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Adventures in Geobiology: Summer update!

Teaching a summer field course is pretty intense...here's some of what i've been up to.

1.  Landed in Golden, Colorado (home of the School of MInes and our base for the first few weeks).  Ran up South Table Mountain.  Started at 6,000ft...roughly 50x the elevation of my normal runs.  Beautiful run, but my lungs were all OH FUCK YOU. I got a bit lost and ran more than I wanted to.

 

2.  Started teaching the course, stopped sleeping.  Went to Great Salt Lake.  Saw things like this:

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 Spiral Jetty...yes the water is pink.  Its because the hyper-salty water, and there is a certain type of microbe called Halobacter that loves to live there.  Halobacter is not actually a bacteria, but an archaea.  It has a pigment called rhodopsin, which makes it look pink.  

3. Started marathon training.  I ran my first run (7 miles) at 7,000ft and 93 degrees.  It was...interesting.  My second run (9 miles) happened before sunrise in Brigham City, Utah, along the Wasatch Front (the leading western edge of the Rocky Mountains).  It didn't suck.

3rd run happened over wilderness area in hiking boots as a storm rolled into the field area we were measureing.LaClede Panorama Those storm clouds look pretty, but the last thing you want is to drive a 12-passenger van full of graduate students on slippery, wet clay roads in high winds (I've done it...it is NOT a fun time).  

4. Somwhere in there we measured some hot springs

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5. We had lots of drinks

 

6.  We went to a 2.9 Billion year old iron formation in Wyoming and saw what might be the oldest ocean crust in the world

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The seemingly unspectacular rounded margins to the left of the rock hammer is an ancient pillow basalt, which is a rock that forms when lava blurps out onto the ocean floor...this is evidence that there was liquid water on Earth at this time.

Roundtop Mt Panorama

 

The view didn't suck.  From where I took the picture to the tree line would have been the size of the entire continent when these rocks formed.  

7.  We went up to 11,000ft (Snowy Pass, Wyoming)and saw rocks that formed 2.1 billion years ago and are evidence for life at this time.  They are called stromatolites, and are what I study

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They make me happy.  Trying to run at 11,000ft did not make me happy.

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 The view wasn't too shitty though.  Totally worth it.  

8.  I had a birthday!  I went on a birthday run.  It as well did not suck. 


9.  We had a lot more drinks. 

Now I stay put in Golden for the next few days, while the students rotate through different labs, extracting DNA and learning microscope techniques.  After that we will take them back to LA and teach them some geochemistry.  Then its off to Catalina Island to finish up!.  

Race Report: AIDS Walk Long Beach 5K

This was a smallish community race, so no chip timing or pictures (thus far) on teh interwebz, but I'll summarize. 

I should state this upfront:  I hate 5ks.  Loathe them.  They hurt. Whenver some uppity distance runner scoffs at a 5k, I have to disagree, I find it much easy to race a half than race a 5k.  A 3.1 mile race is hard, y'all.  I don't even warm up by the time this race is over.  I did this run for one reason only:  to generate a current 5k time for my coach to stick into my marathon training plan.  This is my 'pre' race.  I did no special traning.  I mostly forgot I was running it.  But I had to give her a concrete time, and I thought this would be a good cause to donate my money to.  I figured I would run somehwere between 20-22 minutes. 

Pre race:  I had to wake up at 700 and leave around 730 to get to the LBC by 8 or 805.  I checked in there, and they were out of safety pins, so I had to beg some off of other runners. It was disorganized, but all the volunteers were nice and helpful.  I'd rather they spend money on AIDS research than timing chips, so I was fine with the setup. 

Starting line:  I sized up the competition (can't help it), and lined up a few people back from the start. A bunch of high school kids muscled their way to the front, which pissed me off.  Please, people, race etiquette:  If you're not planning on winning the race, don't try to toe the line. Its dangerous for you and everyone around you.  Some of these kids should have been there, and did well, but some where hoping for 25-30 minute times (they actually talked about what they wanted to do, and one girl acknowledged that they had to move quickly or they would get run over....grr). Its not that 25 minutes is a bad time at all, but it won't win a race.  They should have moved back, especially in a race that was being run on some narrow bike paths to start.  I had to nearly shove some out of my way in the first quarter mile.   Anyway, end rant.  It was for a good cause.  I can get over myself. 

Gun shot (or balloon pop in this case)- I took off and settled in pretty well.  Weather was great for running.  This was a flat course along the ocean, but there was a bit of a headwind. 

1st mile -6:44

I was cruising along in second place, with one young bunny ahead of me but well in sight, when BAM, I ran directly into a pedestrian who had wandered onto the course (thanks, jerkstore). I didn't fall, but it threw me off stride, which can mean the end of a short race.  I recovered, but it made the race more of a struggle than it needed to be.

2nd mile -7:11 (and some cursing) 

A girl behind me took the opportunity to pass me during my recovery, but I slowly reeled her in over mile 3.  I was a few steps behind her at a half mile to go.  Thankfully, she was wearing ear buds, and couldn't hear how close I was.  I thought about sitting back and only passing her in the last .1 miles, but fuck it, I was doing this for time.  I passed her at .4 miles to go.  She didn't want to give up though, and she stayed right on my heels, making a push and almost getting even with me.  I put on the after burners with a quarter mile to go though, and she didn't have enough steam to keep up. To her credit, she didn't give up and fade, she finished only about 15-20 seconds behind me. We high-fived and congratulated each other. I always enjoy races more when there is a challenge.

3rd mile - 6:47
last 0.1 mile sprint- 35 seconds

Total time: 21:18.  Totally respectable.  A good baseline to begin training. Could have been in the 20s range without my pedistrian crash.  Hopefully I'll be able to run sub-20 again by the fall.

Unfortunately, I had to leave and head to work after, so I couldn't stay to get my awards, but I took 2nd overall female and 1st in my age group.  I was a little bummed that I didn't get to hang around, because this would have been my first time standing on an overall podium since high school track.  Oh well.  A good day. I stil need to get in some mileage, but might do that tomorrow morning and just have a glass of wine tonight instead. 

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