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.