Posts Tagged ‘Boston Marathon’

Every marathon starts and ends with a 1000 mile journey – Boston Marathon wrap-up

May 16th, 2010

(sorry for the delay getting this out.. I’ve been running non-stop since I got back, figuratively.. but it was important to get this out, so here it is!)

I had the great honor and privilege to run as part of an amazing team (Team EMC – Run as One) part of an Amazing Organization (EMC) to run on behalf of an excellent cause (Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center) and let me tell you, I wouldn’t change anything about what I went through in order to get there.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…  Let’s go back many months and start at the beginning, shall we?

The day was September 14th, my birthday! Oh, and it also happened to be the first day I started at EMC as a Technology Evangelist in the Enterprise sector of Chicago.     My feet were not even the slightest bit wet from dipping my toe in the water, and then I see an email come out “Apply to be a part of TEAM EMC to run in the Boston Marathon!” (I’m paraphrasing.. I cannot find the original email ;))   I thought.. What do I have to lose? I’m new here, the worst thing that can happen is, by entering into this lottery, filling out an application and an essay; I don’t get accepted – Right, no skin off my feet (that would certainly come later ;)) – So I went and applied! And less than a month after I start, October 9th, 2009 I receive notice that:

Congratulations!

You have won an invitational, non-qualifying official number for the 2010 Boston Marathon.

Wow! Can I say wow here? I’ll try it again.  Wow!!! I did it! I’m part of the team! I’m on board to be part of something bigger than myself at my newly joined organization! Where do I start?!

At this point, my schedule is wracked filled with so many different things, but I took it upon myself to begin my [unorthodox] training regime as I would need to.   While my training did include some running with my personal trainer, it also included learning to breathe appropriately while running (a challenge of mine) as well as ensuring I was mentally fit for this task before me.

I began regularly attending Power Yoga classes at my favorite Yoga Studio – Sky Yoga Studio, which would help ensure I was limber, fit, and breathing constantly.   And also took up TaeKwanDo with my son, because it’s good for us, we needed to get our kung-fu on so to speak, and the type of activity you get in there is rather complimentary as training!

All the while, letting life happen – winter happen… and then… as if no time had passed at all, the fateful week was here!

Unlike others who had the extreme luxury of a cast of characters to cheer them on while they run the course, my options were a little more limited than that (Though I did receive a wonderful sound off and a hug at the start line by my good friend stv, so that was nice! :))  But before I was ever going to get to this point.. I needed to get to Boston!

I spent a fair amount of time on the road… more than would be needed, but I was tired and didn’t leave earlier in the morning as I had planned, so this is the challenge we bring upon ourselves!   I tweeted pictures along the way, but more importantly… I regularly tweeted updates of my status, including questions and whatnot to my friends and community on twitter!   The support I received while driving was amazing!   I was given updates of what the ‘appropriate’ speed to drive in areas, what to watch out for, and general ‘be safe’ type of messages.  The marathon drive was off to a great start!   And in the blink of an eye (of a very tired person….) I had arrived in the general Massachusetts area! very late on a Friday night! (I left Thursday evening)

Unable to make the kick-off festivities on Friday at 3PM, I was ready, able and capable of making it to the event at EMC 176 to meet/greet with all of those we are running on behalf of! and let me tell you, this was a beautiful experience!

The turnout on a rainy saturday afternoon was almost overwhelming! you can see from the photos above just a small sampling of those who turned out.    The number of people coming up to us, shaking our hands and sincerely expressing their gratitude for what is they’re doing for their loved ones – It’s beyond heart warming, I’m tearing up just typing this, and it’s been over a month!

The last photo there taken in front of 176, me in front of my car was taken by one of those gracious attendees who expressed how much we are able to do for her daughter who visits the Respite Center.  Beautiful is a word which cannot even grasp the sheer feeling or atmosphere here.    And this video, sums up the extents and effort they went to for us, as we were going to for them.

So, with all that behind us.. all that is left is to get my bib and get ready!

The sense of community in boston resonates in so many ways and the support you get – which I helped contribute to when on the day before the marathon I met a lost Vancouverian who had just barely gotten their Bib before the convention center closed.   Using the power of the iPhone and Google Maps, I was able to help her get the pre-race carb-loading dinner on, and through active directions, a way to get her back to her hotel on the T! Yay power of the internets!    But, the time is finally here… the fateful morning would be before us!

That monday morning I woke up early! (3am – read that to be 2am chicago time!) and started EATING! Yea, that pre-load.. my body knew what it was doing.  And then I headed on the road to Boston to drive in, park and take the busses back to Hopkinton!    It was a BRISK COLD MORNING.  For those of you who know me.. I’m a VERY cold person even in the best of environments.. but even given the circumstances I wasn’t nearly as cold as I should have been for the situation – Yay me? :)    But after the hearty long wait in line at a time I’d never normally be up.. I was boarded onto a bus and headed to Hopkinton and Athletes village. (Did I mention tweeting along the way entirely?   All of the photos I’m using are taken from my Tweet Stream, so the internet KNEW what I was doing at all times :))

Once in the Athletes village I encounter the great challenge of “Where do I change… why didn’t I change in the first place before showing up” These are definitely the lessons learned you don’t normally hear about considering this is my first marathon!   But I did ensure I was appropriately pre-stretched in the pre-race massage area – And then like a lark I headed down to the corrals ready to race! (thanks stv for taking my iPhone and taking that pre-race shot for me! :))

And… I ran! Taking my picture by myself in front of as many mile/km markers as I possibly could!   Let me tell you a little bit about the support both on the ground and in the clouds.    I’m sure some of you have run a 5k or other types of events, where it’s often you against yourself running, keeping and making a pace – And that is quite a feat to accomplish.  But a Marathon, and I cannot speak for other marathons.. but this marathon – You cannot ‘practice’ or ‘prepare’ for.    The sheer on the ground support you receive in the form of liquid (water, gatorade) food-stuffs (people giving you oranges, grapes, twizzlers) and even moreso importantly, the morale boost you get from the cheering, the hand slapping, people calling out your name – genuinely caring and cheering for you individually.   You CANNOT (not easily) replicate that in your own practice runs.   This is an enabler making you capable of things you otherwise would feel not possible.

(I do recall a certain bout/area whereby I was HURTING like you wouldn’t believe! and then a whole row of ~50 people cheered and had their hands up, which sent me into a power-sprint, slapping the hands of every one of them along that run!   If the entire race were lined that way I’m not sure people would ever stop!)

But when you’re not on the ground and have your head in the clouds like I do, you get support which transcends the mere physical.   I had friends, colleagues who were supporting and cheering me on via Twitter, Facebook, even LinkedIn!   People who were sharing my donation/sponsorship link (I raised an additional $195 DURING the race from their efforts!).   These were good friends who would inform me what the official BAA site was reporting as my current pace time, and offering up tips and guidance as I ran.   So as I said.. both of these channels of support… they cannot be replicated – only experienced and truly to give you that kind of extended feeling of gratification as you cross the finish line.

I was fortunate to not have suffered some of the grave and life complicating challenges which others had experienced – I simply had a host of blisters (encountered in the first few miles due to getting splashed by water) and not to mention the chaffing… oh that was the worst, that shall be my bane!    But I was fine for the most part.    Shortly after the race, and I finally made it to my car to drive back home, my body temperature started having problems being regulated… and I’d encounter extreme shivers for the next 12-18hours.  But once I had that aside and settled in, albeit my body EXTREMELY sore.    I got back in the car… and headed on my way home! (After all I had work to get back to! :))

The road wasn’t too bad, I was stressed and strained moving around, but I spent a fair amount of time on cruise control thankfully!  Honestly the worst part of the journey home could be summed up into the experience of the rest stop terror on the right…. Those are not the kind of post-marathon stairs I want to spend my time climbing up/down (I did make it ;))

In the end, I made it home successfully, safely.. and in recovery for some time, but it was an amazing experience which I would do again and again if I could and have the opportunity.    The thought of would I drive again – Definitely.  I’d prefer to have someone drive with me, so I can go nearly-nonstop instead of continuous stopping and sleeping as I had, but these are the burdens I place upon myself.    For my marathon did not start and finish within 26.2 portions of one mile… No…  My marathon begins and ends with a 1000 mile journey, with a little running in the middle – And it is determination like that which will raise your mental fortitude every time – It’s not about me, nor the race; it is about the children and helping others.

I thank all of you my supporters – And gladly still take your sponsorship dollars to help those of the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center, even still!  Thank you all!

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Posted in Charity, emc, VPLEX | Comments (1)

Win a voucher for a FREE Microsoft Certification Exam!

April 6th, 2010

That’s right! I have a few vouchers available.. and at this time, I’m giving up one of these free vouchers to one of you fortunate souls!

What do you need to win? Comment on this blog post – that’s it! That doesn’t take much! Oh, preferably.. comment on how you’d go about using it – As far as I’m aware.. this voucher is good for ANY country, so I’d love to hear whatever your story is, of how this voucher will benefit you, your life and your career! or.. whatever!

So, simply comment away, and WIN! – It’s literally THAT easy – do your best to share this among the community and with others, because this won’t be the first voucher I give away and I love champions of the cause!   I’ll give out the free voucher.. lets say…the week or April 19th.   

And, not that this will help your cause (Although, it won’t hurt it ;))

I’m still looking for donations to help me in supporting children with disabilities – as I run the Boston Marathon on their behalf 2 weeks from today! So, please support me if you can

Please help sponsor me on behalf of children with Disabilities

As seen in this blog post: Putting my life on the line to improve another’s – Please RT and donate

Thanks, and good luck on the vouchers! If I’m able to meet my goal of $2500, I’ll immediately offer up one more FREE voucher for give away!   Thanks!

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Posted in Certification, Free, Microsoft | Comments (42)

Putting my life on the line to improve another’s – Please RT and donate

February 9th, 2010

This is actually one of the most difficult blog posts I’ve had to write!   I guess to make it easy, I best start off with a little story.

This last year in September I was given an opportunity to partake in something bigger than me – I applied myself and earned my place as part of a Team! What is this teams objective you might ask?   It was to partake in running the 2010 Boston Marathon in order to raise money for the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center.    As part of this initiative I signed on to raise $5000 to help children with disabilities.    Of course, don’t let me be the only one to tell you about it, here is Michael’s story.

Michael was born in 1986, sixteen weeks premature, weighing just over a pound. He was so small his father’s wedding ring could slide up his arm. His chance for survival was only ten percent, yet he lived for ten years. The first three months we spent in neonatal intensive care. It was a roller coaster ride and our family entered a new world. A world with its own language and culture. Many think that the experience of having a child with disabilities either breaks you or makes you stronger. The truth is it does a little of both. When we learned Michael had extensive brain damage and would be blind we wondered how our family would survive. The early years became a series of hopes dashed by reality.  He would not walk, he would never talk, he would not see, he would eat through a tube and he would always have seizures. The world was turned upside down. At one year Michael still weighed less than ten pounds. Life was fragile and lonely. Slowly Michael’s personality began to grow. It was Michael’s laugh, his joy and his determination that became the strength of our family. He was the joy of our lives. He thrived in our local public school and had a wealth of friends. He loved with all his heart. Things became difficult when Michael would get sick again. Throughout his ten years Michael had seven stomach surgeries. Children’s hospital became a second home.

When Michael was five I met Mary, a special education teacher. We shared a vision for creating a place that would provide emotional and physical support for families with children with disabilities. Many people think the Center was created in Michael’s memory but it was actually conceived when Michael was eight and had been healthy for over a year. Our dream became a reality when we were given a parcel of land in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Two years later, as the house was being framed, Michael went into the hospital for what we thought would be an easy surgery. This was not to be, the surgery was complicated and Michael ended up in the hospital for a month. Michael died nine months later, at home, from complications of the surgery.  During that time Mary and I had lost our ability to dream, Michael’s care was all consuming. We were blessed to have two local businessmen continue building, knowing that someday our hearts would return to the mission. We received $158,000 in Michael’s memory and the house was completed. Slowly we came back and one year later the Respite Center opened, providing respite care for four families. Eight years later over 130 families use the Respite Center and we offer seven different respite programs. Our ability to dream and our passion for helping families with disabilities returned. Many see the house as Michael’s legacy but his true legacy is the wisdom he gave us and the ability to know how to help when others can’t. Michael would have turned eighteen this year, his class graduated from high school in June. As each year passes the sweetness of Michael’s memories grow and the lessons he taught become clearer.

As the Respite Center enters its eighth year, Mary and I thank you for the support you have given to us throughout the years. Your generosity has helped many families. Michael’s story reflects many of the same things experienced by our families. We ask that you take a moment to read some of the stories from families you have touched.

With love and appreciation,

Sharon

Michael’s Mom

Now, I know a number of you supported me when I shaved my head to raise awareness and money for children with cancer.  

The shaving 

This cause is going to be even more challenging than simply shaving my head, as I’ve been training since I found out I’d be able to support this cause.  Yes, for those of you who know me – you do know me as not exactly the ‘most athletic’ soul, which is why I further emphasize how much every single dollar counts!   Think about what I’m willing to endure on my own physical body, both through training and on Race-day when I force my body through the act of running 26.2 miles – Just so some others are able to have a better life from our contributions!

Yes, here it is! Seriously.   Every single dollar counts.   If you can give only $1, I’d absolutely love that – and every other dollar you can give is even better!   Don’t wait and think “yea, someone else will give, so my donation won’t matter” – It does matter.  It matters to me, it matters to them.   If you want further incentive (and if it’ll encourage you) I’ll shave my head again on behalf of this cause (You’ll need to let me know if that’s what you’re looking for, though I prefer to do that on behalf of Cancer to show solidarity – But you let me know :))

Supporting me is as simple as clicking on this link or picture

Please help sponsor me on behalf of children with Disabilities

So, don’t wait until it’s too late.   Every day counts, every dollar counts.   I have 2 months of training to go, and I’m far from my target!   So, please help for the children!

Thank you! – Christopher Kusek

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Posted in Charity, Christopher Kusek, emc | Comments (1)

Putting my life on the line to improve another’s – Please RT and donate

February 9th, 2010

This is actually one of the most difficult blog posts I’ve had to write!   I guess to make it easy, I best start off with a little story.

This last year in September I was given an opportunity to partake in something bigger than me – I applied myself and earned my place as part of a Team! What is this teams objective you might ask?   It was to partake in running the 2010 Boston Marathon in order to raise money for the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center.    As part of this initiative I signed on to raise $5000 to help children with disabilities.    Of course, don’t let me be the only one to tell you about it, here is Michael’s story.

Michael was born in 1986, sixteen weeks premature, weighing just over a pound. He was so small his father’s wedding ring could slide up his arm. His chance for survival was only ten percent, yet he lived for ten years. The first three months we spent in neonatal intensive care. It was a roller coaster ride and our family entered a new world. A world with its own language and culture. Many think that the experience of having a child with disabilities either breaks you or makes you stronger. The truth is it does a little of both. When we learned Michael had extensive brain damage and would be blind we wondered how our family would survive. The early years became a series of hopes dashed by reality.  He would not walk, he would never talk, he would not see, he would eat through a tube and he would always have seizures. The world was turned upside down. At one year Michael still weighed less than ten pounds. Life was fragile and lonely. Slowly Michael’s personality began to grow. It was Michael’s laugh, his joy and his determination that became the strength of our family. He was the joy of our lives. He thrived in our local public school and had a wealth of friends. He loved with all his heart. Things became difficult when Michael would get sick again. Throughout his ten years Michael had seven stomach surgeries. Children’s hospital became a second home.

When Michael was five I met Mary, a special education teacher. We shared a vision for creating a place that would provide emotional and physical support for families with children with disabilities. Many people think the Center was created in Michael’s memory but it was actually conceived when Michael was eight and had been healthy for over a year. Our dream became a reality when we were given a parcel of land in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. Two years later, as the house was being framed, Michael went into the hospital for what we thought would be an easy surgery. This was not to be, the surgery was complicated and Michael ended up in the hospital for a month. Michael died nine months later, at home, from complications of the surgery.  During that time Mary and I had lost our ability to dream, Michael’s care was all consuming. We were blessed to have two local businessmen continue building, knowing that someday our hearts would return to the mission. We received $158,000 in Michael’s memory and the house was completed. Slowly we came back and one year later the Respite Center opened, providing respite care for four families. Eight years later over 130 families use the Respite Center and we offer seven different respite programs. Our ability to dream and our passion for helping families with disabilities returned. Many see the house as Michael’s legacy but his true legacy is the wisdom he gave us and the ability to know how to help when others can’t. Michael would have turned eighteen this year, his class graduated from high school in June. As each year passes the sweetness of Michael’s memories grow and the lessons he taught become clearer.

As the Respite Center enters its eighth year, Mary and I thank you for the support you have given to us throughout the years. Your generosity has helped many families. Michael’s story reflects many of the same things experienced by our families. We ask that you take a moment to read some of the stories from families you have touched.

With love and appreciation,

Sharon

Michael’s Mom

Now, I know a number of you supported me when I shaved my head to raise awareness and money for children with cancer.  

The shaving 

This cause is going to be even more challenging than simply shaving my head, as I’ve been training since I found out I’d be able to support this cause.  Yes, for those of you who know me – you do know me as not exactly the ‘most athletic’ soul, which is why I further emphasize how much every single dollar counts!   Think about what I’m willing to endure on my own physical body, both through training and on Race-day when I force my body through the act of running 26.2 miles – Just so some others are able to have a better life from our contributions!

Yes, here it is! Seriously.   Every single dollar counts.   If you can give only $1, I’d absolutely love that – and every other dollar you can give is even better!   Don’t wait and think “yea, someone else will give, so my donation won’t matter” – It does matter.  It matters to me, it matters to them.   If you want further incentive (and if it’ll encourage you) I’ll shave my head again on behalf of this cause (You’ll need to let me know if that’s what you’re looking for, though I prefer to do that on behalf of Cancer to show solidarity – But you let me know :))

Supporting me is as simple as clicking on this link or picture

Please help sponsor me on behalf of children with Disabilities

So, don’t wait until it’s too late.   Every day counts, every dollar counts.   I have 2 months of training to go, and I’m far from my target!   So, please help for the children!

Thank you! – Christopher Kusek

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Posted in Charity, Christopher Kusek, emc | Comments (0)

Post-Mortem 70-693 Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator: Why I said “Wow”

January 15th, 2010

Hey guys, it’s been a long while since I’ve done a Post-Mortem on an exam.. I just didn’t feel like it from the last few betas I took – So here you go, with so much interest in the Hyper-V exam here is my post-mortem analysis and not to mention what I felt about it, and why I said “Wow” :)

Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator

About this Exam

This exam validates a candidates knowledge of Microsoft virtualization technologies.

Audience Profile

Candidates should have one to three years of experience using Microsoft virtualization products, including Hyper-V, System Center Virtual Machine Manager, and Remote Desktop Services (RDS), in a Windows Server 2008 R2 infrastructure. Candidates for this exam are IT professionals who have jobs in which managing or deploying virtualization technologies is their main area of responsibility.

Credit Toward CertificationExam 70-693: Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator: counts as credit toward the following certification(s):

Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator

So, there is the high level view of the exam as listed at Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator and one of the most useful tools you will find on that page is the “Skills Measured” tab which happens to give you a comprehensive overview of what kind of content there is on the exam – If you follow that list and rule, you will indeed be prepared if you study against the skills measured!  I do want to note, I HIGHLY encourage you to check out the ‘Skills Measured’ from TS: Windows Server Virtualization, Configuring – Seriously!  – A slight disclaimer here.. I mistakenly wrote the reference material against last years 70-652 TS: Windows Server Virtualization, Configuring – But take it for what it is.. Combine the two ‘skills measured’ from both exams and your chances of passing will increase exponentially!

Now what may be beneficial is a comprehensive understanding of… competitive pressures? Would you call it that? I have to say, I saw a damn lot of another vendors virtualization product (Some might call it, the largest virtualization product in the industry, not to mention the most deployed)   In the “Installing Hyper-V” section, as seen in Skills Measured, it mentions very briefly a coverage of clustering, storage – shared and otherwise – accounting for 14% of the exam.  To me it honestly felt more like 45% of the exam had some focus on Storage or Clustering.  I haven’t seen that much iSCSI, and FCP touted in a long time! (Take my NFS and CIFS Please! – Oh, yea while not mentioned, you probably want to ensure you’re up on the entire protocol stack, grin :))

Next, if you look across all 4 Skill areas, you’ll notice SCVMM is included in there.   Yea, there’s a reason for that.   Infact, I’d be surprised if there were any questions which DIDN’T include SCVMM! I say ‘mostly’ in jest, because it makes you wonder ‘Is this Hyper-V, or a purely SCVMM exam?!?” :)

As far as annoying faults in the tests go, I only found one major syntactical error which I reported, but on the whole the test itself was well formed and the questions were free of Grammatical mistakes.   Now, let’s get into the Wow section.

Perhaps I was a bit hasty when I said “Wow” about this exam.  Perhaps I should have placed myself more into the category of WTF?!?   So, feel free to see an intermingling of my thoughts on the exam now :)   The questions were well formed, perhaps even a little too well formed.   A number of them looked as though they were struggling to find examples of what WASN’T the right answer, because they were all pretty damn easy to answer in and out!   Am I saying I passed? There’s a pretty good chance, but I place no bets!    If you are NOT up on the competitive landscape as far as where Hyper-V plays in the industry, you better be to take this exam.  I wasn’t sure if I was sitting for the VCP, a minor in Citrix, or if this was infact an actual Microsoft Exam! (Yes, I know it was a Microsoft exam because all of the questions WERE very well formed, and a number of them… were sadly still written to the old adage of ‘Choose the microsoft answer’ ;)

This exam also included the recent name changes to products, so I commend it’s accuracy!    And the intimate level of focus on VDI – was quite amazing, but sadly I reach a saddening point.

If I am to fail in this exam under any circumstances? It is because of the number of ‘it depends’ questions they had in there.   What does that mean?   I’m sure providing details about how many interfaces you should have and factual information backing it is PERFECTLY okay, I can sign off on that – No problem, albeit Best Practice and ‘minimal acceptable’ is further subjective.   But when it comes to degrees of scale and how many VM’s I can actually host on a particular server?   Without raw details, a breakdown of workload, and not to mention this isn’t a different vendors solution so the pure economies of scale require me to be EXTREMELY conservative.   I’m not being negative I’m being factual, we all know that – and we know JUST how subjective things are when it comes to VM density.   With that said be very careful, I have no guidance there other than try to find out what the proverbial ‘microsoft answer’ is for what density looks like I’ve always seen it published as ‘not as much as others’ and some of the deployments in the exam outright scared me – And I don’t get scared by technology, I put fear into it’s heart!

I’m FAIRLY certain I didn’t say anything which violates NDA, since pretty much everything included here is referenced in the Skills Measured page Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2, Virtualization Administrator but incase I did… don’t spank me! preferably fix the questions which are wrong (glares in Liberty’s direction ;)) And… Well, have a good time – Use of the technology and understanding these skills are pretty much all you need in order to pass!

Now on a personal note! I’m going to be running the Boston Marathon in a few months in order to raise money for disabled children and every single dollar helps, so if you can help me in my cause these children and their families will greatly appreciate it!   Even if you can only afford $1 that’s perfectly fine! The more people who contribute the better!

http://www.firstgiving.com/cxi – Help sponsor my run in the Boston Marathon on behalf of disabled children!

http://www.firstgiving.com/cxi - Help sponsor my run in the Boston Marathon on behalf of disabled children!

So, thank you all and I hope you find something useful from this post-mortem and truly every $1 helps, and I greatly appreciate it!  Thanks!

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Posted in Certification, Hyper-V, Microsoft, R2, VDI, Virtualization, vmware, vSphere, Windows Server | Comments (0)

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