Tales of Running: The 1st Half--Marathon of the Season: Or, OUCH!

Optimistic at the start.
On Sunday, I plunkered down for my first half-marathon of the season, the Shipyard Old Port Harbor Half-Marathon in Portland, Maine.  It was a brutal run overall but one that I needed to get done.  It's been about 2 months since I last wrote about my running.  And while I've been logging in mileage as best I can, I still haven't upped the running to the point where I feel like I'm at a good training level for tackling the upcoming marathon (now clocking in at 3 months away--gulp!).  Thus, I needed a good kick in the ass like this run in order to get me back on a more serious focus on running.  Granted there have been distractions such as going away in May and having a very busy month in June, but the summer's here in full force and I need to charge ahead!

Onto the Race

What were some of the challenges of the race?  The first was the heat.  It was harsh.  Though the race started around 7:30AM, it was already in the 80s (F) and continued to increase throughout the trek.  The humidity was also palpable and definitely took its toll on everyone.  Particularly in the second half of the race, shade was at a premium and that too took its toll.  I can do heat and humidity but throw in long swats of sun and I'm practically done for.

Hurting, but done
with medal in tow!
There were also two spots of extremely nasty smells.  Early on in the race, we had to pass a large fish market and the smell was stomach churning.  At another place along the path, towards the later half, we had to pass a waste management facility right where they were aerating the water.  Not the most pleasant of smells either.  The worst part about both of these--we had to pass them both because they were parts of loops we were completing.

The final challenge and problem with the race was the herding that took place in two sections of the race.  As the race started, people were herded into a roped off section of road that was maybe 12-15 feet apart and continued for at least a mile.  This was just as the race was beginning so in the first mile or so, we were limited in what we could do.  I didn't mind that this helped slow me down, but I also found myself exerting a lot of energy and attention trying not to bump into the people near me as it was quite crowded.  Additionally, the last 5 miles of the trek took place on a running path around a bay.  This path was narrow at times (especially for the 1+ mile section where runners were going in both directions (it looped back on itself).  At other times, there was just poor running etiquette at work.  People would stop and walk in the middle of the path or if they were with a friend, they would walk side by side, taking up much of the path, if not all of it.  I would think that a general rule of courtesy would be to move to the right if one were walking to give more room for the runners, but many walked in the middle of the path, causing others to have to navigate around (and try not to stumble off the path or bump into others while doing so).

Being both unprepared for the run in general and the harsh weather conditions, I did find myself walking bits of it.  I think in total, I probably walked two miles of the entire race.  In the end, I came in at 2:41:03 with a 12:17 minutes per mile average.  I definitely have a long way to go, but it's a good starting point to work with.

Within feet of the finish line!
Despite any of that, the route itself was beautiful with lots of great views (and two killer hills!) and I did enjoy the different areas of Portland I hadn't seen before.  I also liked the excuse to go up to Maine for the weekend and enjoy some time in one of my favorite cities.

Well, the running season is now in full force.  I have runs every other week or every week over the next few months leading up to the marathon in October.  Here is my updated running line up.  If you see any that sound interesting, feel free to sign up and join me!

Sunday, April 21, 2013 - DONE
Energize The Earth 5K/10K
10:00AM: Beverly, MA
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/EnergizeEarth.html

Sunday, May 5, 2013 - DONE
5 Mile Run for HAWC
12:00 PM: Salem Common
http://www.active.com/running/salem-ma/5-mile-run-for-hawc-2013

Sunday, July 14, 2013 - DONE
Shipyard Old Port Half Marathon and 5k
7:30AM: Thames Street, Portland, Maine 04101
http://www.oldporthalfmarathon.com/

Sunday, July 21, 2013
Narragansett Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  320 Washington Street, Easton, MA 02357
http://www.gansettrun.com/#!event-info/ch6q

Saturday, August 3, 2013
Triple Threat
9:00AM:  24 Jerdens Lane, Rockport, Massachusetts 01966
http://www.yukanrun.com/TripleThreat.html

August 24, 2013
Color Mob Run - 5K
12:00PM:  Amesbury Sports Park, 12 Hunt Rd, Amesbury, MA 01913
http://cmboston-2013-eorg.eventbrite.com/

Monday, September 2, 2013
Around Cape Ann 25K
9:00AM OMaley Middle School, 71 Middle Street, Gloucester, MA
https://www.runreg.com/Net/3381

September 8, 2013
AppleCrest Half-Marathon
8:30AM:  133 Exeter Rd. | Hampton Falls , NH
http://www.applecresthalf.com/race-info.php

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Wicked Half Marathon
7:00AM:  Bentley School, 25 Memorial Drive, Salem, Massachusetts 01970
http://www.bnseventmanagement.com/events/TacheHalfMarathon.html

Saturday, October 5, 2013
31st Annual Applefest Half Marathon
10:00AM:  Hollis, NH
http://www.applefesthalfmarathon.com/

Sunday October 20, 2013
BayState Marathon
8:00AM:  Lowell, MA 01852
http://www.baystatemarathon.com/



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What's in Your Travel Pack?

So as many know, I recently went on a trip.  Well, over a month ago now, so this post is wildly overdue, but June got crazy, so here it is now.  This is what I've come to find my essential travel pack.  What I mean is the stuff besides thing like toiletries.   I have listed things that would be useful in your day to day adventures or just a good resource to have on hand.

Plastic Baggies of various sizes:  These will come in handy for carrying small amounts of food or trying to keep something protected from rainy weather.  They can fit easily in your day-bag (see below) and you can toss your phone into one if it starts raining hard (and you for got your umbrella).

Lock:  Particularly if you plan to stay at a hostel, many of which will have storage you can lock stuff up.  I'd go with a combination lock, doing your best to remember it and to store it on a digital device or something along those lines.

Umbrella:  A small 6-8 inch umbrella is a must.  It takes up a little more space in your day-bag, but it inevitably proves its worth the first time you're caught in rain and quickly pull it out.  It's also useful with it's hanging hoop that you can latch onto your belt or outside of your bag.

Pen:  Call me crazy but going somewhere without a pen feels wrong.  It's probably the writer in me, but I just feel if I need to write something down (e.g. directions, an address, a note), I have it onhand.

Paper pad:  See pen above.

Bandanna:  Depending on weather, air quality, etc, a bandanna is a great carry item in the day-bag as it can be versatile in its uses from wiping up to covering up.  If you're low on sunblock or just don't want direct sun, it can be wrapped around the head.  It can be soaked in water and put upon the head to help cool you down.

Rain poncho:  Not necessarily an essential depending on the climate (ahem, I'm looking at you desert!), but again, a cheap one (read: plastic back with hood and arm holes), can fit easily into a day-bag and quickly accessible if the rain is a coming.  While the umbrella is useful, I like the poncho because you can put it on over your day-bag, thus guaranteeing the dryness of your day-bag.

Canteen:  A must for certain if you don't want to spend a fortune on water (though in some places, you will need to buy the water for health reasons).  This takes up more space and weight (especially when full) in the day-bag, but I find it extremely useful to draw upon, especially if there are no stores around or I don't want to spend $3 for a bottle of water of equivalent size).  I try to get one with a carabiner so I can hang it off my backpack for quick access.

Mini-backpack or day-bag:  I've become a big fan of these items.  Maybe some would it a murse or man-bag or what have you.  However, I like the string-based backpack sacks that are usually nylon.  I will toss stuff in there and carry that about throughout the day.  It's great in that I can put snacks and the aforementioned items as well as if I buy stuff, toss it in the bag and continue on my way.

Mini-flashlight:  Maybe not to have in the day-bag but definitely useful to have on-hand if you're traveling at night or next to where you are sleeping.

Strip of paper with contact info and play you're currently staying:  I would carry this on me somewhere such as my wallet.  If something were to unexpectedly happen to me, knowing where I am staying, who to contact, etc, would be extremely useful information for medics or other involved players to have (especially if you have allergies, medical conditions, etc).

Copy of Passport (physical and digital): Again, I would carry this one me as a backup (if traveling abroad) as well as have a copy of it in digital form.  It may not do much if I lose the real thing, but it might get things done quicker if you know the information that's on your passport.

Small towel:  Ok, I stole this one from Douglas Adams, but it's pretty true.  Much like the bandanna, but I'm apt to leave this in the living space I'm staying at as a back up (again, if using a hostel, your own towel will save you money).

Utility Knife:  I tend to carry this on me in the day-bag if going out and about so long as I know I'm not going through any security checks that will cause me to lose it.  A utility knife with its various appendages can come in extremely useful in many different situations.  Though make sure you don't do what I did and leave it in the backpack you use to get on the plane (keep it in your luggage when flying--ooops!).

Universal Adapter:  Pretty straight forward but many forget and thus cannot get their electricity on for their various items.

Electronic device with maps, public transportation info, and other useful information;  even if you don't have an international plan or cannot access the interwebs online when abroad, you can download a good amount of that information onto your digital device.  For instance, you can take really good map images from Google of the area/city you are staying in with areas marked and such to help you move about.  You can also download public transportation data so you can go to your device to find out where you need to go and how to get there.

So what's in your travel pack?  What are your essentials for traveling?




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365 Books a Year Challenge: 25 Books in June!

So I wasn't as successful with June as I was with May, but alas, getting caught up from being away for nearly a month, starting classes, and picking up on my training left me with less time to get a lot of reading done.  But I did manage reasonably enough.  25 out of 30--not bad and with the bump from last month of 41 books, I'm still in good shape to hit my target.  Like every month, I had some "meh" reads but also a good share of good reads and these three are the ones that I found most appealing.  

A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal Thompson.  


I've know of Ripley's "Believe It or Not!" but have never been in any of the actual museums or even watched the TV show (I think it was a TV show?).  But when my editor sent this to me, I was slightly curious and that certainly paid off.  I was familiar with the outrageous and borderline-spectacle that Ripley is known for, but I had not clue about his start in comics.  He was definitely as quirky as those people in which he collected but seeing his life move from sports illustration reporting to comics to eventually radio and so on was excellently explained and connected through Thompson's work.  I'm very curious to look at and read any collections of his cartoons now.

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin.  


A co-worker first introduced me to Temple Grandin when telling me about a biopic of her featuring Claire Danes.  I watched the movie (being a fan of Danes) and was impressed to find out about Grandin's work in a variety of fields.  So when this book came across my desk to review I was pretty excited and it definitely came through.  Grandin and Panek do a great job exploring autism through the brain and understanding through the latest technology and research how to make sense of autism, recognize the challenges it can represent, but also the innumerable ways it can add value to people's lives.  She doesn't present it as a gift by any means but she does excellent in emphasizing what benefits and opportunities are available if we more consciously and sincerely integrate autism into our culture.  

Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau.  

Lareau's book explores the challenges that class offer up to children particularly as it comes to outcomes and opportunities.  What I really liked about this book is how she is able to connect the various ways that class does substantively change what youth are aware of and available to act upon based upon the class dynamics of their upbringing.  This is particularly true when it comes to the education and job process.  

Here's the full list thus far (or check it out on GoodReads):

This month's readings:  

BOOKS


  • The Synchronous Trainer's Survival Guide: Facilitating Successful Live and Online Courses, Meetings, and Events by Jennifer Hofmann
  • Great American Short Stories by various

AUDIOBOOKS


  • The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
  • A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert "Believe It or Not!" Ripley by Neal Thompson
  • Size Matters Not: The Extraordinary Life And Career Of Warwick Davis by Warwick Davis
  • The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson
  • The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin
  • Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
  • Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life by Annette Lareau
  • The Humanoids and With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee

GRAPHIC NOVELS


  • Avengers Arena, Vol. 1: Kill or Die by Dennis Hopeless
  • Smallville Season 11 Vol. 1: Guardian by Bryan Miller
  • Peter Panzerfaust Vol 1: The Great Escape by Kurtis Wiebe
  • Stormwatch, Vol. 2: Enemies of Earth by Peter Milligan
  • The Lovecraft Anthology, Vol 1 by various 
  • Mind Mgmt Volume One: The Manager by Matt Kindt
  • The Lovecraft Anthology: Volume 2 by various 
  • The Manhattan Projects, Vol. 2: Above Beyond by Jonathan Hickman
  • Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison
  • Batman: The Night of the Owls by Scott Snyder
  • Avengers - Volume 1: Avengers World by Jonathan Hickman
  • Dial H, Vol. 1: Into You by China Miéville
  • All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Yesterday's X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis
  • X-Treme X-Men - Volume 1: Xavier Must Die! by Greg Pak



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Favorite Freebies on Amazon Part 2 of 2: Horror & Sci-Fi Edition

So last Friday, I talked a bit about my favorite ways of finding free ebooks on Amazon.  I saw that a lot of people visited the site and shared it with others (thank you!).  I hope part 2 is equally rewarding.  In particular, I've focused on Science-fiction, fantasy, and horror.  So enjoy and let me know what you may have found that I didn't know about!

A couple other places that I found that regular post free Kindle books include:

There is of course, the Free Book Collections site on Amazon itself.  There's also Freebook Sifter, which sorts books into categories for you to explore better than the Amazon interface.

There's also these Twitter accounts that are fairly prodigious in their outpouring:
EbooksAddict
FKBT Blog
Free eBooks Daily
Free Kindle Books
Free Kindle Ebooks
Free Kindle eBooks
Free Kindle Fiction
FreeKindleEBooks.com
Kindle Free Books
Hundred Zeros

And here are some more of my favorites "free" purchases that I've found on Amazon, including some very popular science-fiction, fantasy, and horror authors.

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Sentiment, Inc.
Poul William Anderson
Poul William Anderson titles.

Looking Backward 2000-1887.
Edward Bellamy
Edward Bellamy titles.

The Dueling Machine.
Ben Bova
Ben Bova titles.

The Planet Savers.
Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Monster Men.
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs titles.

Invaders from the Infinite.
John Wood Campbell
John Wood Campbell titles.

Let'Em Breathe Space.
Lester Del Rey
Lester Del Rey titles.

The Hanging Stranger.
Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick titles.

Northworld Trilogy.
David Drake
David Drake titles.

Rastignac the Devil.
Philip José Farmer

The Misplaced Battleship.
Harry Harrison
Harry Harrison titles.

Operation Haystack.
Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert titles.

Wool - Part One.
Hugh Howey

The Moon is Green.
Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber titles.

News from Nowhere, or, an Epoch of Rest : being some chapters from a utopian romance.
William Morris

The Time Traders.
Andre Norton
Andre Norton titles.

The Hated.
Frederik Pohl
Frederick Pohl titles.

Starman's Quest.
Robert Silverberg

Empire.
Clifford D. Simak
Clifton D. Simak titles.

The Big Trip Up Yonder.
Kurt Vonnegut

On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington).
David Weber
David Weber titles.

The Invisible Man.
H. G. Wells
H. G. Wells titles.



HORROR
Famous Modern Ghost Stories Anthology.
Various

The Book of Were-Wolves.
S. Baring-Gould
S. Baring-Gould titles.

The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce, Volume 1.
Ambrose Bierce
Ambrose Bierce titles.

The Wendigo.
Algernon Blackwood
Algernon Blackwood titles.

This Crowded Earth.
Robert Bloch

The Dark Star.
Robert W. Chambers
Robert W. Chambers titles.

The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories.
Lord Dunsany
Lord Dunsany titles.

The Screaming.
Jack Kilborn
Jack Kilborn (A.K.A. J. A. Konrath regularly has his titles for free on Amazon).

A Stable for Nightmares or Weird Tales.
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu titles.

The Great God Pan.
Arthur Machen
Arthur Machen titles.

Varney the Vampire Or the Feast of Blood.
Thomas Preskett Prest

Frankenstein.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Mary Shelley titles.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Robert Louis Stevenson titles.

Dracula.
Bram Stoker
Bram Stoker titles.

So what are some of the interesting treasures you've discovered on Amazon for free?




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