Saturday, May 16, 2009

Around The Horn

"All the Hits the Nits Missed."

Hello Sports Racers, it's time for another edition of Around The Horn, or as Coovo likes to call it, "Roller's News Nits Nockoff".

South Korean scientists have cloned dogs. That glow red in the dark. No kidding. When I first heard of this, it reminded me of a trick we computer geeks use to spin our defects as "features".

User: Why was there an "H" appended to all the information I entered?
Geek: Uh, that's our new "Info+H" feature. Do you like it?
User: Can I fix it by rebooting?

The scientist have inserted "fluorescent genes" into the dogs (this is actually similar to another computer science pattern known as Dependency Injection). The success of this experiment suggests that scientists could inject other types of genes. Said South Korean scientist Jin Fong-du, "Having proven that we can inject genes into a living animal, we can now expand our research to include injecting other types of genes. By 2011, we could have dogs that glow blue, or possibly purple." OK, I made that quote up. Pretty cool, though.

Religious fanatics have denounced the testing, noting that if you spell "glowing dog" backwards, you get "god gniwolg". It's hard to argue with that.

This isn't the most recent of news, but has been on my plate for a while. A little over a month ago, AT&T network lines were vandalized in the San Franscisco Bay area. In two separate locations, someone opened a manhole, climbed down 10 feet and cut some network cables. For most of the next day, there were outages to cell phone, internet, land line and even 911 Emergency access.

Conspiracy theorists were quick to paint this as a terrorist rehearsal for a major nation-wide coordinated attack. But I don't think that adds up, as terrorists most likely would have blown themselves up to sever the network cables.

Lending even less credence to the terrorist theory is the fact that the AT&T's contract with the Communications Workers of America expired about 5 days prior to the "attack". Union leadership downplayed the notion that a union member could have been involved. Right. Because everyone knows which manhole covers lead to AT&T's network cables, and which lead to secret Craigslist parties.

Maybe AT&T should follow Texas' lead in equipment protection. Texas fire ants can inflict up to $1 billion a year in damages to electrical equipment (and those are non-arsen related numbers). The solution? As described in a recent US News article, introduce a South American phorid fly that somehow lays eggs inside the ant. Then when a maggot hatches from an egg it eats the ant's brain. The ant still wanders around for a couple weeks like a zombie, before its head falls off and the fly pops out and goes after another ant.

Awesome! Until next time...

Friday, May 8, 2009

You want a post?

I'm your Huckleberry.

Manny. Big news. The primary use for the drug he used is to help increase ovulation. Manny being trans-Manny. I'm not sure I feel caught up on what happened though. I'm watching Mike and Mike in the morning and so far they've only interviewed, Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark, Bob Ryan and Buster Olney. If only I knew what Jose Canseco was thinking. Oh wait, they played audio clips from him too. Remember when Canseco said no one wanted Manny because he was on that list that A-Rod was on? Please stop giving this guy credibility. PLEASE!

There's a few other television related items that are "grinding my gears" so to speak. When I went to to link the above story, I was met with a video commercial for what is now my least favorite jingle. It was never my favorite, but when I hear "Five. . . Five dollar . . ." I cringe. I love to eat them, but I don't want to hear anyone sing that song ever again. Give me Jared and John Cena arm wrestling.

I fell asleep with the TV on the other night. In my daze, I heard " Oh, it's a double-pisted chesty!" I sat straight up, grabbed my Louisville slugger and beat my TV to a pulp.

Lastly, since I don't have digital cable, DirectTV or Tivo, I still channel flip. VH1 has seemingly cornered the market on sleazy dating shows. There newest is The Cougar. I didn't link it but I'm sure you can find it if you want. Memo to anyone who is considering going on any of theses shows, male or female: You are a dirty human. (p.s. sorry that third chick is only half in the picture).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Country Music Marathon

Late last year, friend of TLATL Matt D. asked me if I wanted to run a marathon with him. I'd always wanted to do one, and I figured it would be great to train with someone else. So we started training at the beginning of February with our sites on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, TN.

The training regimen is pretty strait forward: run 4-6 miles 3-4 times during the week, and then do one long run on the weekend. The first long run should be about however long you can run at the time, and then add a mile or two onto that each week. Your last long run should be two weeks before the marathon, and should be about 22-23 miles.

Matt and I did as many long runs together as we could, but it became apparent as we got to the 18 and 20 mile runs that he was running at a faster pace. I didn't want to slow him down, and I actually did better running solo anyway, because I wasn't trying to keep his pace. So we decided to run the marathon separately.

We arrived at the race together and split up into our respective "corrals". Each runner is assigned a corral based on their projected finish time, and each corral is released 2 minutes after the previous corral. The idea, of course, is that runners spend as little time passing other runners because the faster runners are ahead of them and the slower runners are behind them. In crowded races that makes a big difference. Just like the previous two half-marathons I'd run, though, there were plenty of "walkers" and people who were obviously not going to finish in their corral's projected time. It's pretty frustrating having to make your way around them. But enough complaining...

My assigned corral was 13, based on a 4:20:00 projected finish (just under 10 minutes / mile). Unfortunately my start was delayed by a... biological issue... coupled with some poor execution by the event planners. Probably not something everyone wants to read about, but in retrospect it was kind of comical. I ended up leaving with corral 18... and off I went on my first marathon.

I have a running playlist in my iPod, but didn't feel like getting to that right away. I'd also enjoyed listening to podcasts/audiobooks on my long runs, as they helped me maintain a consistent pace. But I felt like music... and felt like Gomez' "Bring It On".

I hit the first water stand around 2 miles in and chugged two Cytomax's (some athletic drink that must have paid more money than Gatorade to sponsor the event). The high for the day was going to be 87... way higher than anything in which I'd trained, and generally really hot for a marathon. I decided before the race I'd get at least 2 cups of Cytomax or water at each of the 20 water stands throughout the race.

I also passed the first of 27 bands playing along the marathon route. Pretty cool...

In the commotion of passing people in the first crowded few miles, I didn't actually see a timer at any mile markers until mile 5. I checked my iPod as I crossed the starting line and noticed I was starting 35 minutes late. Some quick math I realized I had done the first 5 miles in 40 minutes. Whoops. I felt great, but that was way too fast for my projected time. I was able to catch the mile markers in the next five miles, and was going about 10 minutes / mile... and felt great.

Next album... Led Zeppelin's "Houses of the Holy" (skipped No Quarter). Around mile 11 the half-marathoners peel away and head for their finish line. It was nice to get some space!

I completed the first half of the marathon in 2:05. A little faster than I probably should have, and I was starting to feel the effects of the heat a little. I put on a podcast in hopes that I could slow my pace a little. The first half of the marathon was pretty hilly, but fortunately the second half wouldn't be too bad.

My gut was starting to churn some more, and as frustrating as it was, it was becoming evident that I wouldn't be able to hold it off the whole race. By mile 18 my biological issues were calling again and I had to duck into a Johnny on the Spot for about 8 minutes (I kept track on my iPod and figured I would be justified in subtracting this from my finish time). Back on the course and feeling a little rejuvenated, I turn to "Paul's Boutique". Haven't listened to that album in a while... it's still great ("Drive By Eggings - plaguing L.A.! - 'Yo, they just got my little cousin, ese!'").

Around mile 20 I'm pretty tired, but I know I only have a 10 K to go. Saw a great sign "UR Feet Hurt Cuz You Kick Ass" on the sidelines. The many people cheering at all phases of the race is great...

My longest training run was a little over 22 miles and as was the case with each long run, I never felt too bad until I eclipsed the distance of the previous run. Then you really start to ache. It's not your lungs at all, like in a short race. Basically everything from your hips on down is just sore, and if you try to push it a little harder your legs yell at you.

Mile 24... Pain, but the end is so close! Lots of people walking at this point, which is actually helpful, as it's a psychological lift to pass them.

Halfway through mile 25 I start "Working Man" by Plants and Animals to carry me in. It's a great running song.

At mile 26 I see Matt and his wife Lisa (who snapped the photo) and their friends. Time to pick it up and cruise on into the finish. Lots of cheering fans on both sides, a fun experience to finish!

After the race I ate a huge meal, took a nap and then went to an old friend's for dinner that night. They asked me if I would ever run another one, and at that point I didn't think so. Up to the race I was planning on it being a "one and done", as most doctors will tell you that being a distance runner is horrible for your body. But by the next day I had the itch to do it again. I can't imagine that I'll do another soon, as it takes too much time away from my family to do these too often. I may or may not ever do another one, but I at least hope to maintain my fitness level - over the course of training I dropped 17 lbs. that I definitely didn't need!

And of course, a special thanks to my wife, who supported me throughout the training and never complained once!

Oh, yeah, I finished in 4:46:44 (that's before subtracting my "break"). A lot slower than I was hoping for, but I'm happy to have completed it. Matt finished in 3:55:48, his best time in the 3 marathons he's run!

Here are the winners (surprise, they're Kenyans!). Just before this picture was taken, the M.C. said "How can you be a Kenyan and NOT win a marathon?"