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Archive for April, 2007

PR on the Incline

Posted by jbharp on April 19, 2007

incline

I just finished a spinach salad with a variety of toppings, and I am currently enjoying a cold beer and a home made pizza topped with chicken, prunes, and green peppers (no joke) with a full glass of milk and a stack of Oreo’s waiting for me before I go to bed. Maybe you’re asking why I’m treating myself to such a delicious meal. Truthfully, this isn’t abnormal from any other day. But there is something special for me tonight.

Today after work, I went with a coworker to the Manitou Incline. The incline is over a mile of an old railway section on Mount Manitou. The average grade is said to be 41% with the steepest section at a grade of 68%. It can be see from nearly any point in Colorado Springs because of it’s vertical stretch up the foothills of Pikes Peak.

I visit the Incline an average of twice a week during the summer months and probably about twice a month during winter. In fact I’ll be going back tomorrow morning around 5:30. That’s the time I like to take the dogs so we don’t have so many other dogs and people to stop and smell. The challenge of the Incline keeps bringing me back. Not to mention that it’s only 15 minutes from my house and it provides an escape to overlook the entire Pikes Peak region.

Today’s trip was significant though, not only because I set a personal record but because I finished under 30 minutes – 29:21.9 to be exact, and I do like to be exact.

I had a few things that I think helped along the way. First, I usually carry a small pack with water for me and the dogs, but this time I didn’t carry anything. Second, I was trying to catchup with my coworker. Starting more than 10 minutes behind her, I caught up at the half way point. Third, I was fortunate to have a pace-setter within a random guy who started just seconds before me. At first I considered passing him, but I refrained because he was going just fast enough that it would have sapped my energy. But then I soon realized he was holding to a perfect, steady pace for me. I could tell I was moving at a decent speed, but I still felt my energy reserves intact for the latter, steeper portion. I eventually passed by him, giving him numerous thanks for the help, which I repeated once we both reached the top.

However, I think the most notable factor in my achievement today had nothing at all to do with today. Often when I talk to people about running or hiking a common phrase appears – It’s about the journey. Many trips to the Incline have played a significant role for me in breaking the 30 minute barrier; the hundreds of predawn starts; seeing the sunrise over the flat plains waking up my city; the handful of random midnight trips; numerous debates about the actually start location; even the time I lost my keys. If I had ascend the Incline in under 20 minutes on the very first attempt back in 2003, it would mean almost nothing compared to the goal I reached today.

There certainly is more meaning in the goals we achieve in which we expent the most effort towards. And for me to expect reaching a goal in a short amount of time can be foolish.

Well, if you are ever visiting Colorado Springs, or currently reside here, I’ll be happy to take you to the Incline. Don’t be worried that I’ll leave you stranded on teh Incline alone. I would much prefer going with you along the journey.

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The Area of a Star

Posted by jbharp on April 19, 2007

This past weekend I saw a bumper sticker with an American Flag with obvious disproportions. So I was reminded of a question I often ask myself, “What are the proportions of the flag made up by each of the three colors?”
I like our flag. I like that it is not simply split into three equal colored parts. I like that it doesn’t have anything too complex on it like a picture of an animal. I like that it provides a simple geometry problem.

So back to the question, I have never wondered about the exact dimensions of our flag, because I figured it would be an easy fact to find (and it was). But it takes just a bit more effort to discover the ratio of red, white and blue in Old Glory. Originally, I thought that white was the most abundant color, since it has 50 additional stars to add to it’s area. But I couldn’t forget that extra short strip of red. Would that be enough to add up to 50white stars?
Get cracking if you want to answer this for yourselves (there is one assumption I had to make about the stars). Don’t look below the flag unless you’re ready to see the color ratios. But if you don’t have a calculator handy and just have to know then keep on going.

 rwb

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I thought this would be a quick and easy problem, and to some degree it was, but I couldn’t find any equation for the area of a star. And it makes sense because five-pointed stars can have various shapes resulting in various areas. So my assumption is that the star is constructed with five straight lines connecting each of the five points. Just as if it were a hand drawn star. Placing that star completely within a circle so that the points touch the edge the area is the diameter squared times 0.280625.
So here’s the final breakdown:
Coming in at third with 19%; representing the union; signifying vigilance, perseverance, and justice – blue.
Next at second with 40%; representing part of the 13 original colonies and all 50 states; signifying purity and innocence – white.
Finally, you’re winner with 41%; representing 7 of the original 13 colonies; signifying valor and bravery – red.

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Global Fever

Posted by jbharp on April 12, 2007

With massive media coverage, Academy Awards, and growing debates, Global Warming is obviously a hot topic today. Just last week the cover of Time Magazine pictured a penguin while boasting of a 51 step survival guide and less than a year ago a polar bear walked across the magazine’s cover next to the warning “Be Worried. Be Very Worried.”

In the past few weeks, I’ve heard a few individuals mention a hype about global cooling that took place in the 70’s. After a little searching, I found a Time article from June of 1974 titled “Another Ice Age?”

This article stated “that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades.” And tragically that the cooling “trend shows no indication of reversing.” I wonder if people really feared the threat of another Ice Age? Were there images of people living in an ice cave, barefoot and huddled around a small fire with nothing but a tattered animal fur barely covering their upper body?

Maybe that fear existed, but it seems that a more hysterical fear has emerged from the new global heating trend with certainty that that the warming is caused by human activity. As opposed to entirely blaming the human race, and the Hummers they drive, the 1970 article at least mention a more logical cause. The common sense statement assessed that the “changing weather is apparently connected with differences in the amount of energy that the earth’s surface receives from the sun.” What a mind blowing concept – the sun effects the temperature on planet earth.

It seems at the time, the notion that man could have a drastic effect on the earth was not a notion widely believed. After mentioning the role of the sun, the article was only willing to go so far as to say that “Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend.”

“May” and “somewhat” are words far from today’s accusations made towards man causing global warming. If man can change the weather, I certainly wish we could get rid of this cold and snowy weather and bring on summertime. Would it help if I bought a Hummer?

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Teaching my mom a lesson

Posted by jbharp on April 8, 2007

It is a natural duty of parents to teach their children. But the time comes in our lives when roles are reversed and the learner becomes the teacher. I remembered such an occurrence that happened nearly four years ago. It came to my mind the other night as I was enjoying one of the traditional symbols of the Easter holiday – the Cadburry Cream Egg.

It was a week after Easter and My mom and sister-in-law were visiting me here in the Springs. All of a sudden, mom had a sweet-tooth craving so she began scouring my cabinets until she came across my stash of Cadburry’s. Since Easter had come and passed, I knew the shelves were stripped of the treats the minute Easter Sunday turned into Monday and that the next seasonal treats and merchandise replaced them. I wouldn’t be able to get another Cadburry for nearly 10.5 months.

Obviously seeing my selfish concern, mom protested that I had two full boxes and could spare at least one egg. I conceded, as I grabbed a Cadburry for myself (This reduced my stash by 25%!!!!) Moments later, I had the milk poured and was teaching my dear mother and sister-in-law the proper way to eat a Cadburry Cream Egg.

For those that don’t know, here are the steps to eatting a Cadburry Cream Egg. Milk plays a very important role in this process. It helps break up the intensity of the sweetness of the Cadburry. If you don’t have it, your attempt to finish this delicious Easter treat may end in failure.

1. Pour milk into a Joe’s cup filling it 3/4 full. (those of you with the slightest bit of association with Oklahoma know the size of a Joe’s cup)
2. Take a small sip of milk.
3. Unwrap the Cadburry Cream Egg. Be sure to remove all foil pieces that may stick to the egg.
4. Take the first bite of the Cadburry. This bite should be about 1/4 of the Egg. It will bo mostly chocolate and very little cream.
5. Take another bite of the Cadburry so that about 1/2 of the egg remains.
6. Take a drink of milk, so that it is nearly 1/2 full.
7. Next comes another bite of the egg. This is your second to last bite so you need to leave enough chocolate and cream to make the last bite perfect. Nibble the egg down so that 1/3 of it remains, with 2 parts chocolate and 3 parts cream.
8. Drink just one gulp of milk. Then pause for just a few seconds to let the milk wash away the sweetness from the already consumed portions of the egg.
9. Insert the remainder of the Cadburry. Yum. Enjoy. Take your time.
10. Take a drink of milk, leaving only one gulp left. Yum. Enjoy. Take your time.
11. Lick off the chocolate and cream that may still be stuck on your teeth. Then finish with the remained of the milk.

Happy Easter!!!

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Monitoring my Body

Posted by jbharp on April 4, 2007

  In continuation of my previous post…
I’ve ran nearly watchless for almost an entire year. I only had a vague idea of what my average time might be for any distance. But nearly a month ago, my running life experienced the genesis of an extraordinary training device: my Polar RS200 Heart Rate Monitor.

This thing is amazing!!! Without question, it has been motivating me to run more. It keeps a record of my heart rate, calories burned, and tons of other useful features that I don’t even know about yet. Before I bought it, I talked to a salesperson at Colorado Running Company for more than 20 minutes about all the cool stuff this watch can do.

So, I’ll be trying a new approach to my running this summer and fall. I’ll keep track of my times, heartrate and more. Along with the new technical approach, I will certainly still listen to my body. But now, I can actually use much more of the information and advice in Runner’s World magazine.

Running is a thrill. As I sit here now, nearly at the midnight hour, the thought of a quick run in the neighborhood has entered my mind several times. Well, what more do I need to say.

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Listening to my Body

Posted by jbharp on April 1, 2007

I have been subscribing to Runner’s World magazine for more than two years now and have three more years of the monthly magazine ahead. Every once in a while I succumb to promotional tactics. It really is cheaper to by in three year increments.

The magazine has been a great motivator for me and full of useful information. As I read the pages, I often find myself with an immediate desire to lace up and hit the trails or streets running . I’ll admit that near the beginning of each month I regularly let out a verbal cheer when I open my mailbox to see the magazine.

There are plenty of articles and tips on improving your running. Although many of them have a general proviso that everyone’s body is different and should each person should do what works best for them. So before I ran the St Louis Marathon last April, the thought crossed my mind to try an experiment with my running.

Since the magazine continually suggested that each runner needs to know what fits them best, I decided to let myself, that is my body, decide the best running for me. After I had finished the marathon, my vow was to run a year without a watch. The purpose was to listen to my body. Sure, this really sounds hokey, but at the time it sounded like a great concept. I even had a conversation with my CLI mentor about how this might compare to running the spiritual race without a watch and how we are to rely on God’s Spirit.

Only a hand full of times over the last year could I be caught with a watch during a run. Not even when on the Pikes Peak Marathon did I keep time, even though I could have been comparing my previous year’s efforts. It turns out that I did run both the ascent and round-trip faster (it was largely due to actually running the downhill portion this year instead of walking. I just had to push through the pain. Oh yeah).

I’ll admit that my running has been enjoyable. When I felt tired, I slowed down. When I had extra energy, I sped up. If I wanted to cut a run short or extend it, then I made the adjustment. The meticulous tracking and recording of all my runs that I had done for the St. Louis Marathon-the intervals, the mileage, the tempo, the times-they were not a burden anymore. I just needed my shoes and shorts to make any occasion into a running occasion.

I am young in my running career and there is only so much learning you can do with long distance running. So recently I have begun a new experiment. More on that to come…

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