Racing in the Dark

The C&O canal stretches some 184.5 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to The District.  It drops 605 feet during that time. The tow path along the canal is maintained by the National park service. It’s very pretty in some places, easy to walk on, and easily accessible. Cyclists, joggers, hikers, and anyone else who likes a little bit of sunshine can be found on the trail on any pleasant day.

Last Saturday and Sunday, 15 of my coworkers and I decided to run the whole thing. Yes, we ran a combined 200 miles starting a 2AM Saturday and finishing at noon on Sunday.  We piled into two vans and an RV, drove in shifts, slept when we could, lived off nuts, power bars, and Gatorade and ran through mud, creeks, traffic, and geese to arrive at Ft. Hunt park. Why you might ask? Why would we subject ourselves to such pain and discomfort?  Running is about why! It’s about why not! Why do so many people run crazy distances?! Why don’t you go back to your couch and watch Jersey Shore if you hate beautiful scenery and fresh air so much!

I had an amazing time but the sleep deprivation put my thoughts on the event in a blender and hit frappe.  Going to try and structure this somehow.

We participated in Tom’s Run. It’s a relay in memory of a Coast Guard officer who died of ALS.  One runner and one biker from each team go on set legs.  It’s not a race and it doesn’t raise money for charity. It’s simply to get out and do something interesting.

The Awesome: Running in the dark

The most interesting part of the whole experience was running/biking at night. Since the park is normally closed at dark and there is limited camping, you have the trail almost entirely to yourself. The first thing you notice is how closed in the path is. I suppose it’s easy to notice during the day but at night, the overhanging trees block out the moon and the stars.  A head lamp only illuminates so much and it makes the trees feel very tunnel like. Without a strong frame of reference, it feels like you’re going super fast down the trail.

Someone should make an experimental film about a dude running down the C&O canal at 3 AM.  It’s title would be the German word for night-watchman and it would alternate between a direct on and behind camera shots of a dude in a white shirt running.  The only lighting would be the runner’s headlamp and the bicycle trailing him. It will be shot in black and white. Critics and film geeks everywhere would love this.

Also, when you’re running at night and you cross an aqueduct, you’ve got a 50/50 shot at running into hobos fishing. Seriously. They had a kerosene lantern and everything.  Nearly ran them over on my bike. OK, they may not have been hobos but guys fishing of an old aqueduct with a lantern and big buckets for fish screams hobo to me.

The Good:  Wildlife: Geese are mean animals (among other things).  Ask any golfer who’s been chased by a flock of them and he’ll tell you that a 20lb goose is not something to take lightly and a flock of them is no laughing matter.  Guess what likes the to nest near the canal? If you said geese, you’re only half right. I did run by a flock of geese and goslings. That was during mile 11 of 13. At about 5:45AM at that distance, I’m willing to fight a flock of guess if it gets in my way.  Fortunately that didn’t happen. Along the creek I saw herons, foxes, raccoons, and a host of song birds. Plus deer. Lots and lots of deer out at 2AM on the stretches of River road around Whites Ferry. I’m surprised no one doing Tom’s run has hit one yet

The Bad: Sweaty car seats.  Do you have any idea of how gross it is to sit on a car seat that is covered in the sweat of 10 runners covering a couple hundred miles? It’s the anti-hot rack. It’s cold, smelly, and seeps instantly through your running shorts/shirt. Black mesh seats are the best at hiding this. You’ve just finished cheering a team mate on, dash back to the car, only to sink into a cold, clammy seat that begins to dampen your clothes. And you’re stuck there for an hour drive. Fun!

The crazy: Most people get to spread their legs out across the two days. Me, I got to cram it all into 12 hours! First leg wasn’t even on the tow path but a detour down a country road. I got to run in traffic! 6.5 miles from 530-630. From 830-930, I got to bicycle for 8 miles. Odd thing about the cycling at Tom’s run. Since you need to stay with the runner, it’s actually more work to stay upright than it is to keep pace. Anyways. After that, I crashed until 2 AM so that I could run another 6 miles at 5 AM. Let me tell you how much fun that second run was. I did do a second bicycle leg at around 9AM but it was a mere 4 miles.

Overall this is the type of event that makes you realize why people go running. It was fun, hard, and silly.  The organizers don’t wrap the relay in a noble cause.  This is about getting out doors and doing something truly unique, even if the Coast Guard teams take it a bit seriously. I did it to meet some coworkers but also because it fits in with what I want to do this year. I’m looking forward to doing it next year.

Thoughts on the Behind the Myths Tour

The Behind the Myths Tour

TW and I went to the behind the myths tour yesterday afternoon. I was super excited for them to come to DC. Despite the fact that there are a ton of nerdy folks here in DC (I saw at least 10 of these shirts), I feel like a lot of tours/shows that are geared towards a this type of audience skip the south entirely. DC isn’t in the south, no matter what Jeremiah Dixon, Charlie Mason, or JFK think, but it’s close enough that I think it suffers from some perception. The idea that there isn’t a large enough market in the south for this kind of entertainment is silly and somewhat insulting. Atlanta is home to a number of venues no larger than the Warner Theater and one of the best engineering schools in the country yet nerdy/geeky acts seem to avoid it like the plague (TMBG are an exception to this). But I digress.

The show was excellent. More than anything, it took Jamie and Adam out of the television and made them real. Very few myths were discussed or busted. Instead the duo spent time drilling home Mythbuster’s core message: Anyone can and should question the world around them.

There were three things that stuck with me from that show. The first two happened during the Q&A sessions. First, Adam was asked about appearing at the Reason Rally hours before the show. Adam is a well known and politely (to me anyways) outspoken atheist. I sensed the questioner wanted Adam to rehash his comments to this crowd. Adam effectively deflected the question, realizing I hope, that this was not the venue for such a topic. The audience had not paid to hear that discussion and more than a few would have been offended had it taken place. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time a question like this has come up. The enthusiasm that Adam displayed when talking about the event was enough to show the audience that he cared about this cause.

The second was Jamie’s answer to a question about the infamous cannonball. After the question was asked, a number of cheers/chuckles broke out in the audience. I was impressed that someone had the nerve to ask Jamie about it in person. Jamie gave a thorough explanation about what went wrong and what factors caused the cannonball to ricochet out of the range(short answer, a brush fire and drought made the ground hard enough for the shot to skip). I kind of enjoyed his scolding of the audience. His response to the chuckles was to remind everyone that this was not funny and might have cost them the show. I was impressed with the level of analysis the team (I’m assuming everyone was involved) did to determine why this happened and how to avoid it next time. His response reinforced the idea that the Mythbusters team think of themselves as engineers/scientists who frequently learn more from failures than from successes.

The last thing that surprised me was the fight. I never expected to see Adam coldcock Jamie with a chair like that but damn. When the big man went down, he went down hard. I got this pic right before it Adam about to lay the smackdown on Jamiehappened. I was particularly worried about the kids in the middle. They were brought up to help with some thing or another but had to dive out of the way. I knew something bad was going to happen when Jamie bellowed at Adam from off stage. I’m assuming the crowd in Raleigh had a good show but things were kinda tense in the audience for a while.

Couple of random thoughts:

– Adam dancing the horn pipe to The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” was strange. The between skit music was odd as a whole. Who ever was covering “Highway 61 Revisited” could not do it justice.

– Jamie bringing out Blendo as if it was Apollo Creed from Rocky IV was a nice touch. I wonder how many people under the age of 30 got the reference.


Live blogging Duke v UNC 3/3/2012

Going to try this live blogging thing. Let’s see how it goes?:

Pregame: Haven’t paid a whole lot of attention to it but I’ve got to say, Digger looks old. He’s wearing an overcoat while his cohosts are wearing blazers. Can’t even see is matching tie. I assume it’s blue since his highlighter was but we’ll see.

As a quick reference, I dislike Dicky V as an announcer.  I admire his passion for basketball but I really don’t want to hear him for a whole game. Se la vie.

The crowd sounds good so far. In the FSU game, they died towards the end of the game. They need to keep it up all day.

Love the Lexus commercials. Clearly they know who’s playing the game.

Anthem dude is kinda scary. Like the fact that he’s got two mic’s in one hand but the mics seem to be reverberating.The sound isn’t that good. And……….please don’t hit the high notes…..oooh. Not good.

The Roy’s fashion choice tonight is really great.  The suit is conservative and the tie is an awesome paisley.  Good choice tonight. Normally it’s questionable. The pocket square is a nice touch

What is Erin Andrew’s wearing? It looks like she’s some kind of cult leader. The outfit looks like some kind of vestments.

Tip: Out of bounds………and Carolina gets it. Boooo. Zeller gets the odd hook.

19:30 Miles Plumlee!!!! (think he traveled there. Gotta be honest).

17:42- They showed Payton Manning. He’s better than Jeter who went to a game while I was at school. He has some reason to be there. But Dickie V needs to stop talking about NFL trade rumors.

16:00 And Duke is as cold as ice. This isn’t entertaining.  All I have to say is that I’m glad we’re not wearing the ugly grey unis.

Charlie Sheen Commercial: Umm……..odd. Best of those commercials   But still. I’d rather reenact some of Charlie’s parties and not Platoon.

13:00: 0-7 from 3. How about we try and get into the paint some. It’s like we think blue paint is lava and we can’t touch it.

Wonderful….TW is now chanting “Up by quad”. That’s not what I need. Going to get more beer. K needs to get the paddles out.

11:00 And we finally make a shot. Can’t block out or rebound but hey, making a basket is a big first step. Let’s try and make two.

9:00 The pace is much, much better. I feel a bit more confident that Duke can come back at this pace.

TW: “Up by Double! See, I learned some Duke cheers!”

8:43- I’ve always thought K was a vampire. He always looks pale in those dark suits but he always looks the same. Every season since I got there, he hasn’t aged a bit. Can anyone back me up on this?

6:26- Finally! That possession took for ever. For the size that we have in the front court, I can’t  believe that we suck so much in the paint.

5:30- The Plumlee’s mom looks angry. I think she’d be the second most scary person in the huddle, after K of course.

4:00- No idea what just happened. Trying to regroup here after TW put a huge plate of food in front of me. This “Goodnight Moon” Audi commercial is terrible. Will never buy an Audi now. Also, watching a gospel choir singing “Blister in the Sun” is weirding me out.

2:43- The officials probably should swallow their whistles a bit. I’m kinda tired of seeing their s dramatic interpretation of the charging motion.

And TW brings back the “Up by double cheers”. I really question why I brought her to games in Cameron.

0:58.5- Dickie V thinks we do too much review. I think he talks too much. Particularly about things that aren’t the game in front of him.

Half: Oy vey iz mir. Can’t shoot, can’t rebound, can’t defend. It’s going to be a long, fun second half and half time.

Who’s the bartender in that awful Mio commercial? I’ve never heard the dialogue before now but the animation always freaked me out.

So which school has more people that need tax help? Carolina? Duke? I figured the rich alumni from both schools know about off-shore tax shelters so who are they actually advertising to?

For a  second, I thought the 3pt FG% (18.2) was our overall percent. It can’t be that different. Thinking about trying to source the ingredients for this.

18:30- Kelly looks good when he pulls the head fake and drive. Why couldn’t he have done that for 3 years?

16:18: THORTON!!!!! (Update:2:00) Thorton, you missed a fast break lay up. Idiot.

Under 16 time out: Nice. This is type of game I wanted to see! Go Duke! Still not sure we’re going to win but I like this idea.

15:00- Dickie V is talking about the Bobcats. Again, shut up and talk about the game at hand.

13:20- Foul trouble mounting. I’d be ok if all of our good players fouled out and the last 5 min of the game had to be played by scrubs. We might close the gap in that case!

10:55- OOOOHHH!!!! NJIT won a game.

10:00 We’ve cut it to around under 20.  That sounds like progress, which depresses me even more. Where’s the beer?

8:00- CURRY!

7:11: We’re swapping Plumlees now. That’s always a good sign.

3:54- The Roy is jumping around on the sideline like a gremlin. I like that image. Someone, photoshop this!

3:00- When Duke doesn’t win this game, I”m going to feel good about how we didn’t give up and gave it  the old college try this evening. And by the old college try, I mean that we got some pizza and cheap beer and forgot about tomorrow.

1:00- My only defense to “Miles Plumlee looks odd” is “He’s not Chris Lang ugly”. Also, we’ve given up now. So that’s that. I’ve totally given up on this. Liver, sorry, but you’re taking the brunt end of this.

55.9- Dickie V is now talking about Tina Turner. God, I hate him. Hell will be narrated  by Dickie V. Him and Brent Mussberger.

48.9- OOH! Harvard won!

20.0: <In Sean Conery voice> Duke. Let it go.

Well that sucked. Going to pretend that I didn’t see this. I’ve been watching something awesome tonight. What have you been doing?


That is All

Over last weekend, several friends and I saw John Hodgman perform at the Birchmere in Alexandria. It’s probably one of my favorite venues because of its size.  The last seat in the house is a max of 200 feet from the stage. Assuming you’re not short and sitting behind a really tall person (as I have) there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

My familiarity with Mr. Hodgman stems largely from his work for the Daily Show and (of course) Apple.  I had not read any of his books prior to seeing him perform nor seen him on HBO and only occasionally listened to his podcast.  I expected the show to have much the same tone that his Daily Show and podcast had.

I could not have been more wrong.

The bulk of Hodgman’s performance focused on how the world will supposedly end this year and that we, the sane-but-poor masses, will all be thrust into total chaos and anarchy.  Only the super wealthy (or deranged or both) will maintain some semblance of luxury.  They will of course do this by hoarding mayo, energy drinks, and oddly enough, sperm whales.

Interspersed between his apocalyptic warnings, Hodgman was hit or miss. His bit on sports felt a bit forced (particularly compared to this) as did his reality show bit.  He was at his best when responding to the audience either making Watership Down and Dune jokes or criticizing the audiences over education, with “I feel like I’m doing stand up in Nantducket” being one of the better lines.

Hodgman ended the show by signing “Resist the Tide” by Cynthia Hopkins. It was a strangely touching way to close his act.  In doing so, Hodgman dropped the veneer of the Deranged Millionaire and stood before the audience in a very naked and exposed way.  It felt as if he was attempting to exhort us, not to believe in Mayan prophecies, but to prepare for the inevitable end that is coming for all of us.  Preparing for this end meant being more caring as people: Be kinder to those we meet in our daily lives and never take our loved ones for granted.  Part of me wondered if this was by design.  If Hodgman used the rest of the act was a set up for this one song, he is truly a crafty performer.

As I was leaving the theater, I was reminded of the last time I saw Arlo Guthrie perform.  He ended the show by performing “This Land is Your Land”.  The simple act of singing the song as one seemed to drive its point home better than any else could.  John Hodgman wants his audiences to experience that.  Maybe, just maybe, if we can translate that feeling into reality, the world might nog collapse this year.  John Hodgman is hoping for that and so am I. That is all.

–          Drew

PS: Paul and Storm were outstanding openers.  The may have stolen the show.