Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Road from Karakol [FULL]

The full (25 minute) version of Kyle Dempster's The Road from Karakol is on Youtube. Great scenery, and an amazing adventure, but I think his voice over narration is a little hamfisted.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Oh Goody 2

Lyme disease in next week's New Yorker. I assume it's only a matter of time until I get it. I find a tick on me or George about one for every two or three hours of running.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Oh Goody

It will be sunny on race day. None of this unseasonably cool nonsense.


Am I being an elitist adventure snob, or is this year's crop of Outside Adventure Grant finalists a little weak? 4 out of 5 of these won't take longer than a month. The run across Africa seems the toughest, but it bugs me that they hype the vertical climbing as "two and a quarter times that of Everest." Over the course of 3,000+ miles? You know that means your route is essentially flat, right? But I guess they're trying to raise money for a good cause, so I'll stop hating on them.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Printed program in the mail pre-race? Fancy.

Silver buckle or vomit a lot trying.

The Best Gear Review Ever

Semi-Rad's shoe review is amazing. Like he says, "You should get a pair. Of shoes."

Like my friends at The Trail Show say, "Less gear, more beer."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ben Got His PhD

My friend Ben was posthumously awarded his PhD in economics from UCSD this past weekend. The UCSD economics department has a tribute page that is worth reading here. Also, the department and Ben's friends are raising funds for the Benjamin C. Horne Memorial Prize to further research in Ben's areas of interest: peace, international cooperation, development, and environmental protection. You can read more about that here; I'd love you if donated.

Another good cause only slightly less close to my heart is the CDT. The previous non-profit that partnered with the Forest Service to manage it went belly-up a year or two ago, but there's a new group, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition that is trying to take over; their campaign is here.

Hard Rock

Elevation Outdoors article on the race. I've put in for the lottery at least twice so far, and I'll keep doing so every year until I get in.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Nerds: Stata 13 drops on June 24!

From their press release:
We should mention the improved help-file searching, and Poisson with endogenous covariates, and that Stata now supports FTP and secure HTTP, and fast PDF manual navigation, and seven noncentral-t and noncentral-F functions, and JavaAPI, and ordered probit with Heckman style sample selection, and the new way of estimating ML models without writing an evaluator program, and the new fractional-polynomial prefix command, and intraclass correlations, and that quantile regression can now produce robust estimates of standard errors, and that factor variables now support value labels for labeling output, and the new way to import data from Haver Analytics, and automatic business-calendar creation, and the new import commands that make reading data really easy, and how you can create Word and Excel files from Stata, and how you can solve arbitrary nonlinear systems, and a lot of other things.

And Stata 13 contains the most requested feature of all: You can now type cls to clear the Results Window.

Learn more about everything at stata.com/stata13
My personal favorite: 2-billion-character-long strings. No more people from the research project I worked on 7 years ago e-mailing me to see if I still have the original Access database files so that we can track down our respondents using the directions to their houses, which Stata cut off at 244 characters.

Run Log: June 10-16

60 miles of running and 60 on the bike. My long runs have been tough lately, but it's been 80 degrees and humid, so I'm not super worried about it. States is two weeks away. I'll probably run 40 this week, and 20 or less the week of the race, then break 24 hours.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Feeling Good After 100

Sure, I can go wander around some slot canyons with gf after a decent 100-miler, but I couldn't do this:

Friday, June 14, 2013

SNAP Challenge

Continuing on with this post and this post of mine about politicians being able to understand problems they themselves don't have, here's this dKos post: 20 Democrat reps are trying to live for a week on what SNAP provides, in protests of cuts to the program that Republicans are insisting be in the farm bill. Barbara Lee's actually done it before, for real.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hippies making pizza in a portable brick oven at a trail race

This is my plan B career when academia doesn't work out. The only way to improve it is to tow it by bicycle.

Cheap as dirt last year's NB MT110

I like them (based on a quick mile around campus). They are quite tight on the inside of the arch, but they should be a nice addition to my rotation.

Naked in Kyrgyzstan

This adventure film looks fun, and reminds me of a dear friend.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Run Log: June 3-9

46 total, 39 running. I took Monday and Tuesday off with traveling and resting after Bryce, but then got going again. I found my "long" run on Saturday pretty worrying--I basically felt like garbage and walked a bunch of it, and thought that maybe Bryce recovery was going to take me a lot longer than I expected. However, my run on Sunday was much better: a standard loop in the Wissahickon with a few more miles around Swat in the evening. So I think things are OK. Hopefully this week and next will be 50+, and then I can calm down the week before States.   

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The trails were a little wet.

It rained a little

Gear: Headlamps and Shoes

Recently I bought a couple pairs of Brooks Pure Grits (last year's model), but returned them. Instead I ordered my second pair of Altra Lone Peaks (last year's model). I wore them for miles 1-61 of the Bryce 100 and they felt good, but it was nice to switch to something a little beefier for the finish (a pair of Brooks Cascadia 6). I was worried I'd set off something in my knee, but they felt great. So I just ordered another pair of Cascadias, this time model 7. I also ordered a pair of New Balance MT110, solely because they were $40, and they have free shipping and free returns if I truly hate them.

So for right now, I'm pretty happy with my trail shoe situations. I'll start States in my new-ish Altras, then switch out to the Cascadias about halfway when the pounding is making the dogs bark.

I stopped at the Las Vegas REI on the way to Bryce looking for a 200+ lumen headlamp with a rechargeable lithium battery. Nothing fit that bill, but the salesperson suggested I try the Black Diamond Revolt, a 110 lumen with NiMH rechargeable via USB AAA included. I used it for the race, but was underwhelmed. It claims 12 hours of battery power on the high setting, and I have no major dispute about that, I just want a light that is bright. One that makes me think "Good lord this light is bright! I better haul ass, because if I don't, I'm a total tool for carrying a light this powerful when a dinky little 2-LED Tikka that only cost $35 would do the job."

For training runs I carry my Light & Motion Urban 550, which is nearly perfect. It doesn't need a mounting bracket on my bike, and it fits perfectly in the palm of my hand for running. It only gets 1.5-3 hours of battery life, however, but it recharges via USB, so that's fine for bicycle commuting or moderate training runs. I just need something with more battery power for overnight races.

I think my options are the Light & Motion Stella 300, the Petzl Nao, or the Petzl Ultra Rush. I'm leaning 1 or 3. The Nao is "reactive," meaning it adjusts brightness depending on the ambient lighting, which seems stupid, especially since I don't put my headlamp on until well later than most people.  I like the Stella because I could hold it in my hand--I'm not much of one for actually putting a headlamp on your head, despite the name. The angle of the light when I do that seems to destroy depth perception and even make me a little queasy after a while. Now, that's at 50-75 lumen. Would the same be true at 150-300? I've never tried that.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Saving the Most Lives

This is what I sometimes claim my development economics is all about. But trying to know the objective function I'm trying to (or should be) maximize is difficult. Shouldn't climate change be part of it, especially if life on planet Earth is at stake? Should my own happiness, which really wouldn't be maximized by working on Wall Street? Couldn't you be more effective in the long run by encouraging a bunch of others to do the "best" thing instead of actually doing that "best" thing yourself? Hard to say.

h/t for the seriously thought-provoking and interesting article: Blattman.

Monday, June 03, 2013

While I was out.

While I was adventuring all over southern Utah, it seems others were out as well.

Here's a crazy traverse of Zion by Buzz Burrell, Jared Campbell, and Ryan McDermott. I don't know the park well enough to understand the traverse exactly, but the pictures of them setting some sort of climbing rig from an inescapable pothole and rappelling in wesuits tell quite a story.

Others crossed the Bob Marshal Wilderness.

Oh, and Tony K is starting to put bits of Nolan's 14 together in preparation for a go at the whole thing, but you probably already knew that.

I wish I were still out there.

Bryce 100

I just got back from an excellent trip to southern Utah for the Bryce 100. Wednesday night I flew to Vegas and stayed with my buddy Nielsen. Thursday I picked up gf at the airport and drove to Dixie National Forest just west of Bryce Canyon National Park, picked up my race packet, ate some delicious pizza (with no cheese) baked by some awesome hippies on a mobile brick oven trailer, and slept. Friday I ran 100 miles. 25 hours and 56 minutes later I finished doing that. I took a nap for a few hours, drank some beer, ate more pizza, and then went and hiked down a slot canyon. Sunday we hiked around Cedar Breaks National Monument and then Fire Canyon in Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park. Took the red-eye home and here we are; you're all caught up.
Willis Creek in Grand Staircase Escalante NM
Willis Creek--easily accessible non-technical slot outside Cannonville, UT
View on the BLM road to Willis Creek
Devil's Garden on Hole-in-the-Rock Rd near Escalante, UT
Cedar Breaks National Monument outside Cedar City, UT
Squeezing out of Fire Canyon
Fire Canyon,Valley of Fire State Park
Near Mouse's Tank, Valley of Fire State Park

If you want details:

Here's the GPS, though it's actually only the data for miles 39 to the finish. I didn't start wearing it until then because the battery only lasts ~20 hours.

 I highly recommend the Bryce 100. The first 35 miles or so are spectacular singletrack with some of the prettiest running I have ever done (unfortunately I wasn't carrying my camera). The course was mostly an out and back, and most of miles 35-65 or so were on dirt roads, as well as most of 80-100, but there were still great views for much of that. It was both very hot (80 during the day?) and very cold (30 at night?). I felt great through mile 35, but the climb to 45 took it out of me. I did the first 50 in 11 hours, then promptly vomited and got no food to stay down the rest of the race. A man can only run so fast on ginger ale and soup broth.

I saw crew for the first time and picked up my pacer at mile 61. (The race director said 4WD might be necessary to get to earlier aid stations, but it turned out it would have been doable in the 2WD rental.) Nielsen ran (walked, mostly) with me to mile 89, then gf ran the long-feeling 11 miles to the finish. I of course was hoping to break 24 hours, but I finished in 25:56. That's a new PR by 36 minutes, so I'm happy about that. My stomach problems were definitely less bad than at Wasatch, but I'd really like to be able to eliminate them completely. Eliminate gels completely and try real food, since that seemed to work OK for my first handful of 100's? That's the plan. I'll probably carry dates and hope for lots of broth at Western States.

After the race I recovered just fine. Sort of ridiculously well, perhaps. Meaning I probably had gas left in the tank and could have broken 24 hours. But at the time I really felt like I was spent--I couldn't eat anything, and on hills the the cold air and cold water and cold body prevented me from taking anything but the shallowest of breaths--I had to stop and pant, and running made me burp and get hiccups that wouldn't go away until I took warm broth at the next aid station. Nielsen entertained me with stories, but I couldn't do much talking of my own. Yet, as always, the sun came up, I finished the race, and I soon felt fine enough to go drive all over Utah and hike a slot canyon. Now all I feel is a little bit of "thickness" in my calves, but I otherwise feel recovered, if sleepy from taking a redeye.

I knew I'd be fine when the race ended, so I used stickk.com to try and overcome this. I used a conservative acquaintance from grad school to put $25 on the line to the "anti-charity" known as the National Rifle Association. Perhaps if I'd put $500 on the line, I would have cared more about the children at midnight despite the vomiting and the weakness, but $25 wasn't enough. Basically, I'm mentally weak and now I need to give $50 to the Brady Campaign to make up for it. And run sub-24 at Western States.