Thursday, June 29, 2006

Kiss My Shiny Metal A$$

Yes folks, the rumors have been confirmed! After a brief sabbatical, Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth, Captain Turanga Leela, Philip J. Fry and that lovable robot whom today's title is attributed to, Bender Bending Rodriguez, assembled in America's Heartland (Mexico), will all return for new episodes on Comedy Central beginning in 2008. Bender, I want you to know that in your absence, you were indeed missed and remembered. And for everyone "out there," if you haven't watched this fantastic program, you should start.

Also, thanks to everyone who sent the articles on air-conditioning causing weight gain. This validates that I'm not crazy. For the record, there are a couple key differences between my theory and that in the articles. Here's the quote from ABC:

Modern technologies — such as air conditioning and heating — help keep us in "the thermoneutral zone," a temperature range where we do not have to regulate our body temperature, a report suggests.

When our bodies are above or below this zone, we increase the amount of energy we spend, which "decreases energy stores," such as fat, the study's authors say.
Translation: sweating and shivering burn more calories than being in climate-controlled comfort. The weight change is presented by the article as something of a fait accompli, i.e., get climate control means you'll get fat. That, my friends, is a bogus theory because weight gain is not so fatalistically related to single causes. If you recall, I argued that the AC made it easier to eat more and work out less. No one could seriously argue that the AC has more influence on weight than diet and exercise.

As far as today's run goes, it was a 9.4 mile loop through Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Park and then through Manhattan to the Williamsburg Bridge and home through McCarren Park. At 72:30, it was about a 7:45 pace. On the downside, this seemed much, much harder than the pace reflects. I only managed about 5 hours of sleep last night, which translated to tired legs. Also, the humidity here is about 88% this morning. So, effort-wise, this was a difficult day. On the plus side, I'm trail running this weekend. No matter the weather, it's always cooler in the woods!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

First Day!

There's something in the air on the first day of marathon training, even if it is cloudy and oppressively humid. You can get your shoes, you can do your base-building, but that's just like getting pencils and pens and Trapper-Keepers to get ready for school, it's all just anticipation. The first day has excitement and possibility that will last, well, until the tedium sets in around the time of mid-term exams.

For those of you that aren't regular readers (which would be all of you), the purpose of this blog is for me to have some laughs while trying to qualify for Boston at the Marine Corp Marathon on October 29. The tenative goal is to hit about 3:05 for the race, beat all but about 250 people in the field, and then have a grand time in Hopkinton, Mass. in April. But Today! Today is the official start to training. We are 18 weeks away.

Today's workout was a 5 mile run across the Williamsburg Bridge with an add-on trip to the McCarren Park (yes, that's the park that Francie always takes the baby to at the end of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn) track for ten stride-outs, for at total of 7 miles in 52:05 (7:26 pace). This was followed by stretching, scorpion-kicks, push-ups, etc. Great run, aside from my knee still being a little tender from my fall last week.

On the way back across the Williamsburg Bridge, I passed an Orthodox Jewish man, which isn't at all unusual in Williamsburg. This particluar fellow was an older gentleman, with a prolific, bushy white beard and similar hair. He was wearing dark, aviator sunglasses and the black yamaka and trousers and long-sleeve, white button-up shirt that it seems most of the Williamsburg Orthodox Jewish men wear. So, seeing this guy wouldn't have even given me pause, but for the facts that he was also wearing an IPod and SPRINTING down the Bridge! I felt so bad for the guy, but, I have to admit, was definitely impressed. I mean, I was out in a tank and shorty-shorts and I was sweltering in the humidity. He's out in long-sleeves, pants and a beard and is jogging along like it's nothing. He was good to see the first day of training. If he can get out and exercise in full regalia, then I should have no excuses for those 20 mile runs in August. It's good to be inspired!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

New Shoes!

I love my new shoes! I went for what I call my BMW Run today, that's Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg for the three bridges I run over. It's about 10.25M and today took 79:10 to finish (7:43 min/mile). For those interested in this sort of thing, that brings the weekly total to 30.1 miles. Anyway, I wore the new Glycerins out on the run and they seem to be working much, much better than my old Adrenalines did. I feel more like my foot's hitting flush with the ground and, because of the lower heel and more padding forefoot, they work much better with my forefoot strike. I'm so glad that this looks like it's going to work out since marathon training officially kicks off TOMORROW! Marine Corp Marathon here I come!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Soggy Mermaids

So, I'd planned to go with some friends to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade today, but the horrendous weather derailed those plans. For those of you who aren't familiar with this event, it taps into the wackiness of Coney Island's past while at the same time creating a great opportunity for women to walk around scantily clad. Here's some photos from previous years. I'm pretty bummed to have missed it.

But, the good news for the rainy day is that it gave me a chance to finish reading Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. What can I say about this fantastic read that explores the depths of identity, ego and the meaning of consciousness? I guess I could start by telling you that you will spend half the book wondering what the hell is going on. The narrative is broken into two plot-lines, the hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world. The stories of the two plotlines are told in alternating chapters and Murakami weaves the story with such skill that it is only when he tells you how they're connected that you'll figure it out. Sorry. You know how often with dual narrative stories, you can find the weaving, find the bridges? Murakami gives no bridges. He doesn't care what you think the connection is, he's just going to tell you what he thinks it is! Frankly, at this point, I still don't really know how the narratives intertwine. After finishing the book, I'm left with more questions than answers. (Which I won't put on the web because I'm pretty sure I couldn't put up a question without spoiling the plot.) But that's the great thing about this work and precisely why you should read it. That and the fun of catching the overflow of literary and pop-culture references -- far too wide-ranging a reference base for me to follow completely. Well, with the obvious exception of the trip down the rabbit hole following the pink rabbit!

For those of you who are picky, here's some things you may not like. The book was written in 1985 (which accounts for, say, everyone using cassette tapes) and is set in the near future. It's got that sort of Japanese cyberpunk feel that often defines anime. It is also a very, very postmodern read. And the Professor's "sound research" screams of junk science in the same way that many of the "inventions" in Atlas Shrugged did. Despite these "flaws", I personally think if you're a cyberpunk/sci-fi snob, you should put that aside and read The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World anyway. I simply can't recommend it strongly enough. That is, unless you haven't read Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, in which case you should not be on the web, but at your local bookstore buying it instead!

I bought new shoes yesterday, Brooks' Glycerin IV. Took a 6.25 mile (47:00) treadmill run this morning to test them out. There's going to have to be an adjustment period because the feel's very different from my old shoes (Brooks' Adrenaline 6). However, I think these will work better for me. Jury's out, I'll keep you updated. And, two days until marathon training officially starts.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Short post today. I have some thoughts, but don't really have the time to put them down right now. I've been on a lull on the job for the last few weeks, but several things have flared at once, cutting severely into my 'free' time. It's good to be busy, but I've have been intrigued over the last few days by the similarity between the words "Lull" and "hell". They just sort of look similar, don't they? Like siblings, but where one is easygoing and the other's a raging Type-A? Just a thought.

Still in my last week before marathon training starts. Did an easy hour run this morning (well, 64:50) that took me across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan, down to the East River Park and they up along the water to Stuyvesant Cove. Totalling about 8.6 miles. Felt pretty good except for where I'd banged my knee on my desk last week when I fell off while fooling with the AC vent (finally figured out how to shut it off! Yeah! Now I can take off my jacket in the office.). I guess the good feeling translated into a strong pace because 7:30/mile was a little faster than I'd targeted for "easy" runs. After the run, I met "Herbie," who teaches at the school around the corner from my apartment. I was wearing my club gear and he comes running up behind yelling, "I didn't know we had FLYERS in Brooklyn. Where you run? We got bridges and parks -- all kinds of places." No kidding? Bridges? Seemed like a nice guy.

Incidentally, apparently the Flyers website now has an rss feed for updates. If you don't rss, it's pretty hot. Rather than trolling through the Times, CNN, BBC, Slate,, ESPN, et cetera and so on and so forth for your news, you get a reader that aggregates all the headlines from your chosen sites in one spot. I'm testing the RssOwl reader now.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


So, this week is my last week "off" before the real marathon training starts next week. Did a nice, easy 5 miles in about 38 minutes this morning. You know it's summer though, because it was already hot at 6 a.m. and it was really hot by the time I was doing my cool down at 7. I really don't want to have to get up even earlier, but the heat may dictate it. Bummer.

I was thinking about the heat and food yesterday, which led me to a theory. I'm going to share it: Air-conditioning facilitates overeating. Here's the logical process that led there. Conventional wisdom says that the so-called obesity epidemic is a recent phenomenon and people like to blame it on soda and fast food. But McDonald's has been around since the 50's and Coke's much older. And other fast-food pre-dated McDonalds. I'd like to propose that the obesity epidemic is caused by air-conditioning. That's right; sounds wacky, doesn't it?

Think about it though. Air conditioning didn't really become national in scope until the 70s, which is when I believe most of the "experts" put the beginning of the so-called obesity epidemic. So, the timing's right. Also, think about the way AC affects how you eat. You're on your way home from work. You stand in the inferno of any 4-5-6 station (Why are these stations so much hotter than the stations of any other line?). You get off the train, walk a couple blocks home. It's 90 degrees out; you can actually see heat waves radiating up off Lexington Avenue. You climb the steps to your third floor walkup. Do you immediately go for the fridge? NO! You go for the water. In fact, for 30-60 minutes after you get home, the very thought of food makes you ill. (Or, if you have AC, at least until you cool off, the thought of food makes you ill.) So, my theory is that prior to AC, we simply ate less in the summer. This led to a lower average weight because cutting calories for a few months every single year over the course of a lifetime adds up to a lot less average weight. For you crazy liberals, from an evolutionary biologic perspective, the idea is that cool air triggers our survival instincts for winter and makes us able and desirous to eat more. The plethora of AC units leads to more cool air, which therefore leads to more eating.

At the same time, AC makes you less active. I remember being a kid and spending time at a friend's house. They didn't have AC. We never spent much time indoors there. It was simply too hot. Air flow and breezes that you got outdoors just don't happen as much indoors. We could have stayed in and played video games (indeed there were some days that we did) but for the most time, it was simply too stuffy to be inside. Of course, while outside, we ran around and played ball, tag and other kid games. It was fantastic. And we all had great tans!

So, that's my theory, AC allows you to eat more and let's you spend more time sedentary indoors. Thus, AC leads to fatness. (I don't mean to imply that a fatalistic causation here. Of course, you can choose to eat a lot or a little regardless of the AC. I'm just saying AC facilitates eating more.) We used to talk about losing the "winter fat." With AC it's always cool; so, fat's no longer tied to seasons, it just is.

I've titled this post Freakonmics in honor of the book that advocates looking at the world in a different way. Of course, the authors of that book would set up an experiment to test this theory before putting it up on the web. I don't have the skill-set to run an experiment, so I'm posting the theory for someone else with the skills to run the experiment. However, I do have a proposed experiment that some grad student could run with: In New York City many, many apartments either lack AC all together or have only semi-effective window units. Many newer units have full central AC. This mix isn't necessary strongly correlated to income levels, especially in Manhattan where the average residential unit now sales for over $1000/Square foot and the most important determinates of cost are size and location. One could control through regression analysis for income, etc, while teasing out the correlation (if there is one) between AC and weight through analysis of Manhattan data, I would guess. If anyone performs this, please let me know how it turns out!

So, even if this theory is correct, do I expect people to give up AC? Absolutely not!

  1. AC makes us more comfortable than being hot. And in the US we are all about comfort, are we not?
  2. We control our AC. Although we control how much soda we drink, we don't control what's in it. Same with fast-food. Easier to blame something controlled by someone else.
  3. With soda or fast-food we get to blame a big company. Never mind that a big company is just a legal fiction for the employees who make it up. We feel better blaming impersonal Coca-Cola than interalizing blame for our own poor decisions.
  4. Cutting the AC, just like cutting fat, requires self-discipline and self-control; again, this is America. We'd be much more likely to cut fat-intake (HA!) or exercise more (Double HA!) than cut AC usage.

That's pretty much the theory, AC facilitates fat. Someone other than I will have to evaluate it's validity, but consider it something to think about the next time you walk into a climate controlled resaurant and must have an appetiser because it's cooler inside and you're suddenly sooooooooo much hungrier. (Hmmm... I used to work and an Olive Garden in the Southeast, and the termostat was always set to cold. Coincidence?)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day 5 Miler Race Report

So, I missed my sub-31 goal, but given the heat still finished in a solid 31:48. The forecast for today was 93 with a heat index over 100 and it was indeed a scorcher. However, the opening to the race, in the shade of West Drive in Central Park made the pre-race standing seem deceptively cool. After the Prostate people spoke. And Mary Wittenberg spoke. And the ESPN radio people spoke. And the ABC people spoke. And the race director spoke, we finially managed to get underway. I really think that the talking before these races has gotten longer, at least in Central Park. Seems to have been much shorter at the Brooklyn Half, even with the Borough Prez's speech.

So, at the 10K a few weeks ago I lined up (mostly) honestly and as punishment ran the first mile of a race where I'd average a 6:25 pace at 7:40. This time, I lined up with the 5mm crowd just back of the "elite" runners. This would have worked fantastically, but for the heat. I went round the first turn of the 72nd Street Transverse at near race-pace. We had screaming race marshalls yelling at us to stay in the rec lane. Ridiculous, since this was the early crowd and the bulk of participants weren't even comoing through yet. These races may have gotten too big for Central Park. I suggest running a men's and women's field for most future races because the crowds have outstripped the roads.

Anyway, I went through the first mile in 6:10 and caught Assistant Coach Joe Yates. Fantastic: I was right on pace. Not fantastic: thanks to the heat, I felt like I'd been running 30s/mile ahead of pace. Plus, the heat had struck through ambush due to the deceptively cool waiting during the talking before the start. Now it was out for interest! Time to dial it back. Let me say something here about running in Central Park. Central Park's all bucolic, it's where everyone wants to go when they visit the City. It is a difficult place to run. Although the roads are wide and (at least on the weekends) free of traffic, the park's very, very hilly. Honestly, the courses through the Park undulate like a belly dancer's hips. Today's course was one of the flattest -- "A PR course" as Terry Baker put it on Thursday. Let's just say I felt every minute of this "PR" when climbing those hills on the back side. I never ran a race course in DC as difficult any given race in Central Park, and that includes today's "easy" route. That, of course, is part of the reason the Marine Corp Marathon is my target for a BQ in the fall -- after racing Central Park for 9 months, the MCM course will seem easy!

Speaking of Terry, I caught him at about 2.5-3 miles. Went through 3 at about 19 minutes, and then Coach Joe caught me. Joe looked like he was flying and I really thought he was going to sprint past, but we locked in step and fortunately for me, then started a downhill, where I could both run fast and catch my breath. I pulled a few steps in front and maintained that through the end, with the "Faster so Coach Joe doesn't catch you. Faster so Coach Joe doesn't catch you" mantra repeating in my mind. Through the end I was convinced Joe was two steps behind, which led to a very solid last two miles.

I knew from the start that sub-31 would be very difficult in the heat and by mile one knew it was out of the question. So, I was very pleased when I managed the end at 31:48, just 9s/mile off the pace. One a legitimate running day (i.e. 50 degrees or so), that time would be made up no problem. Furthermore, I'm very happy to report that the McMillan Running Calculator translates that 5 mile time to an equally trained marathon time of 3:07, almost a 4 minute Boston Qualifying cushion. And in the heat, no less. Hopefully that means I'm golden for the upcoming training cycle.

By the way, Coach Joe, who I was convinced was right on my heels for the last 2 miles, came in 10s after I crossed the line. I thanked him because I wouldn't had done so well if I hadn't been trying to outrun him. He told me that if it hadn't been so hot, he'd have nailed me! Ha! Fantastic. If it hadn't been so hot, I'd have been across the finish a minute sooner. (Just to be fair, Joe is 20 years older than I am; so he'd still have outraced me even if I'd won by a two minutes.)

At the end a group of about 15 Flyers met up to chat about the race, bitch about the weather and stand in the spray from the open fire hose. That was heavenly; I wish there'd been a couple more fire hoses in the middle of the course.

Well, this is the end of the spring season. . . I'll have the spring recap in a day or two. Taking this week easy on the running (15-20ish miles) before the first week of marathon training. However, it looks good for the BQ shot based on the spring season.

PS: Congrats to Lloyd Hoo, who won 2 tixs to the Jets at the post-race raffle. I really hope photos of your celebration dace when you claimed the tixs make it onto the web. (If they do, this post'll be updated to include a link.) Have a great time at the game!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Yum. Saturday.

Today's title's in honor of Bernard Mickey Wrangle, "The Woodpecker" from Tom Robbin's Still Life with Woodpecker, which I just finished reading last week. The Woodpecker says there are only two mantras, "Yum" and "Yuck." Sometimes, most often when a spaceship flies overhead or he's dropped lit dynamite, he's been known to expand the list to three mantras by including "Yikes!" Fantastic book which will tell you the meaning of the moon and how to make love stay. Here's recommending anything by TR.

So, tomorrow is Father's Day, which I'll celebrate with a Central Park 5 miler in 90 Degree heat that caps off my spring racing season. Whew! Hoping for sub-31, if the heat doesn't derail that attempt. A week off to recharge, and then on to marathon training.

I was out with the Club last night for drinks at the 79th Street Boat Basin, a fantastic venue under(??) the Westside Highway on the Hudson River. (Picture Above) At the Boat Basin it's always a Memorial Day Cookout. OK, received wisdom: runners are healthy folk, right? Fuggidabutit! Twice I've been out with these guys for happy hours and twice they've closed the place down. And, that sub-31 tomorrow shouldn't be a problem because at the Happy Hour I learned that I'm "fast". At least, that's what one club member announced to everybody when I met them. "This is Jon. He's fast." I don't really think so, which I said. So, now I'm fast and modest! Don't think that's right either; modesty is not my problem. I was in bed until 10 this morning, which meant that I totally missed the pre-hot/humidity for my day-before-race jog. The extra sleep was good though. (As was the jog, about 3.5m, although already hot)

My Wisconsin friend is buying a wood-burning hot tub. I honestly don't get it. My grandmother had a "wood-burning hot tub," which is to say a metal tub that would get hot if you put burning wood under it! It was an ovoid about 3.5 feet long and made of a very thin blue-ish tinted metal, tin I think. She used it to wash the dog. That's when it became a "hot-tub." Also, it was handy during the fall to shuck corn (Yep, a NYC based blog just used the phrase "to shuck corn!"). However, my friend's purchase sounds more like the normal hot tub, just with no electricity. Seems to me like a lot of work to get your relaxation on. Especially, after a XC ski trip. I'd think you'd want to get out of the cold wet and into the hot relaxation instead of having to stoke a fire! Maybe I'm just pampered. . .

I learned from some of the other Flyers that I'd gotten a shout-out in the club newsletter for volunteering at the NYRRC's Mother's Day Half Marathon in Central Park a few weeks ago. Since the newsletter is a password protected .pdf (honestly, password protected? We aren't NASA.) I've lifted the text for your enjoyment.

As I reached mile four John Ward was chanting out times and calling my name, even before I had the visualand/or mental clarity to focus on my Flyer fans. The encouragement John and company offered me was enough to push me up and over that nasty back hill. Much to my delight, as I passed Engineer’s Gate I again heard my name with a slew of cheers fromPatrick Duffy and brand-new Flyer Jonathon Daugherty. Next on my map were Scott Cohen and Richard Brounstein—with Scott cheering so loudly I almost fell over! All these guys became goals on the second lap. Thanks to all of these and the other Flyer men who volunteered that Sunday morning. Your time and your efforts were greatly appreciated!
Thanks Nicole!

Hopefully, I'll get a good photo out of the race tomorrow that I can link to for the site. (Ahem. If any of my photographer friends stumble across this, consider it a request.) If not, then I promise I'll come up with a different solution.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

First Post

So, I've decided to make a blog! See, I'm planning to run the Boston Marathon next April; problem is that I've got to qualify first. So, you lucky folks have the unique and distinct pleasure of hearing how my training goes -- the up, the downs, the joys, the despairs -- for the next year as I attempt to qualify in DC in October and then race Boston in April. Oh yeah, and there's all that training in the meantime, which is sure to make for some great stories! Plus, for absolutely no charge, I'll throw in other random ramblings for free.

Speaking of other ramblings, for those of you wondering about the blog name, Iphiclus was one of the heros who sailed with Jason on the ship Argos in search of the Golden Fleece. He'd won the footrace in the ancient Games, and was said to be so fast that he could run across the surface of water and not get wet and over the tops of the cornfields without damaging the stalks! A real modern day Flash, that guy. I'm not that fast, so I could be Iphiclus Lentior ("Iphiclus the Slower") if you like, or you can just call me Jack. By the way, the brother of Hercules who cries to his mama while Hercules kills the two snakes sent by Juno to kill them, was a different Iphiclus.

So, I'll do my best not embarass the chosen namesake too badly on this journey. (although I guess the only way to actually measure up would be to run like Khalid Khannouchi .) But, away we go. . .