Sunday, June 30, 2013

Run-touring Channel Port aux Basques

Posting from the MV Highlander while returning to North Sydney NS from Newfoundland.  After seven days on "the rock," the highlight of which was four days/three nights backpacking the locally famous Long Range Traverse through Gros Morne National Park, I finally got in a run in this wonderfully remote locale.  For an hour this morning I jogged through thick fog and some rain up and down more or less every street in the downtown area of one of the oldest (European) settlements in North America.  (Basque fishers are known to have used the harbor early in the 1500s.)  I tried but failed to reach the lighthouse -- a boat is necessary; I reached a Coast Guard facility at the high-point in town; I passed three churches on the same block -- zoning, or competitive forces at work?; and I greeted a few very friendly locals.  I also learned:

The ferry SS Caribou had launched from here in 1942 before being sunk by a German U boat.
The English purchased Newfoundland from the French in 1713.
Early settlers were French and English.
The earliest ferries from Newfoundland to Canada started in 1898.
The rail line from Channel Port aux Basques to St. John's NL started running in the same year.

This is a marvelous place.  I never fully realized one could find such remoteness 1200 miles by car and six hours by ferry from DC.  We didn't make it to some extraordinary places, such as the Viking settlement on the far northwest tip of the island that dates to the year 1000.

Back now to reality.  One reality:  I need to return to steady running after a month of not nearly enough.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wendy Davis's Running Shoes

When a pair of running shoes, becomes a national political symbol, it is incumbent on this blog to do a little bit of digging.  As we learned from Paul Ryan and Paula Broadwell, one can learn a lot about a person's veracity when they make falsifiable claims about running prowess.

So, what can we learn from Wendy Davis's running shoes?

First, what kind of shoes are they, and what does that tell us?  According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, they are Mizuno Wave Rider 16s.  I give Davis points for this choice.  I ran in the Wave Rider through the first Bush 43 administration.  They are a neutral cushioned shoe.  I liked them a lot, in that they provided a slightly firmer heel platform than most neutral shoes, and they were lighter, because of the air gaps in the heel cushioning.  This would be a good choice for standing, as well as running.  When I ran in them, they were the top of the line in that category.  I switched when Mizuno added the slightly plusher, more expensive, Wave Creation to the line.  Unlike me, Wendy seems to have stayed with the lighter, cheaper model.  Good optics.

Second, is she a runner?  Unlike Ryan and Broadwell, Davis has been described as an "avid" runner, but has not to my knowledge made any claims about prowess.  So, does she race? If she does, how fast is she?  I looked on Athlinks, and there appears to be a Wendy Davis from Texas, of the right age, who runs 5Ks with some regularity in the right parts of Texas.  Wendy Davis is not a particularly unusual name, so it could be someone else entirely, but that Wendy Davis clocks in quite consistently with more than respectable 5K times of 27 minutes, give or take a bit (8:35-8:40 minutes per mile pace).  If that's the right person, that certainly justifies the adjective "avid."

So, after this slightly embarrassing bit of cybersleuthing, I'm happy to stand with Wendy, and I may have to go out and buy a new pair of Wave Riders.

UPDATE:  Amazon commenters have distinct opinions on the Wave Rider 16.
LATER UPDATE:  Vicki's filibuster footwear has arrived.

Honor Roll

Well, we don't have an "honor roll" or "blogs we follow" list on this blog.  This is entirely due to the technological ineptitude of the blog administrator.  If we had one, though, this new blog would surely be on it.

Now it can be told

You know how much I love baseball. I have written about it, I have done the Cubs fantasy camp the year I turned thirty, and welcome the chance for any visit to the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. But you probably don't know why it was my fault they didn't get to the World Series when they were five outs away in October 2003.

Now nearly ten years later, it is important to clear up the mystery of the team's hundred plus year pennant drought. It turns out that it wasn't curses, billy goats, or even the Bartman ball. It was, in fact, all me and a solemn oath that was broken in a moment of weakness.

I am an ultra-Orthodox Cubs fan. I believe that baseball should be played in the day, on grass, with no designated hitters. That wasn't much of a problem before August of 1988. The Cubs had never had lights, although they came close just before World War II. For some reason, seeing night games at other ball parks wasn't a problem for me, but the Cubs were special. Day games at Wrigley were extra special, particularly when one skipped out of school or work to be there. Some of the highlights for me were opening days with my father, over 20 games as a 12 year old during the nearly miraculous 1969 season, and a meaningless last game of the season in the early eighties sitting in the virtually empty left field bleachers and meeting a freshman at Northwestern who had skipped class so he didn't have to wait until the following season to see his first Cubs game.

When lights were installed, I was faced with a choice of accommodating change or maintaining my faith. It was an easy choice. I vowed never to attend a night game at Wrigley, and laughed mightily as the first night game was rained out as a sign that I had made the right choice.

I turned down sky box tickets from a client for the All-Star game in 1988. I arranged with my season ticket pool to take the tickets for the day game of the playoffs that never happened in 1989, as the Cubs lost before that day game could be played. I watched at home as my friends froze in the early and late months of the season and never thought twice about my promise until 2003.

2003 was a season of beauty and wonder. The Cubs had pitching, hitting, and a sense of awe about them. Through a business contact of my wife, I had access to seats on a regular basis. During the regular season, they were almost always box seats behind the plate near the players' wives, visiting dignitaries, and the like. During the playoffs, the seats moved up and away from prime territory. I attended one day game during each of the early rounds with worse and worse seats as the excitement grew and the Cubs moved step by step toward the Series.

Then came game six of the National League Championship Series against the Florida Marlins. I had already been to one of the day game wins but the temptation grew too much. Our Cubs contact offered two tickets in the left bleachers and in a moment of weakness I gave in. I invited Jeff, a childhood friend, who had often shared his day game season tickets with me. He knew about my pledge, but didn't give me too hard a time about it. It was just too exciting, particularly as the Cubs built a lead and we were five outs away from the first World Series in my lifetime.

You know the rest. As Jeff was on his cell phone giving a play-by-play in the eighth inning to his brother in Israel, it happened. Base runners, Moises Alou reaching for a foul ball just in the stands, the infamous interference by a fan named Steve Bartman, an error by the shortstop Alex Rodriguez, a flood of runs, and disaster. There was a Game Seven, but everyone knew how that was going to come out.

I have never gone to another night game, but it's too late. So please don't blame the others and forgive me for making everyone wait that many more years for the World Series. We can all enjoy the Blackhawks' Stanl;ey Cup but it's not the same.

I mean it this time. No matter how tempting it is, I just won't go. I promise!

Marathon tie-in for the blog?  Game six was October 14, 2003, two days after I completed my first Chicago marathon!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The most depressing opinion in years

The beginning of Justice Kagan's dissent in AMEX v. Italian Colors Restaurant says it all:

Here is the nutshell version of the case, unfortunately obscured in the Court's decision.  The owner of a small restaurant (Italian Colors) thinks that American Express (Amex) has used its monopoly power to force merchants to accept a form contract violating the antitrust laws.  The restauranteur wants to challenge the alleged unlawful provision (imposing a tying arrangement) but the same contract's arbitration provision prevents him from doing so.  That term imposes a variety of procedural bars that would make pursuit of the antitrust claim a fool's errand.  So if the arbitration provision is enforceable, Amex has insulated itself from antitrust liability -- even if it has in fact violated the law.  The monopolist gets to use its monopoly power to insist on a contract effectively depriving its victims of all legal recourse.

And here is the nutshell version of today's opinion, admirably flaunted rather than camouflaged: Too darn bad.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Narcotrafficante Land

Apparently, you can now vacation at not one, but two, of former Colombian drug king pin Pablo Escobar's old estates.
Cartel tourism anyone?

1) Vacation at Pablo Escobar’s Retreat: Casa Magna in Tulum, Mexico
April 15, 2008By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Casa Magna, Amansala, TulumThe Colombian cocaine kingpin sure did pick a nice spot. Tulum and the Riviera Maya have become Mexico's hottest destination in the last decade, and it's little wonder why. The picture-perfect setting of white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, coupled with the easy proximity to the U.S. East Coast, continues to lure vacationers seeking a little piece of paradise. On the secluded coast near Tulum, south of Cancun, a new eco-chic resort called Casa Magna has been making waves. Legend has it that Escobar himself camped out here (and there are the bullet-proof walls, a secret tunnel, and "look-out turrets" to prove it). After the drug lord's death, the place was abandoned and deteriorated into a mess of concrete... At least until Amansala took on a massive renovation project and created this eco-friendly hideaway touting "rustic luxury." On this pristine stretch of beach, you'll find spacious rooms, yoga classes, fitness training, and a restaurant serving the freshest fish and tasty mango margaritas. 
And then in Medellin, Columbia itself, there is a theme park on the grounds of hid hideaway.

2) The Theme Park on Drug Lord Pablo Escobar's Estate

Main gate of Pablo Escobar's estate with a planePhoto: Pete Hottelet
Remains of an old guest house at Hacienda NápolesView of Medellin, ColombiaPink hippo statue at Pablo Escobar's theme parkPterodactyl statue at Hacienda Nápoles
The main gates of the Hacienda Nápoles theme park, featuring Pablo Escobar’s smuggling plane
In one corner of the 3,700-acre park, a bright pink hippo statue poses on a plinth; in another, dinosaurs are frozen in time. Elsewhere, a giant octopus emerges from a swimming pool with waterslides wrapped up in its tentacles.
As far as theme parks go, there isn’t really anything too surprising or out of the ordinary going on here. Yet this is no ordinary tourist attraction. The Hacienda Nápoles theme park is situated on grounds that once belonged to Colombia’s (and perhaps the world’s) most famous drug lord.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

National 24-hour

Last weekend was the second of three big biking events for 2013 and my first attempt at a 24-hour race of any sort.  S__ flew out to crew and I started with 310 of my closest friends from a junior high school parking lot in Middleville Michigan (halfway between Lansing and Grand Rapids).  I had a goal of 400 miles, the 24-hour-race analog to a three-hour marathon.  Like my attempts at a 3-hour marathon, I came up well short, spooling off 309.9 miles before the clock expired.  Something to come back for, I suppose, although I do hope that unlike the marathon it won't require 18+ tries to meet the goal!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My 20th Anniversary

on Fire Island.  We began going there early on in during my Brooklyn Law teaching days.  Pre-kids, pre-running.  We have been back almost every year.  Since our daughter just turned 17, we officially declared this our 20th anniversary on the island.  As the east coasters know, Fire Island is a barrier island just east of Long Island.  Its 32 miles long, a couple of blocks wide and you get there by ferry because there are no cars.  Each "town" has a ferry dock, and maybe a grocery store.  Only a couple of towns are big enough to have much more.

As I ramped up my running, I learned the joys and curses of beach running.  Endless solitude is one of the joys, burning calves are one of the down sides.  This weekend, I got out for two runs (shoes on with compression sleeves).  One was an 8 miler from Ocean Beach to Sailor's Haven and back, the other a 4 miler going the other direction.  At 9 in the morning, there are few on the beach and the beach seems truly endless, especially since Hurricane Sandy flattened  most of the dunes, effectively widening the beach.  Most of the houses survived intact but lots of decks and stair cases to the beach are gone and only partially rebuilt.  The island looks a little beat up, which it was, with lots of debris and construction materials lying around.  The rush seems to be on to finish everything before the high season in a couple of weeks, but every time there is a down pour all work stops and everyone gets real nervous.

None of this affects the beach which was gorgeous one day and soggy the next.  And yes, I felt the burn.  Just wish I could train there for a full summer.

Monday, June 10, 2013


The last few weeks have been tough for me. My heel has been healing slowly, and my running has been severely limited.  That has made the two runs with Runningprofs extra special.  In Boston, the run with Spencer along the Charles was great fun, except for the running part, which hurt.  Yesterday's run with Max and Becky was a huge confidence builder.  It was the first run at my usual training pace in over a month.  I certainly noticed a decline in conditioning, and my left heel is still not 100%, but Max, Becky and her friend C__, were patient with me, and the longer we ran, the better I felt.  The weather was perfect, the surface forgiving, and the conversation excellent!  I always love runs where the conversations rotate from person to person as you go.  Anyway, no post would be complete without a picture, so here's Max, at the end, in front of the hotel.  Becky and C___ peeled off before I could get my phone out.

Third runningprofs run in 9 days

Of all the great things blogging about running should be credited with, keeping alive the interest in getting together and actually running must be top of the list.  Under that analysis, the last several days may be one of the best stretches in the blog's existence.  Ted and Spencer ran together in Boston on May 31.  Max and Spencer ran in DC on June 7.  And on June 8, Ted, I, friend-of-the-blog (and perhaps future contributor?) Becky, and Becky's regular running partner met in Bethesda Maryland for a great run on the soft dirt of the Georgetown Branch Trail heading east across the top of the District.

Ted says in the comments that we slowed down for him, but there was more than one stretch when Ted was the one needing to be slowed down.  Fun for all, I think, and just enough work to let me go nuts at brunch later that morning.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lawyers 10K

The big early-June 10K around here is the Lawyers Have Heart 10K, run every year on the first or second weekend of June.  I ran it once before in 2010 and I ran it this morning with P__.  This race was not on my calendar, but I got roped into fleshing out an FTC team.

The Lawyers 10K starts on Water Street in Georgetown under the Whitehurst Freeway.  Just after the start the course climbs to K Street, does a u-turn, and continues climbing to Whitehurst.  It follows that road to its end at M Street and continues out Canal Road to the turn-around at the 5K point.  The course then retraces itself with a downhill finish back to Water Street.  It is a deceptively challenging course -- generally flat, but the first hill is hard and there are rolling hills and false flats just when the running is hard.

One note about the start:  I'm not one for gender-bashing, but I couldn't help noticing the men elbowing their way to the front of the start pack.  Meanwhile, Claire Hallisey, a member of the British Olympic marathon team in 2012 Olympics who lives in the DC area, quietly stood to the side in the corral, ultimately lining up three or four rows from the front.  Her 34:34 finish was first among women and 15th overall.  I envy such restrained excellence.

I hate 10Ks.  I hate every race shorter than 10 miles, but the 10K holds a special spot in whatever bodily organ is best associated with hate.  (Spleen?)  Like a 5K or 8K, the 10K distance is too short to pace well.  Unlike those shorter distances, the 10K distance takes long enough to really hurt.  The dead zone between mile 4 and mile 5 is like compressing the last 6.2 miles of a marathon into a one-mile stretch.

After the race I snacked on free Larabar brand "Uber" salted nut bars.  I made it home and found myself sick like at fraternity initiation, later learning that the bars are made with macadamia nuts, my one life-long food allergy.  Tough day all around.  I hope tomorrow's run with Ted goes better!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Run with Spencer

This time I made it to the right place at the right time and Spencer and I braved the threatened rain to head out for an afternoon run in DC.  We left the north exit to the DuPont metro at 3 pm sharp, rolling west to join Massachusetts Avenue and then passing embassies, think-tanks, places of worship, and ultimately Joe Biden's house before turning right at 36th Street by the Greek Orthodox temple.  I had forgotten just how much of a hill that stretch of Massachusetts is; I'll take the risk speaking for both of us in saying "ohmygoodness."

We headed back east on Garfield, tracing the route of Spencer's run from a few weeks back, past rows of what I believe are the most beautiful "normal" homes in DC, and joined Connecticut Avenue right near the Marriott of AALS recruiting conference fame.  (Insert involuntary shudder here.)

Just down the street we dropped into Rock Creek Park to join one of my top 5 favorite public resources in DC -- the Rock Creek Parkway bike trail -- and headed back uptown for a short while through the zoo and back, nearly reaching the Porter Street exit from Rock Creek.  Then it was gradual downhill along the bike trail to exit at P Street and to head back east into DuPont Circle.  Spencer graciously sprung for a post-run soda.

Seven miles and just over an hour of great running and conversation.  And the rain held off for us!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


So, after running with Spencer last week, I limped around for a few days, and despaired.  Monday and Tuesday, I cycled.  Both days, I tried a new therapy suggested by a therapist -- a contrast bath.  The concept is 1 minute in an ice bath, followed by one minute in warm water.  It is torture!!  It also seemed to work, knocking down the obvious inflammation, and eliminating pain, except when I really worked at it.  So I ran again today.  This time with C.  I took it easy, with a very slow run across the Brooklyn Bridge.  The day was glorious.  The running was, labored.   Because I was going so slowly, there was time to take pictures.  These came out pretty well.

The heel is sore again, but no worse than after the run with Spencer.  Hopefully ice therapy, etc., will keep it on the mend. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Some Future Posts I intend to eventually write

1) Ten years ago Cubs were ahead of the Miami Marlins and 5 outs away from going to their first World Series.  They obviously didn't make it.  It was probably my fault.  Will explain why.

2) Why we are really going to Iceland this summer.

3) Why the Red Wedding tv scene shouldn't have been that shocking on Game on Thrones.

4) Was the only time the four of us actually ran together Dublin antitrust marathon?

5) How will I keep up with Max tomorrow if he is healthy and uninjured?

6) What my daughter actually learned from Senate page school.  And does Parliament have anything similar she can do?  (Phil, this one is for you)

7) Its down to Portland Oregon and Newport Rhode Island for my 2013 marathon.  Discuss.Back up remains Cal Int'l in December or local burbs.

8) My pre and post-marathon meals.

9) Why I am angry at myself for being talked into a pair of expensive Adidas memory foam running shoes.

10) For trashy tv, why I dislike Red Dwarf, am so-so about the Walking Dead, and really want to watch In the Flesh on BBC America.

11) My growing fondness for Chris Christie (as long as he stays in New Jersey).

Monday, June 3, 2013


While co-bloggers were conferring in Boston and consulting in Ethiopia, I just spent the rare weekend doing precisely nothing that could be called work.  I woke at 2 am Saturday and drove to Frederick, Maryland.  At 4 I and 22 others launched by bicycle from a highway motel, winding through downtown Frederick on the way to the Maryland countryside.  After a long loop I made it back to Frederick at 8:45 pm.  A little chit-chat, 4 1/2 hours of not-very-restful sleep, and an odd breakfast of three bowls of Hormel chili later, I launched (this time alone) at 2:45 am for a second loop, returning to Frederick at 1:45 pm.

Taken together we had four Potomac River crossings on three different bridges and we rode through four states (Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland).  These rides encounter dozens of sleepy burgs that are too small to boast a stoplight, a proper grocery, or even a McDonalds franchise.  (They all have a road named after a church, however. "Sam Church Road."  "Jones Church Road."  "First Church Road."  Might one responsibly conclude that the dying of rural America is linked to an overpopulation of churches?)

Many say of these rides that the best part is the night-riding.  I'm frequently a skeptic of that claim because the magic of night-riding is easily offset by the fear of drunks and the necessarily slower pace.  The dark and semi-dark hours before 6 am were a treat this time -- partly because the air was cool and partly because I was thankfully alert enough actually to enjoy them.