Sunday, April 30, 2006

10 weeks in the bag ...

... or 20 weeks half in the bag, whichever.

I've been slacking on my blogging for a few days. I finally got a new computer, and I've been getting it set up in my free time. There were about 45 critical updates, and a number of service packs to install. It has basically taken all weekend to get it fully up and running all the software that I use. But it's nice, and it's much faster than my old Frankenstein computer, which was about 8 years old, and had various upgrades and hacks running on it, some of which were made for other computers, so this one is much more stable, and much faster.

I ran two laps on Señor Bridgio, partly with America's own Joe! Then another 4 miler on Friday, that I can no longer remember any details of, except that I saw two dead birds and I convinced myself that they had the birdflu and that I probably have it now. Say that reminds me, I read a paper about the 1918 Influenza pandemic that killed millions of people and how there are some key mutations to that virus that enabled it to infect humans and cause a pandemic, and the H5N1 birdflu already has 6 out of those same 10 mutations! So we're probably all gonna die from it. YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!

Anyways, where was I, ah yes, Saturday. I ran 8.2 with some folks from the club, and I have to say it was a bit of a struggle. I'm not sure why, maybe because it was warm, or maybe because the people I was trying to keep up with were taking breaks every so often, but when they were running, it was faster than I usually go on longer runs. But, at least in Clear Lake, there was no problem with the weather, unlike those who tried to run the Bayou Bash. It threatened for a little while, but it waited to start until about an hour after we finished. And this morning, another 4 miler, on the trails. No dead birds.

I've done some brainstorming about the 'state of the union,' as it pertains to my training.

And here are the positive aspects.
  • 10 weeks running every day.
  • I'm improving in fitness.
  • Confidence is returning - 4 milers, and even 8 milers are not intimidating at all.
  • Losing weight, although not as fast as I'd have guessed.

    Here are the negatives.
  • Occasional discomfort in my left foot. This is the most upsetting thing right now, since it could severly limit my training like it did towards the end of last year.
  • Once or twice per week struggles with the 'whybothers.' So far, I've come up with enough reasons to get my butt out the door.
  • It's getting hot. The melting point for motivation is 82F.

    And here's the general outline for the next ten weeks.
  • Continue the running streak.
  • Increase mileage. I've been doing daily runs of 3, now 4, miles, with one day where I go twice as far. I plan to continue that pattern, running 5, then 6, miles per day, with long runs of 10, and 12, miles respectively. I'll do one more week at 4 miles per day (for 5 weeks total), then bump.
  • Maintain my ice cream free streak, and do better with my snack cracker free streak.

    So, ten weeks from now is July 9th, and by then I'll be at 6 miles per day, with a long run of 12, for 4 weeks or so, which will be about 48 miles per week. It sounds like a lot of miles, but the daily runs seem to inflate that number a bit. Hmm. I'm just crunching some numbers here. Just a sec. July 9 is 4 months before the San Antonio Marathon, which is looking like the first marathon for our run at the TMC. It seems like that's too long a time. I ran some 50 mile weeks in preparation for the NYCM, but if I tried to maintain ~50 mpw for four months, I might just crash and burn. Maybe I should ramp up more slowly. I always start preparing too early and then crash and burn. Okay, so maybe I'll run 5 and 6 miles per day for 6 weeks each, instead of 4 weeks. But then, it still might be too ambitious ... okay, I don't know what I'm going to do.

    Keith out.
  • Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Memory Consolidation III (the thrilling conclusion)

    Hi America.

    I was just rambling on about some research I've been reading about and I yammered on a bit about memory consolidation and how that refers to the process of converting short term memory into long term memory, and how this is dependent on proper functioning of a brain area called the hippocampus. And then I went on to describe some recent data that shows how the hippocampus might be recording the events of the day and playing them back so that you have many opportunities to store them in long term memory. I'm doing this because it's my blog and I'll put here whatever I want to.

    Dave had a good point about how it relates to Alzheimer's Disease, and yes, people with AD do have structural abnormalities in their hippocampus, with very dense neurofibrillary tangles and ß-amyloid plaques in thier hippocampus (those two things are indiciative of AD). There is even a report of 20% or greater tissue degeneration in the hippocampus of patients with mild-moderate AD. And regarding the affect of stress, here's a great example showing how stress affects learning. Initially it seems to help, where stressed rats make fewer errors on their maze, but continued stress hurts their performance dramatically - many biochemical changes can be affected by the stress hormone cortisol.

    Anywho, back to the memory consolidation, there's some brand new data that changes things a bit. The idea was nice and clear, that the hippocampus can drive cells in the proper sequence and they will then be strongly connected to each other and things will remain that way, burned into your mind for all time, but it's not so cut and dry. Apparently neurobiology is somewhat complicated. Who knew? Anyway, yesterday I talked about how, if you record which cells are firing and the order they fire, and then look at the order they fire in the sharp wave during sleep, you see that it's the same order, and it's sped up which would make it more likely to change the wiring of cells in cortex, but if you look at what's happening directly after the animal runs the maze, you see the same kind of group firing - and a similar sharp wave. But if you look at what order they are firing during that sharp wave, you find that it's sped up, but it's reversed. It's different than random, and it's the opposite of what was happening just a few seconds prior.

    And if you think in the same simple way that this is driving cells in cortex to form connections between them, it's strange, because this order of firing would actually serve to weaken the connections between them. Who knows why. Maybe for some reason you want them weakened. On some level, there may not be any real difference in a system that learns by strengthening specific synapses and a system that learns by weakening specific synapses - on some level. Or in another way, firing the cells in reverse order would actually strengthen the synapses in the reverse order (i.e. the connections from cells C -> B -> A are stronger, and the connections from A -> B -> C are made weaker) and maybe that is beneficial in some way. I don't know how it works, I'm open to your ideas.

    That's enough science for now.

    Keith out.

    Oh, yeah, 4 miles this morning - nice and cool, you should have come running with me, America. Maybe tomorrow, on the bridge - we leave from the parking lot of Ichibon's on the Kemah side of the bridge at 5AM sharp.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Memory Consolidation II

    The people demand random bits of knowledge and I accomodate. I'm kicking around some ideas about the mechanism of memory storage in the brain, and if you haven't read the background post about Memory Consolidation you can do that first.

    So, here's a few things you should know beforehand. It's possible to stick electrodes in a rat's brain and record the activity of single cells as the animal walks around and does what he does (you can distinguish more than 100 cells at a time if you're really good - the different colored clusters on the figure at left are responses from different cells). And it doesn't hurt the rat, he loves it, actually - they give him chocolate. Anyway, if you do this and stick electrodes in the animal's hippocampus, you can find cells that respond only when the animal is in a particular location - whether he's in a maze or wherever. And you can record from many cells and find cells that respond when he's in one place, and some that respond when he's in another place, and some when he's in a third place, and some when he's in a fourth place, and so on... They call these place cells. (The figure at right shows the responses of different cells as the animal moves from one area to the next - different cells are active when he's in different places.)

    So, people have done this (Lee and Wilson), and recorded where the animal goes and which cells fire. And then they record the activity of these cells while the animal is sleeping (during slow wave sleep i.e. deep sleep, with no dreaming). During slow wave sleep, there are slow oscillations in activity of most of the cells in the area, accompanied by sharp waves, where you find many cells firing at the same time. (Those fast downward spikes on the EEG pictures during the still period are the sharp waves.) And if you look at the same cells that you were recording from when the animal was moving around, you find they are participating in the sharp wave, and they fire in the same order they fired in when the animal was navigating his maze. The sharp wave is thought to originate directly in the hippocampus, so it seems like the hippocampus has recorded this activity, during the day, and plays it back during the night - over and over again, for long term storage somewhere else - presumably in the cerebral cortex.

    There is one key difference between the activity of the place cells during the awake-behaving period to the activity during the sharp waves during sleep that should be mentioned. During awake navigation, the cells fire in order dictated by their place field in the time it takes him to move from one field to another - in this case the whole navigation of the 'maze' took about 4-5 seconds, so recording the whole sequence of place cell firing takes 5 seconds. But during sleep, during the sharp wave, they all fire in the same order, but it takes less than 200 milliseconds from the first to the last. So playback of this information was about 20X faster than recording - on average.

    Interestingly, this speeding up of playback might just make it easier to understand how it gets stored in cortex, because neurons do everything fast. Action potentials, and biochemical pathways, everything takes milliseconds to reach completion. If an animal is going to learn that there is a relationship between two events (i.e. bar press = food reward), it's difficult because these things happen at a very slow timescale. And if it takes 200 milliseconds for the whole chain of events to be played back, it's a more reasonable task. And it ties the reasearch into a huge body of literature by people who study learning and memory at the single cell level - who find that co-activation of two cells within a time of 20 ms or so will lead to a strengthening of the connection between them.

    So, basically, the idea is that, the hippocampus records a slow sequence of events and plays it back real fast, and the sequential firing of cells, drives cells in cortex to fire at the same time, and thereby strengthening the connections between the cortical cells. Thereby consolidating those memories there for long term storage.

    Of course, saying that the hippocampus guides the long term storage of information in cerebral cortex begs the question: How does it get recorded in the hippocampus in the first place? But that's a whole different thing.

    There's more to the story, that I'll get to tomorrow. There's some new data that came out last month that might throw a wrench in this model, or maybe not, it's unclear, it's cutting edge, you'll hear it here first.

    Rock on.

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    Memory Consolidation

    I know a certain Jamoosh who likes to hear my random bits of info about science and nature, so I'll include one here tomorrow or the next day, when I figure out how to articulate it. It's really cool and at the cutting edge of neurobiology, so you will all be sure to LOVE it. I'll give a short background today.

    I'm sure all my loyal lovely readers know that I work as a graduate student, studying neurobiology, and I'm sure everyone has loved my posts about bird migration and magnetosensation. Since I passed my qualifier, I've brought myself up to date on some literature which deals with some very high level issues about the function of the brain. And it's my blog and I can put here whatever I want, and since this is what's got hold of my mind right now, I'll blog it.

    Anyway, I study a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which has long been known to be involved in learning and memory, as well as in siezure initiation in many forms of epilepsy. Nobody really knows what it does, and most of the knowledge comes from determining what happens when you cut it out. One guy, they refer to as patient H.M., like fitty years ago, had real bad epilepsy, so they cut out both of his hippocampi, and it totally screwed him up. He lives and breathes and communicates with others, and you might not know there was anything wrong with him, until you left the room briefly and he totally forgets who you are.

    He has short term memory, and he has long term memories - from before his operation, but he can't convert the short term memories into long term memories, something they call anterograde amnesia. It's much like that dude from Memento, which you should definitely go rent right now if you haven't seen it, not because of its biological relevance, but because it's a badass movie.

    There's now some data which might explain how that whole "memory consolidation" magic happens, and I think it sheds light on the role of the hippocampus and perhaps the functional organization of the brain.

    So tune in next time,

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    London Marathon Review

    America's sweetheart Deena Kastor breaks her own American record by winning the London Marathon in 2:19:36. She's now the fourth fastest woman marathoner ever behind Racliffe, Ndereba, and Noguchi. Felix Limo of Kenya wins the men's race in 2:06:39. Khalid Khannouchi posts a strong fourth place finish in 2:07:04, and is probably already thinking of Chicago. Gebrselassie cramps and finishes in ninth. Paula Radcliffe hit the snooze button eight times this morning.

    And I hit the snooze only 3 times, and then ran 4 miles. I wanted to run with the HRB gang this evening, but the afternoon heat scared me away, so I'll show up just for the meeting and the food.


    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    London marathon is tommorow.

    I was kidding a bit yesterday about Tergat being afraid of Gebrselassie. This article illustrates how heartbroken he was about having to drop out of tomorrows race. I feel for him, he seems like a nice guy. Perhaps, though, he was a bit intimidated, and trained himself into injury.

    Here's a more complete list of the elite athletes for tomorrow's marathon. Make your pick for a chance to win tiny wind up car and an antennae ball. It's good to see some Americans in the hunt in both of these races too, but I'm sticking with Gebrselassie and Chepkemei.

    Elite MenPR
    Khalid Khannouchi (USA)2:05:38
    Evans Rutto (KEN)2:05:50
    Felix Limo (KEN)2:06:14
    Haile Gebrselassie (ETH)2:06:20
    Jaouad Gharib (MAR)2:07:02
    Martin Lel (KEN) 2:07:26
    Stefano Baldini (ITA)2:07:29
    Shigeru Aburaya (JPN)2:07:52
    Hendrick Ramaala (RSA)2:08:32
    Tsuyoshi Ogata (JPN)2:08:37
    Shami Mubarak Hassan (QAT)2:09:22
    Jon Brown (GBR)2:09:31
    Christopher Isegwe (TAN)2:10:21

    Elite WomenPR
    Margaret Okayo (KEN)2:20:43
    Deena Kastor (USA)2:21:16
    Constantina Dita (ROM)2:21:30
    Lyudmila Petrova (RUS)2:22.33
    Susan Chepkemei (KEN)2:23:12
    Mari Ozaki (JPN)2:23:30
    Selina Kosgei (KEN)2:24:32
    Mara Yamauchi (GBR)2:27:38
    Eri Hayakawa (JPN)2:28:50
    Galina Bogomolova (RUS)2:31:54
    Berhane Adere (ETH)2:41:50

    Myself, I ran my 8 miler this morning. Nothing to report other than it's feeling easier than the last two eight milers. I'm starting to think I might be ready to bump it up to 5 miles per day after next week. We'll see. I might wait an extra week to make sure my foot will be okay.

    Have a nice day.

    Friday, April 21, 2006


    Well, I managed to get my four miler done at the tail end of that storm this morning. That makes it 61 days for my running / no ice cream streak, which breaks my previous record of 60 days, which I set yesterday.

    8 miles on tap for this weekend, as well as another 4 miler, although I haven't decided which day I'll do each of them. Probably, I'll do the 8 miler tomorrow.

    I can still tell that there's something wrong with my footular area. Some achiness right at the cuboidular bone. Maybe I should do some kind of strength training for my feet.

    In other news, I had to present a paper in our journal club this morning, and I really hate presenting things. It was a really cool paper, and I don't think I presented it well, so I'm kind of disappointed. I tried to communicate some rather abstract things about the possible function of a part of the brain called the hippocampus, and I just kind of fumbled through it. That and the presentation was pretty short and my advisor mentioned how short it was twice.

    Who cares about that anyway, here's some news from the world of running - exclusively here!
  • Paul Tergat drops out of the London Marathon because he's scared of Haile Gebrselassie. In an off-the-record comment, questionable sources have quoted him as saying, "I moved to the marathon to get away from him, and now he's followed me here." Tergat went on to say, "I'm scared of Haile."
  • In other news that I made up, Boston Marathon champion Robert Cheruiyot will be featured on the Cheerio box.
  • Lastly, it's almost not completely untrue that the race director of the London marathon has confirmed that the winners of Sunday's race will be greeted at the finish line with a pie in the face.

    Keith out.

    My computer's still broke, so I might not be able to update this weekend.
  • Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    4 miles and a picture that I like very much.

    Hi America,

    I ran 4 miles this morning and was pretty tired. I'm waiting for these four milers to start to feel easier.

    Anyways, I'm at work working on a presentation that I'll have to give on Friday, and I wanted to share this figure from a paper I read in preparation.

    Rock on.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    How good are the race equivalency charts for you?

    You probably know about the various race predictor charts. For example, Jack Daniels has the whole VDOT tables which you can find here. And another one that I like is the calculator from Greg McMillan's site. Galloway has one that's less ambitious (that's soooo Galloway ;) ).

    So how good are they to predict your times? If they are off, do you believe that if you were in top shape, they would hold true?

    And, if you're wondering, I ran 4 miles this morning.

    Shake it like a salt shaker.

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Boston Marathon Recap

    Two Kenyans win Boston, and nobody wins my antennae ball. I guess I'll roll it over to the winner of the London Marathon poll, so that winner will get a Jack-in-the-Box reindeer antennae ball that was slightly chewed on by my dog and/or a small windup car with a smiley face that I got from the Houston Marathon Expo that is kindof like that yellow car, but is a different one - it's a small police car. Alternatively, the winner could choose from some other junk I don't want.

    3 Americans in the top 5, and 5 in the top 10 (in the Men's race). There seems to be significant improvement in terms of American marathoners, although, still not really on the superelite level, like Tergat et al. But, I guess, the different conditions of different marathons make it difficult to compare - different runners have different strengths. Keflezighi beat all but one in the heat and hills of Athens, but at his current level, wouldn't stand a chance on the flat 'time trial' marathons of Berlin or London.

    Meb missed a PR by 2 seconds, and Brian Sell PRs by 2 minutes 27 seconds for fourth place. Sell and 3 other Hanson-Brooks athletes took 4 out of the top 15 spots with Clint Verran in 10th, Luke Humphrey in 11th, and Chad Johnson in 15th. I guess 20 milers really aren't all that necessary. :) (Of course I'm kidding, the Hanson's "regular Joe" marathon plans top out at 16 miles, but their elite guys still run all day and night for months on end.)

    I'll break from the norm to talk about my own running a bit. 4 miles this morning, was a little tough, but only because I couldn't get into it. I couldn't stop thinking about how much further I had to go before I could stop. I guess I was a little tired from Sunday's 8 miler. Oh, did I mention I ran 8 miles on Sunday?, maybe I haven't blogged that yet, well I did.

    My foot hurts occasionally, in the same place that ruined my NYCM, but not too badly and not while I'm running. I plan to maintain the same mileage for at least two more weeks, so I hope it behaves itself.

    Keith out.

    Sunday, April 16, 2006

    Haile is my homeboy - Boston / London preview

    Edited to add a more complete list of elite athletes in the Boston Marathon. Make your pick! People who guess any race correctly get a free Jack-in-the-Box Antennae Ball.

    4 miler this morning, and it was slow and rough, I think I was a little dehydrated, and it was late because I forgot to set the alarm again, and it was hot, but who cares about that stuff anyways.

    The Boston Marathon is this Monday, April 17th, and there are some wicked fast people running it. A lot of people are speculating that this year, an American might actually win it, which would be the first time since 1983. Meb Keflezighi seems to be leading the way for an American recovery to distance running greatness, and I hope he can win it. You probably know about his silver medal in the Olympic marathon, and his second place finish at the NYC marathon, and his second place finish in the US Olympic trials - so he's good enough to be among the leaders at the end, but it always seems to come down to who is having a great day on race day.

    Alan Culpepper, the U.S. Olympic trial champ, and Brian Sell, the 2006 U.S. Half Marathon Champion, along with Clint Verran, and 6 others from the Hanson-Brooks team will be there too.

    Hailu Negussie, last years winner will be there to defend, as well as Robert Kipkoech and Timothy Cherigat, the winners from 2003 and 2004. And another Kenyan named Wilson Onsare, who has the fastest time of the whole field (2:06:47), and John Korir, who has won tons of road races, but this is his first marathon.

    Elite women in Boston are Jelena Prokopcuka, Rita Jeptoo, Reiko Tosa, Bruna Genovese, and others.

    And next week is the London Marathon, which has an even more impressive field. It's a shame that those folks won't come over and race each other in Boston instead. This race features: Tergat, Rutto, Limo, Baldini, Gharib, Lel, Rop, and the one and only Gebrselassie, and the return of Khalid Khannouchi. It's almost disgusting. And the women's race isn't looking too bad either, although supposedly Paula Radcliffe has dropped out with a foot problem : but I wouldn't be surprised if she surprised me and re-entered and ran it. But there's still Okayo, and Chepkemei, Petrova, Tomescu-Dita, and America's sweetheart Deena Kastor to keep an eye on.

    So, how about your picks? Who will win it all in Boston and London? Keep in mind, that I didn't mention everybody. You should vote in comments, because the other polls that I sometimes have on here are anonymous, and no one would know if you won or not.

    So, for the record, I'm picking my homeboy Haile Gebrselassie to win in London, and Chepkemei to win the women's race.

    And I'd like to see Keflezighi break the streak and win Boston, and Reiko Tosa to win the women's race, even though I've never heard of her, but I dig Japanese chicks so I vote Tosa.

    Keith out.

    Men’s Open FieldPersonal Best
    Wilson Onsare, Kenya2:06:47 (Paris, 2003)
    William Kiplagat, Kenya2:06:50 (Amsterdam, 1999)
    Tesfaye Tola, Ethiopia2:06:57 (Amsterdam, 1999)
    Benjamin Maiyo, Kenya2:07:09 (Chicago, 2005)
    Patrick Ivuti, Kenya2:07:46 (Chicago, 2005)
    Julius Ruto, Kenya2:08:10 (Paris, 1999)
    Hailu Negussie, Ethiopia2:08:16 (Hofu, 2002)
    Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, Kenya2:08:59 (Milan, 2002)
    Timothy Cherigat, Kenya2:09:34 (San Sebastian, 2002)
    Alan Culpepper, United States2:09:41 (Chicago, 2002)
    Mebrahtom Keflezighi, United States2:09:53 (New York, 2004)
    John Yuda, Tanzania2:10:13 (London, 2004)
    Luc Krotwaar, Netherlands2:10:13 (Fukuoka, 2003)
    Alirio Carrasco, Colombia2:12:09 (Chicago, 2003)
    Brian Sell, United States2:13:22 (Chicago, 2004)
    Clint Verran, United States2:14:17 (Chicago, 2002)
    Kazuo Ietani, Japan
    John Korir, KenyaDebut
    Deriba Merga, EthiopiaDebut

    Women’s Open FieldPersonal Best
    Reiko Tosa, Japan2:22:46 (London, 2002)
    Jelena Prokopcuka, Latvia2:22:56 (Osaka, 2005) NR
    Derartu Tulu, Ethiopia (withdrawn)2:23:30 (Helsinki, 2005)
    Rita Jeptoo, Kenya2:24:22 (Helsinki, 2005)
    Elfenesh Alemu, Ethiopia (withdrawn)2:24:29 (London, 2001)
    Alevtina Biktimirova, Russia2:25:12 (Frankfurt, 2005)
    Zivile Balciunaite, Lithuania2:25:15 (Tokyo, 2005) NR
    Olivera Jevtic, Serbia and Montenegro2:25:23 (Rotterdam, 2003) NR
    Bruna Genovese, Italy2:25:35 (Tokyo, 2001)
    Kiyoko Shimahara, Japan2:26:14 (Hokkaido, 2005)
    Olesya Nurgalieva, Russia2:29:35 (New York, 2005)
    Kutre Dulecha, Ethiopia2:30:06 (Amsterdam, 2005)
    Tina Connelly, Canada2:34:43 (Sacramento, 2003)

    Billy Mills in the 1964 Olympic 5000m final

    Got this from YouTube, it loads slowly, but it's incredible.


    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    Will you BQ? - poll question

    I like the idea of having qualifying times for the Boston Marathon. Sometimes, I wonder if the only reason I want to run it so bad is because they won't let me run it. (I also want to run the More Marathon and they won't let me run that one either!) But I like it because it gives the unwashed masses, who may never qualify for the Olympic Trials, or any elite events, something to aim for. Things like this, and age-group awards, go a long way towards promoting fitness in the average Johnny Punchclock and Sally Homemaker. I posed the question to Jon Warren in my email interview about whether or not the average person is physically capable of a BQ marathon time, but I think my underlying question was, "Should I bother trying?"

    As of this morning, I've done one marathon, in around 5 hours and 23 minutes, so running a 3:10 marathon is more than a little rediculous, but in all honesty, I do think I might be able to qualify someday. I believe I was in shape last year to finish around 4:30, but had some foot problems going in, and I limped through the last half of the race, but 4:30 is still nowhere near BQ time. Sometimes, I try to deny it, but my body does seem to be capable of adaptation to training, and during a period of solid training last year, I even managed a 5 miler in 38:18 (don't laugh - I think that's fast). So, with some more years under my belt, and the extra time in qualifying that comes with it, maybe I can do it.

    I've shed many of my self destructive impulses in the last few years, and have even flirted with self discipline every now and then. Grown-ups have such a huge advantage over children when it comes to discipline and consistency, and I'm still getting the hang of this grown-up thing. ;)

    So, should I bother trying? Sure, why not, what else am I gonna do? But first things first. I've gone through phases of solid training, and solid slacking - the most recent being from the time of the NYCM to mid February or so. I've improved a lot in the last 8 weeks, and I've lost about 15 pounds, but I need several more months of consistency before I can run a solid marathon to even know where I'm starting from. So that's my goal for the year, stay injury free and run a solid marathon, which I think can be somewhere around 4:20 or so later this year.

    Chatting with some training partners about what races we plan to run for our run at the TMC, we still have no idea which race will be first, and only two races, seem to be definite : the Sunmart 50K and the Houston Marathon.

    What about you? Is Boston a big deal for you? Do you have a date with Heartbreak Hill in your future?

    What are your feelings towards qualifying for the Boston Marathon?
    Qualifying for Boston is not a big deal for me because it's so easy.
    It will be difficult, but I will get there within the next two to three years.
    I might be 80+ years old, but I'll get there.
    I don't know if I have what it takes, but I'll train my heart out and see how close I get.
    I'll run Boston through a charity entry.
    I gave up on the dream of qualifying for Boston already.
    I never had any desire to run Boston, and I hate the Red Sox and I hate clam chowder.
    Free polls from

    Rock on.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    4 miles - maybe I'm not a geek.

    I missed the group run on the bridge this morning because of a mis-programmed alarm clock. But I still got my four miler in eventually, when I woke up on my own.

    Last night, I tried to regain my "G-card" by rewiring my spare power supply to fit my Dell MOBO, and my computer still didn't work. I guess I could have done it wrong, but since it seems to have the same problems as using the old power supply, it looks like the problem is with the motherboard instead. Maybe it's time I got another one, it is about 8 years old, and changing the motherboard is not likely to be easy since it has to fit all that old hardware. A friend of my Mom's just got a refurbished computer through, and he says it's good enough, and fairly cheap, so maybe I'll do that, or my boss says he might give me his old one.

    So, maybe I'm not a geek. Since I can't fix my computer with spare junk that's lying around and lots and lots of electrical tape, and I can't even seem to program an alarm clock properly.

    I didn't try to fix my computer last week because I felt like I needed a break from it, but now it's getting frustrating.

    Shake it like a polaroid picture.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Back from vacation.

    Hi Everybody,

    Thanks for everyone's comments about my qualifier. I'm so relieved to have gotten it over with, I can't even describe it. It's a bit of a miracle that I've behaved myself in training and dieting all this time.

    My vacation was nice. It was pretty busy and there were always things to do, but it was still a good break from my work. And I enjoyed running in the new environment. The weather was great, and I understand it was pretty nice here too. I ran everyday, just as planned, although I did push my 8 miler back to Sunday instead of Saturday, because I slept in a little too long on Saturday. That run went well, much better than I expected since it was the longest run since the Surfside half. And there were four milers on the other days. And somehow since I was gone, we've lost a couple of my favorite blogs, so that's a little sad. I know how it goes though, I sometimes want to hang up my bloggerID too. It's strange to feel pressure to do such a silly thing like blogging. Not to mention how difficult it is to keep up on everyone's blogs, and to keep making clever comments like, 'nice word verification word.'

    Okay, back to running. For some reason I was a little spent this morning, and it took a little extra effort to get my butt out the door. The article that suggested I run every day predicted I'd have a difficult week the second week at a new mileage level, so I guess this is it. Hopefully it will get easier. I'll run the bridge tomorrow morning.

    And as it turns out, I'll be without my computer for a while longer. My spare power supply is insufficient to power my computer because it's a Dell and they've modified the standard ATX form factor in several stupidly unnecessary ways, so I'm going to have to find and 8 year old Dell power supply or make an adaptor or get a new motherboard or do something else I haven't thought of yet.

    There was something else I wanted to mention, but I don't remember what it was. And I want to go home now, and can't blog from home... dammit.

    Keith out.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Whoo hoo!

    I passed! Whoo hoo! Look Away!

    I'm now officially a Ph.D. candidate, and supposedly there aren't too many flaming hoops to jump through between now and the dissertation defense. And now I'm off to sunny Florida to kick back for a few days with the fam. I'm more than thrilled to have gotten this off my shoulders.

    I started planning this little magnetosensation project way back in October. It's kind of silly how we do things here, where our qualifier is to write a grant proposal about a subject which is completely different than the one you work on, and plan it down to the last detail, all the while no one ever expects to actually do these experiments. I got tripped up on a few things, mainly because it's so very different from my own project, and there are some key differences between birds and mammals that only people that work with birds will know about. That, and there are questions where someone asks, "what else do you know about [blank]?" and they're looking for something very specific and it's hard to tell through the skull what they're thinking of. But I guess there was nothing serious enough to flunk me or even to make me rewrite the written portion, so that's nice.

    Anywho, I'm on vacation for a few days. I plan to keep my streak alive during vacation (currently 47 days, counting a tired 4 miler this morning), and I'm usually pretty good about running on vacation, and there are some good routes around my Mom's house, so that will be cool. How do you like that!? I'm back on top, baby! It's the summer of Keith! Keith is back, baby!

    If it ain't loose, then shake it like a loose tooth in a supertooth phonebooth!
    Keith out.

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    4 miles on el bridgio

    It's been a long time since I've been back on the Kemah Bridge with the gang from the club. But now that I'm up to 4 miles per day I can run two loops and I won't have to explain why I stopped running on the wrong side of the bridge. It felt pretty rough out there, but I actually kept a good pace, running 4.01 miles in 35:58 - possibly a record for me.

    I'm pretty happy with this first week at 4 miles per day. I was concerned about my foot problems returning, but my new choos seem to be working out better than my last pair.

    My qualifier is tomorrow. Everyone telling me to relax is making me nervous. I was relaxed. And then I'm off to sunny Florida for a few days of running along the golf courses and beaches all the while thinking of you poor bastards. I'll try to log in and report here the final verdict on my exam, and whether I get to keep my job or whether I have to start posing as a male model to make money.

    For Dave:
    I think if you were having power supply problems it would be more severe, like randomly shutting off or smelling like burnt wires. I don't know what the problem is but you may have too many things running at the same time and maybe some spyware and stuff on there too robbing you of all your CPU time. Have you tried running "Spybot Search and Destroy"? It's a free program and something I run every couple of months or so to remove those kinds of things. Or it could be a virus, but it definitely sounds to me like it's a software thing rather than a hardware thing (unless theres a bunch of gunk built up on the mouseball :)).

    Anyways, if it ain't loose, then shake it loose! (That's my new signature line.)

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    4 miles - 45 day streak

    So, I told you my power supply on my computer is shot. Here's how much of a geek I am - I was looking through my drawer for something totally different, and I found another computer power supply. I don't remember where it came from, but it's the right form factor and everything.

    I'm not going to fix it yet though, I'm tired of computing. I'll just update my blog quickly from work.

    I ran another 4 miler this morning, and yes Dave, I'm still streaking. Whoo hoo - look away! 45 days. Things are starting to feel better - motivation wise. I'm going through a rough patch, where I have trouble remembering why I bother doing any of this. But things seem to be improving. Two more days, and my qualifier will be behind me, and I can quit obsessing about that. I had a practice presentation for some graduate students this afternoon and it seemed to go okay. There are a few points where I need to think about what I need to say because it gets complicated and I stumble around a bit.

    Right after my qualifier, on Friday night, I'll be on an airplane out of here. I'll spend four days or so in sunny Florida and I'll visit my family, and we'll have a party for my gramma who will be 85 on Sunday.

    Did I mention that you Rock?!
    Keith out.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2006

    4 miles for Monday and another 4 miles for Tuesday.

    Yesterday, I ran like that guy that was possessed by that bug in Men In Black. Rather, I jumped around, stomping my feet, running like a monkey runs. Not intentionally, of course. Today was a bit rough too, but not as rough, but still rough, just less so. Whatever enthusiasm I was riding last week is missing this week. The last two miles this morning, I started to find my rhythm again.

    But then I came home to find out that my computer has died. I think it's the power supply. Not a huge problem - it's replaceable. But, because of that, I'm blogging from work, something I try not to do. But it's after five dot dot zero zero, and I was pretty productive today, so I don't feel too bad about it. My presentation for my qualifier is just about finished. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to go bananas before Friday.

    Actually this running streak has kept me on level ground for the most part. Usually this type of stress would be my excuse to slack off on my running and dieting. Also, the overwhelming success of the 'ice cream counter' has been a bit of a surprise. I think I'll start a 'Pizza counter' and maybe a 'Snack cracker counter' too. Then I would be unstoppable. Like Hannibal with the elephants. Unless things go awry, and I wind up floating down the amazon with an army of tiny monkeys at my feet.

    I'm going to leave my computer in it's currently dead state for a while.

    Here's a little something to cheer you up.

    Rock on.

    Sunday, April 02, 2006

    The start of the 4 milers ...

    Alright, so I feel well enough to kick it up a notch. BAM!

    4 milers from here on out, until I feel ready for 5 milers, or until I croak.

    I had the opportunity to run with some friends this morning, and almost took it. But, they wanted to go 6, and I only wanted to go 4, and since starting at 6AM meant getting up at 4:45 (which was really 3:45), I passed. I should have though, since the alternative was oversleeping, and running 4 in the heat of midday.

    I decided that my new shoes looked a little too clean and white, so I ran down on the Seabrook trails today. I got started pretty late, and it was about 79F already, and sunny. I had it all planned for a one mile extension to a normal 3 mile route, but it came up short. Anyways, I ran until my GF said it was 4 miles. She and I will take a break for the next few weeks. She keeps pushing me to go faster, and I keep telling her that I'm not ready for that. Having a GF can be hard on the old body.

    So here's some data to compare to my pace after a few weeks of four milers - provided I don't crash and burn before then.

    27 March - 1 April (after 4 weeks of 3+ miles per day)
    3 mile daily runs - average pace = 9:41
    6 mile run - average pace = 9:16

    Keith out.

    Saturday, April 01, 2006

    6 miles - and an analysis of the accuracy of my gift.

    Here are the stats for my run this morning:

    1 : 9:11
    2 : 9:12
    3 : 9:13
    4 : 9:02
    5 : 9:21
    6 : 9:36
    Total : 6 miles in 55:39
    Avg Pace : 9:16

    Yesterday I used my gift of foresight into the near future to predict that I would average about 9:15 for this run. That pace seemed a little ambitious, and maybe a little unwise for me at this point, because of my lingering foot problems, but I can't really help that, I sees what I sees.

    I ran with the club, and tried to keep up with the faster group for the first four miles, which explains the pace, and the last two I did by myself and slowed down a bit. I guess my predictions were pretty close, and I was right, my foot did (and still does) feel alright, so I am hopeful. Wow, I should use my gift more often - but only for good - I vowed that a long time ago.

    This afternoon ... I will go to the grocery store ... to buy some more Rice-a-Roni, and I'll be impressed with the many varieties, and I'll debate the strengths and weaknesses for a very long time ... I'll forget to buy dog treats ... when I get home, I'll be moderately disappointed when the episode of Stargate that comes on will be one I've seen already ... Florida beats George Mason ... LSU beats UCLA ... That's all I sees right now.