Saturday, August 11, 2012

Making Mountains Out of Mountains

Here are some elevation facts and numbers for the Leadville 100 run course.  It's called the "Race Across the Sky" because this 100 miler takes place between 9,200' and 12,500' above sea level, with two climbs over Hope Pass (~3,000' elevation gain and loss each way) and two climbs over Sugarloaf Pass (~1,400' elevation gain and loss each way).

The following diagram is the profile of the first 50 miles.  At mile 50, you turn around and do it all over again in reverse.
What makes this race extra difficult for me is that I live at 880' above sea level (ASL), and the biggest climbs around here top out at 160' in elevation gain.  On a tough training run in Ann Arbor, I can get around 2,500' of elevation gain over 25ish miles of trails.  That's not bad for the midwest.  But I'll climb 700' higher than that in just 3 miles on the first ascent of Hope Pass on August 18.

Let's play with a few more numbers using this fun site:

At 880' ASL we flatlanders have 97% of the oxygen available at sea level.  Take us up to the start/finish line in Leadville, Colorado, at 10,200' ASL and we're down to 70% of the oxygen available at sea level.  And atop Hope Pass, we're lose more oxygen at 64%.

In short, it's a fantastically stupid choice for a first 100 miler, and maybe that's what makes it so appealing.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Summer Record Reviews

Summer's almost over, even if the midwest has been in an August heatwave since June, which says to me that the summer feel will be here well into fall.  So that means it's not too late for a summer music review, I mean, right?

Dirty Projectors -- Swing Lo Magellan

There's a lot to love about the latest Dirty Projectors album.  The bouncing hand claps in Just from Chevron and in album highlight, Dance for You; the soul balladry and snowy production of Impregnable Question and Swing Lo Magellan; and the smattering of other idiosyncratic Longstreth songs that invent their own sense of logic as they build.  Every song on here has at least one great idea -- if you're willing to wait for it -- though some make you wait longer than others as they take sonic detours that may or may not be as good as what they're heading toward.

Dr. Dog -- Be the Void

Yeah, this one came out in February, but it's a hazy days of summer record for sure.  Whenever I put this on I feel like I just came out to someone's big red barn in the hot, dusty, Ohio countryside where a loose, loud, folky stomp band has opened the doors, set up shop inside, and invited everyone they know to party with them as they play sudsy tunes in the vein of T. Rex, Zep, and The Band.

Langhorne Slim -- The Way We Move

I'm still waiting for that LS record that sounds as good as his live shows -- in the same slight but significant way that the Alabama Shakes debut just isn't quite as raw and powerful as any of their live sets -- but the title track, The Way We Move, is all that and a box of thin mints.  I can't get enough.  His rhythm section is steeped in southern blues and his voice carries that weary hopefulness really well.