Sunday, May 31, 2009

I just saw a deer sprint full speed into a semi! It was perfect enough for a movie
The postal service on 102.7 on Albany ny. Amazing!
I'm off! Bye Worcester see you in the fall!

Friday, May 29, 2009

I'm on their website for Pakistan

Field Touring Alpine put me up on their website! I am on their team page just under all the guides. 

When I wrote my description I put down everything I had done that makes me experienced but after reading the other descriptions I kind of want to crawl in a hole. I mean one guys just wrote seven summiteer. I'm talking about 13ers and pitches of rock climbing and another guy mentions 150 first ascents.

On the upside I did an 11a and 10c at central rock last night. I also cruised two 9s and led a 10 and 9 and fell off of both while clipping the next bolt, so I had two fun 10 foot falls. I tried a 12 but fell off. about 10 feet up and could not get back going. then I almost had another 11 but about 30 feet up i fell and could not get going again. It was probably my last hard rock session. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Precompetitive Innovation

Some sort of basic science that benefits everybody or at least members (who might be competitors with each other) and is not competitive or commercializable. Or here at Wikitionary. 

To me this means something that everyone wants to know but it is unrealistic for one company to do it alone. For example a high pressure (20 bar) hydrogen gas quenching furnace/facility. In the heat treating industry there are people that want one of these so they can compare empirical test results to that of oil quenching. However, no such two phase low pressure carburizing and hydrogen gas quenching furnace exists for sale. There may or may not be one in Pennsylvania and Poland. It is theorized with some empirical evidence and computer simulations that hydrogen can quench as well (as fast) as oil. Now it seems that simulations of such a process are definitively precompetitive. It also seems that validating those simulations with tests of that process are precompetitive. However, building a furnace however big or small for the express purpose of validating the simulations becomes competitive because building a furnace is the responsibility of furnace manufacturers. That last sentence to me seems not entirely true. If the everyone desires t0 understand the process and perform physical experiments than perhaps everyone should take the hit to invest in the (possibly) first such furnace.

It seems to me that in any precompetitive research that one party will inevitably gain more from the experience than another. For example a furnace manufacturer, an auto maker, and a heat treating company go together on a new project. The project finished and is a success. The furnace company comes out with a new furnace and makes a ton of money in one day for the sale of that one furnace, the heat treater buys a furnace and saves a little money every year for 15 years, the auto maker buys the parts and saves even less money than the heat treater. Everyone saves money or makes more money but that precompetitive project was a different kind of investment for each company.

I think precompetitive research is important to the future of technological innovation because of publicly traded companies that focus on positive earnings every quarter research and development is likely one of the first areas to get funding cut. If all of that R&D can get done by a third party for a fraction of the cost because it is shared by several companies (even if they are competitors) than innovation is more likely to continue. 

Levels of Daka

Daka was the name of the food service provider at WPI in the 1990's. We still call catered campus food Daka.

So first is level C which is the buffet style stuff in Morgan commons and some of the time in the goats head pub. It nice because you don't have to cook or do dishes and there is a lot of food but it gets boring after a month.

Level B is the nice buffet like at the 300 person athletic dinner or some of the time at the goats head pub. It's nice and better than stuff we usually cook but still not as good as going out to eat.

Level A is the catered style where they bring you food and all you have to do is sit there. Most of the time the food is pretty good. This food appears at the dinners for recognition of WPI people by other WPI people. The bar is a cash bar.

Finally there is Daka A+. The realm of the president, donors, and the people that fund this place. You know it's Daka A+ when there is an open bar. The food is really good, better than many restaurant meals.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What is Research?

Nobody really knows. Albert Einstein said, "if we knew what we were doing it wouldn't be called research".

Most research starts out to prove something or discover something. Sometimes those things we are trying to prove we end up disproving. At least I always did in high school. Now that I'm in grad school we keep pounding away until we prove what we tried to in the first place. It is not always that way, a number of my doctor friends have proven things that nobody else knew or that was counterintuitive. In my case however we have measurements that my simulations have to match and we have the recipe for how to get there. The problem is putting it all together and making it all agree with each other. 

Research takes a certain type of person. You have to be stubborn to keep trying after numerous failures. You have to have a little memory loss so that you forget how it feels to have an experiment fail. You have to have a good memory so that you do not make the same mistakes twice. You have to focus on the task and not the timeline. Experiments do not automatically work because it is finals week. Before committing your life to research take a good look at yourself and be as honest as you can. Research is hard work, that's why people get doctorate degrees and nobel prizes. It is not for everybody but if we want to keep pushing science we need those dedicated minds to suffer for us. 

Work hard, play hard my friends.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Post-Collegiate Racing

So now that I'm done with my NCAA eligibility it is time to make the switch to a post-collegiate runner. I am not sure what the appropriate term is. Professional runners are people that get paid to run and run full time and elite runners are really good runners be they college or professional or some guy that works 40 hours a week. 

I went to my first open meet Saturday. The New Balance Twilight (click for results) meet at Bentley college. Justin Lutz a WPI alum ran 14:23 for the win of the 5k and a PR. Yvon Green, Megan Murphy, and Chris McCann also ran. There was also a guy from McMillian elite there in the fast heat of the 1500. There were a lot of fast performances. in the men's 1500 the winner was 3:46 and there were five or so that ran sub 3:50. The women's 5000 also had nine women run sub 17 with the winner 16 flat. It was quite a good meet. No national qualifying times but good performances for the most part. 

The most astounding part was the total lack of spectators. I think there were more runners than spectators or perhaps one to one. In college the meets are sol long and everyone cheers that many races are noisy the whole way but during these races it was silent and as they went around the track I could hear the one or two people cheering on the other side of the track as they went around. So I cheered for every race that I saw because I know that it is not run to run a race without a crowd. Some people say that they tune out the noise when they race and I think that that is true near the end of a close race when I am just focusing on beating people but for the majority of my races I am totally aware of what is happening around the track.

So please, support your local sub elite post collegiate runner. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Bread, Cheese, and Hummus

I finally arrive back at my van. Physically and mentally wrecked I know tomorrow will be an off day. Well, bailing off of two different routes hardly counts as an on day, but try to tell my body that. Where did 80 degree weather com from anyway? It was 50 last week! I heave open the side door and climb in and toss down my harness, gear, and rope. I plop down on the back seat and rummage around to find the bread, cheese, and hummus I know is there somewhere. The cheese is melted with oil all over the plastic wrap. I open the hummus and try to pour the oil from the cheese in so that none of it ends up on the floor or worse on my slings which are four inches away. Very carefully I pour one shaky drop at a time until I am too tired to hold an eight ounce block of cheese. The cheese is soft enough that I can cut it with the plastic fast food knife leftover from this morning's bagels, which is good because that's the only knife I have. Then I take a piece of bread and delicately put a small piece of cheese on top then I spread some oily hummus on top.

Fat sweet salty garlic waves rush over me. This is by far the best meal of the week. No, it is the best meal of the month! For about ten minutes I savor every bite. Even licking my dirty fingers for every bit of oil and hummus that might try to escape. My mind and body completely content with the day. Finally I finish the only four slices of bread that I have and fruitlessly try to clean up the oil with a few napkins. I stumble to the drivers seat and prepare for the hours of driving home. Today was a good day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Why Materials Science and Engineering is the Best Major

Well first of all look at the title "Science and Engineering". I can't think of another major that combines basic sciences and engineering so well. Chemistry is similar as many chemists spend time trying to understand how molecules interact and form new compounds, but it only applies on such a small scale. Materials science covers everything from atomic material activities (chemical potentials) or how atoms interact with each other to macroscopic problems like heat treating distortion. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out on an atomic or microscopic level how things happen so that we can apply that knowledge to industrial problems. In many engineering disciplines they design something then look at several materials to decide which is the best for that application. For us it is a questions of how to make whatever material someone else chose last longer. We can study the material and determine how it will most likely fail and they try to engineer a solution to over come the problem.

It is also a huge field. Every engineering field uses materials. Civil engineers even take a class on wood and another on dirt. Electrical engineers have problems with conductor loss due to the angle between the conductor and insulator on circuit boards which they don't even really know about yet. Mechanical engineers just throw some kind of metal in there and hope it works. All sorts of companies chose a plastic because it should work in some specific application better than another plastic. Everything is made out of something and it all takes effort to make. From a solo cup to a computer to a bridge someone had to create a material. 

So the next time you design something and choose a material or use some product think about all those hours that some materials scientist spent engineering that material or the process to make that product meet your specifications. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Harrington Buildering

I did some buildering on Harrington auditorium last night. It is a brick building on campus and it has these bricks  that are all odd shapes and stick out and make perfect flat 1 cm crimpers.

I started off by going to the back of harrington under the stairs and doing the right side which I've done before and is about V1. Then I tried to do the left side which I've tried several times unsuccessfully. Well this time I got up as high on the bricks as I could and then did a layback and managed to get a hand up and then I could pull and swing my body up over the "roof" of the stairs. I'll put it at V2 because it's more technical (harder layback) and more strenuous (worse feet at the overhang).

Now that I was all pumped up and nobody was around campus so I went to the wall by the entrance way into the basement of Harrington. There are three obvious routes here. One on the far left by the gray water streak. One about eight feet from the left on obvious holds but with a gap in the middle of the wall. Finally on the right side of the door about four feet to the right of the pull up bars there is a huge jug route. It was the only route on that wall I topped out on and I put it at V0. I even used the pipe and I'm sure it could be done without the pipe but without a crash pad over asphalt when my feet are seven feet off the ground I'll cheat. I finished off the night by doing some dynos from the bricks to the higher pull up bar and trying the two routes on the left side of the wall. I think the route on the far left is probably the easier of the two. It just involves small feet where as the middle route has big step ups. 

The one question I'm left with is: how hard is strait brick wall climbing? I mean there are lots of micro slopers which I'm prone to call 5.12 because I've never climbed 5.12 but they are so small and quite sloping that I would believe 5.13 or 5.14. If anyone can say from experience or a link to an article let me know.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The 18K Superchallenge

Legendary among college runners is the coveted trilogy which has no equal in the track world. The 10,000, the 3000 steeplechase, and the 5000 all in the same day. Now it's been done several times over three days by several well known runners like Macharia Yuot at D3 nationals in 2006 or Scott MacPherson from Arkansas at the recent SEC championships where his total time was around 55 minutes. Rumor has it that some runners at Tufts came up with this in the 90s and the goal was to get your total time in less than a hour. One female runner from WPI tried it several years ago at our NEWMAC championships and she won the 10,000 and got fifth in the 3000 but our coach wanted to save her for New Englands the next week so she didn't do the 5000. 

For the college track runner it is the ultimate day. For D3 runners to get a total time under an hour you have to be moderately competitive at every distance. I don't think D1 runners have the opportunity very often to run all three the same day because their meets are generally stretched over several days. Regardless of who you are it would not be easy. Of course if you want to push yourself why limit yourself to an hour? I kind of think that 52 minutes would be nearly impossible except for professional runners who rarely even run two races the same week. It's a unique opportunity to be able to run all three races the same day. For those of us moderately good D3 runners just trying to break an hour chances are no one would even notice outside of our team. It's also a waste of he next week because most likely you would be so sore after that that trying to throw down any workout that week or even a race the next weekend would probably suffer. 

However, despite the sacrifice and stupidity of the 18k Superchallenge for any runner that completes it (that is all three the same day and less than an hour total time) let me know and show me the website with the results and I'll buy you a meal. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Abaqus: Edge Biased Structured Mesh Example

The Bottom-Up mesh example was quite popular so I'm expanding my information to apply to a larger audience. I will show how to mesh a square bar in abaqus with the nodes and elements concentrated at one end. Having a concentration of elements at one end is useful when the loads applied to one area are higher than another. I use edge biased seeding for carburizing simulations because a finer mesh is needed where the carbon diffuses into the material. In this example the bar is 20 x 20 x 60.

1. Select the Mesh Module
2. Select Seed > Edge By Number

3. Select the square at the end of the block by clicking anywhere inside the square. Then enter the number of elements on each side you want (in this example four) and press enter or return.

4. Select Seed > Edge Biased. Then select on of the long edges near the end you want to have a denser mesh and click on Done at the bottom right of the window.

5. Enter a number for the bias ratio (in this example five). The bias ratio is the difference between the length between nodes at either end of the edge. So a bias ratio of five means that the mesh at the dense end will have element lengths one fifth (20%, 1/5) of that at the coarse end. Press enter and then enter the number of elements along the edge (in this example six). Then repeat this for all of the long edges (the other three edges) because any edge that does not have edge bias seeding will not create edge bias element lengths.

6. Select Mesh > Controls

7. Select Hex and Structured. The bar should appear green. The color that the part is in the mesh module refers to the type of elements. 

8. Select Mesh > Part. The at the bottom of the window select the Yes box to mesh the part. 

You are done!

Rope Soloing instruction of the week: Tethers

Often when free climbing I use a dedicated runner to attach myself to the anchor at the belays so that the entire rope can be used for belaying and I do not have to attach myself to the anchor with a clove hitch on the lead rope. Rope soloing does, in general, not twist the rope as much as typical pitched climbing with ATCs or other belay plates so the need for a separate tether (runner, daisy chain) to the anchor so that you can untie and get the twists out (like on long routes) is not necessary. Rope soloing is heavy and awkward enough that any mess on the front of your harness you can safely avoid is worth avoiding. 

Recap: At the anchors clove hitch yourself to the anchor instead of a tether.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Afraid to Die

As I get closer to going to Pakistan people are getting more worried about me dying. Between the Taliban, the mountain, and all sorts of diseases it's not really a place to go to ensure living to see 2010. The chances of me dying on the mountain are fairly high. We're talking several percentage points considering the entire history of the mountain. The chances of some fatal terrorism event happening to me are relatively low but a lot higher than in the US. Does this scare me? Yes, I am afraid to die. It could hurt and I would leave behind a lot of really good friends and leave a lot of my dreams unfinished. However, I am not worried about dying. I am going to die some day and when it happens it happens. I'm just going to try and put it off for another 60 years. 

Dave Hancock (owner of the company I'm going to Pakistan with) in an Afghanistan gun shop while it was still ruled by the Taliban.

"Just live your life!" - Rihanna

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My history of sports

I'm going to do a post about my involvement in sports and the different phases I have gone through. I'll probably do the same with career choices, extracurricular, and school later.

It began with baseball. I've seen videos of myself sitting on the floor of our apartment before I could walk or run swinging a bat to hit the wiffle ball my parents rolled across the floor. I also remember when we lived in Ohio I liked to go to the local park and sometimes run up or down the hill. Mostly down the hill. We also had squirt gun fights a few times although losing and getting soaked brought me to tears a few times. The was also the hide and go seek tag which I've played who knows how many times and that always involves running. Without talking to my parents and looking through old videos that's about it for Ohio life.

When we moved to St. Louis I expanded my horizons and played army a lot which meant lots of walking around and some running here and there. I also learned to ride a bike. Being so small I had this tiny red bike and honestly I saw it a few years ago and I was amazed that anyone that little would be able to ride a bike. Many of my friends were also into roller blading and I hung out with kids that were older than I and I'm not a big person so finding sporting equipment was often a challenge. I remember getting my first pair of rollerblades. We went to a few different stores but just could not find anything for a six year old. Finally at one store just before it was going to close we found this three wheel on each boot pair that fit with a brake on each boot. So I was able to rollerblade but then we played hockey as well so my dad found a hockey stick in the trash who knows where and cut the end off so it fit me.  Another interesting little story is that in St. Louis we went out at night in the winter a few times to this drain that would freeze over and chop the ice with hammers and put it in buckets. I also helped build my first snow cave one winter.

One story that sticks out is that one day at recess we got to play on the big kids playground and they had a track painted on the pavement 16 or 20 laps to the mile and my friend and I wanted to see if we could walk a mile during recess so that's all we did for the entire recess. I think we missed it by only a few laps. I haven't thought about this stuff in years and it's funny to think that I've been trying to see how far I could go since I was six or seven.

When I lived in Enid Oklahoma I was introduced to soccer. There were only three people on the field on each team at any given time.  I think I did ok because I remember playing a lot and not as much sitting on the bench. I also remember the cold days and people using hand warmers but I was not cold enough to need them. 

In Buffalo Oklahoma I played baseball. They had no soccer team. I played the outfield which got boring because unless something is hit your way there's not much to do. It was fun and I played two or three years but after one season of the pitching machine I was out because it was so scary. This ball flies at 50-60 miles an hour right toward you and even when I did hit it the bat shook in my hands so much that it kind of hurt. So I retired from baseball. We also had a basketball team of six people which was most of the boys in our grade. I got a fair amount of playing time and it was always fun to go to games because our whole team fit in a suburban and it was like an hour drive and I like long drives. We also played a lot of games in PE and got to run around a lot. Once we played football so long that we missed 40 minutes of our next class. We had boys and girls PE separate so you get us playing a game and the competition just kind of escalates.

While there we had at least one track meet where we traveled to another school and I remember running the 800 and coming in near the middle or end of the field but still beating a lot of people. 

Finally only once while we lived in Oklahoma my family took a trip to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. We went camping for the first time and hiking as a family and had a blast. I vividly remember hiking to emerald lake or whatever the highest lake below flattop mountain and hallets peak is and eating lunch on a big rock and staring at the vertical cliffs and mountains so high above. 

When we moved to Sabetha I went into seventh grade and at that age they started to take sports more seriously. I skipped football because I didn't want to get hurt. I played basketball and scored two points all season. I ran track and was one of maybe 2-3 distance runners. I ran the 1600 because it was the longest event they had for 7th graders. I also distinctly remember watching an 8th grader run a 5:01 1600 and set the school record. It was so impressive. I also went to summer camp at Spanish Peaks that summer and did the hiking merit badge and was never the slowest even with a 20 mile hike that we did on the last day. It was great fun because it took like 12 hours and I totally wasn't prepared for a 20 mile hike. My backpack and water bottles were all wrong and uncomfortable. My family took a vacation after that through Wyoming and Montana and South Dakota. I out hiked my mom for the first time on Avalanche Peak in Yellowstone. So now I was the most athletic in the family.

In eighth grade things started to change. I still did basketball and scored 10 points in the whole season. I was still in PE and got to try a bunch of different sports from wrestling to archery. But in track they finally let us run the 3200. I didn't do too well and often got beat by this one really good girl but never the less I scored points a few times and we had a new kid that also liked to run the long distances and having him there would push me to try and be better even though he lapped me a bunch.

In high school I was always bored after school during the fall of my freshman year so I began riding my mountain bike on this 16 mile out and back route. Sometime in September or October someone finally told me about cross country because I had no idea it even existed. I did track that year. I vividly remember the first day of practice. We ran 4-5 miles I ran 5 miles with the really good runner on our team and the two other freshmen on the track team and it was the farthest I had ever run at one time. I had blisters and I was dead. The three of us sat there on the freshman side of the locker room just in a daze because in middle school we did maybe 3-4 miles total in a long practice here the first day we did five miles. It was a shock. I think I ended up running like a 12:36 3200 and still got beat by the same girl. She was state champion a few times I think so it was really just inconvenient she was in our league. Also in our region but not our leage were these two sisters Amy and Emily Mortimer who I never raced but I saw Emily the younger sister race and she was quite a bit faster than I. We also had a runner on our team that year that was really good as in 4:20s miler and 9:something two miler. He won state in both the mile and 32 and competed at state in the 800 but was too tired to take it seriously so he jogged it. He went off to a junior college and had some success then got injured and had a fight with the coach and I have no idea if he even runs any more.

My sophomore year I did cross country. Somewhere in my brain I'm sure this season changed me. I opened with a 22:02 I think for a 5k and over the season brought it down to 19:09 I think. But the important fact is that on a team of about 10 guys I was 4-5 so I was one of he scorers. I had never been a varsity scorer so to have some importance on the team was great. Our team ended up getting 3rd at regionals and going to state but I got badly sick and even though I ran at state I didn't score so we had a bad day in 2001. Another highlight of that season was regionals i can through the two miles in 11:54 and it was the first time I had broken 12 in the 2 mile. I think that's the race I PR'd in. Also that season I began logging my miles on Million Mile Ultra Run. That includes run and walked and I started from the day I found the website so the end of September 2001. Also during xc that year I did the Multiple Sclerosis 150 mile bike ride in Septemeber which was 90 miles one day and 60 the next. Pretty crazy a 15 year old riding a bike that long and feeling good enough to go to practice Monday. I came back in better shape then I left. After cross country that year I felt good and wanted a new challenge because I didn't want to play basketball or wrestling and after spending 3-5 every day practicing it was hard to not go running. Over Thanksgiving break that year I planned to run to Bern where my mom worked which was just about 13.1 miles. I was planning to run there, eat lunch at the special Thanksgiving meal they were having a run back. When I got to Bern two hours after i started there was obviously no running back. So my dad drove me home after lunch.

After the pain of that run went away I still wanted to run so I found a half marathon from Topeka to Auburn. I had learned from the internet that marathons beat up your body so I didn't want to hurt myself and a half sounded challenging enough. I just ran some and come race day I ran and I don't remember any splits but my time was 1:35 something and I was dead at the finish. I think I cried. Before they let me leave with my mom some woman gave me hot chocolate with extra sugar and it was amazing. It took a while before I was recovered and wanted to run again but that year in track I PR'd again in the 16 and 32. I think I ran on a 4x8 that year too. 

That summer I did my three week long ROCS trek at Philmont and then tried to hike the two highest mountains in Colorado and kind of did it with a total of two peaks over 14,000 and 8600 feet of elevation and 15 miles in about 14.5 hours from 3:30 AM to 6 PM (two hours after I told my family they should start worrying about me).

Junior year more of the same. I got to 18:33 in cross country. I was number three runner on a team with only five people until our top runner got an IT band injury and we didn't have the depth to even score at league and at regionals with all five of us we didn't do well enough to go to state. I did the bike ride again only I did 100 miles the first day so I could get a little patch. I did the half marathon again and ran 1:27:52 and won the 19 and under age group. This is in part due to learning from the internet how to better train. On Friday I would do a long run 8-10 miles and on Tuesday I would run 800 at sub 3:00 pace. My best session was 10x800 at 2:52 to 2:58. It ended up being my first win of any kind. In track I had my best season of 5:03 in the mile and 11:06 in the two. While I would run 5:06, 5:07, and 11:12, 11:18 in high school i wouldn't break either barrier. 

My senior year we had a strong team and got 7th at state which was the best our school had ever done on the men's side as far as I know. Our women's team won the thing. I ran a 18:26 which I attribute to doing Yoga almost every night. Our coach also drove us to the breaking point that season. We had done 6 AM doubles in the past but this year we were doing four 6 AM practices, five after school practices and practice on Saturday. We eased off as the season went along but it was too much. People were falling asleep at the dinner table. I was routinely going to bed at 9 PM. I mean we did win league ( I think) and regionals ( I know) so we ran well but at what cost? I did the bike ride that year and got a yellow jersey for doing it three years but in the winter after xc I had no motivation to run I would try but just feel so run down so I didn't do the half marathon. During track I tried to run fast but 11:18 and 5:06 were also that I could muster. I walked off the track after the 3200 and my friend and i just hugged and cried because it was over. I never thought I would run a track race again. 

I continued running after the school year for fun and did a race the Fire Cracker 5k July 4th and then took 6 months off with not a single step of running. When I started to get back into running in January it was slow but after two months I had to join the track team at WPI because of the team aspect and my competitive nature needed an outlet. The rest is in the WPI archives of my very slow freshman season followed by summers at altitude and finally higher mileage with my first 70 mile week spring break my sophomore year and then KERPLOW I ran really fast and her I am.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Judge Me

You might as well. Instead of try and explain why I'm going to a country dealing with the very real Taliban for two months or why I would run two marathons in a row just form an opinion. 

I have tried to explain myself many times but it always comes up short. When George Mallory said in response to why he wanted to climb Everest he said "Because it's there." In a world of never ending tests and research and relationships that go up and down and get nowhere climbing a mountain or finishing a race is so definitive. They are an end in themselves. Completion of something that took a lot of effort. After banging my head against my research and differential equations the mental energy required to push myself from 51 miles to 52 miles is like a vacation. It's so simple: just go forward. The physical pain is also really comforting because it's real. 

Am I crazy? I think about that a fair amount. Probably more than most people. Most of the time I decide that if I have to ask the question and think about it then I'm probably not crazy. Actually one of my greatest fears is that when they are doing all of the tests for the crew to Mars I won't make it because I'm too crazy for NASA. I also know that if things continue at their current rate I'm just going to get more crazy by the world's definition. 

What I'm trying to say is that there are things I do and want to do that are painful, scary, dangerous, time-consuming, profitless, committing, and I do them in part for those reasons but also to know what it's like. If you want to feel why I do them then come with me on an adventure. Otherwise, go ahead and call me crazy.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

100 Mile Run: Part 2 of 2

The excitement began at 6 PM yesterday as Duffty, Ashman and I piled into my car and drove the hour from Worcester to Foxboro to stay at Todd's house. We had a few drivers and pacers back out at the last minute which was probably a good thing because they might have pushed us to run too fast or been negative about the hours of running and a positive attitude is very important in this kind of thing.

We made it to Todd's house and his parents were great they fed us pizza and gatorade. We then played some poker, pool, and fooseball for awhile and watched the Celtics game. Then around 10 we watched the Running the Sahara movie his mom had bought and it was surprisingly good.

Going to sleep just before midnight none of us could fall asleep because we were so nervous and excited about the run. 

We woke up at 3:20 and got everything together. We had enough to supply a small track meet. Food of all types, gallons of gatorade and water, spare pairs of all types of running clothing, extra shoes and socks, towels, blankets, cameras, athletic tape, pretty much everything but pain pills. Todd drove us to the end of Woods Hole. Which is a 2 mile long peninsula with a private road we went down anyway. When the signs said "turn around now" we decided we had gone far enough and and got out and tied out shoes and took a group picture of the four of us and we started running just after 5 AM. We had a slight detour from our plan because a bridge was out but met up with Todd for the first time at 2.7 miles. We then headed out along the road by the beach taking the same course as the Cape Cod Marathon and Falmouth Road Race which is a fantastic road and very scenic. We pretty much cruised easily for the first 11 miles until out first encounter. We stopped at Burger King (before 7 AM) to use the bathroom and this lady asked us "Are you out running?" 

"Yes" I replied.

"That's nice. Are you doing the road race this year?"

"Which road race?" I asked.

"The Falmouth Road Race, it's like nine miles or something." 

"Well not this year." Except for the fact that we pretty much just ran the whole course plus four miles.

"It's a good race you should do it."

We trotted on usually doing a little over 8 minute miles and not walking much. We saw Todd around the 16 mile point and agreed to meet up at the 20 mile mark but he ended up on the wrong road and we ran past just missing each other so we kept running. We started to get worried that he got in a car crash or something because we hadn't seen him pass. Finally around mile 25.5 we stumbled to a deli and I asked to use a phone because I was the only one wearing a shirt and I called my cell phone. Todd answered after two rings, 
"Where are you?"

"Where are you?"

"I'm at Old Post Road." I looked down at my turn by turn directions and see that we passed that 5 miles ago.

"Todd, we're at Fancy Deli or something on Main street".

"I'm so sorry I totally missed your guys I'll be there in a few minutes"

So we waited outside the deli trying to answer questions about our running without mentioning how far we had already ran or how far we wanted to run. When I made the call they other two told a guy they had just run over 25 miles and using graphic language he found that amazing. Todd finally arrived and we decided to go down the road to the marathon mark and take a long break to eat and change socks. So Duffty flew down the road at 6:30 pace to prove something to himself and Ashman and I jogged less than a mile to the end and took some pictures and it took the two of us using a continuous watch 4:31 to run the marathon. Yes I felt pretty accomplished by 9:30 AM.

We took about 20 minutes there and headed out. I ran with Ashman because Duffty's idea was to run 7:40s and rest more and we were content to handle 8:20s or something. We had a break around 28.2 and Ashman was starting to feel it about a half a mile after the stop he said that the next break he would take himself out. The purpose of this run was to push ourselves and he ended up running 31.3 miles or so which is very respectable.

At that stop I started to pick up the pace and try to run with Duffty. Things are a bit of blur from there. I spent most of the 30s close to him perhaps 10 feet or so. We threw down a 7:32 mile at some point which was the fastest of the day. Finally, I just could not maintain that pace so I would run my pace and he would run his and then walk and I would catch up and we'd walk together for a little bit then repeat the process. This was fine but around 35 or so we took a break to sit down and relax and about a mile or two after that he was hurting and decided that if he stopped at all he would not get up again so we took our breaks for the next 7 miles or so by taking our water bottles and walking for a few minutes drinking and then Todd and Mike would drive up and take our bottles and drive two miles ahead. Our rest stops averaged 2-3 miles with the exception of the 10 mile stretch.

Around the early 40s Duffty got less coherent and we didn't really talk much. I took a sit down break in the van around 43 to tell the other two who couldn't see as much as I did that Duffty wasn't looking good. I then ran after him and he said that at the next stop he would be done. So he ended around 45. 

I still have energy in me and I was thinking clearly so I wanted to try and take a crack at 100k. About 10 minutes after I started out alone I was on a high which is a misnomer. I still felts lots of pain just not as much as a low and my pace on a high was maybe 9 minute miles while running. However when I was a mile or two out there on my own it started to get much harder.  All I could think about was the time and the distance. I would look at my watch and then run a few hills which took a long time and look at my watch again but only 3 minutes would pass. Around 48 my knee started to hurt a little and my quads were really hurting from the low. At the 50 mile rest stop (that I reached after 9:05 of running) they took pictures and Mike asked if there would be a mile 51. While 50 miles is cool two marathons is cooler so I told them make it 52.4 and I would call it a day. I took some water and energy jelly cube things and headed out. The gave me directions at 51 miles and 51.6 miles because I didn't want to try and navigate anymore. I also wanted to stick on the sidewalk. While I wasn't stumbling I was afraid of a car hitting me or one of those huge boats on a trailer. When they told me .8 miles to go mI thought I would be able to pick it up. Yeah not so much. I even walked within a half mile of the finish line. The finish was on a down hill and they rolled out the toilet paper finish line a took pictures and I hopped in the van without a single stretch. Total time for two marathons 9:34:39.

Todd drove us the hour and a half back to his house and Ashman drove us the hour back to Worcester. How do I feel? Ok. I mean pretty much the worst I've ever felt physically but I can walk and I showered and besides being really sore I can't feel my plantar fasciitis at all which is great! My left knee hurts but two marathons mostly on the right side of the road in motion control shoes will do that to you. My quads which started to hurt around 11 are toast. A little bit of chaffing in a few different places but nothing that won't heal in two days. Basically, I'm doing amazing. I had a great birthday and I had three good friends share it with me. 

There are pictures and video but I don't have them right now.
I am now a 4:31 marathoner!!!! (74 or so to go...)

Friday, May 8, 2009

100 Mile Run: Part 1 of 2

Tomorrow two of my friends and I are going to attempt to run from Woods Hole at the southern part of Cape Cod to past Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod a distance of 100 miles. 

Why? Because when people ask if I have ever run a marathon I say no but I could easily break 3 hours. However it doesn't matter because I have never ran a marathon and they only care if I have run one. The thing is the distance is not that scary in itself. I have done dozens of 16-18 mile long runs and probably over a hundred runs over 14 miles. So the question of me finishing a marathon is not really a question I just have to actually go out and do it. So now that I'm done with my NCAA eligibility my focus is switching to that of the olympic marathon trials but seeing as how I'm going to Pakistan in a month there is no point to keep training for a standard race but there is reason to keep running to stay in shape. Then there is the real question: How far can I run? I know I will one day run the Badwater Ultramarathon and Leadville Trail 100 but can I run 100 miles now? I don't really know. 

It will also prepare me for summit day on Broad Peak in ten weeks. It's also nice to have company. I'm doing it with with two fellow runners and two other runners from our track team are driving support and probably pacing us near the end. Part two will have a run report and pictures. For the record this is not exactly spur of the moment I've wanted to run an ultra for long time and apparently they are easier on your body than marathons because you stop and take breaks and keep eating and drinking and average a much slower pace. It's like a long intense hike, I hope...

Finally, I'm running to find a cure for obesity. It's becoming almost a pandemic across the world, not just the rich countries. A lot of money is being spent on research and drugs to figure out how to cure obesity. I'm going to do my part and run 100 miles to find a cure. Hopefully by running 100 miles in one day I will have a revelation and find a way to keep people from gaining too much weight. If you wish to donate to a non-profit some links of worthy non-profits are below:

Five Reasons Mocha Lattes are the Best

Mochas are the best morning drink because:
  1. They have chocolate syrup which has sugar and after sleeping you need some fructose to replace the fructose in your liver that your brain survived on during the night
  2. Chocolate syrup is tasty
  3. 1/3 of the drink if espresso and that helps you wake up and caffeine helps your body process more fat 
  4. 2/3 of the drink is milk which has calcium to counteract the loss of calcium getting absorbed by caffeine and it has vitamins, sugar, salt, and everything you need to feel good
  5. You can get them with exotic other flavors like hazelnut and almond

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Central Rock Gym

Tuesday night after the undergrads finished classes the WPI Outing Club had the unique opportunity to go to the new rock climbing gym in Worcester to spend the night. It opens Saturday so it wasn't finished just yet but it was close. We arrived there around 8:30 and started climbing. I took my time warming up and stretching because we had the gym for 12 hours so no need to burn out quickly. Finally when I felt good enough I decided I'd start off on a 5.9 because I should be able to handle that. Well I ended up flying up it. It felt like a 5.6 or something. So after that I went over to a 5.11a and did that. I took a few falls but I got up the whole thing. I've never climbed 5.11 before so that was fun. I also did some leading and took some leader falls. We had a great time but a day and a half later my arms are still dead tired. I'm in great shape though. I did a bunch of 5.9s after I got tired. I'm supposed to go rock climbing outside tomorrow so we'll see if I can do an 11. I think I'm in shape for it at least an easier 11. This is perfect I wanted to be in good shape running and climbing for Pakistan and it looks like that will happen.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Celebrating the End of Classes

I am done with all the classes for my masters!!! I had to do something last night to celebrate so I did the kind of thing that cheers me up. I went buildering and went to REI. I spent 15 minutes behind Harrington on campus working this sweet 10 foot brick wall to a three foot roof under some stairs. I had worked on it before but I hadn't figured it out. Basically stick to the right side and the crux is a layback with one hand at your knees and the other you reach up and over to the platform above then move your second hand up and then you have to reach up to the bars above and I'm not tall enough so my feet fell and there is really nothing for them to be on so it's a pull up followed by moving a hand up then the other hand then swinging your body onto the concrete. I did it twice I'll put it at V1 and call it The Last Exam. Then I tried to work the left side but the bricks didn't stick out enough and I couldn't layback well enough to move up to beneath the overhang.

When I went to REI I went to buy one piece of climbing equipment. One very specific piece, one they didn't have. So I ended up shopping the sale and clearance racks and bought some tights and a running shirt and then there was a sale on Cliff bar and GU so I bought 100 dollars of stuff after the discount (38 GUs, 21 shot block type things, and 32 bars). I will probably need more for Pakistan. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

The New Restaurant

Times change. Maybe it's just my friends that change over time but it seems like people like me are changing. We used to hang out at somebody's house and cook and eat and drink and that was our routine. Then at some point we decided that it was more fun to go out to restaurants. Rarely do we make reservations even though we show up at the same time and the same day of the week every week. It's fun to wait around for a half hour talking. Places like Buffalo Wild Wings even have games to play on the flat screens. I float through several circles and everyone goes out regularly now.

Is it a symptom of consumerism? Are we afraid to show off our homes? Are we going to spend all of our money there? (Will we ever pay off our student loans?) I'm a regular at three restaurants. I've lived all across the country and I always ask what people do for fun. It's the same everywhere: watch movies, go out to eat, and "hang out" whatever that means.

Our prosperity in the past and our credit now allows us to live whatever life we choose, for a time. Will these superfluous credit limits continue forever or do we have to account for every cent we spend with cents we actually have? I'm a little disillusioned with money because we have trillions of dollars in national debt but we don't really ever have to pay it off just the interest. Is there anything more absurd than money making money? Or creating money? Can we please create value and not create money? I would much rather buy value.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Last Race

My NCAA competition is over. It ended with a depressing 35:26 10k at D3 New England's. Ok I know that's still faster than most people but for me it's slow. Two and a half minutes slower than my PR. 

Season review: Started with a 33:55 this makes me happy that I could throw together a decent race and qualify for New England's. It was even a fairly easy race I felt I could have gone 20 seconds faster or so that day. My hopes for the season improved. I followed that up with a 4:26 1500 (slow) and a 2:11 800 PR which made me happy. The next week I ran a 16:13 5k which was better than that race at last year's meet so I thought things were going to happen. Then a 16:48 5k when two teammates broke 16 for the first time, a sad 9th place in a hot 35:49 at newmacs and a slightly better but still not good 35:26 at NEs. I got burnt out. It had nothing to do with track or running. Learning that I wasn't going to defend my thesis and graduate in May was, and is, very depressing. It affected my running. So three good races, three bad races and a 1500. I also think I didn't do enough long repeats and too many 300s to work on my kick but I was never there with 300 to go to kick...

Collegiate review: Five years ago I took six months off because I was burnt out. When I started running again I never thought that I would compete in running. I just like to run to stay in shape. However after two months of running I needed to compete again. I joined the WPI track team and ran some 19 minute 5ks and 4:50 1500s. For some odd reason despite getting last in, I think, every race I was hooked. The summer at 8000 feet in NM with a few 3 mile runs and tons of hiking turned out to get me in some sort of shape. I ran cross country and PR'd in the 8k at like 30 something and in the 5k 17:55. I was even 8th guy on the team. That winter I ran indoor and at the first meet in December I ran a 4:59.85 mile. I can hardly describe how fantastic that was. That sophomore year I also discovered running high mileage from the internet and did my first 70 mile week during spring break and had 15 consecutive PRs including a 4:52 mile, 9:57 3k, 16:37 5k and 34:57 10k debut. The next summer I hiked even more and did a little running and came back in xc and ran sub 29 once and made varsity and ran 4:44, 9:25, 16:25 during indoor and 1:19 in a half marathon. 

Finally before my senior year I put together a summer of running and PR'd a lot the whole year including 27:34 xc, 4:38, 9:01, 16:03, 32:58. It was my senior year and the olympic marathon trials that really got me motivated to go out there. I knew after following all the superstar athletes that I really loved to compete. I like to race. I love running yes but racing is really the best kind of running. So I put together the best summer of training yet in my attempt to be an all-american. only to be thwarted in the second workout of xc with tearing the plantar in my right foot.  Fortunately I came back and had a moderately decent outdoor track season. I also gained an appreciation of every day and making the most of every run and every opportunity to train. 

Moral of the story: I'm setting out to conquer running. My plans are to take this summer in Pakistan and not run much (besides a few miles at 16,000 feet cause I'm hardcore) then rest a little in August when I come back and mostly just hike and climb but run a little as well. Starting in September build up the miles slowly making sure to do the little foot exercises, ice baths, stretching, massages, chiropractor, lifting, and core work necessary to prevent injuries. Then in October when I reach 100 mile weeks I'm going to pump off 5 months of averaging 100 mile weeks like Lydiard said. Break 15 in the 5k in indoor and 30 in the 10k in outdoor and debut in the marathon in the fall. For the next several years I want to run the track races as well as the marathon so maybe only one marathon a year also because I need to build up a base. I have so few miles under my belt that I'm going to need 4500 a year to get where I want to go. The Olympic Marathon Trials. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Goals, Deadlines, and Commitment

I've been quite frustrated and stressed out lately because I was planning for the last six or seven years to finish my masters this spring and take the summer off in a foreign country and then start the real world in the fall. As my research takes longer than I anticipated it becomes evident that I will not finish my thesis in May. That last sentence is very hard to accept. 

I plan things out way in advance. I've been thinking about my debut marathon for two years now and it's still over a year away. The same goes for graduate school, starting a company, climbing Everest, applying to astronaut school and the rest of my life. So this year has turned things around on me. First it was the possibility of starting a climbing gear company. Which honestly is what I really want to do. I want to be my own boss. I want to engineer new climbing gear. I also want to get paid. That's not really as big of a concern because I recently read an article on bankruptcy and it sounds perfect for someone like me. It was designed for honest people that really want to pay their debts that just can't at that time so they get a fresh start. My biggest concern is failing at business and "wasting" all that time. But it really won't be a waste because I'll learn so much. 

Now accepting the fact that I won't walk across the stage and get another degree is really hard to swallow. However, there are good things happening. I got at least a 30 on my analytical methods test yesterday. I can't really think of much other good news right now...

This is a really good quote from the newest transformers movie "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing" seems applicable to me now.