Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 running year in review

it's hard to believe this year has come to a close! another new year's eve has arrived and in a few hours 2008 will be history. on the running side, this year has been a veritable mixed bag of highs and lows - mostly, it seemed, on the low side. between the nasty little hematoma that knocked me out of umstead last april and the serious bout with anemia, that mysteriously crept up on me this summer, it seemed that i racked up a string of pw's at every race distance - and my first ever dnf for good measure.

but things have definitely turned around in the last couple of months. while the numbers are still on the low side, the anemia is definitely behind me. i've been off the iron supplements for almost 3 weeks - with another round of blood tests at the 2 month mark to make sure my iron level doesn't go south again. and, while it wasn't planned, the last few months of lower mileage have also served as sort of a forced rest period.

here are some of my 2008 stats:

total miles run: 2571.1

total races: 57

ultras: 12
marathons: 4
15k - 30k: 12
1m - 8m: 29

of the shorter distance races, the 10k (with 9 races) was the most popular.

of the middle distance races, the 15k and half marathon tied (with 4 each).

of the ultras, 50k's edged out the 50 milers (4 to 3).

not reflected in those stats: i volunteered at 4 races this year. one because of the new nyrr requirement for guaranteed entry, one to satisfy the vermont 100 registration requirement, and 2 because, while the anemia kept me from running them, it didn't stop me from participating.

despite the moans and groans about anemia, there are a few highs worth mentioning. for the second year in a row i won my age group in the new york ultra running grand prix series. while i did fewer ultras this year (12 versus 18) they were some of my most enjoyable races. the road trip to raleigh for umstead, the road trip to maine for pineland farms, and the road trips to massachussetts for 24 hour around the lake and stone cat were all great times.

the 24 hour around the lake ultra in wakefield followed by the drive home to run the nyc half marathon on behalf of the world lung foundation team the next morning, was one of the most intense race weekends of the year. each race was great, in and of itself. but the real high point was that the wlf team raised $40,000 for children suffering from asthma! while it wouldn't be known until the blood tests a few weeks later, i was anemic at the time.

two weeks later was the catskill mountain 100k relay - yet another running highlight of the summer. a month earlier was the waveny summer series xc relay, which i ran with katie. that was my third, and as it unfortunately turned out, last race with katie of the year. but she did run one more, our local 5k, while i was on a business trip in october. and, speaking of relays, the race year unexpectedly ended (because of the snowstorm postponements) with the trrc couples relay - which emmy and i won!

phew, as i said at the outset, a mixed bags of highs and lows - and i enjoyed every minute of it!

i can't wait to see what 2009 brings!

january 2009 race schedule

1/1 - "christmas t(h)ree miler" - rescheduled from 12/22
1/3 - norfolk pub 10 miler - rescheduled from 12/21
1/4 - boston build-up 10k (norwalk)
1/8 - thursday nights at the track (various distances)
1/10 - g.a.c. fa 50k
1/15 - boston build-up 15k (ridgefield)
1/22 - thursday nights at the track (various distances)
1/25 - manhattan half marathon
1/31 - cape cod frozen fa 50k

this, hopefully, is my january race schedule. i've already registered for the races in bold and, except for the norfolk pub 10 miler, the rest are basically race day registration.

tomorrow my traditional new year's day ride over to weston for the resolution run will end a few miles short of weston, in new canaan, for the rescheduled 3 miler. this week also includes another rescheduled race, the norfolk pub 10 miler. it displaces the mhrrc fa 50k that i had planned on before the 12/21 race was postponed because of the snowstorm (that switched the ted corbitt 15k over to a fun run). the next day is the first boston build-up race (10k in norwalk).

back on the schedule after a couple of years absence, thursday nights at the races (at the armory track). i'm looking forward to these because it's been at least 2 years since i ran a track event! and, on the topic of nyrr races, will also line up for the manhattan half later in the month.

there are two fa 50k's (both in massachusetts, coincidentally) on the schedule. these, hopefully, will be long training runs as i build up the mileage base for a return to umstead in april. and, speaking of umstead, i finally reset the race countdown clock for that event.

while the february races aren't firmed up yet (but may do the empire state building run-up), will probably line up for caumsett park 50k, celebrate life half marathon, and the wurtsboro mountain 30k races in march. way out there, in may, i am also looking forward to the biennial pioneer memorial 100 mile trek over memorial day weekend!

update: wow, not even 24 hours old and the first race on this schedule was scrubbed! the artic blast that arrived new year's eve turned the christmas t(h)ree miler into a fun run. i didn't risk the treacherous drive over icy roads to new canaan, so had to settle for a frozen 6.5 mile training run instead :(

update: ran the fred lebow classic 5 miler instead of a fa 50k on 1/10.

final update: looks as if this schedule was more wishful thinking than actual racing! between weather and personal obligations, didn't do any of the fa 50k's or get to the track races at the armory! since i'm teaching a class on thursday nights this semester, unlikely i'll get to any of the february track races either. and, weather forced the postponement of the boston build-up 15k so that it conflicted with the manhattan half!

so, altogether, i did 4 races in january: a five miler, a 15k, a ten miler, and a half marathon. hopefully, the february schedule will work out better :D

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

james taylor is elvis costello's guest on sundance channel's "spectacle"

elvis costello's foray into the world of talk shows, "spectacle," debuted this season on the sundance channel. the fourth hour-long instalment of the series aired on christmas eve, and was spent with james taylor. it was an incredible program, and included not only the expected q & a with, and songs from, taylor himself, but the show opened with costello covering taylor's "bartender blues," and costello join taylor for a couple of duets! the show itself was filmed last september, here in nyc at the appollo theatre.

elvis costello (w/laura cantrell) performs "bartender blues"

as an on and off again fan of elvis costello since i first saw him in concert in 1979 (with the "attractions"), seeing him perform in this intimate context was awesome. while pat is the resident james taylor fan in our household (having seen not only james in concert this year, but his sister kate and brother livingston, as well), i also enjoyed watching the normally shy and reticent taylor not only perform, but talk.

it was fascinating to listen to taylor get metaphysical with his discussion of "words" - their symbolism in particular. it was just plain great to hear his acappella (along w/the back-up singers) version of "the lonesome road" and learn that he sang it at john belushi's graveside! it was also interesting to see the paternal taylor emerge in the discussion of his son ben following him into the music business. it's got a "wild side" he said and went on to mention the tragedies of jimi hendrix, janis joplin, and his luck in escaping similar disaster!

jame taylor introduces and performs, "sweet baby james"

as an aside, this was my third rock-related program over the christmas break (neil young's "heart of gold" and the huge tom petty documentary, "runin' down a dream"). between football games and those great shows, it's been tough to find the time to watch the johnny cash "at folsom prison" concert dvd - my actual christmas present!

update: tonight (12/31) the sundance channel will air the first four episodes, starting at 5 p.m., as the lead in to the newest one (w/tony bennett) at 9 p.m. - the james taylor interview is on at 8 o'clock.

Monday, December 29, 2008

jets fire mangini in wake of season collapse!

in the wake of yesterday's 24-17 loss to miami, which capped off an embarrassing late season collapse, the ny jets fired the head coach, eric mangini, this morning. in a swift and unusual move, the team held a 10 a.m. press conference with the team owner, woody johnson, to make the announcement. it's way too soon to speculate on his successor.

from a mid-season high water mark where the jets beat the previously undefeated titans (and new england for good measure), with an 8-3 record, they then lost the last 4 out of five games and found themselves out of the post-season. amazingly, the jets 9-7 record is a dramatic improvement over their 4-12 performance in 2007! under different circumstance, mangini could have been talking about a contract extension!

it wasn't too long ago that an 8-8 tom coughlin in 2006 got a one year contract extension from the giants. that was in the face of wholesale fan sentiment not only against an extension, but for his outright firing! in hindsight, the extension paid off beautifully since the giants proceeded to win the superbowl in 2007! that was a storybook turnaround in the fortunes of coach coughlin (and, of course, the giants).

but the mangini story had a dramatically different conclusion. how else could it end when, however premature, all the talk was that the 8-3 jets would go all the way to the superbowl. with such overblown expectations and such ridiculously poor team play over the last 5 games (and they lucked out against buffalo, otherwise it would have been 0-5 instead of 1-4), the jets didn't even get a wild card slot - much less a division title (which they sat atop)!

the talk, speculation, recrimination, and prognostication has gotten underway. the chatter will be even hotter if chad pennington takes miami to more wins in the post-season! gotta love karma - even when it's a bitch. mangini unceremoniously jettisoned pennington in favor of favre, and now the wheel has turned and the consequences played out.

update: brett favre announced his retirment (2/11/09), thus giving the jets a completely fresh start to the 2009 season.

minnesota beats back-up giants in last game of season, 20-19, with field goal in final seconds!

in what seemed like an exhibition game, minnesota beat the second string giants team with a 50 yard field goal in the final seconds of the game. the vikings, now nfc north champs, move on to the wild card round this weekend. the giants secured a first round bye and home field advantage last weekend. they return to giants stadium for the division playoff to face the winner of the arizona-atlanta wildcard game next weekend.

getting back to yesterday's game against minnesota, coach coughlin took manning out after the first half. back-up quarterback david quarterback took the field for the second half and acquitted himself well. he connected with domenick hixon for a 23 yard touchdown pass that gave the giants a lead for the first time in the game, 16-10. overall he went 8 for 11 and passed for 110 yards - not bad for a back-up quarterback!

but the bigger news was derrick ward's 77 yards rushing (on 15 carries). that yardage gave him 1,025 for the season (on 182 carries), his first 1000+ season. together with brandon jacobs (coughlin rested yesterday), became only the 4th running back tandem in nfl history to surpass the century mark. congrats ward (whose photo is at the top of this post)!!

in what may hopefully be cosmic karma, a real rematch of between the vikings and giants could take place at the conference championship on january 18. that would be sweet (as long as the giants won it - ha)!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a pair of 10 mile training runs this weekend

this was the second weekend in a row that weather altered my racing plans. last week the snowstorm kept me from 2 races. one of them was rescheduled for this weekend, only to be postponed until new year's day. so instead of racing, i went out for a pair of training runs. the 10 milers were on a tough, gnarly loop of hills. it's probably the toughest 10 mile stretch of roads i've managed to string together for training purposes.

on saturday, with the temperature in the high 30's and snow stubbornly clinging to the stretch between mile 2.5 and 4, i managed a 1:20 (8:01 pace). compared to the 1:25:32 (8:33 pace) i slogged through last saturday (as penance for skipping the ted corbitt 15k which had been switched to a fun run because of the snowstorm), it was a decent improvement.

saturday (12/27):

7:50 15:48
8:22 24:10
8:12 32:22
7:51 40:13
7:59 48:12
8:07 56:19
8:16 1:04:35
8:06 1:12:41
7:29 1:20:10

8:01 pace

however, i was sure that effort would be improved in better conditions. i normally test my race fitness on that course. when i can consistently run it under 1:15 (7:30 pace), i consider myself marathon ready. on sunday, after briefly toying with the idea of heading to stamford for a 5k (but quashed that thought when i saw that race day registration was $25), i decided to run the 10 miler again. that it was almost 20 degrees warmer certainly helped.

sunday (12/28):

7:35 15:40
7:39 23:19
7:30 30:49
7:17 38:06
7:32 45:38
7:43 53:21
7:59 1:01:20
7:33 1:08:53
7:14 1:16:07

7:37 pace

this time around i improved my finish by 4 minutes. while i don't consider this a race ready time, i was incredibly satisfied with the performance. the snow that slowed me down by at least a minute on saturday had melted away. that easily accounted for a minute+ improvement. i also wore shorts for the first time in weeks, which was another boost (albeit probably just a mental one).

now, with running out of the way, can focus my attention on football this afternoon. and replenish those burnt calories with a few craft beers :D

Saturday, December 27, 2008

ipod lovers rejoice - usatf headphone ban at races is dead (well almost)!

the usatf has given music lovers a fantastic christmas present. at the annual meeting held earlier this month in reno, the highly controversial rule 144.3 that banned headphone use during races was amended to permit such use (at the discretion of the race director, in non-championship events). here is the effective language:

"(f) The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices."

one important caveat, this rule change does not apply to devices "capable of receiving communications" - which, presumably is directed at cell phone use during a race. that language, however, also covers an old fashioned walk-man - how's that for a blast from the past - and, more specifically, any music device equipped with a tuner to recieve radio signals.

another important point, while the usatf rule now doesn't bar the use of headphones (i.e. music) during the race, the actual permission for such use resides within the discretion of the race director. there may be non-championship races out there where a race director will continue to prohibit headphone use during the race.

while i rarely use an ipod during races, i want that choice to be mine. i'm glad some degree of sanity has been restored.

christmas t(h)ree miler postponed - again!

last weekend the christmas t(h)ree miler was postponed because of the first snowstorm of the season. this weekend looks like the race has been postponed until new year's day - because of rain?

here is the email sent out last night from clubct:

"The trails at Waveny Park are currently slick sheets of ice. Add in potential rain tomorrow and running conditions will be downright treacherous. So, unfortunately, the Christmas T(h)ree Miler has been postponed once again, this time until New Year's Day - it will be a substitute for the Weston Resolution Run 5K, which is not being held this year.Hopefully the third time will be a charm. We apologize for the inconvenience."

today's 3 miler would have been my last race for 2008. now it seems this "christmas" race, instead of the wilton resolution run i traditionally run, will be the first one of 2009!

update: on new year's day, the arctic weather (and snow) resulted in a switch to an unscored fun run :(

Friday, December 26, 2008

the lives of others ("das leben der anderen") movie review

i got a heads up to check out "the lives of others" from richard a few weeks ago. when i read the description and found out that the film was set in berlin, 1984, i didn't need to to read further. in the summer of 1984 i spent just over a week in berlin and came to love the city. i would have gotten hold of this film just for a quick trip down memory lane to catch a glimpse of the city. that there was an excellent story included was a bonus (and "the lives of others" did win the oscar for best foreign language film in 2006)!

when i learned that the main plot element focused on wiretapping, i immediately suspected this would be a derivative version of gene hackman in "the conversation." there is, in fact, a superficial (imo) resemblance between muhe (captain wiesler) and hackman. there is, also, more than a passing similarity in these two films. both center on the eavesdropper and his slow and steady involvement in the lives of those he spies upon. the result in both films is that the "spy" inserts himself in the action to "save" those who he spied on.

while the plot of "the lives of others" is interesting, this is another film that captured my interest primarily with the atmospherics of place. the grey, bleak backdrop of east berlin. the sheer physical ugliness of the political apparatchik that put into effect the eavesdropping on the playwright and his girlfriend (for personal - not state -reasons) is frightening. he could easily step into the role of an east european mobster without change in make-up, dialogue, or character. creepy is the mildest description. the gangster-like behavior of the east german leaders is hard to miss.

the notion of government surveillance for state security is, however, subverted because the subject is not suspected of anti-government behavior (albeit that premise is itself ironic, since the playwright does engage in "proscribed" activities). the purpose of the wiretapping is the get something, anything, on the subject that can be used to separate him - physically - from his girlfriend. then political boss can force his will upon ("seduce") her. it's a breathtakingly brazen plan. even more so when his seduction is a barely disguised threat of social excommunication. that the stasi can be throw, full-time, into this disgraceful task on the flimsiest of pretext is the truly frightening aspect of this film.

it's weisler's realization of the pretext, and his role in furthering the personal (not state) nature of this surveillance is what that ultimately turns him against the "state." strangely, i found the interpersonal drama of the love "triangle" of little (or, no) interest. the more interesting parts - such as the opening sequence where captain wiesler interrogates a suspect and snippets of that interrogation are inter cut in his classroom lecture - are almost missed as throwaways. the opening sequence, and the role played by the chair seat, for example, reappears - not once, but twice, at the end of the film. that particular leitmotif was spot on! the film itself was incredibly well constructed.

while the there is a redemption aspect that "wraps" up the film, story still left a dank taste. at the conclusion (the ending of which i won't spoil here), i changed my mind, ever so slightly, about the hackman "conversation" parallel. instead, "the lives of others" unintentionally reminded me of michael caine role as the reluctant british "spy" in the film version of len deighton's "the ipcress file!" oh, the dubious characters, the moral ambivalence, and the "dirty work" required to protect the state from trouble!

if you like quasi-political thrillers, rent this film. in fact, both of the other two films, "the conversation" and the "ipcress file" are also worth checking out!

christmas presents: books and music

i got some great books and music under - my favorite things - the tree this year! a couple of the books and cds were expected since they were on my "list." i'll get to add a few more books and cds via gift certificates and exchanges.

i also got some johnny cash (a first for me), and the new all-american rejects cd (as an early christmas present).

thankfully, i didn't get any running presents (have way too much running stuff). but, the coolest running-related thing i got was when my mom repaired the huge tear in my asics jacket on christmas eve - and added the patch to cover the stitches!

hope everyone had as great a holiday!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

merry christmas!

merry christmas everyone! it's christmas morning here at the rundangerously household! time to open some presents :D

our tree, christmas morning.

katie and peter, christmas afternoon :D

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

iditarod trail without dogs: ny times story

today's new york times ran an interesting story in the sports pages, "sports meet survival: an iditarod without the dogs." instead of focusing my attention on how the giants should approach the last game of the season this weekend (play hard or rest?), this unexpected article got my head back into ultra mode - well, at least until tonight's annual christmas eve seafood dinner :D

the article focused the "alternative" race, the "iditarod trail invitational" instead of the more famous "iditarod trail dog sled race" that most people think of when "the iditarod" is mentioned. the alternative race, set for march 1, 2009, covers the same 1,100 miles as the more famous dog sled version (held the following week), but the competitors cover the very same trail, albeit without dogs (i.e., via skis, bike, foot). a shorter, 350 mile, version, is run simultaneously.

the race organizers hold a five day "training" camp that, for $750, "promise[s] five days of survival training designed to toughen the qualified and to break the rest." four racers (of the 7 registered for the full distance) arrived for the early december "camp." of that enterprising group, only 2 survived the "training." the two who didn't, a husband-wife team, headed back home on day three because the wife "lost consciousness in her sleeping bag!" scary!

in the "it's a small world catagory," b.u.s. member and local (westchester) ultra runner alicja barahona set the women's record (7 days, 16 hours) for the 350 mile distance in 2005! that lasted until 2008, when it was broken (7 days, 14 hours, 40 minutes) by another east coaster, loreen hewitt, from pennsylvania.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"saint ralph" movie review

"saint ralph" was my second fictional running/marathon movie of 2008 (the first was "run fatboy run" with simon pegg last spring). it arrived via netflix, just in time for the first snowstorm of the season. no races - but a running movie to compensate. saint ralph, set in the early 50's canada, is about a boy's efforts to miraculously win the boston marathon. his is not a bid for running glory, but rather a poignant attempt at a real life miracle that he hopes will bring his mother out of a coma.

despite the seriously preposterous premise, the film delivers some fine entertainment. saint ralph is basically a boy-coming-of-age movie with a running motif. ralph's father died during the war, his mother just slipped into a coma, and he is in constant trouble at the catholic school he attends. as punishment imposed upon him (for, of all things, masturbation) the overbearing headmaster (excuse the irresistible naughty pun) sentences him to run on the cross country team (to, obviously, burn off all that extra energy that drove him to distraction).

while that sequence may seem plausible, lucking out with former 1936 olympic marathoner as the cross country coach seems a stretch. even sketchier is how his off-hand remark that it would be a miracle if anyone on the team won the boston marathon precipitated ralph's quixotic quest to win the race. the miracle requirement came from a nurse looking after his mother. she told ralph only a miracle would bring her mother out of the coma. hence, we get ralph's belief that the miracle of his victory at boston would save his mother.

from there, ralph improbably works up the training ladder - to the point he actually wins some local races. the cross country coach becomes his mentor (and protector). the brakes are applied when the headmaster decreed that to seek to win the marathon under those circumstances would be a sacrilege. he prohibits ralph from going (and the coach from assisting), under threat of expulsion. with obstacle in place, ralph goes to boston.

i'll leave the race outcome to your viewing pleasure. beyond the thumbnail description of the marathon aspect, the film is about much more than running (i.e., ralph's budding romance, his relationship with friends, and his acceptance by erstwhile detractors). the story predates my own parochial school days in brooklyn by almost two decades, yet the atmospherics were a trip down memory lane. and, while not analogous, today's marathoners also strive for boston (most not to win it, just to run it).

it's a great film to watch over the holiday season!

Monday, December 22, 2008

giants defeat panthers in overtime, 34-28: secure first round bye and home field advantage for playoffs!

the giants beat the panthers in an overtime stunner last night! they secured a first round bye and home field advantage for the playoffs as a result! the giants came back from a 21-10 first half deficit to tie the score 28-28 with 3:11 left on the 4th quarter clock! they accomplished it a completed pass for the 2 point conversion! still, after all the hard work, the panthers missed winning the game, with 9 seconds left, because of a missed 50 yard field goal! the kick had the distance, but wind shear blew the ball off course - and sent the game into overtime!

the giants didn't do anything with the first overtime possession, but neither did carolina. on their second possession, starting on the 13 yard line (after a muffed catch), they put together an intense 83 yard scoring drive - dominated by derrick ward! his 51 yard gain on 3rd and 7 from the 33 yard line got the giants in field goal range. not satisfied with a mere chance to win by 3, they pushed on for the 6 points. ward followed up with yet another great rush, 17 yards, and had the giants on the 2 yard line.

nothing summed up the game as much as brandon jacobs' surge into the end zone for the final 2 yards. stopped, second effort, stopped, third effort - and finally in for the score! an amazing 2 yard "run" capping off all the ground chewed up by ward to get them there! it was an amazing come from behind victory for the giants, in a game that carolina had dominated from the 1st quarter (the only time the giants held a lead). the victory actually erased what was an otherwise impressive game by carolina! their running back, deangelo williams, scored 4 touchdowns and rushed for 108 yards!

but that just wasn't enough. hopefully, the old boys in blue are back for good (after sleepwalking through the last two weeks - and backing into the nfc east championship). no more plaxico burress soap opera distractons - just basic hard edged football! next week's game won't impact the standings either way. now it's time for the giants to start looking ahead to the playoffs.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

sam adams cranberry lambic and cheesecake

yesterday i rewarded myself for slogging thru 10 miles of snowy mush with a sam adams cranberry lambic and a huge slice of cheesecake. not the most intuitive combination of calories, probably an acquired taste, actually. but i guess it's not too different from dessert wines and after dinner sweets. needless to say, that combination packed a lot of calories!

the cranberry lambic was part of a sam adams winter classics 12 pack that i picked up at stew leonards last week. it's not a true lambic, but rather an american style fruit beer. i had a true lambic, a lindemans framboise (raspberry), a couple of months ago. regardless, the sam adams cranberry was great. i like fruit beers generally, and wheat beers specifically (allagash white jumps to mind), so it was a great treat.

the cheesecake was another decadent treat. it was actually the last slice from the cheesecake i won at the post-race raffle at last weekend's trrc couples relay. since i only ran 6 miles today, i'm lucky there's no more of that calorie rich dessert left. now i'll just have to make do with a slice of pie : D

happy winter solstice!

today is the winters solstice! winter arrived a couple of days early, in fact, with a snow storm - decidedly unwelcome (imo) - on friday. a second less severe snow storm is upon us - albeit just flurries right now, before the sticky stuff arrives later today.

i'm not fond of winter, my least favorite season. but the winter solstice is definitely welcome, if only because it brings to an end the long stretch of shortened days. now, minute by minute daylight hours will start getting longer! strange consolation in the face of increasing cold temperatures and nastier weather conditions!

the nasty weather has postponed today's christmas t(h)ree miler until next week. phew, can't imagine driving over to new canaan in this mess. but running the 3 miler on snow covered trails might have been fun :D friday's snow storm resulted in a switch to a fun run for the ted corbitt 15k in central park.

i made up those missed miles with a long, meandering 10 miler here in my neighborhood. it consistent of a series of 2 mile loops/out and backs, until i reached my limit of running on slush, frozen snow, packed snow, loose snow, black ice and that rare stretch of just plain road at ten miles. i rewarded myself with beer and cheesecake!

same problem today, getting in those foregone race miles will be another mental battle. the road conditions are fine on the major roads, but lousy everywhere else - side streets and sidewalks. definitely a weekend to stay warm and dry inside (ah, but all that last minute shopping for the holidays)!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

first snow "storm" of the season

our first snow arrived yesterday, a couple of days shy of the formal start of winter. it wasn't a big one relative to what we normally see up here in westchester, but messy enough to disrupt a lot of routines. i did get an interesting 6.3 mile run in the early afternoon. i started out with less than an inch on the ground and finished in almost white out conditions as the pace of the storm picked up significantly.

my afternoon grading papers was interrupted numerous times as i went out to shovel the walk and driveway. an almost sisyphean exercise since i hardly had my jacket and gloves off before the snow again covered the walk and driveway. but i just filed it away under cross training . the real drag was this morning, in the wake of the storm.

i bagged the trip into the city for the ted corbitt 15k. i had planned on the metronorth, but the prospect of shoveling snow (final time) and digging out our cars (necessary evil) preceding the trip quickly soured me on the idea. the major streets were fine, but the side streets were still covered in snow and ice. even if i walked to the station, it would have been a messy hike.

now i need to figure out how to replace the 9 miles....

and, hope that part two of this storm that arrives tonight doesn't result in the cancellation of tomorrow's 3 miler!

update: i did run a very wet and sloppy 10 miles to make up for skipping the 15k. it was five 2 mile loops/out and backs in my neighborhood, tacked end to end. not much fun - but did cheer myself with a huge piece of cheese cake and sam adams cranberry lambic beer once i got back home. an interest change of pace in post-run refueling ;D

also, hot off the press, storm number two, arrived just in time for the winter solstice, has led to the postponement of the christmas t(h)ree miler until next saturday. wise choice given the slippery driving conditions. but now i have the same problem, a day later, how to make up those foregone race miles....

Friday, December 19, 2008

two races, a dozen miles this holiday weekend?

a new (or revived) race finds itself on the race calendar this weekend, the christmas t(h)ree miler. it was initially set for roads of darien, but now finds itself of the trails of waveny park in new canaan on sunday. instead of taking care of last minute christmas shopping, i'll be at a christmas themed race! how appropriate! but the weather grinch may be there too.

as we brace for the messy snow storm about to hit nyc and environs today, the ted corbitt 15k in central park tomorrow may be effected. if the road conditions are bad enough in the wake of the storm, the race may be switched to a fun run (so check nyrr site before heading in). i'm inclined to run either way - how else would i get in 9 miles if the conditions are that poor outside? funny, that sounds like the rationale rob and i had for doing the pete mcardle 15k in the rain last month - ha.

even so, saturday is the forecasted recovery (from the weather) day. another storm is expected to arrive on sunday. will it get here early enough to impact the 3 miler? will it be messy and last long enough to impact the giants-panthers game (unexpectedly moved to prime time) that night in the meadowlands? more wait and see. maybe i should take care of that last minute christmas shopping - online ;D

update: well, as feared, i bagged the trip into the city for the ted corbitt 15k because of the snowstorm.

update number two: snowstorm number two's well-timed arrival on the winter solstice, has led to postponement of the christmas t(h)ree miler until next saturday (12/27).

final update (hopefully): the christmas t(h)ree miler has been postponed a second time, until new year's day. it will take the place of the wilton resolution run!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

village voice cover story: "will run for food"

this is the cover that stared out of the free newspaper boxes littering the streets of nyc. the village voice devoted its lead story, "will run for food," to runners racing for survival ("food" in its most basic, non-culinary, sense). the subtitle it pretty smarmy, "Based in the Bronx, some of the most successful athletes you've never heard of live to run away with your club money."

as i read it, the implication is that the prize money had already been spoken for - and it wasn't put out there for the fastest runner (wherever he or she may actually hail from), but the parochial interests of the race organizers. even smarmier, the article goes on to imply they'd just as soon collect the age group awards as well (though biting into one, aside from less than ideal nutritional make-up, could generate some unwanted dental bills), denying them the local runners who really earned them (by, what else, birthright).

writing of last august's nyrr team championship race, won by kenyan evance rotich, it plays up the "ringer" aspect because he wasn't actually a member of the west side runners (the team for whom he raced). "It may have been only a club meet in Central Park, but your garden-variety Manhattan health nut who runs on the weekends wasn't getting anywhere near any of the medals. And as Rotich quietly pulled on a dark sweatsuit to leave the park, a controversy was brewing."

while the author is clearly trying to foment resentment at the importation of "ringers," bypass that ugly tone and read on. the article provides amazing insight into the world of these elite runners who scramble to survive. while they're blessed with speed, most of of them live in near poverty conditions. as a former wtc member, and friend of coach mike, i enjoyed reading about his role in helping these runners get a foothold in the united states.

these runners have it tough enough with the struggle to get by in life - to then imply that they take "something" away from local runners because they win races is downright shameful.

update: check out abiyot endale's response to the doctored cover photo posted at the westchester track club site.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

jimmy buffett "a pirate looks at fifty" book review

jimmy buffett's "a pirate looks at fifty," is more than 10 years old and buffet has now eased into his 60's. it's a long book, coming in at 420 pages. but even if it had a 100 fewer pages, it would still be a long book. don't get the wrong impression, i did enjoy the book. but, anyone venturing to read it, ought set aside a good chunk of time. it took me 3 weeks of commuting time (rides to and from the city on the metronorth) to get through, and i finished last night while i proctored the final exam for my grad students.

"pirate looks at fifty" is really two books, an autobiography and a travelogue. the autobiography is awesome. i found buffett's recounting of his childhood in the south, how he learned to play guitar (and become a musician), his hardscrabble days at college(s), and the early days of his career riveting stuff. the travel stories, on the other hand, were pedestrian. one story about the fish that got away is fine - but a dozen of them - too much. pages of what he carries in his flight bag? way too much.

but fishing and flying are this guy's passions (outside of family), so it's easy to forgive the non-existent editing when he lashed together the bits, pieces, and minutia of the three week trip he and his family took across central and south america (plus the caribbean) to celebrate his 50th birthday - christmas, 1996. he loves to sail, loves to fly, and loves the combination so much that he even owns a seaplane (in addition to a garden-variety jet). buffet taught himself celestial navigation on the off-chance that modern electronic wonders (and gps especially) failed him mid-voyage!

while i don't consider myself a parrot head (being a dead head is work enough), i do enjoy buffett's music. he's a great entertainer, and that skill carried over to his story telling. buffett has a breezy and, at times, self-deprecating writing style that keeps the reader interested. what else accounts for me getting through all those "damn the fish got away again" stories. maybe because i loved to fish so much as a kid growing up in sheepshead bay.

the book is (seriously) too long - and he did fess up to that at the outset, "i don't know when to stop telling the story!" it's ironic, however, that he related the genesis of this book as a trade-off to not having another work of fiction in him at the time: "i wasn't able to take on the task of a big book. i didn't know what i was going to write about, if anything at all." he did wind up writing a big (and enjoyable) book after all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

peter falk ("columbo") has alzheimer's disease

some really sad news has just been reported by the associated press. peter falk's daughter has filed a petition in los angeles county superior court seeking guardianship over her 81 year old father because he has alzheimer's disease.

it's a tragic development for the actor who played columbo, perhaps (imo) the greatest t.v. detective of all time. peter falk won 4 emmy awards for his portrayal of the seemingly clueless detective.

"just one more thing..." our prayers go out to peter falk and his family.

update: the associated press has reported that peter falk's wife has filed paper in opposition to the daughter's petition for guardianship. a hearing is scheduled for next month (february).

final update: in june, 2009, the court appointed peter falk's wife, shera, as his legal guardian.

book review: peter falk, "just one more thing: stories from my life"

taconic road runners couples relay: race report

emmy had no problem convincing me to run this race because of the awesome post-relay pancake breakfast at the lodge. we did the trrc couples relay in 2006 (while i was still a member of wtc, in fact), and finished in 3rd place. i didn't have a particular finish goal in mind, nor did i have any desire to run the race all out. the 2.5 mile trail is very rocky and hilly (probably closer to 2.4 miles). it was all about having some fun and doing a little socializing!

in a turnaround from the holiday 4 miler the day before, i wasn't cold at all. emmy, on the other hand, was cold enough to run the race in her windbreaker! just as i couldn't get myself to take off my sweatshirt for the 4 miler, emmy kept her windbreaker on the relay! i wore my sturdier trail shoes, the new balance 908's, instead of the lightweight 840's. i went with the heavier pair because of the extremely rocky trail.

we did an easy warm up that covered the first mile or so of the trail. i wanted to scope out the two big climbs in that mile and get a sense of the trail conditions. while it had warmed up, the first climb had large patches of ice mixed into the rocks. the women start the race, complete an almost figure 8 type course, and then the men do the same. in the field was my former wtc teammates, judy (who had just won a local turkey trot last month) and her husband, wayne.

when the women descended the first hill, emmy was in second place and judy in third. on the way back, emmy was in a neck and neck tie for first place and judy was just behind them. windbreaker and all, emmy was the first woman finisher in 14:22! she spotted me a solid 15-20 lead over the second place team. my plan to take it easy quickly evaporated when i realized squandering such a great lead wouldn't be cool. so i got my head into race mode.

knowing that the first climb was a quarter mile down the road, i eased into the initial stretch. that decision let the second place team catch up me at the trail head. but despite that momentary reversal of fortune i wasn't too worried - there were two climbs in front of us, and then retracing this hill, from the reverse direction. plenty of time to race.

as we came off the first hill, the women had traded places with the men and cheered us on. midway up the second hill i moved back into first and held on to it from there. just before i finished the first trail loop, however, i caught up to a husband-wife team. she had gotten injured on the trail and he was getting her back to the lodge. i slowed down and asked if they needed any help. she was okay, they said, so i continued on my way.

i finished my leg in 13:49 (which, coincidentally, equalled the 13:50 i ran in 2006). i was more than surprised, shocked actually, that we had won the race! then we cheered on the other runners on the course. after wayne finished, judy and emmy went back out on the trail to run a little more. after the injured runner and her husband arrived, he finished her leg of the relay, and his own! when everyone was done, we went to the lodge for the post-race festivities.

prior to the start, i had some pistachio nuts and bacon - not a typical pre-race diet! back at the lodge i continued with the pistachio nuts until the pancakes were ready. breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and pistachio nuts got kicked up a notch with some great beer too! we got to try a brand new beer from the captain lawrence brewery - expresso stout. gary, who not only ran the race, works at the brewery and had a growler of the new beer in his car. it was awesome stuff!

this wasn't the first time gary brought a bit of captain lawrence to trrc race. last winter he poured some at the st. patricks day races! but, not a man limited to great beer, gary also made the incredible cheesecake that was raffled off after the awards ceremony. in what can only be an example of lightening striking twice (in one morning), i won the raffle!

here are some relay photos.

next up: the ted corbitt 15k in central park this weekend.

Monday, December 15, 2008

giants pounded by dallas, 20-8: second straight loss after plaxico sideshow

eli manning was sacked on the first play, and 7 more times during the game. a dreary night for giant fans. for the second straight week the giants offense was unable to score a touchdown. if the stats from the game last week looked bad, the stats from last night's game are a nightmare!

just one is worth mentioning: manning has been sacked for a combined total of 11 times in the 12 non-dallas games this season. in the two games against dallas, he's been sacked 12 times! so maybe it's just dallas that has his number?

while not technically a stat, the last time the giants lost 2 consecutive games was the at the start of last season, opening with an 0-2 record. while it might just seem like a couple of weeks worth of bad luck catching up with them, they certainly didn't look like defending superbowl champions on the field last night.

a victory last night would have given them a first round bye in the playoffs. two more games left to get that bye (and home field advantage as well if they win both). while they showed that those perks aren't necessary for winning the superbowl, a win (or two) will certainly dispel the gloomy, soap opera like atmosphere that's slowly creeping up on the team.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

taconic road runners couples relay: race photos and results

emmy and me - we won the relay!

what an exciting morning! emmy and i came in first place in the taconic road runners couples relay at blue mountain reservation in peekskill! we had a combined time of 28:12 over the 5 mile trail (2.5 miles per person). i'll write up a race report, but in addition to race, i won the post-race raffle and took home a cheesecake!

here is my race report.
here are some race photos:

pre-race instructions.

emmy, on the trail.

judy, on the trail.

the women, heading off on second part of the first loop.

the men, waiting for the women on the first loop.

emmy, neck and neck as they finish the first loop!

me, about to finish the first loop.

me, about to finish the race.

post-race, judy and me.

post-race, wayne and judy.

post-race: inside the lodge.

post-race: getting the food ready.

post-race: the awards.

post-race: me and emmy collecting our prizes.

gary, with his famous cheesecake! i won it in the raffle!

nyrr holiday 4 miler: race report

what a change in weather from the dreary rain-soaked thursday afternoon when i picked up race numbers, chips and shirts at the nyrr. when emmy got to my house just after 7 on saturday morning it was 27 degrees. i actually thought that was a good thing - seriously believing that by the time the holiday 4 miler went off at 8:30 the temperature would have inched above the freezing mark! wow, that turned out to be a serious miscalculation. not only had the temperature not budged from 27, but the wind were whipping around the park in the 10+ m.p.h. range (and even stronger gusts).

by the time we reached baggage check i was frozen. emmy added a layer, and i went one step further and put on my post-race sweatshirt (over the 2 long-sleeve tech shirts i had planned to wear). from there we jogged over to the transverse, over to west drive, and back to the starting corrals. this wasn't to warm-up - but to stop the shivering! i was verging on unhappy camper land - but, with the realization the was only 4 miles in the back of my head, i managed to refocus my attention to the task at hand.

i've run the holiday 4 miler a few times in the past:

2002: 26:15
2005: 26:09
2007: 28:37

while i doubted today's effort would come anywhere near 26:09, i was pretty sure (even as bundled up as i was) that i'd shave a lot of time off 2007's performance! i a 6:45 pace was good enough to get me in at 27 minutes. depending on how mile one shook out, i'd try for 6:40's - but doubted i could maintain a 6:30 pace given the conditions.

as we headed out of the baggage check, i said hi to sal (in short sleeves). but here at the corral i saw my old wtc teammate john in his signature (weather irrelevant) singlet - which made me shiver all the more! i wondered if the sweatshirt was going to keep me warm enough (i knew it would be overkill by mile 2 - but i couldn't bring myself to take it off). in a pleasant surprise, fellow blogger gojohnnygo (nyflyers) introduced himself. i look forward to socializing w/him in warmer circumstances :D

also, emmy ran into a couple of her friends - shelley (greater ny) and someone she recognized from last year's wurtsboro 30k, angela (running divas). angela was teammates with my friend and neighbor, susan (running divas). susan said hi to us before she headed further back to run the race with her two boys! then it was time to get this race started!

the first mile went by in 6:30 flat. while i was feeling pretty good, and just about warmed up, i knew i should get back to my original plan of 6:40-45's because holding this pace (especially up cat hill) wasn't realistic. so mile 2 dropped down to 6:38. again, i felt pretty good, but now cat hill was on deck, and a headwind on east drive. predictably, mile 3 was my slowest at 6:48 - my 3 mile split was just under 20 minutes (19:56). i sucked it up for the last mile and dropped it back down to 6:42, finishing in 26:38.

angela and shelley finished just ahead of me, and emmy followed just behind me. angela and shelley each took 2nd in their respective age groups. emmy won her age group! john, too, won his age group. all in all, it was a pretty good race. afterwards, emmy and i tried to catch susan and her sons as they finished, but had no luck spotting them.

next up: the ted corbitt 15k next weekend!

check out my race photos.
check out gojohnnygo's race report.

the clash "london calling" released 29 years ago: december 14, 1979

here is one of the album covers that graced the walls of my room in high school and dorm in college. back in day when album art was something big enough to view w/out a magnifying glass, i'm sure i wasn't the only one who had "london calling" double for its decorative value (among other uses).

after just seeing the joe strummer documentary, "the future is unwritten," the clash has gotten some renewed playtime on my ipod!

"london calling" was actually my second clash album - both for the music, as well as the cover art. "give em' enough rope" which i had picked up a year earlier, my formal introduction to the clash, was already up on the wall.

finally, while both "give 'em enough rope" and "london calling" had awesome album covers (and, it should go w/out saying - but i'll mention it just the same - great tunes), the my favorite clash album was (and still is) "sandinista!" - released in 1980. ironically, that album cover, as contrasted to the awesome world tinged music on the record, wasn't that interesting (i.e. cool) - and never got tacked up on my dorm room wall - ha.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

nyrr holiday 4 miler: race photos and results

just back from the holiday 4 miler in central park - it was very cold and windy. i finished in 26:38, a 6:39 pace. i was so cold at the start that at the very last minute i put my sweatshirt on over my two long-sleeve tech shirts and wore it for the entire race!

here is my short race report.

here are the official results.



runners nearing the finish, just before 102nd street.