Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Tour of CA is finishing at Le Rose Bowl in ‘08!

Run 35 = 7(the bridge) X 5
Bike 54 = 3+7+6+(28 Brown/El Prieto+2)+8
Car 37 = 34 +3
Burrito 3
Drinks 4 (margaritas) = 2+2
EPO, Synthetic testosterone, other people’s blood: 0

Saturday, July 28, 2007

unlearning to tie my shoes

I got my new Trail Runner magazine in the mail yesterday. There’s an article about the advantages of occasionally running barefoot. This seems to make some sense to me. It seems that our natural stride would make use of a forefoot landing to help cushion the foot strike. And it seems that running with our natural stride would best suit our bodies.

About ten years ago I experimented with a forefoot landing. It took a little bit of getting used to, but eventually became a pretty comfortable stride for me. I never did much actual barefoot running, though.

The article states that over-supportive running shoes keep runners from noticing slight misalignments in their foot strikes. For lower mileage runners this might be okay. If running shoes help people to get out and run a few miles for general exercise, that’s great. But, as distance and regularity of runs build up, that slight misstep repeated over and over again may lead to injury in any number of joints from the toe to the neck.

The article recommends adding barefoot running on grass for a few minutes to your normal routine. This allows the muscles of the foot to get a proper natural workout and may help to retrain your feet to land properly. Of course, for longer distances, there may be some drawbacks to barefoot running. But, anyway, I think I’d like to give this barefoot thing a try on occasion.

On a related note, I don’t tie my shoes anymore. I double knot the laces loosely so that I can slide my shoes on and off fairly easily. I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I do this so that I get the advantage of a cushy ride while still giving my feet some space to do their own support thing. It’s worked quite well for me. I just hope I don’t forget which way the bunny is supposed to go if I ever have to tie them again.

(And, no, I don’t think this was related to my most recent left foot trouble which has now been miraculously healed after retiring some worn out shoes – thanks Geoff)

Monday, July 23, 2007


There was a tiny bit of rain this morning and lots of tiny grasshoppers.

bike challenge

I finally decided to sign up for my first ever organized bike race. It’s coming up in two weeks. It’s called the Altadena Naked Crow Mountain Bike Challenge. I’m not sure what a naked bird has to do with it, yet, but hopefully it will be fun. The course route has not been released, but I believe it’s going to be a single loop of about 10–12 miles. It takes place about seven miles from home in my local San Gabriel Mountains (near Brown Mtn), so I can ride to the start. After the race there’s a pancake breakfast, BBQ lunch, and Beer Garden! I must be dreaming…

Sunday, July 22, 2007

burritos beat beer!!!

Run 19 = 7+7+5
Bike 70 = 3+3+5+3+27Brown+22+7
Car 14
Burrito 3
Beer 2 (actually, one and a half!)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

weeble wobble woes

Rode up Brown yesterday evening. Beautiful ride. Not many folks out. I only saw seven bikers and three walkers on the fire road. Actually, three of those bikers were pushing their bikes up the road. Does that make them walkers?

The front hub is great. It feels like I’ve just released the brakes - much faster and smoother. BUT, still the speed wobble remains. I’m going to check the stem/neck again, but it doesn’t seem to be loose. So, if anyone has any suggestions or experience in this area I’d love to have some help. The handlebars and front wheel start to shake pretty severely at about 15 miles per hour and up. It seems to be less wobbly if I’m pedaling, though. And, this only happens when my hands are off the bars, which is why it’s not a huge deal, but it would be nice to figure it out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

hub, again

I rebuilt my front hub again today. The speed wobbles have returned since my last attempt a few weeks ago, but it’s been a little more stable throughout that period. Today I took it apart completely and cleaned it all out including each individual ball bearing – ten per side. It definitely shows signs of wear. (As I’ve mentioned, the bike is a ’94 so it has a fair number of miles on it, although the majority of those miles have been in the last few years.) The ball bearings look like the surface of the moon - pitted. Likewise, the first bearing seal nut has little marks dented into it most of the way around the contact surface – strangely, only on one side of the hub. I should probably replace some of those parts, or as Dan the Man suggested, just replace the whole bike. But I didn’t do either of these things (yet). I just greased it back up and threaded it back together. It spins okay now (several revolutions per hard spin) and no side-to-side movement. I figure it should last another week or month or so…

Thursday, July 19, 2007

coffee break

I’m going through one of those rare and strange phases where I decide to not drink coffee for a while. This usually happens about once every six to twelve months and usually coincides, as it did this time, with running out of coffee at home. The crazy part is that I was just at the grocery store yesterday and I didn’t but any coffee even though I knew and remembered that I had none left. I decided that I had a whole cupboard full of various types of tea that should do the trick for a while.

Tea is nice. I like tea. But, tea is not coffee. I’ve made it through two days without coffee. During that whole time I’ve been very sleepy. Yesterday I took a 90-minute nap! On the run this morning I was totally unmotivated. My body felt fine and wasn’t really tired, but my mind was just not in it. I kept trying to get myself to just turn around and walk home.

I still support this break from coffee, though. It seems like a good idea to cleanse/detox once in a while. The best part about these coffee breaks, though, is when you break out of them. That first cup of coffee is so great and powerful and reminds you why you should never stop drinking it again. I can’t wait for that first cup…

Footnote: Tuesday’s run in the Adidas felt fine on my injured left foot. Today’s run in the Mizunos hurt my foot again. (I wonder if the Mizunos are getting worn out. They’ve only got 300 miles on them, but they're a pretty light racing flat style – do those wear out quicker?) I think it was a good hurt, though. When I got back I flexed my foot and gently rolled it forward so that the toes were tucked under and back. When I did this I felt a little shift/clunk. It felt like some foot bone or tendon/ligament fell back into place. Maybe it was a dislocated metatarsal (see #11 below).
Photo: Dr. Nelson

Sunday, July 15, 2007

seven days

Run 9 = 3+3+3
Bike 74 = 28(Brown Mtn)+8+11+(7+3)+17
Car 49
Burrito 2 (I’m might steal one of Hilary’s Hot Pockets tonight, but I don’t think that counts as a burrito.)
Drinks 12 = 1+1+1+5+2+2

That one car commute took three hours! I could have biked it in that amount of time - almost.

I drank pretty responsibly this week except for Thursday night.

My foot feels close to recovered. Hopefully I can get back up to around thirty for this next week.

Eat more burritos!

Have a great week everyone…

Saturday, July 14, 2007

running with the ostrich

Photo: Robin and Mhairi

My running form finally started to return during today’s short run. I’m really surprised that it dropped off so quickly. Ten days doesn’t seem like long. Maybe it’s related to my increased biking during that period. Maybe I just settled a little too deeply into the spin technique.

Yesterday’s running form improved a little over the previous day’s rugby style to the gait of a goofy high jumper. (It’s okay for me to say that ‘cause I used to be one of those goofs.) Many jumpers seem to have a funny walking/running style. It tends to over accentuate the heel raise along with at bit of a hop/bump in each step. I’m convinced that it is this very stride unintentionally repeated over a lifetime that leads to the increased jumping ability.

About halfway through today’s run I noticed that my fists were clenched. I think I’d been doing that for the last couple days, too. Once I released my grip the rest of my body relaxed and everything fell quickly back into place.

It was at this point in my run that I remembered my ostrich technique. Sometimes as I’m running I visualize the form of a running ostrich. My hands imitate the feet of the huge running bird. My hands are mostly open and faced palm down. They sort of paddle along just below the level of my elbows pretending to be making strides of their own along the ground. The elbow bend reminds me of the backwards knee position of the ostrich. A bit strange I admit, but pretending to be a flightless bird seems to help me find a smooth and efficient stride.

There used to be an ostrich farm in my hometown about a hundred years ago. I guess back then it was pretty common to see ostriches running along – now they’re just in my imagination.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

three after ten

I finally went out for a short run today after ten days of trying to rest/heel my left foot. I still don’t really know what exactly is wrong with it. I think it’s just “stressed out.” It was a bit of a struggle to get back in to my rhythm. I felt like a lumbering old rugby player. I think this was because I was trying not to flex or push off of my foot too much and so I was over using the other muscle groups that aren’t as much a part of my normal stride.

The foot never hurt during the run and it doesn’t hurt now, either. Which I assume has got to be a good sign. I’m hoping to get in a run each day for the rest of the week now – maybe even a bridge run.

This adds support to my theory that while it’s a good idea to rest after an injury, it won’t stop bothering you until you get back and run it out, or ride it out, (or drink it out) or whatever activity contributed to the injury to begin with.

a few nice folks on the sunset ride

I was enjoying a nice leisurely ride yesterday evening when at about 2 1/2 miles up the trail I came around a sharp turn and glanced down the trail behind me. I spotted another rider a couple hundred yards behind me. Suddenly, without consciously deciding to do so, my pace bumped way up and that old competitive spirit spiked my veins. I don’t even know why. I didn’t even know this other person and suddenly I just had to make it to the top ahead of him.

At the first saddle/trail junction I stopped as usual to take a break and get a good drink of water. Here, I met John, who was asking a few questions about the riding/trail options. Apparently, he hadn’t been up here for a few years. He was just coming back from surgery on both knees after a bike crash in La Tuna canyon (ouch!). He was waiting for some of his friends. I thought maybe that other rider was one of his friends so I stayed and talked with John awhile to find out.

But, that other rider continued on ahead up the trail. It wasn’t John’s friend. So, now the race was on again and I was behind – oh, dear no! So I wished John well and headed off. I was a little more in control of my senses, so I just rode casually up the trail for a while, not wanting to crowd the ride for the other rider. But, then, there he was again right in front of me and I just had to creep up behind him. We both said “Hey, how’s it going” at exactly the same time, so I felt obliged to add “Nice day for a ride,” to which he responded “Yeah, it’s perfect,” And, he was right. It was nice and cool with plenty of shade in the corners of the trail. But I couldn’t stay to ride with him ‘cause once you get that competitiveness into the blood it’s really hard to let go of it.

I saw him again at the top after I’d finished the last of my water and was ready to head back down. We both came back down the same way we had come up. He caught up with me toward the bottom of the trail (I guess a full suspension bike really does hold some tiny advantage over a no suspension bike after all.) We chatted briefly again and I found out that he rides this trail twice a week. So, maybe we’ll run into each other again soon and we’ll be able to ride together without being so competitive. Maybe John will show up again, too. It would be nice to have a few nice folks to ride with.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

happy convenience store day (7/11)

I was finishing off a big bag of Cheetos, crunchy, naturally baked, cheese flavored snacks, when I noticed the cheetah mascot dude on the bag (I’m assuming it’s a cheetah, ‘cause it rhymes with Cheetos – well, it doesn’t really rhyme, it alliterates – can you say that?) Anyway, the cheetah mascot dude is a cyclist! He’s got a yellow helmet on and everything. He’s even got disk brakes and quick release hubs on his yellow mountain bike. So, if I want to ride better, I guess I should be eating this crunchy crap all the time. It does say right on the front of the bag with a nice green stamp of approval from PepsiCo that it’s a “Smart Choice Made Easy.” And, the supplement on the back of the bag quotes Dr. Kenneth Cooper, a “Fitness and Wellness Expert,” as saying “fitness is a journey, not a destination. It must be continued for the rest of your life.” Well, that sounds pretty smart. Maybe these cheese flavored snacks are just the ticket. And they’re light and cheap and easy to find at your friendly neighborhood convenience store.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Run 7
Bike 176 = 39+8+(3+39)+(21+7)+(10+39)+(3+7)
Car 69 = 5+29+(3+32)
Burrito 4
Beer 14 = 2+4+2+3+3

I didn’t end up going for a run yesterday. It’s probably for the best as I think my foot needs a couple more days of rest/recovery time. It’s tough to miss out on so much running, but I think it will be better in the long run (pun intended). And, anyway, it allows me to do more riding, which is always fun when Le Tour is in progress.

(Big crash at the finish of Le Tour today – great to see such a happy winner in Gert Steegmans)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

yesterday was a strange day

I rode about fifty miles around town and around my loop. I had a very different experience from my peaceful meditation rides from the last couple days. Yesterday, it seemed that everyone was out to get me. Cars kept swerving over into my lane space as if they had no awareness of, or respect for, or concern for my presence or my life. Generally, the car drivers here are pretty considerate, but yesterday I felt like a second-class vehicle that they wanted off the road. Also, there must have been at least ten pedestrians that stepped right out into the street in front of me without even looking to see if there was a car or a bike or a bus about to run them down. I really could not believe it. I hope today’s mojo is better.

I haven’t run since Monday. I can still feel a little bit of a tweak on the top of my left foot. I’m planning on doing an easy trail run this evening. Hopefully it has healed enough over the last week. I guess I’ll find out tonight.

(Great start for Hincapie over the weekend!)

Friday, July 6, 2007

and around and around some more

I did some more loop riding last night. I’m really starting to get into it. I think one of the reasons that I like it so much is that I don’t have to concern myself with car traffic. The road is open to cars, but it is so dominated by bikes and runners and walkers that the few cars that pass are slow and careful. It is nice to be able to ride with a relaxed mind, to not have to constantly be on the alert for hazardous traffic situations.

The loop is three miles in circumference. It is relatively flat, but one side goes slightly uphill while the other side goes slightly down. And, there are no stop signs or lights on the loop, so it is just constant free spinning with a relaxed mind. It becomes quite a meditative experience.

Recently I’ve been questioning my motives in all this running and riding business. It’s not exactly a natural state for a human. I sometimes wonder if it’s an intentional stepping away for me. Do I intentionally choose running and riding because they are easy excuses for solitude? If I’m planning a 2-hour run/ride over the weekend, no one that I know is going to come with me. Of course, this could also just be that I don’t really know that many people or, at least, not that many runners/cyclists.

I think these are some good questions for me to keep in mind and I’d like to keep evaluating the situation, but I don’t think they are the primary drive for these activities. That feeling of meditation that I got last night, though… that, I believe, is what it is all about, that is the drive.

In these moments when we enter deeply into the run or the ride or the meditation, the layers that obscure our ability to directly experience the world in our own pure and real and natural way begin to peel off. And, for a few moments, lost in the rhythm of breath and the form of stride or cadence, we get a glimpse “behind the curtain,” a glimpse into what we are at our core. This seems to me like a real and healthy reason to ride.

See you all at my place tomorrow 6:30am. Go Hincapie!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

around and around

I tried out riding around in circles yesterday. Since everyone one else seems to be doing it, I figured I should give it a try. I wasn’t able to scrounge up any riding partners. Here’s the exact text message sent out before the ride:

“Road ride around the Rose Bowl?”

And the reply:

“Join me for my 3rd pint?”

See what I’m up against? But it worked out okay because when I arrived at my three mile loop around the rose bowl there were about a hundred or more road cyclist riding in peloton style and hundreds more walkers, runners, skaters, etc. That’s one of the nice things about that area, there’s always someone there to keep you company or keep you motivated.

I didn’t ride in the pack. I’m a little afraid of that and don’t know what the rules are anyway. Maybe someday it would be fun to follow along because they really get going fast. It’s amazing what the aerodynamics of a group of cyclists can produce. But, it was fun to see all those people out riding together, and to check out the snazzy bikes.

So, I just let myself get dropped off the back right from the start after cruising through the tangle at the start. Then I had a nice ride through the evening. I don’t usually ride loops over and over again, but I actually liked it. I might make it a once a week or so thing. My intention for the ride was just to take it easy and spin it out for a while because I was feeling a bit “run out.” It’s a strange thing, though, once I’m on the speedy bike it’s hard to hold myself back. I start racing cars, and trying to lap other bikers. At least, my humility was always checked when the peloton lapped me about every 2.5 laps.

Even though I went out a little harder than I had planned it turned out to be a good evening and maybe most significant of all was that I didn’t stop by the pub afterward. I held that carrot out in front of me for most of the ride. I told myself that I needed to complete ten laps or I couldn’t join my friends at the pub. So, I pushed myself to get to that tenth lap to earn my beers, and then I was so tired that I just decided to roll home and go to bed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I’m planning to give myself a break for a few days. Right now I have a “broken” foot and knee. The foot has been bothering me for a couple of days now. The knee is brand new today for no apparent reason except for walking in flip-flops. I think I’ve probably been pushing the running distance up a little too quickly recently. It’s been fun, though, and I’d like to keep increasing it, but for now, I need to listen to “Coach” and “Doctor” and do nothing for a few days.

It’s been interesting to notice the increase in my mileage that started right at about the time I started this blog. In part this may be due to having a little more time on my hands since graduation. But, I think it is primarily due to having readers to answer to. Not that there’s really that many of you out there, but somehow knowing that someone else is paying some attention to my schedule has created some competitive drive.

Or maybe it’s all just part of my normal ebb and flow. I tend to do a lot of that. Maybe I’m just at the tall part of that tide. Hopefully it won’t crash down too far from here. We’ll see. I’m probably overreacting, as usual. I’m sure reading all of your stories will pull me back into it pretty quickly. Actually, wait a minute, just because my running has gone a little overboard doesn’t mean I can’t bike. You see how crazy I get? A nice easy road spin might be just what I need. I’m calling Dan the Man. Maybe he’ll go for a ride tonight…

Also, for those of you who might be interested in contemporary/modern dance and live within biking distance of Berkeley, Hilary’s company, Lineage Dance will be performing:

July 8, 2007 Berkeley, CA
Dancing Through The Ages
2 p.m. Julia Morgan Center for the Arts
Benefit for the Ann Martin Center
All tickets $25
Tickets available through the Community Box Office Network
(925) 798-1300

Monday, July 2, 2007

half way

Run 49 = 7+12+9+12+9… YTD 544
Bike 18 = 3+8+7… YTD 1440
Car 15 = 3+3+9
Burrito 2 (needs work)
Drink 10 = 4+2+2+2 (better)