Sunday, March 25, 2007

Shamrock Shuffle - post-race report

My previous post was about the Shamrock Shuffle 8K race. It was held downtown in Chicago this morning. The race was excellent--great temperature, sunny blue skies, and a good course.

I am very happy to report that I met my goal of a sub-50:00 time. I set a personal record of 49:40 for an 8K. I wasn't entirely sure how I'd finish, but I felt really strong through the whole thing and managed a couple of good "kicks" in the last 2 miles.

Of course, as it gets closer to time for the Chicago Marathon I probably will stay away from races and just do training runs to keep a slow and steady pace...but for now, I can enjoy myself at races like this and feel a sense of accomplishment at the new PR.

More later...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The start of racing season

This Sunday is the Shamrock Shuffle 8K run in Chicago. It's the unofficial start of the racing season, and I'm really looking forward to it this year. I've lost about 15 lbs since the beginning of the year and my training runs have been faster.

I took some time off at the end of last year because of nagging knee pain, but also because I'd let myself get burned out. I bit off way more than I could chew with my training schedule, and I wasn't prepared for it physically or mentally. I think this year will be much better. Time will tell...but for now, I'm very excited for the season to start.

This will be my third year doing the Shuffle, and my third attempt to finish in under 50 minutes (roughly a 10:00 mile). Part of the problem is that the race is me and about a gajillion of my closest friends, and I feel like I spend a lot of time moving in and out of traffic. My plan this year is to start closer to the front, and to say "EXCUSE ME" more, instead of going around people. That's the plan, anyway.

Tomorrow should be a good day. According to, it should be almost 60 degrees at the start of the race, and partly sunny. Even if I don't finish in the time I'm looking for, I still plan on enjoying myself. I've got my pre-race ritual down pat - coffee from the local BP station on the drive in, a pre-race Clif bar, my iPod nano all charged up and with my favorite running tunes, and so on.

More later...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Four years of war

I wonder if most Americans are doing what I did this morning--stop, even if it's just for a few minutes, and consider what's happened over the past four years. On March 19th, 2003, the invasion of Iraq began. I don't think anyone knew then that it would have lasted this long, or that it would have played out the way it did. Whether you're for or against it, I think you'd be hard-pressed to deny that the human toll has been large, indeed. According to statistics from the Department of Defense and Reuters news agency:

  • 3,210 US deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
  • 24,042 US troops wounded
  • 60,000+ Iraqi civilian and military deaths

For what, exactly?

  • We went after the Iraqi government for their supposed role in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US, even though the Bush adminstration later went on record in stating "...there [was] no evidence that [Saddam Hussein] had a hand in those attacks..." - (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
  • We invaded Iraq because of their supposed stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, even though government reports later showed our intelligence was flawed and that there were, in fact, no WMD to be found (
  • The money we've spent on the war so far (as I write this) could have funded over 7 million new public school teachers, or almost 4 million new units of public housing, or funded 20 million scholarships to 4-year universities and colleges (National Priorities Project)

I could go on and on...but the fact is, those who are "for" the war will remain for it, and those "against" will remain against. Over time, though, I think it's more likely people will defect from the "for" camp in favor of the "against", rather than the other way around. But either way, I've reflected today on the loss of life, money, and international good will we've squandered on an unjustified and unjust war.

More later...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Baseball - the real first sign of spring...

Springtime, and a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of...Major League Baseball! Yesterday was the spring training opener for my beloved Chicago White Sox. They lost to the Rockies 12-4. But here's my view on spring ball--if the Sox win, they're the greatest team in the world...but if they lose, then it's not a big deal since they're always experimenting with players, roles, etc. So either way, it's not a big deal. Today is a split squad game against the D-backs and Rockies.

I know spring ball doesn't really count, but after waiting since October of last year to see a game...well, it's refreshing. And it gets me in the mood to go to the park, eat hot dogs, cheer my brains out, all that good stuff.

And of course, what would White Sox baseball be without TV broadcaster Ken 'The Hawk' Harrelson? His quippy sayings (what I call his "Hawkisms") really make it fun and memorable.

The next big milestone--the home (and season) opener, Monday April 2nd. Can't hardly wait.

More later...