Winter Isn’t Over Yet

Despite the fact that we are in February, the temperature was almost 10C outside yesterday! Normally temperatures this time of year are closer to -10C, so we’ll take it! I am helping one of my friends train for the Boston Marathon, so we’ve been doing long runs on the weekends. A few weeks ago we had to do a 20k run in -20C weather, so doing 20k yesterday in 10C weather was a nice treat. The only downside would be that the warm temperatures have been causing a really fast melt of the snow, which clogs up all the roadways and sidewalks with huge puddles. You can’t get out and run without your feet getting soaked. Overall, I’ve been pretty diligent to get my runs in despite the winter running, and am well ahead of last year’s mileage at the same time. Right now I have no grand plans in store for the running year, but I want to head into the spring in generally better shape than I have in previous years. There are rumblings of doing the Mud Hero 2017 outside of Halifax, but I am not sure just yet. That’s a totally different kind of event than my typical runs, but could be pretty fun!

The winter months haven’t been too bad on the weather side, although we recently had a string of storms that had the kids off of school for a few days. Luke was devastated to be stuck home playing videos instead of in school doing work (not at all). Luke has shifted away from taking taekwondo as his winter sport and has doubled down on swimming. He has progressed so quickly in the pool, it is amazing to watch. Samantha is still doing tennis as her winter activity. She wanted to try out some tournament play this year, so we have had her to tournaments in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. She hasn’t won very many matches yet, but she is steadily improving. I just want them both to use sports to stay physically fit and have some fun. That being said, I would be remiss to not mention that Samantha became the provincial cross country champion in her age group at the end of October. Sometimes you can have fun and win some stuff too!

Before Christmas, I was able to get out see Doctor Strange in the theatres. While not my favourite of the Marvel films, they did a fantastic job of exploring the mystical side of the Marvel Universe. I thought that Benedict Cumberbatch was fantastic as Doctor Strange, and his character will really help to tie together the mythical, technological, and interstellar components of the Marvel Universe as we race up to Infinity War. The next must-see movie is Logan, which will feature Hugh Jackman’s last foray as Wolverine. I am very excited about that film. My big game pickup before Christmas was Forza Horizon 3. It is an absolutely amazing game, which is 100% Forza Horizon, just refined to a whole other level. The driving felt perfect and the Australian setting is gorgeous and super-fun to drive around in. I played it a ton in November and December, taking a break recently to try and finish Bioshock Infinite (an oldie but a goodie). I just finished that the other day and really enjoyed it. The first-person-shooter genre is definitely not one of my faves, but Bioshock Infinite weaves in some interesting storyline and neat level design that helps keep things fresh. I don’t really have any other games in my sights right now, but that will give me a chance to play through some of my back catalogue. Looking at you Gears of War 1-3!

Okay, it’s getting late so I should be off to bed. Until next time!

Randy

Running Against the Wind

It is a cool and windy day outside today, a preface of fall transitioning to winter. I went the whole summer without an entry, so let’s get caught up. The summer weather was really nice overall, with warm temperatures and not too much rain. The kids were home with me for most of the summer vacation, except for a few weekdays at UPEI activity camps. I took a few days off from work here and there so we could play tennis, go indoor climbing, see a movie, visit an outdoor ropes course, wander through an art gallery… all kinds of different things. They seemed to have a good summer overall, and it was fun having them home. Soccer is the kids preferred summer sport, and Samantha played on a real team for the first time. She was able to enter a few tournaments and played really well. As the summer progressed, it was awesome to see how the teams come together and really start working as a unit.

One very interesting mid-summer event was the a Soapbox Derby race that Luke entered. His grandfather, myself, and Luke worked on building a soapbox racer. We ended up with a black, flame-kissed, sleek wooden racer that tore down the hills. Luke had a lot of fun racing and did pretty well in the competition. Out of three heats, he won, tied, and lost. Unfortunately, the last race was an elimination stage, so that was the end of his racing day. He was pretty proud of his accomplishments though, and I expect we’ll be fine-tuning the machine next year!

My marathon training schedule was in full swing all summer long, with the distances really stretching out in August and September. I did three test races as the season progressed, and scored personal bests in all of them. Even the dreaded 25k Harvest Festival run was handled with relative ease. My long training runs went really well, and I was feeling very good going into the marathon weekend in October. I had a solid plan for race day, and Tammie and the kids were coming out to cheer me on. Unfortunately, out on the race course things did not go my way. I really starting struggling about halfway through the race, and despite all the adjustments I made I could not get back into good form. Instead of getting close to my 3:30:00 goal, I ended up over my previous marathon time of 4:00:00, basically limping into the finish line after a disastrous last 10k. It was a very difficult thing to accept, and I still am not entirely sure why my day was so terrible. It just goes to show that sometimes despite good preparation and planning, failure is always an option. That is it for me and the marathon distance. I don’t think I could ever walk up to another 42.2km start line again. And that’s all I have to say about that.

The summer entertainment schedule was pretty slim on the movie and gaming side. I saw a few movies in the spring, but there wasn’t a whole lot to look forward to in the summer. The next thing on my list is Doctor Strange. I am really curious to see how Disney handles the absolutely insane mystical world of Doctor Strange. I don’t doubt anything they make after what they managed to do with Guardians of the Galaxy. The only big video game title I am eyeing right now is Forza Horizon 3, but new games are a little too expensive for my tastes right now. I will wait until the price has dropped a bit before taking the plunge.

Halloween is around the corner, and the kids have their costumes picked out. Luke is a ninja warrior with a super-cool back-mounted pair of swords. Samantha is going as Scarlet Witch from the Avengers movies. Earlier in October, we went out to the Brackley Drive In’s Trunk or Treat, so the kids have already had a dry run in their costumes. Luke would sleep with those ninja swords if we let him!

Alrighty, best get on to some chores before it gets too late.

Randy

Go West Young Man

Here we are in the last day of June and it looks like we might actually be getting into summer. This week was super warm, after a very cool spring. It is raining today, but you need that every once in a while. Despite being cool, we had very little snow since my last post, and that has really helped with the running schedule. I have transitioned out of my Spring Tune-Up schedule and am now getting deeper into actual marathon training. I am running at least 5 days a week, and the runs are getting longer. So far the runs are going pretty well, and I’m trying to get to bed earlier so I don’t feel so tired. I was having some lower leg soreness and even gave a foam roller a try! I haven’t been using it long enough to know if it is working or not, but at least things aren’t getting worse. I’ve only done one race this year so far, and it was a pretty speedy 5k. I will have to get more racing in as the summer moves along, because I don’t feel I have my racing legs just yet.

Not too long after my last post, Tammie had an accident at taekwondo and completely ruptured her Achilles tendon. It was a nasty injury and put her on the shelf for the better part of three months. She has only recently begun to walk on it again without crutches or some form of rigid ankle support. I admire her toughness though; she did her best to work through the injury and has done a great job getting it rehabbed. Tammie’s injury had us questioning whether or not we could continue to travel to Calgary, but in the end we decided to rent a wheelchair and give it a go.

The trip to see my sister in Calgary was awesome. The weather was amazing while we were there, and we got to see many different things. We spent a day at the Calgary Entertainment Expo, which I found to be extremely disappointing. Definitely the low point of the trip, and another lesson in how much I hate events with big crowds. It was everything I was afraid it going to be and nothing that I had hoped it would be. After the Expo, we went out to Banff for a few days, which were just spectacular. We rode the gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain, hiked Tunnel Mountain, and dashed up to Johnston Cannon Falls. Tammie was able to accompany us on everything except the Tunnel Mountain hike, during which she relaxed with some wine and a book at the hotel. We also zipped up to Lake Louise, which I found to be a beautiful but boring spot. After our mountain excursion, we made our way to Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum. The kids really enjoyed seeing the dinosaur bones. We went for a little hiking and scrambling in the badlands as well. Back in Calgary, we visited the Calgary Zoo and had an afternoon at Flying Squirrel Sports, a massive trampoline park. We also saw the Jungle Book in an IMAX theatre, which was pretty neat. In the end, the trip seemed to pass too quickly and we were on our way back home. I was very happy that the kids got to see the mountains and spend some quality time with my sister in her backyard.

The spring also brings the summer movie season, and I have been out to see a few thus far. In the comic book movie world, Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War were amazing films for completely different reasons. Deadpool was a perfectly irreverent film that hit the nail on the head, and the casting of Ryan Reynolds was pretty much flawless. Captain America: Civil War was basically the next Avengers movie and showed how you can create conflict without a villain that can destroy the world. And Spider-Man was a delightful surprise addition to the Marvel Universe. On the other hand, Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice was a soulless, joyless train wreck of a film that confirms Warner Bros has no idea how to handle superheroes. I don’t even want to talk about it. I skipped X-Men Apocalypse, since I hated X-Men First Class and X-Men Days of Future Past. I just can’t get behind the Bryan Singer movies, and my beloved X-Men slide further and further down into movie mediocrity (Wolverine exempted). I recently saw Warcraft, inspired by World of Warcraft, and was pleasantly surprised. The visuals were perfect, and the movie itself was passable. I was anticipating a total disaster, but it was about as good as I expected a video game-based movie to be.

The kids recently finished classes for the year, and will be home with me for the summer. Samantha is heading into Grade 4 and Luke into Grade 2. They had a really good year at school, and seemed disappointed it was over. But summer brings extra excitement! Summer is also soccer season at our place, so there is lots of time spent sitting beside the pitch and watching the games and practices. I’d really like to get everyone out to Rise and Climb this year, now that they are old enough. Not sure if Tammie will be able to climb this summer, so it may be a daytime activity that the kids and I will do ourselves.

Happy Canada Day! Until next time!

Randy

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

It’s been a while since my last post. So long in fact, that the entire winter has almost passed us by! Unlike last year, which was record-breaking for snowfall, this winter has been kinder. We’ve had our share of snow and cold weather, but nothing like last year. That’s been very good for my running, as I have been able to get outside for most of the runs that I wanted to complete. I’m already more than double the year-to-date mileage compared to last year, which should put me in better overall shape for the spring. This year is the year I am running the marathon in the fall, and I really want to give it a solid attempt. So I’ve been focussed on ensuring my running base is stronger than it has been in other years post-winter. I’ve been primarily maintenance running, which for me means repeating the same running patterns and distances, since I am not actually training for any specific event in the near-term. I have also been mixing in some stationary bike work as well, which I think is helping with some additional leg strength. Now I just have to get my diet and sleep working a little better, and I may actually be dangerous!

The Xbox One has been a huge hit at our house, with Luke and I banging through all kinds of games over the last few months. My personal favourite has been Forza Motorsports 6, but I absolutely loved playing through Ori and the Blind Forest as well. I’ve replayed a good chunk of the amazing Rayman Legends, this time on the Xbox One. Forza Horizons 2 is a more recent additional, and has been super fun compliment to Forza Motorsports. I have not yet started Shadows of Mordor, and it continues to wait patiently until I can spend some quality time with it. I love the fact that you can stream your games to a Windows 10 PC, since Tammie often wants to use the TV when I would like to be playing a game. All I need to do is fire up the Xbox One and the PC and then connect from one to the other. We have a pretty good network setup in the house, so it works really well for me. I haven’t really been playing anything new on the PC. When I do pull something up, it has been primarily Diablo 3 or Hearthstone.

A little later in the spring we are headed to Calgary to visit my sister. The plane tickets are purchased and the hotel rooms booked, so that makes it about as official as you can get. I am hoping that the weather is pretty good out there when we visit, as I’d like to take the kids to see some of the mountains in Banff. One particular climb I would love to do with them is Sulphur Mountain, but it is currently closed while they renovate the gondola platforms. Rumour is that the opening date is just before we arrive in Calgary, but I’ll have to check closer to the day. And in other exciting news, we are heading to Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo! We get to check out one day of that convention, which should be pretty exciting. I have never been to a comic expo of this size, so it is sure to be a new experience. And given the amount of awesome merchandise, it could be an expensive experience too!

Work was a little slower over the Christmas holidays, but has been pretty steady since then. It has been interesting working from home. Definitely a lot more off-site meetings and phone calls than when people could drop by the office. Most of our workflow has been sorted, although some elements are certainly more cumbersome when they transition to completely remote functions. When deep into coding, I would often prop up my Google Nexus 7 and have it streaming music or a movie, but then the thing just died one day! Turns out it was a memory fault, so truly bricked. I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 recently, and while it is certainly a cheaper feeling machine than the Google Nexus, it does the trick. The slightly larger screen is better for Comixology as well, which is one of my main uses!

Okay, gonna go drag everyone outside for a hike or walk. Until next time!

Randy

Might Need New Shoes

So here we are on the last day of November. I’d like to say that winter hasn’t arrived just yet, but that’d be a bit misleading. We have snow covering the ground today, and I had to clean off both vehicles this morning before work and school. So in my books, that counts as winter! But I am getting head of myself. In running news, I did two races since my last update. In October, I ran the PEI half marathon, which was the culmination of this summer’s training. I had a pretty good time and overall position, finishing 43rd out of 536 runners. It wasn’t my fastest time on the course, but I wasn’t expecting to be very fast since my summer training lacked any speed training. Shortly after the half marathon, I ran a 10k race and had a pretty good finish, coming in just over 45 minutes. Again I was pretty far off any personal best times, but overall was pleased with the result. In early November, I crossed over 1000km total mileage for the year, which I am also pretty happy about. It has been a long time since I crossed the 1000km mark, and it took a lot of work and perseverance to do so. I had quite an injury plagued year, and was only feeling 100% come mid-September. My goal for the winter is to keep a good base for running the 10k to 15k distance, and then get back into longer mileage come the spring. Next year is marathon training year, with my attempt at the 42k coming in October.

In gaming news, we finally entered the current generation of consoles, purchasing an Xbox One. My son Luke is a pretty big gamer, so we got the entire family to pitch in and get him an Xbox One for his birthday. It is a fantastic machine, and I am very happy with it. Our house pulses on a Windows 10 eco-system, so it plugs seamlessly into the whole show. No matter where you are in the house or whatever your device you are on, you can access almost anything in our digital library. My personal obsession right now is Forza Motorsports 6. I have always loved racing games, and it is just so slick. I also picked up Shadows of Mordor on sale, and can’t wait to start that game. But it’ll wait until I am sick of burning up rubber on the tracks of Forza!

Work has been steady the last month or so. We have transitioned to a work-from-home scenario, and so far that is working out pretty well. It took us a little while to get all our remote workflow sorted, but I think we’re crossed off most of the challenges on that front. I’ve got an office space set up at home, and after I ship Tammie and the kids off to work and school, it’s a short commute (like 5 second walk) to the office. Skype has certainly become my best friend recently!

It is about a month away from Christmas, which means the kids are getting excited for the holiday season. Christmas concerts at school, lists to Santa, watching Christmas movies, and all that stuff. Tammie loves Christmas as well, so it’s a month-long event at our house! Even though I’d be considered the household Grinch, there is something pretty cool about being able to experience the excitement of Christmas morning with the kids. It reflects back to the time when you were young and it was so exciting to wake up and run out to the tree.

Until next time!

Randy