October 2006 - Posts

Summer Running Roundup

Well with the blog being down over the summer I didn't get to bore you with my occasional running post.

Big news was marathon #2 in Portland, OR. Since 26.2 miles is such a big deal my main worry was that Vancouver was a fluke, somehow fueled purely on race day adrenaline. So even with my vast marathon running experience it was still a day to be taken carefully.

We went down to Portland on the train from Seattle and a damn fine journey that is. No worries about traffic plenty of fine company and conversation and a very perky concession lady who wanted us to drink whiskey and Guinness before 9am in the morning... I guess she was on a commission. Checked into the hotel, which looked pretty high end until we realised that the inlay on the head boards was stickers. The hotel further annoyed us by refusing any kind of reasonable late checkout. Now I understand that late checkout is something that is voluntary on their part but given that marathon weekend brings in millions of dollars for the city of Portland its not unreasonable to expect the hotels to cater to marathon runners for one weekend. The race starts at 7am and checkout was at noon -which is not time finish the race, walk back shower and change unless you are a 3 hour runner. So Governor Hotel in Portland - we rate you a one star hotel for marathon runners!

Early rise on Sunday for a 7am start. It was still dark when we got up. I have never seen so many people... the queues for the porta potties were huge and they had to have 50 of them. You couldn't wander off or you would never see your friends again.

Once the race was under way I kept it nice and slow for the 1st 3 miles. At one point the course looped on itself and we got to see the lead wheelchair racer come down a hill at some incredible speed with a a police motor cycle either side of him. After mile 3 I picked up the pace as per the plan and was feeling great. I passed the 4:30 pace runner a bit earlier than I expected to and as I did I heard him say he was ahead of the pace. I'm a little worried at this point that maybe I'm going too fast but I was feeling good. Got to the half marathon point at 2:08 which was 2-3 mins ahead of my schedule. I am still feeling very very good and as I do the math I realise that the 4:15 pace runner probably isn't very far ahead of me and that maybe there is a chance I can catch up and run with him/her. At roughly the same time I think - hang on knocking 10 minutes of my 1st marathon doesn't sound like a very realistic goal and you know there is still the hill up to the bridge. So I purposely slowed down - which turned out to be a good decision on reflection. By mile 17 I am still feeling really good and that when we hit the hill. At this point I would like to thank the person who invented lycra shorts and to the 2 young ladies in front of me who chose to wear them - you have no idea how much that helped me run that half mile. So the hill is over, the bridge has a wonderful breeze and view all the way back to downtown Portland and I settled in for the last 8 miles. At mile 18 I was spot on my target 10:00 pace, between my slowdown and the hill I had lost the extra minutes. Anything I could knock off from now on was into PR territory... or maybe not!

Miles 19 and 20 I was still feeling the bridge - I was doing OK but my pace was slower than my target, never mind I thought as the legs recover I will pick it up... but the legs never really do recover after you run for 3 hours and then go up a hill. 21 and 22 I realised that I was now slower than my target pace and that I was over my Vancouver time. No runner ever likes to be slower than last time (4:24:49) but I consoled myself that I was still going to be under 4:30:00 and that was still a great second marathon.

Miles 23-26 are the ones that test you. The adrenaline is still going, the atmosphere is great but your legs are just plain tired. Thankfully I've never hit the proverbial wall and I eat everything they feed me on the course plus as much Gu as I can carry so I am not lacking in energy but its still hard and only the thought of knowing you are over 80% of the way there carries you through.

I actually managed to speed up a little on some of these miles and slowly managed to get my pace almost back on target. Getting back to the city I thought I knew where the finish would be and I picked it up for the last 400m. Turns out the finish was 100m further than I expected but I had enough left to really push it - looking at my watch all the way down the finish. 4:24:44. Yes indeed I ran for almost 4 and a half hours and beat my previous time by 5 seconds.

Just to bring you finally up to date last week I ran a 5k at the University of Washington called the Dawg Dash. This race was interesting because I did a 1 hour training run before the race started. I'm still on marathon training so I had to run 90 minutes. The plan would have been great other than the race started late so I was stood around letting my muscles get cold for 30 minutes. The 1st quarter mile was interesting on these cold muscles. Since I was not running my normal pace I got to take it easy and run further back in the pack. This makes the last mile fun because it makes it pretty easy to pass people when you are running slower than normal. I managed a pretty respectable 26:10. I still remember vividly finishing my 1st 5k under 30 minutes about 14 months ago. I was wasted. Now I can run for an hour and then casually run a 26 minute 5k. This my friends is what consistent training with a coach who knows what she is talking about does for you.

And finally yesterday while doing some speed training at the track I ran a 1:27 400m. Now I know this is almost exactly double the world record, so Michael Johnson doesn't have anything to worry about, but I was particularly happy to run under 1:30. Note that I had to do 5x400m runs so I'm pretty darn sure I could go faster if I only had to do one and I could go flat out. You might like to note that I am very close to breaking the age 85-90 400m world record though!

Speeding up your PC in just 6 hours for $0

I've been noticing that my computer has been getting pretty slow in the past few monts. I'd blamed IE7 to be honest - switching tabs seemed to take 5+ seconds and focus between the tab and the adress bar was so slow I would end up changing the wrong tab. Then I noticed a lot of slow things and decided that it was time for a wipe and rebuild. Yes that wonderful thing that you have to do when you've had just about every beta on your machine in the past. I think VS2005 RTM was the last full rebuild but I can't be sure. So most of Sunday afternoon and evening was spent bcking up things I didn't want to lose, finding all the DVDs I put somewhere safe and watching a lot of TV while the computer did its stuff. Now everything is nice and speedy - but for how long!

So now I'm paranoid about if there was a certain app that caused it or if it was just a slow build up of crap - I've avoided putting McAfee back on becuase I've always wondered if the file scanning was responsible for the slow down. Anyone recommend a virus scanner that has a very low impact on the system?

Fun with XNA

I had previously mentioned some NDA work that I was doing back in June and July. Well I'm still under NDA with Microsoft due to another up coming project so I can't talk much about XNA in detail but I can share the June/July work.

If you frequent #xna in RC or the MSDN forums you will already have heard the news that I was the guy who coded up the SpaceWar demo that ships with the XNA Beta. There is only two things cooler than coding up the first full XNA framework game and they are:

  1. Having your game be used in a keynote speech
  2. Having your game be mentioned in USA today with a picture
    USA Today
  3. The whole thing was done in about 3 weeks. Me coding and a couple of Microsoft guys covering art, sound and game design. A good testament to the ease of use of XNA, even if some folks want to poke holes in the less than perfect design. To the detractors I say - lets talk when you have finished a game in 3 weeks and the code has been downloaded by tens of thousands of people. (though I happily take constructive criticism and admit there are *always* flaws in my code).

    So a pretty great start to the summer over here in Z-land

He's back, and he's mad....

I'm sure you have all been awaiting a new post after I closed things down for a server move. Well 3 months later and I'm back, comments open but on the same old server I was on before.

I am trying to consolidate several shared hosting accounts into a single server and hopefully save some money in the process. GoDaddy have a pretty decent virtual server for around $38 a month which is less than I'm paying in total for my shared hosting. So far so good - set up was easy and all seems to work fine.

Problem 1 - this site is hosted in godaddies shared hosting which means no admin access to the database. So there's no way to back it up. I bitched to their tech support and eventually got an account manager to see sense. Since I was upgrading to a more expensive product they did a backup and put the file on my desktop (remember that!) on the new server.

The summer comes and goes, ZMan is very busy, lots of stuff going on and vacations to take. I tried doing a conversion of the database to Community Server 2.0 and got a ton of errors. So I gave up for a while.

Problem 2 - about a week ago I decide to try again but when I try to log into my server I get an error about the disk being full. Not sure why but I delete a couple of large files and all seems well. Well at least till next time I log in - my windows profile is damaged and Terminal Server just boots me right out. Since this is a virtual server godaddy support only handle the infrastructure stuff and so my only option is a profile rebuild which has the side effect of deleting any files on the desktop. Problem is I never copied the SQL backup file from the desktop and I can't pursuade tech support to step outside the rules for me this time.

So I gave up.. tonight I just gave the order to rebuild the whole server and I will have to worry about a different way to transfer all these blog entries. CS 1.1 doesn't have a good blogML exporter I have heard, or at least one that is compatible with CS 2.0. For now IndieGameGuy will stay here and you can all comment to your hearts conent

While I'm bitching, why does CS1.1 think I'm in an unsupported browser - yes its IE7 but just pretend its IE6 will you and give me my WSISYG editor back....

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