Off Days

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UT Alumni CenterCan’t be on every day.  Not every race runs to plan and not every workout is spectacular.  The trick is to not let the bad performances get you down.  This is one of the lessons of sports.  You have to lose to learn how to win.  I felt heavy all weekend, both on my 15 miler yesterday and my 8 miler today.  I can’t point to anything.  My legs were heavy and my attitude sort of blah.  About like I felt here in front of the UT Alumni Center at 25 miles into the Austin Marathon, running one of my slowest miles of the race.  But not all miles were like this and it was a good race overall.  Looking forward to next week.

I need strong motivation to work speed drills into my workouts.  It’s not easy running fast solo.  I should maybe consider running with a team.  I won’t because I don’t want to work with other people’s schedules, but I’m aware of the benefits.  I’ve been adding some fartleks into my daily runs and I like running fast.  Unless I’m feeling strong and quick though, I skip the speed workout.  Sluggish and speed don’t go well together.

I’m working on speed to prepare for the Bolder Boulder.  For some reason my race plan is to beat myself – my time 26 years ago.  That race is too competitive to think I can medal in my age division so I’ve contrived my own personal two man race – me against me.  My muscles need to re-learn how to run fast though.  And I need to work on my cardio for those hills.  The snow and rain made my hilly trails too muddy this weekend so I ran the Lobo Trail, which is almost perfectly flat.

A young girl passed me after five miles yesterday and made me realize I’d slowed down for no good reason.  I chased after her for the next mile because she wasn’t running a pace beyond my limits.  Once she noticed me though she sped up and I lost her.  That was arguably a bit early to start racing in a 15 mile run, but it suggests my sluggishness was mental.  Today, despite starting out super slow I did in fact loosen up a bit and got in a few faster miles.  But then, for whatever slacker reason I quit a quarter mile short and walked in.  This weekend was a waste but there are five more weeks.  Training starts for reals tomorrow.

Moments of Perfection

Ed Mahoney:

This almost makes me want to be a swimmer…

Originally posted on My Name is SCHOOLS:

cap“One minute was enough.  A person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.”  Tyler Durden, Fight Club

I just swam the fastest 50 of my life, and the beautiful thing about it was realizing the instant I’d finished it that this particular, perfect 50 was gone forever.  I loved it because it was ephemeral.

The clock said 32 seconds; ok, the clock said something less than 30 seconds, but that is not possible.  I did my usual warm-up, started my 50 splits, and as I headed down the pool thought “what’s going on here?”  Every breath is an opportunity to learn, and I was illuminated by the understanding that “training” is not just building endurance, or strength, or speed.  Training is building the ability to maintain technique.  Fifty-six years old…

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Keystone

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top of Dercum MountainSpring Break’s not over until the snow melts.  And that day is near.  Keystone closes their slopes tomorrow.  The Nordic Center closed at the end of March.  We drove up Thursday afternoon in zero traffic. I first learned how to ski here my senior year of college, 32 years ago. No lessons. I rode to the top of the mountain with my brother Steve. He told me I’d learn on the way down. Same brother who taught me how to play baseball right handed. I’m left handed.

JengaWe could not have asked for nicer weather. Ellie and I started with a large game of Jenga, waiting for the lifts to open.  Then we took the River Run gondola up with plans to snowboard nothing but greens back down. This was our routine all day. We boarded down the aptly named Schoolmarm trail.  We stored our jackets in a locker after our first run, it was that warm. Saw one guy skiing in shorts on Friday and many more on Saturday.

Schoolmarm is 3.5 miles long. We got in three runs for 10.5 miles. I swear to you, running 10 miles is easier. I’m certain if we weren’t such novices, we could have boarded much more. We both improved dramatically by the second run, but boarding with the breaks on is one helluva workout. My legs were too fatigued for a 4th run. By the end, I could barely manage to stand back up after falling. And I fell often. I fell into the yellow plastic snow fence at one point. Saved me from dropping off a small cliff.

IMG_5878I was a little surprised Ellie is better than me at boarding.  She has better form.  I think I began to shift from heel to toe quicker than her, but she could go so much farther before resting than me.  I tried to catch her at rest stops but my thighs would be on fire to the point I was nearly in tears.  Snowboarding probably isn’t so tough once you learn good form, but I’m still fairly novice at it.  I intended to snowshoe later with Karen but was way too fatigued to even think about it.  She had to work most of Friday, and then she also needed to practice new Jazzercise routines for a third class she picked up recently.

Ellie and I lunched Friday on top of Dercom Mountain before our last run.  She said the pizza was the best she’s ever eaten.  I tried to explain to her the phenomenon of how good food tastes when your body is extremely starved of calories.  She didn’t go for it though.  Apparently the food is pretty good on that mountaintop.

the fallWhile Ellie is clearly ahead of me in snowboarding skills, she took her share of spills.  I captured one in this pic.  Ellie fell so hard and often whenever she attempted to board on her toe edge, her knees are swollen with bruises.  We gladly soaked in the hot tub upon our return to the lodge for a good hour.  I took in the steam room as well.  The Keystone Lodge and Spa is a nice family-oriented property.  Not everything was available, some restaurants were closed, being the end of the season.  This was true for the slopes too but it’s arguably worth it given the smaller crowds and light traffic.  There was certainly enough snow for Ellie and me.

SaturdayWe expected dramatic improvement in our form Saturday but discovered snowboarding is even harder when your legs have been left shredded from the day before.  We strategically first boarded down a short slope to warm up but it didn’t help.  It took us twice as long to board down the 3.5 mile Schoolmarm trail the second day.  Our legs were too weak to work on our toe edge much.  The requisite confidence just isn’t there when your legs are like jello.  We still had a good second day.  Shorter, but just as exhausting as our first day.  An older skier ran into me near the bottom, in a slow zone.  He couldn’t find it in himself to apologize, instead he focused on trying to blame a slow moving skier downhill from me.  That girl at least asked me immediately if I was okay.  I was but highly irritated at this guy’s poor behavior, and I let him know it.  Because I was paying attention, I saw him coming and positioned myself for the collision.  Otherwise it might be a different story.

EllieEllie and I made our plans for next year.  We intend to kick off the season in November or December with a private lesson.  Ellie also wants her own snowboard for her birthday – which is in a couple of weeks.  She used Brit’s board this year.  I think I’m good on gear but like the idea of starting out with a private lesson.  I know proper form will pay dividends in terms of further enjoyment of the sport.  Even if I always suck, it’s so incredibly fun to join my daughter in such a thrilling activity.  I absolutely love Colorado.  Life is good.

Breckenridge 

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Breckendridge Nordic CenterI’m on spring break. Well, Ellie is on spring break. Same difference. I always take the week off from work to play and do my taxes. I used to do the same with Brit. We would ski. Ellie snowboards.  We didn’t get a chance to board here in Breckenridge. Ellie did enjoy sledding on a hill outside our cabin with her friends in the morning and later snow tubed Saturday afternoon.

This is a late spring break.  It would have been fine last year as the slopes were operating into June. Colorado is only at 65% snow pack this season. There’s enough snow still but it becomes slushy by noon. On a good note, the weather is awesome.  Both Karen and I eschewed jackets on our snowshoe jaunt while Amy and Dave skied cross country at the Breckenridge Nordic Center.  We did this in the morning.

Amy & DaveIt took Karen and me an hour even to traverse 1.75 miles.  We completed the Willow Trail counterclockwise, and added a short spurn with the Engleman Trail.  I completed a second loop while Karen waited for me in the lodge.  Sometimes I don’t know when to quit.  You’d have trouble knowing when enough is enough out here too, it’s just so gorgeous.  In fact, Dave and I both returned in the afternoon for another round.  Springtime in the mountains, with both snow and full sun, is not to be taken for granted.

IMG_5737On this second round, I trekked the Engleman Trail much higher, ascending into the upper trail section.  Here I discovered the Peaks Trail which follows the eastern side of the Ten Mile Range all the way to Frisco.  I wasn’t prepared for that long of an outing but got in another 90 minutes snowshoeing, running about a quarter of it.  Dave and I rejoined in the lodge for a couple of Hop Hunter IPAs.

Engleman TraailI’m not sure I can describe in words just how satisfying this second hike was.  The trail entwined thick forest with snow-laden single track, and I was all alone for most of it.  I truly felt religion snowshoeing through God’s high country in Hallmark card perfection.  I was high the rest of the day – which mainly consisted of snacking, watching the Final Four, and having an early Easter, ham dinner.  Karen and I returned home Sunday so she could teach an aerobics class.  I’ve since called my mom to wish her a happy Easter.  Ellie remained in Breck with her friends for another day of snow and fun.  Still full sunshine out there on the Front Range.  I think I might go for a run.

The Hills are my Partner

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Gunbarrel TrailheadI park at the Gunbarrel Trailhead near 1pm this afternoon for a 12 mile run.  Maybe not the smartest time of day, considering the mid 70° weather, but Ellie’s puppies have increased my weekend chores.  The Bolder Boulder is considered a tough course due to the hills.  Other than entering Folsom Stadium, and maybe that high point at four miles, I would describe the race as a route with many slopes.  But even slight slopes at altitude can be ball busters, especially at race pace.  I need to begin training on these hills

The East Boulder Trail contains nearly 700 feet of elevation gain, and again that much loss, over my 12 mile route.  There are few trails outside of the mountains where you can expect over 1000 feet of elevation change. I discovered this gem when I first moved to Boulder in 1989.  I’ve been running this trail for nearly 26 years.  Assuming today goes well, this is going to be my secret training weapon to condition myself for the 2015 Bolder Boulder.

The run begins with a half mile rise to the water tower.  The slope is smooth though and serves as a nice warmup.  The water tower marks the trail high point with a quarter mile flat top.  The trail then drops through a two mile roller coaster to Boulder Creek.  It can be tempting to gain speed.  Momentum propels me into each rise, in this direction.  But I know I’ll need my strength for the return.  I maintain discipline with a controlled pace.  I know that after reaching the bottom of the creek valley, I’ll have another nine miles to run.  And it should go without saying, I have to turn around and climb back up.

Shortly after the foot bridge that crosses Boulder Creek, I come across a washed out section of trail where a small lake empties into the creek.  This must be from the great 2013 flood.  Have I not run this trail since then?  I guide my feet across rocks that sit flat above the flowing water and reach the other side dry.  The trail is flat for the next mile before resuming up a shallow southern slope through Teller Farms.

I begin to feel the heat.  In Colorado, clouds count as shade.  There are none today.  There is a strong wind, which normally I hate.  Today, this warm wind is my friend.  It joins my hat and 16 ounces of Skratch to help me through this hellfire.  There are many more runners in the Teller Farms flatlands.  I pass a woman running the opposite direction, toward the hills.  She appears at least ten years older then me.  I’ll know by where I see her again if she actually runs the hills above the White Rocks cliffs.

I see her again on my return a half mile before I reach the washout, along the creek where I floated my dogs’ ashes almost twenty years prior.  Teddy and Tara loved these runs in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  That is, before I knew dogs were illegal on this section of the trail and received a fine.  Well, not fined exactly.  The Ranger only had one ticket left and he messed it up.  But he gave me and the dogs a stern warning.  That woman must have run to the water tower before turning around.  What a bad ass.  She’s easily in her sixties.  I wonder how many years she’s been running these hills.

I think of Brittany as I launch up the first flight of hills.  It’s arguably tougher than the water tower hill.  If I can continue running up this hill, it’s possible I’ll complete all the hills without walking.  When this hill defeats me and I begin walking, I typically walk all the other hills too.  I introduced Brittany to this trail when she ran high school cross country.  I recall her yelling at me once on this hill to slow down.  I think she actually cried, but she made it without walking and ran up all the other hills too.  I thought she might lie down and die after the final hill near the water tower, she was breathing so hard.  But Brittany knows what all other runners out here know.  Lie down and the White Rock Hills will steal your soul.

I make this hill and all the others.  That final slog is long and turns steeper as it rises to the top.  The wind hits me in the face so hard as I crest that I don’t notice immediately I’m no longer running up hill.  About this time, some shirtless twenty year old brushes past me from behind and quips, “This breeze feels good, doesn’t it?”  He’s running too fast for me to respond.  Kids can be so cruel.  I scan the stunning vista in front of me.  I can see the entire Front Range.  Directly ahead are the snow capped Indian Peaks.  Longs Peak and Mount Meeker to my right.  The Flatirons over Boulder to my left.  This is the other reason I run here – the motivational views.

I almost always run alone out here.  Pace doesn’t matter on a course like this.  The slopes provide the workout.  Not just cardio, the steepness forces me to pick up my feet.  These hills are my running partner.  After 26 years of running the White Rocks Hills on the East Boulder Trail, I’m out here again looking for them to guide me back to the speed I ran at that age.  My runs with the dogs, and later with Brittany, make up only a fraction of my great experiences out here.  I hope these hills remember me.

The Bolder Runner

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UT Campus in Austin Marathon

I ran into an ole colleague the other day.  We both weren’t totally sure at first but finally recognized each other.  I think his uncertainty with me is that he’s only known me sporting a buzz cut.  I’m currently combing back a good three inches of still mostly blonde hair.  Ironically the gray showed more when I wore it short.  I know why I’m growing my hair out.  It was a conscious decision, a celebration really, after my surgery for cancer a year ago.

I’m less clear on why I continue to push my body harder each year running.  Since I returned to running six years ago, I’ve consistently improved in speed at the half marathon distance.  I’ve been less successful at demonstrating speed in shorter distances.  Maybe I am clear.  I dream of repeating my college times for a 10K.  And while I’m so lucid, I actually believe I can do it.  I won’t have to run a 5 minute flat pace to be satisfied, anything in the 5 minute range will do.  I suspect it will take another three years.

In 1990, after moving to Boulder from Austin the previous fall, I ran a 41:11 Bolder Boulder.  I was 28 years old and that was just under a 6:30 pace.  Beating this time will be my first milestone on my return to a sub 6 minute pace.  I began racing the BB again in 2010, which I ran in 49:52.  Not sure where those 20 years went.  I worked my way down to 44:22 in 2013 – a 7:08 pace.  Despite registering early and grand designs for 2014, I was only able to walk the 2014 BB with my daughter while still recovering from surgery.  So this year is going to be special.  Dropping over a half minute per mile from 2013 is a stretch, but that’s my goal.

I’m racing age.  I’m competing with my own youth.  Why not?  People nowadays compete with virtual Strava runners and online Garmin results.  That I’m racing myself is at least being honest about my narcissism. But I tell you what, I feel my limits every day, after every workout.  Each morning I bear my full weight against the railing as I walk down the stairs on my delicate ankles.  Youth doesn’t know the pain of old age.  I’m working speed back into my runs and my muscles are responding.  Muscles have memory and I’m targeting total recall.  Avoiding injury is a high-wire act but I’m not looking down.  I’m looking across to the 2015 Bolder Boulder.  To a sub 6:30 pace.  On my way to a sub 6 minute pace.  I’m in rewind toward the race times of my youth.

Cross Country Clash

cross country clash Who wants to form a team with me to run a series of cross country races this summer?  There are currently 8 races scheduled in the Denver Metro from May to August.  We need a team of at least 5 runners.  7 would be ideal and we could have more.  Registration is around $20 per event with the option of $140 up front per person.  Events will be raced on Wednesday evenings.  There will be beer.  Chris?  Steve?  Keith?  Fred?  C’mon boys!

Broadband

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RG6 CableI recently blogged in favor of net neutrality.  To be clear, I don’t think regulation is the answer.  In fact, I believe regulation is as much the problem as greedy broadband providers; but I’m against the notion that cable operators charge additionally for content that doesn’t originate on their network.  Pick your poison.

Just when you think you might understand this net neutrality issue, and be honest, you don’t, not really; a story comes out the other day about content providers actually lobbying the broadband providers for guaranteed bandwidth.  The exact same thing, only the content providers are requesting this rather than the broadband providers forcing it on them.  Hmm. Net neutrality was designed to protect content providers from having to pay extra, but apparently some want to.  And make no mistake, these are content providers with deep pockets.  Sony.  HBO.  Showtime.  Note, they are also traditional TV content providers and not a Facebook or YouTube.

Clearly, some trend is underway to explain this.  It’s easy enough to assume these content producers are positioning themselves for the eventual transition of content delivery to the Internet.  That seems to be what’s behind all these related stories.  Marshall McLuhan professed that all new media are destined to subsume and extend all old media, and to use the old media as their content.  I’m fairly certain that if I understand what Marshall meant by this, then it would explain this transition of broadcast television to the Internet.  Not that I feel any dumber than the media companies.  They’ve been positioning themselves for decades with cable companies acquiring content companies and content companies merging with cable companies.  And then they split up.  I don’t think they have a clue how this will play out either.

But that’s their problem.  I thought I would provide some details here to help explain just how certain content could be expedited by your provider.  The original plan by the cable companies was to regulate the flow of Internet traffic.  They can do this by tagging the data packets as they flow through their network switching equipment and assigning more or less bandwidth to the data session.  I don’t know if they do this by leveraging the Quality of Service field of bits in the IP header, but there is an actual QoS field in IP headers, as well as in other transmission protocols, that can be modified for this purpose.  This is how VLANs and MPLS work, if you’re familiar with those transmission protocols.  They know the source and destination of each packet and they tag them to control their flow.  But the recent net neutrality regulations nixed that plan.

The story I linked above is about a proposal to provide media outlets whom are willing to pay, essentially a TV channel.  It would be a data service, Internet traffic rather than television signals, but carved out of a separate slice of bandwidth on the cable.  They term this capability a “managed service”.  It’s not clear yet if the regulators will allow it.  Nor is it clear the cable providers care to offer it.  But just how is this different?

A friend recently asked me to define broadband.  It’s worth understanding.  The term has a very specific meaning to network engineers; but about the time dial up was giving way to DSL and cable, network marketers co-opted the term to simply mean fast.  It didn’t help that the FCC further diluted the term by defining it as a specific data rate.  2 or 4 Mbps initially.  Just recently the FCC redefined it to mean 25 Mbps or faster.  They do this to regulate the providers to be more innovative; prompting their national deployment of faster speeds because regulated companies aren’t thought to be innovative.  That sentence made sense in my head, not sure it actually does now that I wrote it.  Regardless, I can assure you that speed does not define broadband.  Broadband is the transmission of multiple signals on a single medium.

Think of how your radio works.  Or broadcast TV.  Without detailing the entire electromagnetic spectrum, understand that FM radio and broadcast television operate in a frequency range from 30 to 300 MHz.  You might listen to radio station 93.7.  That’s a signal transmitted at 93.7 Mhz.  The allotted frequency would be somewhat bigger, perhaps from 93.6 to 93.8 – I don’t actually know, but a frequency range is provided to carry the signal.  In the open air, this is not considered broadband.  Multiplexing multiple channels onto a single wire would be broadband, and this is what cable providers do.  You de-multiplex the signals with a tuner or remote.  It might help to think of the opposite of broadband.  There is a term called narrowband, but in this context the opposite technology is called baseband.  That is what ethernet is.  A single medium with a single channel.  Sort of.  10Base T on cat 5 cable is 10 Mbps of bandwidth operating over 2 twisted pairs of wire in a 4 pair configuration in full duplex mode.  1000BaseT (1 Gbps) uses all four wire pairs.  This gets complicated but those 8 wires are considered a single medium and transport a single channel.  Take from this that if you have 5 computers in your house on ethernet, they each take turns to communicate.  Very fast turns, but they are sharing a single channel, and the more computers running on that ethernet, the slower your potential speed.

Broadband transmits multiple signals, or channels, on a single medium.  It generally consists of a different type of wire, coax rather than twisted pair (telephone wire).  While technology continues to increase the capacity of cable types, specific medium will always be superior in terms of potential bandwidth.  Ethernet over telephone wire doubled its use of wires from 4 (2 pair) to 8 (4 pair) as it increased its data rate from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps.  There is even a 10 Gbps version now.  Coax has also advanced, but switching to fiber to the home is what will be the medium of choice for gigabit data speeds.

Sony, HBO and Showtime are proposing their television channels be transmitted as data.  TV signals are mostly already transmitted as digital.  The difference is packaging them within the IP protocol, as all Internet traffic is transmitted.  Then you won’t need a TV tuner, simply your computer.  The point is that televisions are going away.  As analog gave way to digital, TVs will be vanquished by computer monitors or TV tuners replaced by computers, because their transmission methods are coalescing.

I took liberties with some of my technical explanations here so I wouldn’t copy paste this into any school essays, but hope this helps as a primer for understanding the very near future.  And by the way, Marshall McLuhan has some great quotes.  “The medium is the message.”  “Vietnam was lost in the living rooms of America, not on the battlefields of Vietnam.”  And, unrelated to media but a good one, “There are no passengers on spaceship Earth.  We are all crew.”  Good guy to read up on.

Snowboarding with Ellie

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chairlift“Keep your back straight!”  Ellie coached me today on how to snowboard.  That’s fair, I taught her how to ride a bike.  I thought I knew how to snowboard but six years have somehow passed by since I last went.  Could have something to do with breaking my ribs on that last outing in Idaho.  Falling on a snowboard comes fast and hard.  Ellie knows, check out that photo of her below.

face plantWhat really helped me today was renting some snowboard boots.  I started out in my snow boots, trying to save some money.  That was a mistake.  I felt totally uncoordinated on my first couple of runs.   It only took a few minutes to rent some boots and I improved dramatically.  My two key lessons for today were proper boots and keeping my back straight.

back edgeTo go out with Ellie, I first had to acquire a snowboard.  I bought a ten year old K2 off Craigslist on Monday for $30.  The guy wanted $40 but then we both noticed a screw missing from the bindings.  For my speed, the one screw isn’t critical.  I might buy some newer bindings though off Craigslist this week.  I don’t need new gear at my novice level of experience.  I just need to keep up with Ellie.  We started out on the magic carpet and worked our way onto the lift after a few initial runs.

Black ForestToday’s weather was unbelievably warm and sunny.  Neither of us wore gloves.  We’re going to try to get up another weekend or two before spring break to work on our skills.  Then, we plan to join the Sebesta’s at the start of spring break at the Stockert’s cabin in Breck.  And we plan on boarding another couple of days at the end of break in Keystone.  I’m confident Ellie and I will be real snowboarders by the end of the season.  We lunched at the end of today at the Black Forest in Nederland.  Awesome day!

Art or Business? The Future of Prospect

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Ed Mahoney:

My neighborhood is going mainstream. Blog by my good friend and neighbor Jabe…

Originally posted on prospectisart:

My neighborhood, Prospect New Town, in Longmont, Colorado was founded and created by an artist, Kiki Wallace in the early 1990s.  Kiki found contractors and architects who had artistic vision and they built out half of the lots in our neighborhood one house at a time, with Kiki complaining, arguing, and firing every step of the way.  Kiki had a very strong vision and was fierce in his pursuit of it, even if others were offended (or banished) by his seemingly capricious ways.  It was a slow process and 15 years into it the economy upended the construction business and building in Prospect came to a stand still. It also deprived Kiki of his ability to finish his vision on his own.

In the last year, Kiki brought in a developer to help finish building out Prospect.  They started with the developer purchasing a few lots with option to buy…

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Texas Race Photos

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twisted finish lineI think I’m finally starting to lose my double chin.  I know this because race photographers continue to think upward angle shots are a good idea.  Amateurs.  I shouldn’t complain over a free race photo, but then the registration fee was a bit pricey for a little 5K with no road closures.  I still can’t get over all the 5Ks around Central Texas.  There are over a half dozen each weekend in the Austin metro alone.  A baker’s dozen if you expand the radius to New Braunfels and the surrounding hill country.  Apparently you can’t have an event without a 5K.  I couldn’t find any tenable 10Ks.  The Twisted X 5K is the only one that provided race photos.  I like this one because it shows me finishing ahead of my buddy Ken.  He passed me at two miles.  I can assure you that was not part of my race plan, but racing him for the final mile was priceless.

Lakeway Jimmy IveyI already posted my only photo from the Lakeway Runforapurpose 5K, which I ran a week before the Twisted X 5K.  They took awards photos, some of which they posted in the Austin-American Statesman.  I’ve been unsuccessful at finding my photo so here is a pic of the runner who beat me, 24 year old Jimmy Ivey.  This race posted age graded results, and by that measure, I beat him.  But then Ken beat me with his age graded time, in fact he came in first.  This race was memorable, if not for being the first time I raced with Ken in 30 years, for the monster hills.  My thighs are still sore.

LettiThe Braunfest 5K took photos of us receiving our medals, but never made them available.  Doesn’t matter, this picture of me standing with Letty in the post run beer tasting tent is better anyway.  That was a big beer morning.  The most unique thing about that race was that they served chicken wings afterward, with an outstanding selection of hot sauces.  With beer of course.  Before 9am.  New Braunfels is a very German town.

Austin CapitolI have tons of photos from the Austin Marathon.  This is me, smiling of all things, just after crossing the finish line.  I’ve never finished a marathon feeling better.  Austin puts on a fun run.  I don’t know how many girls along the route yelled at me to “run boy blue!”  Not very original after the third time, but consistent enough that I got the message.  Next time I’ll try to wear contrasting shorts.  The most unique shout out was from a group of girls standing at mile 13; they asked me if I was Kevin Bacon.  They were serious.  In case you’re young, he’s an aging actor 4 years older than me.  I didn’t take it as a compliment, but was surprised by it nonetheless.  Maybe he’s also a runner known for wearing monochromatic outfits?

Dripping Springs

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Twisted XIt’s not raining.  It’s not even cold.  It’s as if God plans on attending SWSX, so suddenly the weather improves.  I meet up with Kenneth Hausman in the Twisted X Brewery parking lot for a rematch from last Sunday.  This Texmex brewery and brew pub is located on the edge of Dripping Springs, on the way out toward Driftwood.  With Ken is his friend and neighbor, 45 year old Steve Yacktman.  Steve is prepping for a triathlon and is using this as a speed workout.  Steve also runs $30B of investments at Yacktman Asset Management.  He said, when he makes a mistake at work, it typically costs him over $100M.  Despite the large turnout and fast looking runners today, Steve smiles broadly and calmly on the starting line.  No pressure here.  This is a video of him on Squawkbox at CNBC.

Steve YacktmanWe line up just behind the runners who we expect might run a minute per mile faster than us.  We’re capable of averaging 7 minute miles.  My goal is 6:45 per mile.  I really want to PR before flying home tomorrow back to altitude.  That’s a 6:42 pace.  The first quarter mile is on a cow trail.  We expected pavement but apparently Twisted X had trouble with the permits.  I’m fine with this, I love trail running.  Grass and trails are slower though.

I start out running behind both Ken and Steve on the trail.  I pass Ken once we hit the street and start to run alongside Steve.  He pulls in front of me as we climb a monster hill.  This is just before the one mile marker, which we cross in 6:28.  I’m concerned because this is 20 seconds faster than my race plan, but it does help explain why I’m so winded.

3rd PlaceThe street doesn’t last long and we soon find ourselves back in a cow pasture.  I pass Steve around the half way point as his stomach begins to cramp.  I wish I could say it was because I sped up.  As we return to the street and run back down the huge hill, Ken passes me.  This is just at the two mile point.  I run this second mile in 6:42 which I consider excellent.  I’m on pace to PR.  Of course, I’d feel even better if Ken didn’t just pass me but I still feel strong and am able to stay close behind him.  I catch my breath running down the hill and run alongside Ken for the next half mile.

We’re both breathing hard with spit spraying out of our gaping mouths and snot flying out our nostrils.  We’re in a race.  Ken is five years older than me but the age division for this race is 50 to 59 and he’s not backing off.  The street turns to trail again for the final quarter mile and I’m able to shoot ahead of him.  I can’t wait until the last 100 yards to out sprint Ken because for one, I don’t know that I can.  And two, I might hurt myself sprinting.  My early kick pays off and I cross the finish line 3 seconds ahead of Ken in 20:28 – a personal record – having run 6:44 for my final mile.  My 6:36 pace is good enough for third place in my age division, 10th place overall.  Steve takes second place in the 40-49 group.  We win custom-made bottle openers – exactly what to expect from a Brewery.

GodspellThis will be my last Texas race for awhile.  My three weeks are coming to a close.  I saw some old friends, work colleagues and family.  I ate Thai for dinner last night, Pad Ped Gang Dang with Karen’s brother Steve and his wife Susan.  We watched their daughter Lucy in a church play Godspell, with her Grandparents.  That was fun.  And I met Chris Amaro for lunch Thursday.  He’s another running buddy from Texas State.  He graduated with a physics degree and went to work in Vegas for the Reagan Star Wars industry.  He works now as a physicist for the State of Texas Department of Health.  Chris was more into marathons at a younger age, running four in high school.  He last ran the Austin Marathon in 2007, but plans to train for another soon.  I come down every year to spend quality time with my mom but it’s nice to see other friends and family and get in some low altitude racing.  My next race might be the Bolder Boulder 10K at 5,400 feet.  Adios Texas.

BYOE

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email chainI’m not sure whether to file this one under Cyber War or Geek Horror.  The subject matter fits under Cyber War.  My goal with cyber war is to discuss topics of interest while sneaking in a bit of a computer security primer for friends and family.  But Hilary’s Bring Your Own Email to work story also smacks of tech gone horribly wrong.  And I don’t have enough stories in that genre.  I’ll classify this under both categories.

Hilary has yet to respond so it’s premature for me to comment, but this is a blog.  She might surprise us by stating other reasons once she does respond, but the general consensus at this point in time is that the Clintons are private people (no really, everyone is saying this on the air about the most public figures in America) and they have lessons learned from their share of lawsuits and subpoenas.  So I don’t question Hilary’s desire to set up an email server at home before beginning her tenure as Secretary of State to maintain a degree of privacy.  In fact, and I’m still struggling to digest this, it’s common practice for high-level politicos.  Apparently there’s a strong market for consultants to set up personal email servers for public figures.

I can even relate to Hilary, and so can you.  Does your employer support BYOD in the workplace?  You know, Bring Your Own Device to work?  Mine does.  If they didn’t, they would have to buy 450,000 $500 smart phones for us all.  Do the math on that.  This is a real trend.  You use your personal iPhone to access your company email.  You use your iPad to access company databases while sitting on your couch and also drafting your fantasy football team.  The tradeoff is that you install your company’s computing policy onto your phone.  That sets configuration specs such as the complexity of your password and how often you have to change it.  And we’re as okay with this as we are with granting Facebook complete copyright to our family photo library.

Do you think Hilary complied with State Department computing policies on her home email server?  The discussion to date is about her operating within the guidelines (at the time) of leveraging a personal email account for official business.  My point is there is so much more to comply with.  All of us working from home at the remote end of a VPN tunnel understand that we’re the weak link in the corporate security chain.  We have family members accessing our keyboard.  We allow guests on our wifi.  Shoot, I use my personal MacBook Pro as my primary work computer.  I also sacrifice half my CPU utilization to my company’s AV and computing policy auditing software.  Some people use their work computer to host their personal pictures, play their music, and send personal email.  I prefer to subject my personal MacBook Pro to crippling corporate security and compliance software in order to use a single device.  Before that, I used two devices.

No one is talking about this yet but my concern is that Hilary did none of this.  Maybe she ran AV software.  Well of course she did.  Computers don’t run for very long if you don’t.  Point is, how would we know?  How would the State Department I/T staff know?  And AV is just one small example.  There are many essential security practices that must be followed.  Once that home email server is compromised, it can then email malware to heads of state!  I’m trying to remain optimistic.  Maybe this server was supported by a special team of State Department I/T staff.  That’s not unusual at all for C-levels at large corporations.  But stories like this remind us not to be surprised when common sense is ignored by people who should know better.  Lost in this week’s news, General David Patraeus reached a plea agreement for sharing extremely confidential information with his biographer/lover.  Trust no one.

The Hills of Lakeway

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Kenneth Hausman Kenneth Hausman is a college running buddy I met at Texas State.  Meeting up for this run is his idea.  He shows up in his Chariots of Fire sweats a half hour before the start and we warm up together.

There’s a reason they call it the Hills of Lakeway.  I might be from Colorado, but I typically train on an extremely flat trail.  This morning’s 5K has a couple hundred feet of elevation change in three miles.  Unbelievable.  The first two hundred yards are flat, then the course drops, sometimes steeply, for the next half mile.  Ken takes the lead from the start but we settle into a three man lead pack with twenty-four year old Jimmy Ivey.  Jimmy ran Cross Country for West Virginia Tech and works now as a diesel mechanic for Caterpillar in Austin.

Mostly downhill, we run the first mile in 6:38, almost identical to the start of my 5K yesterday in New Braunfels.  We chat the entire time, because Ken, an insurance agent and serial entrepreneur, is a talker.  Ken and I quiet down once we start up the next hill.  Jimmy continues talking and doesn’t appear to be breathing, so we sense we’re in trouble.  As the hill begins to steepen, Jimmy gains some separation.  A half mile later, he has 20 seconds on me.  I’m able to count this from where we turn around at the half way point.

I chase Jimmy after the turn as it’s downhill again, but he increases his lead.  I hit mile two in 7:08, again almost identical to yesterday despite the extreme hills.  Mile three though is brutal – a half mile climb.  I’m breathing like a race horse on the back stretch and lactic acid burns inside my thighs.  I’m not going to catch Jimmy, he continues to increase his lead.  I run mile three in 7:31 – a half minute slower than yesterday’s third mile.  I cross the line in 21:58, 39 seconds behind Jimmy.  For the second day in a row, I place second overall.  Always a bridesmaid.  Kenneth finishes a close third.

AwardsWe feel pretty good because not only did we both finish in the top three, but there are no other fifty year olds in the top 20.  We celebrate our demonstrated vitality with breakfast tacos at Rudy’s BBQ on 620 – a quarter mile past the 2222 intersection.  Another cold and wet race on a rainy Central Texas weekend.  Not bad running weather, although not comfortable for standing around afterward.  I’m showered, warm and dry now.  Kenneth is talking about another 5K next Saturday down in Kyle.

New Braunfels

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Guadalupe-Brewing

Very few drivers out on the road today before 6am.  Texas is frozen.  I drop Sandy off at Austin Bergstrom for an early flight easily enough.  My next target is New Braunfels to run a 5K and meet up with the Johnsons for the Braunfest beer tasting and lunch.  The drive though across Ben White to I35 is an icy death trap.  There are three major overpasses between the airport and the interstate.  Early responders are busy at all three bridges cleaning up catastrophic crashes.  I can’t imagine why anyone would drive faster than the 15 mph I’m doing across this ice, but these cars are totally smashed.  Multiple cars at the first two sites, just one at the overpass exit to I35.  Even at my slow speed, I’m in a controlled slide between the fire trucks, police cruisers, and wrecks.  Still, I make it safely to New Braunfels by 7am.

Only 68 runners line up for the race.  I might place.  The rain is holding back and 35° is not that unpleasant for running.  I layer two t-shirts and wear a ski cap along with gloves, and I’m comfortable.  Eight runners dart out ahead of me at the start.  After the first mile, only two remain ahead of me.  I’m stunned by my initial pace – 6:36 for mile one.  I hope, and actually expect, to run a 7 minute pace and did not want to start off this fast.

I catch Clay Coleman, the runner in second place, at the half way point.  He follows close behind as we head up a hill, but then fades.  Felix Acosta, the runner in first place is a good 20 seconds ahead of me and looks strong.  I focus on running my own pace and cross mile two with a 7:00 even mile.  I feel fairly strong myself but don’t want to race too hard.  I plan to run another 5K tomorrow.  Still, I make a move to close the gap and am able to close on the leader a bit.  My surge gives me a 6:54 final mile.  Felix finishes 15 seconds ahead of my 21:24.  He’s a bit younger than me and I’m happy finishing in second place.

I meet up an hour later with Ray and Letty for the beer tasting.  They’re feeling pretty good about their son recently being accepted into the UT School of Engineering.  They figure it was the billion hours their son put into his robotics club that got him in.  Oh, and he’s smart.  My favorite beer of the day might be the Hefeweizen from Guadalupe Brewing that was served post race with chicken wings.  After drinking our limit of beer before noon, we head over to the Friesenhaus for an authentic German lunch.  The waiters speak mostly German.  I order the Schleswig-Holstein Snitzel.  And more beer.  I’m going to need to run that 5K tomorrow.

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