Graphity Graphy Graph

My last post was missing a few important facts and figures. Here’s one of the pictures from the Marathon (the poor quality is due to the fact that I ripped it from the site that normally would be selling it to me at 11€).

Marathon Man

Marathon Man


And here’s another!

Marathon Man

Marathon Man

Plus a couple of bonus graphs of my speed throughout the race! This is measured in minutes per kilometer, so the higher the line, the slower I was running. You can see that I had a big spike five kilometers into the race — this is where an unfortunately bottleneck in the course forced us all to stop and walk for about 40 seconds. The effect was longer than that, since it takes quite a long time for the runners to reposition themselves in well-spaced, comfortably paced groupings.

Speed (minutes per kilometer) for 2009

Speed (minutes per kilometer) for 2009

Compared to 2008, you can see that I was quite a bit more consistent.

Speed (minutes per kilometer) for 2009

Speed (minutes per kilometer) for 2008

Three Hours, Forty Eight

The official results for the Paris 2009 marathon are in, and my time is 3h48-ish. Not quite as good as I planned, but still better than I expected.

The marathon adventure begins with the Marathon Expo at Porte de Versailles to exchange my doctor’s note for a bib. Normally, I go on Friday evening and there’s no line at all. This year, I went at noon on Saturday and I had to wait in a line, but it moved very quickly.

One of the sponsors this year was L’Oréal, with flyers of Matthew Fox touting the Turbo Booster anti-fatigue cream. He’ll never give up his live-hard-and-party-hard lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean he can’t have beautifully airbrushed skin that even Liz Taylor would giggle at. The marathon volunteer put one in my gift bag, then looked at me and put in a second sample. The other goodies were a sponge, a full bottle of Pétrole Hahn shampoo (which I quite like, actually!), and some sort of candy bar.

For the marathon, I got up at 6h00, so I could eat and digest my oatmeal before the start of the race. I had a small weak coffee, but mostly sipped water, listened to some music, and prepared a little bag for the finish line (Mr. Dragon was coming to pick me up). I got dressed, taking along a long-sleeve flannel shirt destined to be “donated”.

I left the house at 7h45, and metroed up to the Arc de Triomphe, where I took advantage of the open air urinals (to lighten the load!) and entered the cattle gates at 8h30. I was in the violet area, which is the group targetting 3h45.

At 8h35, the wheelchair athletes take off. At this point, I was shifting from foot to foot, suddenly realizing that I was supposed to be running a marathon just now. Last year, I trained pretty strictly and everything was on schedule and prepared (until I hurt my ankle two weeks before). This year, I missed almost all of February because of work, and most of the beginning of March.

And at 8h45, we were off!

This year, I was going to attempt to keep my goal pace during the entire race, especially taking the first 12 kilometers very easy. I took water every five kilometers, except at 15km, where I took a banana instead, and somewhere in the 30km range, where they handed me a cup of some blue goo energy drink.

I kept my pace or close (around 5:20 per kilomter) pretty much throughout the entire race. There were a couple faster kilometers, and a few kilometers that approached 6 minutes.

At 33 kilometers, I “bonked”, or “hit the wall”. This is when everything starts to hurt and fall apart. I didn’t get the sparkly colours this year.

Folklore says this is because the muscles used the glycogen stored in them and throughout the body for short-term endurance energy. The human body can only store about 2000 kilocalories of glycogen (about a day’s worth of energy), and running consumes about 100 kilocalories a mile, so after 20 miles (32km), your body no longer has access to its easiest, habitual energy source. This is why it’s important to eat so many carbs in the three days before the race — to maximize the glycogen stored in the muscles.

The real scientific reason, however, for falling apart at 33km into a race is: you just ran 33 effing kilometers, you stupid nutjob. Compare and constrast with all the people that didn’t. They’re just fine, aren’t they? Experiment validated and closed.

The nice thing about passing the 33 kilometer sign, however, is that you’re in single digits for kilometers remaining. I’m not sure that you recover from bonking, and I didn’t manage to get my pace back close to the 5:20 km that I planned, but it seemed to get slightly easier and I kept on as best as I could.

I mostly proud of the fact that I didn’t stop running once (except for a short walking bottleneck at Bastille, and a 2 second stop at the water station at 35km). For the most part I stayed consistent and strong throughout the race.

The last kilometer, I pushed a bit harder. A woman in pink passed me slowly on the left, and started to sob. Serious, shoulder-shaking sobs, but she didn’t slow down. For a couple of seconds, I wondered why… then it infected me too. It wasn’t sadness, or pain, or exhaustion (well, maybe a bit). I’m not even sure why — maybe after pushing yourself so close to the edge, where it’s no longer even physical exertion, and then coming up to the end, the last 195 metres after 42 kilometers, with the crowd and the big inflated finish line, and not really even knowing what it meant.

They shooed us to continue after the finish line; there are hundreds more people arriving every minute. They snipped the chip from my shoe, I raised my hands for someone to scrawl a line across my number and someone else handed me a medal and a warm poncho, and I shambled down the long avenue, back towards the Arc de Triomphe.

Running at Parc Montsouris

A gang of us have been running at Parc Montsouris on the weekend, which is in the south of Paris (nicely between all of us). It takes me about 25 minutes on public transport to get there, thanks to the nifty new green tramway.

But I can never accurately calculate the distance we run there. Last Sunday, we did six loops, which felt like about 10km. Armed with Google Earth, Google Maps, the path tool and a vector drawing program (the excellent Inkscape), I made a little map that shows the loop, and the possible shortcuts we can take off of it.

Running Route at Parc Montsouris

From Google Earth, I know that one loop around Montsouris, taking the outside path wherever possible, is 1.56km (or just about a mile). By shaving off the major corners, it’s 1.23km.

Therefore, last Sunday, we ran about 9.36km total.

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Words I Use

I know! It’s been ages, hasn’t it? Here’s what the what’s been:

I ran the 2008 Paris Marathon on April 6th. In fact, I sprained my ankle two weeks before, and I was sure I was going to miss the big event (a bitter thought when you consider that I started training in October). I kept it rested and safe, and took a 3km trial run the day before the marathon. It was completely pain free, so I ran with it! I ran faster than in 2007, but slipped almost 2000 places in the overall rankings somehow (about 13,000th out of 29,000 participants).

I also took a big, big trip to Canada, which I’d love to write a bit more about. In the meantime, I thought I’d post this neat little image composed of words that I use frequently in my blog (courtesy of Wordle).

My Words

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Casse-tête

This Sunday, I was invited to a brunch with some friends in the fifteenth arrondissement. The food was excellent, the conversation superb and the walk in the parc André Citroën was charming.

Speaking of charm, between the main plate and the cheese course, the five-year-old disappeared into his room, and came out with a hand-lettered sign reading:

aide
chodeuse
nise
touse

It took me a second, but I got it! Do you know what he was saying?

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Semi-Marathon de Paris 2008

I went to a dinner party the night before the first race of 2008, but I only ate plain pasta and bread, and I went home to bed before dessert. A half marathon isn’t really a big deal. I’d already ran three or four equivalent or longer runs around le jardin du Luxembourg (or the Luco, as I’ve never ever heard the locals call it).

But running the Semi-marathon de Paris 2008 is the best way to practice for the Marathon de Paris 2008. I wanted to test out my pre-race routine.

I got up two hours early, showered and ate a bowl of fromage frais (between yogurt and cottage cheese), an orange and a half Litre of water. I got dressed, pinned my race bib on, pinned my metro pass to my pocket, strapped my timing chip to my shoe. It was chilly out, so I grabbed a sweater from my “to donate” pile (it was my nice, warm green sweater that had slightly discoloured in the sun).

Even at my station, the metro was filling with runners, and it became more and more full as we approached the Château de Vincenne. My first stop, of course, was the open air urinal. The line is usually very short, especially in comparison with the portables.

Then I went to my cage. They separate runners into classes, and verify your bib as you arrive. Last year, I signed up for the slowest class and arrived at the last minute so I was at the end of the crowd — it took me about 12 minutes just to arrive at the starting line after the race had begun!

They play Chariots of Fire in a loop during this little purgatory between firing the pistol and when your timing chip actually crosses the starting line.

This year, I self-classed myself into the 1h40 group, so there were only four “Chariots of Fire” minutes. I threw my sweater to the side of the road while waiting.

Hokey Pokey

I kept my first few kilometres deliberately slow while the crowd thinned out. I skipped the 5km water break and passed the first 1h40 pacer soon after. These pacers, or lièvres (literally hares) run the race carrying huge flags or balloons, and help you run consistently.

At 10km, I had made up my first slow kilometres with just a bit extra to spare. I took a little bottle of water at this station, and drank about half of it over the next two kilometres, then threw it to the side of the road. I’ll pick up litter during the year to compensate, or at least tut disapprovingly when I see it.

Hop

I skipped water and sponges at 15km. About this time, I passed the second 1h40 lièvre. This means that I had worked my way from the back to the front of the group, and I was going faster than I had planned.

Madison

At 16km, I had a stitch in my side. I haven’t had a stitch since the beginning of my training. Ow, my organs! I kept my pace, stretched and breathed and it went away. At 18km, it happened again, and I had to slow down… so many people were passing me it felt like I was going backwards.

Flail

Then I realized that with a bit of a push, I could break a new milestone… and I really pushed. The stitch went away, but the sky turned pink and sparkly.

RUN!

My official time was just under 1h39… but remember the four minutes of purgatory? That was foreshadowing and you’ll see all that and more when I get my book deal (“Petit Canadien: In Paris, In stitches, In Vino Veritas”). In fact, my chip time broke 1h35! I came in the top 15% of finishers! Overall, it wasn’t easy, but it was mostly painless and I enjoyed myself more this second time around.

I haven’t set my goal for the marathon yet, but my goal for the next semi-marathon is (a) 1h33 minutes and/or (b) not look like Timmy’s pet turkey in my official picture(s).

Page 123

So, my good friend Rhino75 threw a meme torch at me. I’m to follow his instructions (pick up the book I’m reading and write down the sixth to eighth sentence) and then pass it along to someone else. Well, I’m up for a giggle:

Lubin doesn’t trust Rowan because once upon a time, Rowan called shots. It was at her command that they were all recruited so long ago, damaged goods damaged further: memories rewritten, motives rewired, conscience itself refitted in the service of some indefinable, indefensible greater good. “Because she was a corpse,” Clarke repeats.

Technically, I couldn’t flip to “page” 123… (For modern, civilized readers, a “page” is a unit of measurement that was used back when text files were printed and glued together. Some hobbyists still read this way, even when they have a perfectly functional mobile phone to read on! It’s charmingly archaic, like the “gallon”, “inch” or “social conscience”.)

However, I jumped to the 123rd screen in my mobile text reader in my current ebook, βehemoth, by Peter Watts. It’s an intensely good read, and it’s free. After bickering over the publication of the book with his publisher, he ended up giving it away. Two of his previous give-aways were my top books of 2007 — and they’re both required reading before βehemoth.

By the way, Marshall McLuhan always recommended judging a book by an entire page, not just a few sentences (and it was page 69, apparently because he was a pervert and/or a Canadian).

I have to tag somebody to carry on? Can I tag the butcher?

78. Lincoln City

In 2007, I spent New Year’s Eve in Lincoln City, Oregon. In 2008, I spent New Year’s Day there.

It was all Duckie’s idea. We were tossing around things we could do to have a New Year’s more exciting than normal, and she suggested driving down to the Oregon coast and visit some Pacific beaches. We rented a condo on the beach at Lincoln City, a tiny beach town on the coast outside of Oregon. I went without supplementary health insurance (Mike Moore would blow his ballcap!)

Chihuly Glass

Ryan and the Chihuly Glass

A few hours later, we drove past Seattle for my very first time. Everyone always said that it was like Vancouver, and since I lived in Vancouver, I never saw the point. The point is obviously on The Space Needle. I love Googie architecture.

Ryan and the Chihuly Glass

We did stop in Tacoma to see the revitalized historic core, and especially the bridge to the museum of glass, which is filled with artwork from Dale Chihuly. We’re big fans. We ate a proper cafe breakfast across from the renovated train station, now serving as a courthouse.

Fezic

We drove on, and made our next stop in Portland at The Grotto. It’s an outdoor shrine recessed in a cliff wall, built by nuns or monks or both. It’s really quite cool! They were advertising their Fest of Lights, but we were visiting in the daytime, so we could only profit from the temporary petting zoo.

It started getting gloomy, then the sky went dark and it started to hail merrily. We bought tokens to take the elevator to the upper gardens and walked in the freezing cold sleet. The gardens have paths that wind between religious sculpture and iconography. We were alone.

Hail, Mary!

I was soaking wet and shivering, so I was happy to get to the meditation centre, a large glass room built into the side of the cliff and overlooking the city away from Portland. There were overstuffed leather chairs facing the view. The room is well sound-proofed and very silent. I tried to dry my hair with my scarf.

Of course, there was a surprisingly intense rainbow.

Rainbow

We had terrifying pizza in Portland, and ended up on the long, wrong road to the coast. It was dark by the time we arrived in Lincoln City.

Sunlight

We rushed straight to the box office to buy tickets for the community theatre production of Moonlight and Magnolias. We were worried that they might have sold out.

The ticket lady informed us that they were having a gala presentation for New Year’s on the following night, but we had high hopes for the gala at the local casino.

So we went to the play that night. It was the retelling of the book Gone With the Wind to the screenwriter who would write the movie. Of course, I have no qualifications to be a critic, and I think amateur theatre is valuable in all its many forms. No matter what a disastrous shambling mess it appears to the spectators.

If it had been slightly better, we would have walked out at intermission.

Community theatre actors, please remember: we can see you, even when you aren’t speaking. However, when you are speaking, look at each other, or something other than the floor. And put your fingers away! Keep gesticulating like that and someone’s going to lose an eye.

OK, that was a bit mean, but I edited out all the worst. The worst was just malign, and didn’t need to be said.

The next day, we went out the the beaches. I love strolling on the beach. It was freezing, but I bought thermal underwear at Target. Canadians love Target! We walked and walked.

We went to the casino to check out the New Year’s parties. We were expecting to get tickets for the forties-themed gala, but the casino was too depressingly gloomy when we arrived. It was well-lit and modern… just gloomy. On a beautiful sunny day, it just seemed so very wrong that the casino was so busy. We left again quickly.

Beach

We spent the afternoon on the beach, and wandering through charming curio and second hand shops. At one, the proprietor tried to sell us artisanally handcrafted plush owls with disturbing and perverse storage orifices.

We decided to pick up stones, and attach our worries, problems and anxieties to them, then throw them in the ocean. I picked up one with lots of little holes (for lots of little problems), walked with it for a bit, and threw it as hard and as far as I could.

In the evening, we were both feeling feverish and ill, so we slept until nearly midnight, ordered Chinese food from the wrong town 15 minutes down the highway, and finished our champagne with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin in our apartment.

Beach Beach

The next morning (the first morning of 2008) we went for a dip in the ocean. Duckie had her swim attire, but I had to go in my underwear. We both went in only up to our navels; I would have gone in farther if it had felt… less… punch-in-the-ballsy. Duckie was disappointed that we didn’t completely submerge, but my legs were turning blue. I’m convinced we can do better next time.

Coffee Ryan

On the way back, we stopped off at the aviation museum, which looked really cool. It was closed. An enthusiastic man was wandering outside going from aircraft to aircraft and shouting excitedly to his girlfriend, who was following him slowly from inside her car. With her windows closed.

Excuse me, is there a plane in my ear?

That’s about it! Wait, no… there were TWO bonus adventures!

We had a tweaked out server at the Outback Steakhouse in Seattle. He was speaking English, but he wasn’t making any sense, as if he had come from an alternate planet with frequent and regular drug abuse. Duckie confounded him by asking for a bit of milk with her tea. He ended up bringing a saucer of milk. Like for a cat. And presented it (and every other item on the table) with a flourish.

The second bonus adventure was at Target. Canadians love Target! We had bought some wine, and Duckie decided to ask the cashier if she knew anything about a specific bottle. The cashier replied, no, she didn’t, but she had had “mer-lott” before, and assured us that it was “kinda grape flavoured”.

2007 Year in Review

Welcome to naught-eight! Can you believe it? Crazy times, and we’re already 8% into the new year! The talented Frog with a Blog put together a nice retrospective video (check me out licking my fingers at 2 minutes, 15 seconds). In the same spirit, I’d like to present my annual report for 2007.

Guests and Travel

I didn’t have many guests in 2007, but they were awesome. I went to Lisbon with JJ and London with Zed. Nanners and Susan came down from Jolly Old for a weekend, and Mo and Afraa came up from Montpellier for a weekend.

I started and finished 2007 with my Christmas vacations to Canada. I lost a trip to Lisbon, because I went to the wrong airport (non-modifiable, non-refundable ticket).

Movies

Note that all star ratings have been normalized to a 0.0 to 1.0 (inclusive) interval.

Although I watched slightly more than one movie a week, there was a 51 day period in the summer where I didn’t watch any.

Books

  • Total: 28
  • Average rating: 0.71 stars
  • Total pages: 10,990 (average 29.5 a day)
  • Average reading time: 8.18 days
  • Number in french: 18
  • Number read on my mobile phone: 3
  • Worst book: No One to Trust by Iris Johanssen, 0.4 stars. It wasn’t that bad, either, but it was obviously an airport book.
  • Best books: Once again, a three-way tie, but all by the same author. Peter Watt‘s books Blindsight, Maelstrom, and Starfish each earned 0.9 stars. He is a lunatic. And he gave away these three books on his website for free…
  • Fastest read: Tuesdays with Morrie, by Mitch Albom (260 pages, 0.6 stars) read in the morning of May 19th. And Digital Fortress by Dan Brown (383 pages, 0.6 stars) read on the airplane on December 28th.

Running

  • Total distance: 640.2km
  • Total time: 55.52 hours
  • Number of sessions: 60
  • Overall average speed: 5min12 per kilometer, or 11.5 km/hr.
  • Longest run: 42.195km, of course, on April 15th. My chip time was 3h58 (5min36 per km, or 10.61 km/hr).
  • Fastest run: 14.5km on December 16th, at 4min27 per km, or 13.44 km/hr. This was in the Jardin du Luxembourg.

Work

  • Total hours: [redacted]
  • Average lunch break: 1h13
  • Total commute time: (estimated) 450-500 hours
  • Total vacation days: [redacted]
  • Total RTT days (time off in lieu of overtime): [redacted]
  • Total supplementary holidays: [redacted]
  • Total statutory (bank) holidays: 8
  • Total sick days: 1

Miscellaneous

  • Total number of birthdays: 1
  • Number of times dumped by email: once, I think…
  • Blogged: 11
  • Blog comments: 8 (not too bad!)
  • Unique visits: 15,022, of which 85.7% were robots.
  • Top keyword: gallette de roi.
  • 2007 New Years Resolutions: 3/5.

Emergency Backup Pants

Unfortunately, I spilled hot coffee on my jeans this morning.

Fortunately, I always have emergency backup pants at work (in this case, my suit).

Unfortunately, the legs are too slim for the boots I wore this morning.

Fortunately, I have no problem going about in my socks.

Unfortunately, I spilled coffee again on my emergency backup pants.

Fortunately, it was just a dribble. I’ll just have to wear the suit home today so I can take it to the cleaners.

Ta-dah! That’s my story. Best story so far of 2008.