Friday, August 3, 2012

Best of the Week #70

I love running and believe it is a totally reasonable thing to do every day. So too is going out, having fun, and being social. The tricky part is when you try to do both all the time. I’ve gotten pretty good at the running/social life balance, but every so often (ahem, or too often), I try to fit in too much and it just becomes too much.

This week was a pretty extreme case. (All of my activities sandwich a standard 8/9-hour work day, obviously.)  It went like this:
  • Monday morning – run.
  • Monday night – SpeedyKate packed a picnic and LOTR-Emily joined us to see From Here to Eternity at Screen on the Green on the National Mall.
  • Tuesday morning – track workout.
  • Tuesday night – 6x6’s birthday celebration.
  • Wednesday morning – run.
  • Wednesday night – rock climbing 
  • Thursday morning – sleep (day off!)
  • Thursday night – a very late-night dinner with my co-workers (we joined my Darfuri co-worker in fasting for the day and then went to break the fast at a Middle Eastern restaurant in VA. 
  • Friday morning – sleepy-pants. 
But all of the things I do are things I want to do, so whatever, I’m tired, I’ll sleep this weekend.

ANYWHO. Let’s talk Best of the Week. It’s been all-Olympics-all-the-time, with a few brief other things, so bear with me here.

Oh but first – MEDIA ALERT – the women’s 10K is today at 4:30 EST. You can watch it online and on NBC. Doooooo it.

Looks like me being behind the curve (technology-wise) is actually me being ahead of the curve in this case! “How to avoid Olympics spoilers.” 
  • 3. Your smartphone is your enemy during these next two weeks. If you carry it around, you will be tempted to check the Internet, and you risk receiving spoiler-laden text messages from your gymnastics-loving friends. Switch to an older phone for the duration of the Olympics, preferably one that is decades old, is shaped like a brick and has a wan green display that can handle neither text messages nor the Internet.
This article from Smithsonian Magazine, "Spanx on Steroids: How Speedo Created the New Record-Breaking Swimsuit" is fascinating

  • At Aqualab, researchers took four years and spent 55,000 man-hours to produce what Speedo calls the Fastskin 3 system…They called on experts in kinesiology, biomechanics, fluid dynamics and even a sports psychologist, who suggested a blue-gray tinge on goggle lenses to instill a sense of calm and focus. They tried the “Six Thinking Hats” method of brainstorming, a green hat for creative ways to attack a problem, a black one to look at the feasibility of those ideas. They “reverse brainstormed,” picturing how to make a swimmer go as slow as possible with oversized goggles and a suit compressing the body so parts stuck out, creating drag. The crazier the idea, the better.
  • In the end, Fastskin is Spanx on steroids, compressing a body three times more than the LZR. The suit constricts the stomach the least and the chest, buttocks and hips the most, attempting to mold swimmers into an unblemished tube.
  • Just wearing the Fastskin requires athleticism. Some female swimmers, who step into the suit through an armhole, reported it took them as much as an hour to wriggle into it on their first attempt. Santry says it can be done in 10 to 15 minutes with practice. “The first time you do it, it’s daunting,” he adds. “There’s quite a bit of compression in the suit. It can feel a bit alien.”
From Hilarity in Shoes (non-Olympics related): “Ten Thing Thursday: Best I Can Do Edition.” It’s all funny, but boys should note #3.
  • Unknown woman: (Breaks well-known rule of acting deaf and blind in elevators. Clutches K’s arm with a wild look in her eye.) I really, really hope you just changed that man’s life.
Fasting during the Olympics has got to be hard. “Olympics: Ramadan proves challenging for Muslims.”
  • Mohamed Sbihi, Britain's first Muslim rower, is taking a different approach. A practicing Muslim, Sbihi has elected to buy 1,800 meals for Moroccan street children in place of risking his own Olympic dream, as well as those of the seven other men in his boat. "It is written in the Quran that those who are unable to fast either have to feed 60 people or fast for 30 days for every day that they miss intentionally," Sbihi told the Daily Mail, "That worked out at 1,800 people or five years of fasting."
Petaluma (i.e. my hometown) looks so good in this article

Enter in your height and weight to find“Your Olympic athlete body match.” Turns out I’m most like Francesco D. Aniello, a 43-year-old Italian male shooter…welp that sucks…

2012 London Olympics: Don’t blink or you’ll miss the speeding objects.” Ummm a table tennis smash is 70 mph?!?!
  • Besides the swiftness of the athletes themselves, the Olympics showcase the speeds at which they can throw, kick, and propel a variety of balls and objects. While little information is available on some of these speeds, here are the best approximations of how fast things may be traveling at the London Games.
I strongly believe that 80% of running “injuries” can be solved with a foam roller. (See the full infographic bigger.)

I keep telling people about this article, so you should probably read it: "Which Records Get Shattered?"

  • Another factor: an athlete with the perfect swimmer’s build and a world-class work ethic would still stand little chance of competing in this year’s games if he happened to be born in a poor nation like Cameroon or Panama — he might never have gotten into a pool, let alone an Olympic-size one. But running, especially over short distances, can be practiced virtually anywhere and anytime.
  • Which leads to this: As Stephen Jay Gould noted, the more open to competition a sport is, the harder it may be to break records or to post extraordinary statistics. 
  • In the track and field events, it is more likely that an athlete has already come close to what Gould called the “right wall” of human performance, simply because the human being who possessed the ideal build and work ethic is more likely actually to have competed in the Olympic Games.
I realize I write a running blog, but I really really try to avoid this sort of thing: “I'm Truly Sorry For This, But You're About To Hear All About The Last Marathon I Ran.” 
  • Worst of all, though, I'm definitely going to run other marathons in the future, so I'll have to tell you all about the various races I'm thinking about entering and the pros and cons of each course. Please, accept my deepest apologies in advance, because as excruciating as today's discussion is, it won't end here. Every single day during my weeks of preparation leading up to the next race, I'm going to make you stop whatever you're doing to tell you the number of miles I ran the previous evening. Isn't that awful? No one should have to listen to that.
The New Yorker on "Doping and Running." 

  • The limiting factor in distance running is injuries, and the greatest challenge in the sport is finding a way to make the hundred and twenty miles a week manageable.
  • Culturally, the race I’m most interested in is the eight-hundred-metre… it’s the only one where there seems always to be genuine diversity. Americans are good at it; so are Europeans, and so are Africans. The top five runners of all time in the race are from five different countries. The top ten come from eight different countries.
Regarding the South Sudanese runner -- a summary of a legal debate: “Can There Be a “Global Solution” to Strategic Olympic Nationality?
  • Shachar and Chappelet, on the other hand, see abuse in the current regime. No doubt there are “strange nationalities.” In some cases, individuals have exploited an anomalous basis for citizenship in countries to which they have little or no affective (or effective) attachment – often on the basis of a parent or grandparent’s nationality. In others, countries have in effect bought competitors, with a grant of citizenship as a necessary part of the bargain.
On the non-Olympics serious side: "Stopping Mali from Becoming Somalia."
  • If there is any lesson to be learned from two decades of crisis and conflict in Somalia, however, it is that inattention and inaction by the international community fuels instability and enables conflict to spread beyond borders. Thus, as the international community deliberates over how and when to restore order and governance in Mali -- hopefully, sooner rather than later -- it is clear that NATO can, and has a certain obligation, to play a supportive role to the ECOWAS force.
  • Another painful lesson from Somalia is that there needs to be a legitimate government to consolidate the security gains that any U.N. or AU-authorized force might make. Malians are the ones ultimately responsible for restoring a credible government -- but the country's Western partners would be well served to invest as much, if not more, in governance, civil society, and job creation than in counterinsurgency in order to achieve that outcome.
Oof a lot of words in this post...sorry but I'm not sorry? They're all so good! To leave you with something funny (or at least I think it's funny): this picture from 1972...the one with the mustache and white shorts may or may not be mi padre...

Have a great weekend! The Women's Marathon is on Sunday -- GO USA! And GO CLAIRE!!!