Getting Ready for the 2010 Birkebeiner

I’ve decided to do the 2010 American Birkebeiner (skate course) despite the fact that I live in Brooklyn and I haven’t done any serious cross-country skiing in eight years. It will be a fun challenge and I got some of my more athletically-inclined family members to join me. I’m really looking forward to spending the weekend skiing with them.

The race is on February 27th, 2010, in Cable, Wisconsin. It is 50 kilometers (31 miles), with a total elevation gain of 1,398 meters. The average low temperature in Cable, Wisconsin, on February 27th is +13F and the average high temperature is +34F. The record high is +42F and the record low is -20F. Last year the low temperature on that day was -16F, with a high of +8F.

The race has an interesting history:

“It started in 1206. Birkebeiner skiers, so called for their protective birch bark leggings, skied through the treacherous mountains and rugged forests of Norway’s Osterdalen valley during the winter of 1206, smuggling the son of King Sverresson and Inga of Vartieg to safety. The flight taken during the Norwegian Civil War took the Birkebeiners and prince from Lillehammer to safety in the town of Trondheim.”

Unlike the Norwegian version of the race, skiers in the American Birkebeiner don’t typically carry a 3.5kg bag simulating the weight of an 18-month-old baby.

I train most days in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, though sometimes I run a course through Red Hook where there is little traffic and some other nice parks. Prospect Park is beautiful and full of smiling people, I always look forward to my time there. I’ll spend 2-3 weeks before the race in Duluth, MN, so that I can actually train on skis.

64-bit Firefox Performance on Mac OS X

I used standalone talos to test a 64-bit Mac OS X build against a 32-bit build. I created the two builds using the same optimized configuration and the same mercurial revision. Since only the 32-bit build can load any of the plugins that ship with Mac OS X 10.6 I removed all plugins from the plugin search paths. This way the 32-bit build wasn’t hurt by having to deal with more plugins than the 64-bit build. The tests were done on Mac OS X 10.6.1.

Ts: 64-bit is 6.5% faster
Tp: 64-bit is 6.3% faster
Twinopen: 64-bit is 5.1% faster
Tjss: 64-bit is 8.7% faster
Tsunspider: basically a tie, 64-bit is 0.2% faster

I’m not sure what all of the factors contributing to these results are yet, but it seems Apple’s investment in optimizing the OS and developer tools for x86_64 paid off.