Archive for October, 2007

Hi-tech brushing

I visited the dentist last week (after delaying for about 18 months), and got convinced that I should get an electric toothbrush. So after spending some time being confused by all the models and reading Amazon reviews, I ordered the one with the highest model number, because that’s gotta be the best!
And is there a better way to get me to brush properly than get a cool gadget to do it with?!

So today I got my Oral-B Triumph 9950 with SmartGuide delivered… It took me more time to get it all assembled than it would for a camera or a computer part. I actually had to refer to the quick start sheet and the manual! It’s a toothbrush! But it is no ordinary toothbrush - it has 4 different brushes, 4 modes of brushing and massaging, and a very cool wireless gadget (SmartGuide) that displays the time you have left for brushing each quadrant of your mouth, which mode you are in, battery status, and it even flashes red if you’re pressing too hard!!!
It will even tell me when it’s time to replace my brush head, which is probably 2 months before you’d actually need to replace it, but it looks like I’ll be giving these guys even more money down the road.
Well, if I don’t get yelled at by the dentist some time in the future, it will be all worth it…

Add comment October 29th, 2007

A Canniversary

It’s been exactly a year since we adopted Pablo.
Since then he’s been the main subject of my photos, blog entries, and our daily schedules (”who’s got the dog tomorrow?”). He’s been a source of major stress in our household, daily barking fits and other struggles, he doesn’t travel well and costs way more than you’d think.
He does offer some things in return though, like protecting our place from strangers in the courtyard by barking until they leave. At times you could be fooled into thinking that he’s sharing his love and affection with us, but it’s ultimately all about his comfort and attention directed at him.
Still, I can’t help but smile when I’m watching him happily chomping away on his birthday bone, and realize how much we’ve grown to love him.

Last week I came across this post on Craigslist (same place where we got Pablo), which pretty much sums it all up.

Add comment October 28th, 2007

Getting noticed at a race

Watching and running previous races, I realize that certain people get noticed and get more support than others. Other than wearing a ridiculous costume, the obvious thing is to have your name written on your shirt. I ran numerous times next to Bobs, Joes, and Amandas who got all the cheering while I didn’t get any. Sometimes even having a Drexel shirt while running in Philly will get you some attention.

Being that it was going to be really rough in Chicago, I decided to try something. Having a foreign name, that was out of the question, so after thinking about it I had to settle for something universal, like the smiley face. Having decided I was going to run shirtless due to the heat, the choice was obvious - draw a smiley face on my chest!

As Crystal was using a Sharpie to mark me at 6am, she thought it was ridiculous. My doubts cleared as I entered the hotel elevator with a bunch of marathoners, and some older woman smiled and said “I like your shirt”.

It proved to be the best decision that day, as people must have cheered for me over a hundred times, mostly screaming “go, smiley face!”. Even though I felt like quitting a few times, this got me through the day - when people smile at you and cheer you, you have no choice but to smile back, wave or say thank you, and keep going…

go smiley face!
Go smiley face!

2 comments October 13th, 2007

The Chicago Marathon Meltdown

In case you haven’t seen the headlines, this year’s Chicago Marathon was very hot. So hot that they cancelled the race after about four hours, as the ambulances couldn’t keep up with the people passing out on the course. One died, 300 hospitalized.

I was fortunate (and I guess smart) enough to finish only with a minor headache which went away after several liters of gatorade and a cold shower, and was able to drink beer with my dinner and enjoy exchanging horror stories from that morning.

The first half was actually bearable because it was mostly in the shade, but I quickly realized that I’d have to slow my pace down significantly. By about mile 15 all shade was gone and I had to start walking at intervals.

People slower than me had it the worst, by the time they got to some aid stations, all water or Gatorade were gone. I heard of people running up to city’s decorative fountains to drink water out of them. There were supposed to be extra drinks, misting tents, ice handed out, but I saw none of that until very late in the race when most people were already hurting a lot.

The people of Chicago who were watching the race were great. Not only were they cheering the runners, they quickly realized how critical the situation was and helped out by hosing us down, turning on their sprinklers, running with pitchers of water from their houses, even running into convenience stores to buy water and hand it out. People handing out ice cubes were my favorite, letting the cubes melt on my head and
in my ears helped cool me down. The sentiment is that the organizers were not up to the task, but the crowds definitely saved the day for a lot of us.

Only after about 4 hours did the organizers have the fire dept hose people down and open the fire hydrants. They also cancelled the race, redirected slower runners to the finish using shortcuts, and yelled at the rest of us from police helicopters that “the race is cancelled, this is now a fun run, start walking now”.

I walked from about mile 21 to 25 with my new Portugese friend Alfredo, and despite the race being cancelled we ran the last mile to get some cheering from the crowds, and finish in at a blazing fast 4:25. Now for a while I don’t have to worry about running my worst marathon - the odds of running any slower are really low, at least before I turn 50.

I’ve seen so many people collapse during the race and even more at the finish, that I’m certain next time a race I’m signed up for is that hot, I’ll just choose not to run it. Apparently 10,000 out of the 45,000 who signed up chose not to even start. We won’t really know how many actually finished, but not that many ran the whole 26.2 miles. This will be a medal I’ll definitely cherish, not because of a great time, but because of extreme conditions and the fact that I actually managed to do the whole thing.

On another note, Chicago is a great city, I’d definitely visit again, and even run a marathon there, but only if they schedule it a few weeks later in the year.

2 comments October 9th, 2007

One step closer to the big mountains

After a crappy week at work so far, and worrying about a steamy marathon, at least I accomplished something good today.
I just bought my plane tickets to Kathmandu! The experience will be pretty painful, as I leave JFK on a Wednesday morning, after a 17.5 hour flight I arrive to Bangkok, where I have to kill 16 hours at the airport (they have room rental by the hour, I’m pretty sure I’ll take advantage of that). I finally get to Kathmandu on Friday mid-day, two days ahead of schedule, which should give me enough time to rest and explore the city on my own.

Dan from REI will make sure I get a window seat from Bangkok to Kathmandu with the view of the Himalayas. Now that’s worth looking forward to…

Oh yeah, and I get 20,000 miles on US Scareways, that’s a free flight right there!

Add comment October 3rd, 2007

Oh heat, how I hate you

With passion…

So I train for 4 months, mostly in the heat and horribly humid weather in Philly… But there’s a happy thought that kept me going on those sauna-like runs - Chicago in October will surely be nice and cool, and I will run so much better.
Well, marathon week is here, and Chicago forecast is saying it will be 86F (that’s 30C for the rest of the world) on Sunday. With thunderstorms later, which guarantees high humidity too. The high temperature will match the historical record high for that day. Go figure, it could have been 60F just as easily on the same day.
I know I can do absolutely nothing about this, and that I’m very lucky that I am able to actually run marathons and am healthy enough to enjoy running, but I still somehow feel angry and cheated!

For those who don’t normally exercise in hot and humid weather - the body just won’t perform at the levels it would otherwise. You can hydrate all you want, but sweat just doesn’t leave your skin, and the body overheats at some point if you’re pushing it too hard and it just shuts down. So we are looking at slower running paces or heat stroke, neither one of which would make me happy.
Oh well, at least I’m hoping that I could have actually run faster (3:30), so that maybe with the heat my goal of 3:40 still might be possible.

Add comment October 3rd, 2007


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