my alarm went off at 7:00 and for a while there i was seriously thinking about not going to see the half marathon happening along the emerald necklace. what's the big deal about seeing a bunch of people running? there's always next year. besides, i went to bed last night at 4:00, so i only slept 3 hours. so i decided to cancel, but then changed my mind and figured i'd go after all (just 30 minutes later), just this once to see what it's all about.

i left roughly around 7:30 and managed to get to longwood by 8:00. the temperature was brisk, i had to put on my gloves for the first time this year, and pulled on the hood of my jacket until i warmed up. from cambridge it was a simple ride from beacon-hampshire-columbia-sidney to the memorial drive rotary.

the route after crossing into brookline was a little weird and the actual roads didn't seem to jive with my printed google maps. i ended up going down one way streets at one point (although that early in the morning there weren't any cars) and crossed a portion of a street that was under repair (thankfully i was on a bike and could easily ride on the sidewalk). the area was unlike the brookline i knew, full of big mansions. at one point i even saw some black turkeys but didn't bother to take any photos (too good for turkeys apparently).

the half marathon wasn't until 8:30, and even then the elite runners wouldn't make it to the longwood area (mile 5) until about half an hour after it all begins (this is based on past performance records where the fastest runners average an hour and change to complete the 13-mile course). so i ended up walking down to the longwood medical campus, gotting a good view of harvard medical school, which up to this point i've only seen once on a quick ride by.

at 8:00 i was back on the riverway. earlier there was nobody there, but now a few spectators had gathered to see the runners arrive.

much of the course along the emerald necklace runs north-south. the morning sun cast long shadows going east-west that shaded much of the riverway. i picked a spot in between buildings that had several spots of sunlight. this was a bit tricky to expose as runners flitted in-out from dark to light regions. i don't think an overcast sky would've helped since it'd just make everything darker and even harder to shoot.

i brought the 28-105mm lens, testing it out to see if it could be a good parade lens. earlier i used it to take some photos around longwood. but as far as parades go, 105mm is just too short. i can see how a 200mm might come in handy though, since most of my photos (2/3) were taken at less than 200mm. i ended up swapping out the lens with my familiar 70-300mm.

the boston half marathon is something new, just 12 years old (compared to the boston full marathon, which is the oldest marathon in the world, at 116 years old). this year the half marathon attracted something like 6000+ runners, while the full marathon usually pulls in tens of thousands of runners. the route of the full marathon actually goes through the city proper, while the half marathon is relegated to the emerald necklace (brookline, jamaica plain, roxbury, dorchester) southwest of the city. the full marathon is a straight course, while the half marathon is a loop. first place in the full marathon gets you a $150k prize; it's $100k in the half marathon (not bad).

what sort of person runs a half marathon anyway? underachieving individuals who can't run a full marathon? or maybe they couldn't get a spot on the full and had to resort to half? possibly this is just a stepping stone on eventually running the full. i did notice a lot of runners were local. do elite full marathon runners even attend these half marathons? a $100k prize isn't something to sneer at. or is it something that's looked down upon, like once you go full, you don't go half?

because the course loops around, depending on where you stand you can actually see the race twice, which was something that appealed to my photographic interest. but once the race is underway, it's difficult to see the returning runners on the other side because all the going runners are in the way. it does present an interesting dynamic as going runners see returning runners, and often times people recognize each other so there's a lot of fast greetings and runners cheering on other runners.

i didn't see any funny costumes like i do in the full marathon. at most, maybe groups would wear matching team t-shirts. if a runner waved to me i'd take their photo (and put it online, hopefully they find it through a google search of their own name).

the ride back was much simpler, just a straight shot up carlton street to commonwealth avenue across the BU bridge. stopping at the lights, another bicyclist struck up a conversation with me regarding his love of biking. i couldn't tell the make of his bike but he told me it had 7 internal gear. arriving at the memorial drive rotary, i couldn't help but notice a dazzling sugar maple (i think) on magazine beach approaching the peak of its autumn colors. i had to pull over and get some photos.

i bumped into jeff walking his dog in between lesley university and harvard law school. we chatted briefly (watched a large elizabeth warren sign get carried down the street) before i went home.

back at home, i took a shower and had a bowl of corn pops cereal before going back out again, this time to the honkfest parade. along the way i quickly stopped by porter square to see if in fact the new michael's craft store had their grand opening today. i heard it might've been as early as friday but i didn't get a chance to come down until now. unfortunately i was pressed for time so i didn't go inside. from the outside it's hard to even tell there's a michael's because there's no sign; the store sign can only be seen from inside the store.

honkfest 2012 (12:00):

the best parades are the ones with plenty of spectacles. i don't need to understand what's going on, just as long as there's plenty of interesting things to see (and of course photograph). the annual honk (honkfest) parade fits the bill. it doesn't have the boobage of the mermaid parade (although that one takes place during the summer while this one is held in autumn), but the honk parade can hold its own in offering a variety of sights and sounds. the best part is it's right in my own backyard, so i just have to walk down the street to see it.

my normal initial shooting spot at the intersection of beech and elm was swarming with families and children. i also wasn't moving, standing in just one spot. after about 30 minutes i left to see the parade from mass ave closer to my house. the great thing about mass ave is that the crowd is more spaced out so i can move around the entire stretch of avenue with ease. missed a shot? just walk down ahead of the procession again and do over!

for the honk parade i used my 70-300mm telephoto lens exclusively. out of 100 select photos (representing the 798 grand total), i pulled the EXIF data to see what focal lengths i used the most. the result was interesting:

more than 1/5th (22 images) of all those photos were taken at 70mm, the short end of the telephoto range. the 2nd most used length was 115mm (10 images), followed by 130mm (8 images). only 1/10th of those photos (10 images) were taken at greater than 200mm, and those weren't the best, straining the maximum zoom range of the lens. this all goes to show that the canon EF-S 18-200mm would be the perfect parade lens. i've heard mix reviews about the build and focus quality, but amongst the wide angle-to-telephoto lenses that are currently available, that's still one of the better ones. the next time canon has another one of their factory sales, i'm going to snatch up a 60D with the 18-200mm.

i didn't bother going to the octoberfest happening in harvard square. for one thing, i wanted to get to belmont before the rain that was due to arrive. there was also a certain football game i wanted to see.

once i returned home i promptly left for belmont. there was a 4:00 broncos-patriots game i didn't want to miss, a rematch between peyton manning and tom brady. it was a great game mostly because new england won.

i'm never in belmont early enough to see the morning glories in full bloom. on occasions, when the weather is overcast, i may still see a few unfaded flowers. the sky today must've been especially grey because even by early evening the flowers were still opened. tonight's temperature might dip into the 40's, i'm curious to see if the morning glory will survive the cold, but it seems to be unusually hardy for some reason.

my sister wanted to eat rice porridge for dinner so that's what we had tonight. unfortunately rice porridge isn't very filling, so by the time i came home (left early, trying to beat the prolong rain heading our way), i was hungry again. i ended up having a korean instant cup of noodle as a late snack.

Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - "Balloon Man"