Black Toes

Trail running, running, and hiking in Colorado's Front Range.

Monday, February 28, 2005

My weather models have decided to work!!

I know this doesn't have jack to do with running, but I've been busting my ass for the last week and a half trying to get WRF to work (Weather Research and Forecasting). Anyway, I have been doing my graduate work on the impacts of land surface moisture on mesoscale (20-200 km) weather forecasts. I use this fancy new weather model to do my forecasts, and usually run my models on a Beowulf cluster of 100 processors. However, it wasn't cutting it, so I had to move all my stuff over to my account at the National Center for Atmospheric Research here in Colorado.

After much fussing, programming, swearing, complaining, and debugging - it looks like my models are running! I might just get my masters thesis after all!

What's funny was I'm now using the processors I worked on when I was an microprocessor engineer at IBM (Power 4 clusters).

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pinky - not a commie, just a runner

Here's a picture of Brynne modeling her new running fashion aquisitions. I sort of didn't give her a chance to object and bought it anyway because I thought it was awesome looking.

I think she'll be pretty styling for the Mother's Day Title 9 9k in Boulder. She'll also be modeling the Chariot CTS jogging stroller, too. She was able to enter in the Moms+Baby catagory. The little guy is pretty cool on runs - he just plays and coos.

If you're interested, here's the coolest jogging/skiing/biking/hiking stroller on the planet: Chariot CTS strollers.


Today was an awesome day - we started out with attending Mass, where both officiating priests were enamoured with our baby. He's quite the popular little guy. After Mass, we decided to go for some coffee at the local German bakery - and John cut his third tooth! Just one more and he'll be done for a while (another month or so). After the coffee and tooth break - we headed up to Boulder for an afternoon on the Pearl Street Mall (which if you live in Vermont is what the Burlington Outdoor Mall was based on). Brynne got a super cute pink Nike DriFit top and matching black shorts with pink stripes down the side. I'm slowly building up her collection of running clothes. I'll get her to go trail running with me yet! We had lunch in Boulder and bought me a cool French press coffee maker for my morning coffee.

After Boulder, we came back home and I went running to cap off my week. Today I was supposed to run 8 miles, and it went pretty well. I'd been fixing to do some hills lately, so I started off at the base of Mt. Zion, where my alma mater's giant illuminated M is located.

I ran up to the M from the parking lot (about 6000 ft.), and topped out at around 7000 ft after 23 minutes. I turned around at the M and started the run back down. It's a pretty taxing climb - it hangs around 8-10 % for most of the run. After getting back to the parking lot I decided to run on some of the paved trails around Golden. I went running to the wealthy hippie commune near the golf course and turned around (community housing for people with $$$).

I finished my run with a pretty decent pace for me (considering I haven't been doing much in the way of hills lately, other than living in the front range).

All in all, an awesome run and a great dinner afterwards: it involved waffle fries and turkey burgers. It's awesome to be married to a woman who feeds my addiction. I don't know what I'd do without her. I'll post a picture of her in her new outfit soon - she's my running muse.

Run summary:
distance: 8 miles
time: 67 minutes
pace: 9:38 minute/miles
elevation: ~ +1300 ft vertical

Saturday, February 26, 2005


My shoes are finally coming from Road Runner Sports! I got a Nike Tailwind inertial distance meter, but it wasn't working. So, I sent it back and ordered new shoes. My old ones have a couple of hundred miles on them and have served me well since September 26, 2004. Thought it was about time to retire them.

So, my Asics Gel Evolutions should be coming sometime this week!

Plus, my run today was awesome. We took the baby to swim class today, but he was fairly zonked out from playing in bed this morning. Downed some coffee (still some shred of a cyclist left in me) and went for my 50 minute run.

I was able to do 8:39/mi for the first 3 miles and 9:00/mi for the last 2.67 miles. I think that is due to the topography of Golden. I ran out along beer canyon (basically, the valley where Coors beer is made).

There is a slight slope downwards from where I live (at 5900 ft) towards Arvada, which is a couple of hundred feet lower. The air smelled very strongly of hops and beer, which is sort of nasty. You do get used to it though. The worst was rugby practice in college: doing suicides while the air reeks of hops.

All in all it was a pretty good run. Lots of people out running, very sunny, and some fly-fishers in Clear Creek, too. I also discovered that the Chemical Brothers make for excellent motivational music.

Run Summary:
Distance: 5.67 mi
Time: 50 minutes
Pace: 8:49 min/mi

We'll see how I do on tomorrow's 80 minute run...

Friday cross training involved pizza

Yesterday was my off day/cross training day. I was supposed to go swimming for 20 minutes, but instead ate pizza and played with the baby all day.

Works out to be the same in the scheme of things.

Today I'll run 5 miles for in anticipation of my 8 miler tomorrow. I'm getting ready for the April 3 Platte River Trail half marathon.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

My baby's pimpin' ride

Went running with the little bear today. He was having fun for the first half, and then fell asleep for the second half. Very nice run, and I think he enjoyed it too. It was a run over rolling terrain, so I think that helped him get to sleep.

That's his Escalade of baby strollers: the Chariot CTS (Child transport system). It's also his primary means of convayance when we go XC skiing or snowshoeing.

All in all, I did 4.25 miles in 40 minutes (9:26/mi). Pretty good considering the climbing and the pushing of a stroller with a 24 lb. baby inside...


4.25 miles
40:00 minutes
9:26 minute/miles

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A great day

Well, my weather models still are broken, but luckily, other things happened today that made it a great day.

First, when I arrived at my desk this morning, I recieved an e-mail from Shell Oil inviting me to a site interview in New Orleans (for an exploration geophysicist position). Apparently the campus interview was fairly good, because I recieved a response within 48 hours of my interview. Plus, they're putting us up at a really nice hotel for this interview. Also, I had an interview with Raytheon today, and that went really well. It looks like I might have more than one job offer!! Now I just need to hear back from Northrop Grumman.

Who ever thought the defense & oil industry would be interested in me. It's a good time to be a scientist!

Anyway, my run today was pretty decent. I did a 40 minute run today, and I went out with the Forerunner, and as usual, it performed wonderfully. I did 4.33 miles in 40 min, so that works out to about 9:15/mi. I'll have to see what I have to do tomorrow.

Today's run summary:
40 minutes
4.33 miles
9:15 min/mi

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A break in the clouds

Well, my hellish week is slowly drawing to a close. The running has been a bit spotty over the last two weeks. First I was finishing off a cold, then I got hit with a huge assignment at work. I also had to go to several pre-screening sessions for interviews, and then had to go to the interviews. My last one is tomorrow morning, and it's with Raytheon. It's a pretty cool job, and I might be able to stay here if I get it...

Anyway, I went running today. I ended up doing 5.86 miles in 55 minutes. I did 9:12/mi for the first half and 9:37/mi for the second. I think this had to do with the layout of S. Boulder. It sort of slopes downwards towards the north (the direction where I ran on the way out). The way back climbs back up towards the mesas in southern Boulder.

The only unpleasant part of the run was the cheese-grater action that took place on the inside of my arm. I discovered that un-Body Glided arms, ~6 mi runs, and Nike singlets can break skin. Other than that it was a great run, and I felt pretty good. I'm going to skip over my tempo runs and just do them at distance pace since I've been a little on the lazy and/or stressed side lately. I'll run off this illness weight I put on during my cold...

Now if my weather models would just run instead of dumping their core...

Run summary:
55 minutes
5.86 mi
9:24 min/mi

Saturday, February 19, 2005


So, I was supposed to run 4 miles yesterday in anticipation of today's 7 miler. Neither of them happened. It's been a pretty stressful week - job interviews, trying to get some model runs going, and sending out applications and resumes. So, what happened was I didn't eat enough yesterday before I was supposed to go running. By the time I got home at 5 pm, I felt really sick. So I decided to hold off and go today for my four miler. We're having a pretty strong wind system move through, so I was going to go on the treadmill at our apartment complex.

It laster one mile. They had the heater cranked - and it sucked. So I'll just cut my losses for this 4 mile run and just go tomorrow before Mass.

Lessons learned:
(a) eat a more calorically dense lunch instead of two small sandwiches and fruit.
(b) start running in the mornings
(c) avoid the StarTrac(R) treadmill at our gym at all costs. That thing is evil...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ever heard of demographics?

I have a free subscription to Runner's World, and occasionally they have an interesting article (particularly the one on walkers at marathons). One thing that I noticed about RW is the proliferation of low-carb product advertising in there! It was pretty odd that a couple of months ago they had a Dr. Liz Applegate article saying you couldn't maintain a good workout regimen on a low carb diet, right along side adds for low-carb beer (which is just wanky ... I'd rather drink Keystone than that crap).

Anyway, low carb beer ads in a running magazine - it just ain't right.

check this, yo-

Check out my wife's new blog:


She's getting back into tris again - so watch out age groupers!

I think this is an awesome idea - it'll help me drop some weight too! I would love to get back to about 175 lbs or so. I could haul then...

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Oh Forerunner, how did I run before you existed...

Quite well, actually. But this little gadget is incredible! Upper and lower pace alarms! One feature I love is how it can stop the timer if it senses that you have dropped below a certain pace - which is great for trail runs where one might take pictures, drink, banter with mountain bikers, etc.

One thing I'm quite amazed with is the sheer lack of weight. It's so light - I've worn Casio G-Shock watches that seemed to be heavier. Plus it draws a nifty little map of your route. I can't wait to play with it some more. Maybe I'll see how much elevation I do on one of my runs when I do my 40 minute recovery run.

I use Macs (or Solaris workstations) exclusively, so luckily the Forerunner 101 was the perfect choice for me. Why pay extra money for features that require a substandard different OS like Micro$oft Windows?

Run reports

Well, I'm back on the wagon after being sick. It seems that my method of recovery put about 3-4 lbs. on me, but it's winter, and I think with increased training volume, it'll come right back off. Besides, it's freaking cold outside in Colorado. Anyway, I know I blogging during work, but the head node of the supercomputer cluster I use is dead right now, so I've hit a workstop.

Monday: First day back on the road after a week off. I decided I would give my wife a well deserved break, and take John with me on my run. He has a really nice jogging stroller, and it would be fun. Things were pretty peachy until about mile 1.5. Then things got ugly- in my stomach. My stomach started to feel sort of funny and I decided that I had best turn around. What ensued was a mad spring to the public library, pushing a stroller, and doing about 8:30/mi to the bathroom. It seems that my GI tract wasn't quite up to running, and revolted. Needless to say, that run got cut short at 1.89 mi with 9:06/mi average.

Tuesday: Much better. No stomach issues. No having to run to bathrooms at public libraries and trying to push a huge stroller into a tiny bathroom. I went for a nice tempo run around southern Boulder. It was also the first full run that I was able to use my Forerunner (for those who don't know, it's a wrist mounted GPS watch). All I can say is: AWESOME.
It was so cool - and so light! It's much nicer than the old Timex/Garmin Speed+Distance set-up I used to use, and I didn't have to wear anything around my upper arm. It takes almost no time to pick up the satellites and it did a fantastic job of measuring the sections where I knew the distance. Anyway, it was a flat 40:00 minute tempo run. I averaged 8:36/mi for the run, and was quite happy. I was pretty excited, and started out too fast (sub-8:00/mi), but soon got into a good pace.

What else.. I have a little 4 miler to do today, which will be a nice break. I have a pre-selection interview tonight, so it'll relax me before I go in. It's pretty cold and windy out today, so it'll be a character building run...


I'll post today. Much has happened in the last couple of days - I've just been really busy with my research and with applying for jobs. I have an pre-screening interview tonight - so we'll see what happens!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

good while it lasted...

As you may know, I got sick last weekend after a spectacular run at Washington Park. Sadly, my coming down with a cold also happened at the same time I was given a Garmin Forerunner 101. To deal with the pain of not running, I decided I would help my immune system along by eating tasty fatty foods.. Calzones, pizza, GoodTimes burgers, and plenty of other tasty things.

I'm sort of scared to get on the scale (although it looks like my body didn't change a bit), but it'll be good to get back on the road. I will give up the junky foods now that everything in my body is now happy and conflict free. I'll finally test out the Forerunner this week, plus I'll start doing some swimmming as cross training. Should be fun. I found a new race that isn't right when I'll be defending my thesis - the Platte River Half Marathon. My goal: to run it in 2 hrs or less. I think that's pretty reasonable, given that it's early spring and my times have been pretty decent (for me) lately.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

living vicariously through y'all

It was bound to happen sooner or later. I've finally gotten sick. I've been pretty short of breath, really tired, and generally congested. So for the next week while I recover I'll have to read about everyone else running. I want to get over this soon, so it's going to suck.

Maybe it'll get cold this week so I can go to Beaver Creek next week for some skiing for me and cookies on a plate for my wife. Apparently she discovered that if you sit in the lodge at BC they'll come around and give you free cookies. The opprotunity to people watch the fabulously wealth, knit and eat cookies proved too much - so I've been coerced into going skiing there in the next week or two.

It looks like my newly aquired Forerunner 101 will have to wait a week until it can be properly used.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I had that not so fresh feeling (in my legs)

My wonderful wife Brynne suggested I go running in Washington Park (downtown Denver) today. We drove down to Denver to meet with a friend in the early evening, but before meeting, we stopped at the park.

It was a gorgeous day - mid 60's, not a single cloud in the sky, and every one was outside running, biking, playing with their dogs. Brynne walked with John while I did two laps (it's 2.2 miles around the park). What's great about Washington Park is that it's completely closed off to traffic, and it's incredibly scenic around there - old Victorian houses, the mountains off in the distance, and ponds surrounded by flower gardens. If that wasn't enough, there was also plenty of eye candy in the form of fine road frames: a couple of pimped out Colnagos, Litespeeds, Mercx, and plenty o' high end OCLV Treks. I would like to get back into road biking, but I don't have the time right now. Maybe after graduation or something like that. It would make for nice cross training during the season.

I think I did 9 min/mi today, as I was trying to take it nice & comfortable. I think my legs are still recovering from Thursday's little adventure. After the run, I refueled on some great hot chocolate and local biscotti at a nifty coffee house. It has huge, comfortable sofas, no smoking, and they play decent house music. Very mellow, and the staff, although they look like they could kick your ass, are quite nice.

Brynne also made lasagna from scratch today, too. So that just made my wonderful day even better. I think I'll have to take her to a good kniting store for Friday afternoon...

And although this has nothing to do with running, did you know that suction cups stick remarkably well to a baby's back? Better than they do to the tub...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

no intervals

I decided that since I went over by 30 minutes yesterday on hills, I could take today off. Went to the baby pool with the baby & my wife. Much fun - if you throw toys he splashes until he gets them. It's pretty cute.

Maybe I'll run tomorrow - if I do it'll be easy.

psyching myself up for tonight's interval workout

Although I'm quite sure you've all seen this in the news (it was in Nature), some new research shows that humans are built for distance running.

Here's a link to a story about it. Between reading this article and watching Prefontaine, it's got me all fired up!

Adventure is bad planning...

Since it was so warm yesterday, I decided to do some trail running. I thought that since much of White Ranch faces the east, most of my run would be pretty nice, if not a little bit muddy in parts. Plus, many of the locals out here are a pretty hardy lot, so if anything the trails would be pretty packed down.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It was supposed to be a pretty laid back 75 minute run. The run started out nicely enough, but it should have been a warning to me when I was the only person at the trail head. I kept going, and most of the first mile and a half were pretty nice - packed snow and a little bit of mud, but nothing too bad. So, as usual, I turned off Belcher Hill and headed out to do the Longhorn/Shorthorn/Longhorn trail.

That's where the adventure began.

I was wearing shorts, because it was fairly warm. If I were to do it all over again, I would wear them again. I think I would have worn my gaiters, and taken my snowshoes and poles along for the ride, too. For the first part, it was pretty nice - packed down snow. The farther in I went, in fact, all the way to the top of the hill at 8000 ft, I was breaking trail. Not even a freaking animal broke trail there! No lion/deer/mouse/rabbit tracks - total virgin powder!

Which made for difficult running, particularly when you're doing a technical section that climbs for a long time, and you're trying to run in nearly a foot of deep untouched powder. At one point - for nearly the last mile of climbing, I decided that running was just diminishin my returns. I switched over to a quick hike and thought:

"Crap - my wife is going to be pissed at me! I'm going to be an hour late"

Luckily, she wasn't - although I had to promise not to do White Ranch again after a snow storm like this. What was an 8 mi (usually ~85 minute) run ended up taking one hour and 44 minutes. Not bad considering the depth of the powder and the fact that running uphill in some spots was like trying to drive a rear-wheel Yugo up a steep, snowy, dirt road.

The views were pretty nice:

Here's what some of the less deep sections of powder looked like:

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

back on the wagon

Finally went running today. I've been feeling much better this week - no feelings of falling asleep at 3 pm or wanting to head off to bed at 6 pm this week. It was a quick 35 minutes at the indoor track here at the local rec center. I was running 9:07 min/mi, so maybe I'll break past my plateau and finally hit sub-9 soon.

The one annoying thing was the guy skipping rope in the middle of track. Other than that, the iPod Shuffle made my run seem like nothing. I'll have to remember this for more indoor runs. The best part was heading to the kids' pool with the baby after the run for a nice half-hour of daddy/baby time in the heated waters. He's quite the social butterfly at the gym.

Please pray

For Pope John Paul II. Perhaps you are not Catholic, or maybe you are. He is a good and holy man, and is in a Roman hospital for a very bad flu. Please pray for his Holiness and a quick recovery.