2012 Tokyo Marathon Live Blog

As if running a marathon isn’t stressful enough, I’m traveling more than 7,000 miles this week to run another 26.2. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about participating in the 2012 Tokyo Marathon this weekend (the race begins Sunday morning in Tokyo, Saturday evening in the States), but I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t insanely excited. I’ve never been to Japan so the trip alone will be a thrill, but running a marathon on foreign soil will only add to what is sure to be a memorable experience.

In my Tokyo Marathon Preview, I outlined the basic schedule for this race weekend, with a full slate of events as a member of the press tour culminating Sunday morning at 9:10 local time with the start of the race. As that starting line approaches, I feel fortunate to be worn out but generally healthy after 12 straight months of marathon training and countless Sunday long runs. However, while I have my health heading into the sixth annual Tokyo Marathon, I also have some concerns.

© TOKYO MARATHON

For starters, I’ve never been much of an Asian food fan, which poses a potential problem when trying to fuel my body in the days leading up to the race. That’s not to say I won’t try different foods while I’m in Tokyo – when in Rome, right? – but as picky as I tend to be with my meals leading into a big race, I’ll be on the lookout for chicken and noodles more often than not. I’m also packing a few food comforts from home in case I have more trouble than anticipated with the local fare.

I’m also curious to see how my body reacts to the 14-hour time change. If my trip to South Africa a couple years ago was any indication, I should adjust relatively well once I’m in Tokyo and be grab a couple good nights of sleep heading into Sunday morning. If not, well, I’m sure I wouldn’t be the first sleep-depraved person to run a marathon.

My goal is simple: Enjoy the moment. As I mentioned previously, I’m planning on snapping a few pictures during the race, and rest assured I’ll be taking in as much of the city as I can during my free before and after Sunday’s festivities. I’m still in the process of figuring out what my body needs to compete at a high level during a marathon, and I’m hoping my new in-race nutrition plan (thanks to my triathlete buddy for the advice) will help me shave some time off my Arizona Marathon PR of 3:44:10 from last month, but I won’t be too concerned with my watch, not when I’ll be adjusting to a multitude of unique circumstances. I just want to finish, and have a blast doing it.

Be sure to check in throughout the weekend as I update this live blog with some details from my Tokyo visit, and then come back on Friday 3/2 to read my complete recap with some photos from the trip! In the meantime, I figured I’d share the view from my hotel room in downtown Tokyo. Time to get some sleep!

  

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The Light from the TV Shows: No, seriously, “Mad Men” really IS coming back! For real, this time!

If you caught last week’s debut of Bullz-Eye’s 2012 TV Power Rankings, then you already know that we’re so excited about the return of “Mad Men” that we put it as our #2 show despite the fact that it hasn’t aired a new episode since 2010. So what? We’re excited, you’re excited, everyone’s been chomping at the bit for the fifth season to kick off that we can barely stand it. Surely that warrants a little fudging of the numbers, no…?

Since AMC let slip a few trailers this week to promote the new season of “Mad Men,” I figured this would be a good time to revisit the cocktail party thrown by the network during the January TCA Press Tour, where I was able to get a few minutes with a few of the cast members, but here’s the score, so you don’t get too excited: I got a couple of minutes one on one with John Slattery (Roger Sterling) and Rich Sommer (Harry Crane), got a single question with Jon Hamm, and was able to ask precisely nothing of Christina Hendricks. I did, however, stand next to her for an extended period of time, and just for the record, she’s just as gorgeous as in person as she is on TV and in photos…which, come to think of it, might have had something to do with why I never managed to ask a question. (Mostly, though, it was because I’m not into trying to out-talk other people, which was the modus operandi of just about everyone else surrounding her at the time.)

Oh, and speaking of not getting too excited…? Total-lack-of-spoiler alert: there ain’t a single lick of new footage in any of the below trailers. Thanks for nothing, Matthew Weiner. But, hey, at least they serve to remind you of how much you missed these characters.

Man oh man, March 25 seems like a lifetime away…

Don’s back!

One of the big pieces of news to emerge about the return of “Mad Men” was that one of the episodes in the new season – not the season premiere, although it was the first episode the cast filmed upon coming back to work – was directed by Jon Hamm. While standing in a scrum during the cocktail party, I was privy to some of Hamm’s reflections on the experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

This season, a king will fall

A&E Network’s original scripted drama series, “Breakout Kings,” returns for an action-packed second season. From Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora, writers/producers of the hit series “Prison Break,” “Breakout Kings” follows an unconventional partnership between the U.S. Marshals’ office and a group of convicts as they work to catch fugitives on the run.

In “Breakout Kings,” veteran U.S. Marshals Charlie Duchamp (Laz Alonso, Avatar, Fast and the Furious 4: Fast & Furious) and Ray Zancanelli (Domenick Lombardozzi, “The Wire,” “Entourage”) decide to reject protocol and take an unorthodox approach to their work: using former criminals to catch current ones. They form a special task force composed of the three most elusive convicts Ray ever captured: Lloyd Lowery (Jimmi Simpson, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,”), a former child prodigy and behaviorist/psychiatric expert who excels in psychoanalysis; Shea Daniels (Malcolm Goodwin, American Gangster), an ex-gang banger who knows how to work the system, both in prison and on the street; and Erica Reed (Serinda Swan, Tron: Legacy, “Smallville”), a sexy expert tracker who learned her trade from her bounty hunter father. Charlie and Ray also employ the services of Julianne Simms (Brooke Nevin, “Worst Week”), a civilian who acts as the “funnel” for the group – all information, tips and data go through her.


  

DVD Review: Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone

It makes perfect sense that a documentary about SoCal ska punkers Fishbone would follow in the wake of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil.” Both bands were far ahead of their time, proved to be wildly influential – Gwen Stefani, for one, sings Fishbone’s praises to the heavens – yet neither band could sell a record to save their lives. Slash offers a great quote about how several speed metal bands ripped Anvil off and left them for dead. Fishbone had a few more chances at the brass ring than Anvil did, but the end result proved to be the same. “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” explains, in often uncomfortable detail, several of the reasons why they were often their own worst enemies.

The structure of the story is not your typical ‘analyze the band’s career from album to album’ approach. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a problem. The great Laurence Fishburne narrates the band’s tale, but disappears for long segments at a time, and since the timeline jumps around a bit, the viewer never really knows when to expect his return. Also, several albums from the band’s catalog, including 1986’s In Your Face (which included minor MTV hit “When Problems Arise”), are not discussed at all, which denies anyone unfamiliar with the band any sense of momentum, or lack thereof, the band had as they soldiered on.

The first act of the film, though, is pure genius. As the band members recall the early days and their formation, the stories are backed with “Fat Albert”-style animation that both nails and works in stark contrast to the vibe of the band and the area in which they lived. David Kahne, the Columbia Records exec who produced Fishbone’s first four albums, admits that their failure to reach the next level is his greatest career disappointment. There is a wealth of live footage from the early days. Most of the content, though, is a landslide of conflict and hard times; we see lead singer Angelo Moore get evicted from his place, and worse, we see him on video laying into Norwood Fisher, the only other surviving member of the group. Even the guy shooting the video is telling Angelo to stop before he’s gone too far. Then you see Norwood talk about sharing a band with a guy who insists on being Dr. Mad Vibe on the Theremin in the middle of Fishbone gigs, and it’s suddenly easy to see why the band is exactly where it is.

But hot damn, were they awesome at times, and in an industry where the pioneers are scapled a lot more often than they’re rewarded, you can see why someone would want to pay their respects. We’re betting that even the filmmakers did not anticipate the places “Everyday Sunshine” would go, and while that would occasionally lead to an eye-opening moment, the conclusion does not instill the sense of optimism that Anvil had when their credits rolled. Pity. (Cinema Guild 2012)

Click to buy “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” from Amazon

  

Driving Impressions at 135 MPH: Lamborghini Palm Beach presents the 2012 Gallardo

As we dropped into the back stretch on lap 4, I knew this would be the moment. Strapped into a screaming yellow 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera, it was finally my turn to pass one of the other track cars and catch up to the lead pace Lambo. Following the pace car were me and three more Italian speed machines, all Lamborghinis with a total of about 1700 horsepower among them. I was in the second position among the four cars as the Lambo in front of me swung to the right, giving me a clear path to lift off. The stands to the left were a blur, not unlike a dash cam at Indy, as I paddle shifted at red line to second at 9000 rpms. Nothing can equal the wail of a Lamborghini at these engine speeds, and even with my insulated driver’s helmet and flame retardant mask, it was both deafening and intoxicating.

I mashed the petal with earnest, knowing that this car had a top speed in excess of 200 mph and I was on the longest backstretch of motor speedway in the Southeast United States. Ahead, the white Gallardo pace car taunted me to play catch-up with the other Lambo swinging aside to the right in a 135 mph blur as we hurled toward the hair pin right turn. The huge brakes produced physics-defying deceleration and I caught up (sort of) to the pace car and then rocketed again by the pits for the final lap. I now had the privilege of following the line the instructor found on the track, and I threw all here-to-known concern for life and limb and plowed into the turns. G forces in excess of 1.1 and 1.2 stunned me as we carved the S turns and sweepers past turn one. The Gallardo’s 570 horsepower V-10 goaded me on along with the state-of-the-art All Wheel Drive, ultra light carbon fiber body and Formula 1 speed paddle shifting technology. It all proved that there wasn’t anything I could do that would even mildly challenge this Lamborghini, as this beast was made for this kind of track. It’s as if it was saying: “Is that all you can do? Come on!” I knew then I was in the absolute pinnacle of sports car engineering and design, without peer world-wide. That was my welcome to Lamborghini.

I’ve driven many exotic sports cars so I was thrilled when Jose Morazan, General Manager of Lamborghini Palm Beach, invited me and Bullz-Eye.com to participate in this exclusive Track Day Event hosted by Lamborghini at Palm Beach International Raceway. The experience of driving Lamborghinis on a track far exceeded anything I’d experience in the past with exotic sports cars. In addition to the All Wheel Drive Gallardo described above, all of the guests at the event also got to drive a two-wheel drive Gallardo LP 550-2, which in some way was even more terrifying as it didn’t grip the turns like its All Wheel Drive counterpart.

One of the photographers at the event summed up the experience with a quote from one of the owners of Lamborghini Palm Beach. Erik Day once said about his experience behind the wheel of a Lamborghini on the track: “It’s the closest thing to having sex with a gun pointed at your head!” I have to agree as this summed up the fear and the ecstasy of driving this beast around these turns.

If you want to experience the pure exhilaration of driving a Lamborghini and owning one of these incredible machines, the team of professionals at Lamborghini Palm Beach can help make your dream a reality. Jose Morazan and his team are experts who can help you with new or used Lamborghinis along with all sorts of other used exotics. We were very impressed with their professionalism along with all the Lamborghini representatives that helped us at the track event.

The Lamborghini team stressed the driving experience. This was not a race or a competition, and safety was the primary concern. Yet even with all preparation and the well-designed track program, it still came down to driving these rockets on wheels around tight turns with four more Lamborghinis on the track as well. It was the experience of a lifetime.

Each driver had the opportunity to test two cars on the track, and I started with the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2. This more traditional Lamborghini layout adheres to the classic mid-engine/Rear Wheel Drive layout that made the marquee famous, and this raging bull was made to impress with 550 brute horsepower and Lambo’s unique E- gear electronically controlled shifting.

With a thumbs up from the pit crew chief we took off. A near vertical acceleration curve was created as we rocketed out of pit row, chasing the other test track Gallardos ahead of us. The first lap was a warm-up lap to let us get to know the car and the track, though at at breakneck speeds of 80 to 110 mph!. The pack of 4 showed no sign of trepidation, so I barreled ahead, through the sweepers, round houses, and S configurations to keep pace with them. The famous Palm Beach International Speedway back stretch came soon after the S’s, which gave me the opportunity to finally up shift to second, or dare I say third!

This car handled magnificently, with predictable over steer, both in left and right cambers. Yet I knew this car wouldn’t grip the track quite like the All Wheel Drive version, and I could feel the back end sliding just enough to scare the hell out of me as we raced through the tight turns. That’s why the purists and driving pros love this traditional model, but I was just trying to keep up without spinning out, so my stress level was through the roof!

This car was especially impressive, however, on the straight-aways. On the back stretch I saw the electronically controlled rear spoiler rise up as I got over 100 mph, planting this aerodynamic wonder even firmer on the raceway. With a stunning top speed of 199 mph and a thrilling 3.9 second 0-62 mph launch time, few words describe the power and presence of a classic Gallardo.

After five exhilarating laps, we switched vehicles to test out the more stout and athletic version of the 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 570-4 Superleggera. I was more comfortable with the track and this All Wheel Drive version would give me more confidence in the turns, yet that produced even more challenges as I pushed this one a little harder.

With equal part fear and lust, I shoehorned my way into the cockpit with the smell of ultra-heated brake pads lingering from its previous track run. Carbon fiber enveloped us and the lack of seat recline only reinforced the no nonsense approach to the driver/machine union Lambo engineers intended upon creation. Currently the most powerful V-10 sports car in the world and with state of the art All Wheel Drive, this car oozed performance and never failed to deliver. The lead pace car took off and we blasted out of pit row 0-80 in a tic over 4 seconds, a continuous rush all in first gear. The first of the 11 turns on this 2 mile track was a medium right sweeper, and the Gallardo laughed at me while I hung the sharp right with barely a yawn of effort . . . it’s as if it was saying, “Can’t you do better than .91 g lateral acceleration?” I immediately knew this car’s potential far out-paced my own, even in my wildest dreams. The pack started to spread out slightly, just in time for the big roundhouse right turn, leading to the wild S curves. I decided to now give up all hope of sanity and drive this car well beyond what I was truly believed was a speed that would spin us hard into the retaining wall. But this Lambo gripped the track unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.

Holding the wheel tightly to keep me from being flung to the far right hand door of the cockpit, I was amazed at the lateral 1.0 + G forces generated by this Italian wonder, all with absolute neutral steering. The All Wheel Drive geometrics redefines what you assume is physically capable in a road car, all while telegraphing minute and nuanced feedback through the steering wheel and chassis. Forgiving is not enough to describe the balance, and along with an all aluminum space-frame and carbon fiber body/chassis, this car can do no wrong. Now I had the confidence to thrash my way to the thrilling S curves, and nothing was like it! Clearing the S’s, we banked right into the Speedway back stretch, finally allowing me to paddle shift up to 135 as I described above and then within milliseconds slam on to the brakes, hauling the beast back to 25 and then hair pin right back to the pit row straight. Each lap give me increased confidence, and with that my lap times improving accordingly. Finally behind the pace car, I followed and learned his line, break points and shift timing, giving me the best lap time of the session. A seasoned professional Lamborghini test pilot, he politely didn’t waste me in his dust, although at the time it felt like break neck Indy speeds to me. Undoubtedly, this car has the best sounding v-10 engine anywhere; the wail is positively spine-tingling at 8,000 rpm redline.

With the weight savings of the Superleggera model, Lamborghini presents the driver with a 2953 pound rocket with 570 horsepower to play with, thus translating 0-60 lift-offs in a thrilling 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 202 mph! Its unique 5.2 lb/hp power-to-weight ratio and single clutch electronically managed E shift technology, Lamborghini once again offers sports car enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike an opportunity to live the automotive dream.

  

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