Yearly Archives: 2006

Running Wrap Up 2006

Introduction

Ok, its time for a 2006 recap. I’ve been dragging my feet on starting this write up because I keep threatening myself to work in just one more run. But, unfortunately, I’ve been sick for the last few days and not in any shape to run. Guess there’s no reason to delay any longer…

General Statistics

I use little home brew web database to keep track of my stats. It drives the Quick Running Stats section in the side bar and that full stats section that I have to yet to shoe horn into the new wordpress version of my site. Maybe in 2007, I’ll get around to finishing that up and adding some more features. I exported the table from my database with all the running info as csv and imported into Excel for s’more slicing, dicing, and charting.

Click the charts below for a full size version. If anyone really wants it, I still have the Excel file with all the real data.

Distance Vs. Date

Distance Vs. Date Chart

Man, that’s pretty up and down, isn’t it? I think that’s mostly because of relatively short runs during the week and relatively long runs on the weekends. The recurring 10.3 spikes are my out and about 10 miler. The low mileage shelf back in March and April was time off around my hernia repair operation.

Weight Vs. Date

Weight Vs. Date Chart

I really tried to work on my weight in 2006. The downward slope is nice to see. My original goal was to be about 155 for the Boilermaker; missed that by about 5 pounds. I was feeling good at the time, so I wasn’t too busted up over it.

The gradual leveling off of the curve in September was me taking a little break after the Arc Half Marathon (where I had a little injury.) After that, I started to sub in 2 weight workouts in on weekdays. That seems to working pretty well, so I’m gonna stick with it for now.

Pace Vs. Date

Pace Vs. Date Chart

The pace chart seems to share the same spikiness as the distance chart. That’s mainly because I’m not really that interested in speed on the longer runds. But from September on, its nice to see a little convergence between the extremes. That’s probably something to work on in 2007.

Cumulative Distance Vs. Date

Cumulative Distance Vs. Date Chart

Not really interesting except you can more easily see my hernia break than in the straight up distance vs. date chart. I’m a little surprised that my net mileage is a regular as it is. Probably due most to my maniacal need to make it to the Y every single working day.

Interesting Figures

  • Total Distance: 1324.24 Miles
    Wow, that’s pretty far. I was looking to hit 1200 for the year and was little scared about missing that with all the time off from the hernia.  Guess I really didn’t have anything to worry about.
  • Total Time Spent Running: 183.8 Hours
    All time well spent.
  • Average Pace for the Year: 8:20
    Not too shabby; but, need to get a little faster on the longer runs.
  • Average Weight for the Year: 159.8 Pounds
    No real complaints there.

Races

Before I went back and actually put the list together, it felt like I didn’t really do much racing this year. But after seeing the final list, I think I did all right. Follow the link on race name for a full write up from the event.

  1. Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K (5/13/2006)
    Time: 23:35
  2. Fayetteville 10K Classic (5/28/2006)
    Time: 49:17
  3. Paige’s Butterfly Run 10K (6/3/2006)
    Time: 22:35
  4. Swamp Rat 10k (6/17/2006)
    Time: 47:03
  5. Utica Boilermaker 15K (7/9/2006)
    Time: 78:42
  6. ARC of Onondaga County Half Marathon (9/9/2006)
    Time: 111:28
  7. Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis 10K (11/19/2006)
    Time: 47:31

A few finish were good enough to place in my age group. Geez, I guess I should really start hanging around for the awards ceremonies.
Noticeable absences from the schedule this year:

  1. Mountain Goat (4/30/2006)
    Missed running because of hernia recovery. Stayed in spirit by donating a volunteer signup page to the race’s website and volunteering at a water table on the course.
  2. National Distance Running Hall of Fame Half Marathon (5/21/2006)
    Missed because of hernia recovery (was jones’n real bad though)
  3. JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge (8/1/2006)
    Canceled due to > 100 degree heat.  hmm, I see they’re moving the race up to June next year.

Looking Back

Despite taking about 5 weeks off for the hernia repair, I think I still had a break out year. While my race results aren’t all that spectacular, they’re all personal bests for me. Looking back a few years, I would never have guessed that I be so into running. Its really an addiction.

I’ve gotten a little more ambitious about running outside when the weather isn’t so great. I’ve headed out with rain in the forecast and gotten dumped on a few times. I’ve also been trying to make it out more in the colder weather. I’ve enjoyed some light snow and been annoyed by sleet.

We’ve had a light winter so far, so I’ve still been sneaking outdoor runs in (last was 12/23). I’m gonna miss the outdoor runs as winter really settles in. Maybe I’ll try keep on trucking through; but that’ll require me to finally break down and buy a real running jacket. That’s been on my wish list for a while now.

My trusty Samsung YP-F1XB mp3 player is a life saver. Its with me for every single run. I used to listen just to music; but, lately, I’ve switched over to podcasts (mostly from the Twit podcast network.) I feel a lot more productive getting the latest news while I’m troddling along.

Of course, I also had shared many a race and run with my crew: Larry, Steve, Leanne, the random SRC tagalongs, and the lifers I see everyday at the Y. Many thanks for pulling or pushing me along.

Goals for 2007

My main goals for 2007 are:

  • Quality rather than quantity.
    Trade in some of the miles for speed. Try to work some sprint action into my longer runs. Try to get the average pace down by 30 seconds.
  • Try a marathon.
    I’m still thinking that the Rochester Marathon is good choice for my first. I really wanted to try their half marathon in 2006 but proximity to the ARC run (with its injury) and cost ($45 early bird) kept me away. Maybe I’ll be able to do some preruns between now and then to get a better feel for the course.
  • Stick to weights 2 days a week.
    3 months in, I think the weights are helping get me toned up in areas not really stressed by running. They also help break up the miles.

Conclusion

2006 was good to me. I’m pleased to be making progress on all fronts (general fitness, weight, and speed.) I’m happy to relatively injury and pain free after the whooping I put my body through. Its amazing to see how much I’ve changed.

Looking forward to a fast and fit 2007. See ya!

Shout Out to A La Zing

I’m real quick to point out when I get bad customer service and a little slow to point out when I get service above and beyond the call of duty. One company that continually surprises me with excellent service is A La Zing. They sell excellent pre-made meals perfect for birthdays and holiday gifts.

A while back we sent a meal package to Sandy’s brother in Arizona for his birthday. Unfortunately, he and his wife to be were out of town. The delivery guy ignored the instructions on the package not to leave it and drove it with on their doormat. After a few days of baking away in the Arizona sun, the meal was ruined. (Note: the meals are shipped in a styrofoam cooler with dry ice. They’re good for a day or two at room temperature during shipping.)

He called up A La Zing customer support to see if they could do anything. Astonishingly, they said they’d send out a replacement package right away, even though it wasn’t really their fault. No questions asked. Wow!

For Christmas, we sent Sandy’s borther an A La Zing gift card. After you purchase the card, they email out the details to claim the gift. Unfortunately, a few minutes after I made the purchase, I got an email saying that they were unable to charge my credit card and to give them a call. So, I gave them a buzz.

They picked up promptly and were able to quickly fetch my order details based on the the confirmation number that I gave them. The first person I talked with was only able to provide me status about the order. She said that I’d have to talk to the customer service department to get the charge straightened out and gave me their hours and number. So, I called the second person.

Again, they promptly picked up and pulled up my order. They said there was no obvious reason why the charge failed, so they’d try it again. While confirming my info, we figured out that the month of the expiration date of the credit card was wrong. Whoops, that’s what I get for making purchases before that first cup of coffee in the morning. They said the second charge went through fine and that I was all set.

Fast forward through the holiday week and we talked to Sandy’s brother and he said they didn’t receive the A La Zing email. Doh. No problem, I called up customer service again. Again, they promptly and politely pulled up my record. When I said the recipient didn’t receive the email, they said not to worry and that it happens all the time (which I tend to believe due to junk email.)

I asked if they had a problem with sending the email to me rather than the original recipient so I could confirm that I got it and I would just forward the email myself. They said that was not a problem. I gave them my email and they resent the gift card. I was able to confirm its reception before hanging up.

I know it seems like a lot of hassle with the multiple phone calls above, but I was still very pleased with the way that they handled the situation. Each time I talked with them, I came away with a good feeling that the problem at hand was fixed. I wish that the other businesses I deal with could be as good to work with. Job well done!

Motherload of Music Videos

Via digg, here’s a list of 20,000 free music videos on youtube. I’ll take their word for it on the 20,000 part, I didn’t count.  A bunch of good stuff: bruce, pink floyd, dmb, ben folds, johnny cash, you name it.  Ran into a few that say “No Longer Available” when you try to play them, but most seem to work fine.  Geez, I was planning on being productive today, guess that’s down the tubes.

Super Mac Software Deal

Via digg, I stumbled on something call macheist. The idea is that a bunch of mac software developers banded together form a bundle of all their offerings. 10 programs a more than $350 value for only $49. and wait, don’t order just yet… 25% of your $49 goes to a charity. Sweet.

The original plan was that the last two big ticket programs (Newsfire and Textmate) didn’t become part of the bundle until certain charity goals were met ($50k and $100k). I checked in yesterday and they’d broken the 50K line. Later in the day, they dropped the 100K line for Textmate (and said that they’d pay the difference to 100K line out of their own pockets if they didn’t make it). As of right now, I’m happy to see they already at $116K, with another day and half to go.

Even though I don’t have my mac yet, I thought the deal was just too good to pass up. So, I bought my own copy of the bundle and I’m burning it to cd (along with all the registration program details) so it’ll ready to roll when my mac makes the scene. With Textmate being second on the list of programs (after Parallels) to buy after I get my mac, getting all the other programs in the bundle for just $10 more (and seeing some of the funds go to charity) seemed like a great investment.

Might be too little too late, but this bundle would surely be appreciated by any mac enthusiasts on your christmas gift list.

Update (2006-12-18) At the end of the promo, charity donations exceeded $200K.  Good job!

Hardcore Blender

Heard about a guy who tests his hard core kitchen blenders by blending items that you normally wouldn’t on one of the Twit podcasts a while ago.  Finally saw a link to the site go flying by on diggwillitblend.com is a riot.  Golf balls, hockey pucks, light bulbs, cell phones, and ipod?  You name it, they’ll blend it.  The host, Tom Dickson, is cool in a PC guy type of way.  ‘scuse me as I get back to watching these over and over, giggling the whole way through.

I Just Wanna Watch TV (part 30)

Ok, just about 2 months after starting the process, someone finally came out to look at my TV yesterday. The United Radio tech called me in the morning as arranged, ask me a few questions about the TV, and said he’d be out between 11 and 1.

He showed up at about 11:30 or so. He was very affable guy who came well prepared to tackle the problem. He started by trying to boot up the TV. Thankfully, the TV went into worse case scenario mode (the status LED blinking 6 times, the tube never fully powering up.) He asked for the TV’s remote (normally we just use the remote for the cable box); he punched in some codes, but the TV still wasn’t playing along.

He said if it came up at all it would make the diagnosis a lot easier. The alternative was to pull the back off and poke around. My hernia area twinged when he said that. Gulp.

At first we were going to try to slide the whole TV stand out a few feet with the TV on it. But being a cheapo stand from Target I was worried about the flimsy plastic feet snapping off and the TV taking a quick drop to the floor. So, we decided it was best to pick it up and put it on the floor. He gave me a great hint though; there’s some handles build into the case just behind the front bezel. You wouldn’t even know they’re there if nobody told you. They’re on the balance point for the TV, so you can pick it up with reasonable assurance its not gonna tip over. A quick 1-2-3 and it was on the floor.

Surprisingly, the TV was as heavy as I remembered. Moving it 5 feet wasn’t a problem. I still don’t think I’d wanna carry it down a couple of flights and into a truck though.
He removed about 20 screws that hold the back on and slid it off. Using a can of compressed air he cleaned up the 1/4″ layer of dust over all the guts and started poking around a bit. Turns out most of the electronics that drive the TV are on a logic board that’s on a sliding tray under the tube. After undoing some wire bunching, you can slide it out and get a good look around.

After poking around for about half and hour, he said that something in one of the logic boards themselves (ah, integrated circuits; no repairing, ’em;) and that he’d spec for replacement. With that he slid the logic board tray back in and buttoned everything back up. A quick heave-ho and it was back on the TV stand.

I asked what the time line looked like from this point. He said it would take a day or two to spec the replacement and generate an estimate. Then a week or so to get it approved by the warranty company. Then another week or so to get the parts. Then another few weeks to get a tech to make a return trip to do the install.

So, it’ll probably be another month or so before everything is fixed. I told him that at this point the timing really didn’t matter. We can limp along on Sandy’s old 10 inch TV/VCR gadget for a while longer. As long as its in the process and it’ll get buttoned up eventually, that’s really all that matters.
I thanked him for his time and wished him happy holidays.

MSDN Developer Event

Yes, I’ve visited the dark side; I needed to see how the other half lives. I get invitations from Microsoft all the time to attend their Developer Events. The location (Carousel Mall) and pricing (free) made yesterday’s event too good to pass up.

After filling out my pre-seminar survey (with a chance to win Zune), I filed into a movie theater that had seats that were far too comfortable. The presenter for the day was Susan Wisowaty. She was fairly engaging, but had some curious Microsoft observations and a couple answers to gallery questions that were a little questionable.

The presentation was broken out in three parts:

  1. Take Control of the Database Development Lifecycle with Visual Studio Team Edition for Database Professionals

    I’m not 100% up on Microsoft development, but in their scheme they have different versions of Visual Studio for the different players in the software development team (architects, developers, testers, etc.) Until now, they didn’t have a dedicate interface for the database developers.This new gadget has some stuff that was kinda interesting. First, there’s some tools for diff’ing schema between different versions of your database (development vs. testing vs. production.) After showing you the diff results, you get a script that can be used to push the updates from server to server. The tool is fairly smart about tracking down table/field renames in ancillary database objects like indices, views, and stored procedures.

    Second, (while they didn’t show it specifically) was the ability to maintain version control on your database schema. I’m guessing what they just throw the sql create statements for the database objects in SCCI.

    Third, there’s a sample data generator. This was pretty interesting. You set up some rules for how the tables relate to each other (foreign keys, etc) and some rules for the individual fields in the tables (using regular expression, shocker!) You then save this as a data generation plan. You can then run it populate your database. Seems useful, but was kinda slow for the amount of data it actually ad libbed. They also said to make sure you’re applying the update script to right database (the interface makes it almost too easy to blast away your production data accidentally.)

    The demo started fairly smoothly, but got a little off track when they tried to demo adding a new field to table in development and pushing out to production. They tried to add a new field to a table with ‘NOT NULL’ to an existing table. The schema editor didn’t have a problem doing that (maybe it should have generated a warning?), the diff tool showed the change, but when you tried to run the update script in production, Visual Studio went down in flames (with a roar of laughter from the crowd.)

    To be fair, the version being demo’d is not the production version of Visual Studio. Hopefully, they’ve cleaned things up a little bit in the real version.

  2. Windows Workflow Foundation Exposed

    Workflow Foundation is a primary component of the .Net framework 3.0. Its a fancy workflow engine. The basic idea is that you manage the components of your application at new workflow abstraction level. Said another way, you can separate your functional code from the flow.The workflow rules are managed via XML, but they provide a slick graphical editor where you can drag and drop activities in and set their properties graphically. The associated code is just a click behind. I think this would be pretty useful after you’ve built up a good selection of components.

    Their example in the demo was setting tax and shipping rules by state in shopping cart type setting. They made a big point to say that the workflow is dynamic. That is, you can tweak the workflow model while its running in the engine. I think this would work fine for workflow additions, but it doesn’t seem to sanity check your changes against data in the field opening up the possibility of orphaning objects in obsolete workflow states.

    Another good question from the gallery was is it possible when changing workflow to have the existing dependent objects retain the original workflow, while newly create objects take the update workflow. They said currently, this isn’t possible. Man, that would be a killer feature.

  3. Create Cutting-Edge Web Designs with Expression Web

    This was actually the primary interest item for me. Unfortunately, it was the weakest part of the presentation. It only got about 40 minutes of time, and the presenter was a lot more developer than designer (complete with some designer focussed wise-cracks.) Oh well…The Expression Suite are tools based around graphics. Expression Design is graphics folks only and meant to be an alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Expression Blend is a little more programming oriented, and allows you to designs Windows Forms based interfaces (using XAML) and web interfaces. Express Web is the web interface only version of Blend.

    The presentation concentrated on Expression Web. To me, its basically an updated version of Frontpage that borrows a lot of ideas from Dreamweaver. It shares its coding backend with Visual Studio so you when you’re developing an application, you can start in one and switch to the other when appropriate, or hand off. Theoretically, the engineer to could do the general layout of the application in VS and hand off to a designer in Expression to add the look and feel with minimal complication. I’m not sure if source control is possible from the Experssion tool though.
    As a Dreamweaver fan, I didn’t see much that I hadn’t seen before. The only stuff I thought was cool was the ability to edit css padding and margins with drag and drop (if there’s a way to do that in Dreamweaver, I haven’t seen it) and the editing interface was pretty snappy. The CSS stuff the presenter that was so cool was pretty much old hat for Dreamweaver users.

All in all, it was interesting and useful to see this stuff, and get some perspective on how the other side does all the fun stuff that I normally do in LAMP.

New Design Methodology: Live Redesigns

Eh?  What’s a Live Redesign?  Its pretty simple.  Blow away your current CSS styles and let your audience live with the unstyled content as you work out the new design.  I saw it first on Simple Bits, but now other players are giving it a go.

I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to follow in their footsteps, but it might be a nice kick in the pants to get the process rolling and follow it through to completion.  I have a vast collection of 50-70% complete designs that I either lose interest in, hate after staring at them for a while, or just never have the time to finish.