April 15, 2014

Relay For Life FUNRaiser Show

It's Relay season, and I'll be with my band Urban Blue performing live for a show and silent auction to support the American Cancer Society. Get your tickets now before they're gone! I hope to see you there.
Friday, April 25th, 6:30 - 9 PM
Atlanta Marriott Marquis
265 Peachtree Center Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tickets: $20, $30/couple

The silent auction includes a weekend cabin getaway, a wine basket, gift certificates to local restaurants, and more. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society.

(Can't make it, but still want to help? Make a donation here.)

Vote for Urban Blue in the TAG Battle of the Bands

And by the way... As a member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), I recently became aware of a Battle of the Bands competition and entered my band Urban Blue. The voting takes place this week until Friday April 18 at 5 PM EDT. If you would be so kind to click the link below, you can vote every day - once per email address. The top 5 bands at the end of the voting this week will perform live on May 1st to decide the winner.

Vote here for Tom Willner and Urban Blue in the TAG Battle of the Bands

March 27, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 Publix Georgia Half Marathon

Once again, I chose to run one of my favorite races, the Publix Georgia Half Marathon. It starts and ends at Centennial Olympic Park, walking distance from my office. It's primary sponsor is Publix, where I shop, and which provides great healthy food at the race. It goes through my neighborhood as well as some of my favorite places in Atlanta. The Expo rocks. What's not to love?

Also, I decided I would combine some passions and run the race as a fundraiser for Relay For Life. At first my goal was $20/mile for a total of $262, but my Facebook friends came through in spades and I sailed right on by my goal. I kept raising my goal, and kept passing it. You'll see my final tally below.

Oh, and did I mention my bib number turned out to be 13666? Pretty funny.

The Expo

The expo is held in the Georgia World Congress Center (also a walk from my office) and is packed with cool stuff. Packet pickup was simple, and the goodie bag was, in fact, good.


That goofy "I love being at the running expo" look

CBS 46 had cool exhibits where you could pretend to be a sports anchor and a meterologist.

Publix had lots of food and cooking demonstrations.
I ended up buying clothes and some equipment (the Stick and a mini foam roller).

The Race

Last year, I ran the race in 1:57:14. This year, I was hoping to beat that, and with any luck, beat 1:50. I lined up before sunrise for the 7 AM start in Corral D, much closer than H last year. (It took me four minutes to cross the starting line in 2013, but just over one minute in 2014.) The temperature was perfect for me - in the low 50s - and it was overcast. I didn't carry my phone with me this year, so I didn't capture any personal photos.

The race is a bit hilly, and a kinda nasty toward the end. Mile 9 to the end is almost all uphill. It looked something like this:

However, you get to start at Centennial Olympic Park and go through Georgia State University, over the Jackson Street bridge with the amazing skyline view, through Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, by the Carter Center, through Poncey Highlands, Virginia Highlands, Piedmont Park, Midtown, and Georgia Tech before returning to the Park. These are some of my favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta. If you are looking for a cool, scenic Atlanta race, look no further.

As far as my performance goes, while I didn't sign up for a pace group, I did try to keep up with the 1:50 pace group. I found it to be a lot harder than I'd hoped. The pacer seemed very consistent, and served as a constant reminder of how well I was doing. On numerous occasions, I felt like I was falling too far behind to catch up, only to later spot that little flag. I was in a constant mental struggle between relaxing the pace and enjoying the ride, or pushing myself to see if I could do it. When I saw the time of 1:33 at mile 11, I knew it would be tough and very close to beat 1:50, but I went for it.

Despite the hills, I ended up running on the last mile harder than my latest 5k pace a few months back. I pushed myself, slowly but surely catching up to the 1:50 pacer. As we closed in on the Park, I was almost caught up, when the pacer turned around and yelled "C'mon! Push it! You can do it!" It was just what I needed for that final push to the finish line. I ended up crossing with a chip time of 1:49:53. I was thrilled, and a bit nauseous!

My finish line progression
Here were my split times:

And finally, my official results, both for my run as well as my Relay For Life fundraising:

Yes, I hit a my new Half Marathon PR, and raised over $500 in the fight against cancer. All in all, a great experience.

March 11, 2014

Race Recap: 2014 The Intown Ten

Rounding out my "K" races, I finished my first official 10K race - The Intown Ten. Earlier I ran a 5K and a 15K, so that I could have an official PR for 5K, 10K, 15K, Half Marathon, and Marathon. I enjoy races close to home, and this was one of the best - right in my neighborhood. The race started at 9 AM, and the starting line was just a short walk from my house. Talk about a low stress race morning!

Race time in the Virginia-Highlands...

...and what is quickly becoming my standard starting line photo

The first couple of miles or so of the course was delightfully downhill, and my high level race plan usually involves taking advantage of gravity whenever I can. Now, the race is officially in the Virginia-HIGHlands, so needless to say, you're going to experience some hills. In general, since this is where I normally run, I'm used to them, but there always seems to be chatter amongst the runners about the horrible hills in every Atlanta race. You can pretty much tell where I was going downhill and where I went uphill by my split times:

Mile 1: 7:13, Mile 2: 7:28, Mile 3: 7:35, Mile 4: 8:22, Mile 5: 7:55, Mile 6: 8:31, Mile 6.2: 7:13

Overall, the weather was perfect, I enjoyed the course, and it was very well run. There were two water stops, one unmanned, one manned. I did grab a cup where they were handing them out, but never stopped running.

I originally figured I would finish in the low 50s in terms of minutes, but I kept pushing, and lo and behold I found myself sprinting toward the finish line well ahead of my estimation. A part of me was hoping I could come in the 40s and I did it by almost a minute - 49:07, for an average pace of 7:55. I finished 77th overall and 11th in my age group. I was thrilled!

My family, including my dog, cheering me on as I approach the finish.

The coolest picture I've ever gotten from a race

I love this photo, because between me and our friend Rachel who finished close behind me, is my whole family in the background. Special kudos to Atlanta Trails for their great photography and reasonable prices.

At the finish line, a nice man at a computer handed me a printout with my unofficial results right on the spot - a very nice touch. Also, the gathering in the park after the race was great, with various drinks, food, giveaways, and merchandise.

The Intown Ten shirt

I suspect this will be another race I will do each year. It's run very well by USA Track and Field Georgia, and some of my favorite stores, Highland Runners and Phidippides, are both sponsors.

February 17, 2014

Bleeding Fingers Composer Contest

Recently, I found a contest by the Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop called Hans Zimmer Wants You. Hans Zimmer is an Academy Award winning composer whose credits include 12 Years a Slave, Man of Steel, and The Dark Knight Rises. He composed a piece called Destiny's Door, and posted all of the "stems" meaning all of the individually recorded parts online. The contest is to start with what he made, and create something different and unique from it. A panel of judges will decide who wins, and that winner will be offered full time employment as a staff composer at the Bleeding Fingers Custom Music Shop.

Zimmer's arrangement was very orchestral, with some voices very hidden in the mix. I decided to feature those voices, bring out the percussion and more unusual sounds, and add some different piano and choir parts. Some of the piano parts don't even sound like pianos, but I feel all serve the piece well. Here is what I came up with:

If you enjoy it, please click "Like," comment on it, or share it. The contest is not determined by who gets the most listens, likes, and comments, but I'm sure it couldn't hurt!

February 10, 2014

The Winter Olympics and My Family History

As I watch the Winter Olympics (and prepare for Atlanta's Snowpocalypse II) I feel the desire to share a bit of family history. My great aunt (my father's aunt) was Olga Organista, a Hungarian pairs figure skater with partner Sandor Szalay. Together, they were Hungarian champions from 1928-1930; European champions in Vienna in 1930 and St. Moritz in 1931; World Championships Bronze medalists in Budapest in 1929 and Silver medalists in Berlin in 1930; and they finished fourth in both the 1932 World Championships in Montreal and the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid. She is pictured fourth from the right in this photo taken in Katowice, Poland.