Saturday, January 31, 2009

bernard lagat and kara goucher repeat wins at millrose games

bernard lagat tied eamonn coughlan's record at madison square garden when he won the wannamaker mile for the seventh time last night, in 3:58:44, to wrap-up the 102nd edition of the millrose games! none other than eamonn couglan himself was there to cheer him on!

"It's unbelievable, because normally you don't want someone to take your record," Lagat said. "But he wanted me to win today. That means a lot."

coughlin travelled from his home in ireland to watch lagat run the race the tied his record.

earlier that night, kara goucher, fresh from a third place finish at her debut marathon in the nyc last november, defended her title and won the nyrr womens mile in 4:33:19 for the second year in a row. if it wasn't dramatic enough that she dropped the distance from a road marathon down to a track mile, goucher will now ramp up the distance again and run the boston marathon this april!

also, check out the great post by pigtails flying on the pre-millrose meet-up with goucher and lagat at the ny running company!

Friday, January 30, 2009

the beatles last public performance, a rooftop concert at apple studios, was 40 years ago today!

it was 40 years ago today, january 30, 1969, that the beatles took to the roof of the apple studios building in london and performed live to the lunchtime crowds below. it was their first concert performance since 1966 - and would, sadly, be their last. the impromptu rooftop appearance was recorded as part to the "let it be" sessions.

while still together in name, the band members were into their own individual projects and the final break-up was just around the corner. interestingly, the beatles recorded and released the studio album, "abbey road," that summer. the "let it be" album was finally released a year after these sessions, appropriately titled it seemed, it became the "last" official beatle album.

a beatles tribute band is recreating the concert on a seattle rooftop today!

check out this youtube clip:

check out the expressions and comments of the surprised londoners in this clip:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

from the archives: 2008 gridiron classic race report

ah, what memories... the giants in a superbowl? could that really have happened, once - oh so long ago?

in the days before this blog, i posted my race reports in various places: typically, the runners world masters forum and kickrunners (coolrunning even earlier). when i looked back at this one, in anticipation of a return to the gridiron classic this weekend (both the race and, later that day, the game), i decided to repost it here.

mostly to remind me how sick i was last year at this time - so i'd stop grousing about the lousy weather and be thankful i wasn't spending time down with the flu! but, also to look back wistfully at how the giants surprised the world by winning the superbowl that night :D

NYRR Gridiron Classic, 4M
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Central Park, New York

Given the nasty bit of Influenza that dropped in on me this week and kept me home from work for 3 straight days, it hardly seemed likely that I would line up for this race. I had intended to run the 4 miler as speedwork, with a 26-27 minute target. It would have capped off my last high mileage week before I traveled to India on business. I don’t often get in much serious running when I travel, so that trip would have been a low mileage recovery week. But the best laid plans so often go awry.

After an unpleasant 4 straight days not running, I returned to the roads yesterday [saturday] with an easy 4 miler. Aside from the hacking cough, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Then I put in a few hours at my office to catch up on stuff that I couldn’t get to during the week. When I got home, I ran another 4 miles in the late afternoon. Those 8 miles, together with the 6 miles I ran on my last pre-sick day, gave me 14 miles heading into the race.

I’ve run the Gridiron Classic 4 times, three of those were back in the days when it was a 5K race. I last ran the 4 mile version [in 2006], in 25:23. Since I was still relatively weak from my bout with the flu, and now on day three taking the wonder drug Tamiflu, my 26 minute target was useless. The two 4 milers I ran yesterday were each around an 8:30 pace - so I reset my target for 30 minutes. This didn’t seem too optimistic given the short distance.

What really amazed me was the huge turnout - helped in no small part by the great weather. The race was run over a horseshoe shaped course - starting at 68th Street on East Drive, running north to the 102nd Street transverse, then south the finish of West Drive at 68th Street. Running wise, it disposes of Cat Hill in the first mile, then a nice recovery running up the East Drive to the 2 mile mark on the Transverse, followed by the rolling hills along the West Drive in Mile 3 and a nice downhill finish in the last mile.

As expected, the large field made the first mile rough going - I wasn’t pleased with the 7:59 split. Mile two was much more relaxed in 7:27, and Mile three was in 7:39, for a split of 23:06. At that point I felt pretty good and decided to push the pace and see if I could squeeze under 30 minutes. Since a good portion of that last mile was a net downhill, a sub 7 wasn’t too far a stretch. So I was pleasantly surprised by the 6:51, which got me across the finish in 29:56! Nice way to start off Superbowl Sunday.

Now, if only the Giant’s win tonight!

i wonder how that game turned out ;D

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

february 2009 race schedule

i finalized my race schedule for february and hope it comes together better than the schedule i put together for january! in january i ran no ultras, nor did i do any track races. disappointingly, there are no ultras, nor track races, on deck for february. the one marathon i had penciled in, the albany winter marathon, is now unnecessary since registration for boston closed this week. at this point, there's no urgency in trying to run a bq.

2/1 - gridiron classic, 4m
2/1 - ny ultrarunning awards brunch
2/3 - empire state building run-up
2/8 - bronx half marathon [ran boston build-up 20k instead]
2/14 - ymca sweetheart run, 4m [w/emmy]
2/15 - trrc freezer five miler
2/22 - pptc cherry tree 10 miler [hmrrc winter marathon, instead]

the month kicks off on sunday with the gridiron 4 miler. immediately afterwards, is a drive over to the new york ultrarunning awards brunch on long island to celebrate the 2008 grand prix series. then, later that day, will kick back and watch the (giants-less) superbowl :(

two days later, for something completely different, i't's the empire state building run-up. for once this season, the weather won't be a concern - ha.

that weekend, however, it's back to road racing with the bronx half marathon, race #2 in the grand prix series. this one was a tough call since it means passing up the boston build-up 20k in southport - another great race, on a great course.

the following weekend brings up the first relay of the year. emmy and i team up for another go at the ymca sweetheart run in stratford. relay aside, the race has one of the toughest 4 mile courses out there. there is only one decent hill, but mountain climbing gear is required ;)

to close out the month, it's a trip to brooklyn for the cherry tree 10 miler. if there's any reason to be happy at skipping the albany marathon, it's that i get to run this great race instead. this is easily one of the toughest 10 mile courses out there (3x the hills at the north end of the park is a great wake up call)!

altogether, 5 races (one a building run-up), none longer than a half marathon.

update: instead of the bronx half, switched to the boston build-up 20k. i also added the trrc freezer 5 miler in fdr state park.

one last change: from the cherry tree 10 miler, back to the hmrrc winter marathon!

"the u.s. vs. john lennon" documentary review

what a coincidence that, on the anniversary of lennon's recording of "instant karma," vh1 classics broadcast the documentary "the u.s. vs. john lennon" last night! the film, with all the archival footage, is an incredibe look at the u.s. government effort to deport lennon in the early 1970's. but, don't mistake the film as a broader look at john lennon's life during that same period. the film portraits lennon as a saint - without faults - and had the full backing of yoko ono.

"the u.s. versus john lennon" takes the polar opposite tack that the creepy "lennon in america: 1971-1980," book did, in covering the same period of lennon's life. that book passed up no opportunity to highlight every lennon weakness, and painted him as a captive of yoko ono (a familar lament of those who insist she broke up the beatles). the "real" flesh and blood lennon was somewhere between those extremes.

regardless of the portrait of lennon himself, the u.s. efforts to deport him were real - and were an ugly perversion of our constitutional government. the lengths to which government officials went to achieve their personal objectives was obscene. thankfully that effort failed miserably. it was karma that lennon finally received his "green" card the day his son sean was born! the film does a great job highlighting the abuses of power.

but the film itself grossly abused its licence in the final scene - where yoko implied that "they" wanted john dead. then it cuts to reports of lennon's grisly murder outside the dakota. his death was the work of an insane fan, not some government operatives. for the filmmakers to foster that cold calculated impression is really sinking to the bottom of respectability.

that ugliness aside, watch this film if you can. it is an eye opener.

for another side of john lennon, check out an exhibit of his artwork.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

manhattan half marathon: race report

it was 10 degrees when don and emmy got to my house. despite the cold - it would probably be warmer at the manhattan half in central park than the alternative, the boston build-up 15k at barlow mountain in ridgefield! even with that small consolation, i dreaded the prospect of two loops of the park in those frigid conditions. at the start, mary wittenberg contrasted the early days of the manhattan half in the dog days of late august. i may be in the minority here, but i'll take the hot humid days over the bone-chilling cold ones every time!

despite the whimpering about the cold weather, i've actually done better at the winter version. back in 2006, the first january edition of the manhattan half, i cranked out a 1:27:28 - much better than my summer best of 1:37:37, the preceding year. so i shouldn't complain too much about the cold weather. in the grand scheme of things, it's been good to me. this was my 8th manhattan half (and the one i've run the most often). but my favorite half is, and will always be, brooklyn.

on the walk over to the park we speculated on the turnout. none of us guessed 90% of the registered runners would finish! at baggage check i ran into my friend, michael (pptc). then, in our corral, i spotted emmy's friend (and competitor) sharon. she and emmy finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, separated by 13 seconds, in their age group. while emmy was primed to race, i didn't have a time goal in mind. i'd shoot for a 1:35 - but that turned out to be too ambitious.

the first couple of miles seemed promising, a nice string of 7:15, 7:16, and 7:05 (on the downhill headed into the harlem hills). emmy was in view up ahead, but after i slowed down on the climb she took off and that was the last i saw of her. on west drive i soon realized it wouldn't be an easy day because i couldn't rally back to the teens after that first climb! even more discouraging, i was passed by dozens of runners before the end of the first loop!

after the first 6 miles in 44:o2, i doubted there'd be a negative split for the second loop. still plenty of runners passing me, but i ran the second 6 in 45:10 - the slowest mile, 7:55, was on the second climb up the harlem hills. i sucked it up for the last mile, in 7:24, and finished in 1:37:43, a 7:27 pace. that was well off the 7:14 pace i needed to bring it in under 1:35. still, i was pretty happy to have just gotten it done.

the only interesting twist worth mentioning, i gulped down a cup of gatorade that turned out to be mostly ice - not once, but twice! shame on me for not paying attention to little details. the first time my mouth froze. but it must not of had too much of an impact because i did it again on the second loop. the second time i got a case of brain freeze - argh. other than that fluid business, the running itself was uneventful.

afterwards, changing into dry clothes, i got a nasty calf cramp - which probably reflected my state of dehydration. thankfully, that came after the race, or i'd have been in some serious trouble trying to get over it on the course! i also met an interesting guy, bob, and his friend, john. bob is raising money for charity (juvenile diabetes) by running 50 races this year to celebrate his 50th birthday. as we walked out of the park, we spotted nick, a fellow b.u.s. member, as he finished the race.

next up, a drop down in distance to the gridiron 4 miler this weekend.

here my splits:

7:16 14:33
7:05 21:38
7:27 29:05
7:33 36:38
7:24 44:02
7:33 51:35
7:36 59:11
7:25 1:06:36
7:55 1:14:31
7:39 1:22:10
7:25 1:29:35
7:25 1:37:00
0:43 1:37:43

7:27 pace

here are my race photos.
here is emmy's race report.
here is michael's race report.

john lennon recorded "instant karma" 39 years ago today

john lennon recorded "instant karma" in one marathon 9 hour session 39 years ago today, january 27, 1970. it was released 10 days later, one of the fastest releases in rock history. it went on to become the 1st million selling (gold) single in america released by a beatle.

it was produced by phil spector and included george harrison on guitar. "instant karma" is one of three john lennon songs inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame's list of 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

while john lennon's artwork has been exhibited lately, it was, is, and will always be about the music!!

it still shines on...

for two different takes on john lennon, check out the documentary, "the u.s. vs. john lennon" (positive) and the book, "lennon in america: 1971-1980" (negative).

Monday, January 26, 2009

joe torre burns his bridges in "the yankee years" kiss and tell

wow, i had planned to finish up and post my manhattan half marathon race report this morning, but on the train ride to work joe torre's forthcoming book, "the yankee years," was the big news (imo) on the sports pages! if reports of its snarky contents are even close to accurate, "my how the mighty have fallen" should be the book's subtitle. the book is scheduled to be released next week, february 3, but the ny post somehow, and rather conveniently, managed to purchase an advance copy from a nyc bookseller - really?!

what on earth motivated torre to write this book? given he was one of the highest paid managers in baseball during his years with the yankees - hardly the money. to document his hardscrabble life as the yankee skipper for 12 years - isn't there time for that when he retires? or, more likely reason, to settle old scores and grudges against his enemies. his co-author, tom verducci, a writer with "sports illustrated," has already come to his defense, pointing out the book was written in the third person?! what a lame grammatical attempt at a fig leaf.

from this book we learn these tidbits: that a-rod was a prima donna with the nickname a-fraud; that joe thought gm cashman had his back in the final contract negotiations but, instead, was stabbed in that back by cashman; and, even more stunning, in 1999, torre learned of his own prostate cancer not from the doctors - but from george steinbrenner. if his stories comes off as this vindictive and petty in the actual book then joe torre is nothing more than a bitter old man taking cheap shots at his past enemies.

even if everything single thing he relates is true, and he's actually sugarcoating it to protect the truly bad, how can a working manager play this sort of gotcha memoir game? working manager is key here. what will his l.a. dodger players say in the locker room. christ, how will they act around torre knowing that he might publish anything they say or do that may offend him? how will it impact the team play? the context of what he's saying is irrelevant. it's that he's decided to spill it all now that calls his judgement into question.

aside from his current team, what about us poor old yankee fans? i for one rallied to his defense when the yankee organization dismissed him with absolutely no class, no honor, whatsoever. i thought it was beautiful karma that the dodgers made the playoffs with joe - and the yankees failed to get there without him! i am no fan of a-rod, cashman, or the yankee management, but now i feel like a chump for having defended torre. torre may be repaying the people who treated him poorly, but his reputation has forever been tarnished by taking this very low road. and i bet there are a few more yankee fans who feel the way i do.

so, with that vented and out of my system, i'll leave poor old joe with these rhetorical questions: how many copies of the book do you need to sell to rehabilitate your image? and, was it all worth it? while i won't buy this book, i'll eventually borrow a copy from the library and read it. but more importantly, i just can't wait to hear what joe himself has to say about all this when he embarks on the promo tour for the book.

update: i've softened on the prospect of buying a copy of the book. joe torre will be at barnes and noble next week to kick off the book promotion tour (and include a visit to the dave letterman show as well). so i may just use up my last b&n gift certificate and get up a copy.

read excerpts from the book at the "sports illustrated" site.

check out this great ny times coverage on the third person narrative technique: "yankee book is a two-person effort, written in the third person."

update: torre, finally commenting on the news coverage : "cashman didn't betray me."
update: i skipped the book signing at barnes and noble, ordering it from amazon instead. just started to read it (february 10).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

manhattan half marathon: race photos and results

what a cold morning to line up for a race! and 4,500 other runners decided to do the same thing. the manhattan half reached it's cap of 5,000 last week, and 90% of the registered field crossed the finish - awesome.

don, emmy and i drove in together. here is the short version: finished up in 1:37:43, 7:27 pace. a small improvement from my result last year, but well off my pr for this course. emmy took second in her age group with a 1:32:20 - awesome! don came in just under 2 hours with 1:59:22.

here is my race report (with links to a couple more).

here are the official results at nyrr.

here are some race photos:


emmy and don

don and me

michael, me and don

emmy, after her 1:32:20!

emmy, me, bob, and john

race in progress...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

maria coffey: "explorers of the infinite" book review

i finished maria coffey's book, "explorers of the infinite," yesterday. it was the 4th and last of my "christmas present" books, so to speak. i've been a bit remiss in writing them up, but will try to post quick reviews of the other 3 later this week. i'd saved this one for last since it dealt with the outdoors in general and endurance athletes in specific. the subtitle, "the secret spiritual lives of extreme athletes - and what they reveal about near-death experiences, psychic communications, and touching the beyond," gave me pause, not just to catch my breath after that monstrously long string of words, but because the subject matter seemed so "out there."

maria coffey's boyfriend died on an expedition to mount everest. she herself almost drowned in the riptides off the shores of morrocco. the unusual experiences that surrounded those two events in her life lead to exploration of the spiritual and paranormal experiences reported by some seekers of the extreme - mountaineers, swimmers, ultra-runners, and cyclists. however, while she does, in fact, touch on other sports, the large bulk of the material in her book focused on mountain climbing.

there is a brief, fleeting, mention of phillipe petit, and high wire walking - to kick off the chapter on "fear." it also includes the stories of kristen ulmer an extreme free style skier and her need to take extreme risks. the chapter on suffering brings up lance armstrong and his now famous answer to the question of what "pleasure" he took from all the long hours of riding. "i didn't do it for pleasure. i did it for pain. ... in fact, if i didn't suffer, i feel cheated. (emphasis added)" this chapter also had, appropriately(?), the most extended material on ultrarunning!

but then there a return to discuss marshall ulrich's experiences at badwater (a 135 mile extreme ultramarathon) later in the book. she wrote this before he completed his run across the united state last fall. at that point in the book, however, the ulrich material is in the context of "out of body" experiences and hallucinations. that may be what happens when one reaches the extreme edge, and ventures beyond it? but, before venturing too far out of ones own body, there is the couple, who after 5 hours of walking found themselves immersed as part and parcel of a herd of porcupine caribou. "for a brief suspended moment, we moved in unison, heartbeats and footsteps mingling while we inhaled each others breaths."

the real paranormal business, interestingly, seemed to take place on mountains - and the higher the climb, the more extreme the experiences. to her great credit, she includes counterbalancing skeptics - who provide the rationale (if available) possibility to explain the unexplainable. even venturing into a discussion of quantum mechanics. phew! while i don't doubt the sincerity of the the experiences recounted - i'm definitely in the skeptic camp. enlightenment and spiritual growth is one thing, wholesale abandonment the laws of physics is quite another.

still, i found it an enjoyable read. if you're a believer in the paranormal, this book is a must. but even if your a skeptic, it's still interesting. in fact, here is an interview with maria coffey where she is asked about the book, in the context of her adventure travels business.

Friday, January 23, 2009

celebrate national pie day :D

okay, maybe celebrating national pie day with riots isn't the way to go! how about a more civilized celebration with just a slice (or two) of your favorite pie :D

true pie junkies might insist on baking one from scratch - but that's way too hardcore. still, anyone interested in a "great pie" movie (no, not that sophomoric, "american pie" one) - check out college grad felicity as she waits tables in "waitress" (and bakes out of this world pies in her spare time to stay sane in an otherwise soap opera-like life).

just keep in mind, for those health conscious souls out there going overboard with extra slices may result in a huge calorie hangover in the morning ;D

while i'm not a serious pie person (cheesecake is another story, however) - pecan tops my list of favorites. second on my list would be real pumpkin pie - i will let snobbishness slip out as i look down my nose, disapprovingly, at any pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin - ugh. third, would be a huge pile-up of various fruit pies (cranberry-peach might have a slight edge here).

no matter how you slice it (ha, you knew that pun was going to be served up somewhere in this post) - taste some pie today :D

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"the motorcycle diaries ("diarios de motociclet)" movie review

since the 4+ hour "che" premiered (screened in 2 parts with an intermission) at the ny film festival last fall, i've wanted to see it. i wasn't able to see it at either of the 2 festival screening and, when it was widely released, wasn't able to make the 5 hour commitment to see what was called the "roadshow" edition (both parts). now "che" is, as planned, screened as two separate - but connected - films. better still, yesterday, ifc started to air the film on cable!

why all this preamble? well since it is practically impossible for me to sit thru 4+ hours of any film (much less a mere 2+ hour part), i got hold of "the motorcycle diaries" from netflix as sort of a "che" light - prequel, if you will. the film was so interesting that now i'm even more committed to the idea of the watching the full blown "che" biopic. thanks to ifc on demand, it will happen a lot sooner than it would have (i.e. waiting for the dvd release).

but, back to "the motorcycle diaries." ernesto ("che") guevara, long before he became the international marxist revolutionary we're familiar with (together with his equally iconic visage on posters that dotted - and probably still dot - millions of college dorm rooms), was a medical student in argentina. he and his close friend alberto granado set off, initially, on a motorcycle trip across south america. eventually their already old and battered motorcycle gives out and the continue the trip on foot.

the bulk of the film is taken from che's own diaries, as he documented their journey. the film is worth watching just for the visually stunning cinematography. their travels transport us from one panoramic landscape to another. it gives a truly literal dimension to the term "road" movie. while they don't appear to make any profound personal insights - or engage in any serious dialogue - watching the two interact across the thousands of miles is never uninteresting.

the two men are perfect foils for each other - with che the serious, earnest (excuse the pun, just plain irresistible) one and alberto the bon vivant - always on the look out for kicks (food, drink and women - in no particular order). by the end of their trip - which included a stint as volunteers at a leper colony - it's sad to see them separate. the written coda that flashes along with the credits together with the final image of the film ties it together beautifully.

if you can, check it out. in the meantime, here's the trailer:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

2009 boston marathon is officially filled, registration closed!!

this quiet little announcement on the baa site says it all:

Registration is closed for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

The Boston Marathon does not have a waiting list, late registration on race weekend, or race day registration.The names of all official entrants are published on the B.A.A. web site.

Please note that bib numbers are not transferable. Those attempting to transfer their bib numbers, as well as those in receipt of a transferred entry, will be disqualified.

The Boston Athletic Association thanks you for your cooperation.

The 114th Boston Marathon will be run on Monday, April 19, 2010; tentatively, applications will begin to be accepted in September 1009.

that news effectively ends my streak of consecutive boston marathons at 5!


baa says the posted announcement was a mistake!! april fools day in january?

register asap, the field has not yet been filled and registration is still open - phew!!


this is headline post on the baa site today:



apparently, they let the cat out of the bag too soon. but less than 5 days later it became a cold cruel reality. hopefully some runners managed to squeeze in a registration during that tiny window of opportunity!

2010 boston marathon closed out even faster - on november 13, 1009!!

grateful dead play for obama at mid-atlantic inaugural ball: setlist

the reunited grateful dead played at the mid-atlantic inaugural ball last night. for the surviving members of the grateful dead it was indeed an honor when obama, himself, selected the band to play at the inaugural ball!

for deadheads it didn't come as too much of a surprise since the band had reunited for two separate obama fundraisers/rallies during the campaign last year. and, for those of us who caught phil lesh on the "live at five" radio show just after the election, we heard lesh, himself, speculate about a possible appearance of the band at the inauguration!

while no pictures have been posted yet, here is the (unofficial) setlist:

dancin' in the streets
uncle johns band
sugar magnolias
eyes of the world

break (words from joe biden)

the wheel
touch of grey
box of rain

many thanks to the philzone forums for getting it posted so quickly!

since taping wasn't permitted, it's unlikely this performance will find its way onto live music archive ;) but, stranger things have been known to happen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

trinity church bells ring in new york city for obama's inauguration today!

lunchtime in lower manhattan should sound very interesting today because trinity church will sound its bells in honor of obama's inauguration. while it's unlikely anyone in washington will hear them clang this afternoon, plenty of new yorkers will enjoy the sound of the very special 12 "change-ringing bells" :D

these are no ordinary bells (as described on the trinity web page):

"Change-ringing bells rotate a full 360 degrees as they are rung and produce a shimmering, cascading sound quality in a complex, inexhaustible combination of changing tonal patterns. They are uniquely beautiful and require extensive training to ring. In preparation for the installation of the bells, the Trinity steeple was reinforced with a new interior. The new bells, which range in weight from a few hundred pounds to over a ton, were cast at the Taylor Foundry in the UK."

in addition, there are no other change bells like them (nor similiar sound) in the united states (the national cathedral in washington "only" has 10 bells in its tower).

12 men and women will pull the ropes to sound what is referred to as a "full peal" (a clanging of sound patterns with no discernible melody) - that can last for up to three hours!

read more about the bell ringing in this newsday article covering the story. and, while reading it, listen to what the bells actually sound like on this youtube video clip:

Monday, January 19, 2009

bruce springsteen's new album, "working on a dream" to be streamed in its entirety on npr!

wow, national public radio (npr) has announced that it will stream the new bruce springsteen album, "working on a dream," in its entirety - tonight (1/19) beginning at 11:59 pm! the album will be officially released next week, january 27th.

most of the songs were written while he put together the "magic" album. in fact, much of "working on a dream" was recorded during breaks on the "magic" tour last year - with members of the e street band. it marks the first time bruce has issued back to back albums in years!

also included, as a "bonus" track, is "the wrestler," theme song to mickey rourke's movie of the same name.

while excerpts from the various new songs have been available on-line, this first look at the entire album shouldn't be missed!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

38 cobbled together miles over the last 3 days...

there's no magic to that particular number, it's just how many miles i logged over the last 3 days (friday, saturday, and sunday), without the benefit of a single long run - thanks to the incredible brutal weather pattern we've been suffering under. it's a less than ideal method of base building. but it's the only realistic option available (unless you're into treadmills, which i'm not) when the weather does everything possible to keep you indoors. this is what i managed to cobble together, slightly annotated:

friday (january 16):

got home from work and ran 4.3 miles (frigid, single digit wind chill) in 34:39, an 8:04 pace. drove over to middle school and picked katie up from cheer leading practic. headed out for another 6.3 mile (same frigid conditions, but now dark outside) in 49:30, a 7:52 pace.

10.6 miles for the day.

saturday (january 17):

got up early to drive katie to cheer leading competition, then ran 6.0 miles in 47:58, an 8:00 pace. single digit temperature, below zero wind chill. got home and read email notice that boston build-up 15k postponed until following weekend - major bummer. then drove over to the high school to watch katie's team compete and ran 6.5 miles afterwards (50:09, a 7:53 pace).

12.5 miles for the day.

sunday (january 18):

started off the day shovelling snow and digging out my cars. then ran 6.0 miles on snow covered streets in 49:26, an 8:15 pace. got katie off to church/girl scout career day and put in another 4.5 miles in 37:05, 8:15 pace. the 10.5 miles made up for the 15k that was postponed. later that afternoon, katie and i put up a shelf in her room. after dinner and watching arizona beat philly - awesome - i decided to celebrate by getting in a few more miles. this time it was snowing and dark outside. i got in another 4.5 miles in 38:30, an 8:34 pace.

15 miles for the day.

total miles for the week: 59

arctic weather training blues :(

this weather has started to take it's toll on me. day after day of these arctic conditions has made it seem like i'm in jail, stuck in an icebox, actually. right now it's snowing outside and i'm trying to drag myself out for a run. the boston build-up 15k scheduled for this morning was postponed until next weekend. so i have to make up at least 9 miles just to log what i would have done if the race had taken place.

this is the 3rd race postponed, or switched to a fun run, in the last month. our first snowstorm of the season led to the ted corbitt 15k getting switched to a fun run. the very next day, the christmas t(h)ree miler was postponed - the first of two and, ultimately, on the third try, it too was switched to a fun run on new year's day. on the bright side of postponements, i ran the norfolk pub 10 miler (albeit in icebox conditions) for the first time because of bad weather on it's original date!

those bright spots are few and far between. while my january mileage thru yesterday, 125.5, is significantly above december's 100.3 for the same period - it is substantially below last january's 164.3 miles at this time. moreover, at this time last year i had already run one 50k to kick off the year. more fun, however, this week last year i ran my miles in paris (in the rain, but still in the city of lights) - no such luck this time around!

speaking of miles, the other downer is the drop in my daily mileage from a targeted 6-8 per day to a string of less than ideal 4-6 milers. while not totally the weather's fault, a good chunk of the blame is my lack of determination to get in those "extra" couple of miles when the wind chill drops the effective temperature into the single digits. a small silver lining: despite the whining, i've dragged myself outside, regardless of the weather, for a run each the last 26 straight days.

it'll be 27 straight when i stop this current whining, post this entry, bundle up, and drag myself outside this morning (but first comes the snow shovelling)...

thanks for tolerating rant/whine about the winter blues :D

postcript: managed to squeeze in 15 miles over the course of 3 runs.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

boston build-up 15k postponed because of weather concerns

tomorrow's 15k in ridgefield, the second race in the boston build-up series, has been officially rescheduled for next weekend. the email announcement arrived this morning:

"Due to icy conditions on the dirt road section in NY, and the forecast for snow, the 15k is postponed until the following Sunday, January 25."

seem a bit premature to postpone the race. the earlier email sent out said the final call would be made tomorrow morning, by 6 a.m. and posted on the site (along w/emails to registered runners). but guess it's better to be safe... and what's done, is done.

the new date is unfortunate. it means i'll have to miss the 15k because it directly conflicts with the manhattan half marathon. while i ran the 10k earlier this month, the first of the four races, may be difficult at this point to get in any of the remaining races (the 20k conflicts with the bronx half marathon and the 25k conflicts with the caumsett park 50k).

bobby fischer died one year ago, today: january 17, 2008

bobby fischer, the greatest chess player of all time, died in self-imposed obscurity one year ago today. his death left me with mixed emotions since i had long ago come to loath what fischer had become - which, to put it mildly, was a rabid anti-semite, rabid anti-american (he ultimately renounced his u.s. citizenship), and full blown lunatic trapped in a web of real and imagined conspiracy theories (all aimed at him).

since i first watched fischer beat boris spassky to become the world chess champion in 1972, i was hooked - and considered myself a major fan. the fact he was a brooklyn boy was icing on the cake as we all cheered the amazing outcome in iceland. but when he walked away from defense of his title in 1975, simply because they wouldn't play be his rules (right or wrong), and gave the title to anatoly karopov by default, the bloom was off the rose.

from that point on, fischer could do no right - and slid into self-imposed exile, not only from the chess community, but the world at large. he reemerged in 1992 - to the shock of all that had followed him - to have a rematch with boris spassky in yugoslavia. since he thumbed his nose at the u.n. embargo (which included sporting events) in effect, and the specific u.s. prohibition against playing there, he became a fugitive with the issuance of an arrest warrant. he never, in fact, returned to the united states after that.

while most greeted that "rematch" with spassky will rolled eyes, the final straw - for me personally - was in the hours after 9/11 when fischer felt the need to pontificate on how the united state, to paraphrase, got what was coming. i won't go into the vulgar comments that spewed out of that sick mind as he was interviewed on the radio (they can be found here), but fischer, the mortal, was dead to me from then on. there was no coming back from that degree of callous obscenity.

still, for that brief, magical run to the top of the chess world that peaked in 1972, this is the image of fischer that will stay with me:

Friday, January 16, 2009

"beyond the epic run" documentary preview

if last year's release of "running the sahara" wasn't enough of an ultrarunning movie fix, get set for the release of "beyond the epic run" - a five year, around the world, running adventure!

the film documents the incredible story of serge roetheli who, together with his wife, nicole, his sole crew and support, set off from switzerland in february, 2000, and over the next 5 years proceeded to log 25,000 miles through 33 countries, across 5 continents! this running odyssey almost makes the trek across the sahara seem like a weekend long training run!

"beyond the epic run" will have an advance screening in albany next week, and another in nyc a few weeks later. in addition, runners world plans to screen the film in boston during the marathon weekend.

here is my review from the nyc screening.

check out the trailer:

and, for yet another interesting take on this amazing story, here are dean karnazes' comments on serge's accomplishment:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"once a runner: by john parker: book review

to balance yesterday's rant against "the loneliness of the long distance runner" i felt compelled to mention a great running book, "once a runner," by john l. parker. this write-up is also topical because i read (thanks to brooklyn running for posting the link) an article in slate that reported the long out-of-print (and insanely over-priced as a used book on the internet) cult classic will be reissued, in hardcover no less, this april!

once a runner, despite it's less than adequate prose, tells the story of quenton, an undergraduate track miler obsessed with, what else - running, and running very fast. the book details his trials and tribulations - but, most importantly, his training. more specifically, his obsession with an upcoming one mile race and the incredible interval work he grinds out to prepare for it. that's the bare bones of the story. i've conveniently left out the "drama" elements since they don't interest me too much (i.e. getting suspended from competition because of a petition, quitting school over it, moving to a cabin in the woods, sneaking into the competition - hopefully, that paints a picture).

both times i read the book, it was a borrowed copy! if you're a runner - of any size, shape, speed, distance - get the book. even though quention is a track miler, the story would appeal to road runners, xc, trail and, yes, even ultra runners. it should even appeal to non-runners who train for other sports and endeavors. the slate article, however, takes a different slant. i found the slate author's description of why the book has an incredibly narrow appeal insightful and hilarious:

"The paradoxical nature of the novel's popularity—it was the most-wanted book that not enough people wanted anymore—suggests an intense but narrow appeal. There's a reason Once a Runner has never managed to find a mainstream audience. It aggrandizes the insular world of running in a way that, with due respect to its new publisher, no nonrunner could possibly relate to. It is written for runners—and to keep nonrunners out. But it also nails the running life like no other novel ever has (my emphasis added)."

this book has such a cult-like following that it even spawned it's own entirely bogus "movie" rumor - complete with trailer (and publicity):

while there is no real life movie version of the book (at least not yet), it did generate a sequel, "again to carthage" - which was released last year. i caught sight of it at the nyc marathon expo last fall, but didn't pony up the cold hard cash for a copy. i still haven't read it, but will find a way to borrow a copy :D

i did, however, pre-order my copy of new "once a runner" from amazon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the loneliness of the long distance runner: movie review

at the risk of being branded a heretic, i'll say flat out - this is the WORST RUNNING MOVIE of all time. in other words, i come not praise "the loneliness of the long distance runner," but to bury it and any thought it could inspire a runner, or any athlete, in any way! i read the short story years ago and was shocked by the shallow, childish ending. how would anyone find that outcome inspirational? a year or so later i picked up a vhs copy of the movie - and seeing it brought to life on the screen only reinforced my visceral disgust with the story line.

what, you may wonder, made me revisit this film all these years later? before i head down that road, for anyone who hasn't read the short story or seen the film: spoiler alert. to understand this rant a working knowledge of the ("surprise") finish is necessary. in all the races i've run (and i've run a few over the years), i've never met anyone who intentionally threw a race - especially to spite someone else. to watch the protagonist of this film stop short of of the finish line and baldly wait for the opposing team's runner to catch up, pass him and go on to win the race is anathema to my decidedly old-school way of thinking.

i'm quite capable of joining the long line of apologists who dredge up lame excuse after lame excuse for why colin refused to win the 5 mile cross country interschool championship. one beauty is he wants to remain true to himself and not participate in the system that is oppressing him. nor does colin want to reward the hypocritical governor of the reform school by winning - for him. there are more, but i'll toss them into the same humble category - tripe. colin didn't have to run the race. nor did he need to accept the benefits of being the school's best runner - namely getting to train outside the grounds of the facility or the "soft" work assignment.

he took the advantages and he threw the race. while some may pat him on the back for taking a stand - he too is a hypocrite (isn't he?). more importantly, however, colin lost the race for his teammates and school. even if he didn't care one wit about winning, a lot of (non-establishment) others did. while the "angry young men" (class consciousness) attitude of thumbing one's nose at the system was clearly present throughout the film - a noticeable tear in that facade was the crush of fellow boys behind the rope fence begging, urging, pleading with colin to win.

abstraction is one thing - but a cheering crowd of fellow reform school inmates that colin refuses to acknowledge - while finding the wherewithal to toss a sneer at the headmaster - is the bloody cold reality of this shallow character. he figuratively cut off his nose to spite his face?! no runner, no jogger, no weekend warrior, no athlete of whatsoever sport would behave in such a callous manner.

which gets me to why on earth i'd dredge this old story up. this is not a blog about politics, but sometimes it does seep in around the edges. last week the governor of illinois was impeached (for trying to sell senator obama's vacated senate seat). commenting on the legislature's action when he returned from a jog, governor blagojevich said that:

"his situation reminded him of the short story "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner," about a petty criminal who takes up running. "And that's what this is, by the way, a long-distance run," he said."

priceless - or, in other words, you just can't make this stuff up!!

postscript: while i loath the "running" message (or non-message) of the story - the film itself, qua film, is excellent - and i would recommend it. tom courtenay, who portrayed colin in the film (together with other performances that year), was awarded the 1962 bafta award (the british oscar equivalent) for most promising newcomer.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

johnny cash "at folsom prison: the making of a masterpiece" documentary review

only one word is needed here - awesome! it deserves a bit of elaboration, of course, but the original album, the remastered albums which include the second show (performed that same day), and the "making of" documentary, are simply incredible.

very fun, and coincidental, cool fact - the folsom prison concerts took place 41 years ago to the day, on january 13, 1968!

back to johnny cash. this is one musician, one entire genre (country), that i was never really into in the past. even today i hardly know anything about country music. but cash reminds me more of folk music, than anything i'd consider country. either way, cash came to my attention last month when i caught some of the documentary on cable, and then rented "walk the line" from netflix. i was hooked.

the documentary itself is based on the book of the same name, "johnny cash at folsom prison: the making of a masterpiece," by michael steissguth (who also penned a biography of johnny cash). here is the trailer:

the entire film come in at just over 2 hours and in addition to the music itself, it includes archival footage of cash, the prison, many unpublished photos, interviews with former inmates and guards who were at the concerts, and interviews with his children and former band mates. also covered is the back story to the last minute inclusion of prisoner glen sherley's "greystone chapel" song (brought to cash's attention the day before by the prison chaplan).

aside from watching cash and his band work up an arrangement of that song - and perform it live for the first time the next morning, we learn how cash worked to secure the early release on parole of sherley. and, once again, aside from cash's efforts to get sherley included in his concert tours and, ultimately, the tragic end to sherley's life, we learn of how cash got deeply involved in the prison reform movement. an interest he would pursue for the next decade.

while cash wasn't new to prison concerts, having played them many times in the past, it took him 6 years to convince the powers that be at columbia records to make a live album at the prison. that was amazing, considering "folsom prison blues" was a breakout hit for cash more than a decade earlier, and it would have seemed a live album from folsom would have been a "no brainer," so to speak. but, thankfully, it got recorded (and, incidentally, on the heels of its success, so did a sequel - "live at at san quentin").

one interesting nugget contained on the documentary is a primitive black and white animated "music video" of cash performing "25 minutes to go." that hilarious performance/cartoon is (almost) reason alone to check out the documentary. but seriously, this is a classic album, classic performance - check it out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

led zeppelin's self-titled debut album released 40 years ago today

40 years ago today, january 12, 1969, led zeppelin release its first album, and the rest is rock history. they had actually toured as the "new yardbirds," prior to getting into the studio to record the album.

here's a pretty decent history of the genesis of this classic. this wasn't anywhere near my favorite zep album - that would be a toss-up between physical graffitti and zozo (VI). still, i did listen to "communications breakdown" incessantly, my favorite track on the album. "dazed and confused" was great too, but much greater live than the studio version.

to celebrate, q 104.3 fm is having a special one hour "get the led out" program devoted covering 40 years of led zeppelin! check it out.

too bad robert plant shot down plans for a zep reunion this year. but, if rumors of the remaining band members (plus bonham's son, jason) recording new material together are on the level, we may see a zep "light" release soon.

last, but not least, can't get over how the cover art mirrors the giants implosion, yesterday ;)

jets win superbowl - 16-7 upset over baltimore colts 40 years ago today!!

how fitting is for us new york giants fans to wake up the day after big blue crashed and burned yesterday - and celebrate the 40th anniversary of jets superbowl victory (another team dressed in green). on january 12, 1969, the jets pulled off one of the biggest upsets in nfl history when they beat the heavily favored baltimore colts, 16-7, in miami.

almost as impressive as the win itself, quarterback joe namath had "guaranteed" the victory to an astonished press corps - despite the jets going into the game as 18 point underdogs!

so instead of deconstructing yesterday's ugly, ugly, ugly (and feel free to add as many uglys here as you see fit) giants collapse, or daydreaming about what could have been... we have this really cool - and ironic - green tinted anniversary to celebrate :D

Sunday, January 11, 2009

eagles crush giants, 23-11, and banish them from the post-season

while not as embarrassing as the jets late season implosion, the giants weren't too far behind in humiliating self-destruction as philadelphia waltzed into giants stadium, manhandled them, and left moving on to the nfc conference championship game next weekend. the giants failed to score a touchdown, missed two field goal attempts, missed two 4th down conversions, and were unable to mount anything resembling a running game as the eagles won 23-11.

while the eagles succeeded in completely shutting down the giants running game, it was manning himself that was unable to put together any semblance of a passing game. he repeatedly threw the ball long or short, unable to complete crucial passes. he was intercepted twice, the first of which was converted into a touchdown by philly in the first half. manning's 169 passing yards, where he went 15 for 29, was woefully inadequate.

it's unfair to blame it all on manning. philly effectively shut down the giants running game. countless series found the giants in a passing situation with 3rd and long after the initial runs got zero traction. then philly just needed to step up and pressure manning - which they did repeatedly throughout the game. still, despite all this, the giants had plenty of scoring opportunities, but were unable to complete drive after drive.

i hate to write this, but philly played as if they wanted to win - and they deserved to win, given the giants performance on the field. it's almost lame to point out that while plaxico burress may only have shot himself, the collateral damage blew a hole through the giants team. what a terrible waste to such a great start to the 2008 season. the giants 11-1 start now seems just as impressive as new england's 16-0 2007 season:

"full of sound and fury, signifying nothing..."

apologies to the bard :(

pete seeger celebrates 20th anniversary of walkabout clearwater coffeehouse in white plains: photos

last night 89 year old folk music icon, pete seeger, played a concert benefit at the white plains high school to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "walkabout clearwater coffeehouse." pat was at the concert and took these great photos.

the clearwater project was started by seeger in january, 1989, to raise awareness of waterway pollution. check out this earlier ny times article describing the project, seeger, and the upcoming concert benefit.

while i didn't go to the concert, i did catch the very timely pbs american masters program on pete seeger, "the power of song," on friday night (and rebroadcast yesterday).