Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not quite 'Rain Man', but impressive

At dinner tonight, I was explaining how I did some code complexity analysis today and found a class with a complexity number of 39 versus the project average of 1.8. Serious nerd talk, sure, but that's not the point of this here post. Somehow this nerd talk led to the question "what is 39 divided by 6?" I asked Andrew, age 6, if he could figure it out. Here's a play-by-play.

Brad: So what is 39 divided by 6? can you figure it out?

Andrew: Hmmm. (pause...some mumbling) "36...What's 39 divided by 3" (a brief pause) " what is half of 13...there is no half of 13!"

Brad: "There is a half of 13, it's just a number and a half."

Andrew: "Hmm... (brief pause) 6....six and a half."

Brad: "So what is 39 divided by 6?"

Andrew: "Six and a half."

Brad: "Awesome, buddy! How did you learn how to do that? Did someone teach you?"

Andrew: "No, I just figured it out by myself."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fancy jack-o-lanterns for little tykes

We got some fancy-schmancy patterns for jack-o-lanterns and put the kids (and ourselves) to work for a few hours last weekend carving. The pumpkins were courtesy of my dad, Dean; his pumpkin plant was thrashed to shreds in a July hailstorm the broke windows and destroyed the roof, but somehow it make a comeback and produced two huge pumpkins by October. One of them weighed about 45 pounds! Unfortunately they were still green, but they worked! Andrew carved the spider, mostly by himself, and Elizabeth worked on the skeleton with daddy. Mommy gutted the pumpkins.


Halloween snowman

Andrew and I took advantage of an absolutely gorgeous Saturday with warm weather and lots of packable snow on the ground to build a big ol' snowman in the backyard. I feel like a little kid again when I'm playing in the snow!


Sunday, August 16, 2009

5:04:25 on Pikes Peak

Today was the big day. My goal was to finish the Pikes Peak Marathon in 5 hours, 10 minutes, and I beat my goal by about 4 and a half minutes. The weather was great, in contrast with last year's cold, rain, snow and lightning.

By the numbers:
  • Finish time: 5 hours, 4 minutes, 25 seconds
  • Overall place: 42nd out of 711 people
  • Place in age group (M 35-39): 8th out of 97
  • Ascent time: 3:12:17
  • Average pace: 11:37 per mile
  • Elevation gain: 7,815 ft
  • Elevation change: 15,630 ft
  • Elevation at the summit: 14,115 ft

The injury report:
  • sprained left thumb
  • scraped hand, knee and ankle
  • stubbed toe
After doing some reading the day before the race, I revised my strategy to take a slightly slower pace in the first 5 miles, which is the steepest section. It was a challenge to stick with this strategy as I watched 9 people pass me during this section, but paid off in the long run since I had enough juice left to pass more than 9 people during the rest of the race. I ran the last mile of race in just 7 minutes!

How does one sprain a thumb in a marathon you might ask? Well, the race goes up the single-track Barr trail, not the road as many people assume. The trail averages 11% grade with rocks, roots and steps, so running downhill on this terrain can be treacherous, especially when you're severely fatigued. I tripped going down some steps and landed on my left hand, spraining my thumb. I stumbled several other times on the downhill run.

My pre-race routine consisted of eating half a banana, one energy quark (fantastic energy food from Nutropolis), one Clif shot, and one Power gel, plus getting a 3-minute warm-up run just prior to race start.

It was a great experience and a proud accomplishment, but now I'm looking forward to a few days of R & R!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Training for the Pikes Peak Marathon

For the past two years I ran in the Pikes Peak Ascent, and this year I decided to up the ante and race twice as far in the full Pikes Peak Marathon, which is 26.2 miles from Manitou Springs to the 14,115 foot summit of Pikes and back down again, with an elevation change of 7,815 vertical feet each direction. I've been logging about 40 miles of running per week plus a few hours of biking, and I think I'm ready. This weekend will be my last long training run before the race on August 16. I've turned the race into a fundraiser again this year. I'm raising money to help treat kids around the world with club foot deformity. I hope to raise $1000 for the Ponseti International Association for the Advancement of Clubfoot Treatment. Dr. Ponseti is an amazing 94-year-old doctor who pioneered the non-surgical technique and is still practicing medicine today. You can donate to the case at this link.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Torrey's Peak: Kelso ridge route

My college friend Chris Alonso called me a few days ago, said he is in town for a few days and invited me to climb the Kelso ridge on Torrey's Peak (14,236 ft) today. Kelso is the northeast ridge and it's a class 3 scramble. Chris' friend and climbing buddy, whose name is also Brad, joined us and we hit the road at 4:45 am this morning. On the dirt road approaching the trailhead, we encountered a Chevy Suburan with Texas plates, stopped in the road, its occupants out scratching their heads. "End of the road," they said to us when we rolled down our window, and pointed ahead to a washed out, rutted section of the road. "It's not that bad," Chris said, as he drove forward in his Subaru. Though it took some manuvering, we got past the ruts and up to the trailhead.

This is the first class 3 summit climb I've done, and it was fun. We got off route at one point and chose steep but short class 4 way to get back on track. That got the adrenaline going a bit. The crux of the route is just a few hundred feet below the summit, a knife edge with a fair amount of exposure on either side. Not enough exposure that a slip would mean certain death, but enough to get the adrenaline going again. We reached the summit in less than 3 hours. Not bad.

For the descent, I jogged down the standard route to get some downhill training in. We didn't see the Chevy Suburban in the trailhead lot, so I suspect they never made it. Too bad!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Peak bagging

I bagged my sixteenth Colorado fourteener (14,000+ foot mountain) today with my brother Erik, speed-hiking La Plata peak (14,336 ft). We made it up 4100 vertical feet and about 5 miles in just under 2 hours (1:54 to be precise). We also did a fast hike up Mt. Massive on June 26.

Erik and Brad on La Plata Peak

An arm's length cell phone photo from the summit of Mt. Massive

here's the complete list of 14'ers I've bagged.

  • La Plata
  • Massive
  • Mt. Evans (3 years of the Mt. Evans Ascent race)
  • Pikes Peak (2 years in the Pikes Peak Ascent race)
  • Bierstadt (in December)
  • Longs Peak
  • Torrey's
  • Grey's
  • Sherman
  • Huron
  • Elbert (tallest in Colorado)
  • Quandry
  • Harvard
  • Princeton
  • Sneffels
  • Mt. Holy Cross

The perils of running downhill

You might think running downhill would be the easy part of trail running. You'd be half right. Easier for your heart & lungs, but harder on everything else. And there's always the risk of twisted ankles and trail rash. Two weeks ago I was running downhill on Dakota Ridge, tripped on a rock and instantly hit the ground. My right hand and shoulder bore the brunt of the fall. As painful as the initial scrapes were, scrubbing the dirt out was even worse.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yellowstone vacation

Our big "summer" vacation for 2009 was a trip to Yellowstone from June 5-12. I write "summer" in quotes for reasons that we become apparent when see some of our photos below. Amy's parents Ron and Dena joined us and brought their pop-up camper, which was a nice ammenity, especially with the kids. We broke up the long drive north with a Friday night stay at Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander, Wyoming. The "sink" refers to a spot where the Popo Agie (pronounced popo zhia), a substantial river, disappears underground and comes up again a quarter mile downstread after meandering through caverns for 2 hours.

Andrew and Grandma Dena at Sinks canyon near Lander, Wyoming

Amy and Elizabeth at the sink

The family on a hanging bridge over the Popo Agie river

Andrew with sparklers at our Sinks Canyon camp site

On Saturday we drove the rest of the way with a fuel stop in beautiful Dubois, Wyoming - home of the giant jackalope! Pure Americana kitsch.

Summer in Yellowstone! We arrived in the park on Saturday and set up camp at the muddy, treeless Bridge Bay campground. We had a white surprise on Sunday morning and spent the day seeing the sights in the Yellowstone valley.

Snowy Sunday morning at the Bridge Bay campground.

Snow covered bison

Brad & Elizabeth watching the bison

Elizabeth hiking with an umbrella in the snow

Steaming mud pot

Bison shedding winter coat

Bison close up

Andrew overlooking the upper falls of the Yellowstone river

Family at the lower falls of the Yellowstone

Lower falls vista

Brad at the brink of the lower falls

Bison Calving season

By Monday morning we'd had enough of the sloppy conditions at Bridge Bay and moved to the lower elevations and slightly warmer conditions at Madison, and saw the sights along the Firehole river.

Ron, Dena, Amy & Andrew at the Firehole falls

Paint Pot at the lower geyser basin

Amy & the kids at a steaming pool in the middle geyser basin

Andrew watches the White Mound geyser

Elizabeth and the steam of Steady Geyser

On Tuesday we enjoyed the nicer weather by watching Old Faithful and hiking a few miles to see a bunch of other geysers nearby.

Andrew & Elizabeth in Granddad's camper

Andrew & the Madison river valley near our 2nd camp site

Andrew watching Old Faithful

Brad and the kids watching the Sawmill geyser

A colorful hot spring

Amy & the kids at the Daisy geyser

Bowl shapedcauldron

Andrew roasting marshmallows at the Madison campground

On Wednesday Ron and I went fishing on the Gibbon river, Obsidian creek, and the Gardner river. We caught fish on each, and kept some Rainbow trout which we ate for breakfast the next day. Amy, Dena and the kids split off and went to see Mammoth hot springs, stopping to watch a bear (a grizzly?) along the way.

Dena & the kids at the upper terrace of Mammoth hot springs

The bear. A grizzly?

Ghostly trees at Mammoth's upper terrace

Mammoth hot springs wasteland

Andrew at the Mammoth terraces

On Thursday we left the park for some canoeing and fishing on Hebgen lake in Montana near West Yellowstone. Andrew and Elizabeth both caught their first fish (Whitefish), and Andrew got full credit for casting, reeling, hooking and landing the fish!

Andrew, Liz, Brad and Ron on the canoe in Lake Hebgen

Elizabeth's first fish

Andrew's third fish

Elizabeth & Granddad fishing

Thursday evening after a restaurant meal in West Yellowstone, Ron and Dena took the kids and Amy and I took advantage of the northern latitudes' late sunlight, and the lack of kids, to go for a 6-mile hike to Fairy Falls and the Imperial Geyser. One advantage of the late day hike is that we had both sites all to ourselves. Priceless!

Amy at Fairy Falls

Brad hikes past a bison hiking near fairy falls

Amy hikes past the steaming creek flowing from the Imperial geyser

The Imperial Geyser

The Grand Prismatic Spring

Middle geyser basin at sunset