Saturday, August 24, 2013

Speaking of Hydration

A while back, in the comments, Max and I got into a colloquy about how to drink while in "aero" on a tri-bike, without falling off.  Max suggested the new Profile Design system that rests a traditional (or aero) water bottle on the aero bars, where they are easily accessible.  I bought it.  I hated it.  My aerobars are set fairly close together, and with the water bottle and apparatus resting on top, the bottle interfered with a variety of my favorite hand positions.  Also, when I hit a pothole, the bottle tried to jump out and nearly caused me to crash.  I removed it after two rides.

Right before the NYC Tri, I decided to spend another chunk of change on the design that everybody else seemed to be using . . .  This was also a Profile Design system, but instead of sitting up on the bars, the bottle rides between the bars.  This seemed to work much better.  The attachment to the bike was much firmer, and the bottle rested lower, so I did not feel like the straw was going to poke out an eye if I hit a bump.  The only problem is that the lid seems to be designed so that you can refill on the fly by pouring liquid from the frame mounted bottle or a bottle exchange quickly without opening the container.  I find this leads to a certain amount of splashing while the container is full.  After a few sips, though the problem goes away.  I've been using water, so it's no big deal anyway.  I think Gatorade or other high tech nutritional drink might be more of a problem.


The 7th Circuit affirms the dismissal of the defamation suit filed by NBA Hall of Famer, Olympic Dream Team member, top 50 NBA star of all time, and Michael Jordan wingman Scottie Pippin.  Pippin alleged that various media outlets falsely reported that he had filed bankruptcy.  This was untrue although he was undergoing financial difficulties.  Easterbrook, Posner and Ann Williams uphold district court that this is not defamation under Illinois law.  No visible running connection but  two bloggers do bankruptcy and here in Chicago we still love Scottie.

My take on AA/US Air Merger Litigation

I will be appearing on the Bloomberg law podcast discussing everyone's favorite aviation merger case.  It airs on Bloomberg Radio sometime on Saturday and then eventually eventually gets posted at 

I am more sanguine about the government's case than Max, but not sure what exactly will be aired on the program since I did a twenty minute interview that gets chopped down to 6-7 minutes.  We can discuss once I hear what they use. 

My bottom line is that the complaint (if the facts prove as alleged)  is consistent with the 2010 merger guidelines but somewhat more aggressive than past practice.  I don't think its inconsistent to say that, in light of past mergers that weren't challenged or settled, that this merger raises unilateral and coordinated effects issues that cannot be fixed.  There is no theoretical reason that discounted connecting fares cannot compete with non-stop flights for certain segments of air travelers, that is just a fact issue that I am sure the airlines will vigorously contest.  I am pretty sure the merger is a terrible idea for air travel in and out of National Airport.

This actually reminds me of some of the steel mergers in the 1980s where whomever went first got cleared but later mergers got challenged as concentration rose.  There was even an instance where one merger was announced and while that was pending a second merger in the industry was announced drawing a challenge to both, where neither probably would have challenged by itself.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Running Chicago's version of Queens

While Max was rocking his 70.3 Timberman, I was moseying my way around the Northwest side of Chicago on my weekend long run.  It is a diverse multi-ethnic set of neighborhoods that blend into one another combining residential, commercial, and light industrial.  The closest equivalent I can think of is Jackson Heights and other parts of middle class Queens but with more green space.

I have been in a holding pattern of 12-14 mile long runs while I wait to ramp up for the California International Marathon in early December.  I ran the Rock n Roll Half in July and will run the Chicago Half in Hyde Park in early September and then my serious build. 

On Sunday I ran south and west to Logan Square an increasingly hipster area encroaching on the mostly Hispanic surrounding blocks.  There is a beautiful super-side boulevard with huge houses and even a mansion or two leading to a large circle where I headed off on the north and west spokes of Milwaukee and eventually Kedzie Avenue.  Both have various restaurants and boutiques few of which were open as I cruised by at 8:30 AM.  All told, probably 4 miles into my run.

Continuing north on Kedzie, I think I ran by at least 50% of the auto repair and body shops in the city.  The farther north you go the more the Spanish language stores begin to mix with Korean and then Middle Eastern shops and businesses culminating in a small strip mall that had all three types of grocery stores in the same place!  I am now at Mile 7.5 at the far north west corner of my run.

I headed home meandering back back toward the lake with a detour along the path bordering the Chicago River.  When I came up to the street level I was greeted with the headquarters and museum for the Cambodian Association of Illinois which I would have toured except I was sweaty and gross and nothing was open on Sunday morning.  More random streets brought signs in Polish, Serbian, Korean, and every ethnic restaurant you could imagine.  At the corner of Irving Park and Clark I came to Graceland Cemetery where the high and mighty of Chicago's past and present are buried.  As the day was heating up and I was tiring out I decided to hypotenuse home along Clark past the Friendly Confines on Wrigley Field and then head east the final blocks home.  All told, something north of 13 miles the way I did it.

The river path intrigues me and I want to explore more heading away from my place.  The problem is that the closest place I can pick it up is 3 1/2 miles from my home and it doesn't run uninterrupted until about 5 1/2 miles away which is usually close to turning around time.  So I think either parking the car near the start of the path or some long one way runs are in order with some lucky Metra or subway riders getting to sit next to stinky me when I take the commuter train home from the burbs from done with the run. 

Monday, August 19, 2013


Couldn't talk Ted into running this one this year with his questionable foot, so P__ and I headed up from DC on Saturday -- an 8 1/2 hour drive with the traffic low -- and signed in to Ironman-branded Timberman 70.3, held on the roads and bike trails around Lake Winnipesaukee not far north of Concord, New Hampshire.  I rode from the registration tent (at Gunstock Mountain Resort, a ski hill of regional and historic note that -- based on closed commercial properties nearby -- seems to have fallen on hard times) to the race staging area at Ellacoya State Park.  That 10-mile ride gave something of a taste of the race course, comprised largely of pretty roads, steep climbs, and bombing descents.

Lake Winnipesaukee, taken from Ellacoya State Park
Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, NH (with tents much like on Saturday)
I was late getting a room, so we stayed at an atrocious motor lodge just outside of Concord -- that's the last time I trust Tripadvisor reviews -- and had a simply phenomenal dinner at The Barley House in Concord.  The capitol building is a beautiful gold-domed structure set among restored brick buildings that must date to the turn of the prior century.  I've never been to Concord before and I found it to be a lovely town.  Or at least a lovely downtown.

My wave was at 7:30, so we left the motor lodge at 5:30 Sunday morning, grabbed bagels at Dunkin' Donuts, and drove 45 minutes back to Gunstock to catch a shuttle to the start.  As much as I grouse about triathlon, I've done it enough that the stress of wondering what I left behind is mitigated.  I keep in my frontal lobe the list of 14 things to bring with me to the transition/start in the morning:  towel, goggles, cap, wetsuit, glasses, helmet, bike shoes, bike tools, bike computer, hat, running shoes, belt with number, hydration, and nutrition.  All that goes in a bag and the morning setup takes 5 minutes.  

The swim was either a Charley Foxtrot (military term -- use your imagination with the CF acronym!) or custom designed for a leg PR.  Probably in an effort to keep an approximately constant flow of athletes on the course, using some underdeveloped optimization algorithm,* wave starts are hard to figure out.  Sure, the pros go first.  But then the waves run through most of the female competitors and several older age groups before turning to the two fastest age groups, men in their early 40s and late 30s.  But it's not as simple as "pros first, slowest second," because the waves then move younger and for some reason insert the late-20s women -- an athletic group, but not competitive with the waves in the middle.  The result is that after 5 minutes of nice swimming I spent the next 28 running over 30-year-old women from the prior wave.  After having been run over by dozens before me, one swimmer lashed out and nearly bloodied my nose; it was all I could do to remember (1) be a gentleman, and (2) it's going a lot worse for her than it is for me!  On the other hand, in constantly catching and passing earlier starters, I almost never had to break my own water.  (It probably does not need to be said that the drafting effect is just as strong in swimming as it is in biking, only in the swim it is legal.)  At 33:04, my fastest 1/2-iron swim split but one, and that one race -- the now defunct Black Bear 1/2 in Pennsylvania that I ran in 2008 -- had a notoriously short swim course.

*Brainstorm:  a PhD thesis for an Operations Research grad student might analyze the optimal starting pattern for a timed event.

The bike course at Timberman is in equal parts challenging and inspired.  We rode beautiful roads over the shoulder of Gilford Mountain before taking a long gently sloped downhill grade to the turn-around.  The pavement was almost all very good.  That long gently sloped grade was uphill for 15 miles returning, before we once again climbed the shoulder of the mountain and bombed back down to the end at 56 miles.  My measure of its difficulty is in looking at the top pro times.*  Andy Potts, maybe the greatest currently competing American male triathlete, took just under 2:11 to ride this course.  In contrast, my last 1/2 IM was in Boulder almost exactly a year ago.  That course took Joe Gambles a mere 2:00 to ride the year I was there.  We've been spilling more ink on bike splits this year at runningprofs than we have in the past, so to add to that I was undeniably thrilled to ride my best ever 1/2 iron bike time on my hardest ever 1/2 iron bike course.

*  One could debate this approach:  what does a pro's experience tell me about my own?  My view is this:  a pro triathlete is somebody who has figure out how to remove subjective factors from the event -- i.e., to perform at a consistent level given the external circumstances.  Thus, winds, hills, heat, what-have-you, will have a consistent impact on a pro's performance.  One might accomplish a similar thing with average times, but that average would include amateurs like me who suffer subjective limitations based on distaste for a particular challenge.

In case the grimace doesn't tell it, let me:
I was hurting!
Then came the run.  Of all the legs this is the one I was least concerned about.  Based largely on my experience this year at the Columbia Triathlon, I've come to believe that you can't plan for the run in a triathlon.  You are either ready for it or you are not, but if you set aside some reserves for it you will flop in the rest of your race.  And unlike the bike, the run you can do from your large and deep muscles in the gluteals and the stomach, which survive much longer than your legs.  I left T2 with my watch reading 3:06 and lots of change, several minutes ahead of my prior best time at that point, shooting for a run leg PR.  The first mile was too fast (it always is!) and I then settled in at a 7:00 pace until mile 8 or so or so before really, really hurting on the fourth time up the hill in the middle of the out-and-back course.  No walking, but I may as well have for a while there.  I wanted a 1:32 but finished in 1:35 and a very few seconds for that half-marathon -- for the third time in the day, my best ever for that leg of the race.  If you'll forgive the self indulgence, here's a finish chute photo from the run.  (Look, coach, good posture!)

More than I intended to write, but there it is.  A big PR at 4:41:52; 11th in my age group; and 90th overall -- my first time ever cracking the magic 100 mark in an IM-branded event.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Frontiers in Hydration

So today I had the best workout I've had in months.  I met some Brooklyn Tri-Club folks in Fort Lee for a ride up route 9W.  We did 60 miles at medium intensity, with 5 miles of hammering at 25 miles an hour at the end.  Then we went for an easy 3 mile run.  The big victory was that I managed to run at a reasonable clip (considering), and my heel seems okay.  Hooray!!

We stopped at one of the usual muffin shops, but the gang wanted to get going before I'd finished my (very hot) double espresso.  Rather than toss it, I poured it into my water bottle making an ad hoc Americano.  I think the next time I'll do this on purpose.  It turned out to be a nice change from water or sports drinks.  I might add a little sugar.  Who knows??

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Rhetorical query:  first time the US has sued itself?

More interesting query:  first time the antitrust division has seen connecting routes as competitive with non-stop service for purposes of finding an overlap in a merger matter?

My 2c:  the overlaps are not what is driving this complaint.  In fact, with regard to market definition, the complaint is schizophrenic:  on the one hand, US Airways' connecting flights are seen as competitive with other carriers' non-stop flights (logical in its own right, as there is a discount level at which I will start flying one-stop on my regular DC-Indy route); but on the other hand, Southwest and JetBlue are said to serve a different customer base than the "legacy carrier" (also logical in its own right).  Taken together, the arguments are difficult to reconcile.

Rather, what is driving this complaint is the second claim:  that National Airport will become even more of a fortress hub than it is.  With 70% of slots at a slot-constrained airport, the new American will have a stranglehold on travel to the nation's capitol.  Note that Virginia's attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, more nutso right-winger than bleeding heart, added his name to this complaint.

I can also envision that slots at National would be a huge sticking point in the negotiations leading up to this complaint.  No doubt US Airways is salivating over American's slots and the Justice Department want an agreement to divest those slots to JetBlue.

I will say I am looking forward to using this tidbit in the spring semester antitrust class:  an invitation to collude that was not accepted.  (See p. 17, para. 45.)  Echoes of "you raise your goddamn fares twenty percent and I'll raise mine the next morning!"

As is too frequently the case, my own contributions to the popular press conversation on this topic lack the depth I'd like them to have.  Glad at least to see that I appear to see this similarly to Diana Moss, who wrote the excellent AAI White Paper a year ago.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What do all these folks have in common?

Loyola Consumer Antitrust Institute Merch to the first correct answer:

Ernie Banks
Known to many as “Mr. Cub,” Ernie Banks is one of the greatest baseball players of all time.  During his 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs, he played in 11 All-Star Games, hit over 500 home runs, and became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.
Ben Bradlee
Ben Bradlee is one of the most respected newsmen of his generation.  During his tenure as executive editor of The Washington Post, Mr. Bradlee oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal, successfully challenged the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, and guided the newspaper through some of its most challenging moments.  He also served in the Navy during World War II.
Bill Clinton
President Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States.  Before taking office, he served as Governor and Attorney General of the State of Arkansas.  Following his second term, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment.  He also formed the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund with President George W. Bush in 2010.
Daniel Inouye (posthumous)
Daniel Inouye was a lifelong public servant.  As a young man, he fought in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for which he received the Medal of Honor.  He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate.  Senator Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.
Daniel Kahneman
Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology.  After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist.  Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is currently a professor at Princeton University.
Richard Lugar
Richard Lugar represented Indiana in the United States Senate for more than 30 years.  An internationally respected statesman, he is best known for his bipartisan leadership and decades-long commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.  Prior to serving in Congress, Senator Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar and Mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975.  He currently serves as President of the Lugar Center.
Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn is a country music legend. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.  Ms. Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
Mario Molina
Mario Molina is a visionary chemist and environmental scientist.  Born in Mexico, Dr. Molina came to America to pursue his graduate degree.  He later earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer.  Dr. Molina is a professor at the University of California, San Diego; Director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment; and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
Sally Ride (posthumous)
Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space.  As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish.  Dr. Ride also served in several administrations as an advisor on space exploration.
Bayard Rustin (posthumous)
Bayard Rustin was an unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity, and equality for all.  An advisor to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he promoted nonviolent resistance, participated in one of the first Freedom Rides, organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and fought tirelessly for marginalized communities at home and abroad.  As an openly gay African American, Mr. Rustin stood at the intersection of several of the fights for equal rights.
Arturo Sandoval
Arturo Sandoval is a celebrated jazz trumpeter, pianist, and composer.  Born outside Havana, he became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and gained international acclaim as a dynamic performer.  He defected to the United States in 1990 and later became an American citizen.  He has been awarded nine Grammy Awards and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists.
Dean Smith
Dean Smith was head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team from 1961 to 1997.  In those 36 years, he earned 2 national championships, was named National Coach of the Year multiple times, and retired as the winningest men’s college basketball coach in history.  Ninety-six percent of his players graduated from college.  Mr. Smith has also remained a dedicated civil rights advocate throughout his career.
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem is a renowned writer and activist for women’s equality.  She was a leader in the women’s liberation movement, co-founded Ms. magazine, and helped launch a wide variety of groups and publications dedicated to advancing civil rights.  Ms. Steinem has received dozens of awards over the course of her career, and remains an active voice for women’s rights.
Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian
C.T. Vivian is a distinguished minister, author, and organizer.  A leader in the Civil Rights Movement and friend to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he participated in Freedom Rides and sit-ins across our country.  Dr. Vivian also helped found numerous civil rights organizations, including Vision, the National Anti-Klan Network, and the Center for Democratic Renewal.  In 2012, he returned to serve as interim President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Patricia Wald
Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation.  After graduating as 1 of only 11 women in her Yale University Law School class, she became the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991.  She later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.  Ms. Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists.  She is best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Ms. Winfrey has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women.  She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

Friday, August 9, 2013

In Defense of Junk Miles

So, its a little hotter than you wanted, a bit too humid, looks like it might rain, and maybe its an hour later than you wanted it to be.  Its a Tuesday  morning, you are supposed to do 5 miles.  You don't feel great (but you aren't injured).  What do you do?

A) run slowly and stop a bunch for water

B) Take the day off

C) Cross-train inside for a bit

D)Wait until that evening and reassess

The "better to undertrain" crowd would probably vote for B.  Let me make the argument for A.  I don't really think there is such a thing as junk miles with two exceptions, unless they lead to continuing really bad habits or likely to aggravate an existing injury they are just miles and you should do them.  Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night etc.  Running when you are sub-par (but not if you're hurt) is too much a part of endurance running to skip in lieu of a sub-par run, which is better than no run at all.  Nothing bad probably happens if you skip one short run, but keeping the habit going is even better, even if not optimal.  No one can train purposefully and brilliantly day in day out but we can get out there, even if just for a slog.  Plus tomorrow is only a day away.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bike Fit

Today I spent the morning in the bike fit studio of my friendly neighborhood bike shop where I bought my Lemond Versailles about 5 years ago.  Michael who runs the studio on a free lance basis spends about half his time building high end custom bikes and the rest running the studio.  He also races cyclocross which I had never heard of before.

He looked at my bike and gave me "Wo Dude."  I then learned his theory why the Versailles was an odd but really interesting bike (will explain later if anyone cares) kind of like the Saab of bikes (he meant that in a good way).

Once he got down to business he spent nearly 2 hours interviewing and measuring me to find out injuries, strength, flexibility, riding habits, my running, etc.  I warned up on the bike on an indoor stand for a good 20 minutes while he observed and then he videoed me for another twenty minutes or so and began to fiddle with the existing equipment and made various suggestions for adjustments and replacements but nothing expensive. 

The big item was that he convinced me to finally switch to clipless peddles (actually the Shimanos that are a flat peddle on one side and step ins on the other sides.  He adjusted the seat a tiny bit and suggested a narrow set of handle bars so it would be easier to ride with my elbows bent for shock absorption.

I pick up the bike tonight and then come back for a 30 minute followup in a couple of weeks so I can get used to the new positioning and bars.  We will discuss some aero bars at that time.

It was $125 for the nearly two hour session and the followup plus about $120 for the pedal set, bars and some cushioning tape.  Seemed like money well spent.  Hopefully the beginning of more power, aerodynamics and efficiency.  Will let you later tonight or tomorrow AM after a spin on the lakefront path.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Running the Red

Typical Red River Gorge scene.
My donation to the student charity auction this year was a day running trails in Red River Gorge, Kentucky.  After scheduling difficulties caused by my own travel and my students' bar exam study, I finally paid up yesterday.  A__, K__, and Y__, three great current or former students, as well as my former colleague P__, and I left my parking lot at 4:30 a.m. to drive four hours to the Gorge.  It was pouring rain in Indianapolis, an inauspicious beginning.

Maybe 50 miles from town we left the rain behind.  Dawn arrived not long after leaving Louisville heading east on I64.  When we stopped for gas and breakfast in Lexington I realized a huge benefit of traveling with students:  they considered Denny's to be fine dining.  (I've *always* considered Denny's to be fine dining, but most of my peer group has left me behind in that regard.)  The sky was turning blue and the day began to look glorious.

We reached the Gorge at about 9 and spent a while searching for the right trailhead.  Though perhaps vaguely frustrating, the search was not wasted time; we enjoyed two eerie passes through the 1/4-mile long, single-lane, claustrophobic Nada Tunnel, with bare rock walls and ceiling.

Nada Tunnel.  Not my car, though.
On our return pass we realized the road we were seeking did not intersect our current route but passed overhead just as we were driving through the tunnel.  

Direction flub #2:  the guidebook said three miles but meant five.  At three miles along the Ridge Road we launched for our first run, not the five-mile loop we sought but an easy ~one mile out-and-back from the Pioneer Trailhead to the top of a cliff with our first view over the Gorge.  A fun warm-up and the first fall, producing P__'s skinned knees.  The cliff was good for oohs and aahs and the short run was well worth the wrong turn.

The Auxier Ridge trailhead was 2 miles further down the road.  Here we launched for a planned 5-mile loop, climbing and then following the ridge, crossing the valley to "Double Arch," and winding our way back.  This run offered something of everything.

Auxier Ridge.  Random Google photo, so no idea who that is.
We followed single-track through the forest, took a rocky descent and then an ascent on the other side, ran for maybe a mile along a narrow ridge with cliff bands on either side, crossed a lush valley of steamy rainforest with a stream paralleling the trail, and reached a turn-around at a dramatic hole in the sandstone cut by the elements over centuries or millennia.  At the arch somebody's GPS registered five miles, and we had a couple remaining to the car.

Double Arch.
[An amusing aside:  there is a website that explains the difference between a natural arch and a natural bridge.  It is maintained by a society devoted to these phenomena.  Only on the internet!]

The hills were starting to wear on the group when we emerged to a gravel path that appeared to lead to civilization.  P__ and I enjoyed our few fast strides of the day while racing to ensure this was the right direction.  It was, but the car was past several turns and rolling hills.  Y__ found us not too much later and I and P__ headed back to encourage A__ and K__.  In total this loop was nearly seven miles of decidedly non-trivial trail running for our second run of the day.  This was shaping up to be an epic outing!

We lunched at Miguel's, the classic climber hangout in Natural Bridge State Park, eating pizza and cookies and killing two hours with relaxed conversation.  Just up the road from Miguel's was a lodge and our third trail-head, this one for the popular Natural Bridge trail system.

The "Original Trail" was well-developed, including 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Corps shelters, well-maintained, and frustratingly crowded.  The sights were worth it. Natural Bridge is like Double Arch magnified 10x and set well above the valley floor.

Natural Bridge, Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky.  (Red River Gorge)
The trail ascends and crosses the bridge, where we snapped a group photo before heading to Lover's Leap, a magnificent cliff with a commanding view.

Lover's Leap.  Or "Lovers Leap."  (The correct name may be punctuationally challenged.)
We descended narrow stone stairs and returned to the car.  Just over two miles with plenty of climbing, descending, and scenery.  The crowds placed this run behind Auxier Ridge in terms of preference.

We were now approaching 10 aggressive miles over three runs after a 4:30 a.m. start from Indianapolis and our band was starting to tire, but it was not yet 4 p.m. and Y__, at least, who has spent the last year as a Cross-Fit junkie on a protein ("Paleo") diet, wanted more.  K__ and A__ soaked blistering feet in a cool stream while P__, Y__, and I sought out Whittington Arch from the trailhead just up the road from Natural Bridge.

There is a moment in every long run at which some combination of mental relaxation, food absorbtion, hydration, and stimulants, together with external factors like temperature and terrain, produces an equanimity of mind and fluidity of motion that makes me want to run forever.  That happened on the Whittington Arch run, our fourth and final for the day.  This trail was under dense tree cover and followed a stream gently uphill.  The ground was soft, even slightly muddy in places.  The crowds were all back at Natural Bridge; we passed only two groups of hikers.  The arch was really a cave with an outlet near the top and a huge vaulted ceiling from which a trickle rained 100 feet to the ground. 

Soaked in sweat anyway, we took cool showers before climbing the side of the arch for a view over a three-sided canyon filled with lush greenery.  Y__'s GPS reported 10.5 miles for the day; we headed further away from the car to ensure a 12-mile total.  The trail disappeared into the trees striated with light and shade and when the call came to turn around I was genuinely saddened.  

Back to the car; towel off; and change clothes.  We stopped at an unremarkable brewpub near the University of Kentucky in Lexington and a Graeter's Ice Cream shop across the street.  I was home and in bed by 11.

I think I may auction this trip again next year!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Race Question

Hey Max, I know you've sworn off Tri for the moment, but I was just wondering . . .  On the off chance that my injuries have healed in time for me to do some long runs, I'm considering a Fall Half, rather than a Fall Marathon.  Do you know anything about this one?