Even more running and riding

I finished off 2013 with a bit over 3,400 combined miles running and cycling. A bit over 600 of that was running, a good 100 miles less than last year. I’m running the Colorado Marathon again this year, though this time with a larger group of friends. That means it’s time to start training. Unfortunately, I’m still recovering from a broken rib that happened at the beginning of December while playing hockey. And, heh, I’m also recovering from the flu. The 16 week training period doesn’t actually start for a week, but I’ve only run twice in the last month. Hopefully I’ll get a few runs in this coming week before the countdown begins.

In any case, part of the ritual is reviewing how training went last year. The two plans in the table below are from the book The Marathon Method. Training this past year didn’t go quite as smoothly as the previous year. Hopefully this year will be a bit more consistent.

2013 training

BTC and Hiking

It’s been some time now, but the Bicycle Tour of Colorado was a blast. I rode with my friends John and Barry, and we’re really quite compatible speed-wise. Each of us beat the others to the top of a more than one climb, and we rode together for a good part of the week. And better still, we had a great time seeking out the brew pubs in each of the towns we stopped in. (And there are a lot!)

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Here we are at the top of Independence Pass.

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This was a slightly more common occurrence. We found beer everywhere. Good beer, even. And usually locally brewed.

On the rest day in Crested Butte I decided to ride the chair lift to the top of the ski area and hike to the top of the Butte. Then I walked all the way to back to the condo. I was more sore from that hike than any of the cycling days. But it was still a great way to spend the day off.

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Me, at the top of Crested Butte.

Here’s a bunch more photos I shared of the week.

Here’s the week according to Strava:

The Crested Butte hike was just the first of many this summer. The following week I climbed Grays and Torreys Peaks and then climbed Mount Yale with my friend Blade.

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And this past weekend my twin sister Jeannette came out and she made me climb Mount Audubon with here.

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This coming weekend I’m planning to climb Huron Peak with Blade and a few more folks. I’ll try to post pics of that a little sooner….

Colorado Marathon and the impending BTC

It’s been over a month since I ran the Colorado Marathon. I finished ~14 minutes faster than last year, but missed my goal by a good bit. Here are my results. My official time was 4:49:05. Here’s what my GPS said I did on Strava.

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This year, I really did try to push my pace a bit. I felt good most of the way. I was with the 4:30 pace group until the half marathon mark where I decided to stop for a pit stop. Even with the stop, I think the 2:17:47 time was a personal record. (If not, it’s close. I didn’t need to use the port-a-potties all that badly, so it’s a moral PR if nothing else.)

I ran the first five or so miles with my friend Patrick. We run at nearly the same speed, so it’s a good match. But he took a pit stop early, so I didn’t see him again until the finish.
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Here’s a picture as I was approaching the finish. This is probably just before my legs gave out.
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They didn’t literally give out, of course. But the fast starting pace finally caught up in the last few miles. With about 5 miles to go, the 4:45 pace group caught up to me. I stuck with them for a couple of miles, but just couldn’t keep it up. At about mile 25, I really needed to walk, and did so for a good 1/4 mile. The data on Strava shows the slow down pretty well. 🙂 (My GPS gave me extra mileage in the middle of the race, so it thinks my pace is under 11:00, though in reality it was a few seconds over.)

Even with the rookie mistake of going out too fast, I’m pleased with my results. Pacing is hard for such a long run. I pushed too hard to maintain the pace the whole way, but I didn’t push so hard that I couldn’t finish.

Next up for me (this weekend!) is the Bicycle Tour of Colorado. I’m riding with a couple of friends from Boulder who I ride with often. It’ll only be three of us because two dropped out after a bad accident a few weeks back. Blade and Alma are recovering well, but aren’t ready for the ride. Alma really shouldn’t ride until next season. Her crash was particularly bad, requiring emergency brain surgery. Her story is here. I was involved in the crash as well, but only had a small bruise on my shin.

I won’t go into more details here, but it was relatively slow speed crash at only 20 mph. It really reminds me how fragile we are. I plan to take next week’s riding especially carefully.

Toenails neatly trimmed

Actually, I trimmed them about a week ago to make sure they’d have time to heal before tomorrow’s marathon, just in case I did it poorly.

Training has gone pretty well this year. I have just over 350 miles in – just slightly less than last year. I missed two of my long runs – one because of a cold, and one due to our crazy spring snow. But I still got in two 20 mile training runs. The first was quite slow (12:30/mi) and had me really doubting that I could improve my time this year. I really didn’t feel good the whole run. But I did finish and wasn’t terribly sore afterwards.

The second went quite well. It was the Rocky Mountain Road Runners 20 mile marathon training run. I managed a 10:30/mi pace and felt strong the whole way. I don’t know if I can manage that pace for another hour, but I’m gonna give it a shot. Last year, I finished in 5:03. That’s a bit slower than I hoped (and expected). That may happen again this year, but if all goes well, I’m shooting for 4:35 (that 10:30/mi pace). There are pace groups this year, so I may try to stick with the 4:30 group. And if I can’t, I’ll just keep running.

One nice change this year is the lack of injury. Last year, I strained my Achilles two weeks before the race and I was really worried it would keep me from finishing. I babied it for the first 1/3 of the race before settling in and mostly forgetting about it. This year, my back has been a bit stiff, but that’s really nothing new. I’ve been rowing every week and doing core strength exercises. I can’t say that that’s helped, but it certainly has hurt.

Once this is done, I’m really looking forward to switching back to cycling. I signed up for the Bicycle Tour of Colorado with my cycling friends, and have felt like a slacker not getting in enough miles. That will change starting Monday. (Well, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday….) After the BTC, I’ll do the Courage Classic for the fifth time. I have a friend who wants me to the Imogene Pass Trail Run with him in September. It looks insanely hard and would be quite a commitment to tack on. I’ll have to decide if it’s possible soon.

Now, I’m off to Fort Collins to pick up my race packet and continue carbo-loading. Woohoo! Here goes nothing!

ewingdev has moved

I finally flipped the switch and ewingdev.com is hosted in the cloud. This will allow me to get rid of my old, slow DSL service and switch our main wifi over to using our SkyBeam internet. I’m not quite done moving all the old web content over, but it’s getting there.

Another year of biking and running

As the year closes down, I’m about to hit 3000 miles total. That’s about 2300 miles on the bike and 700 running. I’ve signed up for the Colorado Marathon again, so I’ve transitioned back to running more than riding. Running really is more pleasant in the cold after all.

As I plan for the marathon, I wanted to look back at how training went last year. I came amazingly close to the the 16 week plans that I’d been following. I knew that skiing would get in the way of some real training, but that’s a good tradeoff to make for me. I put together a table of the two training plans I was looking at (the beginner and intermediate plans from The Marathon Method).

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(I pasted a picture because I’m simply too lazy to deal with formatting tables in WordPress.)

I did four organized runs for the long runs as noted above (Frosty’s Frozen 10, Ralston Creek Half Marathon, and two Rocky Mountain Road Runner 20 mile runs). I managed to do more miles in my long runs than the even the intermediate plan had, but I was otherwise closer to the beginner plan. That’s probably because I rarely ran more than three times per week. I’ll shoot for about the same amount of training this time around.

Christian Politics

Hmm… I seem to have written this back in September, but never posted it. What the heck. I still think this way.

I started writing up a comment on the post I shared on Facebook about God in the GOP platform. I kinda kept typing and typing. So here it is separately.

I often share stories about religion and politics. It gets old to me, even. But this stuff does matter. You have a responsibility to think about how you vote. If you’re religious, your religion should inform how you vote.

First, I’m atheist, but I was brought up in church. My church studied the teachings of Jesus, but I suppose it emphasized the “good” over the “god”.

I’ve always been fascinated by religions. As I get older, one thing that fascinates me more is how often people talk about how religious they are, but completely ignore the tenets of their religion. Being a good Christian is not about how often you use the word “God”, it’s about helping your fellow man. I don’t claim to be good at that, but I also don’t claim to be Christian. If you claim to be Christian, you’re setting the bar pretty high. I’m proud that I have some good friends who pass the test. It’s no surprise to me that they also vote Democrat.

I understand that if you’re against abortion why you’d feel pulled towards the Republican party. But the hard-lined tactics against abortion are doomed to failure. There are much more reasonable ways to decrease the abortion rate (there are no ways to eliminate abortions altogether). They all start with education. You don’t see Republicans promoting education. And sorry, Republicans are using you on this issue. They’re sucking you in, knowing that if you care deeply about abortion, you’ll overlook all the other anti-Christian parts of their platform.

Opposition to universal healthcare is perhaps the most anti-Christian stand that I can imagine. Two thousand years ago, helping your fellow man often meant comforting them as they died from some sickness or accident. In the modern world, we can do so much better than this. But access to healthcare is limited and expensive. Obamacare (I hate that term even if Obama has come to accept it) is a very small step that improves things and even decreases the deficit. It’s current form has most of its roots in past Republican policy and gives far too many concessions to the huge insurance providers and pharmaceuticals.

I know most of the objections to universal healthcare are basically anti-big government arguments. People claim that governments are inherently inefficient. But sorry, the best run, most efficient insurance out there is Medicare. That’s your government. Sure it needs improvement. But it still works better than most insurance companies.

And I simply find for-profit insurance companies to be an immoral business. When Jesus spoke of caring for the sick, he didn’t say “only if he pays you well”. At least Obamacare limits insurance companies’ profits, and it stops them from dropping coverage if a patient gets too sick and costs them too much. This is a huge step forward. If you’re against this, then you’re anti-Christian. It’s that simple.

Venus Transit 2012

There’s a little black spot on the sun today…

On June 5th, Venus passed directly between the Sun and the Earth. This happens in pairs eight years apart, twice every 120 years or so. The last transit, in 2004, wasn’t visible from Colorado, so I missed it. I did see a transit of Mercury some years ago. That’s not all that rare.

I took this rather cool event as an opportunity take some pictures through my 12.5″ scope. Yes, I have an observatory in my back yard. It doesn’t see too much use these days. I got into astronomy while working at Symantec, and, well, being rather bored. I’m not nearly so bored at Apple (usually!), so astronomy has taken a back seat.

Anyhow, I practiced taking photos a few days ahead of time so that I’d know what I was doing. The best results came from just holding my camera up to the eyepiece. (I put it into manual mode to get the focus right and adjust the shutter speed based on how cloudy the views were.)

Here’s a shot as Venus moves onto the face of the Sun. There were plenty of clouds at that point, but still enough light coming through to get nice shots.

This next one shows Venus fully on the face of the Sun. The clouds were a bit thicker, but some sunspots are easily visible too.

I took this shot directly with my camera, zoomed in at 20x, through a Thousand Oaks filter. The filter lets though more yellow light than the one on my large scope. Kinda pleasing. My large scope has a homemade filter that uses Baader Solar Film.

This is one of the best shots I managed. You can see more sunspots, and the large ones have a clear penumbrae around them. The view through the eyepiece was spectacular at times. Lots of small sunspots were visible, as well as a good bit of granulation across the face.

This last picture as things were getting more cloudy towards the western horizon.

I’d been hoping to get some shots as the Sun set behind the Rockies. Unfortunately, there’s a tree very close to the observatory that obscured the view.

Also on that night, Teresa was entertaining about 40 kids and parents from the robotics team she mentors. A large percentage of them came out to take a peak through the scope. It was very busy at times, and certainly more folks looked through the beast than any other time since I’ve owned it.

Bolder Boulder 2012

Since I was still feeling fine after the marathon, I figured I’d do the Bolder Boulder again this year and see how much I’ve improved. It was a fun run, but very different than last year.

Last year I felt like a ran along with most of the crowd, but with plenty of people passing me. I passed very few people along the way. This year it was the opposite. I found myself passing people constantly. It was a rather nice feeling. 🙂

I’m not saying I’m fast. Far from it. But I beat my time from last year by almost 11 minutes (almost 2 minutes/mile!). And I finished in the top 1/4, instead of almost exactly half way back. I stopped at pretty much every water station and had a gulp or two of Gatorade, and dumped water on my head. It wasn’t incredibly hot, but still hotter than last year.

Here’s my GPS data on Strava. I think links to the official results become stale, so here they are in line:

bib number: GK198
overall place: 12375
location: Longmont, CO
division: M47
division place: 135 out of 395 click
gender place: 8227 out of 21460 click
mile 1: 8:58.82
mile 2: 9:25.73
mile 3: 9:48.75
mile 4: 9:37.00
mile 5: 9:07.31
mile 6: 9:45.74
net time: 58:36.38
pace: 09:25

The view of the start of one of the many, many waves.

There are lots of crazy costumes.

The woman who started in front of me. The Vibram Five Finger shoes aren’t so weird, but the jeans are!

We finish up in Folsom Field. What a beautiful day!

And because I’m a nerd, here are my results from last year in line (it’s still possible to get to the official results, but it seems difficult to get a direct link that will stand the test of time, though I did just try):

bib number: G095
overall place: 24559/49211
location: Longmont, CO
division: M46
division place: 262/411
gender place: 13833/22358
mile 1: 10:37
mile 2: 10:32
mile 3: 11:23
mile 4: 11:27
mile 5: 11:20
mile 6: 11:40
net time: 1:09:22
pace: 11:09

Colorado Marathon Pics

It occurs to me that I didn’t put any pictures up for the marathon. How silly. Poudre Canyon is really pretty, and made for a great downhill run.

This is the view near the start. The sun’s just coming up.

As I said, it’s a pretty canyon. Margaret’s just in front of me. This is just before she took off on me.

The woman in bright green was a slave to the alarm on her watch. She’d run for a few minutes and pass me. Then her alarm would go off and she’d start walking, and I’d pass her. There were quite a few people doing the run/walk thing.

Margaret’s the black spot just in the sun ahead of me. That’s about the last I saw of her for an hour or so.

Coming out of the canyon.

And I caught her! Actually, I think I passed her at a rest stop, and she caught me.

Margaret getting a high five from Evonne at the finish. 26.2 miles!

Stuffing ourselves with burgers and fries.

And one picture together in the lobby of the Armstrong Hotel before they headed home. (I truly didn’t realize how short they are until I saw this picture. 🙂 )