I want to run a hundred milesThu, 30th Apr '09, 8:35 am::
For the past three weeks, I have been running six miles or more almost daily and have lost about 12 lbs (5kgs). I'm training for the Grand Teton 100-mile Ultramarathon in September. This is a 100-mile (161 km) race through mountains, canyons, and forests in Wyoming and has to be completed within 36 hours. Regular marathons are 26.2 miles (42 km) and most people finish in 4-6 hours. Ultramarathons are races longer than marathons and most ultramarathoners run the 100 miles non-stop. At the pace I am training, this would mean running, jogging, and walking for over 24 hours non-stop. By no means is this a minor challenge for me, physically and mentally.
I am crazy not stupid so I understand that in order to even attempt to run 100 miles, proper training is a must. Training includes running, walking, proper eating, and lots of cross-training. Since I live in Florida at sea-level, my body will have to work much harder to persevere at the high altitudes. Additionally, the terrain here is mostly flat whereas the actual trail requires runners to go up and down thousands of feet every few miles. This means lots of StairMaster training at the gym. Personally I am not interested in going to a gym and would much rather run outdoors but the lack of steep hills in Florida means I have to train my quads indoors.
Running an ultra is different from running a 10K or even a marathon. After all, a 100-mile ultra is like four back-to-back marathons. When training for a regular marathon, speed and timing matters. In an ultra, the pace and endurance matter the most. The saying goes, "to run an ultramarathon, start slow and then slow down." I can't run fast but I can run slow forever, which is why I have been very excited for the past few weeks. Ultramarathon seems to fit my style of running a lot better than regular marathons.
When training for ultras, long runs make or break your race. The only way my body can run 100 miles in 36 hours is if it is used to running 50 miles in 16-17 hours or 25 miles in 6-7 hours. This means, before I run for 100 miles, I have to try running 30-50 mile distances on weekends, on top of running 5-10 miles per weekday. If I just run four miles a day, no matter how fast, I won't be able to run the ultra because my body will not learn how to adjust to 6-12 hours of continuous running. The key is to make your body feel as comfortable as possible when running or jogging. A big part of my training is to learn to eat, drink, and relax while running slowly but steadily.
Work, school, and life at home keeps me busy enough and now I am planning to run 70-100 miles a week for the next four months. This will seriously reduce the time I spend goofing off online. However, it will give me a lot of time to listen to good music and audio books, especially on Saturdays when I go for my long runs. Maybe I can blog while running.
Nothing is more exciting in life than embarking on a new impossible adventure. I am not sure if I'm ready to publicly announce anything yet but I am going to start getting in shape nevertheless. Once I am certain that I can deal with the time commitments, I will let everyone in on my new goal. All I can say is that I'm super psyched and crossing my fingers that I can make this happen.
Google Narratives Series - InterviewSat, 11th Apr '09, 9:00 pm::
A couple of weeks ago, a wonderful lady from Google, Christine interviewed me for their "Google Narratives Series." She is seeking out developers who make novel use of Google technology and is writing about them on the Google Code blog. A few months ago, I used their programming tools to create Wiki Search app and tons of people use it now daily. Yesterday, her brief Q&A-style interview with me went live on their Code blog. It's a pretty nerdy interview unlike the meant-for-general-public WSJ interview from a couple of years ago. Right now, the Google interview is also displayed on the Google Code website.
I've been quite busy last few weeks with work, school, and tons of house projects. Juliet and I are building our aviary slowly but steadily. Tonight we put up the mesh on all sides and tomorrow I will frame the entire structure with solid 2"x4" wooden posts. Next weekend I should have the roof ready and apply any finishing touches. See the last few photos of the aviary here.
I'm in the process of refinancing our house and doing a lot of number-crunching to make sure that it's worth our while. It seems like a very good time to refinance but the closing costs of refinancing are usually so high that unless you intend to keep your house for at least 3-5 years, it's not a smart move. In our case, we know that we will move up north for my PhD in three years or so. As a result, the TVM and amortization calculations get a little more complex.
We went to my coworker Linda's house today for a lunch BBQ and played a few games. Brian made some awesome veggie mushroom burgers for me and I'm still stuffed. Earlier in the day, we went to Busch Gardens for a few hours. School is good and so is work. It's getting warmer and soon we'll start going to the beach more often. I can't wait :)
When I had computer science projects due in college, I used to read business articles for fun and distraction. Now I have finance homework and I find myself reading comp. sci. papers. It's not the subject material that I tend to avoid but rather the obligation. Reading for procrastination is fun. Reading for school seems like hard work even though I actually like the material.