Sunday, February 24, 2013

Run Log: Feb 18-24, 50-mile PR

86.9 miles for the week. I ran all 7 days, if you count the mostly walking to Target that one day.

I ran NJ Trail Series' Febapple 50-Miler yesterday. (They run the same course called the Mayapple in May, hence February's name.) As I mentioned here earlier, I was hoping to PR and perhaps go below 9 hours. In the end I finished in sixth place in 9:05. Only twenty people or so finished the 50 miler, with another twenty of those who started dropping down to the lower distance races.

When I started the race I felt pretty good, so as I am wont to do, I made my goal a little faster, hoping to maintain constant 10-minute-mile pace and finish in 8:20. I managed to do that fine for the first 25 or so, but my stomach didn't want any more glucose after five Gu gels, and I started getting pretty tired. This seems pretty similar to what happened at Wasatch, where I puked after 25 miles. I'm pretty sure I would have done the same yesterday if I'd forced the issue. I'd like to think the glucose would just go straight to my muscles without needing to get my liver involved, since I thought that's what glucose does, but apparently my stomach isn't a fan. I might try Honey Stingers or Cliff Shots (brown rice syrup) instead, though I typically haven't liked the flavor of Cliff Shots before. Non-ultrarunners are of course thinking "Why not just eat real food?" To which the answer is of course that I'd love to, but it's a lot harder to carry that with you in your pocket so you can eat it every 30-60 minutes like clockwork without much difficulty chewing to keep your stomach working every minute since it can only give you so many calories in an hour.

Anyway, the course was five ten-mile loops, which I ran in 1:33:21, 1:36:29, 1:48:37, 2:08:26 and 1:58:13. The fourth one is slightly exaggerated since I stopped to switch shoes between the third and fourth loops, but clearly, I was slowing down. The weather was cold, grey, and rainy all day long, but at least the rain never really came down very hard. At the end when I was trying to still break nine hours, I was still running as much of the course (I think) but I really had no speed left--it was all 12-minute miles.

The first few laps were quite icy, so I was glad to have the screw shoes. I was indifferent about them on the third lap, so I switched out into my Altra Lone Peaks for the last two loops. It felt great to put on dry socks and then run the mile or so that was on pavement in shoes without sheet metal screws in them. Now that the ice was melting, the course was very muddy, and the anklebreaker rocks were of course still there. Given the course and weather conditions, I'm pretty happy with my performance.

A few photos of me in the race are here.

I managed to run 6 miles with M&M in Philly this morning and felt OK, so I'm looking forward to a speedy post-race recovery. Now for a few weeks of midterm exam-giving and regular training. Next race up is probably a March 16 repeat of the 50K in the Marin Headlands from a couple weeks ago. Sub 5!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Screw Shoes

Screw like a noun, not a verb. It's icey out there.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Climate Rally

Swarthmore students arranged a couple buses to go to the Club/Hip-Hop Caucus rally against the Keystone XL pipeline, so I went along for the ride. It was extremely cold, but I made a witty sign and my sister and niece came out, and we had a great time (4 hours seems like the appropriate amount of time for me to spend with my family).

Here are some pictures:
Why that exact number, I don't know.

This is probably my favorite picture. George's hounddog brother from another mother!

People really came from all over. I haven't heard an NPS estimate of how many people came, but organizer self-estimates were between 35 and 50K. Given the high temps around freezing, with a wicked wind coming off the tidal basin, I think that's pretty great.


E & N with my sign

Crazy guy unaffiliated with the rally

The Lorax

Trying to get a shot of the size of the crowd

Lots of polar bears in attendance, this one had the most life-like costume.

There were a lot of anti-fracking messages in addition to Keystone stuff. Also a bit of anti-nuclear stuff as well, but for a liberal rally, it seemed pretty on-message.

High Five

Again, Word.

On the way home I read this NYT article about Obama's decision on the pipeline. Aside from the blatantly inaccurate and offensively stupid line: "While Mr. Obama comes from the liberal wing of his party...", it's pretty interesting. If I had to bet on the outcome, I'd say that Obama is going to approve the pipeline, but try and reach some middle ground by requiring that some of the profits from the pipeline go towards renewable energy R&D. This will of course please next to no one.

Being resigned to the passage of the pipeline, and the basic Game Over for the planet led me to a strange conclusion, however. I've been worried that basically, temperatures will continue to rise out of control, and (human?) life will eventually end on planet Earth. But isn't it a little Malthusian to think that we won't come up with ways to adapt or geoengineer our way out of it? I mean, humans basically suck, and most of us are just smarter monkeys with better thumbs, but occasionally some of us, often the ones at Harvard or MIT, you know, slow down the speed of light, or something like that. So it doesn't seem too crazy to think that one of these folks will invent algae that eat C02 and poop coal and oxygen. I'm not saying that it will be a perfect solution, or that life won't get even more crappy for most in the developing world, and that the north pole won't be open water, or that Bangladesh and its inhabitants will still exist, or that there won't be massive forest fires and droughts in the western US, or that racist homophobic white retirees won't prevent the political action or large infrastructure projects necessary from saving New Orleans and Manhattan, because all that totally will happen, but humans won't die out; we'll just live in a Blade Runner-like future with lots of acid rain and no birds. So in conclusion, geo-engineering: it's the way of the future. Just look how well everything worked out for us with financial engineering.

Run Log: February 11-17

Ugh. I only ran 52.6 this week. I missed Monday by flying back from SF, and Sunday by going to the climate change rally in DC. My hamstrings were sore and I was limping a little walking around the hallways at school Tuesday and Wednesday, but I ran 10 on Thursday and felt great, running sub-9's. Then alum Jonathan Franzen spoke on campus, and he was great.

But Saturday I felt like garbage and was really slow. I knew I didn't have it in me to run a bunch of loops in Crum, so I tried to run an out and back along a road route (it's much easier to force myself to get home from far away then it is to run another loop when I'm at my front door), but I sucked at following the signs for the supposedly bicycle safe route from my house to Philly, and there weren't always sidewalks, so it wasn't George's favorite. I still managed a slow 15.

I think I might be getting a cold. Suboptimal for both school and running my 50-miler this weekend. I'm also listening to Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History while running, and I'm a little disappointed. So far it's coming across as a dry military history, with a lot of (racist? unfair?) sections on how Comanches raped and tortured their prisoners.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Run Log: Februrary 4-10, 50K PR

Mileage was low this week, with zeroes on Monday, Friday, and Saturday. I would like to have two of those three back, but far more importantly, I ran my first race of the year on Sunday: Coastal Trail Runs' Golden Gate 50K. As I previously mentioned, I was hoping to break 5 hours. 30K and 50K runners started together, so I made sure to be close to the front because I didn't want to be part of a traffic jam on the single file staircase about a mile in. Unfortunately I was a little bit thrown off by my Garmin not booting correctly. Most times that I charge it, the first time I use it after that, it takes 10 minutes or so to boot correctly and even start looking for the satellites. Having run into this before, I turned the watch on a solid half-hour before the race started, and to my surprise, everything seemed fine. So I turned it off to save batteries, and then five minutes before the start when I turned it on again, it decided not to like me. It kicked in 6 minutes into the race, so I just had to remember that offset (it doesn't show time of day very well at all, just elapsed stop-watch time).

Anyway, I felt great almost the whole race. I ran most of the first hill (except for the steps) and down to the first aid station at Tennessee Valley. The hill out of TV (mile 5) is steep and not runnable, which I was fine with. There are also some stairs coming out of Pirate's cove (mile 7) that are steep as well. Back through  TV and up a different hill (mile 10), which isn't quite as steep, and I ran every step of it, which I knew I had to do to break 5 hours. Everything was fine through the next aid station and also at the pass-through aid station at the start/finish, which I reached in exactly three hours, and after 30K. I grabbed a couple gels and a hat from my drop bag and was quickly on my way. The last 20K were the same as the first 30, with the steep TV loop in the middle removed, so I ran the same hill as at the start, probably a little slower this time since there weren't (m)any other runners around me now. I ran the long gradual hill out of the TV aid station again, and was still feeling pretty good, but when I got to the top of it, I was definitely starting to feel it.

Did I mention the course has 6,320 feet of climbing? With hills this big, it's impossible to be running even 9:40's. Sometimes I should be proud of myself for a 12-minute mile, and sometimes I should be disappointed with a sub-7. I really only have a chance of tracking my time well because (a) the course is a modified loop and (b) I've run the race 4 times before. I certainly hadn't gained any time over the previous loop, but I didn't think I'd lost any either, so I had a chance. The last little blip of a hill (mile 28) was killer, but I dropped a couple sub-7's at the very end and was passing people (from an assortment of race distances) the whole time. Maybe my finishing kick wasn't as crazy as it normally is, but that's probably because I actually ran hard the whole race.

In the end I crossed the finish line in 5:02:15. I was fourth place overall, third in my age group. That's my personal best in the 50K, and also the best placing. I'm happy with it, but I'd be happier with 4:59:38, or something like that. Oh well. A different company is putting on 95% the same race March 16, when it just so happens I will be in California again for Spring Break. We'll see. For now, I'm looking forward to the Febapple Frozen 50 in just 12 days. The course description doesn't have an elevation profile that I can find, but last year's median time was 10:20 or so. My 50-mile PR is 9:35, so I think I'll go out trying to break that and see what happens. It's 5 laps around a 10-mile course, so I'll need to do 1:55 laps, or 11:30 miles. Apparently I can definitely do that over 31 miles, we'll just have to see about the last 20. Or maybe I'll just go for sub-9 hours? That would be 10:48's. I wish I had some idea of the amount of climbing.

Regardless, back to training.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Computer Boringness, Classes

Bought a new Western Digital 750 GB hard drive for my laptop, and an enclosure for the original 160GB drive, which I'll now use as a Time Machine backup for my Swat Macbook Pro. (I have 3 laptops, I now have 3 back-ups). By dint of my Swat machine not having an insane amount of music on it, 160GB will be plenty of space to back up all the research I could ever imagine myself doing. I loaded the new 750GB drive with my latest Time Machine backup, and aside from the fact that TM doesn't recognize that this computer is the same as the one it was two hours ago and is now doing a backup from scratch that will take hours and eat up a ton of space, everything is fine. (This is apparently avoidable with a few terminal commands, but it seems like a pain and it's really no big deal.) Dropbox and Google Drive also didn't recognize that the computer is the same, but that was as simple as logging in again.

In conclusion, I'll never again have to bother deleting movies and TV shows I've already watched, despite the fact that I have no intention of every watching them again. And I can create a partition on the hard drive that boots into Ubuntu, because that's what the cool kids do.

Taught students about Bayes' Theorem in stats and Hall and Jones' paper on social infrastructure and income levels in development today. The development students aren't required to have any stats training, so it's daunting (foolhardy, most likely) to try and explain regression, multiple regression, endogeneity, and instrumental variables all at once to students who have never seen any of that material before, but hopefully there are enough examples throughout the semester that it'll become clear by the end.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Run Log January 28-February 3

70.1 miles for the week. Low mileage Monday and Tuesday thanks to icy roads, but 10 and 13 on Wednesday and Friday (non-teaching days), and 17 and 18 yesterday and today. Yesterday I just ran in Crum, but a local running partner and I met up halfway through, so it basically felt like I'd gotten reinforcements, and doing loops enough times to get my mileage was no problem. (It's usually a little boring to run enough loops in Crum to get more than 10 miles.) Today I had a friend in Philly with me for just the start, but it was pretty easy to get the mileage since I was doing an out and back and wanted to get to the Wissahickon, since I'd never connected Kelly to the park before.
I'm running a 50K next Sunday in the Marin Headlands while gf and Gazelle run a half marathon. I'm going to be pretty upset if I don't break 5 hours. There's a 4% climbing grade, which is pretty nuts, but I think it's equally nuts that I have yet to break 5 hours. 31 9:40's. I can do that.
The 18 miles made George pretty chill for the Super Bowl party. He also scored a yak bone (yes, yak) and chicken scraps, so I think he had a good time.

Bridge in the Wissahickon
Other random thoughts: World War Z is not that great a book, but The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is astonishingly good. Drown, also by Junot Diaz, is a bit of a letdown by comparison. I don't have time to read much anymore, but I'm running enough that I'm all caught up on podcasts and throw in books on tape (both of the Diaz).