Sunday, August 31, 2008

nike human race 10k: photos and results

john henwood and jill vollweiler, winners of the nike human race 10k
- on stage before the start of the all-american rejects concert!

here are some pre- and post-race pictures i took at the nike human race 10k.
will post my race report tomorrow.

pre-race walk over tri-borough bridge.

pre-race festivities.


check out the photos from the post-race all american rejects concert!

here is race recap via nike site.
link to race results via nike site.

here is my race report.

westport summer series 10 miler: race report

saturday was one of those days where, if i didn't have another reason for showing up, i would have skipped the westport summer series 10 miler because of the lousy weather. there was a light drizzle friday night, but when i woke up at 6, the rain came down pretty hard. i suspected it would probably stop soon enough since the weather forecast said as much. but still, the temptation to bag it was pretty high. if i hadn't promised to give emmy back her monthly pass to moma (which was good thru sept. 1), i could easily have gone back to bed!

it had been 3 years since i ran this race and at that time staples high school was in the middle of a massive renovation project (the size of the school literally doubled). i was awed by the impressive facade of the "new"staples! but race registration itself took place in familiar surroundings (at the old school building behind the new one). by the time i walked from the parking lot to registration and signed up, the rain had stopped. now it was just a dreary, gray morning. if it wasn't for the high humidity, it would have been perfect weather for racing!

my time goal was a 1:20 finish (8 minute miles) - hardly racing as some of my friends pointed out ;) even with that soft target (which itself would've been my slowest 10 miler), i fell off pace after the halfway point and finished in 1:23:18 - an 8:20 pace. in my defense, i did intend to walk the 2 hills (the first in mile 6 and the second in mile 10). but it's a weak defense, all things considered. my split for the first half was 39:18, roughly a 7:52 pace, and i was on target for a sub 1:20 if i skipped the walking.

3. 23:22
4. 7:46 31:08
5. 8:10 39:18

i missed the first and second mile markers, but don't think that effected my first half splits. as planned, i did walk a good portion of mile 6 - which, in 10:02, was my slowest mile. rob caught me as i walked that hilly stretch and went on ahead. i ran the next 3 miles progressively faster - enough so to give me a 9 mile split of 1:13:40. while a 6:20 final mile was theoretically possible - knowing the hill we had to climb to get back to staples from prior experience - i wasn't seriously tempted to abandon my plan to walk. my mile 9 came in at 9:37.

6. 10:02 49:20
7. 8:18 57:54
8. 8:08 1:05:46
9. 7:54 1:13:40
10. 9:37 1:23:18

both rob and roy - who had finished within seconds of each other - were at the finish line to greet me when i came through the chute. they stayed for emmy's finish (as i went to get my camera) and don's - who finished just after emmy. i took pictures of emmy and don finishing. then we all regrouped, socialized with a few more friends (ronnie and dawn), took a few more pictures, and turned in our scoring sticks. it was a fun morning - and was very glad to have run 10 miles with my friends in wesport - than log those miles by myself as a training run!

next up is the nike human race 10k tonight. emmy and couple other friends are also doing the 10k. tomorrow emmy will be in new haven, along with dawn, don, and rob - to run a 20k! for my part, no racing tomorrow - but i may see them again at waveny park for the final night of the xc series on tuesday!

check out the race photos (some of which were contributed by roy).
check out emmy's race report (and her post race car key mystery).
check out a few more race photos (via westport roadrunners).

Saturday, August 30, 2008

westport summer series 10 miler: photos and results

today was the final race of the 2008 westport summer series, the labor day weekend 10 miler. i almost skipped it because when i woke up and heard the sound of rain beating against the window, i just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. instead, i reluctantly got out of bed and headed over to the race.

rain or not, i would have run 10 miles today - so better to do those miles with friends. luckily, by the start, the rain had all but stopped (there was a light drizzle in the first half). aside from a pw 1:23:18 finish (9 minutes off my slowest 10 miler), i had a great time and was glad i didn't let the rain give me an excuse to sleep in! race report to follow!

inside, looking out (and i'm almost tempted to stay inside)!

dreary start conditions (but, thankfully, the rain stopped)!

view of the finish.

me (just finished) and rob. (roy's photo)

roy and rob - finished!

emmy finishing.

emmy - finished! (roy's photo)


don finishing.

ronnie and emmy (demonstrating a particular technique)!

handing in our scoring sticks.

emmy, don, and rob.

me and don.

ronnie and dawn.

don, me, and rob! (roy's photo).

here is my race report.
here are the official results.

Friday, August 29, 2008

pat and tina at the u.s. open: guest post

yesterday pat and her sister, tina, went to see a little tennis in queens: day four of the u.s. open. in what's practically a summer ritual, they go almost every august. here is pat's report of the action - including a major upset!
How I Got Inside the U.S. Open: My “Inside Tennis” Connection

At about 7:00 this past Wednesday night, my sister Tina - - known to the rest of the world as Christina, the photographer (and muse) for her boyfriend’s New York City-based jazz quartet, the Piers Lawrence Quartet - surprised me with a tempting invitation: “Uncle Bill just called and offered us two tickets to the U.S. Open tomorrow! Do you want to go?” It took me all of ten minutes, consulting with my husband and daughter, as well as a couple of colleagues, to decide, “Yes!”

Boy, are Tina and I lucky! My uncle Bill, is the publisher of a tennis magazine based in California, “Inside Tennis,” which has been on the cutting edge of tennis for about 27 years. “Inside Tennis” is not your run-of-the-mill, “huge corporation” sports magazine, but rather an up-to-date, personal, sort of folksy, really FUN magazine - - with very witty writing by my uncle, who was, I’m quite sure, a bona fide “hippy.” I love his writing! In fact, Uncle Bill’s editorial for this month’s edition is called: “First Serve: Off to See the Wizard: Of Babs, Buba and the Bishop (and Other Adventures in U.S. Open Celebrity Hunting.” Here's how the piece starts out:

In many ways, I’m quite the serious fellow. Truth be told, few in the press corps ask more “What’s it all about?/meaning of life” questions to aspiring teens than I do. But, all that shifts at the U.S. Open.

While the Aussie Open has its beer-swigging fanatics, Roland Garros displays continental gents and Wimbledon is crowded with dukes and duchesses, the U.S. Open draws celebs: tall ones (the late Wilt Chamberlain), short ones (Barbra Streisand), sweet ones who come out for the love of sport and vain ones who come out for the love of being seen.

After all, we Americans live in the greatest celebrity-loving society in the history of the known universe, where Brangelina’s baby pics sell for $11 million and to some Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are a kind of Holy Trinity. Let’s face it, many souls are captivated by the red-carpet glitz of snazzy stars who sparkle, the political powerhouses who rule and the mighty tycoons in our midst.

So, inevitably, at each U.S. Open, I seek ‘em out. A not-exactly-shy, celeb-seeking missile, I get to them with the help of media-friendly USTA presidents or kind PR handlers. I do it by schmoozing security guards and, on occasion, by sidestepping the Secret Service. When “A-list” celebs gather at their usual watering holes, talking with them can be like picking low-hanging fruit. Other times, you better know the hidden staircases, VIP elevators, dank back corners and the glam-heavy power suites of that Alice In Wonderland maze they call Ashe Stadium. . . .

And, after a funny vignette about an interview with Barbra Streisand, here’s how it ends:

Certainly, other times will come when the magic works. Like nine years later in ‘01, when I was about to take my press seat to cover the Sampras-Lleyton Hewitt final, the L.A. Times’ Lisa Dillman simply gestured up to the suites section and said, “Bill, I’ve got an assignment for you. McCartney’s in the house.”

Without hesitation my quest began as, with some effort, I found out precisely where Paul and his then-girlfriend Heather Mills were seated. Never mind that, as the crowd roared with a U.S. Open final fervor, I was relegated to waiting — seemingly forever — in a bare concrete corridor that had all the cozy charms of a Prussian bunker. But the long wait was worth it when, just as the final ball was struck, McCartney emerged into the still-quiet passageway.

“Excuse me, Sir Paul,” I began. “Could I possibly introduce myself? I’m Bill Simons, the publisher of Inside Tennis, and I named my daughter, Abby Rose, after The Beatles [as in Abbey Road] and I just wanted to ask...”

But McCartney interrupted, and offering a beaming Fab Four smile, said, “Oh, that’s just so wonderful.” Then, incredibly, Paul put his arm around my shoulder. Now, in total disbelief, I couldn’t resist gingerly placing my arm around the icon’s waist. Soon we jauntily strode down the bare concrete corridor, miraculously transformed into a kind of Yellow Brick Road. Bubbling with glee, I was now but a wide-eyed kid filled with wonder, who — shall we say — was simply off to see the wizard, the wonderful...

(Notice any similarity to my “hot fudge sundae” moment at the Mad Men premier this past June, with Jon Hamm?? - I guess it’s genetic!)

Like clockwork, Uncle Bill comes east every year to report on the U.S. Open, the premier tennis event in America. Without fail, he offers tickets to me and Tina, and usually I am available to go. I missed it the past couple of years, but this year I was itching to do one more summery thing before the end of August and the beginning of the school year.

So, at about 1:00 yesterday, I met Tina at the front gate of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. As usual, Uncle Bill had given us tickets for seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the main court of the tennis center, which holds about 24,000 people. Yay! We had great seats, about half-way up, on the loge level. When we arrived, we saw Venus Williams (seeded number 7) play her last few games against Rossana de Los Rios, who she defeated 6-0, 6-3. Although we only saw Venus play for about fifteen minutes, she is an amazingly strong player and a thrill to watch!

After a ten-minute break, during which Tina and I munched on the sandwiches, crackers and fruit we had brought, the announcer introduced the next match: ninth-seeded James Blake, born in Yonkers, N.Y., would be playing Steve Darci of Belgium. Speaking of Blake, this month’s “Inside Tennis” has a piece written by his mother, in which she recounts this cute story about James and his older brother Thomas: “They would find sticks and hit rocks or bottle caps into the trees, seeing who could hit the furthest. One day my friend Herb said to James, ‘You’ll hit anything with a stick won’t you.’ Three-year-old James gravely considered the question and replied, ‘Anything but doo-doo.’ ”

Well, I digress. The match began on an ominous note for Blake, as he lost the first set 4-6. He came back in the second set to win 6-3. The third set promised to be a tight match and Tina and I were both looking forward to it. Suddenly, after Darci lost the first game of the third set and sat down on his courtside chair, the announcer informed us that Darci was “retiring.” It turns out that he injured his lower back and couldn’t go on.

Well, Darci’s loss was our gain, as the powers-that-be at the Open decided to move a match from the Louis Armstrong Stadium into the Arthur Ashe Stadium. And we were in luck! The match was the number one seeded woman, Ana Ivanovic, against a non-seeded player, Julie Coin, from France. Little did we know what was in store.

As the match began, we learned from the large screen in the stadium that Coin was ranked 188th in the world. I turned to Tina and said, “This is bound to be a rout.” How wrong I was. From the beginning Ana seemed to be a bit off her game, making many unforced errors and not dazzling Coin with her serve. Before we knew it, Coin had won the first set 6-3. I honestly didn’t know who to root for. On the one hand, I hated to see the number one player be humiliated. On the other hand, how great is it when the true underdog wins? Maybe by default, Tina and I did not pick sides, but rather just enjoyed the thrill of seeing a good match.

In the second set, Ivanovic seemed to be making a comeback, and she won it 4-6. When the third set began, I thought Coin would get tired and be over-powered by Ivanovic, but was hoping for a close match. As the set began, I could tell that Coin was really fighting hard to win and that Ivanovic did not seem to have much momentum. Also, Coin, despite an unorthodox serve in which she does not bring her racquet hand all the way down before swinging it up, seemed to be getting stronger, not weaker. As the set progressed, Coin pulled ahead 5-2, and then Ivanovic won the next game, bringing the score to 5-3.

As Coin began serving the next game, I was hoping Ivanovic would continue to win the next few games and put the match into a tie-breaker. No such luck, as Ivanovic seemed to get more tentative and Coin more aggressive. Finally, Coin pulled ahead 40-30 and, after a few more serves, won the game, set, and match! This was one of the biggest upsets in U.S. Open history: For the first time in the 40-year history of the Open, a woman ranked number one was out of the tournament before the third round! I suppose the best part of the match was seeing Coin’s on-court interview - - when she was asked whether she thought she could pull off the upset, she candidly replied, in her cute French accent, “No.” Tina and I could not help but join the crowd in giving her a standing ovation.

Although our time in Arthur Ashe Stadium ended with Coin’s victory, Tina and I strolled out with photographs galore (hers from a wonderful digital camera, mine on a mini point-and-shoot) and a neat feeling that we had just seen history in the making. Although we had tried to spot celebrities in the stands, we saw none. But we had seen a great match that had us both on the edge of our seats. Although she and Uncle Bill had played telephone-tag all afternoon and had not actually spoken to each other, we did try to see him in the media center. Alas, we were not allowed in and had to settle for leaving him one more message, thanking him for the tickets and telling him we were headed home, me by car and Tina by subway. As I was boarding a shuttle bus back to the parking lot, Tina called and said that she had just spoken to Uncle Bill, who wanted me to call him. I did, but got his voicemail. Then he called me but I missed the call. Finally, I sent him a text message thanking him for the wonderful day he had given me and Tina. Although I haven’t yet heard from him yet, I suspect I will soon. In the meantime, I will savor the great day I had at the Open!

here is a link to a few more photos.

u.s. open day four: a few photos

pat and tina at the u.s. open, day four.

here is the link to pat's write-up of their day.

here are a few photos from the afternoon session:

mad men: the "real men and women of madison avenue" exhibit at the new york public library

today pat and i went to the "real men and women of madison avenue (and their impact on american culture)" exhibit at the new york public library (actually, the science, industry and business library on madison avenue and 34th street).

the exhibit is a politically correct and socially acceptable look the real life world of advertising (which is portraited on the decidedly non-politically correct amc hit series, mad men).

for fans of mad men (and count pat among them), this behind the scenes glimpse at the real world of the advertising industry is a serious treat.

some the ads featured in the exhibit may seem familiar:

play it loud!

kittens, before the "milk moustache" took over.

this panel of ads from the early nike "just do it" series!

finally, as pat pointed out, art can sometimes imitate life. this ad, "the lemon," found itself part of episode three, of season one. "love it or hate it, the fact is, we've been talking about it for the last 15 minutes."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

salvador dali "painting and film" exhibit at the museum of modern art

this afternoon emmy and i went to the salvador dali "painting and film" exhibit at the museum of modern art. moma was only a few blocks away from niketown, where we had just picked up our race packets for the nike human race 10k. despite the crowds at the museum, getting to see dale's work was a great time!

in addition to dali's incredible work, the exhibit highlighted how his art was integrated into other media - in particular, film.

below are a few of my favorite dali paintings from the exhibit. in addition to the paintings, two film gems were the dream sequence from "spellbound" and an animated short feature that dali worked on with walt disney - "destino!"

metamorphosis of narcissus

the average bureaucrat

portrait of laurence olivier

destino animation

spellbound dream sequence

nike human race 10k packet pick-up at niketown

today i went over to niketown and picked-up the shirt and chip for the nike human race 10k this sunday night. packet pick-up was in the atrium adjacent to the store. the distribution process was needlessly convoluted and time-consuming, in my opinion.

for some reason we were required to manual write the bib number from out race shirts on the information tag attached to the timing strip. the point of that exercise escaped me because we were already given a timing strip (chip) to wear over the laces of our running shoes.

since we already have a separate timing chip, there really isn't a need to wear the race shirt during the run - except for nike publicity purposes. but, apparently, the shirt does doubles double duty as the ticket to the post-race concert. this is a repeat of the nike runhitwonder instructions from earlier years.

in addition to the shirts, we each received a poster-size map of the course (with race day instructions on the reverse side).

after packet pick-up, i walked over to the musuem of modern art with emmy and we checked out the salvador dali exhibit!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

led zeppelin reunites (almost): page, jones and bonham in studio recording new material!

the one-night reunion of led zeppelin,
this past december at the o2 arena in london.

when i caught the headline this morning that led zeppelin was in a recording studio working on new material the first thought i had was, "yeah, everyone but bonham!" imagine my surprise when i learned the information for the story came straight from bonham - not john, but rather his son, jason! on the heels of jason's performance on drums at the reunion concert last december, no one can doubt he's the rightful heir to his dad's former position in the band.

but before fans can look forward to a new album of zeppelin material, there's the small matter of a missing band member - robert plant. he is, of course, currently on tour with the bluegrass musician, alison krauss. they also have an unexpected success with their album "raising sand." that's not to say plant won't join his former band mates in the recording studio to add his voice to the material once his tour is done. but that's just plain speculation at this point.

it's interesting to note that jason bonham revealed this news via an interview with a detroit radio station - but the surprise, aside from actually recording new material, was that the trio had been at together at work since december - immediately following the reunion concert at the o2 arena! and in another twist, we last caught sight of jimmy page when he and leona lewis did a duet of "whole lotta love" at the closing ceremony's of the beijing olympics last weekend! seems as if robert wouldn't sing with jimmy, he'd just find someone else to join him as well.

stay tuned!

update: apparently, robert plant is not currently into the plans for a reunion :(

battle of brooklyn - august 27, 1776

as a kid growing up in brooklyn, the anniversary of the battle of brooklyn (also known as the battle of long island and, less frequently, the battle of brooklyn heights) is nothing new - so to speak. in fact, commemorating it often leads to one of those counter-intuitive moments that devolves into something like this: "i know this is a significant historical event, but why remind ourselves of military defeat that ushered in such disastrous consequences?" put into modern historical context, it's similar to the british reliving the world war II battle of dunkirk (figuratively and literally)!

that said, one should never shirk from historical observations. a couple of points about the battle of brooklyn deserve mention. the british, in staging their troops on august 22nd, carried out the largest amphibious military operation prior to the 20th century when they successfully landed 34,000 soliders in gravesend bay. five days later, when the combatants finally met, general george washington led, for the first army of the united states (approximately 10,000 men) in a field of battle. outnumbered almost 2 to 1, the outcome wasn't in much doubt. the american troops, after suffering almost 2,600 causalities, retreated to brooklyn heights (literally, to the water's edge).

on the evening of august 28th and into the early morning hours of the 29th, good fortune - and the british failure to follow through with its military advantage - allowed general washington to get his remaining troops across the east river, under the cover of night (and early morning fog), to the relative safety of manhattan island. that respite from battle was brief. the british quickly followed washington and his troops across the river and pursued them to the northern end of manhattan, where they then crossed the hudson river (near the present day site of the george washington bridge) and escaped the british.

an interesting highlight of general washington conduct - he did not leave brooklyn heights until the very last of his troops was on the water, rowing across to manhattan. he was subsequently praised (by both the americans and british) for his strategic withdrawal against the overwhelming odds!

and, one lost battle aside, if memory serves me correctly - we did eventually win that war ;D

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

celebrate women's equality day: 88th anniversary of the 19th amendment!

today is the 88th anniversary of the 19th amendment to the united states constitution. the text of the amendment is essentially one line, and it changed the course of american history:

"the right of citizens of the united states to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the united states or by any state on account of sex."

and its ratification finally gave women the right to vote - in august of 1920!

originally "woman suffrage day," it's now know as "women's equality day" and celebrates the victory in the long struggle (which began in the summer of 1848) to secure the right to vote for women.

interestingly, tonight in denver, hillary clinton makes her prime-time speech to the democratic national convention.