Category Archives: Thoughts

Chicago Marathon 2013 — A Look Back

Yesterday, I found out that I was successful in getting into the 2014 Chicago Marathon.  I registered with the lottery, but I still haven’t decided if I feel like going through all of the training again.

Another factor that gives me pause is motivation.  Aside from the training commitment, I have to create a new goal.  I shattered my time goal of a sub 4 hour marathon.  I did so well, in fact, that I’m not sure if I want to compete in another marathon again because I don’t know if I can do better.

Without further ado, here is the data:

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/mile miles/h
05K 07:56:10AM 00:23:52 23:52 07:41 7.82
10K 08:19:50AM 00:47:31 23:39 07:37 7.88
15K 08:43:20AM 01:11:01 23:30 07:34 7.93
20K 09:06:43AM 01:34:25 23:24 07:32 7.97
HALF 09:11:51AM 01:39:33 05:08 07:32 7.97
25K 09:30:05AM 01:57:47 18:14 07:32 7.98
30K 09:53:50AM 02:21:31 23:44 07:39 7.85
35K 10:18:27AM 02:46:08 24:37 07:56 7.57
40K 10:44:10AM 03:11:51 25:43 08:17 7.25
Finish 10:55:59AM 03:23:40 11:49 08:40 6.93

A casual reader might look at the above table and say “Hey, you didn’t hit your goal of 7:30 per mile.”  As it turns out, I was training for 8:00 per mile.  The conditions were so good (and I guess my training was more than sufficient) that I ran ~30 seconds per mile faster than my goal pace for most of the race.

So what happened that day?  How was I able to finally overcome the obstacles from 2011 and 2010?


Around the beginning of the year, I wasn’t feeling very good health-wise.  It seemed like any thing I consumed was causing me intestinal distress.  I went and saw a nutritionist and she pointed out that my symptons sounded like FODMAP.  So I started keeping track of everything I was eating and drinking.  In addition to feeling better, I started to lose weight.  Note that the FODMAP diet is similar to the atkins diet: lots of protein and limit sugars.

Chart of my weight for 2013
Chart of my weight for 2013

I actually got a bit concerned right before the marathon that I was losing too much weight (around 163 pounds early October) and so I started to eat more carbs.  Besides, I needed to carbo-load!

I read somewhere that the force of each step during running is 2.5x body weight.  The weight loss was quite noticable in my running as the year progressed.


Aside from diet, the other big factor that was lacking from previous attempts was training.  Sure, I was doing some running before, but I didn’t have any kind of schedule.  I needed a strict plan to keep me focused.  Therefore, I signed up for the CARA Summer Marathon Training Program.  This meant that for 18 weeks, I was running 5-6 days per week.

Given that this was my first formal training since Track and X-Country in high school, I had a lot of questions.  Was I a Beginner runner?  I didn’t think so, since I technically *ran* 3 marathons.  Was I an Intermediate runner?  Probably, since Advanced sounded too much like Professional runner which I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination.  How fast should I run?  I know that I wanted to get a sub 4 hour marathon, but that was just a primary goal.  I knew that if I did more training I should be able to do better than that.  The annoying part is that for the training to work, you have to know your goal pace because it drives all aspects of the training.  The expert thinking was that you are better off taking long runs at a slower pace (about 1+ minutes slower than race pace).  I decided my goal race pace should be 8 minutes per mile.

So for training, I chose Intermediate and 9 minutes per mile.  I started running a few weeks and everything felt super slow.  Plus, that particular pace group seemed rather unfocused.  I decided to up my game and try running 8:30 per mile.  The group dynamic was way better.  It seemed like the mental commitment of the 8:30 runners was more about the running.  The leader, Mo (short for Maureen), was an inspired coach and cheerleader.  It really made all of the difference when you had to crank out hours of a run.

Short runs were around 4-5 miles and the long runs were 14-20 miles.  I can’t stress how much time was spent warming up, running, stretching and cooling down.  The long runs were on Saturday at Montrose Beach.  I had to get up by 5:00-5:15AM, eat a snack, and then drive there so that I could meet my running group which started at 6AM.  For the long runs, that would be 2+ hours of running at 8:30 min/mile.  After water and stretching, I wasn’t back home until 9AM.


I didn’t rush to sign up for the Chicago Marathon in 2013.  In fact, I let it slip by because after 2012, I was pretty much convinced that I could never finish one successfully.  Besides, I was mentally tired in 2012 and my feet were in pain.  That being said, if I was going to do a marathon again, I wanted to make sure that I had a good start position.  The last thing you want to have to do in a race is expend extra energy to move laterally in order to pass slower runners.

So on July 21, instead of a training run, I ran the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in Chicago.  I finished in 1:39:13 which was good enough to qualify for Corral C.

Home Stretch
Home Stretch

I was pretty happy with the performance, but I also had a contingency plan in case the weather (or some other race performance inhibitor occurred).  On a trip to San Diego, I ran the America’s Finest City Half Marathon.  I finished in 1:36:12.  This course was more my style as it started flat to downhill.

AFC Half Marathon Elevation Chart
AFC Half Marathon Elevation Chart

This performance got me into Corral B.  I was pretty ecstatic.  I felt so good at near the end (after the gigantic uphill) that I was full-on sprinting.

Crossing the 2013 AFC Half Marathon
Crossing the 2013 AFC Half Marathon


I spent a lot of time in previous races working on my music mix.  I decided that music wasn’t really getting it done for me.  I moved to podcasts for training (excluding the long runs with CARA where I actually talked to people instead).  This made it really easy to forget about the running and keep my brain distracted with the latest news.

On race days (both halves and the full), I actually went without any ipod of any kind.  I found that the lack of music really helped me concentrate on the race itself.  I could listen to my body and soak up the atmosphere.  Depending less on music for motivation forced me to motivate myself in other ways.


So race day finally arrived.  I had a plan and I was ready to go.  About 3 weeks before, I had done the CARA Ready To Run 20 mile run and I was fast.  It wasn’t a timed event, but I ran the last 3 miles 1-2 minutes faster per mile than the practice pace.  This gave me a lot of confidence going into the marathon.

The weather was sunny and a cool 60 degrees with low humidity.  Honestly, I don’t really think weather-wise it could have been better.  Some of the CARA practice group met before-hand at the Hilton hotel.

My plan was to run run with a few of the guys who had similar time goals.  We had all qualified for Corral B.  It was going to be 8 minute miles all the way.  If we felt good, then we would pick it up at the end.

Well you know what they say about plans…

I started running at the aforementioned pace with one of the guys.  The other guys were further back in the corral.  After a mile or so, I realized that it was just too slow.  So I started to go faster and left the guy behind.  I had actually lost sight of the other guys but figured it’s my race.  Around mile 3 I ran into them.  We talked about the pace being faster than planned.  There was some disagreement about whether to go fast or stay on pace.

I decided to stick with the faster pace for a few more miles.  At that point, I figured I could re-evaluate.  That point came and I tried to slow down to see if it would make any difference.  Ryan, the lead guy, kept going at the slightly faster pace.  I did this for a mile or so and then decided to just go with the faster pace.

As I passed mile 10, I noticed that my time was right around my finish time for the Soldier Field 10 miler time of 1:14:02.  Suffice it to say that I was a little concerned.  I remember having to work pretty hard to get that time and here I am with another 16+ miles left to run.  But I thought, hey, that was in May and it’s October now.  Besides, I did well in those half marathons too.  So I kept on trucking.

Things were ok until the 12th mile.  I was running with a mix of Gatorade and GU gels.  After having some Gatorade at a hydration station, I vurped.  I felt nauseous and immediately slowed down.  It was like the wind had gone out of my sails.  I took the slower pace for the next mile.

As I approached the half way point, I started to feel better.  So, I decided to pick-up the pace.  After a bit, I could see the fast group that I had been running with before.  This was good, as they gave me a rabbit to chase.  Eventually, I caught up to them.  They were surprised to see me because really, nobody usually catches up after that type of reaction.

The next 5-6 miles went by like a blur.  I was running strong.  Then something happened.  I’m not sure what exactly.  But basically, I just didn’t feel so strong anymore.  I had to drop out of the group which at this point was just Ryan and I.  I couldn’t hack the speed.  It was frustrating as I was hoping to feel as good as I did when I did the 20 miler.  Not suprising as I ran 18+ miles significantly faster than I did in the practice run.

So I kept pushing.  I was drinking my Gatorade but I stopped the gels since I didn’t want another stomach reaction.  In hindsight, I really didn’t have nearly enough Gatorade given the heat.  Checking the GPS, I saw that I was slowly losing pace time but my average was still ok.

Things got really bad with 2-3 miles left to go.  I could barely lift my legs and my lower back was in searing agony.  All I could think was that I had to keep going in order to make the early part of the race worthwhile.  Again, it was disappointing as I thought I was going to finish strong and really push hard at the end.

Going up the Roosevelt Bridge
Going up the Roosevelt Bridge

Finally, I made the turn onto Roosevelt and lumbered up that annoyingly big hill.  The pain was excruciating.  I tried to sprint near the end but at best it was a jog.  Thankfully, I made it across the finish line without falling down.  3:23:40 in the books.

2013 Chicago Marathon Finish Line
2013 Chicago Marathon Finish Line

I’m sure those who have read my previous marathon write-ups are curious if I had to go to the Medical Tent.  Well, I tried to walk it off, but the vurping earlier and the lack of enough Gatorade yet again dehydrated my body.  After saying no to 3 different people asking if I was ok (because I probably looked like crap), I asked the 4th person to help me to the Med Tent.  Thankfully, the nurse/doctor in charge was competent and able to give me a proper IV filled with hydrating goodness.


So am I any closer to making a decision?  I don’t know, but it was good to look back on all of the events that contributed to the race day.

Finish with my medal
Finish with my medal

Chicago Marathon — 2011 Edition

So another season has come and gone and so did my opportunity to beat 4 hours in a marathon.

Let’s start with the numbers:

Split Time of day Time Diff Min/mile Miles/h
05K 08:00:10AM 00:26:04 26:04 08:24 7.15
10K 08:26:40AM 00:52:34 26:30 08:32 7.04
15K 08:52:55AM 01:18:49 26:15 08:27 7.10
20K 09:19:54AM 01:45:49 27:00 08:42 6.91
HALF 09:25:42AM 01:51:37 05:48 08:31 7.06
25K 09:49:15AM 02:15:10 23:33 09:43 6.18
30K 10:19:52AM 02:45:47 30:37 09:52 6.09
35K 10:58:06AM 03:24:00 38:13 12:18 4.88
40K 11:36:09AM 04:02:04 38:04 12:15 4.90
Finish 11:52:58AM 04:18:53 16:49 12:20 4.87

My goal with this race was to run with the 3:45 pace group.  This roughly comes down to 8:35 per mile.  Given that I ran the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in 1:41:30 (7:45 per mile), it is no surprise that my half marathon split is about as on pace as expected.  Then things started to go badly.

Around mile 12, I realized that I was running far ahead of my pace team.  This meant that when I turned my head side ways or full around 180 that I couldn’t see anybody holding the pace placard.  Now before you go thinking that this is my fault, they suggested that people who want to walk or go more slowly through the aid stations go ahead a little bit.  I had been doing that and basically just got a bit too far ahead of myself.  So then I made my first mistake on race day; I started to slow down and eventually even walked through the next aid station until the pace group caught up to me.  Now I could lie and say that this was all for getting back to pace, but if I’m honest with myself, I was tired and thought that I could use this accrued time to recuperate so that I could start feeling not so tired.  Why was this a mistake?  Basically, that was my mental moment where my foot came off the ‘race’ pedal(accelerator).  When you give in to things like that, it’s very hard to stay pumped and in attack-mode ready to pass any runner.  Suffice it to say that when the group caught up to me, they were going a bit faster than I would have liked and it was a mental downer to have to speed up to get back onto the right pace.

As I approached the half way point, I experienced a problem that was unfortunately familiar: my knees and hips started to hurt.  I say familiar because this was why I didn’t stay on pace for the 20 miler preparation run 3 weeks before this race.  It’s hard to describe the pain.  It wasn’t as bad as “Oh crap, what am I going to do” but it was definitely not as good as “I love this and I want to do this forever”.  Perhaps the best way to think about it is, if I keep going this will only get worse and eventually I won’t be able to move along at the pace I want.  Not to mention that it really makes it hard to keep a spring in your step when all of your springs are complaining.  Fear not, dear reader, as I planned for this eventuality.  I had two packets of Advil (Ibuprofen) in my men’s fanny pack.  I was worried about any side-effects during the long run, but I was willing to risk those to avoid the crazy hip/knee pain.  But.  And there’s always a But.  I bought these the day before at a gas station.  These are foil packets that contains 2 200mg pills per packet.  I couldn’t open the packet.  Since I didn’t train with this drug (or form factor), I was not prepared.  So I tried tearing with my sweaty fingers.  I tried biting.  I tried swearing.  Alas, none of these techniques worked.  And so I tried begging.  I ran over to the side where there were people handing out water and screamed “Open This!” to some very frightened young dude.  He was about as successful as me in the beginning but thankfully was able to get it open.

So now I’m running west on Adams passing the 14 mile mark.  And one of the day’s fears is realized.  The sun is out and there isn’t a cloud in the sky.  This part of the run (i.e. the second half) is very unprotected from the sun.  And the temperature is probably around the low 70s.  The Advil has not kicked in yet and I was tired already.  This was the moment that I let go of the pace group.  I wasn’t worried about knowing the pace.  I knew that I was about 3.5 minutes off of the clock time and I had an arm band telling me where and when I should be pace-wise.  But I now was losing any sort of camaraderie that would have kept me going.  So why didn’t I just keep going?  After all, I’m mentally tough, my pain killers would kick-in at some point soon, and I’m not *that* old.  Hard to explain.  I guess the evidence would point to the fact that I must not be as mentally tough as I thought (ignore the irony).  And so began my stretch of walking and running.  I would walk for a bit (aggressively, dammit) and then start a slow to moderate jog.  Unfortunately, the jog wouldn’t last and I had to walk again.  But at least I was fighting.

I wasn’t doing too badly at this point.  My music was playing and I was running a little slower (current pace-wise) but I was still going to meet my goal of sub 4 hours.  I kept thinking that I just had to maintain this walk/run thing for a bit and then everything would be ok.  By a bit I mean that I would meet Su at the 20 mile mark (which was a little past the 30k mark).  So that gave me some motivation.  And as luck would have it, I started feeling better at the 30k mark.  So I picked up the pace (not sure what exactly, but faster than I was going before) and started to pass people.  At last, I thought, I’m getting my second wind and I’m going to accomplish my goal.

Then I started to get a cramp in my left calf.  I thought, no big deal, I’ve gotten cramps before.  I just need to run through it and all will be well.  This cramp was persistent.  I had to do something.  So I pulled to the side and started stretching it out.  Helped a bit.  So I was going to stretch the right one for good measure.  When I stopped stretching the left, I experienced pain.  Physical pain like I have never felt before.  I screamed.  There was a spectator who asked “Should I call an ambulance?”.  I said no.  I tried to stretch it again but the pain was ridiculous.  Eventually, for no reason, it subsided and I started walking again.  This may sound crazy, but then I felt really good.  I started running.  Then sprinting.  I was feeling like a million bucks.  I thought Su will miss seeing me because I’ll be a blur as I pass her.  Well, *that* didn’t happen.  The euphoria lasted only a few minutes.  No biggie, I will just keep on the non-sprinting pace and all will be well.

I met Su and gave her a sweaty hug.  She said “You’re doing great!”.  I said “I’ve had some cramping issues”.   She said “You can do it!”.  And so I thought I could.  I thought this cramping thing is behind me and I can finish with a respectable pace.  There was only one problem with that strategy: the cramping thing was not behind me.  In fact, it just kept getting worse.  It started with the left calf.  Then it moved to the right calf.  Then it was both calves.  Each time, I would start walking and wait until the pain subsided.  Then I would start jogging for a bit.  I couldn’t call it running anymore.  I had gel.  I had bananas.  I had water.  Nothing made the cramping pain go away.

And the heat was starting to get oppressive.  The long stretch heading North on Michigan was a real bear.  Very unprotected.  My body heat level was getting very hot.  I tried using the sponges (which were awesome) and wet towels (also awesome), but nothing seemed to get me back to normal.  As I approached the Roosevelt bridge without about 200 yards to go, I kept hearing people shout “Come on, you can do it!”, but I really couldn’t.  I was exhausted and in a lot of pain.  I managed a few smiles for the camera as I crossed the finish line, but that’s about all I could do.

Right at the finish line, I saw that they had more Gatorade G2 (which is what everybody considers to be the normal stuff) and I’m like no, don’t need need that.  I need my G3 recovery drink.  So I had water, a banana and sipped my recovery drink.  I made my way to the Gear Check tent.  I put on my sandals and changed shirts.  I texted Su that I was now heading to the agreed upon meet up in the party area.  I didn’t even have a 312 beer yet because I wanted to avoid going to the med tent due to dehydration.  I’m at the North side of Buckingham Fountain.  I started walking North to get to the party area.  And the cramping starts up and I feel woozy.

Yeah, that’s right.  I get put into a wheel chair and get carted off to the med tent.  (Welcome Back Dave!)  The doctor thought all of the cramping was because I didn’t have enough electrolytes.  He asked did I have any Gatorade during the run?  I said not really because the nutrition people said not to mix gel with gatorade, but I had 5 gels, bananas and water.  And so he had me drinking G2 gatorade to try and replenish the electrolytes.  In the meantime, the cramping got real bad.  There were about 6 different masseur and masseuses working on both legs at different points in time.  When I thought everything was ok, one leg would just start up again.  This was the crazy kind of physical pain.  I was screaming.  I probably had 2 bottles of gatorade at that point and I didn’t really feel better.  The doctor was like “An IV is what you need as that will get electrolytes fastest to the muscles”.  I’m thinking why the **** didn’t you give me that in the first place.  I had already been there for 1-2 hours at this point.  That’s when the real fun began.  It took 6 tries (that’s right 6) for 3 different nurses to try and find my vein in order to put in the IV.  I didn’t mind the sticking that much, but I really wanted the cramping to stop.

In the end, I got the fluid.  I never made it to the post race party.  I never had a single beer at the event but still managed to get dehydrated and visit the med tent.  The doctor said “See you next year”.  Can’t wait.

So what did this experience teach me?  I think that perhaps some people are not meant to run a marathon.  I think that I’m part of that group.  At a minimum, I will not be running any more warm weather marathons.  And definitely no marathons for several years (if ever again).  Hear I am, 10 years after running a marathon with no training at 4:12 (or so).  I trained and ran it 6 minutes slower.

Anyway, I have a bunch of excuses:

  • The weather was hot.  Now, to be fair, it wasn’t as hot as 2010; however, as anyone who has done any type of distance running will tell you, the cooler the better.  And this means that snow would have been preferable to sun.
  • I didn’t fuel correctly during the race.  This is the one of the most frustrating aspects of this event.  I borrowed a book about nutrition for endurance sports, I went to a “breaking the wall” seminar that included the nutrition book author, and I followed (as best I could) all of the advice and instructions.  The seminar panel said “You shouldn’t mix gel and gatorade” and I listened.  I bought a gel belt and fueled up often during the race; unfortunately, the lack of gatorade most likely caused the unbearable cramping.
  • I still didn’t manage the last 2 weeks correctly.  At the seminar which took place 2 weeks before the race, they said that you can’t do anything to improve your race; you can only mess it up.  I’m pretty sure that I ate too much during the week.  I tried to do the right thing, but I really didn’t know what I was doing.  The result was that I didn’t feel great on race day.  I felt heavy and annoyed that I didn’t run as much as I was supposed to in the last 2 weeks.


How did I improve from last year?

  • Got a new set of head phones that didn’t activate the voice control functionality of the iPhone.  They worked like a charm.
  • I created a play list.  This worked pretty well for the entire 2011 season.  Ironically, I ran into non running songs at the end when I wasn’t running.  I really didn’t expect my time to be that bad.
  • My shoes were much better.  I ended up running with Nike Lunar Glide 3 shoes.  Combined with my orthotics, they are a very good combination.  Slight mistake here that I should have replaced the orthotics after the 20 mile run.  Not doing that caused a bunch of nasty blisters, but I don’t think they had a negative material effect.
  • I used Vaseline instead of Body Glide.  Not really noticeable during the run but made all the difference in the world in the post run recovery.
  • I improved on my nutrition.  Though I still had issues, I think I had net improvement.


So what’s next?  I think that a half marathon may be the max distance in pure running for me.  I know that I don’t need to train that much for it and that it doesn’t require much in the way of in-race fueling.  And perhaps most importantly, I don’t run into all of these *other* issues like hip pain and cramping.  I’ve got my eye on the ING Miami half marathon but before that there is the good ole Turkey Trot.  I’ll see how it goes.


My Playlist for the 2011 Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon

I thought it would be interesting to show what keeps me moving in one of these fast distance races.  What follows is a custom playlist of my music that I used in the 1/2 marathon.  The times are not fully accurate as in some cases I truncated the song to remove dead air and boring parts.  Without further ado…
Title Duration Artist Album
Jesus Of Suburbia 9:08 Green Day American Idiot
Holding Out For A Hero 5:50 Bonnie Tyler Footloose
Don’t Stop Believin’ 4:11 Journey The Essential Journey
Enter Sandman 5:32 Metallica Metallica
Man of La Mancha (I, Don Quixote) 2:16 Brian Stokes Mitchell & Ernie Sabella Man of La Mancha (The New Broadway Cast)
Sunday Bloody Sunday 4:40 U2 War
Today 3:20 Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
Sultans Of Swing 5:46 Dire Straits Singers And Songwriters 1978-1979
Wildest Dreams 5:11 Asia Asia
Torture Me 3:45 Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium
South Side (radio edit) 3:50 Moby,Gwen Stefani
Carry That Weight 1:37 The Beatles Abbey Road
Kryptonite 3:54 3 Doors Down The Better Life
Beautiful Day 4:08 U2 All That You Can’t Leave Behind
History Song 3:06 The Good, The Bad And The Queen The Good, The Bad And The Queen
Crazy Train 4:58 Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard Of Ozz
I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man) 3:47 Kenny Loggins Footloose
With A Little Help From My Friends 2:44 The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Le Disko (Radio Edit) 3:23 Shiny Toy Guns Le Disko – Single of the Week
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood 2:29 The Animals The Best Of The Animals
The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie 4:43 Red Hot Chili Peppers The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie – Single
Learning To Fly 4:02 Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Petty – Greatest Hits
The Downeaster “Alexa” 3:44 Billy Joel Storm Front
Don’t Stop Me Now 3:31 Queen Queen – Greatest Hits
Wet Sand 5:10 Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium
Wonderboy 4:07 Tenacious D Tenacious D
Eye Of The Tiger 4:04 Survivor Eye Of The Tiger

With editing in place, the playlist was setup to finish with ‘Wet Sand’ around 1:45 (1 hour and 45 minutes). As it turns out, I ran this a bit faster, so I finished before that song ended.

Beer School: Barleywine & Imperial IPA

Two nights ago, I was joined by 3 others(Su, Chris, Julian) in the arduous education of beer.  This was not a feat for the feint of heart or those lacking in sufficiently talented livers.  This class is a little different than the others.  You only get 8 beers to try because of the high alcohol content.  When you factor in the pre and post class drinking (and you do all of your course work), the night becomes a wee bit fuzzy.  Anyway, just a heads up that the beer descriptions get a lot shorter at the end analogous to the increase of talking and the decrease of comprehension.

As always, the event was hosted by Greg Browne (who is the brewmaster at Mickey Finns).

1) Smuttynose Barleywine

Malty but not that sweet.  ABV: 11%.  I thought the lady on the bottle label was pretty ugly.  This is a bottle conditioned beer which means that more product is added as some of the beer evaporates.  It was a fine starter, but nothing brilliant.

2) Anchor Old Foghorn Barleywine

Very malty, smooth and rich.  ABV: 8%.  This beer is only released once a year.  It was first released in 1975.  Greg mentioned that this shows how long Anchor has been in the game and how unusual it was in that time to release such a craft beer in the US.  I think this was the beer of the night.

3) Lagunitas Olde Gnarleywine

Hops on the nose.  Crazy fruity flavors, really makes you go wow.  ABV: 11%.  This was a very interesting beer.

4) Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine

Had what I would call a roastiness to the flavor.  Hops and malts very balanced.  There were flying pigs on the bottle label.  I thought the beer was great.

5) Moylans Moylander Imperial IPA

Resiny.  2x Hops, 2X Malts (than I guess their regular IPA).  I really didn’t like this beer.  Even the bottle label was busy and not good.  There was a lot of beer tech talk going on.  Something about how hops are natural preservatives.  Then Julian said something about “hop oiling the bitch”.  Not really sure what it all means and that’s one of the many reasons (not the least of which is my laziness) that I don’t brew my own beer.

6) Three Floyds Dreadnaught Imperial IPA

Very hoppy, not much finish.  I consistently get confused with the name/flavor of this one and the Behemoth.  But make no mistake.  The Behemoth is an awesome beer; the Dreadnaught not so much.

7) Arcadia Hop Mouth Imperial IPA

Buttery popcorn flavor (which apparently is considered a defect by beer enthusiasts).  Defect or not, it wasn’t very good.

8) Great Divide Hercules Imperial IPA

Very smooth, not too hoppy.  I would say this was my 2nd best beer of the evening.

9) “Pineapple Express”

Greg brought in a special brew that he basically dubbed Pineapple Express.  I suppose there were supposed to be some kind of pineapple flavoring but I don’t really remember.  ABV: 11%.  It wasn’t anything special except for the fact that it was home brewed.

It was a great night of drinking/talking and of course learning about 2 of my favorite styles of beers.  I can’t wait for the next class (as long as it isn’t brown ales).

Oscar Predications 2011

So Su and I have been making an effort to see all of the Best Picture nominees this year.  Ideally, before the winners are announced (but she doesn’t really care about that; she just wants to see good films).  Anyway, today we saw “The King’s Speech” and I think this allows me to make some predictions.

So I have seen: Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, The Social Network, True Grit, and Winter’s Bone.  I have the dvds for Toy Story 3 and Inception, but for (non-)obvious reasons, I don’t think they will do anything interesting from an awards perspective.

Without further ado…

Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) — It’s a simple as this: the ‘retard’ theory always wins.  Go back to every Best Actor winner and you will notice that the winner always plays some kind of affliction.  Besides that, I think he really made it believable.

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter) — Same theory above applies.  The only real contender is probably John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone).  Not sure why Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) is even on the list, but does anyone really care that much about the supporting actor?

Best Actress: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) — I’m taking a bit of a guess here and going with a blue chip talent.  I thought Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)  both did great jobs, but I don’t see how they could pull it out.

Best Supporting Actress: Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) — She actually brought the movie out successfully.  No rip on Jeff Bridges, but she was the star.  I don’t think either of ‘The Fighter’ chicks did anything special.  That being said, it wouldn’t surprise me if Melissa Leo (The Fighter) got the nod just because she was so creepy as a mother.

Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3 — I actually saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and thought it was great; however, I suspect the Toy Story juggernaut cannot be stopped.

Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland — I’ve seen all of these minus what I already listed.  This movie was just plain beautiful.

Cinematography: The Social Network — Really tough to decide here.  I feel like Black Swan lived and died on the camera movement too.

Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland — This should win on originality alone.  I don’t see how rehashing western(True Grit) or early 20th century clothing (Speech) should win anything.

Best Director: Black Swan — I could see this going many ways, but I really think the director got it done here.  He really made the movie flow and got the best out of the cast.

Film Editing: 127 Hours — The integration of the flash backs and the progression of the understanding of the main character is perfect.

Best Picture: Black Swan — This is (yet again) another tough decision.  I think that The Social Network could win here too.  I find it amusing that Toy Story 3 made this list; it has no chance of winning.

Writing (adapted screenplay): The Social Network — the writing is what makes this movie.

That’s all.  I don’t really have anything more to contribute in the other categories.

Updated: On request, added the relevant movies where not otherwise listed.

Back in the saddle again

So today I finally did my first run since the ill-fated Marathon.  I felt really good.  Not sure if it was the cold weather, the new shoes, or just eating lots of greasy foods throughout the week.  Whatever the key factor, I’m just happy to be running again.  I shouldn’t have much difficulty with the upcoming Turkey Trot.

My goal for the winter will be to try and run 3-4 times a week with an emphasis on long, slow distance.  The cold and snow won’t stop me.  And I think we will have a lot of the former if not the latter.  Come the spring, I should be in good shape to start attacking the race scene.

Annoying iPad Keyboard dock

So Steve Jobs made the following quote yesterday:

With respect to multitouch gestures, Jobs said that Apple’s research has shown that multitouch doesn’t work on a vertical screen. “For a notebook, that’s why we’ve perfected our multitouch trackpads over the years,” Jobs said. “That’s the best way we’ve found to get multitouch into a notebook.”

Unfortunately, this is exactly what the iPad Keyboard dock does.  In addition to not being able to dock the iPad, apparently it’s really not good for you.  To be fair, I thought the combination of touch/keyboard usage on the iPad was already crap.  Good to know that Apple feels the same.

Which points to my big feature request for Apple for the keyboard interaction.  I want more more more.  I want command-tab to switch between the running (or even most recently used) applications.  I want the down arrow to work after I searched for something in Safari so that I can pick a search term.  (Same applies for url typing).  And so on.

Come on Jobs.   I know you’re reading this blog.

Apple Back to the Mac

So yesterday Apple had it’s 1.5 hour keynote about mac software.  The market reaction was pretty flat and I think in review I’m surprised by that.  I think the stock price should have dipped.

The keynote started with a long description of how great the Mac was by Tim Cook (COO).  I don’t know if was trying to channel Steve Jobs, but he kept saying amazing and fantastic and it sounded very contrived.  It goes without saying that I’m not a big fan of sales numbers and all of the powerpoint mess that they were doing.

Next up was a (long) review of the new iLife version.  I like the apps, but I was not compelled to spend $50 on the software or buy a Mac just to get the new version of iLife.  Don’t get me wrong.  I always think I’ll make a great vacation movie (and the trailer templates were neat), but I lived through the practicality of actually trying to get enough raw video during a vacation.  In short, it’s a pain in the butt.  Maybe video capture on the iPhone 4/3GS makes it easier, but only time will tell.

Fortunately, things got interesting with a demo of Mac OSX 10.7 aka Lion.  I’m really a big fan of full screen interfaces.  I think the one window model has really been invigorated and all apps need to jump on board.  As a developer, Xcode 4 can’t arrive soon enough.  While watching the keynote live, I kept thinking of this other video I saw more than a year ago.  I think there is a big push to focus on one task at a time (which doesn’t preclude multi-tasking).  People don’t like distractions (unless of course they are bored with the focused task, but that’s really an entirely different issue).

Next up was Mission Control.  I think this is a great idea to merge all of the window management concepts.  Again, the video comes to mind.  I never really got into spaces because it was kind of a pain to know what was going on.  Maybe this is the silver bullet to solve window management issues.

Mac App Store.  About time.  Now I run as much beta software as the next programmer, but I like the idea of a standard and vetted apps that get vetted, updated and installed auto-magically.  It really makes sense to have that process be as turnkey as possible.  As a developer it’s great because you don’t have to worry about library incompatibilities of the hardware/os version because the application meta data (and the app installer) will do all of that heavy lifting.  As a developer, I like the idea of a well known marketplace (but I’m still not keen on Apple eating 30% of my lunch).

One last thing: new Air hardware.  I really love the look of the Air notebooks.  I think Apple nailed it with the unibody design several years ago.  I just wish that Apple and I could agree more about the priorities of the devices.

The good:

  • full size keyboard
  • high res screen
  • 2 usb ports
  • re-install software on usb stick (very cool)
  • 4 GB RAM (finally)
  • Flash only storage (with base at 64GB)

The bad:

  • Too heavy
  • Slow processor

I really don’t need a 30 day standby on anything.  This includes my iPad.  Until I never have to plug it in, it will never be long enough.  I would rather have the laptops be lighter (2.3, 2.9 pounds) and give up all of that crazy battery weight.  I can’t believe that they still put in a 1.6GHz processor.  I’m pretty sure that’s the original one from several years ago.  That is just crazy slow.  Especially when the plastic mac book still for sale at $1000 has almost 2x the power.  I know they need to make money, but really it’s a bit ridiculous.  In hind sight, I guess Apple and I agree more than not and time will tell if I get a notebook (to replace the ipad as my home theater remote?).

Marathon follow-up

For reference, I’m attaching result data.  Here is the runkeeper link.

Since I don’t know if the Chicago Marathon site will remember everything, I’m attaching the relevant timing/result data.


Name (CTZ) Swallow, David (USA)
Bib number 46371
age group 35-39
Age 36
City, State Chicago

race info

START TIME 07:36:41


Split time of day time diff min/mile miles/h
05K 08:04:00AM 00:27:20 27:20 08:48 6.82
10K 08:30:52AM 00:54:11 26:51 08:39 6.94
15K 08:57:55AM 01:21:14 27:03 08:43 6.89
20K 09:25:35AM 01:48:54 27:40 08:55 6.74
HALF 09:31:44AM 01:55:03 06:09 09:01 6.66
25K 09:55:07AM 02:18:26 23:23 09:39 6.22
30K 10:30:04AM 02:53:23 34:57 11:15 5.33
35K 11:09:15AM 03:32:34 39:11 12:37 4.76
40K 11:55:48AM 04:19:07 46:33 14:59 4.00
Finish 12:18:17AM 04:41:36 22:29 16:29 3.64

Chicago Marathon 10-10-10

(aka the marathon that will live in infamy)

So yesterday, I finally did my second marathon.  In short, it was a terrible day for me.  One thing went wrong after another.

Here is a recap of the day’s timeline:

– 5:40 get up

– 6:30 leave the house

– 6:45 dropped off at wells/jackson, have to walk east to the start line

– 6:55 get in the port-a-john line (because it’s better to take care of this before rather than after) (lack of a certain item left me unhappy)

– 7:19 get out of port-a-john and hear the national anthem playing.  Try to get in the chute.  Have to walk south to finally enter.  Keep trying to walk north.

– 7:28 finally get to pace group.  No sign of Ken or Pete.

– 7:30 race starts

– 7:36 cross the starting line

– 7:40 ish left foot hits a pot hole while crossing under michigan ave.  I twist my left ankle and hit the ground with my knees and hands.  I didn’t see the pot hole because it was extremely crowded.  Like a wave on a rock, a bunch of runners broke around me.  And a few tried to help me up.  I sucked it up and started hobbling forward.

– 7:50 my left thumb is still killing me from the fall, but I finally catch up to the pace group.  At this point, I also realize that similar to the Shamrock Shuffle, the GPS runkeeper couldn’t quite handle the huge underpass in the beginning and gave me more mileage than was my due.

– 8:04 I cross the 5K marker at roughly 27:19 which was the same as in the Bucktown 5K

I lose track of the time, so I will start talking about it at milestones.

– 5 mile marker I take my first Gu gel because my energy level isn’t great

– 10 mile marker I take my second Gu gel — still feeling tired.  Hard to avoid all the people sprinkling water via hoses.  Didn’t factor that in to my iphone.  Had to try and stay in the middle of the street to avoid water damage

– 12 mile marker the pace group begins to pull away from me.  I basically took too long in the aid stations and didn’t have the energy to catch up exactly

– 13 mile the voice control on my iphone keeps activating.  This is because the headphone controls got too much moisture.  Unfortunately, this has happened before.  It was so annoying that I had to take off the head phones and pack them away.  I was still carrying my iphone in hand.

– 13.1 mile (halfway) I actually cross the line pretty much on pace, so the pace group was arguably going a little fast.

– 14 mile pace group is still in my sights, but my fatigue and lack of music is really taking me out of the zone

– 15-16-17 mile sun and heat are really building up.  I’m having a lot of trouble moving and I walk a bunch.  As a side note, I’m a crappy walker.  Old people (80+ years) walk faster than I do, so it really starts to eat at my pace

– 18-19-20 mile I’m moving like crap and really off of my pace.  I’m supposed to meet Su and friends at 18th and Halstead so I try to get some steady pacing going.  I see them and I’m pretty sure I looked like death jogging.  Not exactly a Kodak moment.

– 21-22-23 mile  I really feel like crap and am mostly walking.  Gatorade, water, gel, bananas.  Nothing seems to be able to give me back energy.  The sun is really beating down on me and the shady spots are few and far between.  I went to completely walking after simultaneous blisters burst on my left and right big toes.  For some stupid reason, I didn’t go to an aid station to get it wrapped.

– 24 mile text Su not to meet me at 18th street (25.2 mile marker) because I wasn’t really in mood to race anymore; however, I wanted to finish and earn the medal beer.

– 25-26 mile  I can’t believe how long this Michigan leg of the run is when you’re walking at turtle speed.

– 26-26.2  I sprint at 50 yard dash pace so that I can feel good about something at the end.

4:41:46  cross finish line

– few minutes later, drink some water and some gatorade, have half a banana.

5 min later start drinking a wonderfully cold and refreshing Goose Island 312 beer.

20 min later try to get up to fetch another beer, feel woozy, sit down

20 min later try to get up to fetch another beer, feel woozy and nauseous, on request guy next to me fetches someone with a wheel chair to take me to the med tent

I passed out on the wheel chair and dropped my iphone, but it was recovered.  After lying me down on a cot, they start stuffing me with ice like a sausage.  It feels really good.  They said my blood pressure was low and want to give me fluids.  It’s safe to say that I appreciate the help from the med tent, but I think the nurse who had to prick me 3-4 times (and failed on all of them) really ought to think about a new profession.  The better nurse gave me an IV in the back of my palm and that really hurt.  The best nurse finally added an IV to my forearm and that was much better.  I went from being too hot to too cold so all of the ice was removed and blankets added.  It was not the best “hospital” experience to say the least.

Finally, they let me go and I had to walk pretty far to get picked up by Su and Sandi.  My original plan of walking back to 18th and State was aborted (obviously).

So why did it all go so wrong?  I have a few theories:

– My lack of running before the race.  Because of the foot problems I had from the long practice runs, I wasn’t allowed to run for almost 2 weeks right before the race.  This not only got me worried, but really removed a lot of conditioning from my body.

– I hadn’t done a long run using the new orthotics.  I think that created the blister dilemma and really had me running in a different form than I would have liked.  I think the answer is that I need to abort the Nike Frees (even with the orthotics) and go back to a more supported shoe.

– My stomach had been bothering me since Tuesday.  I never really shook it until maybe Saturday and that really hurt my attitude as well as being able to stock pile the right foods in my body.  I (stupidly) ran a 2 mile run on Saturday 3pm to help with the stomach.  Though it did help with that, I think it wasn’t the best thing to do about 16 hours before the big race.

– The pot hole.  I think this really changed my stride.  Post race, my left ankle is severely swollen and makes walking and climbing stairs very difficult.

– The weather.  Regardless of all of the above, had it been a wonderful 40 degrees, I think that I could have pushed through a lot of things.

In summary, am I whining a bunch about what happened?  Absolutely.  Now I can put this mess behind me and ponder whether I’ll do it again.