Showing posts from April, 2013

Orange County

I went down to Huntington Beach to visit my baby sister this weekend. Some family members think that because we live in the same state, we must see each other all of the time. But HB is a solid six hours from where I live — and more like eight with L.A. traffic. Unlike most road trips, I enjoy very little about the drive, so it's tough to motivate to head down there ... but it's nice to see my sister. Beyond it being time for an annual visit, my brother-in-law is also something of a Craigslist pro and Beat and I wanted to sell two of our bicycles — my Rocky Mountain Element and Beat's Santa Cruz Blur. So I transported them down to Sara's with the hope that two Orange County riders will find value in these bikes. They're great bikes, they just don't see much use now that I have the Moots and Beat is angling for his own 29'er.

Sara and I had a great weekend, touring downtown Huntington and riding bikes to Balboa Island to eat frozen bananas (a Balboa-specifi…

Another long day in the sun

Beat had an "off site" with his Google team this week, and one of his co-workers, Jeff, convinced Beat and Liehann that they should ride to the retreat in Big Sur, a distance of about 120 miles. Liehann, who is still trying to regain fitness after recovering from his broken leg, decided he'd be more comfortable with half the mileage, so I was recruited to ride with the group and then drive Liehann's car back from the meeting point. I'll never turn down an opportunity for a long ride, but I was admittedly not quite feeling it. Saturday's 31-mile run took a lot out of me, more than usual because of the day-long heat exposure. Early in the season, when I'm not yet adapted, long days in the sun seem to suck the life force out of me. Although I finished the Ohlone run feeling energized, by Sunday morning I felt ragged and my lips were raw. Despite my best efforts to apply sunscreen, I had a patchy sunburn; and despite two-plus gallons of water consumed during…

Layering up for summer

As we geared up for a 31-mile run on Saturday, I remarked to Beat that it takes longer to prepare for a summer run than a winter run, because summer running requires even more layers. First comes the anti-chafing layer on feet, arms, back, neck, butt, and upper legs. I like to use chamois cream but lately have been experimenting with a lard-like substance made in Australia called Gurney Goo. Then I apply a double layer of sunscreen, SPF 50, so there's three. Then comes the clothing layer — I generally favor a more robust combination of sleeves and three-quarter-length tights because it prevents the chafing I otherwise get on my thighs and armpits, and also adds more sun protection. Finally, during the run I add the inevitable layers of sweat, dust, bugs, and more sunscreen that eventually blends together into a coarse, disgusting paste. Altogether, I count four to six sticky, sweat-soaked layers on top of my skin. To be honest, I prefer fleece and Gortex.

Summer is the default c…

Fighting disheartenment

So, I started this post a few days ago and decided not to publish it, feeling that people have already read enough about the Boston attacks from the running community. But I have to admit that this did affect my mood this week, and it's been helpful to hash out the emotions. 

I was one of those sentient children who occasionally became deeply affected by world events. Some of my oldest memories are framed by news images I saw on a television screen. I was 6 years old when the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster happened. My first grade teacher screened the live coverage in the background of whatever else we were doing that day. I remember distraction among my classmates, but my teacher was watching the news intently, and I also couldn't take my eyes off the screen. She remarked that it was a "sad day for America," but I remember my predominant emotion was fear.

Looking back, this visceral fear had less to do with scary images of burning debris falling from the sky, and…

Danni's diet run

I reflected in my last post about hunger for adventure and the way it drives my life, and then settled into a rather uneventful week at home. Like all things in life, even adventure needs balance, an ebb and flow. April is generally a quiet month, and it's a good time to hunker down, do income-generating work, finish taxes, organize, spring clean, buy new furniture, scrape the winter mud off bikes, schedule appointments, take the car in for service ... and of course the mundane list goes on. Life maintenance, my friends call it. The stuff that is required to continue having adventures.

And of course there is training. Training is a less mundane and arguably less important component of future adventuring. But it is important. I feel like I put some great deposits in my fitness bank during the winter, and then I went ahead and withdrew everything in Alaska. It was worth it, but I returned to California with tired jelly legs and little maintained running fitness. My big summer adven…

Is there enough?

Flecks of snow fluttered into my eyes as the front tire spit a stream of grit toward my face. It seemed like a less than dignified way to end a journey that began two months ago under the scorching sun of Salt Lake City's August, and finished on this country road silenced by Upstate New York's October. And yet it hardly seemed real as the autumn storm intensified into a light blizzard — I got on my bike Utah, and pedaled it 3,200 miles, and ended up here ... in New York! I expected — no, scratch that, I knew that this would be the defining journey of my adult life. Someday I would tell my grandkids or my grandnieces and nephews this story, about the time I rode a bicycle across the United States. "Nothing can ever top this," I thought, and I believed it.

It's been nearly ten years since I pedaled from Salt Lake City to Syracuse, New York — that once-in-a-lifetime journey which, I told myself, would satisfy my craving for adventure. I used to believe things like …


Beat and I went mountain biking today. It was blissful. The hills were green and alive. The trails were tacky and muddy. Biking felt great after all the running. I ran five days this week, 36 miles total (slowly, but it was all running, even up steeper hills.) Now my legs are finally sore, which is a definite improvement over inexplicable shiftlessness. Biking is hard, too. I just want to have power again, to pedal strong, and to run until my muscles actually hurt, rather than feel like my body isn't listening to me and is instead being defiantly lazy. Beat is in great shape compared to me; I just have to conclude that walking to Nome is good for you.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me. I don't think this is a rest issue, necessarily. I felt worse after a full day of rest (during a 6.5-mile run Wednesday) than I did today during a three-hour bike ride, one day after a hilly 9-mile run. Plus, it felt great to get out today, and breathe some fresh air after what feels li…

Moving forward

I've gotten out for a run most afternoons this week but have yet to bring my camera along, so I'll have to settle for a picture from my last full day in Alaska that I never had a chance to post. Anchorage had just received more than a foot of new snow followed by a cold snap, and it was 8 below zero when I woke up that morning. But the air was calm, and after Nome it felt downright balmy. I had to take the Fatback to the bike shop to be dismantled and crammed into a tiny road bike box, and figured I might as well extend the ride for an hour or two since I was going out anyway.

The Chester Creek Trail was smothered in soft powder that had been stomped up by walkers, but the strenuous 5 mph grind suited me just fine. I didn't see many people out on this cold morning except for a Ukrainian woman who my friend Dan told me walks this trail all the time. He also told me she doesn't like bikers. Sure enough, she waved me down to yell at me for "wrecking" the trail.…

Easing back in

Alaska, with her enticing siren song of beauty and adventure, never fails to tempt me into the depths of physical exhaustion. For a month she persuaded me to dig deep, and so I dug, and dug, until April came and I was flat on my back in California, deep in an energy hole just in time for the launch of spring training. And so it goes. Winter is for playing until I'm exhausted. Spring is for playing until I recover. 
I can't even complain because I didn't walk a thousand miles to Nome, but March was a big month for me — enough that I feel like I'm well down the backside of the bell curve of fitness. Beat and I returned from Anchorage on Wednesday, and amid the flurry of unpacking and catching up, I attempted two short runs on Thursday and Friday. Both were busts. It was hot, so hot (67 degrees one day, 76 the next!), and my legs weirdly felt frozen — as though I haven't run in more than a month ... which in truth, I haven't (snow "running" is a differe…