Wednesday, February 29, 2012

After class

Its leap day and in the high 50s.  Class ends at 11:15 and I am out of here.  Thinking 7 plus south down to the aquarium or planetarium and back.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Interesting Article about Foot Strike

This question has confounded me. Video of me suggests I'm a heel-striker. I've been working on moving to a mid-foot strike. It feels very strong to land further forward on the foot. But my arches currently hurt in ways they never have, and I'm worried. On the other hand, there's Ted's experience, which supports moving forward. On the other hand, video of Craig Alexander running toward his third win in Ironman Kona shows a subtle heel strike, not unlike my own (but, of course, 2+ minutes/mile faster than my IM run split). On the other hand, video of Miranda Carfrae, the best runner in women's long course triathlon, shows a mid-foot strike.

You know, nobody ever questioned my form playing darts in a bar. Well, somebody actually did once, but there wasn't a plethora of articles to bolster the debate. Maybe I'm in the wrong sport.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The WTF Marathon

The origins of this blog lie in the 2009 Antitrust Marathon IV, where Spencer, Phil, Max and I each ran the Dublin Marathon, and, the next day participated in an excellent conference sponsored by the Spencer's Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies, Phil's British Institute of International and Comparative Law and the Irish Competition Authority.  I've been hoping for another such event ever since, but so far the gang has not reconvened.  Spencer and I, however, continue to conspire, and last Fall Spencer announced his intention to run the Hamptons Marathon in late September.  I initially thought I'd run it with him, but then I got into the New York Marathon, so my plans changed.

We continued chatting, however, and when the time came, it occurred to me that a 20 miler was on my training schedule, and what better way to run 20 than to pace Spencer for part of the Marathon.  Spencer and I have done this before.  When Spencer ran NYC a few years back, I met him at mile 7 and ran with him to Mile 18.  It was great fun, and, when I got tired,  pulled off, walked to the subway and went home.  Why not just do the same thing again? I thought.

So, I got in the car Friday afternoon, drove out to Easthampton, met Spencer, and looked at the course map.   When I looked at the map, I realized there was a problem.  The eastern edge of Long Island does not have a subway system.  Also, the way the course was laid out, if I ran 20 with Spencer, I'd still have to walk 4 miles to get back to the start.  What to do?  Well, of course, there was only one answer, sign up on race day and run the whole thing.

This was a first on lots of levels.  I've never run a small marathon.  I've never run a marathon with somebody else.  It was great fun.  Spencer and I chatted the whole way, made bunches of friends, walked the water stops, ate snacks, and generally had a great time until about mile 19.  At that point Spencer decided that he needed to focus on getting to the finish, so he banished me to my own final push.

I have always bought into the orthodoxy that marathoners should not run marathons as training runs.   Now I'm not so sure.  Hamptons was six weeks before NYC, and I felt no ill effects.  Indeed, I think it helped.

I also enjoyed running a small race.  I've never been a big fan of crowd scenes, and big races are, well, big crowd scenes.  We just took a shuttle from the hotel to the start, ran the race, shuttled back to the hotel, and voila.   Also, I have to give Spencer credit for finding accommodations.  The hotel had a great pool and hot tub overlooking the ocean.  We took an hour or so to recover, and then went out for lobster rolls.

Below are two photos from the race.  In this one, you can see Spencer on my left.  We had a great time!

And I was still smiling at the end!!

I've never thought of myself as somebody who casually got up in the morning to run a marathon.  Who knew?  I'd happily do it again, at least if I had Spencer to keep me company!

Cold Weather Racing

I've decided to qualify for the NYC Marathon in 2013 by running 9 races.   To do this, I'm going to have to run a bunch of races in the winter and early Spring.  This should be interesting, because I'm not used to racing in what is usually the "off season."  I think it's going to hurt.

It's February, though, and I already have two races under my belt.

The first was the Manhattan Half Marathon.  I'm not sure whether this counts as a race, or just as one of those crazy things runners do from time to time. The race was on January 21, and started well into a blizzard.  Actually, the race was cancelled, sort of.  They turned off the timing mats, and deemed it a "fun run."  By the time the race started, there was already an inch or so of snow on the ground, and things only got worse as the race continued.  This was probably one of the hardest races I've ever run.  The footing was lousy the whole way.  Climbing the hills of central park was arduous, running down was treacherous.  Of course, I'd do it again in a heart beat.

The second was a 4-miler in Prospect Park.  I almost never run short races.  Now I remember why.  It takes me a while to warm up, so, even though I went for a warm up jog, the first mile of a hard fast run is really uncomfortable as my heart rate comes up, particularly when, as this one did, the biggest hill is in the first mile.  This time, the second and third miles were fine, but the fourth, I really began to feel my legs.  My time was respectable, but not where I thought it should be.  On the whole, I finished feeling a bit grouchy.  Next week there's a 5K in Washington Heights.  I think I'll have another go at speed work.

10. Equilibrium is only a run away

I've been pulling my hair out trying to find a profound lesson from running to finish my top 10. I was set to copy Spencer, whose number 1 -- running is supposed to be fun -- sort of says it all. But Spencer said that, and he was and is right. My top lesson (which I've assigned number 10, not being enough of a Letterman fan to get the order right) is that running takes a tough week and sets the world right.

Last week was a tough week, for reasons that are a little unclear to me. Not teaching is amazingly stressful, because I have no good reason not to be producing a lot. I owe one friend a draft that I promised, well, too long ago to admit. I enjoyed a great trip to Chicago, with a top notch symposium put on by the Loyola Consumer Law Review. But my talk, which went about the way I wanted it to, was probably more of a colloquium talk than a symposium talk. The landing at National Airport was exciting, for a euphemism, and I'm a little edgy in an airplane in the best of circumstances. And I've been off on my training program, a run or two behind for the week, and in danger of falling into one of those ruts from which it's hard to get back out for some good miles.

Not long after noon I laced up the hyper speeds and followed Military into Rock Creek, then down the hill on Ridge Road to the start of Beach Drive. Up Beach all the way, over the ridge where Wise Road intersects, then back down into the creek valley, picking up the bike trail. Followed that across East-West Highway and up past the beltway, then back left on the Beach Drive horseshoe, heading west across Montgomery County. (This part was new to me -- I ride up here regularly, but running past East West is very rare, and I've never made it to this part of Beach Drive.)

Beach intersects Connecticut, which I followed south into Kensington, then back west on the Capital Crescent Trail to Bethesda. From there, south on Wisconsin to the DC line and follow Western back to my hood. Finally, a little loop through the neighborhood to catch a few hills and add a mile or so before returning home. Didn't have my watch -- I would have guessed a bit over 2 hours -- and suggests it was 16.5 miles. The result, of course, is that any worries -- what were they, again? -- have melted away.

I think I'll spend the rest of the day with a beer and a pad of paper for brainstorming. Maybe if I get lucky I'll fall asleep. That's equilibrium for you.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Blogging Resolution

For each of us to get two new members or contributors during 2012.  I already know my first recruit based on yesterday's terrific consumer law conference at Loyola.  Good job Max on challenging the audience of consumer advocates to think about antitrust as a tool to deal with the mortgage crisis.

Now Get Busy Finding More of Us for the Blog!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I blogged about the centenarian who ran the Toronto Marathon last fall. I just read this report of a guy who celebrated his 100th by setting the 100-and-over 1 hour cycling record. He's humble about it -- the record is nothing amazing, around 15 miles -- but what's more impressive is his regular riding other than this event. He doesn't like to go much longer than 100 kilometers anymore, he says, but when he was 89 he rode 600K -- in 36 hours.

So, a poll question. What will YOU be doing at age 100, if you have any control over it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

GW Birthday Marathon Relay

Got in the first race of the year yesterday. (To be clear, this is the first race I showed up for. The fourth, I think, for which I paid an entry fee.) I ran leg two of a three-leg marathon relay with DT and DL. DT took the first, and longest, leg, winning it from me in a coin toss. I can't say I was disappointed -- it looked hard. I got the handoff about 70 minutes after the start, and had only 7.2 miles before DL's turn. What a 7.2 miles, though. Rolling hills, trending up until I couldn't take it anymore; then down; and then the last mile back uphill to the handoff. DL was third for a reason. Neither DT nor I had been able to close the gap on a group of friends who comprised another team, but DL stalked their anchor and outsprinted him rather ostentatiously in the final 1/4 mile. Can't get too excited about that, though. Another pair of friends teamed up, with A__ running the second and third legs -- 16.4 miles -- in about the same amount of time that DL and I together did. They beat us by a minute. Good fun all around.

(I realized on re-reading that this may give the impression that we finished behind only one team. That would be an inaccurate impression. Perhaps predictably for a winter marathon, not many people showed up who weren't pretty fast, and a fair number of teams of them, as well as four of them solo, were faster than were we.)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Injury and Self Diagnosis

In the Fall of 2010, I was probably in the best shape I've ever been in.  I had just finished a summer where I had completed a Half Ironman and an Olympic Tri, and I was gearing up for a Fall marathon.  The only thing that was bugging me was what felt like a bit of a bruise on my heel.  My self diagnosis was that it was just a bit of inflammation at the top of my heel where my running shoes hit the achilles.  It would go away.  

It didn't.  I ignored it for a while, but as I started to ramp up the long runs for what I thought would be a PR in the Philadelphia Marathon, the pain got worse.  I decided to rest it.  I took a week off and just cross trained.  When I went back to running it got worse.  Perversely, it felt fine on days when I rode the bike, putting lots of pressure on the achilles, but hurt when I ran, and worse, it hurt worse when I did nothing.  I was confused.  I tried taping it.  I tried just swimming.  I tried not running at all.  It was stubborn.  Somewhere in the middle of all of this, I abandoned the idea of a Fall marathon.  I also abandoned the idea of spring races, tri-or otherwise.  

I kept spinning, swimming, and occasionally running, but I was in a tailspin.  As a middle aged runner, any time an injury lingers like that, one worries that the end has arrived, and it will never heal.  

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, a training buddy started singing the praises of chi-running and the midfoot strike.  I was skeptical. Most importantly, I was scared to try it, because I thought it would further clobber my achilles.  Wouldn't running on your toes put extra stress on a tendon that was already inflamed??

Well, as my daughter would say, whatevs. . . I started pushing my hips forward (as suggested by Max in his earlier post), shortening my stride, leaning forward, and landing on my toes.  Much to my surprise, instead of getting worse, my achilles pain started to go away.  

Slowly, I realized that the inflammation was not starting at the Achilles insertion, but on the pad of my heel, and that getting rid of the heel strike was the cure.  

What a counterintuitive surprise.   More soon . . . 

Return of Ted

Well, it has been a long time since I've posted, and I apologize to Spencer for not holding up my end of the task of creating content.  It has been a crazy year, and while training has kept me sane, I have not had the time to write about it.  So, as a law professor, the only thing to do is to set out my scholarly agenda, as I catch up.  So, here are the things I hope to post about in the next few weeks:

1) Injury and some reflections on self diagnosis
2) How and why a heel striker changed his stride
3) The WTF Marathon (with Spencer)
4) Why I can't decide what my goals are this year

I'll probably write about a few more, and not necessarily in that order, but it's good to be back.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Good Day for the Three Rs

Stayed Home,  Wrote a bit, passed the halfway mark on a short piece due in March, but more importantly figured out the structure I needed for the essay.  Read more of James Gleick's The Information.  Ran a quick 7 in short sleeves in mid-February.    This was a very good day indeed on the professing front.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

9. Hips First

I once formed a theory that all of athletics could be defined as an effort to move the hips and to let the rest of the body follow. The trouble with my pursuing the theory too far is that I was never very athletic, and my athletic experiences were somewhat esoteric at best. Here are a few examples I came up with:

Rowing: the crux of the power generation is a lever using the gluteal muscles, supported by the abdomen and lower back. That creates the acceleration that continues the push from the legs into the upper back and arms.
Rock climbing: every bit of climbing wisdom ultimately reduces to moving the hips to maximize pressure on the legs and minimize reliance on the arms.
Whitewater kayaking: stability, direction, and speed all are dependent on adjustments with the hips.
Alpine skiing: it looks like a leg sport, but the legs just bring into effect a control process generated in the hips.

I'll leave it to others to talk about baseball, golf, football -- but I'm pretty sure this works there, too. Maybe Nascar is out, but I did intend this to be a post about athletics, after all.

How about running? I always thought of it as the calves and little else. But I now believe otherwise. First, sure, the calves push you down the road, but what are they pushing? It would be a funny sight to have a gal or a guy with infinitely strong calves and infinitely weak hips -- sort of like the cartoons of the road runner, where his feet take off before the rest of him. Second, the calves are at their best a pretty small set of muscles, so unless you see running as a reverse moon-walk, you need to engage through the legs -- and what lifts the legs, after all? Third, we use our arms and shoulders, whether to maintain rhythm or to assist in the stride -- I think it's the latter -- and the coordination of the upper and lower bodies runs through the hips.

Having reached the limits of my bio-mechanical intuition, here's an anecdote. I run much better with flexibility through the hip-flexors and quads, the kind of thing you emphasize in yoga poses like the cobra and the backward bow. That flexibility lets me push forward from the gluteal muscles, shifting to a stride with a long follow-through. An adjunct to that flexibility in the muscles that need to be extended is, of course, strength in the muscles that need to be contracted, hence a return to the overused notion of "core strength." Planks, yoga poses, and the dreaded stomach crunch improve my running, I'm sorry to say.

So my ninth lesson about running is that it fits the general theory. Hips first!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Silly Hilly and Neon Orange

Long run with D__ this morning. He picked the route, a metaphorical figure 8 from his place in Northern Virginia. The first loop, well, I would guess of the 7 or so miles, less than 1/2 mile even approached flat. The second loop was mostly off-road through a local wooded park, finishing with an aggressive 1/2 mile climb along a bike trail. Wow.

When I got back, Fed Ex had dropped off this year's Boston jacket. If the goal is to draw awareness to Iran's nuclear ambitions, this might just do it. Back in the '80s, ski gear used to come in bright neon colors. This company somehow had a following, although the gear was hyper expensive and known to compare poorly to gear from companies like Spyder and Descent. (The North Face was just coming on the scene at the time.) And how I did want a neon outfit -- pink, green, anything would do. The closest I ever had was a Columbia jacket/pants combo that was blue and yellow, and a few obnoxiously pink ball caps from ski areas I had visited.

By this point in my life I'm over that. And look what's happened -- last year's Boston colors were black with lime green accents, and I thought that made me look like a spice girl. This year? Full-on orange popsicle.

Friday, February 10, 2012

And then it got real quiet...

Ran streets this morning to beat a predicted afternoon lake effect snow.  Got out maybe 2 miles when the sky got that slate steel gray look.  Then it smelled like it was going to snow.  Then I felt it even before I could see the little flakes.  Then it got real quiet and I had a great run through the North Side and home through the snow as the city felt very still and rather pretty.  This is how it often goes around here in late November as the first snow arrives.  The fact that it is February 10th is even more remarkable.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So how many miles do I have to run tomorrow?

Didn't make it out today for a run for a variety of uninteresting reasons.  Now heading to 4 course at the Sunday Night Supper featuring cassoulet.  Their Fried Chicken last year and their vegetarian meal a few months were awesome.  Tonight, veggie it ain't.

New Shoes

I picked up a pair of Asics Gel Hyper Speeds from Road Runner Sports. Ryan Hall supposedly runs in them. Report: they wear like the Kinvaras -- zero drop, relatively low cushion, limited support from an ultra-light upper. But the foam is softer. My Kinvaras have been hurting as I slap the ground. These actually absorb the foot strike. They are black with orange accents (together with my green-stripe tracksuit from Boston last year, I felt like Halloween personified). Too early to say whether I will try running a marathon in these, or stick with my trusty Asics DS Race. I got a new pair of those, too, in slightly over-the-top electric blue.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

8. Make it Social

My eighth lesson comes as I realize that most of my non-family (and much of my family) social intercourse comes from running or related activity.

A brief history: I count 4 periods of serious efforts to do athletic things in my life. First, I was 6 when Dad took first me, and later me, my brother S__ and my sister S__ running at lunch over the summer. That morphed into family race day, 4 or so times a year. In a family descended from reticent northern Europeans, this was our strategy for interaction. Second, I was in college, joined the rowing team, and found 90% of my society surrounding rowing, mostly because I didn't know how else one is supposed to meet people. When I think of college, I think of early mornings and winter training trips to Tampa. The third was after law school, when I shared a group house with J__. We ran together, then climbed together, then I paddled whitewater with others, but everything we did other than work surrounded some athletic event. I even met my wife, P__, both at work and at the climbing gym. The fourth is the most recent, since 2006, when I imitated my siblings' examples -- brother took up long distance cycling, and sister took up ironman triathlon -- and fell in with a running and triathlon crowd. J__ is part of this, too, now married and with kids. My running group came to include current and former co-workers and co-bloggers. But I've been able to ride this last wave for 6 years because I'm not sure what I'd do otherwise. I no longer know any good bar-flies or theatre-goers. This is my crowd.

New Shirt

I had this shirt made. (Translation: nobody wants to get off the bike and start running.) With my sloganeering, I should work for Hallmark.

Possible New Goal for 2013

The Celtman Triathlon. Comes long enough after the Rome Marathon to recuperate and get excited about another overseas trip. This appears to be another in the genre of races made for those of us who have found we'll never be fast, so we have to be daring. Or something like that.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Reunion of the Mega-Powers

Huffman.  Waller.  Many others. Loyola Consumer Law Review symposium on The Continuing Effect of the Mortgage Crisis on Consumers.  February 24, 2012.  Full Details at

But will there be running?

Before the Super Bowl

It was 4 PM Sunday and the sun came out on a day in the low 40s.  A full moon was rising over the lake and seemingly every runner in Chicago was out on the lakefront path.  Class prep was under control (but not my looming March article deadline) so I hit the trail.  In Hollywood, the call it the Golden Hour.  Just lovely. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

John Le Carre

I've only recently discovered the masterful trilogy about George Smiley's "circus" of British intelligence. I bought the books after reading a review of the Gary Oldman version of Tinker Tailor, and though I enjoyed the movie, nothing is quite like these books. They are true spy thrillers without any cheap action sequences, the hero is fat, balding and cuckolded, the other players are lecherous, alcoholic and semi-untrustworthy. The circus accomplishes its spying through painstaking research and very little else. It's just marvelous.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Barefoot Running

Paul Kedrosky posted this short satirical video, which I find hilarious. So here it is.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Year Ago

There was 28 inches of snow on the ground.  Today it was high 40s and sunny.  So I went running shorts.

One of the Greatest Individual Athletic Performances

I did something I almost never do, which is watch a Comcast Sports Classic broadcast, which is a fancy marketing term for a rerun.  It was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals between the Bulls and the Utah Jazz. It wasn't the Bulls last championship which was the following year or even the last game of the '97 finals.

But what made it special and awe inspiring was Michael.  Jordan had the flu, looked terrible, appeared to feel worse, and was throwing up before the game and during half time.  During the various timeouts he slumped on the bench with ice packs on his neck, a towel over his head, often too weak to drink anything.  Some how he managed to play 44 of the 48 minutes, score in the high thirties, rebound and defend with intensity, and even shake off the defender to score the game winning three pointer before collapsing into the arms of Scottie Pippin as the Bulls left the floor.  He could barely talk in the interview after the game but said it was all about will.  Indeed.  I want to be like Mike.  Even a little.