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.