Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Musings

1) I want some of whatever Danny Boyle had when producing the opening ceremonies.  Hunter Thompson has nothing on a guy who conceives hundreds of Mary Poppins defeating a 100 foot Lord Voldemort, depicting a literal industrial revolution, a tribute to the National health Service, fireworks to Pink Floyd's dark side of the moon, and convincing the queen of England to do a skit with a fictional character and out-act Daniel Craig in the process, all while Kenneth Branaugh wanders around a stadium like a blissed out Hobbit!
2) The Olympic men's road bike race was kind of anticlimactic.  The course looked dull and treacherous at the same time, NBC didn't even go with the announcers from the tour de France, a washed up ex-doper won, and the vaunted English team (most of whom ride for BSkyB) couldn't figure out what to do without other team helping them.  Even the announcers noted that unlike the Tour, "collusion with other teams was strictly prohibited."
3) The women's race was better and listening to several hundred thousand fans at the end chanting "Lizzie, Lizzie.." as the Brit rode to a silver was pretty cool.
4) My Olympic moments:
     a) One of the USA women's basketball assistant coach is Doug Bruno, long-time women's coach for DePaul who was also one of my coaches for my senior year of high school basketball.  His son was also one of my students.  That mostly makes me feel old.
     b) I have run most of the marathon course (the part along the Thames embarkment)at different times.  The course was changed from both the original proposal, the London marathon, and the tradition of ending in the Olympic stadium.  It appears it was done to be more tv friendly and go by as many historical places and monuments as possible.  That mostly makes me sad.
5) Synchronized anything is kind of silly.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Science of Exhaustion

Interesting story by Malcolm Gladwell on Alberto Salazar in this week's New Yorker. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quick report

Falling down on my blogging duties (not that we've ever been a dutiful bunch here at runningprofs), so here's a quick report.

The Estes Park GMU Law and Econ conference is a winner. Recommended to anybody, not just junior faculty like me or business faculty like me or antitrust types. Today's session on public choice will be hugely beneficial in my bankruptcy and antitrust article.

Running up here is phenomenal. Once I got ove the headaches, I feel more energetic than I do in DC. That doesn't mean I'm running faster, but it does mean I have no trouble waking at 5 and heading out. And the choices -- "should I run along the base of that mountain, up that mountain, or along that creek and around that lake today"?

Went to a wonderful wedding last weekend on DC of two old friends, one of whom is a former employer of mine (who argued and won 3M-LePages and Volvo Trucks, among other things). Nothing nicer than a wedding; for at least a day everybody is happy.

The Daily Randonneur has published my trip report from the Alaska ride last month. thedailyrandonneur.wordpress.com. Ed Felker (Felkerino) did a great job mixing in the photos to make it a fun read. Of course, that's me talking about my own report.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Final Thoughts on 2012 Tour de France

I find the race both thrilling and frustrating for all the reasons I have previously discussed.  If it weren't for the final time trail where Bradley Wiggins blew away the rest of the field, I would have dismissed his win in the general classification as akin to Hulk Hogan "winning" the WWF championship in the 1980s.   His Sky team was so strong that it isn't clear how much was BW and how much was the work of his team. 

I actually prefer the competitions that are more individual in nature and less entangled between team discipline and individual accomplishment.  Kudos to Peter Sagan who won the points championship (not clear how one wins the overall points and still finishes so far back in the general classification).  Kudos to Thomas Voekler the king of the mountains and Mark Cavendish the top sprinter for heroic accomplishments.  The duel between the 23 year old American and the 22 year old Frenchmen for best young rider was probably my favorite part of the race.

I think I am even going to geek out even further and start following the other multi-stage road races in Italy, Spain, California and some of the others if I can find good internet feeds for watching the race highlights.  At a minimum, I now know many more Olympic riders than ever before.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Running at elevation

I am spending two weeks in Estes Park at a remarkable law and economics seminar hosted by George Mason. Staying at the Stanley Hotel, which inspired Stephen King while writing The Shining.

Day 1: 30 minutes easy. Wow is this air thin.
Day 2: jogged over the rise behind the hotel, finding a sparsely populated valley bordering Rocky Mountain National Park. Found the Lumpy Ridge entrance and ran a couple of miles on trail just below the Lumpy Ridge crags. I am coming back here for more!
Today: T__, a high school friend living in Boulder, is coming up to show me the Estes Park half marathon course. Should be tough.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Case closed

Stage 14, Tour de France 80% of the way into the race as one of the leaders has a series of bike mishaps, the announcers correctly observe:

"It was a joint decision [by the other leaders] to wait for Caudal Evans, let him catch up, neutralize any advantage, and live to fight another day....We will see if anyone says anything to the Frenchman who sprinted ahead, perhaps it was an innocent mistake. "

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Why the Tour de France is more like American Needle instead of Copperweld

I am obsessed with the Tour de France.  But rather than ride hundred of miles a day like Max, I just watch it on the NBCSports cable channel (formerly Versus).  The telecasts are awesome and I adore the talented, knowledgeable, and slightly daft English announcers.  When not dazzled by the athletic feats of the riders or distracted by charming stories about the French chateaus littering the countryside near the course for that day's stage, I think about antitrust. 

Namely why aren't all these people in jail?  At a minimum, why isn't the current version of  the Tour (an any race like it) a violation of every known competition law system?  I mean not just the gentlemen's agreement between different teams, but also the anticompetitive conspiracies enacted daily by members of the same "team".

The live and let live arrangements between teams that pop up in between the overall intense rivalry should be per se illegal.  If your toughest rival has some equipment malfunction, needs to get something from the van, or has some unfortunate accident, there is no lawful reason not to grind them into the dust other than the expectation that someday they will be similarly nice to you.  If you show agreement rather than parallelism this is the easiest case in the world.

But I am increasingly concerned about the collusion among so called teammates.  Copperweld you cry?  Its actually a more complicated matter of incentives as American Needle has shown us.  To what extent do so-called teammates have competing economic incentives versus being part of an integrated enterprise?  First, there is the prize money which is based on winning the overall competition, winning certain stages, finishing anywhere from second to twentieth depending on the stage and the overall, winning points for performance within a single stage, winning specialized competitions (mountains, sprints, youngest rider, most aggressive), etc.  Second, there are the salaries teams pay for the riders which is usually far in excess of their winnings but somehow related to their performance on the Tour and the other races over the year.  Third, there are endorsements and other non-race earnings.  Let me suggest as a result of all of these factors that riders as independent contractors have enough conflicting interests that the situation is far closer to hospitals where most courts have rejected Copperweld defenses where the doctor's also have separate and competing economic interests for their private practices beyond their role as staff physicians.

 So the next time, you hear the announcers commending a top rider for an incredible act of sportsmanship toward a rival team call the cops.

And if you hear them say something like: "So Christian Frum has sacrificed his position as #3 overall in the tour to help Bradley Wiggins hold on to yellow jersey," call DG Comp.

But I'm still going to watch every morning when I work out or get dressed to go to the office.  Best athletes on the planet!

New Birthday New Bracket

Last week I went from the oldest of my bracket to the youngest.  Otherwise I turned an age that has no legal and little social significance.  Will the change affect where I finish in races?  My best guess is yes, but in a bad way.  For half marathons and longer, I will probably finish even lower on a percentage basis since the folks still running distance in this bracket are for the most part actually good, rather than merely persistent.  Up side?  I am 5 minutes closer to qualifying for Boston!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A new experience

At the Saratoga 12/24 I and D__ circled a 32.5-mile loop by bicycle as many times as we could in 12 hours. A nutso few kept going for 12 more. We had perfect weather with a light drizzle for 6 hours, overcast skies for the next 3 and some modest heat toward the very end of the day. The loop is chosen for its good road surfaces, unchallenging terrain, light traffic, and scarcity of stoplights -- designed to minimize the variables that might slow you down. It was certainly the fastest I've ever ridden over a long distance. But I can't get too excited about it; 3 competitors including D__ broke the prior course record and the winner lapped me in the final minute.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Mid-summer Review

Power is back on, internet is back up, and we've moved out of the basement -- where we lived for two days after a freak storm knocked the region for a loop and the neighbor's cedar tree across our backyard. I missed some good runs planned for the weekend on the excuse that I couldn't run in 100-degree heat only to come home to no air conditioning.

Got to thinking about how the running has been going and realized this has been a strange year. Since riding long on March 31, I've either ridden a long way (defined as 200 kilometers or greater) or run a marathon every second weekend, with a couple of shorter triathlons thrown in between. This coming Saturday is the Saratoga 12-hour cycling race, continuing the trend. An unorthodox approach, at best!

Mediate workouts have been spotty. I'm probably holding an average of 2.5 days of running weekly, rarely approaching (and only once since Big Sur exceeding) 60 minutes. Not hitting the track regularly, swimming occasionally, not doing the high-pressure bike intervals.

I suppose that's OK. Writing is going well. I'm writing a short FTAIA article, a follow-up to an interview I gave on the en banc Seventh Circuit's Potash decision. Bankruptcy and antitrust should be ready for circulation shortly. And I'm doing some background reading on my fall project.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Running Free

No I am not going bare foot on you (permanently).  Nor am I ever switching to those toe shoes.  But I did have a terrific barefoot hour run on the beach at Fire Island.  I started off with the regular running gear trying to stay in the tracks left by an SUV emergency vehicle.  After a few minutes of slipping and sliding no which trails and tracks I tried to follow, I left the shoes and socks at the foot of one of the lifeguard chairs and continued southwest toward the lighthouse at Robert Moses state park at the end of the island.  I made it about half way to the lighthouse from Ocean Beach for a total of 6-7 miles.  At 7:30 AM the beach is clean empty and stretches a total of about 32 miles total.  Most of the way you see the ocean side houses of the small "towns" that dot the island.  Most of the towns are just a cluster of houses, a ferry dock, and a grocery store.  Ocean Beach where we stayed has maybe 8 restaurants, a few bars, some ice cream and pizza shops, tee shirt shops, and the community center where we saw a grainy version of The Avengers with bad sound.  There are also a few uninhabited areas and the sunken forest but not in the direction I have headed on my run.  I have done as much as 8 miles in both directions from where we usually stay.  Sometime I will take the water taxi to the north end of the island where there is a federal wildlife preserve and run all the way back.  This time didn't have it in me.  Great run though but my calves are seriously aching.