Happy birthday, Johannes Brahms! 3 takes on a musical favorite

It turns out today is the 180th birthday of Johannes Brahms, born May 7, 1833, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite music by this great composer. Piano I discovered Brahms while a freshman in college and a total newcomer to classical music, upon taking a course called “Piano Music of the 19th Century” because it sounded like it was an easy way to get required “core curriculum” credit (no musical background was required for this appreciation course). Read On →

Why I feel sad when people congratulate me for finishing the Pittsburgh Marathon

2013 Pittsburgh Marathon medal

I’m on the second day of recovery after my debacle of a Pittsburgh Marathon two days ago. The recovery has been going very well; I think I’ll probably be walking “normally” (to a point) tomorrow. But meanwhile, I’ve been dealing with a lot of anger and sadness.

I feel the most angry and sad when people congratulate me for finishing the marathon.

A warning up front: in this post I’m going to talk about some things that might give the wrong impression and make you angry, but I assure you that I am just speaking from the heart, and that my own reaction to finishing my marathon has no bearing on how I feel about your finishing your marathon, or anyone else’s. I simply have certain goals for myself when doing things like marathons, and I don’t believe that everyone has or should have the same kinds of goals as I do, and I respect your own goals.

I’m also writing this because I think I’m speaking not only for myself, but for other runners who might also feel the same way but tiptoe around expressing their feelings, precisely because of the fear of offending those who might take the self-criticism the wrong way.

Read On →

2013 Pittsburgh Marathon: my 135th race was the worst I finished, but I did!

Franklin Chen, runner of steel

Franklin lying down

Yesterday, for my birthday, I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon for the second time. The first time was ten years ago, in 2003. That was an ordeal in which I had aimed at finishing in 3:30 and in fact run the first half in 1:45, but then faltered badly to struggle to finish in a chip time of 3:53:25.

My second Pittsburgh Marathon went even worse. I had wanted to finish in 4:00, but instead finished in 4:38:21.

This was my 135th race in my life, and the worst of them all that I actually finished (I failed to finish one 30K race because of severe illness that should have kept me from going to the start line at all).

Here’s my report on what happened, why, my thankfulness for all the good that came from the experience, and my running plans for the future.

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I spent the past week not knowing whether I could run in the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon tomorrow

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be running the Pittsburgh Marathon.

I have no idea how it will turn out, because I spent the past week not knowing whether I would even make it to the start line!

Here’s what’s been happening.

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Playing violin music on flute

Abby and I enjoyed another party at Henry’s. I have been very tired leading up to the Pittsburgh Marathon to run on Sunday. I took the day off from work as planned in order to get more reset, and picked up my race packet at the Expo. I didn’t play all that much music at the party, but the highlight for me was playing Fritz Kreisler’s “Liebesleid” on flute with Henry accompanying on piano. Read On →

Celebrating the victory of the CMU Tartans in the 2012-13 Pittsburgh Chess League season

The CMU Tartans won the 2012-13 Pittsburgh Chess League (division I)! Out of 6 matches (there were 7 rounds with a bye round for each team), we won the first 5 matches, losing only the final match. We celebrated by having dinner at Curry on Murray in Squirrel Hill, organized by our team captain, Jeff. Our team had 8 members, 6 of whom were able to make it to the dinner (Ruan and Ed were unable to attend). Read On →

Missing the final Steel City Road Runners taper run because of injury and burnout

Two days ago, I reported on coming back from injury and doing a Steel City Road Runners evening training run.

It turned out that the unexpected fast pace that I stupidly went along with took its toll on me. I am now in serious trouble with just one more week to go before the Pittsburgh Marathon. This morning I did not at all feel like running, and so I skipped attending the final (and 6 mile) Steel City Road Runners Saturday morning run that I had so looked forward to all these months!! I take these Saturday training runs seriously and have really enjoyed them, writing about each one that I participate in.

I do not know whether I will be able to even go to the start line of the marathon in a week.

Read On →

Back from injury: an unexpected fast finish Steel City Road Runners training run

Five days ago, I reported on feeling overtrained and injured.

Today, I report on my progress with recovery and continued training for the Pittsburgh Marathon during the first week of my taper period.

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Pittsburgh Python: Kenneth Reitz on Heroku

This month, the Pittsburgh Python User Group had a special guest speaker for its meeting, Kenneth Reitz of Heroku. I was eager to see him in person, because he has been a huge contributor to the Python community. His module requests (which won me over when Chad gave a lightning talk on it last year) is much-loved, as well as his opinionated and reasoned writings about documentation, API design, and packaging (as I reported on two months ago). Read On →

On rewatching a TV episode after over 30 years

Over 30 years ago, when I was in elementary school in the 1970s, I watched the TV series “Lost in Space”. It was very silly, but did engage my imagination. Nightmares One episode haunted me for weeks and gave me nightmares, such that I remembered some scenes very clearly: it was the one in which I first encountered the term “antimatter”. For decades, once in a while I wondered whether I would ever get to see that episode again. Read On →