Experiments with macro photography

August 4th, 2013 by UFO in Czech Republic

I always wanted to try macro photography, so when I found out, that my friend Jirka is a fan, I persuaded him to lend me one of his lenses. I took many pictures, mostly flowers (see attached gallery).

I enjoyed the photo session and encountered several problems. The depth of field is really small and taking pictures from hand without a tripod is a challenging task. Maybe I will try it again some time in a future.


Volkswagen Prague Marathon 2013

May 14th, 2013 by UFO in Czech Republic, Health, Traveling

I started running in July 2011 during my preparation for the final state exams at the university. Maybe you are familiar with this situation: you do anything, just not study. After passing the exams, I suddenly got free time and decided to start moving. The beginnings was tough, but in October I ran my first quarter marathon. I started to like running more and more, and in January 2012, I did a Couch to 5K and Bridge to 10K programmes that trained me to the level when I could run 10 km in one hour. I beat my first half marathon in September in Ostrava with time 1:49, which encouraged me to think about going to marathon.

As I wrote in January, I had signed up and then started training for the Prague International Marathon (PIM). The plan was quite clear: four runs per week with increasing load, some fast runs, intervals and also very long runs. Everything was going well until I got ill. I was repeatedly ok and sick and in total missed almost half of the training sessions. I started to feel good again less than a month before the race. I was on the verge of quitting, but thanks to the great support of people around me, I endured and got most of the training in this last month.

The race took place on Sunday 12th of May 2013, but I got to pick up my starting number at least the day before. So I booked a hotel and went to Prague, already feeling very nervous. In the expo I got a number (5552), backpack and lots of materials. At the expo many sport companies were selling their stuff like clothes, shoes etc., but I was not in the mood to buy anything. Then I met with my friends, that were also going to run and we went for a dinner together (large bowl of pasta, of course).

On the 9th km (thanks to Zuzka for the photo)

During the night from Saturday to Sunday I almost could not sleep, mostly because I was very nervous, partly because my hotel room was next to the elevator shaft :-D. In the morning I had a small breakfast (I was not able to eat much) and took a tram to the area of start, where I met the support team, my brother :-). I gave him a backpack and walked to the corridor „H“ I had been assigned to. I was awaiting the start together with other 9500 runners.

The race started at 9:00 sharp with the sound of Vltava. It was very strong and emotional moment, almost indescribable. I felt very glad I was there, that I had made it to the start and that I was running my dream. It took me over six minutes to get to the starting line on the Old Town Square. The view of Pařížská street packed with runners and cheering fans was something I am never going to forget, it was simply astonishing.

I was little over-dressed, I had expected between 12 and 15 degrees and cloudy sky. However, just after the race started, the clouds disappeared and Sun started to shine. I rolled up my sleeves, kept running and hoped a cloud would come. I felt hot for the first 5 km or so, but then it started to get windy and it was all right again.

The first 15 km were very nice and calm, I was enjoying the run and the surroundings. Then I started to feel my knees, so I sped up a bit and felt comfortable again, with pace between 5:40 and 6:00 (per km). On the waterfront, south of Vyšehrad, it felt like being on a grill. Long, wide road with no shade and no wind. I compensated the heat by drinking more at the refreshment stations. I passed the half marathon mark (21,0975 km) with time 2:05. I still was on the right track to finish with time between 4:00 and 4:15.

I made it to the finish line!

The first bigger crisis came on the 24th km. My legs hurt a lot, but the feeling I am past the half gave me strength to continue. On 28th km, just before the refreshment station I consumed a energy gel/syrup/who-knows-what that turned my stomach upside down. I almost vomited, but a cup of water calmed things down. From kilometre number 29 I was running on auto-pilot, shutting down the brain and conserving energy. When I passed the sign that stated „30 km“ (time 2:58), I told myself: „now you are further than ever before, keep going“. And I kept going… 9, 8, 7 km to go, the finish line was getting closer and closer.

On the 37th kilometre I felt like visiting hell, my legs ached and burnt a lot, I felt sick and dehydrated. The reserves that kept me running for the past 10 km were out and I had to switch to walking. I walked for a minute or so and then ran again, but could not keep the pace for long. I was alternating between walking and running, looking forward to the refreshment station. When I finally got there, I took two cups of water and drank slowly while walking. I managed to start running again, almost to the next (and last) refreshment on the 40th kilometre. I forced myself to eat something, took even more water and gathered some strength for the last two km. There was a tunnel nearby that provided the much needed shade and because of that (and because of the large commercial on its entrance that said „boost your run now“ :-D) I ran again. Again, the pace did not last long, the tunnel ended with a slope, which was not very steep, but in my condition I felt like rock-climbing. I passed a 41th km sign. People on the side of the road were cheering and encouraging me to run, but I could not, my body refused that. I passed other signs: 900 m, 800 m, 700 m to go… I was almost there. Then, from out of nowhere, a strong push to my back. A nearby runner pushed me and said: „You have to run! Don't stop!“. And I ran. Don't know how, don't know where did the strength come from, cannot explain that, but I ran. The final part was the exact opposite of the starting one: Pařížská street to Old Town Square. The street was full of people as I headed towards the last gate. Blue carpet, finish line… I did it, I could not believe what had just happened. With tears of happiness and pain in my eyes I got my medal.

The hard-earned medal

My brother was waiting for me at the end of the finish corridor. I almost wasn't able to speak, but managed to tell him that I need him to take a photo of me :-). We walked to the technical area, where I got the finish time engraved on the medal and then sat down to KFC, where I drank over half litre of cola to replenish my blood sugar. I turned on my phone and got dozen of messages with congratulations from people that were watching and tracking my progress on-line. Thank you everybody for the support!

We stayed in KFC until it was time to get home. He went with me to the train station and made sure I boarded the right train. On the way home, I could not sleep, although I was extremely tired. My mind was occupied, I was replaying the memorable moments from the race and tried to comprehend what I had achieved.

Some stats:

Real time: 4:22:16
Official time: 4:28:30
Rank: 3718
Rank M/F: 3291
Rank Cat.: 1577


RUNKEEPER activity (with map and speed) ->

Vacation in Central Finland

April 10th, 2013 by UFO in Traveling

I had been a long time since I went on some trip to explore the world. My friend Martin is an exchange student in Jyväskylä, Finland at the moment and invited me to visit him. I accepted and spent very nice two weeks there.

The journey there was long, it took the whole day. I took a train from Ostrava to Warsaw and then two flights: from Warsaw to Helsinki and from Helsinki to Jyväskylä. The second flight was my first time in a turboprop airplane (ATR 72). It was small and very noisy and you could feel any small turbulence. I arrived all right :-).

In the morning Martin showed me around the city. We drove to the city centre and to the surrounding lakes. I was not accustomed to the weather and I was freezing, but took a lot of pictures. In the evening we went to Finnish sauna (with beer of course) and later we went to the observation tower of Harju, which is on a hill next to the city centre, to take night shots of Jyväskylä.

Jyväskylä by Night

The weather was very nice, two weeks of Sun, blue sky and temperatures around zero. In order to enjoy it together with the Finnish nature, we took a hike in a Leivonmäki national park. I have to say, trails in that national park were for the summer, not winter. Everywhere was about half metre of snow and several times we had to turn around and head back to try another route. In the end, to get back to the car, we had to destroy several hundred metres of cross-country skiing trail :-( to avoid swimming in the snow. Hopefully we met only one skier.

Martin, Martin, Martin & Olga in the Leivonmäki National Park

As for the sports, I did something almost every day. The air was so clear (comparing to Ostrava), that I really had to go outside and breath it as much as possible :-D. Several times I went running. The nature was amazing and running on the frozen lakes is also a unique experience. I also tried skiing. There was a happy-hour offer (3 hours pass + rent of the equipment) that I used two times. I had not skied for two and half years, so in the beginning I was little worried, but in a while I got into it again and enjoyed skiing down the slope.

Together with Martin we went bouldering. For Martin it was a first time he had tried it (and he did quite well). Comparing to the boulder I have next to my place in Ostrava, it was much higher, but the floor was also harder. I had to be more careful not to fall down, therefore could not afford to do „risky“ movements I would do otherwise.

Skiing in Jyväskylä

During Fridays all museums in the city were with free entrance, so we did a „museum run“ through museums of Alvar Alto, Museum of Central Finland and two other, which were all very nice. The museum, which we had visited several days before and where we had spent a long time, was the Aviation Museum of Central Finland. It was a hangar packed with various air planes, parts, weapons, machinery and communication equipment. The most memorable was the possibility to sit into the cockpit of MIG-21 and some model of SAAB. I took a lot of pictures in there, see for yourself in the gallery.

Before leaving I bought a lot of souvenirs, mostly candies made of salmiakki :-P (even chocolate and vodka). The vacation was nice (thanks again, Martin), I had a really good time and relaxed a lot.


Training for Marathon

January 21st, 2013 by UFO in Czech Republic, Health

During the end of the year I signed up for the Prague International Marathon, which will take place on Saturday, 12th May. The distance, 42,195 km is a great challenge. As of today, I have started my training. I enlisted to the Sub 4-hour Marathon training program on Runkeeper, which consists of 4 runs per week with increasing intensity (16 weeks total).

I am going to train diligently and hopefully make it trough the finish line. Wish me luck.

My Photos – Best of 2012

January 1st, 2013 by UFO in Czech Republic, Traveling

Last year I did not photograph much (or as much as I would like to), but still I had a lot to choose from. While selecting I realized how many awesome things happened during the whole year. Thanks to everyone that helped to make it that way!


Happy New Year 2013

December 31st, 2012 by UFO in Other

The year 2012 is slowly ending and 2013 will be here very shortly. I wish everyone a happy new year!!!

Weekend Spent Drawing II (Crayon)

October 15th, 2012 by UFO in Czech Republic, Fun stuff

This June I attended a weekend long workshop with the goal of enabling my brain to be able to draw with a pencil :-). From my point of view, it was great a success. I got from „drawing simple diagrams“ to „drawing a portrait“. I really liked it, so when my mother had invited me to join her on course focused on drawing with crayons, I immediately accepted.

The course took place in Frýdek-Místek (in Místek to be exact). Saturday was focused on drawing with standard crayons and to teach us the theory and practice of mixing and blending colours. Drawing with crayons is all about colours, it more relaxed in actual shapes and shading than drawing with pencil had been.

My version of tulips (acrylic crayon)

On Sunday we got another set of crayons – the acrylic ones. It looks like a crayon, it draws like a crayon (probably also tastes like one), but you can blur it using brush and water. The result (see the gallery) seems more like painting than drawing.

After two days of doing something totally different from what I usually do, I felt exhausted. But it was pretty much worth it and I am again looking forward to attend another workshop like this.


Visiting Lucia and Carlos

October 14th, 2012 by UFO in Traveling

I have finally beaten the procrastination and organized my pictures from (now not so) recent trips. I visited my very good friends Lucia and Carlos two times. The first visit was in Puerto de Sagunto, Spain. It was amazing and packed with experiences: I improved my Spanish (I had no other choice), we were going to the beach, running, hiking and, especially, eating delicious food :-P. I also took a role of a tourist and was guided through beauties of Sagunto, Valencia and Allicante…

Castle of Sagunto

In July Lucia and Carlos packed their things and moved to Strasbourg, France. I was invited to come and visit, which I gladly accepted and, again, spent a marvellous week there (short of a minor food poisoning). It was a very relaxing vacation. See the pictures and perhaps you will agree :-).

La Petite France, Strasbourg

GALLERY (Spain) ->

GALLERY (France) ->

My first triathlon race

September 2nd, 2012 by UFO in Czech Republic, Health

Last weekend I finished my historically first triathlon race. It all started as a small „push“ from my colleague from work Vojta. He persuaded me to sign up, with arguments like „it is easy / lots of amateurs will be there / it will be fun“. Since I had wanted to try it for some time, I signed myself up.

The triathlon (called „Větřkovický triathlon“) consisted of approx. 600 metres swimming, 20 km mountain bike and 4 km run. I was mostly concerned about the swimming. I would not tell I am a good swimmer, at that time I had been swimming regularly for about two months. Before the race I had added some extra sessions as a protection against drowning :-).

August in Czech Republic was very hot, heat waves, 30+ degrees and so on. But on the night before came a large storm with heavy raining. When I woke up in the morning, it was still raining a lot. With the great help of my support team (my parents), I got to the start. Due to the weather, only 59 out of 120 signed up people came. However, my colleague David, who also started at a triathlon event for the first time, was there, not disgusted by the weather all :-D.

The announcer shouted „start“ and we all ran to the water. I tried to swim freestyle (which I had not practised enough) and felt totally winded after about 20 metres. From there I continued with breast stroke as fast as I could (I admin I was sloow). After sixteen minutes, when I finally were at the beach again, I was glad I survived. I was also unable to run to my bike, had to walk and slowly tried to catch my breath. My first „pit-stop“ was the slowest of all racers. I felt totally out after the swimming. As soon as I was riding, it got better.

The bike course was hard, two laps, in each two steep hills with 300 metres elevation combined. I felt like a tourist, mostly walking next to my bike and pushing it uphill :-).

At race finish, totally exhausted

Pit-stop to change from bike to running was much better than the first one, I only had to change my shoes, which I managed to do quite fast. Running was the best part for me, I felt relaxed (in comparison, in fact, I felt almost sick) after I started to run. Everything changed when I reached the first (and only) hill. I became a tourist again :-) and was very happy to reach the top. The downhill was really steep and quite dangerous, but I did not hurt myself. After that, it was flat land to the finish. I even managed to overtake one runner.

I finished in 2 hours and 7 minutes, almost 40 minutes after the winner. I felt exhausted and sick, but also very happy and excited, that I made it!

It was definitely very hard for me, but it did not discourage me. For sure it was not my last triathlon, I am looking forward to the challenge.

My results

  • Place: 45 out of 59
  • Total time: 2:07:03
  • Swimming: 16:03
  • Mountain bike: 1:22:25
  • Running: 22:39


CQRS Workshop in London

July 13th, 2012 by UFO in Tech, Traveling

Time has finally come and I set off for a journey to London to attend the workshop about Domain Events, Event Sourcing and applying Domain-Driven Design (DDD) taught by the famous Greg Young. I had been looking forward to it very much.

The workshop took place from July 9th till July 11th, but due to the distance I had to dedicate two more days just for traveling. The journey went very smoothly, just Czech Railways did not surprise and one quarter of the way had to be done by bus because of track maintenance or something. So the final chain of means of transport was just

Bus → Train → Bus → Bus → Plane → Bus

and there I was :-). I found the hotel without any problems and checked in. Without anything to do for the evening, I decided to take a short walk. Seven kilometres and almost three hours later (including a dinner at McDonald's and a pint of ale just before I had reached the hotel) I was back and being exhausted dropped to bed. I needed to rest, the next three days were supposed to be packed with new information.

The Big Ben

Day 1

To get to the workshop, I had to take a half of the Circle Line (like 30 minutes ride). It seemed inefficient at first, but when I asked, how to do it better, people told me I made the right choice, because there were no changes and the trains were not so packed. I could even sit down!

The workshop itself was pretty intensive. The pace and amount of information received was unlike any other lecture I had ever attended. I wish any of the lectures at the university looked like that, maybe I would be sleeping on desks all the time :-). While going back to the hotel I could not stop my mind from constantly crunching and evaluating the new knowledge. To keep myself busy in other ways, I did some shopping and tried another kind of ale, which made me go to sleep quite early.

Day 2

To go to the place where the workshop took place was very adventurous. At first, I waited for a Cicle Line for over ten minutes and no train arrived. I said to myself that it did not matter and I would take a Victoria Line and change at King's Cross, it even seemed faster. However, they closed the King's Cross station just when I arrived there. It was really a „shortcut“ then, because I had to make two more changes to end up where I wanted to be in the first place (but half hour later).

The course was even more intensive than on the first day, my head was totally full after that :-). All I did on the way to the hotel, except trying other kinds of English ales, was to think about all the questions that had popped in my head. I also thought about going running, but I had to reconsider it because of heavy raining. I was really glad I have bought an umbrella :-).

Lecture room at Skills Matter training centre

Day 3

The last day of the workshop was the day when all bits of pieces should fit together and bring revelation: „Aaah, this is how it is done!“ I must say, it happened to some extent. Lots of issues I had been solving started to seem clear to me, but also lots of new questions appeared. Many of them were promptly answered by Greg, but I think time will show (I mean the near future), whether I comprehended the topics enough or not.

In the evening I also attended the Greg's talk about Test Driven Design (TDD) and half of the session of Scala Users Group, both of which were very interesting.

The journey home was smooth, I had a lot of time between changes I did not have to hurry. I shortened the waiting by reading Crime and Punishment and was looking forward to the next day when I would go to work and try to apply all the knowledge I accumulated for the past couple of days.