Monday, May 30, 2011

This s--- just got real

Sorry, cheesy title, but it was either that, "Let's do this!" or something equally lame; I'm pretty excited.

For some reason there's free public wi-fi at the Park HQ in the Grand Canyon. (For a while there I saw the icon and arrows for an amphitheater and thought "Why is there wi-fi literally on the Canyon Rim?")

I got a backcountry permit this morning with relative ease. I'm starting tonight from Lipan point, headed down to Palisades. Tomorrow I'll hike up the Little Colorado and back to Palisades. Wednesday I'll end up at Cottonwood Creek. Thursday I'll climb out to the South Rim on Kaibab and camp at a walk-in site at Mather Campground. Friday I'll hike down Bright Angel and up to the North Rim and camp at Cottonwood Campground. Saturday I'll hike west to Granite Rapids. Sunday I'll hike as far west on the Tonto as I can get. Monday it's back to Boucher Rapids. Tuesday I'm climbing out via the Boucher Trail to Hermit's.

So no R2R2R run, but I didn't really want to do one anyway with San Diego coming up--long hikes seem like a good balance. Most of these days are coming in around 25 a day, with many opportunities to make them shorter or longer. This is my first serious trip in GC (I came here Thanksgiving '01 and did Grandview/New Hance), so I don't really know anything about cool off-trail areas or anything, I just want to haul apples and cover the main area from East to West. There were basically zero parties scheduled to be in/out of the South Bass trailhead, hence the turnaround on the west end.

Depending on how long it takes me to catch the shuttle then hitch back to my car, I might be back in Vegas Tuesday night, but Wednesday the 8th seems more likely.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


In North Vegas after successful trip to the Racetrack and Corridor Canyon. Racetrack not much different than Panamint dry lakebed, except the rocks get pushed around by the wind and leave tracks. The canyon was cool, narrow in places, but it's named after one long abnormally straight stretch that's pretty neat. Saw a few petroglyphs too. Had to walk only a few miles of the road from Ubehebe Crater yesterday and maybe 10 today before catching a ride. It's probably doable in a sedan--I felt stupid after being passed in the opposite direction by a Miata this morning, but less stupid after the SUV that picked me up told me got a flat yesterday.

I'll probably just head straight to the South Rim now instead of circling around it. I couldn't really do justice to Zion or Bryce or Staircase or whatever, so better to save them for later.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Officially going to try to hitch to the racetrack and hike up corridor canyon.

Last Chance Range

That sounds aptly named.


I'm at the Starbucks in Ridgecrest. (Yes, I could just get a smartphone and then I'd have the Internet everywhere, but that'd be stupid at this point, and scrounging wireless reminds me of the good old days on trail mastering the ins and outs of vagrancy--payphones and the US Postal Service.) Spent the night at Walker Pass Campground near/on the PCT last night. Super windy. Headed to Death Valley right now, will probably look for a trail in the northern half where I've spent less time, then circle north around the Canyon through Utah first before heading to the South Rim--Mountain Meadows Massacre site and Colorado City are calling me.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Heading Out

I'm headed to the Grand Canyon for the next two weeks. I might stop in Death Valley on the way there, and afterwards I'll maybe stop and visit a buddy in Vegas and hit Red Rocks and J-Tree on my way to San Diego for the 100 miler. I'll be back in Berkeley June 13.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bishop High Sierra 100K

I ran the Bishop High Sierra 100K in 13:41:57 this past Saturday. It was hands down the most beautiful race I've ever run. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures on the course, but I did take some pictures from the weekend, which was quite eventful.

I left Berkeley Thursday, and my truck promptly broke down. I had it towed by AAA from Applegate to Truckee, where I spent the night at SW & MT's. Friday I rented a car, drove to Bishop, and went to the pre-race dinner, which was wonderful for everyone else but annoyingly not vegan friendly. (They did have veggie lasagna, so veg folks probably think it rocked, but there was no meatless spaghetti sauce.) I camped at the Millpond campground right next to the race start with my friend Nano and his girlfriend Megan. Saturday she won the women's 20-mile race, and Nano placed top-10 in the 50-mile event. Nano and I ran together for a few hours, but I didn't want to go 50-mile pace when I was running 100K, so he got away from me fairly early. I didn't really push myself, because I didn't want to hurt myself before the San Diego 100, and this is only my second 100K, so I don't have a very good idea of how fast I can run. I didn't think I could keep up a 5mph pace, and I knew I have to do 4.17mph to break 24 in San Diego, so I did some quick math in my head and decided I should beat 4.5mph and run the race in under 14 hours. And that's what I did. My calf cramped a little, so I took a lot more electrolyte tablets than normal, and made an effort to drink a lot of water, and I think that worked--I managed to actually pee a couple of healthy-looking times during the race when I normally don't. It didn't hurt that it was overcast and cool for much of the day--almost ideal race conditions.

The aid stations were wonderful--tons of fresh fruit and potatoes, lots of helpful people, some music, and a great atmosphere. The finish line was rather a let down--very little food there and really nobody hanging around. I prefer a social post-race atmosphere to a social pre-race dinner any day. The race got up to around 9400 feet and was almost all on dirt roads, but the lack of singletrack was completely made up for by running under the sheer east face of the Sierras, and Mt. Humphreys specifically.

I spent Saturday night at the campground, then Sunday drove to Mono Lake and Bodie State Historic Park. I spent the night at Zack & Buddha's in Tahoe City. Monday I drove my limping truck, with a low-end knock and devoid of second gear five miles before the engine completely seized and the truck was dead for good. Having killed it, AAA was now willing to tow it again, so I took it as far as my 100 free miles got me, to Ducky's house in Sacto. I went back Tuesday with the title and got $400 for the scrap. Now I have a spare Club if anyone wants it.

Here's Nano's race report.

Here's a Picasa album of photos from graduation, the race, Mono Lake, Bodie, and a few rather surprising shots of what I see when I look at my neighbor's house through my dining room window.

If you're short on time, here's my favorite shot from the whole trip.

And here's a video I shot in Bodie. It was far away, so the sound is low, but it was a cool moment.

Splits were as follows:
1.51 mi--17:42
5.75 mi--42:55--1:00:38
9.77 mi--51:24--1:52:02
11.27 mi--18:18--2:10:21
14.94 mi--55:18--3:05:39
17.40 mi--25:29--3:31:09
20.39 mi--52:13--4:23:22
23.40 mi--32:09--4:55:31
26.50 mi--36:11--5:31:42
29.00 mi--42:40--6:14:22
31.93 mi--39:46--6:54:09
35.03 mi--45:02--7:39:12
37.49 mi--36:09--8:15:21
41.16 mi--44:25--8:59:47
42.66 mi--18:52--9:18:39
46.39 mi--42:11--10:00:50
48.50 mi--28:30--10:29:20
52.10 mi--1:03:04--11:32:25
54.45 mi--25:40--11:58:06
56.75 mi--39:17--12:37:23
60.35 mi--47:36--13:24:59
62.01 mi--16:57--13:41:57

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Not Too Shabby

I participated in the department graduation ceremony. Notice how I phrased that? There's still a little paperwork to clear up before my graduation becomes official and I get my lollipop from the lady in the admin building.


That's my happy face.

The Seven Year Handshake

Me and the lady friends

Me and the gang

The Labor Office


Home Sweet Evans

I believe I was drunk by this point.

Well, that's it. Orientation was August 6, 2004, math camp started August 9, and I met the dissertation filing deadline of May 13, 2011, so that's seven school years, or six calendar years, nine months and eight days, or 2472 days. But if you give me credit for time off, I wasn't enrolled for one and a half school years, or one calendar year, four months, and three days, or 510 days. So five and a half years, which is pretty much average for a Berkeley Econ PhD.

And what did I do in that time? I lived in Kenya, travelled to Peru, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda, I hiked the Northern California Coast, I yo-yo'd the CDT, I climbed some California 14ers, I climbed some California 14ers solo in winter, I ran 31 ultra-marathons and a few regular marathons, including a 3:00:23 PR, I hiked the length of the Sierra Nevada on a route of my own construction, I biked from SLC to Sac, I mentored a kid from East Oakland, helped people file their taxes, and did some econometrics on cool data about the military labor supply. Alas, I did not learn to surf. I guess there's always law school.
Where am I going now? I'm doing a development economics postdoc. More on that when it becomes official.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PCT 50, A Friend Made and Lost

On Friday May 13, after proctoring a final exam, I caught a plane to San Diego to run the PCT 50, a race almost almost entirely on the PCT from PCT mile 26 at Boulder Oaks to PCT mile 51 at Penny Pines and then back. The course is a strict out and back 99% on the PCT, 100% on single track. It is a big climb on the way out, especially the first 14 or so, and obviously the reverse on the way back. I finished in a 50-mile personal best of 9:36 or so. Splits are as follows:
6.4 mi 1:11:51
14.7 mi 1:30:11--2:42:02
18.5 mi 0:45:56--3:27:59
23.7 mi 0:51:04--4:19:03
25 mi 0:23:31--4:42:34 (Turnaround)
1:14:53--9:36:28 (Finish)

I raced pretty hard. I felt great through 30 miles, bonked in the next few, got very dehydrated and felt fairly horrible from 37-44 or so, but kept going and finished well, if without my 100% of my usual finishing kick.

Although happy with my race, it's all unimportant compared with something else. After "icing" my knees in the ocean at La Jolla Shores after the race, I went with friends to an art show in Torrey Pines on Sunday, then flew home. Monday morning the friend (BH) with whom I'd stayed told me that the friend (TR) to whom he had introduced me that weekend, and with whom I had run the race, who had driven me to and from the race, who was 31 years old, who was a Naval Academy grad, who competed there as a long-distance swimmer, who was an oceanography PhD student at Scripps-UCSD studying ocean rainfall as a way to better measure global warming, who disliked the corporate culture and waste of major triathlons so much he put on his own green race that offset all racers' carbon and collected only two pounds of trash for hundreds of entrants, who was running his third ultra, who by all indications was an amazing athlete and an amazing person, had died in his sleep of a heart attack 36 hours after the race. I don't know many details, but hypertrophic cardiomyopathy sounds like a decent guess.

My condolences go out to those who were lucky enough to know him better than I did. Having only just met him, I don't think it would be appropriate of me to pontificate too much, but let me just say that I believe that going down swinging, and doing what you love, is the best way to go. If I were to die in or because of the mountains (a place where I firmly believe statistics are in my favor compared to driving, or worse, riding my bike in traffic) better when I'm 75 than 31, but still, I can't think of a better way.

RIP TR. You will be missed, and you were going to destroy Leadville.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Do not congratulate me yet--I haven't gotten the official lollipop of approval from the lady in Sproul Hall yet, but I uploaded my dissertation to ProQuest, and I have submitted the form with the signatures of final approval from my adviser and other committee members.

In other news, I have a cold. I also thought I had a cavity, but the dentist said that too was also just my cold. I am hoping I'll be better in time for the PCT 50 outside San Diego this Saturday, but I can't guarantee it.

ADZPCTKO was awesome as usual. Mattress and Heinz were sorely missed this year, but Ducky, Nano, Nitro, and I were keeping hope alive.

Thanks to the high precipitation winter, the wildflowers are crazy this year.

I used the day on Saturday to go scout out some of the San Diego 100 course in Anza Borrego and Cuyamaca Rancho State Parks. Gorgeous.


I rode the train home on Monday from San Diego to Emeryville. I didn't think it's as pretty as other routes I've taken. Maybe that's because I'm a mountains guy and not an ocean guy, but that's also partly due to the fact that I felt I was going to die from the common cold the whole 15-hour ride.

I also went to DC again last week, then spent the weekend at one of my best friend from high school's wedding in NYC. Unfortunately I was sick and just slept for a lot of the weekend, but I saw a matinee of the musical The Book of Mormon, which if you know anything about the plot and my life, is pretty much perfect for me. It was quite funny, but I thought it lagged in the middle and I didn't really like Josh Gad. Andrew Rannells is quite good as the other main missionary though. The wedding was cool in a specifically NYC sort of way: the ceremony on a public peer in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a random young Hasid coming up to congratulate the bride's grandfather the instant the glass was smashed, and taking the subway en masse from the ceremony to the reception.

I'll post on the secret blog again today too.