Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year End Reflection - 2010

Many times during the course of the year I am reminded of how lucky I am.  This year is no exception.  I have met and interacted with others in ways that I could never have imagined.  I started 2010 with a lot of stress and a lot of melancholy.  I end it in a similar fashion, but it’s different this time.  Last year I could not comprehend why I felt the way I did, this year I feel sad but I know why.  Aside from all of the things that I am going through I have a lot to be thankful for.  I can of course go on a listing spree but the fact is family and friends are the key.  Everything that I have learned I have learned through them and with them.

Never in a million years did I think I would like running.  After knee surgery the running days were behind me.  I have been blessed with a chance to rediscover this thing I dreaded.  I was able to embrace it even if my brain told me I hated it, my heart told me otherwise.  I started running because I was escaping something, and now running I have discovered that I no longer need to run.

I am really focusing on rediscovery this year.  I dismissed a lot of things in my past.  These events affected or influenced me more than I understood when they happened; now I feel I can start taking them into account.  I never stood back and looked for how events changed me, I was too busy finding a solution or resolving the problem.  This attitude has taken its toll on me hence the main reason why I greet this New Year on a sad note.

I plan to fight back.  I plan to really take a look at my experience and make sense of it.  I want to really delve into what makes me who I am.  I do not want to start the decade the same way that I did the last one.  In 2000, I had dreams and aspirations but no means or plan to get there.  2011 I am going to rediscover those dreams and aspirations and use what I have learned to make a plan and handle business.  It is not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile is.

I pray that anyone who reads this takes a moment to be thankful.  But more than that takes a moment to rediscover what they want.  When we look within ourselves we find not only how truly lucky we are, but also that there are a lot of things in there we never took time to appreciate.  Discovery is defined as finding out information that was not previously known.  When we re-discover ourselves we find many of the answers we seek had been there all along had we just taken the time to look.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

After Finals Reflection - Houdini

Last night was the scene of the last final I shall take in 2010. I finished early and drove home in the rain. It felt like escape from the world of books and academia into the wild, it was nice. Since last night the euphoria has settled and I have had the chance to reflect. Do I think I did as well as I could have? No. Did I do the best that I could? Yes. You can always do better, but for me I have to settle on doing the best that I can for me. I work and drive the California freeways like a maniac; over 22k in approx 9 months is testament. But the miles and time does not bother me or feel as burdensome anymore. I feel that all those moments are endurance training and practice for the business of life. There are things we will simply love and others we will have to slosh through.

There is a story about Harry Houdini that reminds me of the work it takes to get anything worthwhile done. As we all know his name is synonymous with Magic and escape, but it should be another word for endurance. A blood vessel in his kidney burst because he was too tightly sealed into a canvas bag. He called his doctor after he had been urinating blood. Doctor said that he would be dead in a year if he did not take some months off from his lifestyle. He took two weeks off and sent the doctor photos and news clippings of his achievements for the next 15 years.

It takes a lot out of you to achieve what you want. I am not going to attempt to burst any blood vessels or jump into frozen rivers. School is something I want, but it feels like a missionary trip to the Congo every time I get there after a long day at work. Yet when I leave I feel like a better person and like I have done something worthwhile, Houdiniesque, minus urinating blood part. I know that finals went the best way that they could and that I will continue to do my best. The trick is to teach oneself to push a little harder. That’s the point that I am in. I feel that things are clicking and stuff is starting to fire on all cylinders. Hopefully this winter break will let me tick up the trail miles and motivate me to build my academic endurance up in order to get where I need to at school.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Final Exams - Last Weeks Running Wrap up - Daydreaming (cast away)

I had my first final exam last night. It was brutal. I feel like I was racing against the clock for a lot of it and it was stressful. It was an open book tests and the books were massive paperweights. There was just so much to cover that opening up a book was a waste of time. I was sort of angry I used the restroom after I completed the first section. We had three hours total for multiple choice and two essays and I did not realize how slow I was on the first part. I am not blaming a few minutes but it just was a shock when I got back to my desk and the more heavily weighted essay had me scrambling. Anyhow, one down two to go.

Last week it really helped to have a few longer runs. I was not really looking for a higher mileage week, but it just sort of happened. Often times I reflect on what actually goes through my mind when I run. I honestly have no idea. But at certain times, before the endorphins kick in, there is a place of peace that shuts out all internal noise. I am not sure what actually happens but I do not feel like another person pounding out the miles. At this moment any and all thoughts from my mind are pushed out and refocused on the task of moving and breathing. I relish the moments where I can be “thoughtless” and not feel bad about it. School and everyday life have been stressful and getting out on the road feels like therapy, the trails feel like vacation. There have been many mental distractions recently that have caused me to lose rest and really make me feel like I am not myself.

I daydream of what it would be like to just fall off the planet a’la Cast Away. I envy the self discovery but could live without the deserted island and the lack of modernity. But the reality is that falling off the planet is just an excuse not to get it done. Considering it more closely its the opposite of what I do when I run. When I run externally I feel like there is no need to run internally, so falling of the planet will have to remain a daydream.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nike Free 3.0v2 Review

Shoe: Nike Free 3.0

The Nike 3.0v2 is an attempt at a more barefoot running experience.  I think that they do a great job promoting forefoot landing.  The shoe and it definitely is one of those “gateway” shoes get you thinking barefoot or at the very least a minimalist shoe.  Any runner who thinks, after reading “Born To Run”, that they can just go out and crank out a few miles barefoot, don’t.  The Nike Free 3.0v2 would be the shoe that can help you transition from a traditional trainer to a more minimalist shoe.  Please do not go out and buy Vibram KSO’s and attack the trails (confession?).  I did, and my calves hated me for a while, we had a rough break-up and we are barely now reconciling our differences.  On to the review.

Initial Thoughts:
The free was the first minimalist shoe I could wear in public.  I read a lot of articles regarding different shoes and the after my Vibram KSO debacle I discovered two things: (1) I am not a Tarahumara (shocking) (2) I need to transition intelligently to forefoot and minimalist shoes.  The shoe itself is a soft mesh top and very flexible sole.  The sole at first glance looks too spongy but it does hold up.  It is a series of squares.  The toe box is a little wide for me because I have narrow feet. 

Shoe Stats:
Weight: 7.1 oz
Drop: 4mm

The shoe itself is a wonderful tool to transition to a more mid-foot to forefoot strike.  However, in my longer runs in this shoe ~10 mi I found that the mesh seemed loose (no idea why just felt that way).  Also, running on roads, gravel will get between the square sole pattern and you’ll feel it.  When that occurs you will hear a “click” sound with one shoe and not the other; that kind of bugs me.  Another con is that the shoe did not perform as well running on wet pavement.  This maybe user error, over striding, but I figure a good fyi is in order.  On wet pavement it would slide a smidge, not a lot, but if I was faster it could be bad.

The shoe is well made, and it looks good.  I know that big companies like Nike have a bad reputation, but their shoes look good, let’s not lie people.  The sole is flexible, it’s pretty intense.  Having the toe touch the heel is quite easy to do.  The shoe is also responsive and will strengthen your feet.  Now would I suggest this as your all time running shoe?  Sure, if you are ok with your feet hurting while you adjust.  But be careful.  I changed the laces for lock laces, yankz work well too.  I really like how light it feels when I am wearing it.  It is light and responsive but I still feel I am not foregoing the entire cushion from a traditional shoe.  I like it and will continue to run in the shoe and in all likely hood buy the same version as long as they make it.  It’s a great transitional shoe that can take a lot of miles, it breaths well.  I really like it for shorter runs where I am really focusing on feeling how my foot hits the ground. 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

 -Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Coaching - 11 hr 50 Mile Ultra Plans

I am of the firm belief that the individual should be self motivated and passionate about what they want to do. If you want something work hard and get it done. I have written a lot about the need to find that inner voice that drives you to greatness. Recently, I have blogged quotes that have impacted me and many of them are in regards to being self-reliant and the need for being one. However, something I have not written about as much is humility.

It takes commitment and courage to go after what you want whether it is a physical or mental barrier. It is not easy to leave your comfort zone and seek something greater than what you know. It is very easy to sit and be complacent with what life throws at us. Is that a way to live? Should we just settle with the handouts life gives or should we seek out and jump at opportunities? I clearly believe in the later.

In many of these endeavors we need the help of others. Now let me clarify what I mean by help. When I say help I am not asking for handouts, easy street, or a cake walk. I also do not mean help as in piggy-backing. Let me explain. There are a lot of times when people will ask you for “help” but in reality it is simply a request to piggy-back on some knowledge you have so that they may avoid the work and effort to learn. I will not even get started on those who go into a challenge thinking they are going to fail, that’s a tough spot to be in and it is not good (we have all been there but you need to rally out).

Why do I bring this up? I need help. I want to complete an official 50 mile run in less than 11 hours in order to enter the lottery for the Western States 100 in 2012. My schedule does not give me a lot of time and I am the first to admit I do not know everything especially when it comes to training for an ultra. However, I do know two things: 1. Humility is the best way to learn and 2. Iron sharpens iron. I was fortunate to discover I listen to a few podcasts varying from tri athletes to geeks in running shoes that have interviewed Coach Jeff and the information he provides makes sense and is very insightful. PRS is really committed to helping athletes become the best that they can be. I am really glad that Coach Jeff is going to be helping me prepare for the challenge I have set for myself. I have to be humble, because even though I do not understand a lot of the methods he uses, heart rate training, I have to admit he knows his stuff and has a wealth of information that I simply do not possess. Also, iron sharpens iron, if you want to get achieve great things you have to be around those who have and know what it takes to get there. I will obviously be writing more about it in the future.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

XTERRA Topanga Turkey Trot - Race Report

The first two miles of the 10k were not the most enjoyable.  It felt like running up a wall to be quite honest.  I had run this section of the run a few days earlier so I made sure to conserve as much energy and high spirits as I could.  During this section I continuously changed positions with another runner.  Any downhill section I would catch and move ahead of her, any uphill she would do the same to me.  It was a cat and mouse game that kept my mind busy so the cold and elevation didn’t bring me down. 

I had some sharkey’s before the race because I had not had any breakfast.  But, I was conscious of carrying my own water, which is something I did not do in the last 10k.  I am a sipper, I cannot take water all at once at the stations, I need a little at a time on the run…I learned that last race and it helped me tremendously this race.  The only time I stopped at a water station was to have a volunteer dump two cups in my bottle and I kept on going.  At the turn around point, I knew that it was all downhill and I did not see the group I was running with until the finish line.  The trail went from fire roads to single-track at about the 4.2 mile mark.  This single track maze was very fun to run and you quickly forgot you were participating with other people, no joke there was tiny stretch there where the only sound I heard were my New Balance MT101 pounding at the dirt. 

I was enjoying it very much.  On the single track I caught and passed two people, but then a group of 5 I simply could not go around; there was no space.  I stayed with that group until the end.  I thought of rushing past them, but it is thanksgiving and that’s not what it’s about.  I am definitely going to go back and run that trail either for next year’s turkey trot or just by myself when I have a chance.  I enjoyed it that much that I would definitely sit in traffic for it.

Finishing info: 
Place: 124 
Age Group: 14  
Time: 1:15:46  
Avg Pace: 12:14

Click here for Garmin GPS Route


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

LA Times Pope Commentary - perspective - Rocks in the River

In the LA Times Commentary section there was an article written about the Papal See’s comments on condom use.  The article was about the media circus surrounding a misunderstanding and rapid re-interpretation of Church doctrine.  I am not going to go into it, but the facts are; Pope used the word “condom”, no one read the rest of what he said, media claimed a ‘policy’ change regarding contraception, now after reading for more than a split second it is clear ‘policy’ is the same, but there was an acknowledgement that in some cases even a harm can be the “first step in the direction of a moralization, a first act of responsibility in developing anew an awareness of the fact that not everything is permissible.”

From the article I liked the author’s father’s quote: “we need more rocks in the river.”  This is not a theological discussion blog, but what can we take from this media spat?  Answer: Perspective.  The Pope, just like everyone else, knows evil to good in a heartbeat in unlikely if not impossible.  We all move through shades of grey until we get it right.  In some cases the lesser of two evils can be seen as a step in the right direction instead of condemning it as straight evil.  Regardless of what side you fall on the issue, doesn’t matter; if you are self aware you are a rock in the river.  When self aware you can adjust your perspective from what seems bad, to something that is bad but a step towards good.  You do not get swept away with each fad but are not completely adverse to change either.  The river rock sits at the bottom and allows water flow and it becomes comfortable, stable, yet malleable and accommodating.

Fitness and life in general separate river rocks from river sediment.  The sediment is at the mercy of the water and simply seeks a place to rest momentarily before the next current drags it near its end, the sea.  What does the sea hold, hell I don’t know, but I can affirm sediment does not stand a chance.  The rocks however, stay and do what works for them with full knowledge that although there are other paths out there, they choose their own, they remain, acknowledging the changes and adjust but remain true to their core.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Topanga Trail Run

Yesterday I had a chance to preview a portion Topanga Canyon 10k.  I ran up to Eagle Rock, it’s a huge rock in the middle of a state park.  I really beat myself up over not having a camera available because the views of the Pacific Ocean were amazing from that vantage point.  I wore a cotton shirt (I know rookie move) and a windbreaker.  The windbreaker was a blessing because towards the end of the uphill section there were some areas where a “motivated” breeze made progress slow.  The way back down was great, technical near the rock, but fire roads besides that which made weaving a whole lot easier.  Overall I ran for almost an hour, and not very far but I was please with my calves.  The elevation change was 950 feet approximately and I felt good about it.  I think that a few more test runs on this trail and I could definitely be ready for the American River 50.  Not that it’s the same, but just the desolate feeling is something I have not gotten used to in my running and I know that’s going to be a big part of it. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Orison Swett Marden Quote

"The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone."

-Orison Swett Marden

I read this quote and it struck me to the core.  I believe in its simple words it reflects many truths about the human condition.  As a group we place value on many things but above all there are the two extremes for interpreting reality.  XYZ is lucky and that’s why “fill in the blank”, or XYZ is suffering and going through this whole thing for others or helped by others.  Extreme altruism or extreme selfishness dismissed as either giving or being given.  But what about taking?  Taking ownership for what we want and accepting the consequences of those decisions.  I think that those moments of clarity are few and far between for many of us.  Everything that exists is here for a reason; acceptance of conditions and drive to make decisions is what distinguishes those who go for it and those who linger.

For me, now, this golden opportunity has been accepting myself as I am and deciding to make a positive change. I am pretty stubborn and it has taken me a long time to really figure it out. I have not finished learning; but an undeniable fact is that physical health and mental health are linked. I feel more energized and in a better spirit when I am active, whatever that maybe, ago, it was not very much, ahora, it has been kicked up a notch. I pray I can make more such links in the future and acknowledge that although luck and the help of others is essential, the primal forces start from within each individual.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend Recap

The weekend was mixed emotionally. Usually am very excited for my long runs on Saturday. These help me know where my long distance fitness is and mentally give me an edge for the week because you can always think and say “I can do it, done it before.” However, these last two weeks I have felt the fire dwindle in me. Not sure why, but I have just not been the same. I feel like a lump of dying coal, just enough to stay warm but not enough to get a fire going. In an effort to revitalize my spirits I went to the driving range. I used my Tour Striker Training Aid (pro version) and it really helped. I warmed up with the club and then I hit some of the crispest iron shots without too much effort. I felt very smooth, like smooth operator status without being sleazy. Anyway, I am getting excited to play a round. I should have played more often in the summer when it was warm, but the financial statements weren’t allowing it, i.e. broke with re: to golf. I know a lot of people mention doing other things besides running, and golf has been my go to because it forces me to take a step back and focus or else the worm burners and non-intentional curve and knuckle balls with fly off the face of the club. Besides that the weekend was pretty calm.
I did a trail run on Sunday, it was pretty slow because I stayed out until 2 am the night before. Probably not a brilliant idea, but nevertheless I ran the next day. I am going to explore the trails some more come December. Also, I have to fight the cold. I hate waking up in the morning but I am going to have too. I need to stay up in Los Angeles to study for finals but I still need to fit in a run. So I will be trying to form a running habit a la 4 am. We’ll see how that goes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Range Session - Quick Vaquero Loop

Been a while since I jotted notes about my swing; but here it is.  My consistency and feel is a lot better when I “feel” a shorter and slower backswing.  I say feel because I sense a connectedness, but to the observer it may look the same as my normal swing would.  I generally fo full on all shots except three quarters on wedges (I carry three: PW, 52-gap, and 60-Lob).  Last time I thought was compact, my friends at the range said I had a John Daly backswing from the early 90s.  The images I think about are how I want to look when I finish and that the shaft is made of glass.  This helps me go slow at the backswing and come down hard at the ball on the downswing and making sure I swing through and end balanced.   I recently purchased a Tour Striker (pro); i.e. the aid McCord pushes on the golf Channel with a ridiculously little face that forces you to hit down at irons or risk a worm burner and giggles at the range.  I used it off mats and it was tight, but I definitely worth it.  My irons that session flew off the faces and I was getting a lot of draw.  Yesterday’s session, no draw, and lots high fades.  I was about 5-15 yards off target.  But when I was compact I was smoking the driver, like a dubbie.  I was on the upswing so it was too high, but a good session overall.  It was a great day to hit a few.

Last night I ran one of my regulars, the Vaquero Loop.  Is it weird that I have named them?  Before I used to just run around but there are four or five regular routes and I have apparently baptized them.  Last night’s Loop, usually 3.72 miles felt good, I pushed it to 4.01 just to get the full 4.  I ran and it seemed effortless, and I was right at my marathon pace (approx 9 min mile).  Exciting, but at the same time I am hoping for a decent first marathon in Los Angeles and a 3 or 4 mile good run may not be enough.  I know most people say that if you survive the training you are already far ahead of the game, but I am just scared of winter.  The night running is usually ok, because I am out at a time when normal people are asleep.  But now that the days are shorter I am worried about it because drivers are not as aware in the dark.  I am taking precautions like running in loud colors and a headlamp.  I am also going to start doing some track work.  My form seems to breakdown quickly on runs and that is depressing.  I am probably going to research that soon.  Congratulations to the entire peloton of NY marathon finishers.  I am jealous in a good way.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Update - Weekly Reflection

This week has been lackluster in regards to running. I had a few setbacks that did not allow me to log the miles I wanted. I did participate in the Homeboy 5k last Saturday, but aside from that nothing significant. I may crank out a trail run today or tomorrow to try and close the week off strong.

Over the last two weeks I have been vey reflective about where I am and where I am going. I have been fortunate to be able to bounce ideas of intelligent people who gave me guidance, but no advice. One thing that has been turning in my head is age. I am 27 years old. This maybe a clichĂ© or a stereotype; but being Hispanic and Catholic I should be married and possibly a grandfather by now, just kidding about the later. I know I do not want to be a family man at this point, at least not anymore, but in many ways I do think I am behind the curve. I am not a going out and drinking type person anymore, I have outgrown that phase of my life. Nor am I a go out to clubs type person (though I will go on occasion), they rather frustrate me and paying $15 for a poorly made drink to have a toddler level conversation seems like a bad investment. I am however a push until failure, find your end, rally to the finish type person. In many ways it’s a good thing, because you push hard for what you want, but on the negative side is the cost. What do I give up when I push that hard? What costs are incurred by others because of my drive?

In years passed I put myself second. My opinion was always passive and I was not very communicative; i.e. until I would boil over. It’s true. Recently, I am more open (not completely but working on it) about what I think regardless of how it may be interpreted and I am happier. I feel a sense of self I recall from high school. As I have mentioned before I journal a lot, currently I am a moleskine nerd. However, in HS it was loose leaf paper. I re-read some of the posts regarding running cross country or old girlfriends and I could picture myself writing them. I know that it’s not always greener on the other side. That’s a fact that everyone learns and many times you learn that the hard way. But, the sense of nostalgia this week is giving me fuel for next week. I am planning a 40 mile run, 20 out 20 back half during the day and half at night. Closer to execution I will chat about the plan.

Monday, November 1, 2010

“Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory.” – Bruce Lee

That quote coming from a guy who could do push ups with two fingers, and crush ribs with a two inch punch.  I don’t think that Bruce meant that the individual should deny their abilities.  I think that the fools he was talking about were those who seek attention for what they do without having really accomplished anything.  If you seek to draw attention to the little things and seek rewards for them you deny yourself the ability to aim higher.  Little accomplishments or temporary goals are stepping stones to long term excellence.  Make the stepping stones your goal and you end up with rubble spread across a field with no orientation or purpose. 

When I run, I am forced not be the fool.  The miles ticking away have no reward but themselves.  There is no prize for training, no medal for your PR on your regular loop.  It is just you against yourself.  If you attempt to show off to yourself, injury and fatigue will quickly set you straight.  Glory in short cuts?  Every runner knows short cuts are simply cheating and they will catch up to you sooner or later.

I am really content with my running so far this year.  It has kept me level headed and has given me a lot.  I have also been exposed to so many great people…it is just exciting.  I am really excited for this year.  Thank you to all who have read and emailed me with kind words of support.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Willpower - NY Times Article - Geeks In Running Shoes

I read a lot of Blogs about a wide variety of topics.  I have found running blogs incorporate more of the bloggers personality than blogs about say…cooking.  Reason being that running is individual yet social, physically taxing but mental; all at the same time.   The other aspect of running blogs is that the running is often times a compliment to whatever they “do.”  For example there are teachers (, or coaches who also run marathons, businessmen or geeks (funny) who decide to start running (geeks in running shoes podcast), etc. 

Steve Magness from the “Science of Running” blog shared an article about willpower from the NY times.  The heart of the article is…man does not have less willpower now than before, there are simply many more temptations and instant gratifications now as opposed to a long time ago.    True, we can get everything we want right now, but at what cost?  Are you going to go and run a 6 minute mile at the cost of three weeks of injury recovery?  Are you going to run your first marathon hung over with no training?  Not unless you are not playing with a full deck. 

I was listening to “Geeks In Running Shoes” Podcast and they talked about doing the best for you.  I know I started running to escape the body I had built via bad eating habits, stress, and laziness.  Now I run to be out there and struggle, I run to fight my temptations to stop and quit.  I run because I fear quitting knowing that I could have pushed harder.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Running Through “Pain”

Yesterday was a long day at work and I really just wanted to get away.  I decided to go for a run instead of driving to LA for class.  Sorry, but I needed a break from the 120 mile round trip.

I went with a Camelbak and headed out the door.  My intention was to run around the perimeter of San Clemente, CA and arrive at home.  The loop involved costal trail, single track and pavement.  That did not work out as I was tweeting near mile 3 or 4.  Monday I had done race pace running and my legs apparently do not like a longer run after being put through some pavement beat down.  I had a 19:40 minute mile (walking).  My heart sunk because I really thought I was going to make it, I felt strong, but my left leg gave me the shut down special.  You know that feeling when you are breathing well, feeling strong, hydrated; but some part or another decides to raise a white flag.  At that point I decided not to quit, that I would walk the whole thing if I had too.

Once I hit some trails I immediately felt better, my shoes (Brooks Cascadia 5) agreed with my trail assessment.  I was weaving through a trail I love doing on my mountain bike that runs adjacent Cristianitos Rd.  It is mostly single track, technical and overgrown.  At this point the sun beat me.  I had no flashlight, wearing black and the sun started setting, I had to call it in.  So I ran to the end of Cristianitos Rd, then back into San Clemente. 

I will try the loop again, in the near future.  But I probably learned more about me in failing that I would have had I succeeded.  The first is that you really can push through anything (it may not be good if it injures you but eh it happens).  You can generate enough grit to get out there and fight the good fight.  Your body will heal on the run.  When running you can think about loosening up or relaxing and it happens …its weird and sort of hippie but believe it.  I also learned it is much easier to quit than I thought.  I always figured it would be a struggle and haggling with yourself, but no.  You just decide between heartbeats to quit and its game over.  Before this run I never gave myself enough credit.  Often times I go reckless and just run, bike though stupid circumstances.  Down Crisitanitos Rd I could have turned north and hit the trails at night, but that would have been a bad move because the plan was to clear that section before nightfall.  I am glad I was conscious enough to step back and leave it for another day.  I will be back San Clemente Loop of legend, I’ll be back. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ping Pong - Reality Check

I am not sure if I have ever written about this, but I play ping pong, a lot.  I am not going to say I am pro level, but I am definitely a confident amateur.  How much do I like to play? 

Well, last semester I was strolling from the Coffee Bean back to the school library. My law school is located in Korea town, Los Angeles. I heard a ping pong ball, it was odd so I investigated. My investigation led me to the second story room of a building that was a Presbyterian church. I knocked on the door and a guy came to the door. I asked if he they were playing ping pong? He asked who I was…I explained I am a law student and that I heard a ping pong ball and came over to investigate. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to play. I said sure. I entered a room with 6 or 7 guys sitting waiting their turn to play on the table closest to the window. They spoke a foreign language I can’t identify, but signaled me to play. I played 2 singles matches (best of 3) and a doubles match. I won a singles match, 2-0, lost the second 1-2, and won the doubles match. My hosts were very nice and told me to come back because they played every Sunday. After leaving it sunk in that it was probably a bad idea to randomly walk into an unknown building, not understanding the language just to seek a solid game of ping pong. Yeah…I like ping pong, my bad.

Today at the cafeteria, a guy who I played against in the doubles tournament (work just happens to have a tourney a few times a year, and yes we are current defending champs) told me his partner from the tourney, age 36, had a stroke last month.  It was shocking.  I remember being concerned he was going to crush us because he had insane sidespin on his forehand, we actually had to play around it a little, super fit and a good player.  I would never in a million years think that he would have a stroke.  I made me reflect.  Sometimes I take things for granted, people for granted.  Maybe I am not doing enough good in my home or community.  I pray he gets better and that anyone who reads this reflects…  Life is here now, but it can go pretty fast and when we least expect it. 

Hills and the little fence

I ran a 9 mile loop last night.  The first 2.5 miles were lackluster.  I could not warm up and had to stop and walk up some of the hills.  I just did not have it in me.  I kept cursing at the hill as if it would flatten out for me.  I was questioning my resolve.  I noticed myself getting mad, not my normal running feeling.  I recalled ago…you are doing this; no one has a gun to your head telling you to run late into the night.  So I paused my cursing and blaspheming deciding to make margaritas out of lemons.  Walk/sprint intervals up the hills and just get though them.  I changed my mental attitude and saw fatigue as an opportunity.  It made the miles go and lifted my spirits.  I had never really hit “the wall” before, but I am assuming that’s more or less what it feels like but on a greater scale, i.e. I hit a fence.  I just have to log this experience and keep on going. Left right left right left.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thoughts: Ironman - Art of Manliness (moleskine) - Blogs

I read Scott Dunlap’s post (A Trail Runner’s Blog) and I am immensely jealous in a good way.  I can almost feel how exciting it must have been to be competing at the 2010 Ironman World Championships.  It is utter insanity and a test of physical and emotional endurance.    Good job to him for finishing it, that’s an impressive act.  I try to imagine the electricity in the air with literally the more physically gifted athletes in the world go after the dream of getting though an ironman.  2 mile swim, 110 bike ride, and then a marathon for giggles at the end, wow.  After reading his post I am sure you will have Ironman illusions of grandeur as well.  Link

I have been writing in my Moleskine a lot lately.  And I am really happy to report its mostly good things.  The Art of Manliness post about great men who wrote journals must have kick started me to begin writing more often.  I used to write while frustrated in order snap out of it, but running and physical activity have cooled my relationship with my Moleskine.   I find myself jotting down quotes, trails or routes I like running or want to run (Western States 100 lookin at ya), Philosophy, and the interminable search for self awareness.  Almost like Walden (by Henry David Thoreau) minus the lake, excellent prose, and transcendental value. 

Reading running blogs or just blogs in general I feel that there are passionate people out there who are getting it done.   What “it” is does not matter, whether it be running 100 miles, an Ironman, or cooking the perfect Tres Leches Cake…its happening because they are putting in the time to pursue what makes them happy.  It is inspirational and motivating to see there are many folks working and living daily life and getting every last drop of goodness and making more of it.   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running in Rain - cosigners - A Little Bruce Lee Motivation

Last night I felt good on the run.  I did not warm up until 1.5 miles and even at that point it was still a struggle to keep myself in check.  I wanted to open the stride up and go faster.  It was raining last night, but a peaceful serenity came over me.  The raindrops gave me something to focus on besides any aches and pains. 

It does not help to know what must be done or how we must do something without actually attempting it.  For example the “cosigners”.  You know those guys who are always in the background and “co-sign” comments.  For example, if a joke is told at anyone’s expense, the cosigner will jeer, and re-tell the joke ad nausium or they will be the voice in the back saying “I would not let him tell me that.”  Guess what, they would, and they do because their fuel is not theirs it is yours.  I have had the blessing to meet some of the kindest warmest souls who “deserve” so much more than their lot in life, yet they never go out there and get it.  As I was stepping out of my house last night to run I was asked, where are you going it is raining?  My response was thoughtless; outside, going running.

Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do." - Bruce Lee

Monday, October 18, 2010

Buffalo Alley 10k

Last Saturday I ran my first 10k. Well, not my first, but my first competitive one. The morning started well I arrived to Camp Pendleton early to make sure to find the start and get good parking. Classic, I forget my wallet. The gate Marine is very nice and says I can enter; but I am not sure if I need my id to get my bib so I drive home. I run into the house, grab my wallet, and head out. I get to base on time and register; again, they cannot find my bib so I have to wait for one to be written out. I wait, get my t-shirt and bib. I take the t-shirt to the car (some distance away) and the national anthem plays when I am halfway back to the starting line. Yeah, so I am not going to disrespect the national anthem by moving, much less on a marine base, clearly a bad idea. I wait in the middle of the road, half way back to the start…once over I sprint to the start with a solid 30 seconds to catch my breath and begin running again. Below check out the full run.

The first hill was brutal. The elevation change was huge and it did not help getting caught in the back. You would set a rhythm and someone ahead of you would stop or change pace. So you would be stopping and starting up continuously. That part was probably harder. We got over the first hill and were greeted my paramedics standing on the ready at the top. My buddy Max helped me up all the hills. He is a much stronger runner than I am. He let me draft off him and was patient for me to catch up to him, it was a huge help. I did see a Marine smoking a cigarette during the run. He would sprint, take a puff, walk, and then sprint again. It was odd, and the smell of a Marlboro at 8 am, in the midst of a few hundred running sweaty people is not appealing. I really hope it was symbolic because it was certainly not smart.

Conditions were good, aside from the midst and the constant threat of rain. I expected a muddy sloppy trail run. The trail was a lot more packed down than I expected so the brooks Cascadia 5’s that I took handled everything well, no slips.

Lessons Learned
Be near the front off to one of the sides, steadier pace and not as much body heat

Carry a water bottle, I could not sip Gatorade or water at the stations because I felt I had to drink a ton before the next station, I am usually a sip a little water type runner, so for next time that’s the play

Consider carrying an iPod, not because I need motivation, but hearing all the other peoples foot landing rhythms and breathing threw me off my game plan.

Going out slow was a good thing. I am training for a longer race, no use trying to be a speed demon the first time out, running is about the long haul.

Finishing Info
Time: 1:06:11
Age Group: 14th

Monday, October 11, 2010

Orange County AIDS Ride Recap

I was fortunate enough to complete my first goal for 2011!!! I rode a century this weekend. I participated in the OC Aids Ride, which raised over $100,000 for the Orange County Aids Services Foundation (link). I choose this ride because it is close to home and I believe in the foundation. If you could physically hurt for a day in exchange for making someone’s life a little easier why wouldn’t you?
People need help and the economy is tough for all of us. Foundations that work to help individuals and families get what they need to live are essential and even though the country is going through issues, we can come together to help each other.
My thoughts about riding were to get out with the front group for the big hills and stick with the first 1/3 of the pack along the ride. I am not really good about riding in packs and I was questionable about my tires.
The first climbs were tough, but in the cool morning air they felt good. I sped off into the morning and met some great people along the way. I rode with a guy for the first 50 miles who told me about his participation in the Little Dragon Race and AIDS Ride from San Francisco to LA. It was cool to hear him talk about participating in things to raise awareness and really getting out there to do good in the world.
We stuck together until mile 30, where I stopped to meet up with some co-workers who came out in the hot sun to support me. It was very cool of them because it was hot out there – yeah Irvine, Ca I am talking about you, hot with no shade, fact.

I caught the guy I was riding with around mile 43 and we got to the middle together. We ate Subway sandwiches. I only stayed for a few minutes because my hamstring started bothering me and I knew I would want to quit if I did not warm it up. I took off alone and rode that way till the end.
Mile 65-ish I ran out of water. And in my usual fashion I missed the next pit stop. Mile 74 was a pit stop, but I missed the signs and rode an extra mile. So I was frustrated and got back on track and decided to go for it till mile 84 (last pit stop) with no water. Yeah that did not work. I stopped at a gas station and got a Mountain Dew 22oz, 2 Gatorades 16oz and headed out.
I got to the last pit stop, had a banana, got ice in my water bottles, asked the volunteers to point me in which direction I was supposed to ride and took off. Mile 92; how I hated thee. It was a big hill and there was no breeze, no shade, and to boot…a runner ¾ up it. So if I hiked-a-bike I would look like a total wimp. The running guy was not quitting so I powered through it. I actually shouted motivation at the runner and he wished me good luck, it was nice. El jefe thought I was going to pass out at the top but I made it over.

When I got to the end I was informed I was the first century rider to finish. I am not sure how that all worked out.  It was a great end because many of the metric century (100 km) riders were there and they cheered, it was very cool. I also got a massage at the end, which was legit and it probably saved my weekend. If it was not for the boss’s support I think I would have quit at mile 75 and again at 90.  

Whenever I have done things before there were always clear lines, this is for me or that is for you.  I felt like this ride was for us, everyone who participated grew a little on the road.  For some it was an individual struggle to get to the end, for others it was a group effort, but all of us took the sweat, dirt and pavement and made it matter.  I am a really lucky guy
First Century - Garmin Ran Out of Battery by alexmares at Garmin Connect - Details

Friday, October 8, 2010

Amphipod Hydraform Handheld 12oz Review

12oz, plastic, BPA-Free water Bottle ergonomically designed to prevent hand cramping.  Designed to fit in the hand, Strap with built in pocket.

I think it’s a great bottle for everyday running, but anything longer than 4 or 5 miles I would consider more water.  I sweat a ton and I bonk very quickly if I have not been keeping on top of hydrating.  For a longer run I would go with a 16 oz bottle, see review over at Endurance Buzz - 16 oz Amphipod PURErun

I put the bottle to the test on accident.  My previous post I mention going for 9 miles in rain, when the intention as a 1 mile out and back; this was the bottle I was using.

The bottle performed much better than I expected.  As many people have commented the design is odd at first, true, but after a few miles the bottle slides into the hand, and I did not even think about it when I was in stride.  I recall in HS our cross country coach in an effort to have us relax, would say to act as if we had butterflies trapped between our fingers, this bottle felt similar.  I could grip it, but it was not a death grip.  It felt natural.

The other complaint that I read about regarding the Amphipod bottles (20oz) was that the mouth piece was tough to work quickly on the run.  That was not the case with this bottle.  I closed the mouthpiece with my thumb after taking quick sips.  The pocket is small, 2 GU, credit card and a car key will fit comfortably. 

Warning: runner’s who use the music players on their phones, try a pack or a larger handheld.  PDAs, Blackberry, or iPhones do not fit in the pocket.  I have seen runners for the sake of efficiency try and cram things into handhelds.  I have a BB Bold and I had to leave it in the car.  I run with a Shuffle, but I figure I should inform.  

The Strap was sturdy, some other reviews complained that it would come loose, but I did not experience this, I only tightened it once on the run because I was trying to focus on anything but the rainy day jog.  The pocket definitely does wick away moisture and I did not feel that it was retaining any sweat, which was nice. 

For everyday runs this will definitely be my “go to” bottle.  Whenever I stray further or hit the trails I will probably go with a pack.  I just feel safer with extra GU or just space to tie a jacket when the run goes longer.  Definitely would recommend this handheld.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Exploratory Mud Run / Getting lost

Yesterday I felt nauseous so I stayed home from school.  I decided to take a 1 mile walk since it was overcast and the weather reports said: no rain. I had an amphipod 12oz handheld bottle and 1 GU packet.  A lot of power walking, 900 ft elevation, in the beginning and on the flat parts I tried to jog.  My Brooks Cascadia 5’s were troopers but there is no beating the soft mud that clings to shoes after a fresh rain pour.  I decided to jog down a few downhills.  The mud clumped to my shoes amazing grip so I felt I was running in cowboy boots.  I had to stop ever 100 yards or so to remove the clumps since I could feel my ankles rolling.  I decided that I needed to find a paved road ASAP and get back to my car because it started sprinkling.  I did not want to go backwards because the downhill would be trouble in the rain and rivers of mud were not in the forecast.  I found a single track that seemed to lead down and towards a street, it did.  I was about 2/3 done with the single track and “make it rain.”  I was cruising on the single track like a champ, I felt amazing, until it popped me out onto a street significantly off course.  I being the brilliant man I am was not wearing classes or contacts.  I read the street sign incorrectly and in a rush to try and keep moving out of the rain I ran away from my car’s direction, smooth.  So discovering my error I decided to just suck it up and do as easy a run as possible.  I was wearing running shorts, Dri-fit shirt, hat and a windbreaker.  I ran downhill because my calves were beating on me.  I stopped at McDonald’s to fill up my water bottle and kept moving.  Got to the beach and then back around a familiar loop.  I got a ride back to my car afterwards.  I felt good, that second wind stuff is a lie; you get at least three or four.  Towards the end of the run I did feel stronger.  Something inside clicks when you are shivering, wet and miserable.  You remember that you picked this goal, you put yourself there, you took the step through the door into the unknown.  Regardless if it is good or bad its yours, own it.  It is refreshing and invigorating to make those circumstances your own because you accept them and get to work instead of breaking. 

“If you put a limit on everything you do, physically or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life.  There are no limits.  There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” -Bruce Lee

Monday, October 4, 2010

Calf Injury / Road Runners - SCOTUS / School - US Gov’t disappoints…again

I do not like admitting to injury, less when it is something that I should be smart enough not to get.  But clearly I am not.  My calf is beating me up.  I ramped up the mileage too quickly and I am paying for it.  In part it is good because mentally I know that I can crank out more miles than I previously thought I could, and I have done a lot of research on injury recover and prevention.  I just purchased the “marathon stick” from Running Warehouse so a review of that will follow.  I usually wait to review a product before reviews because I like using it after the “new thing” excitement has whined off.  I did a 5 mile run with the RoadRunners in Venice Beach.  Run was fine, I will probably change pace groups to run more of the same pace I am trying to keep, but I am not sure.  It will be a game time decision.  On the run, there was an eclectic cast of characters, even at 8 am!  A bike rider chanting Military marches (they were funny, some more crude than others), a homeless man picking fights, a loud boisterous bearded guy only wearing a long tank top (thank God…no one wants to see that), and what seemed to be a J junior military camp of sorts cheering every group to keep on going.  All the characters made the run easy but I miss the trails.  I need to find a few in Los Angeles.  If anyone knows of any good single track running trails let me know.

New SCOTUS term is coming up and retired judges can fill in if the Ct. needs a majority to pass something.  So welcome back to our retired justices.  Did a lot of reading this weekend and I feel I am getting a better grasp of Civil Procedure and Property.  But Constitutional Law is still tough for me.  I think because the policy aspect of it is so pervasive throughout I am having a tough time linking concepts.

Read a BBC story last Friday that was out of a movie.  US government apologized for infecting hundreds of people in Guatemala with gonorrhea and syphilis as part of medical tests more than 60 years ago.  Ridiculous.  They infected the mentally ill and prisoners via prostitutes infected with the virus and made no attempts to treat them, just sort of observed.  I wanted to vomit.  That’s not right, how do we 60 years ago chastise the Nazi regime for their crimes against humanity, but then commit them ourselves.  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.  And obviously not a peep in US news about it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rutgers Student Suicide - Thoughts on Ultra’s - Rule Against Perpetuities

I read a sad article this morning about a Rutgers student who committed suicide after discovering his relation with another male was broadcast by his roommate via a webcam.  It’s a cyber-bullying / sexual orientation discrimination case.  The story alludes to the fact that the roommate, who now faces up to 5 years in prison, commented on his twitter about his roommate’s activities and requesting others view via iChat at certain times.  It is utterly despicable to bully and expose anyone’s intimate acts online.  I hope that the roommate is brought to trial and if guilty serves time for his acts.  Regardless of your feelings about someone’s sexual orientation, they give you no right to violate their privacy and freedom.  It is an unfortunate loss to have someone young take their own life, it is difficult enough to have teens stay motivated to get into college only to have them bullied and discriminated against when they get there.  I hope Rutgers and all academic institutions steps up their vigilance against this and all discrimination. 

The last few days I have been troubled.  I get the feeling that I have bitten off more than I can chew.  Maybe I am trying to do too much this year; maybe making up for years of a sedentary lackluster life.  But I think back and I never was completely sedentary, I tried.  My weight gain and lack of fitness show that I did not try very hard but I still tried.  In my darker moods I come back to the same motto I tell friends and family when they asked why I kept at school or pursue a law degree.  Because you can talk all the trash you want, but until you invest in yourself, it’s all just words.  You have to go out there and give it your best shot.  Ultra runners always say the same thing, “you have to dig deep” then deeper still.  For me the struggle has been to get there.  At this point in my life I am so lucky to have support from everywhere.  There are a lot of people I have reconnected with and relationships that I have brought back from the dead.  Because of this new found strength not only in me but in those loved ones close to me I have committed to running the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run, it is on the schedule and barring a calamity I am not going to quit.  We’ll see how it goes, and oh yea…100 mile bike ride is in 1.5 weeks and the 50 miler is a month after the LA marathon.  If you’re gonna go, go big.

In Property we are covering the Rule Against Perpetuities: no interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than 21 years after some life in being at the time of the conveyance.  Pretty much…an interest in invalid unless it can be said, with absolute certainty, that it will vest or fail to vest 21 years after the death of someone alive at the time the interest was given or deeded or whatever.  Why do we need this?  I am not sure, but our professor does an amazing job of explaining it and I get it when in class, but afterwards on the drive home it kinda slips away, not trying to lie about it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Michelin Tires (bike, yeah a bike!)

So deciding to be billy badass I take a quick ride on Saturday.  I figure it’s a good day, I rock my retro 7-Eleven gear and I am feeling alright.  Earlier that day I had seen a few billboards about Halloween Haunt and I recalled that I had not been scared in a while, big mistake.  Anyway, brutally hot and I decide to charge some hills.  I was about 5 miles into the ride and on a steep downhill.  I was, according the GPS, doing about 35 mph, on new tires.  The downhill has a slight bend to the right about halfway down.  I have taken this hill full speed at night, day, rain, so I am familiar with it.  As I lean to take the bend, the bike starts to wobble under me.  I am unable to keep my right lean because it felt like a flat, so I knew that if I lean the tire could rip off and I would be cheap fondant on the black pavement.  I tap my brakes to no avail; I just hear the rubber fighting the rim for friction.  In an effort to correct I straighten out and pray cars are paying attention because I sure as hell am not.  In that split second the world went silent and all my attention was focused on the back of a white suburban. Why? At that moment, as I shifted from the right shoulder to the center divider I decided that the pavement was a bad idea and I would risk trying to stop myself with the suburban’s momentum or at least hit it and get cars to see me and stop.  But I genuinely freaked out.  I even did the whole cold sweat thing.  Not being in control on a bike that I have put thousands of miles on was awkward and nerve-racking.  I pulled to the side after slowing down some, only to see that the tire was not flat; scared me even more.  Lessons to be learned; no Billy badass maneuvers, new tires = time to adjust, God really likes me and I owe him big.  And I am sorry for even thinking about not being scared in a while, my bad, not going to entertain that train of thought again.       

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mob Justice/ In-Justice in Mexico - Blood Donation - Moleskin Notebooks

According to the BBC, in Ascension, Mexico, men tried to kidnap a 17 year old girl. Cops caught them; shocker, and then a mob did not let the police through. The mob lynched two kidnappers. The police stated the men were alive when taken away, others say they took them so the mob would not set them ablaze. I am not sure how to feel about this. The situation in Mexico is terrible and often times it drives people to desperation. But at the same time you should not deprive someone of their liberty, extort them and make them suffer (not to mention their family) and then think you are going to get away free and clear. If you think that way get your head checked. I am not saying these men got what they deserved, because mob style death penalty is pretty serious punishment, but given Mexico’s storied history with criminals and corruption I am not sure the message would get through to other potential kidnappers in any other way.

I donated blood yesterday! I was debating going running tonight or not because my calf feeling pretty sore but I guess that sealed it. I was scheduled to donate blood so it was a blessing in disguise. I guess the guy upstairs is protecting me from my running bug. I did run two nights ago, felt better and had a quicker pace. I am beginning to really enjoy running at night solo status. It is calming and I notice when my mind shuts off and I get in the zone. Me, ma boy Orion (belt included) and the road.

I blog a lot, fact, however, I avoid blogging when I am angry or frustrated because I let them lips fly and can really offend people. When I need to write because I am frustrated I write in Moleskin Notebooks. I like the paper and quality. I have a few full ones at home and usually carry whichever one I am working on. I have done this since High School. I was in Barnes and Noble and I picked a notebook up because I wanted something sturdy that I could jot ideas for my philosophy thesis in. I ended up writing the outline for the whole paper in it. Between ramblings of perfect cities, Plato, Thomas Moore and Michoacán were documented fights and fragmented feelings. I would be frustrated with my ex-girlfriend and jot down my thoughts in such a way that only I would recall it. Whenever I feel sad I will write myself out of it, or read all the past musings and get mad at myself for feeling sad about things of no consequence. I bring it up because I saw a post in The Art of Manliness about famous people known for carrying notebooks; Mark Twain, Patton, Beethoven, Jefferson, etc. I think it’s a good habit because no person can remember everything and random thoughts often illuminate dark paths and offer us insight we never knew we had. I re-read a lot of my journals and am amazed at the things I did or put up with. The upside is that through all of it I see things that I consider essential to my being. I wonder if those great men looked at these notebooks to find themselves in times of trouble or seek guidance during the trials of life. I know I do, and I can honestly say through these I have saved myself time and time again.