Friday, November 30, 2007

Santa’s Ride

I rode over to borrow Santa’s Xtracycle at lunch today for CICLE’s Toys & Mittens Ride . It was a little rainy today, so I checked the weather online figuring maybe they’d have better news for me than what was right outside my window. When I looked at the radar image I saw an opening in the clouds that I figured would hold for about an hour at right around noon. So I put on my rain gear and headed out. About 5 minutes into my ride it started drizzling. At ten minutes in, it started raining a little harder. And then by the time I was half way to my destination (the north pole) it was pure good old rain. So much for that break in the clouds.

I enjoyed my ride in the rain, though. Before it started raining I kept worrying about the rain. But once I was out there riding all that stopped - no need to wonder about the rain that’s already falling on your head. I think I was even smiling a little as I rode the sleigh along singing, “raindrops keep falling on my head…”

And besides, afternoon coffee and chocolate tastes much better when your toes are a little cold.

Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll return the sleigh before it turns into a pumpkin… I mean, before Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I finally reeled it in this morning. 1000 running miles in 2007. Yea! And we’ve still got December…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

degrees of sameness

Last week I went for a run in Montana when the temperature was about 25 degrees. Today I went for a run in California when the temperature was about 65 degrees. Both days were mostly sunny with no wind. By the end of each of these runs I felt equally warm. Of course, I was a little cold at the beginning of the Montana run and I was dressed a little more for cold, but still I felt warm after about 15 minutes of running - just about the same amount of time that it takes me to start sweating on a “normal” day like today or even a hotter day. I’m a bit surprised by this 15-minute sameness over variable temperatures…

(Of course, 25 degrees with sun and no wind isn’t that extreme, and there are variable limits to what we consider comfortable – rain and 50 degrees is probably much worse – especially with wind – hence, “the coldest winter I ever spent was the summer in San Francisco”)

Monday, November 26, 2007

car wins this round

Hilary and I did a lot of traveling this past week – “planes, trains, and automobiles.” Well, not trains, unless you count that little shuttle between terminals at the Las Vegas airport. Yes, we went to Vegas for Thanksgiving. Pretty awesome idea, eh? Actually, we just went through Vegas – parked the car there and flew the rest of the way up to that cozy little town in the north, Missoula, to visit friends and family for the giant feast.

Of course, I drank a lot, too. As you can see below, the quantity of beer rose slightly higher as the week progressed. Not all that bad though for a holiday week.

Perhaps the most significant news related to this blog is the introduction of cross-country skiing. Our hosts managed to scrounge up just enough extra equipment so that we could all head up into the Rattlesnake for a few miles of winter wilderness. I’d never cross-country skied before so I was a little awkward at first, but I eventually found a little bit of smooth stride. It seemed to fit the running stride more closely that the walking stride.

I’m really glad to be off the highway now and can’t wait to ride my bike. Also, I’ve got a great chance to go over 1000 running miles this week. Maybe 7 today and 8 Wednesday and that’ll do it.

Run 7 = 3+4
Bike 21 = 3+18
Burrito 3
Beer 19 = 2+3+4+5+5
Car 596 = 531+20+15+15+15
XC a few miles

Monday, November 19, 2007

easy weekend life

Had a nice weekend of riding - a road ride, a mountain ride, and a few townie rides.

As usual, the road ride was spent in conversation about dream bikes and crazy people (a psychological term), as well as creating a comprehensive list of excuses for not bike commuting (three words Dan: six flat miles.)

The mountain ride started out on a super foggy morning. Visibility was about 100 meters. Then it cleared into a perfect riding day. Jim and I took the lower creek trail in the canyon below Brown Mtn. A few stream crossings, and a nice mix of cyclists, runners, and walkers.

The townie rides took me by the library to return some John Muir books (can’t get enough of him lately), a few other odds and ends, and then lunch/beer/newspaper at the end of the bar. Ahhh…

And one short run.

Last Week:
Run: 28 = 7+18+3
Bike: 65 = 3+4+(21+7)+(21+9)
Burrito: 3
Beer: 12 = 2+1+6+3
Car: 16

Friday, November 16, 2007

not available in stores

The Ultra-Light Brown Mountain Reconnaissance Pack (with how-to photo guide). Provides hands-free carrying capacity for up to two water bottles and mini gels/snacks.

Start with empty potato bag.

Trim and apply liberal amounts of “duck” tape for structural support.

Make holes with pencil.

Attach parachute cord with adjustable knots (thanks BSA).

Now get out there.

Or, better yet

Thursday, November 15, 2007

with pockets

I finally got to the laundry so I could wear shorts with pockets today. I didn’t have anything great to put in the pockets but I managed to scrounge some white chocolate covered dried cranberries/raisins and honey roasted peanuts from Southwest Airlines. I headed up the Arroyo Seco again and made it a little further than last week (9 - one way) – to the next drinking fountain just below El Prieto trail (actually, it’s more like a horse trough). For a significant portion of this route I could see Brown Mtn above me in the distance. She’s a good motivator – maybe to good.

The snacks seemed to make a big difference in my energy. I was still pretty tired from about 14 miles on, though. I think next time I’ll try three snacks, maybe four.

It was quite warm today – about 80. I don’t think I’m getting enough water from the drinking fountains on these longer runs. It’s hard to know how much I’m getting. I think I’ll have to bring some water/energy drink with me next time. I just hate to carry so much stuff along. Maybe I can just carry an empty bottle and fill it up at the fountains so I get a good measurement.

Assuming there’ll be a next time… While on the run I felt pretty good, but the aftermath was a different story: chills and nausea for hours. I’m guessing this was related to dehydration – my nemesis (fist shaking in the air).

Now that I’ve recovered, though, I’m pretty happy with the run. It was a good learning experience and the farthest I’ve ever run without periods of walking. I think I’ll take it easy for a little while now. Maybe a 3-miler this weekend.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

the hour mark

Went out on a bridge run this morning. For some reason I was faster than usual. I used to time myself on this seven-mile run with the stopwatch function on my wristwatch. I would stop the timer at stoplights or other delays – the train crossing, giving people directions (why do people stop runners to ask for directions?), etc. Then the battery died in my watch. This was probably over a year ago. And since I haven’t bothered to replace the battery I haven’t known my exact times throughout that period. Sometimes I look at the clock before I head out to get an idea of my pace, and sometimes I don’t. I think I’ve been running a lot slower lately because I haven’t been on the timer.

Today, I was considering a longer run, but didn’t want to let myself leave the house without proper fuel to sustain me through that extra time and distance. And, the clean clothes I had, didn’t have pockets so I just left home without any food/gel/sugar and decided to keep it short. So, anyway, maybe the part of me that wanted to go for a long run stepped up so that I could at least push myself a little harder on a short run.

What I’m trying to say here is that I did the bridge run in under an hour this morning (running time, not running time like jogging time, running time like the clock didn’t stop, I looked at the clock before and after, now I’m just making things more confusing, I think they know what running time is). And, although I haven’t really been keeping close track of timing lately, I think that’s about the best time I’ve had for that run all year. I guess this points to a long year of running, but could also be related to taking my vitamins again after several months off, or my greater attention to form and the mechanics of the running stride, or the past two days of rest, or… I don’t know, maybe a good run is a good run – no need to examine it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

walking with John Muir

I don’t do much walking. It’s so slow as a mode of transportation. I’d generally prefer to run or bike somewhere. But, I’m reading a book by John Muir about his 1867 walk to Florida from Indiana. On this journey he brought almost nothing with him. He pretty much just walked out of his door one day with only the slightest plan of a route. He just wanted to see the plants in Florida. And why not see all the plants along the way, too.

He had no tent, sleeping bag, gps, gore-tex, energy bars… He did have: “a comb, brush, towel, soap, a change of underclothing, a copy of Burns’s poems, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and a small New Testament.” He also occasionally mentions having a piece of bread in his pocket, which seems to sustain him until the next piece can be found along the way.

He stops at homes along the way and asks for a place to sleep and/or some food. Surprisingly, this seems to work for him a lot of the time. Would that work today? When he doesn’t find accommodation in a home he just lays down and sleeps in his clothes somewhere just off his path.

I suppose we could call him the grandfather of the minimalist approach to travel and life. This was only the first of many such adventures he would undertake over the next 40 years of his life.

As we all know, Muir went on to become a major influence in the preservation of natural spaces and the environmental movement. Interesting to see how it all started, though. Just a young man recently out of college who decided to do a bit of wandering away from the mainstream path of society…

Anyway, Muir got me out on a walk last night. Thank you.

Last Week:
Run: 30 = 16+7+7
Bike: 103 = (9+3)+15+(27+6)+(21+9+7)+6
Burrito: 2
Beer: 11 = 2+1+2+4+2
Car: 0

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

foggy forest ride

Foggy view from Brown Mtn

My favorite oak tree (Coast Live Oak - Quercus agrifolia)

Ken Burton Trail

Ferns (maybe Polypodium)

Beautiful White Sage (Salvia apiana)

open for winter

The forest is finally open again. And, just in time, too. I was about to lose my mind and nearly resorted to riding cyclocross this weekend. Can’t wait to get up there. Hopefully today and tomorrow.

Mindful Mule got a flat tire last night, but I can’t find the hole in the tube so I’m wondering if maybe the valve wasn’t closed securely. Does that even make any difference?

I nearly froze to death on yesterday’s noon o’clock run - heavy marine layer and 59 degrees! I’m gonna have to start wearing gloves soon.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

haunted legs

I went out on a good long run today up through the Arroyo Seco to the (closed) forest. I didn’t have a conscious plan to go that far so I neglected to bring along any extra Halloween treats to sustain me. The (closed) forest is about eight miles away or so. I’m kind of a slow poke these days, so this took me quite a while, and when I finally got back I was pretty much wrecked. I’ve got to get better about planning nutrition on longer runs. At least there are three drinking fountains along that route for water.

Lately, after longer runs I’ve been having the haunted leg syndrome. It’s really cool. About an hour after the run my calves start undulating. It’s a very slight wave-like movement that continues for a few hours. It looks like dozens of tiny little aliens are running around inside my legs. Maybe it’s leftover nerve impulses firing through the muscles or repair going on. Whatever it is, it’s totally awesome to watch. I wish I could describe it better, or could get it on video. Hopefully it’s not something that’s going to be made into an episode of House.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

vote today

Vote everyday.

Also. Because ignorance isn’t bliss, and all you have to do is scroll all the way down.

Monday, November 5, 2007

new territory

Yesterday I surpassed my previous annual running mileage record. This feels pretty good. I guess it makes sense, was inevitable, since I’ve been running a lot. Funny, though, that this new mark was finally reached on what was probably my shortest run of the year (and one of the shortest weeks) – a two-mile run with Hilary to get some breakfast – wearing just normal clothes. I followed that up with another seven-mile bridge run later in the day by myself. It’s nice to realize that for the next two months I’ll be pushing into new territory in my running life. Each step will carry me further toward a new standard by which future years will be compared. Maybe this will be the most I ever run in a year in all my life or maybe next year I’ll go further. I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. Right now I’m just happy to be running… to be a runner.

Last Week:
Run: 16 = 7+(2+7)… ytd 920
Bike: 60 = (12+6)+4+(26+12)… ytd 2577
Beer: 13 = 2+1+5+2+3… ytd 480
Burrito: 2… ytd 102
Car: 3 (for more pizza)… ytd 1519

Friday, November 2, 2007


I guess Jody didn’t agree with my plea to reopen the forest for the sake of our souls (Or maybe she’s not a blogger). Looks like at least one more weekend on the road.

Speaking of the road, I forgot to tell you all about my first real fixed gear ride the other day. I went out for about an hour and rode around the Rose Bowl. Even though I had watched a bunch of youtube videos of people locking up their rear tires to come to a skidding stop, I still can’t pull off that maneuver. I tried and tried in the empty parking lot, but nothing yet.

Proper bike fit seems to be even more important on a fixie. My seat was set a little too far back. I think that contributed to some knee soreness the following day - that and trying to reverse my pedaling direction against the momentum of the forward moving bike.

While I’m already addicted to how fixies look and my legs keep dreaming about how they feel (sorry, I don’t know how to link to feelings), I still don’t quite believe they’re the solution to all our transportation needs. If I could only have one bike it wouldn’t be a fixie. Maybe my thoughts on that will shift (shift… that’s almost funny) over time – we’ll see. Either way, I’m glad to get that old bike out on the road again.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

worst turnout ever

4 trick-or-treaters. 2 groups of 2. Last year we had ten times that many. At least they each grabbed the biggest handfuls of candy they could. What am I supposed to do with all this leftover candy? Maybe I’ll just call them energy bars. What’s the difference, anyway?