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 cliché 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.