Craig Gibbons' Lifeblog lifeblog://tri.eat.net

19Jun/050

Amsterdam Marathon 2005

Following up on the success of last weekends Edinburgh marathon, I decided to keep the momentum going and signup for another marathon, after all, one needs something to keep one out of mischief on Friday nights and there really is no greater deterrent than the prospect of running 15 miles the next day to keep you going easy on the Chivas. When I was looking around for another marathon to do, I wanted one which was taking place in September or October and as I soon discovered, there really aren’t many interesting ones going on at that time of year. Sure, one can signup for the Beachy Head Marathon, or the Baxters Lock Ness Marathon, but heck I’ve never even heard of Beachy Head and well, we were in Scotland last weekend and I’ve already been to Loch Ness. Besides that, there really isn’t any monster anyways! Among those that did look like viable contenders, were the Chicago and Amsterdam marathons. I spent about two months in Chicago some years ago and have a special affinity for the city, but the distance, cost, time difference and prospect of having no support were major deterrents despite the attractive mental imagery of running along the shores of Lake Michigan and re-savouring the humours and vapours of the windy city that is Chicago. Chicago is also a massive race, this year, according to the website, entries close on August 15th or when 40,000 runners have registered. That’s quite a formidable event. Eventually, after careful deliberation, Amsterdam emerged as the clear choice. Last year 16,000 runners participated in three events. This year’s marathon, the 30th one held, takes place on October 16th will no doubt prove to be a memorable event and an excellent opportunity to improve on that PB (Personal Best for those non-runners) of 3:22:10 set at Edinburgh. Let the training begin.

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17Jun/050

A useful UrlBuilder class

This post has been fully revised and updated, so much so in fact, that I decided instead to write an article for CodeProject.com. You can find a full explanation of the UrlBuilder class and associated source code at: http://www.codeproject.com/aspnet/UrlBuilder.asp

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16Jun/050

Edinburgh Marathon 2005

This past Sunday (12th) saw the running of the 2005 Edinburgh Marathon, an event which my good mate Russell and I have been training for ever since we signed up in December last year. It's been a long road; both of us have been injured, ill, through physiotherapy and bottles of vitamin C and back on the road come the Wednesday night Serpentine running club training run. Running a marathon is a must-do goal to set in one's life. Triathlon's, summiting Everest and Iron Man competitions aside, it's one of the most physically challenging activities one can undertake in one's lifetime and for me personally the realisation of a dream and proud sense of achievement. All these months, the fact that we would be running fully 26.2 miles on June 12th has never been quite so real than when we were lined up on the start line amongst 11,000 other runners in biting cold and persistent drizzle. Thinking back to my days as a track athlete, lining up on the starting line before a 1500 meter race, barely able to hold back the natural compulsion to heave up all those butterflies, the experience of watching the yellow numbers of the start clock counting down wasn't entirely dissimilar. The race started with a resounding, Signal Hill noon gun kind of bang and we were running, only 26.2 miles to go Russell quipped. I pretty much went at my own pace from the get-go and eventually settled into a good 7 minute per mile pace with a welcome partner I recognised from running club, looking for the same target time of anything under 3 hours and 30 minutes I was. My lurvely girlfriend Laura hauled my good folks around the course at a rate of knots to make it to 5 points on the course to shout cheers and hand-off Squeezy energy packs, very impressive. Without boring the reader with a mile-by-mile blow account of the race, it was good going for the first 16 miles, then miles 16 - 18 started to get rough, 18 miles is the most I had ever done in training due to injury quite close to the race and I started to feel the effects of the increased distance and persistent pounding on the legs. Strangely this coincided with a pregnancy like (I would imagine) craving for jelly babies, odd. By mile 19 I was hurting and still had more than 7 miles to go, a marathon in its self at that stage. I kept in my head 2 things, one, that if I just kept putting one foot in front of the other it would eventually all end and two, I had already done enough to secure a time well inside my original target and need only keep going. Until the end of the race that’s exactly what I did, one foot in front of the other, always fighting back the urgent desire to walk, to stop, to lie down even, but never succumbing to the temptation. As my father would say, a lot of character was built in those last miles. I finished the race some 3 hours, 22 minutes and 10 seconds after the gun. Russell finished around an hour less than his original estimate, in an excellent time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 59 seconds.

Next time, 3 hours.

UPDATE: Results are out, go see for yourself

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10Jun/050

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

I should have blogged this weeks ago, but you know how it goes... endless boozing, parties and day time television, who has time, really? Episode III was unleashed upon the word and the box office on May 19th this year, 10 of us made the pilgrimage to the ODEON on Leicester Square on the 21st to see what all the fuss was about. After much waiting and the total flops of Episode I and II, it's quite surprising Star Wars fans got all pent up about this, the final instalment in the Star Wars anthology, or perhaps we can call it the second trilogy by virtue of the fact that the making of episodes I, II and III in no way rival the cinematic genius and mastery of the craft which made the first three Lucas movies the ubiquitously definitive masterpieces they are. Everybody you speak to has a take on this, ranging from the “why bother” disappointed indifferent to the “I’m there dude” optimistic Vader costume wearing, light sabre brandishing hard-core die-hards. I myself fall somewhere between these two factions, still willing to give Lucas another chance while maintaining a healthy degree of scepticism characteristic of a child disappointed about not getting a G.I Joe last Christmas on the eve of this years most holy night. Hope I’m not showing my age there. What is the action man of choice these days anyways? But I digress, fortunately, for the latter group, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, is a massive success and a large measure of vindication for the much beleaguered Lucas. Then again, just about anything would have been an improvement on Episode’s I and II but perhaps that’s a little unfair, let’s take this in context. Revenge of the Sith is more like the old movies in that the special effects are pure perfection, the acting is, for a change, up to the standards we’ve come to expect from blockbusters of this league with even Hayden Christensen living up to the standards set by his compatriots Ewan McGregor and Natalie Portman, who are as ever worthy of their roles even given the facile nature of their characters. One of these days, a DVD trilogy box set will come out with Episodes I, II and III (and no doubt a special “never seen before footage” disk) and I’ll have to buy it and the only reasons that will happen is because Ja-Ja Binks makes only a 3 second appearance in this episode and all the loose ends are nicely tied up as we see the death of Anakin Skywalker and the rise of Lord Vader. In short, Episode III rocks, if you haven’t already, see it!

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