Thursday, September 30, 2010

Up for the Challenge

The weather was somewhat cooperative yesterday so I headed out onto Bommer Ridge in the mid afternoon. It was pretty warm and sticky (almost uncomfortable), but I put in an easy five miles on the ridgetop.

And just in case you thought *that* was the challenge – you are sooo wrong. A few days ago I was tagged by Patrick at The Road to list 10 random things about me. Sounds like fun, so here goes:

  1. I am a second generation native Los Angeleno. My dad was born here in 1930. My grandmother moved here at the age of 6 in the early 1900’s. Snap. Almost a third generation native
  2. My first choice for colleges (UC Irvine) was made based on my opportunity to surf everyday.
  3. I don’t surf anymore.
  4. I once played blackjack at the old Stardust in Las Vegas for 30 straight hours on $20.
  5. Speaking of Las Vegas – the only time I left that town with more money than I started with ($3 net profit), I got a speeding ticket on I-15 on the way home. Net loser again.
  6. My first car (a new 1975 Toyota Celica) cost less than my last big screen TV. It lasted 3 years more than the TV did. And when I sold it it was still running strong.
  7. Speaking of cars, I used to do all my own maintenance (oil changes, brakes, heck, I even replaced a clutch in my first car). These days I won’t even open the hood.
  8. I love to eat. In my college days I once hit up a Vegas buffet for 6 full plates of food. Then I hit the dessert bar. Maybe that’s why I have a name for this blog.
  9. I’m not much into touristy travel. I’ve never been to Europe or Asia. I’d much rather spend a week camping/fishing. But I did take a three week vacation to Iran in the 90’s. It took almost three months to get a visa.
  10. One of my bucket list items is to set foot in all 50 states. I’m up to 38. Trying to figure out how (or why) I’d get to the Dakotas (sorry Jerbear) or Maine (sorry Caratunk Girl).

So there you go. And I might as well play the other game too. If there’s something you want to ask me, go ahead – now’s your chance! I promise I’ll answer your question!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hoping to Get Back on Track Here…

New shoes – check. New attitude – check. Weather – WTF?!?!?!?!?!

In case you haven’t heard, the weather here in Southern California has turned on us. Summer is officially here. With a vengeance. As of September 27th. Monday was the hottest. Day. Ever. That’s right. Ever. Since records first started being kept back in the late 1880’s. 113 degrees at 12:15PM. I live at the beach – which means it should be cooler. It was. The thermometer topped out at 107. Now, folks like Adam or Slomohusky might be used to running in those temperatures out in the deserts of Phoenix and Las Vegas. But I’m not. And for folks who aren’t used to the heat, running in these temperatures can be downright dangerous. So – I took a pass.

Tuesday wasn’t much better. While is it cooler, it was still 93 degrees at 3:00PM with a lot more humidity. You see, us Southern Californians (okay - *this* Southern Californian) don’t run in this weather is because we don’t need to. We just wait a day or two when everything returns to normal – sunny 80 degree days with 15% humidity. Eat your heart out Midwesterners. And Southerners. And Southwesterners. We are weather wimps and proud of it!

Today the weather is supposed to return to something more normal. Assuming my knee cooperates (I was able to bend it more than 45 degrees yesterday – the swelling seems to be down), I’ll finally get to try out the new shoes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Shoes or Rest?

Okay folks. I need to come clean. I’ve been fighting a nagging – I don’t want to call it an injury, so let’s call it a – “condition” for a couple of weeks now. Yup. Runner’s knee (patellofemoral pain syndrome) is paying me a visit. I’ve been trying the best I can to ignore it. But, after Thursday’s run, not only did my right knee hurt, but my left quad did as well. Which is a sure sign that I’m compensating for the pain in my knee. Not good.

The good news is I can trace this all back to the trails. Before my recent journey off the pavement, I had none of these problems. Right now I’m almost exclusive (okay – that meant only two days last week) on the trails. And the one thing I’ve noticed with my current trail shoes (Asics GT2150 Trail Runners) is that my landing platform going downhill is not very stable at all. My feet slip inside the shoe, and my shoes are slipping on the surface. When you look at the most likely causes of runner’s knee:

Your foot, meanwhile, may not be giving you the stability you need. It's likely that your feet are making a wrong movement every time they hit the ground, and you're feeling the constant pounding and repetition of this mistake in your knee. Maybe you're overpronating (rolling your foot in) or supinating (turning it out too much) when you run.” (

The bottom line is I bought my trail shoes back in February in response to a last minute decision to do a trail race. They are not the most technical shoe – really made to run a mix of roads and dirt trails. More and more I find myself running on more technical surfaces – rutted single track, rocky down hills, etc. So yesterday I decided to upgrade my platform:


The only downside to the shoe? I failed my Man Test yesterday. It took almost two hours of trying on this shoe and that shoe, running through the aisles of REI and jumping on a ramp to make a decision. I was waffling between the La Sportiva Wildcat, the Salomon XT Wings 2, and the La Sportiva Raptor. In the end, the Raptors won out. The leather overlays should provide the upper stability I’m looking for, and the tread design should provide the traction I’m hoping for. Al Bundy – where were you when I needed you?

On the running front, even with my knee pain, I had every intention of running this weekend. But, summer appeared in Southern California. I was involved on a conference call Saturday morning. By the time I got off of that, the sun was high in the air and the temps were nearing 90. Then the heat really got turned up yesterday. 96 here at the beach at 5:45 PM. Supposed to get to 100 today. I have no goal race at this point, so there is no need to face the insanity, and frankly, face the dangers that go along with heat and dehydration. Besides – my knee will thank me….

I’ll report after my run Tuesday…..

Friday, September 24, 2010

Back to Running

So, despite the trials and tribulations of life, I have been hitting the trails on a more or less (ummmm, maybe less) regular frequency these days. Monday and Tuesday had me celebrating mourning my new found freedom*. But Wednesday I laced up my shoes and  headed out for a 5 mile jaunt through Shady Canyon. There are a couple of hills that are in the mix here. For whatever reason they seemed a little easier.

Running Shady Canyon 9-22-2010, Elevation - Distance

Then Thursday, I laced up my shoes and headed back to Laguna Coast Wilderness for 5 more miles. I dropped onto a new single track that I had not done before. The trail dropped me into the upper portion of Laurel Canyon. Dang! Am I sorry I left my camera at home!

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-23-2010

The operative word here is “dropped”. That’s 500 feet down in a mile and the impending climb out. No wonder the hills in Shady Canyon seemed a little easier.

Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-23-2010, Elevation - Distance 

This weekend I’m planning on around 10 miles on the trails on Saturday, and another 5 or so easy miles on Sunday. I think I’ll actually break 20 miles this week…

*In case you missed it, my wife and I became empty nesters this week. We celebrated by having a date night. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. For the first time in 10 years (or so it seemed). Woo hoo!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Every now and again, life shows us why. Why we work so hard. Why we sacrifice so much. What is really important in life. You see, this weekend my wife and I became empty nesters.

I thought that it would be easy. A shake of a hand and a hug and a “See you this weekend.” Oooooooh….  That part went great. We moved son #3 into his dorm in the early afternoon. Excitement was in the air as we pulled into his complex.


Say what? You call these dorms?

IMG_0499 IMG_0500Sigh. My baby is moved in and ready to tackle life’s challenges while having the time of his life.

IMG_0509Then it was off to Irvine to move my daughter into her room. Hey! Aren’t dorm rooms supposed to be small and dingy?

IMG_0510(Son #2 and daughter’s friend contemplating organization challenges).

All I’ve got to say is that it’s awfully quiet around the house now. And the food that we bought on Saturday is still in the pantry. And the TV is off more than on. Mom and Dad got to play at the casino Monday and Tuesday night. The house was dark when we got home. Meg and Anne – now I understand.

Monday, September 20, 2010

How to enjoy an Ultramarathon?

By volunteering of course!

Saturday I took the easy way out. I got a cool shirt and was part of an ultra. I got to lounge on the aptly named Cocktail Rock (no – I didn’t bring any) for a couple of hours and watch a bunch of tremendous athletes enjoying themselves during the first hour of their ten plus hour appointment with destiny.

My job was pretty simple. Be out on the trail by 5:30AM, about an hour before the start. I got to run under the stars for 2 miles to make sure that a critical junction at mile 3.6 was still accurately marked. Then, I got to hoof another 2.5 miles to make sure no one took a left when they should take a right at the Old San Juan junction. Finally, when the last runner passed, I returned the was I came to make sure no one was left and all the ribbons and markings were cleared. I got to enjoy a beautiful dawn, peace and solitude on the trails, some tremendous scenery, and dodge a few out of control mountain bikers.

Come enjoy the hills of south Orange County with me:

Congratulations to all the finishers of the Chimera 100s ultramarathon!

* When all was said and done, I even got to take a 2 mile shortcut each direction, so even though I was at mile 6 of the course, I only had to run 8 miles total.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not to Jinx Myself, But….

…. I’ve hit the trails 2 days in a row. The miles or paces aren’t impressive, but the work is getting done. On Tuesday my son and I did a four mile out and back along Bommer Ridge, and on Wednesday we did the Deer Canyon loop for 4 more miles. I was on track for three days in a row yesterday when, just as I arrived at the trailhead for 3 days in a row, I received a call from that my car was ready and needed to be picked up*. Since I was using one of the dealer’s loaners, I needed to pick up my car to avoid charges. By the time I fought the freeway traffic to and from the dealer, my window to run elapsed. Soooooo….  I’ll be hitting the trails this afternoon for a quick 3 miles.

The news for this weekend is looking good as well. I’ve received my assignment for Saturday’s Chimera 100. I will be on the trail at 5:00 AM, do an inspection to make sure that no one has fiddled with the trail markings and then meet another person to direct traffic at the 7 mile mark. When the final runner passes, we’ll sweep the trail and make sure all the ribbons and markings are picked up. Should be a fun filled morning!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hey! Look What Started Working Again!*


Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-11-2010Running Bommer Ridge-El Moro 9-11-2010, Elevation - Distance


Running Peters Canyon 9-12-2010Running Peters Canyon 9-12-2010, Elevation - Distance 

Yeah. It’s not a lot of miles. And they were real slow. But, wth. It’s a new start on my running life. (Note that both runs were trail runs. And both less than 5 miles).

With Monday’s aborted attempt on Mt. Baldy, I’m at 15 for the week. Not good, but considering where I was a week ago, not as bad as it could be. This week I have about 25 planned:

  • Monday: Rest day. Time for some poker.
  • Tuesday: 4 miles. On the trails in Laguna Coast I’m sure.
  • Wednesday: Same as Tuesday.
  • Thursday: 3 easy miles. Probably down in the Back Bay
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Not sure. I might be volunteering for the Chimera 100 Endurance Race (100km/100 miles). There was a request this morning for help along the trail directing runners at a junction. Then I’ll get to do a loop and take down ribbons and erase arrows on the ground. I’m thinking I’ll get somewhere between 7 and 10 miles in.
  • Sunday: 5 easy miles. Laguna Coast or maybe Aliso/Woods Canyon.
  • Total: Around 25 miles.

I’ll know this week whether I’m back or not…

*Why take the blame when a perfectly good inanimate object that can’t defend itself can be blamed? Equipment failure. Yeah. That’s it! Equipment failure has been the problem all along.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Since I’m Not Running….

I thought I would share what I spent last Sunday (a week ago) doing. I’ll let the video speak for itself…..

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A First for Me

Well, this past weekend saw a first for me. A “DNF”. One of those things I’ve been able to avoid up until now. But, the deadly combination of a lack of consistent training and the onset of a cold had me hacking a lung on the slopes of Mt. Baldy on Monday, where I came up two miles and a thousand feet short of the finish.

But, before you shower me with condolences and sympathies, I’ve got to tell you – even a DNF up on the massive shoulder of this granite beast beat the heck out of sleeping in late and watching TV at home:

So, this week I’m allowing my cold to take it’s course and nursing my knee tendonitis. I’ll be back on the trails this weekend, and get things fired up in time to make sure that Long Beach in a few weeks isn’t a total wash.

Friday, September 3, 2010


So – a funny thing happened on the track Tuesday night. Well, not ha ha funny, but sad kind of funny. I wasn’t able to finish the workout. I hit the track. I started my warm up. And just did not have the desire to run 24 laps, 8 of them hard, around the little circle. I packed it up, and went home.

I am, in two words – burned out. Other than my knees (a little tendonitis in my right knee), there’s nothing wrong with me physically. There are a couple things causing some increased mental stress, but hey, we all have those right? All I know is the fire to go out and train hard isn’t there right now. So, for a change, I’m going to listen to the advice that has been offered by so many of you. I’m going to take some time off. A vacation from training of sorts. Please note the distinction – I’m not taking a vacation from running – only a vacation from training. I realized on Tuesday that I really wanted to be in the hills. Not on a track. The bottom line is my goal race in next May – not this October. I need to make sure the map that I’m using on my journey doesn’t detour me along the way.

So, stay tuned. I’m taking two weeks off from running and resting my body a little. I’m going to keep my race schedule intact, so I’ll be back on Tuesday with a report from the Top of Mt. Baldy.

Thanks everyone for your supportive words and well wishes. Have a fun and safe Labor Day holiday!