Thursday, October 30, 2008

Me Crying, Among Other Things

Great. Now in addition to all the pictures of me hiking naked on the Internet (that I put there myself), there's also video of me crying (while fully clothed). I've mentioned the story from the video on the blog before, and it's one of my favorites. In addition to just being a cool story, I find it really interesting in regards to my motivations for doing long hikes. Most of the time I tell people that I do long hikes to get away from it all, people included (in the Backpacker article, I put it in my typically crude terms and said I wanted to give society the finger, but I digress.) But then when I'm asked what my favorite experience was, it's never "there was this awesome sunset this one day when I was all by myself," it's always starts, "I met this cool guy," or "I met this cool lady," and goes from there. And the same goes for trail running. I love going and getting lost in Tilden by myself, but the comradery at races is awesome, and this even though I typically don't talk to that many people and feel like I'm younger than most other people out there. And I didn't party at all on the AT and was busy doing the PCT fast enough to finish in time for grad school, so I didn't really feel like I fit in, but now I think that thru-hikers are "my people," so who knows. Now I'm rambling.

Remember these awesome student reviews I got a while back? I was always suspicious it was at least partly because I said horrible liberal things like "I'm glad I'm in a union; they're the reason I have health insurance." And now I have a little evidence in favor of that--I got my reviews from last semester, and I was slightly higher than the department average for overall GSI quality.

Good ads. Vote NO on Prop 8.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


You know what was a horrible, horrible idea? Loading my iPod with Drew Gilpin Faust's This Republic of Suffering for a fixed-time running event.

Anyway, I finished the SF One-Day at 9 AM this morning. First, a huge thanks to everybody who sent me e-mails during the race, and to Ashley, Marcus, and Amy for coming out and running (walking, really) with me.

Before starting, my goal was to cover 100 miles. Then I had trouble running slower than 5 mph, so I wanted to keep up that pace. Then I realized that was ridiculous so I just wanted to run every step of the way, and I was back to the goal of 100 miles. Then I realized running the whole time was crazy so I just wanted to keep moving the entire time. Then finally I wanted to sleep, so I did. I ended up taking breaks of about 15 minutes, 90 minutes, and 45 minutes. I probably didn't need the last break, but the 90 minute one was wonderful for the legs, which were hurting thanks to the 40% pavement.

During the race I wasn't really having a wonderful time, but in retrospect I feel really good. My real goal was 100 miles, and after that wasn't happening I didn't have what it took mentally to really keep pushing. My feet and knees hurt, and the monotony got to me. You can't DNF in a fixy, so I didn't have that threat hanging over me to motivate me. I walked 20-22 minute laps (each lap is 1.067 miles) most of the latter half of the race, but in the last hour I started moving again and ran a 10:27 lap, an 8:38 lap, and a 7:57 lap. Then I had about 5:47 left on the clock, and I've run a mile that fast at least twice in my life, so I gave it a shot, but it took me around 7:47, so it doesn't really count. (Splits will be on the web soon. Partial results here.) I ended up covering 82.2 miles and finishing above the median.

Will I do it again? I feel the same as I did after my 100-miler a couple years ago. I remember not loving it during the race, but loving the finish and being very glad I did it, but also thinking that I prefer 50 milers and would only be excited about another 100 if a friend and I were running the entire thing together (Scott & Joe, this means you). However, the race is very close to my house (I took BART and rode my bike), it's held during the school year when I'll definitely be around, and I'm friends with the RD's and run a lot of their races, so I feel a repeat is pretty likely.

I just have to work on a few things:
1. Buy a camp chair. Getting up once you've laid down on the grass sucks.
2. Figure out the iPod thing. I don't think you're in the mental state to have a long attention span. I had two Steve Martin stand-up CD's, and those were awesome. I think I would've been much better off with a bunch of comedy CD's, podcasts like The Moth and TAL, and maybe a good fiction novel on tape, but something funny like Twain or Vonnegut and interspersed with music.
3. See if a patella tendon strap would help. My knees have cooperated with me ever since I got rid of my 50 lb. pack on the AT (knock on wood), but I've never run this much pavement before
and they weren't super happy.
4. Change socks more frequently. I wore road shoes most of the time, so dirt from the dirt portion jumped in and then got ground in on the asphalt portion.

The course yesterday morning

The course this morning

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Running in Circles

I am going to be running laps around Crissy Field in San Francisco non-stop from 9 AM Saturday to 9 AM Sunday. If you're in the area, come say hello and run a few laps with me. If you're not, click here to send me e-mail that the race directors will print out and give to me in real-time. I'm sure I'll be going crazy at 3:42 in the morning and would love to hear from you.

Oh, and what else have I been doing lately? I volunteered against Prop 8 (awesome), did a bunch of TA work (not that awesome), went to a high school buddy's wedding in Madison, Wisconsin (awesome), and finished reading Michael Lewis (of Moneyball fame)'s The Blind Side (not nearly as good as Moneyball).

Me and PC at his wedding.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dick Collins Firetrails 50

I just ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-miler. I'd been told that the course was fast, but I wasn't sure what to expect and was still a little worried about the fact that I didn't feel like I trained very well and that the cutoff was 13 hours, which is faster than I'd ever done a 50 before. Of course, the only 50 I'd done before is Mt. Diablo, which, with 13,340 feet of climbing has more climbing per-mile than all but maybe a couple 100's (Hard Rock, Wasatch), and has more climbing that any other 50 I know of other than maybe San Juan Solstice.

Alas, Firetrails is no Diablo. I got to the 15-mile aid station in just under 3 hours and thought "What? I'm not this fast. Oh well, if I'm doing 5 mph, I guess I better finish in under 10 hours." And I did, in 9:52. But most of the time I was thinking about how much I prefer courses that once every hour or so make you yell "What!? You've got to be f---ing kidding me," as you see how steep the trail ahead of you is. I mean, if it's not 85+ degrees, and you don't get dehydrated, and you don't feel like weeping when the aid station tells you they're out of ice, and your electrolytes don't get out of wack to make you want to vomit, and you don't chafe till you're bleeding, and you aren't forced to walk for several miles because all the sudden you feel like you have a hernia, then what fun is that?

I don't want to seem too critical, as the race was really well organized with tons of aid stations and more fans than I've ever seen at an ultra, I just enjoy steeper, more technical stuff a lot more, and Firetrails is on, well, firetrails, and often flat ones. Most of the time when I'm running flat stuff in ultras I'm wishing it was either (a)downhill so I could bomb down it, or (b)uphill so I'd have an excuse to just walk. I like to think that's also where my comparative advantage lies, but I was pretty much the median runner today, and that's about where I finished on Diablo this year as well.

Overall, a good run and excellent race schwag.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What's Going On

A few people have asked me about the economic crisis. The most accurate and enjoyable sources I have come across are all from NPR. A This American Life show from a few months ago (The Giant Pool of Money) explained everything as it stood then, and they just released another (Another Frightening Show About the Economy). Also, the correspondents are doing a daily podcast (Planet Money) and blog of their own.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Random Things

I spent the weekend volunteering in Reno. Tangentially, I spent the night in a hotel room with three other friends who also don't own a television, and thus we giddily spent the night watching trash like We Are Marshall, Project Runway, and the ridiculously good-looking Gina Carano kicking the snot out of Kelly Kobold.

After the debate last night I went to a talk by Seymour Hersh. I completely respect the guy's journalism, but I was disappointed by his talk. He flitted about from tangent to tangent, and would jump from moving and traumatic stories about the My Lai Massacre or Abu Ghraib (for example, when he first went to visit a soldier involved in My Lai, Paul Meadlo, his mother told him "I sent them a good boy and they gave me back a murderer,") to jaw-droppingly crude ad hominem attacks. I guess I'm torn about it--I agree with what he was saying, I just would've liked a little less bloviation.

My folks live in California, which I'm pretty sure Obama has wrapped up, so I wonder if I can use Sarah Silverman's hilarious video idea to get my parents to vote no on Prop 8. Please? Pretty please?

I love the sign in this Kos post.

I finished reading Kent Haruf's Plainsong. I realized I don't read a lot of fiction, and I've had this lying around for a while, so I moved it to the top of the pile. It was just OK. It's about regular people in a small town in Colorado doing regular-people things. Oddly, other than one offhand mention of Nancy Reagan, the book seemed entirely timeless and could have been set any time since the invention of the automobile. It followed several different people from the same town who didn't overlap in a very significant way, so it seemed sort of disjoint to me. I was also mildly annoyed by the lack of quotation marks around dialogue or indication of who exactly was saying the dialogue. Anyway.