Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hills, Chainsaws and Fluid Dynamics

I'm in North Carolina for a long Labor Day weekend. Vicki and I are visiting my mother in law who spends her summers in Brevard, near Asheville. It's beautiful here, for walking and ogling views, but she lives on the side of a mountain (or at least a very large hill).  This has made the runs a challenge.  I have not been doing much hill running, other than the usual Brooklyn bridges and Prospect Park hill.  The gradients on all of these are steady and moderate, and the elevation gain no more than 100 feet or so.

Friday, I wandered out of the house, only to be met by 200 yards of 15-20% grade. I almost walked back inside.  Instead I took a picture and headed out, remembering that I'd run here before.  I managed four miles of aggressively rolling terrain.  I ran up to the ridge, ran along it, and then descended for a bit until I reached two miles and turned back.  The run was largely an experiment in form, both ascending and descending.  Going up, there's no cheating.  You have to shift your weight and push off with both sides.  Lifting the knees is rewarded by extra distance per step.  Keeping the knees tracking over the foot is rewarded by a smoother push off.  Going down was a bit less successful. On moderate grades it's great to lean into the hill and work on efficiently gliding down. These hills were just too darned steep to lean into.  I found myself returning to inefficient, slow heel striking, just to keep my feet under me.  Yikes.  I didn't do my "plyo" workout on Friday, but I think there was a lot of plyo on that run.

Yesterday was long run day.  My long run had been 15 or so miles for the last three weeks.  Last week, I think I might have run 16 in Berkeley, but Nike+ was not so charitable.  I think I lost about a half mile to "pause" errors.  Anyway,  I wanted to go to 17, both to break out of the rut, and because I'd like to get up to 20 milers soon, so I can log 3 or so before the NYC Marathon.  It's getting tight.  The last time I did a long run here in Brevard, I ran down off the Mountain and then ran through the valley. The hard part was getting down, and then getting back up again at the end.  My quads and glutes were pretty burned from the hills the day before, so I resolved to go slowly and see what happened.  It was a good, but not great run.  The first mile or so was a punishing descent.  The middle part ascended through the valley along a creek.  The shoulder was narrow, so I spent a lot of time worrying about blind curves and stepping off into the grass as cars went by quickly.  This section of the road is fairly picturesque, in an Appalachian sort of way.  There's a reputed meth lab, a turnoff for "biker's comfort" (whatever that is), and another turnoff for "chainsaw art" (not gonna check that one out either).  The road then rose up, and at 8 miles hit the turnaround point, the North Carolina/South Carolina border, which is also the Eastern Continental Divide.  Until I stumbled on this spot a few years ago, I didn't know there was such a thing as the Eastern Continental Divide, but on one side of the state line, water flows into the Chesapeake.  On the other side of the line water flows into the Mississippi.  When faced with such Archimedean points, there's really only one thing to do, so I did.

Then I turned around, and ran home, past the meth lab, past the sign for chainsaw art, and, with surprising but deliberate success, back up the mountain.  The overall pace for the run was ridiculously slow.  I didn't make 17 miles either, but I'm feeling reasonably good about the final ramp up for the Marathon, and that's a surprise.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I've been incommunicado for some time for not very good reason.  Well, one good reason -- little to report.  And Spencer and Ted have been moving so well the reports we are getting are better than my saying "another blah week."

Here's one report:  my second 12-hour bike race for 2014, this one in North Carolina, with a 225-mile finish.  That's good enough for third in the upright division.  I'm on a new race bike that looks fast even if it is hamstrung by having me as the engine.

On the new bike at the Mid-Atlantic 12-24 last weekend.

Marathon minus 6 weeks checklist

1) Buy actual shoes for the race    Check

2) Start to break in shoes for race Check

3) Buy extra gels for race day       Check

4) Check if own both hot and        Check
     cool weather gear for race day

5) Check that spouse is free race
    day to drive you to start             Check (close call, leaving for airport shortly after race ends)

6) Buy extra leukotape                   Check

7) Do 16 mile run per schedule       Tomorrow

8) Decide if fundraising                    Next week

9) Body glide or nip guard               TBD

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some musical memories while running

Guardians of the Galaxy is a profoundly stupid movie with a great sound track.  The sound track also plays a crucial role in the so to speak "plot" since the hero is given a cassette tape from his dying mother in 1988 titled "Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1" just before being whisked away from earth by a band of interstellar thieves.  So for the rest of the movie the hero who now calls himself "Starlord" (but no one else does) listens to some awesome 70s and 80s oldies on a Sony walkman.

On my longer runs I intersperse various podcasts and play lists including now Awesome Mix Tape Vol 1.

But numerous other songs trigger the most random memories.  At one point Chicago's "Make Me Smile" popped up on a shuffle.  Back in the 1970s, an instrumental section of the extended version of the song was used in the intro of Monday Night Football as a battered and snow covered Alex Karas limped off the field.
The Isley Brothers "Hope You Feel Better Love" and the Stablizers "One Simple Thing" conjured up images of actual and hoped for girlfriends in college.  Springsteen, Green Day, and Santana brought back some great concert memories. 

So now I am planning my own awesome playlists and mix tapes for the big run in October mixing classics and trash from the past and present.  I also really like the fund raising tactic that Matt S. used last year where for a $10 or greater contribution to his chosen charity Matt would add a song of the donor's choice to his playlist for the race.  I couldn't help it, I selected "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol.1

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Logged a 15+ miler from Berkeley over the first half of the Oakland Bay Bridge, almost to Yerba Buena Island.  You can't get to the island because the pedestrian path ends, suspended in mid air, about 10 yards from landfall -- a very odd choice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Building Up

So last week I ran 34 miles, 14, 5, and a 15 miler.  This is a somewhat artificially high because I did the 14 miler on a Tuesday instead of the prior weekend.  But the good news is that I am building the mileage and should be able to do the usual 20 miler 3 weeks before the Chicago marathon which is October.  But if the weather or training doesn't cooperate my insurance is an entry for the Naperville (western suburbs) marathon one month later. 

The bad news is that my mileage has been fluctuating wildly with a couple weeks under ten a(weather or an injury) and a couple weeks in the 30s and I am only occasionally running the usual T-W-TH and Sunday pattern.

Good news, no kidney stones and not getting as dehydrated as usual from the long runs (the two are somewhat linked).  Bad news I am carrying at least 5 pounds more than I usually do at this point in the training cycle.

Even better news is I only have do 12 miles this weekend and expect to clock in with high 20s for the week.  So am getting there but somewhat erratically.

On a related note, I am posting most of my running photos and route maps on Instagram.  If you are into that sort of thing, follow me @sweberwaller.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Plyometrics and Citystreets

My forward trend continues (lots of knocking on wood).  After the plyo workout on Friday, Saturday was the last day of Citystreets.  On Saturday morning they've been closing a route from the Brooklyn Bridge, up Centre Street to Lafayette, to Fourth Avenue to Park Avenue South, onto the Park Avenue Overpass, around Grand Central Station, and then up Park Avenue to 72nd St. My legs were pretty sore, so I figured I'd go as far as I could, and then turn back.  Once I got going, my legs felt good, and I managed to log the full route -- another 15 mile long run.  Hooray!!  The pace was pretty good too -- faster than I've been going in months.  That was aided by the periodic waits for cross-town traffic, but don't tell anybody.  I'm glad I got the run out of the way, because yesterday the DOMS from Friday's plyo ate my quads.    No injury, but I was not happy going down stairs.  Today is much better, and tomorrow I'll be ready of another run.

Friday, August 15, 2014


A few weeks ago, my friends at SBRC sent around an email to see if there was any interest in a once a week core and plyometrics class in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  A few years ago I made a twice a week core class part of my routine and it made a huge difference in my mechanics.  I stopped when tri training substituted swimming for situps.   Mostly that's been a good thing, but I have been wondering if some of my recent issues could be remedied with core work.  So, I expressed interest.  I did this without doing any research into the meaning of the other word in the class title -- "plyometrics."  It sounded like pliable, so I assumed it meant stretching.  Stretching is good too. Oops! I was wrong.   Plyometrics is another word for  "jump training."  It involves jumping onto things, jumping off of things, jumping up and down, sprinting, skipping, running with high knees, doing grapevine steps, lunging, and jumping some more.  OOOOPPPPPPHHHH!!  It was a beautiful morning, and I didn't get hurt, so we'll see over the next few days whether this is a good addition to the workout.  I did a few miles afterwards, and it seemed to to have smoothed out my form a bit.  I think it is good for opening up the hips and getting the glutes to fire.  I certainly looked silly enough doing it.  :-)  Do any of you have experience with this?? did it help?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Payday Lending and Speed Work

Okay, the two aren't really related.  Did 6x400 this morning.  It hurt, I was slow, but glad I did it.

Then I read the paper, and saw that the New York AG is charging pay day lenders with usury.  This is great news for a bunch of reasons. First, because it will add some immediacy when I teach about payday lending and consumer financial protection in the Fall.  Second, the article does a nice job of showing how fringe lenders can structure themselves to place their operations largely outside the reach of state regulators.

I find payday loans to be very interesting.  They are simple, transparent and clearly abusive.  What does it tell us about consumers that they are willing to use them (given that they must have both a job and a bank account)?  What does it tell us about state legislatures (other than New York) that  have expressly lifted their usury caps to allow legal pay day lending, auto pawns and other scary lending practices?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fitness Data, Data Privacy and Consumer Protection

We have discussed the wonders of personal fitness data on this blog before.  I was just joking yesterday, during my run, that if the run was not recorded it didn't happen. . . Indeed, the intersection between fitness data and social media is now almost pervasive -- see, I ran yesterday!! Really, I did.  Here's the photo, complete with route!  There's a lot you can figure out from this photo, though I won't give a list. Perhaps the most insidious was that Nike+ added its own hashtag when I shared it.

This is all childs' play compared to the information that's available from my Garmin, and apparently a fitbit generates even more.  There are now sites that allow you to combine the data from all of your devices and link Strava to Garmin to Nike.  We data junkies just gather and link and gather and link without really thinking about the privacy implications of all of this.  Do I really want Garmin knowing my maximum heart rate??

Chuck Schumer has apparently taken this on as an issue, arguing that the data utilities ought to offer an opt out from data collection.  This seems sensible to me, though, of course, the tradeoff will be that we'll have to pay for our data fix.  I can live with that.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The run-der down under

Couldn't post while in New Zealand because Google thoughtfully blocked me from signing in from an address outside the US, reading it as a security violation.

But while there, I had two runs I wanted to mention.  30 hours and 3 connections brings you to Wellington, the coolest little capital in the world.  200,000 people and truly the windy city putting Chicago to shame.  65 mph winds and torrential rains (just like when I was there 19 years ago).  The one day that was less windy and no rain was fine for a run before I appeared for my lunch talk at the New Zealand Commerce Commission.  This was my first run after my trip and fall on the streets of the Chicago leavened with stiffness from my day plus of traveling.  So I took it easy for a 4 miler along the Wellington harbor.  Passed the Museum of New Zealand, some restaurants, a theater complex, a play ground some tourist plaques and a cool statue of a guy appearing to dive into the water.  I turned around at the road that led up into the hills of Roseneath neighborhood where I had dined with the chair of the Commerce Commission the night before. Less windy for this purpose means only 25 mile gusts.

The rest of the time in Wellington was work with talks at the Commerce Commission and keynoting the annual Competition Law and Policy Institute.  Smart sophisticated people knowledgeable about both their own systems plus ours (and others).  2 day annual conference focusing on competition law and policy with some excellent presentations on consumer protection, trade and competition, and a reflection of the 25 years that the Institute has been meeting.

Play time meant a one hour flight the next day to Queenstown.  Much middle earth kitsch at the Wellington airport including a giant Gollem and a large Gandalf on a very large eagle.  Queenstown is where the rest of New Zealanders go to play.  Kind of a Kiwi Vail.  Nice downtown, good restaurants, some upscale shopping and every outdoor activity you can imagine.  weather is sunny and 45.  After check in and lunch in town, I change into my cool weather running gear and head out for the 13 miler that my clumsiness interrupted back in Chicago.

Head through hills down to the long lake (as in the Long Lake in the Hobbit movie) through a nice public garden.  There is a running path going left but not right so I go left.  Its the Queenstown that heads out along the lake to the airport in Frankton and then a right turn following the water to a two way one lane bridge and a path that appears to continue roughly forever.  I turned around at the far end of the bridge at the edge of the Hilton resort and reversed course getting lost in the public garden in town and ending up back in town rather than on the street to my hotel.  A cold drink later and a walk up the hill and I was back for a nap, a nice dinner in town, and the next day skiing at a place aptly named The Remarkeables.

Here are some pictures roughly in the order I ran.  Not sure why they are sidewise. Better ones are on Instagram properly aligned.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cape Cod

It is thundering  outside, so I'm feeling good about my choice to run this morning and hunker down with a Carl Hiaasen book this afternoon.  We're in Wellfleet for the week, and it has been a good week for outdoor exercise.  I managed a 12 miler (with 3 of it on the beach) on Sunday, a 40 mile bike ride to Provincetown (replete with Jewish wedding), a family bike ride and kayak yesterday, and a 7 miler largely in sand this morning.   I haven't been pushing the pace on any of this, keeping my heart rate at 70-75% and focusing on form.  The good news is that nothing hurts.  Okay, that's really good news!!! I'm a bit behind schedule on my marathon training plan.  Usually, I'd have a 15 miler or two under my belt by now, but I'm feeling more optimistic about my ability to ramp up the distance than I have in months. . .

Friday, August 1, 2014

New York's Ever Changing Running Landscape

I've been running in Brooklyn and Manhattan for almost 16 years now.  I was surprised, when I arrived, to find that it was a great place to run.  When I started, I had two runs: over the Brooklyn Bridge to South Street Seaport and back, and over the Brooklyn Bridge, across to the West Side, around Battery Park and back.  Later, I added in the Prospect Park Loop, and a long run over the Williamsburg Bridge.  That was pretty much the routine for a long time.  After a few years work on the Manhattan Bridge was completed,  that got added in as a two bridge loop.  The Battery Park route was a casualty of 9-11 for a while, but these were the routes for a decade.  Then all sorts of things started to happen: (1) Hudson River Park made running up the West Side a pleasure; (2) Brooklyn Bridge Park continues to evolve and change; and (3) even Ikea made a contribution by landscaping a park behind the store with great views and industrial grit.

Today, something even more fundamental happened -- Prospect Park changed.  For the last few years the bottom of the Park has been a construction site.  Where the skating rink used to be, there were barriers promising a future wonderland to be known as Lakeside.  I've gotten a few glimpses, here and there, but this morning, a rerouting of the pedestrian path forced me to face the new world.  The lake in Prospect Park has always been a nice natural feature, but access was reserved to walkers on the nature paths.  Now there is a network of intersecting walkways, terraces, and fountains (not operating yet) that are really quite impressive and make use of the natural features as well.  Even the waterfowl seemed happy.