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April 7, 2012

Notes on today's Charlottesville Half-Marathon


There are those who might say it's dumb to try to run a half-marathon (13.1 miles, for those who aren't sure or don't care) a week after a (for me) grueling 10-mile race, which I finished in 1:48 (10:48/mile) at around 9 a.m. a week ago today.

That was eight minutes slower than last year, consistent with my general gradual decline as time takes its toll.

But I digress.

Just in case, before starting this morning I put money for cab fare in a pocket in case I ran out of gas out in the middle of nowhere and needed a ride back downtown to the start — I'm among those who think it's dumb to be aiming to run this kind of distance so soon after a long race.

For sure, I've never, ever tried anything remotely like this double, always allowing months for recovery after marathons or half-marathons or even 10-milers before attempting another long race.

But hey, that's the fun of it, isn't it, seeing what happens?

Long — but surprisingly pleasant story – short: I finished today's half in 2:26:38, an average of of 11:17/mile, on a pretty darn hilly course.

Perfect day for a race, 44° at the 6:30 a.m. start.

It was dark outside when I left the house at 5:30, admittedly early but who knew what parking would be like?

Turned out to be a non-issue.

I went out too fast as is my wont, hoping to run 11-minute miles but instead doing each of the first two in 10:25; I soon straightened out and flew right, hitting mile 4 at 44 minutes even.

My time was 77:30 at mile 7 (11:05/mile), and I felt pretty good, but nevertheless I was more than happy to walk a minute or two at the water stops at miles 8 and 10, ditching my second layer, by then soaked through with sweat, at mile 11 on a bike rack somewhere.

Nice shirt, too, a grey henley from Duluth Trading.

But I digress again.

Absent the sweaty shirt, and with my wind shell stuffed in the back of my shorts and my headband wrapped around my forearm, I felt liberated and fast, and stepped up my pace for the final 1.1 miles, finishing them in 9:58 (9:04/mile, felt good).

So evidently I was plenty strong enough a week after the 10-miler.

From here on, random observations 'cause I'm a bit knackered as I write this, about 15 minutes before the post went up.

• I felt badly when I spit on the road around mile 5 only to have a guy really booking it on the return loop and running barefoot step right on the wet spot. But I got over it pretty quickly.

• When the lead runners came back around on the return loop heading towards me, with police motorcycles fore and aft amid flashing red, white, and blue lights with engines roaring, I thought, "How fun must that be, running with that kind of an escort?" Never gonna happen.*

• The only song I listened to (on my iPod) more than once was the Statler Brothers' "Flowers on the Wall," maybe four or five times during mile 8. Mos def one of my top 10 all-time favorites. It's a funny thing: up to about 10 years ago, I had disdain and contempt for runners who listened to music while running. Now that I'm slower and older, I can't imagine running distances like today without music. Just too difficult and painful sans the wonderful distraction.

• I was startled at the end, shuffling around my car in the Omni Hotel parking lot, to hear tons of sirens and wailing — I wondered if someone had had a stroke or heart attack at the finish and I knew it wasn't me — only to look over there and see that the MARATHON winner was approaching the finish line, about 10 minutes after I finished my half. Puts things in perspective.

• Around 12:30 p.m., when I was making my way back to my car from Christian's Pizza on the downtown mall (below, a slice of his mushroom and bacon) —


highly recommended whether or not you've just run a half-marathon — I saw flashing lights again: three police motorcyles who were providing an escort for the final runner on the course, a young woman finishing in about six hours. *So there is a way for me to have motorcycles accompany me....

• Next distance race up is the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon on May 6, four weeks from tomorrow.With a month to recover and train properly, I do believe a sub-10-minute-mile pace (under 2:11) is within reach there. Having done 2:14 in Williamsburg on February 26, I know I'm within shouting distance.

Pictured up top is my magnificent Gray Cat — muse, running guru, and coach; she appears pleased with my effort and swag but that may be deceiving — it could well be because she's assured of her late afternoon canned tuna snack.

April 7, 2012 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Vintage Swiss Army Flashlight


From the website:


A cache of circa 1950-1960s Swiss Army flashlights from a decommissioned surplus were recently discovered in Switzerland.

The flashlights feature military steel housing, a clear lens for white light, and two colored filters producing red and green lights.

The on/off switch includes a Morse Code setting for those who know how to signal — how cool is this?    

Except for a few scuffs here and there from storing, the condition of the flashlights are excellent.

Comes with a new 4.5-volt Duracell battery.

Made in Italy for the Swiss Army.

2.5" W x 4.5" H x 1.5" D. 



[via Amy]

April 7, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Experts' Expert: Secrets of creativity


The Economist's March 17 1.5-column-long review of Jonah Lehrer's new book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works," was chock full of bite sized chunks of insight, summarized below.

• "Many breakthroughs come when people venture beyond their area of expertise. Often it takes an outsider to ask the kind of dumb questions that may yield an unconventional solution."

• "Young people tend to be the most innovative thinkers in any field, from physics to music. The ignorance of youth 'comes with creative advantages' as the young are less jaded by custom and experience."

• "Anyone can stay creative as long as he works 'to maintain the perpective of the outsider.' This can be done by considering new problems at work, traveling to new countries, or simply spending more time staring 'at things we don't fully understand.'"

April 7, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Muji x LEGO paper toys


Wrote Simon on Better Living Through Design, "To most people, trying to improve the LEGO block would be like reinventing the wheel, but leave it to the designers over at Muji to not leave well enough alone and come up with a very creative toy series that combine the snap-together blocks with paper. Each of the six play sets includes a collection of LEGO bricks, paper, and instructions to construct example models. A specially designed hole puncher creates perfectly sized holes to fit the blocks. Current sets include Basic, Move, Animal & Vehicle, Animals, and Christmas."


Per set, $19.50–$20.50.


[via designboom and today and tomorrow]

April 7, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The God Issue


New Scientist puts it right out there.

[via Coverjunkie]

April 7, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pocket File


From the website:



This is Best Made's favorite portable file.

Dual purpose with compact convenience, the DMT Double-Sided Diafold Sharpener offers two 4" x 1" diamond whetstone surfaces in one lightweight, portable sharpener.

Fine diamond (25 micron/600 mesh) for a razor sharp edge; coarse diamond (45 micron/325) to quickly restore a neglected edge.

Sharpens quickly with no messy oils needed — sharpen dry or with water.

Folding plastic handles protect sharpener when not in use.

9.5" open/5" closed x 1.13" x 0.13".

Weight: 2.4 oz.



I love the way Best Made Company, merchant for this file and other stuff I've featured and will be featuring here, photographs its kit.

A model for those who would seek to sell using online images.

[via Paul Biba]

April 7, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What Google fears most

Screen Shot 2012-04-06 at 5.15.49 PM

It's pictured above, a graphic that accompanied a March 29 Bloomberg Businessweek story whose subhead was "A secret skunk works inside Facebook is working to improve search."

Another subhead: It's "the best form of monetization on the Web by far, and they are leaving that on the table."

Not for much longer, judging from the information in the article.

April 7, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Doidy Cup — Suddenly, it's easier to drink

Doidy cup

Nathalie Marshall reviewed this singular object in the latest edition of Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, edited by Oliver Hulland, as follows:

We discovered this cup when our second child was having problems gulping from a spouted cup or bottle, causing her to choke and vomit. A Doidy Cup was suggested and it immediately solved the problem, as she could suddenly see what she was doing.

With our third child we have used them since starting him on solids. They also [make it] much easier for the parent or caregiver who is feeding the child to see what they are doing. I even hear good reports of this being used to top a newborn up with milk whilst breastfeeding is still establishing. A fantastic, if simple, idea. And they come in lovely jolly colours too; my son is particularly fond of his pink one!


[via Jim Cooley]

April 7, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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