Monday, August 22, 2011

What happened to May, June, and July?

Four months have passed since I've posted anything new to my blog. Why the lapse?

Which sort of reason (aka excuse) do you want?

The Glamorous Reason
We took a couple weeks off to travel to Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, and Portugal. We had a great time, and - surprise, surprise - I have photos to share. I just need to get through the photos from the trips to Antarctica, Japan, and Hong Kong. I'll get to these latest photos, they're just at the back of the FIFO.

The Work Reason
Work has taken me to Washington DC, San Francisco, Chicago (twice), and Denver since last I posted. Each trip was a week long, so work related travel has been chewing up a big chunk of my time. I love all that travel, but it does take time.

I've been busily gearing up to meet the flurry of activity that is sure to come when VMware releases vSphere 5. Plus I've been working on projects related to designing the new vSphere 5 courses and our PowerCLI and VMware Orchestrator courses.

The Family Travel Reason
We spent a week at the cabin in Hawks, MI visiting my Dad, Lena, Pam, Ryan, and Brett.

Take look at who we had dinner with on the way to the cabin. We stopped in at Big Boy primarily for the kitsch factor. But I must confess that the Reuben I had was surprisingly good. Go figure.

The Fitness Reason
I've been busy - some would say too busy - running lately. I started ramping up my distances in July. It's been rewarding to get back in to shape and to shed some pounds that I'd picked up over the years.

The Owwwwwwwwww Reason
I'd say that the running was going quite well until August 6th. You can see the stats on that run and others at I've saved you the trouble of clicking on that previous link and have presented a plot of that run below.

My goal on this run was ambitious. I'd decided that I was going to run a half marathon. I hadn't run one since high school, and that was decades ago.

I've been increasing the distances I've been running, and I was pretty confident that I'd be able to to the 13.1 miles provided I simply paced myself. Alicia was over the hill at the Mountain Winery for the Pat Benatar + Dennis DeYoung concert. So I could take as many hours as I needed.

As you can see, the run starts out pleasantly enough. I started at the train tracks and followed Aptos Creek Road as it winded its way into Nisene Marks State Park. That's the squiggly part of the red line.

I'm feeling fine as I run past the entrance station, past George's Picnic Area, past Mary Easton Picnic Area, past Porter Family Picnic Area, through the gate, and as I turn left onto the Loma Prieta Grade Loop trail just before Margaret's bridge. That's when the hills start. So I adjust my pace for the long haul uphill.

Then two things happened as I neared Hoffman's historic site. The first thing is that the RunKeeper app or my iPhone, or the GPS receiver in my iPhone, or something went haywire on me right at 4.46 miles. I was only a third of the way into my run and it went kaput. But I wasn't about to let a technological failure deter me from achieving my goal. So I kept slowly plodding my way uphill.

The second thing that happened right about that time was I started feeling a pain in my right heel. In hindsight I recognize that this wasn't the first time I'd felt that pain, but the times when I'd felt the pain previously the pain went away shortly after the run.

This time the pain didn't go away. It gradually grew more and more intense. I continued on my route and headed out the Historic Loop trail. I'll spare you the details of my ordeal as I completed the loop trail - it's not like this was anything remotely approaching a 127 hours sort of ordeal.

The thing that was simultaneously very amusing and totally demoralizing is that as I completed the ordeal (err I mean the run), the RunKeeper app kept me posted on my pace. I'd been running approximately at nine minute mile. That's considerably slower than my pace back in the days when I ran cross country in high school, but it was respectable enough - especially in light of the fact that I was pacing myself for a longer run.

Every five minutes, RunKeeper interrupted my music (How did I ever run in high school without an iPod?!?) to inform me of my current pace. The pace went from nine minutes to ten to eleven to fourteen to... You get the picture. The truly sad part is that by the end of the run my supposed pace had inched up to a crawl.

Okay, "crawl" is a bit of an exaggeration. I was definitely running more slowly. I was probably running something more like a 13 - 14 minute mile by the end as I limped along. But all things considered, my pace was respectable in light of the pain and the fact that at some point in the run I told myself, "You know, I should probably slow down and run more carefully to avoid causing any (additional) injury unnecessarily."

But RK kept creeping higher and higher. I was seriously ticked off when RK reported I was running a twenty minute mile. That's not running... That's my walking pace! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wasn't freakin' walking.

The problem - if you haven't already figured it out - is that RK thought I had still only run 4.46 miles. So the pace kept growing embarrassingly (even though I knew it was an inaccurate reading) higher. I think it topped out at something like a 26 minute mile. Ugh.

Eventually RK got a clue that I wasn't still sitting on my lazy butt back at the 4.46 mile mark. That's why the RK plot above suddenly shows that I was teleported to Rio Del Mar. I assure you, I didn't run to RDM. I ran to my car and called it quits.

RK ultimately calculated that I'd run 9.47 miles. I'd peg the run somewhere closer to 10 - 11 miles, but why argue the point. I know that I didn't achieve my original goal :-(, but I walked away (actually I limped away) from the experience confident that had I not blown away my heel, I could have handled the full distance. I wasn't tired. I wasn't even in so much pain that I had to stop. I could have kept running, but it was fairly obvious to me that something wasn't right and that continuing to run was going to be a very stupid thing to do. I called the run short, and vowed to re-engage this particular battle another day.

The next day I drove over to Joy Luck Place to meet Alicia and Jody for dim sum. My heel was tender, but I was able to get around on it provided it nursed it. That was Sunday. Sunday was okay.

Monday was a different matter. When I woke up and stood up, I couldn't bear any weight on my right foot. It was clear at that point that unlike previous times, this pain wasn't going to go away as it had on previous occasions. And it was abundantly clear that the sensible thing to do was to go to the doctor to have it checked out.

Again, I'll spare you the details of the multiple doctor's appointments and X-rays and cut right to the chase: Stress fracture. So I'm in a boot and on crutches for two to three weeks to be followed by another two weeks or so going easy on the foot.

The suspected culprit in this injury: the sub-optimal shoes I'd been running in. I'd been meaning to buy some better running shoes, but I never got around to it. The injury has inspired me to get those new shoes.

I haven't wanted to throw away all the progress I've made getting fit, so I've traded running for the surprisingly effective upper body workout that walking around on crutches provides. To the right you can see me decked out in my new fashion accessories - that and an old shirt that's now too big and makes me look like I was lying previously when I said I'd lost weight.

I must say my initial outings on crutches was a humbling experience. Suddenly I'd gone from running 7.5 - 9 minute miles to hobbling along at 40+ minutes per mile. But I've since gotten better and faster on the crutches. I was very excited the other day on another RDM walk where I got my crutches pace down to my previous walking pace. :-)

The Blogspot Reason
All the above reasons have contributed to my long absence from posting, but even combined their impact is tiny compared to the main reason.

The main reason I've been absent for so long is because Blogspot continues to be a horrible impediment (IMHO) because it is so lousy handling the multitude of photos that I want to post. It's not like I want to post all 8000+ photos that I took on the Antarctica trip, but the Blogspot experience simply doesn't scale well to the number of photos that I do want to post. You can relive my ranting and raving about this same issue back in this post if you so desire.

Now in defense of Blogspot, I'll freely admit that I've found a better method for posting a multitude of photos. I'd used Picasa on the PC years earlier, and I've rediscovered Picasa on line at Now that I upload photos to Picasa and then suck them into Blogspot, many of my gripes have gone away.

But Blogspot - undeterred by my eternal optimism - has found a new way to drive me berserk. On two separate occasions, I went in to my Blogspot account to make very minor edits to two previous posts. Specifically this one and this one. In both instances, Blogspot threw away all but about the first ten lines of the posts for reasons entirely unfathomable.

The first time I chalked this catastrophic failure up to stupidity on my part. Surely it had to be a blunder on my part. I didn't know what I could have done wrong, but I was willing to take the blame. I dreaded recreating that post because I knew that it had taken so many hours to create the first time around, and I didn't know where I was going to squeeze in the time to recreate it.

The second time it happened, I was no longer willing to blame myself. I'm 99.9% certain that I've simply encountered a lame bug in Blogspot's post editor. The common thread in both instances (besides me) is that I was editing a previous post on my MacBook Pro. I dare not continue to try to reproduce this bug. No more editing previous posts in Blogspot from my Mac!

Can anyone tell me why Blogspot provides no method to back up your posts? I see that they do have an "export" feature, but I'm not convinced that's a viable method of backing up. 

So why the long absence from posting? The main reason is Blogspot itself. That combined with a foolhardy desire on my part to post all the Antarctic photos in a contiguous series of posts. Sigh...