Monday, July 28, 2008

Can You Call it Work?

Seriously, Lifeguarding isn't hard. Being a mechanic is hard, working retail is hard; Lifeguarding and training is awesome.

Even if it's been a tough day/week, I'm still at the beach! People forget that when I ask them to move to another area or move their things to keep emergency vehicle access clear. You're at the beach! How awful can it be?

Anyway, it's been a tough training week: the last of my Base weeks before I start my Build into Tahoe. I'm swimming with renewed vigor since reading some pointers from Terry Laughlin (Total Immersion creator). I didn't speak to him directly, but found some info regarding his training philosophy that I can get behind. Basically, you have to practice swimming fast in order to swim fast. Sounds academic, but it struck a chord with me.

Back to work. Really, it's hard to be miserable when this is your office...
(From San Elijo Campgrounds looking South towards Seaside beach.)

Dunno why I'm making a stupid face; I just am. Thanks to g/f Holly for taking these photos and for sitting on the beach all day. Though sitting on the beach all day isn't bad.
Sunday, I drove up to OC and rode with Luke, Allison, Justin, Dan, Steph, and Jeff from STR. Training means I don't get to ride with people much and a group ride was a nice change of pace.

Regrouping somewhere in Aliso. Allison in the foreground, me in the Discovery colors and Luke in poop-brown.
Up on the ridge before hitting "Missing Link" and "Fenceline". Some fun single tracks. "Where are we on this map?"
Starting the climb back up "Stairsteps" to get back to Aliso from the Laguna Woods/Crystal Cove area.

Negotiating a corner before it gets really steep. Stairsteps is wicked steep. Most of us walked the really nasty parts: Luke and I to avoid injury before 24 Hrs of Adrenaline for him and Xterra Snow Valley and USA Championships for me. What we walked, Justin rode. That's why he's the "Manninmal". (His last name is Mann and he's an animal...get it?)Regrouping before retracing "Fenceline" and heading back home via "Lynx" and the main canyon fireroad. HUGE thanks to Steph for the photos...After the ride, the rest of the group headed off to Chipotle, while I got in a 45 minute transition run. I didn't want to run since the ride had been hot and I was pretty shelled, but I got it in. As I jogged out Steph yelled after me: "You're going to run NOW?! You're nuts!"


Ten weeks until Tahoe: every workout counts.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Injury Time Out...Aaargh!

Last week I noticed a little soreness and tightness in my right calf. I remained diligent with my stretching routine and hoped it would turn out alright, but tight and sore turned into pain. Enough pain that I bagged a long run two miles in, hobbled home and considered calling Holly to pick me up. HURT.

After a web search for my symptoms, I concluded I have a problem with my soleus muscle. The combined effect of some BIG training weeks and busy days at work were just too much for my lower leg. Here's an exact description of my symptoms from the podiatry

The term shin-splints is often incorrectly used to describe any pain in the leg between the knee and the ankle. The lower leg consists of three compartments, and which muscles are injured and causing the pain determines the proper treatment.

Shin-splints occur a few inches below the knee on the medial (inner) side of the leg. The pain is located in the posterior tibial muscle/tendon. This muscle starts below the knee on the tibia, wraps around the inside of the ankle, and attaches to the underside of the foot. This route causes a pulley-like action that generates considerable force at either end. If a person runs too much, or if the feet are not working correctly, the muscle can become overstretched and pull excessively at the point where it attaches to the tibia.

Here's why: last Tuesday I ran for 1:45 and then worked a busy tower all day running up and down the beach chasing people out of dangerous water. I think the combination of big running weeks and working busy towers now that I'm a "Veteran Guard" strains my legs a lot. Sometimes I wish I had a cushy desk job, but I'm sure I'd be bored to TEARS. I think my soleus is the culprit, strained by a partially flattened right arch and standing/running in flip-flops:

As for the "Veteran Guard" thing, it's nice that my supervisors think I'm competent enough that they sandwich me between two Rookie Guards, but it's scary at the same time since I'm still learning. It's a seasonal position and we have a large turnover, however, so I'm the "experienced" guard, relatively speaking. *shrug*

So I'm treating my injury aggressively: foam roller, ibuprofen, ice, compression, stretching and it's getting better. The problem is that I can't rest it completely; though I skipped my long run yesterday, I worked a busy tower and was sore by 3PM. I popped 800mg of ibuprofen and it helped, but I could really use an entire day (or three!) of running inactivity and give my body a jump in the healing process.

Rim Nordic #3 this Sunday (MTB Race). I'd like to go if I can scrape the cash together, but then there's Xterra Snow Valley the following week; probably a better idea to skip Rim Nordic in favor of a strong Xterra race.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where the Wild Things Are

If you ride MTBs or trail run, you've undoubtedly come across some wildlife along the way. It's just a fact you have to deal with when heading out "into the wild" as it were. I've been fortunate to see deer, bobcats, coyotes and all manner or snakes; some of which I've inadvertently run over. Today, while out riding I had yet another encounter.

I was riding a favorite single track in Los Penasquitos Canyon called "Tunnels"; so named because the Oak Trees are of a small stature that they grow across the trail, creating a tunnel effect. A nice place to ride in the day because it keeps the temps cool and a challenging place to ride at night due to the technicality of it.

I was riding at a moderate pace, went to make a corner and hit my breaks before I realized what was happening. My eyes fixed on the tail of a red rattlesnake directly in the trail in front of me. I hollered "WHOA! SH!T!" as my front wheel stopped mere inches from the snake. I gracelessly unclipped and beat a hasty retreat about 15' away. He (it?) had just eaten and I could see the squirrel-sized lump about mid-body on the snake. I'd guess 5-6' long with as many rings on his rattle.

I backed off and waited for him to move. Luckliy I was downwind, but the trees made the wind swirl, alerting the snake to my presence. I'd get a few warning rattles until the wind resumed it's prevailing direction: more of a "leave me alone, I just ate" than "I'm mad and going to bite you".

I snuck as close as I dared and snapped a photo with my phone, but the snake is so well camoflaged he simply looks like a pile of dirt. Scared the crap out of me when I almost ran him over!

Stupid wide-angle phone camera...grrr.

Anyway, after I overcame my fear (and my heart rate dropped out of the stratosphere), I concluded he wasn't moving off the trail and there was insufficient room to pass without being in danger of getting bit. So I bactracked. I needed the miles anyway. So keep your eyes peeled for animals next time you're out ridin', runnin' or hikin'. You never know what you may see.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Going For It

A lot has happened in just one week. The fatigue of juggling school, work and training finally got to me and I'll be dropping my class this week in favor of more training(hence the post title). As a result, I managed to put in some HUGE training last week that'll set me up nicely for a strong race at Tahoe. I can only imagine what Coach Jim has in store for me next week.

Work is still work: people contnue to swim wherever they plop their stuff down and we wind up herding them like sheep. At least I get paid and I work at the beach; please don't think I'm complaining!

My right foot is starting to bother me on long-ish runs. I'm certain my plantar fasciitis has flared up again from the high running volume. Nothing I can't roll out with a frozen golf ball, but still something worth keeping tabs on.

Good news! My filthy degenerate downstairs neighbors noved out! It's been eerily quiet ever since and I'm beside myself I'm so happy. Holly and I have been sleeping really well ever since. Nice.

Saturday I took the written exam for Park Ranger, Lifeguard Cadet. Supposed to take 4.5 hours, but I walked out in a little over 2 hours. I wouldn't call it diffcult, but you did have to read carefully and read all the answers before choosing one. Nice to see they want people that can think critically. Gasp!

Sunday I went for a ride and transition run in Los Penasquitos Canyon with homie James. I did some pretty decent work on the climbs and JW and I "noodled" the rest. He was beat from a huge ride the day before, so he was chillin'. Some serious bush trimming being done on a trail called "Tunnels" that has a canopy of small oak trees. I liked it when it was more overgrown: had an eerie feel to it, especially during night rides. Bummer.

Luke headed up to Big Bear for the Rim Nordic stage race this weekend. When I spoke to him Sat night, he was on his way to a strong result for the weekend with a win in the hill climb and a 2nd place in the dirt crit. Boy has a good shot at the Stage Race Overall and maybe the series points win for the whole summer. Good luck, dude!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Busy Bee

Huge training load, work and school mean my plate is overflowing. Sometimes I wish I could simplify things and focus on one thing at a time. No such luck.

Wednesday, I headed out to Los Penasquitos Canyon for a brick workout (riding and running) and ran into a fellow Xterra racer, Greg Zakowski. We chatted for a while and he convinced me to jump into a group ride meeting there in 10 minutes. Training by yourself gets WAY boring, so I figured "what the heck?"...then 50-54 Xterra STUD Lynn Trimble showed up...followed by Team Cytomax/KHS Pro MTB racer, Chuck Jenkins. At this point I'm getting worried, because these guys are FAST. And they're all riding high-dollar XC race rigs. Yeah; shaking in my shoes for sure. To my amazement, I stayed 2nd-3rd the whole ride and only crashed once. So it turns out I don't suck after all. Jenkins is amazingly fast through tight, twisty single track, but I'd expect nothing less from a Pro MTB racer.

Thursday I spent all day getting my truck fixed; 140 bucks later and it's running like it should. Huge thanks to my best bud, Alex for doing the labor for free. I owe him a six-pack of frosty adult beverages for sure.

Worked my butt off at the beach all weekend. Moved at least 200 people out of dangerous areas, talked half a dozen people in out of the water and rescued one person out of the surf. Each night I came home with swollen "cankles", exhausted, sun-kissed and dehydrated. Just enough energy to eat and pass out.

Alas, with so much work and school, I'm slacking off on my training. I need to simplify my life again to protect my sanity and maintain my relationship with my g/f. I may need to drop my summer classes, but I'm not sure how that will affect my financial aid for next year. We'll see.

Lifeguard/Ranger written exam on Saturday and maybe a day of on Sunday! Or I might work water safety for the Carlsbad Triathlon. Money is money and it's a short day.