Google search oddities

Today’s oddity: “i love ibuprofen”

Make that “I love vicodin” and you’ve found the right blog!

And another: “how to bounce back from a bad marathon”

Again, the answer is vicodin. This is way too easy.

Wanted to borrow: a working analogue heart rate strap

I was recently sent a doohickey called the ithlete from the developer, a very nice gentleman named Simon Wegerif. The doohickey in question attaches to an iPod and when connected to a heart rate monitor feeds heart rate variability (HRV) data into an iPod application, also called ithlete.

The problem is, neither of my digital heart rate monitors (a Garmin and an older Polar) are recognized by the unit. You need an analog model (treadmills typically come with them) for it to work. Since I’m not  yet convinced of HRV’s legitimacy as a predictor of overtraining, I’m not willing to plunk down $50 for another monitor. I’ve written to the two guys who do the Science of Sport blog in hopes that they’ll do a post or two surveying the HRV research that’s out there.

In the meantime, I’d still like to review the product, since its maker was kind enough to send it to me gratis. So, web community, is anyone out there willing to let me borrow an analog strap for this purpose? I’d like to borrow it for a few weeks to track readings over a span of training and racing. I would mail it right back to you, plus reimburse you for the original postage costs (assuming you don’t include a brick).

If you’ve got an old analog strap lying around that you’re not using, and you’re willing to make a trip to the post office, please let me know. Email me at:

Here’s a list of the compatible models:

  • Suunto Dual
  • Polar T31, T34, T61
  • Polar T31 coded (incl Wearlink)
  • Nike analog chest transmitter belt
  • Cardiosport analog chest transmitter
  • Sigma Sport non coded
  • Oregon Scientific analog
  • Decathlon Geonaute HRM Chest belt


Facebook side dishes

If you haven’t yet friended me on Facebook, then you’re missing a lot. I tend to post things there that are too ephemeral to warrant a post on this blog. They might be links to articles, interviews of note, links to notable discussion threads, or weird things that break up the day. Here are just a few of the things you missed just in the past few days by not being my friend:

A sendup of the “motivations” people post to one another on

A link to an article and video about the New Bedford Half Marathon. I love how reporters for these things never do any research. The interviewer has no fucking clue who Kim Smith is. Last year it was the interviewer getting Kara Goucher’s first name wrong at Boston.

A glimpse into my growing obsession with women’s roller derby.

Some of most idiotic threads I can find on

Ridiculous images, stolen from others.

Funny comics and other things.

Photos of mass destruction.

You don’t have enough ways to waste your time. Let me fill that need. Friend me today!

Spring Training: Week Eleven

One nice thing about having only two hard workouts per week (or one plus a race) is that I’m typically feeling recovered and ready when the hard day arrives. For so much of last year I would arrive at a hard day and feel just ready enough to tackle the workout, but I rarely felt fresh going in. The lower mileage also contributes to this, I’m certain.

Either way, this has been such a big — and welcome — change that I’m wondering if I should go on a 10 day schedule, putting more recovery days between workouts, rather than shoving three into a 7 day period. Since I’m wary of piling on mileage again after this racing season, I’m thinking one way to combine big miles with big workouts again is to go back to high mileage, but with more recovery. Perhaps that would give me the benefits of high mileage without risking the kind of cumulative fatigue that plagued me last year.

So many ways to train.

On Monday, rather than run I took a one hour walk around our hilly neighborhood, primarily to stretch out my legs, but also to photograph the devastation from the storm that moved through over the weekend. Those photos are on Facebook, resembling photo sets from friends in NJ that look eerily similar. This was quite the storm.

In my last report I alluded to what Kevin called a “rite of passage” workout — something not only brand new, but newly challenging. On Wednesday, I did the first of these. Based on how difficult it was, I suspect I’ll be able to recognize such workouts in the future pretty easily.

I called this an “on/off tempo” run. I don’t know what other people call them, but that seemed to fit. After a five mile warmup I launched into the first of four sets of two mile combinations: the first at 7:15 (tempo pace for me right now), the second at 8:30 (mid-aerobic range). Rinse and repeat.

It’s been windy this week (more on this in a moment), and it was pretty windy on Wednesday. I tried to plan the run so I was avoiding giant mud puddles and other obstructions, but there was no avoiding the wind unless I ran inside. This was a rough, but doable, run. I never hit 7:15, mostly owing to either hills or wind. But I was happy with the times I did hit.

To be honest, it was not that difficult a run to do from a mental standpoint. In a weird way, I think my debacle in Sacramento in December, during which I was really suffering from mile 18 on, has created a permanent mental callous of sorts. I can suffer a lot for a long time now and accept it. It’s acceptable because it’s not as bad and never will be, at least not in any workout. If it is, I shouldn’t be doing that workout.

This doesn’t stop me from worrying about suffering like that again in a marathon. But, again, more on this subject in a sec.

I felt great after this workout, very invigorated. But I crashed later in the day and had to go to bed at around 8:30. I felt okay, but not stellar, the next day. I’m getting used to doing long recovery runs again, and I still think I recover better from them than I do from shorter, but more frequent, doubles sessions. On Friday I felt great and probably ran the recovery a little too hard. On the other hand, I had plenty of energy for doing the strides, which in the past I have often skipped due to tired legs or overall fatigue.

Saturday I felt like warmed over dog shit, primarily owing to having had too much to drink on Friday and then only getting six hours of sleep. So the morning run was terrible in all respects. The evening run wasn’t much better, so I cut it short, trimming two miles off for the week.

This morning I got up and felt good and ready for 15 miles at reasonably high effort. I drove up to Hartsdale and parked there so I could hit the car (and some Gatorade) at the halfway point. One thing I immediately noticed was the strength of the wind. I think I was in denial about it because I’d checked both major weather sites and they’d reported from 5-9 mph. It felt a lot windier than that, but I kept fighting it.

I felt good for the first six miles, most of which were into the wind. Then my stomach started to feel bad. Note to self: No cheddar cheese before a run. After a slow warmup mile my paces were anywhere from 7:45-8:15. I was trying for 8:00-8:15, so this was fine. But I just felt cruddier and cruddier as the run wore on. By mile 12 I was done and wanted to stop, but I had to turn around and run the last three into what was now at least 15-20 mph steady headwind. My effort went up into the low 80%s and paces cratered to 8:25-8:40.

As I was running along Pipeline, literally cursing the wind aloud, I realized that the last time I’d felt like this was around mile 10 of the Sacramento race. I’d done the same thing today: denied the reality of how much steady wind can sap your energy. I must remember to never do that again, not in a workout and especially not in a race. If I do that again in a marathon I should be shot for my obtuseness. Wind is real. You’ve got to adjust effort from the very start — or pay the price.

You know, it’s always something. If it’s not heat, it’s snow. If it’s not snow, it’s rain. If it’s not rain, it’s wind. If it’s not wind, it’s attack geese. It’s never a dull moment training here. There were some glorious moments this week when I was out in shorts, enjoying a mix of cool air and warm sun. I hope we get a little more of that before summer takes hold.

Romper, bomper, stomper boo: Let’s kick some ass on the roads today, kids.

Since I’m in a nostalgic mood this weekend, I’ll continue the seventies television theme.

Does anyone remember Romper Room and its magic mirror? Here’s a description from Wikipedia:

At the end of each broadcast, the hostess would look through a “magic mirror” (actually a face-sized open hoop with a handle) and name the children she saw in “televisionland”, then recite the rhyme, “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?” She would then lead into, “I can see Scotty and Kimberly and Julie and Jimmy and Kelly and all of you boys and girls out there!” Kids were encouraged to mail in their names, which would be read on the air.

So call me Miss Julie, today, because I’m holding up my magic mirror and I see a lot of friends, both virtual and real, toeing the line at important races today.

I see Kim, who is taking on the LA Marathon again, while stuffed into a Brooks ensemble that’s at least three sizes too small. Let’s hope she skipped the burrito stand this year. Look for bib #57.

I see Flo and Tracy, who will be running the festive Shamrock half and full marathons, respectively.

I see TK, Douglas, Joe and Frank, who have been given beautiful weather today for the New York City Half. TK, take care of that adductor brevis.

The eastern runners are racing even as I type this. Kim hears the horn in about three hours. My heart is beating faster in sympathetic anticipation for them all. Can’t wait to read the race reports.

Bay Area Television, circa 1973

At this point, due to training and work demands, the only evening of the week during which I can drink to excess is Friday. I carefully rationed my caloric intake yesterday and allotted space in the budget for a beer and three vodkas. This made watching Day Three of the NCAA Track and Field coverage (recorded) very enjoyable indeed, especially the boring bits.

It also triggered a strange dream, in which I was describing a show from my childhood, Big Time Wrestling, to someone. I haven’t thought about that show in years. Upon waking, I remembered a few other programs that were standard entertainment fare for me when I was around seven or eight years old. Here are some highlights. If you’re in your forties or older then you may remember some of these, especially if you grew up in the Bay Area, where much of this was broadcast on local channel 2.

Big Time Wrestling

I used to watch this program, hosted by the plaid-sportcoated Hank Renner, on Sunday mornings in my Dad’s “den” — basically a room with a built in bar, lounge chair and ottoman, couch,  pedestal ashtray and large color television. One reason I long for a home built in the seventies is that during those years architects really knew how to blueprint for a proper lifestyle. Who doesn’t want a room dedicated to sitting, smoking, drinking and watching television?

Big Time Wrestling started airing long before I discovered it in the early seventies, but I still think that was the heyday of the series. No matter how lovely the weather, you could guarantee that I would be inside on Sunday morning watching with rapt attention this weekly pastiche of camp theater, personal grudges and flabby action.

Here’s the complete history of the show. And here’s video typical of the time.

“Professional” wrestling still features the same mono-dimensional characters and simplistic story lines. But what I miss about the  seventies version is how out of shape the wrestlers were. Now they’re so pumped up on steroids that they look like assemblages from the local meat counter. The original guys looked like they probably drove a mail truck and ate piles of mashed potatoes and pork chops.

Voice of Agriculture

Even as a child, I was a morning person. Most days I was up long before anyone else in the family was awake, making my way down to the dark den at around 5AM. Before the days of cable, broadcast choices were limited in terms of available programs, especially so during insomniac hours. Most mornings I had a choice of two programs: The English As a Second Language show for speakers of Chinese or this show, Voice of Agriculture.

VOA was an interview format show produced by the American Farm Bureau and typically focused on California’s Central Valley, where agriculture is very, very big. The show’s titles appeared over grainy footage of a gigantic threshing machine in full action. That was the most exciting part of the show. Once the interviews started, I was left to stare, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed over my voluminous bowl of Cap’n Crunch, as the interviewer and interviewee earnestly discussed various farming- and commodity-related matters.

According to this history, the show was later changed to a magazine format. I imagine that made it much more engaging, or at least marginally more interesting than, say, reading the Cornish tide tables or watching mold form on an old orange. It’s still on.

Roller Derby

I saved the best for last. Specifically, women’s roller derby, because the level of tawdry theatrical malice among the female skaters made the men’s events look like a meeting of the local glee club. Here’s a history of the “sport” along with an article about the Bay Area action in particular.

I would probably watch this were it on today. Like English Premier League Soccer, in front of which I spend most Sundays zoned out in a post-long run stupor, the images are hypnotically repetitive and, as such, very relaxing. Yet punctuated with just enough moments of noteworthy action that you’re prevented from dozing off completely.

The fact that I still enjoy watching people moving round and round and round an oval at high speeds under their own steam is perhaps one of the few constants in my personal television viewing history. And any track and field fan will note that, minus the hair-pulling, track racing can be just as dirty and violent. More video typical of the time:

Kathy Switzer’s at it again

Specifically, marathon racing. She’s even got a blog!

For the uninitiated, a bio of Ms. Switzer.

And on a tangentially related note, this thread just popped up on Switzer’s mentioned (I think — her name is badly mangled). Other highlights include a mention of the famously awful 1964 Olympic Trials on the Yonkers Marathon course, which is colorfully rendered in the bio of Buddy Edelen. And Patti (Catalano) Dillon makes a surprise appearance.