I ran my first half marathon this weekend, the Healdsburg Half in scenic California wine country. The race was held on Halloween, and no small number of runners came in costume. This is a nice twist on the usual “what should I be for Halloween” dilemma. Instead, it’s “what should I be that I can sweat in for 13 miles?”
My first goal was to finish. My second goal was to finish in under two hours. And I did! Final time was 1:54:33.1 (they are apparently very precise about these things!)
A race like this is a field day for data junkies like me, especially when you jog with an iPhone app like RunKeeper. I had it going for the first 10 miles, before my phone ran out of batteries. Here’s the track and mile splits:
I must have picked it up after that — my pace over the remaining non-iPhone miles was 8:14/mile.
Some more stats and thoughts on what to do differently next time:
- My co-worker Jeremy suggested that a good goal for a first half marathon would be a “reverse split”: running the second half faster than the first. I did that, too! The first 6.6 miles took 61 minutes, so the second must have taken 53. I guess I should have run the first half faster!
- I should have charged my iPhone the previous night! More important than recording a track, it let me know exactly how far I’d gone: “6.34 miles” instead of “a few minutes past that six mile marker”.
- I should have brought a jacket with me to the start. The race started before dawn and it was very cold! They even transported stuff to the end of the race for the runners. Something to remember for next time.
- Running with a friend is great and can be good motivation. I ran most of the race with my friend Erica, who shaved a full 20 minutes off her previous half marathon time!
- Erica’s dentist (a former marathoner) told her that she should take a drink at every water station. This was good advice. The only drink station I skipped was the one serving wine samples!
The Healdsburg Half was very well-organized. They had full results (PDF) posted the day of the race. I finished 396/1438 overall, 234/496 amongst men and 40/76 amongst 25-29 men.
Don’t get caught up in all the Super Bowl hoopla — the really exciting match this weekend starts five hours from now in Australia.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are facing off in yet another Grand Slam final. This time, though, Rafa is the #1 tennis player in the world and Federer is #2.
They both have quite a bit at stake. If Nadal wins, I think it’s safe to say that he’s completely emerged from Federer’s shadow. And given that he won both the French Open and Wimbledon last year, he’ll be a serious threat to pull of a true Grand Slam (all four majors in the same calendar year).
If Federer wins, he ties Pete Sampras’s record for most major titles (14) and cements his claim as the “greatest of all time”.
The match starts at 12:30 AM PST (3:30 AM EST) on ESPN. TiVo’s are recommended!
Because of the 15 hour time difference, most Americans don’t get particularly excited about the Australian Open. It’s our loss. The first major of the year always manages to produce some interesting stories, and this year is no exception. Good thing there’s danvk.org to help you catch up!
Yesterday alone saw:
I managed to catch the last set of the Federer match, and it was fantastic. Both players played well. Federer had less trouble on his serve in the final set (he set a career high for aces in a match), but with each passing game it seemed like the chances of some random twist turning the match the other way increased. After all, the last time Roger lost here was in 2005, when Marat Safin knocked him out in a five-setter that ended well after midnight.
It’ll be fun to see if Tipsarevic continues to play this well. He seems like an interesting guy. He’s the only tennis player I know of who wears goggles on court, and he has a Dostoyevsky quote tattooed on him (“Beauty will save the world” from The Idiot). Frankly, I’m surprised that more young players don’t throw the kitchen sink at Fed like Janko did. It’s a great way to make a name for yourself. After all, people first started noticing Federer when he knocked off Pete Sampras at the 2001 Wimbledon Championships.
The announcers on ESPN pointed out an interesting fact about this tournament. It’s the first time in many years that a single tournament can decide who will be #1. Here’s how it works:
- Rankings in tennis are based on your performance in events over the last 52 weeks.
- Rafael Nadal has 5780 points
- Roger Federer has 7180 points
- At a Grand Slam you get 1000 points for winning, 700 for runner-up, 450 for semis, 250 for quarters, 150 for round of 16, 75 for round of 32, etc.
- Roger got 1000 points last year — if he’d lost yesterday, he would have dropped to 6225 points
- Nadal got 250 points last year — if he wins this year, he’ll have 6530 points
If Roger makes it to the semis, or Rafa doesn’t win the title, then Federer will remain number one. You can argue about the merits of the tennis ranking system, but it’s certainly predictable!
One final twist: if Rafa doesn’t pass Roger at this tournament, it will be impossible for him to do so for several more months. That’s because Rafa cleaned up during this time last year, while Federer kept losing to this guy. Rafa has points to defend, while Federer does not. You can see the full points breakdown on the ATP profiles for Federer and Nadal.
There have been two space-related stories of note in the news recently.
The first was that the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis was delayed until January. The space shuttle has been NASA’s greatest boondoggle in history: its $145 billion cost to date has passed the Apollo program’s inflation-adjusted $135 billion. The worth of the Apollo program is an issue for another time, but at least it had a clear goal which it accomplished. The Space Shuttle has languished into old age. Seriously, does anyone realize how old this program is? Here’s a video from the launch of the first space shuttle, in 1981:
For some context, the commander of this mission was John Young. John Young walked on the moon… on his fourth space flight! Here’s a plot of space shuttle launches over time:
NASA was accelerating launches through the start of 1986, when Challenger was destroyed. The first period represents the hopes and dreams of the shuttle program. Before Challenger, it really might have made space travel routine. The middle segment, from Challenger to Columbia, is the long working life of the shuttle. Expectations were capped, and so were results. The shuttle program should have ended after Columbia. But instead, it gets a third period to die of old age.
Shuttle missions these days primarily service the International Space Station, which exists primarily to give the Space Shuttle somewhere to go. Seriously, try reading the wiki article about the Columbus module being installed on the next shuttle mission and tell me what exactly it does. Hubble Space Telescope maintenance is often pointed to as something worthwhile that the Shuttle does. Fair enough. But how many Hubble’s could we have had for $145 billion?
The second story is genuinely exciting. It comes from the European Space Agency’s CoRoT mission. At $50 million, it’s a featherweight space mission. This telescope was launched last December and has been observing stars for the past year, looking for transits. This week, they reported that “CoRoT is discovering exo-planets at a rate only set by the available resources to follow up the detections”.
This is completely nuts! There are currently 268 known exoplanets. It’s possible that this number will double in the next month as the CoRoT group begins publishing their findings on December 20. Personally, I’d consider that a more significant achievement than anything the Space Shuttle has done in the last 25 years with its $145 billion.
It’s time once again for a token Grand Slam post. The 2007 US Open is winding its way to the final weekend. There have been some surprises, like defending champ Maria Sharapova’s early exit, and some fun matches, like James Blake’s loss to Tommy Haas in a fifth-set tiebreak.
Last night’s match between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer was the most hyped of the tournament. The result was no surprise. Federer won in straights. The messaging on this match has been spectacularly consistent: Roddick played brilliantly, but there’s no shame in losing to the greatest player of all time. I think this is crap. People need to stop going so easy on Roddick. He’s 1-14 against Roger all-time and 0-9 since 2004. He hasn’t taken a set off the guy this year. Maybe if people stopped patting him on the back after every loss and telling him how close he came, then he’d be forced to regroup and find a way to deliver.
One highlight of the match was Andre Agassi’s debut as an announcer. Great players often make great announcers, and John McEnroe is the best in the business. Andre didn’t pipe up too frequently, but everything he said was interesting. Here’s one exchange:
When Roddick stared down Federer and bellowed after a 138 mph ace to get to 4-4 in the first set, Agassi said: “There’s a fine line between getting pumped up and waking a sleeping giant, I assure you.”
Another great moment came when Andre revealed how he used to deal with Boris Becker’s. He picked up on a tell — whenever Boris stuck his tongue out before a serve, he was sure to go down the middle. What an edge that would give you! I wonder if Roger’s picked up on anything like that. Andy’s serve just doesn’t seem to phase him.
My picks — Justine Henin beats Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Women’s final Saturday. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic beats David Ferrer in the semis before losing a close final to the man himself, Roger Federer.
« Previous entries
Next Page »