kick in the pants

Last year I set out to read 12 books… 1 a month.  Sounds simple enough.  Well, I hit a 1200 page wall named Atlas Shrugged.  I will admit that I was enjoying the book, but damn it was big and heavy!  I just hated looking at how many pages I had left.  So it sits on my bookshelf waiting to be finished.

That was June… what happened to July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, and Dec?  Good question.  My great “book project” of 2010 had its highs and lows.  The high was without a doubt The Power of One. The low wasn’t Atlas Shrugged, I really was enjoying it… the low was just the fact that I didn’t have the endurance to finish.

As I was sitting at my brother-in-laws house in Portland during Christmas he was telling me about this book he read about the Vietnam war called Matterhorn. It was exactly what I needed.  I read the book in a few weeks and it even inspired me to start a book club at work.

I am excited for 2011, I have a couple recommendations from my all-star recommender (Nan-bot) and a few books that should challenge me as well.  Atlas Shrugged is not on the list for 2011, maybe I’ll try to tackle in 2012… maybe.

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book project

I have a confession that probably won’t surprise too many people… I don’t read very many books.  It really hit me last year when I starting forming the majority of my thoughts in 140 characters or less ;)

So I decided at the end of last year to develop a simple but effective plan.

  1. 12 months… 12 books
  2. Each book would be a blind recommendation from a friend

I decided to ask 12 friends (I intentionally asked diverse people) for one book each.  It was hard for some of them to come up with just one recommendation, but most of them stuck to the rules.

I am on my 5th book… here are the list of 12:

  1. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  2. Lost Letters of Pergamum by Bruce Longenecker
  3. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  4. The Power of One by Bryce Countenay
  5. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  7. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky
  8. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  9. Fountain Head by Ayn Rand
  10. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
  11. What’s so Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancy
  12. Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Conner

Now that I am 5 months in, I am really enjoying the project.  I will try to follow up towards the end of the year with a recap of all the books.

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SF Giants 2010

Just because I moved from Cali to Seattle 4 years ago doesn’t mean I don’t still bleed orange and black.  Today the SF Giants beat the Astros 5-2 in their season opener.  I was a bit nervous since the Giants Ace Tim Lincecum had a shaky spring training… however I was pleasantly surprised.  Lincecum had a great day striking out 7 in 7 innings without giving up a run.  Our new left-fielder (Mark DeRosa) had a great debut hitting a HR in the 8th.

I bought the MLB Gameday iPhone app, so I will be following my boys and listening to Kruk/Kip and Jon Miller all season long!

Go Giants!

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Portland Marathon

Well I did it!  3 hours, 58 minutes, 43 seconds. Here is how it went down:

I woke up at 5:15am Sunday morning.  Straight away I went downstairs ate a toasted bagel, banana and a big glass of water.  Next up was the nip guards and body glide!  We were out the door by 6:20am and headed to downtown Portland.  Kelly and her Mom dropped me off at about 6:35 or so.  I made my way to the 4h 15m pace group in the starting area and was ready to go!

4:15 pace group

I had a really hard time deciding what pace group to follow.  My training runs showed me that I was closer to 4:15 so I told myself I would start with them and then after the biggest hill (mile 17) I would see how I would feel.  Anyway, back to the race…

Mile 1: The first mile was spent basically fighting for position.  There were so many people (around 12,000) so it was a fairly slow mile.  What I remember most from the first mile was the huge smile on my face.  I really enjoyed all the hootin’ and hollerin’ from the runners as well as the bands that were playing downtown.

Mile 2: I got to see Kelly and Donna on the side of the course, which was great!

Mile 3: The first of the 2 big hills on the course was actually quite easy compared to the hills I was running on Mercer Island during training.

Mile 4: Still feeling great, and I got to see my friends cheering me on!  Thanks Brian, Nicole, Daniel, and Emily!

Friends

Miles 5 – 16: This was a fairly flat and very straight portion of the race.  I decided to move ahead of the 4:15 pace group but not quite catch up with the 4:00 pace group.  I found 2 girls who looked like they were from the University of Oregon that had about the pace I was looking for.  So… the stalker that I am, decided just to sit back and run behind them until I got to the dreaded St. Johns bridge.

Mile 17: The night before the marathon we drove over the St. Johns bridge just to check it out.  I had heard it was a killer, so I wanted to see the lay of the land to know when to attack it.  It was one of the best idea’s I had!!  As I was approaching the bridge (still following the Oregon girls) I decided that I had reserved a ton of energy on the flat straight portions and that I was going to attack the biggest hill of the course.  So I took off, gave a smile to the girls and to my amazement the bridge was super easy!  I think two things happened, one… I reserved a lot of my energy by running slower, and two… the adrenaline was starting to kick in big time!  I was passing people left and right!

Mile 18 : Coming down the other side of the bridge I was still running super fast.  I was running at about 8 min/mile at this point.  I was ready to start kicking some butt, and then all of the sudden I see my buddy Brian!  My friend came all the way out to see me at mile 18!

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Miles 19 – 23:  I ran quite a bit while in junior high and high school, and then about 4 times a week the 4 months prior to the marathon, but I had never quite experienced what is known as a “runners high”.  Well, from mile 17 – 23 I was there.  I wasn’t tired at all, I was running much faster than everyone around me due to the fact that I was running at a slower pace up until then.  One of the cool things about the Portland Marathon is that they put your name on your bib.  So as I passing just about everyone during this section a lot of people were calling me out by name!  It was a great feeling to here people say things like “you can catch the next pace group” or “wow, he still has a ton of energy”.

Miles 24, 25:  Somewhere around the end of mile 22 and beginning of mile 23 I finally caught up with the 4 hour pace group.  I had them in my sights for about 5-10 minutes, so I was pushing really hard to get there… in fact mile 22 turned out to be my fastest mile of the entire race!  Now, I don’t know if it was psychological or not but when I finally pulled next to the 4 hour pace group leaders my runner’s high started to go away and I really started to feel my legs.  But I thought to myself, all I have left is a 5k race.  Just stay next to the pacers and I’ll be fine.  This turned out to be the most difficult stretch of the race.  If I wasn’t actually in the race I would have surely started walking or just sat down.  In fact, this is the section of the race that I saw quite a few runners on the sidelines, or just walking holding a hamstring.

Mile 26:  My legs are absolutely locking up at this point.  I am still running, but really most walkers are probably going faster than me ;) but I am still right there with the pacers.  Now during the last mile you cross over the broadway bridge and you are back in downtown Portland.  Here is where the craziest thing happened to me.  I was basically just slogging along concentrating on anything but my cramping/locking up legs when all of the sudden I hear the pacer say “NOOO!!!”.  I look ahead and see the rail road crossing gates coming down!  There is a train coming right across the last half mile of the course!  I am still on pace for less than 4 hours, so I say to myself “screw it, I’m going for it!”  So I start sprinting as fast as I can… it was about 75 yards or so to the rail road crossing.  Now I will say, that the train was one of the trains that are going super slow that you see downtown from time to time.  It wasn’t at full speed.  But still, there were race officials trying to block me… but I just ducked them and made it through!  Now for the final 200 yards or so.  As I come towards the finish line I am just trying to take it all in.  There are so many people cheering and I hear for the left side… “Shane!!”  I look over and see Kelly and all of my friends!  I didn’t think I would see them, but it was so great!

As I cross the finish line, somebody puts a medal around my neck and a marathon blanket around me.  I hobble my way towards the food and engulf a banana, bagel, and a strawberry milk.  I usually love strawberry milk, but not here and now!  I just about throw up, but hold it in.  It takes me a few minutes to find Kelly, and then she drove me back to her brothers house.

All in all, this was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  But during the race and the weeks after I still have the same thought… I found that the training was much, much harder than the actual race.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Running Resources

Every time I start a new hobby (fantasy football, cycling, running) I always try and find the most efficient tools to help me get going.  Here are a few things that have helped me so far in my quest for running a Marathon:

  • Gmaps Pedometer: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/
    • I use this to plan out my routes before I run, the best part is you can save your routes.
  • Runkeeper (iPhone/Web App): http://www.runkeeper.com/
    • By far the best iPhone app for tracking where you ran, how fast, elevation change.  It also overlays it on top of Google Maps… very cool.
  • Shot Bloks: http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_shot_bloks/
    • One pack contains 6 little energy jello shots.  I typically eat 1 every other mile… make sure you have water to help wash it down.
  • Clif Bar: http://www.clifbar.com/food/products_clif_bar/
    • I usually eat one of these right when I get back from a run.  I tend to be really hungry when I get back and it always hits the spot.  My favorite flavor is Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch.
  • Nip Guards: http://www.nipguards.com/
    • Every time I run over a hour my nipples chaff really bad.  So… yeah, they have a funny name, but Nip Guards does the trick.  I am not going into more detail.
  • Nike+ http://www.apple.com/ipod/nike/
    • This is a poor man’s Runkeeper.  I wouldn’t recommend using this at all.  It isn’t accurate (it said I ran 15.5 miles, it was only 14), it doesn’t show you where you ran, or elevation.  I used it a few times and then moved on to Runkeeper.
  • Friends/Family
    • Most of all, if you have really supportive people in your life it helps out more than all of these cool tools.  My family and friends have been super supportive and it always helps when I am huffing it up a hill half way through my run.

I am always looking for recommendations for running resources.  Leave me a comment if you have any other thoughts…

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Marathon before 30?

Last fall my buddy Tom from work asked if I wanted to run a 5k…

I should have known that with my addictive personality that the 5k was just the beginning.  Since then I have run two 5k’s, a 10k, and a half marathon.  Next up??  Possibly the Portland marathon in Oct.  The marathon is 2 weeks before my 30th birthday, so yeah to me it is a big deal.

I will be sharing the ups and downs of Marathon training here on this blog for the next couple of months… stay tuned!

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Linux

I started a new job last summer and one of my favorites aspects has been the exposure to Linux.  I have been a “Windows” system admin for 10 years now so it feels good to learn something new.  I am still working with Windows, but 2 of the projects I have been working on are rooted in Linux.  The first project was to provide a blogging platform and I was quick to suggest WordPress, which is a free open source software based on the “LAMP” stack… Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP.   I have been using wordpress on my blog for a few years now, but I feel like I know the software much more intimately now that I have deployed 40+ blogs at work.  The second project I have been working on is  VMware.  When I was brought on we had 2 different VMware farms running different versions of the software.  Now we are setup in a single farm all running the latest version.  VMware uses Linux as its service console to help you monitor and support the environment.  Of course over the last 6 months or so I have had the rite of passage that is vi.  I am not going to claim that I am an expert but I am quite comfortable with the core keyboard commands.

Just today I was asked to deploy Urchin which is very similar to Google Analytics, except that you get to store your data in house rather than Google using it to learn more and more about you.  I had the option of using Windows or Linux on this project and I think I might just go with Linux ;)

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Seattle Viaduct

Since I moved to Seattle in March 2006 I have been hearing this discussion on what to do with the viaduct.  I have talked to everyone who will listen, but I think this video sums up my view perfectly.

Enjoy!

Via StreetFilms

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Superbowl XLIII

The 2008 NFL season will come to an end tomorrow and with it I see a huge sea change. Jon Gruden is no longer the hard working genius, Shananhan isn’t untouchable, and Dungy decided to retire while Peyton is still in his prime.

It doesn’t stop at the coaching level though… here are the last 3 MVP’s (not counting this year’s Manning)

2005 | Shaun Alexander, who this season did his best impersonation of Johnny Drama while trying out for any team that would answer the phone.

2006 | LaDainian Tomlinson, who after averaging close to 400 touches a season throughout his career looks closer to Emmitt on the Cards, then Emmitt on the Cowboys.

2007 | Tom Brady, who is still sitting on the couch with this leg up hoping that Gisele isn’t eyeing Big Ben.

Who will fill the void in the upcoming seasons? Well, we do have some promising young QBs such as Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Matt Ryan. It will also be interesting to see if the Vikings can surround Adrian Peterson with some talent before they run him into the ground the same way the Chargers did with LT. And can the Saints figure out Reggie Bush? I still remember the Saints in the NFC championship against the Bears. They had the lead after Reggie Bush ran for a long touchdown, but towards the end of the run he turned around and taunted the closest defender. That was just what the Bears needed, the Saints ended up losing the game and haven’t been back to the playoffs since.

I’ve always heard that the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and looking at the way things change so fast I guess it is true. Peyton Manning seems to be still going strong, but just as he inherited the “face of the league” from Brett Farve, he will have to pass it on to someone else soon.

super-bowl-xliii-logo

Superbowl XLIII prediction:

Cardinals 21 – Steelers 17

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NFL Playoffs 2009.01.18

Eagles over Cardinals
Steelers over Ravens

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