7/17/2010 – 7/18/2010 Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon

Posted by: TomS on August 8, 2010 @ 8:57 pm

20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon

20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon

After several months of contemplating it, 1 semi-serious ankle injury, 6 solid weeks of mileage increases that took me far beyond anything I have ever been close to before, and a nice rewarding 2 week taper, the weekend of the Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon (hence force to be referred to as the 20in24 Lone Ranger run) finally came.

To break that name down a bit, Back on My Feet is  a great charity that “promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem.” Each year, BOMF puts on the 20in24 series of races as a fund-raising event.  The event consists of a number of relays and races in addition to the 24 Hour Lone Ranger Ultra MarathonStroehmann was the official sponsor this year.  Here’s the recap of the event and how I did in the Lone Ranger Ultra Marathon.

Adding a Dynamic Sidebar and Dynamic Menus to a WordPress Theme

Posted by: TomS on July 14, 2010 @ 10:42 pm

In a previous post, I covered creating a simple WordPress theme, which forms the basis for the theme I use on this site.  That theme creation guide covered only the very basics of setting up a WordPress theme.  I’ve since upgraded to WordPress 3.0 which introduces a number of new features including Dynamic Menus.  In this post, I’ll cover taking advantage of the dynamic menus api, as well as “widgetizing” my theme, which allows me to configure which widgets will show up on sidebars in my site.

My updated theme is available below for reference.



WordPress 3.0 Took the Plunge

Posted by: TomS on July 8, 2010 @ 7:57 am

My backup system(s) for my WordPress blog have been running for well over a week now, and the upgrade notice in WordPress finally got the better of me.  I went ahead and took the plunge, running the automated upgrade to WordPress 3.0.

The upgrade was easier than can be expected.  One click to start the upgrade, and a few more to confirm that I REALLY wanted to upgrade, and then the process was underway.  Grand total, I think it took me maybe a minute and a half.

Everything seems stable (I did try it out first on my home test machine) so far.  I’m not taking advantage of any of the new features yet, other than the improved interface.  Pretty soon, I’ll update my WordPress theme to take advantage of the new dynamic menu API as well as catching up with older feature sets by widgetizing my theme.  Further down the road, I may look into some custom post types, especially for putting together race reports and recaps.  Expects some new posts sometime soon detailing how I rolled those feature sets into my theme.

The other big feature in WordPress 3.0 is the MU multi-user setup, where multiple blogs can be run from one installation.  I don’t have a huge need for that these days, but it’s a great accomplishment that WordPress now has that in the core.

Other than that, its just business as usual here.  Anyone reading the blog really shouldn’t see any changes, but WordPress 3.0 does look like a solid, polished release, and it looks like it’ll be a solid platform for the WordPress team to continue improving their app.  I’ll leave you with WordPress.org’s video detailing the new features in WordPress 3.0.

100 Miles and Freedom 5K 7/4/2010

Posted by: TomS on July 5, 2010 @ 2:19 pm

So I’ve got two updates this week.  This week I peaked on my mileage build-up leading to the Back on My Feet 20in24 in mid-July. For the first time ever, I ran 100 miles in one week (more on that later).  Immediately following the 100-mile week of slow-paced, repeated longer runs, I jumped right into a 5K.  Makes perfect sense right?  The 5k was Race #7 in the West Chester Downtown Grand Prix, put on by the Chester Country Running Store, the Fatiha Khattabi Freedom 5k.  My legs held up pretty well, and despite the recent heatwave hitting the East Coast this summer, I put up a pretty decent time.

The Race

The Fatiha Khattabi Freedom 5k was started in 2009.  The race honors the mother of one of the local high school’s cross-country runners who succumbed to cancer.  It was started by several senior members of the team as a high school senior project, and the proceeds go to the Cancer Center of Chester County.  This year, Fatiha’s son spoke at the start of the race, which really made the cause very real.  This race was Race #7 in the Downtown Grandprix, and it was exactly what I had come to expect after running the previous 6: on the small-side, low-key, but very well run. (more…)

Backing up WordPress Two Ways

Posted by: TomS on June 27, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

WordPress 3.0 is out and seems to be picking up quite a few downloads.  I’m about ready to take the plunge, but up till now, I’ve neglected the backup side of my site, so now seems like as good a time as any to get an automated backup tool running.  It’ll give me a little piece of mind when I perform the upgrade to WordPress 3.0 and will give me a frequent snapshot of the site should I ever need to restore it for other reasons (moving hosting providers, recovering from a site attack, etc.)

I’ve seen quite a few ways that one can backup their WordPress site, and specifically, I’ve decided to implement two methods.  The first will be a purely command-line method using Linux/Unix shell scripts that will copy backups of the site down to my home machine from my hosting provider.  For my second approach, I’ll use one of the WordPress Backup Plugins to store my backups on an internet based storage provider.

Spring Update and Oddyssey Half Marathon 5/29/2010

Posted by: TomS on June 19, 2010 @ 11:29 am

Oddyssey Half Marathon
It was inevitiable, and unfortunately happened a bit sooner than I would’ve hoped, but I’ve neglected my blog.  I’m going to try and get back into things, keep up to date with the races I’ve been doing, and get a few more tech posts out there.  For now though, I’m putting up the rundown of races I’ve done this spring and a detailed review of the brand-new Oddyssey Half Marathon.

Spring Rundown

Last I checked in, I had just finished the Tyler Arboretum 10K Trail Run, and I was a little worse for the wear, having rolled my ankle pretty badly.  As it turned out, the ankle issue was a bit more severe than I had hoped, and I had to stay off of it for quite sometime.  I still managed a few runs this spring, so here’s the run-down of them all along with a quick synopsis of each one.

  • 4/10/2010 – Dash for Diabetes 5K – West Chester, PA – This was race #4 in the West Chester Downtown Grand Prix.  It used the standard downtown loop course, which I’ve come to be a big fan of.  There was a great crowd, and the race was well organized.  Unfortunately for me, my ankle wasn’t quite healed, so I ran/walked/hobbled to what may be my slowest 5K ever.
  • 5/2/2010 – Blue Cross Broad Street Run – Philadelphia, PA- I was finally back to running normally for this one, and it was great as usual.  Broad Street has been one of the few races that has grown in size, but still feels like a local race and is still affordable (unlike the race formally known as the Distance Run in the fall).  I’ll be back every year as long as they keep it up.  It was HOT that day.  I saw several runners on the ground waiting for EMT attention.  I was trying to pace my sister to a PR, unfortunately, the heat got to us, and we fell about 2 minutes short, but it was still a great race and a great day.
  • 5/15/2010 – Good Samaritan 5K – Phoenixville, PA – This was a very small race on the Schuylkill River Trail section that goes from Oaks to Philadelphia.  It was low-key, nothing exceptional, but no complaints either.
  • 5/29/2010 – Oddyseey Half Marathon – Philadelphia, PA- Read below for a detailed review, but I think this race has a chance to grow into a pretty cool run.
  • 5/31/2010 – Laney Bug 5K – West Chester, PA – Race #5 in the West Chester Downtown Grand Prix. A little bit smaller crowd (~200-300) for this one, but still on the standard downtown loop.  It seems like the next few races in the series will be a bit more crowded; its been nice having a few on the smaller side.  I’m really starting to like the idea of running the same course several times a year.  It gives a nice indicator of progress throughout the year, although it doesn’t help to much that one race had the course covered in a foot of snow and another was run in driving wind and rain.
  • 6/11/2010 – Dub C 4-Miler – West Chester, PA – Race #6 in the West Chester Downtown Grand Prix and the first on a different course.  I can’t say enough about the race.  It was well organized for its size (~600).  The course never felt crowded except for the very start on Gay St., but it was well worth it to have the start and finish go straight through the heart of town.  Timing was done with disposable chips and everyone got a really nice Brooks technical running shirt.  Even more, the race was very affordable at $25.  The race had all the amenities of the larger races I’ve been to but at 1/3 the normal price.   I was pleasantly surprised with my time as well.  I ran this at the end of a week where I had really started to ramp up mileage.  The course was rolling hills the entire way, but I managed to run successive faster miles the whole way, coming in at 28:42.  Hopefully that bodes well for my plan to ramp up mileage for my summer running plans.

The Oddyssey Half Marathon

This was the first year the Oddyssey Half Marathon was held.  Overall, I really like the idea of the race.  The organizers put it toether with two main goals in mind.  First, organize a half marathon roughly a month after the broad street run, allowing first time 10-milers to quickly transition to a half-marathon if they’re looking for the next step.  Also, the event has a certain quirkiness about it.  Its definitely a competitive race, but has some nice distractions for the people that are looking just to have some fun.  All in all, I think the race had a great start.  It certainly wasn’t perfect, but the race organizers have it going in the right direction.

Tyler Arboretum 10K Trail Run 3/27/2010

Posted by: TomS on April 9, 2010 @ 8:05 am

A week after my last marathon adventure, my legs had started to return to normal, and I was ready for another run. I had gotten in a bit of relaxed, slow running earlier in the week, so I did not want to push things. For the last bunch of years, I had heard great things about the Tyler Arboretum 10K Trail Run, but I always seemed to have some conflict or another that prevented me from running it. The run, organized by the Delco RRC, is supposed to be a great “moderate” trail run, providing hills of the more rolling variety and wider trails, but still a fair number of obstacles along the way.  I decided I’d give this one a go for my first race back after the marathon.


2010 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon

Posted by: TomS on April 3, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

Last week I took a trip down to Virgina Beach to run the 2010 Shamrock Marathon sponsored by Yuengling.  It was my 8th marathon.  My sister and two of my college friends were also running.  Overall, the event was very well organized, and we had a positive experience other than a few missteps on the way down (US-1 and Delaware Route 1 are different … who knew?).  I would put the race near the top of my list marathon wise because of how well it was run and extra thought the race organizers put into the event.

Creating a Simple WordPress Theme

Posted by: TomS on March 28, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

In my previous post, I got the latest version of WordPress up and running on one of my home test servers. So what was the point of that whole ordeal? To set up a sandbox where I could try out WordPress customizations and features without impacting my live site. Once I had my test WordPress up and running, the first thing I tried out was creating my own custom theme.

In this post, I’ll run through the high level steps I went through to get the basics of this site up and running, including detailed code snippets along the way. I’m assuming the reader has some familiarity with XHTML and CSS, so I won’t dive too deep into the details; there are plenty of tutorials and documentation out on the web for that.

If you’d like to look at my final theme as reference while reading through this post, you can download a snapshot below.



Installing WordPress 2.9.2 on Ubuntu 9.10

Posted by: TomS on March 14, 2010 @ 8:46 pm

I will be posting a series of articles on my experience with getting up and running with WordPress. In this post, I’ll outline the steps I went through to get WordPress up and running on my Ubuntu Web Server, but first a bit of background about why I’d even want to do this.


I’m setting up a blog to document some of my interests and various activities I’m involved in (you may have already guessed that since you’re already reading my blog). I have a hosting provider that allows me to setup and use WordPress fairly easily via a simple cPanel installation. Setup was pretty much a breeze and I was up and running with WordPress 2.9.2 in less than a minute or so.

One of the things I’ve always liked to have though is a sandbox environment. I’ve got a home network that consists of various salvaged and cobbled together machines, most of which run Ubuntu’s server distribution, and one of them is a “web server” set aside just for this type of thing.