Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-27

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-20

HBG Half Marathon 2010

I heard my iPhone buzzing. I thought that was odd, because I could have sworn I had turned the ringer back on before I went to sleep. Oh well. The bigger question, of course, was who was calling me so early? It couldn’t have been later than 5:00 AM.

Except that it was 6:20 AM. Crap! I knew immediately that it was Tim calling. And I knew what he wanted.

He wanted to know where the heck I was.

Panic set in. This wasn’t the plan. This wasn’t the plan!

The plan was to get up at 5:00 AM and get to Tim’s house by 6:00 AM. We were going to meet Steve, Katie, and Bridgett there, and we were all going to drive up to Harrisburg for the half marathon together in Tim’s van. It was going to be a group thing. After all, we’d all been running together and training for this half marathon together for months. We got up early on Saturdays and met at various locations: Tim’s place, my place, downtown Lancaster, the Conewago Recreation Trail. Anywhere we could find a good place to run. We increased our mileage almost every week, and we had made tremendous progress together.

We were a team.

Only I was kind of messing up the team right now. We were supposed to leave Tim’s by 6:00 AM, and here it was already 6:20. Crap!

I picked up the phone. “Leave without me,” I said.

Tim was curious. “You still coming?”

“Leave without me,” I repeated. “I’ll meet you up there.”

“You sure?”

Sure or not, I didn’t have much choice. By the time I would have gotten to Tim’s place, I would have made us all late. I scrambled to get my running gear together, thankful that I had at least laid some of my things out and gotten my hydration belt ready the night before.

Jen stirred in bed. “Are you going up by yourself now?”

I nodded. “Yeah, not much choice.”

“Do you know where you’re going?”

“I have GPS on my iPhone,” I said. “I’ll figure it out.”

“Don’t rush,” she offered. “You have plenty of time to make it there before eight.”

“I know.” But I still hated driving in Harrisburg. We said goodbye and I dashed over to the computer to print out directions. Of course, I didn’t know the address, so I had to search the web for info on the half marathon. I finally printed the “to” and the “from” directions, and I was off.

Thankfully, traffic was light that early on a Sunday morning. I found my way to City Island in Harrisburg and secured one of the last available parking spots. It was about 7:30. I called Tim to find out where the team was, and we met up a few minutes later.

When I saw Tim up ahead, I felt like I could breathe again. My first official half marathon was not something I wanted to do alone. I wanted to be with the same people I’d been training with for so long.

And they’re good people. A good team. As soon as I got there, they handed me my timing chip, which they had picked up for me. And the day before, they had picked up my race packet when I couldn’t join them because of prior commitments. I strapped the timing chip around my ankle and we gathered for a group picture.

Soon, it was time to make our way toward the starting line. We headed outside, and it was cold. It had been raining for hours and the air had quite a chill to it. We all figured we’d be warm enough soon enough.

The next few minutes were a blur. I remember meeting Katie’s friend Jen and her friend Eric, who was on my RunKeeper street team.

Before I knew it, we were running.

For a while, we were running in front of a father and his two sons, aged ten and twelve. We were all impressed with kids that young even attempting a half marathon. At one point I heard the father ask, “Are you guys okay?”

“My legs kinda hurt,” replied one of his sons.

The father laughed. “Yeah, they’ll probably do that until we’re done!”

After a bit, we got behind a group of Christian runners with scripture on their shirts. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Katie, Tim, and I stuck together for about the first four or five miles. Maybe six. Eventually Tim fell behind, saying, “I’m not running to keep up with you. I’m running my pace. See you at the finish line.” I kept up with Katie for a few more miles. Turns out, she was having a really, really good day. She was feeling no pain and running like the wind. I, on the other hand, was feeling some serious pain, mostly in my stomach, and breaking wind instead of running like it. Somewhere around mile eight, I eased up and told Katie to go on without me. I ran for about one more mile before I really hit the wall. I died around mile nine.

After a bit, I slowed to a walk. At first, I truly felt ashamed. All that training, all that time invested, and here I was walking a half marathon.

Then I remembered what Tim had said repeatedly: “Most people in this world never even make it to the starting line.” I walked, aching and sore, and waited for Tim to catch up. It wasn’t long before I heard, “Hey! Nice of you to wait for me!”

I picked up my pace again and said, “That was only part of the motivation.”

Tim laughed and checked his phone. “We’re still running a great pace,” he said. “Let’s do this.”

On we ran together.

For about a mile and a half. My legs gave out and I just had to walk again. Tim grabbed me by the arm. “Come on, let’s finish this. You and me.”

I shook him off. “Go, man,” I said. “I’ll get there.”

“You sure?”

“Go.”

Tim took off and I walked a bit further. Soon I heard another voice, one I didn’t recognize. “Come on!” she yelled. “Pick it up!”

I turned to see an unfamiliar young woman running toward me from behind. “There’s still time to finish with pride!” she said. “Let’s go!”

Once again, I picked up my pace, and I thanked her for the encouragement. “No problem,” she said. “You pay me back by picking up a straggler on your next race.”

“Deal.”

I don’t remember many details from the next few miles. I had hit that point when your mind and body aren’t really even connected. I remember talking to a really nice guy with a strong Indian accent who was, at this point, completely panic-stricken about the full marathon he was scheduled for in two months. I remember spilling water on a volunteer at one of the water stations. I remember getting back to the bridge and seeing and hearing a group of runners who had already finished cheering for those of us still running. Cheering with everything they had left. That pushed me forward some more.

Soon I hit the bridge back to City Island.

A man on the sidelines yelled to me, “Don’t hold back! You just need to make it across the bridge! No sense saving anything now!”

I’m sure he meant that to be encouraging, but the fact was, I had nothing left to save. I was spent.

But I ran across the bridge.

And I crossed the finish line.

With a time of two hours, twenty minutes. At that, I had to laugh.

When we did our practice half marathon at the Conewago Trail, I finished in 2:20. I had wanted to beat that time, but for my first official half marathon, I was content to achieve that.

A volunteer removed my timing chip from my ankle and another placed a medal around my neck. It was heavy. It was real metal, not plastic junk. And even though I knew that all of the almost one thousand runners who ran that day each got one, I felt like a champion. Like Tim said, “Most people in this world never even make it to the starting line.” And I had crossed the finish line.

I made my way back to the pavilion or garage or whatever kind of building it was where they had set up food and music for us. I found the rest of my team and helped myself to a well deserved breakfast of fruit, half bagel, and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

While I ate, I checked Twitter, only to find some tweets of encouragement from my daughter, who had borrowed my wife’s phone at church to send me a couple messages. I’m not ashamed to say that I teared up a bit when I read them. I had made my daughter proud, and that was a great accomplishment.

I probably would have cried more if there had been any fluid left in my body.

After having some time to reflect, I realized some of the mistakes I’d made that day.

First, oversleeping and rushing to get to the race venue didn’t start me off on the right foot.

Second, I underate the day before. By a wide margin. I didn’t eat enough carbs, or enough food of any kind. So I started the race at a deficit, hoping that some Gatorade could make up the difference. It didn’t. I paid for it with some stomach pain during the race.

I also pushed too hard, too soon. Tim commented that he felt like he didn’t hit the wall he always hits at the nine mile mark because he listened to his body. I joked that I listened to Katie’s body and ended up hitting Tim’s wall for him. Instead of trying to keep up with Katie (who had a great day and was really feeling it), I should have held back and maintained a more manageable pace early on.

Finally, I hadn’t done enough hill work leading up to the race. I had heard that Harrisburg was a pretty flat course, so I had been working on my pace and my endurance, and I had neglected hill work.

Given all that, I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. This past spring, I started the Couch to 5k program. Little did I know I’d be going from couch to half marathon in five months.

Katie snapped one last picture of the boys: Steve, Tim, and me.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-13

  • Just completed a 2.05 mi walk – Grace just finished week 3 of C25k :). http://rnkpr.com/a9ip5o #RunKeeper #
  • PHPing the morning away. #
  • PHP is such a weird language. I swear half of it's nothing more than black magic. Can't believe some of this stuff works. #
  • Hey @jack.jill.maddie you wanna do a mile run in October? You'll be ready! #
  • Mmmm. Good snack. 1 cup cheerios + 1 banana + 2 cups Turkey Hill sugar free choc ice cream + a bunch of fat free Cool Whip. Mix well. 🙂 #
  • Just completed a 3.03 mi run – Wanted to go further but it's supposed to be a taper week. http://rnkpr.com/a9kmfh #RunKeeper #
  • This morning on my way to work I got cut off by a lady with a "Coexist" bumper sticker. #
  • Sitting in top bunk while my son tries 2 sleep. He was home sick from school 2day. Managed 2 keep down rice, prostate ginger ale & banana. Poor kid. #
  • Up way too late, buy but I just came up with a great design for one of the websites I'm working on. #
  • I need a new profile picture. I'm down 40 pounds since the current one was taken. #
  • Just completed a 4.04 mi run – Saw a dead snake on the road. I hate that. http://rnkpr.com/a9lxip #RunKeeper #
  • These are the days I hate living in the country, try when they're spraying liquid manure all over the fields. It smells so bad you can taste it. #
  • Curious to hear what @nevmonster and others think of this:
    http://j.mp/btLP0U #
  • RT @robkroese: I'm hereby offering 10 free copies of THE FORCE IS MIDDLING to Rev. Terry Jones for burning. http://amzn.to/bsIUjs //awesome #
  • The Muppets' Name Etymology: http://j.mp/aQTYd4
    Awesome. 🙂 #
  • AppStorm is giving away 5 copies of the Alfred Powerpack. They should really give one of then to me. 🙂
    http://j.mp/awNC2Q #
  • Subway for lunch. Jared would be proud. #
  • This one goes out to @doctor_bob and @billyfens :
    http://j.mp/aNAB1K
    Thought of you both when I saw this. #
  • It's a beautiful day.
    Don't let it get away. #
  • Just completed a 2.07 mi run – This one's for you, Michael :). http://rnkpr.com/a9p66d #RunKeeper #
  • In nine hours I will begin running a half marathon. In eleven and a half hours, I'll be done. Time for some sleep. #
  • My next tweet will be @runkeeper reporting a 13.1 mile run. Let's go! #
  • Just completed a 13.14 mi run – I made it. http://rnkpr.com/a9pqql #RunKeeper #

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-06

  • Just completed a 1.91 mi run – Grace started week 3 of C25k tonight. http://rnkpr.com/a99m0g #RunKeeper #
  • Updates for Angry Birds, there Fragger, seek and The Creeps?!? Rock on! #
  • Band practice is one of my favorite times of the week. 🙂 #
  • Just completed a 4.00 mi run – Didn't feel great about that run but my calves are still magnificent. http://rnkpr.com/a9bhww #RunKeeper #
  • Wishing I was at the @Weezer show in Allentown. 🙁 #
  • Just completed a 2.29 mi run – C25k Wk3 Day 2 with Grace. http://rnkpr.com/a9cdx0 #RunKeeper #
  • “@jackjillmaddie: Just completed Week 3 – Day 2 of #C25K with @c25kapp #c25kapp woohoo! go Grace! #
  • Anybody else out there using iTunes Ping yet? #
  • Heading to Radio Shack. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. #
  • Just completed a 4.73 mi run – If running is 90% mental then my brain must be weak. http://rnkpr.com/a9e0sx #RunKeeper #
  • Well that's not how I wanted to start the workday. 😛 #
  • Stupid ColdFusion. #
  • .@nevmonster those chia seeds could totally help with my male pattern baldness! in reply to nevmonster #
  • Pizza. Is there anything it can't do? #
  • Just completed a 10.07 mi run – Gorgeous day for a run. http://rnkpr.com/a9f7tv #RunKeeper #
  • That 10 mile run tore my stomach to pieces. Not a comfortable feeling. #
  • Guitar Center. #
  • Picked up a small PA system at Guitar Center's Labor Day sale today. 🙂 #
  • My breakfast looks happy.
    http://twitpic.com/2lhtj7 #
  • These off-brand "construction blocks" are really crappy compared to actual Lego blocks. #ghettolego #
  • The brand name is "Best-Lock" but they should really call them "Nev-r-Click" #ghettolego #
  • If you have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you need this game:
    http://j.mp/aejNlH #
  • Just completed a 5.07 mi run – Took a whole different route today. http://rnkpr.com/a9hzj2 #RunKeeper #

First Half Marathon

Two people called me insane yesterday. Both were experienced runners. Why did they call me insane? Because yesterday I ran my first half marathon. Nothing official, just some friends running together, but I did indeed run 13.1 miles (actually 13.2). Prior to yesterday, my longest run was seven miles. Apparently that’s a big jump to make.

Insane or not, it was awesome. We ran at the Conewago Trail, so it was mostly shady and very flat, as opposed to the sunny, hot, and hilly routes I typically run near my house.

The only downside was that I did a really good Andy Bernard impression. For those that don’t get the reference, I’ll explain. Please pardon the story as it’s a bit off color, but not gross or offensive.

Sometimes when I run, I get some chafing. In other words, my nipples get sore. It happened to me at the beach the first time I ran six miles, and my next few runs were extremely uncomfortable. I switched from regular cotton t-shirts to real running shirts, and that helped a lot.

Until yesterday.

Around the ten mile mark, I started to feel a bit sore in the nipular area. I thought about finishing my run shirtless, but to be honest, I’m still pretty self-conscious about my appearance. There’s still a lot of jiggling.

Anyway, I finished the run and met up with the four others who finished before me (and for the record, three of them only did ten miles). My buddy Steve looked at me and started to snicker.

“Do your nipples hurt?” he asked.

Surprised that he had ascertained this information, I nodded. “Yeah, why?”

“Dude, look down!” he laughed.

Looked down and saw the blood. All the way down to my waist. As much as it hurt, I had to laugh. Somehow I had run somewhere around three miles without noticing the blood.

Steve, sensitive fellow that he is, whipped out his Android phone and shouted, “This is going on Twitter!” He snapped my picture and posted it.

And here, for posterity, is the picture.

My Best Andy Bernard Impression

In The Papers

Today my band, Superficial Charm played at a benefit concert for Bethany Christian Services, a great organization that helps a lot of kids find homes. As I’ve mentioned, my son Jonathan is adopted, so when they asked us to play, we jumped at the chance.

One of the reasons we were invited was a song I wrote, which Bethany’s local director, Mark Unger, heard when we played a gig with his band. I wrote the song “Find Me” for Jonathan, in an attempt to explore what his life must have been like before us.

Mark liked the song so much that he had Bethany’s PR guy contact us, and we ended doing an interview for the local paper to help plug today’s concert. They got a few details wrong (for example, my band is a three piece, not a duo) but we were happy to be able to share a bit.

I may write more on this later, but right now I’m typing on my iPhone and it’s getting kind if tiresome. 😉

The article is here: http://articles.lancasteronline.com/local/4/267036.

My Weekend Was Better Than Yours

I know it’s already Tuesday night, rx but man, stuff I had an awesome weekend.

Friday night was supposed to be the night we meet with our church small group, but only two of the couples were available, so we ended up skipping the study and just hanging out, which was really nice. It was really low key and laid back. We just chatted and our kids played.

Saturday morning I got up early to do a five mile run with some friends. Our circle of runners is expanding, and one of the two new runners with us this weekend was someone who used to live right up the street from me back in high school. We used to be really close, but we lost touch after high school, so this was the first we had a chance to catch up. And catching up on almost twenty years is a great way to take your mind off of the fact that you’re running five miles.

The run itself was great, and I was pleased with my time. It rained for most of our run, but that honestly felt great. I had my iPhone wrapped in a plastic bag inside my armband, so it stayed nice and dry.

Saturday evening was the Battle of the Bands at the Art & Soul Cafe. I was asked to be the emcee, which was a blast. I normally don’t like speaking quite so much in front of crowds, but I was in the zone. I introduced the three competing bands as well as the artist whose work was on display. They also asked me to play a couple songs after the last band performed so that the audience would have something to do while the judges deliberated. I ended up doing four songs, and unbelievably, the same kids who had been going nuts for the screamo bands a few minutes earlier really seemed to be enjoying my music and cheered wildly. To top off the evening, I did a song called “Sara” by The Rainchildren, who used to be a pretty big name in the local music scene before they broke up in the ‘90s. One of the judges had been the percussionist for The Rainchildren, and he joined me onstage to play that song. That was pretty cool.

Congratulations to End Of Silence for winning the competition, by the way. That was a nice moment for me, because their lead guitarist is in the youth group at my church, and I’ve watched him go from zero to awesome on the guitar. And their singer (screamer?) used to go to my church and has helped me lead worship a few times. Great guys with bright futures. It was really great to see their excitement when they won.

On Sunday morning, we had three baptisms during our church service, two of whom were children. All three shared their testimonies, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the church by the time they were done.

We followed the church service with our annual church family picnic. Burgers and hot dogs on the grill, lots of good food, a dunk tank, two hundred water balloons, and a homemade waterslide.

I got home right in time to meet my friend Matt, who was coming over to do some recording for a solo EP he’s working on. We worked on music for about two hours, which was fantastic. Made me wish I had my own professional studio so I could spend more time on music. Anyway, we got the bulk of the recording done, but I still have some mixing to do, and Matt asked me if I’d lay down some bass, some lead guitar, and maybe some harmonies.

After Matt left, we went to the home of another family from our church for a nice meal on the grill. The whole thing was kind of impromptu, but the food was great and the conversation was wonderful. Our daughters conspired for my daughter to spend the night, so we took our son home and put him to bed.

At that point, finally able to breathe and relax after a really busy weekend, Jen and I had the opportunity to spend a romantic evening alone, something we rarely get a chance to do these days.

So yeah. That was a pretty sweet weekend.

Since I Started Running

Back in April, ed I took the plunge into the Couch to 5K program. My good friend Ted had started it and was raving about it. I knew I had to do something to get in shape, stomach so I plunked down three bucks for the iPhone app and started running.

Slowly.

The first workout has you running for a total of eight minutes, drug and those are broken up into one minute segments. But I still found it pretty grueling. I’ve never been one to run, and while I sometimes get on the exercise bike, I hadn’t done that for months. By the time I got to work that day, I knew I was walking funny. My legs ached. Getting up from my desk was a struggle.

The second day was the same workout, and by the time I got to work, my only hope was that no one would notice that I was walking like a mummy. I couldn’t bend my legs. But I was determined not to quit.

And by the end of the third workout (which was, admittedly, a couple days later), I was okay.

The workouts increased in intensity, and this morning was my last C25K workout. And to be honest, I went further than the program called for, running four miles without stopping.

I never thought I’d be a guy who runs for pleasure, but I find myself really enjoying it now. The days when I can’t run (either due to weather or just oversleeping), I still hit the exercise bike.

When I started C25K, I also decided to start a new diet program. At 210 pounds, I had gained back over thirty of the seventy pounds I had lost years ago on the Atkins Diet. But I knew Atkins wouldn’t work again. So I decided to go low calorie. I met with my chiropractor, and he recommended a 2400 calorie per day limit. I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge, so I decided to stay under 2000. At around 1850, actually. I grabbed the loseit.com app for my iPhone and started tracking my calories and my workouts. Tracking my calories obsessively really made me aware of what I was eating, and it forced me to “budget” my food better. Hmmm…. if I have that second helping of steak, I won’t have any calories left to spend on some pretzels during LOST tonight.

That was nine weeks and 23 pounds ago. This morning after my run, I weighed in at 187. I was thrilled, but I know I still have more to lose.

But anyway, I’ve been amazed at how much running has improved my life.

Since I started running:

1. I have lost 23 pounds, as mentioned above.
2. my waist is at least 3 inches smaller.
3. my gut has started to disappear, which is weird since I haven’t been doing any stomach exercises.
4. stairs don’t leave me winded anymore.
5. my kids can’t get away from me. 🙂
6. I have way more energy than I used to.
7. I’m sleeping better and waking up better, and that’s without giving up caffeine.
8. I actually went to the Apple Store and bought an armband for my iPhone so I can run without having to hold it.
9. I’ve gotten closer to some friends who are runners. We get together almost every Saturday to run, because running with others can be really encouraging.
10. I’ve registered for a 5K race. My first. And I know it won’t be my last.
11. my daughter has expressed tentative interest in trying C25K.
12. my wife has remarked how much she enjoys being able to actually put her arms around me.
13. I am proud of myself. I set a goal and I achieved it.

Web vs Desktop

For all intents and purposes, I haven’t done any desktop programming for almost a year. This was after years of writing Mac and Windows apps, even going so far as to be a regular presenter at REAL World.

But since taking my current position, I’ve been all about the web. PHP, to be exact.

To be honest, I miss the desktop, but it’s not all bad.

For example, I really like being able to call functions without knowing the their names, just using a string. That’s pretty cool.

Also, there is TONS of documentation and help out there for PHP. Way more than I ever found for REALbasic, my desktop weapon of choice.

The JavaScript event model, though, leaves something to be desired compared to REALbasic’s event model.

And while it’s convenient not to have to declare my variables, I find it makes it all too easy to use unconventional and meaningless names.