Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Change in the Wind

I’m not talking in the literal sense though. It appears that after months of trying to figure out how to find gainful employment, I have managed to stumble into an opportunity.

Well, not really. Stumbling that is. It’s an opportunity that I have been chasing for several months. It’s right up the alley of what I was looking for – back in the Management Consulting industry working for a small boutique firm. It’s back to my roots and what I enjoy doing.

It’s not all peachy keen and ideal though. My first project is ten weeks long (which means I could be looking again in a few weeks) and it’s not here in sunny Southern California. The pay is good, so I can deal with the 10 week duration, and I do get to come back home every weekend. But, beginning Monday it’s the life of a consultant – airports, rental cars and hotels.

In the meantime, anyone in Sacramento have tips on some good trails?

Monday, January 23, 2012

What a Dud!

That pretty much sums up last week. The lowlights:

  • I ran on Tuesday. 4 miles.
  • Umm.
  • Okay.
  • Saturday: The rains came. The trails closed.


  • Saturday night I missed what I’m sure was an all around great time with my blogger friends Jill, Meg, Irene, and others at their pre-Carlsbad Marathon carbo load celebration (by the way – I do need a pictorial report please!)
  • Sunday – see the picture above. And I couldn’t find my car keys because I knew if I did, then I could move the car out of the garage and would then have to row.

So, last week was a real dud. All around. The worst part? If I’m not running, I can’t eat! Yikes!


It’s Monday and it’s raining again. That means the trails will be closed until at least Wednesday. Which is okay, because my Wednesday is booked solid anyways. Besides, the sun is supposed to be out and the temps into the upper 70’s by the middle of the week. That’s more like it.

Here’s this week’s plan:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 4 road miles
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: 4 miles. Hopefully trails.
  • Friday: Poker day.
  • Saturday: Let’s try this again. 10 miles. Trails
  • Sunday: 8 miles. Trails.
  • Total planned: 26  ish miles.

Hey! That’s like a marathon!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Minor Setback

After all that rah rah talk about getting started on my journey to aerobic fitness, I suffered a setback over the weekend and couldn’t get out to do my long runs. Nothing physical – just some scheduling conflicts. Yeah. Unfortunately life has a way of getting in the way sometimes.

This week has also had it share of schedule challenges. Here was my planned schedule:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 4 easy
  • Wednesday: 4 easy
  • Thursday: 4 easy
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 10 trail
  • Sunday 8 trail
  • Total: 30 miles

But, to top it off, my job search had me running around Wednesday, and I will be doing so today (Thursday) as well, so those two runs aren’t happening. To top it off now, the weatherman* is forecasting rain Friday night and Saturday, which means my beloved trails will be closed this weekend. If that’s the case, I may end up breaking out the rowing machine. After all, a man has to eat!

* I use the term “weatherman” loosely. There are several female weatherpersons on TV in L.A. A couple appear to be keeping plastic surgeons in business…

Friday, January 13, 2012

Building a Base

The toughest part of running for me right now is I remember the way it used to be. Back when I could confidently say “Four miles? Bah. It’s not even worth tying my shoes for.”

Well, these days I can’t even run half a mile without breaking into a brisk walk. Sure – some of it has to do with the extra 20 pounds I’m carrying (yes – I really let myself go during the last year and a half), but most of it has to do with the fact that I’ve lost *all* of my aerobic base.

Here’s a statistic for you – do you realize that your aerobic system provides about 95% of your energy needs in a 5K and almost 100% of them in a marathon? Yet most of us neglect proper cardio vascular training by doing our long runs too fast and doing too many intervals and hills way too hard.

Building our cardio vascular system involves slow, persistent training over a long period of time. I don’t know if I’ve ever told this story, but (time for some proud parental bragging) two of my children were rowers (the kind who row the big boats like you see in the Olympics, or the opening credits of House). My daughter scholar shipped at an NCAA division I school, and my youngest son was racing internationally at the ripe age of 16. Both of them received coaching from people who rowed internationally at the highest levels (World Cup and Olympics). The two of them would literally spend hours every day on rowing machines or running at *very* low heart rates (65% of max or less) building their aerobic base. Why? Because that is how the elites train. All I know is within a few months they were able to row on the water for hours and not really break much of a sweat.

What can I take away from this? This time I’m not going to fall into the trap of thinking that I *need* to train hard. The key this time around will be weekends – long runs at low intensity. Back to back. Miles of slow running until my body says it’s ready to train hard. How will I know when I’m ready? When my long runs become easy.

Yes. This time I’m going slow and steady.  Say, wasn’t there some Greek fable about that?

This week:

  • Monday: 6 miles easy
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 4 miles easy.
  • Thursday: Rest.
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 10 miles easy.
  • Sunday: 8 miles easy
  • Total: 28 miles

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Back to Back

I know I said I would be back on Sunday. Sorry if you visited and found nothing new. I spent Sunday on a 10 plus mile trail run, Monday on a back to back 6 plus mile trail run, and Tuesday sleeping it all off.

Today my fingers no longer hurt (believe me – on Monday evening every part of my body was sore and tired!), so here’s my contribution to my YouTube channel. Come join me as I travel some of the ridges and canyons of Laguna Coast and Crystal Cove:

I think I’m reinvigorated. After well over a year of being in the dumps, I am finding some satisfaction with setting aside three or more hours on my weekends to traipse the hills. Not enough yet to say I want to race a marathon (or even a half), but enough to get out when the weather is good and enjoy the sights and sounds.

The other thing that is painfully obvious is that I need to build my aerobic base. More on that this week.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Short Post for a Short Run

Put in a short four miler around the Back Bay last night. I had some issues with my heart rate spiking under minimal stress, so I backed off the pace (if that’s possible) and half jogged half walked this one.

Sorry for the bad photo, but the light wasn’t great.


I’m off today, so you all get a day’s rest from my ramblings. Big plans for this weekend though, so I’ll be back to bug you all on Sunday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Is it Really January?

I was back in the Laguna Coast yesterday. I got a late start. No. I didn’t need to wear sleeves:


Seen at the Pacific Ridge Trailhead. Can I join this team?


Is it really January? Yes it is! That’s why I live in Socal!


The sunset was pretty dramatic:



I really wanted to head down into Emerald Canyon, but with my 4:45 PM start, it was going to get dark on my way out of there:


So, instead, I turned around at the 3 mile mark and headed back along Bommer Ridge to the car. It got really dark. I’m glad I had my headlamp:


By the way – I ran into a set of glowing eyeballs in the distance about half a mile from my car. Does anyone know if a coyote has two forward facing eyes?

Ha ha! I’m pretty sure it was a coyote. I mean it seemed to be more afraid of me than I was of him, because as I crept closer, it stopped and then bounded up the hill. No. It wasn’t a rabbit….

6 miles yesterday. 4 miles today.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Annual Night Running Post

Except I missed 2011. And 2010 for that matter. Have I really been slacking that long? My waist says yes.

I thought I would go ahead and post this year because it appears that I will be using some of my equipment. Or at least, should be using my equipment.

Anyways, here is the gear that has a permanent place in my bag:

Headlamp/Flasher: This is the most important piece of equipment in my night running arsenal. It’s about seeing and being seen. The other day I posted myself in action. Here’s a breakdown of my see and be seen equipment:

Flasher: I picked this up from Road Runner sports a couple years ago.


I slap this onto the back strap of my headlamp. It is my attempt to not get run over from behind by some crazy cyclist (LOL). So far it seems to have worked.

Duravision Pro 180 Saftey Light, Road Runner Sports, $8.99

Headlamp: Okay. I went a little overboard with this. But, I do a lot of running where there aren’t streetlights. I also use this guy a lot when I get caught hiking after dark, or just in lieu of a flashlight at home.


This is a tremendous headlamp. It has variable strength LED and Halogen lamps. I can pretty much illuminate a trail like it’s daytime with this lamp. Or blind any cyclist or car coming at me.

Black Diamond Icon Headlamp, REI, $64.95

Here are the two in action:


Reflective vest: Unfortunately, most of the places I like to run (Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Crystal Cove State Park) are closed or off-limits at night (as in get a ticket if caught), so sometimes I have to resort to the Back Bay or along trails that are frequented by cyclists and/or cars. For that, I wear a reflective vest. It’s all about being seen before I get run over:


Nathan Streak Vest, Road Runner Sports, $24.99

I approach night running as an exercise in safety. I slow down a little, turn the iPod volume down a notch, and tune in a little more to my surroundings.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Out with the Old

I woke up yesterday with a decision to make. Being of Asian heritage, I can be convinced of the validity of certain superstitions. One of those is that whatever you do on New Year’s Day will set the stage for the rest of the year. And therein lay my decision.

I had 9 miles planned for “the weekend”. I really wanted to do them on Sunday to set the stage for the rest of 2012. But, my week is rounding up to be pretty busy. I will not be able to do a Tuesday run – I have an Tuesday afternoon appointment, which coupled with the famous L.A. traffic means the whole afternoon/evening is shot. So, I will need to use Monday for my Tuesday run, which means that I need to use Sunday for recovery from my “weekend” run. Oh well. I guess my decision got made.

I was a little hesitant about going. The weather forecast was for a spectacular Southern California day, but even at Noon, it was a foggy, hazy, damp 55 degrees. I packed up some sleeves just in case, and headed up to the Laguna Coast.

As I headed up the hill, I drove out of the inversion layer* and into a bright, sunny gorgeous day. I parked and got my feet moving. The first thing that I was thankful for was that despite this being much more wild than the Back Bay, there apparently aren’t any skunks:


Did I mention that it was a gorgeous day?


At least until you got looking toward the ocean, where the fog and moisture were clinging to the lower elevations.


One thing that is quite amazing of these coastal hills is that even in December, there are still flowers in bloom. Although I wouldn't try picking one of these blossoms to put in my hair.


The other thing that is pretty amazing about these trails is as often as I blog about them (and I have run them more than that), there are always little side canyons that I haven’t explored. Today, I decided to do just that. I headed along Bommer Ridge. I had great views of West Ridge and Top of the World across Laguna Canyon, where my blogging buddy Lauren can be found most days. I looked for the cloud of dust that would have been at her back as she ripped the hills, but I didn’t see one.


Wait a minute. I didn’t see “deer” listed as one of the dangers on the sign.


After about 3 3/4 miles of gently rolling hills, I arrived at the turnoff to Boat Canyon. I hung a right and was ready for some exploring.


I’m sure that on a clear day, the views must be breathtaking. Unfortunately, the coastal haze and fog made things a little less than spectacular today.


If you are new to trail running, or are thinking about taking it on, I have a tip for you. When you are on a ridge top, and a spur trail has the word “Canyon” in it, you’re probably going to have to climb back out.


All in all, it was a beautiful day for 9 miles in the hills!


Happy New Year from The Running Fat Guy! May 2012 be filled with joy, health and prosperity!

* To understand “inversion”, you have to keep in mind that the L.A area is really a big flat desert flood plain surrounded by mountains on three sides and the ocean on the fourth. In the winter, as the sun comes up and warm air rises, cool, damp air is drawn in off the ocean. Bring heavier than the warm air it is replacing, the “inversion layer” sits for (sometimes) a couple hundred feet next to the ground. On windless days (like yesterday), nothing moves the air to mix the cooler air next to the ground with the warmer air higher up, making it cool and moist at sea level, and quite comfortable just a few hundred feet higher in elevation. Here’s a photo of the inversion layer in action: