Blog

Welcome to my blog.

Race Report: TAMU Time Trial and 5k

[linkstandalone]

Race Results

TAMU Time Trial and 5k, February 27, 2022.

Race Report

Training

Not much to speak of, pretty much just spent the week recovering from last weeks half marathon. Also did a chilly ride to simulate the cold, since the expected temperature was something like 35 degrees.

The format of this race was a little bit confusing, I'll try to explain. First we did a 750y swim time trial, which determined start times for the race. Then we left in 10 second intervals, and the volunteers hand-timed us. To calculate overall time, start time was subtracted from finish (clock) time (this is the "total split" number above), then the swim TT time was added. This explains the lack of bike standing, run standing, transition time, etc.

Pre-race

I cleaned out the trunk of the car to make space for everyone's bags, loaded up the car and Reed's truck, and we were off to TAMU. We were promised a pasta dinner and I got scraps (nothing against the organizers we arrived late), so dinner was supplemented by a family meal chicken pasta from HEB. Thanks to the TAMU triathlon team for hosting us at one of their members apartments! We woke up race morning at 6:30; I had a banana and granola bar, then we drove to the race site and set up transition in the cold. Miraculously, the sun came out and it warmed up a couple of degrees to 40 ish.

Race

The goal for the bike was to hold 190 watts, and I managed to hold (close to) that somewhat comfortably with an average power of 187 watts. I also didn't check the wind direction that day, and was hit in the face by an unexpected headwind at the turnaround; the ride home was not the best. On the bright side, I held off my teammate Jack for half the ride, which I didn't expect! (He killed it btw). I also passed many tri bikes which made me happy, and was only passed by one tri bike.

I fumbled through transition (had to sit down to put on my shoes), failed to follow basic instructions (did not follow the cones when I was told to follow the cones), and made it to the run.

I should have done more bricks before this, because running off the bike hurt. My heart rate was rising really fast, and my legs felt like jelly; I slowed the pace down and managed to calm myself down a little. The run was a scenic trail, but halfway through we were hit by literal rocks we had to run on, not the most fun. Stopped for water at the halfway point because I was so tired, and hung onto some girl from SMU who passed me earlier as a pacer. I saw the team at the finish line and charged to the finish.

Post-race

The course turned out to be a little bit short (GPS says 11.3 mile bike and 3.05 mile run) so the numbers are slightly off, but the pace and power numbers should be right. We attempted to go to a post-race Fuzzys lunch but we were stopped by a massive line. We ended up getting Popeye's instead.

Not much else to say about this race. It was a fun tuneup race! Look forward to the Bevoman race report come 3/20.

Tue, 01 Mar 2022 14:59

Race Report: Austin Half Marathon 2022

[linkstandalone]

So I keep a training log on this website, and if you scroll to the bottom you'll see mini-race reports. I decided to start writing full race reports, and this will be my first one! Now I don't have to cram my thoughts into one paragraph anymore woohoo. Plus formatting!

Goals

  1. Finish: Yes
  2. <2:00: Yes
  3. <1:55: Yes
  4. <1:50: No

Race Results

Austin Half Marathon, February 20, 2022.

Race Report

Training

To be honest there wasn't much half-marathon specific training going on. However, between this race and the marathon, there was a massive shift in training philosophy. I've been actively doing speedwork over the last semester (when not injured), and it seemed to pay off today- just a year ago running two miles at 8:30 was tough. Today I ran 13.1 miles at that pace! I avoided speedwork when I started running, mainly because I was more into running as a philosophy and lifestyle (calming) rather than running as a competitive thing. This lead to a quite poor first marathon and some insecurities after joining the team; can I really call myself a runner if I can't run sub 9? Although no one needs to meet a standard to be a runner, I want to improve to a standard that I set for myself, and today I broke it.

Tangent over. In terms of actual training, I ran about 20 miles a week in January (coming off a bad (left) ankle injury), before getting injured again! By swimming of all things! My right ankle did not vibe with fins and flip turns it seems. This happened three weeks out from the race, so I really only had a month of actual training; during this block, I followed an 80/20 olympic plan, and extended the weekly long run by one mile each week (topping out at 11). Training was going well before getting injured, and come race day I was just praying my ankle(s) wouldn't flare up mid-race and leave me with a DNF.

Pre-race

I woke up to the good ol' race day 4:30 AM alarm. Breakfast was the standard oatmeal, bananas, and water. This tried and true meal has never failed me two hours before a race, and it held up again today. After a confusing time finding parking, I spent an hour and a half wandering around Congress avenue. I then waited 30 minutes for the porta-potty (I used it at 5:30! But I had to use it again at 6...), took off my cold weather gear (it was 45 degrees), checked in my bag, and jogged over to the start line with the 3:40 pace group. After some attempted leg swings and cool fireworks, at 7am we were off.

Race

I had a mental plan coming into race day, which looked something like this:

"Take the first 10k out comfortably, push the second 10k, and take the last mile home."

In reality the race went something like this:

"Take the first 10k out comfortably, oh shoot its mile 8 and it's starting to hurt. Just gotta run another 5k to make it to mile 11. Why are there so many hills?? Okay two miles left, just hang on. Just hang on. 1.5 miles left, just hang on. Stick in there. You got this. 1 mile left. 0.5 miles left. You can run an 800 right? Wait shoot there's two more turns are you serious. Pain."

As to why mile 11 was a checkpoint, a friend and supposedly a big hill were waiting for me there. The friend was there, but the big hill was not there- I should have studied the course maps better.

Like the quote above, the first 10k was very comfortable and fun. I was feeling great! Hitting my goal pace (8:25) that I set on the spot based on RPE, maintaining a good HR (180), high-fiving people, dogs, and collecting the energy of the crowd and the race. Chugged a Gu at the 10k mark as I crossed the bridge over Ladybird lake; there were so many people cheering there that I felt like a celebrity! The vibes of this race were awesome, and I was having a good time.

Now it's mile eight, and things are starting to hurt. I can really feel the effect of not running for two plus weeks in my quads. They took quite a pounding from the 5k to 10k (all downhill), and my heart rate/RPE is starting to rise for the same pace. During the next 5k time slowed to a halt; I did all I could to hang on with rolling hills further breaking down my broken muscles. Mile 11 was the checkpoint, because that's where Reed (triathlon teammate) said he would be waiting, and the Enfield hill was right past that. As I ran past I almost missed Reed, but he gave me a loud cheer (if you're reading this thanks Reed!!) which gave me the energy to go on a little longer, up the Enfield hill... which wasn't too bad actually? From here I mentally checked out, because I checked the course map and it was all flat from here.

But it wasn't.

In my exhaustion and confusion I somehow managed to misplace the actual Enfield hill; how this happened I have no idea. First of all, it was on mile 12 not mile 11, how did I mix this up when studying the elevation profile? Second, I actually forgot what it looked like. I literally ran this exact hill with TRC (Texas Running Club) and had a conversation about how they place it at the end of the Austin half marathon last semester!! How did I forget what it looked like and mistake it with a small climb under the highway??

Back to the story, I was cruising, mentally checked out, when suddenly the most menacing slope I had ever seen materialized in front of my eyes. It looked like a tsunami of concrete, devouring all the runners as they fought to surf the crest of the wave. This caught me completely off guard, and crushed me both mentally and physically. After making it up the hill, my legs were at one percent battery. And I had a mile to go.

About five minutes into the last mile, I heard some runner say "two more turns left!" Of course, I got excited and started pushing it, and they were wrong of course to further crush my spirits. Also I managed to miss a second hill on the course map right before the finish line. I was almost trudging when I finally turned the last corner and saw the finish line. The clock read 1:52:46- I thought to myself, "Can I take it home before the clock hits 1:53?" The answer was yes. I shifted up two gears, put my head down, and made a final kick toward the finish line (resulting in some unflattering finisher photos).

Post-race

The tank was completely empty after crossing the finish line, and I couldn't even speak when a volunteer asked if I was okay (I gave a thumbs up instead). Then I made a death march collecting my post-race goodies, waiting for my heart rate to stabilize and my muscles to relax. I attempted to walk up the curb to sit down, and felt a burn as I tried to step up- here I realized the next few days were going to be quite painful. I do wish I brought a friend or something at this point, because I couldn't find anyone I knew after the race. I called my parents, ate some falafels, and drove home.

Back to the point of the first paragraph, I'm extremely happy to have raced a long distance race. Up until now, my long distance endeavors have had the sole goal of "just survive". Heck, even my marathon training runs had me almost dead at the end. Now I can run long at a steady pace without feeling like death, and even race a long distance race at what I think is an okay time! After breaking the 10 minute barrier last year, and now the 9 minute barrier, my next goal is breaking the 8 minute barrier, then the 7 minute barrier. But you know, it's not like I'm in a rush anymore. I'm finally coming to terms with the fact that "I can run", and "I'm not a slow faker anymore". I've realized that I was the one who set these standards, and now I'm the one who broke them. Suddenly, the next standard isn't something that I have to do to qualify as a [runner, cyclist, swimmer, athlete], it's a goal that I can work towards breaking. And that inspires me more than anything.

I'm in the process of recovering, since I'm racing a 20k TT plus a 5k run this weekend at TAMU. Look out for more race reports soon!

Wed, 23 Feb 2022 23:38

Anti-Radicalization, Triathlon, and a Life Update

[linkstandalone]

Hiya it's been a while. Something that's been on my mind the last couple of months is the practicality of strict adherence to an ideology that one believes is important or cares truly about. When I started this website and blog, I was pretty adamant about my hate for big corporations and my love of privacy. Of course, I still am- I didn't do anything ridiculous like sign up for a Facebook account. But as the last year and a half or so has taken its course, I find the flow of life has taken me to certain places I thought I wouldn't go to. Specifically, I made a Strava account after writing a post about why I don't use Strava. Or how I have a fitness watch, some propietary apps on my phone, etc.

This is mainly because I got more serious about triathlon. The watch is essential for tracking heart rate, GPS activity, pace, power, etc, for just about every workout I do. For my minimalism argument in my post against Strava, this mindset is great for casual runners. If I still was a casual runner, I believe I still wouldn't be tracking anything. However, I don't really see a future of improvement for running without HR and pace zones and polarized training, and none of this is possible without the watch. After all, I didn't make much progress with running before in terms of speed. As for Strava, I hate to say it but there's no better way to keep in touch with random strangers I meet while exercising. It's really great to chat someone up on a run, ask for their Strava, and keep up with which routes they've been hitting. Also I like stalking potential rivals to make sure I'm training more than them hehe. However, the main point of my old post still stands; the runs are for my performance first, Strava second.

More on minimalism- I've also accumulated some things that my old self would have not been happy with. For example, a whole wardrobe of athletic wear (jackets, jerseys, shorts, swim briefs, many pairs of running shoes), some normal wear (race shirts), and a plethora of cycling equipment, including but not limited to two road bikes, a trainer, miscellaneous toolsand fuel, parts, bottles, etc. Even if all my sports expenses are not excessive and carefully calculated, the truth is that I am not as much a minimalist that I used to be. But to me that's OK, because I'm fulfilling goals in another area of my life that's important to me, which wouldn't be possible without the proper equipment. As Marie Kondo would say, keep what sparks joy, and that is precisely what I am doing.

The crux of the argument is this; complete adherence is at odds with a balanced lifestyle. I think that one should be intentional, but not entirely rigid with what rules they set for themselves. I'm not advocating for abandonment of moral principles, but if one portion of your life is at odds with another, you'll have to make a decision or compromise on which matters more to you, and act on that. I've decided that achieving my goals in triathlon are more important to me than 100% adherence to minimalism and privacy. I'll stick to, say, 95% adherence to privacy and 80% adherence to minimalism. I think that's a good enough compromise to have my cake and eat it too. Although this blog is meant for rambling, I think it's time to stop my rambling now.

On a side note, as I mentioned several times in this post, I got into triathlon more seriously this past semester! I joined the triathlon team here at UT, and if you want to see my training log follow the link. Also some updates:

Sorry that I wrote "life update" in the post title when this mainly became a triathlon update. I feel like I have many things to write about, but have not written about them yet. Stay tuned, thanks for reading.

Sun, 23 Jan 2022 00:23

Website Redesign

[linkstandalone]

If you've been here before, you may have noticed the website redesign. The dark blue background and yellow text is gone, some links have been rearranged and others updated. One big change is a philosophical one: I've started to become more lenient on my war against web bloat, and actually loaded a font. I've even begun considering using basic Javascript! Sincere apologies to the children in Africa who can no longer visit my webpage.

This doesn't mean I've abandonded everything. The font is still open source, and loaded locally without some redirect to Google. No bloat like React or Node.js will ever touch this site either. I just wanted to freshen the room up a little bit. Hopefully the changes look nice, and things are still easy to get to. On my todo list, I need to better modify my blog writing script to my needs, as well as finding some way to stop using MathJax.

If anybody is interested, the font is mononoki, which I like a lot and use for my terminal emulator. The colors were generated by pywal off an image of a campfire, which is supposed to give a "cozy" feel. This is modular so the colors can and possibly will change at will.

Sat, 10 Jul 2021 23:51

Books I've Read

[linkstandalone]

I like reading books. My favorite author is Haruki Murakami (my favorite novel of his is 1Q84), my favorite poet is T. S. Eliot (oh how my hair grows thin), and I do a lot of my reading on a Kindle Oasis, which has no Amazon account linked and is always in airplane mode.

This is a (probably incomplete) list of books I've read, with the year I finished the book in parentheses. If I own a physical copy there will be a "P" in parentheses, and if I previously owned a physical copy (I often give away old books) there will be a "PO" instead. Note that I didn't necessarily enjoy every book here, but I did like the majority of them. Bolded books are highly recommended.

Currently Reading

Fiction

Non-fiction

Books I Own (but haven't read yet)

Mon, 07 Jun 2021 00:22

Running Log: Bike Commuting

[linkstandalone]
Date Location Time Distance
1/21 Apt to UT 30? min 11 km
1/21 UT to Apt
1/22 Apt to UT
1/22 UT to Apt

An update on my cycling progress. If you've been following my updates, last time I was talking about fixing up an old Schwinn world sport. I gave up on that, it was way too hard and not worth the investment. Instead, I got myself a new (used) bike, attached some lights, a kickstand, and we're ready to ride!

I've been bike commuting to campus the last couple of days, even though my in person class is no longer in person. It's nice to be back on the UT campus for a little bit, even though it's dead and nothing's happening. Seeing a provocative preacher arguing with some freshman (I assume) on Speedway reminds me of the good old megaphone BLB preacher at UNT, who was eventually replaced by a nicer man with a corgi.

The ride itself isn't too long, only thirty-ish minutes, but you also have to factor in the return route. Austin as a whole is a lot more bikeable than my hometown, there are bike lanes everywhere and the roads are quite nicely paved. Sometimes the bike lanes can be a detriment, like when I want to switch to the road because everyone leaves their trash cans in the bike lane. But I get afraid of the possibility of a car yelling at me, along the lines of "There's a bike lane right there, why don't you use it!!" So I just swerve around the trash cans.

I don't really know how cycling works, but I do know how running works. The general idea is to run a good amount each day, and slowly increase your miles per week. On weekends, you try for a long run, and spend Sunday resting (like intended) so you're ready to roll again when the week starts back up. As your miles go up, so does your base fitness level, which lets you run longer, and the positive feedback loop continues. Hopefully it works the same way for cycling, and I'll be able to join my old English professor (in spirit) on the century rides to the sun.

Sun, 24 Jan 2021 12:46

MathML, Javascript, and the Future of This Blog

[linkstandalone]

It's the new year, which means I've shifted all my previous posts from 2020 to an alternate file, to make loading the rolling view blog page faster. The year is just a number anyway.

When I first started making this website, I had a vision of having cool and accessible math posts about a wide variety of subjects, with a sprinkle of miscellaneous topics peppered in. The blog has evolved in the opposite direction, becoming a collection of random musings with the occasional informative post. Writing math posts is hard, especially in text format to an unknown audience. What makes math explanations cool in video form or in person are the little details you add in, tidbits that shed light on foreign concepts, illuminating them and making their ideas transparent to the world. These kind of things are incredible difficult to express in text form, nobody wants to read walls of text (looking at you Allen Hatcher). I think the biggest limiting factor is the author's own ego: when writing math, the product almost becomes a representation of their mathematical prowess of sorts. So like proofs or papers, the mathematician wishes to make their prose as concise and beautiful as possible, to avoid being represented by "bad" work. Hence posts are detailed and concise, and don't elaborate too much on things that really should be elaborated on. At this point, I might as well write a textbook.

There's also the technical aspect of these posts. Currently math posts use MathJax, which is incredibly bloated and slow (load this page for an example). There seems to be no other way to embed math online that isn't a janky workaround, like embedding images into your text (this breaks if you want to change your text color). I've been digging around online, and I thought I found my "perfect solution", which is MathML. It's fast, clean, functions like text, and is natively supported by reasonable browsers. Unfortunately, the list of reasonable browsers does not include Google Chrome, which is what most people use. So Google's evil antics in eliminating a reasonable web standard for science have screwed us yet again. Also, I would still need Javascript to convert LaTeX to MathML, since MathML code is incredibly long and tedious. This rules out my vision for a perfect bloat free website, that works perfectly with Javascript disabled.

You can see why I decided to give up on writing math posts. If I come across something particularly interesting I might still write math posts, but they'll be on hiatus for now. Now I can focus full time on boomer posts about social media, minimalism, running/whatever, and anything else that comes to mind really. Until next time.

Sat, 09 Jan 2021 21:22