Monday, November 02, 2009

Watching the New York Marathon live online

Found a link yesterday on the message boards for watching the New York marathon live on the internet. The main site is Universal Sports also had it online but for some reason, my Ubuntu machine wouldn't display it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Are you ready for the marathon?

A funny take to help you decide whether you are ready to run a marathon. An item from the checklist:

Your freezer contains two packets of Bird’s Eye peas, NEITHER of which for are for consumption.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to measure a marathon course

Here's an interesting read on how to measure a marathon course. An excerpt:
He says he approximately covers 10km in about one hour – meaning measuring marathon courses can take upwards of four hours, often in the early hours.

Sunday, October 11, 2009 - older than the Internet itself? is a good site if you want to get a listing of marathons in the US as well as as international. Apparently, it's been around for a long time, longer than the Internet itself. Check out this listing below - you can still run a marathon in Yugoslavia - a country that hasn't existed for a few years now.

But, below is the proof that is older than the Internet. Check out Mumbai as shown by the black arrow in the screen capture below. It is listed as "British Indian Ocean Territory." Given that India gained independence in 1947 and that the Internet didn't exist back then, there is only one logical conclusion you can draw.

However, strangely enough, Bangalore is listed under "India".

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Disposable version of ChampionChip?

Ran a 5K race today. Came through in 20:39. Splits was 6:43, 6:50 (1.1mile - 6:12 pace), and 7:04. Just over two minutes slower than my PR back in April. Got some work to do ahead of me.

One interesting aspect was this electronic tag that they gave us. We had to tie it to our shoe and it would register the time as we crossed the finish line. This is what it looks like from the front:

and the back:

Pretty neat stuff. Small, unobtrusive, and disposable. No more worrying about losing your tag and having to shell out 20 or 30 bucks.

I was able to make out "UPM Raflatac" on the back. A web search took me to this company that makes RFID devices: Wonder how this will affect the usage of ChampionChip tags? On one hand, the ChampionChip tags cost money, but on the other hand, they are environment-friendly in that that they can be used multiple times.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Running in Yosemite

The last weekend, we stopped by Yosemite National Park on our way from Death Valley. We came in through the east entrance (from Tioga Pass) and stopped for a hike to Gaylor Lakes. The trailhead is right there at the entrance. It took about half an hour to get to the lakes from the trailhead. Once up there, the weather was perfect and I just had to go for a 5-mile run even though I hadn't really planned for it. Absolutely beautiful. It's just a different feeling running in the grandeur of Yosemite, at 10,000+ feet with not a single soul in sight. Top it off with dipping your feet in the lake and you have a great run. The best thing is that since the hike is less than half an hour, you could just get a water bottle and get up there and go running to your heart's content. No need to lug your heavy backpack up there. On the way down, you can see a bunch of lakes/ponds on the other side of the road. We saw at least half a dozen.

Mark this as one of those hidden beauties of Yosemite.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How much can premature celebration cost - part 2

This weekend was the World Athletic Championships in Berlin, Germany. The women's 10,000m final was very interesting if you read this post at Meselet Melkamu started celebrating a bit too soon (6 inches according to letsrun) and Linet Masai squeaked by for the win - by 0.1 second. Gold medal gone, just like that.

A couple of years I posted a link to another case of premature celebration. That one made the difference of bragging rights to the Chicago Marathon and an extra $60,000.

Moral of the story - unless your last name is Bolt, you better not start celebrating until after you've crossed the tape.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Prefontaine Classic 2009

We went to the Prefontaine Classic a couple of weeks ago, on June 7th, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon. This is our third consecutive year enjoying this event. The day was beautiful albeit a bit warm to permit any world records from falling. Below is a shot of Hayward Field, from Section A which is right in front of the finish line for the races. You get a side shot of the winners as they break the tape. Last year, we were in Section U, which provides you with a front-side shot as they finish. (Click on any of the pictures below for a larger version.)

The national anthem was the first item on the menu. This was followed by antipasti of a medley of field events - men's pole vault, men's long jump, women's discus, and women's hammer throw. Then started the main course, aka the track events, the first of which was the men's 400m hurdles. At this point, the announcer told us that we were now live on NBC TV, which was greeted by loud cheers all around. Bershawn Jackson comfortably won the hurdles in 48.38. This gave way to the highly anticipated women's 1500m with a field that read Gelete Burka, Nancy Lagat, Anna Willard, Jenny Barringer, Shannon Rowbury, Shalane Flanagan, Erin Donohue, among others.

The race didn't disappoint. Burka barely beat out Barringer by 1/100 of a second - 3:59.89 to 3:59.90. That's them finishing. Barringer had a great run down the homestretch where she almost caught up with Burka. You should've seen the expression of overjoyed surprise on her face - she was elated.

Then came the men's steeplechase with last year's winner Paul Koech being the favorite. That's him (below) winning in a comfortable time of 8:13.44, almost 8 seconds ahead of the second place.

It must have been an exhausting race, judging by these runners below. This is right after the race ended.

In the background, the field events contined to progress. The shot below is that of Dwight Phillips finishing his 8.74m jump that ultimately got him the first place. This broke the Hayward Field record of 8.49m set by Irving Saladino in 2007, who finished second this time with 8.63m.

Then followed the men's 3000m race with a field of Eliud Kipchoge, Bernard Lagat, Saif Shaheen, Alistair Craig, Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky, seen in order from right to left below. (There were others but they are not in this shot below.)

Lagat and Shaheen fought it out in the last couple of hundred meters. Shaheen pulled into the lead around the 200m but soon Lagat switched gears and with around 100m to go, he took the lead. He won in 7:35.92, almost a second ahead of Shaheen.

All this while, the field events continued. At some points, you could see three or four athletes in action simultaneously - someone running, someone jumping, someone throwing. It was pretty exciting, almost like a fast-paced video game. The above picture shows the lineup for the men's shot put, with a guy getting ready for the high jump in the immediate background, and another guy getting ready for the pole vault in the far background.

I don't mean to downplay the field events vis-a-vis the track events. Indeed, they have their own unique, inimitable moments. Below, Irving Saldino shows how to chat with the photographer while still jumping an 8.63. Perhaps that was the reason he lost to Phillips.

Or better yet, take the woman jumper below. She seems to be from the kung-fu school of long jump, unveiling here, for the first time ever, the soon-to-be-famous Flying Dragon style. This esoteric style is a few centuries older than the Fosbury flop technique in high jump. Unfortunately, I don't remember who the athlete is. If you do, please drop me a note.

Reese Hoffa won the men's shot put with a 71ft 10in throw. Here he is on his way out of the stadium, with a smile that seems to fit a persona of a gentle giant. The announcer reminded us that Hayward Field is the home of the 70-foot throw, there have been more such throws than anywhere else in the world. Adam Nelson, who won last year, fouled on all six of his attempts.

Sanya Richards (below) won the women's 400m easily in 49.86 seconds. Later she was in the Nutrilite tent signing autographs.

The men's 800m was won by Nick Symmonds in 1:45.86 beating last year's winner Alfred Yego. That's Symmonds in the pic below with Elijah Greer, a Oregon high-schooler following closely. Though he finished last here, he's supposed to be one of the up-and-coming stars with a lot of potential. A few days after the race, I was talking to someone in the little town of Tillamook, Oregon and he knew about Greer.

This was followed by the women's 800. Maggie Vessey, pictured below, won comfortably, beating out the favorite(?) Pamela Jelimo who finished dead last. The expression on her face after she won was worth a Mastercard commercial, though Visa being the main sponsors of this meet might not take too kindly to that. Check out this video; you can hear her say "Oh, my God!" She's the one behind everyone else at the completion of the first lap.

Then followed the women's 2000m with a field consisting of Vivian Cheruiyot, Maryam Jamal, Linet Masai, Kara Goucher, Jen Rhines, Sara Hall, among others. Cheruiyot won in 5:31.52 beating Mary Slaney's Hayward Field record and better yet, setting the fastest time ever on US soil.

As the winner started on her the victory lap, out came the athletes for what is arguably the grand finale - the men's Bowerman mile. The field - Asbel Kiprop, Alan Webb, Lopez Lomong, Leonel Manzano, Belal Mansoor, Shedrack Korir, etc. Kiprop won in 3:48.50 barely missing out on the Hayward Field record of 3:48.28 by Daniel Komen. If had hadn't done a Bolt by waving kisses to the crowd more than 50 meters from the finish, he might have had the record. Below is a picture at some point in the race, with all but the guy on the left with their feet in the air. Incidentally, that guy on the left went on to win.

Here's Kiprop doing a Bolt, albeit a bit restrained in comparison to Bolt.

The results showed up one by one on the scoreboard. They were hoping for a sub-4:00 finish by all. It looked good as the screen below shows. Alas, as the results scrolled by on to the second screen with more 3:XX.XX's, the last one burst the bubble - 4:01.09. Nevertheless, it was pretty exciting - 13 sub-4 finishers.

That was it for the races. The final event was the presentation of the Maria Mutola award. Last year was the inaugural one - won by pole vaulter Brad Walker. This year it went to long jumper Dwight Phillips. Here he is below, after being presented with the award by Mary Slaney.

A great end to a great meet. Best of all, it didn't rain! I think the announcer said something like 12,000+ was the stadium attendance, which if I recall correctly is slightly lower than last year's record of 14,000+. Everything was well-organized. The bib numbers that the athletes had, matched those in the booklet that we bought, which made it much easier to follow the races and also to compile this post. Though, I still don't understand why they have a hip number in addition. Nutrilite, one of the sponsors, had a tent set up and a little kiosk with cool stuff. We even got free T-shirts, energy bars, energy pills, and a carry-sack. There were a bunch of athletes signing autographs in the Nutrilite tent - Sanya Richards, LaShawn Merritt, Bryan Clay, etc.

We then headed out the gates and took a hop, skip, and a jump across the street to some absolutely fantastic ice-cream at Prince Pucklers.

(If you're interested, here's a link to my post from the 2008 meet and the 2007 meet.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Another step closer to a sub-18 5K

Ran a 5K race in 18:38 this weekend. That's a new PR. Old one was 18:59, set exactly a month ago. No idea about mile splits; didn't see any mile markers. It was an out-and-back course and the splits were 9:29 and 9:09. I've been running a pretty consistent 30-35 mpw and a couple of tempo runs a week. I had been planning to start speedwork after last month's PR, but a friend in an online newsgroup suggested that mitochondria generation in response to increased mileage can last up to six weeks. (Which reminds me I still need to read up more on that.) So, I postponed the launch into the world of speed then. It got me 21 seconds. At this point, I think I'm sufficiently overconfident to make a sub-18 5K my next goal. I do plan to sit down and craft a good long-term plan, however, I'm leaning towards starting fartlek and/or hill workouts now.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mt. Everest Climbers Measure Lowest Blood Oxygen Levels on Record

Here's the link to the story:

An average person at sea level has about 13-14 kilopascals (kPa) of oxygen in their bloodstream, University College of London medical researcher Dan Martin says. When his intensive care patients drop to around 8 kPa he gets very worried, and a normal person with 6 kPa of oxygen faces almost certain death. Imagine his shock, then, when he and three colleagues on the top of Mount Everest measured their own blood oxygen level to be between 2.5 and 4 kPa, the lowest ever measured in live people.

I tracked down the original article at the New England Journal of Medicine. Here's a link to the abstract:

and an excerpt:
PaO2 fell with increasing altitude, whereas SaO2 was relatively stable. The hemoglobin concentration increased such that the oxygen content of arterial blood was maintained at or above sea-level values until the climbers reached an elevation of 7100 m (23,294 ft). In four samples taken at 8400 m (27,559 ft) — at which altitude the barometric pressure was 272 mm Hg (36.3 kPa) — the mean PaO2 in subjects breathing ambient air was 24.6 mm Hg (3.28 kPa), with a range of 19.1 to 29.5 mm Hg (2.55 to 3.93 kPa). The mean PaCO2 was 13.3 mm Hg (1.77 kPa), with a range of 10.3 to 15.7 mm Hg (1.37 to 2.09 kPa). At 8400 m, the mean arterial oxygen content was 26% lower than it was at 7100 m (145.8 ml per liter as compared with 197.1 ml per liter). The mean calculated alveolar–arterial oxygen difference was 5.4 mm Hg (0.72 kPa).

For the full article, you'll need a subscription.

According to the article, the scientists also took tiny biopsy samples of their muscles while they were there and froze them; now they are studying them, primarily the mitochondria. I'm not a doctor and I don't really understand the implications and ramifications of all this, however, this stuff could perhaps be useful to runners one day. As it is, the benefits of training at high altitude are already well-known. Though I doubt you could, would, or should really run at 29,035 feet, maybe this study might provide us with a better insight that could make runners stronger and faster.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New year, new PRs

This weekend, I ran a 5K followed by a 10K. New PRs in both races - 18:59 and 41:20. Old PRs were 19:49 and 45:16. The old 10K PR was soft and that's why the big DOW-like drop. Pleased with the 5K time. The big difference has been the miles I've been putting in. I've been getting an even 35 miles/week for the last 5 weeks leading in to the race. Throw in a few tempo runs and it's good. I anticipate cutting it down even further once I start doing interval type speedwork. Current goal is sub-18 5K by the end of the year.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Prefontaine Classic unveils a new look

The Prefontaine Classic has a new look on the web. The site used to be, but now it redirects you to The site looks good with lots of info and video and what not. Much better than the simple text-only site they used to have until recently. The only problem is they haven't updated the records on their page. Check out this screenshot that I took today. The men's 100m and 200m world records are from the pre-Bolt era. Hopefully, they'll get to fixing it soon.