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Eulogy for Tom 6 (31 Jan 2012 at 23:00)
Guys, my dad died. It happened earlier this month. We knew it was coming for a while, so we got to do a lot of preparation, which was nice. But still pretty sad. I may write more about this since I think there are some good stories (though it is difficult to write about), but I wanted to at least share the Eulogy I wrote for him, which I gave at the funeral.

 clip 'n save
Oh, man. I’ve actually been stressed about this since my father spoke at his own father’s funeral (Tom 5), years ago. He did a really good job and I realized I would have to do it for him some day. I thought about it a lot but I didn’t even really write anything until last night, I guess because I was afraid I wouldn’t do him justice. I’ll try.


The most amazing thing to me about my father was how selfless he was. He spent his whole adult life working tirelessly in public service and providing for his family. He saw us become the men and women we are, but didn’t get to enjoy the retirement he deserved. Yet he told me that he wouldn’t do it any differently, and I believe him—at Christmases his favorite thing was not giving nor receiving gifts but just watching us give each other gifts.

Sometimes he was working completely “behind the scenes” to make things go better for you; he didn’t need you to know that he did it. He would silently pay your car insurance or student loans if you were low on money, even if he was low on money. We discovered after he died that he kept a stash of wine bottles hidden so that he could replenish mom’s supply if she ran out at an inopportune time. Before I was born, when he and my mom lived in New Haven, dad protected her from a knife-wielding intruder, wrestling this guy down the stairs after getting stabbed multiple times, puncturing his lung. I didn’t even hear the story until I was an adult. I couldn’t believe that. I would tell my kids all the time: Oh, that’s cool that you’re watching He-Man, but did you know that that I’m an actual real master of the universe? He didn’t tell us, first I assume to protect us from the idea that there were even scary people in the world, and second because he was just that kind of humble guy. He was my hero even before I knew, anyway.

As you probably know he had no fear of doing things openly if he thought that was the right way. Ask any kid for a story of him embarrassing us together or individually. When we visited CMU, which is the school I ended up going to, I had been kind of disappointed with the official tour. He took the unimaginably embarrassing step of just walking into someone’s office in the computer science department (turned out to be like the associate dean) and asking for a tour. She was initially like, um, no? as my mom and I hid our faces in shame. But after he politely thanked her and left, she decided she needed a break after all and gave us a great insider’s tour, and honestly that made the difference for me, and it changed my life.

Which he did in lots of other ways. They’re easy to see: He instilled in us the importance of hard work and family. He valued teaching; Taylor and Kerrigan are teachers and Mike and I loved to teach while in grad school, too. Dad loved making things, his home filled with homemade furniture and most recently the effing greenhouse. Mike and I are engineers, Taylor a carpenter. We really fall in love, and fall hard. And writing, and public speaking, and telling stories, and tennis, and playing guitar. It’s trite to say but I do actually feel like he is a part of all of us. I care about the same things he does, and not just to honor him, but because it’s actually who I am.


Dad loved to brag about us so let me brag about him for a bit. In the days following his death there were several newspaper articles about him, and spots on TV and NPR. At his wake yesterday I counted about 500 people. In addition to the friends and family that made the trip, there were 10 reporters, many who told us he was their favorite to work with, superintendents, the commissioner of education, who told us that at a recent meeting of education bigwigs, they held a moment of silence for him and then went around the table sharing stories and kind words. A US Senator came. But what struck me most was not the volume of visitors but the consistency of their praise: He was a rare and great man. He saved my butt on many occasions. He knew everything but didn’t make you feel like he was smarter than you. He always went out of his way to help. We loved him. You boys look so much like him (which I take to mean that he was very, very handsome).


Dad’s presence in the world made it a better place, and so he deserved to live for decades more. But there are many positive things about the way he died that we’re thankful for. We knew it was coming, despite his attempts to protect us from it, and we were able to prepare for a long time. In the last five years we grew closer as a family. All of the kids got to say goodbye properly, and we heard him say he was proud of us, and that we are proud of him. And mom never left him for his last month, sleeping beside him, watching the sunrise, taking care of him. I saw them share many special moments, and she cherished it like being on a long camping vacation, which is how much they loved each other. We savored little things that in other circumstances we’d take for granted. His stories. His poking fun. His touch. How he won over all of the nursing staff. Pie drawers. Our scrappy and sentimental Christmas Eve and Christmas in hospice, arguably the best ever. We made our old house appear to be wheelchair-accessible and managed to get him home again after more than a month away, and he was so happy to be there that I think we made the van driver cry. The stream of visitors with kind words and stories and pepper spray. Dad counted his blessings for them: His beautiful wife, his children and their loved ones, keeping him company every day.

And he tried to provide for us from that bed, willing himself to stay alive to collect one more social security check, giving me stock tips (which were actually good), life advice, long shots in on-line horse racing, telling us not to miss the stash of diamonds he had in his glove compartment (??) that he was going to use to make mom a piece of jewelry. And he tended to our feelings, always taking an optimistic view in the bleakest of circumstances, making us feel as okay as he did, which was... okay.


So I say that dad won his battle with cancer, because he didn’t let it change him. He was himself to the end, he died right, and as he kept telling us, he had a good run. I’ll miss you, dad, we all will, but you’ll always be with us.

Love,
everybody.
Category:  momentous (8 comments — almost 6 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Pac Tom Level 1 Complete, trophy (30 Jan 2010 at 11:21)
Pac Tom Level 1 Trophy
pac tom level 1 trophy.pdf


logoPac Tom project:
site · all · map
Hey, this post is to officially announce that I completed Level 1 of my Pac Tom project. That's a big deal for me but I'm kind of over it because I finished over a year ago, in November 2008! I've been strangely silent on the project since I announced almost being done in the August 2008. It's part of a weird pattern of behavior where I finish or almost finish big projects but then never announce them because my announcement ambitions exceed my announcement wherewithal, which would be such a tiny fraction of the total effort expended (which is weird) so I never actually announce them. This particular case is strange because I'm well on to Pac Tom Level 2, spending many hours every week busting my ass on it in various ways. I'm trying to fix this behavior. Pac Tom Level 1 is done! Soon, the Pac Tom website and my substantial progress on Level 2.

Pac Tom is my project to run the length of every street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I've been doing it for many years now, accounting for many thousands of miles and many hundreds of hours of running. Level 1 is the area of the city between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (see map above), which is 23.5 square miles. Those black lines are the routes I ran, tracked with my wrist-worn GPS device. I always start or end at my home or work, usually both. The background map is my old Map of Pittsburgh Neighborhoods which I made for Wikipedia. Click for a PDF so you can zoom to your heart's content, as long as its content does not exceed the limits of IEEE floating point. I have new maps now which are not as sloppy, but also not as colorful.

And then I have to do this:
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Every street, continental Pgh
Categories:  momentous  pac tom (5 comments — almost 8 years ago)   [ comment ]
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30th birthday: Cake Quest (28 Sep 2009 at 00:21)
Sunday I turned 30, as in years. The celebration started Friday when we had a great combo-party (Brianne's birthday on Saturday) in my space age bachelor pad. I hardly ever host parties in my place so I was a little nervous. It turned out almost ideally; like maybe 50 people and never got out of hand. I have one room, now known as the Observatory, which is basically empty since my brother moved to Boston, and so that room just now has a secondary colony of San Pellegrino bottles (kind of ran out of space in my own room), my answering machine (full, useless) and two seats for "Observing" these objects, like a minimalist art project. (This was great. The San Pellegrino collection really drives some people nuts and other people happily make new interactive art with it.) On Nels's suggestion we made the Observatory a bit more partied up for the party, using the projector to show Robot Jox, a classic Robots Gone Wild cold-war-forever piece. No real sound setup in there, but I could only find Spanish subtitles, so I Google-Translated those back into English, so the whole movie was subtitled in this broken doubly-translated language which was especially delightful if you also listened closely enough to the computer speakers for the original EN audio, until the text inexplicably transforms into Spanish because Google Translate gives up once it gets a certain ways into a document that you upload, cuz I guess it gets tired and is like ahem you finish this. But only a few people in there at a time because of the two seats. Most people party 4 regular in the games room, or Gallery, or murder Prof. Plum in the Kitchen with the candlestick.

The highlight for me was the Great Race, a 10K which I run every year. This year it was on Sunday morning, my birthday. Last year I ran it real hard which qualified me as a seeded runner this time, but I'm not in as good shape and anyway have retired from running 10K for speed. So I decided it's costumes. I have pretty complex requirements for a race costume. It has to be pretty conspicuous, so people spot it. It has to not get in anyone's way or be race-ejectingly illegal, because I don't want to interfere (except maybe mentally) with anybody who's taking the race seriously. It has to clearly impede my ability to run, but should also be actually harder than you'd first think. This time I also wanted a birthday theme. I mulled a bunch of ideas with friends (bunch of helium balloons was a frontrunner for a while) and eventually settled on Ryan's idea to run with a birthday cake. So I got a half-sheet cake and decorated it, and ran the whole six miles carrying it:

Cake Quest I


I can put on a smile for the camera but it didn't feel that good in the arms. It is pretty weird to run a race and for that to be the primary focus of pain. Harder than the H1N1 marathon costume, I'd say, though a much much shorter race. But running with a costume is basically always worth it. For the people you run by (observers or if you start in the back, folks you pass) the costume is new and funny, so the whole race people are laughing or making comments and in this case wishing or singing happy birthday. They love that shit because they're either waiting in the rain for the one person they know in the race to pass, which is otherwise totally monotonous, or they're hurting from running in the race and want to be distracted. And I love overhearing or having other people overhear, "You got beat by the guy carrying the cake?!" Oh yeah so it was raining, and this made the cake very wet, and the cardboard it was on start to have deteriorating conditions and buckle, so this was a disadvantage for ways one could carry it because it needed Total Underbody Support. Eventually there were only like two asymmetric (dual) ways and one symmetric way to hold the cake and I'd cycle between them every 15 seconds as my arms and back were burning up. I made it downtown with the cake about as intact as it could be, which isn't saying much:

Cake Quest II
9-27-79 NEVER FORGET


Even my birthday hat has melted. News like spectacles, so some people interviewed me. The best coverage was on KDKA (near the end, though the anchor foreshadows). There's some interviewing of me in the otherwise extremely boring (like it's mostly just video of people standing around?) WPXI Web Exclusive. See 1:55 and 3:30.

Lots of friends helped make this the best birthday weekend ever with their party-going and fun-loving and organizing and driving me to-and-fro since my license expired and I have another flat tire, and the cake eating and wearing hats in the race and writing on me and watching Steelers and not giving me presents that make me feel uncomfortably materialistic and rearranging the art bottles and taking photos and everything. Thanks!!! :)
Categories:  races  momentous (9 comments — almost 8 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Our first concert (08 Feb 2009 at 21:58)
As promised, we played our first real gig at Smiling Moose last night. This weekend has been real warm for February and nobody that I know of scheduled a competing event so we managed to get a very good crowd (I'd estimate about 40 (?) of our friends plus people I didn't know). I know that most people came on the basis of that's-what-friends-are-for or cuz that's where the party is and not out of legitimate fandom, so I am especially thankful to all of you for coming and being such a top-notch audience. Here is a picture of Nels and me before it got too hot up there to keep all those business casual clothes on:

At Smiling Moose, 7 Feb 2009


You can see the remainder of the pics of Sick Ridiculous and the Sick Ridiculous, Big Hurry, and Central Plains at flickridiculous. These are with my new camera which I am very happy with. To use my old D60 in this amount of light would have been torture. (Thanks to Brendan for taking the glamor shots of us while we were playing.) There is some video too which I will share with you when I've found the best part. (Thanks to Brendan and Ryan for that.)

After we ironed out the sound and screwing-up problems in the first song, I think we did a good job. I had some anxiety about breaking strings. Last time I broke a string during the concert, having just replaced my strings due to breakage two days prior. This time I bought strings that are supposed to last longer ("Elixir") mainly because the store didn't have my favorites (Martin Marquis Phosphor-Bronze Medium), and those broke after a day and a half of mild playing (!). All of these failures have been right at the bridge. I don't get it. Anyway I thought the Elixir strings felt nice but sounded remarkably bad, so I was secretly happy to have to replace them. The night before I had one of those dreams where I'm performing a familiar activity (guitar playing) and something out of my control keeps recurring (string breakage). But these strings held up. It was a good time. I had also thought of some funny or meaningful things to say, earlier in the day, but didn't remember to say any of those during our scheduled banter moments. One I really should have mentioned is that the Smiling Moose bar where we played is immediately across from the place (Pittsburgh Guitars) where I bought my first guitar in college about 9 years ago. That is some hakuna matata shit right there. Also my first band was called Spastic Moose. And speaking of guitars, I really need to get a pickup for mine or get a new guitar with one built in. Is there no one that can advise me on this?

BTW, if you regret missing this show, we'll be playing at the CMU CS dept. semi-official house party at the end of the month.
Categories:  sick ridiculous  momentous (8 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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39m33s or ⊥! (28 Sep 2008 at 14:25)
Phew! That was freakin' brutal. But I did it: I got under 40 minutes (this time safely under at an official 39m33s) in this mostly-downhill 10K (6.21 miles). I prepared and trained a lot for this race (maybe not as much as the marathon, but still I took it pretty seriously) and yesterday was my first 29th birthday so I didn't really behave myself on Friday night, but I'm really glad I got my goal time so I can retire from the 10K distance. I hate that distance. Super long distances are painful, but not because I run at an uncomfortable pace, just that I do it for hours. I like that better. 5K is fine because you suffer bad but it's over in 20 minutes. 10K I feel like I am pushing just as hard (indeed my 5K split in this race was my fastest ever 5K and my time was less than twice my Run Around The Square time), just for twice as long. Pukey. The whole long uphill parts on 5th Avenue and Boulevard of the Allies I was continuously doing that giving up game, like literally visualizing myself pulling over to stop at a specific spot coming up twenty yards down the road, really succumbing to it, but then when I get to that point declining (it's really more like forgetting than declining). I don't know how to explain this, really. Anyway, it was definitely my hardest race. I'll run it again, but I currently don't feel any need to improve or match this time.

I don't have any race plans in the near future (basically, I'm heading back to full-time Pac Tommery) so you won't have to see this template for a while, but I must:
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Official 10K under 40 minutes
Categories:  momentous  races (18 comments — almost 4 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Runnin' with the Devil (06 Sep 2008 at 14:40)
Music, running, music, running. That's all there is to do on Tom 7 Radar these days. I even have a music post queued up next. Oh, actually, I have a non-music and non-running post queued up too, phew.

But here's the thing: 'tis the season. So I got up at 4:45am and took public transportation to the IKEA Half Marathon in Robinson, which starts in a shopping center. No kidding. After a big downhill for the first 3/4 mile (which IMO they should get rid of, since I think it cheapens the race) it's a loop out and back on the Montour Trail, which is pretty nice. It is reminiscent of the Farmington Canal in New Haven county. These running stories are tedious but I wanted to share two things. First is I registered in the morning right before the race and smirked when I saw my bib at the top of the pile:

IKEA did 6/6/6


Yeah, really 666. I mean, it's even in bright-ass red. I got some good comments on this one. The other thing is that even though I wasn't taking this race very seriously (in terms of preparation; I definitely ran it hard) I ended up achieving another personal goal, which was to run a half-marathon under 1h30m. I'm not sure exactly what my official time was, but I timed myself at 1h27m48s, which works out to a pace of about 6m45s per mile. It's a small race too (something like 700 runners) so I also got 3rd place in my age group with that time, though I don't know what that age group is (for all I know it could be exactly-28-year-olds). So anyway,

ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Half Marathon under 1h30m
Categories:  momentous  races (2 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Run around the Square, 2008 (23 Aug 2008 at 11:59)
ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
Official 5K time under 20:00


Phew. This race was a lot hillier (meaning up-hillier) than I thought it was going to be, but I did it, finishing in 19m54s, which is a pace of 6m24.3s per mile. Lots of people were telling me it should be easy for me to break 20 minutes, but it wasn't. I think I'm just not built for middle-distance.

Mistakes: Well, I didn't prepare for this as well as the marathon. I didn't eat as well the last couple of weeks, and I ate way too much pasta last night (anyway carbo-loading doesn't really do anything for this kind of race; it should have been about eating something that wouldn't upset my stomach) and drank too much coffee and not enough water in the morning. The biggest mistake was probably rushing off at the beginning of the race with the front of the pack. These people were running like a 5m15s/mile pace, which is way faster than I need to crack 20 minutes, and that tired me out. After finishing the first mile in 5m41s, the race started to get uphill. I was surprised because I naively thought that since it started up in Regent Square and ended down in the park, it would be all downhill. So on mile 2 I was feeling really crappy, like I needed to give up. (Thinking about giving up is a sure-fire way to crapify your race. Every time it happens you might as well knock 10 seconds off the final time.) And then I started feeling like I should conserve my energy because there was this relentless uphill, and I didn't want to die later. (Recall I was thinking that my first mile was stupidly fast, by this point already.) That second mile was a pace of 7m14s, which is pants. The third mistake is that the third mile is almost all downhill, especially the tail end, and I should have flat-out booked it in that section. Instead I was still worried about conserving my energy. Really all of these big mistakes can be traced back to not knowing the course before running it. Dumb. At least I won't have that problem in the Great Race. Of course all of that stuff accounts for maybe 10–15 seconds at most, so no big deal. I'd certainly be kicking myself more if I had come in just over 20 instead of just under.

Correct: Red Laces are still rocking it, but that was sort of an obvious choice because this race is mostly on gravel and not long so feet/knee shock is not an issue. The parts that were on Pittsburgh/Swissvale's brick and cobblestone roads I wisely ran up on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is treacherous too, but not as bad as the stones. I wore only shorts and shoes, GPS watch and car key. No water stops. The biggest victory was a mental one. Even though I was mentally giving up a few times, even in essence composing the alternative version of this blog post where I am talking mostly about mistakes and excuses for why I didn't meet my goal, in the last year or so I've learned a super important race principle. This will sound obvious. I often go into these races thinking, okay Tom, today is the day and this race I am going to really push myself and try to do X (where X is e.g. break 20 minutes). Then some distance into the race I am feeling garbagey and this makes me think, drat, today is not the day. I'm not up to it today. I made some kind of mistake. And the principle is just: The reason I feel garbagey is that I am pushing hard, and that's what it feels like, and to try hard is to feel this way, no matter the day. (This incidentally is how I know I didn't push hard enough in the marathon, which is that I didn't feel that way until mile 25 or something at which point it was basically over anyway.) So the success is the several times I felt like I should slow down because I'm not going to make my goal anyway, not slowing down, or not slowing down as much as I'm prone to at least. Also then there was beer and friends at the end and that was nice.

Next goal is to break 40 minutes in the Pittsburgh Great Race, which is twice the distance, but I think the course is easier. I am more serious about that, but that just means the personal stakes are higher. Think how many Gamer Points I'll have before year's end??
Categories:  momentous  races (3 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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Marathon managed! (03 Aug 2008 at 15:56)
Oh, red laces! You did not let me down.

So, this morning I got up at 4:30, made coffee, and biked 3 miles to downtown on a funny folding bike (courtesy Jake) to run the San Francisco marathon. This was my first marathon. I've been "training" for it for about 2 months, which for me means running a hard 4 hilly miles every day, or a semi-gentle longer (10–15-ish) one on the weekend. I was also trying to watch my calorie intake, which is much harder than running every day, it turns out. Anyway training is boring and over. Let's not talk about that. I was a little worried about running in this race because I had never run that far before (the previous farthest was a very painful 22 miles with a number of pain-increasing circumstances), and I was worried that it would be really physically hard (particulary as respects "The Wall"). I was even more worried about injury, particularly to my right knee which has a chronic pain issue at distance and had been acting up this past week. (I think that I get these pains psychosomatically to some degree when I know I'm about to do something intense, like I actually think my body is inventing pain to try to discourage me from doing it because it usually goes away after I tell it Shut Up and run for a few miles.) Even though I did a half-marathon in like 1:40 or so, and I'm much better than I was then, I had my expectations set pretty low (it turns out, stupidly low) for this race: I said to myself and those who asked that I would be happy with 3h45m and disappointed if I didn't come in under 4 hours. My sights were stupidly low because I finished in 3h23m04s, which is approximately the 90–95th percentile (depending who you count)! And I definitely could have done better. Here's what happened. I was a little late to the start line because the biking was slower than I thought and the chaining of the bike was a more complex knotting and folding problem than I thought, and the lines for the porto-potties were a lot longer and slower than I thought, so I ended up starting with the 4h–4h15m wave, which is even a slower pace than I thought I wanted, and is definitely a lot slower than I now know I want. And that's fine because it's actually pretty fun and encouraging to be passing people the whole time, and you get better cheering when you do so, as long as there is enough room to be passing people safely and non-obnoxiously. And so I was carefully running a 7:55/mi pace which felt sluggish but I thought it was the right thing because I didn't want to feel shitty later when I got to the last 10 miles. Then we got to the Golden Gate Bridge. This is almost certainly the most beautiful part of the course. They blocked off two traffic lanes for us; one out and one back. But the lanes are pretty narrow and there was no out-of-band sidewalk option, so I kept getting stuck behind some people who were running side-by-side and I couldn't get around them, not even if I was signaling and dashing to the other side of the lane, because over there were some other more people bunched up. I can't even blame them because they were all moseying along at the same pace that was appropriate for the wave they started in because they are more punctual than me. But this was really fucking annoying because 7:55 felt slow already and 9:15 or whatever was really slow. So when I finally finished this bridge part, which is about mile 11, and I was not feeling basically any fatigue and I was feeling this annoyance of not having been able to go as fast as I had wanted, and finally there was room to run around people, I really opened it up and that felt great. My knee was hurting and then later my foot, but I ignored it and it eventually went away. I ran the rest of the race at what I would guess was an average pace of 7:00 or so. I could have pushed harder there, but it didn't feel sluggish at least and I was still a bit worried about body changes at mile 20ish, so I was content to continue and get a much better time than I had thought. I'm honestly a little disappointed that it wasn't harder. It didn't feel bad or hard at all until mile 22, even, and then I only had to check my watch to push a little to keep up the 7:00 pace. Only at mile 24.5 did I turn to someone else and go, "This sucks!" and at that point you can hardly complain. So I am certainly happy with my time and I'm definitely happy with being able to run continuously (ok, with one bathroom break) for that long although I feel a bit like a chump for underestimating myself. If I had just pushed a smidge harder from the beginning I could have almost certainly qualified for Boston (3h10m), which I had previously thought was like a life-long goal of mine but now I think I should just do the next time I make marathon.

Here are some things that worked out well:
  • The bike was a good way to get down there. At 5:20 there is nobody on the road. I didn't have to deal with any parking nonsense.
  • Arriving in SF yesterday with EDT jet lag made it much easier to get up at 4:30.
  • I "carbo loaded" on Friday and Saturday and this seems to have worked? On Saturday with dinner I had 3 beers of light strength. This is a personal racing trick. They contain carbs too, and make it easier to relax and get a good night's sleep, as long as you don't get dehydrated. I think I did the right thing drinking at the water stations and having power-gel at mile 18 because I didn't have any wall problems that I could detect.
  • Red Laces worked out great. Thank you blog-readers for putting me at ease about this choice. I was scared at mile 8 when the knee pain came, but it went away. I also have this chronic under-nail blister that I think is going to result in one of my toenails falling off (gross) but I don't think that is a shoe issue but a weird toe angles issue.
  • The clothes were right. This was a concern for me because San Francisco has such weirdo temperatures and micro-climates. I wore shorts, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve shirt, and a hat. In the early morning and on the bridge the long-sleeves were good. Then I ditched that layer and ran the next 8 miles with the t-shirt, then I ditched the t-shirt and ran the rest in just the shorts. I held onto the hat, because it is light and it's something to wipe up sweat with. Not carrying stuff (including clothes on your body) does make a noticeable difference. I could have ditched earlier, but I'm glad I had the long sleeves for the bridge.
  • I ran hard on the downhills. This is a good place to make up time, and it is especially fun because you get good cheers when you are conspicuously pushing hard. I think the concern is acute injury, but I have a lot of practice from Pittsburgh hills.


  • Here are some mistakes:
  • As mentioned, the worst thing was being super wrong about the pace I'd be able to keep up. Embarrassing. Even if I had known the actual time to qualify for Boston (I thought it was 3h30m) I could have pushed harder in the second half and probably gotten it, once I realized. Well, there are lots of marathons. I will try again.
  • In training, I should have started calorie restriction later, since I was at my minimum weight last weekend, not this one. And that process is not fun.
  • I wrote a crazy-long and boring blog post about it. Seriously, a lot of people have been telling me that they want to hear "all about it", etc., so I hope those people are happy, and regular readers who like to read about interesting things and projects are simply not reading this far.
  • I knew that I was planning on ditching both shirts, so I definitely should have left a backup shirt with the bike. That was dumb. It is cold when you are not running. They had these mylar blankets that they were giving out as some kind of weird robot/superhero swag, so what I did was to tie that around my naked upper body and then punch holes through it for my arms, which looked absolutely ridiculous. Biking down was a great warmup, but the bike trip back uphill in the cold and looking ridiculous after running that far actually rather sucked. It was a little disturbing how few comments/looks I got, which I guess speaks to San Francisco's level of weird-tolerance in general.


  • Finally, some observations:
  • San Francisco is famously hilly, of course (though not as hilly as Pittsburgh, in my opinion). The marathon route is amusingly flat, however. The biggest hill is the one going up to the Golden Gate Bridge, which isn't really that bad. Like when I was running in Portland, I definitely noticed the locals (at least I assume they were predominantly locals) suffering substantially on hills. I just thought this was funny in Portland, but I was disappointed with the San Franciscans, who I feel should be representin' the local terrain. The Pittsburgh marathon, which is coming back in 2009 and does not go out of its way to be flat despite the naturally hilly terrain, will be interesting for this reason. In my opinion we should actually craft the course to be maximally brutal, which, coupled with Pittsburgh's unpredictable weather and poor air quality, could help us get a reputation as one of the most abusive US marathons. Because we ought to excel along at least one dimension, right?
  • I like trains a lot.
  • It is weird and I don't understand why I saw so many people running on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the marathon. What are they doing?
  • It is weird and scary when I see someone running like this:
    Disturbingly non-ergonomic running style
    Scary not just because I don't have my regular drawing tools with me and so I have to draw this awkward animation on this crappy mac trackpad, but scary because I think if I ran 400m with this kicking the heels out to the side style—let alone 26.2 miles!—I would ruin my knees forever. I saw at least 4 women running this way. I think that they have bad friends.


  • OK: I apologize for this post. Do not unsubscribe. I promise the next will either be short, or be about an interesting project, or written in an amusing style. Right now I am too wiped out to do any of those.
    Categories:  popular  momentous  races (30 comments — almost 9 years ago)   [ comment ]
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    Success! (22 Jan 2008 at 13:00)
    ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED
    5GP – Ph.D. (expert mode)


    Well, I did it! There were lots of people that came (thanks!) and it went pretty well given the little amount of sleep. If you want to see what it's all about and for some reason didn't want to read the 396 page dissertation, you can take a look at slides from my talk: defense.swf. You need a newish Flash player to view it properly, or otherwise you'll know since all you'll see are monsters and rainbows.

    I still have to do some revisions for my dissertation and then there is paper and signature shuffling and margin measuring, but basically this is it. Re: grad school, put a fork in it.
    Categories:  talks  momentous (22 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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    My latex masterpiece is absurd and I do suffer (14 Dec 2007 at 00:06)
    I have submitted my dissertation to my advisors.

    You can read it, if you want, but you might want to wait for the forthcoming annotated edition which has illustrations and footnotes and things like that, especially if you don't know anything about type theory.

    Now, video games and beer.
    Category:  momentous (22 comments — almost 10 years ago)   [ comment ]
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