Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Recap: Living Up to the Blog Title

Well...if 2012 was a total disappointment, then 2013 topped that.  If anything, I certainly lived up to the title of this blog, "Not-So-Epic-Adventures".  As usual, I started the year on a road paved with good intentions, but I let life take over, and ended up rolling over face down by July.  A combination of work, sickness, injury, and classic group dynamics steered me off my path to the point of basically quitting cycling during the last five months of this year with the exception of the occasional Saturday group ride.  In short, I rode and finished two double centuries (Solvang in March, Davis in May); rode the Terrible Two on the spur of the moment without training and DNF'd; two weeks later, I rode 2/3rds of the Climb to Kaiser and also DNF'd -- both DNFs were due to an achilles injury on my longer, dominant left leg.  I suffered two bouts of one month long upper respiratory sickness in April between the Solvang and Davis Doubles, and again during the month of October.  On a positive note, I feel just fine about all of this.  I've always been a successful quitter, in that when I've had enough mentally, I know when to retreat so that I never really suffer total and complete burnout.  "Live to ride another day", I'm often heard saying.  And, positive note #2:  We (self titled: "Free Range Cyclists" -- a small band of disgruntled conscientious objectors of our respective official clubs, aka: good friends) got our picture in the local Modesto Bee Newspaper from our Del Puerto Canyon ride on January 1st.
 Now that we're here in December, I have an excess amount of disposable net income from all of the overtime my employer has required my to put in, so Christmas has come a little early this year.  I bought myself a new pair of Sidi Ergo 3 Cycling Shoes, and a Garmin Edge 500, as well as some nifty Skins compression gear, clothing, and running gear...

Speaking of running gear, this has led me into a different direction for 2014.  An acquaintance I met on Facebook from Minnesota and I were brainstorming ideas for the upcoming year.  The conversational thread centered on money wasted on endurance events because either of us DNFd or DNSd for whatever reason.  I figured that I wasted $1000 this year, so we came up with a new project: "12 Centuries -- 12 Marathons -- 12 Months".  So far, there are seven of us committed to riding one century and running one marathon each month throughout 2014.  The only money I paid out for next year is the Modesto Half Marathon for my son and I to run together in during late March.  Aside from that, I'm going to stay this course of no official events for next year unless my son wants to run a full marathon later in the year.  The beauty of this "12-12-12" group is that it's completely free of cost without any time limits.  Currently, I  can barely run a continuous 5k.  What I plan on is to run/walk/run/crawl for as long as it takes to cover 26.2 miles for my monthly marathon until I'm up to real speed on my running.  For cycling, I can already crank out a 100 mile century ride at anytime, so that's a foregone conclusion.  We're still working out the details of accountability, but I imagine that we'll have some sort of GPS recording of our individual events.  Stay tuned.  More to follow from this average Joe.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Looking forward to 2013

Since the world didn't end last month, I'm now pondering my event goals for 2013.  Numero Uno Goal:  average 200 miles a week for a an annual mileage goal of 10,000 by year's end.  Regarding events, and with my work schedule still being scetchy, I'll try to keep things closer to home in order to minimize travel.  I had high hopes of entering the CTC Stage Race with all three stages being in my part of the state, but the organizers have picked the steepest, hilliest, most ball breaking doubles out of the entire CA schedule totalling over 55,000 feet of climbing -- the most toughest profile in the CTC's history.  Knowing that my large frame doesn't lend itself to climbing very well, I'll just opt for three doubles close to home:  Solvang (late March), Devil Mountain (late April), and Davis (mid May).  After those, I'm already entered into the Death Ride -- Tour of the California Alps in June taking place around Markleeville in Alpine County featuring 129 miles with 15,000 feet of climbing.  Moving ahead to September, I plan on entering the NoCal RAAM Challenge -- a 400 mile ultradistance racing event featuring 16,000 feet of climbing with a 34 hour time cutoff.  So in a nutshell, that's my big picture for the year.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012: The year I'd like to forget.

I really haven't done anything that would warrant opening up Blogger and cranking out an adventure/race report this year.  So in a nutshell, I'll just recapitulate the entire uneventful year in a single post.  With a new job and no vacation time, I had little opportunity to really get away, and I needed to focus on getting re-established financially by putting my cycling on the back burner.  In short, I'd say that I was pretty much MIA in the "spritual journey quest" department.  I just wasn't "out there" doing anything.

Mostly, I just hungout with a variety of normal local cycling groups, i.e., Stockton Bicycle Club, and a few Stanislaus County Bicycle Club Contientious Objectors on weekend rides ranging from 45 to 70 miles in length.  Eventwise, I rode my first 200k brevet up in Santa Rosa with Jim Pyatt and Charlie Byrum -- a 10.5 hour climbing fest around the green hills of Santa Rosa and Healdsburg.  This was supposed to be the first of four RUSA Brevets -- A full "Brevet Series", but we got so much rain in March and April that I didn't ride any at all losing all of my fitness.  Of the four events I signed up for, this was the only one I actually finished and/or showed up for. 

Next, was the Borrego Double Ordeal down in San Diego County -- a 206 mile (part III of the CTC State Race) featuring 15,000 feet of climbing.  I was really looking forward to it since Anny Beck the ride organizer moved it from November to May to avert a repeat record DNF rate since many riders dropped out mid ride at the previous year's event due to hypothermic weather conditions.  I figured that May would be the opposite.  I've ridden all parts of this course from when I used to live in that area.  The ride begins in Borrego Springs (Sonoran Desert) climbs 4500 feet from the desert to the mountians in just 18 miles and eventually meanders through the mountains of Eastern San Diego to the Pacific Coast in Oceanside and returns back through the mountains of Julian and concluding down in to the moonlit, starry desert night -- a ride traditionally known as the quintesential California Double Century featuring Desert, Mountains, and Ocean all in one day.  For me, the ride lasted about an hour and a half.  I did the climb up to Ranchita through light rain which turned into snow flurries into a gusty headwind that blew several riders over.  When I arrived at the first aid station I was so cold even my spine was shaking.  I waited for over an hour to warm up, but never did.  I decided to throw in the towel.  Hitched a ride back to my motel in Borrego and bundled up in bed for the rest of the day.  Frick'n snow in May?!  Driving 490 miles to ride 18 miles out of a planned 206 -- I learned to ALWAYS BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING.  What else can I say?

In June, I travelled 120 miles south to Clovis to attempt the 36th Annual Climb to Kaiser Challenge put on by the Fresno Cycling Club.   It's 155 miles with nearly 15,000 feet of elevation gain -- a real "bucket list" type of ride every 'serious" cyclist should do.  The first mistake I made was staying at a fleabag Motel 6 on Blackstone in Fresno.  Apparently, on Friday nights, it doubles as "party-prostitute-drug dealer central" as I didn't get a single minute of shut eye the night before this challenging ride.  Unfortutunately, a rider from Southern California ahead of me died on the course descending into a tree; the course got rerouted by the CHP adding 20 more miles and 3000 more feet of climbing.  Again, I was not biomechanically prepared for such a climbingfest and I end up developing a massive blister on the ball of my dominant foot.  I did all of the climbing reaching Kaiser Pass 10 minutes too late missing the cutoff, so I SAG'd in.  Had I not stopped for an injured rider back at mile 30 (losing an hour or more), I would've made it.  He was a rider from Elk Grove well into his 60s.  I was riding about 100 yards behind this group of 15 or so.  The leaders of the group almost missed a left turn causing everyone in that group to either lose control and hit the deck or U-turning into the roadway causing chaos for everyone following.  Everyone took off and left this old guy in the road as I came riding up.  It took an hour to get a vehicle there to transport him back to the start.  I'm pretty sure he had a broken hip and shoulder.  Shortly thereafter, as I became settled into a comfortable climbing pace, I dropped my iPhone onto the roadway and my rear tire ran right over it while I was transfering it from my jersey pocket to my top tube bag shattering the screen.  The only positive thing about that day was the scenery and the beautiful Shaver Lake.  Anyway, I had a good conversation with one of the SAG drivers driving back down to Clovis.  What's really unforntuate, is that this death has permanently ended any future editions of this famous ride -- No more Climb to Kaiser.

The last cycling event I registered for was the annual Cancer Awareness Run & Ride -- a charity event to raise money for Sutter Memorial Hospital.  I was to run the 10k first then ride the 12 mile bike course with my wife and her friend, but a week earlier, my Jamis propietary designed seat tube clamp broke on a midnight training ride with Jim Pyatt near Knights Ferry.  I couldn't find a replacement part until well after the event was over so I was a "no show" (DNS) on that one.

So that's how my year of  "Not So Epic Adventures" went.  After all that, I bought a Bianchi Fixed Gear Track Bike and have been riding it on my weekend group rides as a basebuilding quest towards next year.  I have to say that over the past two months of pushing that 48x16 gear with no coasting, I've definitely become stronger.  It forces you to spin a faster cadence in order to keep up with everyone else on geared bikes, and on the hills, there's no bailout option.  Instead, it forces you to stand and crank it out.  After two months, I'm now leading the pack on every group ride with this torture device which was my ultimate goal when I first purchased it. 

For next year, I intend on entering the California Triple Crown Stage Race (600 miles with over 45,000 feet of climbing over three days within a six week period between May and June).  Also, I plan on riding a RAAM Qualifier in either early April or September -- a 400 to 450 mile 40 plus hour event.  It all depends on how the vacation schedule pans out at work. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 Year End

Yesterday, I led out the small group ride of around 60 registered riders at the 2nd annual “Spirit of Giving” Run, Walk, & Ride charity event for the City of Modesto via the Stanislaus County Bicycle Club. It was mostly a 5k running race with over 400 participants, but this year, the SCBC was included so I volunteered to help out in whatever capacity was needed even though I was scheduled and registered to run in the race. I rode over to the downtown area at 11th and M streets where the festivities began. The course was mostly a west to east direction with most of it following the Peggy Mensinger Multiuse Path which runs through Dry Creek from La Loma to Claus Road and then back the same way. Our club President, Susan Dion, and board members: Louis Levin, Dave Enz, and another board member, along with the Modesto Police Department protected and controlled key intersections so that the riders could pass safely. There were a few roadies, many people on mountain bikes, and families with small kids on Walmart hybrid bikes. The low temps combined with the wind chill was excruciatingly painful on the hands reminding me that I really need a real pair of long fingered cycling gloves for the season – another stark reminder that I’m not in San Diego anymore. Anyway, the 12 mile ride was quickly over by 10:30 Back at the finish, awards for the 5k race were well underway, and I heard the name of one of my very talented riding pals Alisha Rice being announced as the 3rd runner overall. Alicia has had quite the big year qualifying for the Boston Marathon twice despite a nagging ankle injury. My favorite part of the day was watching the “Chase the Grinch Out of Town” quarter mile run for kids 10 & under By 11:00am, I was commuting via bike back towards home along North 9th street reflecting on this past year of 2011 and wondering what lies ahead for 2012. Looking back, this year was the most satisfying in recent memory – maybe ever. I finished what I had set out to do by riding five double centuries and volunteering at one earning the much coveted California Triple Crown Gold Thousand Mile Club membership and a really cool and rare jersey in the process -- a great way to end an epic year of cycling.
While navigating through crowded car lanes of Christmas shoppers over the Briggsmore overpass, an old familiar voice from my past echoed in my head which was strange because I rarely ever recollect these memories in my day to day life. Over thirty years ago, we were doing interval wind sprints between whinning and puking our guts out when the voice of my old football and track coach Jerry Van Legen was announcing one of his profound megaphoned statements. In his deep, calming voice he said, “Gentlemen, with every hard sprint, you’re either getting better, or getting worse…., but you’re certainly not staying the same”. He was right. I'm satisfied with my personal results for this past year, but something is definitiely missing. Winter is here, and I don’t want to hibernate. I still have that desire to to keep moving forward. So, for the winter, I'll invest in some winter gear and keep riding, but at a much slower LSD pace maybe three or four days a week to extend my base. For next year, I’d like to ride beyond the comfort zone of my typical 200 mile events. I’m looking at the NorCal RAAM Challenge, a 390 mile, self supported 36 hour endurance bike race that runs between Sacramento, the Napa Wine Country, and the Pacific Coast which takes place in September of 2012.
Before that, I’m looking at entering the California Triple Crown Stage Race – a collection of three of the toughest Doubles on the schedule which includes: the Devil Mountain Double, Terrible Two, and Mt. Tam Double. My training for these will focus on climbing since the average of elevation gain on these three are around 18,000 cumulative feet – twice the elevation that I’m comfortable with. The other path I'm contemplating is completing a brevet series with the Santa Rosa Bike Club of four rides beginning in February with a 200k, March is a 300k, April is a 400k, and finally working up to a 600k in May. My work schedule will be the dicatating constraints of what path I choose. Either way, I've got lots of work to do. video

Monday, November 7, 2011

2011 Fall Death Valley Double Century

On October 30th 2011, I rode the Death Valley Double Century, Fall Edition...well sort of, but I'll get to that later. As most cyclists who've ridden an AdventureCorp event, you know how well executed these events always are. The courses are always well conceived, volunteers are the most experienced, and there's never a shortage of loyal followers. We're all very lucky to have Chris Kostman "out there" creating these fantastic venues for all of us mortals to weigh and measure ourselves against. For anyone who hasn't yet visited Death Valley, I urge you to put this one, especially via bicycle, on your "must do list" of future vacations. In the past, I've driven over 300 miles after getting off work to come here, do the ride, crash/sleep in the parking lot, and then speed home. This is no way to visit Death Valley. You have to spend at least three days here just to really take it all in. Find out the history of this unique region and the stories behind such names as Hell's Gate, Funeral Mountains, Devils Cornfield, Scotty's Castle, and Stovepipe Wells. Once you've explored this region, and get a few answers to the mysteries of Death Valley, the ride becomes more rich in meaning. Anyway, I came to this event to redeem myself from DNF-ing last year due to a pretty bad bike crash at mile 180ish that kept me off the bike for the following three months. So, today I had unfinished business to take care of.

By nature, I like to wake from sleeping at around 5:30am every morning without an alarm, so I always opt for the last wave when riding any bike event, and this translated to a 7:20am rollout at this one.This particular double is scheduled much later on the clock than most to take advantage of riding via moonlight on the last segment unless you're one of those talented and/or hard-working athletes who can finish 200 miles before sunset, but I say, that's a lonely way to spend the day. From 6:45am until my 7:20am sendoff, I socialized, and absorbed as much of the preride energy by meandering around the starting corral at Furnace Creek Ranch while listening to Chris, the ride/race director, announce the park rules over his megaphone, give out advice -- both mechanical and biomechanical, and deliver short quips of velo humor. By pure chance, I happened to line up behind John Marino prior to Chris introducing the crowd to him as, "The Godfather of Ultradistance Cycing". John was the pioneer who first created what is now the Furnace Creek 508 Race; back then -- 30 years ago, it was called the JMO (John Marino Open), and he was one of the four original entrants and finishers of the very first RAAM (Race Across America) which was broadcast on the Wide World of Sports. Lucky me. I seized this fortuitous opportunity to ask John a few questions on the details of his recent Furnace Creek 508 adventure just two weeks prior. Soon, it was 7:20, and we were off! For the next 24 miles, the course took us up and down the rollers of the alluvial fans unique to this region and past the Mesquite Dunes near Stovepipe Wells -- our first check point/rest stop just 24 miles from the start from Furnace Creek Ranch. By then, my legs, lungs, and body finally becamed warmed up and syncronized enough to hammer up to a fast paceline where we maintained a good 25mph pace into the Stovepipe Wells rest stop.I figured that I would take advantage of this "slipstreaming" early on since I know that I'm a slow finisher never being able to hang with a strong group the entire day -- You gotta take your breaks when they come along, because as I've found out, whether you feel really bad, or great, it will pass. Soon, we were at the first checkpoint/rest stop at Stovepipe Wells refilling bottles, socializing, taking pictures, and of course forming a major line to the "port-a-potties". It always seems that throughout the entire day during any given double century, the only line of the day is at the initial set of portable toilets at the first rest stop. After checking in, and refilling my bottles, I always seem to settle into my natural rhythm for the remainder of the day.

Now, the course took us northwest between the Death Valley Wash to the left and the Grapevine Mountain Range to the right. At about mile 30, I caught a fast moving paceline made up of Furnace Creek 508 veterans and worked into the rotation all the way to Scotty's Castle.Scotty's Castle served as the lunch stop and later as a checkpoint from the return trip from Nevada.From here, I paired up with two riders for the climb up Grapevine Canyon to the the Nevada State Line. Immediately at the state line, you realize that you're now on a different/higher continental plateau. For the next 20 or so miles, we encountered an irritating head wind across the Bonnie Clare Flats of Western Nevada. Over the next hour, I had a good conversation with Paul Smith of Larkspur, CA who had planned on riding this double last year but ended up having to bail out at the last minute due to some cardiac isssues (blocked artery), but he made it though all that, and now he was here. Pacelining with Paul through this windy section really made the day bearable unlike last year when I slogged through it alone, and with him living right next to Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, he was a wealth of information for me since I plan on riding that double next year. Meeting riders "out there" somewhere beyond that 100mile marker, is like breaking through to a more truthful realm where the layers of personal stuff making up our daily lives, e.g., zipcodes, job titles, socio-economic status, etc., get peeled away so that you, and the rider next to you, are free to really get to know one another. No politics, "game face", strategies, iPhones, email, voicemail, "win-lose" games of commerce to keep us "on top of it all" -- things that keep us at a safe distance. Just the open road ahead, and the commaraderie you establish with the rider next to you.

At mile 95, we refuelled at the turnaround point (Scotty's Junction) and quickly took advantage of the major tail wind all the way back past Scotty's Castle and towards Ubehebe Crater. Just past Scotty's Castle is where I had my BIG personal challenge of the day --a rear tire blowout. I quickly went through my two spare tire tubes and CO2 cartridges before realizing that my rear tire bead had separated from the tire casing causing the tire to blow off the rim each time I tried to inflate it. It was done, and I appeared to be done. I bid farewell to Paul and urged him to keep going. As he rode away, I have to admit that panic was knocking at my door. Fear of not finishing my fifth double for the year was quickly becoming a reality. I decided to kick my shoes off and jog/walk down the course with my bike in tow towards Ubehebe Crater since I knew one of the SAGs would eventually scoop me up. Being a "fair-weather" runner, I certainly wouldn't recommend to anyone running in Death Valley, especially without running gear, but I had to keep ahead of my demons. They would surely catch me long before I would physically "bonk". Besides, the weather was ideal never going past 75 degrees. I didn't want to lose too much time, so I continued jogging and walking in my socks down the road with hope that when the SAG Wagon showed up, they might (by chance) have an extra tire. I was prepared to give them the entire contents of my wallet just to have a second chance to finish. Well, lucky for me, they showed up, and I didn't need to empty my wallet.Fortunately, I had only covered roughly 5 miles by foot with only about an hour of lost time. One of the riders who was being SAG'd in gladly donated to me his rear tire free of charge, and back on the bike I was again, but without CO2 or an air pump. For the rest of the ride, I kept humming that Jackson Browne tune (in my head) "Running on Empty" knowing full well that one more mechanical would most likely end my quest. I began thinking that I might be cursed in Death Valley. Needless to say, I peddaled gingerly avoiding all obstacles -- both real and imagined on the remainder of the course.

Familiarity often has a calming effect when you're stressed. So, I was very relieved to see my pal Rich Stuart of Pahrump, Nevada working the Ubehebe Crater Checkpoint at mile 130. I spent, or rather wasted a good 15 minutes updating him on my misadventures and fears before bidding him farewell and dashing off down the parking lot hill.With nightfall fast approaching, I would soon be able to see how well my new $230 Stella 300 head light would work, but first, I had to peddal out of the dusky bowl of volcanic terrain back to the Grapevine Ranger Station to fully reach darkness. With about 60 miles to go, I stopped, dismounted, streched my quads and hip flexors, then turned on all of my lights with the exception of the headlight. I briefly paused, and gave my borrowed rear tire one last squeeze. It was still hard as a rock. With a sigh of relief, I turned on my new Stella 300 headlight. Wow! I couldn't believe the lumenous output. The only thing missing was a drumroll prior to pushing the on switch.Aside from training wheels, there's nothing that enstills the highest level of confidence than a high output lighting system on a bicycle. My headlight worked so well that other riders who caught me, would hesitate, and hang back on my rear wheel just to borrow light. Of course at this point of the ride, no amount of bright light is enough to save one from a "running out of time" related DNF, so the faster riders eventually peeled off my rear wheel and passed me.

The last climb of the night, was the five mile ascent up Beatty Cuttoff towards Hell's Gate. This is a steady 5% gradient climb that enables a hypothermic rider to warm up his or her body temperature from the climbing action. I climbed this segment among a dozen or so Adobo Velo members to the last checkpoint/rest stop of the ride listening to them all chatter in their native Philipino toungues. After that, we descended Hell's Gate back to Furnace Creek together as a peloton. About halfway down, I decided to fall back and let the group go on so I could reflect on what transpired last year on this particular stretch of road so as to not repeat my misfortune. Soon I was about less than ten miles from the finish when the last riders (a tandem) blew right past me. I was now alone...riding for DFL Honors. I stopped a few times to check the clock on my cell phone, which, by the way, doesn't work in Death Valley -- that's how remote this place is. About six minutes before midnight, I finally crossed that finishline that eluded me over the past year. My ride here in Death Valley was one of personal redemption -- a second chance; something many of us, for one reason or another, never seem to either get or take advantage of when it comes around. The ride was definitely memorable for me, but I'm glad it's over. Next stop, volunteering for Anny Beck's Borrego Double Century down in San Diego County -- my old backyard.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Knoxville Fall Classic Double Century

Last Saturday (9/24/2011) I rode the Knoxville Fall Classic Double Century. This one featured 202 miles and over 12,600 feet of climbing. The course started in Vacaville, CA and took us south through Fairfield, then west through the Napa/Sonoma Wine Country and around Lake Berryessa and near lower Clear Lake before heading back through Pope Valley and finishing at Pena Adode Park.After finally earning California Triple Crown Status by late June, I hated to just quit for the year wasting all of my fitness, so I decided to enter two more doubles and reaching for the much coveted title of the 5 or more/1,000 mile club plus one volunteering at one event. The jersey for that one is just way too cool to let it slip away. I decided that Knoxville would be a great next step in difficulty, and of course, I've been haunted by my DNF in Death Valley last year, so these will be my final two adventures for the year.

Anyway, the ride wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be since 2/3rds of the climbing was over by the halfway mark. To avoid getting bogged down with the boring details of classic ride data: pedal cadence, average speed, heart rate, blah, blah,, I'll make it short. Basically, I rolled out at 5:45am and finished at 10:30pm.I'm glad to have entered this one because it gave me the chance to get reacquainted with several southern California riders I haven't seen since moving up here, and I finally got the change to meet the Quack Cyclists of the area who embody angelic qualities of watching over us. I got the chance to talk with Scott Halversen - ride director, who mentioned that the net proceeds of this event would go toward purchasing several AEDs in memory of Tom Milton.He was a rider who parished on the Devil Mountain Devil Course last year of a heart attack. Now, many of these events will have such devices in all SAG vehicles, and they will be loaned out to other California Triple Crown events throughout the state. I must mention that the Quack Cyclists organize the best and most over abundant ride in terms of SAG support within this state by establishing a staff to rider ratio of nearly 1:3. On this ride, there's always an angel looking over you, and s/he is usually wearing one of those cool, purple QuackCyclist Caps.
The irony is that the "Quack Cyclists" are not a club at all, but rather a loosely connected network of local area riders who come together twice each year to put on the Devil Mountain Double in the spring and the Knoxville Double in the fall.

During the first half of the ride, I had a lot of brief meetings with various people I haven't seen since last year. After the lunch stop at mile 107, I spent the rest of the day riding with Jim Brewer,
a rider in his mid 70s who has completed two dozen of these rides, as well as last year's Furnace Creek 508. It's very inspiring to feel like you're in the physical prime of your life, and riding with someone nearly twice your age at your best pace. This was my day with Jim. He made me realize that I've only just begun; that I still have a lot of growth left in the future.To paraphase Chuck Bramwell, director of the California Triple Crown, "We believe in really long rides, and the stories with the great people that we meet..." I guess that's why after finishing my third one back in June, I just found it impossible to just hang it up and walk away. Next stop, Death Valley -- my redemption ride.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Remembering how to run

August 1st has been looming on the back burner of my mind for the past several months. For the past year and a half, I've been chasing the California Triple Crown Double Century series, so I've had to put off serious running until after that particular cycling palmare was past which officially ended last June 25th, 2011 upon completing the Los Angeles Grand Tour. The impetus for starting this morning is the upcoming 3rd annual Modesto Marathon which is scheduled next March -- just seven and a half months from now. No traveling to this event since it's in my new home town. The combination of timing, seasonal temperatures, and flat terrain make this one the ideal first marathon attempt, or first half-marathon...I'll use a "waint-n-see" approach to that decision. Enough of the grandiose talk of running.

This morning, I woke at 5:30, brewed coffee, fed the animals, did a quick five minute pre-movement/warm-up, and headed out the door for what turned out to be a ten minute walk/run around the block. No, that wasn't a typo. "Walk/run for ten minutes was today's plan covering a distance of.... one mile, and I feel like I just finished a 30 mile bike ride. That's how out of (running) shape I've become. It's been nearly a year since I used to regularly crank out a 5k every other morning back in San Diego where the terrain is quite hilly. Immediately, I became aware of how different cycling fitness is to running fitness -- it's a different set of muscle movements, breathing technique, and nuerological skillsets. Within five minutes, I was mentally brought to the edge of where I got a glimpse of why runners feel that have to run, and it felt borderline euphoric until my right hip flexor pulled me back down to reality reminding me that my right leg is still shorter that the left, so everything on that side feels tighter. Maybe, I might want to look into custom orthodics. Anyway, it felt great to be back at it if only for ten minutes. I think I'll spend the next month doing this short walk/run program three days a week until I work back up to 5k, or 30 minutes, again.