Wednesday, August 29, 2007

O~~~~~~~~~~~~~klahoma! Where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain

A Day in the Life of Holden:
4:00 AM: Wake up
4:40 AM: Cereal with soy milk
5:00 AM: Drive to IAH
5:45 AM: Through security at Terminal B, on skylink to Terminal C, buy Starbucks grande coffee with room for cream
6:00 AM: Back to Terminal B
6:30 AM: Board Continental Express ERJ to OKC
8:25 AM: Touch Down! OKC
1:40 PM Back in the airport
2:10 PM Board return flight, another Continental Express jet (Canadair 200)
2:30 PM Push back from the gate
3:00 PM Waiting for clearance from ATC by the runway
3:30 PM Still waiting (all 50 seats full and it's kinda hot)
4:00 PM "Folks, this is your captain speaking, we've been idling and burning jetfuel for so long that we need to go back to the gate and top off our fuel tanks...."
4:15 PM Gunning for the runway, we take off! Apparently, weather in Houston was not so good.
7:30 PM Home, drinking Shiner Bock.

Murrah Memorial

First time visit to Oklahoma city on yet another day tripper. Went to Murrah Memorial to pay my respects. Such a sad place.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Chicago Distance Classic 2007

This Summer's half marathon came up at a bad time for me. I was still suffering from upper respiratory problems when this race came due. Not wanting to miss an opportunity to run though down town Chicago I ran it, coughing and hacking part of the way. The good news is, I enjoyed this run. Meandering through the downtown streets during the first few miles and then running by the brilliant blue lake shore with the skyline in the back ground was extremely breath taking. Sure it was hot, but if your motivation is to site see on your own feet, this race is probably much better than the main event, the Chicago Marathon in October.

Mile 1: 8:58
Mile 2: 9:13
Mile 3: 9:13
Mile 4: 9:29
Mile 5: 9:27
Mile 6: 9:22
Mile 7: 10:01
Mile 8: 9:53
Mile 9: 10:15
Mile 10: 9:45
Mile 11: 10:29
Mile 12: 10:06
Mile 13: 10:37
0.1: 1:04

Total: 2:07:58
Pace: 9:46/mile

Official Chip Time: 2:08:01

This was no where close to my Official Chip Time P.R. of 1:56:32 (8:54/mile pace) established at last year's San Antonio Half Marathon but that was under perfect weather conditions and this was not.

Reading bunch of posts from last fall, I have realized that groups such as the Woodlands Fit does help make you a better runner. In hindsight, I believe I was fittest and fasted when I trained with them last year.

Running this Half has exacerbated my condition. I am sicker now that I was on August 12th. I have forsaken all running activity since then, hoping to become cured from my Summer cold. I think I'm making progress, but it seems very slow. Desperation is now seeping in. It has been 2 whole weeks since my last run. As I wait, date for the Chicago Marathon marches ever so closer. When will I be able to fit in a 15 miler? 18 miler? I don't know. The Marathon that was to be a smashing P.R. is slowly morphing into a race of survival.

Looking back now, I marvel at my fitness level. Despite suffereing from a cold, I was able to maintain a sub 10 mile pace. To think that I could not even run 3 miles under the best of physical conditions prior to me taking up running is indeed a miracle.

"To Old Times," A toast to American troops, then and now. By Peggy Noonan

Once I went hot-air ballooning in Normandy. It was the summer of 1991. It was exciting to float over the beautiful French hills and the farms with crisp crops in the fields. It was dusk, and we amused ourselves calling out "Bonsoir!" to cows and people in little cars. We had been up for an hour or so when we had a problem and had to land. We looked for an open field, aimed toward it, and came down a little hard. The gondola dragged, tipped and spilled us out. A half dozen of us emerged scrambling and laughing with relief.

Suddenly before us stood an old man with a cracked and weathered face. He was about 80, in rough work clothes. He was like a Life magazine photo from 1938: "French farmer hoes his field." He'd seen us coming from his farmhouse and stood before us with a look of astonishment as the huge bright balloon deflated and tumbled about.

One of us spoke French and explained our situation. The farmer said, or asked, "You are American." We nodded, and he made a gesture--I'll be back!--and ran to the house. He came back with an ancient bottle of Calvados, the local brandy. It was literally covered in dust and dry dirt, as if someone had saved it a long time.

He told us--this will seem unlikely, and it amazed us--that he had not seen an American in many, many years, and we asked when. "The invasion," he said. The Normandy invasion.
Then he poured the Calvados and made a toast. I wish I had notes on what he said. Our French speaker translated it into something like, "To old times." And we raised our glasses knowing we were having a moment of unearned tenderness. Lucky Yanks, that a wind had blown us to it.

That was 16 years ago, and I haven't seen some of the people with me since that day, but I know every one of us remembers it and keeps it in his good-memory horde.

He didn't welcome us because he knew us. He didn't treat us like royalty because we had done anything for him. He honored us because we were related to, were the sons and daughters of, the men of the Normandy Invasion. The men who had fought their way through France hedgerow by hedgerow, who'd jumped from planes in the dark and climbed the cliffs and given France back to the French. He thought we were of their sort. And he knew they were good. He'd seen them, when he was young.

I've been thinking of the old man because of Iraq and the coming debate on our future there. Whatever we do or should do, there is one fact that is going to be left on the ground there when we're gone. That is the impression made by, and the future memories left by, American troops in their dealings with the Iraqi people.

I don't mean the impression left by the power and strength of our military. I mean the impression left by the character of our troops-- by their nature and generosity, by their kindness. By their tradition of these things.

The American troops in Iraq, our men and women, are inspiring, and we all know it. But whenever you say it, you sound like a greasy pol: "I support our valiant troops, though I oppose the war," or "If you oppose the war, you are ignoring the safety and imperiling the sacrifice of our gallant troops."

I suspect that in their sophistication--and they are sophisticated--our troops are grimly amused by this. Soldiers are used to being used. They just do their job.
We know of the broad humanitarian aspects of the occupation--the hospitals being built, the schools restored, the services administered, the kids treated by armed forces doctors. But then there are all the stories that don't quite make it to the top of the heap, and that in a way tell you more. The lieutenant in the First Cavalry who was concerned about Iraqi kids in the countryside who didn't have shoes, so he wrote home, started a drive, and got 3,000 pairs sent over. The lieutenant colonel from California who spent his off-hours emailing hospitals back home to get a wheelchair for a girl with cerebral palsy.

The Internet is littered with these stories. So is Iraq. I always notice the pictures from the wire services, pictures that have nothing to do with government propaganda. The Marine on patrol laughing with the local street kids; the nurse treating the sick mother.
A funny thing. We're so used to thinking of American troops as good guys that we forget: They're good guys! They have American class.

And it is not possible that the good people of Iraq are not noticing, and that in some way down the road the sum of these acts will not come to have some special meaning, some special weight of its own. The actor Gary Sinise helps run Operation Iraqi Children, which delivers school supplies with the help of U.S. forces. When he visits Baghdad grade schools, the kids yell, "Lieutenant Dan!"--his role in "Forrest Gump," the story of another good man.

Some say we're the Roman Empire, but I don't think the soldiers of Rome were known for their kindness, nor the people of Rome for their decency. Some speak of Abu Ghraib, but the humiliation of prisoners there was news because it was American troops acting in a way that was out of the order of things, and apart from tradition. It was weird. And they were busted by other American troops.

You could say soldiers of every country do some good in war beyond fighting, and that is true enough. But this makes me think of the statue I saw once in Vienna, a heroic casting of a Red Army soldier. Quite stirring. The man who showed it to me pleasantly said it had a local nickname, "The Unknown Rapist." There are similar memorials in Estonia and Berlin; they all have the same nickname. My point is not to insult Russian soldiers, who had been born into a world of communism, atheism, and Stalin's institutionalization of brutish ways of being. I only mean to note the stellar reputation of American troops in the same war at the same time. They were good guys.

They're still good.

We should ponder, some day when this is over, what it is we do to grow such men, and women, what exactly goes into the making of them.

Whatever is decided in Washington I hope our soldiers know what we really think of them, and what millions in Iraq must, also. I hope some day they get some earned tenderness, and wind up over the hills of Iraq, and land, and an old guy comes out and says, "Are you an American?" And they say yes and he says, "A toast, to old times."

Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Exit Row!

Return flight from Tulsa this evening. Seat 14C. Smidgen more leg room. Yea! My work phone got upgraded to at&t's model 8525 smart phone. It's supposed to be comparable to iPhone in terms of capabilities although it is no where near as hip as the iPhone like the one Sarah has. But then, she is one hip Rocketeer out of NASA and I'm ...... not.
I'm taking all these pictures with the tiny camera built into the phone. Very small lens, view these pictures in full and you can see all kinds of distortion.
It's been kind of hectic since returning from my vacation.

Back of the Bus

Flight to Tulsa this morning, sitting right in front of the toilet. Seat 19B (positively the last row) on a 50 seater Embraer Regional Jet.

First Class

Close but no cigar. Returning from Pittsburgh last Friday evening, sitting in 5C. First row behind the first class folks. I can smell their food...... Sigh.
This must be one of the most expensive cities you can fly to from Houston. Cheapest fair was over $1,000. Not a single empty seat however.
As it turns out, Jon was hanging out in front of gate C25 and I deplaned at gate C36. I probably walked (no pun!) passed right by him Friday night as Jon waited or was on board for his flight to Philly.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Will return to regularly scheduled postings by this weekend. Chicago was a lot of fun. Am I obsessed to be planning vacations around road running events?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mile 1: 9:38
Mile 2: 8:43
Mile 3.1: 9:11

Total: 27:32
Pace: 8:52/mile
Shoes: Kayano XII (260.1 miles)

Hot and muggy. Then off to work.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Long Run

5:30 AM
12.1 miles.
10:23/mile pace
1 Gu pack

A slight improvement from last Saturday's run. Saw Woodlands Fit's water station on Flint Ridge and Sterling Ridge. TNT had one at Alden Bridge and Research Forest. Saw some runners. Bunch of bikers. It's great to be running so early Saturday morning and watching the sun come up. Lost 3 lbs in sweat despite drinking 40 oz of water. Big breakfast and now drinking strong coffee. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Thunderstorms Forming Off the Gulf of Mexico

Weaving left and right to avoid thunderheads in a Continental 757 on my way to another day trip to New Orleans.

Corrections and Clarifications

Last Monday's real stats.

Mile 1: 9:42
Mile 2: 8:54
Mile 3: 8:39
0.1: 0:52

Time: 28:09
Pace: 9:04/mile