Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Guest Interview: Nathan Gonzalez

Happy Tuesday! If you’ll recall, earlier in the week I posted about a fundraiser for Nathan Gonzalez, who’s trying to raise money to get his iBot wheelchair fixed before the factory closes for good. 

The backstory here is that I saw this post on reddit last Monday. To summarize, Nathan is a former Marine who served two tours but was hit by a drunk driver and paralyzed on his return. He's done some great stuff and overcome a lot, but you'll read more about that in a bit. Nathan is trying to get some crucial repairs done on a special wheelchair he uses which has the ability to climb steps. Unfortunately, the company is going out of business and closing its doors on 3/31. The repairs, therefore, need to be done before that.

I caught up with Nathan and asked him a few questions about life, love and beer. Or more accurately, life, San Antonio, and beer.

K: Hey, Nathan! Great to meet you. Let’s talk hashing. What’s your hash name?

N: Porno Rican

K: Where’s your mother hash?

N: Okinawa, Japan. Started in 1998.

K: Home hash?

N: Cross between San Antonio H3, Kiss My H3, and Alamo City Humpin’ Hash. Basically, San Antonio.

K: In how many cities have you hashed?

N: 10+, mostly in the Pacific.

K: Did you have a favorite?

N: Okinawa, of course.

K: What made it so great?

N: The terrain varied so much and the trails and parks were amazing.  Shiggy, Shiggy, Shiggy! My favorite trail I ran and hared was a Lemming long trail, which was about 4 miles long. We ran the pack to a 25-foot cliff up against the ocean.  We had a safety swimmer in the water and the pack had to jump off into the water like lemmings and swim about 100 yards to an adjacent island where we had a huge bonfire going.  If anyone didn’t want to swim, they could walk 2 miles across a bridge instead.  It was my favorite hash.

K: Let’s go back to your home hash, which is currently San Antonio. Are you from there originally?

N: Yeah, I’m from SA.

K: Cool! I’m originally from San Antonio, too. Where did you go to high school?

N: I went to Jefferson High School. Class of 1996.

K: Are you a Spurs fan?

N: Haha, if you live in San Antonio, you are raised to be a Spurs fan. We’re only the best team in the league with the best records. I can’t even remember when we didn’t make the playoffs. Sucks about last year but I’m sure we’ll repeat this year.

K: Who’s your favorite player?

N: I’d say Manu Ginobili. Dude is versatile in and out of the paint. Although I also love [Danny] Green and his killer 3-pointers.

K: One of your pictures shows you making a Roadrunners sign with your hand, which is like the Longhorn equivalent for the University of Texas at San Antonio. Did you attend UTSA?

N: Yeah, I just graduated in December.

K: What was your major?

N: I received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

K: Very nice. I read online that you were part of a project team that was nominated for an award. Tell me a little about that.

N: My Senior Project for my Entrepreneurship class was to work on a product that the engineering students had been working on during the prior semester, which was a mind-controlled wheelchair. It was our team’s job to take their product, build a business plan, model and market it.  Along with getting patents, FDA approvals, and companies to partner up with us it was a challenging process to finish in just a semester.

Essentially, you would take an EEG Headset, basically a head harness with leads on it, and this headset would pick up electrical signals.  These were then interpreted by an Arduino board, sent to a computer, and fed to the chair as commands.  It takes some training for the computer to recognize the thought commands but it was really cool to see the product in action.  

We competed with a wide range of other products in the competition for a $100,000 prize.  We came in 4th, which was pretty cool in its own right.  I had a good team though.  Who knows what they'll think of next.

K: Have you been able to attend many UTSA football games?

N: Unfortunately, I’ve only been to a couple.  I just didn't have time with studies.  I hope to go more now that I have the free time.

K: I also see you’re a Marine. Thank you for your service. How long did you serve?

N: I served just over 6 years before I was medically retired due to injuries. 

K: What’s your favorite beer?

N: Well, Lone Star is our hash beer but outside the hash I like pilsners or light beers. Stella, Carlsberg, DosXX.

K: What do you do for a living?

N: Currently, I handle billing and invoicing for my family’s business. It takes up 3-4 hours per week. I’m job hunting right now, so if you know anything…

K: So, you’re trying to get your iBot wheelchair fixed because the company is going out of business. What makes the iBot chair different from most?

N: Well, the main thing that separates the iBot from others is the stair climbing feature.  This chair is like a mini ATV.  It has the ability to climb a 8” curb.  This really is the only reason why I want to save my chair.  The little feature is invaluable to me to.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to use it to traverse something in my way.  I’ve been to parks that have a curb and no ramped walkway to get up onto the grass. I’ve gone to older restaurants that were grandfathered into the requirement for an ADA ramp and had to use that step climber to get in.  Also, not all sidewalks are wheelchair friendly. Sometimes, I have no choice but to jump the curb and drive on the street.  Without it I’d have to double back blocks and then take the street.  Both my parents’ and my brother’s homes have 5” steps.  Visiting them without this feature is difficult. 

Additionally, this chair has a lift feature that allows my seat to raise up to a bar level.  It makes a big difference in how people treat you and interact with you.  Being in a wheelchair people naturally look down on you all the time.  Being eye level people engage you more and treat you with more respect in my opinion.  Although other chairs have similar features, ibot can go higher.  I can up upright to just under 6’.  One of the best parts is that it balances on two wheels, which leaves a smaller foot print when moving around.  Lastly…it just looks cool. It’s a perfect Hash chair in and out of circle. 

K: Outside of hashing, do you have any other hobbies?

N: My Facebook shows it all mostly.  I’m a movie nut, I religiously follow most popular TV shows, I’m a hard core gamer. I’ve also enjoyed sky diving, scuba diving, and of course, I’m a hasher. 

K: Awesome! Thanks for taking the time and I hope you're able to get the repairs done for your chair.

Thanks for reading! For more information or to donate to Nathan's cause, click here

Monday, March 10, 2014

10 Day Challenge: Report Card

I started out really strong, but ultimately finished the challenge 70% successful. I guess that's a C in report card terms. My biggest victory was probably on Wednesday, when I went to work, ran home from work, ran to the PIT for my intern shift, then ran home when I was done. I was very determined and wish I could have carried that through in the following days.

Unfortunately, I had some stuff happen on Thursday that made it a little hard to do much of anything other than try to take care of it. Friday I managed a little over five before I met someone for drinks. Saturday was good and I got in 10-11 with Amortya in the morning. Sunday was so so and again, I only managed about 5.

Today, I didn't run, and that was probably the worst of the whole thing. I didn't really have a good reason, only general disappointment at the rest of the challenge. What I learned was that running 10 miles a day is a vastly easier task when you don't have too much going on than it is when life is in full swing. When I try this again, I'll have a better plan in place.

That aside, please take a look at this fundraiser and donate, if you can. Nathan Gonzalez is a hasher from San Antonio, and he needs to get his wheelchair fixed before the manufacturer closes on 3/31. This particular wheelchair has the ability to climb stairs, which I imagine greatly increases his mobility. Take a look:


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

10 Day Challenge: Day 4

Not much to report. I did a loop from home to the gym and it was very slow. I know I've mentioned that I don't mind the starting and stopping, but there are definitely some cons. I would like to be doing more than just getting in some mile when I do city loops. I therefore need to be more cognizant of my pace when I'm doing them.

Anyway, I ran slightly over 5 miles in about 50 minutes. I then did some arms and abs and continued onto the treadmill, where I did a progression run. I started out at 6 miles per hour (a 10 minute/mile pace) and kept that up until mile 2, when I increased to 6.5mph. At 3 miles, I increased to 6.7. From then on, it went like this:

3.1: increase to 6.9 mph
3.2: increase to 7.1 mph
3.3: increase to 7.2 mph
3.4: increase to 7.4 mph
3.5: increase to 7.5 mph
3.6: increase to 7.7 mph
3.7: increase to 7.8 mph
3.8: increase to 7.9 mph
3.9: increase to 8.5 mph
4.0: increase to 9.0 mph

End at 4.05. Also, here is a picture of the blood blister I developed yesterday. Don't be scandalized!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Motivation: 10 Day Challenge

Hi, folks. I don't know about you, but I am super over this weather. I would love spring to get here as quickly as possible.

One thing that has suffered a bit due to the relentless cold is my training. It's not the only problem, but it's doing me no favors. I decided to combat this by challenging myself to run 10 miles per day for 10 days. This challenge began on Saturday.

Saturday, I did a nice, big loop that I mapped out on MapMyRun. I'd show it, but it's a little too geographically explicit. It went north up to 54th Street, west to the river, south to Warren Street, and north again for a grand total of 10.54 miles. My time was nothing spectacular. In fact, it was slow-ish. I think I did it in 1:50 and change. To be fair, street runs are normally slow due to stopping for traffic. This frustration is what keeps most people I know from running on city streets. Doesn't stop me!

Sunday, I did something a little different. I ran a much smaller 5-mile loop from home to the gym, did 5 half mile repeats at about 7:12 min/mile with a half mile warmup and cooldown plus a quarter mile between each sprint for a total of 4.5 miles. I topped it off with a run home from the gym for an extra mile or so.

And tonight, I kept things simple and did another big loop. I'm not putting many restrictions on this whole thing. I just need to get back into a rhythm and be confident again about training. This may or may not do the trick, but it's made the last three days better.

Stay tuned for Day 4!