11 Dates & Raw Nipples or How I Accomplished My First Half Marathon

half-marathon-mapToday was race day in San Leandro, a date I had committed to prior to starting my running adventure. I took the first ‘couch to half marathon’ plan I found on the Internet and looked it over. It seemed feasible, so without hesitation and without starting out walking, power walking or jogging I hit the ground running…literally.

I didn’t really know what to expect in my first race. I had spoke to others who had ran and the main point seemed to be the same, run your race and don’t get caught up in the hype and excitement of race day. It seemed easy enough to do and I had no doubts I would finish the race. The burning question was how well would I finish.

I didn’t want to get caught up on a finish time, as it could spell disaster. The numbers I had worked out based off on previous long runs, including a 13.1 mile training run would see me run a 10:30 min/mile with a finish time around 2:20. Strangely enough I never saw either one of those numbers during the time I was on the course today.

There were a few factors that made a big difference today then during my long training runs. First I decided to run with 11 dates in my pocket to use as fuel on the course. I am not a goo or gel type guy, tried peanut butter, hummus, honey, potatoes and a few other odd snacks, but dates seemed to have what I needed in order to maintain my fuel. Second the temperature. In nearly 4 months of running I have NEVER run with the temperature at 59 degrees. Most all of my training took place during 90-95 degree heat with a few runs exceeding 105 degrees! You would think I was training for Badwater 135!

Those two factors were key to my run today. One thing I tried to avoid, raw nipples. Much of my training was also accomplished without a shirt (had to get my Vitamin D while training, right?) so this never even occurred to me, until I had my first long run in which I wore a shirt and my Camelbak.

Holy hell! Never thought I would get raw nipples from the my shirt rubbing for 2+ hours, but it happened. I thought I had it whipped today when I covered my nipples with band-aids. Guess I should have used waterproof band-aids as I lost them somewhere on the course, but didn’t realize it until about mile 9 when the soreness started to creep into my chest. I’ll be glad I had an orange shirt or I would have ended up like this guy. If there is a next race I will be sure to take this advice and use Transpore medical tape.

Even with sore chaffed nipples that did not hinder my performance. When the gun went off at 8AM my position was in the middle of starting pack and took a few miles before runners spread out on the course. Yet after the first two miles I kept telling myself I was “too fast” with a 9:15 and 9:16 mile. That was 1:15 off the pace I wanted to run, but I tried to slow the next few miles, but that resulted in nothing slower than a 9:30 for miles 4 and 5.

spiltsJust past 6 miles was the third aid station. I brought no water for this race figuring I could get by on the aid stations at miles 1.55, 3.0, 6.55, 10.1, 11.45. I found it odd to have two so close together, but it did help on the home stretch. I only took a single cup of water at each aid station and attempted not to slow and lose time. Overall it seemed to work well. I made the turn just past mile 6 and started back towards the finish.

Just past mile 7 I glanced at my watch and did a few quick calculations. A sub 2 hour half marathon was possible. I would have to quicken my pace just about 25-30 seconds in order to come in under 2 hours. Miles 7, 8 and 9 were my best 3 miles of the day. I  posted 8:56, 8:40 and 8:54, which helped put in a strong position by the time I hit mile 10, with the aid station on my mind.

I dug into my pocket and pulled a date out popping in my mouth. The race was nearly done as I only had a single date remaining for the next mile. I was hoping to pick up the pace a bit more at mile 11, posting 9:04. I had gained another :06 seconds at mile 12 as I came across the last bridge and the park was now in sight.

I probably started my sprint a half mile too soon. I had one woman who had been pacing me for the last 4 miles and I pulled ahead figuring “this is it, I can make it.” With about a quarter of a mile I could see the finish line. The pathway we were running on was crowded, as I past a black woman trying to control 5 dogs on leashes. I also passed up some slower runners, probably from the 10k. I hit the grass with just yards remaining and started to run out of gas. I got passed within a few steps of the finish, but crossed with a big smile on my face as the race clock recorded a time of 1:58!

Within a few yards of the finished a co-worker of mine, who had run the 10k was there to great me with a handshake and words of congratulations. I was still surprised I pulled in nearly :22 minutes off my goal and nearly :31 minutes off my training run of 13.1 miles.

topSo what did I learn? I probably pushed myself a bit harder today than I did on my training runs. Then again, those long runs were not set up to see how fast I could run them, but to get the longer miles in. In the heat a 10-11 minute mile seemed to be a good time to shoot for, but it didn’t really correlate on race day. Who knows I might have been stronger if I had run a 10 or 10:30 mile for much of the race.

Looking over my entire race, mile by mile I was consistent. Actually I was stronger starting with mile 6, so that’s a big confidence booster. I also learned to stay within myself, but to use other runners to set your pace. I picked up a guy who had a good pace going at about mile 9.5, we were stride for stride for the next 2 miles. Although I think I got the better of him as he seemed to be struggling, not that I was but I was still running at my 9 min/mile pace.

In the end I finished 184 out of 511 runners overall and 14 out of 23 in my age group. No shame in that at all. I was very pleased with my effort and all the long hours and miles I had put in to get me over that finish line. Never during my training did I think that a sub 2 hour half was possible, especially in my first half marathon. I did set some PRs during the run, on the 10k (55:20), 10 miles (1:30:41) and of course the half marathon. Now to relax and reflect.

2012 ESPN Work League Results

This was the second of two fantasy football leagues I have participated in the past 4 years. While I am a 29 year veteran of the game, it’s only been recently that I have started participating in multiple leagues. I don’t get the thrill and excitement off adding more leagues, as I usually lose interest in one regardless of how well that team is doing. This year my 2012 fantasy football draft results, better than last year, but I have some work to do.

I am acting commish for the second straight year in the ESPN work league we call Down with OCC. I won the league in 2010, figured I would repeat as champion last year I used a WR/WR/WR/TE/QB strategy in the first 5 rounds. Unfortunately I was beset by injuries and I could not make the ground that I had lost. I learned quite a bit using an alternate draft strategy. While I am still open to alternate strategies, I believe I would have to invest more time in order to make it successful.

With the random draft lottery, I received the #4 pick (12-team league). I believe I would have fared better at 5 or 6, but I knew I would get my first pick with the #4 slot. While this league is different than my CBS league, there were a few and unexpected draft selections. My strategy was similar to my first draft. I was hoping to start QB/RB/WR, back to my old reliable strategy. Here is how the draft played out:

Round 1 (4): Drew Brees QB NOS
Hindsight being 20/20 I probably should have gone McCoy, but I didn’t have a feel for how the QBs would come off the board. I decided to jump the guy and grab Drew Brees to anchor my team.

Round 2 (21): Ahmad Bradshaw RB NYG
“The best available” RB was what I had to fall back to and we were only in the 2nd round. I knew RBs would go quick, but settled on Bradshaw to be my #1 RB. I do have a minor injury concern (hand) with Bradshaw.

Round 3 (28) Julio Jones WR ATL
I was very surprised that other lower ranked WRs came off the board before Jones. When round 3 came back I was quick to grab Jones as my top WR. While he might be a bit unproven, he is slated to have a big year in the ATL.

Round 4 (45) Reggie Bush RB MIA
I was pleased with this pick in my other league, but not so thrilled with it as my #2 RB. Gore and McGahee were the other two RBs I was considering, in fact I thought McGahee might make it back to me in the 5th round, but was selected two picks later.

Round 5 (52) Marques Colston WR NOS
It was a toss up in the 5th, as I had queued up Colston, Ridley and Hillis. I thought it was a round too early for Hillis, so it came down to Colston and Ridley. Having drafted Bush a round early, I wanted to round out my starting WRs and went for the combo and drafted Colston.

Round 6 (69) Eric Decker WR DEN
Two names were on my list this round, the aforementioned Hillis and Decker. Unfortunately my decision was made for me when Hillis was selected prior to my pick in this round. I was targeting Decker, thanks to how he has performed with Manning at QB. I look for a big year from Decker.

Round 7 (76) Philip Rivers QB SDG
My biggest mistake in the draft, but it could also be my biggest gain. I was none too impressed with the RB names I was seeing on the list; Rdman, Stewart, D, Brown and Benson. I considered a TE, but knew Fred Davis would still be on the board a few picks later. I kept glancing at Rivers name over and over. I didn’t need him and it was a poor pick, but I took him. Now I hope to trade Brees or Rivers, more likely Brees for a #1 RB.

Round 8 (93) Donald Brown RB IND

I came back in the 8th round and laid another egg with Donald Brown. I am not impressed with his running abilities. Hopefully Luck can be productive (for a rookie) and move the ball, this will help Brown on the ground. Still not pleased that Cedric Benson was taken just before me.

Round 9 (100) Fred Davis TE WAS
He was the only TE I was targeting, knowing full well I was not going to get Gates, as I had not planned on drafting a TE until after the 5th round. I like Davis, especially with Bob3 in Washington, hopefully he can quietly put together a solid year.

Round 10 (117) Nate Kaeding K SDG
Too early for a kicker, but I had to start looking in order to round out my starters. I love Kaeding for San Diego, he is money and very accurate. He was also the highest tiered kicker when the draft got back to me in the 10th round.

Round 11 (124) Eagles D/ST
I have no interest, nor did I put any thought into my defense. Philly was the highest ranked defense on the board, so I drafted them. I decided not to run with a backup defense this season.

Round 12 (141) Darrius Heyward-Bey WR OAK
DHB really slipped in this league, it appeared as owners were completely ignoring OAK receivers. I was excited to see DHB in the 12th. I believe he will have a good year, now with a full off season with Carson Palmer under his belt. I still believe he is a strong sleeper candidate.

Round 13 (148) Evan Royster RB WAS
Looking for depth and wanting a ride on the Shanny-Go-Round I drafted Royster. He finished last year strong, but picked up a knock, reports are he should be okay week 1 of the season. Let’s hope.

Round 14 (165) David Wilson RB NYG
Wilson burst onto the scene this year challenging for a starting job. He has excited through out preseason and will be the #2 for the NYG. He could cut into Bradshaw’s carries. My only handcuff this season.

Overall it was not my worst draft ever, but I am not pleased with my running game, it lacks even with Bradshaw as my #1. I don’t fear he will be more 2010 than he was 2011, when he was injured, but he does have Wilson willing and waiting. I have put Drew Brees up on the trade block, but will only entertain offers for Rice, Foster or McCoy. I would be fine with running the season with Rivers at QB, trading Brees and getting a top RB.

I like my wide receivers with Jones and Colston as my starters, along with Davis at TE. Decker ends up starting as my flex at WR. Week 7 is a bad bye week for me, hopefully by that time I will have made some changes to improve my team. Right now I am thinking maybe middle of the road in this league. I might make the playoffs, but I need to address my RB issue.

August 2012 North American QSO Party – CW

Contest: North American QSO Party
Date: August 4-5, 2012
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 1800 UTC Saturday; ends 0600 UTC Sunday

SOLAR CONDX: A=7, K=3, SFI=139, SSN=160


20 / 153 / 45
15 / 111 / 38
10 / 4 / 2
SCORE: 22,780 (TIME ON: 7 H 29 Mn)

SOAPBOX: This was a last minute decision to participate in the North American QSO Party. It’s contest format that I enjoy though, only 12 hours (single operator works 10 hours), a quick exchange providing name and state and everyone is running 100 watts. While NCCC sponsored a few practice sessions, I skipped those but made sure my antennas and rig were ready for the contest come 18z, Saturday morning.

I took a quick check of my August, 2011 NAQP results and thought about my goal. I was hoping to get 8-10 hours of BIC (butt in chair) and unofficially set my goal at 300 QSOs. That would equate to a 30 rate over the course of 10 hours. that rate would be higher if I was more competent in running a frequency as opposed to staying in search and pounce for nearly the entire contest.

I started on 10M and made 2 quick contacts, but for much of the contest 10M was closed. I would finish the band with 4 QSO. Conversely, with the sun scheduled to set at 0310z, 20M would be open quite a while. As it happened, I did not make to 10 hours, let alone 8 hours, so all my contacts were on 15M and 20M.

I went heavy on 15M to start the first few hours and was rewarded with a 46 and a 49 rate the first two hours. Without looking in past contests, I don’t remember another contest were I had two hours over 45 per hour. What was even more impressive to me, I had 5 of the first 6 hours over 30 per hour. As the afternoon wore on activity on 15M seemed to decline, but 20M picked up.

While conditions weren’t as good on 20M as they were on 15M the bands were crowded, as I exceeded my targets from 2011 from 18z until 01z. 20M ended up being my money band with 153 QSOs and 45 mults. The mult number was no better than 2011, but I could of easily continued to operate and get in a minimum of 8 hours.

I don’t believe I would of had any problems reaching my goal of 300 QSO. I stopped with 268 (2 dupes) and with 4.5 hours to go when I shut the shack down. 20M was still very active, especially the East Coast, but I had yet to move to 40M, which would have provided new mults and at least 30 QSOs. Still I had a great time participating and helping NCCC #4 in the team competition. Thanks to all for the contacts.

2012 CQ World Wide WPX CW

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: May 26-27, 2010
Mode: CW
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

80 / 14 / 3
40 / 123 / 43
20 / 233 / 135
15 / 316 / 177
10 / 14 / 8
TOTAL: 700 QSO / 366 PFX
SCORE: 556,686 (TIME ON: 32 H 03 Mn)

SOAPBOX: Wow, what fun! Third time in the past 4 years I have had a chance to participate in this contest and it’s one of my favorites. Unfortunately I missed out last year but looked to make up for it this year and I feel as I gave it a very strong effort. Yet at the end of the contest there are positives to take away and negatives that need to be addressed. This was also the first time I was given the opportunity (by the XYL) to give it a full 36 hour effort.

I had some good success to build off from 2010. I put in nearly 25 hours and just eclipsed 500 QSOs. My goal that year, much like this year was to score 1 million points. K6MM made it look easy in his slideshow presentation! As I am finding out, it’s a bit more difficult than what numbers on a spreadsheet say. The goals I set for 2012 were 800 QSOs, 1700 QSO pts, 368 PFXs, which would give me a chance at scoring 1 million points. Now that I am looking over my spreadsheet the math doesn’t quite add up. My point being, the numbers were juggled by band and QSO location to give me a baseline on which to start. I also used the .OBF file from my 2010 contest to give me my target projections per hour.

One of the negatives was I planned too high for contacts on 40/80M. I had a goal of 450 contacts on those bands, 125 of them being 6 point contacts on 80M. In the end I scored on a total on 14 contacts on that band. For me, 40M wasn’t much better. While I did make 123 contacts it was nowhere near enough points to give me a realistic shot at 1 million points and I knew this early in the contest, which caused me to rethink my goals during my first break.

In fact, things were looking good as I took a 60 minute break for dinner about 01z. I already had 510 logged in just over 13 hours. My hopes were still alive as the sunset waiting for the low bands to open. Even when they did open, I found myself on 20M up until 08z working EU. That was a surprise. 40M was okay in some regards, although I did expect a much better showing, as this was the first time I had put the refurbished SteppIR BigIR to the test. As for 80M, it was miserable, so instead of working straight through the first 12 hours I knocked off at 09z, but overslept by 1 hour and didn’t get back in the shack until 13z.

I started Saturday morning with some QSOs on 40M, but moved to 20M because 15M took over and became my money band for the next 10 hours. In that time I did work a few contacts on 10M, at the top of each hour for about 10 minutes and went to 20M at the bottom of the hour. Some good morning numbers gave me false hope that I could still challenge for 1 million points, but after breaking at 02z I was met with frustration.

The second night was not what the first night was. I sat in the shack struggling for nearly 4 hours before it I decided to call it a night just after 06z. Looking back, I might have taken a break earlier in order to rise on Sunday to start on 40/80M at 10z or earlier. I put together my best run on 40M at 12z, which did help to recover some of those lost points, but it was not nearly enough. My last shot was to see a repeat performance of the activity on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. All I needed was a 25 rate to help me hit my goal of 800 QSOs.

Unfortunately conditions deteriorated as the SSN decreased to 71 (from 86 the day before) and there was a minor disruption on the sun. There also seemed to be a lack of stations on the bands. Now I could account for this by saying all my QSOs were S&P and none were made running a frequency (more on that shortly). I would spin through the CW portion of a band and find I had already had a QSO with a majority of the stations, so even making a run for 800 was going to be difficult.

As Sunday worn on I had kissed 1 million goodbye for the second year and made a push for 500,000 points and a bit later in the day challenged myself to make 700 QSOs. I was able to accomplish both of these goals about with less that 50 minutes remaining in WPX. At that point I powered off the shack, grabbed an 801 and relaxed.

The final tally is my best attempt in any contest to date. Given I sat around for 32 hours, it stands to reason this is the largest QSO count I have put together. My XYL made the comment, “gosh honey 700 contacts doesn’t seem like a lot in 32 hours.” *sigh* She has a very valid point. As previously mentioned I made all my QSOs in S&P mode. I still hesitate to attempt to run a frequency as my CW is still a bit weak. I can copy fairly well, but don’t want to struggle sending ‘?’ or ‘AGN’ with every operator that calls me. I figure that would only put more pressure on me to get it right the first time. Guess it calls for more practice as well. Instead I sit back and listen to the call and exchange once and then make my call. This drastically decreases my rate.

I participated in this contest as a single operator, unassisted, low power, all bands. Looking at the past 2 years of results, I feel this would give me the best chance at challenging myself and the field for some wallpaper. While I came up short on my goals I do feel the final score will be one of the best in the 6th call district in that category. Even though I didn’t meet my original goals I am still very pleased with how I finished. I’ll look forward to the 2013 event and hopefully furthered my CW and make changes to get my 1 million points.

2012 CQ World Wide WPX – SSB

Contest: CQ World Wide WPX
Date: March 24-25, 2010
Mode: SSB
Period: Starts 0000 UTC Saturday; ends 2359 UTC Sunday

20 / 50 / 43
TOTAL: 50 QSO / 43 PFX
SCORE: 2,924 (TIME ON: 3 H 37 Mn)

SOAPBOX: I knew better than go into this contest running low power, still I took the chance and did it anyway. Part of the reason was because the rig is a loaner from George, K6GT and I have been “babying it” so nothing happens while it is in my possession. The last thing I need is to damage his rig, so the past few months I have used it, its been all low power. Now low power could have been sufficient IF my backyard were full of towers with big antennas, but that isn’t the case. A single 5-band hex beam at about 40′ was what I had to work with and conditions were okay when the contest started.

On top of the low power I decided to work a single band. Ignoring the suggestion from Stu, K6TU to work 15M I decided on 20M, as I hoped it would stay open later to Asia/Oceania. Not sure if it did or not, as I got tired and went to bed before I had a real chance to check the band conditions to that part of the world.

My score and effort were terrible to say the least. I could hear many stations, but at 100w, which was probably more like 60-70w they couldn’t hear me. I did with SJ2W in Sweden, but that was my sole EU contact. There were a few Caribbean contacts, but 92% of my contacts were from NA. One of those was NR6O, or N6RO, Radio Oakley, which is but a few miles down the road.

Instead of working frustrated through Saturday, I had coordinated with Ken, the station owner and Dean, N6BV to sit and listen with Dean. Thankfully Dean wanted to take a break, so I took over the controls on 15M, attempting to work EU. It was interesting to see how Dean made it look so easy, pulling weak signals and their exchange out of the noise. Maybe it’s something I am not great at, as well as knowing many call signs, due to a lack of experience. Still with the tools on Win-Test, even having a partial call sign will allow you to guess that the suffix of the call you are trying to work.

I gave up 15M after about 2 hours and Dean took control. While I was listening in, Michael, WA6O asked if I wanted to listen to 40M. Now during the day 40M isn’t much, except for local area contacts. I spent about 90 minutes listening to noise, with a contact here and there, even moved a few to 10M. Still it was the experience of working as a team, with many more experienced than myself.One of my other disadvantages, not knowing the Elecraft K3. Still I feel it was good experience and thank N6BV for allowing me to watch, work, listen and learn.