Ostrichland USA

I think I’m finally recovered from the flu. That was a really bad bout…I felt absolutely terrible Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and finally forced myself back into the office on Thursday. I tried going for a run on Saturday but my lungs felt wrecked from all of my coughing, so I had to stop after a mile and a half. I was finally able to leg out three miles today…it wasn’t my strongest effort, but it was nice to get running nonetheless.

Here’s a few photos from our California trip from Ostrichland USA. I recapped it in a little more detail on our family blog (first update in a year!) but I figured I could double dip and share the photos here too.

Ostrichland's tricked out ride
Ostrichland’s tricked out ride
The noble ostrich
The noble ostrich
Greedy little birds!
Greedy little birds!
Sara feeding the ostriches
Sara feeding the ostriches

A bad flu & California’s central coast video

I’ve been fighting a pretty rough case of the flu the past few days. Sara and I went on a family trip to the central coast of California last weekend, where unfortunately, my sister was sick. Spending a few days in confined quarters with a sick family member, running a half marathon in unusually warm conditions and then hopping on a plane right afterwards didn’t help things.

I took lots of photos and videos during the trip, hopefully I’ll feel better soon and I’ll be able to spend some time editing and then posting.

In the meantime, here’s a video I shot and edited on my phone (iPhone 6S Plus) for Sara’s birthday on Friday. This is the same video that I shared on Facebook, but this time, it’s finally in 1080p!

I think it’s pretty amazing how powerful phones are these days. It’s hard to believe that a phone can record 1080p video at 60FPS or even 4k at 30FPS nowadays. It’s even harder to believe that the phone has enough processing power to edit and render movies!

Expectations for the 2016 Surf City half marathon

T-minus five days until my first half marathon of 2016: the Surf City half marathon.

As I’ve come to expect, the temperature drops to sometimes-unbearable conditions during the months of December and January, but the weather stays pretty conducive to running. There are, of course, many days where it’s too snowy or too cold for a sane person to go running. But more often than not, as long as I layer properly and take my Yak Trax with me, I can run outdoors.

But just because I can go running outsides doesn’t necessarily the mean the conditions are perfect; in fact, it’s still pretty darn miserable that first 5-10 minutes of running in sub-freezing weather. It would be a great excuse for me to stay inside and play video games or watch TV, but the Surf City race I do every year keeps me honest through these winter months and gives me a clear goal to achieve.

This will be my fifth year in a row running this race and sixth time overall; I have one marathon (my first!) and five half marathon finishes at this race. Last year I PRed the distance and course, crossing the finish line with a time of 1:53:42.

My expectation is that I finish the marathon at 1:55 or faster. My goal is to beat my PR last year and my dream race would have my finishing under 1:50.

My training last year vs. this year:

December 2014: 76mi
January 2015: 91.8mi

December 2015: 74.1mi
January 2016: 100.7mi

I ran marginally more for this race than I did for last year’s race. I definitely ran much faster and got some more speedwork in this year, hence my optimism for PR. We’ll see how it goes!

Photo dump: Miles and the snow

One of my New Year resolutions is to take and share more photos. Having a dog as a photographic subject + “magical” snow really helps me out since I can be a pretty a lazy photographer sometimes.

A few photos from yesterday, when the snow just started falling (Canon 5D2/70-200 f4L):

Miles looking on
Miles looking on
Miles shows off his snout
Miles shows off his snout
I missed the focus on this one, otherwise this would've been great!
I missed the focus on this one! But at low resolutions it looks great.

And a few more from today (Canon 40D/40mm STM) after a day of snow. The snowfall was so heavy that the camera’s autofocus focused on the snowflakes in 1/4 of my pictures:

FebSnowpocMiles-4
Fun fact: the shovel is for when his poop freezes into the ice and I need to shovel the poop out
FebSnowpocMiles-1
Trying to get traction in the snow
FebSnowpocMiles-2
Oops his nails need a trim
FebSnowpocMiles-3
Showing off his derp face
FebSnowpocMiles-5
Getting some air time

Our January trip to the Denver Zoo

Given the unseasonably warm weather (60 degrees at some points yesterday!), Sara and I decided to take a trip to the Denver Zoo to look at some wild animals in captivity. I had only been to the zoo two times before yesterday, once for Zoo Lights and once when I ran through during the Colfax Marathon half marathon.

Here are my five favorite photos from our day. All photos taken with 5D Mark II and 70-200 f4L lens.

A lion cub and his aunt
A lion cub and its aunt
King of the city
King of the city
One of the primates
One of the primates
A leopard lazing around
A leopard lazing around
A giraffe thoughtfully chewing
A giraffe thoughtfully chewing

Here’s a sign that you’ve got a running problem

 

img_0551.jpeg

When Saucony decided to discontinue their Virrata line of running shoes, I panicked and started stockpiling their shoes. The Virrata and Virrata 2 shoes have been my go-to running shoe for the past three years now; since they tend to wear through pretty quickly, I’ve already wore through five pairs. Luckily, Sierra Trading Post clearanced these out like crazy last fall, so I was able to buy their inventory for my size at 70% off ($30 EACH!) Since I’m starting to get more mileage out of these shoes now (I’m at ~360 miles on my current pair, which will soon be retired to snow/mud running duty) so these three should take me through at least 2017. After that, I’ll have to look at new neutral, zero-drop shoes.

My Newtons that I alternate with (Distance III) have been good to me and I’ve enjoyed running in them. So even though I’m only 1/2-1/3 of the way through the lifespan of my current pair, I pounced on the 2015 Distance IV model when it got listed as clearance at Zappos to make room for the 2016 Distance V. I didn’t get the deal of the century like I did with the Virratas, but I still did pretty well for myself getting them 40% off. I’m pretty happy since Newtons aren’t cheap shoes to begin with.

My 2016 racing calendar

My tentative race calendar for 2016:

  • Surf City half marathon (Huntington Beach, Calif), February
  • Spring Prairie Dog half marathon (Arvada, Colo), April
  • Summer Open sprint triathlon (Longmont, Colo), May
  • Tri on the Plains sprint triathlon (Sterling, Colo) OR Lake to Lake olympic triathlon (Loveland, Colo), June
  • Calgary 70.3 triathlon (Calgary, AB, Canada), July

I will sit out the BolderBoulder and the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon this year. They’re both really fun events, but I am starting to get large crowd-fatigue and I probably shouldn’t spend money on the entry fees anyways, considering our big trip to Canada.

I may pepper in another local Arvada 5K or 10K in the spring. I have no fall races planned so far. I would like to travel for another marathon (the Twin Cities or Marine Corp Marathon have both piqued my interest.) The idea of training for and running another marathon sounds great nine months away from the reality of doing it, so we will see. Another fall option is traveling to a half marathon (Sara’s cousins have floated the idea of the Yosemite half marathon.) But barring traveling to a race, I am content finding a local non-Rock ‘n’ Roll fall half marathon or sprint triathlon.

Here’s to staying healthy all year!

My (unimpressive) ancestry

I received an Ancestry.com DNA testing kit for Christmas last year. As soon as I got home from my in-law’s (that was still a little weird to type out, by the way!) on December 26, I provided my DNA sample by spitting into the provided tube and I shipped off my testing kit back to the Ancestry.com folks in Utah.

Providing my DNA sample
Providing my DNA sample. Boy my hair was long.

They received the sample only two days later, and a week after that, they started testing my DNA. I was extremely impatient and anxious to see my results; do I have an exciting or intriguing ethnic makeup that I was previously unaware of? Japanese ancestry from their occupation of Taiwan? Dutch ancestry from their colonial period in Taiwan during the 1600s? Mongol blood from their rampage across China? Something even cooler than that?

I finally received my results on Tuesday afternoon while I was at a brewery in Boulder with a friend visiting from out of town, Arjun. I announced, “Hey, you’ll be the first time find out my full ethnic makeup!” and opened my results.

With trembling fingers, I clumsily clicked on my results. With baited breath, the page loaded and I saw….

My genetic makeup, according to Ancestry
My genetic makeup, according to Ancestry
They're so specific about my origins!
They’re so specific about my origins!

What? That’s it? Try as I might, there was nowhere to see additional details or a more comprehensive look at my East Asian ancestry. And the reason for that, my friends, is because that information simply doesn’t exist on the site.

So after money spent and lots of time spent waiting, I am East Asian. I could’ve told you that I am ethnically East Asian. Any dummy off the street can take a 2 second look at me and tell you that. Hell, you don’t even have to look at me to figure out that I have East Asian ancestry…just say “Hey Billy, his last name is Wang. Take a wild guess at his ethnicity!” This was a giant crock of shit.

I mean look at this…people with African or European get much more detailed regional breakdowns. Asians get three giant swaths of land to define our DNA: East, Central and South. It could be worse though…North, Central and South America are all lumped into the same giant genetic classification.

Africans and Caucasians get a nice breakdown of their ethnic origins...
Africans and Europeans get a nice breakdown of their ethnic origins…

I guess maybe my expectations were higher than what would realistically be delivered, given the limitations of Ancestry’s Asian DNA pool. They should probably put that disclaimer on their website somewhere. I wonder how other DNA testing sites like 23andme, YourFamilyTree, National Geographic and others would have done comparatively.

I guess it’s not all bad though…after I got over the fact that I wouldn’t get any further details, the 9% Polynesian was kind of intriguing and opened the door to lots of questions. Does the Polynesian come from my mom’s side or dad’s side? How many generations back? There might be a good chance that one or more of my ancestors was a Taiwanese aboriginal. These questioned fueled some research (a term I am using very loosely here) into the Out-of-Taiwan migration model that suggests the Taiwanese were the original Austronesians that migrated to the Philippines, Indonesia and the Pacific islands. I have just began to broach this topic, so hopefully I can learn more about this soon.

So as upset as I initially was about my DNA results, it wasn’t a total bust. I have something to learn about now and my family has a small conversation piece. If I find out anything good, I’ll be sure to post an update!

Back in the pool!

Early this morning, I went to the George J. Meyers swimming pool in Arvada, purchased my punch card and  got back into the pool after taking a year off from swimming. 

Although the Calgary 70.3 is 8 months away, I needed to start swimming again to build up my fitness. This snow storm that we just had forced me to stop running for a couple days while the snow melts and gave me a reason to get back into the pool.

The pool was great. There are 16+ swim lanes, so no waiting for a lane to open up like I used to have to do at 24 Hour Fitness. I “only” swam for thirty minutes today, but I’m already a little sore. That’ll teach me for neglecting upper body workouts. 

My next step…get back on the bike saddle and rebuild my cycling endurance!

2016: My running year in review

2015 is coming to a close. This has been my most successful year in terms of running accomplishments. First and foremost, I have managed to stay healthy most of the year. Besides the occasional shin splints or lingering cramp, I have been fortunate this year.

I’ve ran more miles this year than ever before (over 1011 and counting with 20 days to go!); this makes me simultaneously happy and sad. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve ran so much this year, but it makes me sad that I probably won’t be breaking this record in the near future, as I turn my focus back to triathlon.

I retained a running coach for a little less than half of the year. Having a coach provided me external accountability to do my training, guidance and structure to my race training and giving me the confidence to run more. I don’t think my marathon PR would’ve happened without him.

Where I ran in 2015
Where I ran in 2015

Cities and states I ran in:

  • Arvada, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Anaheim, Huntington Beach and San Francisco, California
  • Miami Beach, Florida
  • Cancun, Mexico
  • Kona, Hawaii
  • Rapid City, South Dakota

Races ran:

  • 10K – Five
    • Colorado Marathon 10K
    • Arvada Park to Park 10K
    • BolderBoulder
    • Arvada Turkey Trek
    • Plymouth Rock ‘n’ Run
  • Half Marathon – Four
    • Surf City Half Marathon
    • Miami Beach Half Marathon
    • Arvada Harvest Festival Half Marathon
    • Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon
  • Marathon – One
    • Portland Marathon

I PRed every distance this year!

  • 10K – 52:23 (Bolder Boulder) then I broke that record again, 49:43 (Plymouth Rock ‘n’ Run)
  • Half Marathon – 1:53:42 (Surf City)
  • Marathon – 4:22:30 (Portland)

What’s on deck for 2016? I have two things on my calendar right now: Surf City half marathon and Ironman 70.3 Calgary. I’m getting back into triathlon after taking all of 2015 off. I’ll be logging far fewer running miles this year, but I’m excited to get back into the pool and start riding my new bike. I will add more races (BolderBoulder? Some local Arvada races? A sprint triathlon?) in the future though.