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St. Augustine Half Marathon 2014 - Race Report

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  • Sunday, November 30 2014 @ 03:04 PM EST
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This fall I decided to train for a Half Marathon. I already had four half marathons under my belt but this was the first time I targeted the distance with specific workouts. I had planned to run the Tom Walker Memorial Half Marathon and had figured out a schedule for all of my key workouts. However, the Tom Walker race date started wandering around the calendar and after hearing that the event would be rescheduled a second time, I went looking for another nearby race. The Columbia St. Augustine Half Marathon on Nov. 16 looked like a good option so I re-plotted my key workouts to fit the new schedule. I now had a firm target race date which always helps me to maintain my training focus. My training went well with my only goof being that I misread my own calendar and did a hard workout less than a week before the race. I would have preferred to have 10 days of taper to absorb that last bit of training. Regardless, by Sunday morning race day I felt ready to go.

The morning was clear and beautiful, cool but not cold. I took this photo of Castillo de San Marcos during my warmup, less than an hour before race start.



The race was well-organized with the finish line, registration tent, food, and plenty of port-a-potties all in the Francis Field area. The adjacent parking garage was open and free to race participants. The course is USATF certified, well-marked with cones the entire way, has solid mile markers, plenty of aid stations, and race staff at significant road intersections.

The starting line was a short jog down A1A to the front of the Hilton on the waterfront. This is probably the first race I have attended where people were shy about lining up at the start. The race officials kept calling for the "elite" runners to come to the front and eventually waved enough that people finally approached the starting line. There was no special elite division, they just kept calling the faster runners the elites. After looking at the race results from previous years, I had my goal solidly set on placing in the top 5 overall, so I felt no qualms about lining up at the front.

I got out quick at the start and then settled in to let the rest of the field sort itself out. The leaders quickly achieved separation from the rest of the runners and the top 4 finishers were already far in front by the time we crossed the Bridge of Lions. The runner in blue (Kristopher Shold) went on to win. The runner in orange (Paul Mcrae) passed me very early and finished 35 seconds ahead of me. The tall runner behind me in the white Columbia singlet (David Picciano) caught up to me by the time we hit the first mile marker and at that point we were racing for 3rd place.


Photo by ChessiePhoto

It was easy to smile so early in the race:

Ravine Gardens Costume Run 6k - Race Report

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  • Friday, October 31 2014 @ 08:56 PM EDT
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Last weekend I ran the Friends of Ravine Gardens Costume Run 6k in Palatka, Florida.

That was the first time I had been through the park and the venue is just beautiful for a race. The course follows the driving tour road around the ravine. Definitely some hills here! The course was decorated for Halloween with lots of movie characters and other interesting things to see.

I dressed as The Flash:



I won the 6k with a time of 22:30 (6:03 per mile). The 3k race did one lap through the park, the 6k did two laps. I loved the kids yelling "Here comes The Flash!" and "He's so Fast!".

I was interviewed by the Palatka Daily News and ended up in multiple photos and the story on the front page of the Monday paper (October 28, 2014):



I figured out how to add lightning bolts (provided by my wife) to my sunglasses:



Finish line video (this link should jump to 4:37 to see my finish):




Result sheet photo:

GoPiGo - Raspberry Pi Robot

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  • Friday, October 24 2014 @ 08:01 AM EDT
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I recently received a package from another successfully funded Kickstarter project, the GoPiGo, a Raspberry Pi robot.The Kickstarter campaign raised $56k compared to their $7,600 goal.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...y-pi-robot

My package included the robot kit, a bunch of accessories, and an actual Raspberry Pi Model B+. The SD card comes loaded with the Raspbian for Robots Operating System.




Now there are two Raspberry Pis in our house. Time for some fun!

For more info visit GoPiGo by Dexter Industries.

Kano Computer Kit - Great for Kids

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  • Friday, October 03 2014 @ 07:55 PM EDT
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Last week I received our Kano Computer Kit, the "computer anyone can make". I have not backed very many Kickstarter projects and I am just so happy that this one made it. The result is a fully-polished, professional quality computer kit... for kids.



My daughter (10 years old, 5th grade) said over and over again "this is so much fun!" On the first day she spent about 4 hours playing around with the various coding environments. In particular, she liked the "Make Pong" environment where she worked through the exercises and made all kinds of interesting variations on the game (changing the ball size and color and the actions that happened when the ball hit the paddles).

The initial unboxing, assembling, and software setup of the Kano was straightforward and I only had to give my daughter a tiny bit of guidance here and there. For example, it took some care to get the Raspberry Pi board out of its safe and secure packaging. But for the most part, she read the guide and read the screen and followed the instructions and enjoyed the whole experience.

Follow the white rabbit...

(The setup includes a cute sequence of an animated ASCII art rabbit.)

The process was kind of nostalgic for me. The pong game reminded me of the Pong console game we received one Christmas when I was a kid. I remember the few times in my childhood when my dad brought home a new computer and unboxed it and hooked it up to the TV and we all spent hours fooling around with it. In fact, I almost think my dad (now a grandpa who pretends not to know anything about computers) would enjoy having a Kano to play with.

Team Kano received $1.5 million in their Kickstarter campaign, compared to their original goal of $100,000. One of the backer perks is that my name is included in the Credits file that is shipped out to the world on each little Kano computer.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/...e-can-make

For more info or to order a Kano Computer Kit for yourself, visit the Kano Computer Kit web site.

WoBtoberfest 5k 2014 - Race Report

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  • Thursday, October 02 2014 @ 07:57 PM EDT
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Gainesville Running Tabs and World of Beer (Tioga) put on a nice little 5k for the Octoberfest season called WoBtoberfest.

Good times!


Pictured are Dan Clark, Dan Stoner, and John Davis. Photo by Colleen Anderson.

I was not able to catch Lederhosen Man Dan Clark in the final sprint:


Photo by Julie Taylor.

I felt pretty good and was able to finish strong for a 2nd place finish. The photo above shows that my form still has some tweaking opportunities. I have not yet been able to completely solve that trailing leg dipping inward.

Here is the Video of the finish:

 
Race schwag included free beer and a really nice Swamp Head Brewery pint glass (pictured below):

Vibram FiveFingers Settlement

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  • Monday, August 18 2014 @ 08:21 PM EDT
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The court documents, online claim form, and additional information are avaiable on the official settlement website:

https://www.fivefingerssettlement.com/

It seems that a number of Vibram FiveFinger shoe fans have such strong opinions on class action lawsuits and the American legal system in general that they want nothing to do with this case. I am not a lawyer (don't construe anything I say for real legal advice) but I did read the court documents and I think that people are missing an opportunity here.

 
A quick summary of the suit begins with the fact that Vibram denies all wrongdoing.
 
 
Vibram will pay a one-time settlement of $3.75 million USD which buys them a quick resolution and freedom from getting sued on this issue ever again. I will come back to that point later. The lawyers get paid a fixed amount regardless of the number of claims filed. The only variable in the case is how much unclaimed money gets donated to the named charity, the American Heart Association (AHA).
 

And as stated elsewhere in the documents:

"Unless you exclude yourself from the Class, if the settlement is approved all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and you will not be able to start a lawsuit, continue with a lawsuit, or be part of any other lawsuit against Vibram about the claims in this lawsuit, ever again, regardless of whether you submit a Claim Form."

The date for filing an Exclusion is already passed, so if you bought VFF during the specifiied timeframe and have done nothing to be excluded, you are part of the Class. The only real choice left is whether or not to file a claim.
 
If you continue to do nothing then your share of the settlement will go to the American Heart Association. The AHA continues to support Canola Oil as a "Heart Healthy" food which I know a lot of my Paleo friends are not happy about.

If you wish your donation could go to a different charity, or if you believe that Vibram FiveFingers are good products and do encourage stronger feet, you still have an opportunity to file a claim. It is very easy to file an online claim and no proof of purchase is necessary for 1 or 2 pairs of shoes. You have until Sept. 24, 2014 to file a claim (see the link near the top of this blog post).

 

There are articles flying around the web with titles such as "FiveFingers Maker Will Pay Millions To Suckers Who Bought Its Shoes".

There are also articles that provide other opinions such as "Vibram Suit: Poor Judgement" and "Was Footwear Justice Served When Vibram Recently Settled Its $3.75 Million Class Action Lawsuit?" and "The Vibram lawsuit, barefoot running and science perspectives".

One of the specific claims in the suit says:

"Vibram will not make or assist others in making any claims that the FiveFingers footwear or products similar to the FiveFingers footwear are effective in strengthening muscles or preventing injury unless that representation is true, non-misleading and is supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence;"

In fact just last year a study demonstrated that "barefoot shoes" such as VFF do strengthen foot muscles.

That study, The effect of minimal shoes on arch structure and intrinsic foot muscle strength, makes that very conclusion:

"These results suggest that endurance running in minimal support footwear with 4 mm offset or less makes greater use of the spring-like function of the longitudinal arch, thus leading to greater demands on the intrinsic muscles that support the arch, thereby strengthening the foot."

Maybe Vibram will get to re-use those marketing materials after all.

There are folks who disagree, but my own feeling is that the best way to show support of Vibram and their products is to file a claim, get the settlement payment, and then go buy another pair of FiveFinger shoes. Wouldn't it be interesting if Vibram's sales numbers showed a marked increase immediately following the conclusion of the suit?

As much as I believe that Vibram would have actually won the suit had it gone to trial, I can see how they would jump at the opportunity to make this lawsuit (and all lawsuits like it) go away forever.

While reading through the court documents I found myself impressed by the amazing legal verbiage used to describe the "you cannot sue them ever" condition. Vibram seems to have coverered their butts rather well. Below is the full legal blurb in all its glory:

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thatlinuxbox.com is the home of Dan Stoner's Personal Blog, Photos, and More (opinions, rants, techno-babble, and possibly a few useful tidbits of knowledge).

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