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Worst. Force Quit. Ever October 7, 2011

Posted by thepixelsuite in Photos.
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The scene outside of the Apple Store on Stockton at Market in San Francisco.

I don’t have much to add or anything profound to say about Steve Jobs and his untimely death. Even though it was obvious his cancer was quickly advancing, when I read the news I still couldn’t help but feel shocked. Suddenly a spouse, a father, a good friend was gone. Now I imagine, if we care, it’s up to us to honor his legacy by using his gizmos and gadgets to bring a little bit of light, levity, and love into the world.

Oh, and the tribute pictured above has to be the most ordered one I’ve ever seen consisting of personal messages scribbled on colored Post-It notes affixed in ordered rows and columns on the window of the Apple store. And, as a bonus, along with flowers, folks left apples behind!


It’s Official October 4, 2011

Posted by thepixelsuite in Adventure.
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AIDS/LifeCycle t-shirt

Now I guess I'm committed.

So excited to have just received my AIDS/LifeCycle 11 t-shirt in the mail. It’s a wearable reminder that next June I’ll be taking part in the 7-day, 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money to help fight AIDS. Looking forward to putting in the training miles and the ride itself, but I’m going to need lots of support and motivation to see me through. Please visit, my AIDS/LifeCycle homepage, where you can find out more about the ride and can make a donation to help me reach my fundraising goal for this cause.

The Double Play’s The Thing April 10, 2011

Posted by thepixelsuite in Sport, Uncategorized.
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New version of fear the bard

Don’t mess with this guy. After all he wrote Hamlet.

How Far How Fast? February 12, 2011

Posted by thepixelsuite in marathon.
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There are two questions I often get when folks find out I’ve run marathons. The first is, “How far is a marathon?” And the second, “How long does it take you to run it?” While I’ll never be mistaken for an elite runner, I’ve run a race or two at a fairly good clip managing to pound out times between 3:35 and 3:18. By way of comparison the Houston Marathon Committee, which is hosting the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials, sent out an email with the following facts attached.

Houston is the first city to host both men’s and women’s races at the same Olympic Trials Marathon.
Below are the top 5 fastest men’s and women’s qualifying times as of Feb. 12, 2011:

1. 2:08:41 Ryan Hall (CA) 2010 Boston Marathon 
2. 2:09:15 Meb Keflezighi (CA) 2009 New York City Marathon 
3. 2:10:00 Dathan Ritzenhein (OR) 2009 London Marathon 
4. 2:10:36 Brett Gotcher (AZ) 2010 Houston Marathon 
5. 2:11:06 Jason Hartmann (OR) 2010 Chicago Marathon 

1. 2:26:20 Desiree Davila (MI) 2010 Chicago Marathon
2. 2:26:22 Magdalena Lewy Boulet (CA) 2010 Fortis Marathon Rotterdam
3. 2:28:40 Shalane Flanagan (OR) 2010 New York City Marathon 
4. 2:29:35 Stephanie Rothstein (AZ) 2011 Houston Marathon
5. 2:30:53 Tera Moody (CO) 2010 Chicago Marathon

Bay To Breakers 2010 May 17, 2010

Posted by thepixelsuite in Running.
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After almost two decades of living in San Francisco, I decided finally to take part in one of its signature outdoor events–the annual running of the Bay To Breakers. Billed as the largest continuously held footrace in the world, the 99th edition was marked by the usual mix of elite and casual runners, outlandishly costumed runners and centipede groups, along with way too many runners who decided to run in the altogether.

I lined up in Corral B and spent the wait for the starting gun alternately tossing and trying to avoid being hit by tortilla shells. I’m not sure how the tortilla-tossing tradition started, but leave it to San Francisco to pioneer the use of biodegradable frisbees. With over 60,000 registered participants I expected a long wait before crossing the start line. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find our group moved swiftly across the line and onto the course. That’s where a major drawback of the size of the field became apparent as the first mile of the route was jammed with runners (and too many walkers). I knew the route would become easier to navigate as the field started to slow down on the Hayes Street Hill, but I didn’t want to lose too much time before that point of the race. So, I quickly moved to the left edge of the street and occasionally jumped onto the sidewalk where it was clear of spectators. Pre-hill splits of 7:35 and 7:34 vindicated my dodging and weaving strategy.

Although I had never before tackled the infamous Hayes Street Hill, all of the hill running I’ve done here in the City paid off, as I quickly motored up the race’s steepest terrain. The rest of the course is forgiving after that point–relatively flat for two miles as you enter Golden Gate Park followed by a gentle two mile downhill run to the finish. Exiting the park and turning onto the Great Highway I was flanked to my right by the eponymous Breakers while ahead of me lay the finish line. A bit of a finishing kick and I crossed in 54:32. Certainly not fast enough to compete with the elites and seeded runners, but enough to place me at number 612. A PR for me at the 12K distance which isn’t saying a lot since this was my first 12K race. But now I’ve got mark to beat for next year.

And while on the course I took some time to shoot some video which I whipped into a short video below.

Saturday Rambling March 20, 2010

Posted by thepixelsuite in San Francisco.
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Beautiful day in the City today. Headed down to the Ferry Building to walk around the Farmers’ Market and pick up some first day of spring asparagus. A bite to eat, and then a little perambulating around town to work it off. I took a little video and tested out the editing software which comes with it. Not as full-featured as I’m used to, but it gets the job done.

The day was too nice to sit around inside doing housework, though, so I made sure to get out and put in a nice bit of mileage.

Chevron Houston Marathon 2010 Race Report January 20, 2010

Posted by thepixelsuite in marathon.
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Crossing the starting line (photo by Nick de la Torre / Houston Chronicle)

I’m still not convinced everything is bigger in Texas, but the Chevron Houston Marathon with its exceptionally well-organized 5k, half marathon, and full marathon events certainly is. I won’t soon forget the thousands of helpful volunteers, the flat, looping course, and the many articles of Texas flag-themed running clothes I saw. But staying with my sister and her family had to be the highlight of the whole trip.

My sister was a fantastic host during my stay in Houston. Not only did she open up her house to me so I’d have a comfortable, familiar place to stay while visiting Houston, she also drove me all over creation. On Friday, after my last four-mile tune-up run, she took me downtown to the George R. Brown Convention Center so I could pick up my race packet. We wandered around the expo picking up cowbells (so she could cheer me on), mini Chevron cars (for the nieces), but not a signed photo of the Houston Rockets cheerleaders, which I insisted my brother-in-law would have appreciated. We also looked for a pair of shoes for her in case, you know, she might want to kick her half marathon training up a notch. My goody bag full, we headed back to her house where I spent the next day and a half watching playoff football, horsing around with my little nieces, and trying not to think too much about the upcoming race.

Getting ready to go.

When my alarm went off Sunday morning, though, I jumped out of bed and was ready. I threw on my running attire, grabbed my sweats bag, and bundled myself into my sister’s truck for the drive back into town to the convention center. By the time I got there the huge space was packed with folks stretching, dropping off their sweats bags, or attending either the Protestant or Catholic church services. Soon the time came to head back out into the pre-sunrise chill to line up in the starting corral. I always love these pre-race moments where the excited voice of the race announcer echoes off the surrounding buildings, the sun is starting to color the sky, and dozens of runners quietly run by doing their warm-ups. I found the 3:20 pace group, cheered as the wheelchair group started off, listened to a too-high rendition of our National Anthem, and waited for the boom of the cannon which sent us on our way.

I was floored by the crowd support this event generates. Immediately after crossing the starting line, folks lined the course to cheer us runners on, and the signs, music, and even belly dancing would accompany us along almost every block of the course. I don’t think I’ve heard the phrases, “Keep it up!” and “You look great!” so many times in one day. I loved the bagpipe player around mile 11 (after all among other things I am Scottish), the non-traditional blue jumpsuit-clad Elvis impersonator, and the trio of girls who got me to smile when they broke out their impromptu version of Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi. I even got sprinkled with holy water.

Last month’s race in Sacramento is notable for its rolling downhill course. This race by comparison is flat, flat, flat. We had to tough it out over a couple of highway over and underpasses, but, unless you want to work on your speed, there is no need to do any hillwork when preparing for this race.

What I should have worked on prior to this race was my counting skills as I’ll discuss shortly.

After qualifying for Boston last month, I wanted to run a qualifying time again in Houston to show myself I could repeat my performance on a course which lacked Sacramento’s downhill profile. Of course, I told myself, if the going got tough I could always slow down and relax knowing I’d already punched my ticket to Boston. So, after the initial mile with all its jostling and jockeying for space, I went out a little faster than I normally do. In running circles this is a big no-no, but I feel I’m eventually going to have to learn how to go out fast and maintain that pace. Certainly I can use my training runs to test myself, and there may be a little more treadmill work in my future to help me learn to stay at the same pace over distance. But there’s nothing like race day conditions to really work on this.

What I didn’t count on though, despite all the time, training, and planning that goes into getting ready for a race is how much little intangibles come into play. Early on, I could already tell I just didn’t have “it” and this race was going to be a little difficult to run. Even after a few miles, when I normally feel I’ve warmed up, I still felt tired and I was having trouble breathing properly. Yet I persisted with my strategy of staying slightly ahead of the 3:20 pace group which I hoped to happily tuck into and join if they eventually reeled me in. My splits for the first 11 miles were pretty good, but begin a slow, inexorable upward trend at about the halfway point.

And, as I mentioned earlier, it didn’t help I had apparently lost the ability to count.

It’s important to have a good hydration and nutrition plan to get you through a race, and through much trial and error I’ve determined I need four GUs (Lemon Lime if you’re interested) to get through 26.2 miles. At the start of the race I hit the interval timer on my stop watch, and every forty minutes thereafter I downed a pouch of GU. I got through packets one and two just fine, but missed taking number three on time. To make matters worse, when I dug through the pockets of my shorts I only came across one packet which made me wonder, “Did I already have the third GU?”

As we turned to enter Memorial Park, I was starting to slow down more, and even though I made it through the dreaded mile 20 wall, I felt my energy flagging. When the 3:20s caught me right at mile 22, I tried to match their pace for a few strides before I pulled up and started to walk for a bit. My legs had stiffened, and while it just seemed too difficult to maintain a quick pace, overall I felt pretty good physically. At that moment, however, I felt drained of energy and would have killed for an orange slice, or, say, a GU, which unbeknownst to me was nestled deep in the bottom of one of my pockets. Walking along catching my breath I told myself I already had my Boston qualifier, and I could slow down and enjoy the end of this marathon. As I walked forward, however, a lot of folks called out encouragement, and quickly I started running the last few miles to the finish.

One last little jolt of energy when I passed my sister before mile 23 and then the shock of mile 26.

Almost there.

I had crossed the start line shortly after the gun went off, and, as I passed the clock at mile 26 it read 3:19:56. It looked like I could still run a qualifying time! I don’t know where the energy came from, but I picked up my pace and lengthened my stride and made it to the finish line as fast as I could. I crossed and moments later stopped my watch and looked down: 3:21:01. My watch time was unofficial, but I had obviously either run or missed a qualifying time by mere seconds. I didn’t care though, and I was pretty giddy as I headed into the convention center to stretch, down some water and ice cream (!), and pickup my swag. When I met up with my beaming, proud sister, she had the good news. The marathon web site listed my time at 3:20:55; not a PR, but definitely a bit of an ego boost!

I might not have given all I had out there on the race course, but I think the picture below shows I gave a lot.

Believe me, it's not as bad as it looks

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Expo Fun January 15, 2010

Posted by thepixelsuite in Uncategorized.
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I know folks like Toby Tanser say you should only spend 10 minutes at any marathon expo, but, if I followed his advice, I would have missed the opportunity to snap this pic of my darling sister with this humorous shirt.

I think she's got another half marathon in her. I just need to apply the right amount of peer pressure.