Sunday, December 14, 2008

Running winter break: more free time!

No race report and very little running this week. Just some speed work with Bob at the track on Tuesday before getting on the plane for Frankfurt and Paris, then 8 miles this Sunday evening. A 14-mile week, that is all! I'm glad to be off training pressure as the weather was cold this week and humid this weekend.
My other running-related experience of the week was the registration for Way Too Cool (WTC). I registered to American River 50-mile on Thursday night: it was easy and stress less as the event is not filling up too fast which still surprises me. This Sunday at 8 am Pacific or 5 pm in Paris, and race director Julie Fingar were opening the registration for WTC. If you don't know or missed my Ultra and Cyber sprinting story, last year, WTC's online registration has been filling up in a matter of minutes for the past years. I managed to got in 2007 despite a big mistake: to make sure I had the fastest connection, I had decided to go to the office on Sunday morning, just to discover on my way that I had forgotten my badge. I came back home right at 8 am and was able to secure a spot despite the registration having opened a few minutes ahead of schedule, as I will find out later.

This year, I was not sure I would have access to the Internet at the right time, being on a business trip in Paris. I had carefully crafted instructions for Agnès and the boys to do the registration from California on my behalf (and, yes, I do accept all the waivers). I called 15 minutes before the deadline to make sure they were up and ready and Agnès confirmed Alex had already started checking the website in. Right on 8 am PST, Agnès called me back to inform me the registration was indeed open but they were unable to go through, yikes! I rushed to my computer and, sure enough, I could not go through either from Paris, keeping getting this scary screen:
Here is the text of the over flow notification if you cannot read it from the screen shot:

We are experiencing higher than normal volume and are therefore unable to process your request at this time.

Please wait several minutes and then try again.

We apologize for this inconvenience.

Of course I know the race is popular, a big deal for the Ultra Montrail Cup contestants and the elites looking at getting a Western States entry through placing in the top 3. I know that the 450 entries disappear within minutes. However it is hard to believe that there are actually more than a thousand ultra runners accessing the site at once and that the platform cannot handle a sub 1,000-transaction load. Or maybe I'm underestimating the appeal of this event...

Anyway, I tried to access the site several times, just worsening the server situation, and was relieved when Agnès called me to confirm my entry! If everything goes well with training, that will then be my 4th WTC next March.

Overall, I cannot wait for my friend Mark Gilligan to release the registration feature of his UltraSignup website (you can already check out a few promising features).
That is it for the running part of my week. Not much, which means that, after a hectic work week, I had more free time this weekend that I used on two alumni reunions. The first one on Saturday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my Arts & Métiers class (Angers, 1983-86) and the second one on Sunday for the 22nd anniversary of my Cerics class (Sophia-Antipolis, 1986-87). It was good to see people I spent so much good time a quarter of a century ago and, as we all agreed, we have not changed much over this time! ;-) At worst, I'm skinnier now that I have switched from running track (800m) to ultra trail running...

Have a great week, en route for the Holidays!

PS: two really non running-related pix...

With my conscripts (from left two right, Joe, 29An207, 2Malte, 29An206 and Lotage, 29An208):
And a handful of my 30 Master's Cerics classmates:

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