Horsetooth Half tomorrow

I'm running in the 45th Horsetooth Half Marathon tomorrow. I run parts of the route regularly and have run every stretch of it before, but this is the first time I've ever entered this race.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/783/26585993027_036caba682_o.jpg

I'm running this as a warmup for the Quad Rock next month and don't have any ambitions other than to finish well and enjoy the spectacle. If I match my previous best half marathon time (1:52:41 in 2015) I will be quite content. I've had a low volume training week and I'm feeling rested, so I might be able to do better.

The weather is going to be nice and the starting line is an easy bike ride from my house. I'm looking forward to getting there just before the 8:30 departure.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/864/41460201961_585ee5f96d_z.jpg

Post-race burrito, I'm coming for you

March running

I feel like I'm back on track for the Quad Rock. Wednesday I did a long-ish high intensity run on the trails at Pineridge and Maxwell Natural Areas and this afternoon I ran a 20-mile loop around the south half of Fort Collins.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/817/40622687814_f4b21ebd03_b.jpg

I'm so grateful to my family in supporting me during these long Sunday runs!

April 8, 2016: Bologna

A year ago this week we were staying near Bologna, the capital of Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, with Ruth's cousin and her family. I didn't blog about it at the time because we were too busy getting ready for the trip beforehand and too busy enjoying it while we were there.

We drove from Montpellier in a rented Citroën C4, because I felt our little Opel Meriva wasn't comfortable enough for a long road trip and didn't have quite enough power for the Italian autoroutes. It was a good call. 130 kph through the Po River valley in the C4 was no problem. In our Meriva, you could only get to this speed on a long downhill stretch of road.

It was an 9+ hour drive, like going to Moab, Utah from Fort Collins, Colorado. I drove from our house in Montpellier to a rest stop east of Nice. Ruth drove from there across the French and Italian Riveria to Genoa and over the Appenine Mountains to Tortona. She doesn't get vertigo on the viaducts like I do. Then I drove the E45 through the Po River valley to Bologna. Along the way we listened to Tamora Pierce's "Protector of the Small" series, read by Bernadette Dunne. We give this series four thumbs up.

At the end of our drive, we wound our way up to a villa in the hills in Gesso, which is 20 mins southwest of Bologna's city center by car. I loved staying in the countryside on this trip. It was green and serene and the running was great.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/897/27462650428_025cbe7318_b.jpg

In the hills above Gesso

After unloading our bags, the next thing we did was go shopping for groceries. The Carrefour supermarket in the Zona Pedrosa near Gesso blew my mind. There might have been several tons of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the building. I saw heaps of chickory; Radicchio di Chioggia, of course, plus other varieties. There were titanic mortadella sausages and mountains of other salumi. Best of all were the four tall and long aisles of dried pasta. It was heaven. I bought some of everything.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/889/26462613877_ae3df3f04c_b.jpg

Sidewalks of Colorado can't hold a candle to those of Bologna

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/815/40620068374_ff130bdd17_b.jpg

This is Paradise

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/881/39523673920_ca51649503_b.jpg

The first course of the first of many huge lunches in Emilia-Romagna

We only spent one day in Bologna itself, but I was totally smitten. It's very walkable and full of interesting things to see and smell and eat. Before leaving downtown, we stood in line for gelato at Via Galliera 49 with Italian and French folks (we saw many French tourists around Bologna) and enjoyed them at the plaza across the street. The kids all agreed that Bolognese gelato is the best.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/809/40439733275_91b59fe3a4_b.jpg

Gelateria Galliera 49

We saw and ate so many amazing things on this trip that I'm compelled to write a few other retrospective posts about the visits to Ferrara, Ravenna, and Modena. Stay tuned!

The plan for Rasterio 1.0

My primary open source project is a Python library for reading and writing geospatial raster data called Rasterio. It's a bridge between the domain of spatially referenced gridded data in GeoTIFFs and the domains of machine learning and computer vision. I get paid to work on Rasterio at Mapbox, which is wonderful, though I don't get to work on it exclusively.

The stars have aligned for Rasterio this quarter of 2018, and during April, May, and June I will be working half-time on the project. We're going to have a 1.0 release and here is intro to the plan. Get ready for some beta releases soon.

Soccer blogging season

It's soccer season on my blog through the end of May: after three seasons of coaching my oldest's U9 and U10 teams in 2015 and 2016, I'm coaching my youngest's U9 team for the first time.

We had our first game today and got routed by a very good team. I talked to the coach afterward and she told me that her kids have been playing together for years and she's been coaching them for 3 seasons. It shows! My team has a way to go before we can hang with a team like this one.

Maybe it was the hard ground, maybe it was first game nervousness, but between the two teams, I think we might have set a record for hand balls in this game. This was hard on our volunteer referees, who had to make a lot of decisions to call or not call based on advantage, which was unfortunate. It was a tough game to call.

Quad Rock recon no. 1

Sunday, my family and I kicked off spring break by going to an early showing of Black Panther. We enjoyed every bit of it.

Afterwards, I drove to the Timber trailhead at the north end of Lory State Park to do my first run this year on the Quad Rock course. I planned to run up to 27 kilometers, the first 1/3 and last 1/3 of the 25 mile course, with a couple shorter options. I can see about half of the terrain of the race from my deck and there's still some snow up there. I wasn't sure what the conditions would be, but the park websites said all the trails were open, so I went to find out.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4796/40728138192_18f0c8b091_b.jpg

Leaving Lory State Park, in fact, and starting to head up the Sawmill Trail in Horsetooth Open Space

In the flatter and sunny parts of Lory, whether below or above, the trails were mostly dry.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4771/40059896074_74ea388c68_b.jpg

Almost 2000 feet above Fort Collins on the Tower Trail

The wooded, north and east facing, stretches of the trail were often muddy and/or icy. I wasn't able to descend any faster than I could climb and fell behind schedule for making it back to my car before the park closed, so I cut out the last climb to Arthur's Rock and returned by the trail I'd come in on. I did my best to take it easy and go at a comfortable pace, and ran 20 km and climbed 600 meters in 2 hours and 45 minutes.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4796/40771111411_6416cb124f_b.jpg

Early spring conditions on the Mill Creek Trail

I'm so glad I did an early recon run. I've never run to the top of Lory so early in spring (or late in winter, depending on how you look at it) and enjoyed seeing the snow and little frozen waterfalls. It was also good to get a reminder of how much more fit I need to get over the next 2 months. This is a tough course with 3 big climbs. I only did one of them and can feel it today.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4787/26899164478_7001767ef0_b.jpg

My new shoes

I tried out some new gear on this run. The Fresh Foam Hierro is the shoe that's replacing the NB Leadville, which I wore in the Trail Quillan. I like them better than the Leadville. They're well cushioned, fit my feet well, and the vibram sole is suited to the rocky, gritty trails here. As far as I can tell, they're going to be fine for the race.

Spring Break

Colorado State and Poudre Schools have no classes this week. My family and I are going to Steamboat Springs to ski and soak in geothermal pools. We've got limited internet up there, so I won't be doing much blogging or open source work until next week.

In Bengaluru

I typed up this post from the Mapbox office on 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar, one of Bangalore's busy new commercial neighborhoods, yesterday, my last full day in India. I'm editing it today from London's Heathrow airport on the way home to Denver, via Chicago. I don't have many photos uploaded yet, but here are a few from the office, the deck of the office, and the street outside.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4751/25585954487_75577c8f91_b.jpg

Top floor and common area of the Mapbox office with afternoon light

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4618/40413282382_a785615dd2_b.jpg

Bangalore's metro from the office

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4764/39746791494_c9029a87da_b.jpg

Commercial development on 100 Feet Road

I saw little of the city outside Indiranagar on this trip and spent a lot of time in the office. It wasn't a vacation. Still, I've never been to India before, or anywhere in Asia, and had a bunch of new experiences. New to me, that is, commonplace to a billion other people.

My coworker Pratik has generously shown us around the neighborhood and making sure that we try a variety of restaurants. We never went to the Taco Bell across the street (see the photo above) or the Domino's Pizza 2 doors away. Three doors up the street is a one of the Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR) restaurants, a very popular local spot which serves a correct cafe au lait. Around the corner from the office is Pratik's beloved Sharon Tea Stall. I'd be happy going there every day. Service is friendly and fast and they have a range of infusions that they add to a base black tea, sweetened, with and without milk. The tea is served in a 4 ounce shot glass or clay cup for a few rupees more. My standard recipe at home is not unlike Sharon's clove elaichi (cardamom) chai. I should use more whole milk and more sugar to make it correct.

The black kite (Milvus migrans) is everywhere in the city. Look at the sky for 30 seconds and you'll see at least one. They play a dual role here, part predator, part scavenger. I saw them hunting both rats and squirrels.

I had my first auto rickshaw rides in Bangalore. These green and yellow compressed natural gas-powered 3-wheel people movers are the least expensive way to get around without a personal vehicle in Bangalore. I didn't see any women driving autos in Bangalore, but read that the formerly all-male profession is slowly being opened to women.

The beep beep of auto, bike, and car horns is constant. It's not aggressive honking; you beep only when you pass someone, which is all the time. Sidewalks are rare in Bangalore, or are repurposed, so it is normal to walk in the street and absorb beeps.

Shade trees are part of Indiranagar's character. Often these are Gulmohar, an import from Madagascar, or Rain trees, from South America. The rain tree reminded me of my neighbor's honey locust, and for good reason: both are large Fabaceae (pea) plants. Sadly, street trees are heavily threatened by redevelopment in Bangalore and are being cut down to widen streets and extend building footprints.

The two times I got out of Indiranagar were to run, once around Ulsoor Lake, and once in Cubbon Park. Mornings, the park is closed to motor vehicle traffic and is filled with runners, walkers, yogis, and nature lovers. A barefoot runner gave me a flier for a half marathon in the Nandi Hills on Sunday. That would have been interesting, but I had to settle for running at home in Fort Collins instead. Cubbon Park is a gem, with a nice network of gravel trails around the edges, sculpture, shrines, specimen trees, and outcroppings of Archaen gneiss.

https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4651/40500021061_7ee3650c0c_b.jpg

Art in Cubbon Park

Working at the Mapbox office in Bangalore was a good experience. The space is nice, the people super sharp and very kind, and I learned a lot about the challenges of working in Mapbox's largest satellite office, offset 10 hours from DC and 13 hours from SF. I don't expect to go back to Bangalore soon, but would happily do so, and consider myself fortunate to have been able to make this trip.

Bengaluru Bound

One of my teammates, Pratik Yadav, lives and works in Bengaluru, India. Last October I had the pleasure of hosting Pratik in Fort Collins for week. Next week I'm going to be in the Mapbox Bengaluru office to work and experience what it's like to be working at Mapbox on India Standard Time.

Unlike my Indian colleagues, who have been to Western universities and travel to Europe for conferences and DC or San Francisco for work, I've never spent any time in the other hemisphere. This will be my first trip east of Prague, 14.42 degrees east, ever.

Bengaluru has a climate that you can't find in the United States. It's at 12 degrees north and 920 meters (3020 feet). The weather forecast for the next 10 ten days is like a dry June on the Front Range: a low of 60 °F and high of 88 °F and no rain. I've been in the foothills of the Venezuelan Andes before, which is probably similar in some ways, but I'm expecting all kinds of surprises. Once upon a time I wanted to be a climatologist and I'm still pretty geeked about climate. Bengaluru's seems to be special.

I'm on the road for 8 days starting tomorrow. Forgive me for late replies to emails and GitHub issues, as I'll be offset 12.5 hours from my usual schedule. I'll blog about the trip after I'm back and will probably post to Instagram a little more than usual.

Midwinter malaise

February has sucked from a health and fitness point of view. I had the flu. I've had bronchitis. Today I have come down with a cold, the day I intended to make up the long run I missed while skiing on Sunday. I've lost a week and a half of training already this month and am going to spend the next two weekends in airports and planes. I'm starting to revise my expectations for the Quad Rock from "kicking ass" to "finishing" and am looking for any silver linings at all. My left hamstring, which I strained at the end of January, is feeling nicely rested, so there's that.