Thursday, May 29, 2008

20,000 hits

And the winner of the 20,000th hit is: Jim

It's so hard to believe that 20,000 people have found my little blog interesting enough to visit, but if anyone was to get this honor, I'm happy it was Jim.

I'm back in Phoenix tonight and I'll be in town for the next 9 days. I'm supposed to go to Toulouse, France mid-June, but my travel budget won't support it. Hell, I just got back from LA and I paid for my own airfare. June is shaping up to be: LA, Redmond WA, Toronto ONT, Mexicali BC (Mexico).

In the mean time, my friend Ewen suggest that I let my weight drift up to 90KG before I decided to turn the corner and go back down to 160 lbs ... darn good idea. I was 199.5 lbs this evening, fully dressed. That's 90.5 KG, so perhaps I'm ready to reverse the trend.

Take care,

Phil

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Palos Verdes Peninsula

I'm still in California, ostensibly on vacation; although I did spend 2 hours on the phone this afternoon. My vacation not withstanding, I seem to running in two directions simultaneously. On the one hand, my overall fitness is increasing injury free; I ran a reasonable solid 5K this weekend, got in a nice 4 miler this morning with 2 miles run along in wet sand at the edge of the ocean - plus, my brother-in-law and I took in an 18 mile bike ride from the Manhattan Beach into the hills of Palos Verdes Peninsula, this morning (see pictures below). On the other hand, I'm still eating with abandon, hitting 198 this evening after getting back from a nutritious dinner of cheese burgers, fries and beer at one of the local dives near my brother-in-law's house.

Perhaps, I'll turn the corner at 200 lbs.

Anyway ... onto the pictures



Palos Verdes looking south from Redondo Beach


Looking North back towards Redondo Beach from the bluff in the previous picture


Rode down a very steep trail to the "beach" under the bluffs


Just have to wonder if this home-owner has seen his foundation from this vantage point recently


Nice spot for a house


Plenty of fun hills to ride

Monday, May 26, 2008

Recovery

You know you're out of shape when it takes a few days to recover from a middle-of-the-pack 5K effort. I didn't do anything yesterday other than lounge around my sister-in-law's house in Manhattan Beach. Tough duty, but someone needs to step up to the plate. Of course, there was no way my quads were going to let me get in a run, so I made the most of the opportunity to simply veg.

This morning was different. The soreness in my quads was mostly gone and the sun was out in full force early in the morning, so I used the opportunity to get in a short recovery run along the beach and brought along my camera to take a few pictures. Those who have followed this blog for a while have seen similar shots over and over; but I can't get enough of them. Besides, it's my blog, so I'll post what I want to.



Pick Ax Fish Sculpture


Red Roses


Yellow Roses


Manhattan Beach Pier - From Above



Manhattan Beach Pier - From Below



Yet another self-portrait



Fast runners coming and going

This afternoon my wife and I along with my sister-in-law and her husband rode bikes down the coast to the Hermosa Beach Festival where I took the following pictures.

I realize tattoos are all the rage ... but sometimes I just have to wonder what these folks were thinking.






Enough of the body art ... there was plenty of other things to see





I've got nothing against kilts, they look real comfortable; but I don't think this outfit was the best choice for this gentleman's this morning.



I don't know who died and assigned me as Chief of the Fashion Police, but, people, please, enough with the UGGS at the beach.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

ARR Summer 5K Series No 1 - Race Report

57F in Phoenix at the end of May is unheard of. But this morning, everyone in the Valley of the Sun awoke to cool / humid morning; 57F at my house. This time of the year, it's usually bone dry with relative humidity in the single digits and not a cloud in sight; but I'll take the cool moist air any day of the week. In fact, the gods must have been smiling, because this was also the morning of my first race since December, 2007. It's been way too long I know; however, with all the injuries, on-again/off-again training and constant traveling, I just haven't felt like racing.

My club hosts a series of 5K races around Phoenix during the summer and this morning's race was the first in the series. The race was held at Papago Park adjacent to the Phoenix Zoo; a simple out and back course run primarily along one of the many canals crisscrossing Phoenix. Of course, since the course runs along a canal, it's nearly pancake flat. So between the perfect (if not freakish) weather and an ultra-flat course, I didn't have any excuses to sit this one out. The race is also age/gender handicapped. With age/gender groups leaving en mass every 10 seconds or so. May time to leave the start line was 11:56 after gun-time. Theoretically, you get to leave with a group of people that match up your ability; however, by the rate most folks ran away from me from the start, I'm not too sure how accurate the handicaps were.

Overall, I did much better than expected. The last time I ran this course in 2005 I ran my slowest 5K on record: 25:30; well off my PR of 21:36. As slow as that race back in '05 was, my expectations for this race were actually far worse. I hadn't run 3 miles without walking in over a month and only ran 30 minutes non-stop for the first time in I don't remember how long this past Thursday ... a 30+ min 5K looked inevitable.

I drove down to Papago Park with my top up to keep the inside of my car somewhat dry (my Mustang just hates the rain) and got to the event a full hour before gun-time; that left me with plenty of time to fret about race and my pending failure. But something strange happened as I jogged around Papago Park warming up - I actually started feeling good; not great; but the sense of dread lifted. The rain stopped by the time I got to the park and the sun even struggled to come out; although it really never did.

I chatted with friends after the gun went off and finally pushed my way through the crowd milling about in the starting chute to the start line with 11:30 showing on the clock and took off immediately. Boy, it would have been all too easy to get carried away at the beginning of this race and blow up early. I started getting passed immediately within the first tenth mile, but was determined to run my own race and keep a “comfortably hard” pace. Fast enough such that I was very much aware that my heart was pounding, but not too hard to leave my lungs gasping for air. Although I was catching up with runners who left the line earlier, there continued to be a steady stream (torrent?) of very fit people running by me over the first mile. I just kept my eyes on the horizon, putting one foot in front of the other. I figured I was running somewhere around 9:00/mi and was genuinely surprised when I past the 1 mile marker at 7:33. I hadn’t run much better that 10/mi in the past 2 months.

I was still feeling pretty good, not great mind you, but the basic body part were working OK and the number of people passing me had slowed to a trickle. As my confidence increased, I started breaking up the rest of the race into little pieces. I think most of us use this technique on 30Ks, marathons and longer races, but for me, this morning, this little 5K was a marathon, so why not try what works. Mentally, I started focusing on simply reaching the turn-around point and then I’d worry about the rest of the race. Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, Right Foot, repeat.

The course snaked through a narrow tunnel under McDowell Road and things got a little crowded for for a brief while, but as I came out of the tunnel and ran back up to the canal bank, I got a little burst of energy and resumed passing runners. Yeah, I know I was barely keeping up with a mediocre 10K pace, but I was still moving forward and the turn around point was coming into view; although it seemed that there were at least 500 people in front of me based on the flood of bodies running at me before I got to the turn.

Still feeling good (that’s a relative term at this point in the race) after the turn, I focused on getting back to the tunnel in one piece and passed the 2 mile marker as I entered the tunnel heading south. My watch read 15:18. Holy crap, if I didn’t blow up, I was going to break 30 minutes and might even stay under 25. I know I was muttering to myself trying to figure out if I was doing the math right. You know the feeling. You’ve been running on the edge for a couple of miles and the logical sections of your brain are starving for oxygen as your body sends every available oxygen molecule to your legs. 15+10+1=26; 15+9+1=25; 25-00:18=???? Oh to hell with it, just run.

After exiting the tunnel, the lungs started griping and I could feel the lactate starting to build up in my legs. Just needed to hang on for another 10 minutes and it would be all over. Governor Hunt’s tomb (see picture below) came into view sitting on the hill next to the start line and I knew I must be getting close the point where the race course exited the canal. From there, it was only another half mile slightly downhill to the finish line.

I turned the corner at the canal exit, powered up a little hill, got back onto the pavement heading down to the finish line and pushed hard. I took a split at the 3 mile marker, but was far from having the mental capacity to understanding any information on my watch. However, as I approached the finish line and could see the race clock, I could read 35:xx … since I crossed the start line right at 12:00, I was still under 24 minutes. 24 MINUTES. I nearly cried.

Official time: 23:53; still a long way off my PR, but much faster than I could have hoped to push my 194.5lb body through 3.1 miles. My mile splits worked out to: 7:34, 7:45, 7:45 – simply amazing

As nice as it was to get back into racing with a respectable middle-of-the-pack time, I also got a chance to talk with fellow bloggers Chad and Lisa.






Chad is the good looking guy in the white shirt ... I'm the sweaty guy in the middle. Lisa is on the right. She has been a real inspiration. I've followed her go from her first tentative steps at becoming a runner to the point now where she's participating in races at ever distance short of Marathon and has done several tri's. Her progress has been amazing. I think she hit a PR this morning, one week after completing a tri. I fully expect to be trailing her in most races in the next year or so.


For those that try to keep up with my travel schedule, I'm in southern California until Thursday. I've only got three trips planned for June; Mexicali, BC; Toronto, Ontario and Redmond, Washington. It should be a busy month.


ADDITIONAL RACE PICTURES:





Governor Hunt's Tomb - I think this pyramid holds the former Governor, his wife and her mother - could be wrong on the mother. This white pyramid sits up on a hill over looking the park. I've lived in Arizona for 28 years and this is the first time I've taken the time to walk up the hill and actually take a look at it.



Papago Buttes



Papago Park with Camelback MTN in the background



Saguaro cactus blooming



Pre-race photo in front of the zoo

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Riordan Mansion - Flagstaff

My youngest daughter participated in a wedding this weekend in Munds Park (AZ), so my wife and I took the opportunity to visit the Riorden Mansion and putter around Flagstaff for the afternoon. I don't know what it is about the Riorden Mansion, but I just enjoy visiting the place. For those of you outside of Arizona, the Riorden brothers (along with the Babbits) where predominant family in Northern Arizona in the late 19th and early 20th century. They operated the saw mill in town, which was the largest employer in the area. Along about 1904, they built a 13,000 sq ft mansion near the mill which was large enough for both families. The house is really two nearly identical dwellings with a large common room connecting the houses. It really is a neat place; although now it surrounded by apartments on two sides and Northern Arizona State University on the other two.


It was really nice in Flagstaff on Saturday. Highs near 71F, snow still visiable on the south side of the San Fransciso Peaks, and clear blue skies as far as you could see. Just a fantastic day. In contrast - it hit 105F in Phoenix this afternoon - could have been worse, it was 113F in Yuma this afternoon.


Snow on the San Franciso Peaks ... this is the south side of the mountain as seen from the front of the Riordan Mansion


The east side of the house.

Downtown Flagstaff



Local fauna



I didn't see the bird that built this nest on the window ledge

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Grand Canyon

This past week, I took an early morning flight from Phoenix to Seattle and brought along my camera to take a few pictures of the Grand Canyon as we flew over. The shot to the left is all I got. Nearly clear skies all the way, except directly over northern Arizona.

Otherwise, things are going well. I'm back up to 4 mile runs in the morning; still a long way from a nice 10 miler before work, but I'm running injury free. My "on the road" diet has improved, although my weight is still way up and over anything ideal. I'm still on target for my first race in 6 month in two weeks. Should be fun.

Hope you are all doing well.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekend Update

Don't know when I became a "once-a-week" blogger, but ... that's were I'm at.

Spent last week in Los Angeles. Got in a couple of decent runs in Manhattan Beach; but got very little sleep and ate like I was running 20 miles a day. I'm heading off to Seattle on Tuesday, but decided to opt of Yeovil, England the following week, so things should be be slowing down.

So how I'm I doing against my Game Plan after one week?

1) Get off my ass and sign up for some races - Check - Signed up for 5 5Ks this summer; however, it looks like I'll be in California over Memorial Day weekend and will miss the first race

2) Get a plan - Check - Following Cool Running's "Coach to 5K" plan. Actually, I'm using this as an outline, increasing the level of each workout and running through them faster than the plan calls out.

3) Cross training - Check - keeping up with my cycling; about 40 minutes a day + 2 hours during the weekends.

4) Stretching - Check - Keeping it simple, but I'm doing the basics.

5) Yoga - Not yet.

6) Improved diet - Good idea; just not happening,

7) Learning Spanish - Started - Just the basics, but I started. I have a meeting with one of my Mexican employees on Monday and will try out a few phrases. That's how I learned French, one phrase at at a time, we'll see how it goes.

8) Travel less - Nope -Although I did decide not to go to Yeovil, England this month. I'll need to stay up all night in a couple of weeks to cover the meeting from Phoenix, but I won't spend 48 hours travel out and back. I'll still be traveling around North America.