Friday, January 27, 2012

How to get 100% Dragon Total Destruction in Angry Birds Year of the Dragon

The latest release from Angry Birds Seasons 2012 includes the 'Year of the Dragon' levels. The 'Year of the Dragon' introduces a Dragon that works similar to the Mighty Eagle, except that this is free (already included in the purchase price). I have not tried the Mighty Eagle yet, so I can't tell exactly what the differences are.

The dragon appears by clicking the icon next to the pause button on the top left corner of the screen. What you throw looks like a red fish that makes the dragon appear. The dragon will cause massive destruction and it varies based on the location where you drop it. The more destruction, the higher dragon score you get. If you get a 100% score, you get a 'Total Destruction' fish.

I was trying to figure out a way to consistently get 100% dragon score in all levels. I could not find a general rule that will get you a 100%, but in general here are some tips that worked for me:
  1. The more you destroy with the dragon, the higher score you will get. This means in general the best place to drop the fish will be somewhere in the middle, usually in the bottom next to the most artifacts in the level.
  2. You don't have to destroy absolutely everything, but most everything in the level.
  3. It helps to throw a few birds before throwing the fish, but I was also able to achieve 100% score by throwing the fish first without throwing any birds.
What do you get for achieving Dragon Total Destruction in all levels? Nothing, absolutely nothing, other than personal satisfaction, of course.

Monday, January 16, 2012

My training schedule for the Pittsburgh Marathon 2012

There are 16 weeks remaining for the Pittsburgh Marathon. If you haven't started training, now it's a good time to start. I am using a program from 'The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer', even though I run regularly, this is my first marathon and this training program is very conservative. The program trains you to finish the marathon with no specific pace goal. My goal is exactly that, to finish the marathon without a target time. My only pace goal is to adhere to the mile markers for this marathon which I believe require you finishing the marathon within 6 hours. This training program has you running 4 days per week, with one long run per week.

Since I have already started training at 40 km/week since January, my plan is to exceed the weekly goals for the first 7 weeks and start adhering to the program on week 6.The biggest challenge for me will be the long runs since the farthest I've ever ran is 21.5km. This is my first marathon attempt so it is the first time I'm using this program, I can't vouch for it yet. What do you think of it? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Warning: if you read this book, you will not be able to stop running

For the past few years, I've been a regular '3 mile' runner. Since 2003 I have regularly participated in 2 to 4 local 5k races throughout the year and train in between races by running 3 miles about 3 times a week on average. I'm not a fast runner by any means, my average pace is around 6 min per km (10 mins per mile) and I was not a long distance runner. I ran my first 10k race time in 2004. I tried again in 2005 and even though I was able to finish, I had a pulled muscle injury that took me several weeks to recover. I attributed my injury to being overweight. At 200lb I am more than 30% above my ideal weight. After that injury, I decided to stick to 5k runs until I could lose some weight. In 2010 I had only managed to lose a few pounds, but I decided to try running 10k again and I was able to finish without any injuries again.

Then in 2011 I had a major breakthrough. Early in January I read Born to run by Chris McDougall. Even before midway through the book my running improved significantly. I discovered that even though my weight was a limiting factor, my running form had an even bigger limiting impact.

Before reading this book, I had never paid attention to my running form. I did not even know I was a heel striker. When I was in high school I was on the track and field team and I was taught techniques to run fast, essentially how to do 'power running', but I was never taught techniques to run long distances. After reading 'Born to run', I tried changing my stride to a forefoot strike and slightly bending my knees while running. I was surprised at the results. I was not only able to run longer distances, but also able to run frequently without feeling injured.

I also learned that the high heel on typical running shoes was encouraging me to land more on my heel which was likely the source of most of my injuries. I found a pair of Nike Free 3.0 on sale and gave them a try and absolutely loved them.

Unfortunately Nike hasn't learned their lesson and the latest Nike Free Run+ 2 shoes have a really thick heel. I also tried the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila. Those require more time getting used to. At first, I did not think I would be able to run over 5k, now I can comfortably run distances under 10k and I loved them. I feel it strengthen my foot muscles, but I still prefer the Nike Free for longer distances so I keep alternating between them.
Within 4 months after starting reading the book my improvement was remarkable, I had ran a cumulative of over 500km and my longest distance went from 10km to close to 20km. I was ready to run my first half marathon which I did on May 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh.
I didn't expect to be able to maintain my average pace throughout the run, but I did and I probably pushed myself a bit hard since I did have a injury on my right foot which took a couple weeks to recover from. But despite this I really enjoyed the experience and by the end of 2011 I had ran 1,670km which is twice as much what I ran on 2010. I am currently registered and training to run my first marathon in 2012. Happy running everyone!