Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Final marathon thing, I promise

I just wanted to share a few more tidbits from the marathon experience.

First, no, I didn't actually wear the medal to work. I did hang it, along with the shirt I wore (washed - Mrs Notthat was horrified that I intended to hang it as it was when I took it off; if Timmy Lincecum throws you his jersey after a game, you don't wash it, do you?) in my office window.

I am extremely fortunate that they are very loose with their workplace standards here.

Next, the race results have been posted and, all I got to say is, I wasn't last in my age group.

One odd thing was that I finished in exactly 6:30:00. The funny thing is that, as a goof, and after giving a few high fives and hand shakes while going along towards the finish line, I hesitated stepping on the timing pad at the very end. Like I was trying to intentionally get this nice round number.

This is a screen shot of my results - yes, you can go on the web and see my name associated with a genuine athletic event! Ain't America a great place or what!

I ended up in 741st* place (out of 769 finishers), 522nd among males and 58th in my age group (there were 59 of us between 50 and 54). The number in blue is my age-graded time. (For the record, there were a lot of people older than me that had better times. Some MUCH better.) My average pace was 14:52 per mile - my very optimistic goal was 15:00 per mile, so beating that was a big surprise.

And that's about it. Everybody has said such nice things (well, except Blogmaid, but then, well, she's Blogmaid) and a surprising number of people have more or less willingly stood there while I described the tension and strain and pain and iPod locating issues to them, with the stories getting just a bit more colorful each time.

And here's a surprise, even to me - I thought it would take at least a month for me to forget the negative parts of this ordeal and think that doing it again might be a good idea. I think I'm already at that point. This is kind of addictive. Outside of the tiny blister on my foot (and a HUGE thanks to Mrs Notthat for helping it mend), I'm pretty much recovered and ready to go again.

That's it - move along...

*Actually, a later version of the results has me at 742nd place. I've got the screen shot at 741st though, so that's the story I'm sticking to.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I can't believe I did that!

Note: This is going to be long and, for most of you, way too boring to go completely through. I apologize in advance.

On Sunday, I walked my first marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles (the last .2 miles being a cruel tease). Walking 26.2 miles really does not sound that hard - that's certainly the way I felt about it before I started training for it and really thinking about it.

Let me just say that walking 26.2 miles without a nice one hour lunch break and half a dozen rest stops, in other words, with very minimal stopping, is truly hard. The people that run this distance are no doubt much more impressive, but I feel comfortable in saying that, without significant training, taking the easy way out and walking a marathon is no picnic, and you end up with the same feeling of satisfaction when you are done. And the thing about walking this is that you really have to have patience - I was out there for 6 hours and 30 minutes, and that was reasonably fast (almost exactly 15 minute miles).

The Silicon Valley Marathon very cooly gives the walkers a one hour head start. This means being ready to go at 6 AM. It was 56 degrees and thoroughly dark at that time.

The marathon people just needed to get the starting gate up and we could get started.

Unfortunately, that did not go well. So they went to plan B and shoved the thing off to the side, with the intent of getting it up for the real event - the 7 AM start.

I'm not sure if this is everyone, but these are the San Jose Fit ("Fitters") walkers that were there for the 6 AM start that were brave enough to pose. Note that I already have my game face on. Those of use with orange bibs completed the full marathon - those with white bibs completed the half marathon. Oh how I envied them around mile 18.

Here is the group of walkers/slowish runners that chose to take advantage of the 6 AM start. We all had little plastic squares attached to our shoes that the pad that guy is standing on detects to record our starting time. There is another pad at the finish line.

In any case, more or less on time, we were off.

My Most Embarrassing Moment...
The good thing is that it was still dark at the time. During mile 3 I stopped at a porta pottie. (Side note, this was at about 6:45 or so. I did not go to the bathroom again until I got home around 2:30. I drank a LOT of fluids, and sweated most of them out.)

Back to the embarrassing bit - I left the porta pottie and went to turn my iPod Shuffle back on. It was clipped to the bottom of the front of my shirt, or, rather, it should have been clipped to the bottom of my shirt, but it was missing. I followed the headphone cord down and realized that, I have no idea how, I had zipped it in my shorts.

So I'm walking along, undoing my fly, fishing out the iPod, all while trying to make good time. And with a lot of law enforcement people holding up traffic for us. The only thing I had going for me is that it was still really dark, so nobody noticed. Or at least, nobody who felt it was worth busting me for what had to look suspiciously obscene.

The iPod is fine, by the way. Back to our normal programming...

Once the sun came up and us walkers were just getting to the part of the trail that we have been wandering around on all summer, the runners caught up to us. Things definitely were much more active at this point.

It was at about this point that my pace really picked up. My fastest mile was 12 minutes, 13 seconds, but I think someone must have moved the mile marker since I have never walked that fast in my life. I was averaging around 13 minutes, 30 seconds per mile during my best stretch.

An odd note, at 10 AM I switched from my iPod to an AM radio to listen to the 49ers game. In the end, this was a mistake because the 49ers were awful and I caught myself a couple of times saying bad words out loud. At halftime I put the radio away in disgust and went back to music. And my times picked up.

This is a picture of one of the many aid stations. These things, which appeared about every two miles, were life savers, but kind of peculiar for the uninitiated (like me).

First, just like you see on TV, they are lined with people handing out water and cut up fruit and such. And just like on TV, most runners grab a cup, drink some of it, and then throw the cup on the ground. I could not bring myself to do that - I would carry the empty cup until a trash can showed up.

The unexpected thing is that there is a lot of pressure to grab at least one cup - these people are all very enthusiastic (most likely due to not having to do the running) and look at you with huge, puppy dog eyes while telling you how great you are. I had brought my water, but I started grabbing a cup whenever I passed one of these, drinking some of it, then dumping the rest into my hat - this was amazingly refreshing.

Some of these aid stations had themes - there were two of them with a hippie theme. The first time I came up to one of these, I was a bit nervous - these people had great costumes on and it was not hard to imagine the water being tweaked a bit.

Finally, we made it to the half way point, taking a lap around the track at Los Gatos High School. This is where the half marathoners finished. At this point, I was feeling strong and felt a sort of macho thing about being part of the full marathon group. (About an hour later, the macho thing was replaced with envy.) They split up the two groups here so that the full people were not tempted by an early finish line.

A cool thing though was that a LOT of the half people stood along the full marathon route and cheered us on. I can't tell you how much that helps, and it happened all along the route. People were in their driveways or on the sidewalks cheering us on. Families were camped out at various places with signs and cheers for significant others and such. The cops directing traffic were also great cheerleaders. "Ignore the red light and keep on going!" they would yell as they forced traffic to wait for me to lumber across the intersection.

Here's a hippie-infested aid station.

Leave it to a fire station to think to have a guy standing there with a hose to mist us down. Wow did that feel good at this point (it was 84 by the time I finished).

Eventually the finish line was in sight. And the Wahoo Fish Tacos were not far behind.

I love these things and that restaurant. This really was a treat to me, although I'm not so sure that eating right after the finish line was such a good idea.

I tried to take a self portrait to post to Facebook while sitting on a bench, but thankfully another runner offered to take the picture for me. A tired but well fed me.

I hung around for the other two walkers from our group.

Yak (not her real name, and an amazingly unflattering coded version of it) showed up after a brief detour through Milpitas.

And then Ahtreb (also not her real name) came shortly behind Yak. Anert in the 49ers shirt (not her real name - and I really hope I have her not real name right) walked the Nike Half in San Francisco last weekend. So even though she didn't participate today, she was there to cheer us on - and show us the really nice necklace they give you for the Nike.

And this was a common theme. Many people associated with San Jose Fit were on hand to help and provide encouragement. Many of them hop-scotched around to various points to get ahead of us, and even walked along with some. The coaches were wonderful - I never could have done anything vaguely like this without their help.

So, will I do this again? Right now, I'd say no. Ask me in a month or so and I might say yes. I really like the idea of the half marathons though - you get the same buzz with a lot less time and pain.

That's it - move along...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baseball playoffs are making my brain hurt

Sometimes my cleverness knows no bounds. Mostly though, it not only knows its bounds, it chooses to jump ship long before it reaches them.

I was scheduled to walk two miles Monday night. I normally walk on Monday with Mrs Notthat, but a sudden and strong rain shower made me decide to just go over to the fitness center and walk the two miles on a treadmill. As an added bonus, I would get to see the end of the Yankees/Angels playoff game and the start of the Dodgers/Phillies game. (Since we don't have cable at home, I have been able to see very little playoff baseball this year.)

There were no treadmills available, so I got on an elliptical machine, which just happened to have the Yankees/Angels game on. I watched up until the middle of the 11th inning - a tense, fun game. That was when a treadmill finally opened up and I moved to it.

The weird thing was that instead of the Yankees/Angels game, this treadmill was showing the Dodgers/Phillies game. I could not believe that TBS was so stupid as to switch from broadcasting the ending of a tense, close game just to show the beginning of this other game.

I was shocked and more than a little indignant. I completed my two miles, and headed home.

Once I got home I started writing a scathing email about the stupidity of TBS switching games like that. I was outraged.

And then I realized that, more than anything, I was being stupid.

See, all first round playoff games had been on TBS and I forgot that the Yankees/Angels game was on FOX (the Dodgers/Phillies game was on TBS). The elliptical just happened to be tuned to FOX and the treadmill was tuned to TBS and I hadn't noticed the difference. I could have easily switched to the Yankees/Angels game, but it had never occurred to me.

Sometimes I amaze myself.

That's it - move along...

PS: I blame this all on Bud "Bud" Selig.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Paint it black, frost, and tubing it

Last weekend was a busy one that I am just now getting around to documenting. We will start with The Boy's Jeep.

As I mentioned previously, The Boy hated the carpeting and had pretty much gutted the inside of the Jeep with the intent of painting it with this black rubberized stuff normally used on truck beds.

There was much prep work to do to protect the bits and pieces that he didn't want to end up with this black stuff on it. Finally, on Saturday afternoon he was able to apply the first coat. This stuff, called Grizzly Grip, is very different to work with. And it laughs at paint thinner if you need to remove some of the paint from, say, a bumper that wasn't supposed to get any of it. We found that acetone worked pretty good for that, but that has its own issues.

The second coat had to be put on in the dark. And then it was left alone to dry. The next day The Boy started putting the seats and such back into the Jeep. Since we had the Storm of the Century bearing down on us, on Monday we put the top and doors back on the thing.

In the mean time, I was finishing up work on the garage door project.

I demolished the old door, with the intent of reusing the wood to build a tree house of sorts in the back yard.

Then I trimmed and painted the new door. This new door really looks nice and I guess it was worth all the trouble of installing it. I'll probably appreciate it more later, but for now, I still have some scars that are healing.

My next task was to try to restore the deck to normalcy before the Storm of the Century hit. I hung all the strawberry baskets and moved around some other planters and such.

Since Mrs Notthat was still in St Louis on Monday, I took the day off and watched the grandkids. They liked being under the awning, they liked that this meant the rest of the deck was wide open for scooter riding, but they really liked playing with the tubes the awning was shipped in.

Much time was spent yelling scary sounding things down them and rolling Hot Wheels and tennis balls in them.

Darci was determined to make a seesaw out of one and ending up damaging it. Riley was just determined to scare the heck out of me - there is no way this is safe or makes sense to anyone not three-years-old.

But we all survived, the Storm of the Century arrived and left (it was actually rated as the 7th worst storm in the last 50 years), the awning performed very well and kept the pool table (and tubes) dry, and best of all, Mrs Notthat came home Tuesday night.

So all is back to normal here, no more storms or weddings to go to, no more garage doors to put up, no more Jeeps to fool with.

Well, I'm not so sure about the Jeep thing. The Boy has his eyes on additional improvements. Of course.

That's it - move along...

PS: By the way, the "frost" in the title is from the color of the garage door trim. Since the Storm of the Century was tropical, it has been warm and humid here. Very odd for us.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkins, rims, and chocolate cake

I need to cover a lot of things, so off we go!

Last Friday Mrs Notthat got the gardening bug and spent an afternoon pulling up two cans full of weeds and defunct plants. And she managed to look stylish while doing it!

The garden is still in the tomato, pepper, and maybe zucchini business, but the pumpkins, green beans, and lemon cucumbers are done.

Here is our pumpkin harvest. (I parked my bulldozer next to them to give you a sense of scale. And yes, I do know that's an old joke. Sometimes they are the best ones.) This year's garden has been OK, but not outstanding. This was mostly due to my neglect. And I'll throw in the odd weather this summer just to make me feel better.

The Boy found out that the rims on his Jeep were less than excellent, so he found some replacements on Craigslist. I remember being a teenager once and how this sort of thing would be important to me too. Now it's just seems like a lot of work.

Sunday we invited the grandkids and their parents over for dinner. They had just spent two nights camping with others from Darci's school at Memorial Park, and were happy to eat a meal indoors and not have to share it with bugs and raccoons.

OK, maybe my pumpkin chili can't compete with torched marshmallows, but we had a secret weapon...

Idiot Dog Teddy! No - that's not it. (IDT loves it when the grandkids come over since it means his chances of scoring food are very good. Here he is going after a chunk of watermelon that Darci dropped.) Here's our secret weapon...

Chocolate cake with flowers in the frosting! They were thrilled with this, but neither ate even half of what they got.

The Boy ate cake too. Weird Haired Mom got her jollies by sitting on his feet.

The Boy is starting on another Jeep Improvement Project (JIP?). It turns out that wall-to-wall carpeting is not what a true Jeep should have, so he has ripped it all out and is about to apply some sort of coating that will be weatherproof and rugged. And not carpet. The Jeep is not exactly drivable for the time being.

It turns out The Boy and I will have all weekend to work on this project and others (like watching a LOT of football) since Mrs Notthat is going to Missouri for a wedding - cousin Yrrab (not his real name) is getting married. I get to drop her off at the airport at 5:40 AM tomorrow.

Man, I should really be in bed by now.

That's it - move along...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finally the awning is up

For several years I have been wanting one of those heavy duty awnings from Sunsetter for the back part of the deck. The hope was that it would provide winter shelter for the pool table, Idiot Dog Teddy's bed, and other things that don't handle rain very well. Finally this summer we ordered it.

Even more finally, after refinishing the deck and doing some painting touchup, we managed to actually install the awning. It was a fair amount of work (the written instructions were OK and the DVD helped a lot too) and still has a few finishing touches left to be done, but it has already survived its first wind test last night and came through very well.

The awning came in five packages, the two coolest by far being the very long cardboard tubes. I don't know how or in what form, but I suspect these tubes will be great fun for the grandkids. Very observant readers will note the awning rail mounted along the wall above the windows. This was the part of the installation that worried me the most, but turned out really strong and not all that hard.

The awning is 15 feet wide and fits underneath the eaves - it should provide fairly complete protection for that whole end of the deck.

The model we got has a manual rolling mechanism (we actually anticipate rolling this thing up very rarely, so the motorized option seemed a bit extravagant). Also, it should be noted that it was very windy and cold while we were putting this up yesterday. I had my normal Saturday morning walk (which turned out to be only 10 miles) in very pleasant, cool weather. By the time we got started on this though, the wind had come up and it was quite chilly.

This is a very sturdy awning. Note the arches on the inside to provide additional support. The support arms are currently angled back to the wall (for some reason that supplies maximum support in windy conditions), but they can be positioned straight up and down if desired (which is what we will probably do in the summer when there is little rain to worry about).

And here is what the deck now looks like with the awning deployed. Note the wagon that was overturned by the fierce winds.

We now need to rehang all the planters and work out how to arrange everything on the deck. Since the wind is already starting up, this may be a next weekend thing though.

That's it - move along...