Monthly Archives: June 2006

The Rabbit is Here!

I was at my VW Dealer getting my (very expensive; $179) 20,000 mile service done on my Passat. At this place, they have giant lot, so after you’ve checked out, they send some out to pull up your car for you. Kinda nice, until a bunch of folks pick up their cars at the same time.

Sometimes, they also wash it for you. They didn’t wash mine this time, but I wasn’t too busted up since they usually don’t do a good job anyway.

Anywho, while I was waiting for my car, I spotted what a nice shiny GTI in front of the showroom. Wait tic, that looks a little strange. Hey, that’s got 4 doors. Its a Rabbit! Wow, I didn’t think they’d be making the scene so soon.

Have to say that after seeing one in person, I’m not instantly in love. But, it wasn’t really love at first site with my Golf either. I really like the look of the new GTI, but when you throw another 2 doors on it, I think it loses something.

The price is also creeping up a bit too. The 4 door model I was looking was nicely equipped but not maxed (no sunroof) and as just a few bucks shy of $20k. Yar.

Volksbloggin has a gallery for the new Rabbit. See what you think.

Freaking Scumbags!

Had pair of emails from Dreamhost telling me that they turned off my email sending capability because I exceeded their throttle of 200 emails in an hour. Hmm, that’s strange. I don’t send any email via my hosting account.

Some pawing through the logs leads me to believe that some dirtbag has found an exploit to the pivot blog software’s comment posting mechanism. Geez, people really need to get a life.

So, just like little kids, one jerkass spoils the fun for the rest of the bunch. I’ve completely disable comments for now. Sorry to the legit users of the site.

Swamp Rat 2006 10K

Woke up about 6:30 to the sound of rain pouring down. Geez, I hope its not gonna be like Paige’s Butterfly Run a few weeks ago. Normally I’d go and check the radar and see what the weather’s gonna be like, but I figure I’m going either way, so does it really make any difference?

I run myself through the shower and begin to dig out my rain running gear. Got distracted somewhere along the way its already 8:00. Oops. Was gonna try to be there by then to miss the lines. Oh well. The 10k doesn’t start until 10 anyway, so I’ve got plenty of time. I hop in my car, its very wet out, but the rain has stopped.

I make the scene about 8:25. Its actually kinda nice out. Grey skies, low 60s, and a nice breeze. The scene is buzzing. I’d forgetten that this race has the (boys and girls) fun runs. So there’s about a zillion kids around. I go grab my packet and head back to the car, for a little last minute rest before the race.

Flash forward to 9:10, the 5K race starts. After hearing the excitement, I wonder if I should have double dipped and done both races. But, I resign myself to my original logic. 1 really good race is a lot better than 2 half-assed attempts.

At about 9:20, I make my obligatory bathroom stop, and head over to the finish line. Its not very often I get to see the finishers, so I wanna see what the real racers look like. The first guy strolls in at 15:44. He didn’t look like he was working too hard and he had a pretty good lead on the next couple of guys. The first female finisher came in somewhere in the 30s overall.

A couple of finish line observations:

  • Its really interesting to watch the contrast between people who are naturally fast and those (like me) who have to work it. The naturally fast people sale through the finish line with a big smile on their face. The ones working it usually have their teeth gritted or a look of utter disgust.
  • I’ve never puked after (or during) a run myself, though I’ve come real close a few times on really hot days. I’m not sure if this 5k had a higher than normal average of pukers, but its more than I’ve seen in one place before.
  • Youch! An older gentleman, who looks like he had done some racing before took a spill somewhere in the final stretch. I didn’t see him go down, but it looked like he took quite a tumble. Head to toe in mud, and some blood on knees and forehead. He was a trooper though, he still made it through the finish gate with the help of medical staff. Mad props!

    His accident kinda freaked me out. That’s the kinda thing I’m (overly) paranoid about. One good incident like that and you can be laid up for a while. The Swamp Rat finish line is on perhaps the worst section of pavement in the parking lot of the park. Its pretty busted up and has some giant ponds. I wonder if they keep the route this way just to be cute (after all, this is the Swamp Rat race), as there’s a far more suitable spot for the finish line about 20 feet from where they put it.

Ok, enough spectating, its time to get ready. So I tighten up my laces and go through my stretching routine. Feeling pretty good today. Nothing sore from the training during the week. Time to make it over to the starting area. Oops, I’m already there. I forgot that in this race, you don’t go through the gate. An announcer says 6 minutes to race time. Perfect timing, the sun starts burning up the clouds.

A few last minute instructions to keep right, “Runners Ready!”, and blast of an air horn. Man, its fast start. Oh geez, its the start hill from hell. Everybody squeezes together begins the climb. Still haven’t mastered firing out of the gate. About half way up the climb, I felt like I was about ready to hang it up.

But, soon enough, the hill crests and there’s a nice downhill. There’s quite a stiff headwind. That’ll make the out part kinda sucky, but will help nicely on the way back. There’s the first mile marker; I click the split button on my watch. Whoa, 7:03! I’ll probably pay for that later. Hmm, its at this point that I realize I’m not carrying my own water. Oh, well, I just get some on the course, I guess.

I’ve ridden my bike on this part a couple of times, but it always seems to be farther than it seems when you’re running. Thankfully, its just a little rolling with some tiny hills here and there. When I rolled into the parks parking lot earlier, I remember seeing some smoke and smelling what I thought was a campfire (a reasonable assumption, as this park has a camping section). But, it wasn’t a campfire, on the route was the remains of a 2 car garage, still smoldering. Man, that probably sucked.

I can never remember how many turns there are before the 5k mark. It always feels like its just around the next bend, but its not. Eventually, the turnaround is in sight. I still hate turn arounds, but this one wasn’t so bad. I grabbed a quick drink; well, I tried anyway. Most of the liquid when right up the nose. I should practice drinking while running.

A few people go saling past. Another bunch runs with me for a while, than starts to pull ahead. They’re going just a little faster than I’m comfortable with, so I only try halfheartedly to keep up. Its starting to feel kinda hot with most of the clouds gone. The headwind I was bitching about was helping much in speeding me up or keeping me cool at this point. I start to fall back a few times, then get a little wind again and close up the gap to my bunch.

After a while, we’re at the base of the climb back to the final stretch. I remember the first time I did the Swamp Rat, this was the pivotal point. I really saved myself for this hill and it made the difference. This time through, I kept the hill in the back of my mind and told myself that it was no big deal. This strategy seemed to work up until about the 3/4 point in the climb. Then, I almost felt like I was running on E.

Come on, Crowther, this ain’t no hill. I think, hey… I’m inside the last mile and its all down hill after this last climb. So, I lengthen my stride a bit and give it some gas. I catch one of that bunch that ran with for a while right before the turn back into the park. Ah a bit of level, then downhill. I can some voices catching up behind me, so I try to speed things up. Hmm, better not. Having a little trouble catching my breath. Better coast for a bit, so I can gun the 100 yard flat to the finish line.

A couple people do pass me, but I was right on their heels at the end. I sailed through the gate and tried to keep a smile on my face. I clicked the stop button on my watch without even looking at the time. Someone clipped off my timer chip. It was too hot in the chute for me to hang around, so exited and got a bagel and some smurf juice.

I sat on a picnic bench for a bit to recover. I was tearing into the bagel and looked down at my watch. Nah, that can’t be right… 47:03? There’s no way I was that fast with the hills. After enjoying the breeze for a little while longer, I got up and wander over to the results tables. Wow, 47:03, was the official time. That’s a new 10K personal best. Sweet. A quick look on the race website later in the day says that I was 64/166 overall and 3/12 in my age group.

I watched a few more runners come in and then started back to my car. On that walk I noticed that I had a little nipple bleeding, but only the right side. Nice, I hope someone got that in action shot.

Man, races are fun. I’m not signed up for anything else before the Boilermaker; lemme see if there’s anything else good between now and then. Hmm, that Airport 5k in Rochester might work.

Bring that Beat Back

Was pleasantly surprised at my recent birthday (yeah, I’m feeling old again) to receive a new MP3 player and some other useful electronic gadgets from my Amazon.com wishlist. Props to the wife and in-laws for the hook up.

The new player is a Samsung YP-F1XB. Features include:

  • Tiny. Its about 3/4th the size of a nano. Pretty light too. After clipping it on the waistband of my running shorts, its pretty easy to forget its there.
  • Built in clip. Its a sturdy metal clip that’s actually part of the player itself.
  • Display. Its kinda tiny, but a backlit monochrome, 3 line screen works fine.
  • 512Mb. Not huge, but enough to keep me entertained for a week at a time.
  • FM Tuner. If I get bored with my tunes, its always a good option.
  • FM Recording. Sounds cool, but I doubt I’d use it much. It would be nice to tape NPR Morning Edition or All Things Considered to listen to when running. It also has mic for voice recording, but I’d probably only ever use that for bootleg taping.
  • Decent user interface. Its not as nice as an iPod clickwheel, but its fairly logical.
  • Priced right. I was looking for something a little less expensive than an iPod because I know I will eventually kill it (drop it or sweat it out) or lose it. At $59, I’ll be a depressed instead of crushed when the inevitable happens.

I’ve used it for a few runs at the Y and I’m pretty happy with it. I’d forgetten how much it helps to have some musical distraction, especially when you’re doing 102 laps for a 6 mile run.

Case Dismissed

Phew! Had my court date for that tinted window and license plate cover violation yesterday. After waiting about an hour for my turn to come up it was pretty much a non-event. The judge asked me what I had done about the offending modifications. I said they’d both been removed. He handed me off to the clerk, who in turn handed me off the to bailiff to confirm that the changes had indeed been done.

A quick walk around the car and additional check on my registration and inspection stickers and he said everything looked in order and that I was dismissed. He said I could leave and that I didn’t need to go back into the court house.

Phew, that’s a load off my mind.

Operation: Unpimp My Ride, Day 2

Figured it was probably better to get legal faster than worrying about some glue stuck to my window. So, last night, I detinted the front passenger window. This one was a little harder to get started, because the tint was still pretty well affixed at the top of the window (the other window was peeling back just a bit).

I think I figured out the two tricks to removing tint. First, work on strips about 3 inches wide. Any wider than that and the plastic protective layer and the tint layer tend to separate on the edges. Second, pull slow. I’ve found that going slower and not pulling as hard is far more productive than really torquing it off because the glue stays on the tint, rather than getting left on the window.

So, this time through, I spent about 45 minutes removing the tint itself. But I left significantly less gunk on the window. I got about 75% of the gunk off before the bugs started irritating me. My hands were starting to get sore anyway.

I think with one more nights work, I should be able to finish things up. At least the weather has been nice the last few nights, so being outside with iPod music scraping away isn’t so bad.

Operation: Unpimp My Ride

Recently, my 8 year string of good luck came to an end and I got a ticket for illegal tint on my front windows. It was one of those traffic safety checkpoints. I thought I’d be OK (as I’m pretty sure I’ve been through them before), but when they stopped the car in front of me, I saw the officer clip a little black box onto the driver’s window. Suspicion confirmed when he got to me, it was an electronic tint meter. It accurately said my windows were only letting 36% of light through, far below the 70% minimum stated by law. I also got another ticket for a clear license plate cover (in NYS, you cannot have any covering on your plate. they’re afraid that it will obscure it enough to mess up a photograph; like when you’re using an ez-pass lane.)

Thus begins the unpimping of my ride. Thankfully, none of my unpimpings are as drastic as the ones in the VW GTI commercials. Removing the license plate covers (yeah, there was one on the back too), was no big deal. But I was little torn on what do about the tint. Figure its best to get rid of it (on the front windows for now) and eliminate the hassle in the future.

I have a lifetime guarantee on the tint from the installer, and there are some problems in the tint (mainly too many bubbles), that probably should be redone under warranty. I could probably get tell them to just remove the tint, since they’d have to remove and reinstall under their warranty obligation.

Or, I could see how handy I am. I’ve seen the guys who install tint and they’re not rocket scientists. So taking it off can’t be that big a deal, right? I figure, what the hell? So, last night, I gave it a shot on the drivers door. Before starting, I went to the home improvement store and got some tools: some razor blades (with a cool little handle) and a plastic scraper.

The top rear edge of the tint was already peeling back about 1/16th of an inch, so I used that as a starting point. I was really paranoid about scratching the glass, so I tried using the plastic scraper first. Turns out that due to its shape, its not really useful due to the curve of the glass. So, I loaded up the razor blade scraper. I got right under the tint no problem. I worked a big enough section so, I’d have something to pull. Surprisingly, the tint is pretty strong and likes to come off in big chunks. I’d work about 4″ free and put in a cut so if I broke the current piece off, I wouldn’t have to start from scratch again.

I’m guessing it took about a half hour to get all the tint off. I was extra careful along the bottom and trailing edges, because I’d prefer not have to take all the door trim apart to get the tint on the extreme edges of the glass. Thankfully, the tint is strong enough that you can really tug on it and not worry about it breaking off and leaving a piece that you can’t reach.

Thus begins phase 2: adhesive removal. The tint appears to be 3 layers: a thin plastic protective layer on the inside, the tint itself, and the glue that holds it on the window. Most of the time all 3 layers come off at the same time. But, if you pull too hard, the tint separates from the glue and stays on the glass. Unfortunately, this is some extremely sticky stuff. Windex didn’t seem to cut it, so I switched to a goo-gone adhesive remove clone. I thought it would zip right through the tack, but it didn’t seem to help much; I suspect my stuff might have lost its zip, as its been sitting in cupboard for a few years.

So, I went back to the windex. I found that if you work on small sections and work it with a fingernail, windex will take the gunk off. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of gunk to get off. I worked on it for about 30 minutes and got through about 1/3 of the window. It was starting to get dark and the mosquitos were starting to find me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish up this window tonight. Then maybe I’ll start the passenger front window.

Paige’s Butterfly Run 2006

Hmm… woke up at 5:30 to the sound of pouring rain. Strolled over to the window; yep. its really coming down. Feels like its gonna be one of those never gonna stop raining type of days. Moved over to the computer to check the radar on weather.com. Yuck, that’s one big cloud stuck over CNY. Maybe it might let up by race time.

I mess around s’more on the computer for a while that hit the shower. Hmm, its still raining pretty good. Time to pick out some rain gear. A short sleeve running shirt and another long sleeve one on top should do it. Hmm, should probably bring a windbreaker for messing around pre-race, so I’m not soaked through at the start. Geez, its 7:10 already. Time to roll.

On the drive in, it lets up a bit; but its still a steady rain. I’m almost to the school where the race starts. There’s supposed to be a church across the street with some parking. Brrrrrring, crap. I just passed a cop. Should I answer it? (after my recent run in with the police, I thought twice.) Its Larry’s son, saying they’re on the scene and wondering where I was. Funny thing was I was just answering my phone, when I sailed past the church’s driveway. I quick double back and we hooked up.

Time to go pick up my goodie bag, number, and timer chip. They’ve got a pretty good staging area, except that the areas for registration, goodie bag pickup and chip pickup aren’t labelled too well. Since I’m always early to races (as Larry mentioned, he’s not sure if its anal or complusive), its not a big deal. The guy who runs the timing chip process is on the job training the chip hander-outers. After a little stumbling we got our chips and hoped that they’d catch on for the rest of the racers (unfortunately, they most have gotten deluged after us, as the race started about 20 minutes late). Time to head back to the car for final prep and a quick snooze.

After a few minutes of shut eye to the constant rain, it was time to head back to race start for a visit to the portapotty and lining up. After a little delay for the straggler registrants, its time to line up. Hmm, maybe I imagined, but the rain seemed to let up to just a drizzle. Hope we start soon, I’m starting to shiver a bit. A quick live rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (by a girl using a road cone as a megaphone; love it), and its time to start. 5-4-3-2-1, go!

Passed a few slowpokes out of the gate and a few more right after getting out of the school’s driveway. Settled right in with some people around my same pace. A quick right turn and there’s a nice downhill section. At the bottom of the hill, one of Larry’s SRC buddies caught up for a bit and said Larry’s son Josh who started way back was hot on our heels. Sure enough, he goes cruisin’ by. I let him know he’s got a lace untied; he says he knows, he’s got stop soon. I decide to give it a little more gas.

Wow, already to the halfway point. Man, I hate turn arounds. Feels like I lose about 20 seconds slowing down then trying to get back up to speed. Feeling pretty good, but trying to hold back just a little to save some fight for that hill that I know is coming. Unfortunately, I was so in-the-zone on the way out that I didn’t pay too much attention to landmarks to know when that hill was coming; crud!

On the way to the hill, I ran near some guy that was grunting his way along. It was pretty regular beat. Not sure if was to the footsteps or to breaths. He was keeping a pretty good pace, but was kinda distracting. Also strange, was that he stopped grunting from time to time. I had a couple of yards on him at the start of the hill, so I don’t think he messed me up.

If this hill was on my training route, I wouldn’t really even call it a hill. But, being in the last half mile of 5k, where I’m really gunning it, its like a mountain. Well, not really, but I could definitely feel it as I tried to keep pace. But, soon enough its over and I’m in the final stretch. Starting to get a little discouraged as a few people start to catch up and pass, so I really turn it up.

2 more turns to go. 1 more to go. 0 to go. Some goes fly’n past me. Oh well… Through the gate. Wow! 22:35! No wonder I feel a little beat. Beat, but in a good way. The rest of the crew trickles in the next few minutes. Everybody seems to be happy with their race.

I guess I’m becoming a real runner. Why’s that? Rain doesn’t seem to bother me any more. I think I’d rather out getting soaked than just hanging around at home. Man, I’m consumed with running. I’m always thinking about that next run and/or race. Geez, its like I can’t stop. At least its a healthy addiction.

Going back through my log, I saw that this race gave me a new 5k record. At the 5k Race for the Cure just a month ago was exactly 1 minute slower. For kicks, on Friday I did a 5k on the track at the Y, flat out. I thought I was doing pretty good with a 23:15. I was really happy with my effort at Paige’s considering the crappy weather and the hills.

I was gonna reward myself with a day off from running, but what kind of reward is that? I just got back from another 10 miler… hehe.