McNaughton Park Trail tour (encore post)

Reposted from my old blog

Workout notes: 10 mile trail loop (walk) 2:44; I wore my new Brooks Cascadias (ok, I bought them a week ago).

Because the McNaughton Trail Runs are coming up, I’ll talk you through one of the 10 mile loops (note: in the 50 miler you do 5 of these, 10 for the 100, and 15 for the 150).

Note: on race day, the course is very well marked with fluorescent green tape (ok, it is yellow, but it looks green to me) and glow sticks.

Update for the 2008 race: today is Thursday and it has rained hard all day long. The course should be a gigantic mud-bath, so expect lots of this:

See here for more “mud” photos.

The start is near where the McNaughton Park blacktop road runs out. Note: there is a red arrow pointing to the right (as you look toward the end of the road loop). This is the start of the 7.5 mile “red trail”. If you want to do the trail course, you look left. You’ll see a wide, somewhat muddy trail heading down hill. Start there.

You go down hill and empty out into a field. Starting in 2006, the course turns left and you go around the field, hugging the outstide.

The race course has a “short cut” marked; if you go all the way around you’ll add a couple of minutes to your loop time. Stay around the field (don’t follow the horse trails out!) and, at about .8-.9 miles into it, there will be a small entrance into the woods; that leads you up your first climb.

The entrance can be hard to see during the summer; remember it comes at “almost 1 mile” into it. You go up this hill and empty out into a grassy field.

You can see the start of the course on your right and you head straight across the field toward the woods (near where the woods get closest to the road). This is where the “red trail” starts. Again, this entrance can be hard to find when the course isn’t marked. Here is a summer and a spring view:

Now the trail goes through the woods and you’ll go over several “dipsy doodles” (mini ravines). You’ll also cross several mini streams and possibly pick up some mud. Note: recently, a couple of cool foot bridges have been added. Eventually you’ll turn right and go up your second good uphill

and face another field to cross; this one has a foot path and features tall grass on either side. You’ll cross under some power lines.

You are closing in on mile 2. Then you’ll head back into the woods for some more single track; here you’ll encounter 3-4 more mini-ravines and perhaps a small stream. The footing is mostly good but the ravines are momentum killing. Eventually, you’ll come to yet another footbridge and that means that you are close to exiting this woodsy section.

This takes you to the totem pole aid station, and I have a hard time believing that I don’t have a photo of that. Here, you are at mile 2.5, and this is the first aid station.

Here is Jerry Davidson’s:

From this station, you head out following the red trail, for a little while. Eventually, you break away from the red trail:

Note that the red trail moves off toward the left; to follow the race course you go to the right of the tower that you see. This takes you past a bathroom and through some open fields.

Though this stretch, you might encounter some fallen limbs, maybe a stray root and some gopher tracks/holes. But mostly you can make good time.

When I am out on my own, I always get lost here (and so I usually just follow the red trail). But when it is marked, you can see where to cross the first small rectangular field (short side), and go between two trees into a footpath through the woods. You empty out and follow another field going along the long side of the rectangle, then when the field jogs right, you turn left thought the woods again, and move up over a tiny grassy hill.

Then you hug the field and then turn left through some woods

and this path connects to a very sandy path; you turn right on this path and head downhill.

The down hill area is called “the beach”. Stay on it and then go uphill to leave the sandy area; the path becomes packed dirt again. Then downhill to the first major creek crossing:

Note: during the summer, this crossing is sometimes dry:

And you are about 1/3 of the way through the loop!

Across the creek, you turn right and follow the dirt path. Here (when it isn’t marked for a race) it is easy to get lost and miss that first uphill section; you don’t want to miss that! 🙂

This first post-creek uphill takes you about half way up the bluff that you are about to get familiar with. Then you go down, take the dirt paths that run along side the creek and stretch out those legs getting them ready for the bluff section.

You eventually head toward the bluff and go along side of it for about 100-200 meters until you then make a hard right turn right up the side of the bluff: welcome to golf hill!

You are at about 4 miles into the loop. This hill has a rope during the race.

This starts you on an interesting 1 mile section where you repeatedly go up the bluff and almost all the way back down it:

You do have some flat stretches along the bottom of the bluff. The third uphill is the longest though not the steepest. You have one up-down part on this third uphill,

but eventually you’ll come to the end of this section where you will see this:

That is the signal that you are about to take a long downhill toward the creek. Note that this has been changed this year; no more screaming downhill but rather a more reasonable, gentle downgrade.

This bridge is just a hair shorter than half-way! On the other side, you’ll have a minute or two more of a few minor dipsy-doodles

prior to crossing another small foot bridge and emptying out at the base of a hill, where you will turn left and go up a long uphill, which features a wide trail and another wooden footbridge.

You empty out into a field for about .5 miles worth of easy running or walking:

Along the edge of the field you’ll pass a small family cemetery. Then you’ll pass an easy to miss (when not marked) clearing on the right. This is about 5.8-5.9 miles into it and is called “Heaven’s Gate”. Turn into this clearing and you’ll be at aid station number 2 and 3, as you pass it twice. Head towards the end of the field and you’ll see an entrance into the woods. Follow it, but then when you get on the foot path, take your first right (easy to miss) If you go straight, you’ll cut off about .5 of a mile.

This takes you down toward some woodsy paths that run along side the creek. I call this the slalom course as you frequently twist and turn between the trees. Eventually you empty out into a grassy field and follow that for a while.

Off to your right, you can see the mile 8-9 section of the loop.

Eventually, you head back through the woods, up hill

and back into the Heaven’s Gate field. You exit that, turn right, and head out along the outer perimeter of the field; you have about 3 miles left in your loop.

Here it gets a bit tricky again if you are not out there when the race course is marked. Keep going so long as you see the red markings on the trees.

You exit the field to the right and go along a wide grassy clearing.

You keep going until you see woods off on your left, and at about 7.25 miles or so, there is a small opening into the woods:

Yes, that one:

And that takes you through just about a mile of small ups and downs, with perhaps one good sized hill.

You pass over one small footbridge, and at about 8.1-8.2 miles you’ll see a larger one:

Turn right when you cross this bridge; this takes you on a bit more of path which empties into yet another field and a downhill.

Here you get easy grass running/walking for about a quarter of a mile.

When you come back toward the woods, there will be a right turn that you do prior to moving toward a field (where you first went downhill at the beginning of the loop. Turn right and after about 200 meters you’ll find the third steam crossing.

yes, that is Andy, the race director, and on the other side you see where the trail picks up again.

You go up a steep hill and past a hole in the Disc (Frisbee) golf course; don’t be deceived; you still have about 1 mile left.

You go through some woods, alongside the creek again, and then back into the woods on a steep uphill.

This part is the most mentally taxing for me, as it appears that you are finally about to get out of the woods, but then you are directed back into them again. The uphill is followed by a downhill, then two more minor uphills and downhills.

The downhill which has the wooden marking post signifies the end of the last wood section; you then empty out onto the disc golf course!

Turn right, follow the red signs on the trees. This takes you across a field, to a path where you go right. The lake will be on your right as you go past. Then as you see a big uphill on your left, take the hill and go through the clearing. This is the last hill of the loop.

Then as soon as you are on the top, turn hard left and follow the treeline. You’ll go through a clearing toward another “hole” of the golf course, but then turn right through yet another small path.

That path empties you out into yet another field, where you will be able to see the start of the course.

Congratulations; you now have another 4-9-14 of these to do. 🙂

Update: this shows what things can get like if it rains hard:

Note the tape on the tree to the right; that is the kind of tape that is used. I see this as a very bright green but perhaps it is really yellow? 🙂 (re: Brian’s comment)

Here is another photo showing a muddy course and the tape:

Both of these, I believe, come from the stretch between the last stream crossing and the disc golf course.

Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue (Encore Post)

True, I don’t care for Governor Palin (at least her politics and social attitudes) but I’d like to back up what I say. Hence, I’ll included a list of quotes that back up what I say; this will be lengthy so I’ll append these at the end of this article.

Here is what I think, in brief:

What I liked: insights to Alaska’s unique geographical challenges, discussion on some oil issues, persona life stuff, observations on the Inuit fishermen, running stories. She gave a shout out to endurance swimmer Lynn Cox who swam between an Alaskan island and a Russian one (though her joke “you can swim from Alaska to Russia is a bit misleading; Lynn Cox can and someone else did so in a wet suit; but it would kill most of us).

I was amused by her observation on Joe Biden physically stretching prior to their debate.

She also spoke correctly about the widely circulated “list of books that Sarah Palin tried to ban” and
gave a good explanation on how Alaska chooses judges: the legislature creates an “approved pool” and the governor has to select out of that.

She also explains her being unfairly tagged as having some sort of messianic view of the Iraq war. This is what she said:

which really is in line with President Lincoln’s saying that we should pray that we really are on God’s side.

One note of current interest This is from page 153:

Prior to the election it had been revealed that BP had been trying to save money for years by cutting corners on oil pipeline maintenance on the North Slope. This was very serious: leaks and spills from corroded pipelines were all too common and harmed the environment plus led to production slowdowns. So one of my first priorities (as governor) was to establish the Petroleum Systems Integrity Office…

Note: she said one thing in her book, and something different as governor:

Remember the Exxon Valdez disaster and settlement? This is what happened:

The Supreme Court handed corporate America a major victory this week when it sharply reduced the amount of money Exxon Mobil has to pay in punitive damages for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. An Alaskan jury had initially ruled Exxon should pay five billion dollars in punitive damages but in 2006, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court cut the award of punitive damages in half. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court cut the amount of punitive damages again and ordered Exxon Mobil to pay just $500 million in punitive damages – one tenth of the original jury’s ruling.

This is what then Governor Palin said:

So what does she say in her book? Page 62:

Exxon Mobil’s litigation compounded the suffering, especially for the Cordova and Valdez fishermen. Court challenges stretched on for two decades. It took twenty years for Alaska to achieve victory. As governor, I directed our attorney general to file an amicus brief on behalf of palintiffs in the case, and, thanks to Alaska’s able attorneys arguing in front of the highest court in the land, in 2008 the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the people. Finally, Alaskans could recover some of their losses.

Hmm, she sure paints a rather different picture in her book than she did in the video, no? 😉

What I didn’t like: most of it was boring Fox News talking points, much of which is either false, misleading, or baseless. The policy arguments were breathtakingly shallow and not backed up by facts.

But the worst part of it was the incessant whining and self-pity: her interview disasters were always the fault of the interviewer and she was always the one being unfairly picked on.

It appears to me that she has a huge inferiority complex (well deserved in some cases) and that she attracts others who have such complexes.

Though she whines about unfair attacks, she constantly disdains “liberal elitists”, “Berkeley graduates” and those who wear Birkenstocks and drive hybrids.

If you are the type who thinks that Fox News is “fair and balanced”, who thinks that your understanding of the Constitution rivals that of a law professor and that your understanding of the economy is on a par (or superior!) to that of a Nobel Prize winning economist, and that your “common sense” makes you a better judge of scientific facts that professional scientists, then you’ll love this book.

It is a pity because there are good things in the book, but they are scattered in a sea of boring repetitive Fox News boiler plate and self pity.

The details

Instances of resentment, name calling

p. 36: “Todd was shy and quiet in demeanor, typical of Yupik men, who, unlike some others, don’t feel the need to fill up the air around them with words all the time.”

p. 45 She whines about being ridiculed about attending so many colleges and taking so long to graduate. She claims: that it took 5 years because “she paid her own way” even after admitting that she didn’t pay enough attention to her studies on page 42. Still, why 4 different colleges?

p. 48: “For many in Alaska, being green isn’t about wearing Birkenstocks and driving a hybrid”.

p. 76-77: she attempted to insult someone by saying that they were a “Birkenstock and granola Berkeley grad”

p. 95: she argued that her husband really wasn’t “in bed” with the oil industry because he worked in the field and didn’t make executive decisions. That is fine. But she goes on to say: “I told Alaskans, “Todd’s not in management. He actually works.” (emphasis hers).

p. 99: she whines and justifies quitting her Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission post.

pp 107-108: she speaks with contempt about “Andree the Gadfly”, ironically noting that she attempted to get a license to sell homemade chickpea sandwiches. Such regulation is government intervention into the free market, isn’t it? 🙂

pp. 116-117: whines about Andrew Halcro, Andree McLeod (she calls the “falafel lady”) and the “Wasilla “town crier” being used as Palin references.

p. 134: “I had plenty of backup when telling Hollywood liberals what I thought of their asinine plan to ban guns.”

p. 151: “The fact that his shirt was buttoned one button off and his shirttail was poking though his open fly didn’t exactly inspire confidence”

Does she really want to bring up “inspiring confidence”? We’ll get to some things later. But note how superficial she is.

p. 181: Palin calls decorated combat veteran John Kerry an “elitist loon”.

p. 183: she whines about the press coverage she was getting.

pp. 185-187: she wrote a letter from God to herself. Yes, this idea might be ok to do in private. But when you publicize is, you open yourself to ridicule. Of course, she whines about getting ridiculed.

p. 201: she called a Public Safter Commissioner behavior “insubordination”; evidently she saw herself as his boss.

p. 207: whines for the first time about her being questioned about “what she reads”; after all, “she” has written op-eds for several newspapers. I wonder why she didn’t just list those newspapers? Why did she see that question as insulting anyway? After all, some might enjoy commentary type magazines (The Nation, National Review); others might prefer policy publications.

p. 214: she was talking about her knowledge of the Iraq war; she had just been selected as the VP candidate. She then says “I knew the history of the conflict to the extent that most Americans did.” That is supposed to be acceptable?

pp 217-218: she justifies her creationism here; she points out that her dad taught elementary school science and:

His lessons spilled over to the dinner table. We ate together every night and I just assumed that every kid learned clever acronyms for planet alignments and the elements of the periodic table between forkfuls of caribou lasagna. Didn’t every family talk about what differentiated a grizzly from a brown bear?

She then talks about William F. Buckley’s belief in a divine origin for mankind and called him a “world class intellect” (??? above average yes; world class: not even close)

Her “knowledge” of science can be gauged from this:

Note: personally, I love the way Maddow mocks and ridicules her. What I got is that this really gets under Palin’s skin. But it would be bad for a politician to do it this way; in my opinion many people have inferiority complexes about their intelligence (despite their bluster).

p. 221: “We felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington D. C.”

This brings us to two big points:
1. She brags about how Alaska is so different and the challenges are so hard…that isn’t “ordinary”, isn’t it? I suppose “ordinary” is good when it suits her?
2. She appears to think that “ordinary American” means “being like her and her supporters”. That might be why she made statements like this:

We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe” — here the audience interrupted Palin with applause and cheers — “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.”

Not sure how much this helps Palin out. Is the VP candidate saying that small towns are more authentically American than, say, suburbia or cities?

As Eilperin writes: “The upshot? Washington D.C. is neither ‘real America’ or ‘pro-America.’ Other parts of the nation? It’s unclear, but if you live in a small town, you’re probably patriotic from Palin’s point of view.”

227: Claims that Obama didn’t say much during his speeches. I’d respond that she didn’t understand what he was saying…that might be closer to the truth.

232: claimed that her candidacy would draw “unprecedented onslaught of rumors, lies, and innuendo” brought on by how she was “packaged”. I wonder if she remembered the Clinton or the Dukakis campaigns?

236: complained about the “black suited laptop-toting flatlanders” as well “a defeated former opponent, a maniacal blogger, the falafel lady and the Wasilla town crank”

p. 242: “I just knew that even though the other ticket had looked down on my small-town mayor creds, the convention delegates clearly knew that national leaders are nurtured in the cradle of local service”.

p. 254: She complained about the McCain campaign keeping her from talking to the Alaska media: “Ultimately, this hurt the campaign to a degree the “experts” could never grasp.”

p. 269: She takes issue with Michelle Obama’s statement about “feeling proud of her country for the first time” and bellowed about the so-called “Blame America First” canard.

p. 270-278: this is a long protracted whine/rant about her interviews. She had a quip about Charles Gibson: “he peered skeptically at me over his bifocals like a high school principal.”


But she saves most of her spleen for Katie Couric (271-278): though she admits that she “had bad moments”, she mostly blames the line of questioning, that she is being condescended to and complained that Biden’s gaffe didn’t receive enough media coverage (that President Roosevelt calmed the country on TV after the 1929 stock market crash; Roosevelt wasn’t elected until 1932 and the mode of communication was radio at that time).

But how can she possibly blame anything other than her gross incompetence for this:

The reading question:

The Supreme Court decision (remember that she complained about the Exxon Valdez decision as governor):

The “Russia” comment:

Fareed Zakaria got it exactly right:

pp 280-285: basically a series of complaints about the McCain camp, debate prep, and the expectations of her debate:
“Weeks out, pretty much the entire Washington New York media constellation was predicting that I’d make a complete fool of myself in the VP debate.”

(psst: they were right).

p. 287: she pulls the “I’m a girl” card and complains that Hillary Clinton was mistreated in the media. She did issue a bit of an apology for this though:

She wrote in her book: “I wasn’t really accusing her of whining. Still, before criticizing her on this point, I should have walked a mile in her shoes”.

Great line Governor. But you can apply that “should have walked a mile in their shoes” to many others as well, including those who accuse of not being real Americans because they don’t think like you. And maybe you should appreciate some of the racism that Barack Obama and his former pastor (Rev. Wright) experienced.

page 288: she calls Senator Biden’s idea for partitioning Iraq “hare brained”. Really: she feels comfortable being condescending to Biden but whines and bellows when she gets condescended to?

page 292: She felt that the VP debate “went well, from my perspective anyway.”
Really? Here is the full 92 minutes:

Here is my take (with clips).

I also got immediate feedback (not from the unscientific internet polls)

CBS poll of undecideds: 46 Biden, 21, Palin, 33 a tie.

CNN poll of all viewers:

Who did the best job in the debate?

Biden 51
Palin 36


Is Palin qualified to serve as president?

Before debate: 42
After debate: 46

Before debate: 54
After debate: 53

Update Media Curves

Independents: 69-31 Biden
Democrats: 87-11 Biden
Republicans: 80-19 Palin

Kathleen Parker ( a Republican) said this:

Well, darnit all, if that dadgum girl (wink, wink) didn’t beat the tarnation out of Joe Biden. Maverick Sarah Palin fersure surpassed expectations and said everything under the sun, also. And Biden smiled and smiled.

Palin is a populist pro. She hit all the notes that resonate with non-elite Americans: family (Hi Mom and Dad!), “Can I call ya Joe?” personal responsibility, Wall Street greed, children with special needs. Her most effective technique was speaking directly to the American people and letting Joe know that’s what she was gonna do, doggonit.

Stylistically, she used the language of the people to great effect. And, you know what? If you want to know what the American people care about, you can go to a kid’s soccer game on Saturday and ask parents how they feel, and “I’ll betcha you’re going to hear some fear.”

I’ll have to go to the transcript to figure out what Palin actually said and try to figure out whose facts were right. But there’s no question: She won the debate on popularity. She did her homework, studied hard, and delivered with spunk. Still, I had the uneasy feeling throughout that I was witnessing a data dump from a very appealing droid. Even the winks and jaw juts seemed slightly programmed. And the question remains: Is she ready to be president should the need arise?

I guess that counts as doing well? 🙂

pp. 304-306: she seems upset the people actually fact-checked the stuff that “Joe the Plumber” said about himself and looked into his background. She also talks about a campaign character that I didn’t know about; by then I had tuned out this sort of silly stuff (Tito the Builder):

p. 354: This is part of her build up to rationalize her quitting the governor’s job midway through. She complains “As per the left wing playbook, disgruntled personal operatives twisted the the ethics reform process that I had championed into a weapon to use against me.”

The “left wing playbook” remark is laughable enough, but this leads to a larger point: one has to carefully craft legislation so it can’t be misused; this “good old ‘merican common sense” doesn’t cut it.

p. 368: Palin whines about the 2006 midterm campaign: “It’s the story of how the Illinois congressman, now President Obama’s chief of staff, had crafted and executed the ruthless 2006 campaign strategy and won back Congress for the Democrats.”

Talk about pots and kettles…gee how pathetic is that? Has she ever heard of Karl Rove?

p. 370: “One does have to wonder though, what did Kim Elton did to earn his new job in Washington.”

p 373: more whining about the liberals; she mentions that personal legal bills were mounting and said “The liberal mentality is that if a charge doesn’t stick, personal bankruptcy has to eventually.” This is more build up as to her quitting her job.

p 378: “Left wing bloggers began feeding stories to their friends in the major media that the FBI was investigating me”.

p. 379: “Secretly, I must admit that I really wanted to see the likes of Andrea Mitchell on my home turf witnessing how happy and at peace my family was”.

385. “I do not believe I am more moral, certainly no better, than anyone else, and conservatives who act “holier than thou” turn my stomach. So do some elite liberals.”

But some Americans are “more American” than others, Governor? 😉

p 392. “The personal computer revolutionized our economy, but the “experts” didn’t see it coming.”
True, but perhaps “experts” and elitist developed the technology that made computers possible to begin with and invented the computer? 🙂

Instances of questionable accusations or statements

pp. 12-13: discusses Secretary of State Seward’s purchase of Alaska. She correctly points out that Seward was ridiculed. But then: “And so, decades later, he was posthumously vindicated, as purveyors of unpopular common sense often are.”

Uh, Seward went against the common wisdom of the time, that is why he was ridiculed.

p. 28: “In those days, ACLU activists had not yet convinced young people that they were supposed to feel offended by other people’s free exercise of religion.”

Wrong. The ACLU doesn’t oppose things like extracurricular Bible study groups, so long as they are treated the same as other kinds of study groups. What the ACLU opposes are things like prayers “lead from the podium” at graduations. Why? People have a reasonable expectation to attend a graduation but no one has the right to a captive audience for such things.

p. 29: talked favorably on title IX (the law that made government funded schools provide equal opportunities for women). Note: this is a liberal idea; e. g., the federal government telling local schools what to do.

p. 45: Gave Reagan credit for getting the hostages released. Technically, the release was negotiated while Carter was president and occurred 20 minutes after Reagan was sworn into office.

p 46: She has a long paragraph about how great President Reagan was which included: “I knew the previous administration had left a legacy of soaring unemployment, sky-high taxes and rampant inflation. Regan’s plan for growing our economy made common sense:….”

Fact: Paul Volker was the federal reserve chairman who got credit for reducing inflation; he was appointed by President Carter and had began his program while Carter was in office! Oh yes, he backed Obama during the 2008 election and continues to work with him today.

p. 67: She discussed the Exxon Valdez Supreme Court Ruling. In the book, she said that this was a victory and gave herself credit for it. When she was governor and spoke about it, she played a much different tune:

p. 100: she says: “The Democrats and the media both praised my efforts, but obviously only because it was the GOP getting hammered in that episode.” She doesn’t back this statement up.

p. 114: “we ran on small donations from all over the state, mostly from first-time political donors and we turned back some large checks from big donors if we perceived conflicts of interest.”
This appears to be false:

THE FACTS: Of the roughly $1.3 million she raised for her primary and general election campaigns for governor, more than half came from people and political action committees giving at least $500, according to an AP analysis of her campaign finance reports. The maximum that individual donors could give was $1,000; $2,000 for a PAC.

Of the rest, about $76,000 came from Republican Party committees.

She accepted $1,000 each from a state senator and his wife in the weeks after the two Republican lawmakers’ offices were raided by the FBI as part of an investigation into a powerful Alaska oilfield services company. After AP reported those donations during the presidential campaign, she said she would give a comparative sum to charity after the general election in 2010, a date set by state election laws.

p. 134: she supports the shooting of wolves from planes because they would “cause Native people to starve” and that they were “decimating the moose and caribou herds”.

I don’t have the background to asses this claim, but for those who are interested, here is a detailed, scientific report from the National Academy Press (1997) on that topic. Interestingly, enough, this attack ad against Palin was very effective.

p. 140: she described Juneau as “being a lot like Animal House”..but then went on to say: “In short, it was a lot like Washington DC”.
How would she know? On what basis does she say that?

pp 167-168: she talks about her son having an injured shoulder and how he needed parental consent to receive any treatment at all. She then goes on to talk abortion notification laws without mentioning the real problem: some of these abortions occur due to parental abuse, or occur when a parent can’t be located at all. She seems to think that the typical family is in a “Leave it to Beaver” situation; reality is much different.

p. 181: Concerning Senator John Kerry’s remark:

I recalled Senator John Kerry’s comment to California college students in 2006: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
What a loon, I thought. What an elitist loon.

(emphasis hers)

Right after this happened, Senator Kerry told people that he was joking about President Bush.

Kerry stirred controversy when he told a group of California students two days ago that individuals who don’t study hard and do their homework would likely “get stuck in Iraq.” Aides said the senator had mistakenly dropped one word from his prepared remarks, which was originally written to say “you end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq.” In that context, they said, it was clear Kerry was referring to Bush, not to the troops.

It is true that this was a huge political gaffe when it happened in 2006 But remember that Palin’s book came out in 2009. And one can also remember that this “elitist” served in combat; Govern Palin did not.

pp 196-208: she went on and on about her “success” with the oil pipeline. A fact check can help here:

PALIN: She says her team overseeing the development of a natural gas pipeline set up an open, competitive bidding process that allowed any company to compete for the right to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48.

THE FACTS: Palin characterized the pipeline deal the same way before an AP investigation found her team crafted terms that favored only a few independent pipeline companies and ultimately benefited a company with ties to her administration, TransCanada Corp. Despite promises and legal guidance not to talk directly with potential bidders during the process, Palin had meetings or phone calls with nearly every major candidate, including TransCanada.


PALIN: Criticizes an aide to her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, for a conflict of interest because the aide represented the state in negotiations over a gas pipeline and then left to work as a handsomely paid lobbyist for ExxonMobil. Palin asserts her administration ended all such arrangements, shoving a wedge in the revolving door between special interests and the state capital.

THE FACTS: Palin ignores her own “revolving door” issue in office; the leader of her own pipeline team was a former lobbyist for a subsidiary of TransCanada, the company that ended up winning the rights to build the pipeline.

237: her is her oft repeated “bridge to nowhere” story, which she calls a lie. The facts:

In her nationally televised speech accepting the job as John McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she “championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress” and opposed federal funding for a controversial bridge to a sparsely populated island.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere,” Palin said Friday in Ohio, using the critics’ dismissive name of the project. “‘If our state wanted a bridge,’ I said, ‘we’d build it ourselves.'”

While running for governor in 2006, though, Palin backed federal funding for the infamous bridge, which McCain helped make a symbol of pork barrel excess.

p. 270: She claimed that “90 percent of the newspeople covering the debate were liberal”; she used this as an excuse for people thinking that Obama won the first debate. Never mind this was a poll taken immediately after the debate (before the so-called post debate spin) from people who watched the debate themselves.

p. 278: “And the real extremism came from those who supported partial-birth abortions, those who didn’t believe that parents should have a say in whether their minor daughters underwent abortions, and those, like Barack Obama, who opposed laws that would protect babies born alive after botched abortions.”

This is either a flat out lie or a statement from an ignorant or rather stupid person. Here are the facts:

As Obama and other opponents noted, criminal code already prevented killing of children. In attacking Obama, Palin joined other conservatives in misleadingly referencing Obama’s opposition in the Illinois legislature to legislation that amended the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975. Opponents of the bill noted that the legislation was unnecessary, as the Illinois criminal code unequivocally prohibits killing children, and said that the bill posed a threat to abortion rights. When tasked by the Illinois attorney general’s office with investigating allegations that fetuses born alive at an Illinois hospital were abandoned without treatment — the alleged incident that inspired the “Born Alive Act” — the Illinois Department of Public Health reportedly said that it was unable to substantiate the allegations but said that if the allegations had proved true, the conduct alleged would have been a violation of existing Illinois law. The Obama presidential campaign subsequently cited specific provisions of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in stating that the “born alive principle was already the law in Illinois.”

p. 288: she calls Joe Biden’s idea to return Iraq to a three country system of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites “hare brained”. Really? Why? Does she even know that the current country is not a natural unit but rather made up by the British? From here:

Ottoman rule over Iraq lasted until World War I when the Ottomans sided with Germany and the Central Powers. In the Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers, British forces invaded the country and suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut (1915–16). After the war the Ottoman Empire was divided up, and the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was established by League of Nations mandate. Britain imposed a Hāshimite monarchy on Iraq and defined the territorial limits of Iraq without taking into account the politics of the different ethnic and religious groups in the country, in particular those of the Kurds and the Assyrians to the north. During the British occupation, the Shi’ites and Kurds fought for independence.

p. 307. She stands by her “Obama pals around with terrorists” claim but provides no basis for it. Where did it come from? Once, while running for State Senate, he had a fund raiser at Bill Ayres home and Ayers gave 200 dollars. Another time, they served on a same board. That’s about it.

p. 317. She whines about the reporting on her clothes and bitterly complained about the McCain staff. As far as her clothes, no one in the McCain camp backs up her version of events:

For that reason, Palin has devoted a dismayingly prominent chunk of her book to scapegoating communications aide Nicolle Wallace for supposedly forcing her to wear designer clothes. This claim is preposterous. No one aspiring to be vice president of the United States takes orders from a communications aide. The purchases themselves are fully documented in RNC records, including $75,062.63 at Neiman Marcus and $49,425.74 at two Saks locations. Wallace, a former spokeswoman for George W. Bush, has no history as an outfitter. No one close to the campaign backs up Palin’s version.

“Totally fabricated,’’ said Wallace.

“Total fiction,’’ declared McCain’s campaign adviser Steve Schmidt.

“Petty and pathetic,’’ said John Weaver, McCain’s former strategist.

If this were a normal politician – say, Mitt Romney – blaming an aide for a misstep would be laughable. It would seem cruel. Back in the ’60s, critics dissected Richard Nixon’s otherwise stately “Six Crises’’ memoir for excessive bile. But Palin puts the bile up front. She claims victim status for herself. Her narrative requires that she be a neophyte in perpetual war with the political pros. Kicked around by the vicious media (for her family!), straitjacketed by the McCain campaign, forced to wear fancy duds, Palin is the Pitiful Pearl of her tale.

The subsequent pages deal with other whines.

p. 348 She complains of “left wing bloggers” coming out with false porn pictures of her. Yes, the people who did that were disgusting. But why does she call them left wing?

p. 357 She complains that Obama’s stimulus package “defied the lessons of history and common sense.”
Really? Paul Krugman (who “only” won a Nobel Prize in economics) said that the stimulus was too small. He pointed out that WWII spending is what finally got us out of the great depression (President Roosevelt had an economic stall when he tried to balance the budget too soon) and that our current debt is a smaller percentage than our post WWII debt.

Lessons of history? Well, take Palin’s word over Krugman’s if you like. 🙂

Oh yes, she seems to indicate that President Obama could learn from her daughter Bristol.

p. 360: “I wish we had talked more about them (Ayers) and about Obama’s close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists.”

I don’t know how to describe this statement: stupid and unethical?
Here is a non-partisan fact check:

The McCain-Palin campaign accuses ACORN, a community activist group that operates nationwide, of perpetrating “massive voter fraud.” It says Obama has “long and deep” ties to the group. We find both claims to be exaggerated. But we also find Obama has understated the extent of his work with the group.

o Neither ACORN nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes. What a McCain-Palin Web ad calls “voter fraud” is actually voter registration fraud. Several ACORN canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes.

o Obama’s path has intersected with ACORN on several occasions – more often than he allowed in the final debate.

The “fraud” consisted of some drunks signing up “Donald Duck” and “Mikey Mouse” as registered voters so as to pad their statistics and get paid more. ACORN flagged these cards and there is zero evidence that Mr. Duck or Mr. Mouse voted. 🙂

page 363: she complains that she got a bill after the campaign which included 50,000 dollars for her being vetted. Is that true?

But what appeared to upset her most was that about $50,000 of the legal bills was her share of the expenses for being vetted to become McCain’s running mate, Palin writes.

In her book — which is due to be released Tuesday, but which the Associated Press purchased Thursday — Palin said that no one had informed her she would have to take care of any expenses related to the selection process.

Palin writes that when she asked officials at the Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign if they would help her financially, she was told that the bills would have been paid if the Arizona senator had won the presidency, but since he lost, the bills were her responsibility.

Trevor Potter, general counsel for the McCain campaign, told the Associated Press that the campaign had never asked Palin to pay a legal bill.

“To my knowledge, the campaign never billed Gov. Palin for any legal expenses related to her vetting, and I am not aware of her ever asking the campaign to pay legal expenses that her own lawyers incurred for the vetting process,” he said.

Potter said that if Palin’s personal lawyer billed her for any work related to her vetting, “we are unaware of it. It was never raised with the campaign.”

p. 364: she takes up for Newt Gingrish: “instead of defending their own, Republicans on certain committees forced Newt to concede to one charge”.


In his final opportunity to defend his client Friday night before the House ethics committee, an attorney for Newt Gingrich conceded that the speaker had made “glaringly inconsistent” statements to the panel’s investigative subcommittee about a politically oriented college course financed with tax-exempt funds.

The concession was among the most dramatic of any Gingrich representative. The speaker in December admitted to having provided inaccurate information to the ethics panel. The full ethics committee on Friday voted 7 to 1, just two hours after the comments by Gingrich attorney J. Randolph Evans, to recommend a $300,000 penalty and a formal reprimand of the Georgia Republican, concluding a week of partisan wrangling that convulsed the Capitol. The committee vote is likely to be followed by approval of the sanctions by the full House when it votes on the recommendation Tuesday.

The ethics panel’s subcommittee originally accepted special counsel James M. Cole’s proposal that Gingrich be charged with submitting information he “knew or should have known” was false. But in exchange for Gingrich admitting his guilt, the panel altered the charge, deleting the word “knew,” in what amounted to a plea bargain.

A review of the committee’s toughly worded 214-page report and of a six-inch stack of investigative documents released yesterday shows that Gingrich repeatedly declined to acknowledge the inaccuracies in statements he made to the ethics subcommittee until last November — weeks after the panel had announced publicly that it was expanding the inquiry to include the veracity of his answers to investigators.

The documents released yesterday also contain new references to the importance Gingrich placed on using a college course he taught, called Renewing American Civilization, to further his grand plan to win a Republican majority in the House. And they disclose that one foundation used to fund an earlier televised town meeting transferred to GOPAC, the political action committee Gingrich then headed, $42,500 more than it had borrowed. The subcommittee was unable to interview the accountant involved because she asserted “a constitutional privilege,” the committee report said.

p 365. “I had spent less on travel and personal expenses than my last two predecessors, despite having a much larger family”. Sure, but even if she meant “over two years compared to their average two years”, she spent much of the time on the 2008 campaign trail. Duh. Then there is this:

PALIN: Says she made frugality a point when traveling on state business as Alaska governor, asking “only” for reasonably priced rooms and not “often” going for the “high-end, robe-and-slippers” hotels.

THE FACTS: Although travel records indicate she usually opted for less-pricey hotels while governor, Palin and daughter Bristol stayed five days and four nights at the $707.29-per-night Essex House luxury hotel (robes and slippers come standard) overlooking New York City’s Central Park for a five-hour women’s leadership conference in October 2007. With air fare, the cost to Alaska was well over $3,000. Event organizers said Palin asked if she could bring her daughter. The governor billed her state more than $20,000 for her children’s travel, including to events where they had not been invited, and in some cases later amended expense reports to specify that they had been on official business.

p. 388: “The mortgage crisis that triggered the collapse of our financial markets was rooted in a well-meaning but wrongheaded desire to increase home ownership among people who could not yet afford a home”.
Actually, it was packaging risky mortgages into other investments and selling them as bonds is what caused it, as did some very bad assumptions (if a home owner defaulted, the value of the home was assumed to be worth more that what was owed…and that ceased to be true in many cases).

p. 388: “President Obama put the United States on track to double its already staggering national deficit.”

I think that she meant “national debt” and if she said that, it is true but:
1. Obama is using more honest accounting.
2. Much of the future projected debt was from obligations made under President Bush.

p. 391: Palin claims that President Reagan faced a worse recession. False, though this avoided the “pants on fire” rating.

Instances of “attitude”
Note: I am not saying that these are negative, but rather pointing out the tone of the book:

p. 15: “…my life truly began. I became a mom.”

pp. 18-19: says that all Alaskan animals “have a place: right next to the mashed potatoes.”

p. 67: was amused when a male politician appeared to be uncomfortable with her breast feeding.

p. 111: “Kris is a kick-butt, tell-it-like-it-is soccer mom” (eyeroll)

p. 145: “The guy was right about this much: a few of our forty representatives and twenty senators did appear to need adult supervision.”

p. 287 she quotes Margaret Thatcher: “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman”.

(yeah right…I wonder where most science and engineering advances came from? 🙂 )

page 43:
Palin talked about some of the beauty pageants that she entered. She said that she was reluctant at first:

Linda also reminded me that the scholarship money was generous, especially if I won individual competitions within the pageant, in addition to the Miss Wasilla crown. I enlisted the advice of a fomer pageant winner, my friend Diane Minnick. Then I shocked my friends and family, put on a sequined Warrior-red gown, danced the opening numbers, gave the interview, and uncomfortably let my butt be compared to the cheerleader’s butts. I played my flute and I won. In fact, I wond every segment of the competition, even Miss Congeniality.

Encore post: Mitt Romney’s book “No Apology” (hardback version)

Note: this was written on July 1, 2012 and reproduced from my old blog.

I finished Mitt Romney’s book No Apology (hardback edition). I’ll give a brief summary and then follow the summary with some specifics.

Brief Summary

In many ways, Mr. Romney’s book is a decent book; it is well written and it is at its best when it explains things like economic metrics. Note: Mr. Romney wrote this himself; he didn’t use a ghostwriter.

I can recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the 2012 election. I also recommend Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope as a counter…a different vision.

Mr. Romney’s book contains one amusing inconsistency: he, at times, correctly points out that anecdotal arguments are weak and not to be trusted…and then he provides data (sometimes appropriate data) to back up his argument. Then at other times…well, Mr. Romney provides anecdotal arguments!

Mr. Romney also takes a “daddy knows best” tone in many places, suggesting that the rest of the world “know its place” (e. g. that it isn’t up with the United States). In domestic matters, at times it appears that Mr. Romney feels that some (the wealthy?) “know best” and that others just be quiet and listen.

He talks about the importance of The American Dream (to raise one’s economic status) all the while talking up policies that, well, retard that dream.

Still, the book contains an adult discussion of ideas in the way that Sarah Palin’s book does not and has gotten me to at least acknowledge some points of view that hadn’t occurred to me before.

And yes, this book is light years ahead of Sarah Palin’s book. There is no comparison at all.

Detailed Reaction
I think that the strongest part of his book is the first 9 chapters where he gives a detailed discussion of policies. He admits early on that his discussion will be brief because the details are inherently complicated. Still, the outline is reasonably well done.

In the last two chapters he does his fatherly finger wagging. Social conservatives will love this part, but this is the most fact-free region of the book; little is backed up by data here. Instead, he attacks strawmen and relies on anecdotes.


Mr. Romney appears to be interested in education. He points out that we are lagging in the mathematical/technical areas and he points out that our slipping standings in the world rankings (e. g., how we do on science tests) isn’t merely due to poor and minority students dragging the scores down.

He makes the point that the United States tends to NOT pay its teachers well and that we draw them from the bottom 1/3’rd of the college graduating classes, whereas other countries take their teachers from much higher up.

He talks about his experiences as governor and he makes some interesting claims:
First, he says that the quality of the teachers has the biggest impact on how well the students learn. I don’t know how to evaluate this metric, though I think that teacher excellence is a key factor.

Next, he says that there is no correlation between student achievement and class size, and he presents data that charts student achievement versus class size. Wow, that is impressive…until you realize that the class size charts list class sizes from 10 students to 18 students!


Professionally done studies often use a class size of 17 for the cut-off point for a “small class” and use a mid-20’s size for the larger class sizes. And yes, some schools are dealing with class sizes in the 40’s.

Mr. Romney also presents a chart on “spending per pupil”. What I’d like to know: what is this spending for? Is it spending on things like free lunches, breakfast, after school programs and the like? Then sure, you could make a case that spending (by the school system) and student achievement don’t correlate.

He talks about how “teaching to the test” isn’t a bad thing and that there is a need for teacher accountability for how well the students do. Ironically, he touts Finland as a country that has had success in educational outcomes:

In the United States, which has muddled along in the middle for the past decade, government officials have attempted to introduce marketplace competition into public schools. In recent years, a group of Wall Street financiers and philanthropists such as Bill Gates have put money behind private-sector ideas, such as vouchers, data-driven curriculum and charter schools, which have doubled in number in the past decade. President Obama, too, has apparently bet on compe­tition. His Race to the Top initiative invites states to compete for federal dollars using tests and other methods to measure teachers, a philosophy that would not fly in Finland. “I think, in fact, teachers would tear off their shirts,” said Timo Heikkinen, a Helsinki principal with 24 years of teaching experience. “If you only measure the statistics, you miss the human aspect.”

There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.

Emphasis mine. Yes, this bolsters Mr. Romney’s claim that excellent teachers make a huge difference. But it counters him on some of his other most important points: Finland does NOT measure teachers by the their student’s test scores and…yes, they have a strong teacher’s union.

Mr. Romney spends a few pages attacking teacher’s unions. He doesn’t say that they shouldn’t exist or that they shouldn’t bargain hard. He says that politicians (especially, surprise, Democratic politicians) are afraid of them (really?) and that the teacher’s unions strength undermines academic achievement. Of course he provides no data, only anecdotes.

The actual data, even within the United States, at least suggests otherwise:

Average 2009 NAEP Score By State Teacher Contract Laws

States with binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 240.0 Reading 220.7
8th grade: Math 282.1 Reading 263.7

States without binding teacher contracts
4th grade: Math 237.7 Reading 217.5
8th grade: Math 281.2 Reading 259.5

As the table shows, the states in which there are no teachers covered under binding agreements score lower than the states that have them. Moreover, even though they appear small, all but one of these (8th grade math) are rather large differences.

To give an idea of the size, I ranked each state (plus Washington D.C.) by order of its performance —its average score on each of the four NAEP exams – and then averaged the four ranks. The table below presents the average rank for the non-contract states.

Average Rank Across 4 NAEP Tests
Next to each state is its average rank

Virginia……. 16.6
Texas……… 27.3
N. Carolina.. 27.5
S. Carolina…38.9

Out of these 10 states, only one (Virginia) has an average rank above the median, while four are in the bottom 10, and seven are in the bottom 15. These data make it very clear that states without binding teacher contracts are not doing better, and the majority are actually among the lowest performers in the nation.

In contrast, nine of the 10 states with the highest average ranks are high coverage states, including Massachusetts, which has the highest average score on all four tests.

If anything, it seems that the presence of teacher contracts in a state has a positive effect on achievement.

Now, some may object to this conclusion. They might argue that I can’t possibly say that teacher contracts alone caused the higher scores in these states. They might say that there are dozens of other observed and unobserved factors that influence achievement, such as state laws, lack of resources, income, parents’ education, and curriculum, and that these factors are responsible for the lower scores in the 10 non-contract states.

My response: Exactly.

Big Business and the economy
Mr. Romney has some interesting things to say here. Much to my surprise (and delight) he admits that regulations ARE necessary, if for no other reason, to level the playing field for honest companies. He also chides some businesses for being too short sighted and he admits that there is a role for government to play furthering basic research, much of which is unlikely to be economically profitable in the short term.

But, true to form, he goes with the “taxes prevent businesses from reinvesting”. He never mentions where customer demand is going to come from; supply side economists rarely do.

He makes one interesting swipe at President Obama: he chides the President for talking about how big businesses can afford to have their meetings in very expensive, very lavish resorts. Of course, the President’s point is that the problem is NOT that big businesses don’t have enough cash; they have plenty. They don’t have enough demand to warrant hiring more people.

In his “finger wagging” section, Mr. Romney talks about our society being one in which people have the freedom to take risks and fail; but the successes are what make our country great. What Mr. Romney fails to mention is that our society has less social mobility than other societies; that is, the rules Mr. Romney wants to impose would make the American Dream even harder to attain. Witness his recent remarks about higher education; “get all you can afford.” Hmmm, and he doesn’t think it relevant that he came from a wealthy family?

Mr. Romney talks a bit about the economically disadvantaged families (and the usual finger wagging at single parent families) and he points out (correctly) that some safety net rules DISCOURAGE poor couples with kids from marrying. I agree that should be fixed. However his fix is the usual Republican one: get more stingy rather than to get more generous.

He has this idea that rewarding the rich even more will make them work harder and that making the poor work harder for less is good. (???)

Economic Issues
Perhaps the best feature of the book is how he explains things like the housing bubble (excellent graph showing what happened) and how one measures claims such as “China spends X on defense”. Of course, on the housing bubble, I wish he had hit the greedy lenders a bit harder(the ones who issued the sub-prime loans and didn’t worry about default because “housing prices always go up”). But he took some appropriate shots at the financial speculators and the problems with the rare events and how the models didn’t account for those.

He talks a bit about TARP; here the Bush version is good, the Obama version is bad, but hey, this is a political book. 🙂

This part is the best the book has to offer; I can recommend it.

Energy Policy
When you read his take on energy, you will be reminded that this was written prior to the BP spill and prior to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Still, the energy mix he talks about makes sense. Yes, he talks about nuclear and yes, he doesn’t seem to mention the problem with uranium mining and the disposal of nuclear waste. As far as Fukushima: remember that those plants started construction in 1967 and went online in 1971; they were literally 40 years old and the design was over 50 years old. We can do much better now.

As far as domestic energy development: he admits that more drilling won’t bring down prices and that over production would be a mistake. He is in favor of exploration and developing the capacity for production as a type of “energy reserve”.
He is in favor of conservation measures (e. g., giving tax credits or breaks for energy efficient vehicles) which he thinks will encourage better fuel efficiency standards. He also seems to be in favor of encouraging more efficiency by a gradual program to make energy more expensive; he is in favor of things like tax swaps (raise energy taxes while lowering another tax in return).

Yes, Mr. Romney discusses climate change and thinks that human activity probably contributed to it. He expresses concern at the possibility that if the United States takes large, expensive measures to cut emissions that the other developing countries (India, China) won’t. He recommends following a “no regrets” policy: taking measures that we will be glad that we took even if it turns out that the climate change skeptics were right. He also says we should work with the global community.

Health Care
In chapter 7, he gives an excellent defense of Obamacare, though he is talking about Romneycare. 🙂

Foreign Policy
This is the weakest part of the “policy section.” Of course, he blasts the Obama “apology tour”; this is one of the Zombie Lies that Mr. Romney insists on running with. Reading this: I get the feeling that Mr. Romney desperately wants a contest of the United States vs. Everyone Else, though he is eager to set up some bogeymen. Sure, the terrorists are awful (and probably don’t approve of President Obama either 🙂 ) and yes, this stuff was written prior to the killing of Bin Laden.

Mr. Romney quotes some interesting works. He mentions Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs and Steel and seems to have only partially read it (crib notes version?) Diamond does claim that a region’s geography can heavily influence how the society develops, but then Mr. Romney accuses him of underplaying the value of “culture”. That sort of misses the point: a region’s geography heavily determines HOW a culture can develop (e. g., the society first needs to become efficient enough to have a class of people who don’t have to be concerned with food gathering, /hunting/growing on a full time basis to allow for a culture to develop in the first place).

Mr. Romney also mentions Fareed Zakaria’s book The Post-American World. What Mr. Romney doesn’t seem to understand is that the decline that Mr. Zakaria talks about is a relative one: other countries are rapidly catching up.

Mr. Romney attacks President Obama over reduced military spending not seeming to care that much of the reduction comes from admitting that the cold war is really over and that there new challenges. After all, drones are cheaper than bombers or “boots on the ground.”

Mr. Romney says that he wants a commitment to defense spending to be at least 4 percent of GDP.

The Finger Wagging
The last two chapters are the weakest part; reading them I get the feeling that he was growing tired of the book and just wanted to finish the writing. I’ve mentioned some of the finger wagging already.

I’ll give you an example. On page 261 he dismisses those who want to legalize marijuana:

Some of the battles of the sixties still linger, however, as with the current push to legalize marijuana, which reflects the passion and zeal of those members of the pleasure-seeking generation that never grew up. Their arguments are elaborate but empty-a great nation has never been built on hedonism.

Such nonsense! I favor legalization of marijuana (and other drugs) and I have never used it (or them) and never plan to. I just think that our war on drugs has been costly and has fueled the rise in prison population and the rise in drug related crime.

Mr. Romney spends a lot of time lecturing the poor on their lack of morals without considering that perhaps the economic situation (the dearth of good paying blue collar jobs) lead to the morality situation rather than the other way around.

He did have some interesting things to say though. While he was governor, he sometimes spent the day doing different jobs (e. g. working as a garbage collector). And he described the “feeling of being invisible” to the public! That was a good thing to talk about; kudos to him on that.

But, on the whole, the last chapters seemed to be aimed at the “1 percent”; people who do things like this.

Mr. Romney mentions his religion in passing (e. g., “when I was doing this as a church leader, I saw that”) and mostly doesn’t make a big deal out of it. He even throws a small bone to atheists.

Ok, onk, the passage on page 5, chapter 1 invites ridicule:

My father knew what it meant to pursue the difficult. He was born in Mexico, where his Mormon grandparents had move to escape religious persecution.

That is, his grandfather wanted to practice polygamy; this makes me smirk when I read Mr. Romney’s lectures about “one man, one woman” stuff:

COLONIA JUAREZ, Mexico — Three dozen of Mitt Romney’s relatives live here in a narrow river valley at the foot of the western Sierra Madre mountains, surrounded by peach groves, apple orchards and some of the baddest, most fearsome drug gangsters and kidnappers in all of northern Mexico.

Like Mitt, the Mexican Romneys are descendants of Miles Park Romney, who came to the Chihuahua desert in 1885 seeking refuge from U.S. anti-polygamy laws. He had four wives and 30 children, and on the rocky banks of the Piedras Verdes River, he and his fellow Mormon pioneers carved out a prosperous settlement beyond the reach of U.S. federal marshals. He was Mitt’s great-grandfather.

THIS is the “religious persecution” that Mr. Romney speaks of…and he wants to lecture the rest of us on social norms? Really???

The Steamboat 15K: the race I love to hate (encore)

My dear friend Lynnor won’t be doing the 15K this year due to an issue, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use her to tease about this issue. The steamboat 15K: it is held the 3’rd Saturday in June (Father’s Day weekend). It is part of a festival of races, which traditionally included a 4 miler and now includes a late starting 2 mile event as well (sort of a “fun run” event). The race starts downtown along the 4 mile course and goes up a long, gentle incline. Then the 4 mile course turns off and the 15K people encounter the first of two punishing uphills, which goes from the bottom of Glenn Oak Park to upper Glenn Oak Park. This is the first of two 2.65 mile loops which take you up the hill…sort of level park road (with hairpin turns) and back down it.

Then you scream downhill to rejoin the 4 mile course which is now a gentle decline. Problem: by now my thighs are pudding and I am talking myself out of giving up and never doing the race again.

More than once, I vowed to quit running forever after this race.

Race weather is often hot and muggy, even though the start time has been moved from 7:45 to 7:00 am. 70-75 F with 80-90 percent humidity is COMMON weather, though from time to time, we’ve had a cool day or two.

And I ALWAYS end up doing worse than I’d hoped; typically, my pace is slightly slower than my half marathon pace.

Here are my medals through 2016 (with “w” meaning “walking”); this excludes my 2017 and 2018 races.

The good: well, it is often a reunion of sorts, with my getting to see many that I like all in one place.

Here are a couple of photos from 2008 where Barbara’s son Mark did the 15K. Can you guess which one is the “after” photo?


So, this will be a collection of my Steamboat posts (15K only; a few years I walked the 4 with B) from my old blog.

My history (includes 4 mile events) :

1998: 15K 1:08:22 183/844 (sticky) Was running just under 20 for 5K in those days. 22:50/23:05/22:27, 29/71 AG 167/603 men
1999: 15K 1:07:53 187/725, place was a bit worse; roughly 20:40 for 5K in these days 22:38/23:01/22:13 39/76 AG, 170/511 men
2000: 4m 27:51 After a 10K/half marathon double and 1:35 half a few weeks earlier.
2001: 4m 29:13 Lake Geneva Marathon 3:40
2001: 15K 1:11:16 (126/381) Fall 15K 23:20/24:04/23:51
2002: 4m 43:15 (walk)
2002: 15K 1:14:33 (run; fall) 167/405 24:10/25:07/25:16
2004: 4m 33:10 (two 24 hour walks in May; 101 and 88)
2005: 15K 1:23:13 (26:40/27:39/28:43) McNaughton 100 in April, Marathon on Memorial Day.
2006: 4M 42:10 (walk), FANS 24 in June (83 miles)
2007: Walk with Barbara
2008: Walk with Barbara
2009: run 1:27:23 (9:22 mpm) Place: 519/726 29:21/29:49/28:43, 34/43 AG
2010: walk 4 miles 39:32.
2011: walk 15 km 1:48:02 37:12/36:24/34:26
2012: run 15 km 1:36:55 29:26/33:54/33:35 679/835
2013: 15K 1:29:04 (29:34/29:53/29:38) 40/50 AG, 552/866
2014: 1:29:57 (29:22/30:46/29:49)
2015: 1:34:28 (30:49/32:49/30:50) (2 weeks after FANS 59.9) 579/804, 376/461 males, 173/219 male masters, 36/43 AG
2016: 1:41:57: 31:40/34:37/35:40 667/822, 413/458 male, 196/221 master male, 30/33 AG.
2017: walk 1:55:52: 37:04/39:41/39:07 Just not in very good shape.
2018: 2:15:55 walk/jog…gave up after 2 miles and mostly walked (22:15). 39:20/48:19/48:16

There are basically 3 eras: “performance” from 1990 to 2002, “transitional”: 2009 to 2015, and social: 2016 to present.

Pre-blog era:
1998: I had trained with a training group prior to this one. In that era: I had run sub 20 for the 5K (19:53) and sub 42 for the 10K (41:27) and felt I was ready. I had just come back from a Texas trip and so had some heat preparation. But the day came up very muggy. It took me about 9 seconds to get to the start and, though I paced myself well, I was deeply disappointed to find my first mile over 7 minutes; I was hoping to crack 7 minute miles.

To my credit I stuck with what I could do and ended up beating several people that I don’t normally beat. Still, I really suffered in the final down slope miles and almost cried from disappointment when I finished. My lifetime PB was 1:04 (Quantico, 1981) but that was a different course in different weather. But…that was to be my best performance.

1999: I had injured myself that winter (Achilles) and was on my way back up. I had lesser expectations. And my place WAS worse than the year before. But the day was much cooler and, by my watch, I broke 1:08, though my official time was just over. This is my course PB and will remain so. I almost said “my current PB” but I doubt I’ll be breaking it. I still remember racing a guy who had beaten me the year before..I almost got him but couldn’t hold the lead. Also, I wore new-ish shoes and blistered the living hell out of my bunion; I finished with a bloody shoe.

2001: this year, the 15K was held in the fall (as it was in 2000, but in 2000 I skipped it due to an upcoming marathon,..3:38 my masters PB). The weather was fine, and I had swam my first Big Shoulders 5k the week before. Still, 7:40 mpm was disappointing, given what I expected of myself (I had run a 1:37 half earlier in the year). I consider this to be my last “good” year of running. Of note: this was just after 9/11 so it was a bit somber. After the race I gave blood and was put on TV after doing so. The next week I attempted the Quad Cities half and started to fade badly after 2 miles and didn’t understand why..then a runner came up along side of me and said he had seen me on TV..then I understood.

2002: Again…not impressed. But this is the year I started to walk a bit due to an Achilles injury. I ran this race and averaged right at 8 minute miles; perhaps just a tick below. And yes, this is the last year I averaged sub 8’s for a half. Not a coincidence.


Conditions: mid 72 F, 81% humidity at the start to 80 F, 70% at the end.

Course: gradual uphill for the first 1.5 miles, then two loops consisting of a brutal half-mile climb, gradual incline, then a decline and a deep drop. The last 2.3 miles are a gradual decline.

I came in with minimal running training; most of my miles were racewalking miles. So I started off easy with a 8:10 mile. I was tracking Shevaun Fennel, Larry Jefferies, and Jack Stone.

The 4 mile runners split off just prior to mile 2 and we took it uphill. I tried my best to yoga breathe and relax on the uphill. The 5K mark came at 26:40. Shockingly, that was to be too fast for me today!

I more or held place on the next 5K; one interesting aspect is that I got lapped by the first 3-4 15K runners; the leader hit 10K in 32 flat (remember this was a net uphill split!)

I was trying to bide my time and turn it on at 10K which came at 54:30 (27:49 split) and I thought “hey, now I can pick it up”.

That idea held up for another mile and I started to push the downhill. At mile 7 I felt miserable; my foot was burning and my legs were like lead. I walked for two very brief periods trying to get back into it and even set my watch for a 4-1 run/walk interval. I followed one of those and realized I had recovered enough to “just run”. Mile 8 came at 1:01.

The last mile was a death march (28:43) and I got nailed 3 more times in the last 100 meters. Shevaun got me with 1/2 mile to go.

So my finish time was pretty bad (1:23:13) but strangely enough, I am not at all upset as I know that I wasn’t prepared to race a running race. Also, racewalking the Andy Payne marathon (5:25) a couple of weeks ago didn’t help. 🙂

Oh, yes, Governor Blagojevich ran the 15K and kicked my butt by two minutes; on TV he said that this race was harder than any of his three previous marathons.
I hope he runs the state as well as he ran this race!


We pulled into Peoria last night; this morning came up humid and a bit warm. Race weather: 70 F, 96 percent humidity; not an exaggeration! The humidity actually got much better by the end of the race.

Olivia and Barbara walked the 4 mile race together (1:13 roughly) whereas I had signed up for the 15K.
I wasn’t ready as I have mostly rested after this year’s FANS 24 hour race (two weekends ago) so I lined up at about the 10 minutes per mile sign and eased into it. I lined up with Barbara’s son Mark and his wife Deborah.

Barbara and Olivia: 1:13:22 (37:23 first 2, 35:59 last 2)
Mark: 1:31:39
Debbie (Mark’s wife): 48:03. (4 mile run)

Mark and I stayed together during the first mile (very congested) and I more or less just kept it nice and easy; I was to keep this effort for most of the race.

Much to my surprise when we turned off of the 4 mile course there were still people around me; I had visions of being all by myself by this point.

Up the hill we went; I made very little effort at all; the hill lasted about .7 miles and I hit the first 5K in about 29:21. I kept the effort down as it was warm and I had no running conditioning to speak of. We started to get lapped during the first loop; the 15K leaders were really getting after it.

Down the hill we went and then back up; mile 5 was unacceptably slow but it did include a big uphill mile. But then mile 6 was slow too; it turns out that I was slacking so I attempted to pick it up; my left knee bothered me a bit as did my right “behind the knee” area. My knees don’t like this “humid/rain/change” type weather and I haven’t built up my running conditioning.

This other gray bearded guy passed me and so I picked it up. But I couldn’t say with him for too long.
Mile 7 was a bit better and I more or less held position on the down hill at up to mile 8. I passed Elaine Lagota and she was to get me back in the last 200 meters as did many others.

I was trying to keep my stride compact to keep my knees from barking at me (sticky weather stuff and I had no desire to take an anti inflammatory pill).

Afterward, someone said that I didn’t look taxed or tired at all; I really wasn’t. I just wanted to finish with some dignity (even if with no speed at all).

Yes, I carried Froggy and Smoochie in my fanny pack.

Afterward, Olivia was none the worse for wear; Barbara was limping and I was walking a bit gingerly as my legs weren’t used to the longer runs.

Just the numbers:
1. 9:27
2. 9:17
3. 9:39
4. 9:13
5. 10:19 (uphill)
6. 9:46
7. 8:28
8. 9:07
9. 9:13
9.32 2:57

5K splits: 29:21, 29:49, 28:14
Total: 1:27:23 (9:22 mpm)

Place: 519/726

yyyyy xxxx M4549 519 34/43 383/481 1:27:23 59:56 28:14 1:28:09 9:28

Notes: 2824 finishers in the 4 mile: median time 38:37 (9:39 pace)
726 finishers in the 15 km (9.32 mile): median time, 1:21:33 (8:45 pace)
Interesting, no?


Background Last month I developed some left hip/butt/piriformis issues. Evidently there are lots of interconnected things going on; the upshot is that I’ve had gluteal pain AFTER my workouts and some “false sciatica” that tingles to my calf and foot. I think that the piriformis, gluteus minimus and the psoas muscles are all involved. So I’ll be either taking some time off or at least cutting back drastically for about a month.

The event

Finish (faster 4 mile runners)

But I wanted to do the Steamboat 15K as it is the largest “sporting oriented” race in the area. It draws about 4000 runners and walkers with about 800 in the 15K.

The make up of the field is interesting; the 4 mile race has decent prize money, hence it draws Olympic athletes, world record holders (in the marathon) etc. It also draws some college level runners who want to challenge the elites; hence the competition at the front of the pack is intense; the men’s winning time usually ranges from 17:50 to 18:10 (4 miles, or 6.4 km) whereas the women’s winner is usually under 20 minutes or perhaps barely over.

But the 4 mile race also draws a ton of slow walkers, “once a year runners” and noobs who haven’t a clue as to what they are doing (e. g., if they get tired they will just come to a complete stop without warning).

The 15K, while not drawing an elite field, draws many of the tough club runners (e. g., those who run under 40 minutes for a 10K), some near-elites and some ex-elites. The variation in pace is much smaller in the 15K, though the entry of some of the millennial generation is adding some slow runners to this event.

The course

The 4 mile race is called the “world’s fastest 4 mile race”; there is a gradual incline followed by a gradual decline; if one doesn’t kill themselves on the “out” part one can really pick up steam on the “back” part.

The 15K course is a different story:

Yes, it has over 500 feet of climb. Basically: you start out on the Steamboat 4 mile course for the first 3K or so. Then as they turn right you go straight and up the first of two rough climbs (about 500-600 meters long; maybe 100 feet or more?). You loop through a park and eventually go down the hill, and then back up again. This is draining; but this is how you spend the next 8.6 km (5.3 miles). Then you return and finish the 4 mile course; IF you didn’t kill yourself on the hill loops you can make up time on the long, gradual downhill finish.

Upsides and Downsides to the race
Upsides: organization (including packet pick-up), traffic control (blocked off streets), splits (every mile plus 5K, 10K) and the people (at least in the 15K). Among the 15K racers there is a healthy, friendly but competitive spirit that I really enjoy. Also, the 4 mile course is perfect for the FASTER RUNNER to get a PR (perhaps a bit too crowded for a slower runner) and the 15K is NOT a PR course.
Downside: The race is really a bit more geared toward the front of the pack; for example awards (even age group awards) are based on gun time. I understand that (it is about racing) but this puts some of the slower age group runners at the front of the pack. Also, there have been some years when only the gun time was posted (in my case, that is 1:25 slower than my chip time) and the race director didn’t seem to “get” why chip time was important for the middle of the pack runner. I don’t know if they will post chip times this year; gun times are already available (a remarkable feat).

Also the 4 mile race has many, many clueless noobs (e. g., the ones who come to a complete stop without warning) and is crowded at first. This could affect older runners and faster walkers.

My race Note I am a walker and for this race I used a “soft knee” powerwalk technique; my hip/piriformis was sore and the steep hills made following racewalk technique all but impossible. So, on the uphills I bent my knees and I did so a bit on the steep down hills. Still this wasn’t a total creep-fest; I would have used this technique in a “B-standard judging” race without worry.

Just the facts Chip time: 1:48:02 (11:35 mpm, or 7:12 m/km); my splits were these:

11:35, 11:48 (23:24), 12:31 (35:55) (37:12 5K), 11:08 (47:04), 12:49 (59:53), 11:54 (1:11:48) (1:13:36 10K), 10:56 (1:22:44), 11:11 (1:33:55), 10:51 (1:44:46), 3:14 (1:48:01)
5K splits: 37:12, 36:24, 34:25 (which 5K was downhill? 🙂 )
Place: (based on my gun time of 1:49:25) 798/837.
Note: my gun time pace (11:45) would have placed me 2547/3382 in the 4 mile. That is, my pace put me in the 5’th percentile in the 15K but that pace would have put me in the 25’th percentile of the 4 mile. This drives home my point about the variations in the respective groups.

My race story
I warmed up by walking the 2 (downhill) miles from my house to the course (3.2 km); along the way I saw some other runners who were also using a “commute” as a warm up. Along the way I saw a Big Al’s stripper wearing short-shorts squatting on the sidewalk (just as a resting position) while some young guy was smoking a cigarette and talking to her.

I also saw a middle aged “pregnant” male finishing up his cigarette and flicking the butt away; all of the runners going by him appeared to make him uncomfortable. I gave myself a smug inner smile; then I remembered that one of my local friends lost 80 pounds prior to taking up running; he worked himself to a 1:30 half marathon, 3:17 marathon and a 4:20 50K. So on occasion, one of these types will get the bug to join us…and will even leave me in the dust (eventually).

I lined up between the 11 and 12 minute per mile signs; I noticed that on the whole, the runners and walkers policed themselves reasonably well. My friend Tracy saw me and lined up with me; we started out together. She was doing the 4 mile race and ended up finishing in about 49:00 (chip, 50:25 gun).

Aside from dodging the occasional noob, the first 2 miles were uneventful. Ok, I did notice two younger black spandex tights clad women who had, well, wide butts. So I followed them for a while; I didn’t know that they too were doing the 15K. One had on a blue top and the other a white top with some designs on it (flowers?). I was to see them again. I was cruising at about 11:40 mpm.

Update: This photo shows the crowd at close to the 2 mile mark. In the forground on the right are the two women I was talking about. In the crowd on the right you can see me in a white ball cap (UT) and a turquoise top; as usual I have a forward lean. Remember that I was walking. 🙂

On the way out, a lady complimented me on having trail gaiters (“dirty girls”) that matched my turquoise race t-shirt; note that I wore a shirt from a 1997 Baglefest 10K run in Mattoon, IL. Yes, I ran this 15K race in the 1:07-1:08 range in those days…sigh.

But the matching was unintentional; mostly I wore this shirt because it was a singlet and I wanted to see my arms in the race photos (“is my weight training showing up?” 🙂 )

I was keeping my effort well under control; part of this was my not wanting to aggravate my butt muscles and part of it was my trying to save something for the hills; the day was NOT hot but it was humid.

Then came the 2 mile mark and the hills; I was just over 23 minutes. But given that this was the start of the first loop and that we were closing in on the 5 mile mark (second loop); that’s right; the front runners of the 15K were just starting their second loop! More on that later; I moved a bit to the side to give them the “tangents” of the loop.

By then I had caught them; in fact I caught many as this was the first steep uphills and here, a walker has an advantage. They were to pass me again later.

I heard a “hi Ollie” and there zoomed by Pat Arnold; his 5 mile slit was just over 28 minutes (reasonable for him). I yelled encouragement.

Then we went to the upper part of Glenn Oak Park; here you could see some of the “just ahead of me” stream snaking back after a hair pin turn. I saw some of my yoga buddies, a triathlete who is just coming off of Lyme disease (normally, she’d be running a 1:10 for this distance) and an older gentleman who regularly runs through our neighborhood. This was a real “get together!”.

I tried to maintain a reasonable pace but that hill ALWAYS trashes me for a bit. I tried to focus on posture; more upright but NOT sway-backed. Getting that right will be a chore.

More of the faster 15K people passed me and I heard many more greetings. Some of the leading women passed me too; a couple of them were wearing tiny cropped shiny spandex (one was royal blue; the other purple) and I could do nothing but cheer “way to go”. 🙂 The leading lady thanked me for cheering for her. I started to grumble internally that I missed running with them; then I realized that these types would be hitting 10K in 40 flat and I never could run that sort of split …and least on this course.

Toward 4 miles the “front part of the bell curve” started to get me and I heard dozens of “way to go Ollie” cheers from the runners who were just blowing past me. I recognized some of them but they came up behind me and I didn’t see them for long. This was the crowd destined to finish in the 1:00-1:06 range. Here I was back in the mid 11’s after a slow 12 mpm uphill.

I was able to pick it up just and bit and then we went out of the park, down the big hill and up it again. This time I was caught by the “wide shiny butt” couple and passed them again. But I noticed that the one in the blue top was tiring and the other one pulled ahead of her. I never saw the blue one again (at least ahead of me) but I did see the other one; she got me at about mile 7.5 and stayed ahead of me the rest of the way.

(It turns out that the faster one was to finish about 1:20 ahead of me; the slower one (in blue) about 4:30 behind me. They were together at 10K.)

So I thought that after the rough mile 4-5 (down the hill and back up it) I could pick up the pace..but no. I was still recovering. 10K came at about 1:14; I was averaging 37 minutes per 5K. But I felt good enough to pick up the pace and so I did.

On the second downhill there was some emergency vehicles and an ambulance; that worried me as these sorts of things are unnecessary for routine runner problems. I did have to go around just a bit, but obviously they needed to get the injured/sick person to treatment as soon as possible so I understood.

But then I was off of the hill again and ready to make my finial push; only 2.3 miles remained. But surprisingly (to me anyway) I really didn’t catch anyone; just yet.

I did play “leap frog” with a couple of runners and eventually got away from them; I tried to increase my turn over. I could see the mist moving toward us. I chased a pack in the distance. Also, I got a cheer from a triathlete who was working the race.

FINALLY I began to gain on the pack ahead of me and actually caught them; I wasn’t moving that fast (10:51 mpm) but they were burned out.

The final turn runs though downtown and toward the water; you have a gradual downhill here and can really get going. I more or less held place (people HATE getting passed by a walker! 🙂 ) and turned into the finish; Barbara was there and yelled “My grandma can walk faster than that!”

Before the race, I had told Barbara that I anticipated a “1:48”, but “1:45 if all goes well and 1:50 if it doesn’t”. So my chip time: 1:48:02. 🙂

Afterward I ran into Theresa and her husband got some photos of her with me, and Barbara with me.
Then we ran into Barbara’s son who had run a 1:34 (for training) and her ex husband who had run the 4 mile (her son’s father).

The butt was a bit achy afterward but stretching and ketoprofen creme helped a great deal.

Overall: though I knew that this would take something out of me injury wise, I am glad that I did it. I noticed that I really wasn’t that tired afterward; I stayed well within myself the entire time; my body is still in an “ultra marathon” mode in which it is difficult to push for speed.

Updates As photos and chip time results come in, I’ll post updates here.

Note: though I like the photo with Barbara and Theresa, I included the solo photo to show how far my upper body has deteriorated. This is a result of my not being able to lift or swim for many months and I started my lifting program “from scratch” late last year and swimming about 6 weeks ago. I am improving, but do I have a ways to go!!!

Just the facts: 75 F at the start, 75 percent humidity.
9:12 mile 1
9:20 mile 2
10:53 (29:26 5K)
(37:41 4 m)
(1:03:20 10K)
(1:11:42 7 m)
11:13 (1:22:55 8 m)
10:27 (1:36:55 15 k)

splits: 29:26, 33:54, 33:35 (10:24 mpm average)

What happened: my opening mile (with Mat) was simply too fast for me today, in these conditions. I felt tapered and I felt fine, but I had not trained to sustain such a pace.

I deliberately went up the hill slowly and Mat got away from me. Ms. “cropped blue spandex” was to stay in sight longer (10K). I didn’t feel that bad at 5K. Even at 4 miles, I felt ok except that my running muscles were shot. At mile 4.5 someone passed me and said “I don’t see how you can walk that fast”…and I was trying to run!

I said “bleep it” and started to walk and walked about 80 percent of the rest of the way. I’d run for about 1-2 minutes, have to stop, walk, after 3-4 minutes repeat the process. I wasn’t just strolling when I walked; it was a deliberate pace.

The good news: EYE CANDY….wow. I wish I had a camera.
Seriously, I knew that I was in trouble when Larry Jeffries passed me; I had to business being in front of him at all.

There is a big disconnect between my running the 5K/4 mile and anything longer. Ironically, my 15K pace turned out to be…my usual 8-10 mile training run pace. Go figure.

My regret: not walking 100 percent of it. I would have been 8-9 minutes slower…at most, and felt better about it.

Steamboat Statistics:

Median pace for the 4 mile: 10:07
Median pace for the 9.3 mile (15 km): 9:02

Where I placed: 676 out of 832 (bleah)
My age group: 38 out of 40 (yikes!)

Where my 4 mile split would have placed me in my 4 mile age group: 59 of 119
Where my 15 km pace would have placed me in the 4 mile: 79 out of 119

Moral: don’t start off too fast if it is hot. Take it VERY easy. VERY easy.

Some photos

Me, at the finish

My department chair between mile 4 and mile 5

Mat (my department chair) and I were still together here, just prior to mile 2. That was a big mistake for me.

I just want it to be over. 🙂

T finishing the race

Bob pacing a friend in. Bob has run a 90 minute half marathon in the past; he often just runs races to pace a friend.

This is the 14 minute per mile group that I worked with in the Building Steam program.


I got to do this with my daughter who walked/jogged the 4 mile in about 55 minutes; we don’t know the chip time yet.

I attempted to run the 15K again, and failed, yet again.

Time: 1:29:04 (9:33 mpm); the 5K segments: 29:34, 29:53, 29:38); note the final 5K is downhill and is usually my fastest.

Official: 1:29:02, 558 of 934, 397/550 male, 40/50 age group. Yep, pretty sorry. 🙂
Note: after weeding out those who didn’t actually run the full 15K: 552/866; evidently there were a few no shows.


slightly sticky, but it has been worse. The cloud cover kept it reasonably ok (70, 73 percent humidity)

I decided to see how my “Steamboat 15K time” versus “good 5K time” compared:

As you can see, the second year (first year it was very hot) my time for the 15K was 3.25 times my 5K time. Then in 2004 it was 3.58, in 2009 it was 3.63 and 2013 it was 3.57. So most of my slowdown ….in fact almost all of it, can be explained by my 5K slowdown.

9:24 (18:48)
9:58 (uphill 28:37)
9:07 (37:44)
9:11 (probably not marked correctly) 46:56
10:59 (some uphill) 57:55
8:55 (hmmm) 1:06:50
9:23 1:26:15 (dying) 1:16:13
10:02 (dying here) 1:26:15

The race itself

Olivia and I left the house and found a place to park near the Hooters restaurant. (yes, Peoria has one)
It was an easy .5 mile walk to the start, where we mingled….I got in a jog of about 10 minutes.
We walked to the line up spots; Olivia lined up next to Ms. Vickie and I lined up near Mark (Barbara’s son)
There was some crowding near the start but I took it as an opportunity to hold back a bit.

The first uphill was a struggle; I tried to keep it as easy as possible. I felt ok going to mile 4; it was at about that time the leaders of the 15K lapped us! That is so frigging embarrassing.

The fun part is the part in the park where there is a hairpin turn; you can see your faster friends on their way back, and you’ll almost always see someone that you know.

I passed Bill at mile 3; he said something and I said “I hate this race”. He was to catch me at mile 7 and hold his lead.

We went down the hill and I tried to not hit any of the faster 15K folks who had lapped us; unfortunately I caught one with an elbow earlier. It wasn’t on purpose, but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head.

Going up the hill the second time I told myself that I would pick it up at 10K but that was a lie!

I knew that I was just under an hour and I was feeling it; I decided to just attempt to maintain.

The second uphill is a bit cruel; when you are over the biggest part you feel you should be done, but there is a long, but tiny upgrade to the hairpin turn.

Then, down the bottom of the second hit a long straight away. You think you should just fly, but your legs are shot. Then just prior to the long downhill from 8.8 to 9.3, you have a tiny rise that you only notice because you are fatigued.

I had a tiny kick…not enough to pass anyone but enough to get under 1:30 by the gun.

Quip I was attempting to run. Someone complimented me on my “racewalking form”; in fact more than one person said that I looked like I was walking. One even told me that they couldn’t see a bent knee. OMG.

So, where I was, where I am now, and my goal for next year. Move to the next column or bust! 🙂

Theresa is the attractive one.

I am smiling as I broke 1:30, which was one of my goals. My “A” goal was 1:25 (wasn’t close), “B” goal was to go under 1:28 (one bad mile ruined that), and “C” goal was to break 1:30 (did that).

9:02, 9:30, 9:54 (28:27) 29:22(5K), 9:19, 10:32 (uphill), 10:18 (no excuse), 1:00:08 (10K), 10:03, 9:25, 12:49 (1.3); last mile was 8:49.
29:22/30:46/29:49 (1:29:57)

I’ll never do well at this race. It wasn’t warm; it was about 59 F at the start. It was perfect running weather.

But I had been training for the 1 mile/5K so I knew this would be trouble for me.

So I knew that I should start slowly.

Mile 1: 9:02 (too quick). I saw Mardi and figured that I should not get in front of her (she is slender); I needed to take it easy on the hills.

There was a long line of people going up the hill. It didn’t feel that bad; I was trying to keep the effort under control. But the park, though it is mostly flat, has long, very slight inclines that are deceptive. When it appears that you crested the big hill (up, flat, up), you are still going up.

Right close to mile 4 we got lapped; the lead runner was at 6.7. I knew that I was getting close to midway when we did the down the hill and up it again.

I just wanted to die in the upper Glen Oak part. Someone yelled “OLLIE, SUCK IT UP!!!”. 🙂

So mostly I tried not to walk and finally, we left the park for good; I was at mile 7 and figured there wasn’t that much more left.

DOWN the hill; quads were killing me and we hit “2 miles to go”; it was just over 70 minutes. I could see the “1 mile to go” banner in the distance as we hit the long straight away. It was about mile 8 (1:17:08) where I gave up and walked a bit. Some who were jogging it out shamed me into picking it up and I noticed I was 1:21:10 at “1 mile to go”; no way I could break 1:30.

But I had recovered just enough to pick it up and with .5 miles to go, I gave it a shot.

Bob and two friends passed me but it didn’t matter; I barely got under 90 minutes by my watch.

I don’t feel that bad; it is just that I don’t have long run conditioning.

Denial: “ok, this year will be different” (68 F, 78 percent humidity…reasonably good for this race, though the 59.9 miles of walking 2 weekends ago did leave me a bit tired)

Bargain: “well, if I take it easy on the two large uphills I can push it on the straight away.” Yeah, right.

Acceptance: “well, running slower than 10 minutes per mile isn’t too bad” (Ok, it sucks.)

So here are the facts: (5K splits) 30:49, 32:49, 30:50 for 1:34:28. No walking. (really) I tried to keep an effort which allowed for steady forward motion. I was chasing a woman in purple spandex leggings and couldn’t quite catch her at the end; I have no “kick”. I had a “back and forth” with a short haired middle aged lady between 5 and 7.5 miles. We complained about the downhills.

I was able to gain some places back on the final straight away, but I never do as well on that stretch as I think that I should.

Steamboat photos:


I ran with the lady in yellow for a mile or two; she then tucked in behind me at mile 7 and got me when I went to the side of the course to give T a high 5. Hey, when you are as slow as I am now, a few seconds is like adding a year or two to the age of a mountain (in a geological time scale)

Nipped at the line..though my chip time was a few seconds faster than hers. I checked. 🙂

Resignation. I was happy that I didn’t have to walk and that I stayed more or less steady, but am a bit depressed my abilities have deteriorated so badly. Yes, the ultra cost me a few minutes. But hey, all of that cute spandex gave me eyestrain. 🙂

My targets

I had thought about trying to catch her..she thought about her kick. Look to the right of the photos, way behind those cones.

I also chased the woman in the purple tights and her friend in the bright orange shorts. Those around those two are people doing the “2 mile” event which was designed to be accessible to those with special needs or physical handicaps.

My Building Steam group (Run to walk group) :

Vickie pacing Ellen who finished the 4 mile in 55 minutes, 5 minutes under goal.

Cathie pacing Katherine to a 51:41 finish; also well under goal.

Bradley (in the blue shirt) finishing in 50:31.

His wife Julie crushed her goal by running 48:13, but she was obscured by other runners; I could find no photo.


Jason. He beat me by 31 minutes (not an exaggeration) but..when we swim together; I eventually lap him. At least that was true last semester. Go figure. If he improves his form a bit, it won’t stay that way.

My department chair (Mat). He beat me by 9 minutes and then gave me a ride home.


Well, this was my worst Steamboat 15K ever.

But socially, well, I enjoyed running “with the group” and I enjoyed the interaction with many. And it was a pleasure that Barbara was there; she walked her first Steamboat 4 miler in 7 years; a year ago she thought that her foot would no longer allow her to do these (1:18:29 was her time, or a 19:38 pace).

It was muggy at the start; 67 F with 66 percent humidity and it was to get to 76-77 by the time I finished. Time: 1:41:57; my worst as a runner. The wheels came off on the start of the second loop, after the second climb. I was just under 41 minutes at 4 miles but fell apart prior to the 10K mark.

What lead to this debacle:

1. Too fast of a start for the conditions: 9:50, 9:50 were my first 2 miles (slight incline). I am not in shape to sustain that.
2. I weigh too damn much. No, I don’t look fat and I don’t think I am. But 191-193 is too heavy for me to run long effectively. I can do lots of pull ups though. 🙂
3. Heat; it was sweltering out there. This wasn’t the worst I’ve endured, but it was a factor.
4. 36 mile walk two weeks ago/
5. I accidentally made decaf coffee this morning. Yes, the one “bad” long run attempt I had this year came when…I had decaf by mistake. I think that I didn’t interpret my “feeling bad” correctly.

The race itself: I lined up close to the 10 minute per mile pace sign. I took it out at 9:50 per mile and was already feeling it. I tried to ease it up going up the first hill but I think that I was spent by then. While my first 5K was not horrible, (31:40) it took too much out of me. So while I was just under 41 minutes at mile 4, I was shot. I tried to hang in there on the second loop but started to walk just prior to the 10K mark; it was pretty much over by then.

I did the old “walk/jog” until there was 1 mile to go. Then I tried to pick up the pace (downhill mile): 10:35. Goodness gracious. I could tell that I was merely shuffling.

Athletic lesson I really wonder if my legs have become too weak for me to “run” longer distance and if I am not simply better off walking them instead. I do have two marathons on my radar screen: Quad Cities on September 25, and the PNC Peoria on October 16. I did the latter last year as a walker and made the 6 hour time limit with 11 minutes to a walker.

I had set a goal of running one of these in under 5 hours that possible? I know that I’ve been able to maintain 15 mile training runs at about an 11:15 mpm pace or so and do so comfortably. But that was in cool weather conditions. And 15.x is NOT 26.2. I wonder if I am better off focusing on walking training and walking these or perhaps walking one, running the other.

I really have some thinking to do; I suppose that I can sign up for these marathons right now and drop to the half marathon if my training doesn’t go well. Time will tell.

Social This was by far the best part. The Steamboat 4 mile/15 km is THE community race in Peoria. The 4 mile race attracts Olympic caliber runners (genuinely) and both races attract the hard core “club runners”. The 4 mile attracts many newbies and casual runners and fitness walkers.

I jogged a warm up from my house (and felt a slight headache; now I know why). In my usual “restroom/mill about” activities, I saw Tracy (my “bestie”), Mat, another Bradley person..and I exchanged head butts with Stephanie (my Facebook persona is a goat). And yes, I got a hug from T, who is out with an injury but worked the course. One female said “you got to quit hugging all of those men” and both T and I replied “no way, I like it” almost at the same time! I also got to see “shirtless Bob” who was running with..yet another female (as he always does).

Later I walked with Mat to the start line and we saw Tracy bending over to tie her shoes; I told her that I was “checking out her legs and butt”..and Mat whistled. All in good fun.

Then I saw Barbara who drove to the start line; more hugs all around.

During the first mile of the race, I saw a very fit, slender woman running with her grade school son; it was Peggy, someone who won the women’s 15K division multiple times in the past. I joked that I never dreamed that I’d pass her in a Steamboat race. Yes, she was jogging easily to help out her young son. 🙂

There were the usual kudos and cat calls during the run (someone told me to quit sandbagging) and I got to yell at Cassie during the second switch back. I had been following her from a distance early but accurately figured her pace was too quick for me today.

I’ll post some photos later; as you can probably tell that I had fun, despite my…well, simply horrible performance. Basically, this was a “long run with friends” for me.

I’ll admit that I had bits of anger when it became clear that the wheels were going to come off yet again. But there was some acceptance too; I did things like chase Melody (didn’t ever catch her and stay ahead), chase one person or another, and that “last mile challenge”. And yes, some of the bad mood was about the coffee, though I didn’t know about it at the time. Realistically, that probably made a 1-2 minute difference; I was far more hurt by starting too fast for the conditions.

Next year, and yes, I’ll try yet AGAIN, I’ll line up with the 11 minute folks and try to take it out in 10:30 or so (if it is this warm again).

And I can’t stress this enough: I really enjoyed it that Barbara did building steam (the training program) and finished this race; this is an unexpected bonus. I think that it lifted her spirits to be able to participate again.

So, emotionally I have mixed feelings. I thought that I was in better shape than that. I was grateful that I can still “run with the group” (if you can call what I did “running”). But at times, I felt that I was just “getting in the way” of the more competent people (when the fast runners lapped us) and that I no longer belong “out there”.

We wore our Steamboat shirts to the Chiefs game last night. It always feels good to go out wearing the race t-shirt when Barbara also has one.

Barbara’s finish. The thing to remember is that she thought that her days of even doing these were over.

My finish. Seriously…34 minutes slower than my PB? That is what happens when I go out too fast for the conditions. And yes, I had long, slow runs in my background, and short, “fast” runs. But no longish “sustained effort” runs.

Does this shirt make my butt look big? T took the photo.

Here I am with Cassie; she beat me by 10 minutes or so. I saw her early and had sense enough to let her go; I did see her on a switch back and yelled..she responded.

When I looked at the paper to see the results…yes, I remember that I stated off in the first column. 4-5 years, later..second column. Now: last column. There were times during the race where I felt that I was merely in the way (as the faster runners lapped me in the upper part..2 2.65 mile laps) and I remember during my first couple of 15K races, *I* was one of the ones lapping people. Sigh…

But hey, it was a long, community run and I don’t know how many of these I have left.

I do have one thing to say about finisher’s medals (yes, Steamboat gives them) but that is for another post. Dinner calls.

Though my legs felt sore (from that sissy leg routine I did yesterday?) I decided to go outside and turn back when I didn’t feel good. I ended up running my Cornstalk 8.1 mile course 1:27:21 (44:11/43:10) plus a 1.23 mile lower loop (13:18) to get 15K in 1:40:39, or 1:18 *faster* (less glacial?) than my Steamboat 15K, which was run on a course of comparable difficulty in similar conditions. Note: I gave platelets effect at all.

The differences:
1) real coffee this morning and
2) I went out fairly slowly (10:48 for the first 1.03 miles) so I had a heck of a lot left.

Yeah, that wasn’t a race but it made me feel better. And while it was a workout, it wasn’t bad; I feel fine.

Steamboat gallery of friends:

Herb; math department member.

Larry (sans shirt): 70+ years old; crushed pelvis 3 years ago, STILL under 8 minutes per mile for the 4 mile.

Stephanie, Bears fan..gave me a head butt prior to the race. She’ll be back in 4:30 marathon shape soon.

Cassie finishes the 15K with a kick…10 minutes ahead of me.

Mat (my department chair..sans shirt) banging out a 1:25 15K

Tracy (my bestie) taking 3’rd in her age group in the 4 mile.

Powerful Jason (religious studies professor) smoking a 1:02 15K

Andreas from Bradley running a 1:23 as a Clydesdale


T was injured for this one (note the boot) but will be back, strong. She worked the finish line.

More of me:


How this post is organized: intro, race itself, social, photos, past races.

Introduction: Basically, the Gompertz Mortality Law states that the rate of decline as we age is an “exponential of an exponential”; the proportional rate of decline year by year increases exponentially with respect to time; that is: \frac{\frac{dD}{dt}}{D} = be^{at} where D can be thought of as a “failure rate”. How it applies: I walked the 15K about 48 minutes slower than my best running time, and almost 8 minutes slower than I walked it 6 years ago. There are some caveats there though; I was better trained in 2011, it wasn’t quite so hot, but there is no getting around that my 5K run time was about 1 minute faster too..and my half marathon was about 13 minutes faster (albeit on a much cooler day).

But never mind that; getting to spend time with a friend that I had mostly communicated with on social media really helped make this one special for me.
There was a downer too: Barbara had worked toward finishing the 4 mile, but was laid low by allergies and the heat; she couldn’t start the race. She did join in for socializing afterward though.

The race itself:

As you can see, the weather was suffocating: 73 F with 90 percent humidity at the start, rising to 77 F with 84 percent humidity at the end. And, I did NOT do myself any favors going out as fast as I did; in fact, I went out faster than I did in 2011 which was a big mistake. 5K splits: 37:04, 39:41, 39:07.

I warmed up by walking 2 miles with Lynnor and then took it out way too fast. At 11:28, I was sweating too heavily. My form: we’ll have to see the photos. I was not breathing heavily and my legs never went dead, but in the final 5K, I had no “gear”. It was “same old, same old”.

I bent my knees going up the steep hill; it was at this point Lynnor let me go and I passed T. I wasn’t serious about racing at this point; I wanted to get to the first 5K and I was still averaging under 12 minutes per mile; in fact, I got to mile 4 in 47:47. But the fade had started and while I knew better than to pay attention to my 5 mile split (it is long); I was creeping up to the low 13’s. At least I didn’t have to worry about getting in the way of the faster runners in the second loop.

And yeah, my “plan” to push the final 5K was a big fat bust. I did a back and forth with about a half-dozen ladies and talked to a few of them. The steep downhill mile cheered me some, but my dreams of going sub 11 in the final stretch didn’t materialize; I haven’t done enough fast walking. Ok, and I am slower. Period.

Mile by mile:

11:30, 11:48, 12:37 (steep uphill) 11:51, 13:16 (mile 5), 13:45(?), 11:41 (?), 12:24, (final mile: 12:51)

Looking forward: lots of work before that fall marathon. I have half marathons in July and August to perk me up.

Social: this is what I posted on Facebook:

I did my first Steamboat 15K in 1998 as a runner; I ran 1:08:xx and was somewhat disappointed in my time. 2017: did it as a walker in 1:55:52 (12:26 mpm) I was ok with my time. I was over 7 minutes slower than my fastest walking time (2011) but it was 70 F with 90 percent humidity at the start. And I STILL went out too quickly.

But I’ll be honest: the highlight of this experience for me was getting to know Lynnor better. We walked from the Bradley Campus to the start and, after the race, walked back to Campustown to have coffee.
Barbara was suffering mightily from allergies and couldn’t do her 4 miles as planned, but was a good sport and had coffee with Lynnor and I afterward.

I think that, for me, Steamboat is a reunion of sorts. There are longer races, and there are harder races (though the 15K is a bear to try to run hard). But I see many of my friends all at one place.
I missed Barbara being there, but I got to meet up with Tracy, Theresa, Vickie, Cathy Rupert, Cassie, Herb, Andrew McGlothlen.and my colleague Mat (who ran the 15K) went back on the course to jog a few steps with me. Also, Lori, a math colleague who I did not see at the race, finished her first Steamboat 15K in fine fashion.

It was fun to hear my name from the volunteers AND from some of the faster runners who lapped me in the “2 loop portion” Yes, my 1998 and 1999 self would have lapped me today!
And mid race, I got in a conversation with a woman my age who longed from the days when she was top 25 (she ran 1:11, I think…”in the day”) and it reminded me that time indeed takes its toll on EVERYONE. But I can still beat the cut off and I should savor that as long as I can. Even if Lynnor didn’t want to stay with me today.


Here, we had just come down off of the big hill for the last time; we had about 2.1 miles to go. My leg is not that bad. The lady in back was to catch me, and we went back and forth the rest of the way. She won.

I am where the red arrow is. I am still holding walking form; the woman in the camouflage tights is passing me.

Cassie and Lynnor together.

Cassie and me.

Herb Kasube, a math colleague

Lynnor finishing up

Lynnor, Rich and me.

Mama T and me before the start.

Theresa, Cathy and Vickie (3 yoga teachers)

Tracy…in her cat shirt and no, she was not “the last one”, as she always says that she will be.

Lori, one of our newer math professors finishing up.

My posture and leg do not look that bad.

Another good one of Vickie.

Mama T finishing up…yes, that is me in the background (Lynnor was about 1 minute back).

Toni from our walking group driving it home.

Evan from our walking group.

Barb finishing her race.

Evan and Brian from our walking group.

About 2.1 miles to go; I was to pass this lady and stay ahead of her.

Here, we had just come down off of the big hill for the last time; we had about 2.1 miles to go. My leg is not that bad. The lady in back was to catch me, and we went back and forth the rest of the way. She won.

Though this woman passed me, my “chip time” was still just a tad faster. Note that I kept walking.

Here I am getting lapped by Jason. For some reason, I love this photo


I first did this race back in 1998 (as a runner; did the 15K) and have participated in the event every year, except for 2003 (in Utah) and the fall 15K in 2000 (marathon the next week). For a few years, they split the 15K and 4 mile into a summer/fall event and for 2 of those, I did both races.

I’ve walked the race with my wife, walked both events for time, ran both events for time. Obviously, I’ve never been near the “front of the pack”, but I’ve experienced the race as a “just under 28 minute” 4 mile runner and a “just under 1:08 15k runner”, and yes, as a back of the pack person (walks with my wife, and well, the two times I walked the 15K).

I’ve always been pleased with the traffic control, aid stations, the course, etc. There was one year (2016) where some 15K aid stations were staffed by untrained volunteers and they ran out of water; I wasn’t affected as I typically only drink every 5K or so.

This year featured a “funnel start” instead of the usual “wide start”. I worried about that a bit, but given that age group awards were based on chip time, people were well behaved, lined up more or less where they were supposed to, and the first right turn was easy; no crowding. The crowd had been “lengthened out” and you really were with similar pace people.

In the past, the turn was hectic.

But there is something else: (I got data from “finishers”, not “starters”)

year 4m 15K 4k/2m big 2 all change 2 % change change all % change
2013 3124 866 98 3990 4088
2014 2613 776 111 3389 3500 -601 -0.150626566 -588 -0.143835616
2015 2443 805 156 3248 3404 -141 -0.041605193 -96 -0.027428571
2016 2347 822 157 3169 3326 -79 -0.02432266 -78 -0.022914219
2017 1781 666 151 2447 2598 -722 -0.227832124 -728 -0.218881539
2018 1860 660 122 2520 2642 +73 +.028 +44 +.018

Though there was a big decline from 2013 to 2014, there was a massive drop from 2016 to 2017. Note: the short distance was either 2 miles or 4 km. I compared the drop in all three races and the drop in the total of the “big 2” (15k and 4 m put together). I show the absolute drop, and the percentage drop.

I can’t say for sure what the cause was. I can say that in 2016, there was a big change made in the “Building Steam” programs (designed to prepare people for the race” and in 2017, the Building Steam program was eliminated completely, with the local running store offering a couple of programs.

I also note that there are other events 90 minutes away (one in the Quad Cities); I stayed with Steamboat as I just love seeing everyone.

One irony: I actually, well, I don’t want to say it, but…”liked” the smaller race as there was more room to walk and no n00bs just unexpectedly coming to a complete stop right in front of you (slow, out of shape beginners are prone to doing this and it is maddening).

But I wonder if these are healthy numbers for the event.

Ok, I complain about this race every year (MY PERFORMANCE, not the execution of the race, which is always stellar). And today, I did far, far worse that I’ve ever done; more than 20 minutes slower than my walking PB, and I actually ran parts of it.

I’ll get into the reasons a bit later in this post; some are on me (the excess weight I am carrying) and some are unavoidable (injury earlier in the year, age, and the suffocating temperatures)

But I got to spend time with a friend that I don’t see nearly enough of and that made it MORE than worth it. I enjoyed the morning, even with my comically bad performance.

The race itself: I jogged out of the gun easily (so I thought) and was 10:55 at mile 1 and 22:15 at mile 2. Yes, I would have loved to have maintained anything resembling that pace. But I was already sweating and knew I wouldn’t last much longer, so I basically slow walked it (mixing in a bit of jogging here and there) the rest of the way. My 5K splits were a complete joke:


I did talk to a few fellow stragglers. I saw Tracy and Jason before the race, and Vickie handed me water just past mile 7.
But the highlight of the race was the social aspect. Lynnor met me at our house at 5:35 am; we visited and walked 2 miles to the start. We started together; I got ahead, she passed me just prior to mile 3 and it was “see you later”.

We had an ongoing “war of words” on Facebook and she (good naturedly) rubbed it in when she crushed me (2:01). We visited afterward and then walked 2 miles back, stopping at Starbucks for coffee and refreshments (my breakfast).

Bad performance on my part, but a good time nevertheless.

Usual: my feet sometimes hurt; it feels as if there is a rock in my shoe at times, even when there isn’t. But mostly, I kept the effort below the “risk getting sick” threshold. My left heel ached a bit afterward but really didn’t affect me during the race itself.

Reasons for my poor performance: too heavy (199, that is MY fault), too hot (I never did well in heat and I am getting worse), and I didn’t start running (and seriously walking again) until March. Even then, it was short stuff and my longer stuff has been “easy intensity” (16-17 mpm). If I am serious about a fall marathon (7 hour time limit), I need to lose 10 lbs. and to do some walking speedwork ..get comfortable with a 14 minute pace again. And I need to choose a race where the weather is likely to be cool. A day like last year’s Quad Cites: I’ll just drop to the half. I cannot handle heat for any length of time.

Photos: (more will follow)

Leanhorse 2005 100 miler (encore post)

In 2005, I finished the Leanhorse 100 miler (walking 100 percent of the time) in 29:34. Note: I looked it up and a week later, I was jogging at 9:34 mpm for 5 miles..a pace that would be hard work for me.
Needless to say, I have slipped badly since then.

This was my report, as I posted on an old blog.


(at mile 20 or so)

This past weekend I did the Leanhorse 100 mile race in South Dakota. Since I am a walker, I walked 100 percent of this race. In short: my previous PR’s for the 100 mile walk were 23:40 (track, Cornbelt 24 hour 2004) and 34:16 trail (McNaughton 2005). This time I hit 50K in 7:42, 50 miles in 12:50, 85 miles in 23:59:50 (or I had an 85 mile 24 hour performance) and finished the race in 29:34. Four runners passed me between miles 98 and 98.5 and finished in my sight, and yet another finished about 30 seconds behind me. The cut-off was 30 hours.

My lessons: I made two major mistakes. The first mistake is that I forgot my trail gaiters (these are coverings that drape over your shoes to prevent rocks from getting into your shoes. Not only did I have to stop several times to take rocks out of my shoes, but the smaller, finer pieces of grit stayed in my socks and gave me huge heel blisters. My left heel was literally covered by one gigantic blister, and I had a tennis-ball size blister on the outside of my right heel.

The second major mistake is that I didn’t trim the spenco pad on my foot orthotic properly. Hence the spenco bunched up in the front of my shoes and continually pounded my small toes. Therefore I lost several nails (impacted) and my toes ended up being a bloody mess.

If there was any good to be had from this it was that my body held up well (i. e., I was properly trained and tapered) and my legs (aside from my feet) were not sore the day after.

So, though my finish time was lousy and my last 15 miles were truly pathetic, I found that I could overcome mistakes. Of course, part of this was due to the easy surface; in the last 40 miles I yelped every time my foot made an unplanned landing on a rock that was larger than a pebble. This reminded me a bit of the fairy tell about the Princess and the Pea.

This report is organized as follows:

Event Details

My Race

Lessons Learned

Social Report

Event Details

See the above chart; the surface was 98 miles of groomed crushed limestone trail, and 2 miles of sidewalk through a small town (mile 43.5 to 44.5 on the way out, and 55.5 to 56.5 on the way back). The photo shows the typical surface. There were several aid stations (12, which means that the 100 milers saw 24 aid stops) as well as 4 different drop bag points. The volunteers were outstanding!

Oddly enough, the relatively smaller uphills on the way back were more difficult than I anticipated. The last two inclines (roughly 5 miles in length) seemed to go on forever, though they weren’t all that steep.

The trail had markers every mile and we started at mile 16.2. The race director put Leanhorse signs every 5 miles (to account for the .2 mile discrepancy). We turned around at mile marker 66 (which was certified to be 50 miles from the start.)

The surface started off as pinkish, small pebble limestone gravel, and changed slightly as the course went on. There was a stretch where the surface was black, and yet another stretch that contained lots of glittering mica. This was downright eerie when one passed over it at night and was wearing a lamp; though perhaps the faster runners (or those doing the 50K or 50 mile) didn’t get to see this effect. There were some stretches where one could see the rose quartz rocks (the State Rock of South Dakota).

Some of the course, but not much, was shaded and the daytime temperatures got into the mid 80’s. The nighttime saw a full moon, clear starry skies, and a pleasant mid to high 50’s.

We were bussed from Hot Springs to the Mickleson Trail. The 50K types started 1.5 miles behind where the 50 and 100 mile people started. The trail was plenty wide enough to handle the crowd of 100-120 that started the 50 or the 100.

There were farm animals on the sides of the trail in some stretches. I also saw a couple of small snakes, chipmunks, a rabbit and a raccoon. There was also a mountain lion which I (fortunately?) did not see, though the runner ahead of me did.

In summary, this course was not a particularly slow course, but I didn’t think that it was easy either. Though it might seem as if the return leg for the 100 would be easy, those long, long (albeit gradual) inclines seemed to go on forever.

I fell into a very moderate pace and did some chatting. I talked to a runner from Georgia (who was to get away) and to Joe Galloway (who was to get me later). I noticed that the “push-off” motion of walking had a bit of slippage and that I was already getting rocks in the shoes! Still mile 5 came at 1:11. The next several miles were uneventful; I more or less just enjoyed the scenery and kept stopping to take the rocks out of my shoes. My previously sore knee gave me no trouble at all.

My first hint of trouble was at around mile 36; here my left heel felt “hot”. I stopped at this aid station, lubed my heel and decided to switch from my “ninja” socks to thicker trail socks; this helped to keep the rocks out of my shoes. But the extra thickness, plus the bunching up of the toe part of my spenco orthotic pad was to cause me grief later. It was at this spot where the first runners were on their way back!

I was starting to get a bit crankier and my aid station stops were slowing my pace, though my actual walking pace stayed at around the 15 minutes/mile range (9:20 min/km). I had survived the 1400 foot climb from the start was was taking advantage of the downhill. Also, I enjoyed seeing the Crazy Horse Monument and was catching up to some of the 50 mile runners who were burning out or getting sick.

Eventually, I saw the outskirts of Hill City and moved along the sidewalk. I welcomed the reprieve from the rocks and was grateful to have volunteers escort me across a sort of busy street. There, I rested a few minutes and got some moleskin from a 50 mile runner who had finished for my right heel. The moleskin worked, but a blister outside of the region formed!

The out and back (stiff uphill) was challenging, but I was on track to be under 13 hours at the half. I saw some other souls who were still out there and felt kind of sorry for them. I shouldn’t have, as 4 of them were to pass me much, much later.

On the way back I was told that there had been a mountain lion by the trail at about the time I passed by. I didn’t notice; I guess I stank too badly for it to find me appetizing!

It was starting to get dark now and I needed my headlights once I got out of Hill City. The lights seemed to do the job, but I had slowed. My five mile segment times (which included aid station stops) had climbed from the mid 1:20’s to the 1:30’s; still that was enough to get me under 28 hours if I could hold on. That was to be a big “if”.

Miles 55 to 75 were horrible; it took me 6:42 to do this stretch! I mentally broke during some of the long climbs and my feet were killing me. Tylnelol helped. I didn’t know how bad off my toes were; what hurt were mostly my heels. That lead me to make a more forefoot type landing instead of my usual “heel-toe”.

But, I began to get a bit more confident as I found myself arriving at aid stations just when Uli Kamm (an excellent ultrawalker) was leaving; evidently I wasn’t doing that poorly. And, the cool night air helped some. So 75 to 85 took me 3:01; normally slow but not that bad for that deep into a 100 mile event. And it felt good to reach 85 miles at just under 24 hours; that is my 3’rd best 24 hour performance.

Climbing up the hill to get to 85 in under 24 hours took something out of me; folks that I was chasing began to get away and I got very wobbly. I was having trouble keeping food down; I was out of the dried pineapple that sustained me for the first half of the race and was spitting up my cheese and crackers.

I got to the aid station at 88.2 and was completely whipped. I could barely stand and I gave some thought to dropping; but the aid station people encouraged me to stick with it!

So, after soup and fruit I got to mile 90 in 25:53; that last five miles took me 1:53 to do and would be my slowest 5 mile segment of the race.

The last part didn’t include much climbing and I picked up company for a short while at around 95 miles. The aid station person at mile 92 was also very kind and encouraging!!! I’d like to thank ALL of the aid station volunteers, and especially those at 88 and at 92. That sure helped a great deal.

My last 5 miles were in the “just get it over with” mode. Something funny happened when I got to mile 98. Joe Galloway caught me and passed me! We were minutes apart at McNaughton earlier this year, and were destined to be minutes apart yet again. Then with 1.8 miles to go, a string of 3 runners passed me, and every one of them was leaning over to their left!!!! It appeared as if they were mimicking each other! And, this other runner whom I kept leap-foregoing with was closing in on me.

Nevertheless, I kept walking for the finish line knowing that 30 minute miles would be enough and I made it. Was I ever happy that I could see the finish line when I did!

Lessons Learned

  1. Proper fitting footwear is essential. I need to trim my orthotic pads a month in advance to ensure proper fit.
  2. Trail gaiters are a must for me, given my low-to-the-ground walking style. Even small grit can lead to blisters
  3. Late in the race, I needed to keep up with the calories. I think that I had a small “bonk” at around mile 85. Dried, unsweetened fruit seems to work.
  4. Taping works; I got zero blisters on the arch/ball of my foot. Next time I need to tape my heels too.
  5. I can keep going even when I think that I can’t.
  6. My training seemed to prepare me well as my legs aren’t sore at all. Or perhaps they are really sore but I can’t feel them due to the fact that my feet are killing me (impacted toenails). But, for me on this course, 85 walking miles in 24 hours isn’t too bad (previous results were 101, 80 (track) and 88 (road 4000 meter loop course). Of course, the last 15 miles really stunk.


Socially, this trip was a success. First, I actually enjoyed the often scenic drive though South Dakota and enjoyed my very brief stay in Chamberlain, South Dakota (beautiful view of the Missouri River). Next, I met up with Mark and Janet and hung out with them. We socialized at packet pick-up, ate dinner together at the Flatiron, and got to meet CVRT’er Ron Pyle (who had a successful 50K debut run and then worked the race). I also saw others including Uli (who gave me a 29:30 race schedule) and Joe.

The next morning, I met Mark and Janet and rode the bus with Janet (Mark was shipped to a different starting point for his first ever 50K, which he did in a respectable 7:30). I teased Janet a bit, but didn’t see her much after the race started. She was to win her age group with a 10:02 50 mile! (I had predicted a 10:00 for her, and, alas, a 28:00 for me).

After the race, I got a ride back to the race headquarters, picked up my buckle and drop bags and went to get a shower, some footcare and some sleep. Later, I had dinner with Mark and Janet who both got to tell me about their races.

The next day, I went with Janet and Mark to the mineral water pool (87 F) which felt great. Later I ate breakfast with some of the other runners (who finished in times from 19 hours to my 29:34) and got to meet someone who really congratulated me (named Eddie). Little did I know that Eddie was once a 2:3X marathon runner! It is amazing how humble and friendly some of the really good runners can be.