Monday, 27 August 2012

Congrats to Edmund

I wanted to offer a belated congratulations to Edmund Milly on the completion of his cross-country journey from Montreal QC to Vancouver BC.  He ran the whole way. As of today his most recent blog entry leaves hims stranded in the prairies, but his Facebook makes it clear he has safely reached the coast. On a personal note it was fun to have seen him make the first few steps going west. Meanwhile I have moved out east to Halifax, alas, by car.

Edmund spent the 14 intervening weeks meditating on rural Canadian life. Read his stories to find out more. Significantly he's an avid listener to music but did not bring an ipod with him. What sort of soundtrack would you add to such an outing anyway? Apparently he did have, however, enough time to read the 1000-page 1Q84 on his journey. Well played sir.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The meaning of blog

I'm reading Wilson's biography of Tolstoy. Not sure why I'm even reading it; I haven't even read Anna Karenina. But I read War and Peace and wanted more perspective. Thought I'd share a tidbit that has nothing to do with running but it seemed like a nice moment in self-refection (or what have you) by the author. Perhaps it has something to do with our need to record events in whatever form we have available, i.e. diary, book, blog, etc.

The passage of which I speak:
It could be said that it was only through the artifice of literature that [Tolstoy] was able to comprehend or impose a shape on the inchoate business of existence. The vast majority of the human race drifts without record from conception to extinction. Their lives go unrecorded, and it is only theology which might make us suppose that these individual lives have any previous or future existence, or indeed, during their passable existence on earth, that they have any identifiable significance. For most, it is a tale full of sound and fury signifying nothing; but, most significant of all, it is a tale which is not told. It is only by telling the tale that we create the illusion that there is a tale to tell...The act of record is in itself an act of artifice.  
I consider athletes among the 'vast majority', who produce so much (and in so little time), yet are hard pressed to keep any record of it themselves.

Ah, the mysteries of life.

That is all.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Simple thermodynamics

I forwarded Alex Hutchinson this and this article regarding 'cooling off with hot drinks'. I was pleased that he posted the pieces, but I feel responsible for complexifying something people weren't event that worried about in the first place: the temperature of their beverages during exercise.

To backtrack, the premise is that if you ingest a warm beverage on a hot day, the extra heat will induce extra sweating which in turn cools you off more. Normally we'd assume that drinking cold beverages is best since it would provide a heat sink for excess heat produced in your body. I got interested in the NPR piece because using a different line of reasoning you can find a reasonable argument leading to a direct contradiction of the 'obvious' benefits of cold drinks.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Random olympic thoughts

In no particular order, some thoughts I had while watching the olympics this week

-I missed watching the opening ceremonies, but for a very good reason: I got married that afternoon. Nevertheless it's such an in-the-moment event I'm afraid to watch them now. Maybe I will see them later, maybe I won't.

-on CTV there's a weird 1812 commercial reminding Canadians we 'beat' the US that year (paid for by the government of Canada). I have no idea if this is to insinuate some olympic-based patriotism, but either way it's a stupid weirdly timed ad.

-CTV's results/schedule interactive graph is really well done. It's intuitive and considering how many sports go on at once easy to navigate. Once you find a sport of interest there are streaming videos linked, the start times are listed for each event, and the results are posted immediately.

-I've noticed swimmers have been getting a tad younger and track athletes older (not to mention cyclists and trampoliners). Consider that from the 100m sprinters to the marathoners, both male and female, those ages 30+ are quite numerous. The trend in older athletes was pointed out in this Globe and Mail article. By contrast swimmer Michael Phelps is retiring at the 'advanced' age of 27. My theory is that swimmers have such crammed-in schedules with multiples races and qualifying rounds that peaking is favoured by those with quick recovery times, i.e the young. Runners have by contrast days between trials, often competing in just one event; slower recoveries but faster times is a typical route to victory.

-On the same note, commentators will remark than an athlete is 'only 17,18, or 19 years of age'. Minutes later they'll note with surprise that someone is 'still at it' at any age over 30. What this implies is how narrow the 'optimal' age is for running, i.e. in their 20s. But since there's so many exceptions it's really not a very useful rule of thumb.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Olympics and participation

If I don't post my Olympic medal plots soon, I'll have wait four more years to make it as relevant. Also my coach John Lofranco was hoping to see this stuff months ago. Life things happened, but at last here they are. Nothing do I hate more than sitting on perfectly good data.

First off, what am I talking about? I posted a while back my thoughts about Olympic standards being too high for Canadian track and field athletes. I believe that if Athletics Canada renounced their A+ standards, and allowed more athletes to participate, it would increase our overall chances to medal. I would say this is intuitive in the sense that lower standards automatically means more athletes, which in turn allows for surprise wins to occur. No more surprising than buying more lottery tickets earns better odds of hitting the big jackpot.