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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Bangalore's metro from the office


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.


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.

Midwinter running

The Fort Collins foothills trails were closed today because of wet conditions and so I drove to the Riverbend Ponds Natural Area on the east edge of the city to run. It was grey and cold (-8 °C) and muddy or icy depending on how much sun or shade a segment of trail had received on Saturday. I tried out my new shoes, New Balance Hierro (v3), and found them good on ice and snow and less good in the mud.


A weird thing happened on the other side of the bridge in the photo above. See the figure in black at the very top right? It was a young man walking his dog, a small German Shepherd mix, on a retractable lead. As I passed them on the trail his dog rushed me and jumped up and seized my arm! Very briefly and lightly I'm happy to report, so I've got no tears in my arm or my clothing. I think the blame here is mostly on me: I didn't read the dog well or slow down as I approached. I got a free reminder of how fast and potentially dangerous dogs are: unless you're Bruce Lee, you're likely to get bitten if you get in a fight with a dog, even if it's just a misunderstanding. Best to avoid these misunderstandings!

The flu

I appear to have the flu. I had chills and a cough on Wednesday night and a fairly miserable trip home from the Mapbox all-hands event. I took Friday off to rest and began to feel better in the evening. I slept well last night and was beginning to make plans to get some exercise so I don't fall too far behind in my training, but my temperature is back up to 39 °C (102 °F) this morning. Instead I think I'll drink cold water and watch Stranger Things, maybe get out for a short run or walk if I feel better in the afternoon. Ugh.

RIP, Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88.

I mentioned Le Guin in my previous post. I did feel guilty about wanting something extra from her books, and feel more guilty today. Her writing moved me, and more as I matured and began to appreciate our mortality.

Ruth mailed me a line from the Lathe of Heaven this afternoon.

"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new."

― Ursula K. Le Guin

The Broken Earth Trilogy

I've just finished "The Stone Sky," and with that, J.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series. Damn, what a trio of books. I haven't been this engrossed in novels in a long time. I'm behind the curve in reading and figure that almost anybody reading this post has already them. If you haven't, don't worry, no major spoilers here. There are spoilers in the blog posts that I link below, however.

I predict that I'll be coming back to this series in time, like I have with Le Guin's Earthsea books. Essun is, I think, right there with Ged as the most complete and most human wizard in all of fantasy literature. And her family, allies, and enemies are also portrayed with great care. The descriptions of the landscapes and cityscapes, both living and dead, warrant another read, for sure.

I shouldn't compare Jemisin to Le Guin, but I always (guiltily) wanted more action in Le Guin's stories, and I found myself instantly hooked by the punctuations of danger, force, and urgency in the Broken Earth series. It's a thrilling tale that lives up to all the hype.

Next up on my reading list: "The Trail Runner's Companion" and "The Architecture of Open Source Applications." I'm going to cherry pick some chapters from the latter. I'm mostly interested in lessons from Berkeley DB, HDFS, and LLVM.

Bobcat Ridge 2

Inertia struck me and my family and we didn't make the drive to Denver for the Women's March. Instead, I spent my afternoon at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area trying to squeeze in a long run before tonight's storm. I ran up the Ginny Trail and down on and back on the D.R. and Valley Loop trails, 17 kilometers in all, and 550 meters of elevation gain. The view from the top of Green Ridge is great. The only defect is that Longs peak is hidden by other, nearer mountains.


Palisade Mountain in the center, flanked by Sheep Mountain on the left and Crosier Mountain on the right. Longs Peak is behind Palisade Mountain.

The Ginny trail is named after Ethel Virginia Pulliam and the D.R. trail after her husband, David Rice Pulliam. The couple were the owners of the ranch that became Bobcat Ridge Natural Area.


Mahoney Park

Mahoney Park is a small, flat, grassy basin dotted with rounded granite knobs, like a Vedauwoo or Joshua Tree in miniature. The trail builders made sure that it winds among the rock in an amusing way. Beyond Mahoney Park, the D.R. trail is nicely wooded and covered with pine needles, a very pleasurable place to run.

I sure do feel fortunate to live in a city that has the foresight and funds to buy and preserve such unique open space.