Apr. 20, 2009

A Million Stories in the Naked City?

So the blogging motivation is dropping. What will my son have to read years from now when he tries to understand his self-absorbed father? No more getting sucked into climate change debates with pig-headed contrarians... I've also been working full-time lately and have a lot less spare time. More about that next post even though that is what the title is hinting at!

The day after my last post I ran in the Around the Bay race in Hamilton. 30K in a gentle but fairly steady cold rain. Comparing my time, 2:21:40, with the past two years I noticed with some disappointment that my times didn't show meaningful improvement. 2008 was 2:22:48, 2007 was 2:20:54. I'll never make it to the Olympics this way! I had a closer look though and found a silver lining. My finishing position in my age group rose over the three years - 82nd, 84th and 88th percentile. Poor weather has been a progressively bigger factor each year, so my similar times actually reflect a steady if modest improvement.

I also spent about half of the race this year "coaching" a runner I encountered on the course. We yo-yoed a bit around the 11K mark and I noticed her t-shirt said "32 Division". For a joke as I passed her I said that 32 Division was the worst precinct in the city and we struck up a conversation. Her police officer husband was running in a relay team but we never saw him. It turned out that she'd never raced further than 10K, hadn't done a training run longer than 18K and hadn't been planning to drink anything during the race! I kept her company for a little over 12K giving her advice (drink some damn Gatorade!) and a bit of moral support. Around the 25K mark as we hit the serious hills I gave her some final encouragement and hit the gas. Some of the runners I've been teaching in my marathon clinic were starting to pass me and it was making me itchy.

I felt pretty good the whole way, but when I "hit the gas" to make up for the slower middle segment I pretty much red-lined the old ticker. Remembering a radio documentary about an elite running friend of mine who had a heart attack during a race has made me promise myself to abolish finishing line sprints. That's the danger zone.

The Formula One season has also started and three races have been run. New regulations have effectively reset all the team standings. Brand-new team Brawn GP, created from the sold-off Honda factory team, stands head and shoulders above the rest with Red Bull and Toyota challenging. Former powerhouses Ferrari and McLaren are way down the rankings. The new leading teams all took an aggressive but defensible approach to a new aerodynamic regulation about the diffuser at the rear of Formula One cars. The other big change, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), gives six seconds of extra power each lap but is proving troublesome. Only a few teams are using it right now. Slick tires and reduced aerodynamic downforce have also made handling and braking much more sensitive for some teams. The tech will even out in a few races, but it will still be an interesting new racing field.

The first race of the season in Melbourne saw Brawn GP's two cars, driven by Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, start and finish at the front, with Toyota's two cars right behind. The second race in Malaysia started in dry conditions but ended in a torrential downpour. The race was stopped and couldn't be restarted before time expired. Jenson Button's Brawn GP car won the race standing still. The third race in Shanghai ran in steady and often heavy rain and started behind the safety car. Lots of drama. Red Bull got their act together in a big way qualifying well and finished 1-2 ahead of the two Brawn GP cars for their first race win. McLaren finally clawed their way back into the points finishing fifth and sixth, but Ferrari is having their worst year in decades with no points so far. Speaking as a fan the season is off to a great start with lots of passing and exciting performances throughout the field. I'm sure there is considerable angst in the slumping team's garages though.

Listening to: Getting Better (mono) by The Beatles from a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band bootleg. Who knew the mono mixes were so superior? Eye-opening.

No comments:

Post a Comment