Archive for January, 2009

50 at 50

January 17, 2009

My running friend Ken Hughes turned 50 on Monday, and, like a good ultra-runner he ran a 50 miler — in the SB backcountry with no support.

On a hot day too. (Good for Ken)

This got me thinking again — OK, I’m going to race in July, but I could still run 50 easy on my birthday — run down to Sumerland then turn round and run out to Ellwood, and then back home. Along the coast, fairly frequent water-fountains, past my house again at ~20miles to stock up on GU… something to think about.

And then… then… Someone sent me info about a new ultra. Just over the hills, it has 50K, 50M, and 100K options, and it’s on June — 6. Damn it! Why couldn’t it have been the next week? There is absolutely no point in running a race and having my age come up as 49 on the results.

And then Mike Swan (coach) suggested that I run the 50K as a training run. Hmm. that puts a different perspective on it. I might just do that


I squeal, you squeal, we all squeal for mySQL

January 7, 2009

I’ve never bothered to use a database before. I rarely have the kind of data that needs a database, and if I do I normally write my own code to deal with it.

But at the moment I’m using someone else’s server, and it isn’t clear how I could write a real program to run on it. So I’m forced to use what’s there, forced to learn how to use a database.

After I got past the fact that our database was full of 195 megabytes of spam and wasn’t letting add any new data I was surprised how smoothly things went. The hardest issue is converting the legacy data in its myriad of formats.

And now there is some basic functionality. It works!


January 1, 2009

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green airs and meadows. Fog down the river…

Bleak House, Charles Dickens

I volunteered to help with registration, so I planned to arrive in the dark. I did not anticipate the fog. Thick fog. Fog on my glasses so I can’t really see. I wipe the lenses, the fog is back on them within a quarter mile.

Black night. And Fog.

Just after State St, just before Mission Crk bridge, many small black objects come swarming out at me through the fog. I stop. Ah Coots. The Coots are flying across the bike path just in front of me. Dark Coots in the dark foggy night.

I use the 5K as a warm up, and wait at the registration desk until the race starts — there are always last minute registrants. But once everyone has left, I peel off all my extra layers, and start running myself. Everyone has disappeared into the fog.

Slowly I catch glimpses of a huge pack of the slower people. My glasses, which managed to stay clear in the registration tent, are foggy again. Shapes appear in the mist in front of me and I must navigate through them.

My glasses clear again as I wait for the 10K to start. And then we’re off. Four people ahead of me. I remind myself that I am NOT racing today. My plan is to run hard, 6:20s or so, but not to race. My shin splints still don’t like me going too fast. Half-mile at 3:04. That’s a bit fast. I’m catching up with Ricky, who raced the 5K, and just as I pass him (fourth place now) Shigy, who also raced the 5K, passes me (fifth place again).

6:15 for the first mile. Still a little fast.

It is very foggy. The fog horn in the harbor is on duty. I can’t hear footsteps behind me. I can barely see Shigy in front.  Around the turn.

6:21 for the second mile. Well that seems slow– maybe a little faster?

Shigy slowly vanishes as he slowly increases his lead.

6:13 at mile 3, and then 19:22 as I loop back passed the 5K mark.

Around 3.5miles José shouts to me that I’m in fourth place.

Hunh? I know there are 4 people ahead of me, Aaron, Todd, Joe and Shigy. Maybe José miscounted? And then I see Aaron. He seems to have stopped. Hmm. Well, he did the 5K, maybe he only wanted to run half of the 10K?

No one is visible in front of me. No one is audible behind me. Alone in the fog I’m in my own little world. There’s a great temptation to slow — there’s no one around, no one in front, no one behind, what does it matter? Stop thinking that. I try to maintain pace. 6:12 at mile 4.

As we go round the turn for the second time I notice that Shigy is closer than I had thought. No he’s not. The turn is further off than I thought. After the turn he is again invisible.

6:14 at mile 5.

Yesterday I was thinking that if I ran at 6:20s I might be able to enjoy the view, something I can’t do if I’m really racing. Well, fog is kind of neat, exciting in a weird way, but it means there is no view.

Friends cheer me on as I head back.

Tony tells me someone is 30 yrds back. I think I can pick up the pace slightly.

6:13 at mile 6. Less than a quarter mile to go. I pick up the pace a little more (this shows I am not racing — were I racing I would not be able to pickup the pace again). Is that a good idea? Still got a quarter mile to go…

On the other hand… I start doing math in my head. Let’s see, I’m averaging 6:15s, um, that’s 11seconds/mile less than 40 minute pace, times 6. Hey! I’ve got a good chance of breaking 39. Wasn’t expecting that. Let’s go a bit faster.

Here’s the “1/9th of a mile to go” mark (the 3mile mark on the 5K course), yup going faster seems reasonable. Finish line appears out of the fog. The clock appears.

As I pass into the shoot I see 38:39. A little faster than I promised myself, but not excessively so. (I hope).