Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The First Tycoon

This is a great biography of the man who was both the steam ship captain for Gibbons of Ogden v. Gibbons fame and arguably the first private monopolist in the United States.   Provides a lot of information and support for the popular hatred of both public and private monopoly prior to the Gilded age that produced the Sherman Act and ammunition against those who seek to minimize the significance of Section 2 of the Sherman Act versus cartel enforcement.

Make my first a Half

So my road to recovery wouldn't have kickstarted without putting something into the calendar, so quietly a few weeks ago I signed up for the Oxford Half...knowing it was too far for me so soon, but thinking it was something to build to, and a distance I wouldn't try to blast like times of old, or if it was a 10k.   I hadn't run the distance in training without many many stops for walkies..and I intended to have to do just the same, and not to wear a watch or look at ancient clock tower spires even.   So there I was, super excited, but trying to be super chilled, queuing up interminably in the freezing temperatures, to hand in my kitbag and pin on my first running number in three years!   The race was started by Sir Roger Bannister, and I moseyed in near the 2.20 pacers, adamant that I would finish the course, or drop out, but either way emerge injury free.   Since my fitness running-wise is low, I didn't have a hard time keeping my ego in check as the quick bunch at the front flew off, but gradually as we passed through the Mini and MG plant, and sidled down Iffley Road past the track where Roger B broke the 4 minute mile, I noticed I was passing the 2.15s and then 2.10s.   We turned through Christ Church meadow, and onto the towpath, where I shouted "Go CITY, full pressure!" to my rowing Eight, looking sweet as they plowed through the Gut, absent me in the Stroke seat for once.   By now I was with the 1.55s and feeling the pain in my feet, but all over, not just the PF.   An unwelcome but gradual two mile uphill to the Finish and then I crossed with 1.50.27 on my chip.    My slowest half by 20 minutes, but probably my most jubilant one, after so much time off with chronic injury.   And I emerged unscathed, proud and only slightly put off by a freezing two hour outdoor wait for kitbags....dangerous to do that to 4000 runners!   So, while the PF is still there, and I am now taping and resuming physio, maybe this old Oxford road will indeed lead to Roma in March.   

NYC on or off?

We Eurolanders have of course been watching stormy Sandy on the East Coast, from the comfort of our living rooms...but amid the reports, sincere concern for friends there, and mild bemusement at the over-hysteria that CNN and Fox try to whip up, one was surprised to see the second story on BBC news this morning being concern about the thousands of foreign runners who would normally be boarding flights to NYC this week to run with Ted.    The UK is a running nation of sorts...but that was an odd one!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A poll question

Calendar tells me Ted has 9 days until the NY Marathon. (Fingers are crossed here for that one.)

What to do preparation-wise as time starts winding down? This is something I've never figured out. Need to keep moving to keep from tightening -- and fattening! -- up. Can't move too much if you are worried about wearing out. (Dumbest pre-marathon plan ever? I and P__ spent the day walking in Boston the day prior to the marathon in 2011. But spending that day lying in my hotel bed in 2012 wasn't much better.) Short jogs every other day? A little mild speed work? Please -- do tell!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Get ready for Antitrust Marathon V: When in Rome

Invites for the March 18th Rome Antitrust Marathon will be going out sometime next week.  Be sure to register for the actual race as well if you are so inclined.  Regardless, be ready to discuss Pubic and Private Enforcement at Italian Competition Authority and carbo load with Phil and me as two of your co-hosts on Sunday evening the 17th at the conference dinner regardless of how much running you do earlier that day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Funny sort of run yesterday

My plan was to run the long way to the car dealer to pick up the car with the winter tires on. I got up, went through my pre-long-run ritual of gels, caffeine, and liquids, and headed out the door. Then the thunder started rolling. I'm not afraid of a little run in a storm in a place other than the Rocky Mountains, but I'm not inclined to start running just when the storm is arriving.

I headed home and puttered around the condo to wait it out. A little home repair work, got started on the next step in the tiling project, and so on. The thunder and lightning stopped, so I started the ritual again. More calories, more water, more caffeine. Was lacing up the shoes when the sky opened up.

Same story two more times. I finally made it out at noon after four times preparing and standing down. Ended up with a nice 16-miler and a moderate car shop bill, with instructions to return soon for the rear brakes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2 Weeks later

Turns out having your Fibia drop down from the patella and having all the associated muscle groups go out of whack is even less fun than I originally thought.  Two weeks later I can walk ok but not run.  Going down stairs is still dicey and bending down on my left leg is still not a very good idea.  Treatment so far consists of chiropractic care about once a week, painful massage therapy as often as I can stand it, plus long soaks in the hot tub while stretching as often as I can find the time.  It seems the muscle damage was far worse than the joint damage but eventually all subject to rehab.  Yesterday I managed a not-painful 16 minutes on the elliptical set on an incline to focus on the gluts rather than quads.  The dreaded pool "running" is next.  This completely shreds my fall racing schedule but hopefully leaves me time to prepare for Rome or at least the first half.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Airline code-share pricing

An amusing discovery today when buying a ticket to Chicago for tomorrow's "Brands, Competition and the Law" conference at the Loyola-Chicago Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies:

United and US Airways offer the same flights at the same price, operated on United Express equipment. I could just pick which airline I preferred but it made not a whit of difference with regard to when or how I will fly (same times, same planes, same check-in counters). I went with US Airways just in case there is a bonus of some sort paid to the booking airline; my idea was to protect the one carrier still flying non-stop from Indianapolis to National.

You could buy the same itinerary on the same airplanes with United as the named airline going one way and US Airways as the named airline going the other. Once again, it matters not to the traveler, who still checks in at the United counter on both ends. But it costs $7 more for the trip if you have the dual-branded ticket. The $7 price difference held across at least two itineraries (I didn't look further).

I wonder why?

1. It's hard to think of a clearer example of perfect competition than two airlines both selling exactly the same flights on the same website; it would be difficult for either airline to realize a price premium on the basis of a brand unless the buyers were not utility maximizing. But that should hold for the dual-branded flights as well. That suggests that brand differences may be relevant for an uninformed or non-utility-maximizing group of infra-marginal consumers.

2. That should hold also for the dual-branded flights, though. The only difference I can see with dual branding is the greater likelihood of consumer confusion -- thus the possibility of a behavioral exploitation strategy at play.

3. It could be a screw up -- the sub-optimal conduct is on the part of the sellers, or their computer systems.

4. I wonder if it is a contract term? Perhaps there is a non-discriminatory rate term in the code-share agreements that is drafted badly enough to create a loophole for a dual-branded flight. (Even if so, that still means somebody is trying to benefit from a behavioral exploitation strategy, or is him/herself messing up the pricing.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wittenberg, NYRR and NYC Marathon

There is a long article in today's NY Times on Mary Wittenberg, CEO of the New York Road Runners, which boasts as its marquee event the New York Marathon. All in all it's not entirely flattering. Wittenberg comes across as someone with her heart in the right place who has probably overreached. The NY Marathon is huge -- even in comparison to its already large size 10 years ago, and it is expensive -- 3 times its cost 10 years ago. Putting it in perspective, the $250 entry fee for the NY Marathon exceeds the entry fee for an Ironman 70.3, which is comparably marketed but costs substantially more (on a per athlete basis) to run and almost certainly to insure.

One thing the article doesn't say is that Wittenberg has doubled the size of the NYRR enterprise during a period of dramatic growth of running and marathoning generally. Running is historically cyclical. A person running a business during an build cycle should put in place mechanisms to handle the inevitable decline. I'm intrigued, for example, that major city marathons like Boston and Marine Corps are not prohibitively expensive. Boston may not fill up on the first day of registration, but at $150 or so it will fill up. (Marine Corps costs less than $100, and it does fill up quickly -- 30,000 runners sign up in single-digit hours. Of course, MCM has the massive competitive advantage of limited opportunity cost in engaging labor.) I learned to my amazement that the London Marathon still charges an entry fee of 35 pounds; googling "London Marathon entry" demonstrates that running it is a scarce opportunity indeed. Those races will thrive even as fewer runners seek to race. But can New York maintain 50,000 runners at a cost of $250 per person? My bet is no. I wonder how NYRR will handle the change.

8K Today

It's been a dream of mine to share race day with P__, attending in a capacity other than hauling me home. Today we ran the Race for a Cause 8K in Arlington VA. It was my second time on the course, on a nearly identical day to last year and I ran within 3 seconds or so of my time from last year. P__ ran as well, her first 8K (so a PR!) and arguably her best ever run of any distance. After a few back-slaps at the end, I jogged back down the course and enjoyed finishing a second time with P__. Next month we are scheduled to run the Veteran's Day 10K, and in early December the Jingle All the Way 8K. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lance -- Again

Two articles on Lance in today's NY Times. The first is a rather painful-to-read summary of the doping agency report concluding Lance was the ringleader of a sophisticated -- and forceful -- doping program surrounding his two TdF teams. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not, but it's depressing, and I lean toward true.

The second is a discussion of his luke-warm reception in triathlon. I've discussed that here before. The article includes interviews with a handful of pro triathletes and coaches who support his exclusion from sanctioned events. Statements in those interviews contain a certain subtextual discomfort with the painful fact that a top cyclist, even when he's far too old to race on his bike, is better than a top triathlete in his prime. Of course, it's easy to clothe any such complaint in worries about triathlon's remaining a clean sport.

Just had this thought as I stood here: assume Lance is/was a doper. Is his success in triathlon problematic because he is/was dirty, or is it problematic because of his high profile regardless of doping? It seems that to the extent triathlon is a "clean" sport (which is debatable anyway -- Ironman titles have been stripped before) it is primarily a function of triathlon's low profile rather than a function of triathletes' inherent morality. Introduce mass public appeal and the sponsorship dollars that come with it and you bring about overwhelming incentives to cheat. (Having written that, it seems more obvious than profound.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


I have an IT band/knee/hip/calf and ankle/underfoot problem -- or, as I described it to Mary and Allen on Monday, a roving problem in my left leg. The leg was my ostensible reason for quitting the Colorado ride 4 weeks ago (the real reason was that it was wet and miserable and I was tired). But it is creating some problem with my running as well -- for example, I skipped my 1/2 marathon on Sunday so as not to aggravate the leg.

I went to a local outfit called Rehab to Racing. This is a husband-and-wife shop that does everything from physical therapy to coaching. The basic workup required a three-hour session including gait analysis, bike fit analysis, a lengthy interview that reminded me of the phenomenal Hugh Laurie TV show "House" ("is there anything else you are not telling us, whether or not you think it is relevant?"), and a range of motion/flexibility/strength exam.

I learned my left leg is markedly -- around 5% by thigh circumference, similarly by calf circumference -- smaller than my right. That's consistent with my recent perception of its being weaker (I've been doing a fair amount of single-leg work in the gym, and too frequently I tip over when in a lunge or similar exercise). It's also a logical result of my Achilles tendon injury last spring. If you assume symmetry before the injury and insufficient recovery time, my right leg will have picked up the lion's share of thousands of miles on the bike and four triathlons over the summer. As the right leg gets stronger relative to the left, even when the left has healed the right will continue to do more of the work. And so on. Consistent with the idea that a weak leg is being asked to keep up with a strong one (and consistent with the pain I'm experiencing), the left leg is much less flexible over a variety of motions.

Mary and Allen at R2R also believe my gait is a tad slow -- 80 strides per minute by their count -- which means a greater load on the leg each foot strike, and my bike position may be a tad compressed, with a 140 degree bend between my back and my thigh at the top of the pedal stroke.

Homework? Stretch. Ice. Train with weights. Warm up and cool down appropriately. Run smart, not long. Supplement with potassium and magnesium. Gone are the days when I can rely on my body's healing itself while I goof off for a few days!

Running Cities has this list of the top 10 American running cities. I'm more than a little miffed that New York and Chicago beat out my hometown of DC (and my surrogate hometown of Indy isn't on the list -- but that's not a surprise).

Of course, the list is comparing apples and oranges. No offense, Ted, but in what world is New York a better running city than Eugene and Boulder? They are simply incomparable.

Anybody up for creating our own lists? First: greatest running college towns. I know one of these well and I'm enough of a running history buff to name two others -- Boulder, Eugene, and Gainesville. Not necessarily in that order, but it seems a good start. Others?

Second: greatest marathon cities. Relevant factors include (1) size of major race, (2) local support for major race, (3) number of minor races, (4) variety of attendees at the various races, (5) undefinables, like history or screaming college students at Mile 13. My sphere of acquaintance is pretty small, but I go Boston, DC, Dublin -- realizing full well there are cities (including, of course, London, Chicago, and New York) that fit before and between those selections.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Esctasy and the Agony

Here is your intrepid Chicago reporter with a first hand account from the Chicago Marathon.  Got up early on my own before the alarm disturbed Laura.  Forgot to lay out my stuff the night before so rushed through breakfast, taped my right foot, loaded my running belt with cash, bus card and gels, pulled on the compression sleeves, grabbed ipod, paper towel, and strolled to the corner to...

join the race in progress at mile 8.5 with the folks running 3:50-4:00 pace.  low forties, overcast, some wind, smaller crowds than usual, runners not too bunched.  Goal was 10-11.5 to prep for a half marathon in two weeks.  Kept the pace for most of the time but my knee started hurting after about 3 miles.  It had been hurting off and on but I took it very easy the past week but to save myself for this morning and because like Max I had a bad cold mid-week.  Things got worse and worse and at mile 18.5 I had a rare moment of clarity.  I could walk but not really run at this point without a serious limp.  Anything more would send me in a direction away from the el  and anything more would be a real bad idea for my knee.  Four blocks later I was on the el and 25 minutes I was home.

Its such a friendly crowd and familiar course that I had a great time, but depressed about starting back at the beginning of training if knee turns out to be serious.  For now a couple of days off, and then strictly on the bike, elliptical and running in the pool until I can make a decision on the half on the 21st and the 15K on November 4th.

The only thing that bothered me was the presumed sense of originality of sign makers which turned up with depressing regularity multiple times along the course.  These included:

Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.

Go Total Stranger!

Worst Parade Ever!

various bible quotes


Run Bitches! (sometimes spelled with a z).

 Any repeat offenders you guys have noticed?

It Must Have Been the Shoes -- Pt. 2

So, my love affair with the Saucony Kinvara 2 continues.  Today was the Staten Island Half Marathon, my last race before the NYC Marathon in a month.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I have been in cross-training mode, more than Marathon mode for the last few months, so while I'm pretty fit, I have not been running very much.  I've managed to do my "long runs" on the weekend, but midweek, I've been swimming and cycling more than I've been running.  Just to make matters worse, on Friday, I rolled my ankle while out for my morning run.  In my experience, there are three levels of turned ankle:  (1) Yikes, that could have been bad; (2) ouch that hurt, but I can still run on it with moderate discomfort; and (3) something popped, crying, screaming pain and the end of the season.  This one was definitely in category 2, and I wasn't quite sure what it would be like on Sunday.  Saturday, I iced, stayed off it and took ibuprophen.  Saturday night I slept with the Strassburg sock to loosen up the calf muscle.  Sunday morning, it was not perfect, but good enough.

The race weather was perfect -- mid 50s, light overcast, no wind.  Rain was predicted to start at about the time we finished, and it conveniently obeyed the prediction.

I went out hard.  The first mile was at 7:45, which was what I thought of as the high end of my pace.  Miles 2 and 3 were at 7:17 and 7:18.  Let's be clear, that's faster than I've been running 5Ks lately, so this was a bit disconcerting.  I felt okay, though, so I carried on.  Miles 4 and 5 were uphill, so my pace dropped to 7:34, but then lifted right back to 7:17 on the backside for mile 6.   My 10K split was 47:11.  This made me extremely nervous.  My 10K PR is 46:44, and that was in 2002. . .  On the other hand, I was feeling fine.  I backed it down a bit.  Miles 7-12 hovered between 7:34 and 7:50, depending on the elevation gain, but mostly at the lower end.  Mile 13 I slowed to 8:02, but that was a hill, and finished with a good kick.

 End result 1:40.55.  WTF!!!!    This was not just a good race, it was a great race (for me).  My half-marathon PR before this was 1:43.26, and that was from, um 2001.   My most recent half was five minutes slower, and I was happy.

Anyway, knock me over with a feather.  I have been joking about wanting to set a PR after turning 50, but I expected to do it in a 15K or some other distance that I don't run much.

All in all a good day.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Market Response?

We are now more than three weeks after the opening of registration for the Boston Marathon and the race is still open.

That's unheard of in recent years. When I first registered (2001 -- didn't run), I qualified in January and registered in early February for that April's race. When I started paying attention again in 2009 I heard the race was closing up more quickly. Some runners who qualified for the 2010 race at the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon (early November) got in, but qualifiers from the Philadelphia Marathon (mid to late November) did not. I qualified at the 2010 National Marathon and registered for Boston before noon on the day it opened. That year the registration system was inundated; many would-be runners could not get through online. I also understand the marathon expanded its charity slots, reducing opportunities for qualifiers. Many were closed out. (The amusing result was the creation of a protest marathon in Gansett, Rhode Island, that is now run yearly two days prior to the Boston Marathon. They proudly announce that they are a true "qualifiers only" race.)

The debacle in 2010 for the 2011 race was such that the Boston Athletic Association moved to a tiered entry system. In the September 2011 registration for Boston 2012, if a runner beat the qualifying time by 20 minutes or more, she or he had first shot at entry. Two days later, the 10-minutes-or-more qualifiers had their shot. Two days later was reserved for the 5-minutes-or-more qualifiers (including me). The next Monday registration was opened to all qualifiers, but not on a first-come-first-served basis. After a week of "mere qualifier" registrations, the marathon selected the fastest times relative to qualification standard to fill the remaining slots. One other big difference: historically, qualifying was determined by the hours and minutes only. If a 30-year-old man ran a 3:10:59, that met the 3:10 qualification standard. Starting in 2011, that same runner had to meet or beat 3:10:00. The marathon filled up by the close of registration.

This year they used the same tiered system, but they also brought the qualifying times down by 5 minutes across the board. Three weeks later, the race is not full. One of a few things may explain the phenomenon:

(1) the recession-driven running craze has run its course (good for the economy);
(2) last year's heat scared many away;
(3) the 5-minute decrease in qualifying times is precluding many from running;
(4) people are sick of Boston.

I think number 4 may explain a lot of it. When Boston makes you think of Bill Rogers, Wellesley College girls, and high-fives atop Heartbreak Hill, it's a place you want to go. When Boston makes you think of that club that you lined up outside of when you were 25 and watched the beautiful people go in ahead of you, you'd rather find a nice race somewhere that is still about running. I do know that 2013 may be my last year there for a while.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Week Off

Starting getting sick last Wednesday. The 1Ls beat me up on our afternoon run, so much so that I dropped off early, and class that night -- and life the next two days -- was pretty uncomfortable. Failed to get the next two important runs in (a track workout and a long run) between the illness and lots of work around the condo. (But the tiles on the kitchen wall and the new light fixtures look great!) Monday and Tuesday are always long days for me, with the result that I ran 5 miles total in the last 7 days.

Down weeks can be good, but I'm not too proud of myself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

'competition' In Bruges

So a few weeks ago Max gave me this great idea to stir/wake things up in my first class of the year In Bruges.   This is an LLM competition class of about 50 students, from all over Europe and beyond (21 countries represented).  The teaching format, sadly, is Continental, ie 3 hour or 4 hour blocks, and when I arrive I've usually travelled over from the UK, and the kids have been at classes since 830am as well so we are all knackered already.   So I rock up this time, for my 7-10pm slot, right after their dinner, and think how can I wake them up?, and get things going discussion-wise?.   As a runner, I felt it also had to involve movement.   Here is where Max's idea came in...he wrote 'bankrupt(cy)' on the board and had them write or shout out their reactions.   So, I wrote 'competition' on the board, and said I wanted them to come up and write out the word in their language, as well as what they think it means to them.    I worried that being LL.Ms they might view this as beneath them but they took to it with alacrity.   The results are in the pics...and I think you'll see how I could use such wonderful points to get a discussion going about how while their national authorities are all authorised to enforce European competition law, they all come at the concept from different approaches, and that spurred a discussion about different legal traditions and views about government/market balance.   I was pleased.    And some of them of course used some running references too!   I topped the night off with a late dinner of beef stew in the central market square and then made sure I got up early the next day to trot the 8k ring road around Bruges, next to the canals to burn it off and wake myself up for before my 830-1230 lecture slot on market definition and intro to abuse.   All in all, it worked, I recommend it and I thank Max for ... to use a recent British colloquialism ... the 'ideagasm'.