From Yorkshire To Virginia

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Claytime Cafe Manassas, Poor Customer Service Ruins Party

Today was Gwyneth's 6th birthday party. Going for something a little different it was scheduled for the 'Claytime Cafe' in Manassas. Their 'thing' is that you children paint pottery before the pizza & cake. However, the place has an attached cafe, so pizza and cake were the only outside items you were allowed to bring in. Prior to the event it was confirmed that we'd have some parents there that would be painting too, and at the event it was confirmed with a member of staff that they wouldn't mind the party running over a little while, as they didn't have another event scheduled.

The party went well, up until about 6.15. Admittedly this was 15 minutes beyond the time paid for, but still, a staff member had said not to worry about it. The pottery had been completed, and the cake had just been served. The owner of Claytime Cafe then came up and rather than saying in a polite manner that we needed to wrap up, started in with an attitude quoting the contract, and complaining that she'd not been told about the adults coming. She forced the party to disband, and made the party guests take their cake to their cars. In the process, she managed to convince the parents of 9 small children that they should not return to her establishment.

Her poor customer service skills also included not admonishing a member of her staff who decided to hold her personal belching contest, and then be rude to the guests when they complained. So the staff of Claytime Cafe are both rude and crude.

What could the owner have done better? If she had merely come up to the group and politely mentioned that the party would have to wrap up as the alloted time had completed, then everything would have been fine. Instead she chose to start out in a confrontational manner with the people that had just given her over $300. Oh, and she also complained that the pizza had been set up on a table outside the party room, as the contract clearly stated that the pizza had to be in the party room at all times. Again, this was where a member of her staff had said to place the pizza...

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Gwyneth's 6th Birthday

Yep, it's hard to believe that Gwyneth is already 6, but 6 she is. She had a great time today, opening presents and cards, playing with presents, trying on her new necklaces, etc. I even went to her school and gave out cupcakes for her and her classmates. In 2 weeks, she'll get to have her party, and another set of presents and cards... just like the Queen. ;)

Phildelphia Distance Run

Yesterday I completed my second half marathon, contrary to popular belief, these things don't get easier the more you do them. Well, to be honest, it was going rather well to a point, but I'll get to that in a minute...

Firstly let me go off on PennDOT, who decided that Saturdays are the ideal time to cut interstate 95 N, the major North South artery on the East coast from 3 lanes down to 1 while they do road repairs. Of course, I knew nothing about this until I crossed the state line coming out of Delaware. With 4 hours to go until the end of packet pick up, and a mere 25 miles to go, how could I fail? 1 hour later, with 23 miles to go, I started to get concerned...

Thanks to my wonderful Blackberry (more on this later) I saw a way around the traffic, if I could only get off at the next exit... Slowly, but surely, I made my way over, and traveled through Chester and Ridley Park at what seemed like breakneck speeds, well ok it was about 25mph, but after the crawl of the previous hour...

Finally I made it to the hotel, a quick run to the convention center saw me arrive an hour before it closed.

The next morning I was up at the starting gate, waiting for the horn to sound. At 7.50 am, off it went. The first 5k was faster than my fastest 5k time (no wonder really, given that I've only run one 5k, and that was back when I was starting training). My 10k time was faster than my best 10k, and my 7 mile time was exactly equal to that of my previous 1/2 marathon 2 weeks ago. As long as I kept this pace up I was going to finish in under 2 hours, and probably around 1h 54m. By mile 9, I was still doing well, but I started to feel some twinges in my left leg, I carried on. By mile 10, my left leg was really starting to hurt, I didn't want to slow down to a walk, as it's hard to restart once you do so, but soon I had no choice. At the 11 mile marker, I was still on for a sub-2 hour race, as long as I paced myself at 10 minute miles, but the leg continued to get worse. It got to the point where I couldn't even jog. Switching my knee brace from my right leg to the left one helped somewhat, and I continued to limp / half jog the rest of the way. I reached the finish line in a time of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 1 second. Not great, but I finished, and it was still a personal best, so I'm happy with it.

As for the leg, apparently it was a pull between my quads and my knee that was causing the pain, it's a lot better today, and we'll see how it goes when I do my next short run tomorrow night...

Oh, and as for the Blackberry, it was in my bag when I left the event, but between there and the taxi back to the hotel, it was gone... Thankfully I'd taken out the insurance plan, so I'll have a new one waiting for me at the office tomorrow.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My first half marathon

Yep, despite the fact that I'd planned to run my first marathon in Philly in 2 weeks, I decided to run this morning in the Abebe Bikila International Peace Half Marathon in Alexandria, VA. I drove down for the start, with a plan to finish in 2 hours. Starting at 9.04 am I ran the first 7 miles in exactly one hour, well on target. Then, at about 9 miles, a nasty blister started to form on my left foot. It forced me to walk from the 10 mile marker to about 11-1/2 miles, when I decided to just run through the pain. 2 hours 3 minutes and 37 seconds after I started, I crossed the finish line, and got the following medal.

Now I know that in Philly, in 2 weeks, I can easily finish below 2 hours (barring injury).