Archive for Central Park

hold your breath for a few more hours…

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , on November 8, 2016 by xi'an

Central Park, New York, Sep. 25, 2011“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

走ることについて語るときに僕の語ること [book review]

Posted in Books, Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by xi'an

The English title of this 2007 book of Murakami is “What I talk about when I talk about running”. Which is a parody of Raymond Carver’s collection of [superb] short stories, “What we talk about when we talk about love”. (Murakami translated the complete œuvres of Raymond Carver in Japanese.) It is a sort of diary about Murakami’s running practice and the reasons why he is running. It definitely is not a novel and the style is quite loose or lazy, but this is not a drawback as the way the book is written somehow translates the way thoughts drift away and suddenly switch topics when one is running. At least during low-intensity practice, when I often realise I have been running for minutes without paying any attention to my route. Or when I cannot recall what I was thinking about for the past minutes. During races, the mind concentration is at a different level, first focussing on keeping the right pace, refraining from the deadly rush during the first km, then trying to merge with the right batch of runners, then fighting wind, slope, and eventually fatigue. While the book includes more general autobiographical entries than those related with Murakami’s runner’s life, there are many points most long-distance runners would relate with. From the righteous  feeling of sticking to a strict training and diet, to the almost present depression catching us in the final kms of a race, to the very flimsy balance between under-training and over-training, to the strangely accurate control over one’s pace at the end of a training season, and, for us old runners, to the irremediable decline in one’s performances as years pass by… On a more personal basis, I also shared the pain of hitting one of the slopes in Central Park and the lack of nice long route along Boston’s Charles river. And shared the special pleasure of running near a river or seafront (which is completely uncorrelated with the fact it is flat, I believe!) Overall, what I think this book demonstrates is that there is no rational reason to run, which makes the title more than a parody, as fighting weight, age, health problems, depression, &tc. and seeking solitude, quiet, exhaustion, challenge, performances, zen, &tc. are only partial explanations. Maybe the reason stated in the book that I can relate the most with is this feeling of having an orderly structure one entirely controls (provided the body does not rebel!) at least once a day.  Thus, I am not certain the book appeals to non-runners. And contrary to some reviews of the book, it certainly is not a training manual for novice runners. (Murakami clearly is a strong runner so some of his training practice could be harmful to weaker runners…)

another road-race in Central Park

Posted in Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by xi'an

It seems that every Sunday I run in Central Park, I am doomed to hit a race! This time it was not the NYC half-marathon (and I did not see Paula Radcliffe as she was in Berlin) but an 18 miles race in preparation for the NYC marathon. I had completed my fartlek training of 6x4mn and was recovering from a anaerobic last round when I saw some runners coming, so went with them as a recuperation jog for a mile or so. They had done the first 4 miles in 27’28”, which corresponds to a 4’16” pace per kilometer, so I must have missed the top runners. Actually, I think the first runners were at least 4 minutes faster, as they were coming when I left for the last 4mn. (But it was good for recovery!) Checking on the webpage of the race, the winner finished in 1:37’45”, which gives a marathon time of 2:21’40” unless I am confused.

marathon world record broken

Posted in Running, Travel with tags , , , on September 25, 2011 by xi'an

Once again, the Berlin marathon provides us with a World record. Patrick Makau just finished in 2:03:38, breaking Haile Gebrsellassie’s previous record. And leaving Gebrsellassie quite behind (he eventually dropped away). Maybe the beautiful finish at the Brandenburg Gate helps in setting those records! Paula Radcliffe finished third in 2:23:46, far from her World record. And four minutes behind Florence Kiplagat. However, I think the major thing is that she finished and got qualified for the 2012 Olympics. Now, it is time for splits in Central Park!

Good training [2]

Posted in Running with tags , , , on September 23, 2011 by xi'an

I had another training round today [Wednesday] with six 1000m that went reasonably well: 3’42” – 3’41” – 3’38” – 3’42” – 3’39” – 3’39″…. Of course, a few years ago I was finishing in 3’30… Too bad my friends from the INSEE Paris Club were running 500m’s today (in  1’41”!) Still, with just one more training to go on Sunday in Central Park, I hope I am prepared enough for the race in 10 days…. (It is fairly childish to get focused so much on a back-country race attracting a few hundred runners; however, I have been somehow preparing for this race since 1996, given that I had no hope for a top position prior to turning V2 (French grading) / V50 (UK grading)!)

Posts of the year

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , on August 13, 2010 by xi'an

Here are the top posts since last August, before the ‘Og goes on a semi-vacation regime. Even though my attempt at news with the pictures from the tornado in Central Park was rather successful, I am pleased to see that my pet project of illustrating simulated annealing on sudokus attracted more attention over the period!

  1. Home page 50,619
  2. Sudoku via simulated annealing 1,306
  3. Tornado in Central Park 998
  4. Solution manual to Bayesian Core on-line 953
  5. The Search for Certainty 827
  6. Top 15 all-timers? 716
  7. t-walk on the banana side 592
  8. Bayes vs. SAS 570
  9. New Le Monde puzzle 556
  10. Incoherent inference 547
  11. A ridiculous email 524
  12. Of black swans and bleak prospects 486
  13. About 448
  14. Bayesian p-values 420
  15. Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R: 415
  16. Solution manual for Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R 400
  17. t-walk on the wild side 394
  18. “Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R” 376
  19. Bayes’ Theorem 359
  20. “Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R” 358
  21. plagiarism exposed! 356
  22. Morning visit to The Louvre 352
  23. Rites of love and math 306
  24. On resolving the Savage-Dickey paradox 299
  25. Particle MCMC discussion 280

Maybe the most surprising item is the Morning visit to The Louvre as it is fairly mundane and does not bring much information, only impressions from our quick stroll through the museum… Less surprising is the relative success of the controversial posts like the criticisms of Black Swans and  The Search for Certainty, or of Templeton’s PNAS attack against (Bayeian) inference. And a clear interest in Introducing Monte Carlo Methods with R!

New York skyline

Posted in Travel with tags , on August 27, 2009 by xi'an