Archive for October, 2009

Not racing?

October 28, 2009

I was talking to a friend who seemed surprised that I might not run a race because I was injured.

To me this was obvious. My hips are misaligned at the moment. Back in 2003 I ran a race with misaligned hips and got a stress fracture in my pelvis. I do not wish to repeat that. Very painful. Kept me from running for about a year.

This went through my mind, but I didn’t actually say it because my friend had already continued: “Maybe it is pride.”

I hadn’t really thought of that (and it stung a little — so perhaps it’s true). I don’t want to run a race (or do anything) poorly. Everything deserves a good effort, and if I know I can’t give that then why demean the race by giving a performance that I know will be poor, better not to run.

(This is different from trying hard and failing — I hit the wall in Sacramento, but that was ok, I was doing my best, but to enter a race with no intention or ability to complete it well is an insult to the race).

For me, the whole point of a race is to get that added boost that the competition provides. If I want to run 26 miles, I can go out the back door and run 26 miles; I don’t need a race; I’ve done it often enough. In fact, if I’m not racing, I’m much rather do my 26 miles out on the trails where it is beautiful, not trotting around the streets of a city.

Some people enjoy crowds of spectators, or perhaps crowds of runners. I simply ignore spectators, and crowds of runners get in my way. I am focused on my race. A runner who can keep pace with me is a boon; that runner will help me do my best. But if I know I can’t do my best, I don’t care who is beside me.

That feels more like respect to me. Not simply pride.

Rather like the recent NY times blog post — if I’m gonna plod, I shouldn’t mess up a race. I can plod on my own. I prefer to plod on my own.


Loose hips sink marathon hopes?

October 24, 2009

I begin to wonder if I shall ever get through a road marathon training period without something substantial going wrong. I would really like to run one (just one, 1) good marathon, but perhaps that is not to be.

About 6 weeks ago I noticed an ache near the lesser trocantor on the left leg. I didn’t pay it much attention. There’s always something aching and it wasn’t too bad.

But it worsened.

Hip misalignment perhaps? This happens occasionally. So I went to my chiropractor to have my hips adjusted. That helped — for a couple of hours.

Ah, the psoas is too tight, of course! Rusty worked on it, and it released.

After a couple of runs on roads with steep cambers, it got really bad again.

But now all the muscles on the upper left leg were complaining. Primarily the quads, but the hamstrings and gluts too.

Back to the chiropractor. A few hours later the quads feel better and the psoas hurts again.

The last time I had inexplicable pain I had a stress fracture. I get a little paranoid about stress fractures because I’m told it’s a sign of osteoporosis and I have no confidence that the treatments my doctor has prescribed work.

I was limping at the Tuesday workout and it was harder to complete than it should have been.

Thursday, Rusty released the psoas again and that pain completely vanished. Can’t be a stress fracture if the pain goes away.


I saw Amanda at Elite PT Friday. She said I was badly misaligned (But Rusty just aligned me the day before! Arrrggggg!). She worked on the psoas again and it released (easily, she said).

That evening I was fairly confident I was misaligned again.

Rusty told me to do a trail run rather than a road tempo this morning. He told me I shouldn’t try to run the distance, just the time. The road workout was 19 miles — how long does that take?

Very dark at 6am when I bike out to cold spring trail. Much warmer at 7 when I get to the trailhead. With the sun still below the horizon, but tinging the clouds with color.
Mountain Dr Sunrise

As I start to run, I try to convince myself that the awkwardness I feel is just, um, because I’m not warmed up, yeah, or something like that. Then I run down a little dip. Nope. I’m definitely limping, I feel very off (for some reason downhill is more unbalancing than up).

Damn it.

Waterfall at the first stream crossing.It’s the first time I’ve been up here after the rain, the first rain of the new water year, 10 days ago. The creek is happily talking to itself again, not just a bunch of mud puddles as it was a month ago.

I pass a father with a toddler strapped to his back. I pass a young woman hiking who wishes me a good run.

I notice my leg isn’t bothering me as much. Ah, I tell myself, I’m just taking advantage of the dished nature of the trail and running so that the trail’s camber actually supports my short leg rather than working against it. Doesn’t mean anything.

After 20 minutes (which is about normal), I come out to the open area where the fire road is. First view of the risen sun.
Sunrise colors

I go a little further up, it gets a bit lighter, and there’s a beautiful view of the Islands poking out of the sea mist…
Island Panorama
Then I turn around, and the mountains also call out for a photograph
Morning Mountain Panorama

As I went further up my sense of imbalance faded. Perhaps I just needed to warm up? Perhaps a trail run could somehow bring me back into alignment? The many different surface types of the trail requiring stablizing muscles to tense bringing things into alignment?

Backcountry Panorama

Down to ForbushThe trailAt Camino Cielo I headed down to Forbush. It’s been about 10 years since I last took this trail. Don’t remember it at all…

Thus I get a little lost in the campground at the bottom, but eventually I find where the trail continues. I have a choice now between Mono and Blue Canyon. In spite of having run the Blue Canyon race, I know I never actually got to Blue Canyon trail, only the really long distance runners did that, not us wimpy 60k-ers. So I decide to go that way.

Fall colorMost of the trees in Santa Barbara do not change color in the fall (or they don’t to my color-blind eyes, which might be a different statement…). But the sycamores do. They turn a brilliant yellow. And down below in the canyon I see a vibrant yellow.

I think it’s yellow.

A meadowThe trail drops sharply here and then becomes flatter, and opens out into a lovely meadow with oak trees all around.

Cotta Camp Meadow (from the west)A little further on there is another meadow, this one with a sign claiming that it is “Cotta Camp”. The sign claims the Blue canyon trail crosses a river, but when I try to do that the trail peters out almost instantly on the far side of the stream. So I turn back and head toward Forbush trail. (But Forbush was the name of the campsite a  mile or two back… Hunh.)

I wonder… Maybe the sign was twisted around.

Oops. I’ve been running for an hour and a half. Um. If I turn back now that will be roughly three hours when I get done. Probably long enough to run 19 miles on the road. I decide I didn’t actually hear Rusty tell me to go by time, I’m gonna run my 19 miles.

Um, well I do have to get to the market before it closes. If I don’t hit 9.5 miles in 2 hours I’ll have to turn back anyway.

Press on!

Cotta Camp Meadow from the eastThe trail continues toward the sun, and up a steep hill.

I pause to look back at the meadow before heading down the other side.

I’ve noticed a lack of footprints on the trail. I don’t think anyone has been here since the rain. Last time I saw prints was at Forbush camp. But now I see lots of printsDeer print — deer tracks. They seem to use this trail to get in and out of the meadow below.

Bobcat printAnother track. (beside a deer track) My first guess is a small dog, but there are not likely to be small dogs without people. A bobcat, I guess. Neat!

“Oh, Pooh! Do you think it’s a–a–a Woozle?”
“It may be,” said Pooh. “Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. You never can tell with paw-marks.”

More Fall ColorThe trail now runs about 30 feet above a little river (the headwaters of the Santa Ynez I guess?) and looking down are more sycamores.

The trail drops down and hops from one side of the river to the other. At one stream crossing it vanishes for a bit, washed out by the rain, perhaps, but after a bit of searching I find it on the other side.

Final signAnother sign, and a glance at my watch tells me that I’ve gone 9.7 miles and, oh yes been running for 2:01 hours. Time to turn back. Now is not the day to explore “Upper Blue Cyn Camp.” Somewhere I should be able to get to Romero… Not today though.

The canyon The canyon

Mountain lion print?On my way back I notice something I hadn’t seen on the way out. A much larger set of pug-marks than the little bobcat. The paw here is about as big as my fist. Too small for a bear, not a wolf. Mountain lion?

That’s a little disconcerting.

The print is old.

So where is it now?

Blue Canyon As I climb out of Forbush camp back to Camino Cielo the view east now opens up. Earlier it was into the sun, but the sun has risen a bit. It is blue as it fades into the distance…

Hole in tree A bit further on I see a tree with a hole right through it. 🙂 I wonder how that happened?

Blue canyon again, a bit higher up now

I’m feeling a bit tired now. I’ve got a fairly steep slope to climb. Mike would probably want me to try to pick up the effort here. So I do, for a bit. But Mike didn’t actually say to do that, and I can’t seem to motivate myself at the moment so I let the effort drop back to my steady jog.

Pine treesNear the top is a little spiny of pine trees. I’ve been running through sycamore, and oaks, bay laurel, chaparal. The pines look out of place. And interesting.

There aren’t many of them. Wonder how they got here.

And then on up to the camino. A long hard slog.

On the road is an inexplicable sign:
Hikers sign
There are no hikers. There’s just me. I haven’t seen a soul for almost 3 hours now.

And now down Cold Spring trail again. I’ve gotten used to this trail now, and I can really fly down the upper part. It isn’t technical, a good surface, nice downhill, I’m zipping along at, oh, 8 minute miles. Now that’s fast:-)

Hunh. My leg isn’t bothering me. Oh, it isn’t perfect, but I only realize that when I think about it, when I was just enjoying the run it felt fine.

I wonder if running on the trail has helped it?

When I come to the final (or first, depending on your viewpoint) stream crossing there are four people there. Two men are sitting on a rock discussing ¿philosophy? of all things, while one woman helps the other onto the rock. One man is saying «There’s nothing intrinsic about it, it’s only a rock because I call it a rock.» Hunh. I think to myself, that’s silly. And I downgrade my opinion; he is playing with language, not philosophy, a deconstructionist perhaps. I don’t approve.

I get down to the bottom. A bit under 4 hours. 12 min/mile.

🙂 Today that seems fast. But Tuesday I was running 5:50s.

“You just missed a spectacular sunrise”

October 1, 2009

Said Lauren as I toiled up the horse trail to More Mesa.

It didn’t look as though the sun had risen when I reached the mesa.

Island View

Goleta Pier and UCSB

Fishing boat

Early Light


Cliff and bay

Someday this will fall...

Mountain Panorama from More Mesa

Looking across the mesa to the ocean

Fishing boats, again

Looking down...

Looking to the mountains, across the mesa

Off the mesa, and into Hope Ranch.

Hope Ranch

Horse trail under oaks

Las Palmas

I may have missed the sunrise, but it was still spectacular.