Sunday, November 7, 2010

Soy and Silicon

The past 3 months I've been absorbed with academic things. However, hip surgery readers will be curious how my training and rehab has gone. After a month of running every day, I had an overuse injury to my right calf - that's my GOOD side. Till now, all problems have been on my left (operated) side. Perhaps my single-minded focus on building strength and control in my left leg has left my right behind? Was very stubborn about healing, in fact, another solid month when I could barely run at all - very strange. I came to blame it on soy lowering testosterone and healing ability, after much reading. But yet more reading and I'm not so sure. I wish it were easier to see who's funding a given research project! I've stopped eating soy, for nearly a month now. My calf healed, and I'm back to regular running. I feel more energy and generally better. Have no idea if there's a connection with soy, at this point. Check back later on that as I continue reading.
In any case, did have a better-than-expected experience as buddy Ferrell recruited me to accompany him on a birthday adventure - running the Silicon Valley Half Marathon. See the story and pix here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

One Step Forward, Zero Steps Back

Beats 5 steps forward and 6 steps back, it is a mathematical certainty. 16 straight days I've run - usually just 2-4 miles, but once a week now up to 7. That's a long enough streak that I'm in commit mode - run every day unless it's dumb and injurious. If someone had told me that I'd be able to do that w/o re-injury a month ago, I'd have laughed at 'em. The muscles and body are a complex system and I'm glad I have a good coach (Tom Smith, DC and runner) on what muscles need work because despite my obvious brilliance, I sure was clueless on how to fix myself post-surgery. Doing everything wrong! Progress is definite.

So I decided yesterday to do my long-time favorite run; it was time to go run trails again - I ran the Hoffman Trail at Nicene Marks, which is 6.5 miles and 750 ft of total climbing from the trail branch-off at Aptos Creek Road where I lock my mtn bike (7 miles if from the "green gate"). I told myself to just run easy, as I'd done a 40 mile 3200' climb on the bike on Saturday (and 2 mile run). I took it easy, but still discovered at the end that I'd set a new post-surgery PR on that trail. I can make use of the endorphins too - I'm usually in mourning over the loss of my summer by mid August and don't perk up until a week or so into the Fall semester's teaching. Not this year.

Santa Cruz - An Optimum Place for this Dilemma

Philosophically - Does one find oneself doing one great ride over and over until sick of it and can't bring oneself to ride it again till all other options are spent? Right now I'm enjoying the Mountain Charlie/Summit/Zyante ride. Done it 3 Saturdays in a row now. It's so beautiful, and Hwy 9 below Felton still remains closed except for bikes. I used to ride up Hwy 1 to Davenport or on to the Swanton Loop. The traffic on Hwy 1 didn't bother me, till one day it did, and now the thought of doing that ride is just not enticing at all. I'd done Capitola/Eureka Canyon/Summit/Old San Jose Rd over 'n' over as well, and it's still a beautiful classic Northern California ride, but I'm bored with it. What'll I do when I get bored with Mtn. Charlie? I'm starting some GoogleEarth'ing to get ready.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All Hail South Carolina

A few days ago, on my daily run down to the Boardwalk on the beach in Santa Cruz, I was greeted at the shore with a nice sight - perhaps 20 young people wearing club jerseys with their roadbikes right there on the damp sand at water's edge. For a moment, I thought - strange, those don't look like the kind of bikes you'd want to ride on sand.... and then I realized. They must have completed a fairly significant ride and are celebrating. Their smiles and joy was infectious, and I found myself pulled in. Parents and friends were there too, snapping pictures as the young people hoisted their bikes overhead while feet enjoyed the Pacific ocean. I asked one of the parents "Did your group just finish a nice ride?". She answered - "You could say that - we just bicycled across the country, from South Carolina!". I was impressed, inspired, and joined in the congratulations. Later, I felt a bit more spring in my step as I ran through the waves. I so crave to be inspired by my fellow man, and this moment made my week. So now I know South Carolina has at least two great things going - these ambitious and adventurous kids, and also a great surgeon - Dr. Thomas Gross - who did an outstanding job giving me the ability to run again, with my new cementless resurfaced hip.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gluteus Maximus

I've been doing left-leg stands, bent knee, upright back, to engage my glutes and train the proprioceptives. Often at the beach on the soft sand to make it tougher, (and the scenery better!). And, it's working! Aug 3 I went for a 2 mile run and actually FELT like running fast, and did. After 10 miles in 3 days, I am dialing back a bit and yesterday did a 38 mile ride; up Mtn. Charlie over to Zyante Rd and down to Felton, Hwy 9 back home. Beautiful ride! I'd forgotten how great Zyante Rd is, with dense redwood groves and rarely seen habitation, beautiful creek, blackberries ready for picking. Quite a nice day.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Rehab'in

Dave D had an impressive Vineman Ironman 70.3 race. I... survived it. The story's here. Two more races (Roughwater Open Water Swim, and the Sandman Triathlon) were this past weekend. but it's gotten pretty clear that I won't make any further progress on returning to pain-free distance running until I double and re-double my efforts to balance all the muscles involved. My excellent DC Tom Smith is helping me. Weak glutes, we've decided, are the first necessity to fix. I'm doing a lot of balancing on my left leg, knee bends and one-legged bridges for glutes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Death Warmed Over

A thousand apologies for the long neglect. It's been a frantic past few months. I did do the Ironman St. George race - well, 2/3 of it. See the account here, not yet finished. Thing is, I got a baad superBug a day before the race. In fact, 5 of our 6-person Ironman team (Dave and Diane D, Sonia and Fred P, Joyce, and me - only Dino was spared) - we all got a respiratory virus that was the worst I can remember. A month and two follow-on bouts of pneumonia later, I was finally beginning to feel better. Meanwhile, sicko notwithstanding, I was madly preparing for a unique opportunity - as a member of the Joint Science Team for the Hayabusa Mission re-entry. I left for Australia June 7, returned June 19. An amazing adventure - Pictures are here. The day after returning was also the last day on which I could get a refund for my entry to the Vineman Half Ironman. I felt recovered enough to go for it. The race is July 18, and as a tune up, I decided to join my friend Dave Wyman, who was putting in unearthly mileage to prepare for his grand cycling adventure of 2010 - the Markleeville Death Ride - on July 10. He went for all 5 passes: 15,000 ft and 129 miles. I went for just 2 passes: Once up Monitor Pass and once up Ebbetts Pass (once up Ebbetts is enough for any mortal) - 59 miles and 6400 ft of climbing. I'll post a link to pic's for this adventure sometime soon. Meanwhile, Dave already has a fine illustrated narrative here. That's my update for now, folks.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Calibration Run

A 3 day weekend should have a 3 days of hard workouts. But be fun! Friday I drove Chris and myself up to Yosemite for a XC ski adventure during a light snow storm to Dewey Point. Saturday was a 42 mile, 2400 ft ride through the local mountains. And today was long-run day. My goal was to do the Nicene Marks Half Marathon course, backwards. I was worried about my left psoas tendinitis issue, as it had flared a bit last week. But it had given me no trouble on the XC skiing, despite being called on with my heavy skis and heavier backcountry leather 3-pin boots in untracked snow. I ran the side trails to the West Ridge trail, up to the ridge, and felt OK. Light rain started up on the ridge (not below) but was never a big deal. By the time I got to the connector to Hoffman's, my psoas was getting a bit sore. I'd stop every few minutes and stretch it, and continue. Arrived at Hoffman's, went right, on down the trail and slowly the pain increased, despite the occasional stretch. Arriving down at Aptos Creek, I needed to walk the last 3 miles back to the entrance. I put it to good use by using the known distance (3.0 miles) to see what pace I could walk when injured this way. I averaged 16.3 minute miles, and 15.4 min on the final mile (if the sign 0.8 miles to pay station is right). For a marathon, 16.3 min miles works out to 7.17 hours, which would make hitting the Ironman St. George cutoffs tough unless I've got a cushion coming off the bike. That's worst case, assuming I have to walk the entire St. George Ironman run course (well, except that St. George has no level stretches at all, like the Aptos Creek 3 miles). For today, including the walk, I did 3:07 for the 14 miles (I did the side trails in, so figuring that's 14 miles total). That's a 2:56 half marathon pace, or 5:52 marathon.

This psoas issue has GOT to be solved! I felt I still had running left in me, w/o this inflamed tendon. Likely the two prior days of XC skiing and biking stressed and shortened my psoas and set me up for this. I've got to pay a lot of attention to regular determined stretching during this final month. At least my other imbalance issues (IT band, knee, achilles, calf cramping) didn't appear.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Next of the Big Rides: Convergence to a Solution?

The Four Horseman of the (Ironman) Apocalypse rode again this past Saturday (4/27). Getting close to the nominal crescendo before a slow taper towards race day. Diane had picked out a Terri Schneider Ironman training favorite ride - up Hwy 9 through Felton, Ben Lomand, Glen Arbor, and Boulder Creek, switchbacking up to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains and Hwy 35, along the spine of the mountains north to Palo Alto and Alpine Road, left down through beautiful green hills, redwoods, flowers, babbling brooks, then up Sam McDonald Ridge, down west to Pescadero for sandwiches with a packed house of other spring weekend cyclists at this artist's enclave. Then up Cloverdale Rd to Butano State Park, and over some hills to the coast and Hwy 1. Then down Hwy 1 past Waddell Creek and up to Swanton Loop, inland, exiting north of Davenport, and then on down Hwy 1 to Santa Cruz. It was a perfect 100.0 miles on an absolutely glorious spring day (except for the mid '30's morning temperatures all the way up frosty Hwy 9). For Dave D, it was an easy recovery ride after he'd done 100 miles to Monterey 2 days before, plus 4000 in the pool and a 2 hour run. For Diane, Sonia and I, it was a bonafide workout. This time, I re-tuned my nutrition. Fewer power bars, more whole foods, and more salt! My fanny pack had 2 almond butter 'n jelly sandwiches on sourdough (extremely tastey), a zip lock bag filled with a mashed red potato seasoned with sea salt and a minced chicken thigh w/butter. My dual 24oz water bottles were Accelerade, the first of which had several pinches of sea salt. I also ate 3/4 of a power bar, 500mg potassium, 500mg calcium, 250 mg magnesium. And at Pescadero, one bite each from Diane and Sonia's turkey sandwiches, and maybe 5 potato chips. It worked! no calf or achilles cramping like on my last two ~century rides. We finished the day with a cold stout at the Mountain Brewery (I abstained, preferring my unique Nuclear Mud formulation - banana, chocolate soy, soy protein powder, blueberries). That was yesterday.
Today was Sunday - long-run day. Dave, Di, and Sonia did multiple repeats of the 3 mile, 333 vertical foot Cox Loop, while I did a 2 hour run up West Ridge in Nicene Marks. Legs were pretty toasted, but no injuries and I'll just get stronger I do believe.

Posting done - now, if I can just stay awake long enough to actually get some astronomy work done.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

First of the Big Rides...

Feb 28, a rare dry day - and the Delucchi's had planned the first of the 100 miler days on the bike. I joined of course - a nice opportunity to train with my buds instead of my usual solo training. We left their home on Cox road, down to Aptos and Soquel, then up Old San Jose Rd to the Summit of the Santa Cruz Mountains. A stopover at Summit Store for a sandwich (I had my own PBJ, now mashed to a mess but tasting just fine in my micro fanny pack), and then up to Bear Creek Rd north of Hwy 17, and steeply down the other side towards Los Gatos and around Lexington Reservoir, and then back up Old Santa Cruz Hwy to Summit Rd and our second stop at the Summit Store. My calfs were seizing up, big time. I thought I might have to bail and limp back to the Delucchi's w/o the added Hazel Dell loop. But - maybe it's those electrolytes? I don't have salt in my home, it's one of those things I read bad stuff about decades ago, jettisoned, and never thought more about it. But it's getting clearer that I am under-salted! In fact, there at Summit store nothing sounded better than a big $4 sized bag of salted "sun chips". Even as the rest of our 4-some was clipping in and heading off, I was madly cramming into my squirrel-sized cheeks as many chips as I could. It worked! Slowly, my calfs unknotted, and by the time we were at the Browns Valley turn I was game for the extra ride up into the mountains on Hazel Dell, then Green Valley, into Watsonville's outskirts, then back to Corralitos and then to rural Aptos and the Deluch's place. 80 miles, and 6250 ft. Even did a 1/2 mile jog, w/o total seize up. Nutrition, Nolt! Got to get this straightened out before St. George...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Electrolyte Hell

Well, doing a little reading up, my potassium needs equate to 10 bananas a day. And I've been more forgetful of my Ca/Mg supplements the past month. Getting only the 1000mg Ca typically (plus some from food). Combine that with my increase in protein to build muscle and recover more quickly from training days... Since I'm presumably using a fair amount of calcium in bone building since my hip resurfacing and osteoporosis, I'd love to think this issue'll be fixed by a little better nutrition discipline. Right calf still sore, no running this week. I rigged a bungee so I can lay in bed and stretch my calf comfortably while I watch the Olympics and tap away on my laptop.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Charlie Horse in the Desert

President's Weekend, spent in the Mojave Desert helping (along with Ken Rockwell) with noted photographer Dave Wyman's workshop "Cultural Mirages" for the 7th straight year. An outstanding trip, with an accomplished group of participants. See my gallery soon, and gallery from past years here. After the workshop, I looked forward to doing a trail run through beautiful desert mountains. Drove out to Rainbow Basin, parked in a wash, prepared, did my stretches, packed my water and powerbar, sunscreen.... and turned to head off. My run lasted exactly 1 step. One! and I got the mother of all cramps in my right calf (my strong leg). Yow! I worried I'd really pulled something, but in fact it slowly got clear that it was just a bad cramp. But that was the end of my run. Can I log it as 0.0003 miles? What happened? Was it the fact my body's used to 2 bananas (potassium!) a day and I'd had 1 on Friday and none on Saturday or Sunday? Was it the food-on-the-road syndrome making for mineral deficiency? Seems far-fetched; don't minerals last longer than that? My eating hadn't been totally nutrient-free. I'd rested for 3 days since my last workout, so that wouldn't account for it either. It's a mystery. I bought a hand massager, am OD'ing on bananas and Ca/Mg tablets, and we'll see.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Wet, Cold Saturday Ride in the Mountains

Saturday - my long ride day. Eureka Canyon is my fave. Starting from Spa Fitness, over to Corralitos, up Eureka Canyon to the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains, along Highland, and down Old San Jose Rd to Soquel and Capitola and the gym again, is 42 miles and 3387 ft of gain. Today, I got an unusually late start - noon! Rain forecast by afternoon but I heard it would be light and hoped it would wait till I was done. I reached the upper headwaters of Aptos Creek, where the Silicon Valley mountain bikers like to park on the back side of Santa Rosalia Peak and then ride through the redwoods of Nicene Marks upper reaches. Here, the rain began. It gave a dark, ominous cast to these unpopulated forest areas, not far from the infamous Ormsby Cutoff crest of the ride, where a dirt road leads off to the netherlands of drug growers who guard their privacy zealously. At this point, I was still puffing uphill and wondered how well my bike would handle downhill. It has been many years since I rode my skinny tire Serrotta in the rain, and never intentionally. I've still got osteoporosis from years off my feet due to severe hip disease, fixed w/ surgery in '07. Going down hard on the slick pavement would be very bad. I considered pressing on to the nearest civilization - the Summit Store, and begging for a ride down in the back of someone's truck. Ignominious, but safe. My pride wouldn't let me and I figured I'd just trust the traffic would see me and not run me over or carom me off into the canyon. All went according to plan, except halfway down the steeps I heard a bad sound and got myself pulled over to find big fat construction staples poking into my rear tire. Doh! Salvagable, repairable, and with help from a nearby tree to shelter me from the rain, I got that solved. But I was wet and cold by the time I got back to the spa. I soaked my numbness in the hot tub for a good half hour, did some stretches, ran some errands, and then home.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"'s just a mission statement..."

Welcome to my blog. I will be posting progress on the many advancing (or retreating) fronts of my life. Especially for now - my training for Ironman St. George, and occasionally my thoughts on teaching, science, and philosophy, and progress on my search to help find new planets in the Galaxy. Enjoy!