Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, but I've added tape to my rest regime.  I started with kinesiotape (the stretchy stuff), and that helped a bit.  This week, I've gone all in with Leukotape that I ordered when my other heel hurt.  I didn't find it helped much then, so I ignored it this time.  Well, it seems that if I tape it as if I have plantar fascitis and achilles tendonitis, it seems to help.  The heel is still tender in the same spots, but the added support is making it so that I'm walking normally again.  This is helping my hip too . . . Grr!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dave McGillivray on fitness vs. health

I've been buried in work the past few weeks (even we non-lawyers burn the midnight oil sometimes!) and missed the story of longtime Boston Marathon Director Dave McGillivray's recently-discovered heart disease. He is 59 and self-diagnosed a problem when he had trouble catching his breath at the beginning of runs. His story below is worth a read--it especially resonates with me as someone who--despite my fitness--started taking medication for high blood pressure three years ago (at age 33!). And my doctor called the other day to tell me that my cholesterol is about 3 points over "normal." Too bad PT can't solve all problems!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Running resolutions?

Anybody?  Anybody?

A typology of resolutions:

1.  Sheer number of miles (weekly, for the year . . .)
2.  Process oriented (mornings from 6-7 are devoted to running, whether actually running or strengthening to run better or even just meditating on running)
3.  Another sort of outcome -- I will run X races or Y paces
4.  The ceiling resolution:  unlike last year, I will not run further than X or faster than Y
5.  The non-running running resolution:  I won't let work get in the way of my running!
6.  The gear resolution:  every time I think about buying more worthless gear, I will run instead (or the variant:  every time I buy gear I will run an incremental mile for each dollar the gear cost me)
7.  The partner resolution:  I will run more with so-and-so
8.  The blogging resolution: I will blog more about running!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My mini-streak

Five days in Fort Lauderdale and four beach runs and 5K on a treadmill.  Went up to 6.5 miles in every way possible except East which gets wet in a hurry.  Now back in Chicago with temperatures plummeting again.so my last streak of the year may come to a screeching halt but great to end the last full week of the year with a 20 mile plus outdoor week.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Football

P__ and I are spending the last week of the year in the outskirts of Houston, which gives particular relevance to my coincidental reading of Bryan Burrough's The Big Rich.  P__'s extended family descended on the area.  They're an active bunch and yesterday we got going a game of christmas football.  Four players to a side, two-hand touch, three-alligator count, quarterback rotating each play, and five downs to make it across the lawn.

A few memorable plays: A__, the MIT wunderkind computer expert, cutting left and right and somehow breaking free up the middle for a touchdown.  Who runs up the middle in a game of touch?  Who succeeds in so doing?  M__, A's younger brother, who looks a whole lot like Billy Crudup's Steve Prefontaine (Without Limits) but hides his obvious athleticism behind a guitar, finding his true calling as an open field runner.  E__ misunderstanding that the reason for three alligators is that it takes time for a route to be run and throwing a beautiful spiral 10 yards over cousin J__'s head.  My own contributions seemed to be limited to rushing the passer and finding myself on my back with embarrassing frequency.

Eight normally distracted adults remembering what a pleasure it is to yell and to sprint randomly across the grass.  Perhaps that is the meaning of christmas.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Physical Therapy -- Second Visit

Gavin video-taped my running.  It was painful to watch.  I don't run, I lumber.  Despite that I keep an erect posture, which I accomplish by arching my lower back.  Tight hip-flexors mean my lower back arches even further with each stride in order to achieve any follow-through.  My feet kick sideways to clear the ground because I don't kick off enough with my feet and calves.  My hips dip by greater than 10 degrees side-to-side.  I spend a long time in the air between foot-strikes.  And my stride is really slow.

Current drill:  run 4 x 3' at 170 strikes/minute and 2' at my "normal" stride.  By the end of the series it is painful -- literally -- to return to the normal stride.  I see the treadmill shake as I land on it.  My knees and ankles hurt as I land with the longer, slower stride.  In contrast, the 170 strikes per minute running is light, easy, lovely.

I don't know how long it will take to internalize this particular change and I don't think the fight is nearly over, but so far this week has been a remarkable exercise in learning how to run.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Caper 10K

This morning I joined my original running buddy J__, his partner J__, and her sister S__ for a 10K at Hains Point in DC.  The weather was 55 degrees and partly sunny and there was the usual light breeze coming off of the river at the tip of Hains Point.

Same race, different year with cooler weather!
As of several years ago the Park Service has closed the Hains Point cross street to racing, so this race -- which used to be two trips around the three-mile Hains Point loop -- involved twice out-and-back around the point and halfway back on the opposite side before turning.  That made it fun as I saw J, J, and S three times as we crossed paths.

I showed up planning to run with J__.  Somewhere we got our signals crossed and I was running alone.  I noticed the race leaders were not miles off the front immediately so I moved up in the pack slightly to get a closer look.  After about a mile I found myself running third and held that position until the half-way point turn-around, when a college-age woman passed me like I was standing still.  She easily held on for third overall, but two more runners passed me in the last mile, as I suffered the embarrassment of having paced really badly.  

Upside of getting older?  6th place was good enough for first in the 40-49 age group.  I won a supersize Peppermint Bark candy bar!  As much fun as this was I may be looking for a 5K next weekend in the outskirts of Houston.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Finally a Break in the Weather

After seemingly endless days of sub zero wind chills, blowing snows or both, I woke to mid 30s without a lot of wind and a few hours before the rains were due.  So I tore myself away from grading and did an easy 10K in the north half of Lincoln Park.  Really nice to get away from the treads and indoor tracks but frigid temps due in a day or two so no streaks will be possible.  No photos either since I can't get them to copy from my phone for some reason.  Take my word for it, very picturesque between the pure white snow, clear skies, good views of downtown and a hint of sun rising over the lake.

Carla Convery -- Thought I'd Share This

I went to the Potomac Valley Track Club website to sign up for the Christmas Caper 10K this Saturday.  This obituary was on the front page.  One more moment of amazement at never before having heard of somebody so extraordinary.

We mourn the death of Carla Cesarina Bonfanti Convery, a long-time resident of the Mount Vernon area and former owner of Mike's Italian American Restaurant, passed away at her home on November 20, 2013, at the age of 93.

She was born March 7, 1920 in Como, Italy, to Maria Begalli Bonfanti and Mario Bonfanti. On March 9, 1947, she married William F. Convery in Cividale, Italy. She moved to the United States in 1947 and in 1952 became a U.S. citizen.

Throughout her life, Carla was an avid runner and athlete. In 1936, she qualified as second runner-up for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany. One of her greatest thrills was meeting Jesse Owens and watching him run. In 1940, she qualified for the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland, which was cancelled because of World War II.

In 1971, Carla and her two sons purchased Mike's Italian American Restaurant and in 1975, sold the restaurant and retired. Five years later, she renewed her involvement in track & field events in the Washington DC area.

In 1983, she became an original member of Hollin Hall Senior Center, where she taught exercise classes for 26 years and served on the Advisory Council as secretary and treasurer. She was an active volunteer at Hollin Hall Senior Center, Gum Springs Senior Center, and Mount Vernon Adult Day Care Center.

As a senior citizen, she participated and accumulated awards in many competitions; World Games, Senior Olympics, Golden Age Games, Senior Nationals, Virginia Commonwealth Games, National Senior Games, and Potomac Valley Track Club's masters track, to name a few.
CarlaShe received Potomac Valley Track Club Ray Gordon Outstanding Athlete Award, Commonwealth of Virginia Female Athlete of the Year Award, and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Life Time Achievement Award.

Her husband, William F. Convery Sr. died in 1962. Carla is survived by her two sons, William "Bill" (Nancy) Convery and John Daniel "Danny" (Lois) Convery; five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and her close friend, Kate DeAngelis.

Family will receive friends on Sunday, November 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Demaine Funeral Home, 520 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. A Funeral Mass will be held on Monday, November 25 at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Louis Catholic Church, 2907 Popkins Lane, Alexandria, VA 22306. Interment will take place at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, tributes may be made to Northern Virginia Senior Olympics, P.O. Box 2089, Merrifield, VA 22116 or to Potomac Valley Track Club, c/o Peter Blank, Treasurer, 8200 Galahad Court, Annandale, VA 22003.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Physical Therapy

I signed up for 8 sessions at Fast Track Physical Therapy in Falls Church, Virginia.  This is the outfit that DC-area hardman Michael Wardian used to recover from a recent injury.  I noted when I was there that they've also worked with C__, a Northern Virginia guy I've done some cycling with who just set an age group record at the Ironman World Championships in October.  All a way of saying this place seems to have its head on straight.

Gavin took me through a 360 degree strength and flexibility analysis.  I'm not very flexible, it turns out, and I'm asymmetrically weak.  My right leg is weaker laterally than my left and my gluteus maximus (butt) is weaker than my hamstrings.  This is all consistent with the right knee's suffering uniquely and that knee-cap's drifting outward.  He sent me home with stretches for my hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves, and said running up to 20 miles/week is fine.  The next visit entails a stride analysis where I assume Gavin will identify what I'm doing that led to the inflammation.

My immediate reaction is mixed.  On the one hand Gavin did a very good job of seeing exactly where limitations lay and targeting places where I needed improvement.  On the other hand Gavin's analysis seemed to be subject to confirmation bias.  Everything we did supported a theory he had hatched pretty early on in the meeting.  It could well be that he hit the nail on the head, but it might also be that the subjective assessments of how hard I resisted his pushing my leg down were influenced by a priori beliefs.  I lean strongly toward giving Gavin and Fast Track the benefit of the doubt, and I suppose time -- and not too much of it, either, as this course of therapy is supposed to expire by the end of January -- will tell.

Probably this is as good a time as any to note that Ted's 13-day streak is in no jeopardy of being broken, by me at least.  I made it low single digits before concluding that riding a bike one day seemed a lot more fun!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The weather outside is . . .

News reports and pictures of great snow in Chicago and coming to New York.  Here's hoping for one of the Spencer/Ted running photojournals and reports of steamy breath, crunchy steps, and downy flakes.  Because the only thing better than a good running photojournal must be the compiling of it.

UPDATE:  It's nasty here.  I managed about eight, coming in draped in icicles!  Would not have been weather to record by camera even if I was good at doing that.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Streak is at 2

Ted has me thinking "streak!" and so today for the first time since September I ran the second day in a row.  This was an easy 5.6 miles out Nebraska to Massachusetts, west on Mass. past AU Washington College of Law (one of four law colleges branded "Washington" of which I am aware -- are there others?), northeast on Western Avenue -- the Maryland side of the street! -- to Chevy Chase Circle, and back to the start via Chevy Chase Parkway.  The knee has never really acted up while running, so it means little to report it didn't today.  Last night it did keep me awake for a while.  I'm swallowing the idea that this may be the new normal.  And in lack of a good shorter-term goal I'm considering an attempt to play Cal Ripken to Ted's Lou Gehrig . . .


Okay, so as the running streak ends, I should at least note that I've made progress in one respect.  I mentioned earlier that I've been taking a swim class. The theory was that unlike running and biking, where improvements are likely to be marginal, with swimming there was some real room for improvement.  Or, to put it another way, I was pretty sure I was doing it wrong.  Well, last night was the last class, so we compared our time for an "all out" 200 to the time we swam at the beginning of the class.  I improved from 3:42-3:21.  This is nothing to write home about, but I can see places where it would improve further.  My kick is still a mess.  I'm still balancing cadence and glide.  There's plenty more to do, but it's not nothin'.  On the other hand, this also emphasizes the conundrum of the swim in tri. Ten seconds per hundred is a big improvement.  It adds up to 2.5 minutes in an actual race . . . That's not nuthin' either, but it's within the race to race variation for the other events . . . I guess the hope is that get to the point where I stay with the pack, feel comfortable drafting, etc. there will be some synergies.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Big dreams

Today at a work retreat, we did an ice breaker where everyone says what they would do if they won the lottery.

My answer: Buy an Alter-G treadmill (http://www.alterg.com/) and employ an at-the-ready physical therapist. 


Lucky Seven

I've spent a good two months either not running or not really running and the time has come to get moving again.  Today I ran seven.  It felt great.

Streak Ending?

Okay, so I made it through Day 13 of the running streak by heading out at 10:00 last night for a short, slow 1.5 miles through the neighborhood.  It was a beautiful run, with lots of pop-up Christmas tree lots, busy restaurants and a quiet, empty, Cobble Hill Park.  I kept it slow, and felt fine during the run when I got home.  This morning, I ran to the gym, and didn't feel particulary tight, but when I got on the bike, I couldn't stand in the pedals.  That has never happened before and is a bad sign.  I think it may be time to forget about the "streak" and take a rest day or several . . .

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Running Streak

Somewhat at the instigation of my friends at the South Brooklyn Running Club, and partially due to a particularly run friendly Thanksgiving day weekend on Martha's Vineyard, I am currently, and accidentally, on Day 10 of the Runner's World Holiday Run Streak.  There are a number of reasons why this is counterintuitive. First, I have been boycotting Runner's World since they put George W. Bush on the cover half a dozen or so years ago.  Second, given my nagging and persistent heel injury, running every day without rest would seem to be contraindicated.

As I mentioned, the streak started accidentally.  I found myself on Martha's Vineyard for the holiday without a swim or bike option, so Thanksgiving morning, I went out for a very slow run toward the beach.  I focussed on form, and kept my pace in the 12-13 minute mile zone.  Afterwards I felt no pain, and my hips and hamstrings felt better than they have in a while.  The next day I tried it again, this time actually making it to the beach, to snap a few pics.  Again, no pain.  So, by day 3, it was a mini-streak.

Since then, I've managed to keep it up, though on a couple of occasions, I've only run a mile.  Indeed today, it was 1.1 miles on the treadmill, after a spin-class.  The real question is whether this is helping or hurting the various inflammations in my heel.  Mostly, it seems to be helping, so long as I add a couple of extra rules to the streak: (1) go slow (12 minute miles mostly, no faster than 10); (2) concentrate on form (midfoot stride, short stride, quick cadence, lift knees); (3) moderate to short distance (no more than 5-6 miles, usually much shorter).

I don't know if I'll make it to New Years.  I have some heavy duty traveling coming up, but I'll report back.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

And the first nomination for the 2013 Blawgie is...

2013 is already a banner year for this wonderful little group chat about running and kvetching about injuries and bad race logistics.  We already have more posts than in any of our prior three years.  But it is time to recognize the best posts of the year.  So I would like to begin with a shout out and nomination to Phil Marsden for his running in Ethiopia post with pictures.  Awesome stuff.

But he is not alone.  Nominate your favorite posts even if they are your own and the ones that get the most favorable comments will be the 2013 Blawgie winners.  You can even create categories.  Phil's would be travel obviously.  Creativity counts for both the posts and the categories.  Perhaps next year we can have actual statuettes, awards like pictured below, or bronzed miniature running shoes for the winners.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Chasing

So we began Thanksgiving with a 9 AM 8K along the downtown stretch of the lakefront in 25 degree weather with a stiff breeze and a probable wind chill somewhere in the teens.  Our intrepid band consisted of myself with my daughter, her great friend, myniece, and nephew.  I have had some nice runs with my niece and the occasional Turkey trot with my daughter, but never everyone all together at the same time.  My nephew was the wild card, a terrific high school athlete, but no previous race experience.  My wife drove us to the park on the new east side, a neighborhood along the south bank of the Chicago side that didn't exist 10 years ago.  She hung out having coffee with the mom of my daughter's friend while we warmed up and ran. 

Kudos to Universal Sole who co-sponsored the race and kept their store open as a pre- and post-race warming station and sold quite a few cold weather items as a result.  Not so much praise for race organizer F3 whose logistical support included mostly profuse apologies for wind conditions not permitting mile markers or clocks, but not figuring that they also could have posted volunteers with low tech mile signs along the way.  Makes me a little nervous about their capabilities for the January 27 Polar half.  But concerns are somewhat lessened by the race course being basically in my back yard so if anything goes wrong, I just go home.

Also memo to myself to remember to bring extra hats and gloves for teenager runners at future winter races.  I had one extra pair of gloves that was shared and eventually lost by my niece and nephew.

About 800 runner took off heading south along the lakefront path in front of the Columbia Yacht Club down past the Monroe Harbor, the Museum Campus, Soldier Field, the south edge of McCormick Place and back again.  My nephew paced us home in 43 and some change, followed by my niece at 45, me at 46, and my daughter and friend who chose to walk/run and chat the race course.  It was my first race where the water station handed out water with a frozen ice top suggesting that pre-pouring may not have been the best strategy for that particular race.  Post-race amenities included hot chocolate, hot apple cider, mini first aid kits, and friendly people at the store as we all trooped inside to stretch and use the bathroom.  All in all a decent return to competition after a disappointing fall season and failed attempt to make it to the start line of the California International Marathon next week.

Also saw Matt Sag at the finish who finished in a snappy 38 minutes in his final Chicago race before his upcoming trip back home to Australia for the holidays. Next up, the 12/15 8K Rudolph Ramble which starts a short walk from the apartment with a gaggle of Loyola law faculty/staff who will be brunching chez moi after the race.  Come one come all if you are in town.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Max, you were missed in DC this morning.   Becky and I repeated the Capital Crescent run of last June.   My heel is still creaky.  Her arch is still sore.  Still a great run.  We kept a 9ish pace for five, and then, as seems to be my wont these days, I died.  This probably has something to do with not having any base. . .   One of these days the heel will resolve, and I'll be able to start running more than once or twice a week . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

No New Shoes

I'm something of an Imelda Marcos when it comes to running shoes, which is why Road Runner Sports finds it worthwhile to spam me daily -- and I do mean daily! -- with a warning that my favorite shoes are about to go extinct or a notice that there's some great new model available.  (Evidence of the running shoe market's deviation from the rational choice model?  Both of those sales pitches are highly effective.)  By last count I had more than a dozen pairs of running shoes either in rotation or waiting to enter it.  And yet I'm always looking for the next pair.

But not this year!  For the first fall in recent memory I won't be chasing leaf-falls in an effort to hit the trail before the street sweepers take away the cushioned carpet of yellow, orange, red, brown.  Instead, with perfect late-fall running weather upon us, I'm looking forward to yet another trip to the swimming pool and weight room this afternoon.

So I had a surprisingly painful experience clicking the "leave me alone" link at the bottom of my last Road Runner Sports e-mail.  No new Asics for me.  Until next year.

New Asics.  Just not in my closet.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Difference of opinion

I went back to my first physical therapist tonight after trying unsuccessfully to break up with him over email. He asked me to come in so he could formally discharge me and I relented. He knows I'm seeing another PT but didn't seem interested in the new exercises I've been prescribed. In fact, he told me that he thinks the problem is not having enough support in my orthotics. My new PT wants me to (gradually) get rid of my orthotics because he doesn't think I need them. I am so confused--ultimately I'll have to follow whatever path seems to be working, but at this point, it is maddening to have two such different opinions about one foot!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Discretion, Valor, and all That

It was a freakishly warm wet and windy weekend.  Between insane storms I made it out for a mid-morning 5 miler.  With a stiff tail wind pushing me northward, I briefly thought about just buying a last minute plane ticket to Sacramento and walk running the December 9th California International Marathon in Sacramento that I was training for before kidney stones reared their ugly head.  Then I started overheating in the 60 degree humid weather and had to turn around and run home against the now not very helpful wind.  So unless one of y'all wants to use my bib, I think I will just email them and see if they will mail me my tee shirt and goodie bag after the race.

But with a 12 mile week under my belt and generally feeling a lot better, I will be running the 8K Thanksgiving Turkey Chase and the 8K Rudolph Ramble on December 15th.  If all goes well, and I can build my mileage, I may try the Polar Half at the end of January.  Fortunately, will also have a few days over Christmas in Florida for some longer warm weather runs.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blogging workshop

Today a few colleagues who blog to advance their professional circumstances (rather than to advance their running!) gave a workshop on the process, benefits, costs, and so on.  Not wanting to be a snob, I was thinking "that post on such-and-such a case isn't nearly as cool as the runningprofs blog "flash symposium" on the Rome Marathon!  (Or pick your example.)

Do the other runningprofs blog in more formal settings as well?  "Here is the abstract of my recent piece on . . ."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A little insight (maybe)

My plan to seek chiropractic help for my foot mystery morphed into making an appointment with a Rockville-based PT whom I had heard about for years from former runner colleagues. This guy is not very convenient to either home nor work (nor is he an in-network provider for my insurance company), but I am at the end of my rope.

It's so funny that depending on which health professional you talk to, you will get very differing opinions. This guy (who heard exactly what exercises and treatment I've been doing for the last 9 months) had the following observations and insights:
  • I'm probably better off without my orthotics
  • I have some muscle imbalances in my glutes and hips
  • The exercises I've been doing aren't targeted enough to hit the small muscles that need to learn to activate
  • I have ideal cadence (at least during a 5-min run on the treadmill)
  • My arch pain isn't plantar fasciitis, it is a problem with the muscle(s) in the arch (and therefore foam rolling and stretching the calf won't help much)
  • And my favorite piece of advice (after I asked whether I should keep foam rolling and doing my other PT exercises): "If doing these things makes you have less pain, you should keep doing them. If you aren't getting better after three weeks of a treatment regimen, it's time to try something else."
So I will be trying out some new exercises (hopefully I can remember them) in the next week. Cross your fingers! (Or toes?)

Speaking of the near future, Ted, is your DC visit coming up soon??

Newish Book on Marathons of the World


I just discovered this handsome book from 2012 entitled Marathons of the World with information, some text, and pretty photos of the author's 50 favorite marathons from around the world.  The antitrust marathon sites are well represented.  Have your family members buy you this for Thanksgivikah or Christmas.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reversion to normal

There was a good one-page how-to in a recent Triathlete magazine on running stride.  Those things always are lame, in my opinion, but this one supported my current mindset, so I liked it.  Among other things:

1.  Mid- and fore-foot running works for some but not necessarily for everybody.
2.  The great Haile Gebreselassie (even in a world with Mutai and Kipsang, still the best distance runner in history) apparently taught himself a longer forward reach when moving to marathon.
3.  Recommendation:  if you have run for years injury free, maybe you are actually doing it right.

This is consistent with my observation when watching video from the Craig Alexander's first (of three) win at Ironman Kona that Alexander, one of the top very few best ever runners in Ironman triathlon, has a very slight heel strike.

And it is consistent with my experience that I felt fine and ran fine until I made a concerted effort to run differently, starting about 12-18 months ago.

Today I ran for the first time in a couple of weeks.  I made a concerted effort to run the way I grew up running.  Heel first, but not obnoxiously so.  I feel the knee as I stand here, but it is not yet terrible.  Knocking on wood . . .

Don't you hate it when...

You are talking about (oh, okay, complaining about) a running injury and the person you are talking to asks, "Have you ever considered not running so much? It's never going to get better if you keep pounding on it."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Running Crews

As someone who grew up in New York in the 70s, the phenomenon described here seems positively unthinkable.  So, quite frankly does this, which I would have done had I not been injured. It was apparently a lot of fun.  Oh, and this.   Anyway, running is a great way to get to know obscure corners of the city, but I'm a morning runner.  Night time running in New York has always seemed a solitary, slightly crazy endeavor that evokes, for me, memories of a variety of horror stories from an earlier era.

Suddenly, the city has transformed into a place where people feel comfortable running in shorts at all hours.  So, what has facilitated this transformation?  Is it the Bloomberg era attention to public space?  That certainly makes a difference. It is now possible to link up runs through Brooklyn Bridge Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side, etc., for example, so there are just a lot more cool runs than their used to be.  Is it the cell phone that makes it possible to feel safe and in touch in further flung locales? Is it the fact that gentrification has pushed the boundaries of the city past Williamsburg and Park Slope?  Or is it social media that makes it possible for these running flash mobs to form on short notice?

I suspect it's some combination of all of the above.  Or maybe I'm just overanalyzing it . . .

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Taperers, Recoverers and Reinjurers . . .

Went out for an early run with the SBRC gang this morning.  It was tremendous fun.  The group was large, and made up of folks who had either run NYC last week or were tapering to run the Brooklyn Marathon next week.  And then there was me. . .  Not surprisingly, the taperers were frisky.  I was counting on the recoverers to slow things down, but no such luck.  I always forget that when you can finally hit the road again after a week's rest, post marathon, you often feel pretty good (unless you don't).  Anyway, we did a loop of Prospect Park, almost entirely at a sub 8:30 pace.  I did it, and it felt great, except for when everybody else surged up the Prospect Park hill, and my heart rate monitor not too gently pointed out that I am not in peak condition.  This was a huge confidence booster, until, on the run back, somewhere between mile 6 and 7, the bottom fell out.  This is a fairly consistent occurrence in my recent runs.   I'm fine for about 6 miles and then my heel starts hurting and my hips tighten up, and I have to revert to the survival shuffle.  It would be one thing if this were happening after ten or twelve miles, but after 6 it is a bit unnerving.  I know this will pass, but it's frustrating.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Chile and Competition Part Tres

Like the band Greenday, I have now come out with three items that sounds really similar in a very short time.  For my final post reflecting on my visit to Chile I will focus on private rights of action for damages in competition cases which was the subject of the conference in Santiago two weeks ago.  While I spoke about the Rise and Fall of the US Class Action (slides available upon request), I spent most of my time trying to understand the state of play of private actions in Chile. 

Its not so good.  Private parties can bring actions directly before the Tribunal (the specialized antitrust court) but the Tribunal cannot hear actions for damages.  But if the Tribunal finds a violation, a private party can use that finding as basis for an action of or damages before the general civil courts and the defendants cannot relitigate liability.  It is currently up for grabs whether a private person had to have been a party before the Tribunal in order to bring a follow on action for damages although it is theoretically possible to just file an action and start from scratch in the civil courts.

The problem with the civil courts is a rigid formalism that makes it difficult from judges to accept expert economic testimony about causation and damages.  Testimony as to a range of damages or loss profits from market exclusion is viewed very skeptically and the courts have not yet accepted the US view that fact of damage must be strictly proven but amount of damages can be shown through good faith estimates.

So there are not many private damages cases and fewer successful ones.  One of the first was a $2 million award in a case between British American Tobacco and Phillip Morris for dirty tricks in the retail cigarette market (think Conwood).  For consumer cases, there is a pending follow on damages case to a FNE case involving retail pharmacies which so far isn't going so well.

For class actions, it is even worse.  The available statute allows such cases for consumer cases but not competition cases.  the consumer agency has tried to smuggle in some competition cases into that statute but so far hasn't been successful to my knowledge.

The Chilean are looking to the US and the EU in particular for guidance for a way out of this fix.  When they find one, I will let you know.  This is typical of competition law outside of the US where competition enforcement so far is almost entirely a matter of public enforcement.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Doing it wrong . . .

Well, after several years of teaching myself to swim, and getting frustrated at my consistently mediocre results, I signed up for a swim class.  Last Wednesday, I discovered I'd been doing it wrong . . .  Who knew that you were supposed to wait until your trailing arm was almost back to the front before dropping the lead arm and pulling . . . All of a sudden I have more power, more shoulder rotation.  Instead of taking 12 strokes per lap, it's down to 10 strokes per lap, and a few seconds per lap faster in the bargain. . .

Anyone ever have success with chiropractors?

Unlike Ted, my glimmer of hope (two pain-free runs) didn't last. Something is going on with me and I am sick of people asking me if I should be running if my foot hurts. I've basically been in PT since February and any improvement has been followed by the pain returning. I'm stronger for sure but what is the root cause? Lately my left hip has been jamming up every so often (not related to running, happens after sitting usually) and given that it's my left foot that is the problem, I'm wondering if I am just all out of whack and need an adjustment. But I also know that while that may be true, there could be other factors at play. I know that I do lift my daughter on my left side--she is way too old to be carried, but that doesn't mean I don't ever pick her up...

Anyone had success with a chiro?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chile and Competition - Part Dos

Competition cases are investigated by the Fiscalia Nacional Economica (FNE) a talented and reasonably well resourced agency.  The head of the FNE is appointed by the President with the aid of a panel of experts and has a four year term.  Currently the FNE has a budget of about $8 million and a staff of 80-90.  It is a hot job for new law grads and often staff go off for an LLM in the US or UK and return.  Most of the division heads have substantial experience.  Historically the FNE has brought mainly abuse of dominance cases in keeping with Chile's staus as a relatively small country with a highly concentrated economy.  Case law in this area follows the EU with US cases only occasionally being used to support a decision to bring a case.  Merger enforcement is limited with no mandatory pre-merger notification.  The first voluntary notification brought a successful challenge and appears to have deterred future use of this option.

There is an increased emphasis on cartel cases.  Leniency exists but is seldom used but it only applies to fines and doesn't apply to potential criminal prosecution which is handled by the general criminal prosecutors.  No specific antitrust statute permits criminal prosecution but ancient 19th century statutes theoretically permit such actions.  The general prosecutors office does not have a strong interest or background in this area.  The FNE uses dawn raids and the possibility of wiretaps to make cartel cases carrying medium levels fines.  One of the first successful ones involved pharmacies resulting in rather modest fines) and a current case involves the poultry industry.

I was impressed with the head of the FNE and the staff I met.  Felipe Irrazabal, the chief, is smart, practical, and keenly aware of the need to pick and choose his shots given his budget and staff.  Everyone I met was sophisticated in both and economics and knowledgeable in the substance of US and EU law.

The FNE brings the cases it does not settle before a specialized court, the Tribunal for the Defense of Free Competition.  The Tribunal has 5 judges, three lawyers and two economists.  The Central bank appoints 3 of the judges with the help of a panel of experts and the President appoints the other 2 judges.  One of the current economists holds a PhD from the University of Chicago without sharing those politics.  Another judge is the former head of the FNE.  The Tribunal hears 20-30 cases a year with the help of a small staff and a budget of about $2 million.  The Tribunal also hears private cases for injunctions but not damages.  All appeals go to the commercial chamber of the Supreme Court of Chile which is slowly becoming more sophisticated in its handling of the substance as well as the procedure of the cases before it.

What about private actions for damages?  Stay tuned for Part Tres after mid-term grading concludes later tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NYC Marathon

Good luck to everyone running the NYC Marathon tomorrow.  What a difference a year makes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Chile and Competition Part Uno

As I have learned more about Chilean competition policy I have learned more about Chile itself.  Its a country of approximately 17,000,000 of whom 6,000,000 live in Santiago and its immediate environs.  It has gaping wealth inequality that make the 1% versus the 99% look like Swedish egalitarianism.  A huge chunk of the economy is basically controlled by 20-40 intertwined and interlocked families and family groups.  The economics are intertwined with its history, a democratically elected hard left government led by Salvador Allende, an ugly military coup supported by the CIA and most of the Chilean elite led by Pinochet whose subsequent market reforms were egged on by "the Chicago boys" (their phrase not mine), a gradual restoration of democracy and alternating centrist governments of both the left and the right.  Copper mining generates enormous foreign reserve earning much of which are sued to pay for oil of which Chile has next to none.  Overall, I would call Chile a mid-major in terms of economic development and size.  Kind of the Wichita State or Butler of the OECD of which Chile is a proud but new member.

So what type of competition policy would exist or be ideal for such a country and economy?  Stay tuned for Parts II and III.  Now back to grading mid-terms.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Road Again

The blog has become increasingly medical in nature with my own grousing being a major contributing factor.  I continue to work out occasionally but am wiped out a large percentage of the time but improving as the days and weeks from kidney stone attack (KSA) mount.

Probably shouldn't have but pushed things with a trip to Chile for a conference on Private Rights of Action in Competition Cases which our Institute co-sponsored.  I will blog separately about the substance of the conference and the state of competition law in Chile (quite sophisticated) but Chile holds a special place in my heart running wise.  Last year in August I ran a bandit 10K through the streets of the old downtown and the river park ending at La Moneda, the Presidential Palace.

This year I stayed in an entirely different part of town, Las Condes, which is basically the new downtown (mid-town versus Wall Street) with the tallest buidling in Latin America and every American chain restaurant you can imagine (Denny's, Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, etc.).  So I decided to end the pity party and actually run a bit.  I gingerly made my way to the big street and then followed other joggers into the park in the borough of Vitacura and found another race to run bandit.  I really like this country!  It was just a 5K but it felt really good to run outside in shirt sleeves as the weather in Esatdos Unitos slowly descends into late fall and layers for outdoor runs. 

Everything still works.  Left knee is still sore and stiffer than when I was running and stretching regularly.  I overheat even faster than before which I have noticed in the gym as well.  But it was both a nice start and a return to the scene of the crime.

El Bandito strike again!  Viva Chile!!

Going House

My freshman year roommate S__ used frequently to describe over-the-top conduct as "going house."  "He went house on that slam dunk!"

I'm a big fan of Hugh Laurie's creation, House, a brilliant but idiosyncratic diagnostician that was the main character in the TV series of the same name.  I've decided that "going House" (proper noun) now means self-diagnosing.  Or, this being a blog, group diagnosing.

Whether a testament to our age or to our going house (original usage) by overtraining, we go House here at runningprofs with some frequency.  Hips, knees, heels, arches . . .  Over the last weekend I've been going House on my knee.

History:  inside-of-knee pain for about 12-14 months now.  Hard to locate by touch, but when I did find it the best guess was a tendon.  Most clearly felt when bending the knee outward (pulling the ankle inward) as in a cross-legged seated position or in that fabulous hip stretch performed face-down with one leg under you bent with knee out and the other straight behind you.  Never an issue while running, but an issue when tightening after running.  No apparent swelling associated with it.

Recent:  about two months ago the pain became more acute and sometimes could be felt while running.  I don't have the dates exactly in mind, but I did communicate with Coach Mike the concern that doing the run leg in Lake Tahoe in late September might be a problem. (It wasn't, but the knee wasn't exactly quiet.)  During the more recent and more acute episodes the pain seemed to associate with extreme soreness on the inside of my quads (that little bump of a muscle just above and inside the knee).

Last few weeks:  As I've shifted into running full time in preparation for the Rehoboth Beach Marathon, the tightness post-run has become acute.  It is also felt down through the shin, almost more on/in the bone than in the muscle.  I.e., it's not a shin splint, a pain with which I am embarrassingly familiar.  The primary location is immediately below the knee cap, although over the top of the knee cap is also a problem, and the original assumed tendon is still hot.  Another difference beside its being acute is that I've felt it while running.  A third difference is that I've noticed relatively mild swelling.  Strangely, the pain disappears when the leg is bent more than 90 degrees.  Thus, sleeping is difficult, because my legs are normally straight.  Driving is a disaster -- my car has a low bucket seat and the leg position is basically straight forward.  Sitting at my desk is just fine.  Standing is not.  The pain relaxes over a few days of rest but returns if I run again and even, to a lesser extent, while walking the 1 1/4 miles to and from the office.

Icing helps but does not solve it.  Foam rolling does not appear to affect it at all.  NSAIDS obviously help somewhat.

Cartilage?  Tendonitis?  Stress fracture?  Hypochondria induced by fear of upcoming races?

In any event, serious running is over for me for 2013.  I'm going to see a doc. on Friday in the hopes that there is an answer that allows for a spring marathon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perhaps I've Been Going About This the Wrong Way . . .

So, since late April/early May I've been hobbled by a left heel/left hip issue.  I have grumbled about it many times in my posts.  I took most of May and June off from running (almost) entirely.  Since then my mileage has been very low as I've focused on swimming and biking to keep my fitness up.  The injury has been stubborn, and I've tried not to run two days in a row.  When I've run, everything has been tight.  It has, truth be told, felt like the beginning of the end for my running, as I've shuffled through every workout.  This week, I've run 5 days in a row, and bizarrely, I'm feeling better.  I ran two  miles to swim class on Wednesday, 5 incredibly slow miles on Thursday, a solid 8 on Friday with the SBRC bunch, 4 hard, for slow, and a respectable 7 with C___ on Saturday.  I would normally have spent Sunday in the pool or on the bike, but a law professor friend was in town, and wanted to run in Central Park.  I woke up feeling okay, so went for it.

Truly an awesome run.  We ran from Grand Central to Central Park, ran the lower 4 and then back to GCT.  The weather was perfect, the leaves are turning.  We got in and out of the Park before the Marathon Kickoff race came thundering through.  Most importantly, we ran pretty fast.  Almost all of the miles were at a sub 9 pace.  These days that qualifies as a tempo run . . .

For once, my hips didn't start to seize up after 5 miles, and my calves and heel held up through the whole run.

I'm wondering if I've hit a point in recovery where it's time to start running more rather than less.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Swimming and Triathlon

Since Max raised the uncomfortable topic of dying while swimming in triathlon, I thought I'd link to what I have found to be the most interesting (though still disturbing) article on the topic I've read.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


A thoughtful student with an interest in triathlon shared this ESPN article with me.  It relates to deaths in triathlon with great emphasis on the swim leg.  Interesting, even troubling, but nothing terribly new.

Dutch treat

Let's go Dutch, the Amsterdam marathon was last weekend and it was a blast, but when it came to splitting the bill, I ran a positive split, which meant pain pain and pain.
Here are R and C and me beforehand.    Excited at the Expo!
They were running the 8k and enjoyed it a lot.   All the races (8k, Half and Full) started from the Olympic Stadium and benefitted from big screens and amazing organisation.   All the races also included a fabulous run through a tunnel under the Rijksmuseum, cool!! 
I started out tamely, cognisant of my doing too much rowing relative to running all summer, but things felt good for the first Half.   I was aiming for 8.35s and was happy.   I may have sped up a tiny bit in the 2nd 10k, but it felt good.    I think I need a new Garmin though, my splits were all over the place so I ran more by feel than anything else.   It felt good, maybe I pushed it too much on reflection, but at the time, all felt well.
Then Half way came, running along the Amstel River past windmills and rowers and people screaming "Op op op!!"    Beautiful, but my splits were fading and I felt uncomfortable.   I had been planning to dial up the pace a bit at 14 but when I pressed the 'go faster' pedal, I slowed down instead. It literally felt like I had put my feet through the floor of the car and the road was snapping my legs in two.    (No drama queen, me)

This continued throughout the rest of the race, with my splits fading and my legs seizing up.   I also got into a negative feedback loop mentally, cursing myself for not doing enough mileage during the summer.   This lasted three miles until I snapped myself out of it and started with mantras like "Strong, strong strong" and "From within!"
We got back into town and the crowds were great, even the occasional whiff of funner times from the nearby "caf├ęs" ("gemutlich!!")  and the last few miles, while hellish, were compartment-isable, and I just "endured".    Appropriate!!
Then, at about 24 miles, just like in Rome in March my Garmin again showed me closer to the Finish than I was (by a quarter mile, again!!) and I realised that not only was I not going to meet my goal of 3.50 but suddenly that sub4 was in jeopardy!!    This was not pleasant, as I had already been digging about as deep as I could...but, dig deeper was all I could do.   The last couple of k through the Vondel Park were not pleasant, but then BOOM turn a corner and the Stadium is 500m away and we are IN ... 
and the big screen has us up and the crowds are going NUTS.    Fabulous.
and so...lesson learned, if you are going to go Dutch, do the bloody training first and get back into negative split mode not positive split and fall apart mode!!    

Rowing hard all summer exhausts you and while it is great core and strength training, you need to get the base mileage in too.   I had been doing long runs up to about 16, but just not enough of them and my mpw was hardly ever above 30-35.   Not enough for this old man.

So, next year, a better mix of training, but it was so good to re-learn that respect we all have to have for the distance...and since this was marathon 17 for me, you'd have thought I'd have remembered!!!    Next year, we get the times down, with PROPER  TRAINING and aim for a PB (3.16 to beat) maybe spring 2015.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

So you don't find law reviews valuable [yawn]

Adam Liptak reports that law review articles are not valuable.  Thanks to my buddy C__ for sharing the link.  And, yawn.

I have tended to appreciate Adam Liptak's Supreme Court reporting.  For example, I learned from him the other day that the Roberts Court is not terribly activist, under the most defensible definition (willingness to rule legislation unconstitutional).  At least it's no Rehnquist Court.

What's wrong with Liptak's recent column?  First, the subject is dullsville.  So Roberts doesn't appreciate legal scholarship.  He also said that to my faculty when speaking here a few years back.  Second, Liptak takes a shotgun to the subject.  I count four problems with scholarship in his view, none of which is developed sufficiently to constitute an argument.  Third, in a few places it is demonstrably wrong.

Judges do not find legal scholarship helpful:  a quick search in the Westlaw sct database finds 1300 Supreme Court opinions with the phrase "l. rev." or "l.j.".  Expanding the search to include the cta database causes it to time out at 10,000.  Some, but not many, of those are in opinions by Chief Justice Roberts himself.  30 seconds of perusal suggests false positives are not a major concern.  Not helpful?

Liptak reports that 37% of Supreme Court opinions cite to law reviews.  That's down from 50% a few decades ago.  Meaningful legal scholarship is not exactly an endangered species, even if it does find itself competing for judges' attention with other sources of information.  Amicus curiae briefs, anyone?  I'd be curious whether the decline in law review citations tracks an increase in amicus participation, with many of those papers submitted by academic amici.  (A not-unrelated query:  how many law review articles start as amicus briefs or amicus briefs start as law review articles?)

Liptak references but does not analyze several complaints.  Student editors.  Arcane theoretical topics.  Publication of articles by faculty at the same school that publishes the review.  Reliance on heuristics like the writer's CV.  40% of articles never cited once.

I have a few responses to those.  I too complain about student editors and I too game the system in submissions -- adding a line like "this is the only article ever to challenge the orthodox view!", only to take it out in the editing process.  But my complaints about student editors ultimately all turn on their not picking my articles to publish.  On the day that Harvard Law Review comes calling, I will confess my prior error and the genius of the student editing process.  As, I propose, will we all.  [OK, at least one of us at runningprofs has had that sort of success in placement recently, but I won't put him on the spot here!]

I'd need to see empirics to back up the idea that student editors can't pick good articles.  My guess is that peer-selected and -reviewed articles are just as subject to weakness as are student-elected and -edited articles.  There are certainly many examples, some of spoofs, some of real flawed scholarship, appearing in even serious peer-reviewed journals.  [Here.  And here.  And here. And the most famous spoof here.]  Too, a large number of law journals are moving either to pure peer review or a half peer review process.  My tenure dossier, up for its first vote today, contains four pieces (two that I deem "articles") that were peer selected and edited, and I've been asked on more than one occasion to offer a fairly casual (and unpaid, I might add) peer review of submissions to the student-edited Stanford Law Review.  Finally, as a practical matter, peer review is a sliding scale.  How many articles are published these days without some amount of workshopping or sending around for comment?

Arcane theoretical topics: law reviews are like the proverbial infinite monkeys on typewriters.  Some matter.  Some don't.  None of us know ex ante which is which.  Example:  "let us restate all of antitrust law in the language of neo-classical economics!  Let's not stop there -- there's so much law to be restated!"  (Chicago School.)  Or:  "I have an idea:  maybe we should read statutes without paying any attention to what the legislature actually meant!"  (Textualism.)  This response also addresses the apparent complaint that much that is written is never even cited (or, presumably, read).  So long as enough is written, there will be plenty of relevance to go around.

I find myself wondering whether judging wouldn't be improved if Roberts et al. dismounted the high horse and did some background reading.  Judge Posner famously confessed error in his 2007 voter ID opinion from my state.  It's more than a little interesting to me that many articles preceding that opinion had proposed racially discriminatory intent and effect of voter ID laws.  A two-minute Westlaw search, for example, produced at least two 40th Anniversary symposia (Howard, South Carolina) on the 1965 Voting Rights Act, published in law reviews in 2006.  Some of those articles discuss voter ID laws and their racially discriminatory effects.

Reliance on heuristics like the writer's CV is just reality.  I do it when I select what to read.  (To be clear, my heuristic may be slightly more relevant, as the CV entry that most interests me is "what else did this author write" -- but it's the same idea.)  And not every law review operates this way.  The Harvard Law Review has a blind submission process.  Others may as well.

And in a few places Liptak's column is demonstrably wrong (or at least misleading).  I've already addressed the claim that judges don't find reviews helpful.  How about Liptak's final paragraph?  He quotes Seth Waxman, a leading Supreme Court advocate, as having said 11 years ago that "only a true naif would blunder to mention [a law review article] at oral argument" before the Court.  Perhaps in that particular theater there are traditions to be observed, but I'll counter with my own experience.  Having served as initial drafter on approximately 20 briefs and petitions to the Supreme Court in my short appellate career, I can tell you that not one of those papers failed to cite at least one -- and in many cases, several -- law review articles.  Not one such filing was ever bounced or publicly derided and, on once investigating, I flattered myself that more than one had an apparent influence on some part or another of the Court's opinion in a particular case.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kick Drills

It is common wisdom that when training for the swim leg of a tri, triathletes need not focus on flip turns (messes up the breathing), or kicking, since you want to spare your legs and save them for the bike/run legs.
I signed up for a Wednesday evening swim class a few weeks ago, and a lot of the drills and prescribed workouts have involved kicking drills using a kickboard, and also sidekicking without.  I pretty much hate the sidekick drills, but am finally getting to the point where I don't drink the whole pool while on my right side.

The reason I mention it, though, is that I think that these drills are going to be very good for my running.  they strengthen the core, and force you to fire the glutes.  My hips seem to be loosening up, and my self diagnosed sciatica is less bothersome.

Hmm. . .

Triathletes tougher than the rest of us?

Its true, at least according to this article.  http://www.today.com/health/its-true-triathletes-are-tougher-rest-us-8C11391282


I spent much of last night tossing and turning due to an achy knee.  By this morning I was almost convinced that I should back out of a fall training program.  Some stretching and foam rolling has at least delayed any hasty decisions on that front.

Then at Starbucks I saw the Wall Street Journal piece on how science is supporting the old wives' tale that achy joints can predict coming weather.  Rheumatoid arthritis does flare up when rain is on the way.  And, indeed, after beautiful weather yesterday, rain is predicted for today in Indianapolis.

Two ways to see this:

(1) Great news.  I didn't exacerbate an injury over the last week of running.  Or,
(2) OMG.  I have rheumatoid arthritis.