Friday, December 31, 2010

Rocky Balboa

Today I went for the last run of 2010, a casual 50-minute cruise from home out to Rock Creek Park, past the stables and Park Police headquarters, up past the old ford over Rock Creek (which my stepfather recalls crossing when he was a child living in DC) and back home via Military Road. I started slow and stiff but I warmed up and had a strong if not fast last 20 minutes. Had I thought when heading out it was the last of the year I might have tried something more momentous.

I'm supposed to add 3-4 days of strength training weekly for the next four or five weeks. I couldn't bring myself to head in to the gym (why are we members there again?), so I did some calisthenic-style leg exercises on the back porch and decided to finish with the walking lunge. The assignment is to hold a barbell over the head while striding and dipping the back knee more or less to the ground. With not a barbell in sight, I tried one of the summer wheels from my car that I have stacked against the fence. I can only imagine what a sight that presented for the neighbors. Rocky Balboa would be proud.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not Watching Football

This is a great time of year, when I will not be watching football. A few notes about that:

1. There is no better time to ski than on Super Bowl Sunday. Lift lines are short, the snow is good and the lifties post the scores on the bulletin boards usually reserved for notices like "Joe Smith report to the first aid shack".
2. Sunday afternoons in winter are great times to run or to catch a Kennedy Center matinee.
3. None of the Redskins, the Big Red or the Bearcats are worth watching in any event. And I haven't yet become enamored with the Colts.
4. One day, while VAPping in Cincinnati, I picked up the paper (Enquirer) and saw the words "Who Dey" spread all over the front page. No joke. I understood it was a cheer of some local renown, but I couldn't believe that a paper that purports to report on important events devoted that much ink to the Bengals.
5. Once in high school I was driving to watch friends play baseball for the local high-school team. Dad made an off-hand remark to the effect of "one would think you'd want to play yourself, rather than watch others play." That made quite an impression.

Admittedly, there are many who hold contrary views. I'd love to hear them!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Antitrust Proceduralism

It's that time of day when after two cups of coffee I start having ideas that I will likely never bring to fruition. (It's also the time of day when I'm most vulnerable to suggestions that I take on new projects, when two symposium pieces and a paper in the course of the next six months sounds completely do-able. Spencer asks (post below) how to say "no"; my personal answer is, stay off the caffeine. I've been looking for a new year's resolution . . .)

But here's an idea on which I wonder if anybody has comments: Antitrust Proceduralism. I recently canvassed the surprisingly broad body of writing on schools of antitrust thought, including what are sometimes almost silly debates about whether the writer's forebears were more influential in the development of the law than were another writer's forebears. (My dad can beat up your dad!) I find myself thinking that none of the schools of economic thought are the leading candidates for greatest influence on the modern state of federal antitrust law. Rather, it is the antitrust proceduralists, led by none other than retired Justice David Souter. (To acknowledge two intellectual debts: Amy Wildermuth (Utah) wrote a short piece a few years back in the Northwestern Law Review's online journal, "Colloquy," comparing Twombly with another Souter procedural decision, and bemoaning his getting both wrong. When I read that, I thought instead of the Cal Dental/Twombly duo of opinions, in which the procedural rules the Court adopted, in both cases in opinions by Souter, arguably have a greater impact on antitrust enforcement than any substantive rule of law. My co-author and mentor Mark Anderson also influenced my thinking on Cal Dental.)

For example, consider the fury over Leegin (reversing Dr. Miles). What change in the law really has been wrought? With much respect to the furious, resale price maintenance has functionally been subject to the rule of reason, or even a rule of per se legality, since Colgate in 1919. All the Dr. Miles rule did was pad the pockets of capable corporate counsel, who advised clients in distribution agreements to insert the words "you must or else" instead of "would you please" in the paragraph of the agreement relating to retail pricing.

But Cal Dental takes an enormous class of agreements with a clear and direct impact on prices and output and subjects them to nearly the full rule of reason. The substantive legal standard is no different from what it used to be, but the ability of plaintiffs -- even the government -- to bring cases challenging advertising restrictions, no-competitive-bidding agreements, joint distributorships, certain kinds of information sharing agreements (other examples?) is dramatically curtailed vis-a-vis the world of the quick look. And little needs to be said about Twombly, a decision that many thoughtful antitrust proceduralists abhor. (I don't personally bemoan Twombly, but I may be the only one. Even the usual suspects on the anti-enforcement side tend to be quiet about the case, or applaud the result while saying it is badly reasoned.)

What school of thought drives these decisions? Maybe there's a little bit of Neo-Chicago in all this. Consistent with that idea, Mark and I described the application of the error-cost framework (while not adopting the Neo-Chicago label) in Twombly. I need to investigate further to see whether the same arguments underlie Cal Dental, but I don't think so. At least the false positive language was not employed there.

So would the argument hold? Does it need to be tested empirically first? Or perhaps this a no-duh proposition, which can be resolved by quoting Sir Henry Maine: "Substance is secreted in the interstices of procedure."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indoor Bike Workout

Because it can't all be "Spinervals" DVDs. Pop in Pirates of the Caribbean. Get out of the saddle and work hard whenever there is sword-play. It gets rather intense toward the end!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Current Project

I owe a law review editor a paper tentatively titled "The Past and Future of Extraterritorial Antitrust." It involves a certain amount of updating ideas in this paper and this paper. Because both those papers dealt primarily with private claims, however, I need to work somewhat on the public enforcement questions.

A new formula for off-season productivity: get way, way behind. So far it's working for me.

New Paper

I've got "Neo-Behavioralism?" up on SSRN. In it I'm finally going public with a theory I've been playing with at least since several of us ran the Dublin marathon in 2009. I'm eager to hear thoughts (and grateful for those I've already received).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being Flexible, Zen and Married Twenty Years

These are actually two different topics. We were scheduled to travel to Madrid and Barcelona on Monday, but had to reschedule because of the weather in London where we were connecting. Now we are leaving Friday for a slightly longer trip to Barcelona only (through New York). That's the flexible and zen part.

In the meantime, got further along on grading, caught up on movies (Black Swan, King's Speech and Tron: Legacy), and worked in three short outdoor runs which would have been longer if different pieces of the lakefront path didn't resemble frozen Arctic tundra.

Today is our twentieth anniversary and we are off to dinner at Graham Elliot which now hold, among its many honors, a one star Michelin rating. More more importantly, it is located in the space where in a prior restaurant incarnation we held the very first colloquium dinner in April 2001!

(although in fairness, zen and flexible help on the marriage front also!).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My main winter training assignment is to spend 5 or so hours per week on the bike trainer. (I have some long-distance rides planned with my brother this year, on which I'll report when they move from theory to reality.) The bike trainer is harder than biking out-of-doors, because you can't coast. And because it's deadly dull. The one upside is the opportunity to cycle through my DVD collection.

Today between reading all the posts in the Truth on the Market behavioral economics symposium and incorporating some edits into a paper, I turned on Bicycle Dreams, with the volume full blast, and spent 90 minutes following the late great Jure Robic and a crew of normal people (at least when contrasted with Robic) from San Diego to Atlantic City. I can't recommend the movie enough -- and if you want to borrow it, let me know. This is the first time I've watched the documentary since Robic died this fall.

I'd enjoy joining a support crew and seeing RAAM first-hand. I'm not going to say I'd like to give the race a go myself, but one does think about it.

Google N-gram Viewer

I finally had the chance to play around with the new Google n-gram viewer. It lets you search a word, phrase, or name in the Google books database and then graphs for you over time the frequency of the word. Try antitrust. Try monopoly. Try your own name. Try your favorite book. It is an awesome resource, a wonderful time waster, and even a serious research tool for certain projects.

Not surprisingly, antitrust doesn't appear much before 1890 and peaks around 1980.

But monopoly appears from 1600 on with surprising peaks in years where I can't think of a cause off the top of my head. It eventually peaks around 1940.

Any idea why so much monopoly action in the 17th and 18th century (besides the passage of statute of monopolies in Elizabethian times)?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Full Ironman

Late on Sunday afternoon when everyone else is watching something else, NBC ran a 2 hour slickly edited and produced show on the Kona ironman competition. Like every year, I am captivated by the insane physical accomplishment this represents. The special cuts between the leaders for the men and women and half a dozen human interest stories. This year the human interest stories included a guy who had been a convicted felon and addict and used training for the ironman to turn his life around, an elite woman athlete who had stress fractured her foot two weeks before and was walking the marathon portion with her foot in a boot cast, a 76 guy who was doing the race with his daughter, and a 66 year old grandmother who was grinding it out to try to finish before the end of the 17 hour deadline for "official" finishers. The leaders at superhuman paces, the heat rose, winners finished,the sun set, and the stragglers crossed the finish line with looks of triumph and near collapse. And eventually the 66 year old grand ma crossed the finish line with 48 seconds before the midnight deadline to receive a hug from the woman's champ who had returned to greet the last group of finishers. As they said in Jerry McGuire, they had me two hours earlier at "Hello, this is the 2010 Ironman World Championships..."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Math for Business Lawyers

Over a recent afternoon run I discussed with my colleague Peter a class I'd like to create and teach or co-teach: Math for Business Lawyers. I envision its being one credit, taught in a single 13-hour week just before the first week of class in the fall. It would be targeted to 2Ls, but of course open to any upper-level student. It would be strongly suggested for any student taking upper level business law electives who does not come from an accounting, finance, business, economics, math or science background.

The purposes are to avoid the necessity of my explaining how to calculate simple interest in Secured Transactions and Bankruptcy; to shorten the time required to calculate HHIs in Antitrust; to ensure that when I say "expected value" or "time value of money" the student knows what that means without explanation. Peter and I have also commiserated over "number-phobia," which is the glassed-over look when numbers go on the blackboard during class and pathetic efforts to respond to the simplest of questions requiring calculations on the exam. The course would qualify as a skills course, which would help to meet the increasingly onerous ABA requirements.

I'd love help compiling a top-10 list of things to cover. What basic math concepts do others see in their classes?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What I'm Writing

My semi-annual review of recent antitrust books is now available.

My updated overview of US consumer protection law to be published in the European Journal of Consumer Law will be available on-line when I get from Spain.

At some point, I have to finish up my revisions to Corporate Governance and Competition Policy for February submission and then its onto Social Networking and Competition Policy for a conference in the late spring.

Will someone please teach me how to say "no" every once and a while to interesting projects, conferences, and talks?

Back Home

It's the time of year when I move into my home office until the next semester starts. It's a tremendous feeling. I pack Patricia out the door with breakfast and lunch; make sure the cats have what they need; put the iPod in the dock; and re-populate my bookcase with books that I've had at the office. I move between the desk, which overlooks my little backyard with the cherry tree and anemic lawn, and the oh so comfortable mission-style recliner that I brought here in 2005 from Dad's house in Alaska. I sit in the chair when I want to read and not to write, and I don't mind dozing off for a few minutes every couple of hours. But the rest of this week, and perhaps the next, I'll be at the desk, grading exams. The cats will take up their positions in the two window-sills in front of me, protecting me from squirrels. I'll take a break at lunch and hang lights on the tree so when the daylight fades I can look out and enjoy the holiday glow.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

12 runner teams. 2 Vans per team. 3 shifts per runner of 3-8 miles depending on terrain. Madison-Chicago. 200 miles. About 24 hours. In the words of Animal House, "This requires a stupid futile gesture on somebody's part. and we're just the guys to do it!" Who's in? Who else should we ask?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Photo

This just landed in my inbox. Somebody had this idea to cheer up runners at mile 34 of the JFK (at a rest stop cleverly named "Miracle at Mile 34")a few weeks ago. It certainly worked for me.

Some Exam Questions

Because it's time to retire this line of questions anyway, I'll post their latest iteration (without the answer options).

6. Demetrius, the world’s only ultrarunning groupie, hoped to borrow money to fly from Indianapolis to Leadville, Colorado, to observe the Leadville 100 ultramarathon. He approached Left Bank about a loan. Left Bank decided Demetrius was too great a credit risk and demanded security before it was willing to proceed. Demetrius offered Left Bank a security interest in his perfectly restored 1981 Colnago bicycle with a value of $2500. On June 21, Demetrius signed a promissory note and a security agreement. Left Bank filed a financing statement containing all necessary information that same day. If nothing else occurred, would Left Bank have a perfected security interest in the bicycle?

7. Assume the facts of Question 6, above. On July 2 (same year), Demetrius’ ex-wife, who left him because she was tired of being an “ultrarunning widow” (you think watching football for a couple of hours on Sunday is tough on a relationship?), sued for past-due alimony. Because Demetrius was in Leadville, she got a default judgment, petitioned for and was awarded a writ of execution, and took it to the sheriff. Learning of this, Left Bank declared Demetrius in default and repossessed the bicycle. (Demetrius, sitting beside a trail somewhere in the Rockies cheering every 45 minutes when a runner staggered by, had no idea what was going on.) When the sheriff entered the bank and declared that he was levying on the bicycle pursuant to the writ of execution, is Left Bank in a position to keep the collateral (even if it has to take additional steps)?

19. Recall Question 6, above, and assume Left Bank’s interest attached to the bicycle and Left Bank perfected. Left Bank decided to proceed against the collateral when Demetrius predictably defaulted. (Legend has it Demetrius absconded to Copper Canyon, State of Chiapas, MX, to live in a mud hut and run full time.) It turns out the president of Left Bank was a huge Italian cycling fan and was dying to get his hands on the Colnago. Knowing that, the loan officer decided his best career move was to keep the bicycle in satisfaction of the loan. The amount owing on David’s obligation to the bank was $750 and the bicycle was worth about $2500. What possible impediment(s) exist to Left Bank’s keeping the bicycle in satisfaction of the loan?

What I'm Reading

Tim Wu, The Master Switch (2010). This is one of the best books on competition policy writ large I have read in ages. Wu traces the rise and fall of information networks and empires from the telegraph to the internet and all things Bell, Hollywood, and RCA in between. It focuses on the key examples in our century when monopoly power is swept away by gales of creative destruction and more importantly when it isn't (usually where buttressed by government barriers or where the monopolist/cartel can contain or destroy the emerging disruptive technology. The Master Switch is focused on the future of the internet and the debate over net neutrality but it has lessons about regulatory policy, the importance of antitrust beyond just price competition, the relationship between market structure and control of cultural and informational content, the need for access and interconnection in a networked age, and much more. As they say, if you read competition policy book this holiday season, make this the one!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Greatest Holiday Gift

Last week, my daughter announced that she was beginning to train to run a 5K race in the spring. Then she announced that she had run a 7:52 mile on the treadmill in our building and was shooting for a 7 minute mile before the end of winter. A dream come true if I am not left in the dust when we eventually run together.

The Running Market

I'm waiting for Michael Lewis to write a book on the market dynamics of the sport of running. It fascinates me to see the sport mature, as it gains visibility, (1) encouraging athletes who otherwise would toil in the trenches in more visible sports or not compete at all to make the switch and become runners, and (2) it gains breadth, encouraging those who are modestly competitive at (e.g.) the marathon to move to (e.g.) the wild frontier of ultrarunning, where they can win races. (The same happens in running-to-triathlon: if you were a modestly competitive collegiate runner, you will be very competitive in nearly any big-city triathlon.) It's athletic arbitrage, kind of like when Herschel Walker took up bobsledding or roller-blader Shani Davis took up speed-skating, both going from superb athletes to Olympians. I also understand that it is (1) cyclical, although I'm too young fully to appreciate the last running boom of the 1970s and early 1980s,* and (2) correlated strongly to economic downturns, strengthening the premise that the boom is a question of arbitraging the opportunities the sport presents (if I can't work, may as well get in shape!).

On the other hand, why Michael Lewis? Maybe I'll post this as an SSRN abstract and reserve the topic for the first runningprofs monograph.

*I'm not really too young. Maybe in another post I'll describe the years running with Dad, starting at age 6 and extending until the old man became uncool.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rules for Winter Running

Okay, they are more guidelines ala Ghostbusters.

1) Don't be Stupid. Temperatures below 10-12 wind chill are actually dangerous. So are sheets of ice. That's why they invented indoor gyms, indoor tracks, ellipitical machines, treadmills, and cross-training.

2) Take advantage of any half-way decent day. Get out there. You never know when the next decent day will come.

3) Layer Up. Ignore everything about dressing for 20 degrees above the actual temperature. Double up on everything.

4) Plan your route. Unless you wear a hydration belt figure out when you can get water and find bathrooms for the really long runs. In Chicago, that either means running south to take advantage of the one water fountain on year round on the path by the nature museum plus the various fountains and bathrooms inside the buildings in the zoo or sticking to the streets where you can drop into friendly Starbucks and pancake houses as needed.

5) Watch your footing. See where other runners are pitty patting their way around or through icy or slushy patches and follow their lead. Stick to sidewalks where people have shoveled and/or deiced. Its okay to be slow in the winter.

6) Enjoy. Its a winter wonderland. Plus (at least in Chicago by the lake) lots of ducks, geese and other birds who seemingly have forgotten how to migrate.

7) Don't forget the nap. Nothing is finer than that warm and fuzzy feeling after you come indoors after exerting yourself outside in the cold.

All that said, I do envy bay area and UK runners who can train for marathons and anything else they want all year round. For me, winter is about maintaining a base so I can begin training for real in March.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cold Running

No, not "Cool Runnings," the John Candy movie about bobsledders. Cold.

Went to drop off the car at the shop yesterday and thought I'd fit in my run by jogging home. When I got out of the car the thermometer said 10 degrees. I stopped at Starbucks for a warmup on the way home.

That afternoon my colleague Peter suggested a run from the office. I don't pass up those opportunities; Peter is a very serious runner and I learn much, as well as getting a good workout. It was 17 degrees.

This morning I had to go back for the car! So another 35 minutes, this time at 13 degrees. I made it without hitting Starbucks.

It must be like this, or worse, where the other contributors are?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Race Expo Fashion

There's a scene in one of the various bad-boy fraternity house movies (read: Animal House knockoffs) -- this one called "Politically Correct University" -- in which the cool fraternity brother says to the fraternity dufus, "What's this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy."

I'm always embarrassed to catch myself sorting through the t-shirts to decide what to wear to a race expo, but I do it nonetheless. Do I wear the shirt from last year's running of this race? The shirt from another race -- maybe a higher profile one? If I had one, would I wear my "Boston Marathon" t-shirt? How about wearing _any_ marathon t-shirt when signing up for a 10K?

And for the rest of the wardrobe: there are those who show up in full running regalia -- spandex and running shoes. There are those who come in the classic outdoorsy dress -- Birkenstocks and rag wool. Then there is the team gear, of which there are three primary types: local road running club (e.g., DC Road Runners, Annapolis Striders). semi-elite or elite club (e.g., Oregon Track Club), and national team.

I have a few personal rules: no shirts from longer races; no shirts from last year's running of this race. (If I ever repeated a race more than two years later, I'd be OK with an older shirt.) No running garb, except for the worn-out shoes that have become walking shoes. I'm not a member of a team, but I could see wearing a runningprofs shirt if I had one. My current favorite is a blue shirt from the Bulldog 5K, run every May in Chevy Chase, DC. The shirt has a picture of a bulldog wearing running shoes on the front.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm trying to work out a new year's resolution regarding a running program. I still need the race-specific training and all -- the older I get, the more important the track workouts -- but what I've always shortchanged is the daily training, what Quenton Cassidy called "the trial of miles."

But also, being no Quenton Cassidy, my legs won't take 10 miles a day. Neither will my writing, and neither will my wife. I'm thinking of a daily -- 7 days a week -- 4 to 5 mile run. I mean every day including the day before a marathon. I'd like it to become as easy and comfortable as is my walk to and from the office.

What do you think? Is this silly?

The Perfect Break from Grading

Here is where I will be next Sunday.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Festival of Lights

Tonight is the first night of Hannukah. Its one of the few "we win" holidays as opposed to we get massacred, exiled and sold into slavery holidays. That alone makes it one of my favorites let alone the theoretical possibility of eight nights of presents, pretty candles and religiously sanctioned gambling.

So fellow bloggers please hold off on buying running related books for the next few days and look for a small Hannukah present at your offices shortly from the Hannukah helpers at Running Prof Blog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Beaujolais Nouveau

I remember in college discovering the beaujolais nouveau -- the November bottles of that year's wine. We (my roommate Jay and I) felt quite in the know to be tasting Georges DuBoeuf when it first hit the shelves. I do think I must have realized then that the primary attraction was the artistic label.

I got a bottle last week for the sake of nostalgia, and now I wonder what it was we liked. While this would go well over lettuce with olive oil and salt, it's not much for drinking.

Apologies for going off topic, but I'm staying off my feet for a couple of weeks. Maybe my next post will be a discourse on the mint- and peanut butter-flavored Oreos that have been on sale at the grocers recently.

Monday, November 29, 2010

In Praise of the First Sale Doctrine

Much of intellectual property law (and life itself as depicted in the late 90s Broadway musical Rent) seems to be devoted to pushing us from an ownership society to a licensing society, particularly for information. If we complete the move to a download nation for music, entertainment, and information generally, we lose the ability to control the further disposition of the physical property of the CDs, books, newspapers, and other hard copies that contain the media in question. Its one of the many reasons, I have resisted the Kindle so far. Plus I just like to browse actual CDs and books in actual stores, although that is getting more and more difficult.

The first sale doctrine is a slender legal reed to resist the tsunami of legal, technological, and economic forces leading to the ascendancy of the digital download and the restrictive license but ts still a good one. I love sharing books with friends. I love even more heading to Reckless Records (made famous in the film High Fidelity) and trading in my no longer wanted (or uploaded without restriction) CDs, DVDs, and even video tapes to emerge with some used treasure to add to my permanent collection. Yesterday was such a day where unwanted showtunes, older items from my daughter's collection, and other just plain lame CDs amounted to $26 in trade, and only a few dollars more got me the entire series of The Prisoner, possibly the most visionary television show of all time. It might even be a metaphor to what happens if "they" get "their" way and the first sale doctrine completely is swamped by contractual and legal restrictions on the right to buy stuff and dispose of it as we please.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Too much food, too much pain . . .

Well, Thanksgiving was wonderful.  The whole family got together on Martha's Vineyard.  The turkey was local and very tasty.  Then, since we were all together, we celebrated Chanukah on Friday.  So, between the turkey and the latkes, the last remnants of my fitness dribbled away.  I thought about going running, but my heel was stubbornly out of sorts.  The only exercise I mustered was 1500 yards in the pool . .  Hopefully this is a "bottom."  Time to start clawing my way back for some winter races .. .

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Trotting

The good news is that the weather held and the race went off on a muddy 40 degree day but with no rain. More good news, I finished in the top third of the 8K race and the top third of my age bracket. The bad news is that the race now has over 7000 runners and walkers and seemingly made no effort to separate the two groups. I spent way too much time and effort dodging runners, walkers, mud holes, and runners who stopped mid stream in front of water pools. Time was way behind my 10K pace off a couple of weeks ago. Also finished about 30 seconds behind a 9 year old which kind of hurt.

Now off to turkey and ham at my sister-in-law's home. Already foresee awesome nap later in the day. Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tortoises and Hares

I had an inauspicious start with a weak stomach preventing my absorbing any nutrition. The bottom came in the fifth hour, when I swapped leads with a woman wearing a hula skirt. Many times I nearly quit, and I might have, had a low moment arrived when I was near an exit point - but luckily enough, I always felt strong at the aid stations.

I went to a 8'/2' run/walk cycle, with the idea that forcing the walking when I didn't need it kept me from collapsing into a walk when I wanted to be running. I dropped all nutrition but coke, gel and electrolyte tablets. My stomach came back and I started moving. I could tell it was getting better when it was all I could do to keep up the 2' walk; at about mile 38 I went to a 9'/1' cycle, and at mile 42 I was running steadily.

Then it got really fun. Usually I'm the guy getting passed by the more careful runners, who hold something in reserve for a strong finish. I can't claim any higher maturity yesterday, as it was illness that kept me slow in the first half, but I did reap the benefits. The guys and gals I had seen go by over the last 42 miles were coming back in a steady stream.

With a mile to go one guy passed me, running really strong. I tried to give chase but settled for sitting 50 yards back. When we rounded the corner where the course marshall said 800m to go, I realized there was more in the tank. We finished in a jumble, he first, a (52 year old!) woman next and me just after her. I was off goal by 21 minutes, but 35 minutes better than the last time. And kind of like an awful trip to the links that ends with a birdie, my recollection of the race could not be rosier.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Earning the Nap

A clean crisp 42 degree day, bright sunshine with a bit of a breeze. I did a fast 7 miles past the golf course, around the harbor, through the nature preserve, and out to the end of Montrose pier and back. Half the time the wind held me back, half the time it pushed me on. In true Chicago style that was not the case one way or the other, but almost randomly no matter which way I was running. Back home once stretched and showered I was enveloped in that feeling that means oncoming nap. Not your average paltry 30 nap inadequate catnap but the mind numbing 90 minute stunner when you are dead to the world and rather unclear where and when you are upon awaking. 60ish tomorrow, but can't wait for the next chance to break out the gloves and extra layer and go for the burn (or nap).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Could be Perfect

The weather report calls for 61 degrees and mostly sunny tomorrow in the region around Boonesboro, Maryland. It is hard to imagine better conditions for a long run. The JFK kicks off at 7 a.m. and, if things go according to plan, by 3 p.m. I'll be eating pizza and cheering others across the finish line. Of course, there are many, shall I say, "variable expenses" in an 8-hour day.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Responding to Max

Your thought experiment intrigues. Parker himself ponders some aspects of these questions in the new sequel to Once a Runner called Again To Carthage. Perhaps we should have the first ever RWR Blog Book Club and then discuss on line. Unless of course you and Ted prefer A Duel in the Sun about Alberto Salazer's epic (and waterless) run back in the day at the Boston Marathon.

More generally, the quest for possibly unobtainable perfection, accomplishment, or recognition is a universal question that haunts us all. It is the stuff of dreams, heartbreak, and novels. It is also about as existential as it gets. But it is what drives most of us forward to the finish line even if someone else gets their first.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I finished an extraterritoriality symposium at Southwestern yesterday evening and had 36 hours to kill. Who leaves Indianapolis for Southern California in November and returns home immediately? I didn't quite know what to do. Los Angeles is not, I learned, on the ocean.

This morning I cabbed it to LAX. I rented a Jeep Wrangler. I drove to Santa Barbara. Tonight I'm at a non-descript Ramada not far from downtown.

I hit the one running store in town for a hand bottle and some advice. The proprietor was just the kind of guy I've always wanted to be. Young, tan, unassuming, and exceedingly fit. And, dare I say, envious that it was I and not he who was headed for the trail. After I convinced him even easterners can run hills (surprisingly hard to do!), he sent me up Cold Springs Trail, a four-mile climb from Montecito to the top of a ridge.

I was looking for a trail run. This was that, until it wasn't. It became a full-on mountain run, with one climb so steep I could only keep from sliding downhill by rapid-stepping 2" at a time. I ran over ultra-technical rock gardens. I walked some steep stretches. I opened it up when it flattened and cooled off in the trees. I turned around to experience the view of the Pacific, and the Channel Islands, and the oil rigs(!). It was shirt-off weather, but plenty cool in the shade. I passed some other people, friendly to a one. I reached the top and looked over into the next beautiful valley; tacked on a couple of miles on the ridge-top road; gazed at the peaks getting higher to the east. With the sun lowering I headed back to the trail down.

There I saw two guys who were really, really dressed the part. Compression tights. High-end trail shoes. Tricked-out camelbacks and those cool granola-looking ballcaps. Sweet shades. The kind of guys I've known all my life, who have always been just a tad cooler than I. (I'm dressed in my racing flats, a Tuck business school ballcap, round glasses -- i.e., like a professor traveling for work.) We exchanged pleasantries. I said "take it easy, guys" and started down. I didn't think -- and when I did, I felt a little sheepish -- that we were going the same way, and the likely inference was that I thought I was faster than they.

He had to say it. "We'll see who outruns whom." I stammered a joking apology. Then we chatted for a few switchbacks about an upcoming local ultra. Then we hit a flat, and I let it go. Downhill trail running is different from any other running sport. It's closest to skiing. You separate your legs from your body; the legs follow the trail and the body follows the fall line. You don't pump the arms; you carry them high and wide, and use them to counter the centrifugal force from a turn.

And you know when the ground comes it will come hard and unexpectedly. You won't have time to think of how you will fall; you will have time exactly to realize you kicked a rock and then to realize you are on the ground. Often, just where you don't want to be. I remembered as I ran the scene in Born to Run, when Jen Shelton opened it up on the Tarahumara in Copper Canyon only to eat dirt and get passed by the group. There were parts of this trail I knew I couldn't afford to blow. On those parts the rocks were too big, to sharp and too many to avoid breaking something. But I was grooving, the light was fading, and it had been a slow run up.

I hit the ground. Three times. Hard.

As I lay on the ground the third time, just a few switchbacks above the Jeep, feeling the legs to be sure there was no injury, I couldn't stop smiling. I'm now bleeding on the keyboard, an ice pack on the knees, and wondering how and when I can get back here.

I grew up in Alaska. I've lived in Idaho. I ski every year in Utah, Wyoming or Colorado. I've hiked in the Alps. And yet I know that _this place_ is paradise.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thought Experiment

In "Once a Runner" -- which Spencer lent me, and I promptly bought in duplicate -- Quenton Cassidy drops out of life, moves to the wilderness, leaves his girl, and runs full time until he emerges heroic at the end to defeat John Walton in the mile race at Southeastern University. (I never thought until I wrote it out here just how Biblical that sounds!)

What if Quenton hadn't won that race? A plausible outcome was a very good mile, reflective of months of work and sacrifice, but that failed to establish Quenton as the U.S. favorite for the next Olympic games. What if he had put down a very respectable 3:58.

For how long should Quenton continue to pursue his dream once a wise person would realize the hopes of greatness are unrealistic? Does a 3:58 miler return to the woods in the hopes that he can next year run 3:57? Does he put off life because one day he may become a household name, even when the odds of that are vanishingly small?

When he realizes he is never going to be a world-class athlete, is he disappointed that he tried? Or even if he makes it -- was it worth it? What if by then the girl is gone and other realistic opportunities have disappeared?

I'm not a miler, and if I was I wouldn't be fast. But these are serious musings. I'd love to hear any thoughts.

The Happy Music Gene and Glee

A friend of mine has claimed I lack the happy music gene. I have never questioned this but never thought this was a bad thing either. 20 miles into a marathon I am not particularly interested in listening to girl groups from the early 1960s or cheerful Broadway show tunes. Metallica and the latest Norwegian death metal sounds about right. When I go to concerts James Taylor or Carole King is of little interest but Judas Priest or Zeppelin definitely rocks. Pink Floyd is about right for any occasion.

But then Glee changed all that. I watched the show with my family, my daughter bought the discs and/or downloaded the music, and suddenly I am sped along the running to cheery mashups of Stop in the Name of Love and Free Your Mind or Living on a Prayer and Start Me Up. Redos of Journey songs are suddenly hot again. I hesitate to admit I have even enjoyed the Glee versions of Total Eclipse of the Heart, I'll Stand by You, and (shudder) I Dreamed a Dream (from les Miz).

What gives? Have I suddenly discovered a long dormant happy music gene? Have I developed one for the first time from environment factors (nurture not nature?). Even worse, what if it isn't the happy music gene afterall but the cheezy music gene? That would of course explain why so many of the greatest hits of the 70s were already on my iPod.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NYC Marathon

Okay, so the good news is that today I claimed my automatic admit for the 2011 NYC Marathon.  This isn't exactly a badge of honor.  In the old days I used to qualify by running 9 races . . .  This time I did it by losing in the lottery three years in a row.  Hey guys, what do you think of Antitrust Marathon V, NYC??

Monday, November 8, 2010

NYC Marathon -- Couch Potato Edition

Okay, so I applied for the NYC Marathon and didn't get in this year.  It's my third rejection in a row, so I've got a guaranteed entry next year.  Woohoo!!   I've abandoned my plans to run the Philadelphia Marathon in two weeks because of lingering Achilles issues.  So, I counted it as a victory when I went for a slow 9.5 mile run with a colleague yesterday morning.  Then I settled in to stretch and watch the Marathon on TV.  Usually I feel a pang of regret when I watch the big show on the television. This time, I was guilt free. 

Great race!  How about that Shalane Flanagan. . .

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Comparative and International Antitrust

I'll be teaching this course as a 2-credit quasi-seminar next spring. I know Spencer has taught something similar (though I think in 3 credits, if my research is accurate). What text is best? Any advice on dealing with students who haven't taken the basic antitrust course?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Discretion/Valor II

This morning was the Hot Chocolate 15K the last big race of the year downtown. It is known for the terrific technical running jacket in the goody bag and the hot chocolate at the finish line this year by Ghiradelli. Got the bib and the jacket at the most inconvenient expo location possible in downtown Chicago (and uninteresting exhibitors as well).

For less noble reasons than Max, I too took a pass. The race was at 7:30, the temperature was below freezing, I wasn't feeling well, there were 30,000 people (mostly for the 5K that goes first causing even longer wait in cold), the dog ate my home work, etc. Instead I rolled over and went back to sleep.

Now I am taking the dog for a walk and going to do my personal 15K in a spiffy new running jacket along a nice sunny 45 degree lake front.

Okay Ted, your turn.


This morning was the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. It is the third running (I think) of the only marathon that starts and finishes in downtown Indianapolis. My colleague Peter is the race treasurer; Alex, the spouse of another of my colleagues, is the incoming race president. I am stuck in the midwest this weekend (wedding in Cincinnati), I badly need the miles (JFK 50 mile is 2 weeks away), and I really enjoy running marathons. What's a guy to do?

I didn't. Rather proud of myself, I must say. Tried out the legs on Thursday after being brutalized in the Marine Corps Marathon last Sunday, and they're not quite all there. It's cold here, and rain was a possibility for this morning. Instead I awoke just in time to imagine how my heart would be in my teeth if I were in the starting corral just then; had some coffee and did some holiday shopping on Amazon; and cruised out for an easy 10, cheering and congratulating the runners I saw. Maybe next year. Maybe.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Actually I tied my PR.

99 573 SPENCER WALLER 53 10/21 52:50 8:31 CHICAGO IL

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Missed It By That Much

Ran fast, ran smart but slowed down just enough somewhere in mile 4 or 5 that I think I missed my PR for 10K by a grad total of 8 seconds. Don't think the 20 mile wind in my face the last 2 miles helped either. Still only my second sub 53 minute 10K. Next week I am assured a PR at 15K since I don't think I have ever run a race of that distance before. Both happy and frustrated with today's results. Frustrated by the miss, happy with the tantalizing prospect of things to come. Nice brunch with my Loyola colleagues and former Brooklyn colleague Jennifer Rosato, now the running dean at NIU College of Law.

Great Expectations

I planned to run without any expectations. Then -- and here's the mind outwitting itself -- I came to believe that the expectation-free run was sure to produce a great result. (I have precedent for that: in 2001 I planned "just to finish" a race in San Diego and set what remains my PR.) I ran the smartest race I've run in years. I spent 21 miles on the hip of a woman who held a perfect 7' pace -- any variation was surely due to marker placement rather than her pacing. I stayed in sight of her for the next two or three miles after mile 21. When the piano fell on me at mile 24, I fell apart like I never have. Somehow I tacked on 6 or more minutes in the last 2.2 miles, without walking a step. I could barely muster the strength for the "assault" on the Iwo Jima Memorial and may even have stopped before the finish line. Colors washed out and I sat, feeling just dumb, on a grassy hill. I'll be pleased if I never, ever experience that again.

The final result isn't embarrassing. My inability, in now 11 marathons, ever to anticipate the degree to which the train can derail after 2 1/2 hours is. I'm also experiencing a painful realization that simply being fit, running a dozen or more races a year, is not good enough to accomplish lofty goals. I will need to do what others do, and plan for a race months out, hitting the target workouts, doing the prescribed long runs . . . Maybe if I pull myself together mentally I'll see what I can put together for Boston.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Market Speaks

Lots of talk around my institution about the recent press on the likely future of the market for legal education. Some seemingly non-rigorous conclusions are being floated in academic discussions, the trade press and even Slate that we are sure to see downsizing. Some on this blog have seen the cycles come and go. I assume we will be teaching next year and the year after, but one does wonder if changes -- like more courses per semester, or increased emphasis on monetizable work -- are in the works.

This weekend's 10K

While Max decides what to do about the Marine Corp Marathon, I will be lining up to take a shot at a PR in a 10K on the lakefront. Turns out we have a pretty decent size running group from the law school akin to what Ted blogged about way back at the beginning. Its almost ten people and includes profs, staff, and some spouses (not mine who is contributing by driving me to the race). They started with 5Ks in the spring which is why this somehow escaped my radar. A few are now trading up to 10K. Brunch afterwards is also part of the program. Should be great running conditions and quite good fun. Hoping no one is running in costume which would make brunch awkward.

Good luck Max! And my cousin's husband Craig is also running Marine Corp, his first marathon in 25 years ago. Back in the day he could a 2:30. We will see how cunning, guile and wisdom do a substitute for 25 year old legs.

Go Craig and Max!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sinus Infection

Do I toe the line at MCM? I can't get antibiotics until the next day. I've missed a few important runs over the last week trying to kick the cold (obviously, with no success!). Army 10 miler probably made me sicker. Probably I go but leave the expectations at home. Bummer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Injured in NYC during Marathon week . . .

I usually love the couple of weeks before the NYC marathon.  You can feel it on the running paths.  Runners just have a little bit of extra spring in their step.  They are trying out new gear.  They are a little bit jumpy.  This Fall, wrestling with an injury, the joy of crisp fall runs is joined with a bit of jealousy, and a lot of frustration.  Eight weeks ago I was in fighting trim.  I've kept up the cross training, but each time I head out for a run, I am reminded that there's no substitute for "event specific training."  My legs are dead, and everything hurts.  Ugh!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

Before the organizers let us in to packet pickup for the Army 10 miler a piccolo trio dressed in Revolutionary War garb greeted us, we watched a formation fly-over by military jets, and several parachutists trailed red smoke overhead. At the start of the race soldiers again wearing classic uniforms displayed the flag ("colors," in military lingo). The Army chaplain gave the invocation, a nice non-sectarian prayer asking only that we be permitted to do our invidual bests. After the early start for "wounded warriors" and wheelchair racers, the band played soul-fortifying marches. When our time came to start, the Secretary of the Army gave the countdown and a cannon sent us on our way. And it took most of the first mile (at 6:17) for me to dispatch the guy playing a piccolo while running. (He kept it up, too; I heard him again, still playing, on the out-and-back portion of the course, when he was 6 miles in.)

I'm not a fan of all things military, or, frankly, nearly anything military. But this was neat. Here's looking forward to the Marine Corps Marathon next weekend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Day Before

Today was the day before the day when the weather gets crummy. Today was still a mix of green, peak colors and some bare spots. But after the next two days of rain and wind, the trees will be stripped bare and the parks will look bereft until the spring. The morning was 48, pure sunshine, blinding reflection from the lake, and a light breeze. So I pulled out the new overly bright yellow Pearl Izumis and my first set of gloves for the fall. I made time for a 7 miler (in a crisp 59 minutes) and then headed into the office for a long day of editing a practice mid-term, a faculty committee report, and a one page book notice for an obscure European competition journal. Hope springs eternal but it looks like rain for tomorrow and most of the rest of the week. The outdoor running season is no means over but the window is closing and January approaches all too quick.


We just covered tying today in antitrust class -- the "old tying," with Microsoft and related cases coming up next week. With regard to tying, is it me, or is there an extraordinary glut of academic writing on this topic in recent years? It's as if tying is the new predatory pricing -- there is a gold rush afoot. Commentators may well sense that the window for suggesting things to do with the awkward per se rule is fast closing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The "Library"

I spent last weekend organizing my home "library." We have a small room that is good for little but bookshelves, and I have needed to unpack several boxes of books for some time now. Most of them are up. Here's the challenge: how does one organize a home library, when (1) there is enough diversity of reading that simply alphabetizing may be confusing; (2) there are few enough books that categorizing by topic becomes a little silly; (3) space is sufficiently limited that I need a shelf or two just for small paperbacks (to limit unused "air space" above books); (4) I like to keep bookshelves in various places so a book is always handy; and various other limitations that aren't jumping at me right now.

I have categorized thusly:

Politics, history and biography
Philosophy and religion
Novels and literature
Drama and poetry
Sports, games and hobbies
Running, cycling and triathlon
Paddling and whitewater
Travel and language
Economics and finance

There are obvious overlaps, but because each of the three sporting sub-categories can claim more than a shelf, I decided to separate them out. It nonetheless seems a little silly to section the home library 11 different ways for 500 or so volumes.

The need to shelve books together by height makes it hard to alphabetize within a category. The Novels and Literature category is something of a mess.

What do you do with, for example, "Never Turn Back," the biography of Walt Blackadar, one of the great whitewater kayaking pioneers? (Blackadar was the first to run the Turnback Canyon on the Alsac -- solo -- and the first to run Devil's Canyon of the Susitna, which are perhaps the two fiercest expedition whitewater runs in the U.S.) Biography or whitewater?

How do others organize theirs?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Neal Stephenson

I love a good science fiction novel. For some reason, I have previously resisted reading Neal Stephenson, a contemporary of William Gibson in the cyberpunk movement. Mostly, I didn't want to invest in a 1000 page book which was merely the first of three similarly sized volumes of a trilogy. Then I discovered Snow Crash. It was published in 1992, normal sized, completely thrilling, and quite prescient about things like computer viruses, the internet, virtual reality, and even something that seems a dead ringer for Google Earth. Now I want more particularly since William Gibson's recent work has wandered off in a more idiosyncratic and less satisfying vein.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall Races and AALS

I entered 2010 with a new year's resolution not to run any marathons. So far, I have kept that vow. The problem is that I have done very few races at all, just a 10 miler in May and the Chicago half Marathon in September. In fact, I was a bit demoralized as injuries lingered and my finishing times crept upwards.

But pacing a friend in the Chicago Marathon brought me a new outlook for the fall. He was shooting for a 3:40 so I hung with him for about 10K at a even slightly faster pace and then dropped to run my own pace before I left the course and took the el home. When I got home I did the math and realized that if that 10K had been a separate race it would have been right around my pr for that distance. That and my general love of fall outdoor running got back in the race game at the middle distances. So I signed up for a Halloween 10K, an early November 15K, and the annual Turkey Trot 8K which has the other advantage of starting four blocks from my home.

Which brings me to my final point. How about the first RRR Bloggers 10K/10M San Francisco AALS race? We can design a course, a tee shirt, and a goody bag and skip the 8:30 sessions (as if we would be there anyway) for our first in person editors meeting and run since the blog went live. It can also be a recruiting session for future guest and permanent bloggers? What works better Thursday or Friday?

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Coach always pencils in a day off before a race, but I tighten up if I don't run, so I headed out today. Tomorrow's not a big race in any event. More important races are one week, two weeks and five weeks away. With those in mind, I need more speed work, so I headed to the track. Wilson High School had a soccer contest of some sort. American University had a game between AU and Navy, which tied 0-0 after two overtimes. I know because I arrived just in time to see the last-minute AU scoring attempt get called off due to a foul. I left before they could clear the track, because by that time I had quite happily resigned myself to a comfortable cruise.

I headed back east on Mass. Ave and northeast on Nebraska, then west on Van Ness. I picked up 46th going north. Now I was running in my old haunts, where I ran when I lived in AU Park, in a group house, three years out of law school. I tell those stories to my students during the semester-ly "it's not all German cars and silk suits" speech. On Fessenden Street, with Jim, Christophe and whoever else we could find to fill the remaining two bedrooms, I spent two years with a home-made climbing wall in the living room. Back then I scrimped on lunch during the week for weekend beer money. I didn't run much in those days, at least in the later 18 months -- six months after I moved in I set what remains my marathon PR, and then more or less quit running for the next several years. So after too many days of watching TV and drinking beer I'd stumble out for a few miles to overcome the feeling of lethargy. Then I'd huff and puff west on Fessenden to River, River to Little Falls, Little Falls up into Bethesda and back home on Wisconsin. Or something like that.

Today I joined that route at 46th and River. But this time I felt strong, enjoying the fall breeze and the leaves starting to swirl in the air and the non-polluter's privilege. No iPod so all senses were engaged. I caught the Capital Crescent Trail from Little Falls road, descended a staircase to Bradley Blvd. and took it east to Connecticut. Headed back south toward the DC line and home. Almost home, I couldn't resist dropping downhill on the block north of mine and sprinting back uphill on my street to finish.

Tomorrow is the Somerset Elementary 8K, the last real mid-course race of the year. It starts at the oh-so-civil hour of 9 a.m. It's a hilly course. The weather looks magnificent. I figure I'll jog there, see what I can do, and be home in time for brunch.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Fall Fowliage Haiku

Purple Martens swirl overhead,
Canadian Geese Never Leave,
Why are they so Mean?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sports Tape

Well, there's nothing more annoying than struggling with an injury, for months, only to find a relatively simple therapy that seems to make it go away.  After struggling with heel pain since late July, I decided to try taping the back of my heel, and, wonder of wonders, the inflammation seems to be going down, the pain at the Achilles insertion seems to be going away.  Who knew??  I'm quite hopeful that this will finally work.  That's the good news.  The bad news, of course, is that I'm creaky, slow, and out of running shape.  The other bad news is that it's too late to get back on course for the Philadelphia Marathon, so for the rest of the Fall, I think I'm just running for giggles.  Oh well.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Writing About Running

Whenever there is a baseball game on the radio my wife usually remarks how evocative the game is in this format. She is right. Baseball is evocative and even more so on the radio with its built in nostalgia and call upon our imaginations to supply the missing sights and sounds of the game. As a result baseball has some of the best sports writing in history with superb writers like Gay Talese and John Updike writing on themes of redemption or the search for reclaimed glory.

Writing about running seems harder for some reason. Sprints are too short and marathons are too long may be part of the problem. Maybe also that the greatness is as much internal as external and harder to capture. Where are the stories about Deena Kastor and her brilliant and gutty strategy at the Athens Olympics starting out so slowly that she wasn't in the top thirty half through the race and than reeling in the now faltering runners ahead of her in the heat and humidity of Athens until she captured a rare marathon medal for the US?

Here's to Jere Longman of the NY Times who profiled Joan Benoit Samuelson this morning before she became the first woman marathoner in history to go sub-2:50 in five different decades. Sandwiched between a photo of a triumphant Samuelson at the inaugural woman's marathon in Los Angeles in 1984 and one of the middle aged runner of today were these words: "She is 53 now, her hair has gone gray, and there is autumn in her legs."

Today Joan Beniot Samuelson ran a 2:47 on an unseasonably hot day and Jere Longman became one of my favorite sports writers.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Feeling Funky

After turning a paper over to the editors, beginning the next project is a monumental task. After finishing a race, concentrating on the next one is a major hurdle. Marine Corps Marathon is only three weeks away and I . . . just . . . don't . . . care. I'm supposed to run 8 x 800m today (the infamous "Yasso 800s"), but will probably read about neo-Chicago antitrust on the Kindle instead. (A positive externality of my running funk seems to be getting work done!) Any ideas?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chicago Marathon

This Sunday is the Chicago Marathon. It was my first, my last, and my favorite. There is nothing better than waking up in one's own bed at a relatively decent hour, getting ready in the comfort of one's own home, and then moseying by car, cab, or el to the start of a race which I know like the back of my hand. I pass my apartment going north at mile 6.5 and then going south on a different street at mile 8.5. I pass old schools and offices and usually see a dozen or so folks I know at corners where they live.

But I am not entered this year. It was part of my New Year's Resolution to get healthy and put 18 months of plantar fasciatis behind me. I may pace a friend or may just run a bit of the course once the elite runners are long past. Banditry you say? Maybe so, but as long as you don't try to start or finish nobody bothers you. And with a water belt and a few snacks in pocket, I am not taking up any resources, even on the warm day that is expected for Sunday.

10-10-10. I'll be there but only probably from about mile 6.5 through 20 (Chinatown) then a quick el ride home. Nothing like a pleasant jog with a million or so of my friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The jury is still out -- as a consumer law prof, I insist on using my 30-day return period to its utmost -- but I am really, really excited about my Kindle. For my birthday this year I received the cheapest of the current available models. The "free 3G" on the more expensive ones would be a neat way for me to pay Amazon for the right to be tempted by their latest offerings even when away from wifi, and as far as I can tell serves no other useful purpose. (Free 3G does not apply if one wants to load one's own documents using cellular service -- there's a charge for that. It only works for loading Amazon documents, which are primarily e-books for which one pays.)

Kindle is easy to use, which is essential for me. It lacks almost all of the neat functionality -- read, distractions -- of a laptop or iPad, which is unequivocally a good thing. Probably partly for that reason, the battery life is remarkable. I'm three days in on a charge, with a couple of hours per day of use, and the meter suggests I am at 80% or better. I can e-mail myself PDFs (to a special Kindle e-mail), load them on the Kindle by turning it on in the presence of wifi, and read them wherever. It's small, light, and easy to carry. This last feature was my primary hope. I am constantly carrying a heavy briefcase -- even a litigation bag -- full of documents when traveling, for the privilege of reading maybe 10% of what I carry. Kindle should solve the sore shoulder problem.

And my reading is better than using paper. First, the part of the page I am seeing is much smaller, so I am not distracted by (e.g.) the footnotes. Second, the note-taking function, which is kind of neat, is hard enough to use that I am not constantly running down tangents in the margins. Few things frustrate me more than cluttering up the abstract of somebody's paper with my own notes and never actually reading the paper. That is the norm for me with airplane reading. On yesterday's flight, I worked through a first read of three very helpful articles in 75 minutes. Now, that is productivity.

I don't envision reading a lot of literature on the Kindle. I like my wall full of books, which is as much my own version of artwork as it is reading material. But I have downloaded a few dozen free public domain e-books, which for some reason are classic horror works that I've not yet read. So around Halloween I'll test it as a book reader!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Race Report -- Halfmax Championship

USA triathlon -- the national governing body for multisport -- holds so-called age-group championship events for various multisport disciplines, with the goal of crowning a national team for the yearly age-group world championship in that discipline. This year's age group long-course triathlon championship was held in Myrtle Beach, SC, on Saturday. My first multisport event this year was the age group duathlon championship. This was my last multisport race of the year.

We suffered severe rains in the mid-Atlantic states over the week prior. At home in DC we had several inches of rain that week. In Myrtle Beach they reported a whopping 22 inches. Driving from DC to Myrtle Beach was a little like competing in the swim leg of the triathlon. It was extremely wet, and the bigger athletes (SUVs and Semis) pushed us around mercilessly. It is a good thing I got the experience in the car. The rain created massive run-off, and the intracoastal waterway, which near Myrtle Beach is a narrow canal dredged by the Corps of Engineers, registered unsafe levels of e-coli. The swim leg was canceled.

We raced the bike and the run portions of a half-iron-distance race. ("Long-course" usually means half-iron- or iron-distance, although it can also include non-traditional distances that exceed a mid-course "olympic distance".) The racecourse was flat and uninspired. Although Myrtle Beach hosted the race, you wouldn't know it; the run and the bike were on roads far enough from the water that the only sign of the Atlantic Ocean's proximity was the 15-mph wind from the northeast. Is it asking a lot that a destination race have a course designed to show off the destination? Ironman Cozumel, last November, involved biking thrice around the tip of that island, with views of the Caribbean nearly constant. (The swim was in the ocean as well, rather than an inland canal. An ocean swim Saturday might have mitigated the e-coli problem.) Ironman Louisville plotted a course through horse country and along the Ohio River. I have recently reported here that the Nation's Tri races through downtown DC, within blocks of the Capitol and White House. Not so in Myrtle Beach.

One might also complain of USA Triathlon's abysmal lack of foresight. The purpose of this race was to pick a team to compete in the world championship in Henderson, Nevada, in November 2011, over a notoriously difficult and hilly triathlon course. The most successful competitors on Saturday were biking-and-running specialists who contend well with high winds and flat terrain.

The race was well organized and well-staffed, with enthusiastic volunteers. I love the feeling of goodwill that comes during a distance race. Everybody there -- spectators, volunteers, even competitors -- is pulling for you to do your best. Maybe that changes when you start winning, but I'm in no danger of that. So I spent 4:13:01 feeling like a part of a larger community effort for everybody there to elevate their game to the highest possible level. And that's how it feels in every race I run.

I was pleased with my results. It is essential to discount for the lack of a swim. Avoiding 35 minutes (my average split for that distance) of battling a crowd of 30-something Type A males, during the one portion of the race when one's competitors are literally pulling _against_ one, presumably has a real impact on the ability to perform during the bike and the run. Or the run, at least, which comes at the end, when reserves are depleted. But I did establish new personal records for each the bike and run legs of that distance of multisport race. If the performance discount from the swim is not too great, I can consider myself as having met my goal of a sub-five-hour finish. I was 27th place in my age group, five minutes from qualifying for the age-group US team for the 35-39 age group -- far enough that I'm not kicking myself saying "what if"; close enough that I will likely try again next year.

On top of all that, Patricia and I had fun with friends and some quiet walks along the beach. The traffic returning to DC was surprisingly humane. It made for a pleasing weekend indeed.

Lateral Hiring v. Entry Level Hiring


Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Jump 1.5 million spots on Amazon

Sell one book.

Writing: Corporate Governance and Competition Policy

Fall is the season when I try to wrap up a decent draft of my summer project. This year is Corporate Governance and Competition Policy. As Larry Solum would say (but never so far in connection with my pieces), "Download it while its hot!"

Like running and triathlons, there is a training cycle for scholarship. For me it begins in the early part of the calendar as I focus on topics and ideas for the summer. Over the spring semester, I have my research assistant gather the prior literature for me (I will save for a future post my inability to use r.a.s for anything other than hunting/gathering). Over the summer, I read and begin my writing often spilling into the fall. As the manuscript takes shape, I share with internal and external readers and incorporate their comments. I generally post the draft on SSRN whenever I send to outsiders.

When I plan ahead, I like to workshop the piece (hint, hint) a few places. While there are always a few specialists in my area at whatever school I visit, I am looking to be able to explain and sell my ideas and approach to an audience of smart non-generalists (not unlike the law review editors who will be shortly reviewing my submission).

I do my final polish over winter break and wait for any last minute comments. I then sit back and wait for the "spring" submission cycle to begin which now seems to start to early-mid February. Then I fret and annoy my friends and wife until I hear something. Then rinse and repeat for the next cycle.

Mixing it up -- a response

If I understand Ted's dilemma, it's that after a few months of running long Saturdays, tempo on Mondays and intervals on Thursdays; riding long Sundays and fartlek on Wednesdays and swimming Tuesday and Friday -- every week -- it's tough to see continued progress. I agree. Ever wonder why the postman, who walks 5 miles a day delivering mail, somehow has a gut?

I differ from the repetitive approach in a few ways. One is precisely Ted's recent solution. Build in blocks devoted to one event or another. This summer, partly for vacation and partly for training purposes, I drove out west, riding 2-4 hours every day in the unique conditions each state offered (and bricking most rides with a 30' run). The climax of the trip was the RAMROD ride in Mt. Rainier National Park in July, with my brother.

After a trip like that you need a real recovery week. Swimming is great recovery from the joint stress you get riding and running, so I spent several days in the pool. Like Ted, the 50-meter pool. If you're going to be racing in open water, there's no better approximation. (No flip turns -- they mess up your breathing.) And if you spend several days in the pool, you need to mix it up to preserve your sanity. No reason you can't do speed work in the water, like you can on land -- try a short warm-up, 3-4 sets of 5 50-meter sprints, and a short warm-down. You'll have 1500 or more quality meters in without realizing it happened. (And speed work is surprisingly important preparation for the swim leg of a triathlon, which seems like a steady-state effort, but in reality is fartlek -- think of escaping the guy climbing up your back during the starting jumble, or getting back up to speed after sighting somewhere mid-race.)

And then comes the best week -- the run block.

I think my program has a few such blocks built in, usually during the build-up phase. As I approach the race, the need for specificity of training makes rotating through the events every week more important.

The other important way to mix things up is to go through periods of sprint work, tempo work, mileage-building work and back to interval work in the few weeks before the race.

Or so I hear. I've been pretty faithful to a program with these elements since January, and I am generally (although not completely) pleased with the results. I'm also getting tired, and I am really looking forward to hanging up the bike and goggles after one last race this Saturday, and wearing the rubber off the soles of my shoes this fall.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Fall Run

Wednesday was 88 and humid and I foolishly ran 5-6 miles on a day when I had to teach until 9 PM. Needless to say, I paid the price as the day wore on and the details of teaching Class Actions and FRCP 23 became more jumbled. Somehow I rallied to teach what felt like one of my better night classes of the semester.

Today (Saturday) was a different story. I woke to temperatures in the low 50s and the seasonal dilemma and what to wear. I ended up in regular shorts a long sleeve shirt and tied a pair of lite weight sweats around my waist because of the gusty winds on the lakefront and my promise to meet Laura at the organic farmers market in Lincoln Park by the zoo. Ran to Northwestern Law School and then back to the farmer's market seeing just about every permutation of shorts, pants, and tops possible. Even saw my first gloves of the season. While others may bemoan the dropping temperatures I rejoice (at least until about January).

5 miles with a bit of speed work ended with a delicious egg and bacon sandwich at the stand run the woman who also runs the Sunday Night Supper Club. Shopped the market and then walked home the 1 1/2 miles with Laura grateful for the long pants.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The 50 Meter Pool

Okay, one of the side effects of training for Triathlon is that an injury doesn't actually reduce your training time.  I haven't run in over a week, but I've biked a bit, and I've been swimming a lot.  This week, I've done swim workouts 6 days out of 7.  This has allowed me to work more variety into my swimming than usual.  My typical swim workout involves slogging through somewhere between 1000 and 2000 meters, freestyle, at a moderate pace.  That, after all, is what tri requires.  This week, I've mixed it up.  I've been working on back stroke, breast stroke, and even, in moments of insanity, butterfly.  Best of all, on Tuesday morning, I got to swim in a 50 meter pool.  I may be fooling myself, but it feels like my mechanics have improved more in the last week than in close to a year of steady work.  This raises a question about cross-training.  I've gotten quite happy with a constant routine of rotating workouts.  The problem is that I've hit a plateau.  Should I be rotating week by week, focussing on one thing, then the other, etc.  Max, what is your experience??

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Running: Injury

Runners get injured.  Marathoners, more so.  The constant pounding of the long runs magnifies the effect of our improper form and structural issues.  The marathon itself rarely fails to leave me without an issue that takes 3-6 weeks to heal.  Phil and Spencer both know this from hard experience.  Spencer started the Dublin Marathon injured.  Phil finished it that way.  None of us are as young as we used to be.  It's hard to know when to push through, and when wisdom is the better part of valor.  I've made both decisions in different years.  I skipped the 2001 NYC Marathon because of a last minute spasm in my ITB (or at least I think that's what it was).  I missed the 2005 NYC Marathon due to a bruised kneecap (don't train for a marathon and play squash).  On the other hand, I ran the 2002 NYC Marathon, even though my left calf went into spasm on the Verrazano Bridge, and ran both NYC (2007) and Dublin (2009) notwithstanding injuries during the taper (what's that about anyway)?

Anyway, I've hit an injury decision point again this year, and I think that the injury has won.  I don't know exactly what it is.  After the NYC Tri, I noticed what felt like a bruise at the top of my heel, near the Achilles insertion.  It didn't seem like much, and it seemed to come and go.  I decided to rest it for a week, limiting my training to hiking and biking.  It got tighter.  Now, it seems to have blossomed into a full blown case of (choose one: (1) a bone bruise; (2) achilles tendonitis; (3) a stress fracture in my heel).  I don't really know which one it is, but I've managed it since then with cross-training and ice.  It always feels better after a bike swim workout.  It always feels worse after a long run.  

I thought I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 21.  That's eight weeks away.  I've managed to do a few 15-16 milers, but if I'm serious, it's time to start running long, and racing half marathons.  That just doesn't look like it's going to happen, so there you have it.

Okay, so what to do next?  All of a sudden I don't know what my next goal is.  This is very disconcerting. My current thought is just to have fun with the swimming and biking while I wait for the darn thing to heel, but that seems too amorphous for a goal directed person like me.  Hmmm.  . 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

City Races

I eschewed city races for many years. I refused seriously to consider the Marine Corps Marathon -- who wants to run with 30,000 of your closest friends over concrete, breathing smog? My marathons have included one out-and-back along a canal towpath northwest of Baltimore; another (my personal best) starting and finishing in Carlsbad, California, north of San Diego, with the first half winding past Legoland and the return following the Pacific Coast Highway; another out-and-back along a remote bike trail from Athens, Ohio. I'm a big fan of trail runs. Triathlons tend to be remote, because they shut down whatever 10-mile-square area in which they are run. I even spent many years refusing to race.

2010 for me has been the year of the city races. (It actually starts in 2009, when I joined Spencer, Ted, Philip and others for the Dublin marathon. I still chuckle over the cheers of "Go, Laddie, Go!")

In March I ran the St. Patrick's Day 8K in downtown DC, the unofficial kick-off to the spring race season.

Then came the National Marathon, which starts by RFK Stadium, passes the Capitol, runs down Constitution, up 18th, Connecticut and Calvert Streets through Adams Morgan, out past Howard University, down North Capitol, east on H Street circling back to RFK, where you lose the 1/2-ers, circling back past the Capital and down Constitution to 9th, where you follow the commuter tunnel out to what is I think Maine Avenue, then double back along the South-West Waterfront, passing the magnificent new baseball stadium and crossing the Anacostia at mile 20. You then head North/East along the Anacostia River, take a jog on Pennsylvania Avenue South East, and hit a series of nasty hills starting at mile 22. At mile 25 you head back across the Anacostia and find an uphill finish at RFK Stadium. The city turns out to cheer in good number. I have lived in DC for 11 years now, and the National Marathon was a tour of places I've never been (and some I wouldn't go without a few thousand others!). What a way to get to know my town.

The Cherry Blossom 10-mile is run in early April, a perfect time of year for racing. We had 65 degrees, sunny, no wind, and a flat course back and forth along the Potomac, including a trip across Memorial Bridge toward Arlington Cemetery. The hardest part of that run is out to the end of Haines Point and back, between miles 7 and 9. I've done the Haines Point run myriad times, but it's a long lonely slog at that point in a mid-distance race.

Still to come this year: the Army 10 mile (Oct. 24) and the Marine Corps Marathon (Oct. 31).

The best, though, were the DC Triathlon and Nation's Triathlon, in June and September, respectively. They shut down Independence, Constitution, 17th Street, Whitehurst Freeway, Canal Road, Clara Barton Parkway, and Rock Creek Parkway up to the Calvert Street exit, and give you license to hammer yourself senseless over the busiest and prettiest roads in DC.

I've been working on a refinement to my theory of why I race. One reason is that it makes me feel like King for a day. A good city race does that better than any other.

Dividing by 2

One of my favorite bloggers suggests (half tongue-in-cheek, I think, and quoting another) the best athlete in the world is approximately twice as good as the average Joe or Jane.

He acknowledges it fails, and in fact, his examples show it fails as much or more than it holds. Think of golf: if Tiger can shoot 72 on a given course, I'm pretty sure I can shoot 144.

I think the comparison works quite well in running. For the marathon, 2:04 maps to 4:08, probably a good "average Joe" number. For the 10K, 27:01 (on road) maps to 54:02; same. 5k, 12:37 maps to 25:14.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To Ted

Once you realize we are all creatures of our environment, it's clear why I usually run with music, Max does so occasionally, and you are adverse to the whole idea. I spend 80% of my time on running paths along the lakefront where there are no cars, and even separate paths for runners and bikers. When I run streets I am running facing the traffic on side streets where there are barely any cars. I see all cars whether or not they see me and I have last the clear chance to avoid unfortunate occurrences. If I was on the narrow crowded ribbons along the water in Manhattan or Brooklyn I might well feel differently. Why anyone would run streets in NYC is beyond me with or without music.

Safety aside, how can you travel that Spirit Road (Neil Young) without the real thing? How do you know whether you are Born to Run? How can you Live to Win? Will you stay Young Forever? Do you have the Eye of the Tiger? Has the Final Countdown Begun?

Rock on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reading: My Book Club

Six years ago I joined a book club that had already been meeting for a year. Six guys, all lawyers. Three partners from two different big firms, a general counsel of a bank, a partner at a small international law boutique and me. The international specialist was a close friend of mine from college with most of the rest his housemates from law school who were barely acquaintances before the club. Laura is convinced that the only theme of the club is who can pick the most obscure or difficult books. A few themes have actually emerged over the six years I have participated. The current selection is Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti whom I am told is a Nobel Prize winner in literature for other work. I was the one who picked the graphic novels!

Here's what we have read so far:

Chekov, Uncle Vanya, the Cherry Orchard and other plays
India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age by Gurcharan Das-David
De Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Twain, Roughing It

Jefferson -- notes from Va. And autobio

Musil-- man without qualities

Mann -- magic mountain

Vetruvius, Twelve Books of Architecture and Palladio, Four Books of Architecture

William James-- pragmaitism

Bulgakov -- the White Guard

Our Final Home, Rees

Persepolis, Satrapi
Watchmen, moore

The Lunar Men, Uglow

Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

The Leopard, di Lampedusa

The Federalist Papers

Solzenytsin-- First Circle

Pamuk, Museum of Innocence

Appel, Jazz Modernism

Bellow, Augie March

Rorty, achieving our country; essays by Emerson

Whittman, selections from Leaves of Grass

Dawkins, The Selfish Gene

McBeth; also, Witches and Jesuits,
Study of mcb by Gary Wills

Faith and Treason, Fraser

Readings in Aesthetics, Kandinsky, Bergson, Bell (Art), Weschler (Boggs) and others

Dorris Kearns, Team of Rivals

In A Dark Wood Wandering, Haasse

The Kite Runner, Hosseini

Thorough, Walden Pond and Civil Dis.

The metaphysical Club, Menand

Proust, Swan's Way

Proust, Within a Budding Grove

Good Soldier Shvejk, Hasek

Wittegenstein's Poker, Edmonds and Eidenow

Kind of Blue (re miles Davis), Kahn

Einstein, Isaacson

Mokyr, Gifts of Athena

From Soul to Mind, Read

Human, Gazzaniga

The Singularity--kurzweil

Watson, the Double Helix

Monday, September 13, 2010


Safety is an issue, to be sure. But I have gone back to music while running recently. In high school I created a tape with "Man in Motion" (from St. Elmos Fire) playing on continuous repeat, which lasted just long enough to run from my mother's house, in far south Anchorage, down the railroad right-of-way to the Potter way-station (now a tourist stop-over complete with gift store and museum) and back. That run follows Turnagain Arm as it extends south from Anchorage and toward the Kenai Peninsula, with (on the out-leg) Potter's Marsh on the left. The marsh is a famed bird sanctuary, with an enormous population of Canadian Geese breeding in the summer months. Arctic Terns also nest nearby, and it was not uncommon, in the wrong months (though I can't recall as I sit here what those months were) to be dive-bombed by protective parent terns. Winds blow nearly continuously from the south along the Arm, so a runner pushes into the wind on the way out and gets carried by it on the way back. I also recall the t-shirt that I favored when doing this run. It was branded by the alpine ski manufacturer K2, and read "Feel the Need for Speed. Satisfaction Guaranteed." I never clocked the distance, but this was a 60' or so run that I must have repeated 50 times during my high school years. I did use to worry that Man in Motion would obscure the sounds of an approaching train, but I emerged unscathed.

I eschewed headphones for many years after. Carrying a walkman was a pain (in the pre-iPod days), the ear-phones kept falling out of my ears as I sweated, and I told myself serious runners concentrated on their running. Recently I have had a coach who teaches the last rationale: one should use runs either for building speed, which requires concentration, or working on form, proper foot-strike, what-have-you. I followed that approach until about 6 months ago.

I'm back on the headphones. It started when I read that Craig Alexander, for the past two years the world champion in ironman triathlon, enjoys running with his iPod. I then realized that my training challenge was not working on foot-strikes, it was getting myself out the door for a run after a long day (due to fatigue), or even a lazy day (due to lethargy). The iPod is more pleasant to carry than the old, yellow, Sony Sports Walkman used to be. I've become facile with routing the head-phone cord through my hat first, helping to keep them in place. I normally run through Rock Creek Park in DC, where cars are much less of a concern than on the streets of New York or Chicago, and which I can reach with an approximately 8-minute jog from my front door. The right music helps me surmount the psychological hurdle to getting started. A little ACDC on a hill workout keeps the speed up. And I still have Man in Motion on the playlist!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best Half in 4 Years

Had a lovely time and a great result in the Chicago Half Marathon today. Apart from getting up at 4:45 AM because they moved the race up to avoid a noon Bears game, everything was perfect. Weather around 60, light breeze, felt pretty good the whole way. I paced a friend who was running her first half for the first 12 miles and sprinted (such as I can) the rest of the way. Finished strong passing directly under the outstretched arms of a golden statue of the Greek goddess of victory that was built for the 1893 Columbian exposition. Came in at 2:05 and some change which is my best half in 4 years. My PR is a 1:51:45 and is probably a thing of the past but today was a good day after more than a year and a half of nothing but agony from plantar fasciatis. My associate dean Mike Kaufman completed his first half as well.

Anybody up for an October 24th half in Myrtle Beach?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Music While Running -- Safety First!!!

Okay, I like music when I run in the gym, but when I'm outside, I'm definitely a no headphones kind of guy.  Indeed, I'm pretty much an anti-headphones kind of guy.

It's too dangerous out there, and I'm to spacey to deprive myself of one of my senses. . .   I cannot tell you the number of times I've heard an oncoming car before I've seen it.  On bike paths, the approach of a bike is often almost silent until it's too late.  Running up Flatbush Aveue at 6:00 am in the dark, I cannot count the number of times I have reached out my arm to stop a running buddy from stepping off the curb, or been stopped.  I also hate it when I'm on my bike, and I'm overtaking a runner on a bike path who is lost in his/her own private Idaho.  When runners don't hear a biker, they are much more likely to jump unpredictably often in the direction of the cyclist.  I really hate it when that happens.

Luckily, I am blessed with a bunch of running buddies who are excellent conversationalists.  I also have a rich internal life, so I can manage to keep myself occupied, even on long runs.  So, in my opinion, i-pods are for gym rats . . .

Friday, September 10, 2010

Do You Run with Music?

A number of races used to nominally ban running with music but few if any bothered to enforce this in any meaningful way. How could they? Picture the Chicago Marathon with 45,000. The elite runner don't use them and the hackers (myself included) are far too numerous to do anything about it. As a result, most of the races have backed away from unenforceable bans and adopted a sensible " Run with Care and Be Aware of Your Surroundings" policy.

First, the legal realist in me applauds the eventual merging of the law on the books with the law in action.

Second, I am interested in what my fellow bloggers do on training runs and in races. I do run with an iPod almost always when I am running by myself. Not today though, because its my final 5K before the Chicago half and I want to focus on a gorgeous fall like day and my mechanics. But normally if I don't have the pleasure of good company, I prefer to drift away to various tunes and podcasts as the miles go by.

Next time, what I listen to. You'd be surprised.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teaching Economics

I held my yearly "Antitrust Economics from 30,000 Feet" class last week. That topic is always a bruiser. I have never found a happy way to communicate the dynamics of supply and demand in markets characterized by differing levels of concentration. I frankly wonder if the idea of setting that topic apart in a separate class meeting is a futile endeavor. I would love to appeal to students' intuitions, but for all my efforts talk of gas stations, wheat farmers, auto makers and Microsoft, I am rewarded mostly with blank stares.

To show this is not off-topic: I deliberately schedule that class for after the close of the add-drop period, for fear of students running for the door!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Private

I read two articles/editorials yesterday questioning the long-term sustainability of the business model of public education. One was in the Financial Times, discussing how the UCLA Business School is separating from the University of California system and going private. ( One would think the law schools at UCLA and Cal., at least, might be salivating to do the same thing. Both schools would compete quite well for private giving and surely could maintain their stature if private. Other public schools, mine included, likely would cease to exist if not supported by the state.

The other was an essay in the NY Times Review of Books ( reviewing two recent books by academics -- Hacker & Dreifus, Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting our Money and Failing our Kids, and Taylor, Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming our Colleges and Universities -- suggesting that emphases on scholarly output over teaching, and the resulting creation of a rock star professoriate, is not sustainable in the long term. One of the arguments in the books is that the tenure system should not continue. Both books appear to discuss undergraduate education rather than professional education.

I find both stories rather discouraging. This is a fun career, and well worth the rather extraordinary opportunity costs, when students, administrators and (for public school professors) legislators appreciate our dual roles of educating and contributing to the scholarly conversation. This career will not be worth the rather extraordinary opportunity cost if that circumstance changes. Others on this blog, who have seen trends in this industry over more years than I, including through prior periods of economic malaise, may have more optimistic views.

Monday, September 6, 2010


A little tapering is always in order, even before a half-marathon. So yesterday, I ran a leisurely 4.5 miles down the beach, took a nap, and then spent the afternoon in Grant Park for the Chicago Jazz Festival. It is a well attended but incredibly mellow crowd with first rate national and local acts spread across three main stages and a number of smaller tents and performance areas. I wandered from the Heritage Stage with the 5 after 7 Project to the Jackson Street stage for Brian Blade and the Fellowship Project. Then just sat in the park for a while reading Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile before heading over for the Brad Mehldau Trio at the Petrillo Band Shell.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Why I Run

I did not start running regularly until the spring of 2001, the year after I moved back to Chicago from New York. I had never run regularly before that except for a brief stretch in my twenties in Washington, DC, which started because of a girl friend I was trying to impress and ended with a ill-placed pot hole and several weeks on crutches. Of our little merry band of bloggers, I am among the oldest and definitely the slowest.

So I was turning 44 and looking for a good mid-life crisis. I rejected anything to do with my thinning hair, don’t care about sports car, and am not a Tiger Woods kind of guy. I also wanted something a little extreme without serious danger. I had sky dived in college and bungee jumped out of a hot air balloon in my thirties. So I had already checked those boxes, plus they aren’t really hobbies to do on a regular basis (at least next to the lake in Chicago).

So completing a marathon seemed like a good idea. Except that as a runner I was past a prime that I never really had. I started small and slowly (and mostly stayed slow). A few miles here and there in the park and gradually expanded the radius of what I ran both north and south of my apartment.

My first race was the Thanksgiving 2001 Turkey Trot, an 8K where I finished behind several thousand people and a guy in a full turkey costume. Since then, I have finished behind people in many varieties of super hero costumes, some seriously old people, 11 year old boys, runners with those J-type prosthetic legs, and an incredibly irritating guy who runs endless 8 minute miles while juggling. I train between 800 and 1200 miles a year and run almost year round except when its bitter cold or icy in January and February. I have now run virtually every block of Chicago within 10 miles of my apartment, in most major cities in the US, on four continents, and in 15 or so countries. I have lumbered my way through 5 marathons, never faster than 4:19.

So why bother? Why didn’t I close up shop after I finished my first Chicago marathon in 2003?
The best I can figure out is that running help me turn back the hands of time literally and metaphorically. Like having kids and publishing stuff, it’s a little slice of immortality. We have embedded ourselves in the training runs, conversations with training partners, races, results, web sites, and medals that mark our accomplishments, but that is the least of it. Every pr, every hill, every sprint, every step along the way, is a defiance of the effects of time both physically and mentally.

And no matter whether I am merely running, training for some particular purpose, in the starting corral, or in the middle of the next race, I find my mind goes blank. Not the single mindedness of purpose that Max talks about, perhaps more like the down time of the ind that Ted mentioned in the recent article he saw in the Chronicle. Sometimes it’s a time of inspiration, sometimes it’s a time of memory. Most of the time it’s just a blank. Then for a moment that can last a stride or the hours of a marathon, time has stopped and I am somewhere else.

Isn’t that what Proust was talking about when he titled his masterwork “In Search of Lost Time?”