2010 San Francisco Half Marathon – Part II: Mission Accomplished!

Finally, it arrived! After meeting up for the pre-race pasta dinner with fellow runners at One Market the night before, I got to sleep early prior to the main event. My hotel near Union Square was great and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as long as there’s a decent rate available (Hotel Monaco – a Kimpton).

I woke up around 3:30 AM (Pacific) and was more than ready to go, despite the fact that my wave didn’t start until 5:45! Although I had debated how to best get from my hotel to the starting line (about 2 miles away), I decided it would be best to get in a ‘warm up’ run and rely on my own two feet!

I arrived at the (still very dark) starting line around 5:00 ready to go. This gave me ample time to stretch, while enjoying views of the Bay Bridge illuminated in all its glory.

By around 5:20, I was locked and loaded into my wave (three) and awaiting the official start. Conditions could not have been more perfect approaching sunrise, with temps in the low 50’s – a far cry from 100 degree Carolina heat I’d been training in!

Very soon, we were off! The first several miles of the course were familiar to me (albeit without traffic) based on several recent work and personal trips to the Bay Area. We started on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge. Proceeding towards Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, we passed In-N-Out Burger (I forgot to return for my fix following the race so am noting that here)! Fort Mason soon beckoned with the first full view of the mighty Golden Gate. Heading into the Marina District and Crissy Field, the first hill of the course soon presented itself near Fort Point. With the magical Bay constantly in sight as motivation, I pressed on and soon was running on the road bed of the bridge herself. Though I had previously ventured into Marin County to Vista Point, there was something truly amazing to be crossing with thousands of fellow runners in the early morning, in lanes typically dedicated to traffic. This was running nirvana! I have never experienced better running…period.

After crossing the Golden Gate, we looped into Vista Point (an overlook of SF and the Bay) before venturing back across. Approaching mile 10, I really thought I was nearing the home stretch! Think again! Running into uncharted territory near Baker Beach, the last 3 miles presented challenge after challenge of unexpected hill work. Without a doubt, I lost several minutes on my time with one hill alone (just after crossing the GG). Nonetheless, I would not let a few hills ruin my first running event on the West Coast. I pressed on and very shortly found myself approaching the finish line at Golden Gate Park! Unbelievable.

Little did I know, as I crossed the finish line (still in the fog), I had set a new PR for the half marathon!!! What better place to do it? After a post-race carbo-load (including an added treat of Irish Coffee), I boarded the shuttle back to the Embarcadero and hung out while the full marathon finishers rolled in. What a great experience (less the travel issues getting there)!

I killed several hours after the race just taking in the day at the full finish line, then took the Muni to meet some friends for lunch (and wine) before taking Bart to SFO for my return red eye flight to the East Coast! Mission accomplished! Would I do it all over again? Hell yes!

JetBlue WiFi from SWA Flight?

On the way back from Vegas to Raleigh (Southwest 4.5 hour nonstop), I pulled out my Dell Latitude notebook over Kansas to get some class work done for the week ahead. What else would one do over Kansas? 🙂

Of course, my wireless card was still enabled. To my surprise, as I prepared to disable the card to save battery life I got the “Wireless Networks Available” bubble. Huh? I thought I must be dreaming…

I viewed the network list and it said I could connect to the network “JetBlue – JFK WiFi” (full strength). I wasn’t able to connect but it got me thinking. JetBlue has been rumored to be rolling out WiFi. Maybe one of their planes was in the airspace and they are testing WiFi. Who knows?

JetBlue To Offer Wi-Fi In The Sky!

Fall Getaway 2006

This weekend, Stacey and I made our annual fall pilgrimage to the NC/VA Mountains. The time away was especially valuable this year since it came between Terms 2 and 3 of my MBA program at Duke!

Friday

On Friday, we both took the day off from work and drove to Ararat, NC (near Mount Airy – aka Mayberry…about 2 hours west of Raleigh). Before heading to the Vineyard Cabin, we stopped for lunch at Steak n Shake off I-40 in Greensboro for our favorite Frisco Melts and shakes. SNS never disappoints!

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the cabin, but hoped it would be a nice place to start our trip. Little did I know that we were about to be pleasantly surprised!

Upon turning into the private driveway of the cabin, our first reaction was being frightened it was so secluded. This fear was soon erased, however, as we approached the cabin to the sound of jazz music playing via satellite radio (Watercolors – XM 71). Yes, the music was playing *outside*! The cabin was wired with a complete indoor/outdoor speaker system.

After entering the cabin, we quickly realized that the music was only the beginning. A bottle of Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon and a cheese Danish (for breakfast) were waiting awaiting us on the kitchen counter. A remote-controlled gas log stone fireplace was ready to warm us up in the living room. White terry cloth robes were arranged in the bedroom. A Jacuzzi tub was ready for use in the bathroom. And on, and on, and on…! I will save some of the details from this post, but let’s just say we can’t wait to go back!

Friday night, we searched for dinner in Dobson (about 10 miles from the cabin). We couldn’t find the restaurant we were looking for, so we drove to Mount Airy instead, figuring it would offer more choices. We stumbled upon the Autumn Leaves Festival (a small annual street fair). We ate some BBQ from a vendor and then walked around a bit before sampling a funnel cake for dessert.

Saturday

We woke up, had a nice breakfast, and (sadly) checked out of the cabin before heading to Pilot Mountain. We spent about an hour at the overlook while enjoying the crisp, sunny fall day.

After leaving Pilot Mountain, we headed to Rag Apple Lassie Winery, where we planned on eating lunch. The food options were limited, so we decided to only stay for a tasting (reds only). We left the winery and ate a quick lunch at Arby’s in Jonesville. After that, we decided to jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway ASAP to take advantage of as much daylight as possible before heading to the bed and breakfast where we would stay.

On the parkway (for a total of about 60 miles), we stopped at several overlooks where we (hopefully) got some great pictures before pulling over at Mabry Mill just before sunset. We walked around a bit there before heading to the Mountain Song Inn to check in for the night.

Upon arriving at the Inn (following poor GPS guidance along a two dirt roads), we checked in to our room and drove to Floyd, VA to have dinner at Oddfella’s (recommended by the owner of the B&B – Audrey). It was a great restaurant featuring live music and innovative cuisine.

Sunday

We woke up and had a great breakfast (blueberry French toast stuffed with cream cheese, fresh fruit, bacon, and coffee). After checking out of the Inn, we drove back to the parkway (about 15 miles) to the Chateau Morrisette winery near Meadows of Dan. We spent the rest of the day here before heading back to Raleigh. We started off with a great tour of the facility (about 30 minutes) followed by a 14-wine tasting (the largest of any winery thus far). Chateau Morrisette had the most impressive facility of the three wineries we have visited during the past two months in NC/VA. They also have a great restaurant on-site. Definitely make a reservation, though! We had a great lunch there but found out the hard way (90 minute wait) that we should have called ahead!

RDU – London: 6 hrs 39 min!

Awesome! I wonder if they’ll start accepting reservations?

“In 20 years of flying, I’ve never even come close to seeing these kinds of speeds across the Atlantic,” said pilot Alan Sowell to the Raleigh/Durham News Observer. Sowell, who owns Mid South Aviation in nearby Sanford, was at the controls of the jet during its record-setting trip on February 12, flying the transatlantic flight for investment company MVOC.

The entire trip took six hours and 39 minutes, point to point — beating the average time by just over an hour. Both the speed and the travel time were verified by controllers on both sides of the pond.

There’s A New Time To Beat For Raleigh/Durham To London (Aero-News Network)

Day at the Beach

I finally made it to the beach this weekend!

Yeah, I know the calendar says July, but it’s been busy. At any rate, it was good to finally get there and just relax (if you call GMAT studying relaxing). I wish that I was staying for the whole week.

The water temperature was in the 80’s and there were more people there than usual. It’s amazing to see the continued growth of the area (Topsail Island). The trip was uneventful with the only exception being I narrowly escaped a speeding ticket on the way back (the highway patrol pulled over the guy that I passed). Note to self: NEVER leave the radar detector at home!

U2 in Philly

This weekend, Stacey and I made the quick (55 min) flight to Philly for the U2 in concert at the Wachovia Center!

Needless to say, U2 did not disappoint! They kicked some serious ass! I would have to say that it was probably the best concert I’ve been to in my life!

If only I could see them at home in Dublin’s Croke Park next month!

The stage was simply amazing, with special light effects, a cool, transparent “screen” comprised of hundreds, if not thousands of individual squares behind the stage, and a circular platform that allowed Bono and others to move out into the audience!

We flew from RDU on Saturday morning, and stayed at a hotel connected directly to one of the terminals at PHL (talk about convenience!). We then split a cab to the Wachovia Center with a nice couple that we met from the DC area. The concert got out around midnight and we tried to get a cab back to our hotel. This was easier said than done, since there were no cabs available in the area! We even tried calling several services and were told “I have no one in that area…sorry!”. After about two hours (yes, two hours) we spotted our hotel shuttle that apparently was called by some other pissed off concert goers and was nice enough to take us back as well. There were probably 15 of us that piled into that thing (as opposed to being stuck on the street for the rest of the night).

The next day, after sleeping in, we spent the afternoon in South Philly, feasting on an original Philly Cheesesteak and checking out the waterfront area near Penn’s Landing.

After an action packed 24 hours, we were back at the airport to catch our return flight back to Raleigh.

U2 rocks – Philly set list:

  • City of Blinding Lights
  • Vertigo
  • Elevation
  • Cry / Electric Co.
  • An Cat Dubh / Into the Heart
  • Beautiful Day
  • Miracle Drug
  • Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own
  • Love and Peace or Else
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday
  • Bullet The Blue Sky
  • Running to Standstill
  • Pride in the Name of Love
  • Where the Streets have no Name
  • One
  • Zoo Station
  • The Fly
  • Mysterious Ways
  • All Because of You
  • Yahweh
  • ’40’

U2 Vertigo 2005 Tour

Kiawah Island

Our trip to Kiawah Island, SC was to run my first half marathon.

Stacey and I drove down on a Friday afternoon to our villa at the private golf resort. The drive there was very quick and non-eventful, as we have made the journey down I-95 several times in the past. Without holiday traffic it’s easy to go 85-90 mph the whole way and make great time. We made the 320 mile trip in a little over 4 hours, including two short stops.

Upon arriving at the villa, we ate dinner and just relaxed with Matt and Shannon, and Jingles (the Chihuahua) who we split the two bedroom condo with.

The next morning, I ran the half marathon (in a little over two hours). I had a bad leg cramp ant around mile 10, and consequently sprained my hamstring, but all in all I was happy with my performance. The island was beautiful to run on, and I think I’m going to start looking for our second home (condos there are $650K and homes are only $1M-2.5M+)!

After cleaning up from the run at the villa, we decided to head into Charleston for the rest of the day for dinner and some much needed walking. We ate dinner at T-Bonz on the Market and walked the streets and market of the historic district. After grabbing a much needed Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks for dessert, we headed back (me in pain) to Kiawah for a good night’s sleep before our drive back to Raleigh the next morning.

New Orleans

Stacey and I spent Halloween weekend and the first week of November in New Orleans. It was out first trip to the Big Easy and we had a great time!

We traveled to New Orleans for the Macromedia MAX 2004 conference (an IT conference relating to Macromedia products). For more on the conference, check out my MAX 2004 blog posts.

We flew from Raleigh late Saturday morning and arrived in New Orleans early that afternoon. We went to the French Quarter that night after exploring River Walk, an indoor mall with a boardwalk on the Mississippi. Yes, all my elementary education has paid off – I spelled that right! We went to Preservation Hall for some live jazz that evening and it was truly amazing. I would highly recommend that place to anyone (if you can get in). It is so tiny that they only allow a few people in at a time. Bourbon Street was wild that night (as expected) but was especially insane because it was Halloween eve! There were people wasted out of their minds, along with people in outrageous costumes and in drag. Early the next morning, we headed back to our room for what we thought would be a good night’s sleep. Little did we know that this drunk b***h on her cell phone would keep us up the entire night with her multiple loud conversations in the hallway. Despite several people telling her to shut her trap and threatening her with bodily harm, including hotel security, she would not shut her trap. Though the hotel wouldn’t do anything for the inconvenience we experienced, Amex ultimately came through (as always) and credited us for the room. Thanks Amex!

The next day we checked into our hotel for the remainder of the conference, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. We ate lunch at Riverwalk (Cajun Crawfish Po’Boys…yum!), went back to Bourbon Street after trying to check out St. Louis Cemetery (closed) and capped off the day with an evening dinner jazz cruise on the Mississippi. That was a great experience and we pretty much had the boat to ourselves.

The next morning the conference started, so our days were spent inside the enormous convention center. Highlights of our weeknight adventures include dinner at the Bourbon House, Gordon Biersch, Mardis Gras World, Mother’s, and the Hard Rock Cafe. Cafe Du Monde was awesome for breakfast – their beignets were to die for.

Before returning to the Tar Heel State on Friday night, we spent our last day in New Orleans checking out the Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. We took the walking tour that was recommended as the best by Fodor’s and our guide did not disappoint. My only annoyance is that they only took cash (no credit card awards!) but the tour itself was great.

Fall in Virginia!

Stacey and I just returned from our annual trip to see the Fall color.

This year we traveled to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, about 4 hours northwest of Raleigh. It did not disappoint! We typically head to the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Due to all the sotrm damage from our multiple hurricanes this season, however, we opted to head further north this year.

We drove to Charlottesville Saturday morning, through the rolling farm country of the NC piedmont and southern Virginia foothills north of Durham along US 501. In Lynchburg, we picked up US 29 north to Charlottesville.

We had never been to downtown Chalottesville before, but this time we stayed right across from U VA, in an area called “The Corner” on West Main. We ate at the C&O Restaurant Saturday night, which came recommended to us and I would gladly recommend to anyone. The Charlottesville outdoor mall was also very cool to spend time checking out on a nice Fall evening.

On Sunday, we headed out to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive, about 30 miles west of town. There were some amazing views along the drive into the valley below, though it was very windy with a temperature of only 48 degrees!

After leaving Skyline drive, we headed west to I-81 and proceeded southwest to Roanoke. Along the way, we stopped at Natural Bridge for a break and some more amazing pics. Then, south to Greensboro it was, followed by a short trip on I-40 east to home.

Total round trip approx. 530 mi.