Monday, March 31, 2008

Mexicali - Day One

I crossed the US border into Mexico 5 hours ago. So far, there hasn't been too much happening; except for witnessing three policia on dirt bikes with machine guns casually slung over their shoulders busting some ne're-do-well as I was stopped at a street light. Not only did I get to see Mexicali’s finest in action, I learned a new word! Now I now know 4 words (gracias, ALTO, salida et Policia); look at me, I’m almost fluent :)

Driving into Mexico is easy. You just drive through and wave at the customs officer. There's no passport control, no strip searches, no questions about why you're entering the country, you just drive. The funny thing (I always find this stuff funny) is that there were three signs on the US side of the border warning the errant driver that they are approaching the last place to turn around before leaving the US. Half of me wanted to stop and edit the signs:

Sign #1 - This is your last opportunity to make a U-TURN before leaving the US
Sign #2 - OK, this is really your last opportunity to make a U-TURN before leaving the US
Sign #3 - Yes, We realize that we told you that the last two turns were your last opportunity to turn around before leaving the US, but this really, really is your last opportunity to turn around before leaving the land of your birth and venturing into the uncharted nation to south of our sacred border.

Once across the border and past the customs officer, I did have to stop and figure out how to get a work permit from immigration (always keeping things legal). Fortunately, two of the people traveling with me had gone through the process before; else, I would have never figured it out on my own (I really need to learn some Spanish).

Driving in Mexico is a trip, although much calmer than other parts of the world. The road infrastructure isn’t in the best of shape and there is only a hint of lane markings from a bygone era on many of the streets; but getting around is no worse than trying to navigate through mid-morning Manhattan. That is, assuming you know where you’re going. So far, I haven’t driven anywhere without one of my colleagues feeding me directions from the right seat.

We’re hosting a dinner tonight for the Mexicali staff at some Steak Restaurant they selected. That should be a lot of fun. With any luck, I’ll get in a run in the morning.

Take care

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lake Pleasant

My wife and I spent the weekend out on Lake Pleasant north of Phoenix. Friends invited us to stay on their house boat and help with a party they were hosting for their church. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing way to hard to take the boat out of it's slip, but they have great views from their boat and a weekend on the water this time of year is hard to beat. I also had time to get a short run on Sunday morning in the desert near the lake. The run wasn't anything spectacular, but it was pain free. What ever I did to my calf now seems to be behind me.

I'm off to Mexico tomorrow, for a couple of days. Before you get the idea that I'm heading off to some exotic beach resort, let it be known that I'm going to the border town of Mexicali in the state of Baja California. It will be all business. The irony, of course, is that although I live 200 miles from the Mexican border, I barely speak a word of Spanish. Should be fun.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from this weekend

View of the lake from the top deck of the house boat

House boats all in a row

Looking north towards the Bradshaw Mountains.

The wind was really blowing hard

Yes, we have sail boats in Phoenix

Some don't like to leave their boats outside

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Santa Catalina Mountains - Tucson

Went down to Tucson to spend the weekend with my oldest daughter. After a run this morning through the University of Arizona, my daughter, brother-in-law and I drove up to the ski area near the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains for a hike. Unlike most spring days, there was still a lot of snow above 7,500' ... in fact a bit too much. We got bogged down in snow on the first two trails we tried and finally ended up further down the mountain on the Green Mountain Trail at 7,000'.


You can still see the results of the 2003 "Aspen Fire" when 8500 acres at the top of the mountain burned.

Came around a corner on the trail and ran into John Adams sitting on the hill side.

The picture above is the San Pedro River valley. The Feds had a brainy idea to run a new freeway through this valley to reduce congestion on the I10 between Phoenix and Tucson. This was a really dumb idea. The last thing we need is another reason to rip up unspoiled land and promote more sprawl.

My daughter and brother-in-law at the turn around point on the Green Mountain Trail (6,300')

Always hamming it up for the camera

Shaw Butte - North Phoenix

Took a Run/Walk up Shaw Butte in North Phoenix. Not much to report, but I did finally find a few wild flowers.

Shaw Butte in the background. My Black Lab, with his back pack, in the foreground

Finally found a bit of color on the desert. Still not much variety

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North Mountain

North Mountain from the top of Shaw Butte. Piestawa Peak is in the background

Looking south down 7th Avenue. South Mountain is barely visable through the haze

Good Dog

Look Out Mountain

A lone violet flower

The cacti are starting to bloom

The small valley between North Moutain and Shaw Butte. This is a very peaceful place. It will be hellishly hot in a few months, but right now, it's beautiful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Wanted: New Calf

Doesn't have to be new, I'll take a gently used calf, left leg preferred.

After hurting my left calf running up hill in Tucson last week, I babied the thing most of this week. Ran 3 miles on Tuesday and 3 more on Wednesday. Same result both days. First mile went OK, calf tightened up just after 1 mile and I walked a short loop home. I rested on Thursday and Friday (did get in a couple of bike rides, however) and then on Saturday, neither my black lab nor I could take it any more and we ran 5.6 miles; half on hard pack dirt, half on asphalt.

My calf tightened up again at 1 mile, right on schedule and I stopped to contemplate the situation. Since I wasn't in any real pain, I decided to press on and see what happened. Not much at first, the tightness alleviated after another mile, but left some residual soreness. After getting back to my car, I tried to stretch out the calf and couldn't get very far into the stretch without severe pain developing.

I iced it on Saturday night and hobbled around. I was still in some pain Sunday morning, but only slight sore this afternoon when I took my lab out for a 7.6 mile run on hard-packed dirt. Although I was sore at first, the soreness disappeared within a quarter mile and it didn't give me any trouble for the entire run. However, it was very painful when I tried to stretch it out after the run.

So ... there you go. Any suggestions? At this point, I'm just going to keep the mileage low, keep stretching and icing and work my way through it.

RACES: Both Michele and David ran the Tom King half marathon over the weekend in less than perfect conditions and both PR'd. It's nice seeing fellow bloggers doing so well.

Have a great week.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Week in Review

Stealing shamelessly from Charles Dickens: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". On the plus side of the ledger. Two blogging friends had great races this weekend. Lisa ran the Valley of the Sun Half Marathon this morning and did very well. With a 6:15AM start time, you get beautiful views of the desert as the sun comes up over the Superstition Mountains (see picture to the left). This is about the last distance race of the season on the deserts of central Arizona; very happy that she was able to get out there and run it.

In a much cooler climate, two other blogging buddies, Thomas and Grellan, each busted out a great 10 miler at the BALLYCOTTON '10' earlier in the day. Thomas pulled off a 1:06:01 just 6 weeks after recovering from a bad bout of pneumonia. Grellan was rock solid, running a bit faster and finishing in 1:05:38. I've been following Thomas's exploits for a long while and get the strong impression that nearly everyone in Ireland is fit, trim and blinding fast.

Back on the home front, your humble author isn't doing as well. Nothing serious, but it seems like I've tweaked my left calf. It tightened up after a mile in Tucson earlier in the week, gave me trouble after a mile on Friday and tightened up again 1.5 miles into a 7 miler earlier today. For now, I'm just babying the thing, but it is cutting into my mileage and enjoyment. Oh well ... I swore that I was going to take this recovery slow and easy and I'm sticking with that strategy.

On a completely different (and non-running) topic; if you haven't done so, you have got to check out Stuff White People Like. I haven't been all that bashful about my opinions concerning our absurd attitudes about race in this country, but I never thought satire was the way the really drive the point home. This blog has had me rolling on the floor since I found it last night. It's a complete satire, but is written in a straight up documentary style. It is very US-centric and really hits hard at the US upper-middle class (check out: Marathons). The only sad thing about the blog is the comments left by people who think this it all too serious. These folks need to buy a clue.

Take care.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tucson Hill Climb

  Kind of over did it last week. I was shooting for 27 miles and hit 33 instead. That was too much. I'm in Tucson, Arizona today for a conference (staying at the La Paloma Resort) and tried a 4 mile recovery run. Got 1.5 miles into the run while heading towards the hills in the picture to the left and both Achilles tendons tightened up, but big time. I turned around and walked town the hill for a few minutes before I felt loose enough to continue running. I finished out 4.1 miles, but not before my right foot completely fell asleep.

Bummer ... it was such a nice day in Tucson.

Oh well ... hope your week is going well.

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Spring Time

It's spring time in central Arizona. This means that the first 80F (27C) runs of the year are upon us (followed quickly by the first 90F and 100F runs). It also means that there is a lot of green all around the desert.

I took the photos below at "Reach 11" park during a leisurely 7.5 mile run on Sunday afternoon. Hard to believe this place is within the Phoenix City limits.

Take care




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