Friday, September 30, 2011

Video and Life as a Marathon

Because the Hamptons race was so small, Brightroom posted both video of the finish as well as the usual photos from throughout the course. There is about 35 seconds of video of me lumbering across the finish line while the announcer says my name, my time, where I'm from, and how many marathons I have completed (all from the registration form).

Apart from being kind of cool in its own right, it got me thinking about generalizing the marathon experience to other accomplishments and life experiences. Wouldn't it be great if someone would say over a loud speaker when you taught a great class, published your nth article, drafted new tenure regs, helped a student land a clerkship, cooked an awesome meal for friends, got all your errands done in record time, etc and then handed you a medal (and a bagel)?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Rare Opportunity

I started my teaching career with a couple articles on the FTAIA. Then I did a couple regarding Twombly. On the day after my birthday, the Seventh Circuit decided Minn-Chem v. Agrium, an application of Twombly to the FTAIA.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Race Day

The rain held off, temperature not too bad in the mid to high 60s but really humid. Ted J. came out to Hamptons the night before and crashed with me in the large two bedroom ocean front condo I rented for the price of a mid-price hotel room. Van from Running Away (great travel company for marathons and owner of Berkshire marathon) took us to East Hampton high school where race began. Less than 550 marathoners although the half sold out at 2500. Almost missed starting gun while in line for porta potties. No harm although no real time to stretch.

Went out fast with Ted pacing me. Half-marathoners split off at mile 5 or so. Prettiest course I have ever run. County roads, paths, and a few trails winding through the east end of the Hamptons with some nice views of fancy houses, dunes, the bays, and a glimpse or two of the ocean here and there. Kept my pace through mile 15 or so and then wilted in the humidity. Slow with cramping through mile 20 or so. Didn't need the hills from 17-19 but very pretty stretch. Managed to pull it together after that and finish in my third fastest marathon, a few seconds faster than my first one back in 2003 and my fastest since May of 2008. Nice to run without injuries for a change, it makes a difference. Now if I can just figure out a way not to walk so much.

Ted was great company pacing me through mile 19, and then.... (the rest is his story).

Very grateful for hot tub back at the hotel and my favorite lobster roll place which was less than a mile from the hotel. Finished, had fun, no injuries, made my rough time goal. Not even that sore. Life is good.


A new world record yesterday in the men's marathon, by Patrick Makau. The NY Times report I read describes pace-setting up to Mile 20, with pacers actually forming a migrating-bird-style echelon blocking the wind. (At a 4:43 pace, wind drag presumably is real. I wouldn't know.) One pacer managed to hold on for second place, somewhere in the 2:07s. Former world record holder Haile Gebraselassie was on pace until he blew up somewhere after mile 20 and dropped out.

A question: I noted a few days ago this article which says women-only races are required for a women's road racing record to count. The rationale is that Paula Radcliffe, among others, gained pacing benefits in some races, helping her to run faster than she otherwise could have run. (Giving the lie to the proposition that it's somehow an unfair advantage, Radcliffe still holds the IAAF marathon world record -- after having her two fastest marathon finishes retroactively disqualified -- and finished third in Berlin yesterday at age 37.) Is it any better to hire a ~2:07 marathoner to establish a record pace and hold it until he can't any more, just so the favorite can break a record?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Big Sur

Big Sur is supposed to be one of the world's epic marathons. The early May race follows the California coast for 26.2 miles. The pictures of the course are beautiful. Just signed up yesterday. Including Boston it will be a double-whammy spring.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Swag Bag

All races and celebrity events are judged by the goodie bag. The Hamptons Marathon gets a strong A- for their free merchandise and registration experience. First a flat out A for having a Manhattan pick up location instead of having to wait until you actually get out to the Hamptons. Logistics of pickup a B+ with a long line down a narrow set of stairs to enter the room to get your bib and the goodies. Long wait but quick processing once yo made it to the front of the line. Not particularly friendly though.

Merchandise itself also an A. First you actually get a small gym bag with a tasteful logo so you can use it in real life after the race. Slightly flimsy though but still an actual bag not a plastic shopping bag. No coupons, ads, or cheap filler. No weird food samples unrelated to running or even general fitness (Once got a box of white rice). A dark blue technical running shirt, nice design, also not smeared with gaudy logos or sponsors. Dark grey winter hat. Some sample of sports tape. And finally the Spanky, a full sized lens cloth for your glasses printed with the map of the course. Kind of cute even if brand name is a little iccky. Bib has built in chip.

Overall a solid A-.

Learned bit more info for Saturday. 600 runners for the full, 2500 for the half. low of 62, high of 72 chance of light rain. Hilliest at miles 17-19. Good after race party somewhere in Amagansett, Most importantly, van picks me up at my hotel at 7 AM. Race starts at 8.

Heading to Hamptons tomorrow. See you at the finish line.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Record Problem

I see in the NY Times that Paula Radcliffe had her world record, er, changed. Apparently the new rules discount races in which women start with men and thus garner pacing benefits (it doesn't say drafting, but that makes sense, too). Actually, I'm not quite clear whether it's any mixed race, or only races where male pacers are deliberately lined up for the elite women.

Just want to say that if anybody on this blog sets a record while being paced by or drafting on a biologically faster runner, as far as I'm concerned it still counts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


One of the Lemony Snicket books my daughter used to read was an extended riff on the difference between nervous and anxious. I get on the plane tomorrow for New York City and I'm anxious. I feel ok with nothing but minor twinges here and there. I packed duplicates of everything I need for the race, with one set in my carry on in case Southwest loses my luggage. My biggest concern is whether to run in my new shoes which aren't quite broken in yet or my old shoes which are a bit past their prime. My other concern is the weather which is forecast for a low of 62 and a high of 72 on race day. Other than that I am ready to rumble.

Thursday morning I speak on brands competition and the law to the NYSBA antitrust committee. Friday I head out to the Hamptons. Saturday I run my 6th marathon. Will report from the finish line.

Old History

My brother recently shared with me the Runner's World article from 1980 when his time as a six-year-old in a 10K was written up as a remarkable achievement -- which it was. A misinterpretation of the article claimed S__ was the third-fastest under age eight in the country, whether that year or for all time depended on who was relating the tale. That "third-fastest" line has been my (erroneous) recollection ever since. S__ more or less stopped running as he got older, and is now my mentor in my aspirations to do some ultra-distance cycling. He dragged me out for the ride in July that resulted in our sleeping under the stars somewhere alongside the Pacific Ocean, and but for him I'd have been in trouble in Alaska this August. Of course, but for him I might not have been there in the first place.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Three "Races"

Saturday was the Revenge of the Penguins 20-miler. It's billed as a supported training run for fall marathons, but they offer prizes, which kind of defeats the "training run" idea. (Being between the ages of 30 and 39, 10th place meant 5th in my age group. No prizes for me.) I met F__ at the start, who uses the same coach I use, and we pushed each other from mile 3 to the end. F__ ran 2:58 at the Marine Corps Marathon two years ago, and she is scheduled to run it this fall. New goal: follow her until I can't any more.

Today was the Kit's Miracle Mile 10K. Yes, the race suffers from schitzophrenic branding. While yesterday's run was perfectly flat and straight, out and back on the C&O Canal tow-path, today's was three loops around the George Mason University Fairfax campus -- each loop boasting a long downhill, a little flat and 3/4 mile back uphill. Not a PR course, even if I had been in PR condition.

And while running today I had a grand idea. We could host the "race for competition" -- a 5K held early Saturday morning the weekend of the ABA Antitrust Spring Meeting. Anybody think it would take?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Back to Boston

Last year's Boston registration was something of a fiasco, with demand outstripping supply and many qualifiers not registering early enough to gain entry. (It didn't used to be this way -- for my first entry, I qualified in January and signed up in February, the year of the race. US v. AMR Corp. got in the way, though, and I didn't run that race.)

This year they changed to a process of rolling registration. On Monday you could register if you had qualified by more than 20 minutes. On Wednesday you could register if you had qualified by more than 10 minutes. And we more-than-five-less-than-ten-minute qualifiers had our shot today. The normal qualifier entry starts next week, if there is room left. Under this approach, there was a real chance I'd be shut out, but I'm in.

I was pretty hopped up, so I headed out for a celebratory run. Out Nebraska to Oregon, then following the bike trail north along the western edge of Rock Creek Park to Wise Road. Follow that to Beach Drive, then back south toward Military Road. The bike trail following Military to the west climbs steeply from the creek to the top of the hill near the stables. That climb will feature strongly in my winter workouts, with eye to the brutal climb from mile 20-21 in Boston. I tried out the new ultralight Saucony Kinvaras, which -- if they continue to feel as good as they did today -- will be my shoe in Boston.

It's nice to feel excited about something, again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Confession Versus Atonement

I have thinking about Max's confession about using the blog to confess. I don't think I use the blog that way and it may have to do with the different religious food groups involved. In Judaism, there is no tradition, ritual or sacrament of confession. There is of course Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, and the practice of asking forgiveness from those you may have wronged during the past year. I have always found this pretty congenial and cathartic but for a contrary view listen to Lewis Black's profanity laced rant about Yom Kippur on his Carnegie Hall recording. For the blog, I am not sure how to use it as a vehicle for atonement but come September 24th I will do my best to use the Hamptons marathon to atone for two pretty dreadful previous marathons.

Book Offer

I received this e-mail today:

"September 15th , 2011

Dear Professor:

I would like to offer you a complimentary examination copy of Making Our Democracy Work (Vintage, ISBN 978-0-307-39083-7, $16.00), by Justice Stephen Breyer, a tour de force of history and philosophy, offering an original approach to interpreting the Constitution that judges, lawyers, and scholars will look to for many years to come.

Charged with the responsibility of interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the awesome power to strike down laws enacted by our elected representatives. Why does the public accept the Court’s decisions as legitimate and follow them, even when those decisions are highly unpopular? What must the Court do to maintain the public’s faith? How can it help make our democracy work? In this groundbreaking book, Justice Stephen Breyer tackles these questions and more.

“A users’ guide to both the Constitution and the Supreme Court. . . . You will find perhaps the best five-page description ever produced of how the Supreme Court works.” —The Boston Globe

“A calm, reasoned book about how the Supreme Court should do its work and how, in history it has sometimes failed the challenge. . . . A remarkable contribution to educating the public about our constitutional system.” —Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books

“Vivid and full of surprising details. . . . Breyer’s willingness to present his argument in terms that educated citizens can understand, in the hope of persuading all of us to participate actively in American democracy, exemplifies an idealism about what is possible in a democratic citizenry, and an optimism about it, that is as impressive as it is rare on the Supreme Court. . . . Very admirable.”
—Jeffrey Rose, The New Republic

To receive a complimentary copy of Making Our Democracy Work, simply fill out the form located at, or respond to this email with your college mailing address. The book is yours to keep.

In addition, we will be happy to extend this offer to any of your colleagues who might also be interested in this title and encourage you to pass along this e-mail. (Offer is good only in the US and to professors who would consider the book for possible course adoption use.)

Yours sincerely,

Rachel Markowitz
Knopf Doubleday Academic Marketing
1745 Broadway 12th Floor
New York, NY 10019

I don’t know whether I received this e-mail because I reviewed Justice Breyer’s recent prior book, or because I look like the kind of person who is interested in making democracy work, but being invited to share this offer with my colleagues, I am doing so.

Note that the offer is only available if you “would consider the book for possible course adoption use.” Having written on Twombly (here and here), I interpret “possible” to be something less than “probable”, though of course a non-zero chance. I leave it to you to sort out the ethical question on your own.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An idea

I'm considering trying to create an iPad app, which will be basically a framework for an electronic casebook. The app will have a student interface and a professor's interface.

On the student side, they see the e-book with a robust note-taking function (basically a scrap of lined "paper" that can be called up with a double-tap on a line of text, or the like); a video function (professor can record or upload video commentary to go with the reading); a web-search function (student can get the Wikipedia entry for "security interest", or whatever); a print function permitting the student to print the chapter with notes.

On the professor side, the user gets a template for creating his own e-casebook. She can upload video, powerpoints, text documents; record or type in commentary to go along with materials; insert "ticklers" for updating with new materials (if, for example, professor knows of litigation or legislation that may be completed during the semester); print the e-book for sale to those students who don't want to invest in the iPad.

The idea would be that a student might be able to use just the iPad for all classes -- of course, there are network efficiencies that would need to be realized for that to work.

What do others think? Would something like this be useful? And, if so, what functionality have I not described that you might like? And, anybody know how to program an iPad app?

Finally a good one

Haven't had a really good run since the Vineman on July 30. In recent weeks there's been some bike-crash-related problems. And my head's not in it. But Sunday went well. Not far, maybe 13 miles, but comfortable, not too slow, moving well uphill as well as down. I'll take it.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Twenty and Taper

It ended up being kind of a non-event. Once again a slow long run, decent weather, a slight negative split, and no physical problems. The only thing unusual was my route. This time I ran all the way south to the end of the running/bike path and then back to the Shedd Aquarium and cabbed home. I thought about a one way run to the Indiana border but wasn't sure about the neighborhoods for the last couple of miles and hadn't researched how to get back once I got there. That will be next year's adventure.

Celebrated with an afternoon nap, watched the last episode of Game of Thrones, and had a beer with dinner. Not sure what I do now. Kind of anticlimactic. Oh yeah, back to my three articles with different deadlines.