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Saturday, July 30, 2011

currently reading

It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels
by Robert Penn, 2010

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

what next?

Another Le Tour de France has come and gone and it was great. I definitely OT’d (over Toured). By the end I was so stoked and exhausted at the same time I didn’t know what was up – total glue stick. I’m catching up on my sleep after three weeks of early mornings getting up to watch the live coverage.

Sunday afternoon I was sitting at the pub with the crew from our newly formed “Brunch Ride” and one of them asked, “what next?” He was asking about where we should ride next weekend but I took it as something deeper. That moment felt like a transition zone of sorts.

After our morning ride and brunch we’d dropped by the Angeles Crest 100 finish. We saw some of the runners finishing they’re trek through the mountains from Wrightwood. It was sort of a strange scene. Very calm and subdued and just a few dozen people hanging around. Even the clapping for the finishers was lackluster. I appreciate the efforts those runners had put in, not just during that race but everything leading up to it, too – all the years. But I have to say it did have a little bit of a depressing feel.

One of the local runners had finished about 6 hours earlier, before we got there. I assume he’d crashed out on the lawn in the park there to catch some fast rest. Maybe he had just woken up, I don’t know but I found it a little strange that he was still there. He lives just a few miles away and if it were me I think I’d want to go home to start the recovery. I understand the desire to commune with your fellow freaks but it just sort of stood out from my perspective as a little off because there really wasn’t much community there to connect with.

Maybe this had something to do with their new finish location in Loma Alta Park instead of down in the Arroyo. It felt very much removed from the mountains. The last mile or so of the race was on the road/sidewalk and it just looked crushing for the runners.

The next day I woke up with no idea what to do. No tour to watch. Should I run, should I ride, should I do both, should I rest, should I just go to the grocery store? Finally, after much confusion, I figured a restful ride around before getting to the store seemed appropriate.

So I got on the Mule and rode by the Rose Bowl and then up into La Canada and by then I was feeling pretty well warmed up and in the groove and started thinking about the section of the ride that we’d bypassed on the Brunch Ride the day before. Angeles Crest Highway was calling me. So I started up that mountain highway. I knew I wouldn’t get far as I was on my heaviest bike with no food and it was something like 87 degrees. I got about halfway to Mount Wilson and struggled to make the right decision to turn around, but did make the right decision to turn around and finish up the four-hour grocery ride.

That road is in perfect condition right now. It’s been closed for about a year or two because of fire and landslides but they’ve just got it all rebuilt and it’s like perfect black with bright white sidelines. A mountain dream road. Not to mention the mountains themselves. Really beautiful up there. Can’t wait to go back up prepared to go further.

So I guess that’s one thing that’s next. But really I’m wondering like when does this stop, where is the end game, what am I (and so many others) shooting for. I’m sort of on the verge, nibbling on this running and riding thing and I’ve felt for a long time that I was on the sane/balanced side of it. So I could continue along like this and that would be fine or I could slow down or I could speed up.

I think I’d like to go see what’s around that next bend, the next plateau. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because the foundation has been built and I probably can.

But then I come across a quote in my running calendar that says, “Do not believe that it is very much of an advance to do the unnecessary three times as fast,” Peter Drucker. How that ended up as a motivational quote in a running calendar I’ll never know but I do think there’s a very important point/lesson there. And maybe it points to balance – “clean balance” could be a good mantra. You can run a million miles and where will it get you? You’ll have run a long way. And that’s great but don’t try to make it more than it is. If that’s your thing, great. Try not to let it take over your life, though. Because it’s also okay if you don’t run/ride a million miles. And anyway the important thing isn’t the miles but the experience. The “mountains and rivers without end…”

So… what next?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

where the streets are paved with leather

One of the items I see abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded out on the roads are those leather and canvas work gloves. Over the course of the last several years I must have seen hundreds of pairs. They generally look to be in pretty good condition, too. These gloves are pretty cheap to buy. Probably between $1 and $5 depending on the store and or sale that is going on. They’re good gloves. I’ve got a pair myself. I’ve had mine for probably three or four years and I’ve actually put them to some pretty good use.

It’s amazing that they’re so cheap given their durability and the seeming intricacy of their stitching. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t be able to sew together a pair in an entire day’s work. It makes me wonder if there is some sort of government subsidy program for work gloves. That would make a lot of sense to me, although I really doubt it’s the case. At any rate, even though they’re cheap, I’m surprised that people let them fly out of the back of their trucks so frequently – I suppose that’s what often happens. It must be a hassle to have to replace them all the time.

They do, however, make the streets nice and soft for running on. There’s a huge difference in cushioning when your feet land on a glove versus pavement. It’s really quite nice. So if we could just bump up those subsidies a little higher and let the gloves fall where they may (is that a phrase, no, I guess it’s more like “where the gloves come off” or something) then we could all run in the streets barefoot and never have to experience a hard landing or sharp piece of glass. Plus if you ever needed a pair of work gloves you could easily find them right there in the street, use them, then return them when you’re done. A fine system, I think.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I t’ought I taw a platyputh

I’m used to seeing snakes out on the trails. They almost always turn into sticks by the time I get up to them. But today I saw a platypus! And I was like OMFG, a platypus! I’ve never seen one of those down here in the arroyo before. Don’t they live like up in Alaska or something or like in a swamp or where do they live? It tried to be hiding behind a bush but oh no I saw you there. By the time I’d reached its location it had stealthily shape-shifted into a big stick with a flat end but I was wise to its shenanigans. This is what happens to your brain when you’ve been running to many miles down in the arroyo. You’ve pretty much memorized every single turn and bush and rock until you start creating new realities.

Monday, July 11, 2011

maiden voyage, NB 759

After much deliberation, I finally picked up a new pair of running shoes. Still planning to take the old ones to 1000 or more but thought it best to get started on breaking in a new pair for the future. Not that running shoes really need much or any break-in – they don’t. I guess it’s more the foot that needs to adapt to the form of the new shoe.

I’ve been looking at shoes online for a while. Mostly at Zombie Runner. But you can only learn so much about looking at shoes on a computer screen. Even though I’ve had a lot of luck in the past when buying online there is something just a lot more real about going to the store and getting those shoes in your hands. Well, on your feet, but hands seem to be important, too.

Plus, I figure why not check in with the local running community of customers and employees at Run With Us on Lake. Support local business.

I’m also trying to support my local countrymen by buying shoes (and other stuff) made here in the USA. This seems like a good thing. I hope it doesn’t sound odd to you. Sometimes I feel like a little more national pride could be a good thing for us, Americans.

So the choice was New Balance, 759 road shoe. Many of my miles are on dirt these days but I don’t find it helpful to have trail shoes – road shoes seem simpler. Less is more, to a point. Of course, there are sometimes advantages to trail shoes, but mostly in more steep trail like conditions compared to the flat arroyo that I frequent. And, yes, some road shoes can be over built, too. Many probably are. These, seem pretty mild, though. Hoping so, anyway.

Amazingly, I found these on the clearance table even though they’re the current model and just what I was looking for anyway and exactly my size. I took this as a sign from god to get them on my feet right away.

I took them out for their first run this morning. Just an easy road hills run with Hil. They felt good. I’ll have to be careful to maintain my foot form in these for a while though because they’re more forgiving than my current/old shoes. So I could fall into bad habits again. I think this is why so many runners have foot and leg injuries. The new squishy shoes allow them to run incorrectly for long periods of time without the runner noticing. Then after putting a few hundred miles on the shoes they get a little stiffer and less spongy and the foot starts to absorb the road/surface energy more intensely through improper form, foot fall.

Good luck, shoes. Long may you run…

Saturday, July 9, 2011

quiet arroyo repetition (and) how blogging motivates

I went out for an arroyo run on Friday evening. It was cooling down from about an 85 degree day. It dropped down to about 75 by the end of the run. Still pretty warm but felt nice in the shady sections. I hadn’t been out there in the evening for a while. The arroyo smells different in the evening after a hot day. More pungent after a days worth of algae? growth – whatever that slimy green stuff in the still water is. But it was nice. Very few people out. Everyone was already at happy hour I guess. Very quiet.

The run itself was a bit of a slog though. I felt pretty wrecked afterward. Every joint in my body ached. I’m not sure why that would be, except that it was the end of a hot week and the end of a hot day and I’m just coming of a quick recovery period so I hadn’t gone on a long run in two weeks.

When I woke up this morning I was just planning to take it easy, maybe do an easy three. But I got a little motivation from Catra (thank you, maybe Mt.D in 2012) so I thought I’d do an arroyo repeat.

I felt a lot better running this morning. A lot of other runners out to share the experience with. All my aches had worked themselves out overnight. And I ended up running about 10 minutes faster than the night before. About three hours of total running for 20 miles in 17hours. This is the kind of repetition that I believe to be quite good for endurance. Not a bad happy hour after all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

twice a year helmet adjustment

It’s amazing that it takes me this long into the year to finally abandon my wool cap from the regular reserve gear on the bike. It’s been off the bike for only a few weeks now. In my defense, sometimes, even when it’s 90 degrees in the day, it gets a little chilly at night and it’s nice, if unnecessary, to have a little coziness.

But in order to wear the cozy cap you’ve got to adjust the helmet to a slightly larger size. Last night I was bombing down the hill late in the evening wearing a t-shirt and shorts and sandals: therefore it is summer. My helmet was lifting off with the wind of the descent so I stopped to tighten up the headband at the next stoplight. Underway again, it felt good to have a well-fitted helmet.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

currently reading

Norman Clyde: Legendary Mountaineer of California’s Sierra Nevada
by Robert C. Pavlik, 2008

Pathway in the Sky: The Story of the John Muir Trail
by Hal Roth, 1965

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Sleep ‘til Paris

It’s 5am. Do you know where the Yellow Jersey is?