May 2006 - Posts

Another project done, leisure time and getting a logo

Last week I finished my 4th paid job since quitting Microsoft. Looks like I am set to clear about 40% of my full time salary by my 1 year anniversary which is way ahead of where I thought I would be. This year wasn't about the money - I budgeted well and could afford to live fairly normally. However one of the goals for the year was to find a way to justify living this way for more than a year. Making this much money in the first year means that I won't be looking for a full time job any time soon. On the other hand I've not produced as much in the way of portfolio pieces as I wanted to. It was very nice of Microsoft to pay me to make Hexic but I need to get my head down on some personal projects that have been languishing while I did paid jobs.

The job I just finished is fairly high profile, but becuase it was just a work for hire my name isn't directly associated with it. Check out the Upgrade Your Game promotion for the Microsoft Express products. I wrote the code, documentation and did the video tutorials for those. Yes those are my dulcet tones you hear in the videos. Check out Dan Fernandez blog for more details and the downloads, or register for the promotion for the chance to win a full size arcade game. The graphics for the games were 99% done by Ezju Kranz working through SharpLogic (Ezju also did the graphic extraction from Flash on the Hexic port). Whilst Ezju does computer graphics as his day job he also produces some wonderful works of art using coffee. Check out No Such Animal Studios if you want to see more or read his art blog. Yes you can smell the coffee in the art - I'm not sure how long the smell lasts. Glenn Wilson contributed the final piece of artwork.

So I've been taking it easy for a few days, which turned into a week. I'm not going to be one of those guys who has trouble relaxing when he retires thats for sure. It hasn't helped that Seattle had several days of hot weather which cheers the ZChick up no end and means we can go out for ice cream (I'm a cheap date). There's some jobs on the horizon but I have to decide if I'm ready for paid work again or if now is the time to do my own thng since I've made a decent chunk of change in the last 3 months and lost sight of some of the things I wanted to do.

I'm also signed up for Casuality in Seattle, June 27th -29th (if you want to meet up then let me know) and I realised that I need some proper ZBuffer Games business cards. As many of you have told me based on The ZBuffer, my graphic skills are rather lacking so based on a recomendation from Steve I just paid LogoWorks $300 to make one for me. Being as tight and careful as I am, I am a little nervous about this process. I have to keep telling myself that at $50 an hour thats only 6 hours work so its really very good value and much better to pay $300 than me spending 2 weeks trying to do it myself. So watch this space - I get the drafts next Thursday morning.

Doing Nothing

Doing nothing is one of the many great things about being self employed. I finished my latest job earlier this week (a week later than planned though no fault of my own) and since its sunny here, something that doesn't happen often enough according to the ZChick, I'm taking it easy. Took the ZHounds for some walks, got ice cream, caught up on emails.... this is the life.

The joy of being able to do that without worrying about your boss finding out, or knowing that tomorrow you would have to pull a 14 hour day to catch back up it wonderful.

Next week I have to decide what my next project will be. I have a couple of opportunities for paid work, a game that I've been trying to do some coding on with a group of friends that really needs some quality time and about 1000 post it notes of good ideas on my desk some of which may make me a gazzilionaire, and some of which will be just downright fun. Decisions, decisions...


I am now part of the elite club of marathon runners - yes I finished the Vancouver marathon yesterday with little in the way of bad effects. My thighs are aching a little today and my legs are slightly stiff but all in all I feel better than I have done after shorter races.

We headed up to Vancouver Friday night, had a very short warm up run as a group on Saturday morning then headed to the expo where you pick up your number and timing chip. My name wasn't on the list! After a few worrying minutes it turned out they had my 1st and last names reversed so all was well there. I tried to get an early night but going to bed before midnight is not something my body does willingly and we were staying in possibly the noisiest hotel in Vancouver so we didn't get much sleep. Personally I'm ok with that on occasion but its not something The ZChick deals with well especially when we had to get up at 5:45 in order to see my team mates off on the half marathon.

The morning did not get much better. We were going to walk down but it was raining heavily so we drove. Found a space easily but the machine that printed the tickets was apparently not designed for use by people who are not used to getting up before noon. Seems everyone had problems and it rejected the credit card of the guy in front of us. To deal with this he kept trying - about 8-10 times. Eventually a homeless person came over to assist (in return for some change of course. He failed to notice that if we had change we would be putting it in the machine instead of using credit cards) and the guy gave up. I should point out here that I am 95% sure that this guy used his kid to push in front of us in the queue too! We arrived at the start with about 4 minutes to go and in the crowds of folk I was unable to see any of my team mates leave - sorry guys I was there I promise.

30 minutes later and it was my turn. Its still raining so lots of folk are dressed in trash bags. I threw my outer clothes to The ZChick at the last minute and off I went into the rain. My race tactics were to run 11 minute miles for the first 2-3 miles then head towards my race pace of 10:00-10:30 miles with a goal of coming in close to 10:30 average for the race. As I've mentioned before running slowly is harder than it sounds especially when there are thousands of people passing you. But I stuck to my slow pace and managed a reasonable 10:47 for the 1st 3 miles. Round about mile 5-6 the heavy rain dropped off and though it drizzled on and off for most of my race it wasn't much of a problem. As we approached the start line at the end of the first out and back section I noticed I was speeding up and running under 10:00 pace which wasn't something I wanted to do unless I was cruising down a hill or something. Fortunately at that point I spotted the 4h30m bunny (someone who paces a certain race speed) so I joined them for a few miles. They seemed to be taking a lot more walk breaks that I wanted though so I said goodbye around mile 12 and headed to the half way point. I hit half way at 2h15m. That's 15 minutes over my best half marathon time and its amazing how much better that 15 minutes makes you feel - I was still feeling pretty good at that point. My coach had told me that a lot of people do not negative split their first marathon (run the 2nd half faster than the first) and I was determined to do that by running the 1st half smartly.

Now that I was past halfway I relaxed a little about holding back my pace - I still didn't want any really fast miles since there was still another 2+ hours to run but I could let go a little.

I had requested some support at the approach to the bridge crossing which is the 1st steep part of the course. So I was very disappointed to find no sign of The ZChick. There was a nice lady handing out twizzlers so I took one. Later I discovered that The ZChick was standing next to her yelling my name - she even has a photo to prove it. Apparently spotting people in a crowd is harder to do when you are in the zone.

So I passed mile 18 without any walls hit, passed mile 19 (the furthest I have ever run), mile 20 and I'm still feeling great. Sure there's a few aches and twinges of pain but I was expecting a lot more fatigue by now. In fact I really didn't start feeling anything till mile 23 when I noticed my legs starting to feel heavy. At this point I'm 3 miles from home - I could have crawled back. For the first time in the race it was easy to run over 10 minute pace! Then the 2nd hill hit - you run under the bridge and then up and over it. Its only 100 feet but with those heavy legs it was the least fun part of the race. I was glad of the water stop and walk break half way up. But now I am 1.5 miles from the end and about .2 miles away from the long downhill. Once I crested the bridge I checked the old legs - still working pretty good so I gave it the last bit of energy and cruised past all those folk who had passed me at the beginning. Sure there were a couple who passed me in the last mile but I passed a lot of folk who were walking their way in. Yeah I know I sound smug but you take the little victories where you can! Team mates and ZChick all there at the end to cheer me in.

  • Final time 4:24:49
  • 1st half 2:15, 2nd half 2:10 which (I think) suggests some smart pacing.
  • Average pace 10:05 smashing my 10:30 goal.
  • 12 months ago next week I ran my 1st 5k race in 32:23 which is 10:27 pace and I felt rough for the entire 3.1 miles and for a good while after I finished. Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles faster than that pace and felt comfortable through 90% of the race and much much better at the end.
  • First marathon - check
  • Longest run ever (by 7.2 miles) - check
  • Negative split - check
  • Enough energy left to run 8:50 pace for the last 1.2 miles and pass people - check
  • 4 Chocolate GU's - check
  • >4000 calries burned... - if I could just do one of these every day!
  • First throw up on a race - nope!

Finally some "shout-outs to my crew": M&M Congrats on your first half marathon, J&C Congrats on your 4th and 2nd half marathons. Thanks to all of you for being there at the end of the races even though I can never be there at the end of yours. And to Coach N - thanks for getting me through this and being the little voice in my head for all the miles I ran too fast. You've got 5 folk through a half marathon in a year and one through a full and nobody has thrown up in a race yet! You rock!

And of course thanks to The ZChick for getting up at 5:45am - that was harder for her than running any distance. I did promise her I would mention that she complained about her aching legs for the whole 3 hour drive back - yes *I* ran the marathon and she had sore legs from walking to the bridge so I could ignore her....

Posted 08 May 2006 12:35 AM by zman | 1 comment(s)
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