A big challenge: running a 50 mile race

You may have heard of my 30 day challenges, where I try something new for 30 days. Those challenges are great to try out a new habit and see how you like it.

But I’m also a big believer in picking out really big goals too. In 2010 I trained for a few months so I could climb Kilimanjaro, for example. For 2011, I went skydiving and ran my first marathon in San Francisco. 2012 ended up being a blur: lots of work, plus trips and time with family. I still managed to run a couple more marathons and finish a Tough Mudder race back in Kentucky.

Which brings me to my big goal for 2013. On April 6th, 2013, I’m going to try to run 50 miles for the American River 50. It’s an ultramarathon from Sacramento to Auburn with flat ground for the first half and single-track dirt trails on the second half. The cutoff limit for finishing is 13 hours. As a running friend put it, “You really just need to make the 32 mile cutoff in 7.5 hours or so; after that you could walk the rest of the way!”

In theory, if you run the American River 50 in 11 hours then you can qualify for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. But I’ve gotten a chance to run the trail half of the course a couple times now, and I don’t think there’s any way I can finish that fast. So I’m just shooting to finish in 13 hours. By the way, if you’re interested in ultramarathons (any race longer than a marathon) or trail running, there’s a great documentary about the 2010 Western States race called Unbreakable.

So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Wish me luck, and if anyone want to suggest running music, please leave a comment pointing to a good YouTube video for running. Thanks!

My Halloween costume for 2012: Matt Romney!

My fellow Americans, I’d like to introduce my latest Halloween costume: Matt Romney!


Mitt Romney? No, it's Matt Romney!

My five-point plan for the Mitt Romney Halloween costume went like this:

  1. Start with a suit and tie.
  2. Put a little silver in my sideburns. My wife used some silver and white eye shadow.
  3. Swoosh the hair up a little bit and lock it in with hairspray.
  4. Take off the glasses, and
  5. Add a flag. Boom!

This was a fun, easy, comfortable costume. I practiced a few of Mitt Romney’s catchphrases and I think people really enjoyed seeing “Matt Romney” around the Googleplex.

My wife and I are also trying something new for Halloween. I remember as a kid when I got a full-size candy bar for Halloween–it blew me away! I still remember those neighbors as really cool. Recently someone reminded me of that experience.

So this year, the first couple dozen kids who stop by our house are in for a nice treat:


A lot of full-size Halloween candy.

Happy Halloween, everyone! You might also enjoy seeing some of my other Halloween costumes.

Grow a moustache and fight cancer!

For my next 30 day challenge, I’ll be growing a mustache to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues, and specifically prostate cancer research. Men of search and SEO, please join our team. You can raise awareness, or raise cash. And it’s super simple: just don’t shave your moustache for 30 days. The name of the event is Movember and it should be a blast. Here’s my profile page, for example.

To keep myself honest, here I am, clean-shaven, with a today’s issue of USA TODAY on November 1st:

Matt Cutts, clean shaven on Nov. 1st

By the way: Kim Kardashian is getting divorced‽! I really thought they had a love for the ages.

This is going to be an extra-fun 30 day challenge because I’m joining up with Duane Forrester of Bing and we’re both raising money for the cause. I have to warn Duane though: he might not realize how fast my moustache grows. For example, here I am just an hour after I shaved clean:

Matt Cutts, just an hour later!

That’s right Duane, I can grow a moustache in an hour, so look out! 🙂 By the way, thanks to Mike Halvorsen for asking a timely question about Movember during our recent live Q&A on YouTube.

This should be quite a fun month:
– If you’re a woman (or a man who can’t or won’t grow a moustache), you can still help out the cause by donating to our team.
– Men, I hope you will grow a moustache this month. A great cause like Movember only comes around once a year–why not join us? All you have to do is not shave. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
– The Twitter tag is #seostache if you want to root us on. I hope to see some serious stache from fellow people of search!

Halloween costume: stickman from xkcd

For Halloween this year I asked people on Google+ what I should be for Halloween, and someone suggested going as the blackhat stick man from xkcd. You know, this guy:

Black hat stick man from xkcd

That sounded like a good challenge. I finished the costume and taped a video, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to get the video to the quality level that I wanted. Here’s the video:

A couple quick things: 1) I know the video is cheesy and lo-fi, but that’s what I was going for. 2) With a little more time and more work on the video (e.g. better lighting, turning off automatic brightness on the video camera, a little more time spent on the greenscreen key) I think it could have been pretty great. But sometimes you run out of time, and October was a busy month. 🙂

Maybe I’ll write a bit more about the costume and the video later. Happy Halloween everyone!

Halloween Pumpkin: Portal Turret!

I made a Portal turret for my Halloween pumpkin! I was trying to think of things to carve: vampire Android? R2-D2? Zoidberg? Then I thought: I could do a character from Portal 2! I was going to carve something like GLaDOS or Wheatley, but then I realized that a portal turret would be perfect:

To make the glowing red eye, I punched a small hole in the pumpkin, taped an LED to a battery, and pushed the LED from the center of the pumpkin through the small hole. I thought about doing an actual red laser, but 1) I don’t want to blind any kids walking by my pumpkin, and 2) laser beams aren’t visible unless there’s fog or smoke or something for the beam to hit.

To make the side “gun” sections of the pumpkin, I had a small dowel rod lying around, so I just cut two small stakes from the dowel rod and jammed them into the pumpkin sides. It’s a bit rickety, but it works. For the video, I played some turret sound effects and moved my red laser over the pumpkin as if another turret was locking onto it.

I didn’t want to take long to carve my pumpkin. I finished it in maybe an hour, but check out this really elaborate pumpkin that someone else did. And it turns out that they work at Google too!

I like how my pumpkin came out overall:

Portal 2 turret pumpkin for Halloween!

Happy Halloween, and I hope you’re getting creative with your pumpkin carving!

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