Sunday, April 17, 2016

Japan Badge

Once again, to my surprise, an email came from fitbit "Congrats on earning your Japan Badge!".  The distance badges are a tracking of how many miles one has gone since first strapping on the fitbit.  They are not in increments of hundreds or thousands of miles, they are an actual mileage of something physical.  In this case, it is 1869 miles, the full length of Japan.

What made this unique was the timing of it.  Less than 24 hours earlier I had finished the book "The Railway Man".  It is a nonfiction account of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer, who was taken prisoner by the Japanese during World War II.  The book went into great detail about what it was like for him as a POW, to be tortured mentally and physically, to be starved, to be waterboarded, to be treated inhumanely...

It is an incredible account.  What made this a very good read, after suffering for many years after the war with nightmares and wanting revenge, was able able to meet one of his tormentors, 50 years later, and forgive him!

If you are looking for a really good read, I recommend this book.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Number 62 - 2016 Georgia Half Marathon

2016 Publix Georgia Half Marathon, Atlanta, GA  March 20, 2016

The sign up & prep

I decided right after the first of the year that I wanted to do this race.  It's a hometown, well sort of hometown, local race.  As usual, once paid for and on the calendar, the training schedule gets created and I do get more serious about following that training plan.  What I did not anticipate was getting the flu earlier this month (and I did get a flu shot!).  Unlike a cold or an upper respiratory infection, the flu throws a major curve ball to the training plan.  So for this race, definitely not 100% prepared, but close enough - just super glad that I did have a few weeks to get strength back.


Think I read somewhere that they needed over 2000 volunteers to help out with putting the race on, so I volunteered to help out at the Expo handing race packets.  The shift I had was on the Friday before the race from 2:30-7:00 PM at the Georgia World Congress Center.  It was fun interacting with participants picking up the race bibs & shirts, and such.  The odd thing about handing out shirts, you sort of become a pseudo expert about the shirt and many actually expect you to be an expert on the shirt:

"What's it made of?"

"Is it unisex?"

"How come they don't have male/female sizing"?

"Will it shrink?"

"Can I try it on?"

"How does it look on me?"

"Should I get a different size?"

"Can I get a different size?"

"Do you have to wear this for the race"?

But I only signed up to hand them out!  :)

The Race  

I was up at 4:15 AM.  Being an early bird anyway, this really was no big deal.  One last check of the hourly forecast showed temps in the 40s meant an extra layer and gloves were in order.  A stop at Quiktrip for a blueberry muffin & another coffee and I headed towards Marta.  For me, it is just easier to take to subway down to the race.  Virtually everyone on Marta was heading down for the race, we exited at the Peachtree Center Station and just followed the crowd to Centennial Olympic Park.  It was still dark but the park was already packed with folks just waiting around for the race to begin.

Of course it was not too much later before the normal pre-race lines began to form.  When you have upwards of 10,000 people who were hydrating for the race...  The good thing about this race, plenty of porta potties.

As 7:00 AM approached everyone was getting to their corral for the start.  They had five corrals - A, B, C, D, E with the fastest runners in corral A and the slowest in E.  I took my usual starting spot in corral E.

At 7:00 AM on the dot corral A was off.  Each of the remaining corrals made their way closer to the starting line.  By the time corral E was at the starting line, it was 7:12.  No worries though as each race bib had a chip in it and an individual's race time did not start until you crossed over the (electronic chip reading) starting line.

We weaved our way through downtown Atlanta, through various neighborhoods, and parks.  I always enjoy seeing the city this way as you miss many things if you happen to drive through.  My favorite vista on this course came in between mile 3 & 4, a great view of Freedom Parkway.

Freedom Parkway

Success for me in any of these races is to simply finish the race.  I do have a secret goal for half marathons though, it is to finish under 3 hours and for this race I did.  It was a good race.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A 5k, a 10K, and a 747 Badge

A long overdue post from the end of December...

I really did have good intentions - signed up for the Winter Blast virtual race series to do a 5K, 10K, 10 miler, and a half marathon in between December 19 and 31.  But with over 12 inches of rain, the 2nd wettest December on record in these parts, it simply was not meant to be.  It was just a crazy amount of rain.  I did feel lucky to get a 5K and a 10K in though.


Back in August I got a Fitbit to track daily mileage.  It works great.  One of the things that I noticed about it after signing up, from time to time you earn badges for various things like Daily Steps, Daily Climb, Lifetime Climb, and Lifetime Distance.  They are quite creative with some of their badges:

Daily Steps
  • 5,000 steps: Boat Shoe
  • 10,000 steps: Sneakers
  • 15,000 steps: Urban Boot
  • 20,000 steps: High Tops
  • 25,000 steps: Classics
  • 30,000 steps: Trail Shoe
  • 35,000 steps: Hiking Boot
  • 40,000 steps: Cleats
  • 45,000 steps: Snow Boots
  • 50,000 steps: Cowboy Boots
  • 55,000 steps: Platform Shoe
  • 60,000 steps: Blue Suede Shoes
  • 65,000 steps: Ruby Slippers
  • 70,000 steps: Spring Loaders
  • 75,000 steps: Genie Shoes
  • 80,000 steps: Futuristic Kicks
  • 90,000 steps: Rocket Boot
  • 100,000 steps: Olympian Sandals
Daily Climb
  • 10 Floors: Happy Hill
  • 25 Floors: Redwood Forest
  • 50 Floors: Lighthouse
  • 75 Floors: Ferris Wheel
  • 100 Floors: Skyscraper
  • 125 Floors: Rollercoaster
  • 150 Floors: Stadium
  • 175 Floors: Bridge
  • 200 Floors: Castle
  • 300 Floors: Waterfall
  • 400 Floors: Canyon
  • 500 Floors: Volcano
  • 600 Floors: Mountain
  • 700 Floors: Rainbow
Lifetime Climb
  • 500 Floors: Helicopter
  • 1,000 Floors: Skydiver
  • 2,000 Floors: Hot Air Balloon
  • 4,000 Floors: 747
  • 8,000 Floors: Cloud
  • 14,000 Floors: Spaceship
  • 20,000 Floors: Shooting Star
  • 28,000 Floors: Astronaut
  • 35,000 Floors: Satellite
Lifetime Distance
  • 26 mi (42 km): Marathon
  • 70 mi (112 km): Penguin March
  • 250 mi (402 km): London Underground
  • 350 mi (563 km): Hawaii
  • 500 mi (804 km): Serengeti
  • 736 mi (1,184 km): Italy
  • 990 mi (1,593 km): New Zealand
  • 1600 mi (2,574 km): Great Barrier Reef
  • 1869 mi (3,007 km): Japan
  • 1997 mi (3,213 km): India
  • 2500 mi (4,023 km): Monarch Migration
  • 2983 mi (4,802 km): Sahara
  • 4132 mi (6,650 km): Nile
  • 5000 mi (8,046 km): Africa
  • 5500 mi (8,851 km): Great Wall
  • 5772 mi (9,289 km): Russian Railway
  • 7900 mi (12,713 km): Earth
  • 12430 mi (20,004 km): Pole to Pole

I'm not sure that this type of thing actually motivates me, but I must admit, it's kind of fun getting the badges.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Number 59 - WOTT

WOTT - Walk Off The Turkey

12 mile walk on the west side of Manhattan from Battery Park to the George Washington Bridge the Saturday after Thanksgiving

It all started months ago with the idea of a huge family get together in northern New Jersey for Thanksgiving.  With the standard overload of holiday indulging calories, the WOTT seemed like a great way burn some of them off.  So on Saturday after Thanksgiving, Ted, Jen, Raney, and I headed into New York City.  We decided to drive into the city, park at Port Authority, and take the #1 train down to South Ferry.

A few minutes later we were at the Staten Island Ferry station ready to begin the WOTT.  We were a bit early, there were a few other WOTT-ers wondering were all of this started (exact location wise).  We really did not know and just decided to start our journey up the West Side at that point.

If you've ever been to New York City and walked around Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Greenwich Village, Soho, or any area towards the center of the city you might be thinking that we had a lot of waiting time to cross busy city streets.  That was not the case at all.  There were only a few times where we had to stop for cars in the 12 miles.  They really did a great job designing and connecting walkways.  Navigating up the West Side of Manhattan was easy.  There are many parks, areas with artwork on display, benches, walkers, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists,...  And since the Hudson River is on your left, you just basically follow the river north.

The first six miles or so were similar to the picture above - city buildings and traffic fairly close by.  But as we approached the Upper Westside, the views started to change.

The one illusion that we could not avoid was the George Washington Bridge, at least the illusion of it appearing closer than it actually was.  In the picture below, it is about six miles away.  So if you ever do this walk, do not be fooled think that you are almost there :)

GW Bridge still miles away!

As we got closer to the bridge, we were farther from traffic and saw things that would make you think you were not in a city at all.

Hawk on the Hudson

So about four hours after we started we finally made it to the little red lighthouse under the great gray bridge.

Thanks Jen, Raney, & Ted!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Number 58 - Ashenfelter 8K

Great day for an 8K!

While in northern New Jersey for the Thanksgiving holiday, my brother-in-law treated my daughter-in-law and me to the Ashenfelter 8K Classic in Glen Ridge.

The weather could not have been any better than it was for the 3000+ people who were there for the 8K.

And what a great way to get ahead of the Thanksgiving day calories!

This was a fun race.  The 8K (4.97 miles) is a unique distance, not sure if I've ever come across an 8K race before but glad Ted signed us up for this one!

Ted Wins!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Number 57 - 2015 Purplestride 5K

Pancreatic Cancer: Know It. Fight It. End It.

It is estimated that more than 48,900 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and more than 40,000 will die from the disease. It is the fourth leading cause of cancer death, with a five-year relative survival rate of just 7%. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest five-year relative survival rate of any major cancer.

Historically, pancreatic cancer research has been underfunded. Only approximately 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) budget is allocated to this leading killer. We know from the relatively high survival rates associated with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS that federal research funding levels matter in the fight to find new cures and directly relate to improved survival rates.

Your donations will help to change these dismal statistics by funding research grants, advocacy efforts, patient support, and awareness activities coordinated by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Click here (PDF) to download a pancreatic cancer fact sheet with more information.


My son, once again in remembrance and honor of his grandfather, my father, put together a team to help raise awareness and support for pancreatic cancer.  So last Saturday morning Mary, Raney, Daniel, Doug, and I met down at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta for the annual PurpleStride 5K.

It was a great day, a bit cool early but a bright sun on a cloudless sky made for a great outing.  There were options on the 5K - you could run it, you could walk it, you could do it timed, or you could do it untimed.  It really was not about the 5K race, it was about coming together with people who have all been impacted in one way or another, by pancreatic cancer.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Number 56 - Jarrard Gap AT Loop

For number 56 I hiked the Jarrard Gap AT (Appalachian Trail) Loop in the north Georgia mountains with the group 'Suwanee Take-a-Hikers'. I really like one of the mantras I came across regarding - using the internet to get people off the internet! Well, this meetup group accomplished that.

We met up at the Lowe's parking lot in Suwanee and car pooled the hour and a half drive up to the mountains.

It was a cool September morning at about 50 degrees which felt fantastic after what seemed like months of 90+ weather!

The hike was a loop that took us on the Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail, and the Slaughter Creek Trail all in the Blood Mountain Wilderness area. Although 19 people signed up for the hike only nine showed up for it.

One of the interesting side notes on two members of the group, they were on their first date! That took some chutzpah. They chose not to carpool with the rest of us as they wanted to get to know each other on the drive up. Interesting first date!

We parked next to Lake Winfield Scott, geared up, and hit the trail head.

We were pretty much under a constant canopy of green the entire hike. Thoughts of what this might look like in about six weeks when the leaves would be all sorts of colors went through our minds as we trekked along.

The reason why this hike was categorized as moderate to difficult was the elevation gain. We started at just over 2800 feet and would make a steady climb to just over 3800 feet in the first three miles. So the first part was part were we burned the most calories but it was worth it. There were no points on this hike that had great vista of the surrounding mountains, again, mostly covered in a green canopy of leaves.

I enjoyed this hike and it was a pretty good workout, especially the elevation gain. One of the things my fitbit does is count stairs. It considers a 10 foot elevation gain as a set of stairs. The final count of stairs registered at 125! I thought that might be off as it was roughly a 1000 foot elevation gain. But a closer look at elevation profile made me realize that there were plenty of up and downs along the way.

It was a good hike.