Sunday, March 16, 2014

Stanford dancing, Joe Bell, 2013 run totals, Michael Sam

Shoutouts:
  • Run to the Finish - who set a PR and got third her age group in 1:44:02 at Best Damn Race Orlando!

Stanford bball in NCAA tourney:
Stanford bball is back in the NCAA tourney!  I actually stopped going to games after 25 years, just felt like with being so into football that I didn't have enough time for the games, so felt like time to stop.  I picked a bad time to do so, since they finally made the NCAA tourney for the first time since the Lopez twins left (2008)!  That year was a great year for Stanford, Brook Lopez hit a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to beat Marquette and send them to the Sweet 16.  I still remember celebrating at my desk after that win, since it was during tax season.

Joe Bell - 408K:
I didn't think that much of it when I was running by, but Joe Bell, the World War 2 veteran who came outside his house to cheer on the runners on the course, became a viral hit after some runners went over to shake his hand as they ran by the course.  When I ran by him he had just came outside his house, and was shouting encouragement at us - everyone around me yelled back at him with a wave or what not - I might have stopped if I wasn't trying to set a PR.  An awesome story.  And not only was this an awesome tribute to him, but it provided a ton of good publicity for the Pat Tillman Foundation, almost ensuring that the race will be put on every year with how much interest there was in the story.

2 for 1 PR race:
I often seem to read race reports about people setting 2 PRs in 1 race, and I realized that I actually did that in the 408K race 2 weeks ago lol.  I've honestly only done like 2 5Ks in my life (in 2001 and in Nov 2013 at the Turkey Trot), so my PR was really soft at 7 min pace.  Though I realized that time just went down - I calculated my approximate 5K time to be 20:55 at a 6:45 pace.  I now think I could go sub 20 if I actually ran a 5K all out, though that sounds really painful to me - the shorter the race, the more pain you have to endure both physically and mentally - and is another reason that I don't like doing races below 5 miles in length.

Car coming on course:
Another side note about the 408K  is that during the race a car veered onto the course, and I was holding up my hands as the car was coming sort of at me, and the lady still didn't want to stop.  I wasn't really in danger of being hit, but the lady was totally oblivious in continuing to drive down a racecourse.  Eventually she stopped, but I have no idea how she even got by the course marshal volunteers to get onto the course in the first place lol.

2013 run and strength workout totals:
Overall it wasn't the best year in terms of running mileage, I spent a decent amount of the year either not running due to waiting to get my left knee injury diagnosed, or in physical therapy rehab to try to start running again. Though when I finally started running regularly in Nov/Dec, I got some decent mileage in.  I hope to get somewhere around the mileage that I got in Nov/Dec during the rest of 2014.  Maybe then I can put up a decent year in terms of running mileage.  This is my 2012 numbers post if you are curious (503 miles, though I wouldn't say a lot of those were healthy miles).
  • January - 7 runs, 38 miles, 2 strength workouts (still some L knee pain)
  • February - 9 runs, 57 miles, 6 strength workouts (still some L knee pain)
  • March - 1 runs, 5 miles, 0 strength workouts (tax season, some L knee pain, this lone run was the 408K)
  • April - 0 runs, 0 miles, 0 strength workouts (tax season plus waiting for the L knee MRI results)
  • May - 0 runs, 0 miles, 5 strength workouts (PT appts all month)
  • June - 5 runs, 10 miles, 13 strength workouts (PT appts all month, very minimal running)
  • July - 6 runs, 18 miles, 14 strength workouts (PT appts, starting to slowly get back to run/walking)
  • August - 6 runs, 24 miles, 4 strength workouts (better progress on running, few more miles)
  • September - 8 runs, 24 miles, 8 strength workouts (some slow rehab runs, decent progress)
  • October - 7 runs, 18 miles, 3 strength workouts (more run walking progress)
  • November - 11 runs, 30 miles, 2 strength workouts (better running progress)
  • December - 13 runs, 60 miles, 5 strength workouts (an actual full regular month, almost no pain)
Total - 73 runs, 284 miles, 62 strength workouts

Michael Sam - Sports Illustrated cover:
So with the Olympics going on, who did Sports Illustrated pick to put on their latest cover?  Michael Sam of Missouri.  Totally bizarre.  Apparently he came out as gay, and based on reading the article, the NFL will simply ostracize him or he simply will not be picked at all in the draft because of it.  It boggles me why this is such a big deal - the NFL seemingly has had way bigger issues to deal with than a gay football player. Consider:
My point is that the NFL has way bigger things to worry about than what a guy does on his personal time outside the football facility, in making completely legal decisions.  Sounds like the NFL needs to get with the program and simply see a player for what they do on the field and not off the field.  And it's kind of annoying to me that a player coming out as gay is on the cover instead of an Olympian.  And in terms of football ability, the guy was the SEC defensive player of the year, in the hardest conference in college football.  So the guy should be a good football player for whichever teams selects him in the draft.  It does sound like he may be not fast enough to be a linebacker, but is too small to be a defensive end - though I bet with his ability he will be able to find a position in the NFL (maybe he can bulk up or try to get faster).  I know 50 After 40 is a Missouri fan, any thoughts on him?  

Any thoughts on Michael Sam?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

408K race PR

Shoutouts:

  • Roserunner - if you don't follow her already, you should, because you normally get hilarious posts like these lol

408K race:
Location: San Jose (HP Pavilion) to Santana Row
Length: 8K (4.97 miles)
Cost: $56 (technical tee, medal, snacks at finish line)
Runners: 4576 (sold out)
Elevation: perfectly flat
Date: 3/2/14

The 408K race was today, which is a 8K in the 408 area code just like the name implies lol.  Last year went surprisingly well (34:53), despite having a left knee injury.  Though before the race I hadn't ran for like a month, and then after the race I didn't run for another month and a half since I then went to physical therapy after a MRI revealed that my left knee was simply really inflamed.  This year I went in way more prepared, basically running 3 times a week or so consistently leading up to the race, so I was hoping that the race would go well.  I also had no real pain going into the race, which is good (besides my left hip hurting a little after playing broomball 2 weeks ago and falling on my left hip 4 times in the same spot lol).  

The race goes from the San Jose Arena in downtown San Jose, to Santana Row - all paved, but through some nice streets along the way.  The race funds mainly benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation - Pat was from Leland High School in San Jose before playing football at Arizona State, and then the Arizona Cardinals before going to war.  A US war veteran spoke to the crowd before the race and said that the Tillman Foundation had personally helped him, so that was cool to hear.  

perfect weather for running - overcast, no rain but perfect temp (maybe 55 ish?)

I had no idea about what pace I was going to try to run - I was just going to try to go all out and hold it together near the finish, and whatever pace this was is what I would get - generally I try to base my running on feel and heartrate to help guide me in effort

I was chatting to a guy next to me about Newtons - and we were both raving at how they actually work in making you run faster and with less injury

Mile 1 - 6:45, 175 heartrate
I started pretty close to the start line (maybe 30 feet back or so), since I guessed I would be somewhere around a 7 min pace plus or minus.  When the gun sounded, there was the predictable part of people who had no part being that close to the start line lol - so I tried to go to the left side of the race course and try to ease into my pace gradually a bit.  Though while I felt like I was running a sustainable pace, I looked down after the first mile and saw 6:45 - wow.  I also saw the guy from the start line that I was chatting to, I ended up passing him after chatting with him for a bit.  This mile went down Santa Clara Street.  

Mile 2 - 6:46, 185 heartrate
After seeing how the first mile went, I tried to see if I could hold that pace - it did hurt, but seemed like I was holding it.  Seems like I was passing people gradually at this point.  I also saw a guy running in a Mariachi ish shirt, and gave him props for it lol.  He said that he actually got it in Thailand haha.  This mile wound through some nice neighborhoods west of the San Jose Arena.  

Mile 3 - 6:44, 186 heartrate
It was getting hard to maintain my pace now, I was just trying to focus on picking people off and keeping the body moving.  Seemed like no one was running my exact pace.  This mile is the Pat Tillman memorial mile, it is goes through nice tree covered streets, a good idea to have it here for him.  This mile hurt more, but I still was somehow able to keep exactly the same pace as the previous miles.  One thing that saves me a little time is I never stop at water stops in races this short (just carry a water belt).  5 to 10 seconds stopping at a water stop can mean a lot of time.  

Mile 4 - 6:47, 186 heartrate
This mile hurt a lot, because I wasn't close enough to the finish line to focus on that, and I knew I had to pay to keep my current pace.  I just tried to think that to run a PR, you have to pay to play.  And I was game.  I finally found a guy that basically was running my exact pace, and tried to latch onto him as much as possible.  This was the Mariachi mile, nice to hear some Mariachi music on the run.  One other side note, I try to give little waves to the volunteers, police officers and spectators on the route, they are doing their job for us.  

Mile 5 - 6:51, 187 heartrate
After mile 1, almost no one passed me the whole race, except for 1 guy (and his body type surprised me, he was a bigger muscled guy (maybe 6'4", 220 pounds) who was wearing Vibrams, and seemed like he was just out for a morning stroll, while running a 6:30 pace ish.)  Just surprising that you never know who will be fast and who won't be based on body type.  The main number I was focused on the whole race was keeping the average mile pace below 6:53, since this is the fastest race that I've run since 2000.  I stayed latched to my running comrade, and powered into the finish line on Santana Row.  It just so happened that I was basically on my own on the home stretch, so the announcer announced my name, which was really cool.  My version of the Ironman lol.  There actually was a fair amount of people at the finish line, which was surprising since the race was so early.  

Results:
408K
8K (4.97 miles)
33:18
6:42 pace
183 average heartrate
62/4576 overall (1.4%)
17/318 age group (5.3%)
Fastest race since July 2000
Also my highest % finish in a race since July 2000 as well

Thoughts:
When I stopped my watch I knew I had it - fastest race since July of 2000 (when I ran Wharf to Wharf 6 mile race in 6:16 pace).  Wow.  I honestly didn't know I had that in me, but it shows that if I train consistently, I can run some fast times as long as I don't get injured.  On the injury front, I basically had no pain before, during, or after the run, besides some tight calves that I will work on with the foam roller.  This is the best part, since last year I was still injured after the race, and didn't feel good about my future in running.  Now I know that I have the potential to beat my PR at Bay to Breakers on May 18, as long as I keep training and don't get injured.  I will need to do more hills though, since Hayes Street Hill is no joke, and that hill can make or break your B2B.  

Newtons:
This run also got me thinking about why I ran so fast today - I think a lot of it has to do with midfoot striking, by changing over to Newton shoes.  I honestly feel almost no pain when I run now, and I am running as fast as I ever have in my life.  That is pretty much all I could ask for, I'm just going to continue to try to train, and run correctly to stay uninjured.  Depending on how this year goes, I could likely be a poster child for how Newtons (or any midfoot running shoe), can transform your running by not only making you faster, but reducing injuries.  I'll also add that I take glucosamine daily, which is supposed to help joint pain - and while my doctor said that the effects of glucosamine are debatable, I figure that it can't hurt.  Eventually I may stop taking it to see if my body feels worse, but for now I'm going to keep taking it.  

So I would say that if you currently have injuries (and aren't currently midfoot striking), it is worth a shot to try to see if it helps you.  Mainly I think it spreads out the load force of each footstrike across more surface area so that your entire body takes the force of each strike, and not just your lower extremities.  Side note, but I also found that if you run correctly, I don't have to do as much strength training, since my form isn't hurting my body anymore like it likely used to do by heel striking.  

More race pics:
UPS provided gear check services again, I really need to use these services in the future lol (normally I just lock my key in my laces, and carry my phone in my fuel belt)

It had just been sprinkling, but it didn't rain the whole race - perfect running weather (this is at the finish line at Santana Row)

408K banner

Guadalupe Creek is super low this year, California is in the midst of it's worst drought in history, and we need all the rain we can get - hope mother nature soaks us the rest of the winter

Guadalupe Creek Trail looks like a nice trail to run on (goes to the right of this pic)

Stumbled upon a Vietnam Memorial



San Jose Arena - the arena has changed names so many times lol (COMPAQ, HP Pavilion, now SAP Center - calling it the Sharktank is what I usually say lol)


All the race spoils - they gave a medal, and a tech shirt (though the cut on the shirt neck hole seems to be weird, almost like it's too big and the fit is tilted backwards, so it doesn't fit perfectly).  Still a nice shirt design though.  Only bummer about the post race snacks is that there weren't as many of them, but that really was the only drawback of the race this year.  I'm definitely doing it again next year.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Olympicaholic

Shoutouts:

Olympicaholic:
I don't know how many other people are out there, but I'm an Olympicaholic and watch all the daily primetime Olympic coverage every night.  I can't get enough lol.  I'm really bummed that the Olympics are over, next it is on to Rio 2016 - we'll see if they can handle the Olympics.  To me Brazil should not have been given the 2014 World Cup since resources would be better spent on other things besides stadiums.  Rio may be better able to handle the Olympics since it is in only 1 city, but we will see if protests envelope the World Cup this summer.

Olympic highs:
  • Andrew Weibrecht winning silver, and Bode Miller winning bronze among amazing drama at the Super G (Weibrecht might the be the craziest moment/surprise of the games) (Andrew video here) (Bode video here) (Bode interview here)
  • Noelle Pikus-Pace winning the silver in skeleton including jumping into stands at the end (video here)
  • Mikaela Shiffrin winning gold in slalom - and at age 18 she has an incredible future ahead of her (video here)
  • Alexandre Bilodeau winning gold in moguls, and celebrating with his special needs brother (video here)
  • Sandro Viletta of Switzerland winning gold in the Super Combined despite having a fear of flying in the downhill and having some spectacular landings on some of the jumps lol (video here)
  • Mark McMorris winning bronze in snowboard slopestyle despite having a broken rib (video here)
  • Russian sweep in the 50K cross country skiing event (article here)
  • US sweep in ski slopestyle (video here)

Olympic lows:
  • Moguls skier Heidi Kloser injuring herself in practice, and being unable to compete in the actual event (video here)
  • Katie Uhlaender losing out on a bronze medal in skeleton by .04 seconds (video here)
  • The Bob Costas pink eye saga lol - the Olympics really is not the same without Costas (video here)
  • the NBC announcers talking throughout much of the opening and closing ceremonies - it is a show, and let the audience enjoy the show and simply shut up
  • Evgeni Plushenko having to withdraw from men's skating due to a back injury - that guy is the best men's skater of all time (video here)
  • US women's hockey blowing a 2 goal lead late in the gold medal game vs Canada
  • Lindsey Jacobellis falling on snowboard slopestyle while in the lead - brought back memories of her (2006 Torino epic fail) (Sochi video here)
  • US speed skating suit fail by Lockheed Martin and Under Armour - why didn't they test the suits in competition before trying them at the Olympics?  Real fail may go to the US Speed Skating Federation, who made this decision to try them first at the Olympics
  • All the controversy surrounding the women's figure skating event - in my opinion the right person won, but the margin of victory should not been as huge (sounds like some judges were obviously voting incorrectly).  To fix the problem of people packing as many jumps into a program as possible, figure skating may need to re-weight artistic impression to be a few % more of the score so that skaters focus on artistic impression in addition to athletic ability in the future
  • Sochi preparations in general:
    • no shower curtains
    • missing door knobs
    • unfinished hotels and streets
    • bad gay rights policy
    • threat of a terrorist attack (luckily this didn't happen)
    • Sochi being in the middle of nowhere
    • people getting locked into bathrooms
    • shooting stray dogs
    • contaminated water from dumping construction debris
    • cost of $50 billion
    • bad snow conditions throughout many of the events

Though in the end, the games and the athletes did most of the talking - after the games started I was so interested in what the athletes were doing that I paid less attention to what the side things were.  

Cross country ski commentator:
As I mentioned last post, my favorite commentator of the Olympics is Chad Salmela of cross country and biathlon.  And he was awesome this Olympics as well - check out this link for video of him going crazy with his best calls of the Sochi Olympics lol.  My other favorite commentator was Leigh Diffey in Skeleton/bobsled, I thought he provided very excited and personable commentary during the races.

Liberty Mutual commercial:
The marketing department of Liberty Mutual should get a massive raise, to me they had the 2 best commercials of the Olympics  I can't seem to embed the video in the post for some reason, but you can either click here or copy and paste the link below.  The music is from Explosions in the Sky, which is one of my favorite bands.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1adF1HkgYCg

Heidi Kloser Liberty Mutual commercial:
Liberty Mutual even made a commercial about Moguls skier Heidi Kloser about how she fell during practice:

NBC closing montage:
My favorite part of the Olympics is the closing montage - I couldn't find the one for this year online anywhere, here is 2008 for an example: (this year's montage aired at the very end of the closing ceremonies, hopefully you saw the montage)

What was your favorite moment/event of the Olympics?  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympic fever, Rose Bowl

Shoutouts:
  • Pavement Runner did this awesome post highlighting the best photos of 2013 - see it here

Running:
I'll go over running first, since that is the main thing people care about on here.  I've been running fairly consistently, maybe about 15-20 miles a week generally, at about 9 min pace ish.  Farthest that I've gone is 7 miles, and I think I'll keep it at that distance until Bay to Breakers is over on 5/18.  I may go up to 8 or 9, but no further than that.  I am doing the 408K on 3/2/14, last year was a fun race, even though I was still injured at that point.  I've been running solely in Newtons now, mainly to stay with the minimal trend that seems to be helping me basically run almost pain free recently.  I only occasionally hear a little bit of left knee clicking when I run, but no pain before, or after.  I'm still trying to midfoot strike, which I think has helped me tremendously.  

I've basically been running almost every run recently at almost the same pace - eventually it would be nice to get back to trying to set PRs and running fast, but for now I'm okay with simply being able to run pain free.  Maybe later this year or next year I'll see if I can ramp up my pace or mileage, and see how my body feels.  So basically that is one reason that I haven't posted in a while, I don't have much to report.  

Olympics:
Do you have Olympic fever yet?  I probably am into the Olympics more than almost anyone out there - I watch the 4 hour nightly primetime coverage (my trick for surviving it better is to DVR it, and then start it an hour or 1.5 hours later, then fast forwarding through commercials or boring events).  I also like to watch cross country skiing/biathlon on the weekend, I really like the commentator Chad Salmela - the guy gets super into it lol.  This year I find myself almost being more interested in the Canadian athletes than the US athletes for whatever reason - Mark McMorris in slopestyle is hilarious, Alex Bilodeau in moguls with his brother that has cerebral palsy, the Canadian moguls sisters Dufour-LaPointe, and Dara Howell in slopestyle.  I pretty much like watching almost every event, except for ice dancing - that is like watching paint dry.  With the introduction of team figure skating, seems like skating is on basically every night now - a bit much I'd say.  And I hope Costas's pink eye gets better!  It's not the Olympics without Costas!
Also, watching the Olympics got me thinking about when I went to London 2 years ago. =)

Rose Bowl:
On Jan 1 I went to the Rose Bowl, the tailgate was awesome, but the game wasn't as awesome lol.  Well, the game did not go as I hoped it would in my analysis last post.  Michigan State is a good team, they had a well balanced attack and had a perfect game plan.  They deserved the victory way more than Stanford did.  Michigan State ended up winning 24-20.

I'll spare you the detailed breakdown of the game, basically Stanford couldn't cover the MSU wide receivers on the field.  MSU used the pass to open up the run, which they ran at times through gaping holes, since Stanford had to drop more guys into coverage.  Stanford also had 8 penalties, including a couple crucial ones that kept MSU drives going, allowing them to score a TD (and a couple questionable pass interference calls).  Stanford also missed on catching 2 potential INTs, including 1 that deflected into a MSU player, resulting in a first down, which I think took place on a 3rd down play.  

Stanford played an okay game, though our coach should have been throwing the ball way more in the 2nd half, when MSU stacked the box with defenders to try to stop the run.  That is the difference in the 2nd half.  
It just puzzles me how much attention that David Shaw gets from NFL coaches, if he can't even make simple in game adjustments in terms of run/pass mix that seems painfully obvious from the stands.  I was screaming during most of the 2nd half for them to throw the ball, unfortunately it was all in vain.  It was another great year for Stanford finishing the year at 11-3, though just rough how it ended.  

got a great tailgate spot right by the Stanford alumni tailgate location - awesome

Toby the Van had a great spot - gorgeous weather out too

flags showing all the Rose Bowls Stanford has been in, in total 14 games, 6 victories

the band made a brief appearance

the band made a brief appearance

on the way into the stadium the line to get in wasn't as bad as last year, but they still need to improve crowd movement getting into and out of the stadium

goregeous setting at Pasadena

Stanford marched down the field on their first drive to go up 7-0, great start for them

The MSU band in formation

and the Stanford band in "non-formation" lol

I had no idea what the Snapfish logo was, but apparently the Stanford band made the logo, and it was a big deal lol


by calling terrible plays, Stanford coach David Shaw put the game on the Stanford D to win - and unfortunately they couldn't make enough stops - they did all they could, including getting a INT TD

Unfortunately Stanford was on the wrong side of this one - 24 to 20

MSU fans rejoiced


still clapped for the team even though it was a losing effort

4 BCS bowl games in 4 years (win at Orange Bowl in 2010, loss at Fiesta Bowl in 2012, win at Rose Bowl in 2013, loss at Rose Bowl in 2014).  Been an amazing run for Stanford football, hope they can keep it going next year.  My early guess for next year is a 9-3 record, but we shall see.  Might be upgraded to a 10-2 guess by the time the season starts.

49ers vs Seahawks NFC title game:
Also the 49ers had an awesome playoff run, barely surviving the Packers first round, then beating the Panthers.  The Seahawks game was really rough to watch though.  I knew it was going to be the best game of the NFL season, and it lived up to that billing.  To me it didn't matter who won in the AFC, they were going to lose to the Seahawks or 49ers. 

I'll spare you the gory details and analysis of the game, but basically this game can be summed up that the refs basically gave the game to the Seahawks.  I counted 13 controversial calls that went Seattle's way, and only 2 controversial calls that went 49ers way.  To me this allowed Seattle to get at least 3 extra points during the game, and so instead of needing to kick a field goal to tie the game at the end, we had to go for the TD, which resulted in the game ending INT.  The Raiders tuck rule call against the Patriots is the worst call in NFL history, but this game should be up there for worst reffed game ever.  I've never been so upset watching a game in my life, because it felt like the game was taken away from us by the refs.  Also, seeing Richard Sherman go off at the end was awful.  He went to Stanford, though I really don't want to hear anything from him ever again after that tirade.  Also, the NFL was lucky that Sherman went off at the end, because it got the media talking about that instead of how awful the refs called the game.  

The past 3 years for the 49ers has been amazing run, it is just utterly painful how the ending of those 3 seasons went - Kyle Williams fumbling twice in NFC title game 2 years ago, 5 yards from winning the Super Bowl last year, and now this year.  Side note, but before the season began, I thought the 49ers were going to go 12-4, and the winner of the NFC West would win the Super Bowl, playing against Denver.  Unfortunately I got the 49ers record correct, but I never thought that going 12-4 wouldn't win the division for us.  Another side note, but the BS personal foul call against Ahmad Brooks vs the Saints cost us that game and also cost us the #1 seed in the playoffs.  This also likely cost us winning the Super Bowl, becasuse if 49ers were at home, they would have beaten the Seahawks.  

What event are you most into at the Olympics?  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rose Bowl, more shoutouts, Melbourne pics

Rose Bowl:
The Rose Bowl is almost here!  Kickoff is at 2:10 PM on January 1st.  Michigan State got some bad news when their starting linebacker Max Bullough got suspended for the game for violating team rules.  No idea what he did, but that is a big blow for them.  My last post said most of what I wanted to say about analyzing the game - to me basically Michigan State has accumulated most of their gaudy defensive stats playing cupcakes the majority of the year.  So Stanford should be able to run the ball on them, with an occasional pass thrown to keep them off balance and from stacking the box too much against us.  Hogan might have to run outside the pocket as well like he did in the Oregon game.  While Michigan State will put up a game fight to keep the score low - I think Stanford wins the game 24-13.

The game could also get out of hand in Stanford's favor very easily.  Here is last year's Rose Bowl post when Stanford beat Wisconsin 20-14.  I'm just enjoying that Stanford has made 4 BCS bowls in 4 years - this is definitely Stanford's best senior class in history.  In going through the depth chart (page 4 of the link), Stanford will lose some key pieces of the team for next year (OL David Yankey, OL Khalil Wilkes, OL Kevin Danser, RB Tyler Gaffney, DL Trent Murphy, LB Shayne Skov, LB Ben Gardner, CB Usua Amanam).  But the team has been able to reload each of the last 3 years, so I don't see anything changing.  They will be really good again in 2014.


Year end shoutouts:
Small Town Runner had a good idea on a couple new categories to add to my year end shoutouts list, here are the new categories:

Best photos:
This is an easy one - Fast Cory.  He has many photos just like the one below, and he always seems to have great photos.  

Best injury comeback:
This is a hard one, but I know that Caution: Redhead Running has had some stress fracture problems, and just ran a great 5K race.  Another is SF Road Warrior, who seemed to be off and on injured during most of the year, but ran some great races including a PR marathon.  Lastly, Twenty-Six and Then Some, who had a serious ankle injury, but had an awesome Ironman race as well as other races.  

Melbourne pics:
I went to the Aussie Open last year, and I posted a ton of tennis pics from the trip.  I did provide daily recaps of my trip there, as well as a few pics when I got back.  But I never posted high quality pics of Melbourne for whatever reason.  Figured with the Aussie Open about to start in a few weeks that now would be the time to post them.  Melbourne is an awesome city - to me it's my favorite big city that I've been to (barely beating out London).  Maybe because the city is obsessed with sports, has great running trails, great weather, lots of good bars and restaurants, and also great scenery outside of the city limits.  I would highly recommend a trip to Melbourne.  And the main highlight is the Great Ocean Road tour - if you only do 1 thing in Melbourne, make it this thing.

Went to Church the first day - this was St. Patrick's Cathedral, gorgeous church

Luna Park by St. Kilda Beach

this ice cream tasted as good as it looked lol - Scoops Ice Cream

While this meal was really good - the prices in Melbourne were insane, I think this was $22 AUD

Our hotel was by the Yarra River, and this is the Southbank area - great place to walk at night, gorgeous outside - I also ran down this in the morning to reach The Tan (great Melborne running area)

Melbourne is known for it's alleys (called laneways there), tons of shops, and also there is some nice art on the walls of some

Went to a cricket match - called the Big Bash league, at Melbourne Cricket Ground, the stadium is huge

Fun to see guys simply destroy the ball - I was confused somewhat on the the rules, but slowly started to get them (homeruns on the fly worth 6 runs, homeruns that roll to the fence worth 4 runs)

this pitcher is called the bowler in cricket, and he gets a running start

Melbourne Cricket Ground is absolutely gigantic - capacity is 100K

lol on these guys with KFC buckets on their heads (the girl with them didn't want anything to do with them lol)

this was delicious - James Squire Brewery by the Docklands (though again the prices are insane there, this was $24 AUD)

Gorgeous day out by the Docklands

One of my favorite areas was the Carlton Gardens

Royal Exhibition Building was one of my favorite buildings

the inside of the Royal Exhibition Building - unfortunately it wasn't open for tours, I wish we could have walked around inside of it

Queen Victoria Market was a fun place to check out, tons of food and other vendors there

bought a picture from this vendor at Queen Victoria Market

a guy from Louisiana entertaining the crowd lol - he was funny

Emu burger - tasty!

The Waffle Club ice cream - this was awesome

ANZ Gothic Bank - very cool architecture inside

ANZ Gothic Bank - very cool architecture inside

Philip Island Penguin tour:
We went to a koala preserve - cool to see them super up close!

koalas move very slowly, and do a lot of sleeping and eating - sounds like the life lol

they do a lot of this lol

koala mom and her baby - was cool to see both

some gorgeous settings in the countryside of Melbourne

We were on an excursion to see the Penguins at Philip Island- and stopped by the beach

nice to see the beach

this view was phenomenal - was worth going to Philip Island just for this view alone

this view was phenomenal - was worth going to Philip Island just for this view alone

this view was phenomenal - was worth going to Philip Island just for this view alone

on the way came across a wallaby

this was the reason we went on this excursion

viewing the penguins felt highly commercialized - a countdown?!?  lol

you sit on bleachers overlooking the water, and wait for the penguins to come out of the water at sunset to head into their homes on the beach that they each return to - felt really weird to me, almost like we shouldn't be there.  Though I guess if people are going to go there, better to have a structured viewing area than have chaos.

the penguins were cute and cool to see, though was just a weird experience for me - not sure that I'd recommend it for others to go there

Yarra Valley wine tasting:
the next day went wine tasting in Yarra Valley - stopped at Wild about Fruit - a great fruit place

gorgeous day in Yarra Valley

gorgeous day in Yarra Valley

gorgeous day in Yarra Valley

De Bortoli was a good winery - everything we tasted was good



had an awesome meal at Rochford Winery - the filet was phenomenal

this winery also hosts concerts, which would be cool to go to (I saw that Kylie Minogue was playing a concert on Australia Day on January 26)


Great Ocean Road tour:
If you do one thing in Melbourne, make it touring the Great Ocean Road.  It is a road that is southwest of Melbourne on the coast, where the scenery is absolutely phenomenal.

Bells Beach was first stop - they hold a pro surfing competition every year as part of the ASP tour in late March, looked like great waves

Urquharts Bluff Beach - another nice beach close to Bells Beach, we stopped for tea here

Apollo Bay beach - just some amazing scenery

more gorgeous scenery, the clouds looked awesome

stopped at Mait's Rest Rainforest Walk for a short hike - good stuff

The main highlight of Great Ocean Road is seeing Twelve Apostles - limestone rock formations next to the shore - they were really cool to see

incredible views to the south


spectacular scenery at Twelve Apostles

spectacular scenery at Twelve Apostles

gorgeous day along Great Ocean Road

This might have been my favorite spot of the tour - Loch Ard Gorge.  Awesome seeing this spot right here.

last stop was London Bridge stop - views were again spectacular

that gap in the rock face was the result of a collapse in 1990 that left 2 tourists stranded on the rock on the right.  They were rescued by helicopter, but weren't hurt which is lucky =)

Any other categories you would add to my year end shoutouts list?
Have you been to Melbourne?