Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008: The Year of Research, The Run, & The Colorado Trail

Hey Everyone! Happy (almost) New Year!

It's New Years Eve today here at WAIS Divide and everyone is excited about having the night (and tomorrow) off. Since I'm on first shift, I still have to work today, but at 4 pm, I'm off for over an entire day. It will be a nice break....and one that I don't take for granted. After this day off, we don't get another day off until the following Sunday (Jan 10th). We have made it past 900 meters of ice now and it is starting to get a little bit more stable (although still very brittle by normal ice standards). Yesterday, the NSF rep responsible for funding this project flew into camp. Everyone here is a little nervous, but so far everything is going fine.

2008 has been a pretty good year for me. As the title of this entry suggests, I consider it to be the year of Research, the Run, and the Colorado Trail. You're probably wondering where Antarctica is in there....I'm going to consider it part of 2009 :-)

I spent a lot of time this year focusing on obtaining, cleaning up, and interpreting my data for my Master's research. In June I spent three weeks at the National Ice Core Lab creating bubble section samples from WAIS ice drilled last year. Then, using a model that fellow Penn State Alum developed (Matt Spencer), I was able to use the bubble number-densities of those samples and known accumulation rates at WAIS, to determine temperatures. After all the cleaning up, converting, and modeling, the data show a 2-3 degree warming trend over the late Holocene (last 2500 years). This appears to match up well with findings from another fellow Penn State Alum, Sarah Das (using a different method). I am hoping to maybe get 1 or 2 more samples from this year to add to the data set. Once back in State College, I will compare my temperature findings with those found by Eric Steig at U. of Washington that he determined using isotope ratios. Hopefully everything will match up, and I can begin the long process of writing up my thesis. My goal would be to defend at best...at the end of Summer or at the latest late-Fall.

2008 was also the year that I started running...and never really stopped. At Christmas in 2007, I made the decision to train for a marathon. I began a running schedule on Jan 1st. Since then I've run 2 marathons, 1 half-marathon, a couple 5ks, a 5 miler, a 16 mile trail run, two 50 mile ultraruns, and a few others that I'm sure I'm forgetting. More or less though, I've run 5 or more days a week for the entire year. It's been a little harder to run while down here at WAIS, but I am still trying. When I can't, I get out and do some x-country skiing and try to stay active with softball games. I've moved, under my own power this year, over 2000 miles (if you count my Colorado Trail hike as part of that). For 2009, I am setting 5 goals off the bat here:

1. Run the Pocono Marathon in May again and beat my 2008 time of 3hrs 53 minutes.
2. Run the Leadville 100 ultrarun
3. Run the Vermont 50 again and beat my 2008 time of 11hrs 18 minutes
4. Run the Vermont 100
5. "Run" the Peak Races Snowshoe marathon.
possible 6: Maybe consider the Peak Races "Death Race" (but probably not)

The third notable accomplishment of 2008 for me was the completion of the Colorado Trail. Ever since hiking the A.T. in 07, I've had a new love for long distance hiking. As soon as I knew I would be in Colorado in June for research, I began working out a way that I could start a thru-hike of the C.T. right after. The timing ended up working out perfect. The trail itself was a lot more beautiful than the A.T., but also a lot more challenging because of heavy snow packs. The altitude was also something I wasn't used to. The trail towns were few and far between and there were no shelters on the trail (unlike the A.T.). It was truly a wilderness experience. The start of the trail was a bit of a low point when my hiking partner got ill and had to quit. Seth and I finalized our hike while hanging out at Trail Days in May and we were both excited. It took me several days to get into a "solo hiking" mindset after he left the trail, and it was never quite the same. One of these days, we'll get to do a great hike together.

So what about 2009 John....well without going into too much detail here are some of my goals/resolutions:

1. Enjoy myself...and finish up here in Antarctica. Take a ton of pics.
2. Do a ton of Hiking and sightseeing in New Zealand on the way back from Antarctica (3+ weeks)
3. Sign up for and complete road and trail runs listed above.
4. Defend Masters
5. Do a couple of moderate hikes back in the States including either the Vermont Long Trail, the Benton MacKaye Trail, or the John Muir Trail.
6. Finalize my plan for when I finish my Masters (ie Job or PhD)
7. Start a montly regular set playing/singing at a local pub in State College.
8. Begin planning my next BIG thru-hike..............

that's it for now.....

I'll write again soon,


1 comment:

Jeremiah said...

Wow Lakewood!

I didn't realize you ran 2-50 milers! Plus you plan on running 2-100 miler AND a 50 Miler! I should start calling you Forest! lol.

I am very jealous, but my body dont think it could take all that running! lol.

I can't wait to hear how they go! I am doing back to back weekend 1/2 marathons..the kentucky derby half and then the indy mini! should be fun running around the kentucky derby track!

Have a great New Years!