Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Birthdays are Depressing

"Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:2. Birthdays are life's participation award. By any measure I've had an extremely successful year. I climbed Mt. Everest. I took a new job and moved to rural Kansas. I bought a house. I've climbed something like eight 14ers in Colorado, in the last 12 months. I ran a 7:10 100k. I got into alpine touring skiing. I even went on a couple dates, which leads into the depressing part.

Despite all of that incredibly awesome stuff, birthdays seem to remind me of the things I have not done in my life. Checking social media can be so hard. Classmates and friends getting married and having kids. Living in cool places, taking cool vacations, buying cool cars. It can be overwhelming, so I rarely open Facebook.

I hope that I motivate and encourage other people. I hope I do because I am afraid, based on only ever being myself, that left to our own thoughts we will be too depressed to ever enjoy our lives. Where I'm going with that, I'm 31 and single. I can count the relationships I have had on one hand that have made it two three dates. The vast majority of the time I'm fine just being alone. But at night before I go to bed when I am not working or running or doing something active I get lonely. Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on it tonight, at least in this paragraph.

Hopefully 2017 is the year I pay off my student loans, but this birthday serves to remind me that I am now 31 years old and still have student loans. (Yes I could have paid them off years ago but I thought that Everest was a better use of my money, and we can debate that in person sometime if you want.) The thing is, while I had more student loans than many people, I had far less, a third or less of what some people with engineering degrees have. Which just goes to show how crazy college tuitions have gotten.

To end on a good note, I remember being a little exasperated once in high school lamenting that I would probably eat processed meat on white bread for lunch when I got older, and let me tell you, I make way better sandwiches than that!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Nike #Breaking2 Event

Wow! How cool is that that Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:00:25! Plenty of other sites are commentating on the event, so I'll just throw in my thoughts.

  • The drafting was the biggest advantage, both from the Tesla and huge clock (positioned high up so the people in the back row could see it).
  • The shoes are a step forward, but more like a 0.7% improvement rather than the 4% improvement Nike is advertising. I'm still considering buying a pair. Even 0.5% difference in a 100k or 24 hour run is tremendous. I bought the Adidas Adios Boost in March specifically for the Mad City 100k, and I averaged only 2 seconds per mile ahead of the guy behind me, with is within the realm of shoes giving that sort of advantage. On that note, I have some ideas for shoes that I think might be even faster than the current Vaporfly. In other words, the marketing gimmick that this event was worked.
  • Zersenay Tadese set a personal record by four minutes! Running 60:00, 1:06:50, that qualifies as running it the hard way. I think he finally got nutrition right in the marathon and I'm guessing he will throw down a 2:04 if paced a little better.
  • The weather was good, but a few degrees cooler might have been a little better, not cold, like 36F, but more like 46F might have been faster instead of 52F at the start.
  • Why didn't they lay down a rubber track surface instead of the concrete?!
  • I tweeted on Thursday: "The Nike attempt on Saturday will be thrilling. My guess is they'll be on record pace until like 38k, then it will be ugly." That was pretty close to what actually happened, they were on pace (2:00:06) at 38k, although I was wrong about ugly, it was simply painful.
  • I am excited for an actual competition with a similar format to happen in the new few years. I think that perhaps if the spectators of Boston or New York had been there they might have helped lift up the runners. I also think if it was an acknowledged competition, people would perhaps find that 0.5% improvement mentally. My vote is someone needs to build a 1000 meter oval rubberized track for distance events like the marathon. Surround it with trees on the infield and outfield and other wind breaks, like a workout building with big glass windows, in a cool mild predictable climate. Way better variety than a 400 meter track with a turf infield, but also easier than a concrete car race track. I would totally want to run a marathon on it, probably even 100k.
Pretty cool.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ueli Steck Died

Here is the story from Alan Arnette, the best Everest season coverage.

Ueli was in Pakistan in 2009, as I was. He drove up the Karakorum, because we saw his name on log books as we drove up it. In 2016 late May, I believe he stayed at the Yak and Yeti when I was, ate breakfast just 25 feet away from me, alone. I never walked up to him because I was partly starstruck, didn't want to be that fan guy, and third, wasn't 100% sure it was him. Everyone at these mountain climbing things look about the same, fit, a little disheveled, wearing plaid name brand button up shirts, white, male, and mid 30s. Believe me, I wish there were more women in the sport.

After the fact I learned we had a mutual friend, so I sent our friend an email telling Ueli (although I misspelled it Uli) I would love to climb something with him. She forwarded it to him, unsurprisingly, I never heard back. The pool of people in the world who want to go fast on 8000 meter peaks without oxygen is small.

He was the best. The Swiss Machine as people called him. And now he is dead. He died the #1 most common way to die in the mountains, falling while climbing unroped. Everyone does it to some extent, and it's as risky as risk comes. Every year there is some famous or semi famous climber that dies while soloing, and despite what the best climbers say (including myself, definitely not a great climber, but not exactly an average one either) about soloing, it's dangerous!

I'll leave you with this video below of a speed record he set on a famous face, the north face of the Eiger. My thought is that he probably slipped and fell on something like the steep, but not really steep, section shown near the end of the video. Maybe a rock hit him. Maybe the snow was soft. Maybe there was some verglas.

He is survived by his wife. He had no kids, was 10 years older than me, and was a professional. Events like this make it easier to focus on running instead of climbing mountains.