Archive for May, 2013

Climate Change Continues

May 20, 2013

Many newspapers have pointed out the fact that the surface temperature of the earth has not changed markedly over the last 15 years. And in turn some seem to think that because of this climate change is not happening.

Although there is more to climate change than the surface temperature of the earth let us first look at the that claim. After some time spent websearching I found NASA’s downloadable global dataset of land and (surface) ocean temperatures (actually, temperature anomalies — the difference between temperatures and a baseline average). This dataset contains monthly and yearly anomaly data back to 1880. Links to the methodology for calculating the global summary data are here.

Temperature Anomaly between 1880 and 2012 (base temperature is the average between 1950 and 1980). The black line in the upper left shows the best linear fit to the anomalies between 1998 and 2012. It increases.

Temperature Anomaly between 1880 and 2012 (base temperature is the average between 1950 and 1980). The black line in the upper left shows the best linear fit to the anomalies between 1998 and 2012. It increases.

When I first looked at the data I immediately applied a least squares linear regression on the temperatures between 1998 and 2012. Rather to my surprise the regression is not flat as I had assumed the claim was. It is not nearly as steep as the regression from 1990 to 1999, but the yearly change is about the same as the change between 1880 and 2012.

Years Temperature increase (slope of linear regression)
1880-2012 1.17°F/century
1998-2012 1.13°F/century
2000-2009 1.77°F/century
1990-1999 4.86°F/century

So what is it that hasn’t changed? Perhaps they mean the average temperature of the earth? And indeed, 1998 was (up until then) the hottest year on record, the average temperature of the following 15 years is less than the average temperature of that year alone. Well, you sort of expect that if you pick an exceptionally hot year as your baseline. On the other hand there have been 4 years hotter than it since then.

So as far as I can tell, the surface of the world continues to warm, just not as rapidly as it did in the 90s.

But why isn’t the earth warming as fast as it was? More greenhouse gasses are in the atmosphere, one would expect more heat to be trapped on the earth. The answer appears to be that in recent years more of the heat is going into warming up the deep water of the ocean and less into warming the surface. Indeed when this deep water warming is taken into account the heat transfer to the earth as a whole can be seen to be accelerating (Nuccitelli et al).

But climate change is not restricted to temperatures. The ice caps are melting, there are more droughts in our wheat-belts, more fires in areas with Mediterranean climates (who can forget that in SB there were three major fires in the 12 months from July 2008 to June 2009), more and more powerful hurricanes in the Atlantic, more flooding… Recently there have been a number of papers showing that individual storms, droughts, etc. are outside the range of historical variation.

The last time the CO₂ in the atmosphere was as high as it currently is the surface temperature of earth was about 3°C (5°F) warmer than now with the arctic as much as 8°C (15°F) warmer. Sea level was about 30 feet higher. So that’s probably the steady state condition we will obtain if the CO₂ concentration remains at its current level. We don’t know how long it will take to get there, but that’s what we’re looking at. Of course, the CO₂ concentration is still climbing year after year so as things now stand the steady-state condition will probably be even warmer — MIT estimates that by 2100 the CO₂ concentration will be about 900ppm with global temperatures rising to about 10°F higher (and Arctic temps ~20°F higher).

The climate has changed. The climate is changing. The climate will change, probably catastrophically. We just don’t know how long it will take or how far it will go…

Who hath measured the ground?

May 11, 2013

The Lord'll Provide
The first time I ran the SB Wine Country half marathon there were no mile markers. This time there were markers but they did not appear to be accurately placed.

My GPS watch is not the most accurate device itself. It is often off by 1%, rarely by 2%, but it is not off by 8%. According to it the full course was 13.1 miles so I’m inclined to think it was fairly accurate today. However it claimed the first mile marker was at 1.08miles. It took me 7 minutes to get there when I was trying to run 6:35. That’s a huge error. If I had been equipped with nothing more than a stopwatch (as I was 5 years ago) I should have been dismayed to see myself running so slowly. I might have picked up the pace and ended up running a 6:10 or something similar on the next mile, which probably would have destroyed any chance of doing well.

I didn’t do well, but I can’t blame it on the first mile marker, much as I wish I could. I was looking at my GPS generated pace and knew I was running somewhere around 6:30 (not 7min).

The last few weeks have not gone well for me (from a running standpoint). My tempo runs have been about 5 secs/mile too slow, and I’ve been getting increasingly bad shin splints. This week the splintered shins were the worst they’ve been — it was even painful to walk yesterday. But this morning they were not bad; and although I felt a few slight twinges during the race they continued not to be bad (until I stopped. Now they are awful again). So I can’t blame my problems on them either.

Anyway, I got to Santa Ynez, cautiously optimistic. I found the race start had moved slightly from 5 years ago. Not too surprising. I lined up near the front, behind Drea and Ricky. Drea pointed out another woman in the front row (“She ran a 1:18!”, so that’s Drea’s competition sorted).

There’s a moment of silence for the Boston victims.

And we’re off. Round the corner and down the hill. We fly. I glance at my watch, but my eyes don’t focus, I think I’m running 6:40. Round another corner and up a hill. This time the watch says 5:45 pace. Whoops. I don’t need to be that excited. There are lots of small rolling hills at the beginning. I can’t always take as much advantage of the downhills as I’d like — some are so steep that I hang back a bit fearing what sprinting down would do to my shins…

View From Maveric SaloonSanta Ynez is in fog, but once we get to the outskirts (and that’s happens pretty quickly in Santa Ynez) the fog fades, vanishes and we are in full sun. As we are for the rest of the race. (The picture here, indeed all the pictures in this post were taken on earlier visits)

At about half a mile things have settled down a bit. The lead men are out of sight and I get to watch the lead women. Drea has been running right behind Maria, and continues to do so for a long as I can see them. A third woman is some distance back. I often count everyone ahead of me, but I can’t today the men are too fast and I’m too slow. But I can keep track of the women…

Around 3/4 of a mile another woman passes me, but she doesn’t last long and I pass her back after a bit.

I’m relieved to see the 1 mile mark when it shows up (Yay! it’s there! I guess the others will be too!). My watch claims my pace for the last mile was 6:30. I was supposed to go out at 6:40 to warm up; but 6:30 is a reasonable pace. If I’m optimistic I’m shooting for that pace as the average for the race as a whole. If I’m more realistic I’m expecting 6:35.

We come to the first water station, and I have a bad hand-off and most of the water ends up on my shirt rather than inside me. Oh well.

We come up to mile 3 (where was mile 2?). My watch says I’m doing 6:34s. Okay that’s basically what I was expecting. No problems.

We’re now on a long slow uphill grind to Los Olivos (with the occasionally small hill thrown in to slow us down). At mile 4 there’s another water stand (I wish they wouldn’t do that. I can’t click my watch if I’m reaching for water, so I miss the split). This time I get a couple of sips.

At mile 5 I see I’ve slowed to a 6:40 pace. That’s not so good, but I console myself with the fact that it’s uphill. There’s a long downhill section ahead to counterbalance it.

Five years ago the edge of a field here was covered with California Poppies, but this year the edge has been plowed and there’s nothing but a few foxgloves. Which aren’t native.

I was expecting trouble from my shins, but it’s my quads which are grumbling. And I’m not halfway done yet.

I pass through Los Olivos. I don’t see it. I see the guy in front. I see the chip mat. Then a flat section.

Hill ClimbAnd then the hill. Here we climb about 200 feet in half a mile. I slow. Considerably. No one passes me (they slowed too, good). I’m disappointed to see that someone has mown the verge here, and the wild flowers which were blooming three weeks ago are gone. But there are some magpies, don’t often see magpies. I know this hill, but even so I keep hoping the next bend will reveal the end. Finally it does end. The top is as close as we’ll get to a halfway point too. The view is spectacular (or it would be if I were looking at something other than the guy ahead).
Ballard Hill Panorama
There’s a vinyard to my left and a winery at the bottom of the hill to the right. The last time I was up here there was a buzzard sitting on a fence post with wings extended as if waiting for a runner to collapse.

I ran 7:30s going up the hill. Not unexpected, but not good either, and then did a 6 minute pace briefly on the downhill (not enough to cancel out the uphill though).

~ mile 8This is the last time I see the number 3 woman, she’s way down at the bottom of the hill when I crest the top.

~Mile 9The next two miles are about 6:32. That’s OK, but I’d hoped to go faster. This is a nice downhill stretch. Two people pass me.

There is a bison by the side of the road (luckily not in the road).

Just running through the fields

Just running through the fields

~Mile 10Then things start to get bad. The next mile (mile 10) is at a 6:52 pace and it’s very much a downhill mile. More people pass me. Dan Rudd passes me. ~Mile 10.5The next mile, also downhill, is even worse 6:55. The #4 woman passes me. (5 years ago the #2 woman passed me about here).

Chick LupinesBut the chick lupines are still in bloom!

Just before the second hillThen there comes the next big hill. Even though half the mile is downhill, I run it at a 7:42 pace. The final mile at a 7:03. The elevation profile shows it is mostly downhill with a small hill right at the end.

I do manage to pick up the pace slightly for the last tenth of a mile. My watch says I sprinted to the finish at a 5:34 pace for that last bit. I don’t believe it, but I do think I sped up. I was probably inspired by the clock, which I saw ticking down to 1:30:00. I would have felt terribly ashamed to be over 1:30, so I tried really hard, and finished with 1:29:51.

Which is pretty bad.

I do get a bottle of wine

Trying to figure out what went wrong… I don’t think it was the shins. I simply payed no attention to the mile splits, choosing to go by the mile paces shown on the watch; so it wasn’t mismeasured miles. Other people complained about the temperature, but I didn’t notice it. What I did notice was that my mouth was dry and gummy. I think I dehydrated again. And, yeah, my heart rate reflects that. It was pretty constant at about 89% effort from mile 3 to 10, and then it started to climb, reaching 95% for the final sprint.


Heart rate (as a percentage of max), Speed and Elevation all on one graph. Speed hovers around 9mph for most of the race, heart rate just below 90%. Both react to elevation changes for the first 10 miles or so.


May 2, 2013

Rusty said a 2mile @90-91sec/quarter, rest, 2 by 1mile at 87sec/quarter, rest, an 800.

I considered that and felt that I probably couldn’t do it. My group-mates expressed similar sentiments.

I have a thing about 6 minutes miles. I’ve had it for at least 5 years. I know I can do a 6 minute mile, I don’t think I can go any faster. So I wasn’t sure if I could do two miles in 12 minutes, but I was almost certain I could not do one mile in 5:48.

Oddly my group-mates seemed to feel the reverse, for them the 2mile run sounded harder.

As I said I’ve had this thing about 6 minutes for years. Even in the days when I could run a 10K at 6 minute pace I felt I couldn’t go faster on the track. Now, I can’t run a 10K at that pace, and it’s hard, but possible to run 6 minutes for a mile.

WatchAnyway we started. Eric was in the lead and the first quarter was 91. Perfect. Eric is good at pacing. Then it started to feel hard, but I pushed on. Another 91. This is often the case, the first lap feels easy-ish because one is fresh, then one tires by the second lap, but on the third lap I’ve warmed up and it’s easier again. I decided I should try leading, so I lead for two laps, and we finished the first mile at 6:03. Then Eric and Jill took over again while I dropped back and just tried to hold on. We finished in 12:03.

I was quite proud of that. I had been in real doubt as to whether I could hold the pace for 2 miles.

Then a four and a half minute jog/rest. And then…

A fast mile. I didn’t think I could make it. But I was going to try. By the 200m mark there was already a significant gap between me and Eric and Jill. The first quarter was 90. The next quarter was 93 and now Brian was well ahead. But I felt a little better and the third quarter was another 90. At the mark Rusty shouted that I should catch Brian. And somehow I did. I sped up. I passed Brian. I ran an 88. That was almost the pace I should have run the whole thing in. 6:01 for the mile.

Could I have done the whole mile at 88? It certainly didn’t feel that way on lap 2. Somehow it feels as though I need those first two laps as an additional rest before I can run faster? I don’t know.

Three minute rest/jog.

Another fast mile. This one is even harder. 91 on the first lap. 95 on the second. 92 on the third. And then, out of nowhere, 87 on the last. 6:05 mile.

Rusty tells me I can stop.

Now, two days later, I look back. Could I have run the miles at 5:48? Rusty thought I could. I thought I couldn’t. Did my negative attitude keep me from doing my best? I certainly ran the last quarters of each mile at pretty much the right pace — but I don’t think that was sustainable. More the horse sensing the stable door, final sprint thing.

My 10K mile pace has gone up by ~18 seconds in the last six years, but my mile workout pace on the track remains about 6 minute.

Rusty clearly thinks I can do better. He keeps telling me I should still be able to run a 10K at 6 minute pace. If I can run two miles at 6 minutes, why can’t I run one at 5:48? I see that my slow-down is in line with that predicted by the age-graded tables. But Maggy hasn’t slowed down, so …

How do I push/convince myself to run faster?

And then, to add injury to quandary, my shin-splints are back. And only 9 days to the race.