Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year In Review

2007 Year In Review

I had 2 big goals for 2007: Sub 30 5K and a 2:30 Half Marathon. You'll see how I smashed these goals more than once.

Well my year started off fine. I was running well, with some good pacing, and then at the end of January I was fired from my job. Needless to say, this hasn't really happened to me much before. In fact, aside from when the whole division was laid off, I've never been fired before. And the whole thing was bogus, they came up with some "reasons" why I was fired, but in reality I think it was just a cost-cutting measure on their part. I just wish they had been honest about it.

Then about a week later I contracted the flu, and I was out of it for about 2 weeks with no running. I talked with my boss from a previous company who wanted me to come back on a part-time basis to fix some code I wrote for him a couple years ago. Meanwhile, we had settled on a contractor to repair the damage to our house during the Windstorm of 2006 where some trees fell on our house. This actually worked out well, since I could work part time, deal with the contractor, work out, and also begin writing again. I did finally get a job at a great company, and also was able to finish a novel I had started a number of years ago.

After the flu I had lost a lot of my speed. I lost at least a minute/mile pace and I found it hard to get back into a rhythm. My first race of the year was Henry Weinhard's St. Patrick's Day dash, a mostly downhill race in downtown Seattle. I still hadn't recovered, and my Heart Rate(HR) was really high. I didn't PR this year. But from then on, things really started picking up.

I'm not sure what I did different this year, but I think it comes down to two things: more weekly mileage, and more consistency. I broke down my week into 4 basic runs: 5 mile slow run, 6-8 mile long slow run, 1 "speed" workout ~5 miles, and one "hilly" run of ~5 miles. This gave me a weekly mileage of 20-23 miles or so. For whatever reason this improved my running all through the year.

May was fun, especially the "Beat the Bridge" race. I had 20 minutes to run 2 miles before they opened the bridge. In hindsight, I don't think I had much to worry about, but since I've never beat the bridge before, I still had some trepidation. Turns out I had nothing to worry about, hitting the 2-mile mark at 18:26 and crossing the bridge with plenty of time to spare. It felt great finally beating that thing.

In July I ran my 3rd Half Marathon (13.1 miles) at Seafair. I felt great all through the race, even the last couple miles. The difference was that I had increased my long runs out to 12 miles. I also used sport beans and the provided sports drinks during the 2nd half of the race which helped as well. I beat my old record by about 14 minutes. This is a huge improvement. Meanwhile I keep setting personal records in my other races as well.

Then tragedy struck a couple weeks after the HM. My dad passed away after a long illness. It was really hard to keep running. I would start crying in the middle of a run. A couple weeks later, I ran the Footzone 5K where I was determined to once and for all break 30 minutes. I dedicated the race to my dad. Since I started running a couple years ago, this was my ultimate goal. I had been really close all year, getting down to 30:03 the week before the HM. When I approached the finish line, I saw the clock at ~29 minutes, and I knew I had it. I burst into tears crossing the line at 29:32. It was by far the most emotional finish I've ever had since my very first 5K, probably the most emotional of all.

In my next race I blew away that time with a 28:42. I have no idea how I achieved that, except that I was on some medicine at the time. I now have a really difficult mark to beat. I ran another 5K later in the year and came within 11 seconds, so I know I might be able to beat it at some point.

In my final big race, the Seattle Half Marathon, I did it once again, beating my record by 4:30 on a more difficult course. I even achieved a negative split, which is really hard since the 2nd half of the course is more uphill. I also ran a 12K and once again killed my record for that course. However, I missed my next race due to a kidney stone or something, so now I'm done for the year.

Also today, on the last day of the year, I ran five miles with our 7-month old puppy "Blackberry." She did great, although she would stop abruptly to answer the call of nature.

Race Results for 2007:
Avg HR
Max HR
3/11/2007 3.3M 33:35 10:10 Henry's St. Pat's Dash
183 197
3/25/2007 10K 1:04:35 10:23 Mercer Island Rotary 173 184 X
5/13/2007 5K 0:30:18 9:45 Kirkland 5K
176 195 X
5/20/2007 8K 0:51:20 10:19 Beat the Bridge 174 194 X
6/2/2007 5K 0:31:30 10:08 Issaquah Tri 174 192
6/24/2007 6.76M (11K)
1:10:43 10:27 Shore Run 168 184 X
7/3/2007 5K 0:30:03 9:40 Firecracker 5000 176 190 X
7/8/2007 HM (13.1M)
2:26:15 11:09 Seafair HM
165 186 X
8/5/2007 5K 0:29:32 9:30 Footzone 5K 176 191 X
9/30/2007 5K 0:28:42 9:14 Children's Run
177 194 X
10/7/2007 10K 1:01:54 9:57 Issaquah Rotary Run 172 190 X
11/4/2007 5K 0:28:53 9:17 Pace Race Kirkland 176 186
11/25/2007 HM (13.1M)
2:21:45 10:48 Seattle Marathon 170 185 X
12/16/2007 12K 1:17:46 10:25 12K's of Christmas 174 190 X

Yearly Mileage:
* this is only "logged" miles that don't include treadmill runs at the gym or when the GPS ran out of juice.

Monthly Mileage:

104 Miles in October was my highest mileage month ever.

Goals for 2008:
Sub-28 5K
Sub-60 10K
2:15 HM
1000 Miles Logged (20 miles/week, 83 miles/month)

I also want to start running regularly with Blackberry as she grows. I've considered trying to run a full Marathon, or trying to climb Mount Rainier again, but I don't want to overcommit to my goals, because that results in overtraining and stress.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Grumpy Holidays!

Grumpy Holidays!

Things I'd like to ban from the Holidays:
  • 12 X of Xmas songs. Stupid! Except for the "beer in a tree" one.
  • Taking down decorations. I'm getting way too lazy to put them I need to take them down??? WTF???
  • Marketing for Christmas in September. Tell me what's for sale the day after Thanksgiving. Hey, is it Back to School time yet? Stop marketing crap out of season.
  • No good new Xmas songs on the radio any more. Like, doesn't anyone write new crap anymore? They don't even play it. I heard "Santacide" on the radio last night...kewl but OLD.
  • Holiday Food. Didn't we just have ham & turkey?? What about Christmas Gefilte Fish? And did Jesus have a sweet tooth or something? Is that why we're getting slathered in Egg Nog all the time? I want some red-hot Xmas Jerky.
  • Being nice to people. What? We're not allowed to be nice the rest of the year? I'm supposed to have Holiday Cheer because of what? I just spent all my savings and my kids hate all their presents?
  • Christmas Sex with Strangers. Wait...that might not be a bad thing...

Things that we need to see more of:
  • Snow. I want 2 feet of snow on Christmas day dammit. I've lived 40 years and I don't ever remember a Christmas snowstorm. Dreaming of a White Christmas my ass.
  • Christmas Miracles. Like Santa getting off his fat ass and actually doing something. What's his deal anyways? Either pony up the presents or admit you're a fraud. Game's up, dude.
  • Peace on Earth. For a Christian Nation, we certainly do our share of misdeeds. Wrong is wrong, no matter how you phrase it. I want Bush and his whole staff, every member of Congress, and all the other dickheads to get nothing but coal in their stockings.
  • Alien Invasions. Seriously. Do aliens take the holidays off too? Why isn't there any Christmas Family Alien Invasion movies? I can't even find a kewl Google link for this bullet point, because the topic doesn't exist!
  • Warm Fuzzies. People will be fucking nice to each other this Christmas or I will KILL THEM! (the next day of course...wouldn't want to ruin Christmas ;)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

12K's of Xmas PR RR

12K's of Xmas PR RR

This race starts in downtown Kirkland, WA, right near my office. The day was cloudy and cool, about 40 with a light wind. This is the one and only 12K of the year, and as usual they had a small sign at each K with a picture of each "day" of xmas on it.
Fashion report: (all nike) black long sleeve top, blue/gray shorts, visor, black gloves to start, NB 857, garmin 305.
This is a fairly hilly course, but since my office is literally on the course, I run these hills all the time. That didn't really help me today. I haven't felt well lately. I missed last week's 5K due to a kidney stone. I had to bail on Friday's 5.5 miler over a lot of the course at 4 miles when I just felt tired and had no strength whatsoever. Today I felt better but not 100%. My kid had a fever on Friday so I know something's going around.
So here's the breakdown:
  • 1 10:30 +99
  • 2 10:02 -56
  • 3 11:24 +148
  • 4 11:23 +91
  • 5 9:20 -213
  • 6 10:12 0
  • 7 10:06 -71
  • .5 4:46 -5

I don't think the elevations are all that accurate but you can get a general sense of how hilly it is.
The last couple miles I really tried to get down to 5K pace but I really didn't have much in me. I couldn't even get to 10K pace.

Final stats:
Current course record:
1:21:44 (10:57)
Current 10K PR pace: 9:57
New course record:
1:17:46 (10:25)
A ~4 minute PR and 32 seconds/mile faster

Well, that's the last race of the year. I've had 11 out of 14 races be PR's at that distance. (which I guess a PR for PR's)

overall place: 694 out of 939
division place: 71 out of 83
gender place: 297 out of 347
time: 1:17:35

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Author Report: John J. Nance

Author Report: John J. Nance

Today John J. Nance gave a talk at my office.
This guy is a great speaker. He's a pilot, a consultant for ABC, a lawyer, and the author of 18 books. He talked mostly about his latest book Orbit. It's the story about a space tourist who gets lost in orbit, and how the world comes together to save him. It sounded incredibly interesting.

I actually talked with him over lunch as well. He and his SO are working on creating a new publishing house, so I may send them my synopsis and see what they think. I'll try to find out more about it and make a separate post.

He talked a little about politics, the airline industry, the state of the military reserves, and the current state of the publishing industry. He is pretty opinionated but speaks in an entertaining and convincing way.

He said in his latest book, his focus was far more on characterization than on action for once. He said he's been under pressure to keep his books fast-paced and not waste words on dialog, but now he's decided that he's more interested in his characters. I like that attitude, and I think I should do some of the same things.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I Can Do Better Than That...

I Can Do Better Than That...

Do you ever just read something or watch something on TV or see a movie and just say to yourself, "I can write better than that"?

I think part of the frustration is knowing that I'm sitting through a crappy movi
e when I could be home working on the next masterpiece. Or reading a book that makes no sense and uses awkward prose. It's like the author just mails it in. Do people really not care about the quality of their work, or is there so little good material out there that people will just film anything?

Here's an example: If you ever start thinking "Hey, what if my Main Character had an evil twin--" STOP!
The Evil Twin paradigm has been done to death. Yes, we all understand the yin-yang dichotomy of the modern intellect, but please...putting a goatee on someone and calling them evil doesn't fly any more.
No clones, twins, brothers, yourself from the future/past, a ghost of yourself, yourself from Dimension X, yourself as the opposite sex, the you that "should" have been, transporter accidents, lightning bolts, whatever. Enough is enough!

And for God's sake...enough of Vampires and Zombies! Repeat after me: DONE TO DEATH! Do you know what "done to death" means? That I'd rather die than watch or read another uncreative author/writer's take on vampires and zombies! ENOUGH!!
Create some other kind of monster already! Even the frickin Cookie Monster would be better. Imagine a thousand rabid muppets stalking you, wanting to eat your cookies. You would freak the hell out, beatch! Look at those googly eyes, and the deep cavernous throat. This SOB can pack a whole 10lb sack of Famous Amos before you even knew he was in the room. Look at the maw on this mother!

Come on folks, I know you can do better. No, wait...I can do you'd better get your shit together because I'm coming after you!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Spending All Day Looking At...

Spending All Day Looking At...

Well, I can't really exactly say what I'm working on, but it involves writing an algorithm to filter out "adult" content based on various parameters. Of course, to verify that the algorithm works, I have to actually look at the content and determine if it is indeed "adult" or not.

Some of the stuff I've seen had been pretty graphic and terrible stuff. Very extreme stuff, with labels like "educational" or "interesting" which are completely bogus. I don't even think much of it is legal. It also comes in from all around the world, so it's not just US stuff that I'm looking at. It's strange how different cultures value things so differently. I guess the question is whether I can come up with something that my kids can view or not. Another problems is that some of this content doesn't even have English words at all, so it's really hard to know what it is without looking at it.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Writing Tasks

Writing Tasks

Here are my writing tasks and accomplishments:
  • Received feedback on Dawn's Rise from the website. The feedback centered on these main complaints/observations:
    1. Too much description, not enough action in the beginning.
    2. The prologs are unnecessary and somewhat offputting.
    3. People didn't quite understand what/why things were happening, and didn't get involved with the characters.
    4. Too many adverbs.
  • Finished my NaNoWriMo story. I really like the character Ellie. I want to go back and create a short story around her, but I'm not sure how to make it science fictiony.

Here are some things I want to get done in the next few weeks:
  • Submit a couple more chapters from Dawn's Rise to Critters.
  • Write up some "interviews" of my characters. This may help me to know them better.
  • Write up some commentary on 30 Days so I can decide what to do with it. I think I can just put comments on all the posts.
I think I'm going to take it easy the rest of the year though...with all the holidays. I want to also focus on getting stuff done around the house.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Ski Season!

Yesterday was Opening Day at Crystal Mountain!
It was nice and sunny in the morning, but then a storm moved in and the afternoon was snowy and windy.
Noah is the kid in the foreground.
Looks like another storm is moving in as I write's always fun around here :)

"30 Days" Chapter Index

"30 Days" Chapter Index

This is the "blogvel" I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2007. Here it is presented in the "correct" order that it should be read in.
Comments/critiques are always welcome but keep in mind that this is a very rough first draft with only the most basic edits so far. I hope to repost an edited version at some point but don't hold your breath.

1 I am Really Freaked Out
2 I'm Almost Calm
3 Now I'm Beyond Freaked Out
4 Bad Night
5 Help Me...
6 Ellie is Driving Me Nuts
7 Things are Getting Insane
8 I've Got Family Issues
9 What the...
10 Carrie's Gambit
11 More Stuff Happens That I Can't Believe
12 In the Hospital
13 This Day has been "Swell"
14 I Don't Understand Ellie
15 I'm Lost
16 I'll Never Sleep Again
17 Maybe a Clue to All This
18 At the Warehouse
19 Ellie's Gone
20 I'm Blown Away
21 Finally a Relaxing Day
22 Carrie Finds some Crazy Stuff
23 Game On
24 Agent Ellie, Part One
25 Agent Ellie, Part Two
26 I'm Getting Sick of the Lies
27 Carrie Meets Ellie
28 Modern Interrogation
29 I'm Losing It
30 It's Gone from Worse to Worst
31 Wa the hels hapinin
32 From Ellie
33 Heart 2 Heart with Ellie
34 Carrie...Again...
35 Having it Out with Ellie
36 Shotgun Thanksgiving Part One
37 Shotgun Thanksgiving Part Two
38 Shotgun Thanksgiving Part Three
39 Shotgun Thanksgiving Part Four
40 Good News/Bad News
41 "Over"? Did you say, "Over"?
42 WTF Part One
43 WTF Part Two
44 WTF Part Three
45 Getting Back
46 So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye