Monday, October 12

Race report, Chicago Marathon 2009

Poor Steph had to put up with my tossing and turning the night before. I set the bedside clock for 4:30 am to eat breakfast, but I didn't need the alarm. I got out of bed at 4:15. Steph got up with me.

I left home at 5:30 am and drove to the Howard St. L, but without traffic I got there 15 minutes before my train's departure. I sat in my car with my blue sweatshirt, blue hat and black gloves, and waited for the 6:00 am red line train. I kept thinking someone was going to mistake me for a burglar.

Fortunately, when I got on the train, I was the only person in my compartment. I could obsess and worry in privacy. At the next stop, however, an older women got on and for some reason sat directly across from me. We were eye to eye on a completely empty train compartment. I wanted to move, but I didn't want to be rude. It took my mind off of my worries.

As we got closer to the loop, the train filled with runners, and their friends and family. I got off at the Jackson St. exit. It was already 6:45, the time my friend Charlie Parekh and I had planned to meet up. As I started off to our meet up spot, I was perplexed by the fact that everyone was walking away from the Lake (the direction of the start line). After 2-3 minutes, I figured out I was walking in the wrong direction! I righted myself and walked briskly to the N.E. corner of Van Buren and Michigan Ave. Charlie was waiting for me. We started walking to the open corral, where we'd begin the race.

The corral is organized by runners' anticipated pace, e.g., 7 minute milers lined up in front of 8 minute milers, who lined up in front of 9 minute milers, etc. We entered the corral at the 12 minute section and waded our way up to the 9 minute milers. We made it only as far as the 10 minute milers, and it became too crowded to go further. Ok, so the race has not even started, and I'm already screwed. I’ll have to fight my way through the thousands of people in front of me and around me in order to get into my pace group. Charlie insisted we were fine. He was right. While we waited, Charlie showed me how to set my watch to track my pace during the race.

The race started at 7:30 am and I crossed the start line 7 minutes and 40 seconds later. I finished my first mile in 9:19. At this pace, I'd never finish in under 4 hrs! Charlie didn’t seem worried, but said he'd follow me if wanted to pick it up. I started ducking and weaving, and in the process lost Charlie. I passed the 3 mile marker in 27:10, and reached the 6 mile marker in 54:10. At this point, I was still slightly off pace but I felt much better. The crowd had dissipated slightly, I was running through Lincoln Park , and the sun was shining.

Just prior to the 6 mile marker, I relieved myself at the aid station port-o-john and took my first drink. From here on out I would force myself to take a shot of gatoraide at each aid station. In hindsight, this was a good decision. In my training runs I was ad hoc in hydrating and I think this may have been in part why my long runs were such a chore. With aid stations every 2 or so miles, it was easy to hydrate consistently through out the race.

Upon reaching Boys Town , I ran back into Charlie. I ran with him for about a half mile, and then behind him for another half mile before I lost him entirely. This was around mile 8, and by this point I was comfortable with my pace, and happy to run on my own from here on out.

At mile 10, I had planned to take my first gel, but I felt good and decided to hold off. If I waited another couple miles, then I could skip the free Powerbar gel at mile 18 (which I'd never tried before) and rely on my three GUs. I stopped at the 12.5 mile aid station and took my first gel with a couple shots of water. At this point, my ankles were sore but my knees felt fine. I discarded my gloves and shoved my hat in my pocket for possible future use. Less than a mile later, at the halfway point, I put my hat back on and wished that I'd not discarded my gloves. I'd not run with a hat before, but my bald head was happy to be covered.

Miles 14 through 19 were mentally the hardest part of the race. The crowd was thin (and pretty much non-existent by the United Center), my knees started getting sore, it was too early to contemplate the finish line, and my left leg felt like it might be cramping.

As planned, I stopped for my second gel just after the 17 mile mark. At the aid station I received a very kind and much needed pat on the back from an elderly couple. From here on out, my left leg remained sore but (thank goodness!) it didn't cramp.

Next up were Pilsen and Chinatown , the two most memorable neighborhoods of my journey. Pilsen is a largely Hispanic neighborhood. The crowd was thick and the bars were blaring salsa music. I passed the 20 mile mark in under 3 hours. I was exhausted, but at least could finally start thinking about the finish line and (god forbid) getting there in under 4 hours.

The crowd in Chinatown was even more packed and even more raucous than in Pilsen. Some guy informed me he had just the cure for me, and then started ringing his cowbell. Very funny.

After leaving Chinatown, at around mile 22 I stopped at an aid station and downed my final gel. I was on track for a sub-4 hour finish, but I had slowed down during the last mile. I was anxious to get to the mile 23 marker to check my pace, but when we reached what I though was mile 23, I could not find the marker. My watch says 3:31, and still no mile 23?! However, a short while later I heard someone yell “just 2.2 more miles, you’re almost there!” Like hell I’m “almost there.” But I am at mile 24 and my watch says 3:38. This was the moment I realized I was going to finish in less than 4 hours. I picked up my pace just slightly, but it felt like I was flying. I was blowing by folks, and I felt good.

I kept looking on the horizon for Roosevelt (the street where you make the final right hand turn before the finish line). At the point I spotted Roosevelt, I heard someone yelling from behind me “David … hey Dad!” I turned back to see Sam, then Oliver, and then finally Stephanie. I ran back to get a hug from the boys and a kiss from Steph. I remember telling Steph “I am going to do it after all!” and Steph telling me to get back in the race. And I was back at it for the turn up Roosevelt, and then the final climactic left-hand turn onto Columbus Drive. When I spotted the finish line, I shed a tear.

Moments later I crossed the finish line in 10,244th place, and with a time of 3:56:51.

Sunday, January 18

48 hours and counting

The Economist sums up the highs and lows of the Bush admin. Mostly lows. Its a long article but worth reading. Excerpt from the conclusion:
Finally, Mr Bush also demonstrated the limits of capitalist triumphalism. The Bush administration was as business-friendly as any in American history: Mr Bush was the first president with an MBA (from Harvard) and he appointed four CEOs to his cabinet, more than any previous president. The administration was also wedded to the fundamental tenets of Reaganomics: cut taxes and free the supply side and everything else will take care of itself. Mr Cheney even argued explicitly that “Reagan taught us that deficits don’t matter.”

Mr Bush now leaves behind a tax system in some ways less efficient than the one he inherited, in need of annual patches, and unable to fund the government even in good times. He also leaves behind a broken budget process. Any economic triumphalism is long gone. Many of the CEOs, most notably Donald Rumsfeld and Paul O’Neill, proved to be dismal administrators. Reaganomics helped to produce a giant deficit. The financial crisis has made re-regulation rather than deregulation the mantra in Washington, while government has acquired a much bigger role in the economy through its backing of banks and car companies.

Thursday, December 18

The Year in Pics 2008

A collection of notable picture from 2008 (part 1 of 3) from "The Big Picture," a Boston Globe-sponsored photo blog. The content, size, and clarity of the pictures make for an amazing collection.

(via Kottke)

Update: Part 2 of 3

Tuesday, December 9

Michigan 81, Duke 73

The Chicago Cubs fan in me refuses to get too excited about this win (their second BIG win of the season). But man o man, I sure would have loved to have been at this game!

Btw, my dad and I took the boys to their first Michigan basketball game over Thanksgiving break. These are important milestones. I remember my first UM b-ball game like it was yesterday. It was the final game of the regular season of Johnny Orr's first year as head coach.

Monday, October 27

At the pumpkin patch

From Oct 2008

Thursday, October 23

Sweet home Chicago

Some miscellany on Chicago.

This could be fun...Election Night In Grant Park--Construction Begins:
Election Day is less than two weeks away, and Chicago could be home to the biggest political party in the country. Construction is underway for a massive stage in Grant Park where Barack Obama could declare victory on election night.

...[T]ens of thousands are expected to gather before the stage on election night. One way or another, that huge crowd will witness history.
In a recent interview, John Hodgman explains why he was inspired to write the chapter “Four Dubious Fables Of Chicago” in his new book The Areas Of My Expertise:
I live in New York City, but all around me are people talking all the time about Chicago. Some of these people even claim to have lived there, and I feel terrible for them. It was actually inspired by a raft of exiles who arrived in New York City not long after I did. They were clearly happy to be here, but all they could talk about was how great Chicago was, how affordable—until it started getting gentrified, and now it’s all shit, and so they had to move to New York. Talk about your age-old stories, like the hipster diaspora of people who leave one place because it got gentrified and turned to shit—how you used to be able to get a thousand whiskies for a cent, and all the bands were awesome, and people were nicer.

The arrest of retired Chicago police Chief Jon Burge has received a lot ink in the local press. He has been charged in a police brutality scandal that contributed to the emptying of Illinois’ death row and, according to the NY Times, "continues to resonate as one of the most racially charged chapters in the city’s history."

And an aerial view of Chicagoland. If you follow the Chicago river north, Skokie is somewhere up there towards the top, to the west of the river. Evanston is to the east...(click on the image to see the much larger original)

Tuesday, October 21

Academic Salaries