Fargo Mini Marathon 2014


IMG_4559

I have to admit that I was extremely excited for this race. 2013 was easily my best year I’ve ever had for training, but it only led to two PRs in my last two races of the year (3:24 in the marathon and 1:29 in the half). My goal in 2014 was to build on my great 2013. Coming into the year, I thought I’d be optimistic and set goals of 3:10 for the marathon (which I broke in May! and 1:27 in the half marathon. In 2013, I ran 6 half marathons. This year, one of my favorite races got cancelled (Fishhook Half Marathon) and I opted for the full marathon instead of the half at the Fargo Marathon. Scheduling conflicts also led me to swap out a fairly fast race for a trail half marathon. All of those reasons (excuses?) combined with a late Minnesota spring led to me just not having a lot of opportunities to go out and truly run at what I believed was my fitness level. Coming into this race, I truly thought running 1:27 give or take a little bit would be a great goal. Five weeks ago, I ran 1 1:29:13 half marathon and said I thought this course was 2:30 to 3:00 faster. The weather line up to be just about perfect (35-40 degrees with just a touch of wind).

Mile 1 – 6:23 – Unlike the Fargo marathon, I had no real plan on what pace to go out for the first mile in. In my last race, I felt like I was crawling in the first mile and I went out in 6:43. I was thinking I might be somewhere in the 6:30-6:40 range here as well. I used to have a horrendous habit of going out way above my fitness level (more like the fitness level I aspired to be at) and paid for it later in the race. To help combat that, I loaded my Spotify playlist with mellow songs. I listened to “Are You What You Want to Be” by Foster the People and “Stay Close” – a song that reminds me of my 4-year old daughter Quinn ever since I used it in a year-end video when she was 2. Last year, I finished 20th running 1:29:24, so I figured I’d start out in similar position. But from the gun, I found myself in about 10th place. 400 meters into the race, I could already tell the guy that was going to run away with the race. Following him as a group of 4 guys. Right behind them was myself in a group of about 6 including two women. The pace felt perfect and it was great thinking I’d have a pack to run with. I have to admit that I saw the mile split and thought “oh crap… did I go out too fast?” I decided to trust my fitness and the feedback my body was giving me.

Mile 2 – 6:16 – As this mile progressed, our pack of 6 started to dwindled. One by one, people were falling off. By the middle of this mile, there were three of us in the group. A girl, a guy with a rocking mullet, and myself. I still felt very comfortable. About half way through this mile, another runner caught up with our group from behind. I recognized him as he coached my friend (and Perham XC coach) Jeff Morris in college in North Carolina (he’s now at Valley City State). From the moment he caught our group, the pace started to pick up just the slightest bit. I knew that if I were to go run a 6:05, it could be suicidal, so I sadly maintained my pace and let them go. I have to admit I was shocked when I saw 6:16 for my split. I was equally parts excited (because it felt relatively comfortably) and nervous (because it seemed “too fast”). As a side note, I got lost as to which state I was in during this race. We crossed from North Dakota into Minnesota. Following along the Red River, North Dakota winds up being to the east and Minnesota to the west. Having grown up in a United States where it’s pretty universally accepted that ND is west of MN, this threw me for quite a loop for about a half mile. I was trying to figure out if we crossed the river back into ND and I just hadn’t noticed it.


ndmn

Mile 3 – 6:20 – Again was feeling really good, but it was strange to be by myself. The group ahead of me put about 50 meters on me. Taking a peek back and I couldn’t see anyone. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a decent sized race like this and been completely by myself. I’m glad I took a look at the course map before the race because by the time I’d hit mile 4, I’d be running by myself to the point where I couldn’t even see the runners ahead of me making turns. I got to see my mom and daughter Quinn on this mile. I’ve always enjoyed seeing people I know during races, but I don’t think if anything can top the feeling of seeing how excited a 4-year old gets to see her daddy and give him a high five.

Mile 4 – 6:38 – I’m not sure why this mile was slow. I was hitting a slight headwind, but it wasn’t a gale force wind or anything. I felt okay and didn’t feel like I was slowing down. I was hoping this wasn’t like some races I’d had in the past where I went out a touch to quick and eventually slowed and started to hurt to the point where the last few miles were pitiful. Even though this mile was slow, I had a lot of confidence in my training and knew I had a boatload of strength from the miles and miles of training I put in. I put my head down convinced I wanted to see how close to 6:30 I could keep the rest of these miles.

Mile 5 – 6:39 – I was feeling a little down by the this mile split as well. Then I got to thinking (doing math is one of my favorite mid-race past-times). My last race was a 1:29 that averaged 6:48 per mile. The last two miles were 10 seconds per mile quicker than my pace in my last half. If I could hold on an run the rest of the race at 6:40 pace (which seemed reasonable at the time), I’d have a PR by nearly 3 minutes in the 1:26 range. Even if I could only manage 6:50 pace the rest of the race, I’d still PR by almost a minute and a half! The thought of a big PR continues to push me to keep grinding.

Mile 6 – 6:31 – A majority of this race is on a bike path that I first started running on during my last year of college. It’s one of my favorite running spots to this day. Near the end of this mile, we crossed from Fargo back into Moorhead. I saw my mom and daughter once again on this mile which was a bit of a boost. This mile actually had a lot of spectators as it crossed between two popular F/M parks (Lindenwood/Gooseberry). Since I was essentially all by myself (nobody within 2 blocks in front and behind me), I got a lot of attention from fans which was cool. When I saw the mile split, I got a big burst of confidence that I wasn’t falling off.

Mile 7 – 6:36 – I was getting a little nervous during this mile because I just didn’t know where I was going. The course was clearly marked, but it was off the bike path and onto the streets. Oh well… I never got lost. With every mile, I’m gaining confidence because I’m running fast and I’m really not feeling any fatigue. In the past, I’ll hit this part of the race and just know that the slowdown is coming eventually. I’m not feeling any of those feelings now which is fantastic.

Mile 8 – 6:30 – A confusing mile. You take a right, go about a block and do a 180 degree turn. Run a half mile, take a right, go about a half block and do another 180 degree turn. From this point on, almost the entire race was head to head traffic which was kind of fun. At the very least, it gave me something to look at it. I got a chance to see where I was in the race. As I expected, I was in 8th place. I was surprised to see the guy in 9th place behind me had closed the gap considerably on me.

Mile 9 – 6:36 – Spent most of this mile people-watching. I was trying to figure out what pace these people were going. I figured out they were right around the gigantic pack of masses that run around 2:00 for a half marathon. I spent this mile in somewhat of a reflection of how far I’ve come as a runner. When I first started getting into running, I ran 2:02 and a shade over 2:00 for my first half marathon. During my two year (2010-11) stint where I almost never ran, I ran a 2:01 half marathon. That literally was the best I had to offer at the time. Now, thanks to a commitment to being consistent every single week and training really, REALLY hard, I was miles ahead of people – likely some of whom have beat me in a race before!

Mile 10 – 6:30 – In 2008, I ran a 10 mile race. Similar to this year, I was in really good shape, but I just hadn’t had very many good weather running days to show it. In September of that year, I entered a little 10-mile race and ran a touch over 1:07 (6:42/mi pace) and was completely blown away. I had just been hoping to break 1:10. I’d always wanted to break that record because it was one of my better ones, but there just aren’t that many 10 mile races around. So, when I went through the 10 mile barrier in 1:04:52, it brought a smile to my face. Still feeling strong and I’m amazed at how little of the race is left! Saw

Mile 11 – 6:32 – Before the race, I had a strange thought cross my head. It took me almost 10 years to break 20 minutes in a 5k. Mostly because I didn’t like running anaerobically and didn’t enter 5ks very often (I’ve run way faster than 20 on my treadmill all the time… I think my best is 17:45 or somewhere around there). I’ve only ran 3 non-winter 5ks since 2010. Anyway, I just thought “how cool would it be to run a sub-20 last 5k of the race). I’d been running around 6:30 for the past few miles. If I ran the next two miles in 6:30, I’d only have to run like a 6:20 last mile to do it! Saw Quinn and my mom again this mile which, as usual, was huge emotionally. I got passed by a runner, but wasn’t feeling awful because it had more to do with him running strong than it was me falling off.

Mile 12 – 6:34 – Maybe the one disappointment in the race. As we got to two miles remaining in the race, we hit the 10k turnaround, so I started running into huge packs of runners that were running considerably slower than I was. It was frustrating. This part of the race was the bike path that was 8-10 feet wide. Not a big deal for people running the same pace, but I was running 2-3 minutes per mile faster than almost everyone I was passing. I had tried to pace off of the guy that had passed me, but it was difficult when I’d have to slow down even a little bit to try to pass a group of two or three runners. It wasn’t terrible, but it would be my sole complaint about the race this year. Given I had to pass so many 10k runners on the “going out” or “coming back” part of the race, I figured out after the race that I went by 275 runners in the last two miles of this race.

Mile 13 – 6:27 – I really wanted to push this mile. In my head, I thought if I could run a 6:15, I could break 1:25. Again, I just couldn’t get around all of the 10k runners. Some of them were walking up hills. I burned a lot of mentally energy just trying to figure out which direction I needed to go to dodge runners. I really wish I could’ve just focused on grinding the last few miles. That being said, I was pretty proud with how hard I’d pushed myself this race.

Last 0.1+ – 0:56 – By this point, I knew that sub-1:25 was out of the cards as I was about 15-20 seconds off from my mile split to the marked course mile splits. This last 0.1 turned out to be 0.15 according to the GPS. It wasn’t the dead sprint to the finish line that I hoped it would be, but mentally I’d given up at this point. Too much dodging and weaving. I’m just find comfortably cruising in knowing that I’ve just absolutely crushed my PR.

Finish Time – 1:25:25 – A new PR of 3 minutes and 48 seconds! Words probably don’t do justice to how excited I am about this. I’ve probably run over 100 races in my lifetime. Of those 100 races, 97 of them I went in thinking I could run (x) time. And my result was almost always (x) plus a few seconds/minutes. Even in races where I set a new PR, I came in knowing I was definitely in PR shape and probably was expecting better. I can only think of three times in my entire running life that I’ve gone out and totally smashed was I thought I was capable of doing. The first was the 10 mile race in 2008. The second was the marathon this past May. And this was the third. I could’ve run 1:27 flat and been 100% ecstatic with what I’d done. But to run nearly four minutes faster than I’d ever run this distance before was both shocking and exhilarating. I wound up taking 9th place overall and I was third in my age group.

This likely will be my last race of what has been a great 2014 (running and otherwise). According to my Garmin, I set en-route PRs at both the 8k, 10k, 15k and 10 mile during this race. If this is the last race of the year, I will have set a PR in the 5k, 8k, 10k, 15k, 10 mile, half marathon, and marathon this year. Before my last two races of last year, I’d gone 5 years without setting a single PR!

It gives me confidence that shooting for a BQ and possibly sub-3 hr marathon next year is a realistic goal. I’m not planning on training anymore in 2015 than I did in 2014. In fact, given my new circumstances in life – having a 3-1/2 week old daughter and now running while having 2 children vs having 1 child – I probably can’t commit to running next year the way that I did this year. Which is perfectly okay. I can commit to being consistent and trying to fit runs in when I can (hello once again 4 and 5 AM runs along with my daily lunch run). That’s all perfectly fine with me. I went to the movie “Gone Girl” with my wife last night (great first 90% of a movie with a pretty “meh” ending) and I was just talking about how happy I am with how life is unfolding. I’m very happy with my job. I’m happy with my marriage and especially with my kids. My running and my coaching is something that helps me to feel alive. I still have aspirations to achieve more and be better, but for now, I’m just soaking in the fact that I’ve worked incredibly hard and been incredibly consistent. My favorite thing about running is that no matter what, you can’t fake it. There are no shortcuts to getting better other than doing the right things – working hard, eating better, and trying to repeat that process every single day.

25 Days of Stocking Stuffers: Grappler

Over the next 25 days, I’m going to have a list of 25 stocking stuffers (five different ideas from five different BH network websites).

Grappler

Let’s call a spade a spade – you are really starting to get down to the wire with the Christmas shopping. If you anything like me, you probably have someone on your Christmas list that has “iTunes gift cards” listed prominently on your list. You could shell out $25 and they can download one album, one older movie, and five (likely) crappy singles.

A better (albeit somewhat shadier) use of your money would be to spend $20 on Grappler. Once you install the program, you visit the website grooveshark.com and type in a song you like. You go ahead and click play. And when it errors out, check your iTunes and low and behold, you’ve got now music in your library. You can check out a blog I did on a different, but similar program a few months ago.

25 Days of Stocking Stuffers – 1Password

Over the next 25 days, I’m going to have a list of 25 stocking stuffers (five different ideas from five different BH network websites).

1Password

Let’s face the facts. You’re starting to cut things a little close here. If you are anything like me, you’ve got a million different accounts and a thousand different passwords. Identity theft is becoming more common (not to mention scarier). Plus, it’s not a safe security practice to use the same user id and same password on every single website.

Enter 1Password. Using some advanced encryption, 1Password allows you to enter ALL of your passwords and private information into one secure location. This app has been a lifesaver on my iPhone. They’ve also got apps for Android and Mac/PC, as well.

Another gift that isn’t sexy (so to speak), but if you buy this for a family member, I guarantee by the time you hit Easter, they’ll come up to you and tell you how they’d never heard of a program like this but they absolutely love it.

25 Day of Stocking Stuffers – Portable Surge Protector

Over the next 25 days, I’m going to have a list of 25 stocking stuffers (five different ideas from five different BH network websites).

3 Outlet Portable Surge Protector

Another gift that, on the surface, seems completely lame. Opening up a gift and find a surge protector? Gee. Thanks. You’re the same person that used to wrap up sweaters and socks when I was a kid, right.

I bought one of these for about $10 three years ago and I’ve probably gotten $100 worth of use out of it. My favorite feature is the USB charger. When I’m going to a hotel room, I can unplug a lamp, plug it back into the surge protector, charge my USB devices (iPod, iPhone) along with anything that needs an electrical outlet. It won’t charge an iPad using the USB, but you can use the electrical charger.

25 Days of Stocking Stuffers – Monoprice Headphones

Over the next 25 days, I’m going to have a list of 25 stocking stuffers (five different ideas from five different BH network websites).

Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones

So someone you know wants Beats by Dre headphones. They sound awesome. Not $200 awesome and not awesome compared to other headphones in the same price range, but the reason to buy the headphones is the same reason you wanted Girbaud jeans when you were 12 years old. The red “B” on the side of the headphones and the red cord all have a certain status about them.

Of course, you are going to disappoint them because you are a sensible person. But, do be a nice parent/friend/family member and drop $7 on the best pair of headphones they’ll own. In fact, I’ve purchased about 6-7 pairs of these and I buy them 2-3 at a time.

25 Days of Stocking Stuffers – Day 1 – Rechargeable Batteries

Over the next 25 days, I’m going to have a list of 25 stocking stuffers (five different ideas from five different BH network websites).

Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

If you bothered to click on this link, you probably are thinking “why would I want to give someone a lame-o gift like batteries for Christmas?” Simple answer: These batteries are awesome. And if you are like me and have anything that sucks down batteries, these things are worth their weight in gold. I’ve made one full movie and a short documentary and I’ve probably saved hundreds of dollars in batteries alone. And unlike the “rechargeable” batteries of our youth, these things don’t noticeably deteriorate after a few uses.

Limited Data Plans Are The New Pontiac Aztek

In 2001, General Motors, or more specifically Pontiac, release the Pontiac Aztek. It was historically ugly (voted the all-time ugliest car), expensive, relatively unsafe, and got 19 miles to the gallon. GM forecast they would sell up to 75,000 Azteks per year and need to produced 30,000 annually just to break even. Just 27,322 were sold in 2001[16] with more than 50% being sold to captive rental company fleets or used by General Motors executives. AKA – nobody liked this car and nobody bought this car. This wasn’t the only mistake GM made, but it was a classic example of one of many mistakes that eventually led GM to the brink of extinction.

It’s been written about millions of times before, but Ford & GM started off as innovative companies. Eventually in the 80s and 90s, they got caught by foreign car manufacturers. By the time we got to the 2000s, the gap was so sizable that the companies could do nothing about it short of get bailed out by the federal government.

What went wrong? Instead of pushing the limits and trying to make the best cars possible, execs and employees had become accustomed to doing average work and getting compensated well. Gradually over time, the reputation of the companies declined and people didn’t buy a Chevy or a Ford “just because.” People drove their Honda Civics and Accords for hundreds of thousands of miles with minimal trips to the repair shop. Eventually, the masses became loyal to car brands produced in Japan and Korea while the GM & Ford execs scratched their heads wondering where they went wrong.

The simple answer is they did not give the consumer what they wanted. Consumers grew tired of overpriced cars that just weren’t reliable and got crappy gas mileage. By not delivering what the customer wanted, Ford & GM opened a hole in the marketplace and companies like Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, and Nissan forced themselves into the market and eventually swallowed the two American car giants whole.

Today, I see the exact same thing happening with cellular and high-speed internet companies. In the early days of dial-up internet, most companies offered hourly packages. $20 for 50 hrs/month (or something of the sort). Eventually, companies realized that people demanded unlimited internet (which was necessary, given how slow the internet speeds were).

Smartphones hit the market and initially companies offered a $30 unlimited data plan. Most websites didn’t display correctly on a phone, so most data was used for checking email. Eventually, the demand for mobile data grew. People wanted more data and faster data. Cellular companies have been pushing real hard to meet one of those demands with 4G/LTE (faster data), but as of recently have been pushing very hard NOT to give more data.

Verizon and AT&T have changed their plans eliminating the “unlimited” data plan in favor of a new limited data model. They like to use the term “shared data,” the bottom line is it is limited data. T-Mobile offers nationwide unlimited data (but it gets throttled at 2 GB/month). Sprint claims unlimited data (but warns user who go above 5 GB/month). Recently, I’ve read articles about high-speed ISPs who are looking into limited data for hardwired customers as well. I understand why they are trying to do it. A lot of these companies are also telephone and cable companies that are hurting for profits.

However, I look at companies providing mediocre services the same way I look at GM & Ford during the 90s. They are failing to give customers what they want. Despite paying a hefty premium (most families, I’d gather, pay well over $100/month for cellphone service and likely over $50/month for internet), I don’t think the average user is asking too much from their data provider. They would like a moderate internet speed (the test, in my opinion, is can I stream Netflix so it doesn’t buffer) and unlimited data. Instead of focusing on meeting demands of users, they are collecting their monthly fees helping to improve the bottom line and trying to find new ways to squeeze another buck out of their users. When text message first started, they were living off the fat of the land collecting 10 cents per text. Then, everyone went to unlimited text messaging which was great because they made an extra $5/month per cell phone. Then, this little-known company called Apple released a product called “iMessage” which essentially replaced text messages for most cellphone providers and they were stuck with their pants down. I know I sound like a broken record, but by not meeting the low demands of their customers, they are opening themselves up to be swallowed up.

Look at what Google is doing in Kansas City, Missouri. If you lived in KC, can you give me any reason why you wouldn’t opt for Google’s $70 1 Gbps internet plan. Or at the very least, I can’t imagine a reason everyone in the planet wouldn’t sign up for the free 5 Mbps / 1 Mbps upload plan?

Look at Google’s business model. They are over-delivering on what people are used to. They are giving users premium internet speeds for affordable prices. Because of their premium internet speeds, they’re probably going to see slight upticks in their TV product, tablet business, cloud storage, and much more. They are attempting to attract users to their ecosystem and create brand loyalty the same way that Apple has successfully brought people over to their ecosystem over the last 10 years. The reason that Apple and Google are two of the biggest companies in the US that were both worth collectively nothing 15 years ago is because they made a commitment to creating brand loyalty by making products and services that people couldn’t live without. In Google’s 2004 IPO, they even included “We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served — as shareholders and in all other ways — by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains” in the prospectus.

If the Kansas City model works well, what would stop them from moving on to Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis next? Should they decide to come into one of these areas, aren’t local ISPs dead in the water simply because their current customers have very little loyalty?

What would stop someone from coming into the cellular market and out-delivering from what Sprint and Verizon currently are. Of course, it takes millions upon millions of dollars to enter the cellular market. But what if some foreign company follows the Toyota/Honda model, barges in, and simply does it better? If 10 years from now, a random company came in and offered fast speeds, unlimited data, and better customer service, would you stick with your current crappy Sprint or Verizon plan “just because.” Go one step further – a company that’s on the cutting edge of wireless technology could essentially replace your cellphone provider and your home internet provider in one swoop. It seems unlikely, but at one point, it was also absolutely unthinkable Kodak, GM, Ford, Yahoo, every major video chain, every travel agency, every record store, every book store not named Amazon.com, and every major newspaper in America would go under. The simple fact is, if you are not delivering to your customers, you put yourself in a position to be completely irrelevant in a matter of almost no time when a new piece of technology that makes things cheaper and faster or when an innovative company who thinks differently comes along.

Bottom line to data providers: step up to the plate and stop under-delivering.

Why aren’t you listening to podcasts?

Common interests drive our world. Whenever I meet someone new, I’m immediately asking questions in hoping in finding what common interests (if any) I share. When I look at my various friends, I can usually point to a common love of music, movies, running, or technology. Almost always, though, the common interest among my friends and new acquaintances alike is sports. I can’t count how many times my wife has asked me what me and (fill-in-the-blank person) talked about. And more than once, I’ve gotten a look of non-belief when I told her “…we pretty much talked about the NBA the whole way down and back to the Cities.” Speaking in general terms, most girls lack the ability to discuss the pick-and-roll for two hours at a time.

At this point, you may be wondering how this pertains to podcasts? As little as two to three years ago, a podcast was a term nobody was familiar with (similar to 8 years ago when you tried to explain to your family members what exactly a “blog” was). In the past few years, podcasts have gained in popularity. Yet, anytime I talk to any of my friends – most of whom are huge fans of ESPN/Grantland’s “Sports Guy” Bill Simmons – about his latest podcast, they haven’t listened. According to some statistics that I found on the internet (which means they could be entirely made up, but I will believe them regardless), 45% of people have ever downloaded a podcast. While that sounds like a big number, I’d imagine the percentage of people who regularly download podcasts is incredibly low compared to that. Coupling that with the percentage of people who own a smartphone (which is now well above 45%), I’m shocked that people aren’t listening to podcasts on a more regular basis.

The thing I love with podcasts is the freedom given to the talent. I will gladly listen to Adam Carolla pitch a 30 second ad for GoToMyPC, Tony Kornheiser trying to sell me some windows from WindowNation or Bill Simmons trying to persuade me to purchase a footlong sub in exchange for the hour or two of entertainment they routinely give me.

I have found that no matter what your interests are, there is a podcast for you. I have 27 podcasts set to automatically download. 9 of them are related to soccer (Arsecast, 606 Football Phone-In, Arsenal Fans Forum, ESPN Soccer Today, Big Head Red Head, ESPNSoccernet, Footballistically Arsenal, The Football Ramble, and The Tuesday Club). 4 are about sports (for the most part) in general (The BS Report, The Grantland Podcast, Awful Announcing, and the Tony Kornheiser Show). 5 are about film (How Did This Get Made, The Film Vault, Film School Fridays, Doug Loves Movies, and Film Riot). 2 are strictly basketball (The Basketball Jones and ESPN NBA Today). A few are about technology (TWIT, Totally Rad Show, The Social Hour). I listen to a podcast about running (House of Run), craft beers (Off Sale Beer Review), parenting (For Crying Out Loud). And, of course, I listen to every episode of the godfather of podcasting (The Adam Carolla Show).

No matter what your hobby, there is a podcast for you. Trust me – I’ve looked. You could try “Never Not Knitting.” Maybe “It’s a Doggy Dog World” is more your fancy. “Stuck in the 80s” might be interesting for those of you who long for the days before the internet. If you are interesting in learning, “Programming Throwdown,” “Learn Spanish – Survival Guide” or “Skepticality – Science and Revolutionary Ideas” are all podcasts I haven’t listened to, but would imagine would leave me a wiser man.

I listen to podcasts on my daily commute to work, during work, during lunch, and at home while doing mindless tasks (putting away laundry, mowing lawn, putting away dishes) and have found it makes any task more enjoyable. If you aren’t listening to podcasts, here are five must listen podcasts for every guy.

1 – The BS Reports – majority of shows revolve around sports, but will also have guests that include longtime friends (Jacko, Joe House) to pop culture figures (Jack Black, Chuck Klosterman) to politicians (President Obama) to athletes/GMs/reporters.
Best Episode – Adam Carolla pitches Bill Simmons on “Pedif Isle”

2 – The Adam Carolla Show – he may be crass and opinionated, but I have a hard time believing you can listen to an episode of the Aceman and not become a fan.
Best Episode – Seth MacFarlane on breaking into the business

3 – The Tony Kornheiser Show – As good as Tony Kornheiser is on PTI, he’s five times better on radio. You could absolutely hate sports and you are going to find his rants hilarious. Plus, the more you listen to the show, the more “inside” all of the jokes get. The only problem with this show is the day plus “podcast delay” meaning you don’t get to listen to Monday’s shows until Tuesday or later.
Best Episode – Tony Kornheiser makes fun of Hannah Storm

4 – The Grantland Podcast – They run different “shows” every day of the week, but I particularly enjoy the Jalen Rose show (typically Mondays), Men in Blazers (typically Wednesdays), and the new The Trenches show. Jalen Rose has a larger than life personality and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Even if you don’t like soccer (and I know you don’t), Men in Blazers is quite possibly the funniest podcast I listen to on a weekly basis. Listening to Englishmen Roger Bennett and Michael Davies on a weekly basis is simply a joy. The Trenches featuring former NFL lineman Ephraim Salaam tears down some common perceptions of the day-to-day life of an NFL player without the normal media/cliche filter (meaning, you won’t hear him say “…we tried our best but we’ll have to go back to the drawing board next week”).
Best Episode – Jalen Rose talks about when he stole Patrick Ewing’s television

5 – The Basketball Jones – Again, even if you didn’t like basketball, the personalities on the show (JE Skeets, Tas Melas, Trey Kerby, Matt Osten, and producer JD) make it must watch podcast. Watch a podcast, you say? During the NBA season, this podcast is a daily video podcast that actually streams live every morning over the internet. Very groundbreaking, but also very funny. During the offseason, they pick a random topic twice a week and explore it.
Best Episode – The Leigh Ellis Jones

I encourage you to do yourself a favor and try one of these podcasts on for size. I need someone to talk to about the latest creep of the week, Reginald the Monkey’s football picks, and this Clint Dempsey gif.

iPhone 5 – What Do We Expect

Today is the day that consumers around the world have been waiting for since the iPhone 4 was released two years ago. The iPhone 5 is expected to be announced later this morning at Apple’s unveiling event in San Francisco. The release of the phone is one of the worst-kept secrets in history, but what can we expect from the new iPhone?

The sure things

The new iPhone is going to have a new operating system (iOS6), a new dock connector, and is going to be taller, thinner and higher resolution (likely 1,136 x 640) than all of the past iPhones. It’s also just about a sure thing that you are going to be able to pick up yours on September 21st. We can be fairly sure that this device will include LTE (aka 4g), as well.

What we dont’ know

First of all, we don’t know they are going to call this thing. I was shocked at the last Apple event when they announced the newest iteration of the iPad was going to be called “the new iPad” rather than the iPad 3. In the same vein, I’d be somewhat shocked if this device wasn’t named the iPhone 5. Yet, there is some strong evidence pointing to Apple simply calling this just “the new iPhone.”

iOS6
We know iOS6 is going to mean new features not only for owners of the new iPhone, but also some past iPhones, iPads, and iPods, as well. We know there is going to be a revamped version of Maps including turn by turn directions, Facebook integration, a new app called “Passbook” for manages passes, coupons, gift cards, etc, Facetime over cellular networks, a new podcast app, the removal of the YouTube app, a new “Lost” mode, and much more.

Surprises

Of course, the big news is going to be what (if any) surprises Apple has in store. When releasing the 4S, there was very little (if any) rumblings around about Siri – a feature that turned out to be, for better or worse, one of the selling points of the phone. I can’t imagine what Apple might have up their collective sleeves, but a big feature or two might help consumers from feeling a bit somewhat burned by Apple hype machine as many did with the release of the 4S. I’m going out on a limb and predicting the rumored 7.85″ “Mini iPad” isn’t going to be announced today, but rather at a separate event in October.

I’m guessing we are going to see updates to the iPod and/or iMac line. It’s possible one could be announced now and another could be alongside the iPad mini announced in October. Anyway, I hope they announce to fix the iPod Nano which I mentioned is my least favorite Apple product ever.

There are minor surprises that we might see… increases in size, processor, and camera’s would all be welcome. At the very least, I expect to learn the new iPhone is going to include something that hasn’t really been strongly rumored.

The bad

The worst thing for many consumers about the iPhone 5 has nothing to do with Apple itself. For customers on AT&T and Verizon, unless you want to shell out $600+ for the subsidized phone, you’ll be forced to sign up for one of their Everything Sucks data plans.

Conclusion

The iPhone 5 (or new iPhone or whatever they want to call it) is going to be a cash cow for Apple. There is very little doubt that it’s certainly going to be the best selling consumer device of the year. I’m interested in seeing the response the announcements, new features (or lack thereof), new dock and much more. If you’re interested in all things iPhone, I highly suggest you follow my example and check out the Engadget liveblog during your lunch break.

My favorite iPhone Apps

A week from tomorrow, Apple is going to announce the new iPhone5. At least a handful of the (Rock voice) millions… and millions… of techble readers will be purchasing an iPhone for the first time. Whether you are new to the iPhone or have been aboard since day one, I’ve come up with a list of my favorite iPhone apps both paid and free.

Note: I’m skipping games for now as that’s enough for it’s own post… which in time, we will do

iCatcher – I love me some podcasts. It is only appropriate that I start a list of my favorite iPhone apps with my single favorite iPhone app. I currently subscribe to 28 different podcasts that I listen to throughout the week. Apple released a separate podcast app that will become standard in iOS6. It’s light years away from matching iCatcher, though. The ability to 10-30-120-second skip, set a schedule of when to check for downloads, and much more. $1.99

Waze – I’m a little sad that this program is probably going to be replaced by the default Maps program in iOS6. Waze is considered a “social” GPS app. What is a social GPS, you ask? Quite simply, they use your data and user feedback to help make the program better for everyone. The first time I used it was this past April when I was visiting Orlando, FL for my best friend’s wedding. As I was driving to our hotel, the little app told me “Police ahead 1000 feet.” Sure enough, 1/4 mile down the road, there was a police officer scanning for speeders. The new Maps may prove to be superior, but there is no risk (aka – cost) to trying out Waze. Easily one of my favorite iPhone apps of all-time! Free

Spotify – Even if you don’t have the $10/month package (btw – you should), I prefer Spotify radio to others like Rdio, Slacker or Pandora. If you do shell out the $10/month, though, you’ll find that Spotify will change the way you approach music. I can’t imagine a reason to ever listen to terrestrial radio again and my cd purchasing has been reduced to only “absolutely must buy” cd’s. And for the record, yes, I’m still the dude that prefers cd’s to iTunes. Free (subscription recommended, though)

Echofon for Twitter – I’m not a huge fan of the official Twitter client. I’ve tried out a handful of other Twitter clients, but my favorite is Echofon. It allows me to manage my 6 different Twitter accounts from one program plus I really like how it handles lists. Free

Pocket – This app has changed the game for me. I love cruising Twitter for links posted by my favorite people to follow. The problem is the workflow of going to Twitter -> clicking on link -> read article -> go back to Twitter -> rinse & repeat is very cumbersome. Pocket allows me to click on the link, add it to “pocket” and continue cruising Twitter. When I’m done, I can look at my collection of 5-15 links and read them at my own speed. The stuff I really like I save for Friday’s “dot… dot… dot…” column which is much better than what I used to do (open a document, paste the link and title, save). I can’t think of a single reason for you NOT to use Pocket and it ranks high on my list of favorite iPhone apps. Free

1Password – 1Password strangely has some bad reviews, but I love the program. If you are anything like me, you’ve got a million different passwords. Using 1Password, I have to remember one single password to get me into the program. From there, I’ve got all of my passwords for personal/work along with any important information I like to have (insurance info, phones numbers to call in case I lose my credit cards, SkyMiles info, etc.) It’s expensive and there are other free versions out there, but I prefer 1Password. $9.99

Reeder – If you go visit websites and you aren’t “fed” your news, you, my friend, are a sucker stuck in 1998. Let me put it this way. You use Facebook, right? Would you prefer to get status updates, links, etc. from the News Feed or would you rather click on each individual friend to find out what’s new with them? Exactly. Setup an RSS feed with all of the places you like to visit and you can get the news and info that YOU want and filter all the rest. $2.99

Netflix – If you don’t know what Netflix is, I obviously don’t know how to help you out. If you have a subscription, but don’t have it on your smartphone, though, you’re crazy. Subscription required

DirecTV – I love the ability to remotely record things to my DVR. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve been at lunch checking out my twitter feed. I notice that a soccer game or the 1987 NBA All-Star game or random 80s movie is on. 30 seconds later, I’ve got it recording for when I get home. Love it! Free

LogMeIn – I used to prefer TeamViewer as a remote desktop app, but since the Mac version stopped working completely (for reasons unbeknownst to me), I’ve tried out and found I much prefer LogMeIn. Free

SlingPlayer – SlingPlayer is lucky to be on this list because of the ridiculous cost. The “HD” box retails at $250 and the app is $30. I got my refurbished “non-HD” box for $79 but reluctantly had to shell out my $30. Prior to some updates, this app stunk. In fact, for a while it was on my least favorite iPhone apps list. It still isn’t perfect, but it is much improved. Works awesome when you are on the same network. Plus, the ability to stream it to AppleTV is awesome. $29.99

BigLens – Instagram gets all the attention, but I think BigLens makes for better pictures. $0.99

TripIt – Cool concept. You link TripIt with your email account and it automatically creates travel itineraries. For example, if you book an airplane ticket, hotel, and rental car to Miami, FL for October 15th, it will create a new trip. Once October 15th comes around, it will give you updated flight info (gate, departure, arrival, baggage claim), directions to rental care place, directions to your hotel and much more. Free

Running2Win – I’m a huge fan of the running2web running log. In fact, I’ve used it exclusively as my running log for the past year. I love how thorough (or simple) you can be with your runs. The app can also be used as a GPS device for tracking how far/fast you’ve run. $0.99

Arseblog – A daily must read! I love both the news portion and the incredibly entertaining daily blog.

NBA Game Time – Last year, the NBA offered free streaming on digital platforms if you also purchased the NBA ticket. This led to me watching way, way (and did I mention WAY) too many games featuring the hapless Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, and Portland Trailblazers games until midnight on my phone. Besides the live games, though, I also was able to watch the highlights from Inside the NBA every Friday during my lunch break.