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Archive for July, 2009

House of Comedy Opening at Mall of America

Wednesday night, I was fortunate to have been in attendance at the grand opening of the House of Comedy at the Mall of America. This was all possible thanks to winning passes on twitter from Mall of America’s twitter account. Again, I am very lucky when I least expect or ask for it; trust me, I’m not complaining.

The House of Comedy features a nice, trendy looking bar that greets you upon your arrival. It helps set the mood with its intimate feel and clean, classy look. My group did not eat there, but the picture of the burger from the R. Burger bar looked delicious; I will hold off on the typical chinese/thai mall food next time.

Walking into the comedy club, I was surprised at how large it was. I must note that this was my first comedy club experience, so I had the opportunity to go into this experience as a pure newbie to the scene. Despite the largeness to the club, it still had an intimate feel; or that could have been due to being very close to the stage.

The headliner was Jeff Capri, who has been on Last Comic Standing, Comics Unleashed, and Ed McMahon’s Next Big Star (of which I never had heard of). Though I’ve never heard of him, he lived up to being at headliner status. From talking about a shadow on his leg, to his love for Michael Jackson, to discussing race; he hit many funny spots and had the audience laughing at just about everything. I think they call that ‘in the zone’.

The House of Comedy has done a very good job of being prepared for opening and starting off strong. They are on twitter (though they could use some help there), they have a facebook fan page, their website looks pretty solid, and they have a lineup already scheduled including Greg Giraldo and Norm MacDonald which should attract a good following early on in this businesses life.

I will go back to the House of Comedy. Good atmosphere, good service, good laughs, and on some nights, an open mic opportunity. Yes, I will someday do an open mic night to try my hand at comedy. I’ll definitely give everyone a heads up when that happens; I promise it will be at the House of Comedy.

~Jason Douglas

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Torchlight 5K Recap

Wednesday night was the Torchlight 5K sponsored by Lifetime. This was a race I had been preparing for my whole life, or for less than 24 hours. Upon talking with the lovely Miss Kayla, she invited me to run with her and her people. Since I had just run 3.5 miles and felt really good during it, I thought it would be good to run another 3.1 for the third day in a row. Below are the highlights and lowlights:

Highlights:

  • Pretty flat course. The race began off Hennepin near the Basilica, went over the river via the Stone Arch Bridge, and ended at St. Anthony Main. There was one nice downhill near the Guthrie which was more than welcome. Otherwise, no real hills, which was appreciated πŸ™‚
  • My time: unofficially, as this was not a chip timed event, was around 26:30 ish, which would put me near my record pace I set at the Gussie Gallop 5K.
  • Only stopped twice, though I didn’t feel like I needed to. The first time was to take my t-shirt off. I was wearing Under Armour as well. It was a pretty hot day, and somewhat muggy. The second stop was due to flashbacks or just not knowing what was going on. Upon coming up to the 3 mile marker, I thought to myself ‘I have 10 more to go?’ I guess I thought I was at the half-marathon. Odd. A runner who had been running at my pace passed me and gave me a weird look. I quickly realized ‘oh, I’m almost done’. You don’t have to be smart to be a runner, I proved that to be true.

Lowlights

  • Thanks for the warning about exits being closed, Minneapolis! Traffic was of course, a mess at the time we were heading downtown. I figured we would wait in the Dunwoody/Hennepin exit and get off right next to the race area. That exit was closed, with no explanation. Next option: 12th street exit. Also closed, without any warning. Ended up getting off on 4th and parking near the Target Center, then partially running to registration/t-shirt pickup. Granted, it would have helped if we had left ten minutes earlier, but my car decided to be a brat and the alarm system went a little nuts. Thanks to Hyundai Elantra for that wonderful moment!
  • 5,800 others also ran this 5K. This made the first 3.0 miles difficult to navigate through, luckily the last .1 mile was a breeze. I felt like I was Adrian Peterson navigating through defenses shakin’, breakin’ ankles, etc.
  • Other runners did not have the same objective as I did. Mine was to finish with a good time. Others chose to walk by themselves, or to walk with a group in a line covering the width of the street, or to stop for no reason other than the ‘absolutely necessary photo opportunity at mile .6. There were many people like myself who were weaving our way through this traffic. Kayla almost took out a guy who was sprinting on the edge as she was trying to avoid a slow runner. It was good entertainment for me; though he didn’t appreciate the small laughter I let out about it.
  • Not a chip timed race. Not that I need to be super official, but if I am going to spend $35 for a race sponsored by a large company like Lifetime Fitness, shouldn’t there be a at least a disposable chip available? Luckily, I brought my watch for a more ‘official’ time.
  • T-shirt design. Very unimpressive. It’s a beige/tan shirt, small logo on the front, with the saying ‘light up downtown’. I guess it’s better than a standard white t-shirt with generic logo. It felt like something was missing.

Will I do this race again? Absolutely. The course was easy, the company was great, and the free beer afterward always helps. (MGD 64 isn’t… horrible; worth the price we paid). What would I do differently? Plan more than ta day before on running a race; get there earlier so I can put the tshirt(s) in the car and not run with them in my hands; go to the front of the line to avoid human traffic; run faster πŸ™‚

Now I need to find another race, 5K or 10K preferred. If you know of one, contact me asap!

Have a great Friday!

~Jason Douglas

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Video Blog: Good Idea?

A couple weeks ago, right after the 4th of July weekend, I chose to start a You Tube channel. Of course, my name Jason Douglas, was taken. It is located at youtube.com/jasonmichaeldouglas. The reason I started a channel: I had a very cool video from my iPhone of the grand finale at the Excelsior Fireworks show, finally giving me a reason to start a channel.

Since then, I have posted nothing on my channel.

I have been thinking through what to do with the channel. The only idea I have come up with: video blog, or vlog. Pretty good idea in my humble opinion. I have also decided that You Tube is the right arena to do this versus a site like 12seconds.tv; I highly doubt I can contain my thoughts in 12 second rants.

I have done the written, traditional blog throughout the year. It has been a great experience. What do you suggest I do to prepare myself in creating and maintaining a continuing video blog? Who are some good video bloggers in the online world that I can take some knowledge from and apply that to my vlog? Are there best practices to follow when vlogging?

I will be calling on you to inspire me as to what I talk about on these vlogs; this starts immediately. What should my first vlog topic be?

I appreciate any and all suggestions.

~Jason Douglas

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Jason Douglas’s Firecracker Run 10K Recap

As I write the recap of my first 10K race, I am still sore and just feeling blah. That might give you a heads up as to how the tone of this post will be.

As usual, I slept poorly the night before the race. Sleeping poorly is not a new concept, with or without a race the next day. After logging a possible 5 hours of ‘quality’ sleep, I woke up later than I had wanted to, as the race was about 20 minutes from home, and parking was supposed to be at a premium. I rushed out of the house without showering, as time was of the essence, and I would be showering a couple hours later. Great logic, right?

Thanks to my iPhone and the Google Maps application, I found the location with no stress. Parking was a bit more difficult, but did find a fairly decent spot. Arriving at 8:10 with the race to begin at 8:30, I casually walked toward the mass of people and towards shirt and chip pickup. This is where things start to fall apart.

I was pre-registered, thinking that would save time at the race and money. There was a line at least 30 deep waiting in the ‘pre-registered’ line, a line which was not moving as quickly as it should have. My friend Kenny waited in line with me for the 13-14 minutes I was in it. Finally, I get my chip and shirt, and realize I have nowhere to put it, no one to give it to. Lucky, Kenny and I found a vendor to hide our stuff.

We run to the starting line, and I try to stretch among the hundreds of runners. That failed miserably. I was hoping the 80% humidity would loosen my muscles up, but that took a toll on me later in the race. There was no real starting line, which was confusing, as I started to wonder why I was wearing a timing chip on my shoe.

Out of nowhere, people start running, and the masses followed. I guess the race had begun. My goal for the race was around 56 minutes, or sub 9 minute miles. I was running alone, as Kenny is fast, and our other friend, Nik, was nowhere to be seen after we left the starting area. Things were going well, until we got to mile one, where there was a timer announcing: eight minutes, twenty seconds. F-word, I’m not pacing myself at all!

At: mile 2, I took my first water break (they were more than abundant in this race, at least one per mile), which I decided would be a good time to just walk, as water stops are so packed, they make you stop. I get going after a minute of walking and watering myself, and we reach the halfway point. I ask a runner next to me for the time (as I was one of three people not to wear a watch); she says: 28 minutes. Beautiful, right? I’m on pace for my 56 minute goal. Problem: I felt that I was going much faster than that, which ended up being an aberration on my part.

This course was very hilly. It reminded me of the second half of the Minneapolis Half Marathon I ran in a month prior, the part that killed my legs and made me useless after mile 8. My legs were already sore after 3.1 miles, and I had that same distance to go.

The second half of the race can be summed up briefly: uncomfortable, humid, heavy air, never got in a rhythm. My time, unofficial, around an hour. 4 minutes off my goal pace, which was disappointing, but made sense at the same time.

Takeaways from this race: I have no clue how to pace myself, and need to learn how to do so immediately. Also, I was not mentally ready for this race. My poor sleeping habits, my stupid brain thinking of 1,000,000 things at once, no matter the time of day, situation, etc. and not focusing on the task at hand, not stretching, not getting there early to relax and prepare; those are all factors to my poor race.

I find it interesting that I am more sore after this race than I was after my half-marathon. Does that make sense at all? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so either.

This race was good, as I now have an experience in a 10K. I plan on running another on July 24th with my friend Bob. I need to follow up with him about that, thanks for reminding me!

After the race, I did something I rarely do: took a nap. This wasn’t any ordinary nap, this was a 4 hour power nap. This might have something to do with the above factors I mentioned.

Overall, it was a good, educational experience. I learned a lot about what I need to do. Now, it’s all about execution.

I hope you had a good 4th of July weekend.

~Jason Douglas

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Categories: life, running, sports

2009 Mid-Year Self Evaluation

July 3, 2009 1 comment

Happy 4th of July weekend! Most people I know are either at a cabin, out on a lake, or even working. I am fortunate to have the day off, and am relaxing the day before my 10K race tomorrow.

Because I have this free time, and it is just about the mid-way point of 2009, it’s an appropriate time to look back at the previous six months, go back to my New Years Resolutions, and see how I have done thusfar. This should be interesting:

  1. Move Out: Well, I am still at home ‘in the nest’, so this one has not happened as planned. I do still have six months to act on this, but I am past my original goal of being out by April 1. I’ve had people tell me ‘stay at home as long as you can, save money, etc’; I’ve also have had people tell me ‘dude, get out already’. It’s about a 50/50 split, which doesn’t help me at all. I am half-heartedly looking for a 1-bedroom or studio, but they’re not cheap. Any roommate possibilities I had have dried up; one is in Iraq until February, one just started seriously dating a girl near his home in St. Cloud. I could find a random to live with, though I wanted to avoid that option. Grade: F.
  2. Improve Overall Health: Though the title is vague, I have been pretty successful with that. In the 6 months, I have lost 28 pounds, raced in three 5K’s, raced in a half-marathon, and have a 10K tomorrow. I am fitting into clothes that haven’t fit me in over 5 years (and some of them are still trendy). What I need to do is start weight training and work on sculpting the body. Though I am not weak, I feel significantly weaker than I was last year at this time. Only unning and push-ups will not cut it. I plan on joining a gym within the next month. Grade: A-.
  3. Smile More In Pictures: This was a weird goal to have. It had been pointed out to me that I was very serious looking in all of my pictures. Pictures were not seeing how I was really feeling. I really thought I was looking model-esque in my pictures. That wasn’t the case. I smile because it feels good, and it’s very indicative of my mood. Life is very good right now, and hopefully getting better pending a couple things coming up. Why not show that off to everyone? Grade: A-.
  4. Create a Personal Blog: Until the last couple weeks, I had been lazy updating the blog for a good month and a half. I am just getting back into it, and it feels good. It’s not too hard to put away a half hour of your time 3 times a week to write about what’s on your mind, either personal or professional. I’m back for good, I hope. Grade: B-.
  5. Eat Out Less: I did not put this on the list because I was always eating unhealthy. This was purely about money management. I have had a couple good months of staying in during lunch at work, but eating tuna or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches gets old, and I am not creative when it comes to preparing a fun lunch. Maybe it’s more laziness, because I have the ability to cook well. The month of June was very bad for this goal, as the amount I spent on eating out was a lot. I’m not talking about the occasional dinner, a date, etc. It’s nice to reward yourself with something nice. Since I have been able to drink again, I have gone out to more happy hours, dinners, and weekends can be full of uptown and downtown outings. Grade: C-
  6. Improve Money Management: This goes with number five above. Best way to sum this up: all my bills are paid on time; I have a rock solid schedule for that, as I am finally able to pay for everything online (thanks Chase for catching up with the times). I had a choice to make: start saving money, or put more money to bills to get then paid off quicker. I chose option number two, as that has the most significant long term effect on my life. The downside: if something were to happen now, it would not be as easy to deal with as it could be, had I started that ‘rainy day fund’. I feel good about it, as my laptop, one credit card, and car will all be off my books within the next eleven months. Eating out less would help me with that ‘rainy day fund’, which I will start next pay period. Grade: B.
  7. Ask Questions: This is something I am still working on in both my professional and personal life. It’s been tough for me, since I have had instances where I do ask a question, and I get the reaction of: ‘are you serious you don’t know that?’ or my question, as innocent as the intent was behind it, causes someone to become very emotional while they’re at work. Some questions are better asked in person and not on facebook chat.Β  When I do get that type of reaction, it puts me in that shell where I don’t ask questions for fear of feeling like a complete idiot. I have to get over that. Grade: C.
  8. Become More Giving: This has been an interesting one, as it wasn’t a huge priotity for me, for I feel I am a pretty nice person, and do small things to help people out. As the economy has further declined, people have been coming to me for advice on their job search, interview tips, and networking opportunities. I try to give my time to those people as much as possible. I like helping people, and this seems to be a good fit for me. I am also a sucker for any group that is at a bar, trying to raising money for the Breast Cancer 3-day event. I am wearing a bracelet that says ‘High Heels For Hope’ which is from one of the groups I donated to. Of course, there is the feeling that ‘I can do more’. What will that be? Grade: B+
  9. Quit Drinking: Very successful initiative. I was sober from December 27 to May 31. I made it my goal to not drink until I completed a half-marathon; that was achieved. May 31, around 11:30am, I was finally able to enjoy a delicious Newcastle after my five-month hiatus. May 31 will be a day I remember for a long time: first half-marathon, got back on the wagon, and for another reason that happened later that day, which I hope works out πŸ™‚ Grade: A++ (if that’s possible)

Overall GPA for the first half of 2009: 2.67, or a B-. Had I not put moving out as a goal, the GPA increases to 3.0, or a B. When it comes to self-evaluation, I am very tough on myself. The way I feel about life right now, it would seem that my grade should be higher. This is why I self evaluate, as what I feel is going and what is actually going can be two different things. I will always have room to improve, and am ready to start that process immediately.

~Jason Douglas

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Categories: life