November 30, 2007


What kind of programmers do they employ at weather.com who believe November has 31 days and that we are still on daylight savings time?

Posted by eroberts at 2:47 PM

The standard loop

One of my standard easy run routes in Wellington

One thing that is not discussed as often as it might be amongst runners is the question of making up the run as you go along versus a standard route. It's a question of temperament, environment and running season. The choice between meandering new routes or taking the path previously trodden poses itself most often in this base building phase. Workouts and races are far from one's mind, and there's only so much you can say or think about another 10 steady miles. For me that means exploring, but perhaps not for others of a different temperament.

Slipping between "loop" in the title, and "route" in the sentence reveals temperament—the tolerance for boredom or the craving for variety. My craving for variety is such that I rarely run an out-and-back, much preferring loops. Of course, when you run up and down the banks of a river, even one as wide as the Mississippi, you are close to collapsing the distinction between loops and out-and-backs! I rarely run the same route twice in a row, though cold winter winds sometimes mean that several runs in a row will follow the same direction, often heading north to start. And I gently curse the wind for making me run the same direction as yesterday.

Running the same basic route gives me the comparison to yesterday that I'd rather not have in this phase of training. Personally I care most about the pace for workouts in race season, and that's a couple of days a week a few months of the year. On other days of the week, and at other times of year my need to know the pace varies with my mood. Wind, climate, terrain, non-running stressors, and incremental changes in fitness can add so much "noise" to the "signal" that the relationship between effort and pace is not constant. I prefer to try and focus on how I feel, asking myself are my legs heavy? what kind of fatigue do I feel? if I had the time would I want to go further than scheduled? The start of a run is the noisiest. Warming up quickly is often the sign of a good run, but taking 20 to 40 minutes to warm to the exertion—especially in the Minnesota winter—is not a reliable sign of how well the run is going. Thus I tend to care about the pace-effort relationship later in the run, hitting the known checkpoints where the times means something in the last 10-30 minutes.

When the running seasons shift from base building to racing tempo runs and everything quicker begin to shift to measured courses. In the off season there is a lot of benefit to the mostly unmeasured tempo runs where you focus on the right effort rather than the right pace. Recovery days in the racing season are a different question! Sometimes I don't want to know how slowly I'm going, and I'll shuffle round the parks or trails where I know nothing of the distances. But on other days—I suspect the days I know I'm feeling better—I like to confirm that I'm recovering well and see an acceptable pace for an easy effort despite the hard workout a day or two earlier.

So right now I'm in the mood to mostly meander around. It's been a good year for exploring and running different routes. Living in two cities and traveling a lot gives you that freedom. Even my regular winter runs heading north along the Mississippi river banks are somewhat different with the detour imposed by the I-35W bridge collapse.

Posted by eroberts at 12:52 PM

November 25, 2007

Minneapolis at night

Beautiful clear night with a full moon behind the Prospect Park watertower

While taking this photo of the Minneapolis skyline I didn't notice the prominence of the lights from the university buildings (right foreground) but there they are ... the downtown skyline seems further away than I imagined it to be.

The lamps in Prospect Park and on Tower hill park always remind me of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Posted by eroberts at 11:19 AM

November 22, 2007

I saw Elvis the other day!

This takes the prize for the least useful item ever seen in the Skymall catalog.

Posted by eroberts at 9:40 AM

November 14, 2007

The snow makes me think not

For the New Zealand readers ...

In London they have this magazine called In London aimed at the expat Australian/New Zealander/South African population. In the back they have advertisements for property back home. This was one of the New Zealand ones, it's advertised as Whangarei, but the snow and the mountains in the back suggest it's probably not. My guess is it's Queenstown or Wanaka.

Posted by eroberts at 5:00 AM

November 8, 2007

Bradman still the best

Cricket has lagged behind baseball in generating more sophisticated measures of players contributions to the game that incorporate variance and conditional measures of performance. This research from the University of Queensland is a step in the right direction:

Batsmen in cricket are invariably ranked according to their batting average. Such a ranking suffers from two defects. First, it does not take into account the consistency of scores across innings: a batsman might have a high career average but with low scores interspersed with high scores; another might have a lower average but with much less variation in his scores. Second, it pays no attention to the “value? of the player’s runs to the team: arguably, a century, when the total score is 600, has less value compared to a half-century in an innings total of, say, 200. The purpose of this paper is to suggest new ways of computing batting averages which, by addressing these deficiencies, complement the existing method and present a more complete picture of batsmen’s performance. Based on these “new? averages, the paper offers a “new? ranking of the top 50 batsmen in the history of Test Cricket.


Posted by eroberts at 4:58 PM

November 5, 2007

Typographical errors of the week

You'd hope the Transportation Security Administration would proofread their signs better. At least they're not in the accomodation business too ...

The Minnesota Daily credits Chris Lundstrom with a truly insane, or just really slow, training schedule. (And they spell his name as "Lunsford" in the introduction to the article).

(Images clickable for full sign/article)

Posted by eroberts at 2:17 PM

November 3, 2007

Notes on the U.S. Men's Olympic Marathon Trials

Nothing like watching a marathon for hearing some crazy sports commentary. 2 continuous hours with really not a lot of dramatic moments that require analysis. Just lots of time for commentators to say crazy stuff like the following ... It took a while before I finally got to watch the streaming coverage (thank you letsrun.com posters)

Among the first items of commentary I heard was an explanation of how Dathan Ritzenhein was taking an energy gel because he's had problems with his energy and ran out of energy in a 5000m race in Belgium this year. You can slow down in a 5000m, but it's very, very rarely because you run out of fuel.

Amazingly, they were pronouncing Jason Lehmkuhle's name correctly. The "Jason" didn't surprise me. The "Lehmkuhle" hhas tripped up many.

On Alan Culpepper: "He's not going to get over-caffeinated emotionally" (a few minutes before he dropped out)
They then referred to his wife Shayne being pregnant with her third child, which strangely implied he might not be the father.

Ryan Hall: "He's out of Stanford, so you know he's smart."

"Why on earth would Ryan Hall be looking at his watch?"

Browne and Meb seem to be cutting the kerbs very close ...

Ryan Hall: "He's an oxygen delivery machine."

Dathan: "He has a pug dog and a daughter."

"It amazes me the guys with the best resumes have dropped off the back."

They're referring to the Olympic Trials record as the Olympic record ...

Sell: " ...160 miles a week. Brazilian-like, a madman."

On Hall: "If Palo Alto's your big town, you're a small town guy"

on Sell: "In third place, you have someone who no-one thought could make it." (really?)

On Hall grabbing his water bottle at 24 miles: "The ease with which you grab your bottle is an indication of how supple you still are"

Posted by eroberts at 7:47 AM