Saturday, January 21, 2012

First Road Half Marathon

Today Rob and I (and one of Melinda's grad students and his girlfriend) ran the 30th edition of the Topeka to Auburn (a small town/McMansion suburb of Topeka) half marathon. Despite an initial 10-day forecast of a high of 64, the race-time temperature was about 23, but the lack of wind made it manageable. This is billed as a hilly race, but without seeing the hills beyond photos, I wasn't sure if I should adopt a cocky you-want-real-hills-try-Utah attitude or in fact expect the worst.

Here was my logic going in: according to the dorky online calculator, my peak-fitness 5K in October (the day after which my months-long ankle injury began) indicated that I should be able to run a half marathon in 1:23. Hah! That was a downhill 5K, and I don't put in nearly enough mileage even when not injured for anything like that kind of half. Adding 30 seconds to that 5K projected to a half marathon of 1:25, or about 6:30 per mile pace. So I added :30 per mile to that for the injury and lost training, :30 for the hills, and :15 because I am working on just racing for fun (hey, today I even started without having told my watch to locate satellites ...). That brought me to 7:45 miles or 1:41 for the half. But then I thought about how, last year, 1:35 was good enough for a third-place age-group medal ... and, in the parking lot, Rob doubted I could break 1:40 (thanks Rob for getting my competitive juices flowing!). So I set my watch for 7:35 (or 1:39). In brief, it was a fun day.Training/schraining. The run felt good, I moved ahead of pace steadily, and the hills looked worse than they were. Really I thought I was even smiling at this point:

I ended up coming in at 1:32 and change, or just under 7 minutes a mile (and, for the record, the official race distance was a .15th of a mile over regulation length because they moved the finish area at the last moment due to a funeral). Last year my time would have been good enough for age-group 2nd. This year a big fat 6th (damn growing race; then again, I would have medaled in either twenty-something category). Rob and Bart and Carrie also had good races and beat goal times. The pancake feed was even decent, and normally I can't stand small-town pancake feeds.  

Non-running post to come soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Breaking the Silence (aka After the Book, part II)

Hi folks. Don't fear I don't intend to become one of those people who starts a blog with a burst of fanfare only to see it dissipate in a cloud of good intentions, increasingly infrequent postings, indifferent followers, and poor writing. True, based on the my initial reviews I have been chary of using this space as a mere diary, which prevented me from offering the odd paragraph from time to time during the past couple months, but really the main reason for my silence is simply that I just put to bed what I hope will be  frankly, what must be the most intense period of work I'll ever endure. You know it was dire when I didn't even blog about the Jayhawks show that Brent and I saw in KC ...

In early December, my co-author John and I submitted the final (well, goes-to-copy editing) version of our little book on Minnesota's 1933 mortgage foreclosure moratorium and the resulting 1934 Supreme Court decision that upheld this moratorium and subsequently weakened the US Constitution's Contract Clause. [This is just a tease to keep you waiting for the pre-order e-mail.] Then just a few weeks later after my last all-nighter ever? I submitted the final post-copy edit changes to the granddaddy of them all, my forthcoming book on the history of US population debates. Of course this task should not have been very time consuming, but, needless to say for those who know me well, I had way more changes than I should have. Then during the next ten days my incredibly kindhearted copy editor and I went back and forth until we finally got the book ready to go to "page proofs" which, in this day and age, is essentially the point at which the press charges you for changes. (By the way, the book still won't exist in paper and glue until the fall.) Actually, I should write an entire entry on the experience of having a copy editor. In some ways copy editors are like therapists ... they see intimate nooks and crannies of one's life in my case, footnotes dating back to my dissertation that no human being had ever read.

Jeanine and I spent DC in Christmas. No need to write much here. It was wonderful to see all of our families, Mom and I even enjoyed the very rare mother-son movie and musuem visit, and Owen and Milo continue to be the smartest nephews in the world. But just for the record, we are suing these folks because they made a movie about us without compensation:

The Christmas Family

We're back in Salt Lake. Jeanine had an action-packed New Year's, culminating by standing outside a police station at 2 a.m. in the distant suburbs of Paris unable to hail a cab. On New Year's eve I got in my first XC ski of the year and my first race at the same time, due to Utah's horrible snow drought. (I don't advise this race strategy; I was slower than molasses and getting slower). Mercifully I have one more week in Salt Lake before my semester starts. Unmercifully, Jeanine's already has.