stated that she’s here to win, even though this is only her second ever marathon. Good luck to them both, and to all runners in today’s Boston Marathon!

By Bryan at 9:22 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Monday, March 23, 2009

On The Comeback Trail

Well, it’s been 3 weeks since I finished up PT and had my last follow-up with the doc. So far, so good. I’ve been diligently working on strengthening my lower body, while slowly getting back to running. After the first week, which I’ve already mentioned, I moved up to 2 miles, every other day (and maybe a 5K run on the treadmill thrown in for good measure) for the next two weeks. In the last couple of days I’ve moved up again.

My knee has been responding very well to the strength training and the easy, short runs, so this past Friday, I decided to bump up the distance. I really wanted to do 4 miles, and that’s exactly what I did. And it felt good. Ok, cardiovascular-speaking, it was hard in the last mile or so, but as for the knee, it was great! Following on the heels of Friday’s success, I ran another 4 miles yesterday—the knee still felt good.

Of course, I am icing after running, and that makes a difference, I’m sure, but all in all, I am very pleased with how things are progressing. I even went to pick up my copy of Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon: How to Be Your Own Best Coach, by Brad Hudson. In the end, though, I thought it wasn’t quite time to start flipping its pages. I still need to take it easy, and I should probably do my next few runs at 3 miles each, so that I’m not increasing the mileage too fast.

I’m soooo looking forward to some speed work and especially long runs!

By Bryan at 8:56 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, March 5, 2009

It Keeps Me Running

As mentioned in my last post, I had the 4-week follow up with the orthopedic surgeon this past Monday. He said the knee looked good, and made sure to point out the disparity in muscle mass between my legs. The doctor emphasized that I will need to still take things slow while I regain both muscle strength and muscle endurance. That said, I was cleared for all activities.

Monday evening, Jacob’s baseball team had their first practice, and since I’m an assistant coach, I had to be out there too. Our practice field sucks. It is rocky, it is uneven—not a good surface at all, especially if you’ve recently had knee surgery. (On the other hand, if you can field the ball cleanly on that surface, you can field the ball on any surface.) After an hour and a half of walking and standing on that field, my knee was sore, so I didn’t do any additional workout. Instead, I saved that for Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening, I spent 10 minutes on the bike, 10 minutes on the elliptical, and then 15 minutes on the treadmill. I started off on the treadmill with a minute of walking, followed by a minute of jogging. I repeated this until I reached 15 minutes total on the treadmill. It felt good, but tiring. I finished out the workout with full body strength training, in circuit fashion, 3 times around.

Yesterday evening was another baseball practice, and a day off from working the knee. At this stage, as I work my way back into shape, I feel that it is extremely important that I allow my body to have a day to recover between workouts. The knee was a little sore during the day, but not bad. After baseball practice it was much more sore. I took some ibuprofen and called it a night.

Today the knee has felt great. I even took the stairs up in the parking garage (4 levels). I also went back to the gym this evening. Again, I started off with the bike, but only 5 minutes this time. Next, I moved to the treadmill, where I walked for 1 minute, and then jogged at 6 mph for 10 minutes (or 1 mile), followed by 4 minutes of walking, for an even 15 minutes. I then hopped on the elliptical for 20 minutes of high cadence cross-training, followed by a couple of minutes cool down. After that, it was on to strength training, but tonight I only did lower body—high reps, light weight. Aside from fighting off a side stitch while I was jogging, this was a good workout, and it goes without saying the knee felt good.

I will continue focusing on rebuilding my muscle strength and endurance, while gradually working my cardiovascular system back into shape, along with my running legs. Oh, one last thing from the doc—it will likely take 2 more months until I have enough strength and endurance built back up to return to my pre-injury effort level.

By Bryan at 10:55 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: 26 Days Later

Oops…I guess I forgot to come back here and let y’all know how that physical therapy appointment went… Sorry.

That first appointment, along with the subsequent three appointments went well. At the first appointment, it was the standard procedure of doing the initial evaluation—gathering information on the injury,  taking range of motion measurements, strength measurements, etc. Then the fun began—they bent my leg much further than I had previously bent it, and boy did it hurt! However, once they did that, I had all sorts of increased mobility. They also had me work through three exercises that they wanted me to do at home (twice a day). I have a sheet detailing the exercises, if anyone is interested. They made a big difference for me.

The second, third, and fourth appointments were involved a brief warm up on the bike, followed by a series of exercises, though these were different than my home exercises, since I was a good patient and actually did my home exercises before going to PT. Anyway, the exercises all focused on gradually building the strength back up in my leg. From one appointment to the next, sets were added, resistance was added, and perhaps a new exercise or two.

Following the second appointment, I was cleared to walk as much as I wanted, and to return to the gym for upper body strength training, as long as I took care not to lift anything too heavy, and not to carry the weight away from my body. I did the walking, going 2+ miles a couple of times between the second and third sessions, but I didn’t hit the weights just yet.

The third appointment was more of the same, and I was given the okay to get on the exercise bike on my own, but with no resistance. That evening, I finally did go to the gym for upper body strength training, and I rode the bike for a total of 20 minutes. The weight workout went pretty well, though it was awkward at times, as I tried to use some of the equipment, without using my legs. I cycled two more times between the third and fourth appointment, 30 minutes each time, and I also did some more walking (which was actually more of a workout, considering I wasn’t allowed resistance on the bike).

This past Thursday was the fourth and final physical therapy session. I knew it would be slightly different when my warm up on the bike included some resistance. Sure enough, everything else included a lot more resistance, too, and we added exercises. At the end of the session, the therapist said that depending on any swelling, I’d be cleared to return to the rest of my activities. AWESOME! Well, of course I needed to get some clarification, and what he really meant was this: if the knee didn’t swell much over the next couple of days, then I can start on the elliptical Saturday afternoon. If that goes well, then I will be allowed to ease back into running, but I have to check in with him first. I was so psyched!

I took it easy the rest of the day on Thursday, and returned to the gym on Friday for more strength training and cycling, this time with some resistance—and I finally broke a sweat! The swelling has staying down, and yesterday I hit the elliptical. I managed to get a good 25 minutes on the elliptical, followed by 5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, and 5 minutes of spinning on the bike—it all felt good. I followed that up with some of the strength exercises I’d been doing in PT.

This morning the knee looks great, and feels great! I have a follow-up appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning, after which I will stop by and check-in with the therapist. I can’t tell you how absolutely thrilled I am to finally be getting back to some real physical activity, especially running, and even riding my bike. I promise to keep you updated on how it goes.

By Bryan at 12:33 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: 12 Days Later

Time has really flown by this past week! My knee is looking and feeling a lot better since my last post. I can sit pretty normally in a chair, and under the right circumstances, I can even get up and sit down without using my arms. I am walking much better, though how well depends on how much I’ve been doing already. Since the surgery was on my right knee, I’ve still not driven since the surgery. As you can imagine, I’m very ready for things to get back to normal. To help out with that, I have my first physical therapy appointment in the morning.

Of course, I’ve been doing some exercises, though not quite as regularly as I should be. And they definitely help. I’ve found that the simple exercise of tightening my quadricep and pressing my knee towards the floor (while laying on my back), makes a huge difference, not only in straightening my leg, but also in how far and how easy I am able to bend my leg. I am extremely hopeful that PT will get things rolling along much faster. That said, I am looking forward to tomorrow with a little trepidation—I know it’s going to hurt, but I also know that PT can be a no pain, no gain endeavor. I’m very eager to get back to being active.

I very carefully tried to ride my bike this morning, but I couldn’t quite get the right pedal all the way around, at least not without standing on the pedals, so I’ll try again in a couple of days. Instead, I took our dog for a walk around the block (1/2 mile). The walk felt pretty good, and I think I’ll do it again later this afternoon.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures, to show how things are progressing. The first picture is from Friday, February 6th—3 days after surgery, and right after taking the bandages off for the first time. The second picture is from today, February 15th—12 days after surgery.

Day 3 Day 12
3 days post op 12 days post op

A couple of things immediately jump out, at least to me: 1) The swelling has gone way down, and 2) Not only has there been quite a bit of atrophy in my right leg, there’s also been some in my left leg, too.

I’ll write my next post after PT tomorrow—wish me luck!

By Bryan at 1:55 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Post Op Days 2-4

Settled in at home.After finishing up my last post, I took a vicodin and headed to bed. It took a few minutes to get settled into bed, but I was quickly out. I didn't wake up again until 6 AM (normal workday time to get up), even though all alarms were turned off. Fortunately I was able to get right back to sleep, and didn’t get up again until 11 AM.

When I finally did get up, I was just a wee bit groggy—aftereffects of the anesthesia, perhaps? My knee felt good. Sure, it was a little stiff, and the slightest bit sore when I first got up, but that quickly went away. I spent most of Wednesday on the couch, with the knee propped up, and the Iceman cooler running. I was even able to get some work done, and went for a short walk (okay, it was really more of a hobble).

Friday morning, before taking off the bandages.Day 3 post op was much like day 2, except I didn’t sleep as well, I ditched the crutches, and I spent more time working while sitting at a desk. So maybe day 3 and day 2 weren’t all that similar. The knee continued feeling better, I went another day without pain medicine, and I ran the Iceman most of the day. By the end of day 3, my knee was a little sore and a little stiff from sitting in a chair for so much of the day, but nothing too bad.

The ace bandages are off.Just as with the night before, I didn’t sleep well between day 3 and 4. It’s really hard to get comfortable when half of your leg is tightly wrapped in bandages. Nevertheless, I was up bright and early on the morning of day 4 because this was finally the day to take of the bandages! This is really only important for two reasons: 1) I could now shower, and 2) I could finally scratch that itch that had been driving me crazy! These were two things I was very eager to do.Just the yellow bandage is left.

One by one, I took the layers of bandages off. First, it was off with the ace bandages. Next came two layers of gauze, and a large gauze pad, until finally there was a lone yellow rectangular bandage covering the incisions. While the rest of the layers had come off quickly, this last yellow bandage was being quite stubborn, having decided to stick to the sutures. Finally, after several minutes, I was finally free and clear of any and all bandages! Of course that only lasted a minute or two, because I had to cover the three incisions with band-aids. But now I could shower! And scratch that itch!Hey, it's my knee!

A closer look--anterior and slightly medial...With the bandages off, I was finally able to get a look at my knee. It looked pretty much as I had expected—bruised and swollen. Moving around without the bandages took a little getting used to, since I no longer had the support and stability that they provided. And without the bandages providing compression on my knee, it was slightly sore for most of the day. Of course that could also have been due to sitting in a chair working all day. By the end of the day, I was tired and just a little tempted to take something to help me sleep better, but I didn’t.

A side-by-side comparison.I’ll leave you with one last picture—a side-by-side comparison of my knees, so that you can see just how swollen the right knee is. Due to the swelling on the inside part of my leg, slightly above the knee, it almost looks like I’ve got two left legs. This picture was take Friday morning, after removing the bandages, but before taking a shower (notice the orange tint still on my leg).

By Bryan at 6:15 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Post Op Day 1

It seems that I had little to be nervous about. Today’s surgery was fairly uneventful. Here’s what I recall from the day:

We were up promptly at 4 AM, and right on schedule, we were out the door at 5 AM—on our way to the hospital. I think it took us 15 minutes to make what would normally be a 30-40 drive in traffic (just one of the benefits of having such an early surgery). And it was just a couple of more minutes before we were inside and at the registration desk.

Check-in at the registration desk took just a couple of minutes, and then we were on our way to Day-Surgery. Once in Day-Surgery, we were taken immediately back to a room, were I got into a hospital gown, and began the wait. Various people came in and asked questions, recorded vital signs, and kept us informed on what was going to happen. Julie and I passed the time with some Sudoku, and TV. Aside from having to be in a gown and nothing else, it was a comfortable wait. Finally, between 6:30-6:45 AM, I was taken up to the holding area to meet with the anesthesiologist.

Once in the holding area, I met the nurse working with the anesthesiologist, the anesthesiologist, the operating room nurse, and finally the doctor stuck his head in to mark up my right knee. The anesthesia nurse did most of the work in the holding area, hooking up my IV, and giving me a nice cocktail to take the edge off. The only trouble was very minor—the nurse was not able to get the IV to thread in the back of my hand, and had to put it in my forearm—not a big deal. With the cocktail, it was off to the OR.

Within about 30 seconds of starting the trip to the OR, I began to feel the cocktail. It was not quite a drunk feeling, but more like a nice buzz. Once in the OR, I moved over to the operating table, got an oxygen mask, and had various monitors connected to me. Within a few minutes, I noticed an weird smell in the oxygen mask. The anesthesia nurse mentioned that I’d be smelling something, and that she was giving my the rest of the anesthesia. The next thing I knew, I was waking up as I was being wheeled into recovery.

Once in recovery, and a little more aware of what was going on, I immediately felt pain on the outside of the knee. Since the MRI showed a medial meniscus tear, I was expecting pain on the inside, not the outside—I felt nothing on the inside of the knee. At the first chance, I asked the recovery nurse if she could tell me what ended up being done…she mentioned so loose cartilage and tissue on the outside of the knee that had been trimmed/removed. She didn’t mention anything about the inside of the knee, but her answer certainly explained the pain I was feeling. Recovery was pretty uneventful—I just waited until the cleared me to go back to a day-surgery room…I think the total time in recovery was just over one hour.

Back in day-surgery, I was finally able to see Julie, and have a little something to drink and eat! I also received some vicodin. After 60-90 minutes, we were heading home!

Since getting home, I’ve been resting, with a lot of TV and a little napping along the way. So far, so good—I was even able to go for short walk (using crutches, of course) late in the afternoon. I will provide more details about what the doctor actually did in my next post. For now it is time for bed!

By Bryan at 12:12 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Pre Op

Well, here we are…less than 10 hours until surgery, and 7 hours until we’re on our way to the hospital (surgery is at 7:30 AM, we’ve got to be there at 5:30 AM), and the only thing I’m nervous about is getting to the hospital on time. I am all about getting in there and getting it done—let’s move on already!

This past Friday I went down to the hospital for registration and pre op lab work. It went about as expected, though they only needed blood and urine, not an EKG and chest x-ray. Evidently I am in excellent health, aside from my knee, and they only need those last two items when you’re not in excellent health. My blood pressure was something like 104/64 (I hear that’s pretty good), and my pulse was 65 (a little high compared to just a couple of months ago, when it regularly registered in the low to mid-50s). I also got an estimate of the out-of-pocket expense for us—not cheap!

I should be ready to come home by early afternoon, and Julie will let people know how things went (check here, Facebook, email, or voice mail). I’ll login and provide a more in-depth update once I’m not so groggy.

I’m off to bed!

By Bryan at 11:18 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Scheduled

As I mentioned on Monday, the MRI results are in. A tear of the medial meniscus, and a ganglion cyst on the lateral aspect of the knee. This morning, I finally met with the doctor to go over the results and talk about options.

It is the doctor’s opinion that we finally found the culprit. The culprit is (in the words of the radiologist) a complex tear of the posterior horn of the medial meniscus. The MRI results were a complete surprise to the doctor, given how the pain initially presented (on the lateral side of the knee). The doctor thinks this was the problem all along, not ITBS, and that the pain on the outside of the knee was due to compensating for the tear on the inside of the knee. It is also possible that the cyst is responsible for some of the pain.

The tear is in the avascular region of the meniscus, and thus can’t be repaired, due to a lack of blood to the area. Instead, the doctor will perform a partial meniscectomy, preserving as much of the meniscus as he can. He will also take a look around the rest of the knee, including the lateral meniscus, where he thinks he’ll find some stuff to clean up there. Doc thinks there is something there, and is likely the cause of the ganglion cyst. He will attempt to “pop” the cyst, rather than remove it completely, because it is under the lateral collateral ligament and the peroneal nerve, and he doesn’t want to risk damage to either of those.

As the title of this post indicates, I scheduled arthroscopic knee surgery for next Tuesday, pending pre-cert from my insurance company. I’ve got to get some pre-op lab work done tomorrow, then it is just a short wait until this knee issue is hopefully resolved. Of course, after the surgery, it will be about 4 weeks and several physical therapy sessions until I am ready to even think about returning to normal activity levels.

By Bryan at 5:48 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, January 26, 2009

MRI Results

I forgot to mention this, but I got into the doctor’s office last week for another follow-up, and he had me schedule an MRI for my right knee. I had the MRI done this past Saturday morning, and I got the results this afternoon. The verdict is in: I have a torn medial meniscus, and a ganglion cyst on the lateral aspect of the knee. I spoke with the nurse, and she was reading the doctor’s notes, which didn’t indicate anything more specific.

I have an appointment scheduled with the doctor tomorrow afternoon (weather willing). I will get the full details at that time. Of course we’ll also discuss what to do next, but it sounds like the next step is going to be arthroscopic surgery. By the way, I am totally okay with that at this point. I am just ready to be done with it, and hopefully get back to running.

Does anyone have suggestions for questions to ask? (Of course I already have a list in my head, but I need to start heading home now, instead of typing those up.)

By Bryan at 7:45 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Welcome to 2009!

Hey, I know we’re nearly a week into 2009, but since this is my first post of the new year, Happy New Year!

After a long (3+ weeks) vacation, I am back to work this week, and hating it. How much longer will it be until getting up before 10 AM isn’t so hard?

During my time off, we did a little cabin camping in Rusk, TX. The purpose of the trip was to ride the Polar Express themed Texas State Railroad between Palestine, TX, and Rusk, TX. The kids had a great time with that! The rest of the time off was spent attending many holiday parties, celebrating Hanukah with my Dad’s family, and Christmas with my Mom’s family, ringing in the New Year with good friends, and basically taking it easy.

On the first day of my vacation, I was able to start running 3 miles, every other day (up from 2 miles, every other day). It didn’t start off so great. I started to have soreness in my knee during the 2nd mile, and it continued to build throughout the 3rd mile. After doing a short warm down, and stretching, it just about killed me to walk.

Since that first 3 miler, my 3 miles runs have been better, and I’ve done them both outside and inside on the treadmill. In fact, during one particular treadmill run, I decided to extend the run a little to 5K…I finished in 25:02. Now I know that doesn’t translate to the same time on the road, but I was pleasantly surprised, considering how drastically my running has been reduced since early October. I still experience soreness in my knee during my runs. The soreness typically starts towards the end of the first mile, and just sort of stays there for the rest of the run. On the bright side, I’m now to the point where I can consistently run 3 miles without the sharp, shooting pain.

With the new year, I decided to up the distance for 1 run per week, so on New Year’s Day, I ran 4 miles. Miles 1-3 went pretty good, but I had to stop shortly after finishing the 3rd mile. After walking for a few minutes, I decided to give running another try, and ended up finishing 4 miles total. However, as soon as I stopped running, the pain kicked in. I’ve run 2 times since then, stopping at 3 miles for each, and they felt pretty good (continued soreness starting in the 2nd mile, but no pain).

I’ve also taken to cycling a lot more…outside. A lot of my gifts this year were cycling related, which has motivated me to get out and ride more. Nothing too fancy, just some padded cycling shorts and tights, along with a University of Texas cycling jersey. I also got some cycling gloves, a cool LED headlight and taillight, a couple of gear bags for the bike, and a Garmin Cadence Sensor that is supposed to integrate with my Garmin Forerunner 305. Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get the Forerunner to pick up the signal from the sensor. Now if I could get a road bike, so that no longer need to ride my mountain bike on the road…I feel so slow.

In addition to running and cycling, I’ve also gotten back into a pretty regular strength training routine, and have made sure that my lower body is included. I think that this has helped with the knee, but obviously not enough. It is almost time to follow-up with the doctor, and I am becoming more open to the idea of having the knee scoped. I’ll keep you posted.

By Bryan at 12:53 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, December 5, 2008

New Shoes: Saucony ProGrid Ride

This week I’ve been volunteering at the Jingle Bell Run’s packet pick-up, which was at the Fort Worth Running Company. Coach Jim and his son James run one of the best running stores around, and it was inevitable that I would seek one of them out to try gaining some insight on my current injury situation. Unlike previous days, I came prepared today—current shoes on, and previous pair in the car—all I needed was a lull in the packet pick-up.

After a very busy afternoon, I finally got a chance to talk to Coach Jim, about 15 minutes before we needed to leave to pick up the boys. Within a few minutes, Coach Jim had me in a pair of comfy neutral Nikes, and on their treadmill running while he videotaped my gait for a gait analysis. Within a couple of minutes he’d determined that I’m pretty much a neutral runner, with very little, if any inward roll. We then put the orthotics that I got recently into the Nikes, and I got back on the treadmill. With the orthotics in, there was no roll whatsoever, just really good alignment from my foot, all the way up. I’ll take that as a good sign.

Coach Jim then took a look at my current shoes, which are about 6 weeks old, and probably have 50 miles or less on them, and proclaimed them worn out. He asked how long I’d had them, and when I told him, he speculated that they’d probably sat on a shelf in a warehouse for quite a long time and that the material had deteriorated to the point of being worn out. They were basically not providing any cushioning, so my foot, ankle, leg, knee, etc. were absorbing the full impact of each step, and it was obvious that I needed some new shoes.

The Nikes felt pretty good, but I like to have some choices, so I asked what else they had, and and Coach Jim produced a pair of Saucony ProGrid Rides. These shoes felt really good, and just a tad wider than the Nikes. I asked Coach Jim which shoe he considered to be the better shoe, the Nike or Saucony, he said the Saucony. So that’s what I went with.

I am due for another 2 mile run tomorrow, and needless to say, I am looking forward to trying out these new shoes.

By Bryan at 10:44 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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2 Miles, Every Other Day: Week One

As I mentioned in my last post, I was nearly done with physical therapy. Well, now I am—at least for now. The result of that last appointment was that my physical therapist suggested I try running 2 miles, every other day, for two weeks. If that worked out, I was to then run 3 miles, every other day, through the end of the year. So far I’ve completed one week (3 of those 2 mile runs), and I’ve had soreness with each run.

This past Monday, I went to the doctor for the 2nd follow-up. He thinks that we’ve allowed enough time, done the right rehab, not pushed too hard, and that we should have made more progress by now. When I mentioned that I was still having soreness when running just a short distance, and that the soreness lingered beyond the run and was typically worse when going downstairs, he started to think it might be more than just ITBS.

He mentioned that it could just be inflammation or wear and tear in the knee itself, perhaps caused by the kneecap not tracking properly, or that something could be getting pinched. Something important to note is that the soreness or pain is always on the outside of the knee, and that my knee can be pretty creaky.

Anyway, he offered another cortisone injection, this time into the knee joint itself, or to scope the knee. I also asked about an MRI, and if that would be a less invasive alternative to getting it scoped. He agreed that we could definitely do the MRI, but in his experience, he didn’t think the MRI would necessarily show anything, at least not like he’d be able to see if he scoped it. In the end, I took the cortisone injection, and agreed to give that 4-6 weeks to work, before deciding on the next steps.

The hope is that something was going on inside the joint itself that the cortisone injection will reduce the inflammation there, perhaps allowing things to get back to normal. As I mentioned, my pain/soreness is always on the outside of my knee, so I am not 100% convinced that it is an issue with the kneecap tracking. However, I did read that it can end up causing issues with the tensor fascia lata (due to the wrong muscles being used), which of course is connected to the IT Band, so I am going to be doing leg extensions religiously, along with everything else I got from PT.

This whole thing was already pretty frustrating, with me missing the half marathon—now I am missing the Jingle Bell Run tomorrow, which last year, if you remember, was my first official 5K race. I am volunteering instead, so that’s something, but all I really want is to run. I miss everything about it, and it’s been so long since I’ve been able to run regularly, that I am starting to feel like a non-runner posing as a runner. I long for the early morning runs of summer—easy 4 and 5 mile runs, speed work, tempo runs, and long runs…

OK, that’s enough of the poor me attitude. Time to go to the gym and work on strength and maintaining some form of fitness.

By Bryan at 10:08 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just A Short Update

I wanted to let you all know that tomorrow is hopefully my final physical therapy appointment. It’s the last of my second prescription of 6 appointments, anyway. I also have a follow-up with the Doctor next Monday, and I’m hoping that he doesn’t feel the need to offer more PT.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve run (if you count the .25 mile test run two Thursdays ago), and I am really looking forward to testing things out over the Thanksgiving holiday. Once I canceled the race, the therapist and I agreed that I shouldn’t run until after the last appointment this week, to make sure that there is plenty of time for any remaining inflammation to subside. I promise that I’ll take it easy to start—2-3 miles, every other day.

Stay tuned!

By Bryan at 2:55 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, November 14, 2008

No Half Marathon For Me

It’s been decided—I’m out of the half marathon. I canceled the hotel reservations last night. There will be no inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon for me.

It’s been nearly 6 weeks since the initial ITB flare-up, and after cutting back my mileage, taking extra time off, going to 7 physical therapy sessions, and getting some orthotics, I was not able to make it even 1/4 of a mile last night before the soreness on the outside of my right knee started up. And it wasn’t the dull ache sort of soreness that might’ve allowed me to continue. No, this was the increasingly sore with every step sort of soreness that told me the real sharp pain was coming soon.

So that’s it. I am incredibly disappointed, but it isn’t like I didn’t know that this was a distinct possibility for the last several weeks. It’s frustrating, sitting here feeling like I haven’t really made any progress with the injury, and not really knowing exactly what caused it to hit all of a sudden. Of course, I am much more flexible now, thanks to PT.

I’ve got my eighth PT session this morning, with 4 more to go. I’ll talk to them about options. I’ll likely take the next week off from any activities that are likely to cause irritation with the IT Band, and then ease back into things, again. It should be easier to ease back very slowly, now that there’s no target race. I also have another follow-up with the doctor around the first of December. If things aren’t any better by then, I’ll ask for further investigation, and perhaps an MRI.

Aside from not being able to run the race, my biggest regret is not stopping immediately when it first flared up, and taking several days off. Days off then would’ve been much better than hardly running for most of the last 5-6 weeks, especially if it got me to the starting line. I’ll learn one of these days. Other than that, I wish I had raced a  5K or two back in late September/early October, before this thing hit—to take advantage of my much improved fitness and speed. In the end, it is what it is.

By Bryan at 8:13 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Truth Time

Ok, let’s forget for a moment that I am pissed as hell that Texas just lost to Texas Tech! And damnit Blake Gideon and your drop of what would have been a game-ending interception! Ok, Blake, I know you’re just a true freshman and you’ve had a surprisingly good season, but you probably left a shot at a national championship on the field when you dropped that ball. Of course I also realize that the team sucked ass for most of the game, but it was right there for the taking!

All right, that is it for college football…

I ran 10 miles today, in 1:33:55. That was my long run, the first I’ve had in over a month. As far as I’m concerned the race is on! The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, that is—even with my injury, the plan is to run it.

I’ve got two weeks to go, and am still experiencing some discomfort/soreness, but I’m not experiencing the sharp, shooting pain—do I keep pressing forward? I think so. At least I never experienced pain that said “I need to stop.”

By Bryan at 12:18 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10K Test Run

I went for a run yesterday after work along the Trinity Trails. I was shooting for 6 miles, but ended up going 6.24 miles. My knee felt sore for most of the run, but it never hurt like I needed to stop—I just “felt it” for a good portion of the run. Oddly enough, as soon as I stopped running, it hurt like a #$%@!

The plan was to start off at my easy pace, which is around 10:00/mile, and then mix in some faster running in the middle. Mile 1 ended up being 9:08—just a bit faster than planned. After seeing the time for the first mile, I just decided to keep up the pace. In the end, I did a 10K in 53:23, which is 2 minutes faster than my 10K time at the Tour des Fleurs, 5 weeks ago. Not bad considering I’ve taken much of the last 3 weeks off.

Check out the difference in lap times and HR from the Tour des Fleurs race and my run last night (click the “Laps” link):

In other news, I had my 4th PT session yesterday morning. It was rough. I knew that PT wasn’t going to be easy, but I didn’t realize how much pain would be involved. I absolutely dread the part of each session when it is time for the therapist to stretch me…OUCH!  In my third session, this past Friday, I even got the elbow—that is basically the therapist doing a deep tissues massage down the length of my IT Band with his elbow, using as much force as he can apply. On each leg. Twice. Holy mother of $%&@*! That hurt like no other hurt I’ve felt in quite some time.

The good news is that the PT sessions seem to be paying off. I’ve gained quite a bit of flexibility in my legs, and as long as I don’t run after a PT session, and take my time to warm up and stretch thoroughly, I seem to be able to run in relative comfort.

I am holding out hope that I’ll be able to run in the San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in two and a half weeks.

By Bryan at 10:57 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wound Tighter Than A Drum

For the observant ones in the crowd (and with a good memory, since I haven’t posted in a while), you’ll recall that I mentioned an injury in my most recent post—Half Marathon Training: Week 10. ITB Syndrome to be specific, with pain on the outside of my right knee that comes on after some period of running (usually around 1 mile).

Typically the pain progresses from slightly uncomfortable to a sharp pain. The build up from slightly uncomfortable to sharp pain is full of peaks and valleys (otherwise known as false hope), but once it hits the sharp pain level, it doesn’t go away unless I walk, and resumes almost immediately if I try to run.

Over the last 3 weeks I have been able to get in a couple of 3 and 4 mile runs, a couple of 6 mile runs, and one 7 mile run. I’ve also had runs stopped within a mile of their start. In that time, I’ve missed two tempo runs, one interval run, a number of easy runs, a 12 miler, and what would’ve been my first 13 miler. I’ve tried 2-3 days at a time of no running. I’ve tried ice, stretching (not enough evidently), cross-training, and more rest, yet the pain persists. I also went to a sports medicine doctor.

After about a week of being injured, I broke down and scheduled an appointment with a local sports medicine practice. They took an x-ray of the knee (which came back clean), and the doctor listened to all that I could tell him about the injury and my training. He did an exam, and concluded it was ITB Syndrome. He offered a cortisone injection and physical therapy. I took both.

My most recent attempt at running took place Sunday, after doing 6 miles on Saturday. I was one mile in and had to stop due to the sharp pain. I tried again on Monday, this time on the treadmill…I made it .75 mile before I had to stop because of pain so intense it felt like my knee was going to give. I’ve been cross-training for the last couple of days, and will do that one more day before trying to run again tomorrow.

Tomorrow is my third PT session. So far I’ve been poked and prodded, and my lower body has been twisted in every way imaginable. They’ve looked at my gait, and fitted me for orthotics. There is definitely something out of wack on my right side/foot—I hope to find out what it is at my next appointment. I’ve also been given a series of stretches to do daily, told not to run on a treadmill anymore (not that I did a lot of that, but evidently it isn’t good with “that” foot). Other than that, my activity is not restricted.

As of right now, the half marathon is still on the schedule (11/16/2008), but if I don’t start running some consistent miles very soon, I am afraid it isn’t going to happen for me.

Signed,
Frustrated in Texas

By Bryan at 2:58 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 10

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I am way overdue with this update. Training was going well in Week 10—until I hit my speed work on Thursday, October 2nd. Halfway through 4 x 1 mile intervals (total of 8 miles, including warm up, 4 x 1 mile intervals w/.5 mile recovery jogs, and warm down), I started experiencing some discomfort on the outside of my right knee. More specifically, it started in the first half mile of my 3rd interval. The discomfort held at a manageable level through the 4th interval, but by the end of my warm down, it was a sharp, shooting pain. Of course, it pretty much went away as soon as I stopped running.

Great. Just great. IT Band.

The next day I had 4 easy miles on the schedule. I made it 1.5 miles, before calling it a day due to pain in the knee. Again, as soon as I stopped running, it no longer hurt.

I got up Sunday morning for my 12 mile long run, not really sure what I’d be able to do, but intent on running until the pain made me stop. Within the first 2 miles, I was pretty sure that I’d be stopping soon. But then a funny thing happened—the discomfort never materialized into pain, and in fact went away for the next 2 miles. By the end of mile 4, I was taking in some nutrition and fluids in preparation for running the full 12 miles. Unfortunately, by the time I finished mile 5, I knew I was almost done. The discomfort had returned, and it wasn’t subsiding. By mile 6, I was done.

The worst part of it was after those 6 miles, I didn’t even feel like I had worked…it was as if I hadn’t even started to run. Aside from the knee, I felt great!

Here’s the rundown from week 10:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 5 miles easy
  • Wednesday: 4 miles easy
  • Thursday: Speedwork – 8 miles, including warm up; 4 x 1 mile @ 8:01 w/.5 mile jogs; cool down.
  • Friday: 1.5 miles easy (supposed to do 4)
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: 6 miles easy (supposed to do 12)

I’ll have more about my knee in another post.

By Bryan at 11:22 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 9

Running-wise, week 9 of my half marathon training was a good week. During the past week, I surpassed 100 miles for the month, for the second consecutive month, and the third month overall in my short running career. I am sitting at 117.2 miles, with 5 more to go before the end of the month.

My schedule is now calling for easy runs at 10:02/mile, down from 10:08/mile for the previous four weeks, and 10:14/mile the few weeks before that. One of the key differences in week 9, compared to prior weeks, is that I actually stayed pretty close to that pace for my easy runs. No more running faster and calling it “easy.” Well, let’s get on with the week in review:

  • Monday: XT or Rest – I did full body strength training.
  • Tuesday: 5 easy @ 10:02/mile – I did 5 @ 9:52/mile, but only the fifth mile was more than 4 seconds off of the 10:02/mile pace, and that was due to practicing a fast finish.
  • Wednesday: 4 easy @ 10:02/mile – I did 4 @ 10:00/mile. This was only 11 hours after running the 5 easy on Tuesday.
  • Thursday: 7 miles total, with warm up, 5 @ tempo 8:39/mile, and cool down – This was a very good run. Tempo splits were:
    • 8:40
    • 8:40
    • 8:39
    • 8:40
    • 8:38
  • Friday: 4 easy @ 10:02/mile – I did 4  @ 10:02/mile. Legs felt heavy.
    • I also did an upper body strength training workout in the afternoon.
  • Saturday: XT or Rest – I worked in the yard for about 2.5 hours as my XT today.
  • Sunday: 12 miles @ 10:02 – This marks my first 12 mile run, which is my longest run, distance-wise, to date. I did this run in 1:56:28, for a 9:42/mile pace. My pace actually stayed around 10:01/mile for the first 8 miles, and then in mile 9 and 11 I did 1 mile threshold intervals. In mile 12, I ran easy, which ended up being faster than 10:02, simply due to the fact that I had been running an 8:30/mile pace the previous, so 9:30-9:35 felt really good. I also practiced a fast finish in the last tenth of a mile of the 12th mile. Here are the splits:
    • 10:02
    • 10:02
    • 9:59
    • 10:01
    • 10:01
    • 10:00
    • 10:00
    • 10:00
    • 8:39
    • 9:56
    • 8:30
    • 9:12

All in all, a good week. I am very pleased with my 12 mile long run with the 2 threshold intervals thrown in towards the end. Oh, did I mention that my average heart rate for the 12 mile run was 154 bpm? I think that’s a good sign of improving fitness.

By Bryan at 6:18 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tempo Run Take Two

As you may recall, two weeks ago today was a dark, dark day in my short running career. It was the day of my tempo run meltdown. It’s a day that I’d rather forget, except that I think it is more useful remembered—as a learning experience.

In case you forgot, I had 6 miles scheduled that day: 1 mile warm up, 4 mile tempo run @ 8:40/mile, and then a 1 mile cool down. I stopped twice in the last half mile of the tempo run for a total of nearly 2 minutes, and I felt like a complete failure for it. Fast forward two weeks, to a 7 mile run, with a 1 mile warm up, 5 miles @ 8:39/mile, and a 1 mile cool down.

When I went to bed last night, I wasn’t sure if I’d be doing my tempo run this morning. Part of that was probably me wanting to put off the pain that was sure to come for as long as possible, and part of it was pure practicality. That is, in order to put in 7 miles before work, I’d need to be up and running 30-45 minutes earlier than my normal morning run time, so that I still had time to completely cool down, get myself ready, supervise the kids getting ready, and get the kids to school on time. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to do that. Adding to my indecisiveness was the fact that Julie is out of town today and tomorrow, so I could easily do my run late at night, without any complaints. Well, just in case, I set my alarms (yes, alarms) to go off starting at 5:00 AM. As luck would have it, I was able to roll out of bed by 5:10 AM. And since I was up, I figured I might as well get the run over with.

By 5:20 AM I was out the door and running easy on my warm up mile. 10 minutes and 20 seconds later I was back at the house stretching, and a few minutes after that I was off and running the 5 mile tempo run. The first mile felt good, slow even. I should note that I was using the training partner display screen on my Garmin to help keep me around the proper pace. I focused on staying even or just slightly behind my training partner, never faster. This approach seemed to have worked, as I was able to hold my pace pretty comfortably through the first 3 miles. As I started in on mile 4, I was still feeling good, yet a little (very small amount) doubt tried to creep into my head. Fortunately, I was able to quickly vanquish it, replacing it with thoughts like "you're not getting me this time," "this isn't even hard," or "I've done this before, I can do it again," and finally "I did a 10K at a pace almost this fast." Once I finished mile 4 and was still feeling good, I knew mile 5 was in the bag. I cruised on through the end with an average of 8:40/mile for the full 5 miles! I finished up with a 1 mile cool down and a few strides. Success!

I really can't express how good it felt to finish this run, and finish it strong. Of course in typical fashion, I've been over analyzing it, trying to figure out what the difference is between the two runs. Was I better rested? Was it the banana I had before heading out? Was it because I'd mapped out a relatively flat 5 mile route ahead of time, rather than winging it? Could it actually be improved fitness? Perhaps it just wasn't my day two weeks ago? Maybe it's increased confidence as a result of racing the 10K this past weekend? Lastly, could it be as simple as mental toughening, and a fear of failure? My guess is that it's a little bit of all of them. One last note—I didn't run with my Zune—I wanted to be able to focus on maintaining the proper pace, and nothing else.

Here are my splits:

  • Warm up mile: 10:20, Avg HR: 137
  • Tempo Run
    • Mile 1: 8:40, Avg HR: 160
    • Mile 2: 8:40, Avg HR: 172
    • Mile 3: 8:39, Avg HR: 178
    • Mile 4: 8:40, Avg HR: 181
    • Mile 5: 8:38, Avg HR: 184
  • Cool down mile: 10:29, Avg HR: 171 (mixed in some stride in the last half mile)

One more note regarding my heart rate: In the end, it was higher than ideal, but I still felt good, like the effort was "comfortably hard," not "hard," and isn't the goal of a tempo run to run based on perceived effort? Also, my new max heart rate is 197, as measured towards the end of the 10K.

By Bryan at 10:45 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reflecting On My First 10K

By now you've read the really long race report (sorry), and you know more than you ever wanted to know about the race itself. Since Saturday, I've had some time to reflect on the race, and my training, and I thought I'd share a little bit with you.

I love how I feel after I cross the finish line. This hit me yesterday as I was walking myself back through the race. If I put in my best effort during a race, the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing is very powerful. It really is like a drug, and to me, that's my runner's high—regardless of whether endorphins are released, or not. This is why I race.

I've got to work on my pre-race jitters. It never fails, I am a nervous wreck leading up to a race. I internalize most of it, but there are some clues that are easily picked up. For example, I talk nonstop about the race: my pacing strategy, hydration, nutrition, what to wear, what not to wear, etc. When I've exhausted all of my race talk I'll begin questioning everything about my running: have I trained enough, will I be able to hold my pace, what if I bonk, etc. Oddly enough, once I'm lined up in the starting area and ready to race, the nerves go away completely and my quiet confidence returns. In my opinion a little nervousness is a good thing, as it can motivate and energize, and it shows that I care about the outcome, but I think I could manage it better (for Julie's sake).

I like the 10K distance. I really enjoyed racing the 10K. I enjoy racing 5Ks, too, but the 10K just might be my favorite. I liked that I didn't have to go hard right from the start—that I could start with a fast, but comfortable pace through the first half, and then really bring it on home to the finish. Once the race started, I was surprised that I didn't dwell on how this race was TWICE as long as any race I've done. Perhaps I like the distance so much because I so easily set a 10K PR! ;-)

Trust the training. It's not that I don't trust the training, it's that until I race, I am not really sure. I can look at all of the data from my training runs, compare recent runs to past runs, speculate as to how I'll do come race day, but until I actually race, I just don't know. Well, enough of that! I've shown progress with every race. Looking at my training log, it's obvious that I am making progress. There's no reason not to trust the training. That doesn't mean that I should blindly trust the training. Certainly, I need to pay attention, and assess how things are going. If my body stops adapting, or if I sense a loss of effectiveness, I'll need to make some changes. But unless and until that happens, trust the training.

There you go...a few of my thoughts from this weekend. Aside from the Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon in November, I don't have any other races scheduled. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

By Bryan at 7:28 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 8

I’m now halfway through the training for my first half marathon, the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio Half Marathon. Week 8 was a cut back week, with just 4 runs scheduled, all of which were supposed to be 6 miles at 10:08/mile. I didn’t even cross train on the 3 non-running days. However, I did drop my 6 miler on Friday in favor of my first 10K race this past Saturday.

Aside from my race, I probably ran this week’s runs too fast. Here are my workouts:

  • Day 1
    • Rest – I was not feeling very good most of this day, and by the time I got home, there was barely enough time to get dinner ready before the start of the Cowboys vs. Eagles.
  • Day 2
    • Scheduled: 6 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – I was still not feeling good Tuesday morning, so this run was pushed back until the evening, when I finally started feeling better. I broke the scheduled 6 miles down into 2 runs, 3 miles by myself, and 3 miles with Julie, with about 5 minutes in between the end of the first and the start of the second.
      • First 3 miles: Since I hadn’t been feeling good, the plan was to really take it easy. By the end of the first mile, I was feeling good, so I decided to run at what I hope is my half marathon pace the rest of the way (9:00/mile). My mile splits were:
        • 10:00
        • 8:38
        • 8:23
      • Second 3 miles: Again, these were supposed to be easy miles, but Julie had other plans. She set out at a 9:30/mile pace, and I lagged behind for most of the first 2 miles. We ran together for the first half of mile 3, and then I started to surge ahead. A couple of untimely cars forced me to stop with about .25 mile to go, which allowed Julie to pull back even with me, and we finished out the third mile pretty close together. Here are the splits:
        • 9:42
        • 9:23
        • 9:03
  • Day 3
    • Rest – I did have a baseball practice to coach, so it wasn’t like I was completely lazy...
  • Day 4
    • Scheduled: 6 miles easy @ 10:08/mile - Since there was a chance that I'd be racing this past weekend, I decided to work a couple of faster miles into this run. The first two miles were at an easy warm up pace, then I pushed the next two miles, and then finished with two warm down miles. I actually ran the final mile without looking at my Garmin...trying to just run on feel. It was a little fast, but not too bad. The splits:
      • 10:11
      • 9:56
      • 8:54
      • 8:40
      • 10:10
      • 9:39
  • Day 5
    • Rest - I really wanted to get a couple of easy miles with strides in, but it wasn't meant to be.
  • Day 6
    • Race Day: My very first 10K. It felt good, really good. I enjoyed racing this distance, and I look forward to doing more 10Ks, especially now that I've done one and have a better sense of what I can handle pace-wise. My time was 55:21.
  • Day 7
    • Scheduled: 6 miles @ 10:08/mile - Being the day after my 10K, I was a little tired. Once I got going, and my legs loosened up, I felt pretty good. Splits:
      • 10:03
      • 9:50
      • 9:48
      • 9:45
      • 9:43
      • 9:17 (practicing fast finish in the last tenth of a mile—Garmin  says that I hit a 3:18/mile pace at the end!)

All in all, this was a good week of running, though it was probably not as easy as it should have been. The important thing is that all of my runs felt really good.

By Bryan at 3:41 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tour des Fleurs 10K Race Report

We’re back from the Tour des Fleurs 10K/20K, where I raced my very first 10K.

Today started very early—the alarms began going off around 4:20 AM, and I was out of bed by 4:30 AM. The Tour des Fleurs was held in Dallas, around White Rock Lake, which is about 45 miles from us, so I wanted to allow plenty of time to take care of things, and to get over there for the 7:30 AM start.

After taking care of the typical early morning/pre-race necessities, I got a nice hot shower (I’ve asked before, but I’ll ask again: who else takes a shower before a race?), ate half of an english muffin with some peanut butter, and sipped on some Accelerade, while Julie finished getting ready. I even had time to make the previous post before it was time to head out. By 5:50 AM, we were on our way, and by 6:40 AM we were at the YMCA White Rock, where we caught a shuttle over to the Dallas Arboretum for the start.

There were tons of people! Or at least it looked that way with everyone crowded on the path around the lake. After getting everything situated, I headed out for my warm up, and Julie made her way past the starting area. As I finished my warm up and started to make my way closer to the starting line, a woman came walking back past me (and kept walking and walking), holding up a sign for people looking to go for a 9:00/mile pace. That’s me! So I fell in behind her, while a fair amount of the crowd moved further back. Unfortunately, a lot more people didn’t heed the pace signs than did.

Within a few minutes of the start, I was across the starting line, but I was still barely running because there were so many people for such a narrow trail. Anyone who has run these races knows that this is pretty typical, so I didn’t worry about it too much. In fact, I initially looked at it as a good thing, since it helped me to avoid going out too fast. However, it never really thinned out for the entire first mile, and I found myself having to work my way past way too many slow runners, walkers, and stroller pushers—they all should've been further back. Mile 1 was by far my slowest mile at 9:24.

Finally, in the 2nd mile, the path opened up a bit. There was now more room to maneuver, though I was still zigzagging a bit, as I passed people left and right. I was feeling good, running strong, trying to stay relaxed and bring my pace down closer to 9:00/mile. According to my Garmin, I completed mile two in 9:04.

The third mile was more of the same—working my way past people, and trying not to use too much energy doing so. I also was finally able to hold my pace closer to my goal pace. It was in the 3rd mile that we passed one of the bands that was playing along the course (one band before the 10K race split off from the 20K, and another band out on the 20K course). The band is evidently an Eagles tribute band, and they sounded pretty good, even though I was racing with my Zune, and had to listen to them through the noise of my own playlist. At the end of mile 3, the 10K and 20K course finally split. This split thinned the crowds a little, but not much, it also began the first good climb of the race. I finished mile 3 in 8:58.

As I mentioned, the 4th mile started with the first real climb of the race, and I went by a lot of people who were walking it. I just kept my gaze slightly up the hill, shortened my stride and kept pumping my arms all the way up the hill. Mainly, I was happy to be at the halfway point! The rest of mile 4 was up and down, first along residential streets, and then along a narrow bike path. The width of the bike path made it very difficult to pass, and my pace suffered because of that, finishing mile 4 in 9:04.

With the start of mile 5, the path was still narrow, we were still on some rolling terrain, though not quite as bad as mile 4, and it was finally time to see what I had left in the tank! I lowered my pace down to my tempo pace, while gradually working my way through the crowd. I even found time to grab a cup of water around the 4.75 mile mark. At this point, I was starting to feel the effects of the race, but I knew I was getting really close, and was able to continue pushing the pace. I ran mile 5 in 8:39—1 second faster than my current tempo pace.

The final full mile—mile 6. By now, I knew I was in the home stretch, and it was no longer a matter of “if I finished,” it was now “when I finished.” I was focusing on holding my pace, staying relaxed, and wondering if I’d have anything left for a finishing kick. Mile 6 is mostly a blur, but I can tell you that I continued to pass people, and I was rarely passed myself. The people who did pass me, were passed right back, as soon as I was able to move around the slower runners in front of me. Somewhere towards the end of mile 6, I pulled back up to a guy who had gone speeding by in the 4th mile. He still looked strong, and I wondered how much he might have left in the tank. As I would pull even with him, he’d surge ahead. He did this a couple times as we finished mile 6. Mile 6 was my fastest full mile at 8:30.

In the final .2, I continued this little game of “pull even, surge ahead” with that other guy. Honestly, I couldn’t tell what he had left, but he didn’t want me to pass him. I felt strong, was ready to race for the finish line, and had been bringing my pace down through the first tenth of a mile. As we approached the finish, still about a tenth of a mile out, and slightly behind him, I dropped the hammer and kicked with everything I had. He was toast—I never saw him again (oh wait, that might be him at the far left edge of the photo). The final .2 (.23 according to Garmin) took 1:43 for a 7:24/mile pace. I accelerated all the way through the finish, finishing at a 5:45/mile pace.

My official time was 55:21 (Garmin says I did 6.24 in 55:24 for an 8:52/mile pace), which was good for 38th in my AG (lots of people out for this race). While I would have liked to break 55 minutes, I am very happy with this race, and I look forward to doing more 10K races. I think a 53-54 minute 10K is very attainable in the very near future.

After the race, Julie and I, along with Darren, cheered on the 20K finishers, including Annabell, and Kevin of 5ksandcabernets, who I finally had the pleasure of meeting.

By Bryan at 1:38 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tour des Fleurs

We’re about to head over to Dallas for my first 10K—the Tour des Fleurs.

Being that this is my first 10K, I’m not really sure how much of a “race” this will be for me. Rather, I think I will go out at a good, but comfortable pace, and depending on how I am feeling in the last half, keep that pace, or really try to bring it on home.

Goals:

  1. Finish.
  2. Finish in under 1 hour.

Two coworkers, Darren and Annabell, will also be out there. This will be Darren’s first attempt at the 10K, after racing a number of 5Ks. Annabell is racing the 20K, and is very, very fast. She’s run a number of marathons, including Boston, and has probably raced every distance there is. She currently has the 2nd fastest 10K time in Dallas/Fort Worth this year, for woman ages 45-49, at 43:02. Like I said, she’s fast.

I also hope to finally meet Kevin of 5ksandcabernets, who will be racing the 20K, in preparation for his upcoming marathon.

By Bryan at 6:51 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 7

As good as last week was, this week was tough. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, as things always seem to have a way of evening out. On the bright side, the week ended on a high note, with a very, very good long run this morning. Here’s the week’s training:

  • Day 1
    • Rest.
  • Day 2
    • Scheduled: 5 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – I was tired, the course was hilly, the weather was humid,  and I just didn’t want to get up for this. But I did. 5 miles @ 9:58/mile pace, and my average HR was 157 bpm.
    • Push ups – I haven’t done any push ups in two weeks, and I never did do my final test for the 100 Push Up Challenge. Since I didn’t lift the day before, I decided to do a test, and then several sets of 20. The test came in at 75, and then I did 8 sets of 20.
  • Day 3
    • Scheduled: 5 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – Same as yesterday—I’m just not feeling it so far this week, but again, I got out there and did it. 10:01/mile, and my average HR was 158 bpm.
  • Day 4
    • Scheduled: Tempo Run; 6 miles total, with 1 mile warm up, 4 miles @ 8:40/mile, and 1 mile cool down. As you know, this run sucked. It didn’t start out bad—in fact, I was feeling pretty good well into the third mile. But halfway through mile 4, I caved. I stopped twice in the last half mile of the tempo portion of the run. It was 75°F with over 90% humidity, but still…I was so close to finishing this thing. The warm up mile was in 10:56, with an average HR of 135 bpm. The 4 tempo miles came in at 9:07/mile pace, if I factor in the 1:54 of stopped time on the Garmin (which I think I need to do), and an average HR of 176 bpm. The cool down mile was in 11:50, with a HR of 170 bpm, and I threw some strides in there for good measure.
  • Day 5
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – with what happened the day before, this ended up turning into a mini-tempo run. It felt good. Mile 1 came in at 9:45, with an average HR of 145, and then I eased the pace down through the next two miles. Mile 2 came in at 8:51, with an average HR of 164, and mile 3 was 8:11, with an average HR of 182. Mile 4 was a warm down mile, and I completed it in a very comfortable and slow feeling 9:38, with an average HR of 174. Obviously at that pace, my HR didn’t come down much, but believe me when I say that the pace felt comfortable, and surprisingly slow.
  • Day 6
    • Upper body strength training. I didn’t feel so great today, and it really showed during my workout. Just had no energy.
  • Day 7
    • Scheduled: 11 miles @ 10:08/mile – as I’ve mentioned, this was a great run. Since I am almost at the halfway mark of my half marathon training, I decided to see how I am doing, compared to what I am hoping to run on race day (between 9:00 – 9:30/mile). I figured the best way to do that, without actually racing was to make today’s run a progression run. For the first 5 miles, I tried to keep the pace between 10:00 – 10:08/mile, and then for the next 5 miles, I wanted to slowly bring the pace down with each mile: 9:50, 9:40, 9:30, 9:20, and finally 9:10. The last mile was left as a warm down mile. My mile splits ended up like this (Total time: 1:46:58 – 9:44/mile – avg HR 159):
      • Mile 1: 10:08
      • Mile 2: 10:02
      • Mile 3: 9:58
      • Mile 4: 10:01
      • Mile 5: 10:00
      • Mile 6: 9:50
      • Mile 7: 9:35
      • Mile 8: 9:21
      • Mile 9: 9:14
      • Mile 10: 9:06
      • Mile 11: 9:38

So while the first 3 runs of the week weren’t so great, the last two runs were pretty good, and the last run was especially good, I think.

This next week is a cutback week, and marks the midpoint in my half marathon training, and I really don’t think it could’ve come at a better time. I’m also looking at doing one of two races next Saturday. The first is a 10K over in Dallas—the Tour des Fluers. This would be my first 10K race, and probably the best choice, given that I am training for a half marathon. The other race is a 5K and practically in our own backyard—the Run in the Dark in Keller.

The current plan, I think, is for me to run the 10K in the morning, while Julie cheers, and then flip roles in the evening, with Julie running the 5K while I cheer. I’ve thought about running both—racing the 10K, and trying to keep up with Julie on the 5K, but that probably isn’t the best thing for my training.

By Bryan at 6:09 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Hate Tempo Runs

…or…

I Quit

…or…

I’m Questioning Everything About My Training

This morning I had a 4 mile tempo run, with a mile warm up and a mile warm down, for a total of 6 miles. As you might be able to guess, it didn’t go so well. Actually, it went well for 3.5 miles out of the 4 miles at tempo pace. But the last .5 mile removed any feeling of satisfaction.

I typically do not look forward to my tempo runs, especially as I move up to a longer distance. Two weeks ago, I ran my first 4-mile tempo run, and it went ok. I was happy to have finished it, yet there was room for improvement as my 4th mile was 9 seconds of my target pace, and my average for the 4 miles was 2 seconds higher than my target pace. With two additional weeks of training, including longer long runs, and mile repeats at a pace much faster than my tempo pace, I was hopeful that this morning’s tempo run would at least be as good as the tempo run two weeks ago. It wasn’t.

I stopped. Twice. Both times, were in the last .5 mile. It wasn’t enough, evidently, to just slow down some. No, I had to stop. Twice. Did I mention that I stopped twice? The good feeling I had from slowing down a bit two weeks ago, rather than stopping—gone. The positive vibes from a good 3 x 1 mile repeat workout—gone. The feeling like I was making good progress in my training—gone.

Seriously, why does this affect me so hard? It’s just a run. At least I got up early and got my butt out there in the first place, right? And I did finish it, I just stopped. Twice.

How can I race a 10K next week, if I can’t hold my tempo pace for 4 miles?

I’ve got to get past this mental block that allows me to stop when something starts feeling too hard—that seems to keep me from pushing myself further.

All right…enough “poor me.” Looking at the data, contrary to how I was feeling when I stopped the first time, I was not redlining—I was getting close, but I was closer two weeks ago, when I finished out my run. Here’s a comparison of the first 3 miles from two weeks ago, and from this morning:

Two Weeks Ago This Morning
Mile Pace Avg HR Max HR Pace Avg HR Max HR
1 8:41 169 181 8:39 164 173
2 8:37 181 186 8:39 178 183
3 8:40 188 191 8:38 184 188
4 8:49 192 194 8:36* 185* 189*
* Stopped twice during the final .5 mile. Stopped watch, too.

As you can see, through the first 3 miles, my heart rate was a little lower on this morning’s run, compared to the run two weeks ago. This trend continued in the 4th mile, up to the point where I stopped. So if my heart rate wasn’t quite as high this morning as it was two weeks ago, and I was able to finish the run two weeks ago without stopping, then why did I have to stop this morning? Of course it could be a number of things—weather, nutrition, rest, just to name a few. It was over 20% more humid this morning, than it was two weeks ago, perhaps that’s got something to do with it:

  • Weather from Tempo Run Two Weeks Ago
    • Avg Temp: 78.8°F
    • Humidity: 67.5%
  • Weather from Tempo Run This Morning
    • Avg Temp: 75.2°F
    • Humidity: 88.6%

I think what it boils down to is that I either need to HTFU, or I need to slow my pace down just a touch.

By Bryan at 2:19 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Half Marathon Training: Week 6

With this past Sunday’s 11 mile long run, week 6 of my half marathon training is in the books. It was a pretty good week, and a really good long run. What made it such a good week? Cooler weather definitely contributed, and based on my runs so far this week—back in warmer weather—that’s about it. Here’s the run down from last week:

  • Day 1
    • Full body strength training
    • My first ever full body massage—it was sometimes painful, but I felt pretty good afterward. Maybe that’s part of the reason week 6 was so good?
  • Day 2
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – this was a really nice run at a 9:44/mile pace with my average HR at 148 bpm.
  • Day 3
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – another easy run, this time at a 9:25/mile pace, with an average HR of 153 bpm.
  • Day 4
    • Scheduled: 7 miles total; 1.5 warm up, 3 x 1 mile @ 8:06 w/.5 mile jogs; 1.5 mile cool down – while this run was challenging, it felt good. My mile repeats were in 8:04, 8:05, and 7:50, and my total time including warm up, recovery, and cool down was 1:06:40, for 7 miles (a 9:33/mile pace).
  • Day 5
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08/mile – like most of my recent Friday runs, this run wasn’t quite as easy feeling as the rest of the week. I ran it at a 9:46/mile pace, with an average HR of 160 bpm. I should've slowed it down, since I was needing to recover from the previous day’s intervals.
    • Full body strength training.
  • Day 6
    • Rest!
  • Day 7
    • Scheduled: 11 mile long run @ 10:08/mile – this was a really, really good long run. I finished in 1:50:09, for a 10:00/mile average pace, and an average HR of 159 bpm. I also practiced a fast finish, with a 9:13 final mile.

All in all, this was a very good week.

By Bryan at 1:36 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thanks Gustav

Over the weekend, weather forecasts were calling for lots and lots of rain over north Texas this week, as a result of the former Hurricane Gustav. Parts of northeast Texas have received lots of rain, but a little further west, in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, we’ve seen a few sprinkles at best. We have, however, been the beneficiary of cooler weather, due in part to increased cloud cover, and some pretty heavy winds.

Yesterday and today, my scheduled 4 mile easy runs (@ 10:08/mile pace) have turned into very easy runs, at a pace between 9:25/mile and 9:44/mile. While I did keep an eye on the Garmin, I really tried to run on feel, and it seemed to work. My average HR was 148 bpm for the 9:44/mile run, and 152 bpm for the 9:25/mile run. I think I have Gustav to thank for this, at least in part.

Certainly, a strong wind at my back helps, but it also hurts just as much, if not more, when I am running into it. The cooler temperatures help, though they’re only marginally cooler. Perhaps it is the combination of the cooler temperatures and the wind, acting as an air conditioner, and keeping me fresh? Or…maybe…I’m finally seeing some improvement in my running…

Whatever the reason, I’ll certainly take it. It wasn’t all that long ago that it took nearly everything I had to do 2 miles at a 10:00/mile pace, and now I’m cruising around 9:30/mile on easy days? Nice. I think it is about time to schedule another race. Any suggestions?

By Bryan at 11:57 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 5

You’re probably wondering what happened to weeks 3 and 4 of the half marathon training, right? No? Well, I’ll tell you anyway—both weeks were just fine, but week 3 ended while we were on vacation in Colorado, and week 4 ended the day we got back from vacation, and I guess posting my training just sort of slipped my mind.

This morning, I completed day 7 of week 5—a 10 mile long run. With today’s run, I also have new all-time high mileage for one month with 111 miles. All in all, week 5 was pretty good. I threw in an extra day of running (Monday—4 miles), because I hadn’t run in the previous 3 days, including missing a long run. Other than that run, I was back on schedule with training. Week 5 also marked the first scheduled decrease in my easy pace—down from 10:14/mile to 10:08/mile. Here’s the daily rundown:

  • Day 1
    • Not on schedule: 4 miles @ 9:51/mile – this was a tough run. It was mid-morning, warm, and humid. This was also my first run back from the cool mountain air of Colorado, and my first run during the day in 4 weeks (early morning runs are my bread and butter now).
    • Full body strength training.
  • Day 2
    • Scheduled: 5 miles easy @ 10:08 – this run was much better than the previous day’s. Ended up running the 5 miles in 49:56, for a 10:00/mile pace.
  • Day 3
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08 – another easy run, and again, the pace was actually 10:00/mile.
  • Day 4
    • Scheduled: 6 miles, 1 mile warm up, 4 miles tempo @ 8:40/mile, 1 mile warm down. Easy 1 mile warm up, the 4 miles in 34:38, for a 8:42/mile pace. I think this is the first time I’ve actually completed for miles at tempo pace, even if I didn’t hit my pace. I was good until the 4th mile, which came in at 8:49, but at least I didn’t stop.
  • Day 5
    • Scheduled: 4 miles easy @ 10:08 – this was another run a little later in the morning, and again, I paid for it. My HR averaged 170 for this run, and it was a very pedestrian 10:07/mile pace. Warm and humid, and I was potentially not recovered fully from my tempo run the day before.
    • Upper body strength training.
  • Day 6
    • My birthday, and a rest day.
  • Day 7
    • Scheduled: 10 miles easy @ 10:08 – I’d missed my previous two long runs, so I was a bit apprehensive about this run. As it turns out, I had nothing to fear. The total time was 1:40:06, for a 10:01/mile pace.

Well, that’s it for week 5. The tempo run was hard, as were the runs done mid-morning. When I was running in the cooler, early morning weather, I could really feel the high-altitude training kicking in, and would often find myself running easy at 9:45/mile.

Just over two-and-a-half months until the half marathon. On to week 6.

By Bryan at 11:59 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

36 Years Ago Today

On this day, 36 years ago, I was born. That’s right, today is my birthday! 36 is a pretty insignificant birthday in the grand scheme of things, though I do find it amusing that I’ve now lived my second 18 years. Whereas it seemed like the first 18 years took absolutely forever, the last 18 years have flown by.

Here are some of my more memorable “on this date in history” items:

August 30, 1985: I became a man, according to Jewish tradition.

August 30, 1988: I got my drivers license.

August 30, 1990: I turned 18, and it was my second day of class at the University of Texas at Austin.

August 30, 1993: I turned 21, hitting the bars at 12:00 AM on August 30, until closing time. I hit the bars again right after work, as well as each night for the next week.

August 30, 2000: My first birthday as a father.

August 30, 2002: The big 3-0, which really wasn’t a big deal at all.

August 30, 2005: The one and only time I’ve had dinner with my two sons, and my Mom and Dad. It was a little awkward. (My parents have been divorced since 1995.)

So there you have it, my own personal “on this date in history.” Not very exciting, I know. If I could remember the year, then I would’ve included the birthday spent in a dive of a restaurant in Santa Fe, NM. The owner of the place gave my a plaque from the bar for White Horse Whiskey. I thought it was the greatest gift ever, but then again, I was probably somewhere between 8 and 11 years old.

One last interesting fact: on this date, 18 years ago, I weighed 180 lbs. Today I weigh 180 lbs.

By Bryan at 4:58 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Back From Colorado

We made it back from our vacation at about 1:45 AM this morning, after driving straight through from Denver. It was a fun trip, and a great introduction to the mountains for the boys.

I was able to get some running in while we were gone—24 miles total, and all but 4 of which were at 9,000 feet in elevation or higher. I wonder how quickly the effect of high altitude training wears off? Anyway, I am definitely looking forward to getting my first run in back closer to sea level (should have been today…total slacker).

While in Colorado, we saw family, we saw friends, we saw deer, snakes, foxes, and snow. We relaxed, we hiked, we shopped for souvenirs, and we simply enjoyed some time decompressing.

As long as I don’t live there, I think I need to get back into the habit of an annual trip to Colorado—summer or winter, I don’t care, as long as I get back up there more often!

By Bryan at 12:55 AM , in Travel - Permalink
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rock Slides And Rain

Well, the good news is that we’ve made it to Colorado. The bad news is that on our way down Raton Pass, into Trinidad, we encountered a rock slide in progress.

Coming over the pass, we encountered a very severe thunderstorm, with hail, and so much rain that there was basically standing water on a road that slopes down from a mountain pass. Somewhere between mile marker 6 and 7, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and turned to look as the slide was hitting the ground in front of us and to our right. Most of the debris stopped right there, and remained on the side of the road—all except one small boulder (we’re guessing it was about the size of a basketball).

This one boulder had decided that it would be nice to see what was on the other side of the road, and came rolling out into the road right in front of us. There was pretty much nothing I could do—I slowed as much as I could, as quick as I could given the conditions, and I moved to the right, as it was moving quickly to the left. We came so close to missing it. Instead, the left front tire went right over it, blowing out the tire.

More good news: we were able to slow down safely and pull off to the side of the road with little trouble.

Not so good news: we pulled off right next to a nice steep rock face, with water pouring down the side, along with a little bit of rock debris—not a good place to be stopped in the car.

Some more good news: we were less than a quarter of a mile from exit 6, which had a wide shoulder.  Best of all, it was away from the rocks.

Even more good news: coming down from the top of the pass, we noticed a snow plow truck sitting on the southbound side of I-25. We wondered what it was doing out—of course we found out the hard way—he was going up and down the road moving rocks out of the road. It wasn’t long after we stopped that he pulled up behind us. Not only did he use his huge truck to help keep traffic away from us as we changed the tire, he also helped change the tire, which was a huge help since we were in the rain, and my nerves were pretty frayed. We didn’t even get his name: thank you, whoever you are!

After slowly making our way the last 5 miles down the pass on the undersized and under-inflated spare, were able to exit and get some air in the spare, before finding a place to stay for the night.

Believe it or not, there’s more good news: About 2 hours out from Trinidad, we’d called around to a few hotels, one of which was a brand new La Quinta, but we decided not to book anything until we got into town. It turns out that the La Quinta is right next to the tire store. It looked nice, they still had rooms, so we headed in. As we were waiting, I jokingly asked the manager if they had a “rock slide” discount, and told her what we had just gone through. She said “oh, we have a great ‘rock slide’ discount,” and proceeded to give us a 20% discount off of the rate we had been quoted when we called from the road. How nice is that?

So I’ll be up bright and early to see about getting a new wheel and tire. Hopefully that is all we’ll need.

By Bryan at 12:15 AM , in Travel - Permalink
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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 2

You know one thing I love about my running right now? On most mornings I am done with my exercise for the day, before most people are out of bed.

This morning’s long run concluded week 2 of my half marathon training. Compared to last week, my legs felt less tired, I felt like I had more energy, I hung in there on my speed day, and I kicked some ass on on my long run! All in all, it feels like my body is adapting nicely to the increased workload. There were two notable differences this week, versus last week: I didn’t do any additional lower body strength training, and I took a complete day of rest yesterday. Last week I had two lower body strength training sessions, and on my Saturday Rest/XT day, I did a pretty intense yoga class.

All of that said, here’s my rundown from week 2:

  • Day 1
    • Upper body strength training at the gym.
    • 30 minutes of easy spinning on the stationary bike – 9.66 miles.
    • Week 5, Day 1 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge
  • Day 2
    • 5 mile easy @ 10:12 – was supposed to be 10:14/mile
  • Day 3
    • 4 miles easy @ 10:12 – again, this was supposed to be 10:14/mile. HR averaged 151—10 bpm lower than the average from the day before.
    • Week 5, Day 2 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge.
  • Day 4
    • Speedwork – 5 miles total, w/warmup, 2 x 1 mile @ 8:11/mile, .5 mile jog, cool down. Good, but hard. First interval was comfortably hard, 2nd interval just felt hard, though at the same time, it felt like I was running an easier pace. Actual times for intervals: 1-8:11, 2-8:03.
    • Upper body strength training.
  • Day 5
    • 4 miles easy @ 10:14 – legs were tired after the previous day’s speedwork.
    • Week 5, Day 3 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge.
  • Day 6
    • Complete Rest – not sure the last time this happened.
  • Day 7
    • 9 Mile Long Run – I did the first 6 miles at 10:14/mile, and then ran the final 3 miles at what I hope is my half marathon race pace or faster: mile 7- 9:21, mile 8- 9:05, mile 9- 8:37. Whew!
    • One Hundred Push Up Challenge – post week 5 test to exhaustion. Did this right before heading out on my long run: 67 push ups.

So that’s it. Another week is in the books. Week 3 will be challenging, primarily because we’re heading to Colorado at the end of the week. I should be able to get in my first 4 runs no problem, but my long run, which is supposed to be 10 miles, will come sometime within 24 hours of having spent a long time in the car, and of course it will be run at altitude. Fortunately, week 4 is a scale back week.

One last note: I’ve run each and every run of my half marathon training in the morning—starting most of them before 6 AM. I am very happy with how easy it’s become to get up and run.

By Bryan at 10:17 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Half Marathon Training: Week 1

Yesterday marked the end of the first week of my half marathon training. Overall, it was a good week, though running 4 consecutive days might have been a little much. I was definitely looking forward to a day of rest/cross-training by Saturday. Here’s a brief rundown of the week’s activities:

  • Day 1:
    • Upper body strength training at the gym.
    • Week 4, Day 1 of the One Hundred Push Ups Challenge
  • Day 2:
    • 4 Miles Easy @ 10:14 – In reality, I did this run at a 10:06/mile pace, but I felt good.
    • Lower body strength training – I’m not ready to give this up yet.
  • Day 3:
    • 4 miles Easy @ 10:14 – This run was at a 10:05/mile pace, but it felt harder than the previous day’s run. My HR was lower than it was during the previous day’s run. I am guessing that the difficulty was due to tired legs.
    • Week 4, Day 2 of the One Hundred Push ups Challenge.
  • Day 4: Tempo Run – 5 miles, including warm up; 3 miles @ 8:40; cool down. Third run in as many days in the early morning. Easy to get up this morning. First two tempo miles felt good, but the 3rd mile I was just trying to hang on.
  • Day 5:
    • 4 miles Easy @ 10:14 – Warm and muggy for this morning run. I was dogging it by the 4th mile. My pace was a more pedestrian 10:11/mile.
    • Full body strength training at the gym in the late afternoon.
  • Day 6: Yoga class at the gym – this was the hardest yoga class I’ve attended…lots of long holds.
  • Day 7:
    • 9 Mile Long Run @ 10:14 – hip/upper thigh soreness late in mile 3 and early mile 4, but then it went away. Averaged 10:06/mile. Ran the second half faster than the first half, and the final three faster than either the first 3 or middle 3 miles.
    • One Hundred Push Ups Challenge – test (58).

I think that covers it. For the week, I ran 26 miles, did 2 upper body strength workouts, and 2 lower body strength workouts, 3 pushup workouts, plus one pushup test, and one yoga class. It’s no wonder I am tired!

By Bryan at 3:14 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Balance 858 Review

It’s been about a 10 days since my most recent pair of shoes, New Balance 858s, showed up on my doorstep. This is the third pair of New Balance 858s that I’ve owned, dating back to last summer. As I mentioned recently, New Balance is looking for people to review their shoes, in exchange for a free pair of shoes. Since I love my New Balance shoes, I figured this is a no-brainer, so here it is…

I originally got into the 858s after being fitted at our local New Balance store. Compared to the shoes I had been wearing (also New Balance, but 2+ years old), the 858s felt like an absolute dream to my feet. They provided a nice, cushioned ride, good stability, and breatheability. All of my training last fall, and my first two races were run in these shoes. By the time I was ready for new shoes, there was little doubt what they were going to be…more 858s.

Before purchasing my next pair, I did go back to a local running store, just to try on some other brands. I’ve worn New Balance exclusively for several years, and wanted to see what else was out there. But those other shoes ended up being too narrow, or just weren’t as comfortable, and I ended up with my second pair of 858s, this time the all black 858s.

My second pair saw me through 5 more races, my first 30 mile week, and my first 100 mile month. They took me on short runs, long runs, and carried me around the track for 800m and 1600m repeats. Not once have my 858s ever mistreated me with blisters, and for that, I am eternally grateful. But the good times couldn’t last forever, and so it was, two weeks ago, I had to start looking for a new pair of shoes…a pair to carry me most of the way through my half marathon training. Fortunately, deciding which shoe to get was very easy—I went online and ordered the exact same thing—New Balance 858s.

By Bryan at 11:41 PM , in Reviews - Permalink
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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mid-Year Review

This week’s Take It and Run Thursday theme over at Runners' Lounge is “Look Back, Look Ahead.” With this theme in mind, I figured now would be a good time to recap the first part of 2008, and look ahead to what’s to come.

For those of you that don’t know, I started running in September of last year, when my wife and I started the Couch-to-5K running program. At the end of that program, I raced my first 5K, the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run. My time was 31:15. It was hard, but I had a lot of fun and couldn't wait to do another race.

My second race came in February of this year--the Cowtown 5K, that is run as part of the Cowtown Marathon. The night before the expo, we went to see Spirit of the Marathon. If it wasn't already obvious that I had caught the running bug, it became crystal clear that night.

Since finishing up my original training program, I've continued with one program or another pretty much non-stop. I've used a few Hal Higdon programs, and I've used the Smart Coach running program generator from Runner's World. I've learned that while I generally prefer the structure of being on a running program, every once in a while, a week or two of unstructured running feels great!

Since the Cowtown 5K, I've raced in 5 more 5Ks, and brought my PR down to 25:12 in my most recent race, the Run For Dad 5K. Along the way, I also received my first age group award, placing 2nd in the 35-39 age group at the Bunny Boogie 5K, and setting what was at that time a new PR of 27:45 (one month after setting a PR of 28:45 at the Cowtown 5K).

I've had my first 30 mile week, as well as my first 100 mile month. I've also had to deal with my first real running injury, which made me realize just how important running has become to me. I also signed up for my first half marathon—The Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio Half Marathon on November 16th.

I am now 4 days into the first week of my half marathon training, and that will be the focus for most of the rest of the year. The plan is to do the half, and then hopefully register for my 2nd half (any suggestions), and start looking for a marathon in 2009.

Oh, and I can’t forget that with the help of running I lost 50 lbs. between mid-November 2007, and the end of April 2008. I now weigh what I did when I graduated from high school some 18 years ago, and am in the best shape of my life.

Best of all, it seems that my wife, Julie, has also caught the running bug!

By Bryan at 11:05 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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One Hundred Pushups: Week 4

I’ve not quite completed week 4 of the One Hundred Pushups Challenge, but I realized that I’ve been promising an update for a couple of weeks and haven’t followed through.

Last night, I completed day 2 of week 4. The first 4 sets were tough—not really hard or challenging, just harder than they have been. I was a little surprised at this, because for the first time in a couple of weeks I hadn’t done an upper body strength training session before doing the pushups. Oh, and I totally rocked the 5th set (max set), breaking the 50 pushup barrier for the first time on the last set of a workout (I've done 50 or more on both of my tests—50 and 57).

Here are my full results, through Week 4, Day 2:

Initial Test: 50

Week 1:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 10 10
Level 2 10 10
Level 3 8 8
Level 4 6 6
Level 5 max (at least 7) 40
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 12 12
Level 2 12 12
Level 3 10 10
Level 4 10 10
Level 5 max (at least 10) 46
Day 3 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 15 15
Level 2 13 13
Level 3 10 10
Level 4 10 10
Level 5 max (at least 15) 40

Week 2:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 12 12
Level 2 12 12
Level 3 9 9
Level 4 7 7
Level 5 max (at least 10) 47
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 16 16
Level 2 13 13
Level 3 11 11
Level 4 11 11
Level 5 max (at least 15) 49
Day 3 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 15 15
Level 2 15 15
Level 3 12 12
Level 4 12 12
Level 5 max (at least 15) 48

Test After Week 2: 57

Week 3:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 25 25
Level 2 17 17
Level 3 17 17
Level 4 15 15
Level 5 max (at least 25) 39
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 27 27
Level 2 19 19
Level 3 19 19
Level 4 15 15
Level 5 max (at least 25) 46
Day 3 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 30 30
Level 2 22 22
Level 3 22 22
Level 4 20 20
Level 5 max (at least 27) 49

Week 4:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 27 27
Level 2 20 20
Level 3 20 20
Level 4 17 17
Level 5 max (at least 45) 45
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 27 27
Level 2 21 21
Level 3 21 21
Level 4 18 18
Level 5 max (at least 25) 51
Day 3 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 30 ?
Level 2 22 ?
Level 3 22 ?
Level 4 20 ?
Level 5 max (at least 29) ?

By Bryan at 11:18 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Am Tired

I got up at 5:30 this morning for an easy 4 miles. I got up yesterday morning at 5:30 for an easy 4 miles. I also did a lower body strength training workout late yesterday afternoon. I am tired. More specifically, my legs are tired.

According to my training plan, these easy runs are supposed to be at a 10:14/mile pace, but in reality, I did both of them at a 10:06/mile pace. Yesterday, my average heart rate was 158, today it was 153. But today felt harder than yesterday. My legs felt heavier…slower.

I think what this says is that while my cardiovascular system can handle these back-to-back easy runs, with lower body strength training mixed in, my legs aren’t quite there. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time until they are accustomed to the additional workload—this is the first week of my half marathon training, after all. Or maybe I need to scale way back on the strength training, leaving in just enough to keep myself balanced.

For the record, while I am struggling a little bit to get out of bed for these early morning runs, once I’m out there running, I really like it.

By Bryan at 1:03 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Half Marathon Training Starts Today

I know that the day is nearly done, so the title should read “Half Marathon Training Started Today,” but I don’t give a flip, they day isn’t done.

Anyway, here’s my half marathon training.

Day one was innocent enough—cross-training or rest. Of course I chose cross-training. I did a nice upper-body strength training routine, plus Week 4, Day 1 of the One Hundred Pushup Challenge (another post for that to follow).

That’s it.

By Bryan at 11:59 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Eating Pavement

Yes, I ate pavement recently. But if you run long enough, it’s bound to happen, right? That’s what I keep telling myself.

We all went to Houston over the weekend to visit Julie’s family, and to see her mom and our nephew in a production of “The Music Man,” while her sister played in the orchestra. The show was pretty good, and their performances were great! While there, Julie decided that it was time for her to start running again (she’s been dealing with tightness in her Achilles tendon, as well as some pain in her foot), and I decided that I’d go, too.

Towards the end of the first mile, while I was running along, minding my own business, I suddenly found myself hurtling towards the ground. My hands hit first and I quickly rolled over onto my right side, which caught the brunt of the collision. More specifically, I landed on my right hip area. Yes, the same right hip area that was recently injured. My only thought after “what the hell?!?,” was “crap, that hurt!”

Fortunately, aside from Julie, there were no other witnesses to my fall. And after brushing myself off, and making sure I was still in one piece, we continued our run. My hands stung for a bit, and my hip was pretty sore, but I finished the run. I was also able to go for an 8 mile long run yesterday, marking my longest run since Father’s Day (aka 11 miles of pure hell).

In the end, I covered 4 miles in 41:22 of running time, though we stopped a couple of times for Julie to stretch (and for me to nurse my bruised pride). And in case you’re wondering, I say “I” because Julie stopped at around 3 miles, since she was easing back into running. (Her Achilles tendon and foot felt great, by the way.)

By Bryan at 7:58 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cross-Training, Running, and Shoes

Just a quick update to let you know I’m still here, and that I haven’t suffered any injury related setbacks. In fact, overall, my training has been going very, very good—except that it’s cross-training. I’ve been hitting the gym 3-4 times per week for the last few weeks, getting in 1-2 sessions each of upper body strength training and lower body strength training. That’s definitely long enough to notice a difference in my physique. Fortunately, I’ve been able to hold my weight steady, so this has been good for my body composition, as I seem to have dropped a little more fat, while gaining the muscle.

As for my running, I am doing as the doctor ordered, and easing back into it. As noted last week, I’ve worked back up to a five mile run, with no issues. On Sunday I put in 4 miles in 100°F weather, with no problems, aside from being hot, hot, hot! The run was not pretty, but I got through it. I really would’ve liked to have put in 6 miles, but with the heat, it took all I had to get through the 4. Since starting back with the running, I’ve been running 3 days a week, and will bump that to 4 days this week. Next week I am supposed to officially begin my half marathon training, and just in time for that, I should have a new pair of New Balance 858s arriving tomorrow (black, 12 EE). Of course, over on 5Ks and Cabernets, I see this:

Hi again Kevin!
Thanks again for participating in our running shoe blog advertisement campaign and passing our info on! If you know anyone else who is a runner and has a blog, please do not hesitate to send them our contact info so they can receive a free pair of shoes as well!

Tamera

Tamera VanDyke
Marketing Director, NewBalanceHarrisburg.com
[email protected]

I am going to send Tamera an email and see if I can get a different style to try. After all, I am about to start on my 3rd pair of 858s, and perhaps I don’t need as much stability now as when I was last fitted for shoes. You never know what dropping 50 lbs. will do in that regard. I do recall being told back in March, when I bought my last pair, that I overpronate just ever so slightly—perhaps a more neutral shoe might be worth trying?

In other news, I finished week two of the One Hundred Pushup Challenge, took the test for week 3 (57), and did Day 1 of Week 3 this evening. I’ll have a more complete update in a post tomorrow or Thursday. Now if I can just find a way to squeeze in 5-6 miles tonight!

By Bryan at 10:39 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bringing Sexy Back

Ok, so I’m not so sexy, but I think that maybe I am back (knocking on wood). I put in another 4 mile run last night, and everything felt great! I also went back to one of our standard routes, which includes a little uphill and a little downhill, rather than sticking to the flats, which is what I’d been doing for the previous couple of weeks. I even had a little light rain falling to help cool things off.

I’ve been apprehensive with each run, always wondering if the pain/discomfort is going to come back, and worrying that it might be chronic. Well, I am still a little apprehensive about all of that, and probably will be for a little while. However, I feel that this run was a mental turning of the corner—a much needed good result. Surprisingly, my legs felt very fresh, even after my run on Sunday and then lower body strength training on Monday.

I’ll never really know what the impact of adding the glute and abductor/adductor machines to my workouts, or the additional stretching, and the use foam roller has had on my recovery, but they all sure seem to have helped. Of course, it could just be that I needed some time off. Either way, I am grateful. My official half marathon training starts in less than two weeks, and I was starting to worry.

Here are my mile splits. This run was supposed to be an easy 4 miles @ 10:14/mile. As you can see, I didn’t hit my pace until the 3rd mile, and I must not have liked it much, as I turned around and finished up with an 8:00 minute 4th mile.

  1. 10:05
  2. 10:03
  3. 10:14 (this is the pace I was supposed to run)
  4. 8:00

By Bryan at 8:39 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One Hundred Pushup Challenge – Week 2, Day 1

Last Friday I finished up Week 1 of the One Hundred Pushup Challenge, and last night I completed Day 1 of Week 2. So far, so good—I am getting all of my reps in, and my max sets are all above 40, including 47 last night. I don’t know why, but I am still surprised by the “pump” that my entire upper body gets from doing the pushup workouts, specifically the max set.

Speaking of a pumped up upper body—I’ve decided that the pushup workouts will formally take the place of my chest strength training exercises. Doing the pushups and continuing my regular upper body strength training routine was just not allowing enough time for recovery.

Here are my full results from Week 1:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 10 10
Level 2 10 10
Level 3 8 8
Level 4 6 6
Level 5 max (at least 7) 40
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 12 12
Level 2 12 12
Level 3 10 10
Level 4 10 10
Level 5 max (at least 10) 46
Day 3 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 15 15
Level 2 13 13
Level 3 10 10
Level 4 10 10
Level 5 max (at least 15) 40

And Day 1 of Week 2:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 12 12
Level 2 12 12
Level 3 9 9
Level 4 7 7
Level 5 max (at least 10) 47

By Bryan at 1:41 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Injury Update

This is just a quick injury update… After easing back into things with a couple of 2 and 3 miles runs in the past week, I ventured out for 4 miles today—pain, discomfort, and tightness free! While it felt good to up my distance another mile, and without pain, I have to admit that the 4th mile was kind of tough. I was tired… It was hot… I felt like I’ve lost a lot of running fitness in the last couple of weeks. But my hip/upper thigh didn’t hurt!!!

I’ve continued with extra stretching for my iliotibial band, along with glute and abductor/adductor strength training, and use of the foam roller. The combination of these things seems to be working.

One benefit of the reduced running over the last few weeks has been some of the most consistent strength training that I’ve had in quite some time. Looking at my training log, I’ve 3 or more strength training workouts each of the last 5 weeks, including both upper and lower body training. Hopefully this stronger foundation will benefit me as I increase my miles again.

By Bryan at 1:22 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The One Hundred Pushup Challenge Begins

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I am taking up the One Hundred Pushup Challenge. And not only am I taking up the challenge, but I’ve also recruited Julie and 9 others, mostly coworkers to take up the challenge as well. So that each person only needs to focus on performing their exercises, rather than worry about how many sets and how many reps, I even put together a nice spreadsheet for each person to use in tracking their weekly progress.

Over the last week or so everyone performed their initial test, and on Monday of this week, most started the 6 week training program. It’s early, but the initial feedback is very positive. Most people are a little sore. Everyone has completed all of their scheduled sets and repetitions. A few have even exceeded their initial test result on their very first max set. It will be interesting to see how motivated everyone stays as the reps start ramping up.

As for me, you’ll recall that my initial test resulted in 50 pushups. This evening I completed Week 1, Day 2 of the workout, and here are the results from the first two days:

Day 1 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 10 10
Level 2 10 10
Level 3 8 8
Level 4 6 6
Level 5 max (at least 7) 40
Day 2 Scheduled Actual
Level 1 12 12
Level 2 12 12
Level 3 10 10
Level 4 10 10
Level 5 max (at least 10) 46

Not bad, especially considering that I did upper body strength training late last night (as in between 11 PM – 12 AM).

By Bryan at 11:27 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Channeling My Inner Pre?

I've been unintentionally growing my beard in since about the time of my injury. At some point I decided it was going to grow until I was running consistently again. I am not ready to claim the battle won over the injury, but I was ready to shave it off when I got home this evening. But before I could shave it all off, I decided to channel my inner Pre…

So do I keep it or shave it all off? Of course Julie says that it needs to be shaved off before I go to work—that I’ll never live it down, but that doesn’t really bother me.

It’s no better or worse than my attempt at growing in a full beard in the first place. And I once wore a goatee for a few years straight, so it’s not like they’ve not seen me with facial hair. I know, it is silly, but that just might be why I keep it for a couple of days.

Running Notes

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve begun easing back into running. In addition to my first run on the 4th, I also ran 2 quick miles on the 5th, after an upper-body strength training session, and I went out for 3 miles last night.

Since I’m not putting in anything close to the volume that I was running prior to the injury, these sessions have been run at a little faster pace than my typical easy run pace. Saturday’s 2-mile run averaged 8:38/mile, and last night’s 3-mile run averaged 9:03/mile.

Overall, I felt  good during both runs, though I experienced some tightness around mid-thigh. I am continuing to do IT Band stretches after my runs, and I’m using a foam roller daily. I also added the glute machine, and the abductor/adductor machine to my lower-body strength training.

By Bryan at 1:43 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, July 4, 2008

Easing Back Into It

Well, the doc said to take 3 days off, and then if it was possible for me to “ease back into it,” I could start running again. Over the past 3 days, I’ve followed his orders as closely as possible—going so far as to work from home the rest of Tuesday, and all of Wednesday and Thursday, to make sure I was able to properly ice my hip/upper thigh every hour or so. (I didn’t think HR would appreciate me doing this at work, even if I closed and locked my office door.) I’ve also been taking Aleve or Ibuprofen regularly, and most important of all, aside from mowing the yard yesterday, I’ve been resting.

Earlier this afternoon, approximately 72 hours after leaving the doctor’s office, I set out for my first run since last Saturday—a nice easy couple of miles with a good warm up and warm down, plus plenty of stretching afterwards. It went well. Early on, there were a couple of times when I thought I felt some tightness across the top of my outer thigh, but then it would go away. Perhaps it was just some phantom soreness/tightness. Towards the end, I did feel some tightness a little further down my thigh towards my knee, which leads me to believe that this is all due to a tight iliotibial band.

When I got back to the house, I looked up some iliotibial band stretches, and incorporated those into my typical post-run stretching. After stretching, I took some Aleve, and iced for about 15 minutes. Everything feels good, but of course I stopped just short of where the real discomfort and pain typically had been coming on. I’ll continue to ease back into it for the next several days to couple of weeks and take it from there. Fingers crossed.

Run Details:
  • 1/2 mile walking warm up
  • 2 mile run
    • Mile 1: 10:58/mile pace
    • Mile 2: 10:15/mile pace (10:55/mile for first .75 and then eased down to 8:30/mile, 8:00/mile, and then finally 7:30/mile for the final .25 mile)
  • 1/2 mile walking warm down
  • Stretching
  • Ice
Useful Articles:

By Bryan at 3:30 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Trochanteric Bursitis

After filling the doctor in with all of the specifics of the injury, and having him contort my right leg in all sorts of ways, he decided that it is likely trochanteric bursitis. With the way he was moving my leg around and pressing on the area that hurts during my runs, if it was a tear or fracture, it would like have hurt, and it didn’t hurt at all.

Trochanteric bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa sac that sits between the greater trochanter (bony point at the outside top of the femur bone) and the muscles and tendons that run along the outside of the upper thigh. In runners, it is typically seen in conjunction with ITB syndrome, but not always. However, if it is related, then downhill running and slower running can lead to greater aggravation and inflammation of the trochanteric bursa.

Before leaving the doctor’s office, I got an cortisone injection, and the following instructions:

  • Ice the area for 15-20 minutes every hour.
  • Take an NSAID, such as Ibuprofen or Aleve regularly.
  • Complete rest for at least 3 days. (This is the tough one.):
    • No running (obviously).
    • No cycling.
    • No elliptical machine.
    • No swimming (unless I can do it without using my lower body).
    • No lower body strength training.
  • After 3 days, I can ease back into running, and other activities.
  • If it’s still not feeling better, then he wants me back for an MRI.

Here are some additional links:

If any of you have experience with this injury, please feel free to leave a comment with advice, links, etc. Thanks!

By Bryan at 12:54 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Going To The Doctor

I’ve finally decided to go to the doctor and get my hip checked out. As you know, I ran on it when I shouldn’t have. I rested it. I tried again. It still bothers me—from discomfort at first, and eventually to pain.

It feels great for the first couple of miles, but like clockwork, when the 3rd mile rolls around, so does the pain. Once the pain is there, it hurts more to run downhill, but it hurts less if I pick up the pace. In fact, some of my best “kick” training has come since the hip injury.

In the two plus weeks since it first started bothering me, I went from not being able to stay on the elliptical for more than 5 minutes, before my hip started hurting, to being able to do a hard 20-30 minutes with no pain or discomfort. That gave me hope for my most recent test run, which was Saturday—after 3 days of no running. But it wasn’t meant to be.

As usual, in the third mile, the discomfort set in, eventually turning to pain, and forcing me to walk mile 4. The funny thing is, by the end of mile 4, the pain had subsided enough for me to try running easy again for a quarter mile, and then eventually running at a sub-8:00/mile pace for the next 3/4 mile. While there was discomfort after my run, I was shooting hoops later that afternoon. I am sure I should've just stopped in mile 3. So frustrating.

The appointment with the doctor is at noon today. Hopefully I’ll know something. At this point, anything is better than continued not knowing. I’ve got my training log ready for him, and I am prepared to stop running now, if that means I’ll be able to resume training in time for the half marathon in November.

By Bryan at 10:11 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Two Zune Family

I’ve been meaning to mention that I bought a Microsoft Zune last week—a black, 8 GB Zune. My previous Mp3 player experience was with a 40 GB Creative Zen Jukebox Plus, or something like that.

This purchase was my materialistic reward for reaching my weight goal of 185. Of course I met that goal two months ago, but I just couldn’t decide what to get—my only requirement was that I be able to run with it.

Within 10 minutes of using my Zune, I knew that I had to get one for Julie. Fortunately, her 30th birthday was just around the corner, and I hadn’t bought her gift yet, so that evening I ordered her a pink, 8GB Zune.

Naturally, we’ve got a Zune Pass, and have both loaded up our Zune's. I’ve also set up a number of podcasts, and have started listening to them on my drive to and from work. Why I wasn’t doing this before, I don’t know.

Anyway, we love them.

By Bryan at 1:53 PM , in Reviews - Permalink
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I Am A Runner

This week’s Take It And Run Thursday theme over at the Runners’ Lounge is… 13 words or less: “You are a runner…” Finish the thought in 13 words or less. Here goes:

When I started thinking about food as a fuel for my next run.

This realization hit me like a ton of bricks one day while I was at a lunch with my team. And I realized I had been thinking this way for a while.

I love to eat good food. I am not a food snob—I don’t require fancy food, just good, honest food. I am a foodie. But all of a sudden my world was turned upside down. While I still longed for my next great food fix, the pull wasn’t quite as strong, the need not so urgent. Instead of “we’ve got to eat at this place tonight,” it became “yeah, we should try that place sometime.”

I was running. I was losing weight. I needed better fuel to run better, stronger, faster. I was enjoying myself, and for the first time in my life I started eating to live, rather than living to eat.

Okay, I’ve got one more: I’m a runner because when I can’t run, I can’t wait to run.

This has become so clear over the last 2 weeks as I’ve been dealing with an injured hip. The days off are absolutely killing me. All I want to do is run. I hated running. What happened?

By Bryan at 12:18 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

One Hundred Push Ups And My Hip

Ok, so I’m finally going to do the challenge—the One Hundred Push Ups challenge that it seems like everyone else is already doing. I’ll admit, in addition to running, I also do at least two strength training sessions per week, and have been doing strength training more or less consistently for 17 years. While I’m not as strong as I have been, especially since taking up running, I figured that I’d do ok in the initial test, which I just took. The result: 50 push ups.

I actually felt very good until I hit about 45, and then I started fading pretty quickly. Since doing the test, I’ve done another 40 push ups (5 x 20), so that’s probably good enough for Day 1, right? Ok, maybe I should follow the program as prescribed.

The other reason that I am going to do this is because I’ve got to do anything and everything I can to fill the void of running right now. I alluded to an injury a couple of posts ago, and it’s still not right. The outside of my right hip has been very sore when running (to the point of painful) since I finished the Run For Dad 5K 10 days ago.

I first noticed it on the 1.5 mile walk back to the car after the race. The next morning I was an idiot and went out for a run (6 miles by myself, and then 5 with Julie) in which it hurt pretty much all the time. I took an ice bath afterward, and it felt pretty good the rest of the evening. I took Monday off, but ran 5 on Tuesday (pain), and 4 on Wednesday (pain). Finally, I took Thursday off, but ran again on Friday, though I scaled back my 6 mile tempo run to 4 miles (pain in the 3rd mile). Saturday and Sunday were forced days off, and on this past Monday, after riding the bike for about 10 miles at the gym, I hopped on the treadmill and did 1 mile in just under 7 minutes (whew, that felt good!).

Yesterday I decided to go test it out on a short run. The first 2 miles felt good, but in the 3rd mile I started feeling discomfort—not pain, just discomfort, so I called it a run after 3 miles. I think I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that I’ll need to take more than just a couple of days off. In the meantime, there will be lots of cycling, swimming, and strength training, plus I’ll start the One Hundred Push Ups challenge.

All I want to do is run!

By Bryan at 10:35 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 20, 2008

My Own Little Triathlon

This morning I did my own little impromptu triathlon—backwards. I was scheduled to do a 6 mile run yesterday, with 4 miles of tempo running, but due to my hip soreness, I postponed it until today (hip willing). Well, this morning, the hip felt pretty good, so I decided to take it a mile at a time, and just see how it did. I could feel it the tiniest little bit during my first mile warm up, and into my first mile at tempo pace, but in the second mile, it was much more noticeable, but not nearly as bad as Sunday, Tuesday, or Wednesday—yeah, I know I shouldn’t have run on at least two of those days… Needless to say, I called of the tempo run after 2 miles, and finished up with a 1 mile cool down.

Since I wasn’t able to get in the full run, and was already in workout mode, I decided to head to the gym and hit the stationary bike for 30 minutes. I used a random hill program at level 8, and hammered out 13.5 miles in the 30 minutes. It was hard, but felt good. I was able to stick pretty close to 100 RPM, and even pushed up to 110-120 on some sections. After finishing up the bike, I headed home.

Of course, I couldn’t just stop and call it a day. Since I was already so sweaty, I figured I should go to the pool and swim some laps. I ended up swimming 650 meters (or yards—there’s a difference of opinion on this) in roughly 25 minutes. I rested approximately 20-30 seconds between each 25 meter length. I also tried breathing on my weak side (right side), in addition to breathing on my left side—every 3rd stroke. Breathing every other stroke seemed too frequent, and every fourth stroke was not quite enough. Every third stroke felt pretty good, though it was a little awkward breathing on my right side every other breath.

In the end, I ran 4 miles in around 37 minutes, biked 13.5 miles in 31:30 minutes, and swam 650 meters in 25 minutes. Not too shabby.

By Bryan at 2:21 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Then And Now

Since posting the pictures from our anniversary celebration, I've been thinking that this would be a good time for a little game of then and now. Okay, maybe not a game, but at least a couple of pictures from the wedding timeframe to compare with pictures from a year later.

Let's start off with these:

Here we are on our honeymoon (May 29, 2007)...

...and here we are on our first anniversary (May 27, 2008).

Not the best pictures, but you get the idea.

By Bryan at 11:21 PM , in My Weight Loss Journey - Permalink
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Lunch Time Swim

I am working from home the rest of this week, and one of the apparent benefits is being able to go for a swim on my lunch break. That's right, I went for a 4-mile run this morning, and then I went for a swim on my lunch break. Crazy, huh?

The swim wasn't much, just 500 meters (20 lengths of a 25 meter pool) with about 30-35 seconds of rest in between each length. My total time was about 20 minutes, including the rest time.

This is the third time that I've swam laps since the end of May, and the second time actually swimming a known distance, in a lane. I still do not feel like I am that strong of a swimmer, but I feel like I am getting stronger. I focus on efficiency—keeping my head down...my gaze at the bottom of the pool, not splashing about with each stroke, making sure I exhale in the water, before I come up for a breath, etc. I am getting there, slowly, but surely.

I am actually thinking of taking some lessons. Does anyone have experience with adult swim lessons? I'd be looking for something that might be an intro into swimming for triathlons, or something.

By Bryan at 2:17 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Snakes On The Run

Okay, snakes can't run, and there weren't snakes, just a single snake. But boy, did it have me moving quick to the other side of the trail!

Running Notes

6/17/2008:

  • 5 miles @ 10:01/mile.
  • Average HR 156 bpm.
  • Ran this on a local greenbelt.
  • The snake incident happened at the beginning of mile 5—it was coiled up on the trail as I can around a blind curve. It jumped. I jumped.
  • Ran the final .25 mile at 7:27/mile pace.
  • Experiencing some hip pain still on the outside of my right hip.

6/18/2008:

  • 4 miles @ 10:04/mile.
  • Average HR 152 bpm.
  • Still have the hip pain, though not until some downhill sections.
  • Added in a couple of striders during mile 4 @ 5K pace.
  • Worked on finishing kick for the final .2 mile, first up to 1 mile pace, then beyond.
  • Running fast feels good. Running slow doesn't.

The temperature is only 79°F this morning, but with the humidity it feels like 92°F.

In addition to my run yesterday, I also went to the gym in the late afternoon. I got on the bike for 20 minutes, doing the Alpine Pass program on level 7. I tried to maintain 100 rpm throughout (came pretty close). I then did some lower body strength training for the first time in weeks. My plan is to cross-train a little more between now and the end of July, which is when I officially start my half marathon training. If the plan holds, there will be a lot of the bike and strength training between now and then.

By Bryan at 11:24 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, June 14, 2008

2nd Annual Run For Dad Results

Julie and I ran the 2nd Annual Run For Dad 5K this morning in Fort Worth. For some reason, we were both very nervous about today's race. For Julie, I think it was due to some recent tough runs. For me, it was the memory of the Buffalo Boogie, where I blew up about half a mile from the finish and had to walk for a couple of short stretches. Either way, it had our stomachs knotted, and our heart rates elevated.

My goals for today's race were simple:

  1. A new PR (sub 26:25)
  2. Sub 27:30

I really felt like goal #1 should've been my 2nd goal, but I didn't want to get too greedy, and I didn't have a good sense of what goal #1 would've been in that case. I did look at a pacing chart last night, and again this morning, and I had somewhere between 8:05/mile and 8:15/mile pace in my head.

After getting up at 5:30 AM, taking a quick shower (who else showers before a race?), and taking care of other business, I had half an English muffin with peanut butter, some water, some Gatorade, and then we were off to the race.

This race was a point-to-point race, so our plan was to park somewhere in the middle, and jog/walk to the starting line. We arrived and parked with plenty of time to spare, and took a nice leisurely jog to the start. Once there, we picked up our timing chips, took a GU and some water, and I did some strides while Julie stood in line for the port-a-potty (this is usually my place right before a race). With just a couple of minutes to spare, we headed to the starting line.

Now, the race was being put on by a company that provides timing services for other races, so you'd think they'd pull out all the stops and at least have a timing mat for the start of the race, right? Wrong! Fortunately there were only 160 people entered, and while we weren't in the front few lines, we only lost a couple of seconds at the start. Anyway, back to the race...

The air horn sounded, and we were off! Initially, the course kicked uphill slightly, but not enough to be of any concern, and then we took a nice slight downhill towards the first mile marker. Within the first quarter of a mile I had separated from the crowd a bit, and settled into a nice rhythm—comfortably hard.

After the first mile marker, the road kicked back up a bit, but I was able to maintain my pace, and then cruised a nice downhill stretch. At around 1.25-1.5, I started hearing someone coming up behind me—nice and loud. It was a woman I remember seeing at the starting line who had commented that that this was going to be a fast race. She pulled ahead of me just a bit, and settled into the same pace. Had she not pulled just in front of me and then eased right into my pace, would I have gone faster through mile 2 and early in mile 3? It's hard to say. In the end she probably helped me as much as she slowed me down.

After a little uphill to the mile 2 marker, the course continued its nice downhill trend, and I was able to maintain a little faster pace, but still comfortably hard. Through a couple of flat stretches and a little uphill, we were finally coming into the last half mile. At this point I picked up the pace slightly, and pulled even with the lady who had previously passed me. I'll be honest, at the point, I wasn't really sure if I wanted to pass her or not. I couldn't tell how much she had left, and I didn't want to pass her too early, only to get "chicked" at the end.

As we rounded the turn into the final straight away, there were three of us running together, and another guy slightly up ahead. With just over a quarter of a mile to go I picked up the pace again, and surged ahead of the other two. This time I could tell that they were hurting, but they tried to hang on. Just ahead of the 3 mile mark, we caught the guy ahead of us, as he slowed to a walk. With a couple of words of encouragement for him, I kicked it to the finish.

My official time for the 2nd Annual Run For Dad 5K is 25:12. My splits were:

  • Mile 1: 8:19
  • Mile 2: 8:16
  • Mile 3: 7:55
  • Final .1: 0:41

I finished 4th in my age group, nearly 4 minutes out of 3rd place.

Julie had an awesome run, too, finishing with a new PR by a 1:16. Her time was 27:24! She also finished 4th in her age group, 34 seconds out of 3rd place. Way to go!

Official Run For Dad 5K Results

My Motionbased Stats

By Bryan at 12:22 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 13, 2008

The Early Years

I've pretty much always been heavy. Not always fat, but always a little bigger than the other kids—big boned, perhaps. And I've always loved to eat and cook. In fact, maybe I learned to cook at such a young age so that I didn't have to rely on my mom or dad to fix me things...it was a measure of food freedom. Most of the people on my mom's side of the family were also heavy, and some were extremely heavy (I didn't know the word obese at that time). They loved to eat, too.

I don't really remember my weight being much of an issue through elementary school, but it definitely became one in middle school. In the summer between 6th and 7th grade, my parents sent me to one of the coolest camps a kid could've gone to. It was located in Suffield, Connecticut, a short drive outside of Hartford, on the beautiful campus of Suffield Academy. I was there for 4 weeks. It was a Weight Watchers camp.

I don't think I told many of my friends what kind of camp it was. I was embarrassed. But I had a great time. I made a lot of friends, got a lot of exercise, learned about healthy eating, and saw a part of the country I'd never seen before. Oh, I also lost some weight. Not a lot, maybe 10 pounds, but then I wasn't really fat compared to a lot of the kids there. My parents were very excited to see me when I got home, and I was able to keep the weight off for about a year.

At the end of 7th grade, I got to take a trip to Europe with my grandfather. We were taking part in a reunion tour with the 10th Mountain Division, with whom he served during World War II. The trip took us from Munich, Germany down to Rome, and lasted nearly a month. Along the way, we retraced the steps of the 10th Mountain Division (backwards) as they fought to liberate Italy. At every step along the way, we were honored guests, with parties and banquet dinners. In the mountains of northern Italy, entire towns would shut down for a day, as the whole town came together to celebrate the return of their liberators. You can't imagine the amount of food I ate on this trip. I gained all of the weight back that I had lost the previous summer, and then some.

I held steady through the rest of that summer, and then slowly started inching up through 8th grade and into 9th grade. Along the way, my parents tried different things—we joined a gym, they had me participate in an exercise/healthy eating program at a local hospital, but the trend was always up. By the time I finished my junior year of high school I was pushing 250.

By Bryan at 12:25 PM , in My Weight Loss Journey - Permalink
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A Day Of Rest

Wednesday ended up being an unscheduled complete rest day for me. The first such day in the previous 11 days, and only the second in the previous 24. Granted, I hadn't been running every day—I only run 4/5 times per week, mixing in strength training, yoga, swimming, or biking on the other days (mostly strength training)—but I was starting to feel a little sluggish.

Now, I am not the biggest fan of complete rest, but with the race coming up, and having had so little rest over the past 3 plus weeks, I figured it would be good for me. In addition to the rest, I suggested to Julie that we go out for some Tex-Mex and margaritas for dinner. (That is the one sure-fire way to ensure that I rest.) Of course I didn't have to twist Julie's arm for this!

So of we get home from work, change into some comfortable clothes, and head out to a local Tex-Mex joint for some good food and margaritas. Less than two hours later, I am completely miserable, stuffed, and wishing I'd had another margarita, instead of eating all of the refried beans and rice on my plate (for the record, I got grilled fish tacos on corn tortillas). After we got home, I stretched out on the couch and didn't move until it was time for bed.

The next morning, I knew I should stay off of the scale. There was simply no need to go anywhere near it, as it could only be bad news. But I couldn't resist. In a span of 24 hours, I went from 179 to 182. Mind you, I ate healthy the rest of Wednesday. Obviously there was some fluid retention, and I really try not to pay attention to the day to day fluctuations, but sometimes that's easier said than done. In the end, I think I've learned a valuable lesson: complete rest days are good, and so is Tex-Mex and margaritas, just don't do both on the same day. Next time, we'll save the Tex-Mex and margaritas for my long run day.

By Bryan at 10:55 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where's My Speed?

Okay, I've got to know—how long were you guys running before you started getting some decent speed? Or were you already fast? I realize we're all built differently, but come on, I've got to have more speed in me by now, right?

Sure, I am getting faster. After all, I've set a new 5K PR every time I've attempted to set a new PR. And in the one race I didn't attempt it for myself, I paced Julie to a new PR, beating her week old PR by 8 seconds, on a hellacious course. And honestly, that meant more to me than any PR of my own. But I want to be faster!

On December 1st, 2007, I ran my first timed 5K in 31:15. On February 23rd, 2008, I ran my 2nd, with a PR of 28:45. On March 22nd, 2008, I ran my 3rd, with a PR  of 27:45. On April 19th, I ran my 4th 5K, setting another PR of 26:31. And finally, on May 10th, I set my current PR of 26:25. As you can see, I am faster, but I've also dropped 45 pounds since that first race on December 1st. I should be faster!

This Saturday Julie and I are racing the 2nd Annual Run For Dad 5K and Pancake Feed (for the exercise, of course), and I want another PR. But I am nervous. I am anxious. My last 5K hurt so bad. And I've had some tough runs over the last month. But my training has been consistent. I think I am prepared. I know I can't get a PR every time out, but I am not ready to not get one.

As a little test, I went out for an easy 5 this evening with Julie. With the route we chose, the first 3 miles were mostly uphill, and mile 4 was mostly downhill, after an initial uphill start. This would be a perfect test for this weekend's race, which starts off flat, with perhaps a little uphill, and is downhill to the finish. So the plan was to go out easy for the first 3 miles, getting nice and warmed up, and then do the 4th mile as a 1 mile time trial, finishing up with the 5th mile as a cool down. Here are my mile splits:

  1. 10:52
  2. 10:45
  3. 10:35
  4. 7:15
  5. 11:11

I am happy with that 7:15, especially after already running 3 miles. I wonder how that will translate to 5K on Saturday morning? According to the McMillan Running Calculator I could be looking at 25:07, if all of the stars are aligned.

By Bryan at 11:01 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Another 11 Miles...On My Bike

Yesterday evening I was in need of some cross training, but I couldn't decide between a yoga class or a bike ride. A cool front had come through during the day, so instead of the typical mid-90s temperature, it was 70°F—perfect for a nice, leisurely bike ride. Of course, with this front came rain, or so the weathermen predicted. However, the radar told a different story, and it was decided—I was going for a bike ride.

I've been meaning to get out and ride my bike for quite some time, but for whatever reason, it keeps getting put off. I know riding the bike is great for cross training. I know it's perfect for running errands closer to the house. And we've been talking about getting our bikes tuned up forever, yet they continue to just sit there. Well, no more. I aired up the tires, found my helmet and gloves (definitely need some new gloves), strapped on my Garmin Forerunner 305, grabbed my camera (just in case), and headed out.

My first thought was to go ride all of the various hike and bike trails that run through our neighborhood. After all, I promised some folks in the neighborhood that I'd do that, and then provide maps of them all, so that they'd have accurate distance information. Then, at the last minute, I decided to ride my 11 mile running route from Sunday.

The ride itself was mostly easy, though there were a few hills, but those hills were much easier on the bike than on foot. I was simply enjoying being outside in the cooler weather, moving at a higher rate of speed than I was used to, and getting used to being on the bike again after such a long time away from it.

Traffic wasn't too bad, either. Sure, there were the cars that insisted on passing me half in my lane and half in the other lane, when they could've just taken all of the other lane (same direction). And there was the one car that came back into my lane a little too soon. I even made sure to follow the rules of the road, as if I was a car, and just like cyclists are supposed to do, which must've surprised one lady who was already stopped at a stop sign as I approached it. She just sat there, as if she expected me to fly right on through. I stopped, but had to wave her on before she moved. It's pretty sad that that is what motorists expect from cyclists.

All in all, the ride was 11 miles in 50:53. You can bet that I'll be getting out on the bike again, and soon.

By Bryan at 4:22 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, June 8, 2008

New Running Gear

On Saturday afternoon I ventured out to our local Luke's Locker for some new gear. I'm really not sure what I went there for, but I ended up with a pair of shorts, socks, hydration belt, and a bra—for Julie. I also picked up some Hammer Gels, which I'd never tried before.

The picture to the left is of my new pair of socks, Balega Hidden Comfort socks—they are awesome. I was a little nervous about using a new brand of socks on a long run, but I didn't even notice my feet on this run, which is a very good thing. I will definitely be picking up a few more pairs of these socks!

The next picture is of my new shorts, Nike Dri-FIT Distance 2-in-1. They're actually a light gray color, but the picture was taken after my run, and they are absolutely soaking wet (as in "just got out of the pool" wet). These shorts have a built-in boxer brief, which worked flawlessly in preventing chafing. And I've got to say, it was nice just running in shorts...no compressions shorts, no other garments.

The final picture shows the new hydration belt, Elite 1 Plus from Nathan Human Propulsion Laboratories. Unlike the handheld bottle that we have, this bottle does not leak, and it also comes with a small 5 oz. bottle that can hold gels. It also features an insulated holster, zippered pocket, and a shock cord with one-pull tension lock for securing a jacket or gloves.

By Bryan at 11:58 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Yes, I Sweat That Much

My alarm went off at 5:15 AM this morning, and by 6:15, I was out on my 11 mile run. It was only 81.2°F, 64.3% humidity, with a 14.2 mph wind. The run was pretty good—it certainly felt better than my first attempt at 11 miles, and even better than last week's 11 mile run, which wasn't too bad.

I didn't eat prior to my run, except for 1 Hammer Gel, right as I was heading out the door. I carried 20 oz. of Gatorade G2 with me, along with 2 Hammer Gel packets. I started sipping the G2 after 4 miles, consumed the first Hammer Gel at 5 miles, continued sipping G2 every couple of miles, as needed, and had the final Hammer Gel at 9 miles.

My run took 1:57:03, with an average heart rate of 158 bpm, with an average pace of 10:39/mile. For comparison, last week's 11 mile run took 1:56:53, with an average heart rate of 163 bpm, and an average pace of 10:38/mile. I also lost 5.5 lbs. of sweat.

By Bryan at 6:44 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Running Intervals In The Wind

First, let me clarify—it sucks. Big time. Last night, while doing my interval workout, I had the pleasure of 26-28 MPH winds, gusting to 40 MPH. 40 MPH! And of course the only time the wind let up even a little was when it was at back, never when it was in my face. So I did what any runner would do and I HTFU, and did my intervals. There was one saving grace—the temperature was only 90°F, with 48% humidity.

We've had this crazy wind for the last couple of days, and I knew ahead of time that it was going to be a challenge, so I googled for "running against the wind" and found a pretty recent blog post by Coach Jenny Hadfield, titled appropriately Running Against The Wind. In this post she addresses the challenges and benefits of running in the wind.

Back to my run...it was 3 x 800m with 400m recovery  jogs in between, plus a warm up and cool down for a grand total of 5 miles. After a 1.5 mile warm up, I proceeded to run my intervals in 3:51, 3:55, and 3:58, and then finished with another 1.5 mile cool down. I'll take it.

Oh, and before I forget...Julie and I registered for the 2nd Annual Run For Dad 5K, the Saturday before Father's Day. Unfortunately for us, the boys won't be able to do this with us (watch us, that is), because their mom is getting remarried on that day. That just means more pancakes for us! That's right, the race ends at a restaurant, where they will be serving pancakes to all of the runners. Sweet! We'll both be looking for one last PR at the 5K distance before taking the summer off from racing (that's the plan anyway).

By Bryan at 4:56 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

All-Star Baseball

Our oldest, Jacob, had the privilege of trying out for his baseball league's Summer All-Star Team back in early May. Now, Jacob enjoys playing baseball, but he'd be the first to tell you that it isn't his favorite sport. However, he's pretty good.

The All-Star tryout went well, and he was one of twenty boys invited back for a second day of tryouts. The second day also went well, and we were hopeful that a relative unknown could make the team. Rumor has it as being a tough decision, and that it came down to Jacob and another boy for the final spot, but it was not meant to be.

Jacob had a great time at the tryouts and was disappointed at not making the team. However, he took it in stride and simply took his game to the next level (as all good players do, right?). His team also started winning some games and moving up in the standings, which always helps.

A couple of weeks ago, we found out that the league would be holding two "traditional" All-Star games for the 40+ boys nominated for All-Stars, but who didn't make the summer All-Star team. This was great news, and Jacob was more than a little excited. So what does he do? That's right, he took his game up another notch to close out the season.

Last night (Tuesday night) was the All-Star Game, and what a game it was! The kids had an absolute blast, and Jacob went 3 for 3, with a couple of runs scored, and some nice plays in the field (he played centerfield, 3rd, 2nd, and pitcher--this is coach pitch, by the way). His team rallied from a big early deficit, traded leads late, and ended up losing  a nail-biter, 20-19, in the final at-bat of the game.

We could not be more proud of Jacob for all that he's accomplished on and off the baseball field this year (of course he's a star student, too). He even told me that he has a new favorite sport...

By Bryan at 11:54 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Monday, June 2, 2008

Catching Up On Running

I was looking through my training log, and realized that I hadn't discussed much of it, other than to say it sucked, or that I did x number of miles. So I thought I'd run through the week:

  • Tuesday, May 27: 5 miles in 50:08 (10:01/mile) - Avg HR 149 (relatively cool).
  • Thursday, May 29: 5 miles total, including 1 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down, 3 miles Tempo (8:51, 8:45, 8:27).
  • Friday, May 30: 4 miles in 40:20 (10:05/mile) - Avg HR 157 (hot, humid, and windy).
  • Sunday, June 1: 11 miles in 1:56:53 (10:37/mile) - Avg HR 163 (warm, humid, and windy).

As you can see, my heart rate is not only dependent on effort, but also highly dependent on the weather, especially if I don't slow myself down in hot, humid, windy conditions.

You'll also notice that I attempted another 11 mile run. Unlike last week, I consider this one a success. I was able to run the entire distance, without any walking. I carried 20 oz. of water with me, and it lasted until the end (barely). I should mention that I was out the door and warming up by 6:40 AM Sunday morning. However, before I was even a few miles into the run, I was wishing that I had gotten started even earlier.

One last item to note: some of you may have noticed that I now have Twitter Updates listed on the front page of the web site, and that I've posted some of my running data there. I think that I am going to continue doing this with my runs, as it is a super easy and convenient way to quickly summarize my runs. I might even do a running only twitter feed.

By Bryan at 10:36 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, May 31, 2008

100 Mile Month

May has turned out to be quite the month for running. Last week I completed my first 30 mile week, and yesterday I put the finishing touches on my first 100 mile month (101.27 to be exact). I also had my first double-digit runs, with two 10-milers, and one 11-miler. Last, but not least, I ran the Buffalo Boogie on May 10th—my 3rd 5K race in 4 weeks. I set a new PR of 26:25 at the Buffalo Boogie, even though I had to walk 3 times between 2.6 and 2.8 miles.

May also saw some difficult times on the road, as I dealt with my first "injury" for the first couple of weeks—strained hip flexors. First it was my left hip flexor, and then it was my right.  The right hip flexor strain lingered on for what seemed like forever, and then one day the discomfort was gone. Of course, I tried to train through it, which I am sure just prolonged the discomfort.

I am not sure what the next two months hold for me, until I start my half marathon training, but over the next several months I am sure that I'll be looking back on May saying "remember when I only ran 100 miles in a month?"

By Bryan at 10:49 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

When The Sun Goes Down

This week's Take It and Run Thursday theme over at Runners' Lounge is Running In The Heat, and  here in Texas, we know a little bit about the heat (and humidity, and wind). Heck, some people like to say that we only have two seasons here: summer, and the rest of the year (which seems to amount to less and less time each year). Growing up, the heat never bothered me much, in fact it was something I was proud of...in a sick and twisted way, but whatever, that's a Texan for you...then I moved to Colorado.

While I was only in Colorado for just under two years, that was enough time to totally throw my body out of whack when it came to dealing with the heat (it might also have had something to do with gaining 50+ lbs). When I moved back to Texas, the heat that first summer was unbearable, and has continued to be unbearable ever since. I don't even venture out around downtown Fort Worth for lunch once we get into June!

Between 2002 and 2003, I dropped most of the 50+ lbs. that I gained after moving to Colorado, and it made little difference. I've now dropped another 50 lbs., and all of a sudden, I no longer have a permanent "winter coat." I actually get chilled sometimes, to my wife's amusement. So I've actually been looking forward to this summer, just to see how well I can handle the heat.

But that all came crashing down this past Sunday when I attempted my long run much later than I should have (10:30 AM instead of 6-7 AM), in the trio of heat, humidity, and wind. While I did complete the 11 miles, I had to walk quite a bit during the final 3 miles, including alternating running a walking every .1 mile for the last 1 mile. I also consumed about 60 oz. of fluids during the run, which is a lot more than I consumed on previous long runs (9 or 10 miles, but in much cooler and less humid weather).

It's obvious that I need to do something different if I am going to survive a summer of running. The obvious answer, as many people have pointed out, is to simply get out there and run in the heat, but slower, and for shorter distances. Within a couple of weeks I'll be acclimated. But what about my weekly long run, or my tempo run or intervals? I don't really want to shorten my long run, and I've got to do my speedwork--what do I do about those?

The answer so far has been to wait for the sun to go down and the temperatures to at least fall back to the low 80s, if not the 70s. Of course that might mean running at 10 or 11 PM, which isn't all that fun, and makes for a very late night--and not a happy wife. If only I could get myself out of bed and out the door between 5 and 6 AM!

Until I get acclimated, I'll be slowing down, wearing the lightest colored, most breathable clothing I own, slathering on the sunscreen (should always do this), and putting on the shades (helps keep those squint wrinkles from showing up so soon). I'll also be carrying water, or running in areas with reliable water fountains, and praying for a cooler than normal summer.

By Bryan at 7:09 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Our First Anniversary

Yesterday, Julie and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Actually, our celebration started the day before that, on Memorial Day, and continued on through yesterday.

After sleeping in a little bit on Monday, we headed to the gym for a short workout, but not before a quick shopping detour to find a couple of shirts to match the plaid shorts I picked up the day before. An hour and twenty minutes later, we were finally at the gym. While working out might not sound like much of a start to a celebration, if you've been following along here for any length of time, you know exercise is very important to both of us. Besides, we'd be eating at some fancy restaurant later that evening.

After the gym, it was back to the house to pack our bags, get a quick shower, and then head out for the real fun--a hotel party.

For those of you familiar with the area, we stayed in the new Hilton at the Southlake Town Square...in a corner suite...very nice. Upon our arrival, we had champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, which were very yummy.

After a quick look around the hotel (checking out the fitness room, and the pool), we ventured over to the hotel bar (inside of Copeland's restaurant) for a drink. The bar is called the 5° Bar, and features vodka and tequila on tap, chilled to 5°F. We each had a margarita on the rocks with Patron Silver and Grand Marnier. Very tasty. Next stop on the anniversary tour was Brio Tuscan Grill for a little snack a their patio bar, because the margaritas were that strong.

After some awesome margherita flatbread from Brio, and a couple of more drinks (mojito for me, and wine for Julie), we headed back to the hotel with enough time to hit the pool before needing to get ready for dinner.

The pool was nice and quiet, but there was no swim-up bar, no waiters and waitresses roaming around taking drink orders...nothing! Oh, wait--that was last year, in Mexico. The pool was nice and cool, and the sun was shining--perfectly relaxing.

After a little fiasco with the iron (it temporarily stained the shirt I brought to wear to dinner), we were off to Truluck's for dinner. This was the first time for both of us to dine at Truluck's, and it was absolutely wonderful!

We started off with "wine flights," as neither of us could settle on any one thing, and we hadn't decided what we'd be ordering for dinner. I had a Pinot wine flight, and Julie had a Chardonnay wine flight. I don't remember the specific wines, but they were all good.

As for the food, we shared the Sauteed Superlump Crabcake...one of the best I've ever had! Julie had the Grilled Gulf Red Snapper with their Ponchartrain sauce, and I had their Grilled Tenderloin Medallions, which came with "loaded" potato cakes--OMG! Finally, because we were there celebrating our anniversary (and shamelessly told the hostess as much) the waitress came out with a specially prepared small molten chocolate cake with fresh berries. Also very, very good.

After dinner we took a nice stroll around the Town Square, over to these fancy "brownstones" that they've built. We even stopped to chat with one of the owners who was out working in her garden (escaping the heat of the day?). The brownstones are very nice, and very big. The woman we spoke with said that they had over 3,000 sq. ft.

Yesterday morning, after sleeping in again, we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in our room, another dip in the pool, and then it was time to pack up and head out.

But before heading home, we visited Brio for lunch, Central Market to restock on fruit and stuff, and then finally went home to eat the top layer of our wedding cake. (Which I'd been looking forward to ever since May 27th, 2007.) The cake did not disappoint. My mom did a great job of wrapping it up so that it would last a year in the freezer.

It's time for me to go get the boys, so I've got to wrap this up... We had an amazing anniversary! A quick thanks to friends and family for all of your support over the past year.

By Bryan at 5:02 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Monday, May 26, 2008

Runners' Hell

85.3, 62.5, 17.7. Can you guess what those numbers represent? Runners' hell, that's what. Actually, those numbers are the average temperature, humidity, and wind speed during my 11-mile run yesterday. You don't want to see the highs. It was hot, humid, windy, and it sucked! Runners' Hell.

I've decided that I can easily take one of the three, and on a good day, I can deal with two of the three, but three of the three? Forget it. I can honestly say that I haven't been so miserable on a run and looked so forward to it being over as I was and did yesterday. But I finished it. It required a fair amount of run/walks in the final 3 miles, but I did it.

Since I'm all about the numbers today, here are some more: 181.5 lbs. and 175.5 lbs. The first number is my weight when I got up yesterday. The second is my weight when I got home from my run. In between the two weigh-ins I ate half an english muffin with peanut butter, 1 banana, and consumed 60 oz. of fluids--and I was still down 6 lbs!

In the end, I covered the 11 miles along the Trinity Trails in a very pedestrian 2:11.03 (an average pace of 11:53). On the bright side, even on a miserable day it looks like I'll be able to cover my first half marathon in 2.5 hours or less.

By Bryan at 10:26 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Man Without A Plan

Here it is Thursday, and I am 4 days without a running plan. I finished up my 8-week Smart Coach program from Runner's World this past Sunday, and in a couple of months I'll be starting my official half marathon training program, but I've been at a loss for what to do until then. I've been running with a plan for as long as I've been running—nearly 8 months now! I admit, I feel a little lost.

All of this is not to say that I haven't been running, because I have—9 miles so far this week, with another 5 or 6 tonight, a few more tomorrow, and then I think an 11-mile long run on Sunday. But I need a plan. I need something to tell me what type of run I am doing, the pace of each run, when to run and when to rest... I just need something.

Over on Runners' Lounge, they have a feature called Ask Coach Kellyso I did. I asked her what I should be doing between now and the end of July/first of August, based on my current level of fitness. I got a great (and fast) response, with all kinds of good information. In her response, she talks about periodization, and functional strength training (already working on this one with my strength training), targeting the potential muscular imbalances of runners and endurance athletes. She goes on to suggest 3 to 4 runs per week, and two strength training sessions per week, adding in cross-training as desired. All great information, with suggestions on some articles to read, but still no specific plan to follow.

Should I try designing my own plan for the rest of May, June, and July, or should I go back to what has worked so far? I could try the intermediate 10K program from Hal Higdon, or his advanced 5K program. Or I could generate another program from Runner's World's Smart Coach. Hmm...

By Bryan at 5:13 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Running Intervals

Last night I ran intervals, and that basically concluded my 8-week Runner's World Smart Coach Training Program. Sure, I am supposed to take today and tomorrow off, and then race on Sunday, but I raced this past Saturday, and 2 of the previous 3 weekends, too. Plus we'll be visiting with lots of family this weekend--hey maybe I'll organize a little family 5K fun run!

Anyway, I was saying...oh, yeah...yesterday was interval training day. Overall, it wasn't a really tough training day, just 3x800m @ 4:05, 400m recovery jogs, and a total mileage of 5 miles, including warm up and cool down. The only catch was that J had a baseball game at 6 PM, so I either had to get it in before the game, or later in the night, which really just meant that I might opt not to do it. So I headed up early to the ball fields, which are at one end of a really nice trail, and set out for my run.

I started off with a nice easy 1.5 mile warm up at a 10:46/mile pace, and the proceeded to run half mile intervals in 3:55, 3:54, and 3:46, with quarter mile recovery jogs in between (since I was on a trail, I set my Garmin to .5 mile/.25 intervals, rather than 800m/400m). I wrapped it all up with another 1.5 miles for cool down.

In total, I covered 5.25 miles in 54:41, with an average pace of 10:25/mile, and an average heart rate of 156. Not bad, huh?

By Bryan at 2:58 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

10 More Miles

I know I am a little tardy in posting this, but I've been very busy rearranging some things with my web host. Anyway...

This past Sunday I completed my second 10 mile run. Unlike the previous Sunday, when I averaged 11:42/mile, I averaged 10:42/mile, which was my target pace. Of course, I also looked at my Garmin Forerunner 305 while I was running. It definitely wasn't quite as easy feeling as the first 10 mile run, but that's to be expected.

Sunday was also my first run along Trinity Trails. I started from a parking lot on the west side of University, just north of the river, and headed west over to Hwy 183 and back. Of course, from where I left, it was less than 5 miles to the turnaround point, so I had to keep running east of University for a while before I was done.

Overall, I enjoyed the change of scenery, and the people out on the trail, but there were two things I think I can do without:

  1. The cyclists who insist on riding two across, even on narrow sections of the trail.
  2. The stink coming from the rail yard. It was awful!

Next time, I think I will park north of I-30, and head north. Also, next time I need to not forget to put on sunscreen!

By Bryan at 1:13 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

2008 Buffalo Boogie Results

Whew...what a race! I knew going in that it was going to be a tough course. The race was advertised as a "flat, shaded, and entirely in the country," well at least they got two out of three right. The person making the claim that the course was flat must've just looked at the net elevation gained/lost--this was pretty much a loop course, so of course the net elevation change is going to be about 0! 

As I was saying, I knew it would be tough going in. I found the course on USATF.com and mapped it on MapMyRun.com, to get an idea as to what it would be like. My coworker, Darren, who also ran it (new PR and not only his first sub 30:00 5K, but his first sub 29:00 5k!), took a look at the course using Google Earth, which gave us great feedback on the elevation throughout the course. Fast, downhill start, pretty flat for the next mile and a half, and then uphill for the rest of the race.

In my Pacing the Buffalo Boogie post, I posed the question as to what approach to take for this race. In the end, I decided to go out a little faster than normal, since there was the nice downhill for the first .35 mile. The hope was that I would gain some valuable time, without using up too much extra energy, and then I'd be able to afford to lose a little time in the uphill final mile plus of the race.

Right on time, at 8:30 AM, we were off. As planned, I went out fast, and Darren initially started out even faster. I pulled even with him and let him know we were running a low 7 minute mile pace, at which point he pulled up just a bit. I really tried to hold that pace, but soon found myself running 6:20/mile pace by the bottom of the hill--probably just a little too fast, as I was sucking air already. I spent most of the rest of the first mile trying to recover, while still holding my pace at around 8:00/mile.

The second mile was nice and shaded, though the sun wasn't out, and with the temperature at 75°F, with near 80% humidity, it really didn't matter. Mile 2 was mostly rolling, and never really afforded me a chance to get comfortable. The goal here was to not lose any time to my 8:32 overall pace, which would be necessary to hit my current PR of 26:31. Towards the end of mile 2 we begin the uphill towards the finish.

Mile 3 was as advertised, if not slightly worse. It went up, and up, and up. I was suffering. I had to walk. 3 times. I've not done that before in a race. Somewhere between 2.6 and 2.8, I walked 3 times, for a total of 30-40 seconds. Could I have gone sub-26:00 without walking? I don't know. Maybe. I feel like such a wuss for walking. I can't believe I gave into that little voice that is always sitting there saying "you've done good, it would be okay to walk now." I even took some water at the second water stop, which was somewhere around the 2.5 mark.

In the end, I was able to pull some time back in the final .25 mile, and come through the uphill finish without walking anymore, spewing, or collapsing. My chip time for the Buffalo Boogie is 26:25.76--a new PR! I even passed a few of the folks that I had been running with, who I figured were long gone when I started walking.

Here are the official results: 2008 Buffalo Boogie Age Group Results (It goes straight to my age group--4th place!)

By Bryan at 10:49 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, May 9, 2008

Pacing The Buffalo Boogie

I am having a tough time deciding my race pace for the Buffalo Boogie. Looking at my last 4 races, I tend to run negative splits throughout (i.e., final .11 is faster than mile 3, which is faster than mile 2, which is faster than mile 1)—the exception being the Komen, which I ran with Julie, and really held back for most of the killer 3rd mile, so that I didn’t leave her too far behind. Some of that is surely due to the congestion at the start of the big races. In the Bunny Boogie, which was by far the smallest race, I turned in the most even pace, with only 3 seconds separating my time from mile 1 and my time from mile 3.

To equal my current PR, from the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, I need to average 8:32/mile. Of course, that doesn’t take into account any additional distance I must cover if I don’t run perfect tangents. Knowing that the last mile is mostly uphill, do I go out faster than 8:32/mile, leaving some breathing room at the end, do I shoot for even splits, or do I hope for more negative splits, perhaps saving a slight amount of energy to really push that 3rd mile?

Considering the mostly flat to slightly downhill first two miles, I am inclined to go out a little faster than my target pace, and hope to just hold on in mile 3.

What do you think?

By Bryan at 11:16 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Registered For The Buffalo Boogie

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was considering running the Buffalo Boogie 5K this Saturday at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge. Well, I just registered for it, so I am running it. Here's the description from Active.com:

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a natural gem on the banks of the Trinity River and Lake Worth with 3800 acres of prairie, woodland, river bottom, and marsh. Buffalo Boogie proceeds this year will support the 24-member bison herd. The Boogie route passes right by our herd, so everyone gets to see these lovely animals. The route is flat, shaded, and entirely in the country!

The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge really is a cool place—it's scenic, has lots of hiking trails, and of course the buffalo herd, plus lots more. Julie and I need to take the boys over there a little more often than we have (we've been once).

As for the race...my hip flexors feel good this morning, though the left one was a little tight (again) during my run last night, so I am thinking of actually racing, and not just going out to "do the run." I am stretching both of them daily, and I've also added some leg lifts to help strengthen them some. Hopefully that will help, otherwise it looks like I am in for a little time off. As for my goal time...that's a tough one. Not counting the Komen Race for the Cure, which I ran with Julie, I've been taking a minute or more off of my 5K PR in each of my last 3 5Ks (that was done over the course of 2 months). It's now been 3 weeks since the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, where I set my current PR of 26:31, and 2 weeks since the Komen, where Julie and I actually finished with a time that is now my 3rd best 5K time, at 28:40. Aside from the hip flexor issue, my training has been going well--I've been getting in my distance, and doing my intervals and tempo runs. Perhaps I should shoot for a new PR, maybe even shoot for a sub-26:00 5K. What do you think?

By Bryan at 12:20 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Buffalo Boogie

I ran the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run and the Komen Tarrant County Race For The Cure in back to back weekends, two of the last three weekends. With this past weekend off from racing, I am considering entering the Buffalo Boogie, which is held at the Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge, this coming Saturday. Is anyone else doing this run? Has anyone done this run in the past?

By Bryan at 10:45 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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The Salsa King

For my longtime readers, you know that I had a life before running, and that I do have other interests. One of those interests is cooking, and one of my favorite things to make is salsa. I love eating it, too. In fact, I love it so much, we have a party every year, celebrating Tequila and Salsa.

Over the years I've used my coworkers as my informal taste testers for my salsa, so when a salsa contest was announced at work to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, many of them asked if I'd be entering. I've got to admit, I haven't made a whole lot of salsa over the last couple of months, and we were going to be pretty busy over the weekend before the contest, so I really wasn't sure that I wanted to enter. However, late Friday evening I decided to go ahead and enter.

As it turns out, I didn't make it to the store to get my ingredients until Sunday night, and I didn't even start on the salsa until after 9:30 PM Sunday night.  Within an hour, the salsa was ready and tasting good. Monday morning rolls around and I take the salsa to work and set it out for the judging, and what do you know, I win the contest!

So now I am the proud maker of an award winning salsa! Does anyone know how to go about bottling salsa and getting it into the hands (and mouths) of consumers?

Oh, and if you're interested, the winning salsa was based on my Perfect Salsa.

By Bryan at 12:28 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Slow Ride

...Take it easy...

That's sure what I did on what must be my first real long slow run. Sure, I've run a lot of long runs over the last few months, some slower and some faster, but this morning I was truly slow. I know, I know--that's the whole point of long slow runs. And I feel pretty good about it, but something is gnawing at me a bit, like I didn't do enough.

My run this morning was day 7 of week 6 of an 8-week program generated by Smart Coach from Runner's World. 10 miles @ 10:43 pace. At least that is what it was supposed to be. Instead, I decided not to look at my Garmin Forerunner 305 during my run, preferring to just run based on feel--nice and easy. So that's what I did.

I felt good. I felt strong. It was a beautiful morning, with the temperature in the low 50s when I headed out. It was deceiving. I figured the cool temperature was contributing to how good I felt, not an especially slow pace. As the miles went by, I continued to feel strong, even though the temperature had climbed into the 60s, the sun was out, and I was tackling hill after hill. In fact, somewhere between mile 7 and 8, I started thinking about a blog post to the effect of "flattening of the hills." That's how good I felt.

Finally, I hit the end of mile 10. A little walking to cool down, and it was time to check the Forerunner--1:58:02! Oh my goodness, that's like 10 minutes off the pace I was supposed to be running, and not in a good way. No wonder I felt so good during the run, and feel so good now, I was barely moving.

After seeing the overall time, the next step was to check my heart rate and splits. Wow, 146 bpm for 10 miles. That's something, right? I mean that puts my run squarely in the "Long Slow Run" category, where it is all about building endurance, and getting the time in on my feet, right? Just in case I need to feel a little bit better about things--for the first time, the first run at a new long distance didn't own me.

Here are the splits:

  1. 11:59 / 133 bpm
  2. 11:53 / 136 bpm
  3. 12:04 / 144 bpm
  4. 12:06 / 140 bpm
  5. 12:13 / 148 bpm
  6. 11:47 / 141 bpm
  7. 11:45 / 148 bpm
  8. 11:39 / 155 bpm
  9. 11:18 / 162 bpm
  10. 11:15 / 164 bpm

By Bryan at 1:08 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Half Marathon Training

I had so much fun participating in last week's Take It And Run Thursday over at the Runners' Lounge, that I couldn't pass up doing it again this week. This week's theme is "Backwards Take It and Run Thursday," meaning that instead of posting wisdom (or attempting to post wisdom), we should post a question that we have about our running, training, racing, gear, hydration, etc., that we need help answering. As such, I've decided to pose the following questions regarding training for the upcoming San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in November of this year.

For those of you who are new to my site, I have been running since October 2007, and am nearing the end of my fourth training program (started with Couch-to-5K, followed by Hal Higdon's Novice 10K, then Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K, and now Runner's World's Smart Coach for 5K). I've raced in five 5Ks since December 1st, improving my time from 31:25 to 26:31. My most recent long run was 9 miles (twice), and my next two long runs will be 10 miles. I am currently running between 20-25 miles per week, 4 days a week, with my last two month totals at 93 and 89 miles, respectively. My first half marathon is November 16th.

Given all of this, here are my questions:

  1. How should I train for my half marathon?
  2. When should I start the training?
  3. What program do you consider to be the best to use, given my current level of fitness and experience?
  4. In two weeks, my current program will end--what should I do between then and the official start of my half marathon training?

A lot of questions, but I know the answers are out there. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and help me out!

By Bryan at 11:01 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

2008 Komen Race For The Cure Results

Julie and I ran the Tarrant County Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this morning. Since we raced the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run last weekend, our plan was to run together, and just see what we could do. That plan was put in doubt Thursday night after I strained my right hip flexor doing intervals. It didn't start hurting until I was doing my cool down, and I was barely able to walk enough to cool down. I was not hopeful, to say the least. However, after ice and rest, it felt good this morning, and I planned to race, pending how it felt after warming up and stretching.

We arrived downtown and had our timing chips by 7:30 AM, leaving about 30 minutes for a good warm up and stretch, and to see how my hip flexor was going to feel. After a light jog, some strides, and then thorough stretching, we were ready to go, my hip flexor included.

We hopped into the competitive 5K starting area, and ran into Julie's former MBA classmate, Ron, and his wife, Tiffany. They were grouped into the 10:00/mile, yet weren't too far back from the start, so we stayed with them. Tiffany recently completed the Cowtown Marathon (I think her first full), and Ron the Cowtown Half, so I was hitting them up for some training tips as we awaited the starting gun.

Once the gun went off, we made our way to the starting line, and then we were off. The first mile was a slight downhill, and we focused on settling into a nice pace--not too fast, because of the killer uphill 3rd mile, but not too slow, as we wanted to take advantage of the slight downhill. Mile one was clocked at 9:04, not bad, but not quite as quick as we could've gone.

With mile 2 we started into the first couple of uphill sections, but they were at least followed by decent downhill sections, so that we could make up some time. We ran mile 2 in 8:54. Not bad at all, and definitely feeling strong. But that was about too change.

Mile 3 was almost all uphill. It wasn't fun, but we charged on. About halfway up the hill, I actually started to feel good--not quite like a second wind, but definitely not as tired as I had been. We finished mile 3 in 9:48, and then the final .1 mile in 54 seconds (at a 7:43/mile pace), with Julie half a step ahead of me.

My Garmin time showed 28:40 and Julie's watch showed 28:41, so we're going to go with 28:40 as our official time. Unfortunately, RunFar, who did the timing, seems to have had problems with our chips, so we're not sure what our official time is.

By the way, the 28:40 is a new PR for Julie, topping her previous mark of 28:48, which was set just one week ago.

By Bryan at 10:39 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Running Wisdom In 13 Words Or Less

This week's "Take it and Run Thursday" topic at Runner's Lounge is to share some running wisdom in 13 words or less. Here's mine:

Just get out there. Nobody says that they wish they hadn't run today.

Also...

Whenever you think you can't, know that you can, and that you will.

By Bryan at 12:12 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

185

185—that's been my long-range weight goal ever since registering on Traineo.com back in November 2007. Now, just 5 months later, that's my weight—from a recent high of 231 in mid-November. In 5 months. Without "dieting." Pretty good, huh?

I am writing up something a little longer (ok, a lot longer) that will go into more detail about my weight loss journey—where I've come from...where I am going...what it means to me, etc. So be looking for that in the near future.

Now, it is time to start settling into my new body, and let my old skin catch up to my new body.

By Bryan at 4:10 PM , in My Weight Loss Journey - Permalink
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My First Group Yoga Class

If you recall, Julie and I recently completed 3 in-home yoga classes with our friend and coworker, Beth, of Laughing Ladybug Yoga. Since finishing those classes, Julie has started attending the yoga classes at our local LA Fitness at least once a week, but I've been hesitant to join her, and the schedule just hasn't cooperated--until last night.

Last night I attended yoga at our LA Fitness, along with Julie. This marks my very first out-of-the-home yoga class, and the first yoga class where it was more than just Julie and me. I had been hesitant to attend one of these classes because I didn't want to feel out of place amongst a bunch of super-bendy longtime yoga folks. As it turns out, there were a few super-bendy folks, but most people were not much more flexible than me, and I was able to do all of the poses, even employing some of the advanced techniques (at least for a few moments, anyway).

As with my previous yoga classes (all 3 of them), I found the class to be challenging, but not overly so. I was definitely glad that I'd had the earlier classes with Beth, where she was able to take the time to show us proper form and explain the "whys and hows." Otherwise, I might've been lost. I think I'll plan to go again.

By Bryan at 1:03 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 Fort Worth Zoo Run Run Results

As I mentioned in my post earlier this morning, today was the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, and Julie and I ran the timed 5K. We don't have the official results, but I do have my Garmin Forerunner results (started and stopped on the timing mats).

According to my Forerunner 305, my time was 26:31.13, with an average pace of 8:34/mile, which is an average speed of 7 mph. My average heart rate was 182 bpm, with a max heart rate of 196 bpm, which came right at the end, along with my fastest speed--10.7 mph. Here are my splits:

  • Mile 1: 8:49.86 - 174 bpm
  • Mile 2: 8:44.80 - 185 bpm
  • Mile 3: 8:21.45 - 187 bpm
  • Final .1: 0:35.02 - 193 bpm

This was a tough race, with a lot of people, lots of kids, strollers (fortunately most of the strollers were towards the back), and hills. It was also a fun race, as the early part of the course wound right through the zoo, and included runner taunting monkeys.

Overall, I am very pleased with my time. It definitely indicates that my training is working, as I've now dropped my 5K time significantly in the last few months:

Julie ran her first sub 30 minute 5K! We're estimating her time in the range of 29:15-29:45. Hopefully the official results will be posted later today and we can verify the actual time.

Next Saturday is the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Please join our team or make a contribution!

By Bryan at 11:52 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Racing With A Garmin Forerunner

It's racing day today--the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run 5K/10K. Julie and I are doing the 5K. This will be the 3rd race that I've run since buying my Garmin Forerunner 305, and I am curious as to how other people with Forerunners utilize them during a race?

In the previous two races (the Cowtown 5K and Bunny Boogie), I've set a quick workout for pace and distance. The allows me to just worry about hitting start, and then I keep the display on pace to make sure I'm not too fast and not too slow. Of course, if the course is off a little, or if I am not running perfect tangents, then the Forerunner will finish the set distance somewhere besides the actual finish line. So far, though, my Forerunner times have been pretty close to my actual finish times. However, in today's race, I am thinking of just hitting start and then manually stopping it at the finish line.

How do you race with your Garmin Forerunner, or other, similar device?

By Bryan at 7:12 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Week Of A 5K Race

What do you do the week of a race? Specifically, what do you do the week of a 5K race? Do you reduce your miles? If so, how? When? Do you take the day or two before the race off from running? Do you change anything else--cross-training, eating, etc.?

I've now run 3 5K races, and I have one this Saturday, and one next Saturday, and I am still not sure what to do the week of a race!

In the week before my first race, I finished up the Couch-to-5K Running Plan on the Wednesday before the Jingle Bell Run (a Saturday race), so I took Thursday and Friday off from running, though I did do upper body strength training in the early afternoon the day of the race (evening race).

In the week before my second race, the Cowtown 5K, I also planned on two days off before the race. My training program at the time, Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K Training Program, had a 5K test race scheduled for that weekend with 2 days of rest prior to the race. The day before the race I did an upper body strength training workout, along with several pick-ups between my strength training sets. I ran the Cowtown in 28:45, which was nearly 2.5 minutes faster than my Jingle Bell Run time. Of course my training and weight loss played a large part in that improvement.

In the week before my most recent race, the Bunny Boogie, I also had two days of rest scheduled prior to race day. On Thursday before the race I did upper body strength training and yoga. Friday was a complete rest day (with a couple of margaritas, wine, and Tex-Mex for dinner). Of course, I set a PR and came in 2nd in my age-group.

So what's the proper approach? We've had some pretty nasty storms blow in this evening, so I am not likely to run today, making two days off since my last run, though I did do some cross-training yesterday. I don't really want to go four days between my last run and the race, so I think I'll go out for an easy 4 miles tomorrow early. Tell me what you think.

By Bryan at 9:51 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Getting Ready For The Zoo Run Run

In preparation for the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, which is mostly uphill through the first half or more, I decide to use today's "easy" 5 mile run for some practice on the hills.

I did an out-and-back, which was flat through the first 1 mile, and then uphill for the next 1.25 miles. The plan was to stay close to my training pace of 11:04 going out, and then just let myself go on the downhill stretches on the way back. I think it worked out pretty well. Overall, I did 5 miles @ 10:24/mile pace, with an average heart rate of 155 bpm. My average speed was 5.8 mph, my max speed was 8.7 mph, and my max heart rate was 180.

Here are the splits:

  1. 10:58.89 - 139 bpm
  2. 10:42.79 - 152 bpm
  3. 10:06.13 - 159 bpm
  4. 9:50.02 - 165 bpm
  5. 10:26.92 - 163 bpm

All in all, it was a good run. I was actually surprised to see that my average heart rate was only 155 bpm. I expected something in the 160s, just because it was a little warm, a lot windy, and I was pushing a little.

The Zoo Run Run is this Saturday morning. The plan is to run it with Julie. Hopefully I can set a nice pace for her early, and help her get a PR, or maybe we'll just have some fun!

By Bryan at 12:53 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Running Wild

Yesterday was the end of week 3 of my current training program, which was generated using Runner's World's Smart Coach program. Yesterday, of course, was also my long run--9 miles, for the first time.

Julie and I took the boys down to her parents' house in Houston this weekend for the "Wild Game" dinner, which is held each spring at at her parents' beach house. The Wild Game dinner consists of lots of food, adult beverage, good times, and sun (most years, anyway). This year was no different. Though the dinner was on Saturday, my long run was in doubt, as a day of eating, drinking, and lounging in the sun is not always conducive to running. That, and it's a 5+ hour drive back home. However, Julie had other plans.

Once everyone was up and moving, and the boys had been fed (donuts, of course), Julie arranged for her sister and family to come over--their 3 boys to play with our 2--while we went for our run. I do love her! We headed out for a nice, relatively flat couple of loops in the neighborhoods around her parents' house.

Julie's run was a 10K, her longest distance to date, so I paced her around at my training pace, which is currently 11:04/mile for long runs. She not only held on, but she ran it easily. In the final 1.2 miles of her 10K, I inched the pace up ever so slightly (unintentionally), and thought that I might drop her. But as we closed in on the final half mile, she pulled herself back up to me, even as I picked up the pace a little more. By the time we hit the 6 mile mark, and then 6.22, she was running strong, and right along side of me to finish her first 10K!

Once Julie finished her 10K and began the walk back to the house, I surged ahead for the final 2.78 miles of my 9 mile run. I've got to say that up until this point I was feeling really good, and it actually took a little effort to hold myself back. However, that all changed as I finished up mile 8 and headed into mile 9. As with previous long runs, the first week of upping the long run mileage, I feel very strong all the way through the run, right until I am about to head into the new distance, then it all hits me at once. Fortunately I have been able to regroup, refocus, and push through the last mile or so without burning myself out. Of course it helped knowing that the next time I do this distance, I will own it.

In the end, I did my 9 miles at an 11:00/mile pace, for a total time of 1:39:17.

By Bryan at 10:35 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

ChiRunning

This past Monday I ordered ChiRunning from Amazon. It arrived Tuesday afternoon, and Tuesday evening I went out for 5 miles at an 11:04/mile pace which turned into 5 miles at a 9:34/mile pace, while I attempted to implement the lean.

The goal of ChiRunning is to provide runners with effortless, injury-free running technique that focuses on the pleasure of movement rather than on struggling and battling to run further and faster.

Created by Danny Dreyer, ChiRunning is meant to lower your perception of effort, regardless of how fast you're going. This is where the lean comes in (at the ankles, not the waist), allowing the body to work with--rather than against--gravity.

Of course there is a lot more to ChiRunning, and if you're not familiar with the ChiRunning technique, I encourage you to read more about it on ChiRunning.com, and to pick up a copy of the book.

As for my run, I already mentioned that it was a schedule "easy" 5 miles @ 11:04/mile, and that I actually did it @ 9:34/mile, but I didn't mention the specifics of my experience using ChiRunning...

I certainly didn't set out to go at a pace that much fast than I was supposed to run--it just sort of happened. After completing my initial mile in a comfortable 10:16, I hit a nice downhill stretch early in mile 2, and the next thing I know, I've completed mile 2 in 9:26. Not wanting to burn myself out on this run, I tried to back off a bit in mile 3 and turned in a 9:39 pace. At this point I just gave in and ran mile 4 faster than any of the other miles @ 8:50. It was sometime during mile 4 that I decided that I would turn this run into a 3-mile tempo run, with mile 1 as my warm up and mile 5 as my cool down. And I did slow down in mile 5, to a 9:35 pace.

I am not going to say that this was all due to ChiRunning, after all, I only looked at a very small portion of the book before heading out on my run. However, I will say that it helped. Sure, I was working hard, but not as hard as I have in the past to turn in that sort of pace over an extended distance. Without implementing the lean, I am sure that pace would've caused my average heart rate to be in the 180s, rather than the 166 bpm that it was.

Head on over to Amazon or your local bookstore and take a look at ChiRunning.

By Bryan at 4:30 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tequila And Salsa

For those of you who cannot get enough tequila or salsa, I'd like to remind you of my latest website: Tequila and Salsa Party. The Tequila and Salsa Party website is dedicated to, of all things, tequila and salsa--and consuming them with good friends. The website was created as a companion to the Tequila and Salsa Party, which we've held for the last two years.

The Tequila and Salsa Party website contains not only information on our annual party, but also information on tasty salsas and tequila, as well as Mexican food that goes great with both.

Make sure you head on over to the site, and subscribe to the feed for the latest in tequila and salsa.

By Bryan at 3:13 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Sunday, April 6, 2008

What A Difference A Week Makes

Just finished up my long run for this week--an 8 mile loop around the neighborhood, same as last Sunday. This time I owned it, instead if it owning me.

For both runs I was to do 8 miles at an 11:04/mile pace. Last Sunday, I did my 8 miles in 1:35:57, for an 11:59/mile pace, with an average HR of 171. Today, I did my 8 miles in 1:28:02, for an 11:00/mile pace, with an average HR of 162. Last Sunday, my HR averaged 173 by mile 3, and I had to slow down dramatically just to keep it from going much higher. Today, my HR didn't average 173 until mile 7, and I was able to maintain my 11:00/mile pace through until the end.

Here's a link to a dot race between the last two long runs: What a difference a week makes!

By Bryan at 1:21 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, April 4, 2008

Failed Run

Yesterday was my first tempo run of my new training program. It called for a total of 5 miles, including warm up and cool down, with 3 miles @ 9:28/mile. It did not go well.

First, let me get the excuses out of the way—it was warm (mid-70s), it was humid (strong chance of thunderstorms), and it was windy (S 20 MPH, gusts to 30 MPH). Also, miles 1 and 2 of the 3 mile tempo run were too fast: 9:22/1st mile, and 9:16/2nd mile. Mile 3 ended up at a 9:32 pace. I only did .18 mile of my 1 mile cool down, and I did that walking.

This is the first time I haven't completed a scheduled run, and it really bothered me yesterday. Okay, the thunderstorm that blew in as I was in the last quarter mile of my tempo run did have a little to do with me not finishing the full 5 miles, but still... I even tried telling myself HTFU!

By Bryan at 12:56 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Komen Tarrant County Race for the Cure

I am now officially registered for the Komen Tarrant County Race for the Cure 5K. Julie has done this race a few times, while I did the race with her back in April of 2006, though we registered for the fun run/walk, not the competitive 5K. This year we've both registered for the competitive 5K.

Please help us raise money to fund education, screening and treatment programs and support the national search for a cure. If you'd like to donate, or join our team, please visit my personal Tarrant County Race for the Cure page.

By Bryan at 11:17 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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My Original Traineo Goal

While I might have started running consistently on October 1st, 2007 when I began the Couch-to-5K Training Program, my whole journey to better health didn't really get going until I came across the web site Traineo.com.

Traineo is a weight loss and fitness community that tries to differentiate itself by making motivation, support and accountability a key ingredient to the web site. Here's what they say on their site:

Motivation, Support and Accountability are the keys to achieving a weight loss and fitness goal. Our mission is to create the most effective weight loss and fitness community on the web by combining the latest software technology with sound information and services from the world’s leading health and fitness experts.

traineo is the culmination of over three years of development, testing and focus group studies in partnership with leading experts in weight loss, health, sports and fitness.

Quite honestly, I stumbled upon traineo the week before Thanksgiving 2007 while I was reading some running blogs. One of the blogs had this "I'm getting fit on traineo" badge, which I thought looked cool and interesting, so I clicked on it. The next thing I know, I'm registering and being asked to enter a weight goal. I had no idea what to enter, and honestly, I hadn't been very good lately about keeping, much less meeting weight goals. So out of my...ahem...hat, I pull out 185 by the end of March 2008 as my goal. I figured "what the heck do I have to lose, besides the weight."

Well, here we are on April 2, 2008, and while I didn't meet my goal weight of 185 by the end of March, I did get down to 192--that's a weight loss of 33 lbs since setting my traineo goal, and an overall weight loss of 39 lbs from my recent high, which was a little earlier in November 2007.

Since I haven't met my weight goal yet, I created a new goal, and that is to get down to 185 my the Komen Race for the Cure 5K on April 26th.

By Bryan at 12:24 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Fitness Goals For The Rest Of 2008
  • Reach my initial Traineo Goal of weighing 185.
  • Finish my first half marathon.
  • Continue running as long as I am enjoying it.
  • Maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Continue healthier eating.
  • Find cross-training activities that I enjoy.
  • Reassess goals every 8 weeks.

Look for a blog post on each of these topics soon.

By Bryan at 10:43 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, March 31, 2008

San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon

It's official--I've registered for the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon. It is on Sunday, November 16th, so I've got several months to get ready. My plan is to continue my current program, which will take me to the end of May, and then I'll either repeat the last several weeks of it or another program before beginning an official 16-week half-marathon training program in July.

Wish me luck!

By Bryan at 6:11 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Not Quite To 100

Today was my weekly long run, and the final run for March. In the month of March, I ran a total of 93.15 miles, which is an all-time high for me by 20 miles. Today's long run was also a new high at 8 miles.

Today also marks the end of week 1 of my new training program. The current program is one that I generated from the Runner's World Smart Coach, and will last for 8 weeks. Here are the parameters I provided to generate the program:

  • Recent Race Time: 27:30 for a 5K (this was my Garmin time for the Bunny Boogie).
  • Training for a 5K.
  • Currently train 21-25 miles per week.
  • I want to train at a moderate level.
  • Long run day = Sunday.
  • Schedule length = 8 weeks.
  • Starting week = Monday, 3/24/2008

The first week went pretty well. There are a few differences between this program and the one I just finished (Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K):

  • Easy runs are 4 or 5 miles.
  • Interval workouts alternate between 800m and 1600m intervals (different days, of course)
  • Tempo runs are quite a bit longer.
  • I have prescribed paces for each run (paces get quicker in the 2nd 4 weeks).
    • Easy run pace is 11:04
    • 800m @ 4:14
    • Tempo @ 9:28
    • 1600m @ 8:56
  • With this program, my longest long run will be 10 miles.

So maybe I'll top 100 miles in April, who knows? What I do know is that Spring is here, and in Texas, that means that Summer is practically a week away--at least that's how it felt today. Nothing like a long run in really warm weather, with high humidity and a lot of wind! For the record, I completed my 8 miles in 1:35:59, which was well off my prescribed pace of 11:04/mile, but aren't I supposed to slow down so many seconds or minutes per mile for every 5 or 10 degrees above 50 degrees?

By Bryan at 10:56 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bunny Boogie Results

Julie and I ran the Bunny Boogie 5K this morning at Trinity Park in Fort Worth. It was an absolutely great morning for racing, with the temperature in the low 50s, and lots of sunshine.

After eating Tex-Mex last night, along with a couple of margaritas and a glass of wine, I was uncertain of how the race would go today, and waking up with my stomach gurgling was not a great sign. Fortunately things subsided, and we headed out to the race.

I knew from looking at past results that this would be a very small race (100-150 people tops), but that's just what I was looking for, and we were both excited to not have to deal with the massive crowds of walkers bunched up at the starting lines of most of the really big 5Ks. Once we arrived, we grabbed our bibs, pinned them on, checked out the course map, and then warmed-up. As it was nearing the start-time, we caught up with our coworker, Darren, and his 7-year old son, Aidan, who was running his 2nd 5K. After a few words from the race director, we were off.

We started a little ways back from the starting line, not wanting to push our luck and get passed by too many people, which ultimately cost us a little time, but not too much. As is typical, I think everyone started off a little faster than they wanted to. At one point, I looked down at my Garmin and saw a sub 8:00/mile pace—definitely too fast! Within a couple of minutes I had brought the pace back up to a more manageable 8:45-9:00/mile, and was able to maintain that for most of the way.

Waving my arms to Stacy K, and keeping pace with my ''rabbit.''The plan for today's race was to go for a new PR, and I set a pace in the Garmin of 28:30, which would've been a new PR by 15 seconds. However, I found myself feeling pretty strong and pacing behind a guy at around 8:50-9:10, so I let myself stay slightly ahead of my goal pace for a little while. After several minutes, my "rabbit" slowed considerably, so I surged on ahead in search of a new rabbit. Luckily for me, he was just 20 yards ahead. I followed my new rabbit for the majority of the race, until he finally picked up the pace in the last half mile, and left me eating his dust. But that was okay, as I had been holding steady to an 8:55/mile pace and was still feeling good—just not good enough to stay with him as he upped his tempo. The good news is that I wasn't passed by anyone in the last half of the race or more, and I was able to pass several people, including a couple towards the end. And unlike the Cowtown 5K, I did not try to kick too soon. This time, I focused on maintaining my pace right up until the final .11 mile, and then surged with a controlled and maintainable (at least for a couple of minutes) pace of 7:43/mile.

At the finish, my Garmin reported a time of 27:30, so I will call that my chip time, since this race didn't utilize timing chips. My official time was 27:45, good for 2nd place in my age group (35-39), and a new PR by 1 minute!

Julie waving to Stacy K.After finishing, I walked back up the course a little ways to cheer on everyone else, including Aidan, Julie, and Darren. Aidan was the next of our group to finish, with a time of 31:16, which was good for 1st place in his age group! Then came Julie, a few seconds behind Aidan, finishing 3rd in her age group, and finally Darren, who did a magnificent job setting the early tempo for Aidan.

All in all, this was fun day, and something I think we'd like to do again—this race, as well as more small races! I should have some pictures of Julie and me with our medals to post a little later.

Here are my splits from the Garmin:

Mile Time Avg HR Avg Pace
1 8:54.98 169 8:54
2 8:53.75 182 8:53
3 8:51.73 186 8:51
.11 0:46.69 190 7:43
Total 27:30.15 179 8:51

Me and my silver medal.Here are the official results: Bunny Boogie 5K 2008. Looks like I need to email the RD and let him know he's got a 35 year old female in the 25-29 year old age group. Julie really did finish 3rd in her group.

By Bryan at 12:59 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fort Worth Zoo Run Run

Since I am in the mode of posting about races we've registered for, I thought I'd mention that we are also registered for the Fort Worth Zoo Run Run, on April 19th. This year, proceeds from the Zoo Run Run benefit all 25 of the Zoo's frog species in honor of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Year of the Frog.

Looking at the elevation of the course (assuming no change to the course from previous years), I think it will be pretty challenging, but what the heck, it's a good cause, and we'll be getting a cool t-shirt!

Well, I think it's about time for our 3rd yoga class, so I should probably wrap this up and shut the laptop down.

By Bryan at 8:25 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Registered For The Bunny Boogie 5K

We finally registered for this Saturday's Bunny Boogie 5K Run/Walk. Saturday will be the final day of my current training program, Hal Higdon's 5-K Training: Intermediate, and for my final run, I am supposed to do what else, but a 5K race.

I also raced at the end of week 4, in the Cowtown 5K. My time in that race was 28:45, and I am hoping to be faster than that on Saturday. I think I will be, but you never know. The Bunny Boogie is a relatively flat, out-and-back, but it is not chip-timed, so I am at the mercy of getting a good start, close to the front, and someone at the end catching my number at the right time, or something like that. I guess I can always use my Garmin for my official results.

One thing that will be interesting is the size of this race. Previously, we've done big charity runs, or a 5K associated with a much larger race (like the Cowtown Marathon), where there's a couple to several thousand runners/walkers or more. The size will certainly help get closer to the starting line, however it also lends to a little bit more nervousness--I don't want to finish last, after all.

By Bryan at 8:16 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Training: What's Up Next?

Well, here I am in the final week of Hal Higdon's 5-K Training: Intermediate, and it's past time to start looking for my next training program. If you've followed along here, you know that I've done the following programs:

  1. Couch-to-5K Running Plan
  2. Hal Higdon's 10K Training Program: Novice
  3. Hal Higdon's 5K Training Program: Intermediate

All three programs have been pretty much perfectly suited for where I was at the time—even the Couch-to-5K, which I initially thought of jumping in at week 5 or 6, when I first saw it. Fortunately, I started at the beginning and began building my base the right way. Hal Higdon's 10K program also came along at the right time, as it allowed me to continue building my foundation and extending my runs all the way up to a 10K (obviously). Once I finished the 10K program, I began looking for something to take my running to the next level, and Hal's 5K program seemed like the perfect fit. Not only have my miles continued to ramp up (over 20 per week and 7 per long run), but was also introduced to a couple of different speed workouts—tempo runs and intervals, as Hal's 5K Intermediate program is geared toward improving your 5K time.

So now what? Of course, I'd like to continue increasing my speed—I am by no means fast, and I might not ever be, but surely I can go faster. Losing weight has certainly helped with that so far, but that won't last forever. I'd also like to continue increasing my mileage and run a half-marathon by the end of this year, while continuing to run 5Ks, and perhaps even a 10K or two (my next 10K race will be my first). The half that I am considering is the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio, in November. Do I start a half-marathon program now? Do I continue on my current plan until I get within 12-14 weeks of the half and then switch to a half training program? Something else?

One other note: as I am nearing my initial goal weight of 185, it is time to think about whether that is the right weight or not. There will definitely be some more to lose, and some toning to be done, but what's the right number? My suspicion is that somewhere between 170 and 180 is going to be the right number, and fairly hard to achieve—not that the last 4 months and 35 lbs. have been easy. Time will tell, and I am sure that I'll know it when it's right.

By Bryan at 12:51 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, March 17, 2008

One Rough Week

This has been a tough week, beginning on March 9th when our youngest had his tonsils removed. His recovery proved challenging, and included a 9 hour visit to the local urgent care facility, and then an ambulance ride downtown to the local children's hospital between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. We finally headed home at 6 AM Wednesday morning. Needless to say, Julie and I, and the little one were pretty wiped out. So I made Wednesday my rest day, and picked up with my training plan on Thursday.

On Thursday, we had our second yoga session scheduled, and for some reason I decided that I also needed to run through a more traditional strength training routine prior to yoga class. After lifting weights, and after yoga, it was time for my running--Wednesday's run, to be specific--8 x 1/4 mile intervals with 2 minutes of active recovery, along with a 1 mile warm-up and cool-down. Talk about packing in the fitness! And this was all between 5:20 PM and 10 PM Thursday night.

Friday, which is my usual rest day, rolls around, but this time I need to get in a 3 mile recovery run, which I finally do around 7:30 PM. It went okay, as I covered the 3 miles at a nice leisurely pace, taking somewhere between 34 and 35 minutes to complete the route, with an average heart rate of 145 bpm--which is pretty good for me.

Saturday morning found us all catching up on sleep, as we slept until 11 AM. By early afternoon, I was heading out for my scheduled Saturday run, which was 5 miles, fast. It was warm and sunny, and more than a little windy, but what the heck, I just run 4 miles, fast two weeks earlier in 38:45, so I figured that I could easily do 5 in under 50 minutes, and probably under 48 minutes. Boy was I wrong! After starting off a little fast (goal for the first mile was 10 minutes), at 9:23 and 9:16 for my first two miles, I really started to fade halfway through mile 3, with my heart rate up to 188. Instead of continuing to push the pace, and risk not finishing, I did something that I haven't done in months--take a walk break. Through the rest of the run, I took more than 9 walk breaks, typically 30 seconds in length, for a total walking time of 4:36. By the time I hit 5 miles, 50:25 had elapsed and for the first time ever, I had lost to my Garmin Forerunner 305's Virtual Training Partner. Still, I was actually satisfied with my time, given the week and given the weather. I was also very glad that I had listened to my body and allowed myself to walk. I seriously doubt that I would've made it through the 5 miles if I had kept running.

As Today rolled around, and it was nearing time to go out for my long run, there was more than a little doubt lingering from the day before. Today's run was a scheduled 7-miler, which I had only ever done once before, and that was just the previous Sunday. Nonetheless, I set out a little before noon, with the goal of taking it easy at 12:00/mile. In the end, I did just that, averaging 11:57/mile, which was 4 seconds per mile faster than last Sunday's 7-mile run, However, my average heart rate was 161 bpm, compared to 155 bpm the previous week.

I think it's pretty obvious that I pushed my body a little harder than I should have over the last 4 days. While I ate well, I didn't get enough sleep leading up to the 4 days in a row of running, including 2 hard training days, and over the last two days, it started to show. Fortunately, Monday is rest or stretch/strengthen (I'll be doing the latter), as long as it doesn't involve the legs. I am looking forward to it.

One more note: This coming week is week 8 of Hal Higdon's 5K Intermediate Training Program, which means this coming Saturday will be a 5K race. I've not signed up for anything, but we were planning on doing the Bunny Boogie 5K Run/Walk.

By Bryan at 12:00 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, March 7, 2008

New Shoes, New Routes, and Snow

It's been a pretty busy week here, between off-site work meetings, training, and tonsils coming out (C's, not mine). I am glad that it's finally Friday!

I've been using Mondays as a dedicated strength training day, but we spent all of Monday at an off-site management "retreat," followed by dinner at Reata. I ate and drank way too much, so by the time we got home, I just wanted to go to bed. Fortunately, Tuesday was only a half-day of meetings, followed by a group activity, which was over between 3 and 4 PM, so I headed to the gym to get in some full-body strength training, and followed that up with a 3 mile run around the neighborhood with Julie—in my new shoes.

Wednesday, it was back to the office, playing "catch up." J had his first dentist appointment in quite some time, and ended up with his first two cavities :-(. Time to double-check his brushing, and perhaps start flossing. Wednesday evening I was able to get in my tempo run, and boy was it a good one. I set off on a new route that we've been using, but instead of following it all the way around, I veered off in another neighborhood, looking for hike and bike trails that might connect up with our neighborhood. Without the Garmin 305 to keep track of things, I'd never be able to do this. While I didn't find any connector trails, I did find dead ends that looked like they will eventually be connector trails, and I was able to keep moving at a decent clip.

Yesterday we were supposed to have our second Yoga session, but due to inclement weather, we canceled. We received nearly six inches of snow yesterday afternoon and a lot of rain and sleet prior to that—very unusual for the Dallas/Fort Worth area, especially in March. At first, I thought about getting in my 3 mile recovery run outside, but it was such a mess that I braved the roads and drove to the gym, where I hit the treadmill for 3 miles, and then did another full-body strength workout. As much as I am enjoying running, I've realized that it's really important for me to keep up with my strength training, especially now that I am nearing my goal weight and the muscle definition is really standing out. Not to mention, I enjoy lifting weights, and a stronger me can only mean better runs, right?

Here are some of my stats for the week (Tues/Wed/Thurs):

Tuesday (strength and 3 mile easy run):
  • 1.23 mile warm up on treadmill in 13:00
  • 50 minutes of strength training—full body
  • 3 miles in 34:39, avg HR @ 155 bpm
Wednesday (40 minute tempo run):
  • 10 minutes easy (.87 mile, 11:30/mile pace, 133 bpm)
  • 20 minutes fast (2.14 miles, 9:21/mile pace, 168 bpm)
  • 10 minutes easy (.74 mile, 13:25/mile pace, 143 bpm)
Thursday (strength and 3 mile easy run):
  • 3 miles on treadmill in 32:10, avg HR 148 bpm
  • 50 minutes of strength training—full body

By the way, the new shoes are doing great.

By Bryan at 7:13 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Weekend Running Recap

Some friends of ours were moving into their very first house yesterday morning, and we'd volunteered to help, since they are good friends and have helped us with lots of stuff. So anyway, knowing that I'd probably be tired from helping them move, I decided to try my hand at getting up way too early and running. My scheduled run called for 4 fast miles, so I figured that I needed to allow 50 minutes for my run, including warm up and cool down. We needed to be in southwest Fort Worth by 8 AM, which meant leaving no later than 7:30 AM, so I set my alarm for 4:40 AM. And what do you know? I actually got up when my alarm went off and was out the door by 5:30 AM! I couldn't believe it. It turned out to be a pretty good run. I set out with a goal of 10 min./mile (I know, I know—I'm slow). My final time was 38:46. Here are the splits:

  1. 9:45.60 - HR @ 158 bpm
  2. 9:26.63 - HR @ 170 bpm
  3. 9:53.39 - HR @ 176 bpm
  4. 9:40.61 - HR @ 180 bpm

Averages: 9:41 min/mile pace - HR 171 bpm

Here's the link of my run at motionbased.com: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/5068862.

This morning (much later than yesterday morning), I went out for my weekly long run. The schedule called for 6 miles, so I headed over to a nearby greenbelt/park, where I knew I could do 3 miles out and back. Now, at this stage of my program, this is supposed to be a long, slow run. For me, it was long, and it was definitely slow, but at an average of 161 bpm, my heart rate was much higher than it should've been. My pace goal was 11:30 min./mile, which is appropriate according to the pace calculator at McMillan Running. However, I probably should've taken into account the temperature and humidity, as well as the 20 mph winds, and slowed down some. Here are my splits:

Mile Time Avg HR Cal
1 11:24 146 154
2 11:30 154 157
3 11:29 160 161
4 11:28 164 159
5 11:20 169 160
6 11:23 175 160

Interestingly, except for when I was heading straight into the wind, I felt pretty good—especially in the last two miles.

So this marks the end of Week 5 of Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K program, and my second 10 mile weekend. This past week also concluded my first 70+ mile month, and my first-ever Yoga session. This coming week, my mileage should continue to climb, as my weekend miles go up—5 miles on Saturday, and 7 miles on Sunday (which will be a new record long run for me). We've also got our second Yoga session (substituting this for strength and stretching).

By Bryan at 11:24 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ordering New Shoes

I just ordered some new running shoes. I've got no complaints about my current shoes, so  I went with the same model, but a different color--black. This is my first time ordering shoes online, so I've got my fingers crossed.

Given this recent article from the NY Times, I feel a little guilty for not going down to my local running shop, but I was able to save about $20 by buying them online, compared to what I would've paid locally. For the record, I ordered from NBWebExpress.com. Any experience with them?

My new shoes: New Balance MR858BK

By Bryan at 2:15 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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My First 70 Mile Month

With one more day of running in February, I am on pace for 70+ miles for the month. This will be a first for me. My previous high was 58 miles in January. So far, my body is holding up.

Reflecting on my time for the Cowtown 5K on Saturday (28:45), I wonder how much improvement I can expect in my next 5K, which is in 3.5 weeks, at the end of Week 8 of Hal Higdon's 5K Intermediate training program? I improved from the Jingle Bell Run to the Cowtown by about 2.5 minutes. Surely, I won't see the same improvement with only 4 weeks between races this time. Besides, since the Jingle Bell Run, I am also 25+ lbs. lighter, and have really ramped up my training compared to what I was doing prior to the Jingle Bell Run.

What is a reasonable expectation?

By Bryan at 12:23 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

2008 Cowtown 5K Results

Well, we did it—we got our butts up out of bed and hauled them to Sundance Square to run the Cowtown 5K this morning (in the freezing cold, mind you—average temperature for the 5K was 36.5°F). I was shooting for a sub-30 minute time, which would beat my previous (and only) 5K by over a minute. In the end, I ended up running it in 28:44.7, which was good for 472 overall, 329 among men, and 44 in my age group. Not bad for my second effort, and it definitely looks like the training is paying off! Here are some links:

One last note—I cracked 200 lbs. this morning, weighing in at 199! That puts me 14 from my goal of 185.

By Bryan at 6:18 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Running The Cowtown 5K In Morning

Julie and I are running in the Cowtown 5K tomorrow. At 8:15 AM, the gun will go off for the start of the Cowtown 5K, which is one of 6 races that makes up the overall Cowtown Marathon event. For me, this is my test race at the mid-point of Hal Higdon's 5K Intermediate Training Program.

Earlier this afternoon, we went over to the Expo to check things out and get our timing chips. It was our first time at a marathon expo. I also picked up a lightweight New Balance running jacket for 50% off. Not bad, huh?

To help get in the mood for this weekend, we went to see the encore showing of Spirit of the Marathon last night. We both really, really enjoyed it. It was funny, it was intense, it was emotional, but most of all it was good!

For a while, I've suspected that I might have caught the bug, after watching the film last night, I know I've caught the bug. The plan is to see how things go between now and the end of June, and then if things are still going well (I'm still running), then I am going to pick a half-marathon in the fall. If that goes well, then I will target something bigger for 2009. Any suggestions?

Well, it is time for bed...wish us luck!

By Bryan at 11:39 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Handheld Hydration

What is "handheld hydration," you ask? It's a water bottle, dummy! Actually, in running circles, it is more than just a water bottle—it's a water bottle with some sort of sleeve or strap around it, for your hand to fit through. This allows a runner to carry the water bottle in their hand, without having to hold on to it.

As the distance on my long runs has increased I've found myself wishing that I had some water towards the end of my runs. In the last couple of weeks, I started taking a small Gatorade bottle with me on my long runs, but I would get tired of having to hold it throughout the run. So on Sunday, before going out for 6 miles, I stopped by our local Luke's Locker to pick up a handheld hydration system—the Quickdraw Plus, from Nathan Sports.

Overall, it was pretty good to run with. The Quickdraw Plus has a zippered pocket for storing small items (like my car key), an adjustable, and a reflective strap for a customized fit. The one downside was that my hand got pretty cold holding it for the first half of the run, as I had ice in the bottle, and had put it in the freezer for a while before my run. To help combat this, I switched hands often during the first mile, and then switched once per mile during the the rest of the run.

Have you used a hydration system while running? If so, what kind?

By Bryan at 11:42 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Site Update 2/19/2008

Just a couple of quick items:

  • Comments are enabled, though I am not finished mucking around with them.
  • My Recent Runs - I've added a new page at the ol' site—My Recent Runs. It lists information about my 10 most recent runs (runs where I used my Forerunner 305). The data is pulled from MotionBased.com, and includes links to more details at Motionbased, as well as to Google Maps and Google Earth.

By Bryan at 8:29 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Monday, February 18, 2008

My First 20 Mile Week

I know that I recently posted about feeling beat-down, worn out, or whatever you want to call it. Today I feel good. Saturday I felt good. Yesterday I felt really good. So what happened? I don't know—perhaps it was just a matter of getting a day off to recover. Whatever it was, I am not going to complain. After all, I just completed a 10 mile weekend, and my first 20+ mile week. And I don't feel like I simply survived, I feel like a thrived.

One of the big things I've noticed through this past week's training, is improvement in my fitness level. The easy runs on Tuesday and Thursday were run at a quicker pace than I've previously run them, without a big increase in my perceived effort level. On Tuesday, I did a 3 mile run in 33:23, with an average heart rate of 151 bpm. Thursday's run was also 3 miles, this time in 32:01, and an average heart rate of 158. Now, you might argue that the increased pace came at the expense of an increased heart rate, and that it wasn't really an "easy" run, but remember that I said perceived effort—not heart rate—and this run felt pretty easy.

Sandwiched in between those two easy runs, was my speed workout—intervals. There's no getting around it—this workout was HARD. I really do need to work on slowing down during my intervals. The number of intervals increased from 5 to 6, and it really was this workout that had me feeling beat-down.

After a day of rest on Friday, Saturday brought another 4 miles of easy running. I had originally planned on going out early Saturday, before all of the rain moved in, and before we got busy with soccer and basketball games, but I was just too tired, and the rain moved in a little early. Instead, I went out in the afternoon—38.2°F, winds 10-14 mph, light rain and all. This run was also the first time that I simply headed out the door and just ran (using the Forerunner 305 for distance, of course), rather than plotting out my route beforehand. A little less than half of the 4 miles was spent on hike and bike trails, which was a nice change from the street running. Anyway, I finished the 4 miles in 47:11, with an average heart rate of 158 bpm. Considering the wind, the rain, the hills, I felt pretty good about this run--not to mention that it was one of those weird sort of perfect days to be outside running, while everyone else stayed huddled indoors.

Finally, there was my 6 mile long run yesterday, completed in 1:09:19, with an average heart rate of 152 bpm. That's an 11:33/mile easy pace, sustained over 6 miles, with a heart rate no higher than my 3 mile run on Tuesday. I feel really good about this run, and I feel like I am ready for my first race of the year—The Cowtown 5K, this coming Saturday.

By Bryan at 11:47 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, February 15, 2008

That Good Old Beat-Down Feeling

You know that feeling you get after you've been training hard? You know, that beat-down feeling? Well, I've got it. I just feel worn out today. This week has just taken its toll (and I've still got two days of training left—4 miles tomorrow, and 6 on Sunday):

  • Sat: 3 mile fast run
  • Sun: 5 mile long run
  • Mon: Intense upper body strength training
  • Tues: 3 mile run
  • Wed: 6 x 1/4 Intervals (1/4 recovery, 1 mile warm up, 1 mile cool down)
  • Thurs: 3 mile run

It's no wonder I am feeling so lethargic today. Good thing today is a rest day!

In addition to all of this work, we also had the Tequila and Salsa Party Saturday night, which meant too much to drink, too much to eat, and staying up too late. Of course, it was a great time, and I wouldn't have missed it (especially since it was at our house)! But its effects have lingered on throughout this week, I think, as I only lost .5 lb since last Friday. And honestly, I haven't eaten horribly, or even bad. Perhaps this is my first real plateau?

As for Hal Higdon's 5K Intermediate Training Program, I will give it another week, and see how I feel. It is a lot of work, and while I didn't expect that it would be easy, I am wondering if it's a little too much right now.

By Bryan at 2:14 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ASP.NET MVC Framework Update

Since word of it first spread, and since seeing a demo of it while I was in Redmond back in October, I've been very excited about the ASP.NET MVC Framework. And since its initial CPT release, I've been messing around with the ASP.NET MVC Framework quite a bit. Though I did have some trouble (like getting it to run in IIS7 on Vista—never got it working, even with help from Phil Haack), I really like what I've seen, and can't wait to begin using it in production. Now, it looks like it will soon be one step closer  to being production-ready.

In a few weeks, there will be an ASP.NET MVC Mix Preview Release, which will address a number of this, as discussed by Scott Guthrie in his blog post titled ASP.NET MVC Framework Road-Map Update. Of all the goodness that he mentions, one thing stood out:

We have also factored out the URL routing infrastructure from the rest of the MVC framework with this preview, which enables us to use it for other non-MVC features in ASP.NET (including ASP.NET Dynamic Data and ASP.NET Web Forms).

As someone who uses URL Rewriting quite extensively, this is great news! I can't wait to see what I can do with the URL routing infrastructure and my existing Web Forms based applications.

By Bryan at 8:30 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, February 11, 2008

HH5K:Intermediate - Week 2 Wrap Up

Another week of the Hal Higdon Intermediate 5K Training Program has come to an end. Week 2 was a pretty decent week, and I got to add another type of run to my training—the tempo run.

The week started of easy enough with upper body weight training on Monday. There's nothing special about this workout, just 40 minutes of weight lifting, doing chest, back, shoulders, triceps and biceps in 35-40 minutes. In the training program, Monday's are marked as rest days, but I like to use them to get in weight training, so that I am not doing my runs and weight training on both Tuesday and Thursday.

Tuesday was a 3 mile run, which in this program means "easy run." I finished it in 34:45, for an 11:33/mile pace and an average heart rate of 150. During the run, I tried putting into practice some hill running techniques that I had recently read in Runner's World. The only thing of note was the weather. It wasn't too cold, with an average temperature of 43.9°F, but it was really windy, with an average wind at 17.2 mph.

Wednesday was my very first tempo run (30 minutes). Hal says that a temp run should include an easy 5-10 minutes of warm up running, followed by running at an increasingly faster pace so that by the last third, you are just a a few seconds off your 10K race pace (you can also use a 5K race pace), followed by 5-10 minutes of cool down. I really didn't think that this would be too terribly tough. I figured that I would do 5 easy minutes, using my long run pace or even a little slower, and then hammer out 20 minutes at a sub-10:00/mile pace, followed by a nice long run pace for 5 more minutes. That plan started out fine, with the first 5 minutes covering .41 mile with an average heart rate of 140. The next 20 minutes were surprisingly tough! I covered 2.1 miles in those 20 minutes, with an average heart rate of 172. I definitely started out too fast, with an early pace that was sub 9:30/mile. By the end, I was holding onto a 9:40-9:50/mile pace. The final 5 minutes covered .35 miles, and I had to mix a little walking in with slow running.

Thursday, it was back to an easy 3 mile run. Again, I focused on my form going up and down our little hills. These 3 miles were run in 32:58 with an average heart rate of 153 bpm. I tried running this one on feel, and not look at my Forerunner 305 until I finished. I was pleased to see my pace and my heart rate. I even ran reverse splits: 11:11, 11:03, and 10:42 (even with my near-spectacular face plant!).

Friday is rest day, thank goodness!

Saturday was my first "fast" run. Hal Higdon describes this run as faster than your regular runs, that if you run with a training partner, you'll probably not want to carryon a conversation, and it is okay to be out of breath. That said, I set out to run my 3 miles in under 30 minutes. Again, as with the previous run, I hit start on the Forerunner 305, and didn't look at it again until I was finished. I ended up turning in my fastest 3 miles to date at 28:33, for a 9:31 pace, with an average heart rate of 174 bpm. The bad news is that I ran out of gas by the start of mile 3. The good news is that I still finished mile 3 in under 10 minutes. The splits were 9:22/mile, 9:11/mile, and 9:58 (that last one seriously felt like 12:00/mile+).

Yesterday (Sunday) was my long run of 5 miles. After the Tequila and Salsa Party the night before, I was in no hurry to get this one done, and I didn't get to it until nearly 5 PM. The run was a 2.5 mile out and back along a greenbelt, which passed through a big city park. It was a very nice, and even relaxing run, though I was ready to walk before I had even hit the turn-around. As with my other recent runs, I hit start on the Forerunner 305, and tried not to look at it until it was time to stop. I ended up running the 5 miles in 59:12 with an average heart rate of 155 bpm. My splits were: 11:49, 11:46, 11:53, 11:53, and 11:51. Not bad for a newbie self-pacing, huh?

The week ahead brings my second interval training session, which I'm not really looking forward to, especially since it includes an extra interval since the first interval session. My Saturday run also increases from 3 miles to 4 miles, and my long run goes from 5 miles to 6 miles. This should put me over 20 miles/week for the first time. Wish me luck!

By Bryan at 12:42 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, February 8, 2008

Face Plant

Okay, so I am out on my run last night (Week 2, Day 4 of Hal Higdon's Intermediate 5K Training Program), and I'm about 1/3 of the way into the last mile, I've just crested a little hill and I'm picking up speed to cruise on down the hill, when all of a sudden my left foot catches on some uneven sidewalk.

Now understand, my right foot hadn't come forward very far yet, so all of a sudden I am launched into the air, and looking down at the ground. My first thought was "oh, crap—this is going to hurt!" My second thought was "how should I land?" I thought about putting my hands out to break my fall, putting my arms, but not putting my hands down, to avoid breaking my wrists, pretending like I was sliding headfirst into second base, and finally, I thought about trying to roll in midair and hope I somehow landed in the grass. Then, in a split second, somehow my right leg came forward enough, and under me enough (but just barely, as I was already getting close to the ground), that I was able to catch myself, at least for a step. Once I realized that I had landed on my right leg and not my face, my attention turned to getting my left leg down before my momentum put me on the ground anyway. Fortunately, I was able to get my left leg down, and after a couple of more big awkward steps, I was back to cruising down the hill.

I did a quick assessment of the situation, discovering that the little toe on my left foot sure did hurt. I also noticed a little "twinge" in my lower back and my right hip, but that quickly faded, and I finished my run. As I was doing a little cool down walk, I noticed the my toe was sore—like a seam in my sock was rubbing or something. When I got back to the house and got my shoe and sock off, sure enough, there was a blister on top of my little toe, right where my foot hit the hardest. This morning, the toe is still sore and my lower back, right above my butt is a bit sore. Good thing today is a rest day!

Notes from my run:

Easy Run of 3 Miles. I didn't look at the Forerunner 305 at all during the run. Instead, I just ran on feel. I think I did pretty good, as my average heart rate was 153 bpm, and I actually ran reverse splits (unintentionally):

3 Miles in 32:57 @ 10:58/mile. 11:11, 11:03, 10:42

By Bryan at 11:18 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Another Day, Another Salsa

It's late...we've got a busy Saturday...I really should be getting to bed, rather than writing this blog post. But I've just got to get this salsa recipe out of my head and stored somewhere a little more permanent.

Roasted Tomato and Tomatillo Salsa
  • 6 Roasted tomatillos
  • 2 Roasted roma tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz. can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 Roasted Poblano pepper
  • 1 ancho chile pepper
  • 1 habanero pepper
  • 1/2 shallot (minced)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • a few cloves of roasted garlic
  • salt
  • white vinegar

Maybe someday I'll come back and tell you how I took all of these ingredients and turned them into this salsa:

By Bryan at 2:15 AM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My First Speed Workout

Holy cow...wait, I mean HOLY COW!!! I knew that the interval workouts would be challenging, but this was something else! Here's the link to all of the data that was captured by my Garmin Forerunner 305: http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4881885.

The workout (laps) went like this:

  1. 1 mile warm up.
  2. 5 Run/Walk Intervals (laps 2–12)
    1. Run .25 mile (supposed to target my 1600m or 1 mile pace).
    2. Walk .25 mile.
  3. 1 mile cool down.

The warm up and cool down were targeted to zone 3 for heart rate, which is 130–148 bpm. The run intervals actually were targeted to 5–7 min/mile—just a little too fast, I'd say.

I am glad that Intervals are only every other week (alternates with tempo runs)!

Here's my new workout program: 5-K Training: Intermediate. This was day 3 of week 1.

By Bryan at 11:44 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bunny Boogie 5K Run/Walk

My new training program, Hal Higdon's 5K Intermediate, calls for 2 5K races as part of the program. The first 5K is halfway through, at the end of week 4, and the second 5K is at the very end of the program, at the end of week 8. Julie and I are already registered for the Cowtown 5K on February 23rd, so that takes care of the week 4 5K race, but I hadn't found a race for the end of week 8--until now--the Bunny Boogie 5K Run/Walk.

The Bunny Boogie 5K Run/Walk looks like it might be the perfect wrap-up to this training program. It is a relatively flat out-and-back course, along the Trinity Trail in Fort Worth. It benefits Meals on Wheels, and registration is only $8. Best of all, it falls on the last weekend of my training program!

By Bryan at 11:51 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Perfect Salsa?

Mmm...delicious! I think that I am very, very close to perfecting my salsa. On the heels of last weekend's success, and with the Tequila and Salsa Party less than two weeks away, I thought it was time to give it another go.

Using last week's salsa (mine, not the Ersatz Papalote) as the basis, I put my roasted tomatoes in a pot on the stove, added chipotle peppers, salt, and some water, brought the whole thing to a boil, and then simmered for around 20 minutes. While the tomatoes and chipotle peppers were simmering away, I minced up some shallot, and chopped up some cilantro. (I also roasted some garlic earlier in the evening.) After about 20 minutes of simmering, I added equal parts red wine vinegar (less than last weekend) and white vinegar to the tomato mixture, and simmered another  minute. I then poured the tomatoes and peppers into the blender, added the cilantro, shallots, and roasted garlic, and chopped until the salsa was a nice smooth consistency.

Check out the final result in the picture, shown along with some homemade tortilla chips. The salsa might just be the best I've ever made--I can't wait to try it tomorrow!

By Bryan at 11:19 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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My Next Training Program

Now that I've finished Hal Higdon's 10K Training Novice Training Program, it's time to look/start my next program. I am leaning towards using another Hal Higdon program--5-K Training: Intermediate.

(I'll post soon on the finish to the 10K program).

By Bryan at 8:00 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Making Some Salsa

My Dad's birthday was today, and I was asked to make some salsa and guacamole to go along with fajitas. Figuring that this would serve as good practice for the 2nd Annual Tequila and Salsa Party, and I never pass up the opportunity to make something tasty to share with family, I agreed. My guacamole recipe is pretty much set, with a slight variation from time to time, so the next step was figuring out exactly what sort of salsa I wanted to make.

Our friends, Erin and Sara, have been perfecting some awesome salsa over the last few months, so I really needed to figure something out that would really step it up a notch from my normal salsa (my normal salsa is pretty damn good!). After a little googling, I came across this Ersatz Papalote Salsa recipe from Chow.com that sounded worth trying. (Go ahead and click over to Chow and check out the back story on this recipe.) I decided that I would make this salsa, and another of my own creation, but one that varied from my normal salsa, and headed out to our local grocery store.

Armed with all of the ingredients to make the Ersatz Papalote Salsa, plus several more ingredients for my own salsa, and the guacamole, I headed home, where I  began working my way through the recipe. One extra step I had to take was making my own ground dried passilla peppers, as I could not find any ready-made powder. Of course, I didn't mind doing this, as it takes no time at all, and makes for the freshest powder. As the Papalote Salsa was cooking, I started devising the game plan for the other salsa.

While googling for recipes, I saw a lot of people mentioning Muir Glen's Fire Roasted canned tomatoes, and I was lucky enough to find them at the store. (Typically I roast my own tomatoes under the broiler or on the grill, along with my peppers, garlic, and sometimes onion.) The plan was to use the Muir Glen Fire Roasted diced tomatoes, some chipotle peppers, roasted garlic, cilantro, onions (so far very similar to my normal salsa, minus the fresh tomatoes), and a new ingredient--red wine vinegar.

The Ersatz Papalote Salsa used white vinegar, and I know of at least one other really good salsa that uses vinegar, so I figured I'd try incorporating it into my salsa. I also decided to simmer most of my ingredients in some water for 20 minutes, prior to putting everything in the blender (this step came from the Ersatz Papalote Salsa). So into the pot went a big can of Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes (drained), a handful of dried chipotle peppers, a couple of cloves of garlic (whole, and not roasted), salt, and about a cup and a half of water. I brought this to a boil, and then simmered for 20 minutes. At the end of the 20 minutes, I added 3 TB of red wine vinegar to the pot, and let that simmer for another minute. While all of this was cooking, I chopped a bunch of cilantro and white onion. Once it was done cooking, everything in the pot, along with the cilantro and onion, was dumped into the blender, where it was blended until mostly smooth. At this point, I gave it a quick taste, called it good, and jarred it up and placed it in the fridge to finish coming together overnight.

The next morning (this morning), I gave it a taste and decided that the red wine vinegar was a little overpowering, so I roasted a couple of roma tomatoes and a couple of jalapeno peppers. I poured the salsa back into the blender, and added the tomatoes and peppers and blended. I also added some lime juice. At this point, the salsa was still pretty tangy and very hot. The salsa went back in the fridge until it was time to go to the party, where it was a huge hit!

"Wait, what about the Ersatz Papalote Salsa," you ask? Well, it came out a little more orange than the picture on Chow.com, which could've been due to blending it for too long, or perhaps it was just due to a difference in the ingredients (I followed the recipe, but you never know), but it was delicious. Being in Texas, this salsa was very different from the normal salsa here, but it was good! The toasted pumpkin seeds added a richness that you wouldn't have expected, as well as a nuttiness that was excellent. As for the guacamole? 8 large avocados went into the guacamole, and it was gone by the end of lunch.

As I am writing this, I just finished off a small bowl of both salsa, and I must say that they've continued to come together as the day has worn on. They are delicious, with just the right amount of kick. The next time I make my new salsa, I think that I'll use a little less red wine vinegar, perhaps cutting it by a tablespoon, and adding a little white vinegar to the mix.

By Bryan at 11:11 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

HH10K Training - Week 7, Day 2

Today's 3 mile run was my first time out with my new Garmin Forerunner 305. This was actually a little hard of a run than I would've liked. Whatever that new gear was that I found a couple of weeks ago has left me. My legs felt very heavy. Perhaps they're tired from Sunday's run? Perhaps they're still tired from an hour of basketball Saturday afternoon? Either way, this was slower than what I was going for, but good lord, look at all of the data I have now!

Map of HH10K: Novice - Week 7, Day 2

As I mentioned, this was a 3 mile run. I set the Forerunner to auto-lap every mile, but I didn't stop it when I hit 3 miles, so there's an extra .63 mile of data from my cool-down. The GPS-based map is very close to the map I created on MapMyRun.com. I was pleasantly surprised.

THIS THING ROCKS! Of course, so does the functionality at Motion Based.

By Bryan at 12:16 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Garmin Forerunner 305

A new training tool should be waiting for me when I get home today--a Garmin Forerunner 305. Even though this is supposed to be my reward when I reach my goal weight of 185, I simply couldn't resist Amazon's sale price of $185 (hmm...185 lb goal weight, $185 sale price...coincidence?), plus a free 1 month trial of Amazon Prime, which meant free 2-day shipping or overnight shipping for only $3.99. Besides, this should help me reach me goal, right? At any rate, I've got a 3 mile run scheduled for today, so you know I'll be charging this thing up as soon as I get home. I guess now I need to pick something else out as my ultimate goal reward--perhaps a Forerunner 405... ;-)

I'll post more on the Garmin Forerunner 305 later.

By Bryan at 12:05 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Cowtown 5K

It's official, Julie and I have signed up for the Cowtown 5K on February 23rd, which is run as part of the Cowtown Marathon. I briefly considered signing up for the Cowtown 10K, but since I just ran my first timed 5K back in December, I figured that it would be best to get a couple more 5K races under my belt, before moving up to a 10K.

By Bryan at 12:03 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, January 13, 2008

5 Mile Run

Whew! I finished up week 6 of Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training program today with my long run--a 5 miler. The weather was good, the wind was pretty calm, and though my legs were a little sore after an hour of basketball yesterday, I felt good. Keeping in mind the "long and slow" mantra, I paid no attention to my watch, other than to start it at the beginning and stop it at the end. Of course I hit the lap button as I completed each mile, but I never looked at it. In the end, I completed the 5 mile run in a respectable 58:48. Not bad for a long slow run that was full of hills.

I ran the first 1.15 miles with Julie, as she was on her long run (3 miles), wrapping up week 1 of Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program, before I headed off into uncharted water. The rest of mile 2 was up a nice sized hill that I'd done a number of times, though the last quarter mile or so was beyond my typical turn around point. Mile 3 was pretty much all uphill (sometimes steep hills). Just beyond the 3 mile mark, I tried a little chocolate GU energy gel for the first time on a run. I felt really strong through mile 4, perhaps because of the boost from the GU, or perhaps it was because I finally started heading back downhill. At any rate, mile 4 turned out to be the quickest of the day. Mile 5 featured one last good hill, which I took nice and slow.

At the end of the run I felt really good, and while I was tired, I felt like I could've continued on for a while longer. In addition to carrying the GU, I also carried some money with me for the first time, and as luck would've have it, mile 5 wrapped up right across the street from a 7-11, where I stopped to pick up a Sunday paper, and some Gatorade. Julie and Sadie (our dog) met me out on the road and we took a nice 1 mile walk back to the house. All in all, I feel really good about this run, especially when compared to last week's 4.5 mile run. My confidence was shaken by how hard that run was, and by how bad I felt afterward. What a difference a week makes!

Here are my mile splits:

  1. 11:47
  2. 11:32
  3. 13:00
  4. 10:55
  5. 11:31

Here's a link to the route I ran (first 5 miles). Make sure you click the link (or check the checkbox) to show the elevation!

Go #$&%@! Cowboys!

By Bryan at 6:20 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Friday, January 11, 2008

.NET 3.5, LINQ, XML, VB 9

One of the reasons I moved to a new host is because they were already offering ASP.NET 3.5 on their servers (and the price was right). The next logical step, after moving this site to the new host, seemed to be moving this site to ASP.NET 3.5. In order to try some new things out with LINQ to XML, and VB 9, that has now happened.

The first order of business was to try using LINQ to XML to pull in an RSS or Atom feed of my bookmarks at ma.gnolia, and utilize that data in the Links section of this site. It was ridiculously easy. A couple of lines of code to get a list of all the distinct tags, and a few more lines to grab the title and URL of each bookmark, based on the tag selected. Right now, I am just displaying both in simple lists (using the new ListView control, also very nice), but I will be spiffing it up and adding some additional functionality soon.

Now, since my day job involves working with XML most all of the time, I am very tempted to bring some of my existing code into the world of LINQ to XML.

For more information on LINQ, check out Scott Guthrie's LINQ related posts.

Additional LINQ Links:

By Bryan at 12:18 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Key To Weight Loss

According to Jenny Hadfield and John Bingham, in their book Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running, weight loss is easy -- "Eat less. Move more." And of course, for most of us, they're right.

You already know that over the last couple of months I've really ramped up the consistency, quality, and effort of my workouts, but what I haven't talked too much about is how much better I've been eating. In fact, it's not just me, it's been a family effort. And believe it or not, we're not starving ourselves, and we even indulge in our favorite foods from time to time. (Moderation, not restriction is important!)

The key for us has been reducing our portions, not going back for seconds (usually), and watching out for the mindless snacking that can occur. It's also important to recognize your eating triggers. Additionally, we're focused on getting whole grains and lots of fruits and veggies in our diet. So far it's working. Since mid-November, I am down nearly 20 lbs. (Over the holidays, too!)

If you'd like more information on eating healthier, especially if you're also active, check out this list of nutrition articles on the Running Network.

One last thing--don't forget to drink plenty of water!

By Bryan at 5:34 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, January 7, 2008

Useful Running Links

Over the last couple of months, I've compiled a fair amount of useful links pertaining to Running specifically, and fitness in general. In case they might be of use to anyone else, here are a few of them:

  • Route Mapping Sites
    • MapMyRun - A  website that provides mapping tool based on Google Maps. The website also has a robust training log and a community forum.
    • RunningAHEAD - Similar to MapMyRun, RunningAHEAD features a running log and mapping tools, as well as a vibrant running community.
  • Running Articles
    • Runner's World - Companion site for the Runner's World magazine. Tons of useful articles, blogs, training programs, and training calculators.
    • Running Times Magazine - Resource for training plans, racing advice, road race rankings, guides to shoes, marathons, camps, etc.
  • Training Programs
    • Couch-to-5K - This is a pretty good beginner's program, and is the program I got started with.
    • Hal Higdon - The home of my current program, Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program, as well as much, much more.
    • Jeff Galloway - Former U.S. Olympian, author of top selling running books, and designed of the run-walk marathon training program.

By Bryan at 5:45 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, January 6, 2008

HH10K Training - Week 5, Day 7

Okay, this run was HARD...as hard as I've had so far. I know this is my long run, which means slow, but this was ridiculous...the wind was terrible. Ok, perhaps in light of the wind, I should've gone even slower. Here are my splits:

  • Mile 1: 10:22
  • Mile 2: 11:02
  • Mile 3: 12:03
  • Mile 4: 12:13
  • Mile 4.5: 6:20
  • Total: 52:02

I actually felt good going out on the first mile, like I was turning a nice slow time. I was surprised to see 10:20. My target pace was 11 min/mile, so I slowed down on mile 2 and was almost right on pace, at 11:02. Heading into mile 3, I felt good, then I felt the wind. And then I felt the wind while running uphill. I slowed way down to 12:03. Mile 4 was some more running into the wind, and uphill, and then head first into the wind (gusting to 28 mph), which was worst of all, even if it was relatively flat. I was actually surprised to see mile 4 come in at 12:13. At the beginning of the final half mile, I actually got a little pep in my step, though I tried not to speed up any, and by the time I was a quarter of a mile from the end, I was really struggling. Not surprising, the final half mile came in at 6:20. I am wiped out!

Temp at start of run was 70, wind S 18 G 26. A the end of the run, it was 71 degrees, and the wind was S 14 G 28. No wonder!

By Bryan at 2:42 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Comments Update

Just wanted to let you know that I am going to add Comments back in (as well as the Contact page), I just haven't gotten around to it just yet, as I'm still moving stuff over to the new web host. The good news is that everything is going very well, there's just a lot to move.

By Bryan at 12:12 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Friday, January 4, 2008

Site Update

Just a quick note to let everyone know that I am changing hosts. This site has already been moved, but some of my other sites have not (http://metaapps.com and http:/daneman.com) been moved.

Also, my new host supports version 3.5 of the .NET Framework as well as SQL Server 2005, so you can expect to see some new things popping up, or perhaps not, as they might mostly be behind the scenes. At any rate, if there's any problems with the site, I'd say hit the Contact page and let me know, but of course, I haven't added a Contact page into this latest site template (or comments, for that matter!). I guess I've got some work to do...

By Bryan at 7:09 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Fitness Update

Recently, I was perusing my workout log at MapMyRun.com, and decided to talk a little bit about the month of December, and what I was able to accomplish in what was my first full month of tracking my workouts and weight, as well as the first 4 weeks of Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program.

On December 1st, I ran the Jingle Bell Run. After completing the Couch-to-5K earlier that week, my goal was to not walk. My stretch goal was to finish in under 30 minutes. I met the first goal, but not the second, as my time was officially 31:30 (my watch clocked it in 30:59). I weighed in at 224 that morning. The next day, I went for an easy 5K recovery run/walk. On Monday, December 3, I began Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program. I weighed 223. My first run on the HH10K:Novice program was 2.5 miles, covered in 27:30, for an 11:00 min./mile pace, and a speed of 5.45 mph. The following week, I covered the 2.5 miles in 26:09, but I think that was on the treadmill, so we'll throw it out. In week 3, I covered the 2.5 miles in 24:40--outside--for a 9:52 pace per mile, and a speed of 6.08 mph. Also, this was my first out door run where I averaged less than 10 minutes per mile. Just two days later, I finished my 2 mile run in 19:29, with a 9:43 pace and 6.16 mph. Needless to say, I was very excited with my improvements. In week 4, on Christmas day, my 2.5 mile run moved up to a 3 mile run, but I turned in my best run yet: 3 miles in 28:46, for a 9:34 pace and a speed of 6.26 mph (on a very flat route, but still!). Most recently, I did my 3 mile run in 28:45, which is basically the same pace and speed as the previous week's 3 mile run, except that this was back home, on a much hillier route. But perhaps the thing I am most thrilled with is the progress of my long runs. From week one - week four, my pace has gone from 11:30 per mile to 11:01 per mile, while the distance has increased from 3 miles to 4 miles, and until now, I'd never run non-stop for more than 3.11 miles. Oh, as of this morning, my weight was 213!

As you can see, I've been making some pretty good progress with my fitness. I am nearing the end of Week 5 of the HH10K:Novice program, with 3 more weeks to go. My running is improving, conditioning is much improved, and I am feeling pretty damn good about all of this! I think it is fair to say that I am a runner.

By Bryan at 4:35 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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No Excuses

If you haven't seen this video, check it out now. It's a new commercial from Nike.

Given that this is the season of resolutions, and everyone is crowding into the gym, trying to live up to their resolutions, this commercial offers up a little something to remember when the excited, new phase of exercising wears off in another few weeks.

Also, here's a brief article about the commercial, and the athlete in it: No Excuses, Nothing But Net.

By Bryan at 3:33 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

HH10K Training - Week 4

Earlier this afternoon I wrapped up Day 7 of Week 4 of Hal Higdon's 10K Training Program for Novices. As always, here's the link to my workout log on MapMyRun.com. The first thing you'll notice when looking at my workout log for week 4 is that there was only one strength workout, and that came on a cross-training day. That in and of itself is no big deal, but typically, my strength training days are Mondays and Thursdays. Traveling away from home for the holidays caused the schedule to be changed, but I never missed a run, and I still exercised on all training days (just barely, if you count playing the Wii and Dance Dance Revolution on the XBox 360).

On Day 1 of Week 4, Julie and I went out for an easy 3.3 mile run/walk.

On Day 2, my run distance was increased for the first time from 2.5 miles to 3 miles. I did this run in the early afternoon of Christmas day. I have to admit, I was pretty pleased with the run, as it was the first time that I ran 3 miles outside in under 30 minutes (28:46 is the official time).

Day 3 was a travel day for us, and it turned into an easy cross-training day, consisting of playing the Wii (Wii Sports) and Dance Dance Revolution for the XBox 360. I probably burned about 200-300 calories playing DDR over the course of an hour.

Day 4 called for a 2 mile run and strength training. I got the run in, though it was hard! I guess 3 days of running on flat terrain sucked the life out of my legs when it was time to go back to running around the neighborhood. I did the 2 miles in 20:48, but never really felt comfortable. I didn't get the strength workout in, but I did get in another couple of hours of Wii Sports and Dance Dance Revolution (mostly DDR).

Day 5 is the day of rest in Hal's program, and rest I did. (I did put in another couple of hours of DDR and some time on the Wii).

Day 6 is a cross-training day on the schedule, but since I'd missed my last two strength training days, I decided to do that for my cross-training. I should mention that I've been battling a cold for the last week, and I started my workout in the morning, prior to having anything to eat. I completed my chest exercises, which were hard, and was nearly finished with my back exercises, when I had to stop. I was nauseous and just didn't feel right. Later in the night, I finished my workout, doing the rest of my back exercises, shoulders, and arms. Not a good day, physically.

As I've already mentioned, today was Day 7 of Week 4, which means that I went out for my 2nd of two 4 mile long runs (the first was last Sunday). Today's run felt good--really good, whereas last Sunday's run felt really hard, with Julie practically pulling me around for the first 2 miles. I was very glad that today was a good running day. Throughout the run, I actually felt like I was going too slow. Except for a couple of moments towards the top of some hills, I was able to maintain a breathing rate of every 3-4 steps. Here are my mile splits, though they are really estimates as the maps are a bit out of date for my neighborhood and I didn't have specific houses to zoom in on at the mile markers (total time should be pretty  accurate: 44:07):

  1. 10:34
  2. 11:01
  3. 11:20
  4. 11:10

As always, my runs include 5 minutes of walking to warm-up and at least 5 minutes of walking to cool-down.

All in all, I think week 4 was a good week, considering the travel for the holidays, the food for the holidays, and the general holiday excesses. On to week 5!

By Bryan at 7:28 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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HH10K Training - Week 3

Again, it's been awhile since my last update, but that doesn't mean that I've stopped training. In fact, today is Day 7 of Week 4 for me, which means that it is time for my long run. This week, my long run is 4 miles, as it was in Week 3. But since I haven't posted at all about Week3, you wouldn't have known that. So let me update you on Week 3...

In case you missed it in the last post, you can view my workout log from MapMyRun.com, with Week 3 starting on Monday, December 17th, and ending on Sunday, December 23rd. The highlights from the week include the Day 2 run (12/18). This was the first time I did a sub-25 minute 2.5 mile run outdoors, clocking it in 24:40. Another highlight was my Day 4 run of 2 miles which was my first sub-20 minute 2 mile run (not counting the first 2 miles of my previous 2.5 mile run), with a time of 19:29. During Week 3, we traveled to Houston to be with Julie's family for Christmas, so I rearranged my schedule slightly in order to better accommodate the travel. Instead of resting on Day 5 (Friday), I ran with Julie on her Couch-to-5K 25 minute run, and then we ran/walked another 25 minutes to get me to 50 minutes of "cross-training." With this change, Day 6 became my rest day, and our travel day. On Day 7 (12/23), I completed my scheduled 4 mile run. This is the longest distance I have ever run non-stop. I've probably done longer distances (by a little), but they were always of the run/walk variety. My time for the run was 44:45. Julie went with me on this run as part of her 25 minute run, and she probably kept the pace a little higher than what I should've been doing, or perhaps I just wasn't having a good day through the first half. By the time I hit the 3 mile mark, I was feeling good, and mile 4 ended up being the fastest of the day. Here are the mile splits:

  1. 11:35
  2. 11:05
  3. 11:24
  4. 10:41

One thing to note is that this was done in Friendswood, Tx, on a pretty flat route.

So there you have it, Week 3 of Hal Higdon's 10K Training Program: Novice. I'll post again after my 4-mile run today, with the details of week 4, or you can just check out my workout log.

By Bryan at 11:47 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

HH10K Training - Week 2

I know, I know...I am a little late with my updates--I actually completed Day 3 of Week 3 today! But this post is about Week 2 of Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program. Week 2 was the same as Week 1, except that the long run on Day 7 was upped from 3 to 3.5 miles. Otherwise, aside from putting in an extra 40 minutes of cardio on the elliptical machine after having a 3 margarita/Tex-Mex lunch, it all went as scheduled. Check out my workout log at MapMyRun.com.

One quick note: I think that the 3.5 mile run on Sunday (Week 2, Day 7) was my longest non-stop run ever, both in time and distance.

By Bryan at 6:20 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pardon The Mess

Hey folks, as you've surely noticed by now, I am rearranging things here. I've been itching for a new look for quite some time, and I've been wanting to implement some new features of this sites blog engine, metaBlog, so I figured that there was no better time to work on it, than on my end of year vacation. So please pardon the mess for the next few days.

By Bryan at 1:11 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Sunday, December 9, 2007

HH10K Training: Week 1, Days 4-7

Looks like I've got a little catching up to do again. I finished Week 1 of Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program this morning, but before I get into that, let me cover days 4 through 7:

Week 1, Day 4

Week 1, day 4 called for a 2 mile run and strength training, so I knew that this would be a really good workout. I started off with my two mile run, using the treadmill. Here are some stats:

  • Warm up: 5:04 (walking)
  • Mile 2: 10:18
  • Mile 3: 10:32
  • Cool down: 3:01 (walking)

Total distance covered was 2.51 miles.

The strength portion of the workout was an upper body circuit workout. The workout is based on a strength workout from Body for Life, where you work chest, back, shoulders, triceps, and biceps, doing 4 sets of each with increasing effort and diminishing repetitions. What this means is that for each body part, you do 12, 10, 8, and 6 rep sets, with the effort level required for each set increasing from 5, 6, 7, and finally to 8, on a scale of 1-10. In the original program, you follow the 6 rep set with two back-to-back sets of 12 with an effort level of 9 and 10. Also, you are supposed to rest 1 minute after each of the first 4 sets, and then 2 minutes after the back-to-back sets. The modification I made to this is dropping the back-to-back sets, and instead of doing all of one body part at a time before moving on to the next body part, I went through 1 set for each body part, without resting any longer than it took to move to the next station, for a complete circuit. I did 4 circuits, starting with 12 reps for each set, and working down to 10, 8, and 6 reps with each additional circuit, while increasing the effort level (in this case, increasing the weight). Between each circuit, I rested for 1 minute.

Week 1, Day 5

Rest day! I did clean the house, which took some effort and is definitely work, but we can hardly count that, right? I'll be honest, taking a day off was a little tough, but it was nice, and needed.

Week 1, Day 6

Week 1, day 6 called for 40 minutes of cross-training. The plan was to do 40 minutes of cardio, and to get a good choice of equipment, I did this workout at the gym. Here's the breakdown of the workout:

  • 10 minutes on the bike at various resistance levels, always trying to spin at about 100 RPMs.
  • 10 minutes on the elliptical cross-trainer, doing 2 minute intervals, changing the resistance and crossramp levels to increase or decrease the effort required.
  • 20 minutes on the treadmill, doing a combination of walking at increased elevation, and slow jogging at increased elevation (basically 1 minute hill repeats, with 1 minute walking recovery).

Week 1, Day 7

Here we are, the last day of week 1. Today was my "long" run. I say "long," because it was a relatively short 3 miles, though it is still about the furthest I've run at one time. Hal says to run the long runs nice and slow, so that's what I did:

  • Warm up: 5:04 (walking)
  • Mile 1: 11:29.46
  • Mile 2: 11:16.45
  • Mile 3: 11:45.79
  • Cool down: 2:32.80 (walking)
  • 10 minutes of stretching

I did this run outside. Did I mention that a cold front came through last night and that the temperature was 38 degrees during my run, with a stiff wind out of the north? Overall, it was a good run.

So now you know the rest of the story of week 1. (Oh, I also dropped 3 lbs. this week.) On to week 2!

By Bryan at 2:02 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

HH10K Training - Week 1, Days 1 - 3

As you know, I've decided to use Hal Higdon's novice 10K Training Program as my next running program. This evening, I finished up Week 1, Day 3, so I've got a little catching up to do.

Week 1, Day 1

Day 1 calls for stretching and strengthening, so I went to the gym. I warmed up for 10 minutes on the elliptical cross-trainer, and then proceed to do a lower body strength workout--the first since before starting the Couch-to-5K Running Program.  Needless to say, I am sore now.

Week 1, Day 2

Day 2 calls for a 2.5 mile run. According to Hal, this run should be done at a fairly easy pace. Julie decided to run this with me, at least as much as she could, with the dog. We just did a half mile loop around the block 5 times, with an additional half mile warm-up and a half mile cool-down. Here are my running splits:

  1. 5:46.41
  2. 5:52.61
  3. 5:39.41
  4. 5:43.60
  5. 4:28.61

As you can see, I stayed fairly steady for the first two miles (I did feel like I went out a little fast in lap 1, and probably overcompensated in lap 2). In lap 5, I was determined to pick up the pace, and went around in a faster, but still comfortable pace, for the first 4/5 of the lap. However, in the final turn and straightaway, I went about as fast as my legs and lungs would take me. All in all, considering the soreness that I felt in my legs from Day 1's strength workout, I felt good about this run.

Week 1, Day 3

Tonight was Day 3, which meant 30 minutes of cross-training. Hal allows just about anything for cross-training, as long as it isn't too intense. I chose to hop on the elliptical cross-trainer for 30 minutes. Got a nice sweat and burned about 440 calories. Not too bad.

By Bryan at 10:46 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

What's Next?

Now that I've finished the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, and have competed in my first timed 5K, what's next? In previous posts, I've talked about how I've run off and on over the last few years for fitness, but I've never really enjoyed it. Since starting the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, I've found myself enjoying running more and more--to the point of counting down the hours to my run on training days (and not because it also meant leaving work!). Over the last couple of weeks, I began to research other running programs. In the back of my mind, I started to get the notion that maybe I could do a 10K, so I focused in on 10K training programs, of which there are many.

After all of my research, I seemed to keep coming back to the same 3 plans-- Hal Higdon's 10K Training Program, both the Novice and Intermediate program, and the FIRST to the Finish 10K Training Program, from the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST). I also briefly entertained Hal Higdon's intermediate 5K Training Program. I liked that Hal's intermediate programs, along with the FIRST program, introduced different types of training runs, such as intervals, and tempo runs, and I liked the amount of miles that they would have me putting in. Initially, I was concerned that Hal's novice 10K wouldn't have me putting in enough miles. But at the end of the day, I think that I still need to continue building my endurance base, and I'm only now approaching 10 miles per week (the intermediate programs and the FIRST program call for a lot more miles right off the bat). I also like that Hal's novice program won't leave me so wiped out that I would start skipping strength training. In fact, the novice plan includes two strength training days per week. So Hal Higdon's Novice 10K Training Program is the answer to "What's Next?"

The training program part of "what's next?" has been answered, but what about racing? While the Cowtown 10K is what got me researching 10K training programs, I've pretty much decided that I will run the Cowtown 5K, and not the Cowtown 10K (both are put on as part of the Cowtown Marathon), so that is the next race currently on the schedule. The Cowtown 5K is at the end of February, so that gives me plenty of time to train. After that, I'll do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in late April. Along the way, I expect to do some smaller 5K races around town, but have no specific plans as of yet.

By Bryan at 10:07 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Jingle Bell Run 5K Results

Whew...that was tough, but fun! First of all, our team, The Frosties, ended up raising $1225 for the Arthritis Foundation, which is $225 over our goal. My personal total was $415, which was $75 under my goal, but that's okay, as I am thrilled with our group total. Now on to the race...

The clock at the finish said 31:15, but I haven't seen the official results yet. The time on my watch was right at 31:00, so hopefully my chip time will be close to that. Like most new runners, I made the mistake of going out too fast. I finished the first mile in 9:30, but I ran most of it at a faster pace--I looked down at my watch a few blocks from the 1 mile mark and noticed my time was between 8-8:30 minutes. Needless to say, I slowed down some, but probably not enough, or perhaps it was already too late. At any rate, my time in mile 2 was a little over 10:00. I got to where the route on Map My Run said mile 2 should be, so I hit the lap button on my watch. About a block later, I saw the official sign. I have no idea what mile 3 was, as I never saw the sign, and was much too focused on finishing as strong as I could. Speaking of finishing strong, I tried to pick up the pace at various points in the final mile, but just couldn't maintain anything. However, in the final stretch (last several blocks), I was finally able to pick up the pace. Then I saw the boys and my Dad, and from then on, I went as hard as I could--I even passed several people in the final block (that felt really good!).

Now it's time to figure out the next training plan. I think that I will start working towards 10K, so that goal will provide some direction.

Thanks to all my fellow Frosties, and to everyone that supported us in the Jingle Bell Run 5K for the Arthritis Foundation (it's not too late to donate).

Stopwatch Times (plus 10 - 12 seconds as I hit the wrong button on my watch:

  • Mile 1: 9:15
  • Mile 2: 19:15
  • 5K: 30:44

By Bryan at 10:38 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 9, Day 3

I just finished the final run in the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, and I don't think I could've asked for a better finish! The route was around the neighborhood, basically this route: http://www.mapmyrun.com/run/united-states/tx/keller/354491313, but in reverse, and I didn't start my run until I hit the 3 mile marker on that map (don't worry, I did my 5 minute brisk walk first). The temperature was probably in the upper 50s with a good wind out of what felt like the west/northwest. Here are the details:

Mile Splits:

  • 1st Mile: 10:10:53
  • 2nd Mile: 10:08:90
  • 3rd Mile:  9:38:76
    (and an additional .02 mile in the remaining 0:10:43 seconds until I hit 30 minutes of running.)

Additional Notes:

  • Average Pace: 9:56/mile
  • Average Speed: 6.04 mph
  • I didn't set out to do negative splits, but I am pleased that is how it turned out! (Okay, I did speed up in the final quarter mile.)

Jingle Bell Run 5K, here I come!

By Bryan at 9:24 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Jingle Bell Run 5K for the Arthritis Foundation

Just three more days until the Jingle Bell Run 5K! This evening, I'll head out on my final training run, Week 9, Day 3 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. I can't decide if I should take it easy on my run today, push it a little and go for negative splits again, or perhaps just even splits. I am leaning towards an easy run, with even splits. The one thing I do know, is that I am really glad that I used a running plan to prepare for this 5K. Without a plan, I would probably have been all over the place and likely would've over-trained.

For those of you who have supported me in my effort to run the Jingle Bell Run 5K, thank you! Your words of encouragement and your donations mean a lot. Personally, I am less than $150 from my fundraising goal of $500. I don't know that I'll make it, but that's okay, because our team has surpassed its fundraising goal of $1000! As of this moment, we've raised $1155 for the Arthritis Foundation, and we're not done yet.

If you haven't made a donation yet, please visit my donation web site and help support the fight against Arthritis!

By Bryan at 2:08 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 9, Day 2

Well, here I am in the final week of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. I finished up day 2 yesterday, and like the rest of week 9, day 2 calls for a 5-minute brisk walk, followed by 30 minutes of running. This  run was done outside, using a 1/2 mile loop in the neighborhood. The temperature was in the upper 40s, with no precipitation. With this run, I wanted to try doing negative splits, and pace myself for a strong final mile, and ideally all 3 miles in under 30 minutes.

I started off nice and slow (too slow, really), but was able to pick up the pace with each subsequent lap. Unfortunately, my start was slow enough that I didn't make it in under 30 minutes, but I came really, really close. On the bright side, I succeeded in doing all negative splits. Here are the details from yesterday's run:

Splits (.5 mile, in minutes:seconds):

  • Lap 1: 5:40:15
  • Lap 2: 5:18:14
  • Lap 3: 5:10:81
  • Lap 4: 5:05:58
  • Lap 5: 4:41:28
  • Lap 6: 4:38:02 (4:16:10 running + 0:21:92 walking after my 30 minutes ended)

Additional Details (running portion):

  • Distance Covered: 2.98 miles
  • Duration: 30:00
  • Avg. Speed: 5.96 mph
  • Avg. Pace: 10:04/mile

There's one more run left for me in the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, Day 3 of Week 9. I'll be doing that run tomorrow, and then taking it easy Thursday and Friday, then the Jingle Bell Run 5K is on Saturday. Wish me luck!

By Bryan at 8:39 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 9, Day 1

I woke up to the sound of rain this morning, with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30s. I wasn't sure if I'd get this run in today, or if perhaps I'd at least need to wait until we returned home later in the day and hit the treadmill at the gym. As luck would have it, the rain eventually let up, and I was convinced that a route through my Mom's neighborhood would work just fine for Week 9, Day 1 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. So I set out mapping my route, and was able to get a nice .67 mile loop. Improperly bundled up, I headed out (note: when the temperature is in the 30s, just wear the hat and gloves).

Week 9, Day 1 requires a 5 minute brisk walk, followed by 30 minutes of running, for a total duration of 35 minutes. Using Map My Run, the total distance convered is estimated to be 3.37 miles. Here are the details: 

Running Splits:

  • Lap 1: 6:36
  • Lap 2: 6:37 (13:07)
  • Lap 3: 6:45 (19:52)
  • Lap 4: 6:54 (26:46)
  • Final 3:14 covered roughly .3 mile.

Additional Details (total workout):

  • Distance Covered: 3.37 miles
  • Duration: 35:00
  • Avg. Speed: 5.78 mph
  • Avg. Pace: 10:23/mile

Additional Details (running portion of workout):

  • Distance Covered: 3.04 miles
  • Duration: 30:00
  • Avg. Speed: 6.08 mph
  • Avg. Pace: 9:52/mile

By Bryan at 3:41 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 8, Day 3

Since we're out of town for Thanksgiving, this run was a little different from my previous runs, and I don't have the same stats. This run was done at Coggin Park in Brownwood, TX, which has a loop around it that is supposed to be 3 laps = 2 miles. Armed with this knowledge, I set out for Week 8, Day 3 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. In the 33 minute duration (walk + run), I did 5.25 laps. During the running phase I covered 4.75 laps in 28 minutes. If the distance is accurate, then this was a heck of a run. By the way, according to my car prior to the run, the temperature outside was 37 degrees, and then I discovered a really nice wind once I got out of the car.

Running Lap Times:

  • Lap 1: 6:13
  • Lap 2: 5:56 (12:09)
  • Lap 3: 6:06 (18:15)
  • Lap 4: 6:09 (24:23)
  • Finish: 3:37 (28:00)

By Bryan at 3:16 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 8, Day 2

So Week 8, Day 2 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan is in the books. I just finished it up about 20 minutes ago. Since Sunday's poor outdoor run, I've decided to run as much of the remaining days outside. Today was no exception. I will say that today's run felt much better than Sunday's run, and I think the times support that. Here are my splits:

  • Mile 1: 11:46
  • Mile 2: 21:28
  • Mile 3: 32:20
  • 5K: 33:36

Additional details:

  • Distance Covered: 3.05 miles
  • Duration: 33:00
  • Avg. Speed: 5.55
  • Avg. Pace: 10:49

Notes:

  • Split times include initial 5 minute walk, which covered approximately .33 mile.
  • Ran Heritage 5K Alternate 2
  • Ran with new Thorlos socks--they felt really good.
  • Stiff wind out of the south...was tough during exposed east/west parts of course and when heading into it, of course.
  • This run felt a lot better than Sunday's run

By Bryan at 7:39 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 8, Day 1

So yesterday was my first 28 minute run (Week 8, Day 1 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan), and I ran it outside...

Here's the route: Sunday's Run (click on the "Display Elevation" checkbox on the left-hand side).

I started my run a little before 10 AM yesterday morning, with the temperature in the low 70s and what seemed like pretty high humidity, along with 7-10 mph wind. In short, my time sucked! After walking the first 5 minutes right at a 4 mph pace, I intentionally tried to keep the pace down early, as I am notorious for going out too fast. While on the route, I wasn't sure of the distance covered during the walk, but I estimated it to be around .33 mile, so I calculated the approximate time that I should hit the 1 mile marker if I went at a 6 mph pace--I was a little off, but not too bad. I hoped that I would be able to at least maintain that pace or perhaps pick it up some over the rest of the run, and turn in a decent time. As I continued on to mile marker 2 and 3, I fell further and further off the pace. Actually, I didn't hit mile marker 3 before my time was up (I came up a tenth of a mile short). Here are the stats:

Week 8, Day 1 (5 min walk + 28 min run)

  • Distance Covered: 2.9 miles
  • Duration: 33:00
  • Avg. Speed: 5.27
  • Avg. Pace: 11:22

Not an inspiring run. While disappointed, I didn't feel too bad about it after looking at the elevation of the run--the hills definitely killed me. Also, I didn't eat or drink anything prior to my run, which was probably not the best idea. Now, I'd like to get back on the treadmill just to see what I can do in there, but I really think I need to do the rest of my runs outside.

By Bryan at 11:38 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 7, Day 3

Here are the details from yesterday's run:

Workout Time: 30:00 Minutes (5 minute brisk walk, 25 minute run)
Workout Distance Covered: 2.97 Miles
Workout Pace: 10:06/mile

5K Time: 32:01 (continued brisk walk at end of workout until 5K)
5K Pace: 10:18/mile

Details: This run was Day 3 of Week 7 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. As with all runs in the C25K plan, this one began with a 5 minute brisk walk, which I did at a 4 MPH pace. Following the walking, I ran the following pace:

  • 6.1 MPH for 5 minutes
  • 6.2 MPH for 5 minutes
  • 6.3 MPH for 5 minutes
  • 6.4 MPH for 5 minutes
  • 6.5 MPH for 5 minutes

I then walked at 4 MPH to cool down.

I picked the pace up slightly from my last run, and felt good throughout most of the run. The final 10 minutes (@ 6.4 and 6.5 MPH) were a little tougher, but I was able to finish without struggling and with good form. This was the final run of week 7. Week 8 consists of 3 runs of 28 minutes in length. I plan on doing the first run at 6 MPH. Does anyone think I should slow things down a little more?

By Bryan at 10:02 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 7, Day 2

Here are the details from yesterday's run:

Workout Time: 30:00 Minutes (5 minute brisk walk, 25 minute run)
Workout Distance Covered: 2.93 Miles
Workout Pace: 10:14/mile

5K Time: 32:30 (continued brisk walk at end of workout until 5K)
5K Pace: 10:28/mile

Details: This run was Day 2 of Week 7 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. As with all runs in the C25K plan, this one began with a 5 minute brisk walk, which I did at a 4 MPH pace. Following the walking, I ran at 6 MPH for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes at 6.1 MPH, 5 minutes at 6.2 MPH, 4 minutes at 6.5 MPH, and finally 30 seconds at 7 MPH, and 30 seconds at 7.5 MPH. I then walked at 4 MPH to cool down.

I intentionally slowed things down for this run, as I was just too worn out at the end of my previous two 25 minute runs. At the end of this workout, I felt very good. The final minute was hard, but not overly so. I've got one more 25 minute run in week 7, then it's on to week 8 (28 minute runs).

By Bryan at 2:42 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Couch-to-5K: Week 7, Day 1

Here are the details from yesterday's run:

Distance: 3.1 Miles
Time: 31:19 Minutes
Pace: 10:05/mile

Details: This run was Day 1, Week 7 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. It begins with a 5-minute brisk walk, followed by a 25 minute jog. I ran on the treadmill, and walked at 4 MPH, followed by 10 minutes at 6.5 MPH, 5 minutes at 6 MPH, 3 minutes at 6.5 MPH, 3 minutes at 6 MPH, 30 seconds at 6.5 MPH, 30 seconds at 7 MPH for the next 3 minutes, finishing up with 20 seconds at 6.5 MPH, 20 seconds at 7.0 MPH, and 20 seconds at 7.5 MPH. I then walked at 4 MPH to cool down, and noted my time at 3.1 miles.

By Bryan at 2:47 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Running For Fitness And For Charity

Over the last few years I've been an on-again, off-again runner (really jogger), as part of my normal exercise routine. I would go through phases were most of my cardio work was running, and phases were none of my carido work was running. In that time I even entered a 5K (Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in the spring of 2006). Since this past spring, I've done a pretty even mix of running and other forms of cardio, such as the elliptical cross-trainer. However, in the last several weeks, I've turned almost 100% to running, as I train for the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run/Walk. (By the way, if you're in the D/FW area, and would like to participate, please join our team, the Frosties.)

The program I'm using to prepare myself is the Couch-to-5K Running Plan from Cool Running. The Couch-to-5K Running Plan is a 9-week program intended to get folks from the couch to the finish line of a 5K. While I already had a decent fitness foundation, I'd say that the program is very good. I am on day 2 of week 7, and can see a vast improvement in my fitness level, especially my endurance and ability to recover. In fact, I am on the cusp of getting hooked into running, and am considering the possibility of perhaps a 10K next year. But first, I'll keep working on building up my base, increasing my endurance, and hopefully my speed will follow.

If you've been looking for an easy-to-follow fitness program that's put together with a beginner in mind, but can easily be tailored to suit your own personal level of fitness, the Couch-to-5K Running Plan is a good one.

By the way, I am over halfway to my goal of $500 raised for the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run. Please help, if you can, or join us for the run/walk. Also, my team, The Frosties, is 67% of the way to its goal of $1000! Thanks to everyone that is already supporting us.

By Bryan at 1:35 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

By The Way, We're Married!

Reception007 In case you were interested in how that whole Project 18,253 stuff is going, I thought I'd give you a little update--WE'RE MARRIED!

Julie and I got married on May 27th, at the historic YWCA in downtown Fort Worth. We then honeymooned in lovely Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The wedding ceremony was perfect and the reception was a blast. The honeymoon was probably the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken.

For those of you that don't know, we had an interfaith ceremony, featuring both a rabbi and a Methodist Minister. Our ceremony was written for us by the rabbi, and then tweaked a little bit by us and the minister, resulting in an inclusive ceremony which honored both Jewish and Methodist traditions.

I'll get some pictures up soon, I promise.

By Bryan at 2:39 AM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Goodbye Molly

Goodbye Molly

Three weeks ago yesterday, I took our dog, Molly, to her vet to have a small lump on the side of her head checked out. Two days later we learned that it was axial osteosarcoma, and that it was fairly advanced. Within days, the lump, which was now officially a tumor, had grown to the size of a tennis ball, and continued to grow over the next couple of weeks. Eventually the bad days started to outnumber the good days, and yesterday, Julie and I took Molly back to the vet.

Goodbye Molly. You were a great dog, and we will miss you.

By Bryan at 3:25 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Blogging At InterfaithFamily.com

Sometime last fall, Julie and I came across the InterfaithFamily.com website. At that time, in addition to all of the great articles, they also had a couple of blogs. As we were reading through the blogs, we noticed that they had a call out for anyone having an interfaith wedding in 2007, who would be interested in blogging about it. After talking it over for a while, we decided that blogging about our upcoming wedding would be something that we'd like to do, especially if it helped us and others work through some of the issues surrounding the planning of an interfaith wedding, and interfaith marriage.

So, we filled out their form, and awaited a reply. If memory serves, weeks went by without a word from them. Finally, we got an email asking if we were still interested, and would we be able to talk on the phone. After a few missed connections, and as it was starting to seem like this just wasn't going to happen, I sent them a copy of a story Julie and I wrote for our department's monthly newsletter (read Our Hanukkah Story), and reminded them that we were still very interested in blogging for them.

As luck would have it, after receiving the email, along with our story, they decided that they didn't need to talk to us first, that it would be okay for us to just start blogging...and blogging we have! You can read all about our upcoming interfaith wedding at the InterfaithFamily.com's Weddings Blog.

By Bryan at 9:34 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

The 1st Annual Tequila & Salsa Party

Last night, Julie and I hosted the 1st Annual Tequila & Salsa Party. We came up with the concept for this party on New Year's Eve, when we were discussing homemade salsas and drinking Patron with some like-minded friends. The idea is simple, really...everyone is encouraged to bring their own homemade salsa or bring a jar of their favorite salsa, and bring tequila for sipping and/or mixing. Including ourselves, we had 9 people in attendance, and it seems like everyone had a great time. Here's what we had at the party:

Tequila

  • 1800 Silver
  • Sol Dios Platinum
  • Milagro Reposado
  • Patron Anejo
  • Sauza Blanco
  • Tres Generaciones Anejo
  • Jose Cuervo Classico

Salsa

  • Chunky Tomato Salsa (mild)
  • Chipotle Salsa (medium)
  • Mango Salsa
  • Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (medium-hot)
  • Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa (medium)
  • Roasted Tomato, Poblano, Garlic, and Lime Salsa (medium)
  • Roasted Tomato and Poblano Salsa (medium-hot)

Food

  • Beef Tacos
  • Brisket Tacos
  • Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
  • Tortilla Soup
  • Mexican Corn Dip
  • Sopapilla Cheesecake
  • Guacamole

The salsas were excellent, as was the tequila, food, and the company. We will definitely be doing this one again.

By Bryan at 8:02 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Friday, December 1, 2006

'Tis The Season...

Here are a couple timeless pieces, just in time for the "Christmas in the workplace" season:

I Am In A Funk and Holiday Update

By Bryan at 11:22 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, October 6, 2006

Daneman.com

Hey family, I've finally updated Daneman.com so that you can have your own blog, photo album, and message board.

My new family blog is at Daneman.com/blogs/bryan. Enjoy.

By Bryan at 4:13 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Friday, August 4, 2006

She Said...

"YES, YES, OF COURSE!!!"

Details to follow.

By Bryan at 1:12 AM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

A Mother's Blessing

Sunday evening, after talking to Julie's dad, I emailed her mother expressing a desire to speak with her as well. We finally caught up with each other yesterday.

The conversation went really well, important things were discussed, insight was provided (I'm not telling what or by whom ;-)), and a blessing was given.

I am very happy at how this has gone, and glad that talking to her parents about this is behind me -- I was sooo nervous!

Now, if I can just wait another 22 hours or so!

[Editor's Note:This post was kept private until after the proposal.]

By Bryan at 11:28 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Father's Blessing

When Julie and I first started discussing the future, she asked that before I propose I do one thing -- talk to her Dad. I assured her that I would, and that I planned to do this even if she hadn't asked.

I definitely wanted to talk to him in person, but because her parents live in Houston and we're in Fort Worth, I knew that might be difficult. The first time I thought about talking to him was when they came up the weekend of Mother's Day, but I wasn't ready to propose, and I didn't want him to be burdened with the secret for a month or more. My second opportunity came when we went down to their beach house for the 4th of July, but as you know from my earlier post, that place was packed, the opportunities for privacy were very limited, and again, I didn't want him to have to keep the secret for a month or more. This was still okay, as I had a plan.

I knew that I'd get another chance in August, when we headed down to Houston for Julie's high school reunion. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that her Dad will not be in town that weekend! Not knowing when I'd get down there next, that pretty much ended my hope of talking to him in person. On to plan B.

I had his email address, but I didn't have any phone numbers. So I emailed him a short note saying that I had hoped to visit with him in person next weekend, but since he wouldn't be there, that I'd like to visit over the phone when it was convenient for him, and of course, I asked for a phone number. This was on Friday, right before taking Julie to the airport...I didn't get a reply until almost noon today...imagine how nervous I was with each hour that went by without a reply!

In the end, it worked just as I had hoped. He suggested that I call the house after the women left to go see The Lion King, which I did. We had a really good chat, and man was he prepared! Fortunately, so was I, and at the end of the call, we graciously gave his blessing.

Now the really tough wait begins. The countdown until Thursday!

[Editor's Note:This post was kept private until after the proposal.]

By Bryan at 4:13 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Picking It Up

After selecting the ring yesterday, Mike told me to go by the store after 2 PM on Saturday (today) and ask for Van. So Jacob and I headed over to Southlake a little after noon, browsed the local Barnes and Noble until about 2:30, at wich time we headed over to Village Jewelers to see Van. He had it all ready to go. It's beautiful!

Jacob was very interested in what we were doing there, but I kept him distracted while I looked at the ring. I just didn't know if he could be trusted with this information for several days. As we were walking back to the car, I just couldn't contain myself, so I stopped and asked if he could keep a really, really, big secret for a week or so -- of course he said that he could, so I showed it to him. "Oooh that's pretty!" were his exact words. Then I had to explain to him what the ring was for. He gave me a huge hug. :-D

So now we're back at the house, and I am still working on talking to her Dad. I just hope I can wait until the day that I've planned to do this...the ring is burning a hole in my pocket, I am so excited!

[Editor's Note:This post was kept private until after the proposal.]

By Bryan at 3:53 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Friday, July 28, 2006

It's Time

Julie is going to Houston this weekend to see "The Lion King" musical with her Mom, sister, and oldest nephew. I've been waiting for this weekend for quite a while, as it is the perfect chance for me to go back over to Village Jewelers and pick out the ring.

When we were at Village Jewelers a couple of weeks ago, we (she) picked out several different settings, with most falling into two categories, and any of them would have been a good choice. Then we saw THE ONE...it was one of the very last rings we looked at, and it was perfect. Not only did I think so, but I could tell by how her face lit up that she thought so too -- a simple solitaire in white gold. All that's left is to pick out the stone.

One issue to work through is that the boys are still with me through this weekend, and one or both will likely have to go with me. I am not sure that they can keep this secret!

Also, I've got to talk to her Dad. It's what she wants, and it is what I planned to do all along.

[Editor's Note:This post was kept private until after the proposal.]

By Bryan at 2:55 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Monday, July 24, 2006

Jacob's Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated Jacob's 6th birthday. My how time flies! If he's 6, then that means that I am coming up on 5 years with my current employer--yikes! That also means that it's been 5 years since I left Colorado. Wow...

Anyway, back to the birthday... The family all got together at Crystal's Pizza and Spaghetti for some pizza, arcade games, and cake. We used to go to Crystal's (different location) all the time growing up, and I thought it would be cool to have his party there. (It was fun, but not quite the same as when I went as a kid.) One of the more entertaining moments from the party was when those of us who ate part of the road (he had a "Cars" cake, which had a black icing road through the middle of it) realized just how black that icing really was.

Here I am after eating some of the black icing.

By Bryan at 4:10 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Catching Up

Hey folks...I'm just sorting through all that's gone on since the last post. It's been uneventful for the most part.

The trip to Boston for Tech-Ed was a lot of fun, though Tech-Ed itself was a little lacking. When I wasn't in a session, Julie and I could be found walking all over Boston, checking out all of the sights. We did the Freedom Trail, we did the Public Garden, Boston Common, the North End, U.S.S. Constitution, churches and more churches, MIT, Harvard, rode the "T", and even took the commuter train out to Lincoln to visit an old roommate. All in all, a very good trip.

Over the 4th of July weekend, Julie and I took the boys down to her parent's beach house. It was packed (the house, that is) -- 11 people and 2 dogs! The people broke down like so: 6 adults and 5 children, ages 2 1/2 to 6 years old, and all boys. We did finally get out on the water for a little shark fishing, though we didn't catch one. I did, however, catch a ribbon fish and a couple of speckled trout, though the trout got away.

The boys have been with me all month, which has been very nice, if not quite a bit hectic.

Oh, before I forget, I took Julie to see Les Miserables in Dallas for her birthday. This is one of her favorite shows, but it was the first time I had ever seen it. I really enjoyed it.

Well, that's it for now...

By Bryan at 10:23 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Browsing

Julie and I took a trip over to Village Jewelers today for a little browsing. We've been discussing things for quite some time, and the other day I asked her if she'd like to go look. At first she didn't want to (she wanted it to be a complete surprise), but later agreed.

We decided that she wasn't going to pick anything out, but that we'd look at different styles, and then I'd go back later, when the time was right, to make the final selection. Hmm...I wonder when that will be? All I know is that before I ask her, she wants me to ask her Dad -- which I was going to do anyway. :-D

[Editor's Note:This post was kept private until after the proposal.]

By Bryan at 12:11 PM , in Project 18,253 - Permalink
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Thursday, June 8, 2006

Tech-Ed
I know that there hasn't been much action here in the last...well...long time, and of my 3 faithful readers from the site's heyday, maybe one remains, but I thought you might like to know that I'm going to Tech-Ed. Julie is going, too, and we are both really looking forward to the trip. If you're going, shoot me a note via the Contact page.

By Bryan at 8:05 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Friday, May 5, 2006

Server Update

After a very long night, all of my sites have been migrated to a new host. If you don't mind, please let me know if you see anything weird going on with the site.

Thanks.

By Bryan at 2:09 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Web Site Downtime

It looks like I am in the market for a new hosting company (need ASP.NET 1.1, 2.0, and SQL Server 2000 or greater). I've been getting a great deal lately (free) at a major hosting company, but it appears that the hosting company is discontinuing their generosity. So, it is safe to say that there will be some downtime for this site as well as the other sites that I host. Here's a list of sites that will be affected by the move (these are my sites, there are others that will be affected, too -- I'll be in touch soon if your site is one of those):

By Bryan at 9:37 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Monday, March 6, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006
Julie and I went to Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL. It was an absolute blast! Check out some of the pictures.

This album is powered by BubbleShare - Add to my blog

By Bryan at 4:24 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Thursday, January 5, 2006

Texas Longhorns National Champions!!!

Texas defeats USC, the best football team ever (according to USCPN -- I mean ESPN), 41-38, in the Rose Bowl to win the National Title!!!!

Longhorns, HOLLA!!! Hook 'Em!!!

By Bryan at 12:02 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Jerry's Bars

My mom started making these for my uncle when he went away to college. Approximately 40 years later, she still makes them every year for his birthday.

2 tbsp butter
1 c brown sugar
1 c pecans, chopped
5-6 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Powdered Sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in 9x9 (13x9 if doubling) baking pan (in oven while preheating -- 2-3 minutes). Mix brown sugar, pecans, flour, and baking soda in bowl.

Beat eggs. Add brown sugar mixture and vanilla to eggs and stir to mix. Pour in the center of the baking pan. Do not stir.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Sprinkle powdered sugar on top using a strainer.

By Bryan at 10:51 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Saturday, December 10, 2005

Inside the Green Room at Billy Bob's

Went with a large group of Julie's friends to see the Eli Young Band at Billy Bob's last night. I really like their music, and this was my first chance to see them live -- they did not disappoint. One of Julie's friends is the bass players sister, and that allowed us to go backstage after the show to the Green Room -- that room is way cool! Many performers have signed the walls.

By Bryan at 1:36 PM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanksgiving

I had the boys for the week of Thanksgiving, and we had a great time. Thanksgiving Day was spent at my dad's house and then we dropped in on my mom's side of the family in the evening. The week ended with a trip to Krispy Kreme and a little hiking at the Fort Worth Nature Center.

By Bryan at 11:55 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Three-peat

With all this three-peat talk, I'd just like to point out the fact that LSU, not USC, was the BCS Champion two years ago. So when talking of USC going for three championships in a row, let's be clear and say that they are gunning for their 3rd AP championship in as many seasons, but only their second BCS title in the last 3 years.

By Bryan at 9:46 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Officiating Fiasco in South Bend

Can you believe this?

"I used all 200 pounds of my body to push Matt in," said Bush, who ran for 160 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns.

CBS Sportsline.com Article

Man, are those guys lucky! First, to have your QB fumble the ball out of bounds at the 1-yard line, stopping the clock, when had he held on to it and gone down, time would've expired, and then to try a QB sneak from the 1, get stopped, and then have your RB help push the QB into the endzone, without the officials seeing it, or at least without them caring. Isn't that supposed to be a 15 yard penalty?

By Bryan at 4:43 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Saturday, October 8, 2005

4:30 PM And ou Sucks!

What a day! For the first time in since before Jacob was born (2000), my Texas Longhorns have beaten ou in football (final score: 45-12). This has been such a long time coming, and how sweet it is. I am not sure what I feel more right now -- relief or joy. Certainly, I am happy for the win, but this year has a feeling like there is so much more -- this is not so much a season about a single win over a hated rival, as it is a season about every game being as big and as important as the next on the road to reaching the team's goals -- Big 12 South title, Big 12 Champion, and (fingers crossed) a Rose Bowl berth and victory. What a great day, Texas wins, but now it is time to focus on next week -- Colorado.

Hook'Em Horns!

By Bryan at 4:35 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Some Catching Up

I haven't posted in some time...let's see, March? Wow. Anyway, I guess that I've been pretty busy, though with what I am not sure. We did take a couple of days off back in early April to go camping at Inks Lake State Park with some friends (no kids).

I love camping, and had a lot of fun at Inks Lake. We hiked, canoed, hiked some more, stayed up late talking around the campfire, roasted marshmallows, toured a winery, saw a bald eagle, and just relaxed. I'll get some pictures up soon. I also went camping a couple of weeks later with Jacob. It was his first camping trip, so it was nothing fancy, just one night out with the same friends that went with us to Inks Lake (their kids were included this time as well). For this one night trip, we went to Lake Ray Roberts, just north of D/FW. No hiking, no canoeing, just hanging out, playing with the kids, and of course roasting marshmallows.

Other than the camping trips, it's pretty much been business as usual at both home and work. Oh, I nearly forgot, I bought a bbq smoker. Already my smoked briskets are a huge hit. I've even done a couple for a party at work, and now I have people asking to be notified of the smoking schedule so that they can bring me some meat to smoke. I'll get some pictures of it up soon.

By Bryan at 10:45 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Volcanoe's" to be shown after outrage"
According to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has decided to show the IMAX film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.

Museum Director Van Romans, with the blessing of the board of directors, reversed the museum's decision and said the film will open in Fort Worth "before summer." The film is already being promoted on the museum's Web site.

"We're going to show things that have scientific credibility, and people can make their own decisions," Romans said Wednesday. "That's a very personal choice. But we are a science and history institution. We have a responsibility to the public to share with them."

By Bryan at 7:55 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Volcanoes, Evolution, and Censorship

Carol Murray, director of marketing for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, said the museum decided not to offer the movie after showing it to a sample audience, a practice often followed by managers of Imax theaters. Ms. Murray said 137 people participated in the survey, and while some thought it was well done, "some people said it was blasphemous." In their written comments, she explained, they made statements like "I really hate it when the theory of evolution is presented as fact," or "I don't agree with their presentation of human existence."

I heard about this for the first time on my drive to work this morning. I quickly found a New York Times article on the subject, which is where the text above came from.

In all honesty, I was not likely to see this film, even if it was shown in Fort Worth. The fact that now I can't see it locally, due to the narrow minded views of some, really burns me up. The increasing power of religious fundamentalists scares me.

I am disappointed in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and I am embarrassed to live in such a narrow-minded community.

As I come across them, I will post additional links on this subject:
Imax Theaters Reject Movies Containing Evolution

By Bryan at 4:43 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Tuesday, March 8, 2005

My First Attempt at Making Chicken Piccata

I am a longtime fan of the magazine "Cook's Illustrated," as well as the accompanying television show, "America's Test Kitchen," and a recent subscriber to their website -- www.cooksillustrated.com. As such, I get the occasional email offer from them, usually for a new cookbook. In a recent email offer for their "Italian Classics" cookbook, they included a recipe for Chicken Piccata. I love chicken piccata, and have always wanted to fix it myself. I decided that this evening was as good a time as any to try it out.

After a quick trip to the store, I began my prep work. There really wasn't much to it -- minced a shallot and some parsley, sliced and juiced a couple of lemons, and rinsed off some capers. Then it was time to season and flour the thinly sliced chicken and cook it. About 15 minutes later it was ready, sauce and all. It was good, but a bit salty (probably my fault, but could be from the capers or the chicken broth). The family liked it, including my 4-year old (always a good sign).

If you're still reading, you're probably interested in the recipe. Unfortunately, I don't have a link to the recipe, but I'd be happy to forward the email with it to whoever wants it. Here it is: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipe.asp?recipeids=219 (might require free registration).

By Bryan at 8:09 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Comment Notification Turned Off

For the few of you that have commented on something here, you should know that I have turned off the notification mechanism that sends out an email whenever someone leaves a new comment for a post that you've commented on. I need to clean up the email message and make the notification opt-in, rather than on by default with no way to opt-out. That's all.

By Bryan at 10:07 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Sunday, March 6, 2005

New Coffee Maker
For quite some time, I've been looking at French Press coffee makers. I'd heard from many people that when done right, they make the best cup of coffee. Before I could take the plunge and put Mr. Coffee away for good, I had to overcome a few hurdles. Laziness, no tea kettle, no burr grinder, and of course no French Press.

There's no getting around my laziness, it is what it is. I figured I must simply bite the bullet, and see if French Press made coffee is worth the little bit of extra work. Today, I overcame the remaining hurdles and bought a tea kettle, a burr grinder, and a French Press. After getting home and washing everything, I set off on my coffee adventure.

The first step was bringing some water to a boil. With a tea kettle, this is trivial, and suprisingly fast. While the water was coming to a boil, I used my new burr grinder to grind some coffee beans into a nice coarse grind. This was trivial as well. The grinder that I got has a coarseness setting, as well as a capacity setting...I simply set those to things and press "Start" -- no holding down a button, and counting. By now the tea kettle was whistling, so I took it off the burner briefly while I measured the ground coffee into the French Press. (You want the water to be just south of it's boiling point). I then poured in the water and stirred, put the French Press lid on, making sure that the spout was not open, and let it brew for about 4 minutes. After four minutes of brewing, I pressed plunger down, filtering out the grounds, and poured the coffee into my favorite mug. That's it. The coffee was ready in around 10 minutes.

Now for the important question -- how's the coffee taste? In a word, delicious. It was worth the little bit of extra effort, and honestly, my laziness didn't even come into play. I've now put the Mr. Coffee away. I am sure it will make an appearance from time to time, but not often.

By Bryan at 3:05 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Chili Cook-off
At 4 PM yesterday afternoon, I decided to enter a chili cook-off that my department's social committee had organized as part of a Texas Independence Day themed pot-luck. Short notice, I know, but I knew I could work some magic in the kitchen. With such a short time-frame to work with, I didn't want to go the normal route of winging it completely, so I found a nice base recipe and then went to work.

The end result was nothing short of phenomenal. I let myself start thinking about winning the cook-off (though winning was not the goal when I entered, I am way too competitive to keep it from becoming THE goal). As the other entries arrived, and people in the department began sampling, my confidence grew. The feedback was excellent. Then came time for the judging.

There were three judges, and as far as I could tell, only one had any previous experience at doing this. Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for arrived. There was only to be the announcement of a winner -- no 2nd or 3rd place awards. However, the judges deviated from the rules and announced an honorable mention. This chili was voted #1 by one judge, while the eventual winner was tops with the other two. Mine was the honorable mention.

Disappointed? Yes, but I could live with it. I figured the winning chili must be pretty damned good. Wrong! I tasted it and had to choke it down. A coworker spit it out. Others mentioned it as having an "almost rancid" taste. How does this happen? How does one chili win out with 2 out of 3 judges, while losing out with nearly everyone else? I demand a recount, an investigation, bribes must've been handed out, favors had to have been called in, the winner must've had dirt on two of the judges! For the record, it was the judge with previous judging experience that picked mine as #1.

In the end, it was all good. My coworkers loved my chili. Who cares about the judges anyway. It isn't like there was some huge award for 1st place. My prize was a near perfect bowl of red, and the satisfaction of knowing my peers enjoyed it too.

Before I forget, I want to thank my kitchen staff. Without you, I might have won...just kidding.

By Bryan at 1:43 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Too Much Stuff
I've decided that I've got too much stuff here on my weblog...you know, Bryan's Weblog of Stuff? Anyway, it is time to shed some of it. Too many categories, too many links, too many arch...well, I guess the archives should stay. Perhaps I should create an archives page that lists all of the months, and then on the main page only show the last 12 months, with a link to "more..." Decisions, decisions.

By Bryan at 9:42 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Friday, February 11, 2005

Another TiVoToGo Web Server Url
The following Url provides a bunch of details on a specific recording:

https://<TIVO-IP-ADDR>/TiVoVideoDetails?id=xxxxxx

xxxxxx is the id of the recording you want information on.

By Bryan at 4:34 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Saturday, January 29, 2005

TiVoToGo Webserver Url's
Here are some of the known Url's for accessing content on your TiVo. (This only applies to TiVo's with the TiVoToGo update.):

  • https://<TIVO-IP-ADDR>/nowplaying/index.html (username:tivo password:<your media access key>)
  • http://<TIVO-IP-ADDR>/TiVoConnect?Command=QueryContainer
  • https://<TIVO-IP-ADDR>/TiVoConnect?Command=QueryContainer&Container=%2FNowPlaying
That's it for now.

By Bryan at 11:47 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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TiVoToGo
Well it's about damn time! Last night, both of my TiVos finally got the service update for TiVoToGo. Let's see, I only signed up on the priority list 4 weeks ago.

So now that I have it, what should I do with it? The obvious answer is transfer some shows from TiVo to my computer, which I started doing last night (Texas vs. Michigan in the Rose Bowl, if you must know). However, I hear that this update added a web server to TiVo, and that there are Urls to get at Xml feeds of the data. I say that it's time to start playing around with that. How about an RSS feed of what's on my TiVo? Ok, so maybe you don't care about what's on mine...

I'll let you know what I come up with.

By Bryan at 11:20 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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Friday, January 28, 2005

More Gmail Invites
Google has once again graced me with Gmail invites. If you are still in need, let me know.

By Bryan at 9:36 AM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

MusicMatch
I found a nice surprise waiting for me in my inbox last night. It was an email from MusicMatch letting me know that they had discontinued their Radio Platinum Subscription service. Sounds like bad news? Nah. The email went on to say that as a loyal Radio Platinum subscriber, I would be upgraded at no charge to their MusicMatch On Demand service.



  • Play: Instantly stream more than 800,000 songs
  • Discover: Browse popular tracks, and recommendations
  • Search: Power-search by genre, artist, album or track
  • Mix: Create playlists with MP3s, WMAs and On Demand tracks
  • Spin: Automatically build the ultimate playlist with AutoDJ
  • Save: Bookmark On Demand tracks in your library
  • Access: Tap in to the entire On Demand catalog from any PC
  • Share: Email playlists to friends so they can listen too - for FREE!

By Bryan at 9:35 AM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Friday, January 21, 2005

Lost in Translation
Looks like folks in Norway view the "Hook'em Horns" sign a little differently than us.

Saluting the Longhorns, or satan?

By Bryan at 12:03 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Monday, January 3, 2005

ou fans
I was watching one of the many College Gameday segments that's been on the last few days, and saw a shot from Miami. It was a horde of ou fans, with a number of them with their horns down.

Their team is in the national title game against USC, and yet they still do the horns down? Is this just because they have no sign of their own so they adopt a modified version of their hated rivals sign?  Or is it because even after 5 straight wins against Texas (mind you, Texas still leads the overall series by double digits), they still feel like they're fans of a second rate school, and are absolutely obsessed with Texas? It's almost cute, kind of like a little brother who is always trying to get the attention of their big brother.

I'd think that they'd be thinking of how close they are to a national title, and focusing their energy on the opponent still standing in their way.

I can never root for ou. Even last year, when a win by ou in the Big 12 Title Game would've likely put Texas in it's first BCS game, I found myself rooting for Kansas State. This season, I found myself being ok with not rooting for anyone in the title game, and just hoping for a good game, while wishing the best for all Big 12 schools. However, after seeing the idiot ou fans, I think that I might have to pull for USC.

By Bryan at 7:09 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Elliptical Cross Trainers
I am thinking of getting an elliptical cross trainer. Recommendations? Thinks to look out for?

Currently, I am looking at one of the models from Octane Fitness. Anyone else out there have experience with their products?

By Bryan at 5:27 PM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I'm An Uncle!
On Monday I became an Uncle. I now have a beautiful niece named Eliana. She is more perfect than the most perfect niece I could've imagined. I think every dad should have a little girl. Hmmm...

By Bryan at 4:33 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Thursday, December 9, 2004

DonorsChoose.org
While channel surfing this evening, I caught an interview on MSNBC with Charles Best, a high school teacher in the Bronx and the founder of DonorsChoose.

From the How it Works page of the DonorsChoose website:

The DonorsChoose model of citizen philanthropy begins with a teacher who wants to provide his or her students with an activity that school funds would not cover. At this website, the teacher can describe a student project and list the materials needed to make it possible.

DonorsChoose.org is not a bulletin board where teachers can directly post their proposals, however. Before accepting a proposal, DonorsChoose staff and volunteers verify the teacher's identity; confirm the existence of requested materials; negotiate discounts and attach a cost to the proposal; and, finally, review the proposed student project. If anything is unclear, staff email follow-up questions to the teacher.

Next, civic-minded individuals can browse teachers' submissions. A donor can make a tax-deductible contribution that fully or partially funds a chosen proposal.

In this, the season of giving, this site makes it easy to help out the future of our country.

By Bryan at 9:18 PM , in Education - Permalink
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Sprint PCS Customer Service Sucks
I was going to give you all the details of my recent two day ordeal in dealing with Sprint PCS Customer Service, but I've decide it was too long a story. Instead, I will warn you about them. If you having billing issues that are anything other than the simplest of issues, expect a nightmare. It is likely that the first person won't be able to help you, and it is possible that their supervisor will fail miserably as well. Our situation involved changing phone numbers and getting new phones. Our problem was being billed for the same period of time on both the old numbers and the new numberss (old #'s were disconnected and replaced with the new #'s, at no time did we have all the numbers active). The problem was made even more complicated due to the billing errors being spread over two billing cycles.

All I wanted was an adjustment for the errors. I've got no problem paying what I am supposed to pay, it isn't like I was seeking customer satisfaction credits (the first rep asked how much credit I was looking for when I asked for her supervisor, and went on to say that perhaps she could just issue a credit, how much do you want?). Another rep (this one a supervisor) tried issuing credits for all kinds of stuff that wasn't billed wrong, but failed to see that I was being double billed.

Anyway, I hope you never have complex billing issues with Sprint. If you do, go ahead and call in as soon as you get the bill and recognize the error, and climb the chain of command as far as you can above the first two levels. You might have to wait for a callback, which is why you shouldn't put off the initial call.

By Bryan at 3:46 PM , in Companies That Could Do Better - Permalink
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Monday, December 6, 2004

How About Now, Bill?
So now that the Cowboys are 4-8 5-7, and after Parcells' boy, Vinny Testaverde threw two critical 4th quarter interceptions (both of which led to Seahawk touchdowns), will he go with Drew Henson? If he does, will he let Drew finish a game, rather than yanking him in an attempt to secure a meaningless win?

I know that the defense self-destructed, I know that Quincy Morgan ran a terrible route on the second INT, I know Vinny threw a late TD on a broken play, and I wonder what the heck the OC was thinking in throwing the ball so much midway through the 4th quarter with a lead, when they'd been running so effectively, and I know they recovered an onside kick after the late touchdown (possibly blown by the replay booth officials, but if so, it was one of many blown calls -- going both ways, with equal impact) to keep hope alive. I also know that at some point you have to play for your teams' future, and not the present.

Considering that every win now likely just means a lower draft pick, not a playoff appearance, play the young guys. I am sure that Drew can go in and throw 2 INTs just as well as Vinny. Wouldn't the team be better off next year with him having more game experience under his belt heading in (unless Bill is already planning on Vinny being back as the [email protected]#*!&?!) In Vinny, you know what you are getting, a veteran QB, at the end of his career, who will lose as many games for you as he wins.

Then, along came Jones, Julius Jones -- 30 carries, 198 yards, 3 touchdowns, including the game winner from 17 yards out. By the way, with 33 yards on his final two carries -- also the final two offensive plays (that gained yards) of the game for Dallas, it appears that the OC finally realized the error of his previous pass happy play calling ways.

I still say start Drew.

(If it isn't obvious, I began this post after Vinny's second INT led to the Seahawks going up by 10, and finished it as time expired and the Cowboys up 43-39.)

By Bryan at 11:28 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Turkey Day!
I hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving holiday.

I'm heading down to Austin in a bit for some turkey with my sister and brother-in-law, and then some Texas football tomorrow afternoon.

By Bryan at 9:41 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, November 5, 2004

Happy Birthday Caleb!
It's hard to believe that a year has passed since we were blessed with Caleb's early arrival.

Every day offers something new...sounds that are starting to sound like real words beyond mamma and dadda, different reactions and facial expressions, interest in something he'd previously been oblivious too...the list goes on. I can't wait to see what the next year brings.

Kids...they take us on such a magical ride!

By Bryan at 11:21 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Thursday, November 4, 2004

Getting Things Done
Here it is, barely after lunch, and already I've completed a number of tasks today. This feels good. Lately, at work, I've been like a hamster running on it's wheel -- never really getting anywhere. Sure, I was head down working, but the things I've been working on had tasks spanning several days, or more. Finally, I've had a few things that were started and completed on the same day.

I think it is important that as many days as possible leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment. Otherwise, you feel stuck in a rut, or in my case, like you're running on a hamster's wheel.

By Bryan at 1:02 PM , in Day Job - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Verizon FIOS Service Installed!
Well, the install didn't exactly go smoothly, but I now have fiber installed all the way to the house. Fiber for my internet connection and fiber for the phone line (note: not VoIP).

I won't go into details on the difficulties during the install, I leave it at Verizon messed up, and it took an additional two days to make it right. To their credit, I will be getting a generous bill credit, and like the rental car commercial, they try harder.

My last speed test showed that I am getting the bandwidth that I am paying for, so that is good. Now I just need to see about getting the dynamic DNS functionality in the router they provide to work with my EasyDNS account.

By Bryan at 10:48 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Saturday, October 9, 2004

It's 2:23 AM...
...and ou still SUCKS!

By Bryan at 2:23 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Verizon FIOS
I placed my order yesterday for the FIOS service from Verizon (and for their phone service). For those of you not familiar with this service, it is fiber to the premises -- that means the connection from my house to the outside world is fiber. That's right, fiber all the way to my house. My internet connection will be over the fiber, as will my phone service. Sometime by mid-next year, I should be able to cancel my cable service, as Verizon will be offering TV over the fiber.

Needless to say, I am very excited about this! Once the install happens, I'll post again about the overall experience.

By the way, I ordered 15 MB down/2 MB up.

By Bryan at 3:13 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Netflix Etiquette
I've had a movie checked out now for about a month -- so far it has gone unwatched. I really should watch it, and I know that eventually I'll want to see it, but at the moment, I have absolutely no desire to watch it. So my question is this: how long do you let a movie sit unwatched before sending it back?

By Bryan at 6:58 PM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Wednesday, September 8, 2004

3 Years Later
Today is the 3-year anniversary of something I’d rather forget. It’s been 3 years since I left Colorado. Some of my long-time readers might recall a post from August of 2002 where I said it was the 1-year anniversary of my departure from Colorado, and wonder what the heck I’m talking about now.

In August of 2001, I was hired by a company in Fort Worth, Texas. Our house in Colorado hadn’t sold, and we had a 1 bedroom apartment in Fort Worth available to use practically free of charge for a couple of months. So the plan was for my wife and 13 month-old son to stay in Colorado until the house sold, or as long as made sense. To my wife, about two weeks made sense. On September 5th, 2001, my dad and I flew up to Denver to pack the house and move everything to storage in Fort Worth, while my wife and son joined me in the tiny 1 bedroom apartment.

On September 8, 2001, I was busy driving a big ass moving truck through southern Colorado, across northeastern New Mexico, and down into the Texas panhandle. I’ve not been back to Colorado since.

Before we moved to Colorado, I went practically every year since I was 6 or 7…sometimes twice a year (to ski, snowboard, and camp). Now, here we are three years later, and I am dying to get back, if just for a visit…just a few days. Work keeps getting in the way, or perhaps I keep letting it get in the way. Maybe it is time to rearrange my priorities and take a little break. I’ve got old friends to catch up with, and maybe even a new one or two to meet in person for the first time.

By Bryan at 1:30 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, September 3, 2004

1 Gmail Invite
It seems like Google has been flooding everyone with Gmail invites lately, but in case you still don't have one, I've got one left. Leave me a comment if you would like it -- first come, first served.

Update: I'm back up to 6 available invites -- no takers? Must be a sure sign that everyone has a Gmail account (that or I have no readers).

By Bryan at 1:34 PM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Companies that Suck
I've added a new category to the weblog -- Companies that Suck. As you might guess, this category is where I will post information about companies whose products, services, policies, or employees suck.

Basically, whenever I have a problem with a company, I will write a post about it. Not to worry, I will keep it professional, and strive to present the facts -- no need for personal attacks. If a company steps up and resolves the problem, I'll write about that too. Of course, the next logical category is for Companies the Rock, or something similar. Maybe tomorrow.

By Bryan at 11:12 AM , in Companies That Could Do Better - Permalink
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Wednesday, August 4, 2004

New Day, New Category, Hoping for a New Me
Man, I am tired! Up at 6 am this morning for what I hope is the first of many morning workouts. No more going to the gym late at night to avoid the crowds, no more being away from the house, leaving my wife with the kids for 6-12 hours a week while I go to the gym, no more excuses for not going to workout -- I hope.

It's been a long time since I consistently worked out in the mornings, but I've always gotten the best results from such workouts. I am hoping that history repeats itself, even though this will be my first attempt at early morning workouts without a regular workout partner. (I wonder if my wife will get up a little early with me?)

My setup is quite simple. I've been using dumbbells almost exclusively for upper body workouts for the past 2+ years and I need flexibility with regards to the location of the equipment -- it is starting out in the garage, but could move to the gameroom, or even my office -- so I went with Powerblocks, a nice incline/decline/flat bench, the Powerblock stand, and an exercise mat. As far as the Powerblock setup, I got the Pro Rexan set up to 85 lbs each, with the option to go up to the Big Block set (125lbs each) within 6 weeks at the same price as if I had bought it originally (saving almost $100 vs. buying it separately).

Anyway, as I mentioned, the first workout was this morning, and it went well. There is obviously an adjustment period anytime you switch weight systems or routines, but the workout felt good. The weights felt good, and are real comfortable to use.

Now I hope I can make it to lunch without needing a nap. ;-)

By Bryan at 8:09 AM , in Health and Fitness - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

WEARYELLOW LIVESTRONG
Live Strong is an educational program of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It is a resource for cancer survivors, their friends and families, caregivers and health care providers. Support those living with cancer, support the LAF.

If you've been following the Tour de France at all this year, perhaps you've noticed many people, riders, commentators, officials, and fans, wearing yellow wristbands. These wristbands are not for security, they don't designate the wearer as being affiliated with the Tour, they simply show support for the LAF and for those living with cancer. These yellow wristbands are engraved with Lance's mantra of LIVESTRONG, and are being sold to raise $5 million for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. You can get yours here.

WEARYELLOW LIVESTRONG

By Bryan at 6:17 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Paceline
For your Tour de France/Lance Armstrong/USPS Cycling Team fix, check out ThePaceline.com.

ThePaceline.com is the official fan club website for Lance Armstrong and the USPS Cycling Team. They've got tons of news, plus daily updates from the Tour by folks like Chris Carmichael, Graham Watson, Chris Brewer, and many more.

By Bryan at 11:54 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Gmail
Anyone have a spare Gmail invite for me? If you do, Contact Me.

By Bryan at 11:43 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Thursday, July 1, 2004

Visual Studio 2005 Beta 1
VS 2005 Beta 1 is now up on MSDN Subscriber Downloads.

By Bryan at 9:44 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, June 22, 2004

X-Voter in the News
X-Voter.com received some national press this week.

Check out Jacob Ogles' article, Voter Drives, Without Politics, at Wired.com.

By Bryan at 8:06 AM , in Politics - Permalink
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Monday, June 14, 2004

Los Lonely Boys
If you haven't already heard Los Lonely Boys, you should give them a listen.

Their style of music is summed up best by guitarist Henry Garza, "People always ask us what kind of style we play. I tell 'em it's a cross between Stevie Ray meets Santana, Jimi Hendrix meets Richie Valens, or the Beatles meet Ronnie Milsap. I call it my music burrito theory. What we've done is made like our own tortilla, right, with all the knowledge of all the greats that are out there, I can't even think of 'em all right now, but we put 'em inside the tortilla, fold it up in there, we make our own burrito and we're sellin' it to the world, y'know?"

By Bryan at 10:26 AM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Friday, June 4, 2004

X-voter.com
The development of X-voter.com has been a side gig of mine for the last few months. Finally the site has launched, so I thought I'd give mention to it here.

Anyway, check it out, and let me know what you think -- good or bad. I'll pass the information on to the appropriate people.

Ideally, you will all love the idea and sign up right away! ;-)

By Bryan at 3:02 PM , in Politics - Permalink
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

BlogMaverick
Not sure how I missed this.  Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has his own weblog

Being that I am a lifelong Mavs fan (well at least since I was 8, when they came into existence), I think this is very cool.

Maybe I missed it because I had to take a break from all things related to the Mavs after their “One and Done” trip to the playoffs this year.

By Bryan at 2:06 PM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Sunday, April 25, 2004

New Home Update
In case you were wondering where I've been for the past couple of months, I've been busy, very busy.

Aside from every day life -- 40+ hour job, parent of 2 young children, etc, we've been house hunting, and I've been working a side project.  Between those two things, I've hardly had time to breath.  The good news is that the house hunting is over officially.  In fact, we are signed sealed and delivered, having moved in this weekend.  I'll save you the boring details of it all, except to say that the neighborhood has fiber to the curb and most houses come already networked.

Now if I can just get everything unpacked and get finished with this side project -- more on that later.

By Bryan at 12:28 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Sunday, January 25, 2004

.NET and Land Thieves
Just thought I'd give my previous post a little .NET twist.

If you've followed this weblog for any length of time, then you know that I track all referrers via an HTTPModule that I wrote a year ago.  What you don't know is that I recently implemented a way to “misdirect” certain referring sites, such as those responsible for referrer log spam.  At first I thought about just adding the sooner fan site that was responsible for the land thief traffic to this list, but then I thought of something else -- something a little more fun.  Now my Referrer HTTPModule intercepts sites with “sooner” in the hostname and displays an intermediate page before allowing them to access the post they so eagerly want to read.

Copy and  paste this Url into your browser (http://www.soonerfans.firstdownsports.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9144 - sorry not going to link to their site), then follow the link on that page back to my site to see what I mean.  Now for most of you, the humor will be lost, but Longhorn fans, as well as anyone who despises ou, you'll get a kick out of it.

By Bryan at 11:08 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Welcome Land Thieves ;-)
Just wanted to point out that I've updated a post from 2001.

It seems that a land thief (sooner) came across it and decided to post it on one of their fan sites, resulting in a large amount of referral traffic.  Anyway, thanks -- I guess.

By Bryan at 10:30 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Monday, January 19, 2004

ASP.NET Webcast Week
Just a reminder that this is ASP.NET Webcast Week...

"Learn about ASP.NET from the experts! These free events are live and interactive. Live code demos and attendees asking in depth engaging questions are all part of this live event. This is a great way to get educated, engaged, and enlightened on Microsoft developer tools."

By Bryan at 10:29 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, January 10, 2004

Music Rebellion Update
I was just over at MusicRebellion.com, looking to spend my last couple of dollars on 10 cent songs, when I noticed that they were no longer 10 cents.

It looks like they've started pricing based on demand, which in a lot of cases appears to still be cheaper that the other download sites.

By Bryan at 9:15 AM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Friday, January 9, 2004

Cheap Music Downloads
In case you haven't heard, MusicRebellion.com has $0.10 song downloads for a limited time.  It looks like once the promotion ends they will change their pricing structure so that the download price is dependent on song demand.

One of the nice features is the ability to fund your account using PayPal.

By Bryan at 12:17 PM , in Entertainment - Permalink
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Monday, January 5, 2004

The BCS, Computer Polls, and College Football
I came across a post by Jason Salas concerning the BCS and it's use of computer polls to aid in determining a champion.

First a quick correction to his post, he's got the polls and their champs reversed...USC was voted #1 in the AP, or writer's poll, while LSU claimed the BCS championship, resulting in them being named #1 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, which is contractually obligated to name the BCS champion as their champion.  The interesting thing is that three coaches didn't do this, rather they kept their #1 team from the final regular season poll (USC) intact.

The problem that I see with the computerized rankings is the same as with the human polls -- that is they are opinion based.  Sure, from week to week, someone just plugs in a bunch of numbers and the computer spits out the rankings, but in the beginning of each and every one of the computer polls, the developer had to decide on the things that are important in ranking teams and how important each of those things are in relation to the other things.  Like any other computer program, the computer polls are only as good as the people who designed and wrote them. 

As far as the BCS goes, my gripe isn't with the computer polls, though I do scratch my head from time to time, after seeing some of their rankings, wondering what they were smoking when they put their system together.  My problem is with the BCS itself, and with the AD's who insist on using it to determine a national champion, rather having a playoff as is done in every other college sport at every other level.  Personally, if we have to have the BCS, I would make these changes...1) Remove strength of schedule as a BCS component.  Strength of schedule is already factored in to each and every poll, including the human polls.  (Don't tell me that the voters don't take into consideration who a team has played, and possibly who those teams have played, when voting.)  2) Put margin of victory back in.  I just don't see how you can have one without the other.  The kids playing the games have no control over who is on their schedule, but they do control the outcome.  Shouldn't a team be able to offset a weak strength of schedule by a wide margin of victory?  I think so.  3) Finally, remove the bonus points for quality wins.  They should already be reflected by record and strength of schedule.

Congrats to USC, and to those 3 coaches who had the balls to vote against their contract.  Now let's have a playoff.

By Bryan at 8:38 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, January 1, 2004

Think Through Form Validation

I was in the middle of registering for an account at MyDomain.com when I came upon some poorly coded form validation.  One of the fields is the answer to a secret question.  The user gets to choose the secret question from a list 7 options -- I chose one that asks “What is your father's middle name?”  The problem I have is that the validation requires that the answer must be at least 6 characters -- my father's middle name does not meet this requirement.  Come to think of it, besides my own middle name, no one else in my immediate family has a middle name 6 characters or longer. 

Fortunately, I can get around this by choosing a different question (assuming I don't run into similar issues), or I can elect to not have a secret question, and thus no need for a secret answer...I wonder if selecting this option will still require a word of 6 or more characters...let's see...

Ok, it didn't balk at not having a secret answer, but upon submitting the form it did tell me that I don't have permission to access the server.  Great.  So much for trying them out for their free DNS services.  I guess I get what I pay for.

By Bryan at 9:59 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Welcome to 2004!
Happy New Year!

Wow, has it really been 4 years since we rang in Y2K?  So much has happened to me and my family in that time -- from moving to Denver just two weeks before Y2K and having child #1 in mid 2000, to moving back to Texas in late 2001 and more recently having child #2 just under 2 months ago -- yet it seems just like yesterday.

As I get older, the hands of the clock seem to move ever faster.  I'm barely in my 30's, what's it like in your 40's? 50's? Or even older?

After a night of staying at home, watching movies and eating the best filet mignon I've ever cooked (along with some very tasty roasted poblano and garlic mashed potatoes -- my creation as well ;-), with the wife and the little ones, it is time to get some rest.

Hope you have a happy and prosperous 2004!

By Bryan at 1:29 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Documentum and .NET
I am wondering if anyone out there has done any development with Documentum's Content Server and .NET?

I know that they've developed a Primary Interop Assembly for building applications using the Documentum Foundation Classes (DFC), but I've yet to give it a try. 

This next week, we will be wrapping up an engagement with a member of Documentum's consulting services, and I will finally be able to dig into some code.  So I am interested in hearing experiences from anyone who is already using .NET with Documentum.

By Bryan at 8:31 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, November 17, 2003

Jacob And His First Mavericks Game
Tonight I took my oldest son, Jacob, to his first Dallas Mavericks game (not counting the one he attended in the womb -- when we lived in Denver and the Mavs came to town to beat the Nuggets).  I'd say that overall he enjoyed it.  He even made it until halftime before asking when it would be time to go home.

The Mavericks won, by the way, beating the Portland Trailblazers 105-98.  Oh, and Jacob got to witness a triple double in his first NBA game.  Steve Nash pulled it off with 14 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds.

Here's the Jacob-Junk-O-Meter from the game:

  • 1 Jumbo Hotdog
  • 1 Chicken Finger Basket w/Fries
  • 1 Small Sprite
  • 1 Bag of Cotton Candy
  • 1 Bag of Peanuts
All in all, not too bad. He did choose the peanuts over ice cream, a fried twinkie, a cookie, churros, and a pretzel.


A lady sitting behind us was nice enough to take this picture.

By Bryan at 11:21 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Saturday, November 8, 2003

Introducing Caleb Lee Daneman
Caleb decided it was time to join us in the world at 9:52 PM, Wednesday, November 5th.  Though he was born just over three weeks early, he is a healthy 7 lbs. 8.3 oz., and 19.25 inches long. 

Both mom and Caleb are doing very well.

By Bryan at 10:24 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Monday, October 27, 2003

Software For Some Of Us Not Attending PDC
I just came across the following on the MSDN Subscriber Downloads site:

Special Access to Longhorn and Whidbey PDC Release Code

Active MSDN Operating Systems, Professional, Enterprise, and Universal subscribers may request a set of software distributed at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2003 (PDC), including the preview versions of the "Longhorn" operating system and SDK, and Visual Studio "Whidbey".

Eligible MSDN Subscribers can request the previews by calling MSDN Customer Service. Certified Partners and Breadth ISV / Empower partners should contact their respective Service Centers for further assistance. Note that the preview package contains DVD media, and a DVD drive is required. Please allow 3-4 weeks for fulfillment.

By Bryan at 5:10 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Thursday, October 16, 2003

RSS Feeds For Categories
I am now generating RSS feeds for each category.

By Bryan at 4:24 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Saturday, October 11, 2003

MyBlogRoll
Yesterday, I came across a nice looking browser based RSS feed read -- MyBlogRoll.com, by Julien Cheyssial.  It is in the early beta stages, but looks very promising.

By Bryan at 6:30 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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nGallery
While surfing around today, I came across nGallery.  It is a .NET based web app for displaying pictures, organized into one or more photo albums.  I've only installed it on my laptop, but based on the looks of it, I will soon be putting it on my server.  By the way, it is freeware and open source.

By Bryan at 6:24 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, October 4, 2003

Texas vs. K-State, ESPN College Game Day
Just waiting for my ride down to campus.  I'm in Austin for Texas' game with Kansas State.  It's a big game, no doubt, with both teams in the top 20 and each with one unexpected, non-conference loss -- the loser can kiss their MNC hopes good bye.  The game itself isn't until 2:30 PM, but we're heading down early for the ESPN College Game Day show, which is making their second ever appearance in Austin.  So anyway, here's my ride, gotta go. 

Hook'em!

By Bryan at 8:21 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Friday, September 26, 2003

Texas vs. Tulane
Jacob and I will be heading down to Austin this weekend for the Longhorns game versus the Green Wave of Tulane.  This will be Jacob's second Texas football game (he went with me to Texas vs. Iowa State last year), and his fourth major sporting event (he also attended two Texas Ranger games over the last two years).  As any three-year old boy would be, he is super excited about the trip and the game.

Hook'em!

By Bryan at 7:34 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, September 18, 2003

The Redemption Tour

The 1990 Longhorns had the “Shock the Nation Tour,” and while a repeat of that year's regular season would indeed shock most college football fans and “experts” across the nation, I've decided to label the rest of this season as the “Redemption Tour.”  The first stop on the tour is this Saturday, in Houston, where Horns will face Rice -- yet another former Southwest Conference foe.

Saturday's game is the first opportunity for the Horns to begin the healing process that is so desperately needed -- for themselves, the coaches, and the fans -- in the wake of the blind-sided tail whipping they took last Saturday in Austin at the hands of the Razorbacks.  Hopefully the healing has already begun in the locker room, where just this week the team's Leadership Committee (the fact that there is such a thing, even if it was just created, is good sign) banned all player interviews until after Saturday's game.  Of course motive is always a question.  Did the players make this move because they were tired of all the questions, or because they truly needed to focus on the task at hand?  Only they know for certain.

I do have one concern regarding the locker room:

Receiver Roy Williams said when he watches film from UT's first two games, he sees room for Benson to run.

"We just have to run the ball," Williams said. "The holes are there."
[Chip Brown, Dallas Morning News]

Typically comments like this help to divide the room - not bring a team closer together, and they certainly don't explain the lack of a running game when other backs are in there.

Anyone who watched the game closely saw that there were a number of issues, starting with blocking, tackling, and holding onto the ball.  Yet despite the problems, Texas was a defensive stop or two away from pulling out a win.  That isn't meant to detract from the Razorback's performance, they played a heck of a game, and took advantage of the opportunities given to them -- rather, it is to make the point that as well as Arkansas played, and as poorly as Texas played, that is all that stood between Texas and a victory.

It is my hope that the Texas coaching staff and players don't see it in such simple terms.  To do so would hinder the root of the problems from being addressed, which would ruin the "Redemption Tour."

By Bryan at 5:52 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Texas vs. Arkansas - Rivalry Renewed?
Earlier today, I came across a new(?) website for college football fans - FanBlogs.com (while doing a little research for a planned Longhorn fans weblog site). After clicking on the link for Big 12 related posts, this particular post caught my attention, and it got me to thinking (scary, I know)...

Until this past week, I had actually forgotten about Nutt's "Horns down" antics.

As a Longhorn fan and season-ticket holder, what I remember most about the last meeting between these two schools is that it was the third loss in row (lost to A&M after their bonfire accident, and to Nebraska in the Big12 title game -- after beating them the previous three meetings, including earlier that season), bringing a painful end to what had been a very nice season. I also recall being very disappointed in some key Texas players who were suspended the week before the game. They let down the team and the school big time.

As a fan, I think it is great to have the renewal of this rivalry, but from what I've read, an ongoing home-and-home series with Arkansas is unlikely (assuming they don't join the Big12):

When Brown first proposed adding Arkansas to the schedule, he called Royal, who thought Brown had lost his mind. Royal was concerned that giving Arkansas any possible entry into Texas for recruiting purposes was a bad idea.

By Bryan at 4:13 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, September 4, 2003

Sad News From Lance Armstrong & Family
Lance Armstrong and his children were at the Texas football game this past Sunday to be recognized for his most recent Tour de France victory, as well as to toss the coin. Absent from this outing was his wife Kristen. At the time, we wondered what the deal was, afterall, when we last heard from the Armstrong family, everything seemed to be coming back together for them. Now I know why it was just Lance and the kids.

By Bryan at 11:54 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Saturday, August 30, 2003

It's My Birthday
Heading down to Austin in the morning for a nice long weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, mom, step-dad, and of course my wife and 3-year old son. Birthday festivities Saturday evening, and then the real reason for the trip happens Sunday evening - Texas Longhorn football. Texas opens the season at 6 PM Sunday against New Mexico State.

Hook'em!

By Bryan at 12:32 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, August 15, 2003

Mavs and Warriors Swap 8 Players
Ever since the Mavericks season ended in heartbreaking fashion to the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, I've been counting the days to the start of next season. Along the way, I've also been counting the major off-season milestones, such as the date when teams can start talking to free agents, as well as the date teams can start signing free agents. To my dismay, the Mavericks didn't land any of their targets, and it looked like they would go into next season with essentially the same squad that finished last season.

How quickly things can change...

It seems that the Mavs and Warriors agreed to an 8 player deal tonight, pending league approval. The main players in the trade are Nick Van Exel from Dallas for the Warriors' Antawn Jamison. Also being sent from Dallas in the deal are Avery Johnson, Popeye Jones, and Evan Eschmeyer, in exchange for Danny Fortson, Chris Mills, and Jiri Welsch.

I had hoped that Dallas would be able to do a deal without losing Van Exel, and so I was a little disappointed when I heard the news. However, I actually like this trade (though I have reservations about Jamison's contract - 6 years and $69 million remaining on his contract), especially if Fortson can return to form after some injury problems over the last couple of years.

Time will tell.

By Bryan at 11:14 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, August 14, 2003

Single-Character Wildcard And ADO.NET
Why isn't there a single-character wildcard for use in ADO.NET's Expression property?

I came across this recently when I needed to filter a DataView (using the RowFilter property of the DataView) so that only records containing Value LIKE '2__' (underscore is single-character wildcard in T-SQL). This way I get 200, 201, 202, 203,..., 299, but not 2000, etc.

After a thorough review of the MS docs and my ADO.NET book from Wrox (which incorrectly states that * is for single character wildcards), I decided to just use the LEN() function available in Expressions and limit my results to LEN(Value) = 3 (based on example above).

Then end result is something like this:

MyDataView.RowFilter = "Element='Topic' AND Value LIKE '" & Chapter & "%' AND LEN(Value) = " & TopicNumberLength

Sure would have been nicer to just have a single-character wildcard.

By Bryan at 11:09 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

One Tough Dog
A dog in St. Louis survived the gas chamber...

By Bryan at 9:57 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, August 8, 2003

Problems With The Power
Hopefully anyone with a website or email hosted on one of my servers was sleeping between the hours of 4 AM and 6:30 AM Central Time this morning. On the off chance that one of you wasn't, and tried accessing something, my apologies. It seems that the power company is having problems. We were completely without power for over two hours, and it has been back on intermittently since.

And for the smart ass, yes, my servers are on UPS. Of course the "U" in "UPS" is true only as long as the batteries last, and I am not a rich enough man to have batteries to last me 2 and a half hours.

Oh, and by the way...when the average high temperature as been above 100 degrees for several days in a row, like it has been here in North Texas, including the last couple which were closer to 110 than 100, and the lows are barely making it into the lower 80's, the servers were the least of my worries -- I wanted the damn AC back on!

By Bryan at 6:42 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

RSS.NET
I am so out of touch. I just came across RSS.NET -- An open-source .NET class library for RSS feeds.

By Bryan at 5:33 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Dog Days of Summer, Part 3
Just over a month until another season of Texas Longhorn football gets under way. Of course, I will be in Austin to watch Texas take on New Mexico State on August 31st.

By Bryan at 11:21 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Dog Days of Summer, Part 2
Jacob turned 3 a week and a half ago. We had a nice party with family and friends. This was the first party for him where he had a say in who was invited (kids from school). It seems like 3 or 4 of them showed up. We had a bounce house, hot dogs, and cake -- a good time all around.

Thanks to everyone for helping celebrate Jacob's birthday, he had a blast!

By Bryan at 11:21 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Dog Days of Summer, Part 1
Well, here we are, the end of July...

Lance Armstrong won yet another Tour de France, his fifth in a row. Of course anyone who followed this year's edition knows that it was not really "yet another" race, as it was by far the most exciting, entertaining, and closest race in many years. I am hoping that one day we learn the "other problems" that Armstrong alluded to in various interviews (I've heard it might be back problems). Also, I can't wait for his new book, Every Second Counts, to come out. You can read the first chapter here.

By the way, Lance still has some racing left in him this season. He won the Altstad-Kriterium in Austria yesterday, and according to his website, he will be racing in the German Karlsruhe 2-man Time Trial on August 2nd. His site also mentions that he and Jan Ullrich will square off against each other (as well as other riders) in the 1-day World Cup event, the Championship of Zurich on August 17th.

Finally, don't miss the "Defining Moments of the 2003 Tour" show on OLN this Thursday at 8PM ET/PT. It features an exclusive interview with Lance.

By Bryan at 11:19 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, July 24, 2003

What If...
Sunday's stage of the Tour de France is practically a parade...all ceremonial -- at least until they get down to the end, then the sprinters come out. But what if the time gap between Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich stays around one minute (or even less) going into the final stage? Would Jan attack? Would USPS set a real high pace on what is normally a very leisurely day, so that any attack would be discouraged?

After Saturday's final Time Trial, I think they will either be neck and neck, or Lance will have added another minute or so to his lead. If he has added another minute to his lead, then I think Sunday's stage is a nice slow ride into Paris, but if they are neck and neck, how exciting would it be to see these two great cyclists go head-to-head, marking each other all the way into Paris? How about USPS and Ullrich's team, Bianchi time-trialing all the way in, and then a sprint shoot-out between Lance and Jan?

Whatever happens, it is bound to be exciting!

By Bryan at 11:22 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Tyler Hamilton Wins Stage 16
The amazing Tyler Hamilton became only the 6th American to win a stage in the Tour de France, winning Stage 16 today.

Hamilton, who has been riding with a broken collarbone since crashing at the end of the 1st stage, went out alone, first bridging the gap from the peleton to a small breakaway, and then dropping the breakaway. At the end of the day, Hamilton finished about 2 minutes ahead of the peleton, and has moved up from 7th to 6th in the overall classification.

As good as this year's race has been, imagine what it would be had Hamilton not broken his collarbone in Stage 1 and had Beloki not crashed out in Stage 10...

By Bryan at 9:55 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Monday, July 14, 2003

Armstrong Retains the Yellow Jersey

16 H 50 - Armstrong Goes Cross Country
It's like a Nike ad... Lance has cut out a hairpin turn and raced across a field to rejoin the peloton after racing off the road to avoid the fallen Beloki.

[www.letour.com]

This was the newsflash from www.letour.com after the #2 man in the overall standings, Joseba Beloki, fell in the final kilometers of today's stage -- a downhill finish -- as he and Amrstrong were chasing down the leader, Alexandre Vinokourov, who had a 10 second advantage at the time of the crash.

Unfortunately, the crash has ended Beloki's Tour. Fortunately, Armstrong was able to think quickly on his seat and avoid crashing himself. Armstrong now leads today's stage winner, Alexandre Vinokourov, by only 21 seconds.

By Bryan at 10:20 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Wednesday, July 9, 2003

USPS Wins Team Time Trial
Today was a good day for cycling, at least it was if you are a fan of the United States Postal Service Team. The USPS team won today's stage of the Tour de France, which was a team time trial, by 30 seconds over the ONCE team. At the end of the day, USPS team member, Victor Hugo Peña became the first Colombian to wear the Yellow Jersey. The Alps are two days away.

Here are the overall standings for the Tour, after today's race (note: the top 8 spots belong to USPS team members):

 1. Victor Hugo Pena (Colombia)            13 hours, 44 minutes
 2. Lance Armstrong (USA)                       1 second behind
 3. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia)                    00:05
 4. George Hincapie (USA)                          00:05
 5. Jose Luis Rubiera (Spain)                      00:23
 6. Roberto Heras (Spain)                          00:27
 7. Pavel Padrnos (Czech Republic)                 00:27
 8. Floyd Landis (USA)                             00:28
 9. Joseba Beloki (Spain)                          00:33
10. Jorg Jaksche (Germany)                         00:38
11. Manuel Beltran (Spain)                         00:39
12. Jan Ullrich (Germany)                          00:39
13. Isidro Nozal (Spain)                           00:44
14. Angel Vicioso (Spain)                          00:51
15. Tobias Steinhauser (Germany)                   00:51
16. Mikel Pradera (Spain)                          00:58
17. Angel Casero (Spain)                           00:58
18. Jose Azevedo (Portugal)                        01:01
19. Marcos Serrano (Spain)                         01:04
20. Vladimir Karpets (Russia)                      01:11

By Bryan at 2:01 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, July 3, 2003

Necho, or Whatever it's Called
I've been almost completely out of the loop on weblogs, RSS, syndication, etc. for the past few weeks, so I am just now starting to digest Necho.

My first pass at having my weblog app generate an Necho file is here.

By Bryan at 5:05 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Thursday, June 26, 2003

Harry Potter and Prepping for MCSD
This past weekend I made a bit of a mistake. You see, I was at the grocery store Saturday morning picking up some things for breakfast, when I caught a glimpse of the new Harry Potter book as I was checking out. On impulse, I threw it into the basket. So much for getting any studying in for the next few days.

Fortunately, I finished the book last night and will be getting back to studying any time now. I just wish that I could plow through my exam prep text as quickly as I made it through the Harry Potter book.

By Bryan at 10:49 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, June 16, 2003

The Certification Bug
Well, it looks like I've caught the certification bug. Becoming an MCSD is something that I've been wanting to do for a couple of years or so, but I always was able to find an excuse to put it off. Well, I am putting it off no more!

This afternoon I took the plunge and bought some Transcender exams and ordered a couple of prep books. The web app exam is up first. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

By Bryan at 11:19 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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The EasyDNS Saga Conclusion
what I would like to offer as compensation for your inconvennience is a new domain or renewal of a domain with your choice of service level. Please let me know if you find this acceptable and how you would like to proceed.
The above is from an email that I got from EasyDNS this afternoon. It arrived after I emailed them to say so long, and inform them that they had lost a customer.

I guess I will go ahead and stick around a while longer, seen as how I don't have anything expiring for at least 8 months.

By Bryan at 11:11 PM , in Reviews - Permalink
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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Potential DNS Provider & Registrar
RegisterSite.com looks like it has potential. Yearly cost per domain name is the same - $35 for domain registration, and it includes advanced DNS functionality.

Of course, I could just go back to doing DNS myself.

By Bryan at 11:29 PM , in Reviews - Permalink
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EasyDNS Bad
I use a company called EasyDNS for nearly all of my domains. Primarily for DNS services, but for many, they are also my registrar. In some cases I've registered a new domain with them, in other cases I've transferred existing domains to them. Recently, I had a problem with them.

Last week, I initiated a domain transfer from Register.com to EasyDNS (openSRS). I paid the $15 invoice (which extends my domain registration out another year) at the same time, as I want nothing holding things up. Typically, within a couple of hours, I would get an email from openSRS, asking me to confirm the transfer. Once that is done, I would then get an email from Register.com asking me to confirm (usually within a couple of hours of confirming the openSRS email). After a couple of days it would be done. But not this time.

5 days and several emails later, I had yet to receive the confirmation email from openSRS. Being that EasyDNS is a reseller for them, that is who I emailed for information. Time and time again I was told I should be getting the email later that day. I never got it. Finally, I explicitly asked for them to contact openSRS and make sure the order had made it to them. Same bit of run around, with a "if it hasn't arrived by tomorrow, let us know and we will contact them." That wasn't good enough, seen as how I was asking them to contact them today. So I ask how I can get ahold of openSRS directly. A little while later, I get a reply saying they had contacted openSRS and there had been an issue with the transfer request, so it was resubmitted. What do you know, shortly after that, I get a confirmation email. I confirm. A little later, the confirmation email from Register.com. Oops, they are having problems. I contact their customer service. They responsd, saying to confirm the transfer in the body of an email reply to them. I do. Today I get an email back saying it has been rejected due to my domain now being expired. So now, I must pay Register.com $35 to renew, instead of the $15 to EasyDNS. Had it gone through like it was supposed to, everything would have been complete before the domain expired, and I would not be out the extra $20.

So I email Register.com and EasyDNS, letting both parties know all the details, and letting Register.com know that if I must pay the $35, they will never get another cent from me or anyone else whose decisions in this area I influence. I then let EasyDNS know that should I be forced to pay the $35, and should they not pick up the added cost I am incurring, they will not get any of this business, and that I would begin transferring all of my domains elsewhere -- for DNS service and domain registrar service.

So far I've heard from EasyDNS. They see two solutions:

There are two options at this stage - we can issue a refund for the $15.00usd paid to issue the transfer, or you can contact Register.com and find out how long they will hold onto your renewed domain before they will allow it to be transferred away - the time frame is usually 45 days.
Seems like to me that the $15 should be refunded no matter what at this point, since they aren't going to be able to provide me registrar service in the near future. Looks like they completely missed the part about how they won't be getting this business if they don't do the right thing and cover the difference, since they don't even mention it.

Well, I replied, reiterating what they need to do to keep my business. We'll see what happens, in the meantime, I will begin looking for a new company to provide DNS service, and as domains register via EasyDNS/openSRS come up for renewal, I will be transferring them elsewhere.

By Bryan at 10:39 PM , in Reviews - Permalink
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Friday, June 6, 2003

Smart Kid
I was home yesterday with Jacob (my almost 3 year-old son). He had to stay home because he had a fever when he was picked up from school on Wednesday (ok, it's really glorified daycare), and they have a policy that didn't allow him to come back until he had gone 24 hours without a fever (fyi: he was feeling ok by yesterday morning).

Early afternoon comes around and it is time for his nap. I tell him "you can take a nap in your room, or you can take a nap in the living room, your choice." He responds with "living room, but I can't see the TV with my eyes shut."

*smart ass*

By Bryan at 2:08 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Community Starter Kit Part 2

It was great to meet Ruth Walther, both she and Stephen are relieved now that the new version of the Community Starter Kit is complete and unleashed.

[Eli Robillard's World of Blog.]

Oh man, how did I miss this? I guess this is what happens when you "disconnect" for a week or two. And just when I thought that I was done with the site I used the beta of the CSK on...

By Bryan at 12:51 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, June 2, 2003

Zolon
I went with a couple of co-workers to check out the latest addition to the downtown Fort Worth restaurant scene today, Zolon an everyday bistro.

The food was outstanding. I had the Western Salad and Three (pizza, see the menu). I also had a taste of Four (again, pizza, see the menu). Everything was delicious. Very fresh, and very tasty. Almost everything is offered in half-orders, and they suggest you go that route -- mixing and matching items to suit your taste.

If you find yourself around Sundance Square in Fort Worth, and are in need of a meal, check out Zolon.

By Bryan at 2:11 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Friday, May 23, 2003

California Here We Come
We (me, wife, and son) are headed to the bay area tomorrow (or is it today already?), for a long weekend. The purpose is to celebrate my Grandmother's 80th birthday and to attend her side of the family's annual reunion. To my knowledge, I've never been to this thing, but it should be fun. We'll be seeing some folks that I haven't seen in several years to never.

All the family stuff takes place on Saturday, the rest of the trip is to show my son the sites and just relax -- which shouldn't be hard, as we are staying with family in Marin county (Tiburon to be exact).

As might be expected, my son won't stop talking about all that he is going to see...sea lions, cable cars, boats, the ocean, big bridges, etc. He even has it in his mind that we are going to see a shark. Too much time spent watching Animal Planet, I suspect -- though when I was at Stinson Beach back in '99, they had recently had a shark sighting, so you never know. Oh, and he wants some pizza.

We'll spend a fare amount of time in San Francisco, and thought about North Beach Pizza, as it is a place I've tried before, and liked, but I am looking for alternatives. Viable locations include San Francisco, Marin, and all the way up to St. Helena, or over in the East Bay, say Berkley area.

By Bryan at 12:11 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Saturday, May 17, 2003

Cool SQL Tool
I just came across SQLBuddy via a post at Harry Pierson's weblog.

At first glance, it seems to be a fairly usable replacement for Query Analyzer. I will try to use it exclusively over the next couple of weeks and see how it goes.

By Bryan at 12:32 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Friday, May 16, 2003

Community Starter Kit
I've finally taken some time to look through one of the ASP.NET Starter Kits, specifically the Community Starter Kit (CSK). I needed to put together a fairly robust, dynamic site in a short amount of time, and thought that this kit might give me some ideas. As it turned out, I decided to just use the Community framework.

A design had already been done for this particular site, so all I needed to do was create a theme out of the design and assign it to the site -- simple enough. Then I plugged in the controls that are included with the CSK, tweaking a few along the way, and of course adding a couple of my own. A few days later, what do you know, I've nearly got a fully funtional, dynamically generated site that is going to be super easy for the site owner to CRUD content.

There are still a couple of bits of fuctionality to modify, but this is way better than having to do all of it from scratch. I'll put up a link to the site once it is complete.

By Bryan at 11:44 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, May 10, 2003

Connectivity Problems
This morning, I noticed that things were taking forever to load -- I blamed it on the low quality wireless link I was using at the time. Several hours later, and now with a much better wireless link, pages were still loading slowly.

Move to the desktop, and a wired connection. No change, still very, very slow.

On to running some speed tests... < 3 kbps down!!! (Upstream speeds seemed normal.)

Call in to tech support. D/FW customers are experiencing extremely slow connections, estimated fix time 5:30 PM.

So that's the story. If you try hitting this site, or any of the others I host, and they seem slow, now you know.

[Listening to: It's Been Awhile - Staind - Break the Cycle (04:26)]

By Bryan at 3:29 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Thursday, May 8, 2003

BlogShares
For those of you with weblogs of your own, I am sure you are already well familiar with BlogShares, so I won't spend any time explaining it here. If you aren't familiar with it, click the link and check it out.

What I really want to tell you about is that my weblog is finally trading on BlogShares.

[Listening to: Dead Man Blues - Jelly Roll Morton - The Best Of Ken Burns Jazz (03:15)]

By Bryan at 10:58 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Tuesday, May 6, 2003

I've Been Discovered!
No, I am not talking about some talent I've been hiding away, or anything like that.

I think it is time to add one of those "I speak for myself and not my company" disclaimer thingies.

By Bryan at 4:17 PM , in Day Job - Permalink
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Monday, May 5, 2003

Server Migration Complete
Finally, the server migration is complete. That was relatively painless. If you notice anything odd, let me know.

By Bryan at 12:57 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Sunday, May 4, 2003

Server Migration, Part 2
Server migration is nearly complete (everything is running on a temporary server at the moment). It looks like there has been an issue with permissions on my RSS feed. I am fixing that now (thanks to Brad for pointing it out).

By Bryan at 5:31 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Saturday, May 3, 2003

Migrating to Windows Server 2003
I'm preparing to migrate my webserver to Windows Server 2003. Seen as how I am going to do a clean install, I needed an easy way to move all the various websites off of the server and over onto a temporary sever. At first, this seemed like a daunting task, but I remembered bookmarking Tools and Documentation for Upgrading to Windows Server 2003. I wish I could remember where I first saw a link to this, so that I could give proper credit, but it escapes me at the moment. Anyway, included in the tools is the very handy IIS 6.0 Migration Tool. This tool automates many of the steps required in moving web sites from IIS 4, IIS 5, or IIS 6 to a clean installation of IIS 6 running on Windows Server 2003.

So far, so good. The only downside that I have seen so far, is that you must run this tool once for each site that you want to migrate. Naturally, I retrieved a list of the sites to migrate from IIS 5 and have now put together a nice little batch files to take care of all of the sites.

Let's see...mail server has been migrated, so all that's left is the database. Fun.

[Listening to: Daylight - Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (05:28)]

By Bryan at 7:56 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Friday, May 2, 2003

I'm A Spatial Thinker

You are a Spatial Thinker

Spatial Thinkers: Tend to think in pictures, and can develop good mental models of the physical world. Think well in three dimensions Have a flair for working with objects

Like other spatial thinkers, Leonardo had a talent for designing buildings and machinery. He also invented a new style of map making

Other Spatial Thinkers include Pablo Picasso, Michelangelo, Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Careers which suit Spatial Thinkers include Mechanic, Photographer, Artist, Architect, Engineer, Builder, Set designer

The results of this quiz (link courtesy of Brad Wilson) pretty much validates the results from a series of tests that my parents had me take in 1993, after I dropped out of college.

[Listening to: Somebody - Depeche Mode - 101 (04:36)]

By Bryan at 12:13 AM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Thursday, May 1, 2003

Absolutely Shocking...
White only prom returns to Georgia

I was firing up my browser a little while ago and came across the above headline on the front page of MSN. I was shocked into clicking. I can't believe that in this country, in this day and age, that there would be a segregated dance at a public school (or any school). The fact that the school isn't actually sponsoring this segregated prom is of little consequence, as school officials are partly to blame for the way it is being done -- they wanted to avoid the problems arising from interracial dating. And what about the parents? And the kids? This is an outrage. I only wish that some of these young racists had been interviewed so that we could gain some insight into their warped minds. The people of Taylor County, Georgia, who are responsible for this, should be ashamed.

[Listening to: We Shall Be Free - Garth Brooks - The Chase (03:49)]

By Bryan at 11:21 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Nice Logo...
Hey Brad, how long have you had the new logo up? It looks real nice.

By Bryan at 12:04 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Safari Bookshelf
In case I haven't mentioned this before, if you work with technology for a living, take a look at O'Reilly's Safari Bookshelf. At a minimum, sign up for a free 30-day trial. If you can swing it, buy a subscription, or get your company to buy one for you. It is well worth it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Safari, it is an online library of more than 1,400 (currently -- they add more all the time) of the best technology books. The books are from familiar publishers like Addison Wesley, SAMS, QUE, New Riders, Microsoft Press, O'Reilly, and several others. The features include advanced search capabilities, a list of recent searches, recent pages views, notes, and bookmarks. There is a search to locate specific titles (by Author, ISBN, TItle, or Publisher, as well as a tree view for drilling down by category and for browsing the contents of a title itself.

My company bought subscriptions for us over a year ago. I didn't use it for the first couple of months, but it has become an indispensable resource since then. Sure, the content isn't quite as portable as a real book, but you can print out individual pages. Besides, when you are sitting at your desk, it probably doesn't matter if you physically have the book in hand or not -- the most important thing for me is to be able to find what I need quickly. Oh, it's also allowed me to stop lugging so many books back and forth between work and home.

To give you an idea of the quality of titles available, here is what is currently on my Safari Bookshelf:

[Listening to: Tin Pan Alley - Stevie Ray Vaughan - In the Beginning (07:41)]

By Bryan at 10:38 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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Dire Days For The Dallas Sport Fan
I should have known better than to clear my Wednesday evening schedule to watch these two teams play.

At least the Rangers have been winning lately.

[Listening to: Clocks - Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head (05:08)]

By Bryan at 9:34 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Tuesday, April 29, 2003

More on Weblog API's
Well, I've nearly implemented all of the functionality needed for me to use w.bloggar with my weblog app. Honestly, implementing these XML-RPC API's is such a pain in my ass. It just seems so backwards compared to building web services in .NET.

Oh well, what's done is done.

By Bryan at 12:40 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Monday, April 28, 2003

XML-RPC
Back in the early days of my weblog app, I came across Charles Cook's excellent XML-RPC.NET library and used it to ping weblogs.com whenever there was a new post.

Now, I think I will delve into it once again -- this time to implement the MetaWeblogAPI and the BloggerAPI.

By Bryan at 10:08 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Thursday, April 24, 2003

the World as a Blog

This is so cool. Sit back and watch the world blog its way around the clock. Now you know you simply must get those geotags and that RSS autodiscovery machinery into your blog.
[Sean McGrath, CTO, Propylon]
Indeed, this is one of the coolest things I've seen lately.

By Bryan at 9:10 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Thursday, April 17, 2003

What's A Sports Fan(atic) To Do?
Oh man. The Lakers won. Portland lost. The Dallas Mavericks went from likely opening the playoffs against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon to definitely opening the playoffs against Portland on Saturday night.

The Dallas Stars could be trying to wrap up their opening round series against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night (or worst case - fight off elimination).

It looks like both games start at 7 PM CDT, though I've seen both also listed with 8 PM CDT start times.

What is a Dallas sports fan(atic) to do? Guess I need to get the TV and cable setup so that the second tuner works for PIP -- or maybe just put two TVs next to each other. I suppose I could go to a sports bar.

It could be worse...the Stars could have done like the Red Wings (4 and done), and the Mavs could be like the Mavs of the '90's -- no playoffs.

By Bryan at 1:06 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

My HttpModule for Referrers
The HttpModule that I use for tracking referrers broke when I went to v1.1 of the .NET Framework. It was very odd -- all of a sudden I was getting a message about the connection string property not being initialized. This happened most of the time, but not every time. To make matters worse, the db code is the same there as it is in the rest of the weblog app, which doesn't appear to have had this issue.

It seems to be working now. I reworked the code a bit. I'll be keeping an eye on it.

By Bryan at 10:20 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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ASP.NET Calendar Control, Revisited
Previously I mentioned the issues I was having with the ASP.NET Calendar Control, specifically styles. Somewhere along the way I read that it was being addressed in v1.1. Now that I am finally running v1.1 on my server, it is time to do some testing on this darned thing.

Since about half of the hits I get from Google involve searches relating to the calendar control, I will report back here as soon as the testing is done.

By Bryan at 9:17 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Thursday, April 10, 2003

Visual Studio .NET 2003 Available On MSDN
In case you haven't already heard the news, Visual Studio .NET 2003 is now available for download for MSDN Subscribers. Currently, it looks like there is only the full install available, no ISO images. Of course I am downloading it now, I can wait until later on to get disc images.

I do wonder if it is going to need a key. I didn't see one listed. Maybe it will use the same key as VS .NET v1.0. It would suck to have spent all this time downloading it and then not have a key to install it.

By Bryan at 1:45 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, April 5, 2003

Harvester

lots of people are interested in harvester.  cool. :)

[Objective]

Add my name to the list of people that can't wait to try out Chris' Harverster. From his screenshots, it looks like a winner. How about an early preview, Chris?

By Bryan at 4:52 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, April 1, 2003

MSDN Code4fun Article

Build a tool that uses the System.Net namespace of the Microsoft .NET Framework to check a POP3 e-mail account for unread messages. [MSDN: Visual Basic .NET]
This does look like fun!

By Bryan at 3:54 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, March 31, 2003

Windows Server 2003, Part 2
I went ahead and rebuilt my dev server late Saturday night with the final version of Windows Server 2003. Everything went smooth, as expected (this server has been running Windows Server 2003 since beta 1). Now I just need to load some of my web apps on it and start testing.

Now, if VS.NET 2003 would hurry up and RTM...

By Bryan at 1:43 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, March 29, 2003

Windows Server 2003
I've been running Windows Server 2003 RC2 on a dev server for some time, and have been eagerly awaiting RTM. After hearing yesterday that Windows 2003 Server had gone gold, I started keeping my eye out on the MSDN Subscriber downloads page for it. About mid-afternoon today, I logged on to see if the final version was there yet, and what do you know, it was!

I've pulled down the Standard Edition and the Web Edition. I'll probably pull down the Enterprise Edition tomorrow.

Thank goodness my MSDN Universal Subscription was just renewed.

By Bryan at 10:09 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Thursday, March 13, 2003

Searching The Weblog Part 2
I mentioned earlier that I was going to start on this this past weekend, but better late than never. Anyway, I've begun to play around with implementing search functionality for the weblog. At the moment it is a very basic search that matches everything entered, and only the body of an entry is searched.

You can see it for yourself over at what is becoming the testing ground for this site.

Of course I've got a few things to work out still, but the search functionality should find it's way into production shortly.

By Bryan at 6:21 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Monday, March 10, 2003

Splishin' And A Splashin'
A little humor for all parents out there, but especially for newer parents.

FYI: If you are at work, or in a public place, put headphones on, or at least turn down the volume initially.

Enjoy!

Gruntin' n Dumpin Lil' Dumplin'

By Bryan at 9:05 AM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Saturday, March 8, 2003

Doing The Dual Monitor Thing
After reading Brad's post on working with a dual monitor setup, and after hearing good things about it from my friend Zach (no site at the moment), I decided to give it a whirl. Fortunately I had an extra monitor and video card, so I was able to try out the dual monitor setup without laying out any cash.

I don't have the two monitors situated ideally at the moment, but even so, I don't see how I will be able to not utilize this setup going forward. It just makes sense. So now I am going to look for a new monitor, most likely an LCD. Brad likes his new ViewSonic, and I've heard good things about the Samsung models.

For those of you who have made the switch from CRT to LCD, did you move down in viewable area, stay the same, or go up? If you moved down, are you happy with that decision, or do you wish that you'd have gone with a larger LCD? Are you using a dual monitor setup?

By Bryan at 2:21 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Friday, March 7, 2003

Update: U of Texas Database Hack
This is an update to this post.

The following link provides the range of SSN's that might have been compromised.

https://www.utexas.edu/datatheft/affected.html

By Bryan at 2:56 PM , in Security - Permalink
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Searching The Weblog
Does anyone implement search on their blogs? The .NET weblog systems I have seen don't, neither does Radio. But Sam Ruby's does. I would think that search would be a useful feature. Is it? If not, why not?
[Harry Pierson's DevHawk Weblog]
I think that I will finally stop putting off adding this feature.

By Bryan at 9:10 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Thursday, March 6, 2003

University of Texas Database Compromised
Important information to be aware of if you are a current/former student or current/former employee of the University of Texas.

http://www.utexas.edu/datatheft/

By Bryan at 12:31 PM , in Security - Permalink
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Wednesday, March 5, 2003

New Look Archives
Previously, I discussed using the ASP.NET Calendar Control as an additional means of navigating my archives.

Since then, there has been a lot of talk about what is the best (or preferred) method for presenting archives and navigating them, and it seems that most people don't care for the calendar method (at least not as the only method).

Personally, I do like the Calendar method for navigating, as long as it isn't the only method. I especially like the ability to select a range of dates using the ASP.NET Calendar Control -- such as everything for a month, week, or day, so you aren't forced to click each individual day to view posts.

Anyway, I've always provided the ability to navigate archives by month using the simple Archives list you see on this page. I even show the number of posts for a given month. Prior to right now, clicking a link in the Archive list would display all the posts, in their entirety for that month. Now, I list only the titles of each post and provide a link to each individual post, as others have done.

I am not sure which presentation method I prefer. When you click an Archive link for a specific month, do you want to have all the posts right there in front of you, or do you prefer just to see their titles, and perhaps even a summary?

By Bryan at 3:39 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Tuesday, March 4, 2003

My Inner Dragon

A SILVER Dragon Lies Beneath!

I took the Inner Dragon Online Quiz and found out I am a Silver Dragon on the inside. My Inner Dragon is to dragons what the Ranger is to humans. Like all metallic dragons, Silvers rigidly adhere to an internal code of conduct. Each Silver, however, must develop their code individually, a fact which explains their unique dispositions and actions. Silvers are often considered shadows dwelling on the periphery of dragon culture (much like human Rangers), but they can always be counted upon to speak the truth and help their allies. Because no one but a Silver knows what they'll do next, their alignment is "Chaotic Neutral."

Being a Silver isn't all shady head-games, though. I possess considerable intelligence and self-confidence (whether they manifest themselves or not :P ). Magic isn't really my bag, but I'm awfully good at slipping in and out undetected. Which, by the way, is probably due to my slightly-below-average size. My favorable attributes are dependability, durability, problem-solving, mist, and pewter. Like my human counterpart - the Ranger - I'm a superb weapons user and have an especially good command of my icy breath weapon. I know I might be tough to understand at times, but that's just my way.

By Bryan at 10:49 PM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Cabin Fever
We've been iced in here for the past two days. All of North Texas has been under a layer of sleet and ice since Monday.

Though I love winter weather, and really miss the quantity and quality of winter weather that we had while living in Colorado, there are a couple of things I had forgotten about that I absolutely don't miss:

  1. Constantly cleaning the dogs feet off when she comes in.
  2. Forgetting that my shoes are covered in ice and tracking it into the house, then walking in a puddle of water a little later with just my socks on.
  3. The extra time it takes to get anywhere.
On the other hand, I love that this sort of weather shuts things down here. I really enjoyed the two days off from work, and the time spent with my son.

By Bryan at 2:31 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Saturday, February 22, 2003

Divine No More?

Unable to staunch continual financial hemorrhaging, divine is reportedly close to declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy (perhaps even today). As a premier CMS package, we think divine's...
[Trends and Features from CMSWatch]
I'm very glad that I helped steer my employer away from Divine's CMS when we were looking to replace our content repository recently.

By Bryan at 12:36 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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Thursday, February 20, 2003

Amazing Artwork
Brian Northum pointed me to this site: http://www.hybridmedicalanimation.com.

The site contains some incredible medical animations and illustrations.

By Bryan at 11:20 PM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

FW .NET Users Group
Rob Howard is presenting at tonight's Fort Worth .NET Users Group meeting. Looks like he will be talking about ASP.NET Performance Best Practices.

I've not attended a FWDNUG meeting since I went to the very first one, but I will not miss this one.

Out of curiosity, if you are a .NET developer in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, shoot me a note either via the comment system here, or email. If you belong to either DDNUG or FWDNUG, let me know as well. Also, if you have a personal weblog, or site, please include the url. I am just curious at to whether any local .NET developers are coming across my site.

By Bryan at 1:02 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Stacey's Cafe
Went to Stacey's Cafe for dinner this evening. Scott Adams is a co-owner. Surprisingly, aside from the menu (you must read the menu, which is available at their website), there was very little to tip you off that Scott Adams is involved in any way.

By the way, the food was really good, I had the filet mignon -- cooked to perfection.

By Bryan at 11:30 PM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Sunday, February 9, 2003

Well, I Made It
I made it safe and sound to pleasant Pleasanton, California. The flight was quite rough, but the scenery was amazing. I had abosultely gorgeous views of the Grand Canyon. One of these days I will have to visit on the ground.

Pleasanton seems nice enough. I did some driving around after checking in to my hotel. There's a nice little downtown area with a lot of places to eat and shops -- it was very busy when I went through there. The one thing that really caught my attention was the number of shiny new office buildings that are sitting empty.

All right, time to pay attention to Alias.

By Bryan at 11:25 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Friday, February 7, 2003

Going To California
I will be in the Bay Area all next week (2/9 - 2/15) attending some training for my 9-5 job (training is at Documentum, if you must know). I wish I was going out there for VSLive! this year, but such as life. Anyway, my evenings will be free, and I'd love to hook up with any of you .NET bloggers that live out there or are in town for VSLive.

By Bryan at 11:47 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Tech·Ed
It is great that Dallas is one of the cities on Microsoft's Tech·Ed Conference rotation, but I don't know that it is so great when you live only 30 miles away from Dallas.

I usually look forward to attending conferences, not only for the cool stuff I will learn about, and the great people I will meet, but also as a time to simply get away and unwind. I just don't know that that is possible when attending a conference in your home town. I mean, do I hit my company up for a room downtown so that I can be close to all the action? If they agree to that, what will my wife say? And my son? "Daddy's gone on a trip...to Dallas." Gee, that is something we do all the time. And what if my company doesn't agree to that? What if they say "no, you are less than 30 miles away, we can't get you a hotel room." Then what? How likely am I to spend 12+ hours a day around the conference when I am waking up at the crack of dawn to get there and then not getting home until 10 or 11 PM? Where is the chance to unwind in that?

Perhaps I am off base, and I get a little too much pleasure from attending conferences. Maybe I should just be glad that I have a job at a company willing to pay for any of it at all.

What have y'all done when faced with the option of attending a conference in the same city you live in, or in a nearby city?

What I'd really like to do is attend this.

By Bryan at 10:58 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Friday, January 31, 2003

ASP.NET Calendar Control
I've been working on implementing the ASP.NET Calendar Control into the weblog app lately.

Writing the code so that entries showed up where they are supposed to was easy, but I am having a heck of a time getting consistent formating of the calendar itself. For example, using CSSClass for styling the control is hit or miss -- mostly miss, and on my server, the font-size and forecolor properties of TitleStyle don't want to work, at least not if I also want to use NextPrevStyle. However, if I create the exact same calendar in a page running on XP Pro, they work.

Has anyone else experienced similar inconsistencies with this control? It is really starting to annoy me.

By Bryan at 9:19 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, January 27, 2003

Icon War
Not sure how long this has been circulating, but I just saw it for the first time. Very funny.

By Bryan at 12:52 PM , in Cool Stuff - Permalink
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Sunday, January 26, 2003

Can We Get On With Alias Already?
I don't suppose that ABC would just go ahead and start showing Alias to the majority of the country that doesn't care about Tampa or Oakland. Now that the suspense is gone, I see no reason to show any more of it, at least not outside of Florida.

By Bryan at 8:06 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Game Over!
Ok, not really, but it might as well be. That last Tampa Bay score should just about do it.

27 - 3

Well, now that should really do it - 34 - 3. Who woulda thought that the Raiders would be this bad?

I am mildly pleased that I won't have to look at "Super Bowl Champions" t-shirts all over the place during my trip to the bay area in two weeks.

By Bryan at 7:53 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Friday, January 24, 2003

VSLive

Robert Scoble is planning a .NET Blogger's dinner in San Francisco (Saturday, February 8th) during the VSLive conference.  Anybody interested in joining in?  We are meeting at the San Francisco Marriott at 6pm.
[StronglyTyped - Richard Caetano's weblog on software development]
I didn't think I would really miss VSLive this year. Afterall, I'd only gone once before (last year, specifically for the VS.NET launch). Then I come across this, and start thinking about all the cool stuff I am going to be missing out on.

As it is, I will be in the bay area during the week that VSLive is going on (arrive early afternoon on the 9th, staying until the 15th), so maybe I can latch on in the evening one night for something that doesn't require an event pass.

By Bryan at 5:39 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Sigh...
I'm bored. Redsign? Write some code for the weblog app? Start a new project? Take a nap?

What was that -- Get back to work?

By Bryan at 2:58 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Tuesday, January 21, 2003

More On Tracking Referrers

What is the best way to implement referrer tracking in a home-grown weblog?
[Harry Pierson's DevHawk Weblog]
My referrer page currently treats each unique URL as just that -- unique. So this - http://objective.mine.nu/archive/2003/1/2.aspx - is different than this - http://objective.mine.nu/. I decided to do this mainly because I was interested in the specific location that was referring someone to my site, not just the referring site. However, if you look at my referrer's page, you'll see that only the domain is displayed, and not the path info (moving your mouse over the links reveals the true referring URL).

This was pretty quick and dirty, well not dirty, but quick. Anyway, I've been thinking of other ways to display the referrer information, and keep coming back to a hierarchical view, where I display the referring domains, and then drill down to view data on the specific referring URL's.

Of course, I am always looking for a better way...

By Bryan at 10:38 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Monday, January 20, 2003

Real Simple
I saw a magazine the other day while I was walking out of my local Barnes & Noble. I didn't flip through it or even pick it up (I don't even recall having ever seen this magazine before), but one of the stories listed on the cover caught my attention -- a month of dinners.

I've just browsed through the recipes listed, and already I've found several things that I would like to try. The rosemary-garlic chicken looks like a good place to start.

If anyone out there decides to try some of the recipes, please let me know how they turn out.

By Bryan at 11:41 AM , in Eats and Drinks - Permalink
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Friday, January 17, 2003

Another Day, Another Week
I can't believe how time is just flying by these last couple of weeks. It has everything to do with how busy I've been at work.

We are embarking on a rather large data conversion project, where we will be converting around 76,000 pages of content from Interleaf files to XML. At the same time we are moving from BladeRunner to Documentum as our repository, and switching from Epic to XMetal as our XML editor. We also have to build the publishing process for taking the content from XML to whatever else (print, CD, online, etc). Oh, and this all has to be complete by the end of the year so that starting in 2004 our content is updated in XML.

I am confident that we will succeed.

By Bryan at 4:28 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Searching
I need to make the content of my weblog, or any weblog powered by my weblog app searchable.

By Bryan at 3:55 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Sticking Now
Well, the snow has been falling steadily for the past 4 hours, and it is finally sticking. I took a couple of pictures, not that they are anything special compared to this, or this, but I will post them up here a little later for the curious.

By Bryan at 3:01 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Those Weather Folks Were Right
Hey, it's snowing here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I know this isn't highly unusual, it does snow (more likely is an ice storm) once in a while. Heck, growing up, I probably had as many snow days as the kids in Denver (simply because Dallas doesn't have the equipment to deal with wintry weather, whereas Denver has more than enough). Anyway, having been back in Texas for almost a year and a half now, the thing I've missed most of all is the snow. We weren't in Colorado long enough for the novelty to wear off, though it was close (but only after I had to start shoveling my own sidewalks and driveway).

By the way, it isn't sticking or anything, but it is still nice to look at. Now, if only the temperature would drop another couple of degrees.

By Bryan at 11:48 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Thursday, January 9, 2003

And I Thought Monday Was Rough...
This day just sucked. This week has just sucked, but this day in particular.

My home pc is not yet repaired and I nearly lost the database for the weblog app.

On top of all this, work is so busy that if I had twice the time, I'd still be busting my tail to get things done.

By Bryan at 6:49 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Monday, January 6, 2003

Geez!
What a day. Is it over yet?

By Bryan at 5:09 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Hard Drive Woes
I will use the events of the past 36 hours as a wake up call. I will backup my data regularly, I promise.

I will thank my lucky stars each day that I had been using my laptop for development purposes lately, and that the latest code was there, and not on my now dead desktop HD.

By Bryan at 1:03 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Mind Your Manners
"You're too nice for a Monday morning", he said, as I held the elevator door open for the two people that were a few steps behind us.

Hmm...

Does the day really matter? Would this guy hold a door for anyone on Tuesday? Wednesday? How about Friday?

Too many times, I've seen doors shut in people's faces (including my own), be it elevator doors or just regular old doors into an office building or store. Whatever happened to manners? When did we all become so rude? Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we no longer stop to consider those around us?

I held the door because they were close enough for doing so to make sense (I wouldn't have held the door if they were at the other end of the parking garage), and I've had enough doors shut in my face to know that I wouldn't want to do that to someone else.

It's a small thing, really. It takes just a moment or two of time, sometimes less. They feel good, you feel good. If more people would do the little things to help out others, the world would be a much nicer place.

By Bryan at 9:33 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Sunday, January 5, 2003

PC Nastiness
Plans for dev work on the 'ol weblog app were derailed earlier today. I spent my afternoon and evening (and now, actually) rebuilding my primary machine at home. I think I will go ahead and give Ghost a try once I get everything installed again.

Sigh...

By Bryan at 11:37 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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RSS Aggregator
Thanks to Brad Wilson, I just RSS subscribed to a new blog. Bryan Daneman appears to be working on a .NET-powered weblog app and with my Radio license due to expire in a month or two, perhaps it's time to start looking. My favorite feature in Radio is the integrated news aggregator and as soon as Bryan gets this implemented, I may have to start begging him for a copy. [Grumpicus Maximus]

I had forgotten about adding this feature. I will work on it in the morning.

By Bryan at 1:35 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Friday, January 3, 2003

Referrers, Trackback...
Chris wants to know about my trackback implementation so that our sites can talk in a more automagic way.

I am on the cusp of redoing the trackback functionality for the weblog app. Until then, you can click the Trackback link below each post to get the URL that a trackback can be sent to. I have verified that sending a trackback from Movable Type to my trackback page works. If you have no way of sending a trackback through your weblog app, then you can put everything in the querystring, or you can use the test form that the web service page provides. Go here for more information doing this.

More to come...eventually...

By Bryan at 1:34 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Referrer Log
I've finally gotten around to implementing a referrer log for my little weblog app. Like most other things in the weblog app, it is usable for me, but probably still lacking if others were to use it.

I decided to create an HTTPModule to intercept incoming requests and log the referrer information. Currently, it ignores requests made from the site it is implemented in. This will probably change and become an configurable option, I just didn't care to see referrers to my site, from my site -- but others might.

One other "to do" is to create a server control for easily displaying the list of referrers.

By Bryan at 9:56 AM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Thursday, January 2, 2003

.NET Weblog App Update
There is another user of my .NET based weblog application. Welcome to the neighborhood, Ken!

This brings the total number of weblogs powered by my app up to 6 including mine and metaApps.com.

By Bryan at 1:40 PM , in Weblog Applications - Permalink
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Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Happy New Year!
I hope everyone is off to a very happy New Year!

We had a nice New Year's Eve, spent at home watching movies ( Like Mike & XXX).

Just enough time to catch the Cotton Bowl before heading off to my sister's birthday party.

By Bryan at 12:08 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Monday, December 30, 2002

Time to Get Playing!
My wireless ethernet bridge just arrived. Too bad I've got some other stuff to take care of today -- I can't wait to get this thing hooked up to my Xbox and use the Xbox live service. Guess I should use this time to think of a username for the service.

By Bryan at 12:27 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Thursday, December 26, 2002

Xbox Live
One of my most anticipated gifts this year was Xbox Live. Now the question is "how should I connect it?"

My office shares a wall with our living room, and the wall just happens to be the one that the TV is on, so I could easily run CAT5 between the two rooms. But I've also got a wireless access point in the house. So I set out looking for wireless solutions for the Xbox. Lo and behold, I found this. Now I need to see who carries them locally, and decide if I want to fight the post holiday crowds.

By Bryan at 1:15 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Potentially The Best Present Ever
I just got potentially the best present ever -- a ticket for tonight's Power Ball. This is a big deal for two reasons.

  1. I don't live in a Power Ball state (or even very close to one).
  2. The last estimate I heard was around $300 million.
Of course, I don't expect to win, but at least now I have a chance.

Thanks Tom!

By Bryan at 7:36 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Happy Holidays
Heading over to the in-law's now. Won't be back online for at least 24 hours. Boy, these holiday's sure put a crimp in my coding productivity.

p.s. I have learned that I am getting XBox Live and at least one game that supports it. Unfortunately the in-laws don't have a high-speed connection, so the "live" part will have to wait until I get back home.

By Bryan at 4:20 PM , in In General - Permalink
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Cleaning Up
Don't mind me, I am just tidying up around here. Trying to get all these entries a bit more organized. This doesn't impact links to specific entries, only where they show up when clicking the Category links.

By Bryan at 2:38 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Recent Entries List Implemented
In case you haven't noticed, I've added a new feature to this weblog of mine -- a list of recent entries. The functionality for this is provided by the RecentEntries server control that I just created for my weblog app. I can specify the number of posts to show (default = 10), and I can even tell it to only show recent posts for a specific category. Well, that's about it.

By Bryan at 1:17 AM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Monday, December 23, 2002

New Look
It seems that everything is distracting me from the tasks at hand, which is to overhaul the weblog app. You need not look any further than this website for proof. Instead of working on the weblog app, I've give my personal site a new look.

Hope you like it.

By Bryan at 10:42 PM , in Site Information - Permalink
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Saturday, December 21, 2002

Need To Read
I need to read this article: What Is RSS?. At first glance it looks to provide excellent coverage on the different flavors of RSS, as well as things to think about for the developer building tools to consume them.

By Bryan at 11:07 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Friday, December 20, 2002

Features? Speak Up Now
Now is the time to let me know what you'd like to see in this app. Of course, it might be hard to tell what it needs, when you've never used it and I don't have a current feature list.

Oh well, if you think of something, let me know. If it is already implemented, I'll say so.

By Bryan at 3:30 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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The Overhaul Has Begun
Vacation time is here again, and that means that it is time to overhaul my little weblog app. Busy, busy, busy.

By Bryan at 3:25 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Thursday, December 19, 2002

Windows .NET Server RC2
I just finished loading up .NET Server RC2 on my old desktop. Everything went well except that my 4+ year old Netgear NIC wasn't recognized. This is odd, as it was recognized when I installed beta 3 of .NET Server on this same box a few months ago. Oh well. Instead of digging around for a disc I know I'll never find, or looking for the drivers online, I just slapped in a NIC that came with my DSL installation kit. Worked instantly.

So now I am going to play around on RC2. I think I will install the SharePort Team Services and then create the weblog solution web that comes with FrontPage 11.

I am sure it sucks, but I've got to see it. I'll keep you posted.

By Bryan at 12:16 AM , in Technology - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Minority Report
I just finished watching Minority Report for the first time. I had heard very good things about this movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is not to say that it is in fact a great film, just very enjoyable to watch.

If you haven't seen it, go rent it, or maybe even buy it. I did, and am glad.

It's time for some sleep, perhaps I'll write more in the morning. That is, if there is time before I am off to see The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers :-D. You know, there is a B&N right next to the theater, so perhaps I will stop by afterwards and see about picking up a copy of the collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick that contains The Minority Report, which of course is what the movie, Minority Report is based on.

By Bryan at 12:51 AM , in Reviews - Permalink
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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Office 11
Well, I just installed beta 1 of Office 11 (I obtained it at the Microsoft booth at XML Conference and Exposition 2002). So far, I've played with XDocs, including designing a form based on a web service, and also a schema. I even went so far as to connect to a database for populating the data for a couple of drop-down lists. Seems very straight forward (at least for the simple things I've tried so far). Based on the little time I've spent with it and the demo at the conference, I can see a lot of use from XDocs for capturing data.

I've also opened up Word and briefly looked at it's XML features, including creating a document based on an XML schema. This didn't seem quite as intuitive, but I need to spend more time with it. My inclination is that Word is not yet ready to be used as an XML editor. For now, we'll stick with XMetaL and XML Spy.

Finally, I opened up FrontPage. I won't go into any of the details of FrontPage other than to say that one of the prebuilt web solutions that it ships with is a weblog solution. Since I have been building a weblog app, I find this interesting. So now I am off to setup the Frontpage weblog solution. More to follow.

By Bryan at 3:01 PM , in Technology - Permalink
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Sunday, December 15, 2002

Roy Williams Must Have Heard Us
As Roy Williams walked off the field at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium, chants rose up from the crowd "STAY ROY STAY!". Maybe he heard us, or maybe he just realizes the potential benefits of coming back for another year -- either way, he is coming back. Right now, he is probably a late first round or early second round pick, but if he can put together a full season playing the way he has over the last half of this injury plagued season, he will likely be a top 5 pick. Here's hoping that he puts it all together.

For those of you that doubted me when I speculated that he would not leave, be glad that you were wrong.

By Bryan at 12:51 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, December 12, 2002

I've Been Busy
I've been busy attending talks and talking to vendors at XML Conference and Exposition 2002.

The good talks have been few and far between. The one highlight so far was yesterday's first keynote presented by none other than Don Box. It was a nice look inside the world of SOAP and Web Services.

One other highlight was my aquisition of beta 1 of Office 11. I really liked the demo MS had of XDocs, and I can't help but to wonder if the next version of Word might work as an XML editor, instead of having to use something like Epic or XMetal.

By Bryan at 2:48 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Sunday, December 8, 2002

Going To Baltimore
I'll be in Baltimore all this week for XML Conference & Exposition 2002. It is a real short notice trip. I went last year, and frankly didn't get a whole lot from it. Then I went to VSLive! in San Francisco back in Feb of this year, and that was supposed to count as my big conference for they year, but then my bosses boss said that I should go to the XML conference when he learned this past Friday that I wasn't going (3 others from my group are already going). So, I spent the rest of Friday nailing down travel arrangements.

I am going to try hooking up with Ken. We've only ever talked via email and IM, so I am looking forward to the possibility. If there is any once else out there that lives in the area or will be at the conference, email me.

I'll be in the Inner Harbor area, so if anyone has suggestions for things to do or places to go, drop a comment here, or email me.

By Bryan at 7:33 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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XML Schema and RSS
As I mentioned in a previous post, I've written a very basic Xml schema for RSS 2.0. It is very basic only because it currently includes only the elements that I use when building RSS files. Within the next day or two, I will flesh it out so that it matches the RSS 2.0 spec.

Additionally, after I had my schema, I then used the xsd.exe utiliy to create a class file from the RSS schema. I am now deserializing XML feed files into a rss object and then using that object within the feed reader included in the weblog app I am building.

I know, this isn't exactly earth shattering, but it is fun doing things a little different from how I am accustomed to doing them.

By Bryan at 2:03 AM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Thursday, December 5, 2002

.NET Based Weblog App Update
It seems like I've been working on this .NET based weblog application forever! Truth is, I really haven't done much with it since summer. The problem right now is that it works for me, but I wouldn't be comfortable handing it out to anyone else - but I want to. So the dilemma is finding time to clean things up and finish up some features that are still undone.

Here is what it has so far:

  • a custom server control for handling the templating needs of the weblog, including entries, archives, comments, and trackbacks
  • An XML Schema that provides Intellisense to the HTML view for said server control.
  • It generates valid RSS 2.0 XML files.
  • It includes an RSS Feed Reader.
  • It includes a commenting system.
  • It includes a trackback system.
  • It can ping weblogs.com when an entry is created or updated.
  • It can handle multiple weblogs.
  • It has a hierarchical permission system for allowing/disallowing activity based on user roles.
  • You can specify when an entry goes live.
  • You can specify when an entry has expired.
  • You can assign entries to categories.
  • There is a comment notification system that emails each distinct person that has posted a comment for a specific post whenever there is a new comment, including the person who posted the entry initially.
hmm...what else? That is all I can think of for now. Things that need to be done:
  • User admin is incomplete
  • Fixed (almost) - I wrote an XML Schema for RSS - it works for 0.91,0.92, and 2.0 (working on 1.0) - I should have known better than to trust the dataset to infer the proper schema.Currently read RSS feeds into datasets - this works as long as elements are not duplicated at different levels within the file: this is bad because you could specify for example a category element as a child of channel and also as a child of item, which results in an error like this when reading the XML:
    The same table (category) cannot be the child table in two nested relations.
    The catch is that this implementation easily handles 95% of the feeds I subscribe to, in all flavors of RSS. If I fix the problem, I will end needing to add code to handle the variations in the other flavors (I know, I'm lazy)
  • I'd like to clean up the HTML that is rendered by the custom server control. It needs to be more like the repeater control in that if you don't put the HTML in one of your templates, it doesn't get added to the page.
  • Finally, I'd like to overhaul the UI for the admin area.
To be clear, this is not a complete list, there are more things to do, I just can't remember what they are at the moment.

So there you have it. I guess I should post something over at metaApps so that people who end up there but not here know that it isn't dead.

By Bryan at 3:45 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Time to Lighten Up
Did I mention how thrilled I am for my favorite basketball team? The Dallas Mavericks are now 17-1 on the year - that is the 4th best one-loss start ever! I think the Rockets of 93-94 own the best start at something like 22-1. Mavs and the Lakers, in L.A. tomorrow night - GO MAVS!

In other news, it appears that my Cowboys are trying to make a late season rally for a respectable record. I really wish they wouldn't - better record = lower draft pick.

By Bryan at 3:21 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Holiday Update
Well, I tried to skip out on my picture being taken for later use on a christmas tree ornament, but my boss would have nothing of it. Tomorrow we are supposed to decorate our ornaments. That is something I will pass on - unless I can put a Star of David or a menorah on mine. But then, what is the point? I wouldn't want someone making a manger scene as part of my Hanukkah decorations (if I had any).

I am not sure why I am more bothered by all of this Christmas stuff this year. I have dealt with it all of my life. Heck, we even had a tree when I was a kid (mom's family is not Jewish, though she converted before I was born - to a few this will mean that I am not Jewish, but that doesn't change how I was raised or what I believe).

I have strong memories of a day during the first grade when my mom and the mom's of the other couple of Jewish first-graders came to school and we shared with our teachers and classmates the story and traditions of our minor holiday of Hanukkah. Unfortuantely I don't remember how I felt about doing this at the time. Over the years I have wondered if this one event sheltered me from insensitivity regarding religion (at least in school). As far as I can recall, I was never messed with because of my religion (and rarely for any other reason).

Instead of asking what I got for Christmas, they'd ask about my Hanukkah gifts. I never had to explain why we didn't have lights on the house, or why I wasn't in school during the High Holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). More than likely, the kids probably thought it was cool that I potentially received gifts for 8 nights and that I was allowed to miss school for the other, more important holidays. Of course what they didn't know is that while I might have received gifts on 8 nights, my parents were no better off than theirs, so in the end we all got about the same amount of stuff. Also, they probably didn't know that while I wasn't in school during the High Holidays, I still had to do any assigned work (due the day I got back) and typically had to take a test earlier if an idiot teacher had scheduled a test for one of those days.

Perhaps the answer is to be more open about my religion -- so people "know".

But I have a problem with that approach. Instead of someone saying "if I had known...," wouldn't it be better to say "I didn't know, and I didn't want to make any assumptions..." (or something similar)? Besides, like I said in my earlier post, my religion is my business. I won't impose my beliefs and traditions on you, please don't impose yours on me.

Are we too closed-minded as a society to realize that we are not all the same, and to be sensitive to possible differences?

By Bryan at 11:28 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Wednesday, December 4, 2002

I Am In A Funk
What is a guy to do when he doesn't share in the celebratory mood of those around him? No, I am not talking about a win by my favorite sports team's arch-rival, I am talking about this holiday season.

A company Christmas tree...Christmas decorations all up and down the hall outside of my office...even a little departmental tree right outside my office door...everyone is required to have their picture taken to hang on the tree...12 different Christmas activities for the 12 days of Christmas (whoever came up with that, by the way? my calendar shows it being just one day - perhaps someone was jealous of the 8 nights of Hanukkah?)...where will it end?

So you might wonder if I have ever said anything to anyone about this -- no. You might then wonder why the hell I am complaining when I don't have the courage to say anything. Here's the deal...my religion is no one else's business. I shouldn't have to complain about the excessive Christmas celebrating going on in the workplace...it isn't like I work for a church or something. I was under the impression that most companies had moved away from Christmas celebrations in favor of holiday celebrations -- but I guess I am mistaken.

Am I wrong to feel this way?

It's not that I want to rain on anyone's parade or be considered a party pooper...but we are talking about work here. You want to put some Christmas type stuff up in your own office or cube, great, but you don't need to put it all over every other piece of furniture and wall in the building. You want to have a work sponsored party during the holiday's? Well that sounds fun, but consider some of your coworkers might not celebrate Christmas and call it a Holiday Party instead of a Christmas party.

Heck, it's not even like I am asking for official recognition of the other winter holiday's...just don't cram Christmas so far down my throat.

By Bryan at 9:33 AM , in Day Job - Permalink
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Sunday, December 1, 2002

The Streak Ends
The Mavericks bid for the most consecutive wins to start a season ended on Thanksgiving. However, they won two nights later to improve to 15-1 on the year. Now...knowing that the longest win streak to start a season is 15, we also know that though they didn't tie or break that mark, they are now tied for the best start to a season after 16 games.

It's that whole silver lining thing -- as if they needed it.

By Bryan at 10:46 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, November 28, 2002

The Mavs Look To Tie History Tonight
The Dallas Mavericks take on the Indiana Pacers tonight, in search of their 15th straight victory to start the season.

Dallas whipped the Detroit Pistons last night, for the 2nd time in less than 3 weeks, 102-82, to up their record to 14-0. Everyone thought that last night would be the night for the streak to end. Afterall, the Pistons were embarrassed by the Mavericks in early November, losing by 39 (largest lead was 52). The Pistons had three days off to get ready, they had their home crowd behind them, the had revenge as a motivating factor, yet they were missing one crucial element -- superior talent. Sure, the Pistons are one of the top teams in the East, and the East does seem to be in the midst of a resurgence, but they still aren't close to the best in the West. Here's hoping that these two teams meet again before the season is done ;-).

As far as tonight's game with the Pacers, this will be a tough test for the Mavericks. The Pacers own the league's second best record, but have yet to face a top team from the West. In fact, when facing any team with a winning percentage above .600, they have lost. They key tonight will be Indiana's shooting. They are one of the few teams in the league that can shoot over the top of the Mavericks' tough zone defense. Personally, I can't wait!

Good things come to those who wait, and damn am I glad that I stuck with this team through the 90's!

By Bryan at 10:57 AM , in Sports - Permalink
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Happy Thanksgiving
I am not going to list all the things that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving, I know what they are, and they know who they are. So instead, I just want to wish you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

By Bryan at 10:45 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Friday, November 22, 2002

Use It or Lose It
Due to a change in my employer's vacation policy, I must use all of my time off for 2002 before the end of the year, or I lose it. To most of you, this might not seem like a big deal, and really, it isn't, I just get a lot of time off in the final two months of the year.

Let's see, I've been back from Mexico for two weeks now, and already I am on my last day at work prior to another week off. Then it is back in the office for the first three weeks of December, and then so long 2002 - no more work until 2003. I don't know what to do with myself and this time off. I am typically not the type of person to take a week off unless I have plans to go somewhere. Being that I did just go to Mexico, it isn't likely I will be making another trip this year.

What's a guy to do? I could work on my weblog app (by the way, I need a name for it - it was metaBlog, but I don't know if I care for that, and lately I've used blog.NET, but still uncertain), it is way past time for completing that thing. I could probably get a ton of stuff done on it next week. But I just hate staying at home when I am off from work.

I could take my son somewhere. I don't know where. I'd love to go camping with him, but at 2 years 4 months, he is still a little young for enjoying that. We could go visit my mom, but she was just here with us for 5 days. I am going to Austin on Thursday (not sure if the trip will be made pre or post turkey) so that I can make the Texas vs. a&m game Friday morning. Even that leaves me empty. I could go down to Austin a few days early and just hang out. It's a great town for that.

Maybe a shitload of snow will fall between now and my next week off, the end of December. Then I can easily decide what to do - head to Breckenridge for a week of snowboarding. I haven't hit the slopes since winter 2000-2001, when I had my one and only ski-pass. I was so bummed about moving from Colorado back to Texas last Fall that I didn't have the heart to go riding this past winter.

Enough rambling, time to surf for something fun and exciting to do next week!

By Bryan at 10:31 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

metaWeblog API and XML-RPC for .NET
I did notice that Charles Cook has an XML-RPC library for .NET that could greatly simpilify implementation of the server side of the MetaWeblog API version.
[Brian Graf's Weblog]

Charles Cook's XML-RPC library for .NET is indeed very handy. I was able to quickly and easily implement "pinging" of weblogs.com using it. I haven't done anything with the metaWeblog API (or Blogger API in .NET), but I bet it would be easy as well.

By Bryan at 4:14 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Friday, November 15, 2002

Sports Crazy Friday Night
It would have been nice to have 3 TV's setup side by side - I had three big games running near concurrently tonight.

Here is the tally:

In the NBA: The Dallas Mavericks extended their season opening winning streak to 9 games and halted the Boston Celtics 6 game winning streak, 97-86.

In the NHL: The Dallas Stars stayed unbeaten at home and handed the Colorado Avalanche their first road loss with a 4-2 victory. Dallas leads the NHL in points with 26.

In Men's College Basketball: The 4th ranked Texas Longhorns (their highest ranking ever) opened their season against #16 Georgia in NYC at Coaches vs. Cancer Classic with a 77-71 victory.

So there you have it - 3 games, 3 big wins. Time to prepare for college football tomorrow.

By Bryan at 10:28 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, November 14, 2002

Hmm What Conferences Should I Attend?
It's time to start thinking about which conferences to go to in 2003.

I went to VSLive! in San Francisco this year, and am considering it again.

Where have you gone? Would you go back? What conference have you wanted to attend, but haven't?

By Bryan at 1:52 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Monday, November 11, 2002

Back From Vacation
We survived our trip to Mexico. It was nice to get away for a few days. Though we missed Jacob, it was very relaxing to not concern ourselves with him for a week (thanks mom!). The resort was nice, but not great. We spent most of our time at the resort with just a trip into Playa Del Carmen for dinner and an all day excursion to the Mayan ruins at Chitzen Itza (pictures soon) taking us away from lazy beach/pool time.

I doubt that we'll be heading back to Mexico anytime soon. There are just too many other places that we can visit that are of greater interest to us.

By Bryan at 3:34 PM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Friday, November 1, 2002

Big Weekend in College Football
Several of the top teams in the land face what should be stiff challenges this weekend.

My rooting list:
Above all others, Texas Fight! (Texas at Nebraska) - Dating back to 1991, Nebraska has lost one game at home - that loss came at the hands of the Longhorns in 1998. Texas is 3-1 versus the Cornhuskers since the inception of the Big 12.

Colorado at ou - Bob Stoops has never beaten Colorado in his time at ou. After another horrible start, Colorado seems to have found their form, though I wouldn't give their recent victory over Texas Tech as much weight as the pollsters seem to have done. Go Buffs!

Minnesota at Ohio State - The Golden Gophers knocked off Ohio State on their last visit. It was the beginning of the end for John Cooper. Will it make a difference - will it inspire the Ohio State players that were around for that embarrassment? I hope not. I am rooting for the Gophers on this one.

Georgia at Florida - Is Georgia really a top five team, or have they attained their lofty placement simply because they remain unbeaten? Unfortunately, beating Florida won't reveal a lot about this Georgia team, as Florida is definitely in a down year. Nonetheless, go Gators!

Boston College and Notre Dame - I've been waiting all year for someone to knock the Irish from this inflated pedastal they're on. I don't know that this will be the week, but I hope that it is.

Pitt at Virginia Tech - It is looking more and more like Miami will reach their game against Virginia Tech undefeated. This means that I will be wanting Va. Tech to knock them off. But before I can wish for that, I need someone to knock off Va. Tech. Pitt gave Notre Dame a scare last week, and they beat Va. Tech last year. Go Pitt!

So there you have it - my rooting list for this weekend. While it is unlikely that all of the teams I am cheering for will win, there is a good chance that a couple of them could pull the upset, launching Texas back into the top 5. Yes, that is assuming Texas beats Nebraska - but I have faith. Afterall, it isn't like Texas will be trotting out a&m's wrecking crew ;-).

By Bryan at 12:38 PM , in Sports - Permalink
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Thursday, October 24, 2002

DSL Is Coming
DSL is coming...should be installed tomorrow. Then I can finally rid myself of the cable company. Yea!!!

By Bryan at 8:59 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Messing Up My Routine
The move to the new place has just wrecked my routine. Don't get me wrong, I like the new place, but for the past 2 days, I've had no desire to go workout after work. It could have something to do with the 30-40 minute commute (versus 5 minutes before), or it could be the fact that I no longer have a workout room to fall back on, like I did in the townhome. More likely, it has something to do with no longer being a quarter mile away from my gym. Now, I must go to a Bally's (where I have a lifetime membership, but it is 4 miles or so away from the house, or I go to my old gym, which is in the opposite direction of the house - but semi-close to work.

Whatever it is, I've got to get it worked out. I've been very good about getting exercise over the past 6 and a half months.

By Bryan at 9:27 AM , in In General - Permalink
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Monday, October 21, 2002

We've Moved
Over the weekend we moved out of the townhome in the city and into a house in the suburbs. Though I liked living close in to downtown, Jacob needed a yard, and we were all sick of the 2 flights of stairs that took us up and down the 3 levels of the townhome.

The move was uneventful, as all moves should be. Now comes the fun part of unpacking and getting the new place like home.

By Bryan at 7:21 AM , in Family & Friends - Permalink
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Monday, October 14, 2002

Setting Up A Friend (with metaBlog, that is)
I just set my friend, Cuyler, up with his own metaBlog site. I can wait to see what kind of goodness he posts. My guess is that the topic will be far ranging, but will probably all come back to technology somehow.

By Bryan at 4:58 PM , in Developer Stuff - Permalink
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Sunday, October 6, 2002

Texas Longhorns Survive SI Jinx
The Texas Longhorns football team barely survived the infamous SI jinx with a win against Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Being a season ticket holder, I was naturally at the game -- and I must say that in the end, I was as down as one can possibly be without actually losing. Texas didn't play well. All three areas had big letdowns. The offense was ineffective, the defense gave up a couple of crucial big plays, and special teams - well, the kicker missed 3 field goals. Granted there were some bright spots. The offense looked superb at times in their 5 wideout set, and the defense came up huge with an interception to kill OSU's final drive. Heck, even special teams accounted for OSU missing an extra point (enormous btw, considering it forced OSU to go for two to tie instead of kicking a PAT).

As always, after the game we began dissecting the team's performance. We were especially focused on what the implications of the narrow win would be on the rest of the season, beginning next Saturday with ou in the Red River Shootout. Were we this bad? If the offense was so ineffective against the OSU defense, how would we fare against ou's defense? Would it end up coming down to a field goal attempt for the win? If so, who would kick it for us? Typical stuff.

We then proceed to search for difference in our routine on that day. Let's see, there was the quick trip to the Co-op for some UT gear (a no-no from now on - if you don't own it before the season begins, you don't get it until after the season). Due to the game's early start, we never had our pre-game shot of tequila. Then it hit me - the cover of Sports Illustrated. We had survived the jinx! It was close, but in the end we overcame the SI jinx - I suddenly felt at ease with the world.

Of course, I watched the majority of the top 10 teams also struggle, which helped as well.

The one thing that I have learned over the years is that on any given day, any team can win, especially when that day is in early October at the State Fair of Texas and the game is Texas - ou. Forget last week, throw the records out the window, it is time to get it on!

Hook 'em!

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