Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Root of All Evil?

The calf is much better. I'll get to why in a bit, but as the calf gets better, it exposes that my hip hurts...a lot. The pain in the calf/soleus has been masking the hip pain for some time and alleviating one set of injuries exposes another. I've been certain that all my problems stemmed from one injury or imbalance, but I was unsure which. Thanks to a new little toy Holly and I picked up AND the expertise of her co-workers at Core Orthopedic, I'm on the mend and totally stoked about it.
We went to Road Runner's Sports just for the stick and I walk out with a new pair of shoes...oy! Yeah, Saucony Pro Grid Hurricane X (ten). "The Stick" in the background has completely fixed my calf; no bullsh!t. After only a few days of treatment it's almost completely pain free and I dropped close to 30 seconds per mile off my Z2 running pace...all from self-massage 2x a day. Nothing short of miraculous. The foan roller is working out my hip pain and the golf ball (permanently in the freezer) is doing wonders for my plantar fasciitis. It sounds like a lot, but if that's what I have to do to keep training and stave off injury--I will.
On to the hip. I'm sure the Piriformis is the problem. The hip and gluteals are the prime movers for your legs; when they're not happy, your performance suffers BIG TIME. I have pain in my hip that radiates up into my back and gets worse when I sit for long periods of time. Read below (text and photo courtesy if wikipedia.org). The Piriformis is the muscle at the top of the leg right where the sciatic nerve (colored yellow) begins.

"Inactive gluteal muscles also facilitate development of the syndrome. These are important in both hip extension and in aiding the piriformis in external rotation of the femur. A major cause for inactive gluteals is unwanted reciprocal inhibition from overactive hip flexors (psoas major, iliacus, and rectus femoris). This imbalance usually occurs where the hip flexors have been trained to be too short and tight, such as when someone sits with hips flexed, as in sitting all day at work. This deprives the gluteals of activation, and the synergists to the gluteals (hamstrings, adductor magnus, and piriformis) then have to perform extra roles they were not designed to do. Resulting hypertrophy of the piriformis then produces the typical symptoms.
Runners, bicyclists and other athletes engaging in forward-moving activites are particularly susceptible to developing piriformis syndrome if they do not engage in lateral stretching and strengthening exercises. When not balanced by lateral movement of the legs, repeated forward movements can lead to disproportionately weak hip abductors and tight adductors.
[7] Thus, disproportionately weak hip abductors/gluteus medius muscles, combined with very tight adductor muscles, can cause the piriformis muscle to shorten and severely contract. This means the abductors on the outside cannot work properly and strain is put on the Piriformis.[8]"
All of those symptoms and causes fit me to a "T" and it's no surprise my hamstring and calf on that side hurt.
I seem to have found a solution to my problem(s) and I'm very excited about it. Woot!

Friday, December 26, 2008


I love my family and all, but I'm always glad when the Holidays are over. Stress from traffic and running hither and yon taking care of random stuff wears me down fast.

We rearranged some furniture to fit the tree into our tiny condo and The Monster learned a new trick:
That's what I get for putting the end table behind the door. THIS is why I hate leaving him alone for more than a day; he's likely to do something stupid and hurt himself. I swear he's either an evil genius or a complete moron.

Anyway, a quick furniture switch-a-roo and problem solved.

Holly and I spent Xmas at my folk's house in Orange County; we headed up late afternoon and made it in time to grab a snack before heading over to her parent's place for Xmas Eve dinner. It was my first time meeting her grandparents and one set of Aunts/Uncles. Dad's advice for dealing with your girlfriend's relatives: "she drives...you drink; it worked for me." My Dad rocks. A few Rouge, Dead Guys later and we were off. They turned out to be much nicer than Holly made them out to be.

Best friend Alex (since we were 11) and his "roomie"/ex-fiance/girlfirend/whatever Jennifer cam over to Mom and Dad's after dinner at Holly's folks house. I've been friends with Jennifer for many years and I seriously hope she and Alex work things out. They're practically family and it was awesome to see them. I tossed back a 22 oz. "Arrogant Bastard" in the process.

Little sister Christine and her fiance, Steve, made it in from Cupertino around 10. A few libations and we called it around 1 AM. Iwas thrilled to have them come down since I only get to see them every 12-18 months.

Xmas day was NUTS. Gifts at Mom and Dad's, over to her folks' place to open gifts with them, over to Gramma dna Grampa's to say Hi while we were in town and back to Mom and Dad's for Xmas dinner (22 oz. Stone IPA with it) and then back home to SD so Holly could get to work Friday morning. We walked in the door around 10 PM, totally exhausted and absolutley crashed.

We raked in some amazing loot, though...
De Soto Black Wave bibjohn (replaces my 2003 Tres bibjohn with the holes and rips in it)
Rudy Projesct sunglasses (replaces my frames that broke over a year ago)
Crockpot (yes!)
De Soto gift cert
Memory Foam slippers
about $200 in gift cards
HUGE check from Mom and Dad

IOU's for: a TP Massage kit (something about an FDA hold?) and a gift cert to Kiefer's (swim stuff).

As with any trip to Mom and Dad's we always get leftovers.

Just the cookies!

Chocolate covered graham crackers, oatmeal peanut butter toffee, sugar cookies, something peanut-like with chocolate frosting on it and Mom's rum cookies. I'm getting fat just inhaling the fumes.

I forgot the reen Chile Stew mix from comfortfoods.com that Mom threw in and the toilet valve Dad hooked us up with (ours leaks...f'ing annoying!).

Thankfully it's a recovery week, otherwise I can't imagine how tired I'd be.

Speaking of training: did a 3 mile TT on the track today. I'm not divulging the results, but I'm in good shape considering the running troubles I've had since August; if the leg holds together I have a chance to do some amazing stuff in 2009.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!


Monday, December 22, 2008

"Can't Deny....."

"...the prize may never fulfill you."

That's a line from one of the songs on my MP3 player ("You Know My Name" from: Casino Royal) and I can't help but think how it applies to endurance sports: even athletes that win championships are never fully satisfied; they go home and figure out how to get faster. It seems like the pursuit of that unattainable "perfect race" is what drives us (dare I include myself?).

Training this weekend went really well. I found myself digging deep to finish the week out and I know that work will yield awesome results come March. I'm still dropping time in the pool, the calf is holding up and my zone 1-2 running pace is getting back to where it was beforeI got injured. All good stuff.

Which leads me to my next admission: I'm a streaker. Not the guys that strip naked and run around on a sports field, but my current mental state seriously affects my training. Maybe "Head Case" is more like it. I guess you could call it "training inertia" (patent pending). Bascially, when things go well, I'm motivated to keep training and things continue to go well. The opposite is absolutely true as well; I have considerable difficulty shaking off a poor race performance or work out. I get better the more I race, however. I guess there's something to be said for maturity--"race age"--as Joe Friel calls it.

Meanwhile it's raining again, which makes training difficult. If we're in for a wet Winter, I need to get over my aversion to riding the trainer for longer than 30 minutes. D'oh!

Stay dry and Happy Holidays to you and yours.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rollin' With the Punches

So Cal's been getting quite a bit of rain the last few days and it's tough to keep training in those conditions. I've been trying to ride the trainer, but I'm giving up on it after 30 minutes or less. I need to find something motivating to watch.

So I'm getting in what training I can when the weather allows. Doing that means I'm missing some key workouts. In keeping with the theme of the post, I'm going to push some things back until the beginning of next week and make this meso-cycle 16 days on and 5 days off. Hopefully, that will stimulate some fitness gains. I'll repeat that cycle with a volume increase and then move on to my next Base meso-cycle. We'll see how it works.

Yesterday, I was on point with my workouts and promised I was going to the pool, downpour or not. So I bought a 2-hour parking pass for campus ($2), drove there, found a parking spot and walked to the pool, getting soaked in the process. Once I checked in, the guy behind the counter informs me they're not open until 11, whereas they're normally open at 9; "Revised Winter Break hours" he tells me. I swear they change the lap swim times on a whim at that place.

So I head to the bank: not open until 10 AM. Arrrrgh! Went home, ate some breakfast, went back to the bank and got the cashier's check I needed. The store does them cheaper than the bank, but the bank wouldn't give me cash because it was over a grand...and then charged me $8 for the cashier's check. Huh? Nice racket you got there... So I drove to Pacific Beach, gave them my rent (personal check I wrote bounced. D'oh!) and found out I have to pay the next 2 months with a cashier's check (f'ing property management companies can suck my...).

Got home, rode the trainer for a whopping 30 minutes, gave up ate lunch (starving because now it's almost 2) and proceeded to take care of all the stuff that I put off until after finals (laundry, cleaning, etc...).

Kind of funny now that I think about it...seems like a comedy of errors.

Got a great ride in today, though. Some swimming on tap later and a quick run if the weather holds, which it's supposed to.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Squeezing Every Drop

It seems like any one who trains a lot tends to live life all the way to the hilt. They train hard, they party hard and just get every little bit out of life that they can. A huge difference from your average wage-slave. I felt like that this past week trying to get finals done, work enough to pay bills and still get all the training in that I planned.

Last week I broke my der hanger on my road bike and ordered one through the shop. I hoped it would show up in time for me to fix my bike and still ride this weekend, but it didn't happen. Luckily, I have the coolest manager on the face of the planet and he let me borrow one of the rental bikes.
It's not a carbon Orca or anything, but it gets the job done better than my current rig: Ultegra wheels and components all the way around and the shorter stem was nice to my shoulder, which normally bugs me after a few hours on my Giant. The position still needs tweaking, but I'm keeping this baby until my der hanger comes in. Cross your fingers for "back order" =)

Naturally, "The Monster" has to inspect every new arrival into the house. Saturday, Holly and I went for an easy ride down to Fiesta Island and back. Her shoulder started bugging her, so she bailed out after one loop. I headed back out for some more miles. It was cold and windy the whole ride and I caught a few sprinkles her and there, but the inclement weather kept most other riders and cars inside for change. Nice. Though we both blanked and got the time of the Ironman broadcast wrong. Stupid East Coast time schedule. Any one else get burned by that?

Once done with my ride, I went out for a short transition run. Oh yeah...ran all this week and the leg is holding up. SWEET!

Saturday night Holly and I headed to her holiday party for work since we went to mine Thursday night. They did a "White Elephant" gift exchange and Holly picked the highest number meaning she had the chance to see all the gifts opened before deciding if she wanted to steal one already opened or open the last gift. I was pushing for the Guiness 6-pack of bottles or the bottle of Kahlua, but she went right for the last gift, opened it up and pulled this sucker out... It even comes with drink recipes. Sweet.I'll never doubt her gift-picking prowess again.

Sunday I got the message that Holly's parents bought us a Christmas tree. A nice gesture, but we'll be spending Christmas with both our folks. The logic escapes me. Nevertheless, we drove up to Whittier Sunday to pick it up. They were kind enough to take us to dinner (tasy Mexican food) and went so far as to buy lights and ornaments for the tree as well: really cool of them and I hope I said "Thank you" enough times.

Holly started decorating as soon as we got home. I had some workouts to send off to people.

The Girl decorating. "Don't take a picture of my butt!"The finished product.
So far "The Monster" insists on drinking the tree water and consumed about a half-dozen pine needles: moron. You can see him slinking away in the bottom right corner of the above photo.
As I write this, it's raining pretty hard outside and the forecast for the week calls for some COLD and wet weather. Those of you in places where it snows are in for much worse than we are in San Diego, but 49 feels cold when you're used to 72. It's not like I'm going to drown in the rain, but the local trails close, riding on the roads at night is practically suicidal and riding the trainer is miserable. Time to "Man up" and deal with it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Last post I mentioned that a trail on my local ride got shut down. Friday, I heard through the grapevine that ALL the trails in that area are now officially closed. Signs went up and the Ranger is now patrolling the area to issue warnings and citations as needed. The word I'm getting is that the "powers that be" will be making a descision on which trails to re-open in February. In the meantime, if you've ever ridden "Tunnels"...it's gone. Shut-down indefinitely. I can't help but feel these trails will never be re-opened to MTB'ers. I swear, the longer I ride, the more trails get closed to MTB'ers.

What's frustrating is that the people who follow the rules are the ones that get punished. People who don't give a crap and poach trails still get to ride them, whether the trail is closed or not. Yes they they take a gamble on getting a ticket, but how many people that poach actually get caught?

I'm not advocating riding closed trails; quite the opposite considering I was on the Bicycle Assistance Unit for Chino Hills State Park and I now work for the State. Responsible trail use is a topic near and dear to my heart, but obeying trail closures has not resulted in more trails being opened to MTB'ers it's resulted in more trails getting closed! So where's the incentive for the cyclists to obey trail closures?

Yes, protecting sensitive habitats is important to me and so I stay out of closed areas, but what about people who don't give a sh!t? A "Trail Closed" sign doesn't deter them and the citation doesn't seem to carry a big enough fine to prevent people from riding closed trails.

I'll give you another example:
There's a trail in LPQ that has the unfortunate moniker "The Sh!ts". The city had planned on closing the trail because it deemed it unsafe in its current condition and because erosion became a problem. So SDMBA got approved to repair the trail and did so, keeping the trail open. The repair included adding switchbacks so as to control erosion and to stabilize the trail bed. The repar lasted a scant few weeks as people ignored the new switchbacks and rode directly down the fall line of the hill completely obliterating the repair SDMBA took and entire day to perform. A$$holes.

I'm starting to see why other trail user hate MTB'ers so much: we do a lot of damage and seem only to care about getting an adrenaline rush or catching big air. The more time I spend in online forums, the more that viewpoint gets reinforced.

I've spent significant amounts of time educating trail users about responsbile trail use. Recently, I've given up; a curt wave and a polite, "On your left" is what I've reduced my interactions to. Why?

People don't care.
People don't listen.
People won't change their behavior unless they get something out of it.

Last time I rode in LPQ I saw someone riding a Hiking and Equestrian only trail. I caught him as our trails merged and reminded him the trail he had been on was closed. I got a shrug. I mentioned the access problems we were having and asked him to help us out. Another shrug followed by an acceleration. That's your average trail user for you. " I don't care about my impact, I just wanna get my ride on."

So close it down if you must intrepid Ranger and City Manager. I'll find new places to ride.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Should be Studying...

Seriously, I have a final at 3PM today (currently 1), but stuff's been going down this week and I need to vent. Read on if you dare; I might offend you.

So yesterday, I get the word that one of my favorite trails here in Los Penasquitos Canyon is now officially closed. People had been cutting the low-hanging branches over the trail to increase available head-room. The timing of the vandalism matched the presenc of fresh hoof-prints and manure on the trail. Moreover, the branches cut are at such a height that a cyclist or hiker would not need to cut them in order to pass through the area safely. Hmmmm...what other trail-user group could be doing that? I wonder...

Many of us had been trying to catch the offenders red-handed on film, but were unable to do so. Recently, the amount of damage escalated and the entire trail was closed to all trail users indefinitely. Nice job you wankers.

In other news:

Today, my brother calls me because the folks at Team Unlimited released some of the Xterra schedule for 2009. Turns out the West Championships has been renamed the West Cup and moved to just outside Vegas (sorry, James!). I can't help but notice how the soft opening of the bike park at Vail Lake coincides with the Xterra folks moving the race. Considering that a portion of the bike course is slated to become the route for shuttle vehicles, I'm not surprised the Xterra folk chose to take their game elsewhere. Nice job, Vail Lake! (Insert HEAVY sarcasm). Granted there are likely other reasons for the Xterra folk moving the race, but it's my 'blog and I reserve the right to jump to conclusions. So there!

Lastly, the West Cup (stupid name by the way) race is 2 weeks earlier than in previous years. This means my training plan has to be chopped by two weeks, I have to make travel plans for the race and I have to skip the Idyllwild Spring Challenge race since the two races are on the same weekend. Boo! The Idyllwild race rocks and I was looking forward to having Luke kick my ass. Dammit.

Thanks, I feel better. :)


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recovery, Finals Week and Carnage

First off, I'm fine. My road bike, on the other hand...not so lucky. No crashing involved, but carnage just the same.

I was doing my cycling test up Mt. Soledad, I had warmed up for a solid 45 mins and I was feeling primed for a good couple reps to see where my fitness was at. On the very first rep, I started working too hard in my middle chain ring (sucky road triple) and shifted into my smallest chain ring. The chain started skipping and I could see the lack of tension in the chain. Before I could shift and correct the problem, I felt the drivetrain bind, followed by the distinct feeling of something breaking. If you've done it, you know it is the only way I can describe it.

I stopped and looked down to see my derailler hanging uselessly from the cable and the chain twisted into a Chinese Finger Puzzle (no offense if you're Chinese). Crap.

Luckily I'm kinda resourceful and I was able to turn my bike into a single speed and limp it home, sans test data, however. *sigh*

The derailler hanger looks like this:
Tough to see? Perhaps a better angle...

Yeah, I ripped that sucker right the f*ck off. I still have no idea exactly what happened, but I'm determined now to ditch the Road Triple: more hassle than it's worth.

My new single-speed. Haha! (ignore the foot in the photo...)

So tomorrow I'm ordering my derailler hanger from my bike shop and hoping it gets here in time for the planned riding this weekend. If not, I might have to cobble something together from the spare parts and frames I have laying around the condo here. Of all the rotten luck.
As for training: I'm feeling rested thanks to the recovery week and swimming is going...well, swimmingly. I'm going to try some very easy running this week and see how things hold up.
Speaking of running, I found out last week that my shoes may be the culprit for my problems. It received terrible reviews from the Road Runner Sports website and people were describing pain and problems exaclty like I was experiencing. That would've been nice to know when I bought them last year. I hear great things about Saucony and I'm going to give them a try...and switch running stores.
Finals tomorrow and Thursday and plenty of training once school's out for Winter Break. Saweet! ~

Friday, December 5, 2008

Drop it Like It's Hot...

...or like 4 seconds per 100 off my swmming threshold pace. Woot!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Goin' Old Skool!

So I have motviational issues when it comes to swimming. Tim De Boom wrote a great article for Triathlete magazine detailing motivational issues specific to swimming: people sit there with their feet dangling in the water, trying to convince themselves to get in or swing their arms as if their stretching until heaving a large sigh and heading back into the locker room.

I've done all of those and Tim admitted the same. Today I re-discovered a way to trick myself into "getting it done".

When I swam for Mt San Antonio College, there was never any hesitation about getting in the pool (ok so 6AM workouts when it was so cold outside the 78 degree water STEAMED were hard): I just showed up and got in. So after consulting with Coach Jim, I tried to determine the difference between when I swam at college and now; more importantly, why is it so easy for me to bag swim workouts?

Then the memories came flooding back:
It was the team that made it so easy. We had a great bunch of kids that year that turned into an amazingly cohesive group. We spent more time hanging out at the pool than we did working out. It's just where we went between classes and it was so familiar I never associated it with hard work: we just had fun...and won conference championships that year. Coincidence? No way.

Having fun makes hard work seem easy; that's why I love my MTB'ing so much: even hard rides are a blast because railing sweet single track makes me grin every time. Add in the amazing scenery in the mountains and I'm a happy puppy.

Back to swimming...

I miss the team aspect and I think that's why I have a hard time getting in the water. It's become something I have to do instead of something I enjoy doing. It's become work.

One other thing we did for team workouts was dry-land training before we got to the actual swimming. We'd run to the gym, lift for an hour (including 15 mins of abs from hell) and then cracnk out 4000-5000 yards before calling it quits. Yeah; I ripped off a 6:30 500 that season at an April sprint. I have the capacity to swim much faster than I am right now or have been since 2004.

So I'm goin' old skool and went back to lifting before swimming. I know you should swim "fresh", but I tried it today and getting in the water after was easy! I went right from lifting to swimming with zero hesitation. It was the best swim session I've had all year: holding a pace much faster than I should have been able to after the smack-down in the gym.

I might be on to something here; being tired might be forcing me to slow down and allowing me to "feel" what I'm doing in the water instead of just grinding the yards out. I'm sticking to it for the next meso-cycle. We'll see how it goes.

The team aspect? I'm going to segue into Master's in the Spring Semester. In '06 I swam UCSD Master's 3x a week (1.5 hrs each time) and PR'd the swim at my first collegiate race in SLO with a 25:53; still my fastest swim leg EVER.

I wanna swim under 25 minutes by May.

Swim test Friday and a cycling test Sunday. Woot!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Gobble, Gobble...Recovery!

Thanksgiving is over and done with and now we can all move on to Christmas. Sweet.

Here's how the extended weekend went down:

I got tapped to work Thanksgiving Day lifeguarding for the State Parks. What should have been a relaxing day of easy money turned into a hectic morning because A) I went to the wrong location (my first time working this specific unit (unit=roving patrol in a Jeep/truck) B) I had no idea where anything was C) I'd be working the unit solo for the first time. It's cool that my supervisors think I'm "good enough" to work by myself, but a little nerve wracking fying solo for the first time; kinda feels like you're a trapeeze artist working without a net.
The early morning clouds cleared out and it turned into a picture-perfect day. Sorry, no photos.
Friday morning I packed up riding gear and extra clothes and headed up to the OC to spend some time with the family...and squeeze in a quick ride. I pulled into Fullerton just in time for the start of Le Tour de Tryptophan: an undrground 24-Hour solo "race" on a route called the Fullerton Loop. No entry fee, no support, no prizes, no course marking; just you and a couple other nut-jobs out riding to see who can do the most laps in 24 hours. Timing is all on the honor system and you collected playing cards to keep track of the number of laps you complete. There is a "donation" every year and proceeds go to some charitable organization. Last year, the ride benefited Tara Llanes and 2008 benefited the So Cal Sholastic MTB League: a High-School MTB League just getting started. A $30 donation netted you a T-shirt...while supplies last.

I couldn't stay for the full 24 hours since I had stuff to do with the family and I had brought the SS 29'er. No way I'm riding a 24 Solo on a full-rigid SS. No way. So I did 2 leisurely loops and pulled the plug...out front of course. Pulling out of a "race" while in the lead stung more than a little. Alas, duty calls...

Headed out to Mom and Dad's, showered, scarfed some cold leftovers (broken microwave AND no green bean casserole; womp womp) made it to the G-parent's place to hang for a bit, said "Hi" to my bro and the nephews and back over to the Loop for a couple night laps before heading home. I pulled in to my garage around midnight...a loooooong day.
The Fullerton Loop winner pulled 15 laps (11 miles each). That's a lot of riding.

Saturday was pretty un-eventful: an easy swim and some lifting. Though I lifted at Holly's work: The JCC in La Jolla. Talk about big cha-ching! The stationary bikes all had integrated fans to keep you cool while you rode and every treadmill, stationary bike, etc. had it's own mini-flat screen TV. Sheesh!

Sunday, I headed out to Vail Lake for a some riding. I planned for 4.5 hours, but I was so shelled from Friday on the SS and lifting Sat, that I pulled the plug at the 3-hour mark. Did plenty of exploring and got really pissed off by all the damage the motos are causing out there. The jumps and DH stuff they're buidling out there have turned into a big draw for the moto folks: LOTS of tracks all over those areas. Same goes for the morons in the lifted golf carts: tons of those tracks out there too. Idiots...

Got home Sunday afternoon and iced my trashed legs by soaking in the un-heated pool in our complex

and then eased the tension with some jaccuzzi time
The cold soak followed by the hot soak really helps out after long workouts and especially after long runs. I need to get back to doing this at least once a week.

You HAVE to try this beer by the way. Friggin' tasty stuff. Hits HARD, though.

Some much needed recovery this week and we'll try running next week. Cross your fingers for me; and let's hope I can run pain-free.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Going Big (Noble Canyon RR)

More big training miles this past week. My "Winter Coat" is starting to come off and I'm progressing toward my goal weight. I'm also coming down to the last few weeks of the school quarter, which means studying becomes a little hectic. Add in the holidays and it's easy to get overwhelmed. I have to remind myself to do one thing at a time and it'll all get done.

Saturday I met XC racer Chris down at Fiesta Island and we did the SDBC loop (not the group ride because it gets a little sketchy). It's a fairly scenic 50-miler that winds East into the Faribanks Ranch/ Rancho Santa Fe area before heading back to the coast in the So. Carlsbad area. Chatting wih Chris made the miles tick by much faster than whe I ride solo and I failed to look at my HRM throughout much of the ride. I got home and looked at the data: went WAY too hard. Oops! All told, a solid 4-hour ride. Sweet.

I woke up Sunday and got what I call "the urge". Every so often, I get that urge to do something slightly crazy and unorthodox. I was feeling Saturday's ride, but really wanted to get in an epic MTB ride somewhere besides my normal weekday rides. I was torn between Idyllwild and Noble Canyon. I had a limited amount of gas in my Jeep and no money to buy more. After doing the Google maps gas math ((gallons of gas x MPG) - round trip drive to trailhead) I settled on the Cuymaca-Noble Canyon ride.

I'd done this ride 2 years ago with riding buddies Ben and Craig, but wasn't sure I could remember all the turns. Luckily, I own a decent compass, I can read a topo map and mountain bike bill had the maps I needed. I got my stuff together, made a PB&J and went for it.

I knew I'd be pressed for daylight, but also knew I could knock this route out in 4 hours if I had to. I would have to since I got rolling at 12:20. This ride is SICK!

Around 31 miles and about 6k vertical. The idea was to see if I could pace myself at 8 mph (planned Vision Quest pace) and not kill myself. Even tired, I has enough gas that I could push it from the 12 mile mark all the way to the end, even on tired legs. Cool.

A view from the top of East Mesa fire road before heading over the ridge and into the Cleveland National Forest. The fire damage is from 2003 and there were lots of fallen snags on the downhill side of this (Deer Park Trail).
Start of Indian Creek Trail. A rocky, nasty little climb that had me dabbing and even walking a few places. My full-squish would've helped here.

Once at the top of Indian Creek, I ran into some riding buddies (Ben included, ironically!) and we all came to the conclusion that I'd have to hustle to make it out by dark: it was already 2 and I had 18 miles to go. Uh oh...

So I said my goodbyes and put the hammer down; hence no more pictures :(. I was tired, but did not want to get stuck in the dark in the backcountry. Once at the bottom of Noble, I turned onto the second-nastiest pavement climb in the world (the on to the top of Southridge in Idyllwild is #1) and turned the jets on. I topped it out, turned left back onto Deer Creek and chased the sun. It retreated behind the ridge while I worked my way back up toward it. Thankfully, I won this time :). I made it back to the Jeep just in time for some pics of the sunset...
...and the accompanying alpenglow.

A great ending to a great weekend.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Again With the Burning?

My weekends have been pretty nuts recently. I think going to school during the week makes the rest of life look hectic since I spend a lot of time sitting on my kiester staring at a computer screen or text book. Here's how this past weekend went down:

Worked until 1 Friday and headed home to pack and clean since I'd be heading to Ventura (more on that later) and Holly's parent's were heading down for her half marathon. We crashed early.

Saturday morning we got up early and finished the cleaning/packing and I hit the road for Mom and Dad's in the OC. I took my bike (SS 29'er) with plans of hitting 2 laps at Fullerton Loop since it's flat and I could take it easy before my Ranger/Lifeguard Cadet test Sunday. When I hit Mission Viejo, I could see a huge smoke plume form a brush fire. I called my Dad who said it was in the Santa Ana canyon. Since the smoke was blowing west (over Fullerton!) I made a quick decision and headed for Santiago Canyon instead.

I parked at Cook's Corner and hit Santiago Truck Trail, The Luge and Whiting Ranch. The damage fom last year's fires was bad, but I was stoked to have the area open again. Climbing all that stuff on the SS was harder than I had planned on riding, but at least I wasn't eating smoke.

I finished the ride and headed over the hill towards Mom and Dad's in Yorba Linda...yeah...a little city you've probably never heard of until this past weekend.

...and there's thick smoke everywhere, light ash falling from the sky and the unmistakable odor of homes burning. I can't describe the difference between brush fire and structure fire, it's just different. I walk in the front door and it's all over the news how homes in East YL are on fire. Really surreal watching your own city on TV. My brother, sister and I all grew up there, so there's little doubt that some of our friends may have been evacuated...or worse.

I couldn't help but feel guilty as we ate dinner that night. There we were eating Moms tasty Roast Beef while people quite literally ran for their lives only a few miles away. Again, surreal is the only way I can describe it. Mom and Dad put their important papers in a single box in case the evacuation order came. Thier house is a few miles from the hills where the fre started, but the high winds and unpredicability had us all on edge.

We went to bed half expecting a knock on the door, but it never came, fortunately.

I woke up ridiculously early Sunday morning and hit the road at 5, heading for Ventura. Made it there with plenty of time to spare, signed in, got my wetsuit on and lined up with the rest of the wanna-be Lifeguard/Rangers. No fanfare...just Perm Guard Peabody with a stopwatch..."GO"!

Cold water, and way less fighting for feet than a tri. These guys swim fast and I wound up on my own, but started reeling in the guys that went too hard early on. I got close to the bouy and smacked head-first into someone coming the other way...sorry, dude. I rounded the bouy and realized the breeze was way stronger than I thought as I wound up eating chop the whole way back to the beach. Anyway...I hit the beach and checked my watch:17:20. Sucky, but under the 20-minute cut-off.

The 200-400-200 went much better since swimmers don't run so well. I made up a lot of positions on the last run since guys were gassed. Time: 8:10. Pass.

After that, I got soe food in me and then over to the Ranger physical agility testing: super-easy if you just workout a few times a week and stay away from McD's chicken nuggets. I digress.

Physical Agility: Pass.

I met with one of the background investigators, drove back to Mom and Dad's (fire now burning somewhere else), raided their 'fridge and passed out at 10; 18-hours after I got up.

I slept in this morning (I deserved it!), raided Mom and Dad's fridge again (they left for Vegas Sunday after I left for Ventura) and moseyed on back to SD. Busy weekend...

Rumor has it that background investigations start in early December and the academy could start as early as June. Whoa.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Holy Jim-Trabuco (calf injury, week 7)

The calf is still no good. I tried running Tuesday and it started hurting 2 miles in. I tried it again today and it's the same story. Much more of this and I'm just gonna cut it off below the knee.

Fortunately, I can still swim and ride, so I'm getting in all the big rides I've been skipping in the name of training. If the end result is that I turn into a monster XC racer, then so be it.

I hooked up with fellow Xterra racer Ryan Weeger who hasn't ridden the Santa Ana Mountains much. He's missing out and I figured I'd show him some of the "good stuff" since he's racing the Counting Coup this year. Once the Cleveland National Forest opens back up (Monday11/9), I'll be heading up here lots more so I can work on my climbing.

I was late (as per usual) and we didn't get started until 8:30. Thankfully, Ryan was patiently waiting at the trailhead. Though I'm sure he would have taken off if he had known the route we were taking :P

I actually stopped and took some pics this time:

From Holy Jim Trail heading up towards the Main Divide Road

Looking back down the trail. The runner you can see is in the trail marathon: Blue Jay Camp, down Trabuco, up Holy Jim, across Main Divide back to Blue Jay...Sick!

Ryan. Starting to feel not so great. He mentioned he might have had one too many Negro Modelos the night before. D'oh!
Short hike-a-bike section as we reached the Main Divide.Me on the Main Divide with Holy Jim Canyon, that we just climbed out of, in the background.

Same spot, but looking South toward "The Wall" section of Main Divide that you must climb to get to Trabuco Trail. You can almost see where it splits the two peaks in the distance over my left shoulder.
From Main Divide looking down Holy Jim and Trabuco Canyons. Not a super-clear day, but you could see Catalina Island peeking out of the haze. Hard to see in the photo...

Trabuco Trail head on Main Divide. This is the final downhill on the Vision Quest route and such a sight for sore eyes when you're that tired. I stopped and hugged the brown post/trailhead sign in 2008 I was so happy to see it. No one had a camera.

Christmas Tree! Just a random tree that people decorate each year. Not sure who does it, but one of those things that makes you stop and go "Hey! That's kinda cool!" One of the many stream crossings on the way down Trabuco. These are technically challenging normally and even more so when they're running water in the rainy season. Some are not rideable. OK, maybe hans Rey could ride 'em...
Looking down Trabuco Trail where we'd be going momentarily.

Looking up West Horsethief Trail from where it turns off from Trabuco Trail. This trail is friggin' EVIL and you get to ride/hike it for the Vision Quest. I'll be back in March to do battle with this little bastard.

Total time came out to 4 hours including stops for pics and for Ryan not feeling so hot; we've all been there.

All in all, a great ride that reminded me how much San Diego trails SUCK compared to the awesome-ness that is the Santa Ana Mountains. I'll be hitting some more of my favorites once they're open; keep your eyes peeled for more huge photo posts.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

So get off your a$$ and go vote. NOW!

The new job is official, I start wrenching at the campus bike shop tomorrow morning. Sweet. I like working on bikes and I've always done my own maintenance, so this is a perfect fit for me. Now if I can just keep from strangling these silly college kids...

Seriously, go vote...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Good news, bad news

Good news:
I got mail fram the State Parks this weekend: they sent me my background packet and notified me that I'm scheduled for the physical agility.

Bad news:
It's in two weeks in Ventura and there's a 1000 yard open ocean swim. Expected water temps are in the high 50's...very Tahoe-like. Add in that I've not been training for a while thanks to my calf injury and making the 20-minute time cutoff now becomes an issue. Time to get my happy a$$ in the pool.

Saturday I headed out to Vail Lake for some laps with Luke and recent AZ transplant Chris. The calf held up well though the rest of me didn't. I made it two laps trying to hang with the boys and had to let them go play for 30 minutes while I collected myself. After that I was better, but it's clear my fitness is nowhere near where it was. Time to go back to basics.

Today I hit up the local trails for an easy recovery spin from yesterday's beat-down and things are feeling better. I'm going to try some light training next week and see how the calf holds up.

I might be starting a new job next week. I'll talk more about it once it's finalized, but I kinda talked my way into it. Dad always said it's not so much what you know as who you know. True dat.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Crazy Ass Weekend/ On the Mend

So the leg is healing, though slowly. Justin's advice to take huge doses of Ibuprofen seems to be doing the trick. I checked the FDA website and 240o mg a day is the therapeutic dose, with a daily max of 3200 mg for up to 14 days. So it's better, but not 100% by a long shot.

So I've been swiming (easy on the flip-turns!) and cycling easy: low effort and no hammering of any kind. Frustrating, but necessary. *sigh*

As for the crazy weekend...

I went for a ride Saturday at Daley Ranch in SD; the guy I was supposed to ride with flaked on me AND my brake pads went out at the 3.5 mile mark. So I took the rear brakes apart and limped it home. Total ride? 4.5 miles and about 35 minutes of ride time. Woo.

Saturday night, I got the idea to get my Growler refilled (1/2 gallon beer jug!) and I have a gift card for BJ's Pizza. Sweet. So I call my local restaurant to make sure I don't need an appointment or something. Nope; come on by and we'll fill it for you! Double sweet. So I head over thinking about free beer, walk in and the hostess tell me they don't do that there. Huh? I just called! She gets that "Oh shit, I'm caught!" look on her face but gets saved by a server who shows up and mentions that BJ's no longer fills Growlers. Lame! So now I have this jug that's totally useless because state law prohibits putting alochol in a jug incorrectly labeled. I.E., you can't put Stone beer in a BJ's growler. F*cking lame! So I go home, beer-less. :(

Sunday morning I get up to watch James kill it at Xterra World Championships and I can't find the linky to the streaming vid. I bailed out on the UCSD Team ride and no video? Crap! At which point I realize that Hawaii is 3 hours behind us and I totally could have ridden with the team. Womp womp. So I throw on the riding gear and head out for an easy spin just to waste time until the race starts. I stop for a bathroom break about 45 minutes in and notice my rear tire has a bubble in the tread. Aaargh! So I head home, hoping the tire will hold and it pops about 300 yards from my doo...so I rode it the rest of the way instead of changing it. At least it made it as far as it did.

So now the only bike I have that works is my single speed. *shrug* I killed two bikes in 24 hours. That's a new record for me.

However, homie James absolutely KILLED IT in Maui. He won his age group by a bunch and wound up SECOND AMATEUR and 22nd overall. So he's the 30-34 National AND World Champion. He almost ran down the first amateur...41 seconds out of first. F*cking STUD!

I'm working hard at letting the soleus heal. It's getting better and the pain is progressing in the reverse direction it got worse in. Does that make sense? Hopefully I'll be pain free before it's time to start my Base work for my first peak of 2009.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Saturday at Vail, my soleus was a little sore. I came home, stretched it and it felt better. Sunday I went for a long run and it got sore again. So I wrapped it and either stayed off my feet or made sure I had shoes on and it felt better. Last night while doing leg presses, it got sore again; same treatment, same result: improvement.

Today I went out for an easy 60 minute run with some foot speed work and leg hops...and it starts to hurt. Leg hops made it really painful and I was unable to stretch it away or walk it off. So I screamed "F*CK!!!" at the top of my lungs and walked home. I'm sitting here with it wrapped after taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen and seriously considering hanging up the running shoes for the whole season.

So I'm back to square 1 with this f'ing leg. I'm staying off it for the rest of the week: no more lifting, no MTB riding (hard, low cadence efforts anger the leg). I'm just going to swim and ride the road bike and hope for the best.

Stupid body.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nutrition, Recovery and Toys!

It's only been a few days since I last posted, but Mondays (my usual posting day) are becoming more hectic and Sundays less so since I started back training.

Saturday I headed out to Vail Lake with Luke, Allison, Justin and Eric H. for a couple laps. Amazing how fast your fitness drops off once you stop training. I rode with this group (minus Eric) before Snow Valley and the pace seemed casual; Saturday it seemed decidedly less so. No worries, its' my first week back and they're all gearing up for the 12 Hour Race out there next month. Seriously, I'm not losing any sleep over it.

Friday I made a trip out to B&L for some nutrition and they were out of GU. Rats. I picked up some Shot Blocks instead just to try them out. Pretty tasty little suckers! The Margarita flavor was neat with the 3x sodium adding a salty tang to offset the sweetness. They seem kind of bulky and would be cumbersome if you had to carry a lot of calories, but they're a nice treat otherwise.

As for the "recovery" part, I'm taking it much more seriously this time around: 300 calories and water almost immediately after I walk in the door and stretching while I'm still warm. I'm hoping taking time out for those little details will help my fitness and stave off injury once I get deep into training.


New bike parts are always nice, but my rig is at that point where stuff is in need of replacing. I already had the rear wheel rebuilt recently as well as replaced a front spoke. The new tire I'll put on later, but the brakes are in dire need if being bled. In addition to a good cleaning, the bike needs: chain, bottom bracket (on order), rear brake pads and a new seat pack (broke the part that ties to the pack to the seat post). New stuff is cool but all I can think of is how much food all that money could buy. Ugh.

Other than that, training is going pretty well and school is still...school. I'm being good about not doing any unplanned racing that might screw up my '09 season (yup, I'm patting myself on the back for that one) :D.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Going Solo

Yup. You guessed it. Holly and I have been crunching over our finances for the year and it looks like we'll have to cut some luxuries (what luxuries?) in order to make ends meet. With that in mind, I'm going to have to coach myself this season.

I called Jim today and broke the news to him. He was very understanding and offered to consult during the season if I think I could use some help. What sucks is that I'm going to have more time this year to train than ever before. Once Fall quarter is over, I'll be taking one class per quarter, that's it! Talk about lots of free time for huge training! Kinda bitter sweet: tons of time for physical destruction and no money to pay a coach to beat me up. Dammit.

So I'm going it alone. I'm sticking to the Training Bible philosophy and I'll be using the Training Peaks Virtual Coach software for direction, but the weekly hours and workout arrangment are totally up to me. Scary.

Speaking of training, I got back into it this week. So far I feel good (I forget how sore lifting makes me; ouch!) and the calf is holding up. I'm going in for a massage today and it looks like I may have a hook up so I can get one every month, stay out of the poor house and keep up with the volume planned.

Oh yeah, volume. Without going into too many details, I'm going BIG this year. A BIG Base period and some SERIOUS time goals for key races. I figured I have the time and the race experience to make it happen, so it's time to get serious; and I mean train like it's my job serious. I know I have the talent and the training plan to race with the bign boys and it's time my commitment matched matches my talent.

I have a unique opportunity this year with the amount of time I'll have to devote to training and I'm not letting it slip away. It's go time.


P.S. I turned 33 on Thursday. Happy Birthday to me! Too bad I had midterms this week. D'OH!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Now What?

I've been spending a lot of time on the couch letting my various problem spots heal up. What's funny is that they seem to heal in the order they started bugging me in: the foot/calf healed first and now I'm working on the right hamstring/gluteal. The hamstring/glute proves stubborn and I'm working on getting in for a massage Friday to help speed the recovery.

After nearly 4 weeks of not training,cabin fever got the best of me and I hit the pool Monday and set my threshold pace for the month...it's slow. Tuesday I hit Penasquitos Canyon for a night ride with some guys and my light crapped out on me. Great. I borrowed one from Mark and we continued on until my bottom bracket came loose on my single speed. WTF? I just had it adjusted! Whatever...EBB fixed and we kept going until the batteries on Mark's light that I borrowed came loose in the holder. One more stop for mechanicals and we finished the ride with no further problems. Why I have problems at night and not during the day, I'll never know.

So Wednesday I took my light back to Niterider, hoping they can fix it and I won't have to buy a new battery. It's not holding a charge and the customer service guy said it's probably the circuit in the battery that controls the charging. Furthermore, it should be under warranty since it's less than 2 years old (not that I bought it new, but whatever!). Still, my plans to race the 12 Hours of Temecula on a 3-person team are in jeopardy unless my light gets fixed before that.

Saturday I hit up Sycamore Canyon with another random riding buddy (Brian) and it felt good to ride the geared bike and just cruise. Perfect temps, not too crowded and a great ride all things considered.

As for "Now What?" let's talk 2009!!

I've put together a tentative race schedule and a plan so I know when to start prepping for my "Base" work. "Prep" phase starts Nov 1st and "Base" in early December. I'm still working on how I'm going to continue to pay my coach for 2009 and right now it doesnt't look good. I may have to coach myself; which is BAD since I'm not very objective when it comes to my own training. Let's see if I can scrape the cash together and keep my coach. I don't think I'll make my season goals otherwise.

Speaking of goals, I'm setting time goals at key races this year instead of "get on the podium". Placing goals don't work unless you know exactly who you're racing and how their season is going. With time goals, I have a solid benchmark I can compare myself to. Those are staying a secret until AFTER I do those races, by the way, so my competition won't be able to use it against me. Not that anyone ever reads this crap...

So here it is:
March 7th: Vision Quest (racing Luke)
March 29th?: Xterra REAL
April 13th: Xterra Castaic (if it's an Xterra points race)
May 3rd: Idyllwild Spring Challenge XC MTB (racing Luke again)
May 17th: Xterra West Championships

Arizona Xtreme that I did in 2008 has been cancelled because they are no longer allowed to use the highway as part of the race course. So after 8 years, that race goes bye-bye. Suck, I had a SOLID race there last year.

So that takes me up to my first peak of 2009. Things are bound to change since the Xterra schedule has yet to be announced. Back to the books.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Littering aaannnd...?

Results from my Ranger/Lifeguard interview came in the mail today. Out of the thousands of people that took the exam and interviewed for the Ranger position where did I place? 13th!

My Lifeguard rank is even better...5th!

I think I'll start growing the mustache tomorrow. The Rayban aviator sunglasses are on order. Ha!

Lock it up! (2008 re-cap)

So my 2008 eason is in the books and I'm just over a week into my off-season. I think it's time to look back and evaluate the season. Hindsight is 20-20 afterall...

I had the chance to listen to Brad Kearns (retired Pro Triathlete) speak and something he said stuck with me. I'll paraphrase:

In order to truly enjoy Triathlon, you need to release yourself from your objectives. He clarified by giving an example of his best race ever. He merely focused on having the best race he was capable of putting together on that day. Despite the cold water, rain and seriously delayed race start, he found himself in front on the bike course with a chance to win. By ignoring the conditions, his competitions reactions to them and by focusing on maximizing his own performance, he was able to win.

I raced 2008 with that same mentality: ignore what other people are doing and race your own race. Chucky V. said something similar in his Pacific Crest Trail journal that amounted to "hike your own hike".

I definitely feel that intrinsic motivators are more powerful than racing for a place or arbitrary time goal. Can you miss a time or place goal and still have a "good race"? I'd like to think so; otherwise my 2008 season was lackluster at best.

Vision Quest:
Personal best by 20 minutes. Still think I could've gone faster if not for my GPS foul-up. Totally my fault, though.

Racers and Chasers:
A prettty big let-down. Dead F'ing Last (DFL) in my AG. This plus Xterra REAL put a huge "?" on my seasson.

Xterra REAL:
Took 2 weeks off before this race to focus on school. Same time and placing as last year, but all I had at this point in the season.

Arizona Xtreme Triathlon:
Hot, Hot, HOT! I suck in the heat, but managed a respectable finish considering the heat and the stacked field.

Idyllwild Spring Challenge:
A training race for me, but I pulled top 5 outta my a$$ and qualified for NORBA Nationals as a reault. I also beat some guys that whooped my a$$ last year. Hands down, my most surprising race of the year results wise.

Xterra West Championships:
Again; hot, hot, HOT!
A strong race for me. Camping in the heat probably put me in a hydration deficit, but still redeemd myself after last year's broken chain debacle.

Xterra Snow Valley:
Missed opportunity. Here's where Brad's (and my) philosophy broke down. I raced my own race and got 4th, when I had 3rd in my grasp. This one still stings a little.

It looks like I'm stil learning how to race up to my potential. Some guys have that innate ability to push themselves right up to the brink of their fitness, and beyond if necessary (yeah, that's James for sure!). They have that intangible "thing" that drives them and allows them to acheive amazing physical feats. I find myself wondering if I have "it".

Perhaps I need a paradigm shift. A switch from "zone" defense to "man-to-man". Develop my "killer instinct".

At Idyllwild I told myself I'd hang with the front pack until I blew up. Amazingly, I hung on for much longer than I thought I could. Maybe it's time "race your own race" gets replaced by "fake it 'till you make it".



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

24 Hours of...spectating!

Saturday morning, Holly and I headed up to Idyllwild for Luke's 24 Hours of Adrenaline solo attempt. He'd raced 8 and 12 hours races before, but this would be his first solo 24 bid. If you're clueless about 24 hour MTB racing, you basically do laps from noon Saturday until noon Sunday. The guy (or team) with the most laps in the shortest amount of time wins. Simple right?

Races like this start with a run to your bike so the field spreads out a little on the first lap. I can only imagine the chaos of a mass start.

Bikes lined up at the start. Luke's is the orange and white Kona in the middle of the photo.
Luke getting started on lap one...of many.
Heading out for lap one. Fresh as a daisy!
I did my best to give Luke accurate splits to the guys up front. Didn't know how much his pit crew knew, so I gave him the info I'd like if I was racing.
Once it started getting dark Holly got cold. We headed over to Lake Hemet where we had picked out a campsite and stashed the truck and most of our gear before the race start. Off season means we had our pick of the tent camping sites. While we were gone, a lage group set up in the next area next to us; they blasted Ranchero music for a few hours, but stopped at bed time. Small miracle!

Our view of the lake.Holly said this looks like a commercial for Jeep. The mountains are pretty in the sunset, a phenomenon called "alpenglow". The colors of the sunset really accentuate the features of the mountains; absolutely beautiful. Setting up the tent. Rainflys can help keep heat in even though it's not raining. Holly asked if we'd need it since the daytime temps were nice and bordering on warm. Good thing I threw it on; it got COLD!
I woke up in the early morning to pee and noticed Holly shivering in her sleeping bag; teeth chattering too! I tried crawling into her bag to warm her up; which worked; but we were too big for the bag. We swapped bags, which helped. I feel bad for her being so cold when we go camping; a huge fire at night, hot food and my thermals did little to help her stay warm throughout the night. She just needs a "real" sleeping bag: the Wal-Mart Coleman bags are good for summer camping, but not fall in the mountains.

Sunday morning we packed up early and headed back over to the race venue. It was still very cold and we heard LOTS of talk about how cold it was that night. We were enjoying our hot brakfast just as Luke came out of his pit. He'd done 13 laps before retreating to his car for some heat and sleep "did 13, got some sleep, gonna go get some more laps".

The mountains are so pretty. Early morning at the start/finish. Luke fought hard trying to make it onto the podium, but it was not to be this time around. He managed to grab a solid 4th place by turning 16 laps. Stud.

Finish! If you look closely, Luke is in the brown in the background. In the foreground is MTB Pro and race director Robert Herber. Herber's team "Team Heat" pulled 30 laps. SICK!

Once Luke finished, we congratulated him and then beat feet home. Holly and I were both tired from lousy sleep in the cold. We later found out the temps dropped into the low 30's/ high 20's!

Huge props to Luke for riding night laps in weather that cold, I don't think I would have been able to do so.

Props also go to Holly for taking ALL the pics and for dealing with the weather and the Ranchero music with a smile on her face.

All in all, an awesome weekend and a great mini-vacation since I scrapped the Tahoe plans.

Back to school Thursday...yuck.