I had never run so far, or for so much time, in my life. When I crossed the finish line at the Orcas Island 25k in 3:42:48 (or 222.8 minutes), poured a beer and got in line for pizza, I was wondering how the finish times were distributed. I'd had lots of time to think while I was running for almost 4 hours, and since I had never done a race of that length across that type of terrain (check out the race photos by Glenn Tachiyama), I wasn't sure how the other runners tended to finish.
First I made a histogram of the finish times, with each bin showing the count of runners finishing in 10 minute intervals.
I had thought I was farther back, but my time of 222.8 was pretty close to the middle, and from the histogram I saw that the bulk of the field finished in 3 hours (180 minutes) to about 4 hours 40 minutes (280 minutes).
The histogram didn't show a lot of detail, and a realized that a dotchart of each finish time might be an interesting way to look at these finish times. This dotchart shows the finish times of all 254 who completed the course.
This shows the finish times and places grouped by female or male.
And I made one more chart to find my finish within the field.
I was very much in the middle of the field. I was just glad to finish as fast as I did and to run through all that snow. The times of the top finishers were so fast. I was just coming down from the Powerline headed towards Twin Lakes when the leader crossed the finish line!
I've found the birdie dance photos and the botanizing posts to be a bit blasé, so although there have still been a lot of both, I have not felt any need to document those exploits here.
Well, I would like to document this.
With that disclaimer out of the way, there has been some exceptional botanizing recently.
I've also made an effort to measure the photosynthetic photon flux density at different locations. Botanizing and light measurements go good together.
I've been reading too. I've moved the what I've been reading list to a higher position on the right sidebar of this page. Reading goes good with botanizing and light measurements too.
And there have been lots of charts. I made this one showing flights since 8 August 2013. When I get around to it, I'll add flights going back about 10 years. I need to adjust the code some more to more clearly highlight (with color, line width, and transparency) the routes flown most often, but this shows that Bangkok-Tokyo has been a common one.
What else? Various projects. This talk with Dave Wilber covers a wide range of topics.
I flew a few times in April, and finally reached 106 flight miles on United. It would have happened sooner if they hadn't stopped flying to Bangkok, but so it goes. That was a lot of flights, and a lot of great trips, and memories.
This was a big month for golf, and I made three birdies in a practice round in Bangkok, before the big tournament in Chonburi. Maybe it was the pressure, maybe it was the street clothes, or perhaps the huge (and loud) galleries -- I don't know. But I didn't make any birdies in the one round that counted. Click this image to see the video of my tee shot on the first.
I'll be honest. My form in practice did not hold up in competition. I had my chances, but couldn't get any putts to drop.
This would be my last round of golf for a few months. But stay tuned, because the return was not uneventful.
In the meantime, there was yakitori and Mt. Fuji from the shinkansen.
Without any golf reports to report, or unsolicited advice to dispense, this will instead be a miscellany.
Where to begin? Perhaps sunrise, day, and night views of Niagara Falls would be good.
That was just before sunrise.
That was a sunny afternoon.
And this was on a clear night.
I was in Niagara Falls to speak at the Ontario Golf Course Management Conference. And at this conference, more than most, I met with many friends and made new ones. Two factors contributed to this fine result. First, the conference had a large attendance, hundreds of people. Second, we all spoke English quite well. So there was all kinds of conversation for a few days. Great fun.
But all the fine weather and fun wouldn't last. Snow came, and a blizzard came, and it was time to cross the border.
There was more adventure ahead. How's this for a tropical tipple? It's a tamarind margarita.
Eventually I made it back to Thailand, cured of all colds, jettisoned of all jet lag.
And just in time, for I was the guest on this episode of Frankly Speaking.
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After that it's been intensive work and study, with short breaks for some of my favorite foods and a few escapades in the February sunshine.
Continuing this series of unsolicited advice, I'd like to recommend:
Thailand in January
After three weeks away, it is indescribably salubrious to be back in Thailand, enjoying the clement days of January.
One will naturally enjoy some fine local food too. After a sunrise run at the park, fresh juice, porridge, and soy milk, followed by freshly ground Thai (of course) coffee, I read, studied, and wrote all day.
Then I went out for this bowl of noodles. That'll do for dinner.
The weather in central Thailand in January is predicatably dry, sunny, and cool (by equatorial standards). I highly recommend it.
Spicy Nori potato chips
These were a revelation. You have probably had potato chips and thought, "These are just missing a bit of seaweed." Or perhaps you've been eating some delicious crisps and wished that they had that extra bit of spice.
But to have them both together? A revelation. This is a new flavor, and one that I'm sure will be around for a while.
I've been doing a lot of writing and research for the past few years, and that necessarily limits the amount of fiction that I allow myself to read.
With that said, this morning I finished (largely thanks to a long plane ride yesterday) Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which I can only describe as extraordinary.
And a few months ago, I read Marukami's Norwegian Wood, about which I have the same description.
Sushi in Ginza
I quite enjoy sushi. Likewise, Ginza. I recently had some errands to run in Ginza, and it was lunchtime. Thus, sushi in Ginza. Highly recommended.
Sake Museum & Tasting Room
The website says there are more than 100 varieties of sake on display for tasting.
I would like to clarify this by confirming that at the time of my visit, in early 2015, the Ponshu-kan had exactly 200 varieties of sake, standard and seasonal, on display (or shall we say, on tap) and available for tasting.
I can also confirm, as the website says, that "you can also take a dip in a bath of sake next-door."
What the website doesn't say, but that I feel obliged to inform you, is that there is a superb soft cream stand conveniently situated between the Ponshu-kan and the sake-infused bath.
It was a great month of golf, with just enough birdies to win the right matches, closing out the year with three rounds at three fine courses in Thailand that I hadn't visited before, and with the exception of a single round early in the month, lots of sunshine.
But I don't think there was much sunshine in the eyes of my opponents. Let me explain.
On Christmas Eve I walked off the course with my head held high, even though I had no birdies. I'd had many fine chances, but a temporary deviation in my putting stroke (it would soon be corrected, as the pictures show) led to a lot of pars rather than birdies.
In fact, the rules for that match were fluid, one might even say ambiguous. Perhaps you've heard the phrase "neurosis is the inability to tolerate ambiguity"? Well I thrive with ambiguity, although for the next match I made sure that the rules were unambiguous: birdies to win, with carryovers.
I thought of Casey at the Bat:
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that [Micah] wouldn't let that ball go by again.
So with 8 skins on the 8th, and another 4 at the island green 12th, I was the outright winner.
What does one do after such a victory? Take a short drive to my pick for the best 19th hole in Thailand.
It's been a great year of golf, and I'm looking forward to many fun matches next year.
There is going to be more than the usual amount of golf this month, so I'm breaking the report into two parts.
That birdie on a spectacular day in Bangkok makes a fine opening statement for my upcoming matches. Photo credit to Paul Spencer Sochaczewski, who unfortunately did not have any birdies on this windy day in the salubrious December sunshine.
The short 15th at Banyan GC
This is the best weather of the year in Thailand, with lots of sunshine and low humidity.
One of my favorite courses in Bangkok
I'll be enjoying the sun, fine courses, and excellent clubhouse restaurants. Look for more of this in part 2 of the December golf report. Coming soon, after I make more birdies.