Friday, June 22, 2007


Oh man, oh man, I'm tired! Today makes four days of running in a row, which I haven't done since December. The schedule compression is caused by tomorrow's travel -- getting to LaGuardia, flying to Nashville, Tennessee, a 2.5 hour drive to my parents' in Kentucky, a normal family whirlwind, and my ten-year high school reunion. Running tomorrow? Ha! I have 15 on tap for Sunday... but, after Saturday, we'll see.

I've been on a small mileage binge over the last month and, as I sit here sipping my Juicy-Juice, I'm kind of glad next week's a cut-back.

Cut-back, huh? The terminology's starting to come back to me and that's good because a week from Monday official training kicks off for this:

Date : Jun 22, 2007 1:38 AM
subject: I'm in! the ING New York City Marathon 2007

Congratulations! You’re one of the lucky ones!

Since I'm going to be in Kentucky for the next week (and my hometown's so rural that broadband/cable/DSL doesn't exist) posting's going to be sporadic.

Y'all have a good'un an' I'll see ya' na-ext week. (I'm practicing.)

Yesterday: 8 miles (Billy-Br. + McCarren Park) in 59:30 (7:26/mile)
Today: 4.15 miles (Pulaski O&B) in 30:15 (7:17/mile)

P.S. We got tickets to see The New Pornographers on July 4!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Strange Panorama

It's a strange place, the East River Bike Path that runs along South Street beneath the FDR. On a spring morning it's a glorious space filled with light from a rising sun that climbs the towers of downtown Brooklyn, across the water, until, reaching a pinnacle, like a bird testing its wings for the first time, it seems to hesitate for just a moment before leaping into the precipice and continuing its ascent with newfound confidence.

Framed by the great stone towers and swooping steel cables of the Brooklyn Bridge to the south and by the gargantuan industrial towers and massive girders of the Manhattan Bridge to the north, two spans a half-mile apart but as vastly different as the worlds which created them, this panorama presents an unparalleled vista for the play of fishermen, yogis, runners, walkers. Even commuters from the ferries who hurry ashore to take their places as cogs in the post-modern assembly lines of the Financial District. And there's also ... but no, they're not present. That's why it's strange on the East River Bike Path that runs along South Street beneath the FDR. Perhaps they've been driven away by the crowds; or maybe they have more fear of a miscast lure than others; perhaps a qualitatively different scene is required for their special aesthetic. Perhaps. But in any case, it remains strange to have a bike path, even beneath the FDR along South Street, with all of this life and not one bicycle.

Today's run was like swimming through the air and with a headwind, that made the out leg like swimming through the air upstream. One would think that the tailwind on the way back would be nice, but since you never notice a tailwind it just seemed hotter.

5 mile Billy Bridge O&B in 38:30 (7:42/mile; splits of 19:50 and 18:40).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hello Summer

So, I ran in the Say No Prostate Cancer 5 miler on Sunday. Less than a mile in, I felt like I was really moving. Maybe even 6:10. At the first mile, the clock read 6:50. I wasn't boxed in; I wasn't stopped by the crowd in any way. This is just an example of what heat and humidity do to me. Some people fade a little in 75% humidity. I fade 40s/mile. I managed to struggle my way to a 32:37, for a 6:30ish average, but some days just aren't your day. Sunday wasn't mine. I've had worse races.

Although the heat and humidity have slammed into New York pretty hard, it's tough to gripe too much. This weekend, I'm heading back to Kentucky for my ten-year high school reunion, and a browse of the forecast shows I get to look forward to the mid-90s. Ah, crappy Kentucky summer weather...95 degrees, 85% humidity, not a breeze to be seen...I can't wait.

The worst part is that, unlike New York, Kentucky does not have nearly enough ice cream parlors, gelatto joints, Italian ice stands, Mr. Softee trucks (or knock-offs), or short, overweight Hispanic dudes with foot-wide razor blades who'll manually shave a three-foot-by-three-foot block of ice for you. And ice cream is one of the best ways to beat the heat, as the FDNY knows.

Photo taken on Graham Avenue, Brooklyn during my 5 miler on Saturday. (More to come.)

Today: 10.33 BS Run in 1:21:58 (7:56/mile)

Week (of June 11) in Review

Tuesday8.6 miles68:40
Wednesday4.4 miles32:57
Thursday13.4 miles
FridayRest-- --
5.2 Miles49:50
Sunday5.0 miles32:37
Total36.6 Miles-- --

Thursday, June 14, 2007

But the Pants!!

Look, I know I promised that I'd switch the topics here back to running and off the legal system, but this story was just too ridiculous to not write about.

A D.C. AdLaw Judge, upset because (he claims) his local drycleaner misplaced his pants and tried to pass off a cheap knock-off pair instead, sued the dry cleaner . . . for $67.3 million!! To put this amount in perspective, 5 acres of oceanfront property with a 10,000 sq. ft. house in Southampton (complete with guest house, pool and tennis courts) would sell for about half that amount! Or you could buy 30 2 bedroom apartments in Manhattan. Or you could buy 1/2 of Newport, Kentucky. According to the Times the "judge" has tried to pass himself off as a private attorney general vindicating the rights of consumers everywhere. He also apparently broke down in tears at one point, moved by the horrible injustice being perpetrated upon him. "You will search the D.C. archives in vain for a case of more egregious or willful conduct," the Times quotes him as saying. Just to give you an idea of how accurate that statement is, the "judge" is representing himself.

In the end, this is really just kind of sad . . . Sad for the "judge" who'll, as my quotation marks indicate, never be taken seriously again. Sad for the cleaners, who have to deal with this nonsense. Sad for the judge's pants, who may never get to actually tell their side of the story. (It is not, however, NOT sad for the court reporters, the judge, her law clerks, anyone who happens to be a courthouse while this trial is being conducted, the Times beat reporter, and me, because it certianly provides a good laugh for anyone not vested in the outcome.)

I moved this week's long run to today to free Sunday for a points race. This makes only the third time that I've broken the 1/2 Mary distance at all this year, which I guess highlights how limited my running's been.

13.4 miles in 1:44:24 (7:47/mile)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bad Day for Bush

Yesterday was a bad day for Bush.

His immigration bill has stalled.

His watch was stolen.

But I'm most interested three-judge panel in the Fourth Circuit's rejection of the Government's position that a non-combatant resident alien, apprehended on American soil, could be held indefinitely as an "enemy combatant." (By the way, for clarity, let's say what we mean. "Enemy Combatant" is a term of art under the Geneva Convention that means a "solider.") This is a pretty narrow holding: if you are a soldier in, e.g., the Taliban, you could be held even if apprehended in the U.S.; if you are apprehended outside the U.S. you have to still go through Gitmo's separate administrative process to determine if you're a solider. Only if you're not a solider is the military precluded from holding you. And, the panel rejected that the President has power to unilaterally decide that someone is a solider, especially someone who is within the U.S. and to whom the Constitution applies. That's it. My summary of the 86 page opinion. And this would not be that notable an outcome but for the Gov't making some really wacky arguments that the Court then had to address.

My favorite was the argument that the President has inherent power under the Constitution (that means power not in any way tempered by the Courts or Congress) to detain anyone who he believes threatens the country under his war powers. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. As I once heard in law school, "Your position is like the thirteenth chime of a clock, not only is it irrelevant and nonsensical, but it also calls into question the legitimacy of all previous chimes." Or another good response would have been: "Mr. [President], what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul." And, oh, in case there's some confusion, that means WRONG.

Any person within the United States and any citizen anywhere
enjoy Constitutional protections against intrusion of government power. Among those protections: habeas corpus (the right to a petition a court for release from wrongful confinement); civilian primacy over the military; due process of law. The government's whacked out position led to such fantastic sound-bites as “We refuse to recognize a claim to power that would so alter the constitutional foundations of our Republic.” We can all thank god that some of Justice's positions are so insane. Otherwise we wouldn't have the amusement of watching them get struck down quite so hard.

But, leaving aside Bush's power grabs that no court's going to allow, and looking ahead at the narrow heart of the split of opinion between the majority and dissent -- whether Al-Marri was a solider for Al Queda or just some schmuck who associated with them -- it will probably go for a rehearing before the full Fourth Circuit. The decision yesterday was by two Clinton appointees with one Bush II appointee dissenting. The full Fourth Circuit is generally regarded as one of the most conservative in the country, so I'd expect them to lean more towards the dissent. This is by no means the end of this story.

(I promise. Back to running next time.)

June 9: 4.14 miles in 30:36 (7:22/mi)
June 10: 12.6 miles in 1:36:07 (7:38/mi)
June 12: 8.6 miles in 68:40 (7:59/mi)
June 13: 4.4 miles in 32:57 (7:29/mi)

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today's the annual Big Apple Barbeque Block Party in Madison Square Park. I can't wait to sample some ribs in a Memphis dry rub. Oh, the only way this could be better is if I were doing a barbeque-sauce keg stand.

Yesterday, a half dozen attorneys and a bunch of paralegals went for a two-mojito lunch (because martinis are so eighties) to celebrate the inking of a settlement in the case that's been driving me nuts over the last few weeks. I've been basking in the freedom of leaving work after 9 hours for the last couple days.

It's also amazing how much easier it is to get runs in when your work-week's under 50 hours.

Week of May 14: 27.7 miles
Week of May 21: 12.4 miles
Week of May 28: 13.7 miles
Week of June 4: 35 miles (projected)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Run for Me

That’s right. I said what you’re all thinking. I know it’s not the politically correct thing to say, that it’s not a kosher statement, but I don’t care. I’m putting it out there that I run completely and totally for my selfish self. I don’t run for either kids or kidneys. Nor do I run for hearts, lungs, skin, colons or prostates. (I might run for breasts, but that’d totally depend on the context.) I most certainly don’t run for heart disease, multiple schlerosis, down syndrome, diabetes or any form of cancer. I might consider running against them … but probably not. I don’t run for general health, for other people’s obesity, or for the environment. I don’t run for general fitness. And I can say with certainty, I don’t run for you.

About six weeks ago, I was running through China Town, and on a down note in whatever I had blaring on the headphones I heard a Latino voice yelling, “Hey, Gringo! Why you jogging?” My normal reaction to something like that would be unprintable, but as I was basically past the guy by the time the question registered, any response would have involved breaking stride and turning around. Not worth the effort. But, over the next few days, I puzzled over the question, why was I jogging? I scratched at it, prodded it and, then grew tired of it and forgot it. That is, until the pre-race speeches at the Healthy Kidney 10K about three weeks ago.

At the Kidney, between (NYRRC Prez) Mary Wittenberg’s and the United Arab Emirates' representative’s respective speeches, we were all putatively running for healthy kidneys, medical research, general health, kids, against obesity, for religious tolerance, freedom from discrimination, international comity and for world peace. Yes, actual, honest-to-goodness world peace. I only wish I had the creativity to make this stuff up! Despite what you may think about running for a cause or a charity, that's really an awful lot of pressure for a 6 mile footrace. As for me, as those speeches were filling the air, I was realizing that I don’t run for any of the reasons they were giving. That’s right, none of them.

So, why do I run? I’ve spent three weeks thinking about it and have an answer:

I run for the sun rising over the East River. I run for the feeling of working stiffness out of my legs in the morning. I run for the rush of flying past a bicyclist as we’re both climbing the Queensboro Bridge. I run to dodge canine urine. I run for the pain of trying to hit a sub-six pace in the last 400 of a half-marathon and that feeling that you … might … just … vomit after a hard-fought 5K. I run both for the annoyance of being passed by a sprinting guy in chinos at the crest of the Williamsburg Bridge and the feeling of comeuppance for catching and passing him before the bottom. I run for the fear of three more reps and the elation at finishing the last one. I run because otherwise I wouldn’t know where every Starbucks in the City is located, would never have seen Anacostia in D.C., would never have walked in on two homeless guys sharing a bath in a public restroom sink in the East River Park.

I run for the thrill of singing along with The Killers at the top of my lungs as I hit the peak of the Williamsburg Bridge (can't hear my own tone-deafness with headphones, heh). I run because I know what it’s like to be stopped by injury and I run because I know what it’s like to run through one. I run to get through the morning heat that collects on Driggs Avenue to the relative coolness of McCarren Park. I run because when everything in life is insane, there’s structure in the training. I run for the tears when crashing into the wall after months of marathon training, for the frustration of finishing a 10K in 40:02, for the annoyance of a season lost to injury and work. I run for the elation of bursting through old plateaus, the hope of another race in six months and for the knowledge that in this sport, as in no others, hard work does create success. I run to see a deer charge at me in the woods, to see a homeless guy peeing in a trash can on the Brooklyn Bridge, to flip off rude drivers who don’t look both ways when turning right on red. I run to share the celebrations, conversations and dreams of my friends. I run for the splash of the rain, the sting of snow and the warmth of the sun.

I run because my life is richer with this hobby than without it.

There really is only one answer to the question, Why are you jogging? I run for myself. Any other reason would present a pale comparison.