The Strangest Marathon

I was moving along at an easy pace. The guy in front of me had just taken a downhill section of the trail very gingerly and nearly tip-toed across a creek crossing. I passed him on the uphill section on the other side of the creek and began to pull away. Then, out of nowhere, I hit the wall. Well, not exactly. I’m not talking about the glycogen depletion “wall” where my fuel reserves have run dry. This was something entirely different and unfamiliar to me. This small incline got my heart beating so fast I was gasping for air only to find I was physically unable to maintain my modest pace. My worst fears had come true. I stopped to walk up the hill. By the time I reached the top I was seriously contemplating dropping out of the marathon.

This was at mile four.

One week prior I was in great spirits, having wrapped up my long training runs and raced fairly well at the FOLEPI River Trail Classic. I showed up at work on Monday feeling as good as possible and left work that evening with a sore throat. My throat got worse through the night and was a full blown illness by Tuesday morning. I went to work (even though I clearly shouldn’t have) only to discover my coworkers were already sick.

By Wednesday my throat started to get better, but the snot and sinus pain got worse. By Thursday evening I was finally starting to feel like I was getting over the sickness. I still wanted to race. I trained really hard for Tecumseh and I wasn’t going to let the sniffles take that away from me.

Friday I travelled to the Nashville, IN area with fellow Buffalo Ken, Brian, and Jen. We stayed at the same paintball/cabin place as last year (though with far fewer people this time). Despite feeling back to normal that morning, by Friday night I felt terrible again. Ugh.

I awoke Saturday morning before the race feeling as fresh as a daisy. Whatever I had seemed to finally work its way out of my system. I thought. We drove to the race finish area, picked up our packets, and loaded up onto the buses to the starting line miles and miles away.

Tecumseh course map

Last year I started way faster than I wanted to, but it was kind of necessary because of the congestion on the single track trail that started 2-3 miles into the race. I vowed to start off slower this year. I ran nice and easy the first mile only to look down when my GPS beeped to read 7:20. The exact same time as last year (and faster than my first mile at the Rockford Marathon where I ran my PR in May). That was the bad news. The good news was that I felt spectacular. Even though that pace felt super easy I made a conscious effort to slow down anyway. For the trail was not nearly as congested as it had been the previous year at this point. Despite the superior weather conditions (sunny rather than snow storm) everyone else was moving slower.

I hit the second mile at 7:29. So much for slowing down. It still felt really easy. I was barely exerting any effort. Still, I decided (once again) to consciously slow down. I hit the third mile in 7:23. Oh, come on. This was too easy. That would be the best I felt all day. We entered the single track trail through the woods, ran down a hill, over a creek, and started back up the other side when my world began to fall apart. This was not going to be my day.

After the first miserable uphill I walked I tried to shake it off and continue on like nothing had happened. I got back up to a comfortable pace on the flat sections of the course, but on the next uphill I found myself gasping for air and walking once again. If after four miles I wanted to quit, then after six miles I really wanted to quit. At this point I decided to stop racing. At the current rate I couldn’t possibly have finished. Instead I slowed down (a lot) in the hope of just dragging myself to the finish line, regardless of time or place. Tecumseh was now a training run. Or so I told myself.

Rob at Tecumseh Marathon

I ran super slow the next four miles, frequently stepping aside to let people pass me on the trail. At the 10.6 mile aid station Ken passed me. Prior to the race I was voted by the others the mostly likely to finish the fastest of our group, and as such I was entrusted with the only key to Ken’s car. Here, 16 miles from the finish and still slowing down, I quickly whipped out the key from my back pocket and handed it to Ken, who kept it for the remainder of the race.

I ate a banana at this aid station and it actually started to bring me back to life. For the first time in many miles I didn’t feel like I was about to die. Ken pulled quite some distance ahead as I walked up the next few hills. Once I got to the flat and downhill sections I just ran a comfortable pace and I actually caught back up with his pack. The thought entered my mind that I might actually be able to keep up with him until the end. Of course, the next uphill section would put that thought out of my mind and I fell behind again. But what goes up must come down and before I knew it we were together again (briefly) at the 15.8 mile aid station. We were running different races, but by not keeping up with him I had just kept up with him for five miles. We ascended once more, and once more I was alone.

Prior to this point I just felt bad for much of the race, but around miles 16-17 I actually started to get tired. I wasn’t picking my feet up, and as a result I stumbled a few times. I almost went down around mile 17, though I was able (with great determination) to stay upright. But this came at the cost of both calves, both hamstrings, and my right hip cramping at the same time while I tried to catch myself. Shaken, I walked for a bit with my head hung low. After a couple minutes I heard someone yell at me from behind, “Hey, you missed the turn.”

You have to pay attention.

I got back on the trail and started running, fighting cramping muscles. There was a big hill at mile 19, a moderate hill at mile 21, then it was mostly downhill to the finish. I got another banana in me and, again, it brought me partly back to life. I was able to pick up the pace a little and before I knew it I had caught up with and passed Ken… just in time to trip and go down. I remained on the ground long enough to work out the cramp in my calf. Then I was back up and moving quickly again.

I had to concentrate really hard through a short, beautiful section of pine forest where the tree roots stuck up really far from the trail. As much as I had been dragging my feet I thought for sure I was going to hit the deck again. I didn’t.

My pace continued to increase. I wasn’t running for a faster time. I was running to get to the finish faster so I could stop running sooner. People often joke about doing exactly this, but I’m completely serious here. I took a short break to walk up the final hill with less than a mile remaining then ran all the way through the finish. Heading into the chute I caught up with a young woman who heard me cough right behind her and took off that last few meters. I congratulated her on the fast finish after the race at which point she informed me she thought my cough sounded like a woman and she really wanted to keep her top 10 finishing place. Ha!

Another 26.2

I finished in 4:20, my slowest marathon yet (by a mere two minutes). Last year, on the same course, in the snow storm, I ran 3:54. That was a really great race for me. I knew I didn’t have the fitness for the same performance again this year, but (given the better conditions) I thought for sure I would be able to equal that time. No dice.

This was a very strange race for many reasons, perhaps the strangest I’ve ever run. I felt great, then crappy, then okay, the crappy, then just fine (and so on). I ran fast, then slow, then moderate, then slow, then fast (etc). I was freezing, then comfortable, then hot, then cold, then hot, then cold. I actually ran about 8 miles wearing a single glove because my left hand was cold but my right hand was not.

The really strange thing, though, is that none of these dichotomies coincided with each other. I ran fast while feeling good. I ran fast while feeling bad. I ran slow while feeling good. I ran slow while feeling bad. I was hot while running slow. I was cold while running fast. And every other permutation of the aforementioned states.

Anyway, I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome of this race, but I did finish and I did learn some valuable lessons. Namely, you can’t run as fast when you’re sick as you can when you’re healthy, AND trying to do so will make for a fairly unpleasant experience.

The Highest Point in Tennessee

I enjoy cycling. Long time readers might recall that a long term goal of mine is to cycle to the highest point (well, highest paved road) in every U.S. state. The first one I checked off the list was Tennessee, four years ago today.

Living most of my life in flat, flat central Illinois I have a special appreciation for mountains. The first mountain I rode was Mt. Tam in California, in 2004. I rode it again in 2005, at which point I was hooked. I needed more mountains, but I had none near home. So I started looking around for places where I could take trips to ride mountains.

Having spent every summer during college working in central Appalachia I was somewhat familiar with this mountain range, plus it’s an easy day’s drive to get there. But where to go. If I was going to take a special trip I wanted some big, big mountains. The two biggest are Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet, the highest point in North Carolina, near Asheville, also the highest point east of the Mississippi river), and nearby Clingman’s Dome (6,643 feet, on the TN/NC border, the highest point in Tennessee).

Iris packed for vacation

What started out as kind of pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking quickly turned into a week-long family vacation in August 2005 (i.e. best vacation everĀ®). We packed the Insight full of camping gear, food, clothes, and two (yes, two) bikes and headed to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We camped in the park (just outside of Gatlinburg, TN) the first night and woke up bright and early, ready to tackle Clingman’s Dome: me on the bike, my wonderful wife driving the support vehicle. The ascent was 20 miles long and rose around 5,000 ft. The road wasn’t terribly steep (4-5%) since it was in the national park and it was built so RV’s could make it up.

View of Gatlinburg, TN

The first mile or two was very easy. I was cruising along at 16-17 mph thinking this will be a piece of cake. The gradient increased gradually until I was closer to 8-10 mph, where I would remain for most of the climb. I didn’t know what to expect with such a long climb (twice as long as the only other mountain I had climbed), and since I have a double chainring I switched to a mountain bike cassette with a 32-tooth cog before the ride. I could have gotten by comfortably with a 28. My regular road cassette only had a 25. This would have been usable, but much more difficult.

Clingman's dome

The first 12.5 miles on Newfound Gap Road had just a little bit of traffic, but it wasn’t bad. All the cars were going very slowly anyway, so my presence didn’t seem to cause any problems.

Newfound Gap

At Newfound Gap I stopped to get new water bottles from Melissa, then turned off onto Clingman’s Dome Road for the final 7.5 miles. There was very little traffic on this road. Aside from a short downhill this road was also a little bit steeper.

Rob at top of Clingman's Dome

What had been foggy and overcast weather all morning turned into a light drizzle at the summit of Clingman’s Dome. Fortunately, we made another trip back there a few days later for a better view from the observation tower at the top.

View from Clingman's Dome

Appalachian Trail at Clingman's Dome

I chose to descend the other side of the mountain, into North Carolina, rather than go back down the way I came up. Like the other side, this side wasn’t terribly steep, but it did have some long straight sections that relatively safely allowed for high speeds.

Rob on Clingman's Dome descent

This was only the third time I had ridden a mountain, so my descending skills were a little lacking. Nonetheless I was able to get up to 48 mph or so on the descent.

Clingman's Dome descent

At the bottom Melissa picked me up and we drove off to the next campground where we would continue our great adventure. I really enjoyed the ride up to and back down from Clingman’s Dome. It was challenging, but not ridiculous (like Mauna Kea). It was a good warmup for Mt. Mitchell a few days later.

Clingmans Dome map

Clingmans Dome  profile

I had some GPS wonkiness that caused the square looking sections

Ride Information
Date: 2005-08-08 7:39 AM EDT
Mountain: Clingman’s Dome
Road Elevation: 6318 feet
Climb Distance: 20.0 miles
Climb Ascent: 4837 feet
Climb Average Grade: 4.8%
Climb Maximum Grade: ?
Ride Distance: 50.6 miles
Ride Total Ascent: 5895 feet
Ride Maximum Speed: 48 miles/hour
Ride Start: Elkmont Campground, GSMNP, TN (2285 feet)
Ride End: Oconaluftee Vistior Center, GSMNP, NC (2046 feet)

A I mentioned, we came back to Clingman’s dome a few days later and parked at Newfound Gap. From there Melissa & I rode together the last 7.5 miles to the top. Despite her fear, I think she really enjoyed the ride. Conquering that mountain was certainly difficult for her. She often mentions that experience in the same breath as other difficult moments in her life (i.e. marathon #1, marathon #2, marathon #3, etc.) that have helped her learn to persevere.

The P6000

Last November I was very happy with my Canon 50D purchase. Melissa was a little stunned and confused when I started toying around with the idea of getting another new camera. I was taking more and more photos I wanted a little point and shoot camera I could take with me everywhere. I shopped around a lot and eventually settled on the Nikon P6000.

Has it lived up to my expectations?

Yes.

And no.

Nikon P6000

Let’s start with the pros. The P6000 is smaller and more portable than my than my DSLR, so I was able to take it with me more often than the 50D. The quality of photos is excellent. It’s not DSLR quality, but it’s better than any other point and shoot camera I’ve used.

Like DSLRs, it can shoot in RAW format, which I have used with this camera exclusively. This allows for better control when making adjustments (things like exposure, brightness, etc) on the computer after the fact.

It has built-in GPS. This was a big feature for me. It automatically embeds latitude/longitude when a photo is captured so I can later find the exact location where the photo was taken. This is the first mainstream consumer camera to have this feature, though it won’t be the last. This is such a wonderful feature it will only take a few years until cameras have it.

It has a built-in time lapse mode. Again, this is another feature so fantastic all cameras will come with it in the future. In fact, how is this not standard already?

Nikon P6000

Now on to the cons. It’s big. Well, it’s all relative I suppose. The primary reason I got this camera was I thought it would be small and I could take it with me everywhere. It’s somewhat small, but not small enough to take everywhere. It easily fits in a jacket pocket, but not as well in pants/shorts pocket. It also has enough weight to it that it pulls on the pocket noticeably. For most people this wouldn’t be a problem, but I was riding my bike with it every day and it just wasn’t ideal.

Next, GPS. Wait, didn’t I list that under the pros section? Yes. For you see, this is a wonderful feature, but the GPS in this particular camera doesn’t work as well as it should. Even with a perfectly clear, unobstructed view of the sky it takes a very long time to acquire a fix on the GPS satellites — at least a minute or so. That means even in perfect conditions for GPS you can’t just take the camera out, turn it on, snap a photo, and have GPS data embedded. The only way to get the GPS data is to take the camera out and turn it on well ahead of time, wait, wait, snap a photo, leave the camera on (because you don’t want to have to wait around again next time). I got it working sometimes, but it was a hassle. Next, when conditions were not ideal (i.e. obstructed view of sky, like in a forest) the GPS didn’t work at all. I tried several times in the forest and could not get signal no matter how long I waited. Grrrrrr.

The camera has a built-in ethernet jack. It works… so why is this a con? Because it’s a completely useless feature. Practically speaking it can only be used when your computer is nearby (in which case you could just as easily plug it into the computer). If it had wireless, rather than wired, networking perhaps someone might actually use it.

Finally, the battery life is quite poor (by my standards). This is probably mostly due to the GPS. When I was using this camera every day I had to charge it every other day, even with light use (only a couple photos per day).

These things said, it’s still a good camera… but I no longer use it. I have since purchased a smaller, lighter, (waterproof even) point and shoot camera which does not have GPS or take quite as good photos as the P6000… but I truly can take it with me everywhere.

This camera just wasn’t right for me. It could be right for other people though. If you want a high quality point and shoot camera, and you’re not concerned with ultimate mobility, and you accept the fact that the GPS is a nice bonus for the camera rather than a true selling point, I would have no problem recommending this camera. Anyone want to buy mine?

Anyway, here’s a few of my favorites from this camera:

Commute

Moon over Memorial Stadium

Red arrows mark the trail

Greenhouse

The lonliest cart

Puddle

Rob & Melissa say goodbye to Iris

The Past Few Weeks

I’ve been somewhat quiet lately.

First, there was the Tour. I watched almost every minute for three weeks. There were lots of exciting moments and plenty of dull moments as well. One thing that kind of annoyed me was the extent to which the media (TV & Web) tried to create controversy around every little thing (Alberto vs. Lance, Cavendish vs. Hushovd, Hincapie vs. Garmin, etc, etc). Sure, there was probably some legitimacy to it, but everything just seemed to be blown completely out of proportion.

Next, as Melissa mentioned, I’ve apparently been nesting. We’ve done lots of work around the house in preparation for Fig’s arrival, and there’s still plenty more to do. On top of that we had baby week.

Fig's car seat

Hand rest

Finally, the I’ve been busy working on a couple of interesting (to me) software applications in my spare time. I’ll probably talk more about them in the future.

The bad news is I’ve been out with this knee problem for around six weeks or so. Earlier this month I completely stopped riding my bike (I already stopped running at the beginning of June). I still swam a little bit, but it didn’t help that my swim practices conflicted with my watching of the Tour.

The so-so news is that I started riding the bike to work again last week and picked back up with the Wednesday night rides. Last Wednesday I didn’t feel great. I kept complaining about how hard the ride was when everyone else was talking about how easy it was. I’ve got some work ahead of me. My poor ride was further complicated by a complete bonk with about 10 miles to go. 24 mph became 22, then 20, then 18, then 16, then 14, then finally 12 mph the last mile or two. It was the worst I had felt since, well, the Illinois Marathon.

The good news is I’m feeling better day by day. Since monday I’ve had no knee pain on the bike around town, and only very little knee pain on tonight’s hard 50 mile ride. I felt much better on this ride than I did last week, but my fitness is still very poor (by my standards). My heart rate was absolutely through the roof for most of the ride. My average heart rate was 154 and my max was 189, which is fairly ridiculous. Typical numbers from two months ago would be closer to 135 average and 178 max.

Sangamon River route

Tonight’s ride combined several commonly used routes along the Sangamon river into one, making for just about as much rolling hills as one can get around here.

The Scooter

Yes, I bought a scooter. No, I am not 12 years old. Let me explain.

As I mentioned, I’ve been having some knee problems lately. Weight-bearing isn’t a problem, but bending the knee is. Even riding my bike two short miles to work has been bothering it. The knee kept not getting better and not getting better. It was time to take drastic steps.

I drove to work on Monday. I loathe driving to work. I had to deal with traffic & parking, all while cramped up in a tin can, spewing toxic chemicals into the air. It took the same amount of time as riding my bike. Surely there’s another way.

Walking would take around 40 minutes each way, and it doesn’t really solve the bending-my-knee dilemma. I checked into taking the bus, but there’s not a good way to get there. I would have to go miles out of the way, change buses multiple times, and it would take the better part of an hour.

How could I travel a moderate distance under my own power with minimal bending of my problematic knee? The answer came to me while perusing the Wikipedia page for human powered vehicle: the kick scooter.

Scooty Puff Jr.

The Scooty Puff Jr. (cf. Futurama)

Kick scooters were a fad when I was a kid. This newer type has been popular with kids the past few years, though the kiddy models don’t support the weight of a full grown human male. Fortunately, Razor also makes an adult model with a higher load capacity and larger wheels for a smoother ride. I was so desperate for a solution I bought one.

Rob takes the scooter out for a test ride

It arrived on Monday and it took it for a quick test ride around the block, much to Melissa’s amusement. At first it was remarkably unstable. The platform is almost exactly the size of my right shoe and balancing is a little tricky. It definitely took some getting used to. I found it to be more stable the lower I adjusted the handle bars.

The “tires” on the 7″ wheels do not inflate, they’re a solid rubbery-platic material. The ride is not smooth, it’s much more jarring than riding a bike. I’ve learned to seek out smoother sections of pavement and to prefer concrete over asphalt.

Urbana welcomes you

I rode the scooter to and from work and the swimming pool three days this week, putting about 11 miles on it. I assume most of these cheap little scooters don’t see that much mileage over their entire lifetime. I wonder how long it will hold up. It takes 20 minutes each way, so it’s half the speed of leisurely cycling and twice the speed of walking.

While riding the scooter is somewhat enjoyable, I do get some strange looks. It’s not everyday you see a 30 year old man riding a tiny scooter wearing a backpack and helmet. I do not intend this to be a permanent solution. I just need to take a couple weeks to hopefully let my knee heal completely before starting to ride my bike again.

The Worst Ad Campaign. Ever.

The worst ad campaign I've ever seen

Surely I can’t be the only one who’s horribly offended by this ad campaign for Sherwin Williams paint. “Cover the Earth”. With paint. Really?

When I first saw this a few years ago I thought to myself, “Somebody’s going to get fired for that…”. I assumed it would be quickly retracted and a public apolgy would be issued. Nope, they’re still pushing on with it.

The Memorial Day Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend flew by. We got a lot accomplished, but not as much as we had hoped. I can’t help but feel partly responsible.

I had Friday and Monday off work, which is pretty rare. I celebrated by sitting around in my underwear until noon or so on Friday. I followed that up with my first post-marathon run, five miles easy. It went well. I had some tight muscles with a few aches, but no major injuries. I spent most of the afternoon mowing the lawn and doing other miscellaneous yard work. In the evening we went to Target to look at baby items.

Kickapoo mountain bike trails

Kickapoo mountain bike trails

Saturday morning I mountain biked at Kickapoo with Gene and Greg. I haven’t been there in a few months, so I wasn’t quite at the top of my game. The trails were a little muddy, but not nearly as bad as they could have been. Gene and Greg took me onto the “new” section of trail, which was absolutely ridiculous. Most of the trail is challenging, but this new part was downright sadistic. The single track trail was very narrow (18″?), cut into the side of a very steep hill, slanted downward, with tight and steep switchbacks. I made it through okay. Actually, it was dangerous. There, I said it. The rest of the trail pales in comparison.

Fields

Many unplowed fields across Illinois and Indiana had bright yellow flowering plants (which I assume are weeds) this weekend.

Saturday afternoon we drove to Indianapolis. First we visited Babies-R-Us to look at cribs and other various items. Next we went to Aimee & Brett’s house to pick up a few baby items they wanted to give us. Then it was on to Aunt Jeanne’s house to meet up with the family. Finally, we went to Zionsville to my uncle Dennis and (new) aunt Sally’s wedding reception (the main event of the trip). The reception went well, and it was great to catch up with the cousins, aunts, & uncles. Sally is a wonderful woman and she and Dennis seem very happy together.

Dennis & Sally

newly married Dennis and Sally

Sunday morning I got a little cleaning done in the office, but not as much as I (or Melissa) hoped. It’s never as much as I hope. I also worked for a little while setting up one of my old computers for my grandparents in Bismarck. After lunch we went swimming (our first family swim). Then we went shopping for new stoves. We’ve been on the brink of getting a new stove since Christmas. I think it’s finally going to happen this week.

Memorial

Danville National Cemetery at the VA on Memorial Day

Monday morning I drove over to Danville for the Memorial Day 5K race at the VA. It rained during the race, which kept the temperature somewhat cool, but also made the roads a little slick. Right from the start a large pack of high schoolers shot out to the front. I tagged onto the back of the pack, maybe 12-15th position for the first half mile. I was running way too fast and I knew it. What were all these jokers doing?

Entrance to the VA on Memorial Day

The 5K course followed the road around the VA, which was lined with flags for Memorial Day.

The second half mile I slowed down, but all the kids around me slowed down even more. I moved my way up through the pack. I reached the first mile in 5:36. I ran mile two in 5:50, by which time I had moved into 4th place. My heart rate was through the roof and it was starting to wear on me. The last guy I passed tagged along behind me and stayed with me for the third mile. He passed me back with around a quarter mile left. My last mile was 5:55 and I finished in 5th place (out of a record 398 participants), 1st in my 30-39 age group. I was worried I might still be feeling the effects of the marathon eight days prior, but my legs felt perfectly fine. It was a tough race, mostly because I started too fast (didn’t I just learn not to do that?). Well, racing a 5K is a world apart from racing a marathon. Incidentally, my heart rate hit 194 in the last tenth of a mile, which I believe is the highest I’ve ever recorded (my theoretical max heart rate is 195).

After the race I went to visit my grandparents. They’ve been having some health problems recently and I hadn’t seen them in a few months. They seemed to be doing fairly well, all things considered. My dad and I worked to get their computer problems straightened out. Then we had a pizza lunch before hitting the road. I drove my dad back to Danville in the new car, which he seemed to enjoy.

Finally we spent this evening at a cookout with Cara & John at our house. John got a nifty remote controlled speedboat for his pond. Good times.

The Wooden Nickel

I’m hard at work cleaning out my office. Yesterday’s electronics recycling was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve had a fairly productive morning.

Anyway, over in the corner of the office I found a bag full of stuff I cleaned out of my first car (a 1986 Chevette) when we got rid of it in 1997. Don’t ask me why I still have this crap. Among many cassette tapes and the vintage chewing gum I found an old Royal Donut wooden nickel.

Royal Donut wooden nickel (front)Royal Donut wooden nickel (back)

Despite the fact that they are labeled wooden nickel, apparently they were good for $0.10 off a dozen donuts at the Danville restaurant chain. I remember using these as a child, but I really don’t remember how we acquired them.

The PowerBook 5300cs

For many years I acquired (either inexpensively or freely) a lot of computer parts and other miscellaneous electronic equipment. I’ve been hanging on to these things just in case I ever needed to use them.

I never needed to use them.

A lot of this stuff was sitting around for years at our old house. Then it was put into storage when we moved to Nicaragua. Then it was moved into our new house. Close to two years later it still hasn’t been used. So it’s time we parted ways.

Today was the annual free electronics recycling event in Champaign-Urbana. Over the past few weeks I’ve been cleaning out my office so I could take this stuff to be recycled.

Box of electronics for recycling

The large box of items I took for recycling included:

  • 1 desktop computer (a Mac IIci)
  • 2 laptop computers (a PowerBook 5300cs and a PowerBook Duo 250)
  • 3 PDAs (including 1 smartphone)
  • 2 keyboards
  • 2 ISA-slot modem cards
  • numerous hard drives (all erased, one with a hammer)
  • more obsolete cables and connecters than you can imagine

You get the idea.

Of note, the box contained my first PDA (a Palm iii) and my first smartphone (a Samsung SPH-I300).

Samsung SPH-I300

The most sentimentally valuable obsolete item in the box was my old PowerBook 5300cs. This was my second computer and my first laptop. I got it in the fall of 1996 and used it regularly until the fall of 2000, when its duties were usurped by my work-issued PowerBook G3.

PowerBook 5300cs

Everyone has a laptop now, but in 1996 it was somewhat rare. I took it to most of my college classes to take notes (I can type way faster than I can write). Being the only person with a laptop in a lecture hall with hundreds of students meant that I stood out like a sore thumb, but I didn’t particularly care.

PowerBook 5300cs

One funny story about this laptop occurred in the summer of 1998. I was finishing up coursework for my Math 285 class (differential equations) while I was working for ASP in southeastern Kentucky. I must have tripped over the power cord or something, because the power connector inside the laptop broke off from the motherboard. I had course work that had to be completed (using Mathematica, on my laptop) by a certain date… and I had about two hours of battery left and no way to recharge the battery.

I used what precious little battery power I had left to connect my external modem to the internet via a long distance phone call. I shopped online for 20-30 minutes until I found a replacement part that would solve my dilemma (an expansion bay power supply). I ordered it and received it a few days later via FedEx. I completed my work and received an A in the class.

This computer and I have been through a lot together.