Monday, November 30, 2009

tom petty & the heartbreakers "live anthology" review

i've been listening to the tom petty 4 cd "live anthology" since last tuesday, and i still can't get enough of it! at the start of this year, when i caught the massive "running down a dream: tom petty and the heartbreakers" film, i've been (re)hooked on petty! after watching that incredible documentary, i picked up one of his "greatest hits" albums for my ipod - to make up for the lack of any petty albums in my collection, despite the years of listening to his music (mostly via radio). now, with the 4 cd live collection, i've made a small dent in filling that void.

this release was a few years in the making - and is the stripped down version of the larger package the includes a fifth disc, 2 concert dvds, and a deluxe booklet where petty basically breaks down each selection. the only knock i have on the "live anthology" is the paltry liner notes that come with the music. otherwise, i'm more than happy with the 4+ hours of material - which is not, interestingly, arranged chronologically.

petty and his guitarist, mike campbell, sifted through 30 years of concert performances - the process itself was mammoth enough - and then decided to present the material "mood first" (to use his words). that decision worked. petty included a large number of eclectic covers in the mix! the most fascinating cover, i thought, was his take on james bond's "goldfinger!" for a huge bond fan, that was priceless. coming off paul mccartney's "live and let die" from his "good evening new york city" release the week earlier - it's an early bond christmas present - ha!

also covered is the grateful dead's "friend of the devil" - which, while workmanlike - shouldn't worry jerry garcia. but their take on fleetwood mac's classic "oh well" was incredible. if any group could pull off sounding like led zeppelin - they did it handily with that intense version of "oh well!" another successful cover was van morrison's "mystic eyes!" curiously, however, for someone who opened for bob dylan during a mid-80's summer tour, and played with dylan in the travelling wilburys, no dylan covers?

but getting to petty's own tunes - my favorite (of an entire album of favorites) was probably "mary jane's last dance." then there's "american girl," "free fallin'" and, "learning to fly" - all great cuts live! another interesting selection was the extended "it's good to be king" - which clocked in at 12:14, and was the longest song in the collection. there are some ad-libs interspersed with the music, but "it's good to be king" was the extended jam - so to speak.

musically, there were no misses on this release. it's a must for any petty fan - but i suspect die hard fans will go for the deluxe version, if only for the detailed liner notes. but those of us going for the cds, sans extras, can long on to the companion website and access plenty of bonus material to supplement the music!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

mid-hudson road runners turkey trot 25k: race report

thanksgiving started off with a different twist this year - a trip north to dutchess county for the mid-hudson road runners turkey trot 25k in freedom plains, new york. both the race distance and travel distance were beyond my typical pre-turkey dinner dinners. the 25k was 2.5 times greater than the gateway gobbler i ran last year, and the hour plus drive was also much longer than the 20+ minutes it takes to get to the gobbler. but the travel distance was a minor cavil in for a fantastic race!

the drive itself was enjoyable because emmy, rob, and i carpooled to the race. at one point, we drove through thick ground fog - and the surrounding landscape draped in it! i thought we'd need headlamps for the race! we arrived almost a half hour early - and ran into our good friend greg and his daughter at pre-registration. then, in what may have been imported from a charlie chaplin movie, we all dispersed and then, in varying stages, had interesting problems with the start!

after we put away the champagne glass souvenirs(!), i headed back in to use the bathroom while emmy and rob went on a warm-up jog. as i was on the long line bathroom line, i heard the announcement that the 25k would start at the track, behind the school. with literally minutes to spare, i ran the quarter mile(!) from the gym bathroom to the track - weaving through all the 5 mile runners (whose race didn't go off until 8:45). when i got to the track i didn't see anyone! a volunteer said they were lining up behind the track! so i sprinted another 10th of a mile(!) and spied the start - behind some buildings!!

when i got there, greg was the only familiar face - no rob and emmy. and i didn't have time to wonder where they were because within a minute - literally - the race went off. and i stood there doubled over in pain because of a sudden back spasm! it took a minute for me to regain my composure - as i watched the field leave me behind. but i pulled it together and began slowing shuffling forward until i could run. as we retrace the route back out of the track and parking area i didn't see rob or emmy!

it turned out they didn't know where the race started - and missed it by a wind margin! so much, in fact, that rob went back in and got a chip for the 5 miler - and ran that race instead! emmy started the 25k race from the parking lot - 8 minutes late (and made up the extra distance at the end of the race)! but i've gotten ahead of myself - i didn't learn any of this until i finished the race myself. here are the splits:

8:33 16:26
7:43 24:10
7:40 31:51
7:26 39:18
7:45 47:03
7:53 54:57
7:56 1:02:53
6:18 1:09:11
7:48 1:16:59
8:06 1:33:29
8:35 1:42:05
7:40 1:49:46
7:40 1:57:26
3:52 2:01:18

7:50 pace

even with the stressful start, i knew i'd have trouble hitting my 2:00 target because i was laboring to maintain an 8 minute pace for the first 3 miles (although there did seem to be a small mountain stuck in those miles)! i knew from asking around that the course was hilly - but my favorite 25k, the boston build-up in silvermine, is also pretty hilly. i figured after a few miles i'd settle into a groove. i was listening to tom petty (just purchased his awesome 4 cd "live anthology" two days earlier) and planned to switch over to green day for the second hour.

even with mile 8 a little long (because even gravity assisted, i didn't run a true 6:18 in mile 9), i still had the 2:00 target in sight with a 1:02:53 split - but just barely. but the stretch of 8 minute miles between 11 and 13 really moved it out of reach. at the mile 12 split, someone had written "this is the last big hill" - which made me laugh. that hill in mile 13 did turn out to be my slowest mile - 8:35 - of the race (mirroring the big hill in mile 2). but, despite the "training run" mindset of this race, my competitive side emerged in the last two miles.

i had been trying to reel in the only runner ahead of me for the last couple of miles, and didn't have that much luck. with only 2.5 miles left, i figured i'd pick up the pace and see if i could at least catch him. it took a pair of 7:40's but i did catch him! on the long flat stretch during mile 14 he realized i had closed on him and picked up his pace. unlucky for him, however, there was one last hill at mile 15. i decided to go all in for that one and passed him on the climb. i used the last half mile to recover from that surge - and finished ahead of him, but well off my 2:00 target with
a 2:01:18.

the big surprise as i negotiated the parking lot to finish the race was seeing rob there with my camera! that came totally out of left field - and i shout to him, "what are you doing here?" that's when i learned about his fiver miler and emmy's late start. the second surprise was emmy's finish - as she came into the parking lot she shouted at me, "help me find the start!" so i ran with her over to the official start (which technically added some extra distance to her race), and rob then ran her in to the finish!

what an unusual race(s) it turned out to be. emmy actually won her age group! rob ran an awesome 5 miler (33 minutes) - switching his mind set from endurance to speed in just the few minutes it took to switch race chips! and i had a great training run - albeit my slowest 25k race in recent memory. given the all the hills and turns on that course, it already has me looking at the boston build-up slivermine course with fondness :D

here are some race photos.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009 bedford turkey trot: race photos and results

this morning, amy, emmy, and i volunteered at the bedford turkey trot. it was an incredibly raw and blustery morning - winds so strong that i had one foot holding down a sign post (which still managed to get blown down twice!) and a free hand holding down the bibs! but even with the wind, it was much warmer this time around than it was last year!

after the race got underway, the three of us ran the course in the reverse direction to warm-up!

here are the race results.

here are some photos:

dark star orchestra at nokia theatre: setlist and photos

went to see the dark star orchestra at the nokia theatre in time square last night. original setlist - which is a replay of my very first darkstar show at nokia a few years ago (also an original setlist)! the main reason for catching dso this time around was to catch john kadlecik before he official retires from the band and moves on to some thing further (excuse the pun)!

yes, in only two weeks he may be playing with phil and bobby... but that's for another post! my last dso show at nokia -also thanksgiving weekend - in 2008, featured guest appearance by donna jean! that one was a blast.

more on this show (and a few more pictures) later today. right now heading out to bedford to volunteer at their annual turkey trot!

check out the great dso forum thread on this show.


first set:

Hey Pocky Way
Hell In A Bucket
Row Jimmy
Minglewood Blues
Two Souls
Greatest Story Ever Told
Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues
Touch Of Grey

second set:

Feel Like A Stranger
Foolish Heart
Blown Away
Weather Report Suite
Let it Grow
St. Stephen
William Tell Bridge
So Many Roads

encore: Second That Emotion

here are a couple more pictures.

Friday, November 27, 2009

mid-hudson road runners turkey trot 25k: race photos and results

yesterday i ran the mid-hudson road runners club turkey trot 25k in freedom plains, new york. it was a big jump in distance from my typical start to the thanksgiving day (a 5 or 6 mile race)! except for the start snafu (about that in the race report), it was a great day to race, and a great race to run.

my 2:01:18 was on the disappointing side, but given the hilly course - i'll take it.

here is my race report. and here are the race results from mhrrc.

pre-race: rob and emmy (holding champagne glass race souvenir!)

here a few more race photos.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy thanksgiving day!!

happy thanksgiving everyone!

it's really hard to believe another year has flow by so quickly!

my thanksgiving tradition kicks off with a morning race. for the last few years it's been the hilly 6 mile gateway gobbler over in greenwich. today i head north for the mid-hudson road runner's 25k turkey trot! it's a race i've wanted to run for years, so i'm looking forward to it!

then a back home for a quick shower before heading south, down to brooklyn, to spend thanksgiving with my mother. the extra race distance means i can a lot more turkey and sides at dinner (not to mention a few extra glasses of wine)!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"hollywood 10" blacklisted 63 years ago today!

on november 25, 1947, the day after ten directors, producers, and writers were cited for contempt when they refused to testify before the house un-american activities committee, a group of movie industry executives announced that the ten men would be immediately fired or suspended, and not hired in the future -thus “blacklisted.” collectively, they became known as the "hollywood ten."

the initial list grew into what became the entertainment industry blacklist as more and more actors, directors, musicians, and other entertainment professionals were denied employment because of their political beliefs or associations, real or suspected. this nascent form of political correctness continued into 1960, when dalton trumbo, a member of the hollywood ten, was publicly acknowledged as the screenwriter of the films "spartacus" and "exodus." even so, a number of the original (and subsequently) blacklisted individuals were denied work in their professions for years afterward.

the red scare, and all it's attendant excesses was a very real tragedy for all the individuals and families that it impacted. looking back today, it's morphed from a blacklist to a black stain on our history of protecting our first amendment freedoms!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

charles darwin's "the origins of species" is 150 years old today!

charles darwin's "on the origins of species" was published in england, on november 24, 1859 - 150 years ago today. the full title included the subtitle: "by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. it was at the time, and remains so today, a seminal piece of scientific literature. in 1872, the title was shortened to simply, "the origin of species."

darwin wrote the book for a general audience. one of his most ardent followers was, astonishingly, none other than theodore roosevelt! douglas brinkley detailed the impact of darwinism on roosevelt's evolving role as an "environmentalist" - to ape a popular, but overused term today - in his book, "the wilderness warrior: theodore roosevelt and the crusade for america."

80+ years past the scopes "monkey" trial, darwin is still the focal point of continuing criticism by fundamentalists intent on ignoring his research in favor of creationism - or it's more palatable, but misleading moniker: "intelligent design." if that's your cup of tea - fine. just don't try to pass it off as science - or even a crude approximation thereof!

Monday, November 23, 2009

laptop repair - take two!

that's a photo of the new "motherboard" as it's about be installed in my laptop. right next to it is the old "new" motherboard that was installed last thursday night. that original repair was intended to fix my laptop's video card, which crashed and left me with a blank screen! thursday night i had a working laptop for just over 15 minutes before the computer crashed again - this time because it seemingly overheated. the error message indicated the fan may have failed!!

despite the overheating shut-off and subsequent error message to check the fan, dell decided to send out a new motherboard to replace the one it had just installed! it went out on friday, was delivered to the technician this morning, and he brought it over and installed it today. whatever incompatibility problem existed between board one and my old fan, the new board seems to have taken to the old fan (or vice versa?) beautifully! the laptop has been up and running for a few hours now. phew!

hopefully, this will be the first - and last - post about laptop operating problems :D

update: wow, the second repair lasted for only a few hours before the computer crashed again! technically, that's an improvement over the 15 minutes it lived after the first repair! arrrgh!! another computer surgery around the corner :(

Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 knickerbocker 60k: race report

sometimes you just have to start running and see what happens! on the drive down to central park for the knickerbocker 60k, emmy and i tried to outdo each other with excuses for bagging the race - between her nagging foot injury and my undertraining, neither one of us looked forward to the 9+ loops of the park! but since i skipped the knickerbocker last year because of poor weather, i wasn't about to blow it off, undertrained or not, in the face of perfect running conditions!

my prep (and to call it that is a dramatic overstatement) for the race consisted of only two long runs; the nyc marathon and the maine marathon. in between, i filled the gaps with short races - lots and lots of 5ks, actually. my longest run during that period topped out at 13 miles, and my weekly mileage barely edged over 50 - not close to my typical race training. so bowing to that reality, i set a 6 hour target for the 60k.

i've only one run 60k race in the past, the queens 60k at forest park, in march, 2008. i ran that one in 5:46:38 - and didn't think i could (or would) approach that finish time in central park. i did think that i had a few good loops in the tank, so i planned to run the first 5 of the 9 loops in 1:35 or better - then see what i had left... and hold on for the final 4. as it turned out, being undertrained - and having no expectations - may have been just the thing.

before the race started, we picked up our bibs and d-tags at the nyrr club. the most welcoming sight there was richie, our b.u.s. president, who directed the race! when i walked over to the park entrance at 90th street, i was surprised (maybe shocked) at the huge turnout - around 200 runners! i had expected maybe 50 or 60 runners - not triple+ that number - for this generally low-key event! and there were plenty of familar faces in that crowd - rob, phil, frank, nick, sal, anthony, wayne, al, eric, eliot and shiran - just to list a few there that morning!

the race started with a northbound 1.4 mile out and back, then 9 loops of the 4 mile course bounded at the south end with the 72nd street transverse and the north end with the 102nd street transverse. there were plenty of volunteer out on the course cheering on the runners! i will mention that the 72nd street transverse reeked of a nasty horse stable - it was the worst stretch of the course in my opinion. the north bound portion on west drive seemed decidedly hillier than its southbound counterpart on east drive.

at the risk of getting ahead of myself, here are my splits (pardon the rounding):

32:50 45:38
32:54 1:18:33
32:35 1:51:08
32:57 2:24:06
33:17 2:57:24
34:59 3:23:23
35:08 4:07:32
38:49 4:46:21
36:48 5:23:10

8:42 pace

after the initial out and back, i went through the first loop well under my 35:00 target - and immediately thought about cutting back the pace. since i didn't seem to be pushing it, i decided to go with it for a while longer and see how the faster pace felt. i went through the first 5 loops well below my targeted pace and was no worse for the wear. after 6 loops in 3:32:23, just below the marathon split, i readjusted my target down to 5:30. with only 3 loops left, i thought i could squeeze them out in less than 2 hours.

in fact, just before setting off on the 7th loop i stopped and grabbed some coffee and a bite-size baby ruth bar from my drop bag! i was in the mood for some caffeine - and the chocolate bar was a just a little treat (a break from the chips i'd grab from the aid station). up to that point the only food i had was a bag of cliff cran-rasberry shot blocks which i ate during the third or fourth loop. despite the caffeine - and chocolate - i hit the proverbial wall in the 8th lap! at 38:49, it was my slowest loop.

what really snapped me out of that funk was the shock i got when the lap counters told me i had 2 laps left to go - not one! thankfully, richie was there and cleared up the problem - i was, in fact, on my bell lap! an interesting twist from that distraction, shiran and i had been running most of the race together +/- a few seconds on either side. that stop with the counters let him open a 45+ second gap on me. i didn't catch shiran until we were on the start of west drive! at that point i was in "let's get this over with" mode!

then, for one last surprise, i caught sight of emmy half way across the 102nd street transverse. she was moving so fast that i didn't catch up with her until halfway down east drive! that was the first time i'd see her all day! i had only seen rob on the out leg of the initial out and back! and phil looped me at just as i was finishing my 5th lap! except for shiran, i ran the entire race with just my ipod for company! phil lesh and friends accompanied me through 8 loops, and green day carried me for the last one!

we had a great time socializing at the finish (it was a first ultra for both eric and eliot)! phil won the race - and it turned out that it was nick's 200th ultra finish! afterwards, emmy, phil, rob, and i went to a great irish sports bar that was kind enough to serve 20 oz. irish pints (instead of mere 16 oz. english ones)! what a great way to rehydrate after a long, long, day running loops of central park!

here are the race photos.

here are a few more race reports: emmy's, phil's, and anthony's.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

knickerbocker 60k: race photos and results

it was a perfect day to spend outside - running an ultra in central park! i ran the knickerbocker 60k this morning (5:23:10 - unofficial), making up for skipping the race last year because of lousy weather! plenty of familiar faces, including a few running an ultra for the first time!

here is my race report, and are the race results from nyrr.

here are some race photos:

Friday, November 20, 2009

paul mccartney's "good evening new york city" cd/dvd review

i picked up paul mccartney's "good evening new york city" cd/dvd release of his opening night show at citi field last summer on tuesday. i'm a big fan of paul - especially his days with wings - and it was major disappointment for me to have been in vermont when he took the stage in my back yard, so to speak. this combination audio/video turned out to be the next best thing!

the is one difference between the two medium - the cd does not contain much intersong chatter. watching the dvd - aside from the visual - includes paul's comments and interaction with the fans. that interaction isn't on the cd, most likely because of space limitations, so it has less intimacy - but great sound. if possible, watch the dvd performance first - before taking it out for a spin on your ipod!

the setlist is fantastic. he not only includes the beatles/wings standards that we would expect to hear - but paul tossed in plenty infrequently heard material to keep it interesting. old chestnuts ("mrs. vanderbilt") from wings, paul's solo material ("flaming pie"), and cuts from his "fireman" series ("electric arguments") found their way on stage! the only thing paul left off the table from his prolific catalog was the orchestral work! i think the fans didn't mind leaving the "liverpool oratorio" or symphonic poem, "standing stone" for another venue!

video images played behind him during the show, which added an interesting element to a few numbers. paul dedicated songs to john ("here today" - which brought tears to his eyes), george ("something") and linda ("my love"). and he was joined on stage by billy joel for "i saw her standing there" - who returned the favor when paul joined him last year for his performance at shea! through out the performance, paul rocked - and no problems keeping up with his much younger (or so it seemed) current band mates.

i picked up the standard edition release (2 cds/1 dvd). a deluxe edition (2 cds/2 dvds) was also released, which includes, among other things, paul's appearance on the david letterman show. for fans who missed that, it's worth going for the deluxe edition just to see the outdoor "mini-concert" that he performed on the marquee! but whichever you prefer, don't pass up mccartney at citi field. it'a a performance must for any paul mccartney fan!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

2009 beaujolais nouveau est arrive!

i still get a thrill from the arrival of beaujolais nouveau - it just never gets old (pardon the pun)! on my way home from work today i'll stop off at zachys and pick up a bottle or two of the just arrived georges debouf beaujolais nouveau. later, and slightly chilled, i hope to pair it with some pizza for dinner tonight!

last year my stop at zachys was a modest let-down because their shipment was late. luckily, plan b kicked in and i picked up a couple of bottles at a wine store across town. in any event, i'm looking forward to tasting some young fresh wine at dinner tonight :D

2009 great american smokeout - quit smoking today!!

going strong since 1977, another great american smokeout has arrived! it's hard to believe a year has flown by since my post on the 2008 smokeout! the reasons for quitting are still the same, and even more urgent if you didn't quit (or at least make an effort) last year!

plenty of altruistic reasons for quitting - but, bottom line, do it for yourself. give yourself some respect and stop filling your body with poison!!


and, since the great american smokeout coincides with beaujolais nouveau day (both on the third thursday in november), ease the withdrawal with a bottle of fresh french wine :D

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009 terry ryan memorial 10k: race report

the 8th annual terry memorial 10k race was my second race of the day, on the heels of the nyrr cross country championships 5k in van cortlandt park that morning. emmy and i had an easy drive from van cortlandt park to hastings and met rob when we reached the high school. last year the three of us car pooled to the race, but rob skipped the trip into the city for the 5k this time around. tom also made the trip from van cortlandt and then ran the 5k in hastings.

before the race, i met my old wtc teammates, gregg and mark, and my current trrc teammate, tom, all of whom were in the 5k. then i ran into ned in street clothes, who wasn't in either race. he was there to cheer on his hometown event and then had to go to work. ned ran the 5k last year - and who i recently ran into at the athlete's village on staten island earlier this month at the nyc marathon. hard to believe there was actually a race with that much socializing :D

the 10k course is a double loop of the 5k. there is one notable hill (long climb is more precise) which follows the portion of the yonkers marathon course. the marathoners run down the hill (north) while we climb it (south). there are some good views of the hudson river along this stretch. however, the most notable moment along this road wasn't the incline - but the pair of deer that ran across my path during the second loop!! that sighting fit van cortlandt park more easily than the roads of hastings (even as bucolic as they are)!

i ran the first 5k in 21:50, almost 30 seconds slower than it took me to run the same loop last year (21:17). i had no particular time goal in mind, but though i could finish the race in about 43 minutes. i ran the second loop in 21:06, roughly 40 seconds slower than 2008 (20:25), and finished in 43:06 - well off my 2008 41:42. as i pointed out in last year's race report, the 10k course is short (closer to 6 miles instead of a full 6.2 miles) - because it doesn't retrace the entire 5k loop a second time.

all in all, it was a great way to spend the afternoon!

here are my race photos.

here are some 2008 race photos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

nyrr cross country championships 5k: race report

the nyrr cross county championship race at van cortlandt park was my third xc 5k at van cortlandt park in the last month (with the harry murphy and kurt steiner races in october)! it's actually my 4th race at van cortlandt if i look back to the henry isola xc 4 miler held at the end of august! there may even be one more vanny race left in my season, the pete mccardle 15k - but it's been moved back to mid-december from its traditional late-november date. i love the 15k - which is 3 loops of the 5k course - but the later date may conflict with another race favorite (so have to wait and see).

the xc championships had a large (as expected) field and that led to a crowded start. i was 10-15 feet from the start line and it seemed to take eons not just to cross it, but for the pack to thin out. it wasn't until the end of the opening straightaway across the flats - as the pack turned left, in fact, that it finally opened up! i hardly grouse about slow starts, but with the chain link fence bordering the field - it had an almost claustrophobic feel to it. aside from that minor gripe, the rest of the race was great.

the field included many (and i should say van cortlandt recidivists) familiar faces: emmy, sue, and tom - just to mention the same trio that ran the other three van cortlandt races i just listed above! also, a taconic teammates, bob, joe, and tim, were in the race. and, in a post-race photo surprise, it turned out my friend michael's daughter, jana, running for fordham, was also in the field. two running friends there, but not in the race, michael and chip, took some great photos. and, michael's kids ran in the pre-race fun run. and chip took that shot of my finish!

as for the race itself, no mile markers. but it did hear my 1 mile split (6:30) called out by a cptc volunteer on the course. in a repeat of the harry murphy 5k, i found myself walking to the crest of the second of the back hills. that was not only discouraging, but knocked my time back 20-30 seconds. to make up for that lapse in concentration i picked up the pace significantly (or so it seemed) in the last mile. i crossed the finish in 21:47, a 7:01 pace. amazingly, that was 5 seconds faster than my harry murphy finish (21:52)!

while i was annoyed at myself for the walk break, i was still pleased with the time because i managed to shrug off the walk setback and push the last mile. two good miles out of three ain't bad - ha (apologizes to meatloaf)! after some post-race socializing emmy and i drove to hasting were we met up with rob and ran the terry ryan memorial 10k.

here are some race photos.

next up: the knickerbocker 60k in central park this weekend.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 terry ryan memorial 10k: photos and results

the 2009 terry ryan memorial 10k in hastings was my second race of the day (on the heels of the nyrr cross country 5k championships in van cortlandt park). it was a return trip to this race - with much nicer conditions than the cold and blustery weather at the 2008 edition). while the 43:06 finish was slower than my 2008 result (41:42), i was still pleased with the outcome.

here is my race report, and here are the race results.

here are some pictures:

here are a few more race photos.

and here are some pictures from the 2008 race.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

nyrr cross country championships: race photos and results

this morning i ran the nyrr cross country championships 5k at van cortlandt park (my third 5k at van cortlandt in the last month). that was the first of a pair of races i ran today (the second, in the afternoon, was the terry ryan memorial 10k in hastings). after a very slow (crowded) start, i managed a 21:50 for the 5k.

here is my short race report, and here are the race results from nyrr.

and a few pictures:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2010 boston marathon filled in record time - race registration is closed!

wow, last year the boston marathon filled in late january - a record early close for the race. now that record now seems quaint on the heels of yesterday's (november 13th) announcement (on a friday the 13th, no less) from the boston athletic association that the 2010 edition has officially closed!

from the baa site: 11/13/2009


Registration for the 2010 Boston Marathon has closed. Registration began on September 9, and the Boston Athletic Association is unable to accept additional entries.

i qualified at the 2009 maine marathon last month, but didn't register until last week (following the nyc marathon). honestly, i thought that was on the conservative side. i didn't want to miss another boston marathon because of procrastination. this morning, when i read some facebook posts that boston had closed, i was incredulous!

while i'm in - and most of my friends too - there are many runners who had hoped to nab bq's at philadelphia next weekend (or even later marathons). so much for those plans! i have no idea why boston is filling up so much quicker these days - another sign of the running times :(

"pirate radio" movie review

"pirate radio" was originally scheduled for an august release (and was on my summer "must see" list), following its spring release in great britain (where it was titled "the boat that rocked"). the u.s. release was not only pushed back to mid-november, but the film was substantially edited by the distributor on its trip across the atlantic! a solid 15 minutes was cut from the running time of the u.k. version - and it still came in at just under 2 hours (1:54). but with the incredible 1960's british invasion soundtrack, the screen time isn't a problem.

the film is loosely based on real world events. "radio rock" is a fictionalized version of the very real pirate "radio caroline" that broadcast rock and roll from its perch in the north sea. the "pirate" radio phenomena was widespread in the mid-60's because british radio (as exemplified by the all powerful bbc) refused to play popular music (aside from a token half hour broadcast a day). the listenership of those pirate radio stations was well into the millions - and rivaled that of the so-called "legitimate" broadcasters.

despite the lukewarm u.k. reception - this is a fantastic film. think of it as mix of "almost famous," "mad men," "good morning vietnam," "animal house," "titanic" and a more than solid dose of "mighty python!" the ensemble cast includes three oscar winners (hoffman, branagh, and tompson), each of whom shines. hoffman, as "the count," takes his rock journalist role from "almost famous" and ramps (camps) it up as the only american dj among the roster of british personalities. thompson, in a small role as charolette (carl's mother) is hilarious when she visited her son on board the floating radio station/animal house.

but it's branagh, as sir alistair dormandy, the unbendingly snobbish evil civil servant on a crusade to silence the pirates, who practically stole the film. branagh, single-handedly channelled the spirit of john cleese and mighty python - while playing it straight. his seriousness of purpose was so monomaniacal that it served as a pivot for those around him (in chain smoking scenes that bring about a "mad men" atmospheric). the ridiculously named twatt (who was a dead ringer for "don draper") was hired by branagh as his henchman in chief - and charged with masterminding a plan to shut down the pirates.

the film is actually a series of shipboard vignettes intercut with branagh's machiavellian scheming and everyday brits enjoying the broadcasts as they go about their lives. it's the scenes of everyday life infused with the "edginess" of listening to the illicit broadcasts - they are "pirates" after all - that glue the film together. without getting too deep - since the film itself doesn't tackle the real issues of censorship and political correctness - the british government is completely out of touch with the sensibilities of its citizens. worse than that, the self-righteous bureaucrats - of which branagh is the point man - are determined to inflict their own aesthetic on the population.

one other interesting point, there is a decidedly frat-boy lifestyle on the pirate tanker. the only woman on board is there because she is a lesbian - and cooks their meals! every two weeks, a boat load of women arrives for an overnight visit! the two women characters of any consequence (aside from tompson - who dropped her own unexpected bombshell on carl) that visit the "boys" on board each commits and act of social treachery and inspire some degree of mayhem on board! january jones (on a break from "mad men") rockets to the top of all-time brazen groupies chart with her unique stunt! set in 1967 - the nascent feminist movement had yet to take root, it would seem?!

the cobbled together finale is over the top - or under water (as the case may be)? the film, with its incredible soundtrack, is well-worth watching on the big screen. hopefully the theatre will play it loud! this is the third straight rock movie (albeit this one was fiction) i've checked out recently. if "it might get loud" and "anvil: the story of anvil!" are this years must-see rock documentaries, then "pirate radio" is the must-see rock comedy :D

Friday, November 13, 2009

happy birthday chris noth!

chris noth - a/k/a detective mike logan for law and order fans - was born on november 13, 1954, and celebrates his 55th birthday today. i've been a fan of noth's since the (very) early days of law and order (before the colons appeared) when he partnered with jerry orbach (a/k/a lenny briscoe).

after a five year run, mike logan was exiled to staten island (which was made into a t.v. movie). noth wandered in the wilderness for a little while, only to turn up as "mister big"on "sex in the city" series (and its subsequent movie version) - for which we'll forgive him his trespasses ;D

noth then returned to law and order franchise, bypassing the original in favor of "criminal intent." what a high point that was for fans! but, unfortunately, last summer noth again left the law and order fold for greener pastures (and was replaced by jeff goldblum - who himself has injected new life into the "criminal intent" brand).

so here's wishing chris noth a happy birthday (and hoping he drops back in for the occasional guest spots on law and order)!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

christmas around the corner - rockefeller center tree on the way to new york city!

wow - with our supply of halloween candy still unexhausted and thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks down the road, it was a shock to read that a 76 foot spruce pine was cut down in easton, ct, yesterday - destined for a blaze of glory in rockefeller center this christmas season!

i have decidedly mixed feeling (maybe bittersweet better word choice here?) about cutting down such a beautiful tree - noble as it is - for such commercial purposes. but, i guess that can be said about any live tree destined for the same fate.

in any event, it should bring plenty of holiday cheer to the city next month! but, for now, i'm in no rush to blow past thanksgiving to get there :D

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

christopher mcdougall, "born to run: a hidden tribe, super athletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen" book review

I just finished Christopher McDougall’s "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen" and I am of two minds about it. Aside from the insufferably long and ridiculous subtitle, "Born to Run" (with apologies to Springsteen) is a fast (maybe a pun there?), easy and enjoyable read - especially for runners (shod or barefoot). On the other hand (foot) - if you prefer running shoes during training and races, the tone of this paean to barefoot running may leave you less than enthusiastic.

Let me say this: any author who can invoke a scene from "The World According to Garp" (no, not that one) in the first few pages, include quotes from Kerouac’s "The Dharma Bums" and Ginsberg’s "Howl," toss in references to Carlos Castaneda’s "Don Juan" (who knew that the Yaqui’s were actually the Tarahumara?) and Gary Kasparov’s chess strategies and, finally, quote the classic lines from Charles Bukowski’s "Factotum" - without actually mentioning the book by name:

"If you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the Gods, and the nights will have flame and fire... You will ride life straight to perfect laughter, it’s the only good fight there is."

makes McDougall’s book a must read! As a bonus, it's about running!

McDougall found himself searching for the Tarahumara accidentally, with the simple question, "why does my foot hurt?" From one doctor to another, one running shoe to the next, one treatment or another - the search for painless running led him to the mysterious Tarahumara and their incredible running skills (which seemed to grow more powerful with each rendering). Between the trek to find them in Mexico’s Sierra Madre, and his description of them running the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Race in Colorado, I was hooked.

As an aside, a year ago I read a National Geographic profile on the Tarahumara (who call themselves "Raramuri"), "A People Apart," in the November 2008 issue. It was a fascinating piece - and focused on the quickly vanishing traditions of their culture (including endurance running) in the face of modernization. Almost hidden in the text of "Born to Run" was a confirmation of this sad development. "Caballo Blanco" disqualified a group of Tarahumara from the 50 miler because they cheated and cut the course!

"The Urique Tarahumara had lost their old way of running, he realized, and their confidence along with it. They weren’t the running people anymore, they were just guys desperately trying to keep up with the living shadows of themselves."

The sad consequence of a few too many pick-ups to cover the vast distances between towns and households?

McDougall did a good job of painting his characters, Ann Transon, Scott Jurek , Barefoot Ted, Jenn, Billy, and most importantly, Caballo Blanco. I won’t spend time here fleshing out those individual stories. The only major downer was the chapter full of junk science extolling the virtues of barefoot running. For me, it was a complete turnoff. We had gotten plenty on the virtues of this new religion from Barefoot Ted (naturally) and McDougall’s own conversion to the wonders of bare feet. The proselytizing crossed the line.

If an entire chapter of barefoot browbeating wasn’t enough, then the ad hominem attack on Bill Bowerman quickly helped reach the low point of the book. "For a guy who told so many people how to run, Bowerman didn’t do much of it himself." But McDougall saved his coup de grace for Nike: "Blaming the running injury epidemic on big, bad Nike seems too easy - but that’s okay, because it’s largely their fault[!]" (emphasis mine). Luckily, he redeemed himself with the follow-up material on the evolution of running and the 50 mile race itself.

All in all, if you overlook the cheap shots at Nike and Bowerman, and you're one of the lucky few who has no problem with running shoes, "Born to Run" is a great read!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

pat, andrea, and alexa attend mad men season finale party hosted by basket of kisses!

sunday night, pat, andrea and alexa went into the city to watch the last episode of mad men's 3rd season at "basket of kisses" season finale party in midtown. pat and her sister are big fans of the show - but the lipp sisters and their fan site are in a class of their own! they met the lipp sisters, special guest michael gladis ("paul kinsey"), fellow fans, watched the last episode and, in sum, had an awesome time!

i had hoped to post some of pat's pictures yesterday - but was utterly flummoxed by her new camera! pictures aside, maybe she'll do a guest post on the party and season three finale?!

deborah, pat, and roberta

michael gladis and alexa

Monday, November 9, 2009

fall of the berlin wall - 20th anniversary!

twenty years ago today, november 9, 1989, the infamous symbol of soviet oppression, the berlin wall, finally crumbled at the hands of free people! that historic event paved the way for the subsequent reunification of germany - and, ultimately, the collapse of the soviet union and end of the cold war. the world hasn't be the same since!

berlin has a special place in my world. i spent most of the summer of 1984 traipsing around europe with a eurorail pass. the biggest chunk of that time was spent in italy, but the emotional highpoint of that summer was probably the week i spent in west berlin with a good friend. and of that time, our trip across the wall to east berlin was the most eye-opening experience of my then 21 years on this planet.

i made the obligatory visit to "checkpoint charlie" - now part of a museum exhibit - and the nearby museum of the wall. i purchased a poster of the iconic image of an east german solider tossing away his rifle and escaping to the west (by jumping over the barbed wire that would eventually grow into the wall). that poster still hangs in my office today - 25 years later.

check out this great coverage of the anniversary celebration.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

william blake, jane austen, and puccini exhibits at the morgan library

it seemed strange to take the weekend off from races (although i did get in a pair of ten milers - but that's for a different post). it was even stranger to spend a good chunk a perfect running day inside - even if that interior space happened to be the morgan library! i've been a huge fan of the morgan since the early 1980's - going there during my college years to check out their unrivaled collection of "books of hours!"

i became even more fascinated with the musuem and its collections after i read "the house of morgan" a few years ago. what made me especially keen about visiting the museum was the william blake exhibit - and the 21 book of job watercolors on display! ever since i read william safire's take on the book of job - profusely illustrated with blake's work - i've wanted to see these watercolors up close.

the jane austen exhibit was a great bonus. i don't count myself a fan of austen - the 19th century russians (dostoevsky, in particular) are more my cup of tea. but the relics of her writing life were fun to see (along with the film commissioned for the exhibit). puccini was an even bigger surprise - albeit much smaller exhibit.

if you happen to be at 36th street and madison - stop in for a visit!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

just registered for the 2010 boston marathon!

while it goes against every procrastination instinct in my body, i bit the bullet and registered for the 2010 boston marathon this morning. with the following warning boldly on display at the boston athletic association site:

"Registration for the 114th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 19, 2010 is ongoing and the race is rapidly approaching its field size limit.

Registration is underway. If you have met the qualifying standards and intend to enter the race, the B.A.A. strongly advises you to register now before the field is filled."

i wasn't about to risk a disastrous repeat of last year - when i was unceremoniously closed out of the 2009 race because a record fast filling of the race field! so ended my 5 year streak of boston marathons :(

i'll have more to say about the 2010 edition (my second favorite event at any distance, behind the hometown favorite nyc marathon) in the months ahead. for now, suffice to say - beantown bound - again - in the spring :D

update: the 2010 boston marathon registration closed on november 13, 2009!!

Friday, November 6, 2009

ticker tape parade to celebrate yankees' world series championship!!

that's the view outside my office window just before 8 a.m. this morning - looking down vesey street towards broadway. within another hour, the streets become so thick with fans there to see the ticker tape parade honoring the yankees' world series victory - that crossing broadway was impossible! and that was hours before the parade even kicked off at battery park and made its way north along broadway to city hall! it was the only picture i managed to take because my batteries died :(

it's been 9 years since the yankees won the world series title and the city threw a parade down the canyon of heros to celebrate (but two years since the last parade - for the superbowl champion giants). when i got to the office this morning there were huge plastic bags filled with shredded paper confetti in the lobby for tenants to bring upstairs for the parade. later that morning our building management got further into the spirit of things and set up a table with coffee and breakfast fare in the lobby!

the parade ended at city hall park, where after introductions and short speeches, mayor bloomberg gave the team keys to the city! and the most fun news was that giardi would change now change his number from 27 to 28 - anticipating next year! giardi also announce that pitchers and catchers had to report for spring training in only 91 days!

now, with the post-season over, time to focus on football. unfortunately, the giants flew under the nyc radar screen for the last 3 weeks and ran up a losing streak. let's end that on sunday!

needless to say, no work got done in my office today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

yankees beat philadelphia and win their 27th world series championship!!

that picture says it all!! yankees won game 6 at the stadium last night, 7-3, and the series, 4-2, and earned their 27th world series championship - woo hoo!! it was an incredible way to end the season at the brand new yankee stadium.

last night was all hideki matsui - who batted in 6 of the 7 runs the yankees scored, and tied a world series record for rbi's in one game in the process. watching matsui battle pedro martinez in the his first at bat in the bottom of the second, which resulted in his first of 2 home runs, was impressive. martinez had nothing on him last night. matsui (who went 3-4) was named the series mvp - deservedly so!!

it's been nine years since the yankees won the world series. rudy guiliani was mayor in that pre-9/11 season. last night he (one of the yankees biggest fans) was there, along w/his successor in office, mike bloomberg. according to bloomberg, new york city will stage the biggest celebration ever to honor the yankees.

as i walked to the office this morning, worker were already unloading gear from trucks and setting up the viewing stands at city hall!

bring it on... ticker tape parade on friday - awesome!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

michael lewis, "moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game" book review

"moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game" is a fantastic book. i just finished the 2003 michael lewis book about the impact of statistical anaysis on the unsuspecting old baseball guard this weekend. the book, which examines the 2002 oakland a's is simultaneously dated and fresh! it's dated because revisiting the 2002 season, now 7 years removed, is a trip down memory lane - we know how things turned out for oakland.

but, since i stumbled across this title from reading joe torre's book, "the yankee years," last winter it's all new to me. in fact, i came across "moneyball" at the library book fair - and for just one dollar, snatched it up. as a detached fan of the the art of statistics (caveat: i came away from college statistics with the jaded view that numbers can be made to say whatever you want them to say) i was curious to see the baseball application. now it suddenly became the perfect read for the post-season.

i had heard of "liar's poker," lewis' more famous earlier work - but hadn't read it. i found lewis' writing style instantly approachable - in the "easy read" category. i was draw into his narrative immediately, and suddenly i found myself interested in the young billy beane, his agonizing career decision making process, entry into professional baseball (via the mets), and unusual exit strategy (from player to front office scout)! most of beane's contemporaries were incredulous that he would voluntarily step off the field and chose not to play baseball - but scout others who did want to play!!

on a parallel track, lewis introduce the godfather of baseball stat geeks -bill james. james complied ream of data and self-published his "baseball abstract" to what seemed like an infinitesimal audience. but he kept garnering "readers" - if that term can be seriously applied to someone whose main focus is to pour over the columns (and columns) of numbers contained in the "abstract!" words were secondary to james (and his followers) - who preferred to let the numbers talk for themselves. it seemed that james' fans and followers were everywhere - except in the offices of major league baseball!

the book works because it shows how beane - practically a heretic to his profession - bypassed the collective wisdom of his own scouts to find "undervalued" players in the draft (and later in trades with other teams), via stats. and by stats he doesn't mean the typical baseball numbers relied upon by the other teams - but yardsticks developed by thinking outside the box (or in this case, the diamond). his approach was ingenious - but only after it produced some interesting results. it's a testament to how far on the cutting edge beane was in 2002 as witnessed by how many team have adopted the methodology to some degree or another, in today's game.

"moneyball" isn't just about data - there's plenty of colorful personalities to flesh out the numbers. but it's certainly a book well worth reading for any baseball fan who wants to dig deeper than the traditional box score data. after reading this book, an at bat will never seem the same. a deep pitch count and a walk will take on new dimensions! but don't get lulled into believing that raw statistical analysis, however sophisticated the model, will someday replace common sense - and skill - on the ball field.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009 new york city marathon race report

My eighth New York City Marathon is in the books. Short version: the 3:39:13 finish (8:23 pace) at the 2009 edition was a mild disappointment because I wanted to run a sub-3:30 (and was on that pace through the halfway point). That time was exactly one minute slower than my 2008 finish (3:38:13)! Excluding the Nipmuck Trail Marathon (4:46:54), I ran two marathons faster (Long Island and Maine) and two marathons slower (Albany and Self-Transcendence) this year. Regardless of the time, it was once again a great event and the NYC Marathon continues to be my favorite race - of any distance!

The longer version: the day began with a dark, drizzly drive to White Plains High School where I got on a Westchester Track Club bus for the ride to Staten Island. Emmy and I rode in together. The ride was long and uneventful, but the rain stopped en route. By the time we arrived at the athletes’ village, it looked like it would be a dry, overcast day (perfect running conditions)! Highlights from Fort Wadsworth included free hats from Dunkin Donuts (but no actual donuts), meeting Alicja and Nick at the Achilles staging area, and meet Shannon in the starting corral.

As it turned out, Shannon and I would run a good chunk of the first half together! We started out in the last green corral and managed to work our way up a few corrals as the runners were brought up to the bridge. I’m not fond of the lower level start, but had it been raining I would probably have appreciated the dry first mile and a half. Despite moving up, it still took us over a minute to cross the chip mat at the start! We took the first mile easy and avoided the temptation to weave in and out of the crowded field. The first mile took 8:38.

Mile two, gravity assisted, came in at a brisk 7:23 - and then we settled into a roughly 7:40 (give or take) pace. A high point for me was seeing my mom at Bay Parkway and 4th Avenue. We reached the 5 mile split in 39:11 and hit the 10K mark in roughly 48 minutes. Just after 7 miles (54:26) we caught up to Emmy, who had started in the local competitive corral, and we three ran together for a few more miles. I reached the 10 mile split at 1:17:44 but my first sign of distress was upon me.

At mile 12 I peeled over to the porta-johns - but since they were all occupied, I decided to keep moving and use one at the next mile. I took that mile 12 (and slightly slower pace) to eat a package of power gel shots. Just before the Pulaski Bridge I made the first of two bathroom stops - that mile (13) took 10:06. I reached the half marathon split in 1:44:45 - still clinging to the possibility of a sub-3:30 finish. But my second half miles eventually crept to 8 minutes, I would readjust my target to a sub-3:40 finish.

I reach 15 miles in exactly 2 hours (2:00:28). I’ve never had much luck on First Avenue, and this time around - with a strong headwind - was no different. I had lost sight of Emmy and Shannon at 12 miles, but at 18 miles I ran into Susan. She told me Emmy was just up ahead. Not only did I not catch sight of her until the finish - but I also couldn’t find Rob, who was at mile 19 cheering us on! Still, once I got on the Willis Avenue Bridge I was relieved to have First Avenue done and over with - phew.

Just across the Bridge, I reached mile 20 in 2:42:38 - and soon found myself in a porta-john for the second time - argh! Mile 21, the slowest of the day, took a whopping 10:56! I also noticed the third course change - the added distance in the Bronx. The earlier two (merge point west of Brooklyn Academy of Music and an extra block before the left turn from the Pulaski Bridge) weren’t as interesting. At that point I just tried to keep it together for the run down Fifth to Central Park. Miles 24 and 25 were especially tough (9:11 and 8:56, respectively). I reached 25 miles in 3:29:05 and was confident of squeezing in under 3:40.

I crossed the finish in 3:39:13 - and noticed a girl who finished seconds ahead of me pull off to the side and puke! What I didn’t notice (and only learned about when I got home that night) was a reporter from NBC news trying to get my attention for a couple of words. But a lot of people watching on t.v. did notice - haha! Had I only know, would have tried to look a bit more presentable! After getting my medal, I met up with Luis (volunteering) and Emmy (who had run a 3:31). Shannon finished just ahead of Emmy, with a PR of 3:29!

Then began the grueling death march up west drive to the baggage trucks. This has to be the toughest part of the day - run a marathon, only to walk another one to get dry clothes! Somehow I missed seeing my friend Steve (volunteering) as he handed out food bags. Not only was it a long walk to my baggage truck (21,000), Emmy’s was the very last one (600)! Eventually, we made it out of the park and met up with Rob at 85th Street and Central Park West!

We had a lot more walking in store (return buses left from 62nd Street, across from Lincoln Center). That southbound walk was tempered by some cold beer at great little place on 67th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Last year our post-race rehydration was done at the West Side Brewing Company. The South Hampton Publick House IPA I had definitely took the edge off those post-race bonus miles.

here are some of my race photos.

here is emmy's race report (and some photos).
here is shannon's race report (via runners world forums).

Monday, November 2, 2009

2009 new york city marathon: results and photos

the 2009 nyc marathon (its 40th anniversary) is in the books. it was my 8th time running that fantastic point to point course from staten island to central park - and it's my favorite race of any distance. my 3:39:07 finish included two bathroom stops. but even factoring in those two distractions, i wouldn't have run under 3:30 - so the time was a modest disappointmet. in all other respects - especially the social aspect - it was a great day!

here is my race report. and here are the official results from the nyrr.

here are a few race photos:



rehydrating :D

and here are more race photos.