Net Neutrality

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fccThis isn’t complicated.  The broadband providers are lying.  They are spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt on innovation and privacy.  All lies.  I watched a clip of Mark Cuban recently warning against net neutrality that was so blatantly disingenuous it was comical.  He began by arguing for web traffic prioritization because the Internet won’t work otherwise.  “Bit are bits.”  He ended with a tangent into hacking.  He could not have tried harder to steer people from a real understanding of this topic.

First, cable companies are already regulated.  They were initially granted monopoly control over cable access to your home so their rates and service levels are regulated.  And because charging you $300 a month isn’t enough for them, they don’t want to be regulated over broadband too.  Broadband in this sense refers to your Internet access.  In their defense, their dilemma is that television is migrating to the Internet.  All content is moving to the Internet.  Bits are bits.  But they’re the geniuses who piled data on top of their regulated cable.  Right after they added voice.

My position is I pay for a specific data rate and I expect all content to be delivered at the full rate I’m subscribed to.  Likewise, content providers buy bandwidth from their provider.  Prioritization is a scheme to charge for bandwidth from content providers who are connected to another bandwidth provider’s network.  This is about double dipping.  It’s about greed.  I’m not a fan of regulation, but these guys are already regulated.  I expect the bandwidth I paid for.  In a few weeks, I’ll be switching providers, receiving 20 times my current 50 MB at half the price.  Start using my iCloud email now because I’ll be dropping my Comcast account soon.

Hill Country Winter Runs

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kickToday’s weather was rain, light wind, and 40°.  I know what you’re thinking, absolutely ideal running conditions.  I ran 13 evenly paced miles today on the Brushy Creek Regional Trail and it was perfect.  I wore shorts and two shirts – my light, long-sleeved Boulder Marathon shirt layered over my Moab tech t-shirt. And a running hat.  I rolled up my sleeves at one point and rolled them back down on the return into the 10 mph wind.  My gear choices were perfect too.  Then there was the Brushy Creek scenery.  Mostly brown foliage but so pretty.  The trail feels so much more remote than the surrounding sprawl would indicate.  The cool, humidity paired well with the winter colors.

I neglected to mention that Central Texas rained on me around the twenty-third mile of the Austin Marathon.  Even though the rain down here is like warm bath water, I found it refreshing at a time I was over-heating.  I ran three very comfortable 7 milers this last week in sunny weather – upper 60°s and lower 70°s.  Very nice but I prefer this more typical Central Texas winter weather.  It reminds me of running through high school and college, growing up down here.  Nostalgia pairs well with long runs.

See Jane Run

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cesar chavez 1Forty-three year old Christi Moore took 14th in her age division of the Austin Half Marathon with a 1:43:02.  A 7:52 mile pace.  117th out of 5130 women.  I mention this because that’s her running behind me in this photo. We’re running together here at the seven mile point in front of the old Austin Power Plant.  It gets better.  Six miles later, we both complete 13.1 miles within a few seconds of each other. I ran my first half in 1:42:49.  The course splits after 10.5 miles between the full and the half.  We both continued on the same pace for 2.6 more miles.  In case you’re wondering, I’m pulling a gel out of my pocket in this picture.  Mobile eating is more difficult than you’d think.  Enlarge the pic by clicking on it and tell me that Christi isn’t checking out my ass.  If she PR’d, I’m taking some credit.

rebecca finishThis second photo captures thrity-one year old Rebecca De La Rosa rounding the final turn in the Half.  Rebecca likes to tell the story about how when the kids were told to run a mile in high school, she’d always walk it.  She’s been running the last couple of years with my niece Christi.  A different Christi than the one chasing my tail in that photo.  Since they started running Tough Mudders together, Rebecca has lost 70 pounds.  This was her second half marathon.  Rebecca PR’d in 2:10.

These are just two of the impressive women who ran the 2015 Austin Half Marathon.  The 3rd place woman finisher in the marathon has been in the news all week for her brave crawl to the finish line.  Seriously, Hyvon Ngetitch literally crawled the entire final sprint down Congress Avenue to the finish.  The women pwned Austin last Sunday.  Some tough Texans.

For the Hellth of It

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Mile 5 by the Hyatt HotelRunning marathons is probably on par with bolemia or similar health conditions.  Lucky for me, running is perceived as a healthy habit.  Run Forrest run. My insurance provider would even grant me a $100 rebate if I put a hundred hours into tracking my activities on their senseless web site.  I’ll try that again when I wear an Apple Watch with an app to automate the upload.  I do believe running is good for my mental health.  Some athletes curl stones across the ice.  Pick your diversion.

I can tell you that I felt great after the Austin Marathon last Sunday, and recovered well enough to run the next day.  I didn’t run the next day because the weather sucked and I was busy, but I could have.  My post-race massage deserves credit for much of my muscle recovery.  I think the point I really want to make is I didn’t hurt myself.  There were no marathon-related strained muscles.  I was a bit concerned I would make my cold worse, or develop allergies from the high mold count.  My cold did feel worse that night but mostly cured by Monday, and no allergies.  I dodged a bullet.

finisher photoThat I recovered so quickly hints that I am in fact in shape to run a marathon.  I usually know when I am but I don’t always know when I’m not. I think my slow down on the final 10K was only partly due to the hills in Tarrytown and the warm temperature and humidity.  The biggest factor is running the first 10K too fast.  The trick to running Austin well is a slow start, made difficult by the long downhill stretch on South First Street after 3.5 miles.  The photo above is in front of the Hyatt Hotel between 5 and 6 miles.  If I run this next year, I’m running super slow the first six miles.  Or I might just switch to the half marathon.

I picked up my sister Sandy from Austin Bergstrom at midnight Wednesday. She’ll visit for ten days. My mom now has a full house and I’m sleeping on the couch. I started running again Wednesday but have no race plans. Normally Moab would be next but I have yet to commit to that.  I’ll keep my runs at an easy pace and distance for the next few weeks to promote recovery and stay healthy.

Winter Marathon

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balconyNineteen hours after arrival, my eyes stare south down Congress Avenue at the first mile of the 2015 Austin Marathon.  My stomach reminds me that I could still be in bed, warm and comfy.  My legs are simply ready.  Born and bred to run.  Primed.  This was their idea.  I know winter marathons to be a bad idea.  The Colorado ice age inhibits meaningful miles.  But with 15,000 runners poised over my shoulder, I’m in a one way cypher.  My only path is forward, for 26 miles of Austin.  I can do this.

My cold feels magically better.  Maybe colds don’t survive as long in warm winters?  The heat when the starting gun fired was around 60°.  I don’t question it, I’m happy to accept this gift from the marathon spirit.  I can breathe.  “Thank you, marathon spirit.”  So things are looking up for me.  I’m going to run however I feel.

rebeccaI maintain discipline with the start from 2nd Street and run my first mile in 8:17.  A little on the fast side of plan, but close enough for me.  I feel naked in this crowd without a tattoo and I don’t see anyone I know.  I figure Rebecca started somewhere behind, but don’t really know.  She’s running the half.  We’ll share most of the biggest hills in the first half of the course.  Mile two goes by in 8:03.  I think I ran faster because my legs warmed up, but mile two is more or less the same incline as the first mile.  Same goes for mile three.  I run this in 7:52.  Again, a bit of a miss to the low side but not that far from my previous mile pace.  At this point, I’m at the southern-most segment of South Austin.  I turn right and run up hill for a few more blocks on Ben White Blvd., before returning Downtown with another right-hand turn.

bridge I strategically expect my pace will change running down South First Street.  Amazingly unchanged, the homes and businesses still look like Austin when I used to live here.   Somehow cooler now.  Despite the low-hanging clouds, I’m seriously sweating.  85% humidity.  I’ve been wiping mold spores from my forehead since mile two.  I should begin to run well under 8 minutes now, until somewhere in Tarrytown, and I do.  I hit mile four in 7:32.  Mile five in 7:22, again for mile six in 7:22.  This is where I cross the bridge in this photo, turning west along Cesar Chavez.

Mile seven stays low with 7:36, mile eight lower yet in 7:34.  Then I hit the pace I want to run in the hills of Tarrytown.  Mile nine hits 7:59, mile ten 7:58, mile eleven 8:09, mile twelve is in 8:02 and mile thirteen is 8:04.  Honestly, I wanted those times a second or two under 8 minutes, but Exposition and everything west is Texas Hill Country.  Running slower was the right tactic.

rebecca in blue on bridgeThe site texting me says I ran the first half in 1:42 in a 7:54 pace.  I’m on pace for my stretch goal, and try maintaining it further.  I’m on the east side of Mopac now, running north up Bull Creek.  I complete the next four miles like clockwork.  I run mile fourteen in 8:00 even.  Mile fifteen in 8:01.  Then a bit of a slowdown occurs on mile sixteen with 8:15.  I’m moderately concerned with this and determine to pick it up.  I run mile seventeen in 8:11, a marginal improvement, but I felt like the time would be faster.  Fatigue is setting in.

The 3:30 pace sign catches me and aids me to run 8:06 for the eighteenth mile.  This is a struggle though.  I let the 3:30 runners go and slow to a 9:04 for mile nineteen.  I’m depressed over this and give things one more shot with an 8:34 for mile twenty – a welcome milestone.  I accept my demise after this and shuffle in with mostly nine minute miles to the end.  8:56 for mile twenty-one, 9:17 for mile twenty-two, and 9:20 for mile twenty-three.  In mile twenty-four, I see Chris Amaro at the Hancock Golf Course.  He runs up the hill with me to Duvall, and leaves me to run in the remaining miles.

balconyI’m done competing and keep an even effort across the UT campus with a 9:18 mile twenty-four, 9:08 mile twenty-five, and final twenty-sixth mile in 9:17.  I cross the finish line nine minutes short of my stretch goal in 3:39, an 8:24 pace.  Once I accepted that I was slowing down, I played up the point that I was also under last year’s pace, by six minutes, so I’m happy with my run.  Disappointed I couldn’t hold that faster pace, but shoot, I had a cold.

Rebecca PR’d in 2:10, this is only her second Half.  We all enjoyed hanging out on the balcony at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel.  Great spot.  I finished up with a massage by Jesse at Massage Envy in Round Rock.  I told her to apply deep pressure, even though I normally like medium.  Figured it would aid in muscle recovery.  It was good, but there were some painful moments.  Jesse could whip out a finger and bury it in my flesh like a switchblade.  I enjoyed fifty shades of massage.  Been basically eating non-stop ever since.  My eleventh marathon is complete.  This ends my winter running season.  I’ll be in Austin for a few weeks, and it’s already spring here.

2015 Austin Marathon

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austin marathon Big run tomorrow. If you care to track my pace via text messages, text AUS to 37619. You’ll be prompted to add my bib number 2034. Facebook might also post my times, but I’m not certain I configured that correctly.

I initially expected to be able to match last year’s time of 3:45. Being a marathon, nothing is certain. And I have a cold this week. Not ideal. Plus, Austin is considered a tough course due to the hills. I believe I’m the same weight (170 lbs) as last year and in similar physical condition, so a cold notwithstanding, I suspect I can match last year’s performance. The thing is though, I really want to break 3:30. Before this cold, I thought an 8 minute pace possible if I were to run a perfect pace early. Perfect would be to run the first two miles around an 8:30 pace and to average a 7:50 pace for the rest of the run. Even with a cold, this is still my stretch goal. A boy can dream.

With all marathons, I’m always pretty satisfied with any time under 4 hours. Longer than that means I’m either not in shape for a marathon, or I failed to execute a good pace and nutrition plan. Or I have a cold. In 10 marathons, I’ve never failed to cross the finish line. Even after poor performances, I can find decent satisfaction in finishing at any pace. It’s a marathon after all. I know some runners feel they have to finish without walking. Not me. I don’t want to walk. I have specific time goals. But I don’t get overly down on myself for walking. That final 10K, after my body has burned all available stores of glucose, just may require that I walk through a few aid stations. I’m fine with that.

SBSocialRunI stopped by Shoes & Brews Thursday night to replenish my Skratch supply.  I’ll carry one to two liters with me in a camelbak.  That worked well in the Denver Marathon.  I used to think it smart to leverage the aid stations, but all they ever have is Gatorade.  I’m happy with my call to sport a small camelbak in order to support my electrolyte drink of choice.

I ran into Ashlee and gave her grief for dropping out of our Ragnar Relay Team.  Ashlee informed me that Colin and her are running the Austin Half Marathon on Sunday.  Naturally I let her know that I’m running the whole enchilada.  Since I’ll be running a full 26 miles, Ashley suggested I wear a Shoes & Brew logo tech shirt.  I agreed so she sold me one.  At a discount.

I was going to ask her details on the Vfuel endurance gels.  Even though I’m well stocked with Hammer Gels, I bought a few to try out this weekend.  Before Ashley could respond, Eve walked up and started chatting with me.  I forgot that Thursday is the evening social run.  I thought that was on Wednesdays.  I didn’t stay to run with her and Jabe because of my cold.  This is a massive taper week for me.  The only day I ran all week was Monday.  My legs should feel fresh tomorrow.

maplebaconThanks to Eve, I know absolutely nothing about these Vfuel gels.  I’m going to try them anyway.  I’ll mix them up somehow with my Hammer Gels.  I know trying out anything new on a marathon is stupid, but that advice is for more, less experienced runners who don’t know what they’re doing.  I can read and I see both gels avoid sugar by using maltodextrin.  My experience using Hammer is it burns nicely – meaning no gastrointestinal distress.  The Vfuel packaging is wider with square corners, Hammer is more slim with rounded corners. This is important in terms of fitting well within my shorts gel pockets.

nuunTurns out I left my Skratch sitting on the kitchen counter in Colorado, so I picked up a couple of electrolyte drinks at the race expo – UCAN and NUUN.  No idea how to pronounce either of them.  They seem similar in that they are pure electrolytes without sugar.  UCAN does contain Stevia.  I just taste tested them both.  I’m going with NUUN for its superior taste.  It’s fruity without being sweet.  Very refreshing.  48 ounces are chillin’ in a camelbak in the fridge as I write this.  I struggle in my attempts to drink enough fluids during runs.  Honestly, I don’t sweat much.  But a 57° to 71° temperature range will feel warm to me.  Of course I can leverage the aid stations if 48 ounces isn’t enough, but the first task is to empty my camelbak.

While I’ve lowered my performance expectations due to this cold, my excitement hasn’t diminished.  I can’t wait to line up on Congress Avenue with 17,000 of my peeps tomorrow morning to exercise my demons.  Marathons are good for that.  This will be my 3rd Austin Marathon, plus I ran the Half once.  Over two-thirds of the 17K will be running the Half.  The crowds are unbelievable.  Fans get a little thin for about a mile in the 3rd quarter along Mopac, otherwise the course is lined non-stop with thousands of Austin crazies.  If you’re one of my Austin buddies, get out there tomorrow.

Ellie’s Last Lesson

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downhillToday marks our sixth consecutive drive up to Eldora Mountain Resort for Ellie’s snow board lessons in the Eldora Kid’s Trek Program.  Certainly not our final drive up but Ellie’s last lesson for this course.  She has a coupon for a discounted private lesson that I intend to schedule after my return from Austin in March.  And the first full week of April is spring break.  I told her I would snow board with her then.  It’s been six years for me.  Last time snow boarding, I broke my ribs. Maybe I need lessons.

marileeI snowshoed with Marilee.  We hiked the Lonestar Loop counterclockwise, until we lost the trail.  We wound up returning on the Rising Sun Nordic Ski Trail.  Fortunately we weren’t seen by any Nordic skiers.  Despite the snow this past week, we trekked across a couple of bare spots.  But then, it’s also been 70° the last few days.  Mixed blessings.

the girlsMarilee and I lunched with her friend Nancy at the Sundance Cafe.  Great menu with awesome views, located about a mile outside of Nederland toward Black Hawk.  I ate a bison burger with Brie and jalapenos.  They have a lodge too.  This photo captures Emma leading Ellie down the hill.

I dropped the distance of my Saturday run down to ten miles.  Saw Amy riding her bike on the LoBo Trail.  I probably won’t exceed six miles on any single run this week.  I’m in super taper mode.  My focus is now on nutrition and not hurting myself before next Sunday’s Austin Marathon.  I think my pace will be posted to Facebook at key intervals.  Hoping to have a good run.  Seven more days.

Anthem

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Anthem logoAnthem has no shortage of registered trademarks.  If you’re not familiar with them, before yesterday’s announced breech of 80 million personal records, you might know them as BlueCross BlueShield.  Or WellPoint, which they recently acquired.  What do you suppose their brand logo will be worth three months from now?  The prevailing consensus after every corporate breech is that the company’s equity value will dive.  Oftentimes it does.  Usually though for far much less than twelve months, and then it recovers.  Target was an exception, not because customers remember the compromise of their credit card data, but for their fundamentals and managerial fubars.  Rather than pilot a few outlets in Canada, they went all-in.  And failed.  Spectacularly.  I have this sense that Anthem might be the first to not recover their brand from a cyber attack.  I suspect I might feel this way because I’m pissed.  They stored my records.  Unencrypted!  Freakin’ idiots!

I’m not being mean.  Anthem is negligent in their compliance to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  This isn’t some newly erected Obama healthcare thing.  This regulation is nearly twenty years old.  The guidelines for Protected Healthcare Information (PHI) include much of what is considered Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which in turn includes social security numbers.  I was tempted there to include the abbreviation for social security numbers but understand I’ve already drowned you in alphabet soup.  The government might only fine Anthem a few million dollars, but I have to believe a class action lawsuit should be expected.

On a more constructive, non-litigious note, what should we do about this?  The best advice I’ve seen so far is to place a security freeze on my credit reports with the three major players, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Of course, dealing with these firms has got to be painful.  Placing a security freeze on my credit reports is essentially what LifeLock does.  Having just completed feezing my reports on all three online, I’m not sure I would mind paying LifeLock $19.99 per month.  The process actually went quite well with Experian and TransUnion.  A few minutes per site.  Equifax though did not print out my pin code which I will need to remove the freeze when I need access to my credit reports.  And trust me, contacting them is virtually impossible.  With that said, their customer service number is 800-829-4577 and their direct security freeze number is 888-298-0045.  These are non automated, real person answers the phone numbers.  I finally got through and was able to get a pin.  The websites to freeze your credit reports are:

Equifax  https://www.freeze.equifax.com/

Experian:  https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html

TransUnion:  http://www.transunion.com/securityfreeze

I think it was free for me to place these freezes.  This varies per state.  I suspect it will cost me $10 or so to remove the freeze.  Maybe not but there is a temporary removal called a lift that will likely cost money.  There is an option to mail them a letter describing myself a victim of the Anthem breech that would waive any fees.  I don’t have the patience for that.  Wish me luck with this.  And if you’re one of the 80 million, good luck to you.

Winter Taper

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meekoI began my taper for the Austin Marathon this weekend.  Twelve mile run Saturday, down from twenty.  And a bit shorter snowshoe today.  My winter-style taper means only running about four days a week, and snowshoeing.  If I think about it, I probably have only been averaging four days of running per week all throughout January.  This year launched the start of the next ice age and conditions have been treacherous.  Saturday’s run was at a comfortable pace.  My legs were heavy from a hard run Friday, so it was mostly a recovery pace.  I loosened up on the return and squeezed in two tempo runs.  Weather was ideal.  Planning on a similar run next Saturday.

emmaThe girls had a great day snow boarding.  We drove out of Boulder Valley across icy roads and under heavy snow clouds.  Canyon Drive up to Nederland was crawling at 35 mph.  But Eldora Mountain Resort was somehow above the clouds.  Full day of sunshine and minimum wind.  Ellie and Emma are becoming comfortable on their boards.  Pretty sure I know what we’ll be doing over spring break.  This first picture is of Emma, the second is of Ellie.  I didn’t get any shots close up.  I got yelled at for being on the hill without skis.  No pics of me today so I’m giving you a photo of one of our new puppies.

ellieI tapered a bit on my snowshoe today as well, keeping it under two hours.  I took the middle loop for the first time – Snowshoe Hare Trail.  This was too short so I worked in some other smaller trails as well.  The Snowshoe Hare Trail is the newest for the Nordic Center, and I would say the prettiest in terms of trees.  All the trails are hilly.

We made it home in time to watch the Super Bowl.  I made a beer cheese recipe I read in Saturday’s paper.  There were three other queso dishes at the party, so I probably shouldn’t be upset that my dish was only half eaten, but I didn’t care for it.  The texture is odd.  Susan suggested melting the cheese and I agree.  The story in the paper said that serving the dish warm is sort of a new spin on the recipe, otherwise it is historically served cold.  I also improvised with a seasonal ale I had from Austin called, Yule Shoot Your Eye Out.  Maybe not the best pairing with Cheddar.

Ellie Down

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Karen & MarileeThe parking lot at Eldora Mountain Resort was packed early today.  No football on TV.  And an acceptable wind.  Karen and Marilee joined me this morning to snowshoe.  We started counter-clockwise on the Lonestar Loop, like I have on previous outings, but turned onto the Twisted Snowshoe Trail for the shorter inside loop. The Snowshoe Hare Trail is the middle loop and Lonestar is the longest, outside loop.

Marilee took to snowshoeing like a pro.  The snow isn’t difficult on these trails, no super deep powder.  But the slope is fairly steep, much more so than any of the trails Karen and I did last year.  We did well though despite the hills with a 1.5 mph pace for 1.5 miles – which made a one hour hike.

steep slopeThe girls enjoyed less wind for their snow boarding lessons.  Shortly after lunch though, Ellie went down hard on her left shoulder.  We collected her in the medical tent after the staff had recorded every ache Ellie experienced over the last several weeks.  They likely learned from this to ask my daughter less open-ended questions.  Who knew such extensive healthcare comes with the price of a lift ticket?  Ellie is still a bit sore but nothing serious.

Saturday’s twenty mile run didn’t go as well as last weekend.  I was hoping to show improvement, that would help my confidence going into the Austin Marathon.  Doesn’t matter, the important thing was I was able to complete the distance.  Speed isn’t critical.  I figure my legs were heavy from my workout the day before.

There’s still a bit of ice on the LoBo Trail south of Hwy 52.  There was enough clean dirt to safely navigate around the ice.  In my seventh mile, just before the ice patches, I saw Jen running back toward Longmont.  We gave each other a low five because we’re cool runners.  On my return, I began to run over the ice simply to make the trail less pedestrian.

Emma & EllieMy pace was slower than last weekend during the first half but I really slowed down at 17 miles.  Kind of like how a bad marathon goes.  Actually, I slowed down considerably at 17 miles last week too.  But everything was under a 9 minute pace then.  I ran a half minute per mile slower this Saturday.  Still, running the distance is all I need to feel prepared for Austin.  Three more weeks, I’ll be ready.

 

Wind Down

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Ellie downhillNo snowshoe today.  Eldora Mountain called a “wind down”.  This is their term for shutting down the mountain due to strong winds.  They reported gusts from 35 to 80 mph!  A real bummer, it wasn’t cold at all.  The girls got in about an hour though boarding on a small hill waiting for the call.  They boarded a bit after as well since they could walk up the hill.  So not a complete bust.  Although I didn’t get a chance to snowshoe, I got some good pics of the girls.

EmmaPerhaps just as well I didn’t snowshoe.  I ran seven miles later in the day and could barely pick up my legs.  I wasn’t fully recovered from Saturday’s twenty miles.  I’m feeling good to have finally gotten in a big run.  The ice is melted well enough now north of Hwy 52.  The trail was still mostly ice south of 52.  I would tell you it slowed me down but I still averaged a nine minute pace – that’s good for me.  Of course, I’m hoping to run the Austin Marathon in an eight minute pace, but those will be more favorable race conditions.

snow in your faceCountdown is exactly four weeks.  I’m five pounds over where my race weight was in the Denver Marathon.  Winter comfort.  I tried abstaining from cheese and ice cream as a New Year’s resolution but gave up.  Totally unrealistic.  I’m also abstaining from alcohol and have maintained that resolution.  Beer and Dairy together was biting off more than I could chew.  I thought the dietary resolutions would help me with weight control knowing my mileage would drop over the winter.  The lower altitude might compensate for the extra pounds.

Deterrence

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keyboard grenadeDoesn’t it just seem obvious that at some point, to protect our digital selves, we’ll have to fight back?  Firewalls and anti virus software are like fences – merely obstacles.  Leaving the porch light on and locking your door is no doubt wise.  Thieves target easy prey.  You don’t have to out run the bear, just your buddy.  The metaphors advising essential layers of protection are endless, but by now everyone should understand that absolutely no one is entirely safe from online intrusions.  Lest we all agree to simply run around naked, data privacy requires more than protection; we need to increase the risk/reward ratio of cyber attacks with a strong deterrent.

We’re building a fence along our border with Mexico – which is to say that’s a problem we don’t really care to see fixed.  Where American lives and real money are on the line, we deter attack with our armed forces.  The best defense is a good offense.  Cyber theft is starting to become real money.  It’s one thing for a credit card company to build fraud into its business model.  Not every business can do that.  The potential losses aren’t always known.  The information age is rapidly approaching its kairotic moment.  If we can’t control technology, then we might as well reboot ourselves back to the dark ages before cyber extremism launches us into the stone age.

I’m proposing the ability to respond to hacking efforts with intrusion countermeasures electronics.  ICE.  There are other terms for this but I like the literary reference from Tom Maddox and William Gibson.  The concept is an active defense that strikes back.  Currently there is very little risk to deter internationally remote cyber criminals.  This proposal is not new, the concept has been around since Burning Chrome and Neuromancer.  Black ICE takes it further by suggesting the response actually include deadly force.  Assuming that’s even possible.  So why are we not enacting an idea that’s older than the Internet?

Consider what we learned recently from the Sony attack, ostensibly by North Korea.  I have to use the adjective ostensibly, not because the FBI has yet to make their proof public, but because other agencies believe they have evidence demonstrating this is an inside job.  Point being, certainty is difficult in proving the source of cyber attacks.  So much can be spoofed.  IP addresses.  So much more is circumstantial and inferred.  This type of malware was used by this cyber warrior previously against that target.  The more sophisticated the attacker, the more likely they have obscured their tracks if not framed another source.  The level of certainty required in a U.S. civil court of law is virtually impossible.

Given that, you can be certain responding with a counter attack is illegal.  And your response will leave undeniable evidence.  No corporate legal team will approve counter attacks.  They would be complicit.  There is also the risk of escalating the conflict.  I don’t subscribe to that fear personally, but it doesn’t matter.  No legal entity can perform counter attacks.  It’s simply not allowed.  Only governments can respond with intrusion countermeasures.  Israel is transparent about this.  You can only hope the U.S. does it.  Deterrence requires we do so in a public and comprehensive manner.

Perhaps the government could outsource this to corporate ethical hackers like they do some military security now.  Regardless, I think this cost should come out of our defense budget.  I haven’t put any thought into how we should triage attacks.  Should our response to an attack against a small startup be as severe as that of a Fortune 500 company?  Should we discriminate at all.  Is our first level of response a denial of service attack or do we erase attacker hard drives?

The technology for countermeasures will be interesting.  The solution might require a government layer of software on every citizen’s computing device, much as we run anti virus now.  That’s a scary thought.  Worse than NSA snooping would be having to call the gov’t helpdesk when a software patch crashes your machine.  That Obama is responding with Executive orders now to the Sony hack tells me what direction we’re headed.  Could be years given the pace of political policy-making.  Could be months given the pace of technological progress.

NANOspikes

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NANOspikesI beat the ice today.  Probably for the season.  My Yaktrax were fine but they disintegrated after a single season.  Plus they tended to accumulate clumps of fresh snow.  Yaktrax has since improved their design to include a spike plate similar to these Kahtoola NANOspikes, but only under the forefoot.  I imagine the rear coils still pick up wads of snow.

Today was yet another frozen ice capade.  I was considering the elliptical but then the package from REI showed up on my front porch.  I placed the order for these puppies last week after a four mile glassade along the LoBo Trail.  I rarely devote a blog to a gear review, but I had a great run today in these spikes.  I cruised across rivers of ice with never a fearful moment.

On slopes and turns that called for caution, Kahtoola’s tungsten carbide spikes gripped with confidence.  I was prepared to run only three or four miles to try these out but extended my run to seven exalted miles.  On my return, for the half mile between Ogallala Road and the foot bridge, I stretched out my stride to race pace.  Not sure I’ve been able to run fast like that yet this year.  Good to know I still can.  By this time the sun was setting and I wasn’t wearing a head lamp, but the NANOspike’s confidence broadened to my running form.  These spikes rock!

Tennessee Mountain Cabin

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Robs ShortcutI wasn’t the only one out running on the ice this week.  I shared some “are you effin’ kidding me” looks with a few others on the LoBo trail.  The week before, I couldn’t get over the snow.  My runs were necessarily short given the exhausting conditions.  I donned snowshoes one day and ended up with a blister that I’m still feeling.  It was a poor week for running.  I commended myself for simply getting out at all and figured it couldn’t get any worse.  I was wrong.  It wasn’t safe to walk down to the coffee shop this week, let alone run.  We began with a foot of snow and below freezing temps.  Then, in half a day, the mercury rose by 50°.  Only in Colorado can that happen.  The flash-melted snow refroze as ice later that same night, so perfectly you could ice skate down the sidewalk.

Running was unthinkable and I lost a couple of days.  I know how unwise running was because I tried the day after the big snow-to-ice conversion.  Got in four miles.  Not sure how to describe my form.  I kept my stride as short as possible without actually standing still.  My effort was extremely taxing on my quads and groin.  There were countless out-of-control moments where I thought I was going to die.  It was not enjoyable and I spent the next two days indoors looking out the window like Sally and her little brother in the beginning to The Cat in the Hat.  Conditions were reasonably better Saturday and I skated for twelve death-defying miles, with a similar super short, groin-stressing stride.

Tennessee CabinThis is not ideal considering I’m training for a marathon.  I have five weeks to step up my distance.  With Ellie’s snowboarding lessons every Sunday, my only chance for the requisite twenty mile training runs is Saturday.  Fortunately I ran some twenty milers back in December.  I don’t need to run  massive miles every weekend, I’d settle for two such runs before February.  January has three more weekends in it.  This is why Colorado runners plan their marathons for the fall, after a long summer of optimal conditioning.  I’ve run two Austin Marathons in February and three Denver Marathons in the fall.  Despite the altitude difference, I’ve yet to run as fast in Austin as I do in Denver.  It’s difficult to train sufficiently for winter marathons.  I’m happy with my snowshoe training though.

I snowshoed the same Lonestar Loop today that I did last Sunday, but this time I found the spur to the Tennessee Mountain Cabin.  This added nearly a mile for a five mile, two hour effort.  Trekking counter-clockwise, the right hand turn to the cabin is at 2.3 miles, at the second intersection with the Rising Sun ski trail, a full mile after passing the high point sign.  That first 1.3 miles present a 700 foot climb.  The cabin housed some lodgers but they showed me inside.  Nine of them slept comfortably overnight, kept warm by a wood burning stove.

sittingThe girls had an awesome day with their snowboard lessons.  Zero wind today made the 20° feel warm.  This photo captures the only sun I ever saw today.  The clouds were black with snow, which fell heavy throughout the day.  This completes two of the girls’ six Sunday course.  Julianna, their instructor, praised their coordination and balance as they steadily progress up the mountain.  The girls are having fun while I get in some high-altitude hill training.  Maybe not your conventional marathon workout, but works for me.

Eldora

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Ellie n EmmaWinter recreation is exhausting.  Ellie and Emma began their six week snow boarding course today up at Eldora – in 20° and 30 mph winds.  They loved it nonetheless.  I snowshoed at the Eldora Nordic Center while they snow boarded.  Ellie is dead tired.  I take a perverse pleasure in being able to physically exhaust a kid.  But I’m much more beat.  The trails at the Eldora Nordic Center are hilly.

high pointI paid $20 for the Nordic pass.  Compare that to a lift ticket.  Although I’ll be doing this again for the next five Sundays.  Karen will likely go with me.  She remained behind today to teach an aerobics class.  Emma’s mom plans to snowshoe with us too on occasion.  I expect this Nordic Center to really work out well for us three as it contains a series of concentric loops at various distances.  Concentric might be a poor word choice.  The loops don’t have a common center, rather they all start from the Nordic Center Lodge.  We can start out together, but I can go for a longer distance.  I trekked the Lone Star Loop today for about four miles.  There’s a spur off to the Tennessee Mountain Cabin that would add some distance, but I missed the sign for it.

puppiesToday’s little winter fun marks the end of my Christmas Holiday.  Actually, I worked Friday.  Still, this weekend feels more official.  It’s been a big two weeks.  A trip to Texas.  And the other day, Ellie rescued two puppies.  After Jack’s passing, I told her she could get a puppy in May, so that she would have time to train it once school is out.  Not only did May become January, but Ellie elected to adopt two dogs.  I’m mixed on all this, but they are cute.  Meeko is on the left, weighing in at two months.  And Millie is on the right, she’s four months.

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