Saturday, March 31, 2007

Race Report: Library Race

My university has an annual running race to raise money for the library, but this is the first year I have done it. It sponsored by the president of the university, so the university mascot was there.

My friend Rachel from California said she wanted to do a fun race, so we decided to run in costume. I'm Benjamin Franklin and she is Frida Kahlo. We thought we could talk some other history faculty members into running in costume, but the two most likely prospects were out of town.

The race started and finished in different places, and was net downhill. The two main uphills were about 1/2 mile into the race and at the end. Rachel said she wanted to run with me, though I am much slower. My costume was fairly comfortable to run it except that I got hot--the temperature must have be around 60.

I said my goal was 11 minute miles. I'm just not as fast as I was a year ago, when I almost broke 30 minutes for a 5K. I went out pretty hard, counting on the long downhill in the middle of the course, and then tried to keep up my level of effort going downhill. Looking at my heart rate monitor results--

I did a good job of keeping a steady and intense level of effort. Maybe my max heartrate is higher than what I'm using--I could talk a few words at a time--but I'm already using 205 as my max, which was measured in a stress test and is awfully high for my age. I walked some uphills on the last mile--my mile splits were 10:57, 10:34 and 11:35. Rachel went ahead then waited for me to cross the finish line together.

I'm sore afterwards--my other two running races this year were 10 miles and 10K--I forget how hard 5K can be.

Results are up. I was 147th out of 152 in 34:16. The overall female winner was 48 years old and her time was 19:51.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I did a two day silent retreat at Snail's Pace in Saluda NC, the first time I had been there. It was beautiful early spring weather.

I actually went up Thursday evening and left Sunday morning, so I had two complete days of silence. I did take my bicycle, and when I had listened to what came up alone with myself and with God I would go out on my bicycle and burn off the emotional pain. The bike routes around there all go up and down the Saluda grade. I did the southern half of the YMCA metric century and it was over 2,000 vertical feet of climbing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

one hour swim

We did a one hour swim today at masters practice, and I did 2300 yards, if I counted right, which is 2.1 kilometers. I signed up yesterday for this race, with a swim of three kilometers (just under 3300 yards). The swim cutoff is 1 hour 45 minutes after the start of the last swim wave, so I'm fast enough. I was going to do a half ironman this year, not a 3/4 ironman, but I like the approach of the Triathlon One O One series and I think it would be fun to be in on the first year. Plus I have Labor Day off this year for the first time ever--Clemson is playing a Monday night football game that day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

race results

I finally got around to looking at the race results for the 10K race last weekend. I was second out of three in my age group, and if I had been a minute faster I would have won my age group. It happened that the fast people didn't show up to this one, but it is a nice change to not be way behind. I was 82 out of 87 overall.

It's spring break here, but at the moment our lovely spring weather has gone back to cold wind. I got in a 7 mile run before church so I'm working on clutter instead of riding my bike this afternoon. I'm going to get some writing done the first part of the week (and also save some time for bicycling), but then I'm going Thursday afternoon to Snails Pace to do two days of silent retreat.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ shield me today
Against wounding
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation.

(this version was on Beliefnet today)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sony Reader, continued

I figured out some of the answers about making free books work on my Sony Reader (information that Sony doesn't make easy to find, as they want you to buy books from their bookstore). Fairly few ebook sites offer the Sony format (Manybooks is the most valuable exception). But more offer RichText (.rtf) format, such as the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and that works very nicely on the Sony reader, including the ability to adjust font size. On Project Gutenberg, many books are available only in text (.txt) format. I bought a program to translate text format to RichText format, and it is easy to use and works beautifully. I don't know how it would handle footnotes, but it takes out the annoying hard line breaks. So now I have access to all 20,000 books in Project Gutenberg. Gutenberg Australia has books that are out of copyright in Australia, where standard copyright is 50 years, but not yet in the U.S., where it is 70 years.

Monday, March 12, 2007

good news

My daughter got into the boarding school of her choice. That was what we expected, but since when I was her age I didn't get in the first time, with similar test scores, and the school has an acceptance rate of 32%, I worried. It will be an interesting change in our family patterns, not just having her so far away but she will be in the same town as my mother.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sony Reader

In a fit of extravagance, I bought a Sony Reader. I must admit that the ad about never again finishing your last book while on the plane half way to California got me. I'm intending to use it for traveling and carry it around for unexpected waiting time; I haven't actually sat down to read a book on it yet.

But some first impressions. The easiest thing to do with it is to buy books from the Sony Connect Store . They have over 12,000 titles, which if you aren't into bestsellers isn't really very many. But certainly I can find books there for traveling, when I like to hide in a mystery anyway. Those books are easy to read, with three choices of type size, though I hear illustrations aren't always good.

The next easiest option is Manybooks, which has taken books from Project Gutenberg and formatted them for Sony and made them available for free. They say they have over 16,000 books. Silk Pagoda has 10,000 books on a DVD for $24.71 (free shipping) formatted for Sony. Other Project Gutenberg books can be read on the reader, but in PDF form the type is much too small for my old eyes. It is a little better in landscape mode, but still hard to read. There are several programs available to translate PDFs and documents into more readable form, but I tried two and couldn't get either to work. MobileRead Network is the place to find geeks discussing these. I tried downloading a Project Gutenberg book as plain text, and the text size shows up fine (and adjustable) on the reader, but with very irregular line lengths (the plain text file had hard line breaks for lines longer than the reader accomodated, even in landscape mode).

Note: a later post has solutions to some of these problems.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Race Report: 10 K

In honor of Thomas Green Clemson's 200th birthday, the Sons and Daughters of Dear Old Clemson Road Race ran from Clemson University to the green in Pendleton. Fun to run from one town to another, but with a long hill from 4 to 5 miles. This was the first time I had run a stand-alone 10 K.

I ate oatmeal (with heavy cream and strawberries) about an hour and a half before the race and a Lara bar maybe 15 minutes before the start. The main excitement waiting around for the start was that busses kept snagging the starting line banner; finally the rope broke. I was frustrate to turn on my Garmin Forerunner 305 and have it say low battery--since I last charged it I used it only for an hour's run Wednesday. Now I know to be more cautious about fully charging it before a race.

There were fewer than 100 people running, a lot of them students. But then I met some people, I think employees of the campus police station, who clearly weren't serious runners, so I had hopes it wouldn't be so lonely a race. I also taked to the folks from Terry Times who were doing the timing and they assured me they would keep the finish line up for all the finishers and post all the times.

The course started out downhill and then was pretty steadily uphill for a mile or so. My GPS only lasted half a mile, so I focused on running by effort, and particularly keeping my effort up when going downhill. A man in front of me was doing walk run intervals--he would walk until I had nearly caught up and then run much faster than me. I had the feeling he was pacing himself by not letting me catch up. But there were two women ahead of us who weren't pulling farther and farther ahead. The first water stop had run out of cups, but they still had water so I cupped my hand under the spigot and drank from that. The two women ahead were doing walk run intervals even on the long downhill, so I figured that was my chance to catch up with them. I actually passed the man first, when he stopped with stomach problems. I passed the two women on the long uphill after 4 miles, even though I walked the steeper parts of it.

The last mile was downhill and then gently up. I saw a couple more people ahead, but I didn't succeed in gaining much on them. The last .2 miles was uphill and hard. I finished a few seconds over 1:17. My PR for the distance is 1:15, and that in a triathlon, but I was still pretty pleased. It was nice to have passed three people, and my pace of 12:23 was almost a minute per mile faster than the 10 mile race two weeks ago (13:19).

I thought I might win my age group, as my fast friend wasn't there and there weren't many runners over 30. I got beat just by a couple of minutes in my age group, though the winner of women 60-69 was more than five minutes faster. I did win a prize at the drawing--a $35 gift certificate at a flower shop. I couldn't think of anything to save it for so I stopped on the way home and used it to buy yellow lilies, purple flowers whose name I don't know, and white snapdragons. It makes a handsome bouquet on our kitchen table.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

what is deepest

Dr. Hinson told this story in his sermon today about a Quaker thinker who was one of his teachers:
One last word should be added about Douglas Steere’s understanding of his vocation. I think he practiced it before, but he got a phrasing for it from Martin Buber in 1951. In a Meeting at Haverford College someone stood up and said, “The greatest thing one can do for another is . . .” I don’t remember the complete statement. Buber did not immediately respond, but a short time later he said, “No, the greatest thing one can do for another is to confirm what is deepest in another.” Douglas Steere made confirming what is deepest in others the object of his life and ministry. source
Dr. Hinson called on us to do the same. Yes.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


We are at our church's annual retreat at Kanuga. Much to my surprise (it turns out a new member of the church has much better connections to retreat leaders) we have an amazing leader, Glen Hinson. He taught for more than 30 years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. How he avoided getting kicked out sooner is not clear to me.
When Southern Baptist Convention President Bailey Smith [said] in 1980: "God Almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew." A furor ensued, with then-Southern Seminary professor E. Glenn Hinson saying that statements like Smith's "are the stuff from which holocausts come." (source)
Hinson now teaches at a Baptist seminary in Kentucky associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (breakaway moderate southern Baptists). He told some good stories and spoke in a way that got through to me about how we struggle to believe in our core (not just in our head) that God loves us. I asked him if he knew my former therapist, and he said K. was one of his first five Ph.D. students.

I enjoyed my afternoon bike ride despite a very strong wind, though it left me a bit windburned. The river was still flooded from Thursday's hard rain; in fact I came to one place where the road was closed because of high water. I was 20 miles into a 25 mile ride and didn't have a map of anything but the route I was following (so I didn't know a way around). The water had gone down and there were only a few inches over the road at the yellow line, so I snuck through the barrier and rode the flooded road.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I just saw a link and was reminded that I love the article Michael Pollan published in the New York Times magazine a few weeks ago on nutrition. I don't follow all of his ideas, for example I eat a lot of meat in order to eat low carb to control my diabetes. But it is one of the few mainstream places where I have seen the idea:
indeed, many date the current obesity and diabetes epidemic to the late 1970s, when Americans began binging on carbohydrates, ostensibly as a way to avoid the evils of fat.
But I particularly like the debunking of the latest-research approach to nutrition. I do take a vitamin pill since I was diagnosed with diabetes, but I carefully picked one that had moderate rather than high amounts of vitamins and did not try to include all the minerals (I've read too much about copper that sounds worrisome).

Thursday, March 01, 2007

monthly totals

swimming: 10 workouts for 11 hours 45 minutes
biking: 5 rides for 54.5 miles in 4 hours 30 minutes
running: 12 runs for 59.2 miles in 14 hours 45 minutes

With some cold weather and some weekends away I didn't get much cycling in, but 31 hours for the month isn't bad for February. It's still close to 8 hours a week.

race results

The results from Saturday's race are posted, but only through runner 207 who finished at 1:59:58. So apparently there was a 2 hour cutoff time, though I saw nothing on the web site about that and there were still people and a clock at the finish line when I finished (and they took the tab off my race number). I suppose I don't need to know how far I was behind the second-to-last finisher, but it bothers me some not to be listed as a finisher. I emailed the race director a couple of days ago but haven't received any reply.

Ah well, I'm looking forward to my next race: the Sons and Daughters of Dear Old Clemson Road Race. I've not done a stand-alone 10 k before; from two international distance triathlons my personal best for 10 k is 1:15:06. A good goal to try to beat. It may not be easy--the fourth mile of the course is a very long fairly steep uphill on Pendleton Road into Pendleton.