Monday, January 24, 2011

22 Mile Life Lesson

Saturday I was scheduled to do a core body workout.  Half way through it my core was saying “no mas” and I became frustrated at myself.  I was mad that I could not finish a workout, yet the day was so nice that I decided to take go for a trail run.  I decided to give the San Clemente Big Loop another try.  I had attempted this run before going from the coast to the trails.  This first attempt I learned how truly easy it is to quit. (LINK to first attempt) I finished about 12 miles that time, got to the trails near dark and did not have the heart or the will to push on.  I know the trails, but with no headlamp, no food, and little water I called for a ride, better to give it a go another day.  I was beat and I hung my head low for a few days after that one.  But giving myself time to mellow out and train more I decided I would be really testing myself and making up for my bad workout if I started my trek at noon…yeah first of many smart ideas. 

Miles 1-6 I was coasting along with no real goal because I actively tried to not think about the end of the run.  I was more concerned with staying hydrated and avoiding my archenemy the “Artichoke Thistle.”  I cruised along and before I knew it I was on smooth trails that cushioned each foot fall.  

Miles 6-10 this section was some fire roads and tough enough to be trails but close enough to civilization to not be too scared if anything came along.  There were some other runners and hikers around so I did not get lonely, well nI did get lonely when “only the lonely” came on my iPod…yeah probably not the best choice since I really had no clue how long I would be out.  

Mile 6-14 the technical stuff.  I had done this route on a mountain bike before.  This section involved single track, loose rocks and fallen over trees.  I got disoriented a few times because the rain over the last few weeks really changed to look of the whole trail.  I took some awesome pictures (link).  Anyway, saw two snakes and a few miles later I was on a long road.

Miles 14-20  The first part was a road whose end was the entrance to a military base…the entrance was closed due to flooding so I was out of luck when needing to refill my camelback.  It reminded me of the road the guy in “el mariachi” walks when he is being all Billy Badass with his case; for me it was minus the Billy, the Badass, and the case, just a lot of road I guess.  The adjustment to the pavement hurt my knees and I could not get a rhythm.

I am sure people who saw me running through town were thinking “man that grimacing fool looks terrible.”  Not going to lie I was tired.  I actually thought about throwing in the towel more than once.  But I promised myself that even if it meant I was walking I would try my hardest to get it done.  This trail/route had handed my confidence and heart to me once it was not doing it again.

Mile 20-22.  These are the miles where I grew up.  I cried for a solid quarter or eighth of a mile.  I was angry that my legs would not go, angry that my feet were hurting, angry that thoughts of quitting got to me again.  I was really sad at this point.  Like I said, I caught myself sobbing a few times.  Not something I am happy to admit but it was like a rage/holy crap/hurting/letting yourself down kind of crying.  I remembered a mantra I heard.  I think it came from Scott Jurek, “this is what you came for.”  Things made sense.  I picked this trail, the road, the day.  I decided when to go and when to stop.  The truth is that this is what I had come for, to find my limit.  In previous posts I have talked about finding the end, wanting to find where my heart said “forget you psycho count me out.”  I sought my limit I wanted this; this is what I came for.  I found it, and I pushed beyond it.  When I decided that this pain this hurt and this tiredness was what I wanted my heart grew stronger.  I became happy; I figured out that my limit was not some distant point, but a series of them each a little further than the last but all of the attainable.  

Each time I discovered one of them it only led me to the next one.  In these last two miles I found my heart, I found my way.  I re-discovered that the limit is not what is in front of me, but what is inside me.  Deep inside I knew, maybe I have always known that I am very blessed and that the choices I made to push myself are mine alone, but the will to keep going comes from somewhere else.  That place where the heart comes from is somewhere I know and hope to re-discover every minute of every day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ink Leaf Moleskine Cover – Moleskine Notebook - Review

I usually try to keep my blog pretty well organized in regards to content: opinion, fitness, school…sometimes a little more about one thing then the others. I limit what I write so that it may apply/help/inspire/anger the widest array of people. But, a lot of personal anecdotes and feelings find their way into my Moleskine. Most of my blog posts originate as musings or ideas I note in these notebooks. I have written in these somewhat consistently since college. I have actually filled a few up with: philosophy ramblings about perfect cities, i.e. Utopian Projects in western Mexico, drop bag items checklists for ultra marathons, problems or successes with friends and ex-girlfriends, or my next goal. I now use them a lot to document my running life.

I have been very blessed and fortunate to have been exposed to so many brilliant people and stories in my life. Every day I learn something new or re-discover something I had forgotten. Through all those little adventures my moleskine has been the keeper of my memories and feelings. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a journal I had written that was in really bad shape. The notebook had seen its share of water spills, wall tosses, under the car seat discoveries, etc. I decided that I wanted to protect the moleskine from these everyday trials. So I discovered Ink Leaf Leather Co. They were featured on The Art of Manliness blog, which I am a fan of, and I placed my order.

Ink leaf Leather is, I think, presently not taking orders as they are updating the business model to be more in line with demand but not sacrifice quality. I do want to take a moment to say that they are awesome for owning the issue and then addressing it. I ordered my Moleskine cover and then patiently waited, and waited. The cover took longer than expected to arrive and Inkleaf replied to every single one of my emails. I visited the site after having the cover for a while because I considered ordering another as a gift. I got to the site and it was an open letter to all stating they were re-vamping to better serve customers and to maintain quality (hand-made). Instead of made as ordered, they would make and have a stock in order to expedite requests. They acknowledged the delivery time issues from the massive amounts of business they received after being featured on the Art Of Manliness blog and owned the problem and are working on it. That is legit. I wish most businesses would be up front like them.

The quality of the materials is undeniable and the attention to detail is second to none. I am really enjoying the cover and I like that it is heavy enough to keep the cover closed, but not intrusive to not allow me to open it flat. I enjoy the Moleskine and agree with many of the comments regarding ink being noticeable through the pages. I personally think you have three options there, write in the sketch pad (which I have done) and sacrifice pages (less in sketchbook b/c they are thicker), learn not the death grip your pen and write lighter…try a smoother ink or deal with it. I use the following two pens that are available everywhere and I am not depressed if I lose one: Pilot G2 05 (07 is fine but to thick a line for me) and the Uni-ball Signo Micro 207, both are available anywhere pens are sold. These two pens provide the most consistent flow of ink and allow me to write lightly and still have it be legible. The ink will smudge if you close the Moleskine too fast and do not allow a few seconds for drying. A few smudges are worth it for me rather than feeling the indentations of the words.

There are other journals out there. Just find something you like and get writing. I like the classic look and feel of the Moleskine. Many reviews favor the cover of the Rhodia and the paper quality is mixed bag of results. Some say Moleskine some say Rhodia, others say alter the pen and both are fine. If you have an extra Rhodia, more than happy to write all over it and tell you what I think, but the classic look of the Moleskine and the sense of nostalgia I get when the pages start looking older and that pale paper full or ideas just make me smile every time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

White Collar Crime - Running Fuel - Managing losing a Friend

School has been great. The classes are challenging but not impossible. I think that I am staying on top of everything much better this semester than last. Last semester I was running around a lot and dealing with opinionated personalities that I am no longer needing to satisfy. Books are ridiculously expensive, pretty standard. But I am taking a class I am really excited about, white collar crime. The material is very stimulating and forces me to conceptualize ideas that do not come as easily to me. It’s a nice change of pace from the other two classes, Civil Procedure and Constitutional Law. I am also just thankful for getting back into the swing of things. The break although great was beginning to wear on me and I am just thankful to be back in school and working the ol brain matter.

My running has been struggling this month as opposed to last. December I was on fire and just throwing up miles left and right. But this month seems a lot tougher for me to find the motivation. I definitely got a boost last night. I have mentioned before that my main fuel is anger. Yeah gels and water help too, but when I am feeling down or when my legs just do not want to keep going I look inside and get pissed. Sometimes my anger is directed only at myself and my inability to complete the task, but I also remember circumstances from my past and those really push me. I recall reading a story about Lance Armstrong and how he used his anger at his previous team and sponsors for ditching him when he was diagnosed for testicular cancer after publically stating they would stick by him. That’s sort of what I feel sometimes, minus cancer and a back room full of cash and yellow bracelets. There are a few main circumstances I go too when I really need a push. Last night I was afforded another.

What happened was that I shared experiences, thoughts, etc. with someone that I believed in. I cared for this person and never would expect a violation of that trust. Not only because it is not right, but because they were so adamant about privacy and focused on not disclosing anything to anyone. For a very long time this person’s primary concern was making sure anything between us remained that way. Clearly their desire for non-disclosure was a one way street. They on the other hand spoke of circumstances no one else should know and shared with others openly. This bothers me because I consider myself an honest person and if I am privy to information I do not share for my personal benefit or for some hidden agenda as this person did. Anyone who has known me understands that I am very careful about the way I speak and that I value friends. Friendships to me are everything. The silver lining of this situation is that I did nothing wrong and I can walk with my head held high. But, when you share experiences with someone you definitely expect someone who truly values your friendship to treat the confidence given with respect. Unfortunately that did not occur. I am fine with it for two reasons. First, it does not affect me in any way since I did nothing offensive, illegal, questionable or wrong…all I did was be honest… secondly it confirms my decision to end that friendship. Things between us hit a rough patch and I figured time apart would settle our tempers and allow some space to heal and eventually be friendly again; at this point I don’t even want too. But on the bright side, I have some fuel for my next long run.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A goal achieved is a dream destroyed.

Rarely do random quotes catch my attention any more. Most of the quotes I see are one of two types…1. Something someone read but cannot quote or attribute, posted as a status update on facebook and then in a way seeks credit for possession of a brilliant or intuitive mind, and yet they neither thought, created, nor even really fully understand what they are writing or 2. An original creation or appropriately cited quote that is unique and thought provoking. The later is very rare and almost mythical.

I think this one just caught me off guard because not only is it true, but it pins two good things against each other; dreams and goals. I heard it on an Australian runner’s podcast (bhag). When you have a dream and achieve it you are in destroying it, fact. One of the definitions of a dream is something that somebody hopes, longs, or is ambitious for, usually something difficult to attain or far removed from present circumstances. A goal is defined as something that someone wants to achieve. So when the dream driving us is gone and passions are dulled because we no longer have it or have already done it what do you do?

I consider many different things that I do as part of my sense of identity. For example, running seems to now be a big part of who I am; but what if I couldn’t run? Would my sense of self be shattered if I could not do that one thing that I think defines me or at least a part of me? Running has been very satisfying, but I know that I will not be able to do it forever. When that day comes will I cease to be myself? Individuals, who play golf, hike, look in a mirror all day, shop or read…will your sense of self leave you when you can no longer do those things? Will you have enough fuel in the tank to move onto new adventures or will you huddle in a corner and wither away?

An idol is defined as somebody or something greatly admired or loved, often to excess. At some point are we creating idols, yes I said idols, of our activities or actions to the point where these own a disproportionate share of our lives? Have some of our habits risen to the level of idolatry? Back in the day there were idols for everything…are we doing the same thing in our time and calling it…diligence, ambition, intensity, etc.? I think we as a society embraced the extremes not because of their difficulty but I think because of their ease. It is easy to go at a goal with everything you have, that’s what we are socially influenced to do, but the costs? It is easy to dream these huge goals and huge idea but where is the action, where is the work? We have all heard “I am the idea person, they’re the brains” or something similar…but it seems that all we are doing is hiding in our extreme instead of seeking a moderation.

I think the solution to the conundrum is balance. There has to be a dynamic moderation that each person has to figure out for themselves. I say dynamic moderation because this “middle” is not fixed, it moves according to whatever situation arises in life and adjusts accordingly. Note it adjusts; it does not seek to hide in an extreme. The implication of balance in this quote is that achievement, if seen as final handicaps the person (because you can no longer dream) or you become mediocre (because you can no longer achieve). Balance requires more work and dedication than dreaming or achieving the entire time do because it requires a mode of operation where the self is continually updating goals and creating new dreams that they can achieve but that also create a challenge for them. If you only dream what you know you can do, you’re not dreaming; if you set goals you know you can achieve you’re not setting goals. What are you are doing is letting yourself slip into the extreme of meaningless perennial ordinariness instead of a meaningful dynamic moderation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Balance MT101 Review

I have had these shoes for a while and I figure that it is a good time to chat about them specifically. My reviews are what I think a non-technical runner would like to know about a product and of course what I would have liked to know before purchasing. If you do a search for them I am sure you can get more specs but here are the generals.

Weight: 7.2 oz (size 9)
Drop: 10mm (18mm-8mm)
Color: Black or Green (with shiny NB highlights)

Overview/ First Impressions
My first run in the 101’s was the ’10 Xterra Topanga Turkey Trot. The trail race was amazing and really helped me understand not only my abilities but also how much the shoe helped or deterred. Since then I have ran with them on different surfaces and they have performed. I do believe they are a “proceed with caution” type of shoe.
The shoe is well made, and is extremely breathable and fits securely. The toe box is wide and I felt that I could spread my toes when running, similar to the feeling I have with my VFFs. The laces are great, they seem gimmicky at first but they stay where you place them and the spacing allows you to get a consistent feel when you lace up. The shoe has a rock plate that will save the forefoot from jagged rocks.

Pretty much the whole shoe is legit, but I do have my reservations with the sole. The sole is not my favorite. And I do not say that because it is light on the cushion, that’s a given. This shoe is minimalist and that includes sacrificing a moon landing type experience in exchange for ground feel. I just do not like the design for my type of running.
It has triangular type lugs that are in my opinion too spread apart from each other. I did not notice the difference on trails, but when confronted with other surfaces the smooth area (non lug) slipped. I ran on a beach trail and then onto the pier, I had a couple slips on the pier, nothing significant but definitely enough to guarantee I was not going to open it up on the wood surface.

I also was not the biggest fan of the midsection between the heel and the forefoot/mid-foot. I liked it in the beginning of the run because I felt that I was motivated to land on the forefoot, but it did not feel like I was in control of how I landed. It felt rigid, fine, but at some points like downhill on a technical part of the trail I wanted to land closer to the heel or at least have some flex so I felt I griped the rocks instead of just powering through them.

I am not saying that it is not a shoe to run on fire roads or trails on or that other much more experienced runners may not hail it as the best shoe of 2010. I am newer to trail running than others but the sole was just different, very different.

I like the NB101. I like them as a strictly trail show, I think they perform best in single track spongier trails where the lugs have a little bit more to grab onto. Because of my concerns with the lug separation I hesitate to take them out on roads as often as others do.

On the trail, they own it, but on multiple surfaces I would be more cautious, especially after rain. I would purchase this shoe again if I was exclusively running trails or fire roads, but if you are like me and just walk out the front door, I would probably look for something more versatile with regards to surfaces.

*images courtesy of (awesome site, great customer service)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Calico Trail Run 2012? - 1ST Day of class

It is unfortunate that I am not going to be running the Calico Trail Run this year.  I was very excited to take on this 30k trail race; it was going to be my longest race to date.  I know if I line up I am going to give it my all but will most likely hurt myself doing so.  I emailed the race director who was kind enough o roll my entry over to next year.  There is no sense going out there and injuring myself some more.  This morning I felt like old Biff from the Back to the future movies…hunched and hobbling around feeling pretty miserable.  The hip has not eased up much despite a few days of rest and not much activity last week.  I did a few fartlek runs and a hike on Saturday morning that went really well, I ran them much faster than I thought I could.  After the run my hip just was not having it.  It sucks, but this week coach planned indoor cycling sessions instead of running because I keep complaining about this hip thing.  Hopefully this week of lighter training will help it heal up and then I can keep increasing the mileage.  I am nervous about it because the LA marathon is coming up and then the American River 50, so we shall see how it pans out.

Today is the first day of the semester.  I am excited to get back into school.  My life without the stress seemed empty.  It sounds strange but the winter break was not that good to me.  I increased my mileage; I hung out with family and friends which were good.  However, good people left my life and questionable ones figured a way to enter it.  The circumstances of how these things happen still baffle me, but I am comfortable with my role because I have made the best decisions that could have been made with the information available, but it is still going to be an interesting 2011.  I have a sense that this year will have long lasting effects on me.  As if there is a new wave of circumstances and events that will force me to make critical life changing decisions, I don’t know why but I just get that sense.  I pray for a receptive ear to good advice.   

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Odd Tendancy Explained - Fartlek Run (mood change)

I am just going to say it.  I have been doing some things that seen individually seem odd for me.  For example…I get really excited about buying shoes, I am checking out a leather bag, and wear loud colors so people notice me.  Now, it would seem that I am would be changing my lifestyle in more than one way, but let me explain.  I buy running shoes and I like having options.  It is nice to decide how I want the ground to feel under my feet.  Sometimes you feel that the trail is going to be spongier or harder and you account for the difference.  I am looking at purchasing a leather bag.  Well its one of those purchases that will happen when I graduate from law school.  The bag I like (2 actually) are the backpack and the briefcase from saddleback leather co.  I like their products and I like the quality.  The loud clothes?  I am starting school in a week so hitting the road for a run at 10 or 11 at night is going to mean I have to look radioactive to hopefully avoid being tagged by shinny bumper. 

I am feeling better, my mood is changing and I sense that I am getting over whatever winter spell I was on the last few weeks.  I have a fartlek run today, 5k pace, 40 min with up ticks for 1-3 minutes intertwined in there.  I think it will be a good run, cold, but good.  I just want to get outside and feel the crisp air again.  I know these next few days are priceless, daylight running is going to be a weekend thing starting next week. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Running Update - Possible Injury

I am pretty sad right now about my running.  A hip injury is really taking me out of it.  I can put weight on it, and when I run making a conscious effort to raise it high there is no problem.  When I slow down or just walk around I feel it.  I have pushed through for a few days and kept active but this morning I crawled out of bed to hit the snooze button…I guess it felt like…you know when you buy whole chicken…imagine tearing off a leg…that muscle tearing feeling…now imagine sticking a pencil, a Ticonderoga #2, in the tear…yup that about sums it up.  What makes me sad is that I have really had some quality runs and my times were getting faster.  I had a 5k PR, I ran 4 miles and averaged under 9 min/mi for the whole time, I ran almost 12 miles in rain and wind, but a hip is going to take me out of it.  But no matter how much you want to go if something is injured or not right you have to just take care of it.  There is no sense in pushing past the pain if you are risking long term injury.  So I am going to take it easy for a week or so.  I emailed the Calico Trail Run (30k) organization about the race the 16th.  We shall see how that goes.  I am going to go to the doctor too.  I really do not want to but I figure it’s going to be the best way to really know for sure.  I figure it will really be a reminder to me to eat smart, so I do not lose the fitness I have gained and simply find alternative to stay healthy and keep moving. School starts next Monday.  Not too excited about 120 mile drive days coming back, but that is the way it has to be.  Downtown LA is not that far, hopefully the weather gets better because I am going to be doing a lot of night training. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year to Year 5k - Race Report

2010 I started running and there have been people following my journey both at home and at work. Most of the time the support sounds something like this;

What the hell are you doing at 11 pm at night running?
You were dropped on your head as a child.
Are you okay?
You are a nut.

There have been a few who have caught the running bug themselves. A few weeks ago I had the chance to run with a group and it was so nice to have that spirit of sharing. At work we were talking about how great if we ran at midnight. A friend said...if you find the race I am down to do it. So a few minutes later, the Point Mugu Year-to-Year run was on my screen. I am really lucky to run it with four awesome people and I had blast.

The race itself started at 11:50 pm - 12/31/2010! The race sold out! There were 163 souls out there looking to start off 2011, heck the new decade, one foot in front of the other. So I put on my tuxedo cycling jersey...keep it classy. 

The race itself was a two loop course in an out and back. It was a gun start with chip timing so the finishing times were going to be a little off depending on where you started. We were 10 people deep and gave each other a New Year hugs a few minutes before the race. My plan was to run a good first mile but step on the gas the second mile and try and hold for the third.

Bang! And I darted across to the inside because it was a quick right turn. I figured I would find someone holding a pace I felt comfortable at and I would stick to them at least for mile one. On the turn I ended up in near the front pack and it immediately thinned out since so many people were taking the turn I assume there were some elbows. I ran behind a guy with a dog. He was keeping a steady clip.

I stayed with the guy with the dog as a few runners darted past me (I caught them later). I was patient and thought to myself, run your own race, enjoy it for what it is…a welcome to a new Decade! Around the one mile mark the Guy and Spike(dog), eh sounds good, picked up the pace and shrugged me off. But at 1.5-ish Spike had to pee and I was able to catch up. We stayed together the whole first loop and I kept it consistent.

Loop two I was starting to breathe a lot heavier but I still felt plenty strong. The half way point of the loop I sprinted ahead of Spike and Dude, I knew I would try and push at the end and I figured tripping on a dog leash may not be a good way to end 2010. At this point guy in red jacket passed me and I saw my shadow bouncing up and down. It was little lady with a hand lamp. She came roaring by me and was probably 50 or 60 yards ahead of me with a little over a mile left.

I kicked up my knees and pushed to try and catch guy in red jacket and little lady with hand lamp. With a quarter of a mile to go and having put out some effort my feet were giving me the finger and my calves, that had been good to this point, started quivering in the cold midnight air.

With .2 to go I went gnarly with the stride and let it open up, I passed little lady with the hand lamp but came short of catching guy in red jacket by 3 seconds, but I was proud of myself for digging deep and putting the hammer down when I did.

I went back out to the course to cheer my friends to a strong finish and those other crazies that thought running at midnight would be a good idea. I am blessed to have this opportunity and it is definitely a wonderful way to welcome a new year.

Chip Time: 24:51 (New PR)
Place: 29th overall
1 – 8:27
2 – 8:29
3 – 8:07