First Soccer Match of 2010

I just got back from working my first soccer match since last October.  This was my first time working a Tennessee high school match, and it went rather well.  The field was a muddy mess, especially on the AR2 sideline I was on.  I almost lost my shoes three separate times when I planted my heel and the suction from the mud almost pulled them off as I was running to keep up with play.

Speaking of running, being in shape makes a world of difference.  The mud and the uneven footing made running while keeping an eye on play difficult.  There were several points during the game where I took an awkward step and felt a pull or tweak—but it didn’t really bother me.  I realized that had this been five months and 30 pounds ago, I would have likely been injured at some point during this game.

Excellent.  Must. Keep. Running.

Some Run to Remember, Some Run to Forget…

…and I did a little of both yesterday when I completed my very first “official” road race in downtown Nashville.  I ran the Nashville Predators Fangtastic 5K, which I would have never thought I would do even a month ago, but now I am so glad I did.  I confess at one point, I considered not running, but I decided I had to complete this race no matter what.  It was kind of a symbol of being able to push through adversity, even if I was going to go it alone now.

It was just over a month ago on the evening of December 26th when I got the sudden wake-up call that I needed to start doing something to improve my fitness, as well as burn some energy to help clear my head over some things I was working through in my personal life. I got started with the Couch to 5K program, which slowly works you up from walking to running longer and longer intervals.  There were several great iPhone apps to help keep me on track as I worked through the program.  Even though I was only to Week 4 of the program, I did manage to run most of the race yesterday.  I did resort to “speed walking” one uphill when I realized I was walking up it faster than I was jogging it.

Yesterday, right before race time, I remembered about the “Map My Run” service and figured that might be fun to gather data while running the race.  I downloaded the app, and it worked great.  You can see the map of my run route and even do a 3D video “fly-by” of the route.

According to the official results:

My Gun Time: 33:38
My Chip Time: 33:15

“Gun Time” is the traditional time measurement from the sound of the starting gun to crossing the finish line. It’s more of a what people would think of a race vs. the other runners, i.e. “I crossed the finish line first,” but doesn’t take into account the large crowd at the starting line, which can take 5-10 minutes to clear out. “Chip Time” is measured from when I actually crossed the starting line (I was in the middle of the pack) to when I crossed the starting line.

My overall pace: 10:44.  A little slower than the 5:40 miles I used to post in high school, but then again, I was a lot younger and lighter then. I placed 51st out of 75 in my age group (Male 35-59). I placed 675th overall, and If I’m reading the results right, I placed 384th out of all males.

As I ran through downtown Nashville, I passed several landmarks that brought back some memories and helped me come to peace with things.  Places such as: The YMCA I almost joined on the very same night I found out things were going to change for good, the road I would have turned down had I bought a house there, and the farmer’s market where we spent some great times shopping for international foods that I rarely got to prepare because of the calorie counts.  Running past these places was cathartic for me.

Most importantly, I think I’ve made my peace with Nashville again. I’m looking forward to the next event, and yes, also the next race.

This is NOT a List of New Year’s Resolutions

Looking back at that post about Swatches, I am a little embarrassed about it. It’s weak. Confession time: That post’s content was actually a short off-the-cuff E-mail reply sent to Jane Q. Public, and I pretty much just cut-n-pasted it from my E-mail sent folder. I guess I was just stretching to add something—anything—here to keep from blogfading. (Is that a word? I was thinking of the term “podfading.”)

I like to say that I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think it’s funny that I end up doing them anyway even if I don’t declare them as such.

So, as they say, if you want to achieve a goal, make it specific and write it down. Here is my list of goals (not resolutions) for this year:

1. I will update this blog at least once a week. Surely something of interest will happen around here every seven days. Even though I tried to blame facebook and twitter for my lack of posting here last year, I need to post here more often. Let’s face it, 140 characters isn’t the best way to improve one’s writing skills, and facebook is mostly just a 24/7 class reunion. Sometimes this free-form blog format is the best for what I want to say. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some things happened in 2009 that helped me to get out of the house, step away and look up from the keyboard, and start to enjoy my life here. I shudder to think where I would be or what I’d look like today if I continued down the “post-grad-school come home, flop into the Lay-Z-Boy and spend hours on facebook/twitter” path I was on. Now, I’m spending more time in the real physical world, outside of the Interwebs. This gives me more material to write about instead of just posting inane status updates like “Watching the corn grow.”

2. I will get back into shape. While I’m not in terrible shape for a guy my age who does manage to keep up with play as a high school soccer referee, I could always do better. See, there’s a little something bugging me: I missed a chance at going to the FBI academy because I applied with less than three months to prepare and couldn’t get myself up to the physical standards before I ran out of time due to my age (Cue: @janeqpublic with an “Oldie Twobuckles” comment). This has always kind of bugged me. I’m not bothered that I didn’t go the FBI route.  I think it’s because I couldn’t pass the physical tests at the time. I think if I can just get to the point where I know I do meet that standard, I’ll be happy. Also, it will help with soccer and hockey work to be in better shape. Ok, I also have to admit, I want to look better, feel better, and just plain feel better about how I look. I don’t want to end up on Because seriously, have you seen @janeqpublic? Rawr.

3. I will lose the weight. Obviously, this is a positive side benefit of getting back in shape as described above, but diet is also a key component of the weight loss process. I’ve been inspired by some friends, some of which have lost over 35 pounds in just a year. The challenge of living in this part of the country is not only the high-calorie food; it’s the rituals that are attached to the consumption of food. Special occasion? There must be a huge spread of food! Lots of desserts! Deep fried everything! No big deal, if it’s not an everyday thing, right? Well, what makes a special occasion down here? Anything. Tuesday. My solution: Eat less, do more, and make use of the calorie counting apps on the iPhone that really help with the dietary reality checks.

4. I will get moving on the IT Certifications again. I admit I slacked off last year after I got the CISSP, but the market is more competitive than ever and certifications are in vogue again as a means to differentiate job candidates. At the very least, it’s time I knocked off the one certification in particular that I’ve started/stopped on for five years now.

5. I will start and keep up with a budget. It seems that every year I say “I’m going to use Quicken to track my expenses and I’m going to keep up with it…” and then I quit after a month. This year will be different. I’m considering some major moves this year that will simply require that I make a written budget plan and stick with it. Which finally leads me to the big one…

6. I will stop living in fear. What? Yeah, I said it. Time to stop denying that I’ve been living in fear for the last few years. I’ve come to realize that losing my job while having a mortgage over my head really did a number on me. I had mostly given up on things like owning a house and having a wife and kids because I was scared to take the leap. Not. Any. More. I’m going to get back to living life, because someone showed me it’s all worth the risks.