Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've often wondered how Kenyans are always winning running races and setting records. I think maybe now I know why they are so fast: They fly instead of run. See the pic below for a better description. Must be nice to skim the surface of the road, instead of slapping your feet the whole way...

Skimming Kenyans...(Chris Relke photo.)

Of course, being so fast also means they missed most, if not all, of the downpour. That must have been nice. Kenyan Patrick Nthiwa had the winning time, with a 63:03 finish, a whole half-hour ahead of me. I'm told this is a new course record for the Vancouver Half Marathon. Congrats, Patrick! Mind if I borrow your winged shoes one of these days??

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vancouver and Race Results

What a weekend! Myself and a group of friends (see previous blog post) went to Vancouver BC for the half marathon. Vancouver is a really fun city to visit. It's quite expensive however, and with the American dollar being so weak at the moment, the exchange rate sucks. Lots of great restaurants and bars though. I discovered while leafing through one of the guidebooks we borrowed (thanks Jeff!) that Vancouver has a lesbian club named...wait for it..."Lick". Nice!

We checked out a tiny Japanese/sushi place for lunch on Friday, and went to a Thai restaurant for dinner that night (I forget the names). Both places were on the famed Robson Street strip, and quite good. Our rented condo was in Coal Harbor, 4 blocks north of Robson, and very handy to everything. I had to sleep on an inflatable mattress in an "office" that was about the size of a normal person's closet. It didn't even have a real door, just a sliding glass door with no curtains and NO privacy. I'm not kidding.

We walked to most places the entire weekend. Saturday was a driving day however, and we all went to Granville Island and Yaletown to check out the scenes and do some shopping. Had to swing past the University of British Columbia to see where the race started too. That night we went to Rangoli for dinner. It's a smaller, less fancy version of the highly recommended Vij's Indian restaurant, and located right next door. The food was incredible, but in hindsight, not the best thing to eat the night before a half marathon!
Note to Self: Do not eat a lot of spicy food prior to a race.

The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon on Sunday started out nice, but about halfway through, I experienced the worst downpour I've ever ran in, and it continued through the end of the race (you can see how bad it was in the pic of me checking my watch at the finish below). I was soaked from head to toe, water running off the bill of my cap, barely able to see. I missed the kilometer markers for 19 and 20K (yeah, the 13.1 miles was marked in "K's") because I just couldn't see! Had to focus on the street surface in front of me, which resembled a raging river at the time. It was crazy. I missed my goal of 90 minutes. Official Chip Time: 93 minutes 4 seconds for 13.1 miles (21.1K). Kinda bummed about that, but I blame it on the rain, and maybe just a tad on the "kilometers-instead-of-miles" thing. I must have gained 5 lbs in just water soaked into my clothes!
Run, Robert, Run!
"Light" rain around 10K (Denise Relke photo).
Finish line!
Checking my watch in the deluge at the finish (Chris Relke photo).

Lots of food and alcohol soon followed the race from Hell...we went to Yaletown Brewing for their Sunday pizza special: all 12" pizzas were $7 and pints of beer were $3.75. They had a tasty brown ale called "Downtown Brown" that I loved. After 3 of those and a pile of pizza, I was feeling mighty fine! We did a tour through Gastown, and experienced the Gastown Jazz Festival. Very cool area. The rain came back, so we headed home and had some downtime at the condo before firing up the alcohol again. We had bought a liter of Ketel One vodka and a liter of Canadian Club whiskey at the duty free shop on the way up, and had to finish both bottles before we left (we did).

Dinner Sunday was supposed to be at Stepho's Soulvaki, but the wait was too long, and we were starving, so we ended up an another Greek/Cypriot place down the street. The name of this gem is Takis Taverna, and their food was delicious. On a side note, our server, a very attractive blond girl, had the lowest-riding pants I've ever seen that didn't show butt cleavage. Very impressive. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah...After dinner we headed back to the condo and resumed our alcohol comsumption with some group games. Pictionary and one I hadn't heard of called Celebrities that was particularly fun, especially given our non-sober states. A soak in the hot tub (drunk, which was even better) finished off the evening, and we were all in bed (or passed out) by 12.

The drive home from Vancouver to Portland today was HELL. The border crossing took an hour, and I about lost my mind on the way home. It was a great trip, but I'm definitely glad to be home!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Vancouver Half Marathon

Heading out today with my good friends Mark & Kerrie to Vancouver BC for the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon. We're driving to Seattle tonight, and will make our border crossing (and a stop at Duty Free for cheap alcohol, top shelf of course!) after the morning rush. 3 other friends, Vicky, Lisa, and Kelly, are driving up Friday afternoon, and will be staying with us in our rented condo just off the infamous Robson Street. We're going to party it up Friday night, take it easy on Saturday, and then the race is Sunday morning (7am-ouch). Partying and hot tubbing will commence soon after the race is finished, and then we will drive home Monday morning (probably make another Duty Free stop...)

My goal for the race is 90 minutes, which works out to a 6:50 per mile pace over the 13.1 miles. The course is fairly flat, so it's possible, but that's a long time to keep that pace, for me anyway. Some of our training runs I was able to knock out the last mile (on a 12 mile trail run) at 5:40 pace, so I am hopeful. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Job!

It's been a seriously strange couple of months...my big news: I snagged a new position in my company, GTS Services (now called just "GTS"). GTS is a software company located in Tigard, OR. I used to manage the Customer Care team. Borrrrring! The company started a new department called SEM/SEO, which is Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, and I'm employee #2! What is SEM/SEO? Why, I'm so glad you asked! SEM is marketing a company's website so that they get more traffic. This is usually via Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, which are those "sponsored ads" you see when you search for something on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, etc. I manage our PPC campaigns at the moment. The SEO part is more challenging. This involves changes to a website so that it comes up on a Google/Yahoo!/MSN Live search naturally (what they call "organic"), based on the users search terms. For instance, one of our customers, ProStars Auto Care, does windshield replacements. We would 'optimize' their website so that when someone who needs their car's windshield replaced types "windshield replacement" into Google, ProStars comes up on page 1 of the search engine results pages (SERPs). It's pretty cool stuff. I love to learn new things and this has presented quite the learning opportunity. I had no idea there was so much behind getting your website to show up on a search engine! I'm now looking forward to going to work every day, instead of dreading it. Well, at least after I wake up some.