Wednesday, September 29, 2010

trail mix-up six hour run: race report

The Trail Mix-up Six Hour Run was originally planned as a trail run - but extensive tornado damage forced a reworking that moved the course to the park roads. In terms of nomenclature, it wasn’t really a “mix-up,” it was more like a derailment. The actual course was a shortened version of the Queens 60K and Metropolitan 50M/Kurt Steiner 50K layouts. The trail mix-up was figure eight, roughly a quarter mile shorter than the layout of those two courses. The distance was 2.62 miles and contained an out and back portion and a loop portion. In the final hour or so, the course was shortened to just the 1.26 mile loop portion.

My plan for race was to reach the 50K distance - which worked out to a dozen loops. To count for grand prix points in the BUS series, runners had to cover a minimum of 26.2 miles. I’ve run three six hour races (where I averaged about 33 miles) in the past. As a example of heading into an event with no expectations and surprising myself with the outcome - the 36.8 miles I covered during those six hours in Forest Park turned out to be a PR! I didn’t realize that until I looked up my mileage from the prior six hour runs! But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Emmy, Rob and I car pooled to Forest Park, leaving my house just after 7 and arriving there in about 40 minutes. There were plenty of familiar faces (but a good number opted for the Vermont 50 Miler that same day), including Noonie, Byron, Gail, Eliot, and Phil (who worked the scoring table), to mention just a few. There was one major aid station at the mid-point of the figure eight. Richie got the race underway just after 8 - and off we went.

If I did two loops an hour, I would reach 50K. While thirty minutes a loop seemed a bit conservative, at least at the outset, I expected the mileage to catch up with me. I ran the first couple of loops with Byron and Gail - much faster than I had intended. I typically go out fast (the first two loops were 23:45 and 23:13, respectively), but was surprised to see the next 3 loops go by even faster (22:26, 22:28, and 22:32, respectively), for a five loop split of 1:54:26 - at the half marathon mark.

Since I felt strong (which I suspected had plenty to do with the 20 degree cooler temperature), I just kept up the pace. I thought about stopping for my Ipod, but decided to skip it and stay focused on maintaining a decent pace. While I increasingly slowed over the next five loops (23:56, 24:31, 24:56, 25:10, and 25:34, respectively), a 2:04 split for the second half marathon - my marathon split was 3:58:36 (a 9:07 pace). That left me just over two hours to cover another 2 loops for a 50K!

At that point I was more than pleased (if not surprised) with my race. I took a quick break at that point to towel off and grab some orange Gu chews then pushed on. The 11th loop, at 27:39, reflected that side trip to my drop bag. But I picked up the pace again for the 12th loop, and ran a 26:15 to reach the 50K split in 4:52:30 (a 9:19 pace). Now that I had reached my mileage goal, any additional distance was gravy. But now I would add some walking to the mix. My 13th, and final main loop, took 31:48 (and shows the walking breaks).

With roughly 35 minutes left on the clock, Richie moved me on to the short loop. While I could have squeezed in one more main loop in that time, I was more than happy to ease up the pace. I completed two small loops (2.52 miles) in 33:28 and another 2/10's of a mile of the short loop when the whistle sounded to end the race. All together, I reached 36.82 miles (an average pace of 9:47). That was good enough for 4th place overall, and first in my age group. The reward was pizza - and Southern Tier Harvest Ale (a growler of which awaited in my cooler)!

It was fun socializing afterwards (although we missed Eliot, who left after he logged 26.2 miles) while we waited for the result to be compiled. Byron took first place, and Gail was the first woman finisher (Noonie took second place and Emmy took third). During the clean-up, Richie announced the availability of a stray watermelon(!) - which I gladly offered to adopt. Carrying that huge melon back to the car was, seriously, the hardest part of my day :O

Here are some race photos.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

banned books week :O

we're in the middle of "banned books week" - september 25 through october 2, 2010! for such an important event, it's received little if any publicity. i only learned of it this morning.

freedom of speech is a fundamental cornerstone of our liberties. it's truly amazing to scan the list of books (including that trusty classic, the bible) that have been banned over the centuries. and the threat to our freedom to read is ever present - just glance at the "modern" books that have been banned recently ("the lord of the rings" and "harry potter")!

if that isn't frightening enough, just one step below the banning of books is the particular noxious tactic of actually burning them (to physically insure that they can't be read)! while that extreme may seem medieval (or harken back to nazi germany) it reared its ugly face mere weeks ago in the florida of 2010! it leaves me speechless!

don't take what you're reading for granted!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

trail mix-up 6 hour run: race photos and results

we had some great running weather for the trail mix-up 6 hour run today - overcast most of the time and significantly cooler than the temps we've had the last few days. the tornado that swept across queens two weeks ago forced the race off the trails and on to the park roads. but aside from that little twist, it was a good day. i ran 36.8 miles (well over my conservative target of just logging 50k), which was good enough for 4th place overall.

race report to follow. here are the race results.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

fall out from storm moves "trail-mix" 6 hour run off the trails :(

it's official, the trail-mix 6 hour run has been moved off the debris strewn trails and onto the park roads. below is the text from the email we received earlier this week that explained the circumstances of the new course layout. in keeping with his characteristic great humor, richie has decided to rename the event the "trail mix-up" 6 hour run :D

I was away for a few days, and was watching the morning news. I couldn't believe my ears that there was a tornado in Forest Hills on Thursday. A TORNADO IN FOREST HILLS!!! My first impression that it had to be some other Forest Hills like in Wichita. But I then realize one does not usually speak of hills and Kansas in the same sentence. I listened some more and to my dismay it was Queens. I had a sick feeling in my gut that Forest Park would be part of the carnage,

You may recall two years ago that there was a violent storm at the conclusion of the Unisphere 50. That storm lasted for 5 hours and did havoc in Forest Park. Several dozen trees fell and some of that devastation has still not been cleared. I could imagine what a tornado would do. I called our first president of BUS, Ben Grundstein. He runs three days a week in the Forest Park woods. I felt I would get a more reliable report from Ben than Fox News, and Ben is also not affiliated with the Tea Party or Central Perk.

After my conversation with Ben, my fears were confirmed. The Park took a major hit. I was not aware that I traded my New Balances for a pair of red pumps and my new best friend is now Toto. I also learned later that a few other BUS "haunts" like Crocheron, Cunningham and Juniper Valley Parks had suffered major damage. I had to come back a day early from my brief journey to see for myself.

I first walked the bridle path loop. In less than a half mile, there were already 3 massive trees fallen across the path. I didn't even bother with the trail loop. I could notice from a distance that several sections have become wooden blockades. I knew that some kind of revision would need to be made.

Fortunately, the road and footpath sections were spared, except in a couple of areas. I laid out a paved "lollipop" loop about 2.6 to 2.7-mile in distance to be the existing race loop. The new route will be rolling and could be considered challenging after 3 or 4 hours. Entrants will be transferred to a shorten 1.3-mile loop in the final hour.

Naturally, I have to made new arrangements with the various bureaucracies about the new changes. But I don't foresee a problem. The current road and footpath conditions are filled with debris like leaves and twigs. Fortunately for us, there will be a 5K a week later in Forest Park for the benefit of the Forest Park Trust and that could mean a cleanup project in the near future could be put into motion.

I will admit that I am disappointed that the original Trail Mix cannot be held. I was very fond of the nature of the event and even its name, though Minnesotans may claimed I plagiarize it from them. But like the theater, the Broadway Ultra Society show still must go on, and the plan is that there still will be a 6-hour event in Forest Park on Sunday, September 26. But there will be a new name. It was created by ultra standout and ultra historian, Nick Marshall. The new name is now the Trail Mix-up. I am giving out a cool cap designed by David Luljak to early entrants. Hurry to get in your race application. The entry fee is still only $20.

Friday, September 24, 2010

national punctuation day :D

today, september 25, is national punctuation day - something i didn't know existed until i heard it mentioned on cbs radio this morning. this is the 7th anniversary, having been created in 2004 by jeff rubin - who took it upon himself to publicize the need for correct usage! just writing this post make me double back to check my own grammar and punctuation! while poor grammar and punctuation - two entirely separate things for the purests among you - are pet peeves of mine, one of my favorite authors had little use for either!

jack kerouac was, on a good day, considered a poor writer - if not an outright barbarian - because he ignored punctuation with impunity! that isn't to say he started out that way. his first novel, "the town and city," was a masterpiece of wolfian literature. he had to really work himself up to abandon the traditional writing style of his generation (especially punctuation) - to go on the road and create to new beat :D

i'm not exactly sure how one celebrates "punctuation" day. it's a generally a pretty smarmy business pointing out the mistakes of others (especially trite ones). so i guess it's one where we need to focus on self-editing :D still, a correctly placed comma can save a life - so if you see stuff like this: "let's eat grandma" - go out of your way to insert the lifesaving comma :O

Thursday, September 23, 2010

2010 nyc marathon tune-up: race report

i almost skipped this report because the first thing i did after i crossed the finish line sunday morning was accidentally erase my splits - argh! after dutifully recording each split for 18 miles i was more than amazed at my inability to remember the proper sequence for storing them on my ironman. i could easily plead mental fatigue - which was definitely there - but this new watch has bedeviled me more times than i'd like to remember. since my three loops were relatively consistent, the missing splits shouldn't matter too much.

this was my third consecutive tune-up, and it almost didn't happen because the date conflicted with the fall frolic 30k in stratford, connecticut. i switched races, and only registered for the tune-up on friday, because i needed one more nyrr race (together with the 2010 nycm) to complete my 9+1 requirement for the 2011 nyc marathon. during the race i kept marveling at the wisdom of running 18 miles to get 1 credit - when next weekend is the 5th avenue mile and it also nets 1 credit!

as for the race itself, my plan was to run 8 minute miles; basically three 48 minute loops. emmy and i carpooled in - and despite leaving my house at 6, still ran into time trouble getting to the start! it took so long to find a spot that she dropped me off at 103rd and lexington avenue, while she continued to look for parking. on the way over to central park i fell in with a huge crowd of runners on 102nd street. that's when i realized it would be a crowded race! when i got to the main road i heard announcements that the corrals would close in 5 minutes - and i still had to get over to the transverse and drop off my bag!

i made it to the 3 corral just as it closed - way too close for comfort. except for seeing my friend steve at the baggage check, it would be a long time before i caught sight of a familiar face that morning. in fact, it was steve who i saw mid-way through the third loop, and then my old friend sal, accompanying an achilles runner, later in the third loop. i didn't see emmy during the entire race - not until i crossed the finish line and found her waiting there for me! but i've gotten ahead of myself.

the first mile, heading north into the harlem hills, took me about 8:20; and the second, along the west side hills, also clocked in above 8 minutes. this wasn't an auspicious start - and got me to wondering if 48 minute loops were doable under the circumstances! but i got my head into the running and managed to finish the first loop in roughly 47:50 - right on target. as i started on the second loop i wondered if i'd get through the next 2 miles in under an 8 minute pace. i remember feeling relieved when both came in the 7:50's.

the second loop of the park turned out to be my best of the three. my split for the second 6 miles was just under 47 minutes - which gave me a cushion of just over a minute to maintain the sub-8 minute pace for the final loop of the park. i definitely needed it because that one became a struggle to deal with the mid-pack runners that i had begun to catch and the mental fatigue that had crept up on me (i really wished for my ipod during those last miles). the toughest was mile 17 - and cat hill. that smile gets ever more wicked each time around!

but i managed to keep it together and finished strong in 2:23:03 - a 7:57 pace. i was more than pleased to have gotten the race over with - and made it in under my target (even if it was 3+ minutes slower than 2009). emmy had finished 2 minutes ahead of me - and, as i found out afterwards, went straight to her corral without checking a bag. she took first in her age group! on the way out of the park we ran into anthony, wayne, herb, and eric. they each logged some pre-race miles before the start.

here are some race photos.

next up is the "trail-mix" 6 hour run in queens this weekend. my next nyrr race will be the nyc marathon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

mid-week field hockey game

this afternoon i got to see katie play field hockey. most of the team's games have been away, so i couldn't pass up watching them play over at the middle school. i ran an easy 6 miles when i got home from the office and got over to the field in plenty of time for the 4:40 start. a bit warm (in the 80's), but otherwise fantastic weather to be outside. the girls won, 6-0, and improved their record to 4-0-1 - an awesome start to the season!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

allen ginsberg's "howl" movie review

On Sunday night Pat and I went to see a screening of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” at the Jacob Burns Film Center. The film was followed by a question and answer session with the co-directors, Robert Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, conducted by Janet Maslin of the New York Times. I had looked forward to seeing “Howl” since it premiered at the at the Sundance Film Festival last January.

But, to fast forward to the Q & A, the very first question Maslin posed to Epstein and Friedman was simply (and I paraphrase), “what did sort of film was it?” It’s neither a documentary nor a dramatization. The film has practically no original dialog because the entire script is constructed from the text of the poem, interviews given by Ginsberg, and the trial transcript. Their answer was a rather coy, “it’s a poetic event.”

I’d buy that - simply because you can’t pigeon-hole a film that’s part animation, part poetry reading, and part dramatization. By way of back story, Epstein and Friedman were brought in by the Ginsberg Estate in 2002 to dramatize the poem and the subsequent obscenity trial in time for the celebration of its 50th anniversary - 2007! Along the way the project took on an added dimension when they decided to animate the poem itself - and secured the unique talent of Erik Drooker for those sequences. Drooker worked with Ginberg more than a decade earlier to produce a volume of “illustrated” poems (which included parts of “Howl”). As an aside, Drooker’s mom was in the audience Sunday night.

Getting back to the film, James Franco is spot on as the 29 year old Allen Ginsberg. It opens with Ginsberg (these sequences were filmed in black and white) at infamous Six Gallery reading that introduced “Howl” to as yet unsuspecting America. The reading quickly morphed into the first animation sequence. From that point on, the film jumps to and from the reading, the animation, the trial, and an interview Ginsberg gives to an unseen reporter. The animation, which was done entirely in Thailand, is a phallically graphic Fantasia-like experience. As a stand alone interpretation of “Howl,” it would be an interesting to sit through in its entirety.

The interview Ginsberg gives to the unseen reporter is meant to be one that Ginsberg gave to Time Magazine in Rome (which has subsequently been lost to time). Ginsberg was never at the trial, not even in the United States, when these events unfolded. He was actually in Tangiers - and was flown to Rome by Time Magazine for the interview. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was actually the defendant in the obscenity trial, told Ginsberg he wasn’t needed (nor relevant) for the trial. But Ginsberg did correspond with him about the progress of the trial.

Jake Erlich, one of the pre-eminent first amendment lawyers of that generation (and played here by Jon Hamm) defended Ferlinghetti at the trial. The district attorney was played by David Straitham and the judge was played Bob Balaban. While the outcome wasn’t as foregone as many people might imagine today (thanks to hindsight), the film makers took some liberties with the recreation that made it seem much closer than what actually transpired. The prosecution was only able to muster two witnesses to testify. Both (played by Mary Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels) were shown.

The defense, on the other hand, had nine witnesses testify (and could easily have doubled that total). But the Epstein and Friedman opted to show only one (capably played by Treat Williams). Nor did the film dramatize any of the attendant publicity that followed the course of the trial (aside from an occasional photo of a newspaper clipping). Even more remarkable, principal actors in the events didn’t get any lines - most notably Ferlinghetti (who sat at the witness table and uttered not a word throughout the proceedings)! In a similar vein, when Kerouac and Cassady were portrayed - neither one spoke a word of dialog. What’s up with that? While the film is about all about “Howl” - each of the aforementioned had plenty to say about the poem and Ginsberg himself!

That said, this is a must watch film for any fan of the beat generation. Franco, himself, is a huge fan of the beats and brought that knowledge and interest to the role. He was the first actor hired for the project and spent months researching the young Allen Ginsberg while the rest of the cast took shape. Interestingly, the last actor cast was Jon Hamm - perhaps the one with the most period experience from his “Mad Men” character Don Draper. As Epstein and Friedman related it, he was hired on Friday and was on the set Monday morning shooting his scenes!

Don’t pass up seeing this film on the big screen :D

Monday, September 20, 2010

2000 miles logged for 2010... so far :D

yesterday's nyc marathon tune-up pushed my 2010 mileage above the 2000 mark (2011.1). i had hoped to reach 2000 miles by labor day so, in that respect, i've fallen a bit off the pace. i reached 1000 miles in early may, and it's taken just over 4 months for the second 1000 miles.

the stats for each thousand are very similar. more than 40% (415 miles) of the first thousand represented race miles over 21 races. the second thousand (1011.1, actually) also had over 40% race miles (412.2) spread over 26 races. the mix of race miles changed slightly, with just 4 ultras and 1 marathon (excluding the 70 miles from my vermont dnf) that totalled 278.2 miles. i had 6 ultras and 2 marathons that totalled 307 race miles during the first 1000 miles.

the balance of the race miles during the second 1000 reflected an increased number of shorter races. in fact, i ran 5 more races (excluding the vermont dnf), than i did during the first 1000 miles. the remaining (non-race) mileage consisted mainly of daily 4-6 mile training runs along with the longer (10-15 mile) weekend runs. i rarely ran longer than 8 miles on weekdays (but would occasionally run doubles).

the 3000 mile mark now seems unattainable with only 3 months and 10 days left to the year. with my monthly average at just over 200 miles, a more realistic goal is adding another 750 miles to the 2010 total. stay tuned :D

Sunday, September 19, 2010

2010 ing nyc marathon tune-up: race photos and results

great weather for 3 loops of central park this morning. the marathon tune-up 18 miler had almost 5,000 finishers - that's a lot of runners going long! my 2:23:03, came in just under my targeted 8 minute pace (7:57). i was pleased (despite the drop off from my sub 2:20 finish last year) because i had only decided to enter the tune-up on friday. emmy took first place in her age group! anthony, wayne, herb, and eric all ran varying distances before the start!

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

jimi hendrix died in london of a drug overdose, 40 years ago today

40 years ago today, on september 18, 1970, jimi hendrix was found dead in the london apartment of his girlfriend - he was only 27 years old. the cause of death was asphyxia (he choked on his own vomit) from an overdose of sleeping pills. it was a tragic end to the life of one of rock's greatest guitarists.

earlier this year a new album of previously unreleased hendrix studio material, "valleys of neptune," was released (together with remastered editions of his classic albums - which included bonus materials). that album was an excuse for me to reintroduce hendrix to my ipod. except for fm airplay, i hadn't listened to much hendrix since my high school days.

in honor of his memory, listen to some jimi hendrix tunes today.

r.i.p. jimi hendrix

Friday, September 17, 2010

packet pick-up at nyrr for the ing nyc marathon tune-up

the nyrr marathon tune-up is a late addition to the race calendar. actually, it's really a substitution because i had planned to run the fall frolic 30k in stratford, ct, on sunday. i've run this 18 miler a few times - and it generally does not conflict with the fall frolic. typically, they fall on successive weekends and i can run both races. not this year.

i went up to the nyrr with anthony and eric - both of whom are running at least one loop of the park before the start of the tune-up (eric plans to run 2 pre-race loops of the park). it's not a marathon tune-up for them - rather a long training run for a hundred miler late next month.

in a surprise, when as i was about to head upstairs and register, i ran into my good friend steve, who had already picked up his bib and was getting a race shirt. he's running the nyc marathon for the second time (separated by a gap of about 20 years!). and, if one surprise wasn't enough, i finally got to meet janet (a regular on the rw online forums and a fb friend)!

as for the tune-up, looking forward to the 3 loops of the park - the 7 am start, not so much :D

if you're at this one, say hello!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a memorable training run in the rain :O

the forecast had been for rain to arrive in the late afternoon, early evening. still, i thought i could get in an easy 6 miles (despite the dark skies) before heading over to the high school to pick katie up when the bus brought her team back from a field hockey game. the plan worked for the first 4 miles that i ran on the post road.

normally i'd knock off the entire 6 on the post road, but since a light drizzle had started up, i decided to head for home. as luck had it, by the time i reached my house, the drizzle had stopped and i decided to tack on the remaining two miles (via a one mile out and back that ran into eastchester). that went well for the first mile.

when i reached the turnaround, the drizzle had returned with its big brother - actual rain. i didn't mind it - especially since i'd be done in 8-9 minutes. famous last words because after almost a half mile the heavens opened with a vengeance! again, i didn't mind the buckets of rain and sloshing through rivers of waters that appeared to rise almost instantaneously. what scared me to death were the repeated loud cracks of thunder - easily audible, even with my ipod playing (in shuffle mode).

no less than a half a dozen flashes of lightning lit up the darken sky. as i was cursing myself for tempting fate, gene simmon's bass line singled kiss' "god of thunder" which suddenly came on my ipod. spooky to say the least (did this little machine have a mind of its own?)!! i made it home safe and sound - drenched to bone - no worse for the wear.

getting to the high school was pretty gnarly business because all the rain caused flooding at more than a half dozen intersections. the girl's field hockey game (in irvington) was called off at half time - and they arrived back drenched as well (albeit winning the rain curtailed game made that a trivial detail).

all in all, i'm going to remember this training run not because of the weather - but because of the ipod and it's mysterious song selection :O

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"the typewriter is holy: the complete, uncensored history of the beat generation" book review

“The Typewriter is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation” by Bill Morgan was released this summer along with “Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters,” edited by Morgan and David Stanford. Morgan is a prolific author on all things beat - and it’s more than a bit incongruous to see the vastly different volumes side by side. I read “The Letters” first, then followed it up with “The Typewriter is Holy.” While the former is a “must read” (if not a “must own”) for fans of the beat generation, I have some mixed feelings about the latter.

First off, my pet peeve about long winded subtitles (“complete uncensored”) is juxtaposed against the books contents: a slim, thumbnail sketch (“concise” to be charitable) of the “history” of the somewhat amorphously defined generation. Instead of sticking with the core members, Kerouac, Ginsberg, William Burroughs - and building upon their interactions with collaborators, friends and muses - Morgan casts an unnecessarily wide net. His working definition of it seemed to be that any friend and associate of Allen Ginsberg qualified for inclusion!

Second, while I wholeheartedly agree with Morgan’s premise that Ginsberg was the motivating force who propelled the “beat generation” into existence (building on Kerouac’s coinage of the term itself) by his sheer determination to publicize their collective works (and antics?), the lengths he goes to include “members” can be extreme. It’s hardly conceivable that any scholar of the beat generation - however broadly it is defined - would include Paul Bowles!

Again, while employing Ginsberg and his circle as the framework, Morgan’s “history” tapers off after the death of Neal Cassady and Kerouac in the late 60's. He skims the 70's (touching on the “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics” and Gary Synder’s “Turtle Island”), and the 80's (the resurgence of interest in Kerouac and the beats) - but plenty of history is left off the big table. Morgan does mention the significant Ginsberg - Bob Dylan relationship, but overlooks Ginsberg’s connection with “The Clash” in the early 80's (especially Ginsberg’s connection to the Clash shows at Bonds) and work with Paul Mccartney in the early 90's (“Ballad of the Skeletons”). Nor does he explore William Burrough’s influence on Patti Smith.

Still, “The Typewriter is Holy” is worth reading - if only to reintroduce the now quaintly antique term “typewriter” to this generation of texters. Morgan knows his stuff - and I hope this book would, in turn, bring readers to his biography of Allen Ginsberg (which is fantastic) - or to reading “The Letters” as a follow-up. The only serious drawback of this slim volume, which is a result of the format, is the lack of any discussion of the literature these beats produced.

Monday, September 13, 2010

2010 norwalk half marathon: race report

The Norwalk (“Sam Elpern”) Half Marathon closes out the six race summer series. This year, in something of a rarity, it was chilly enough at the start to arrive wearing a long sleeve shirt! The chill didn’t last long - but it gave us great running conditions. The half marathon was my fifth of the six races in the series. I had a sub-1:40 time goal in mind for the double loop course.

I’ve run this half marathon many times over the last decade, with widely varying results. My times ranged from 1:29 (2005) through 1:49 (2009) - and, seemingly, everything in between. When anemia kept me from running the race in 2008, I volunteered at a water station instead! I’ve even jogged it while recovering from a calf pull (2009).

A 7:30 pace seemed doable at the start. But, within the first few miles, I realized that the second loop would put that pace out of reach. Mile one went by in 6:32 - and I suspected (correctly) that it was short. Miles two and three were 7:35's, and mile 4 was 7:42, for a 4 mile split of 29:26. Mile 5 (and its long climb) took 8:02 and still had me at a 7:30 pace (37:29).

Except for miles eight and thirteen (7:25s), there would be no more 7:30 miles for me. I reached 10 miles in 1:16:27 - and could still run a 1:40 if I did the last 5k in 23:30. Interestingly, that 10 mile split was 2 minutes faster than my Westport 10 miler and 2 minutes slower than the training run I followed it up with the next day!

But luck wasn’t with me. Revisiting the climb in mile 5 (now 13), it took me 8:14 to crest the hill. I got some of it back on the downhill in mile 12 (7:25), but my 13 mile split was exactly 1:40 - and I still had a tenth of a mile left to run. I finished in 1:40:48 - a 7:42 pace. Given that time was 8+ minutes faster than my 2009 result, I was pretty happy.

While we waited for the results for the half marathon and the overall series standings to be complied, there was plenty of socializing (plus ice cream, watermelon, and bagels to munch on). I was amazed to learn that I had finished 3rd in my age group for the series! That was a shock - and I was more than thrilled to bring home a trophy for the series.

Here are some race photos.

Next up: the Fall Frolic 30k

Sunday, September 12, 2010

2010 norwalk half marathon: race photos and results

it was a fantastic day to run the last race in the norwalk summer series, the sam ephern half marathon! it was strange to see runners in long-sleeved tees (including me) in the chilly pre-start temperatures. but the chill didn't linger - not beyond the first mile. i had a 1:40 target in mind for the race - and missed it by 44 seconds (1:40:44).

in a surprise, i took 3rd place in my age group for the overall series. this was the first time in a few years that i hadn't registered for the entire series because i didn't think i'd be able to make the enough races (4) to score. as it turned out, i managed to run 5 of the 6 races.

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

Saturday, September 11, 2010

never forget: today is the 9th anniversary of 9/11

today is the 9th anniversary of the cowardly acts of terror on september 11, 2001 - we'll never forget that day. i've posted on the 9/11 anniversary in 2009 and 2008. another year has passed. this anniversary is marred by controversies over the proposed building of a mosque near the world trade center site - and a pastor in florida who threatened to burn copies of the koran today (he didn't).

this is a day to remember the victims that died on 9/11 as a result of those despicable acts. it's a day to honor the heros and survivors. it's a day to remember how our country came together and rebuilt from the dust and rubble. what it's not is a day to get sidetracked by distractions.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

"farewell (l'affaire farewell)" movie review

Pat and I went to see “Farewell (L’Affaire Farewell),” an espionage thriller based loosely on a true story, on Labor Day. “Farewell” was released in July - and eerily coincided with the deportation of 10 Russian spies that had recently been rounded up by the FBI. Was that life imitating art (at least as the discovery that spy ring mirrored themes from “Farewell”)? The story is set in 1981, with cold war spy networks in full bloom. The difference with this film, an almost anti-spy espionage picture, is the protagonists are amateurs.

The KGB officer, colonel Grigoriev, vets raw intelligence before it continues on its travels through the varied Soviet bureaucracies. Later in the film we learn the bulk of Soviet spying is actually industrial espionage. It was cheaper to steal trade secrets and processes than invest in the time consuming (and expensive) research and development. Interestingly, the material passed on by Grigoriev was information the Russians had learned about the allies (and the marginal notes made by the Russian analysts regarding its value).

Grigoriev passes the information (which culminates with the piece de resistance, the “x list” detailing the names of Russian agents around the world), to a mid-level French engineer, Pierre Froment. The twist, which insulated him from suspicion, was his private sector job. Froment was not a spy. More fascinating, still, is the French themselves kept this conduit secret from the external French spies (their CIA) and ran the operation - code named “Farewell” - via the internal security apparatus (their FBI).

The ostensible reason for this subterfuge was that the external service was riddled with Soviet spies! The Soviets, according to the French explanation, didn’t bother to infiltrate the domestic service because there weren’t any worthwhile secrets to steal! Eventually, the documents turned over by Grigoriev land on the desk of Francois Mitterand himself - who, in turn, shares this gold mine of intelligence with Ronald Reagan, in person. While the French refuse to divulge their sources, the American’s eventually learn the identities of the two principals.

In between the start of the information hand-off and the ultimate pay-off with the “x-list” is the slow destruction of Grigoriev’s and Froment’s personal lives from the toll of the lies and duplicity. Froment, with a borderline hysterical wife, continues the “spying” despite flat out telling his wife that he won’t do it any longer (to protect family - living deep in the Russian state). Grigoriev, for some unknown reason, takes a mistress - and in what can only be described as a “fatal attraction” moment - arrives back at his apartment and had the front door opened by
the mistress (his wife, clueless, in the background).

It’s his rebellious son that catches the mistress grabbing a kiss from Grigoriev while the his wife searches for a book on dog training!? The son, a huge fan of Queen, comes to loath his father as a result of this discovery. Grigoriev, who took no money for his traitorous deeds, opted for little things instead - French champagne, brandy, books of poetry, a walkman (which he referred to as a “johnny walkman”), queen cassette tapes (which he called “keen”)... and so on. His payoff was the psychic satisfaction that he was hastening an new Soviet Union for the next generation (specifically his son).

I won’t reveal the outcome - but I will say the “fatal attraction” moment was easily one the most suspenseful of the film. This isn’t your “Bourne Identity” style thriller, but rather a more cerebral “The Lives of Others” cold war drama. If you like “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold” - Le Carre's world of espionage - then this film is for you. I enjoyed it - in no small part because it was set in the early 1980's, and also the Moscow locations were beautiful. It’s a well put together film, well worth catching on the big screen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

back to school...

the fall semester begins this week. but my first class isn't until next tuesday. yesterday, in pleasantville, pace kicked off it's 2010 convocation with an address by temple grandin. i didn't attend, but spent the time putting together a syllabus for my graduate tax class. next up is reworking the syllabus for my undergraduate tax class (the department has opted for a new textbook).

today was katie's first day back at school. considering the students have off on thurday and friday, one has to wonder WHY bother with classes on wednesday? in any event, it was a long day back for her because they had field hockey practice immediately afterwards.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 westport summer series 10 miler: race report

I had planned a short race report for the Westport Summer Series 10 miler, but decided a better subtitle (and focus) should be “a pair of ten milers” - and include the surprising 10 miler I ran the next morning. The 10 miler in Westport was my first race since the soles of my feet were wrecked during the last 25 miles of the Beast of Burden race last month. While I was back to running - and slowly rebuilding my base - I had little, if any, leg speed going into the race. I knew, however, that speed would eventually return (but no idea it would be the very next morning).

I’ve run the Westport 10 miler many times over the last decade. It’s one of my favorite races (right alongside the Brooklyn Half Marathon). While I ran a 1:13 last year, a 1:20 was a more realistic (and maybe soft) target this time around. In my training runs for the week leading up to the race, my pace for the 4-6 milers rarely broke 8 minutes. I planned to start with 7:45 miles and see how long I could maintain that pace - knowing that hill in mile 6, and the climb back to the finish in the last mile, would slow me down.

My split for the first two miles (I missed the first mile marker) was 15:23 - well under an 8 minute pace, and even under a 7:45 pace. Considering the bulk of mile one was downhill, I didn’t take too much comfort in that start. Miles 3 to five bounced between 7:26 and 7:48, with a 5 mile split of 38:12 - but, with mile 6 and 10 the hardest of the course, I thought a 40 minute second half would be doable.

As I turned right just after 5 miles, Paul, volunteering as a course marshal, said “enjoy the hill!” Ha! That’s probably the last expression that would have escaped my lips. I wound up power walking some of the hill - and missing the mile markers for miles 6 and 7. When I reached mile 8, it had taken 24:26 to cover those 3 miles - an 8:03 pace, for a cumulative split of 1:02:29 for the full eight miles. I had plenty of time to bring it in under 1:20 - and might even break 1:18 with some luck.

Mile 9 in 7:26, brought my cumulative time to just over 1:10 (1:10:05). A 7:55 last mile would bring it in under 1:18 - but there was one last climb back to the high school. I missed that goal by just over 20 seconds (8:16) and finished in 1:18:22 (my official result was 1:18:25). Given the circumstances, I was more than pleased with that result. But a surprise was awaiting me the next morning!

With the temperature in the high 50's when I left the house Sunday morning, it actually felt chilly! I had another 10 miler in mind for that morning’s training run - along with a similar 1:20, 8 minute pace, target. The first two miles went by in 16:02 - as planned. But then I felt my leg speed creeping back. Miles 3 and 4 were 7:30/7:28 and mile 5 came in at 7:10! The 5 mile split of 38:11 equaled my Westport 10 Miler split at 5 miles!

The next 5 miles would be very different (and benefit from the lack of two big climbs) animals. Miles 6 and 7 went by in 7:28 and 7:24, respectively. Mile 8 was a shocking 6:53! I had one of those “what’s going on here” moments because I it didn’t seem as if I was pushing the pace. Mile 9 was a relatively slow 7:34 as I pondered this conundrum. But then I powered home the last mile in another 6:53 - and finished in 1:14:25 (4 minutes faster than Westport)!

I was more than incredulous at that result - and went over my splits twice as I cooled down from the run! While my first two miles (16:02) averaged an 8 minute pace, the final 8 miles (58:23) averaged just over a 7:15 pace. And I had no explanation for this remarkable change in speed - other than my body had concluded the recovery phase was finished! Since lightning doesn’t strike twice - and delayed onset muscle soreness occasionally bedevils me - Monday’s 10 miles was a struggle at an 8 minute pace (broken into 6 and 4 mile runs).

Next up: the Norwalk Half Marathon

Monday, September 6, 2010

18 years ago today, hunters discovered body of chris mccandless in the alaskan wilderness

on september 6, 1992, moose hunters discovered the body of chris mccandless (a/k/a alexander supertramp) in the alaskan wilderness. the mccandless story was etched into the american psyche by jon krakauer in his 1996 book, "into the wild" - and the 2007 sean penn docudrama of the same name. another take on the mccandless story the ron lamonthe film, "call of the wild," was sort of a documentary of the documentary - and well worth tracking down to watch.

this post is a bit spooky for me - if not outright eerie. last night, unaware of today's anniversary, i watched "into the wild" - the dvd of which had sat on my coffee table for at least a week (as i worked my way through a couple of other netflix dvds). imagine my surprise when i discovered the coincidence this morning! and i don't normally give any weight, much less any significance, to these type of "occurrences" :D

Sunday, September 5, 2010

beat generation masterpiece, "on the road," published 53 years ago today

on september 5, 1957, jack kerouac's breakthrough masterpiece, "on the road" was finally published by viking books. kerouac had written the book in 1951 - and most of the travels he had documented took place in the closing years of the 1940's. by his own admission, kerouac thought the beat generation days were already done and over when this particular book was finally released!

it was kerouac's second published book - 7 years after he had published "the town and the city." but "on the road" was light years removed from his current world - including his writing (since penning "on the road" kerouac had written another half dozen - as yet still unpublished - novels). still, publication of "on the road" was a major victory for kerouac. he knew that it was a major break from the traditional novel, traditional narrative, traditional grammar, traditional punctuation - for that matter.

it was for all those reasons, and even the subject matter itself, that made publishers gun-shy to release the book. even at viking, it had been under contract for years - but the editors kept hedging on an actual publication date. eventually - and in no small way - thanks to the publication and subsequent obscenity of "howl" and the flowering of the san francisco poetry renaissance - changing times pushed vikings' hand.

and we're forever grateful for that decision. here is the final paragraph of gilbert millsteins's seminal ny times book review - that launched kerouac into the american psyche:

There are sections of "On the Road" in which the writing is of a beauty almost breathtaking. There is a description of a cross-country automobile ride fully the equal, for example, of the train ride told by Thomas Wolfe in "Of Time and the River." There are details of a trip to Mexico (and an interlude in a Mexican bordello) that are by turns, awesome, tender and funny. And, finally, there is some writing on jazz that has never been equaled in American fiction, either for insight, style or technical virtuosity. "On the Road" is a major novel.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

2010 westport summer series 10 miler: race photos and results

great day to get back to racing! the westport summer series 10 miler was my first race since the beast of burden two weeks ago. even though i only skipped a weekend, felt like i hadn't raced in weeks! and, with no real leg speed to speak of, it seemed more like a recovery run than a race. still, i was more than happy to squeeze in under my target of 1:20 (1:18:22). plenty of post-race socializing to boot :D

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

a few more race photos on facebook.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

exercise induced asthma :(

this was a good news/bad news sort of day. katie went into her doctor's appointment for a final okay that the stress fracture had healed up and she was cleared to resume normal activities. the stress fracture from earlier this summer had healed - the good news.

but she was also tested for exercise induced asthma - suspected when she had some shortness of breath at the end of a race, and again at a field hockey tournament. the stress fracture pushed back the test because she wasn't able to run. well, this test came back positive for mild exercise induced asthma!

not a serious thing, easily dealt with via an inhaler. but it was a unexpected surprise. she tried out the inhaler this afternoon at the girls first field hockey scrimmage in rye. no adverse effects, and she seemed no worse for the wear. stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

september 2010 race schedule

except for the "trail-mix" 6 hour run in queens a the end of the month, september is filled with old favorites. while i only list 4 races, there are a couple of shorter distance events that might get added as the month progresses. basically, it's time to cut back on the racing and refocus my attention on training mileage. that also means a return to the track for speed work.

as i mentioned last month, i'm going to start training for marathons again. that means a transition back to shorter events - and a lot more speed work in the process. the marathon game plan was set back about a month because of the vermont - beast of burden business. but with my recovery from the summer 100 moving along (albeit slower than i would have liked), i'm getting ready to revisit intervals :D

the month kicks off with the westport 10 miler, which concludes its summer series. the following weekend brings an end to the norwalk summer series with the half marathon. then, for the 3rd consecutive connecticut weekend, the fall frolic 30k. the month ends with a return to new york (via queens) for the trail-mix 6 hour run.

the new b.u.s. event, which will be scored for the grand prix series, replaces the cancelled staten island 6 hour run which had been scheduled for the prior weekend. this date, unfortunately, conflicts with the vermont 50k/50m also set for that day. interestingly, but coincidentally, the race mileage progresses upward throughout the month: 10, 13.1, 18.6 and 6 hours of running.

here is how the schedule looks so far:

9/4 - westport summer series 10 miler

9/11 - norwalk half marathon

9/19 - fall frolic 30k

9/26 - "trail-mix" 6-hour run