Thursday, March 26, 2009

Canes Tie a Team Record

Last night, I attended my second to last hockey game. It was a grudge match between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Ottawa Senators. After two periods, there was no score. I know I was a bit nervous, and maybe others were, too. There was a lot at stake - not only a playoff spot, but also a record. I should not have worried. Ottawa did come out and score the first goal of the game, but the Canes soon answered. The score remained tied for a few minutes until Anton Babchuck let go one of his great booming shots. With some good defense and great saves by Cam Ward, the Carolina Hurricanes won. They remained in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They also tied a franchise record - nine straight wins at home.

It seems that as soon as I decided to quit my season tickets, the Canes started to pick up their game. Attending hockey games has actually become fun again. Still, I have decided to retire. I just hope I go out on a good note with a strong season finish by my team. I would not mind a new record for games won at home, either.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Race Report - Shamrock Half Marathon, 3/22/09

Bill and I were unable to leave for Virginia Beach until Saturday before the race. No worries, though. Since Virginia Beach is only about 4 hours away, we made it to the expo with hours to spare. We picked up our race numbers and received a shoe bag (which also doubled as the checked gear bag) and a short-sleeved tech shirt in Shamrock green. After the expo, we checked in at The Cavalier Hotel, the perfect pick for this race. We were literally across the street from the starting line. We had a fantastic pre-race dinner at Aldo’s (look it up if you are in VA Beach) and called it an early night.

We were up before sunrise to prepare for the race. Luckily, we walked out of our hotel, across the street, and into our corrals. The temperature was chilly, but not too cold. A long –sleeved shirt and tights under my running shorts were just the right weight. At 7am, we were on our way.

The course headed north on Pacific Avenue. There were several people on the race route as it was a nice residential area. There was even a booth where people were handing out beer on the route, just in case you couldn’t wait until the finisher’s festival. After about 3 miles, we made the turn onto Shore Drive.

The route turned from residential to a quiet tree lined street. There were a few speaker stands along the way, and the only live band played around mile 5. I felt great as I ran along this flat course. I had high hopes of a PR. When I checked my watch at the 5-mile mark, I knew that it was a definite possibility.

At about mile 6, we headed into Fort Story. There were signs posted along the route with funny quips and interesting bits of trivia. I can tell you that the old lighthouse is 90 feet tall. I learned that at about the time we ran the road between the old and new lighthouses.

I was still on course for a PR by mile 10. I was running better than ever and I felt wonderful. The flat course was really helping me out. We looped back to Pacific Ave for the final stretch. I still felt great at mile 12 as I headed into town. We made the big left turn onto the boardwalk where the crowds cheered as we finished the race. I had made my PR. I shaved 8 minutes from my previous best. Bill also made his PR.

I got my medal, a nice bottle of water, and a Mylar cape. As I made my way through the gauntlet after the finish line, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a hat embroidered with the logo of the race and the phrase 13.1 Finisher. I also received a reusable green lunch bag filled with beer tickets and food. Those tickets did not last long. They were quickly exchanged for Yuenglings (title sponsors of the race). We also enjoyed a fine Irish Stew while local bands entertained us. It was the best post race party I have ever attended.

In summary, perfect weather, a flat fast course, great swag, cold beer, and hot Irish stew makes for the best half marathon I have run. We are already planning a return trip for next year.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why can't I wake up?

Ever since Monday, I have had problems waking up in the morning. I know it is because of daylight savings time. It is so dark in the morning that your mind feels like you should not be getting up. I know others have been having this same problem; Bill hasn't been getting out of bed as quickly and my colleagues have been commenting on the same problem.

It is difficult because we do things in the morning. Our dogs have been getting shorter walks. I had to cut one on my runs this week down because I left the house so late. For the other run, I went as far as I wanted, but I was very late for work. I am ready for the days to get longer. I like waking up to a little bit of daylight. Getting up and going out for a run in the dark is tough.

Thank goodness for the weekends. It should be light when I wake up tomorrow!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Where have you guys been?

The Carolina Hurricanes play tonight, and I will be in the stands to see them with my friend Heather. I am very hopeful that we might see a won tonight against the NY Rangers considering the events of the past few games.

Carolina seems to be on fire. They have outscored opponents in the past three games 20-6. It is like it has finally sunk in that their post season is hanging in the balance. A day ago, this recent surge put them in a 3 way tie for 6th place. As most things go, this placement did not last long, and they are back to #9 - watching the playoffs from the outside.

The tide has really seemed to turn in the past few games. The Canes have been playing quicker, smarter hockey. If only they had been playing like this since October...

So, how long will the Canes on fire last? At least through tonight, I would hope.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Only in NC

On Monday, less that a week ago, we had 2 inches of snow. It was quite unusual for there to be snow here in March, but here it was. I frankly enjoyed it very much because it gave me an extra hour and a half before I had to go to work. Tuesday was bitterly cold. I ran my normal morning run. I had to dodge icy patches all over the sidewalks, and some water from my water bottle even froze while I was running.

Yesterday, it was about 75 degrees here. I went for a morning run with friends wearing just shorts and was too warm in my long sleeved shirt. I even got a little bit sunburned on my face. Today, Bill and I took out our bikes for a nice long ride downtown where we ate outside very comfortably. I almost feel like I should turn the air conditioner on.

Only in NC can you go from one extreme to the other in less than one week. What a great place to live.

Friday, March 06, 2009

My Obsessive Nature

I have a tendency to become obsessive over fictional characters. I have no idea why this happens to me, but it does happen with an alarming frequency.

My latest obsession is the Twilight book series. I had heard so much hype about the series. I knew several people at the office were reading it and several of my Facebook friends were making comments about it. I also found out my sister-in-law was reading the series.

The four book series chronicles the lives of the citizens of Forks, WA. It is basically a story about great love that transcends the human world to a world of magic and mystery. I fell hard for the first book, Twilight, and the two lovers Bella and Edward. I read this book in the car on our way to Florida for the Disney Half Marathon. The book was wonderful, unique, and amazing. I finished it between the trip down and the trip back.

Last night, I was reading the final saga, Breaking Dawn. I have become so obsessed with the story, I stayed up past midnight reading. I still have about half the story remaining (each book weighs in between about 620 pages to 754 pages). I could not sleep after reading the big bombshell. I finally fell asleep for about 2 hours, then continued to toss and turn for the rest of the night, still thinking about the story. I can't seem to get it out of my mind. I have been thinking about it all week, trying to guess what will happen next and how the series will end. I feel a little crazed as all I want to do is read. I am trying to decide if I am a loser or if the book is just that well written.

I am so glad to have a wonderful friend in the office who had been able to talk to me about the books, as well as a great friend on Facebook. They have helped keep me partially sane during this process. I will be glad to finish the series, but I think I will miss the characters. I don't think I will miss the obsession. I will be very glad to let it go and move onto the next book that I can read like a normal human being.

Of course, the DVD version of the movie comes out in about 2 weeks...