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