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Waking before dawn

Started: 2008-03-19 22:12:05

Submitted: 2008-03-19 23:00:08

Visibility: World-readable

The day I started at Morphlix, I woke up early and ran five kilometers. Last fall, I scoped out a five-kilometer loop running along the Oligarchy Ditch and the Rough and Ready Ditch near my neighborhood. I ran the loop several times last fall but didn't stick with it. This time, I took advantage of my job change to affect a fitness change and managed to keep running, two or three times a week, over the past six weeks. I'd like to run Boulder's favorite ten-kilometer Memorial Day road race, the Bolder Boulder, again this year. The last time I ran was five years ago (when I ran without training at all and barely survived); the last time I made a good showing was seven years ago. My best-ever (unofficial) time was 53:09 ten years ago; I missed my wave start and screwed up my official time. (In the fall of 1997, I ran cross country in high school, and I biked five kilometers to school every day.) I'd like to finish the race in fifty minutes, which is a bit aggressive; I'll be happy if I can beat my best time. (Beating my best-ever time means I get to declare my current fitness level better than at any prior point in my life, and means I'll enter the summer hiking season ready to run up any mountain I choose.)

In related news, this weekend I followed Kiesa's lead and bought a commuting bike. I'm not yet sure whether I'll want to bike the seventeen-mile commute into Boulder, but with gas prices forecasted to hit four dollars a gallon by summer, I wanted more options. (I could also bike to the bus and ride the bus into Boulder, though now that I no longer have an employer-sponsored bus pass, the economics are uninspiring. Considering only the price of gas versus the price of bus fare, my break-even point between driving seventeen miles in Motoko (at 25 miles/gallon) and catching the bus (US$2.70 one way, with a ten-pack advance-purchase discount) is gas at four dollars a gallon. This ignores wear and tear on my car; dividing its purchase price by a wild guess at how many miles I might expect to get out of the car in its lifetime gives me US$0.15/mile -- US$2.55 each way, which swings the break-even point to a much lower per-gallon price of gas -- though I'd also accept the argument that my car is a sunk cost. During the two years I commuted by bus with a free bus pass, I was never able to reconcile the extra time I spent on the bus versus driving. I could drive to work in 35 minutes; the bus ride in took at least 50 minutes, though I could spend something like 40 minutes on the bus reading or working or watching tv on my notebook. If one doesn't count the bus time as free time, taking the bus costs 15 extra minutes; if one does, taking the bus gives me twenty-five extra minutes. I generally concluded that the difference came out in the wash.)

After buying my bike, I rode the Boulder Creek Path for the first time since 2001. I noticed how much of the route was unchanged in six years and the little things that did change; immediately east of 17th Street, I recall the path swinging sharply to the north to avoid one or two structures which are now gone; the path continues east unabated. I turned south at Foothills Parkway, crossed under Arapahoe through the shiny new underpass, and biked past my old house on Morgan Drive. From the outside, it looked pretty much the same, including the sky blue paint job I was mostly responsible for, but I did notice that the crumbling exterior staircase descending from the porch had been replaced.

I still need to get a good feeling for exactly how fast I can bike in various circumstances and how many calories I burn riding. I still have money allocated for my bike to spend on other useful gear like appropriate clothing and (somewhat more interesting) exciting packs; I saw a series of trunk cases that snap directly onto a rear cargo rack that seem especially handy. I still need to figure out how I'm going to use my bike so I can figure out what the best assortment of packs is.