Saturday, November 28, 2015


There is, or I should say, I thought there was, a meme or saying along the lines of; If you survive the first few seconds of battle, the chances of surviving the war are good.

What brought all of this to mind was that I took my middle daughter out driving for the first time today. What made it all so scary is that after the struggle to get the car moving and not die from dropping the clutch too fast, new drivers are so relieved that they forget the need to steer. After a couple of basketball stands were narrowly missed, she got the hang of it and my terror abated. The open road will deliver a whole new batch of thrills, but I think the car and I will survive.

A new bout of optimism about running came from this Thanks giving race. According to the race calculators, I should be able to run a marathon in about 3:25, which would be well under what I need if I run one at age 55, the qualifying time is 3:40 for men at that age. I could qualify as early as next October.

Distance Age grading VO2 max Riegel formula Cameron formula Time Min/mile

Marathon 03:22:14 03:23:48 03:24:37 03:28:12 03:24:43 07:48

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


"I am not a conspiracy theorist", is pretty much the caveat that every conspiracy theorist opens with, just before launching into their theory.

So here is mine:

I will not re-hash the Greek debt crisis (See here if you are curious about it, but somehow never heard of it till now) The upshot is that the Greeks wanted another bail-out and Germany said Nein!

Now, millions of "refugees" are streaming into Europe and heading mainly for Germany. Which country in Europe is next to the middle east? Greece!


Merkel is showing grim-faced resolution by committing to taking millions of these people and settling them in Germany.

My theory will be, not exactly proven, but given some heft if in the next year or so, some financial solution is found for Greece and the flow of migrants slows-down. And that is if everything works. Given the famed Greek reputation of excellent planning and execution, they may try to stop the flow but fail. Now that bunches of Syrians and others are happily ensconced in Germany, their relatives and friends will want to join the party.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Making My Weight

I was sorely tempted to weigh myself after going for a run: I was planning on going for a run anyway and should come back a couple of pounds lighter... I knew I would regret it if I came in at 155 lbs or more, but if I went for a run and came back below 155 I could never know if I was below before running.

Note: For some reason Blogger cut off the right side of the pictures, so to see the whole weight on the scale, you can click on the picture and see the whole thing.

Whew! Okay, that was close.

Last time I made a weight, I had just made 150 lbs and my body weight had been 145-150 in those days, so I thought "mission accomplished". Nope. I weighed in at 158 lbs! It was last February and the snow kept me from making even half the normal running mileage*. It was most disappointing; I was lifting 5 more pounds, but had gained 10 pounds--I was actually getting worse, in a relative fashion.

I know, it is kind of numerology, what difference does it make if you can lift your own weight over your head? I can't say it makes a difference but it was a goal that I had since starting to lift a couple of years ago. It was a goal that I thought would be pretty easy too: I lifted for about three months in high school and was able to surpass my body weight by ten pounds. As a distance runner and young, my body fat level must have been in the single digits, so I was essentially just muscles, skin and bones. Now I am a middle aged man with a middle aged dad-bod.

The bar is 45 lbs, and there are two each of 35 and 10 lb disks and four 5 lb plates. Total 155.

What did I do differently this time? Normally, I start with the 35 lb plates because I want a warm-up weight of less than 135 lbs, which is what you get with two 45 lb plates and one 45 lb bar. I would switch back to the 45 lb plates once I got above 135 lbs. This time I decided to just work with teh smaller plates. In theory, I have to do more work to lift the barbell when the smaller diameter plates are on, since the bar is about 1 1/2 inch lower at the starting point. The height of the lifted weight is the same either way. The reason it is easier is that there is a lot more strength at the bottom of a lift and so by the time I am a couple of inches off the floor, I am moving faster with the small diameter plates compared to the larger ones. That added momentum takes me to the top.

*I missed out on running around 70 miles in Feb, this translates to about 7,000 calories, which should be around two lbs. I must have been eating heavily too.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Journey Of 1,000 Miles...

May begin with a single step, but you have to get out the door first!

I realized the moment after I parked at work that I forgot my badge at home. I normally keep it in the car, but the girl was going to be using the car over the weekend and so I brought it into the house Friday after work.

I got a guest badge and went about my business.

Later, I found out that everyone who was not going to a re-branding party could get lunch for free in the cafe today. I normally run from 1:00 - 2:00 and then eat a lunch brought from home, at my desk after my run. The problem is that the cafe closes at 2:00, so I ate at Noon on the theory that running with a full stomach is better than forgoing a free lunch!

Later, on my way to the bathroom to change, I remembered that I keep my locker key with my badge...which I left at home. I was just on my way to going for a walk instead of a run when I remembered that I KEEP A SPARE LOCKER KEY ON MY KEY CHAIN for just such occasions--though it took me 10 minutes to remember this small fact.

It was a good run and a bright Fall day. I am glad I planned ahead key-wise, even if all that planning nearly went to waste due to forgetfulness.

For no particuar reason: Here is a giant pumpkin that was at our local garden store.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Weekend Race Report

So, there were two races scheduled for last weekend. It is part of a grand prix and somehow even though there are only 5 races in the whole series, two happened to be on the same weekend.

The running week had actually gone swimmingly: I had finally done a long run (>10 miles) at below 8:00 pace, got in a barefoot run and had 30 miles in the bank by Wednesday with an average pace for the whole below 8:00.

I was a couple of minutes slower in the 10 miler this year than last. I chalk it up to caution: Last year I went out fast and was at 7:15/mile at the 6 mile mark. I ended up averaging 7:30 and so really died in the last couple of miles. This year I took it easy for the first three and then picked it up from there and felt solid the whole way.

25 2/14 DAVID PECCHIA 52 M 89 CHELMSFORD MA 1:17:06 7:43

The next afternoon was a 5k and I was worried that I would not have any legs left for it. My legs were fine but I felt really limited by my breathing.

33 22:02 7:06 4 50-59 28 M 527 David Pecchia Chelmsford, MA

In both races, I was second in my age group. What was weird is that three guys in the Harvard race, older than 60 came in ahead of me, but in the larger Littleton race, none of them did. The 60 year old the came in just before me at Harvard was right behind me in Littleton.


Meghan Curran won the race on the women's side and I noted that she is from Chelmsford. Two of my daughters run on the Chelmsford HS Cross Country team, so I thought they might know her--she was in the 20-29 bracket, but I figured 20, right?

Nope: She is 28 and an Army Captain. She graduated 10 years before my older daughter, so they would not have met in High School.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Humans Don't Deserve Dogs

I knew just what S meant when she said it, but on reflection it is tangling my mind into knots.

We were on the T, going to a Sox game and a lady got on the Orange-Line car with a dog on leash. She sat next to S and the animal immediately made eye-contact with the girl. S petted the dog and the dog rested its head on my daughter's knee. It was all quite endearing.

I replied that Humans deserve dogs since we created them. The wild creatures from which we bred them were not finely tuned to Human behavior, they got that way in the process of becoming our companion animal.

All of this flies in the face with the standard "creator archetype" Dr Frankenstein made a creature that was superior to Humans in some ways, but only was able to bring misery to itself and all who came near to it. Similar even to the creation story in the Judeo-Christian tradition: God makes everything perfect and yet Man messes it all up.

Man, for all his flaws has made a perfect little creature, the domestic dog: They are content in their lives, or seem to be. They certainly give us pleasure being around them. It is to my mind one key flaw to Islam. Dogs and Humans formed civilization together, they are a valuable part of humanity. I cannot see how it would be a wise God's will to cut-off this part of ourselves.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Modern Polack Joke

Have you seen this one?

Politicians say a lot of stupid things, if you have to make them up, you're probably doing it wrong.

I was thinking on the drive home from my daughter's CC meet that this kind of joke "works" in the same way as the old polack jokes:

1. Take an object of scorn.

2. Put words in its mouth, harharhar!

3. Polacks are so stupid!

Who would do such a thing? Archie Bunker types? No. It is done by super-evolved progressives.

Irony meter, pegged.

Added: It is all so lame since she published a Happy Rosh Hashanah message 5 years ago.

And don't get me started on Nativia. It is well known that her husband is part Yup'ik. It is almost like, in the attempt to make her look like a clown, they beclown themselves.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Respect My Authority

I had three interactions with authority in the last few weeks and each was different.

In one, I was trying to get directions in a gated condo parking lot. The directions made no sense, so I ignored them and the guy really got unhinged about it. Thing is, if he hadn't been such an asshole, I would have done what he asked, just to be nice. Just because a guy thinks I am going to do what he says, does not mean I will do what he says. The problem the guy has is called, "Being out of touch with reality".

The second instance was in the parking garage while moving our daughter into her dorm. We left our cellphone # with college kids minding the garage so they could call us if they wanted us to move to a distant satellite garage. After we emptied the truck, I moved it to the mostly empty upper half of the garage. Still, I got a call that I needed to move. I asked the kids why they called when the garage was empty. They made up some bull about how it was likely to fill-up anytime (it never did). The thing is that they did me the courtesy of pretending there was a good reason and I moved the truck without further question. The real (obvious) reason was that they were just following instructions and either afraid to use discretion or just didn't think of it. A better policy would be to only call people if the garage gets crowded.

The third instance was mainly imaginary but serves as a thought experiment. I was taking a lunchtime walk at work through the office parks and neighborhoods nearby. While walking, I saw something I had never seen before: There was a uniformed police officer riding through the office park road on a dirt bike. I thought it made a lot of sense since neither a squad car nor a street bike could really get through the little dirt paths between residential areas and office parks. There are even paths between adjacent office parks. So this would be great for pursuit of suspects who are on foot. I was just approaching one of these paths and imagined what would happen if the cop was there. Answer: I will still take the path through to the neighborhood unless he tells me it is not allowed. I might ask him some questions, like "I've been taking this path for years--I hope I haven't been breaking the law all this time"? Etc. But, I would not defy him even if he was impolite. Why? Because he has legitimate authority and while unlikely, he could shoot me!

Parking Do's & Don'ts

1. Do try and park equally distant from the lines that define your spot.

2. Don't take two spots.

3. If you take two spots, be honest about it: None of this, just enough over the line to dissuade anyone from parking next to you business. Better to be thought an asshole than a sloppy parker.

4. Do not take four spots! Yes, I know it is way in the back and the lot is only half full. You could have taken one spot in the back and nobody will park next to you because it is further from the building. Do you think those magical lines will protect you? They didn't stop you from straddling them did they?

Slow, Fast--No, just Slow

The bulk of my miles were in on Wednesday and yesterday was too complicated to consider running. This morning I decided to leverage the fact that I don't need a lot of miles but do need some fast runs to get my weekly pace on par.

I took off and felt fast. I even felt strong going up a moderate hill--not a killer hill, but also not a gentle rise either. A woman walking her dog was approaching from the crest of the hill and just as I was timing my breath to say hi, she complimented me on my speed. This felt good but it was a short-lived feeling; I hit an intersection just a moment later and this is a spot where I have a benchmark time, I was 15 seconds slow.

I pressed on, feeling fast the whole way. My time said otherwise: 7:54/mile is under the 8:00 that I try to be under, but I typically am in the 7:30 range for a run this short (only about 2.8 miles).

I still need some mileage for Saturday, so hopefully I can be at least fast enough to be under 8:00 on the week.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

W H Auden: He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest

Funeral Blues
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Flaming Lips

Manspreading--Perfect Feminist Nonsense

No objective standard: Check

Low on the list of things which actually cause inconvenience on public transportation: Check

An offense which only men, by definition, can commit: Check

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Poor Leadership AND A Bad Deal

The polls are all over the place on the "Iran Nuclear Deal", with one of the latest showing the public opposed to the deal by nearly two to one. See the WP story here.

My analysis is that if the deal is good, then it would sell itself--the president could be a poor leader and the deal would be popular. A good product sells itself. If the deal was bad and we had a very persuasive president, he could move opinion. There are many elements to this ability beyond persuasion alone. If the public had seen the president take stands which were unpopular in the past and they worked out well, this would build credibility. Also, presidents who own their mistakes gain credibility as well. As has been pointed out here in the past, Obama takes credit for anything that works out well, even if he opposed the plan. He also blames others when things that he promoted go badly. He has no credibility with the broad public.

Since the deal is not popular, we can only conclude that it is a bad deal. And Obama is a bad leader.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Last Wednesday Odds and Ends Plus One Perfect Moment

It felt as if little was accomplished because I was not rushing around. Afterwords, when I toted it up, there was a lot completed:

1. Roasted four batches of coffee. This needed to be done first thing because we were all out. Plus, you need to open the windows and it was due to be very hot and humid, so better earlier than later.

2. Mowed the lawn and cut down some invasive vines. They have killed before (a tree I did not care for) but now they had their sights and tendrils set on a sugar maple, Japanese dogwood and something that looks like a black walnut, but I am not sure.

3. Changed the oil in the Subaru, also added air to the leaky wheel. As an aside: I was ready to throw away the air compressor. It leaked and hesitated while trying to start. The starting issue was fixed when I used a plug that was at a higher amperage and the leak was fixed when I replaced the drain cock. It stars right up now and has held pressure for a couple of weeks.

The oil change went well until I realized, once oil was pouring out of it, that the oil drain pan has a leak in it. I had some sawdust to throw in it and a good heavy rain last night finished the clean-up of the driveway.

Shower: Did I mention it would be hot and humid? Any parts of me that lacked grass and vines was covered with used motor oil and/or sweat.

4. I made some great guacamole and THEN realized we had no chips! Grocery time. Always a touchy subject. Me: I am going grocery. Wife: There is a huge list in One Note. Me: I don't want to get deli. Wife: You don't have to get anything! Me: I just want to get the things we really need and not spend all day at the store, I just want to get chips and not blow the rest of the day.

5. Went grocery and got just about everything on the list, minus the deli.

6. Got sucked into watching a dark and creepy movie with the oldest daughter: Nightcrawler. Not to spoil things (and note: I liked the movie) but it was essentially Jake Gyllenhaal as a psychopath who transparently manipulates everyone around him using glib b-school jargon.

7. Took middle daughter to "captain's practice" This is unofficial CC training run by the students themselves so it doesn't violate league rules.

8. Went for a short, 4.3 mile, run. Normally Wednesdays feature at least 8 miles but I was tired, it was crazy hot and I needed fast times to get back under 8:00/mile on the week.

9. Grilled the salmon I purchased at grocery earlier this day.

One Perfect Moment:

It had been a hard day a few weeks ago: Driving back on small twisty roads, stuck behind slowbots etc. Finally I was getting on the freeway for a few miles and it was moving well but really packed. I looked over my shoulder for a slot while on the entrance ramp and noted a motorcycle. I made eye contact to reassure him that he was seen and then he made a move which encapsulated elan. He braked slightly and then waved me in with a sharp leftward gesture of his head. It seems so little but I had been in a bad mood and I was cheered up the rest of the day.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

4th of July Double Header

Much like the races themselves, it is with some trepidation that I attempt to make sense of it all:

The plan was ambitious but doable and it would save me from a hard choice: There are two races on the fourth of July that I like to run. One of them is a two miler through the center of our town which takes the same route as the parade that immediately follows. The other (a 5-miler) is part of a grand prix series that I have been doing the last few years and you have to do all the races. There would be two obvious drawbacks to running both: Can I actually run a 5-miler that starts at 8:15 and then get to another race, 20 miles away, that starts at 9:30, on time? The second issue is performance: 7 miles is not such a long way but one would have to expect a fall-off in performance--at least in the second race.

The problems started with the first few steps of the 5-miler. I had worn thin socks since my racing shoes are too tight with normal socks and sockless was out since I tried that in Groton and ran well but got blisters from it. In warm-up everything was fine but when I accelerated up to speed at the start of the race, the problem became clear. The thin socks were slippery and my feet were sliding around inside of my shoes. I had a real hard time going as fast as I wanted to because my feet would start to slide if I went above 80-90% effort.

The course is hilly and of a distance such that there is some drama. Some people can really power their way up hills while others can fly on the down hill portions. In the first mile, the runners sort themselves out: The sprinters burn-out and slow down while the people who take a while to fully hit their stride, finally come up to speed. By the end of the first mile you are with the people who will be running with you for the rest of the race. At this distance I passed an older man who was breathing heavily, I honestly thought he would keel-over and I would need to administer CPR. Also there was a woman in her 30's that I caught up with. There were others, but in general they either passed me and were never seen again or I passed them and never saw them again. The lady stayed ahead of me while the old man and I would pass and repass each other. He would pass me on the up hills and I passed him on the down. Finally, there was the giant hill. The lady was walking up it and I passed her plus the old guy on this hill. The lady passed me again on the flats and some spectators had encouraged her by telling her she was 5th among women. So I thought some drama was afoot when I heard a very feminine wheezing coming up from behind me. It turned out to be the old guy who sounded even more like he was about to die. Whatever sounds he was making, he passed me and I never caught him again. As for the lady, I finished right behind her and could have passed her right at the end, but I am not that guy.

Last year, I was third in my age/sex group so I was tempted to stay around to see if I placed this year too. On the other side of that, I was about a minute slower this time and I had places to be. I got in my car and zoomed out of there!

I will admit that I exceeded the posted limits but I made it to Drum Hill with about 5 minutes to spare. I took the time to get those infernal socks off and get my feet back into the racing shoes and then jogged to the starting line. Or rather, mob. Harvard was a petite race of around 200 runners, Chelmsford had over 2,000 official runners and lots of non-official ones as well. The first few steps toward the start reminded me of how, even though I didn't run very hard in the 5-miler, I was still not my freshest. I had already vowed that anything under 15 minutes would be fine, so I posted myself in the middle of the starting pack. It took a mile to get room to maneuver, which was about 8 minutes. I bridled at the poor pace but it gave me time to work out the kinks and start to feel like pumping it up a notch. Based on the total race time, I must have done well under 7 for the final mile and caught up to a bunch of kids I knew from the high school cross country gang.

I should be happy: I made it to both races, and ended up taking 2nd place in my age group at Harvard. Still, the times were slow: I would normally have run about one minute faster in each of the races.

39/205 overall 2/20 M5059 37:34 7:31

256/2085 overall 25/128 M5059 14:40 7:20

Added: A couple of coincidences. In the Harvard run, the other runner from Chelmsford also took second in his age division. In the Chelmsford run, a girl I know who runs with my middle daughter on the HS cross country team came in just ahead of me and she finished in the top 20% of her age group 9/45 while I also finished in the top 20% of my age group, 25/128.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ginevra, Up Close and Distant

This portrait by Leonardo da Vinci is the only portrait by this artist to reside in America. In this first image, the young lady is beautiful if somewhat unapproachable seeming.

In this next shot, I was trying to get a detail of the background and ended up also getting the lower half of her face too. In this view, her lips look, inviting.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Groton Road Race AKA the first race of the year

I was a little apprehensive about the race this year, since I would be going into it about 10 lbs heavier than I have been in more than a decade. I place the "blame" on weight-lifting. No, it isn't all muscle, but you have to be in "caloric excess" to gain muscle and so I would say the extra weight is about half muscle and half fat. Either way, it is weight that needs to be carried around and the cardiovascular system is the limiting factor--or so I thought.

Since 2007, with one exception in a very hot race day, I have been running between 44 and 45 minutes for the 10K. This year, I went in cautiously and did not go all-out but still ran 44:44!

Here are some pics.

At the start, nervously clapping after the national anthem.

The lady in the plaid dress and I played cat & mouse the whole way: I thought I had buried her around mile 4 when I opened up a big lead after she had been 100 yards ahead of me. The 5k and 10k races joined together in the last mile and a half and I really blew my pace from dodging the slower runners. She finished about 50 yards ahead of me based on time--I didn't see her at the finish and my guess is that she went in with the 5k runners.

Passing slower runners in the last half mile.

Photos from Jim Rhodes of CoolRunning.


Shots of me and the woman that beat me at the finish:

Added: If you look at the second picture, you will see the woman who came in immediately before me and also a young man with a red shirt and sunglasses. In the final picture, you can see this same man behind me in the final stretch. It made me think that we didn't need to run 10k when we three were already together at the 1k mark.