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Showing posts from October, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

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Whichever Way the Wind Blows

A great sign this morning: pastel-pink clouds against a torquoise sky in the east as the sun rose on my way to work. All of the wildfires here are either extinguished or under control and expected to be surrounded within the next few days. This weekend was spent mainly cleaning up ash everywhere on Saturday and catching up on errands that had been unimportant the week prior. Everyone that was out in my neighborhood was sporting masks. Mine was pink. Sunday we went with another couple to see "Michael Clayton" at a theater in Poway, and midway through the smoke had managed to seep into their filtration system. Compared to outdoors, though, it wasn't nearly as bad. It seems that the bonfire smell and cloudy air change almost hourly, depending on which way the wind blows. My co-worker just said the Santa Anas are due back this weekend, which is not good news on a number of fronts. We're out of town, attending a wedding in Boston and it would be nice to not be worried abo

After the Fires: Survivor's Guilt

About a month after the wildfires four years ago, I took home a bunch of my daughter’s friends. One kid lived in the area hit hardest by the swift-moving Cedar fire. It was nightime, and as I drove deeper into the development, I became disoriented. All of the landmarks were gone and the area was void of street or house lights to help guide me. The teenager told me where to turn right, then left, then to go to the end of the road and turn left again. “It’s the house with all the Christmas lights,” he said, which was pretty obvious because not only was it the only house with colorful lights, it was the only house for blocks! Actually, there was one home next to it still standing, but the occupants had abandoned it. I could not imagine coming home each night to such creepy surroundings and felt so badly for this child and his family. A lot of people are now coming home to the same situation in places like Fallbrook and Escondido and Poway and Rancho Bernardo. They’re sifting through rub

It's Back to the New Normal

Last night all but one local station switched to their regular primetime programming, the first of many signs that we're entering the next phase of a natural disaster. There's definitely a comfort to again falling asleep, in my own bed, to Law & Order . Almost all of the areas that were evacuated in the first wave are now safe to reenter, including ours. Employers like mine are asking people to come back to work if they can, with the caveat that power and air quality remain tenuous for the time being. I suppose Run DMZ needs to start moving in that direction too. One of the bright spots has been hearing from so many of you. Every time I checked my e-mail or comments, there was a surprise -- a nice surprise from someone who cared enough to contact me with encouragement and gratitude. And I got calls from a lot of family and friends, some of whom I hadn't heard from in years. I did watch an hour of CNN yesterday and I got what everyone was saying about the contrast in c

All Hell Breaking Loose, Day 4 (Updated)

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4 a.m.: I woke to a sign that things have taken a turn for the better. I can see stars. For the past three nights, the moon looked more like Mars, so red and cloudy, and it hurt your eyes just to try and find a clearing in the skies. We still aren't allowed officially to drive to the other side of the freeway that's in front of my street, so I can't just yet climb to a great hillside park to survey the damage from on high. But I will soon, trust me. The local news coverage overnight focused on fires at Camp Pendleton, which is just north of Oceanside and includes a huge area of unspoiled land connecting San Diego and Orange counties. Evacuations of military families have been underway, according to online sources. And that section of the 5 freeway, the main highway throughout California, was closed in both directions overnight. The other hotspot when I nodded off was at the other end of the extreme north county at Palomar Mountain and the La Jolla and Pala Indian Reservati

All Hell Breaking Loose, Day 3 (Updated)

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1:30 a.m.: The evacuation count countywide is now at 300,000, with some established shelters like the Del Mar Fairgrounds now shuffling the elderly to a safer place. It's siginificant that some communities west of the 5 freeway are under voluntary evacations now. That's the beach, and that means the Witch Creek fire -- the one that's impacting the most people -- is now looking to burn clear to the ocean, consuming homes in the wealthiest enclaves along the way. It isn't as windy where we're at, but our community's now under a voluntary evacuation, according to the crawler running under an infomercial on KUSI. None of the other stations, far as I can tell, are saying anything about communities south of the 56 freeway, but some are mentioning Black Mountain Road (our main feeder road) in roundup reports and warning the Witch Creek fire may head into Carmel Ranch Mountain and Mira Mesa, of which our section of Rancho Penasquitos is wedged between. People south of

All Hell Breaking Loose, Day 2 (Updated)

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This is mainly for the benefit of you who don't live near here. It's pretty obvious to those of us trapped in the fires. 5:30 a.m.: There are now six fires, one of which is threatening the Wild Animal Park near Escondido. No word on what they are doing with the animals. Another fire's jumped the 10 to 12 lanes of the 15 freeway and its burning portions of NE Rancho Bernardo, which is the next suburb up from me. It's also coming into Rancho Santa Fe and expected to burn to the coast since that is a less populated area of multimillion-dollar homes with lots of land around them. They've opened Qualcomm Stadium for evacuees. Many high schools, including one one exit up from us are also opened for evacuations (and one reason I'm not too-too concerned about us.) Lots of areas losing power, including where I work. Still waiting for word on what's going on there. I can't imagine we have to report, but who knows. Oh shit. They just announced they are evacuating

From Fog to Fire

Update 11:30 p.m.: The original shelter for the Witch Creek fire -- Poway High School -- has been closed down and everyone is now going to Mira Mesa High School, site of the last Red Cross shelter, where we ended up celebrating Alex's 15th birthday in the parking lot during the early hours of the Cedar fire. The wind is just roaring now; it sounds like a hurricane outside. The out-of-control fire's split in two. The one to the north, closer to us, is expected to enter the city in a couple of hours. People with large animals are bringing them to Del Mar Fairgrounds or Lakeside's Rodeo Area (if near the Harris fire in East County). I'm starting to really worry about my friends in the outerskirts of town. All hell is breaking loose here . Not directly here, but we've been engulfed in toxic brushfire smoke since about 2 this afternoon. The harsh Santa Ana winds have pushed the noxious odors through cracks in the windows and blown ash all over our backyard. I just came

The Fog of Running

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This morning’s run along the harbor made me wonder if I’m negotiating with the North Pole for the right gift. I want a bike, one that will carry me to work during the summer and occupy my weekends now that I can’t run for hours anymore. But, man o man, did I wish I had a more portable and dependable camera on me to capture some of the scenes this morning. Our group arrived to fog thick as pea soup; you couldn’t make out the length of shoreline, much less the sailboats, yachts, naval base and downtown skyline beyond it. That’s the scene I left as I once again hitched a ride to an aid station three miles out in Point Loma and ran myself in. Last week I forget to set my watch; this week I just plain forgot to bring it. But I didn’t need it to know I was struggling once I took off, trying to keep my mind off the aching ankle and my uneven breathing. Like the fog of war , there remains much ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding this strategy of mine. Am I pushing it too soon? Doomed to dul

Stretching: the Truth

The latest study to receive a lot of attention is out of Australia, in which researchers looked at numerous other experiments on stretching and concluded it doesn't help reduce muscle soreness following rigorous exercise. Light exercise -- i.e., "active recovery" -- does. But that doesn't mean that stretching doesn't help in other key areas: injury prevention and flexibility. The study also touched on pre- and post-exercise stretching, but only as it relates to reducing soreness. Researchers' conclusions, according to a CBS/WebMD article: While the benefits of stretching are debated, experts say that proper, gentle stretching may not do all that exercisers hope for, but it won't hurt. Aslmand believes stretching can also help prevent injury and also can improve performance. Bracko found, in a recent review of studies, that those who stretch regularly may get some injury protection. For many athletes, he says, stretching has become more of a ritual th

Wordless Wednesday

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So Close...So Close Indeed

Dennis was just writing on his running blog about what how interconnected people are these days, and how there are fewer and fewer degrees of separation between any two people, like, well, Dennis and me. (Once direct competitors, he now has my old job.) Then, lo and behold, Bex says she's coming to town for a film festival and would I like to meet. I love her blog, so I knew I'd love her. She and I have a lot more in common than just running. We once worked at competing newspapers, though not at the same time. And, until recently, she was a transplanted Californian living in Virginia while I am a transplanted Virginian (by way of Alaska, North Carolina and Massachusetts) living in California. Well, anyway, we agreed to lunch near my office complex and I gave her convoluted directions when, it turns out, she was staying at a hotel right down the street. The time flew by and I'm starting to think one reason she's so darn fast as a runner is because she actually pays

Still Shots

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I don’t know about you, but throughout my adult life I’ve taken mental still shots of moments as they unfold. I’m not talking about births, graduations, weddings, anniversaries and funerals. I’m talking about everyday snapshots that you almost subconsciously contribute to your life’s album, and which only you can retrieve and rifle through when the mood fits. I distinctly recall the moment Labor Day weekend when the pain in my achilles tendon became a little too pronounced, and I wondered if this was my final “long run.” As such, I instinctively took in the penetrating sun overhead; my sweaty running friends struggling in the heat; the spires of the striking Hotel Del Coronado just ahead; the sound of the crashing waves beyond the breakers to my right; and the smell of the Starbucks coffees a vacationing couple carried, along with the cutest poodle, as they passed by me. The Coronado I returned to yesterday was quite a contrast. It was windy and rainy and pretty darn cold if you didn’t

If the Shoe Fits....

My non-running friends are really coming through for me this week as I continue to maintain a running blog without doing any running. Sandy over at Painted Hand Farm sent me a piece borne from the Chicago Marathon mess, this one wondering if unusually warm fall marathons are here to stay and how best to prepare for them. News Link: When the Heat Can't Be Outrun Then this morning (and, yes, it's 3 a.m. as I type this), my friend Chris in Kodiak, Alaska, sent a piece about a British study of running shoes. It suggested expensive shoes may not provide any more cushioning protection than cheaper ones. The researchers do admit their work is limited in some ways, and it didn't really get into what kinds of shoes were used -- neutral, stability or motion control. My guess is since they were measuring the plantar cushioning, it was a stability or neutral shoe. News Link: Low-cost training shoes just as good as expensive And, finally, since I'm obviously having trouble s

Wordless Wednesday

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Watch What You Wear

While the running community continues to deconstruct the Chicago Marathon's mid-race cancellation and other major U.S. running events' handling of unusually hot weather, I wanted to draw attention to another scandal over in Berlin. Seems a Mexican politician may have cheated his way to an age group award in the Berlin Marathon. A sports photographer first alerted officials after noticing the guy reached the finish line rather overdressed in tights, a windbreaker and a hat to others' shorts and tank tops. This led to an audit of his chip times, and it appears he took a big shortcut (though he wouldn't be the first to claim a mat malfunction). You can read the story here. And thanks to Sandy in PA for bringing the story to my attention.

Reaching for the Right Resort

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The sign above is no joke. Well, actually, I suspect it is. Every time I see it on I-80 heading towards Sacramento, I smile at CalTrans’ attempt to defuse aggravated motorists inching towards work, home or a vacation. (My all-time favorite state-sponsored traffic sign remains the neon orange billboard above the South Station tunnel right at the height of Boston’s decade-long Big Dig public works project. It read: “If Rome were built in a day, we would have hired their contractor.”) Lately I’ve been wondering if I have enough mileage left in these legs to make it all the way to Ocean City, MD. I’ve never been a great record-keeper when it comes to running, but I suspect over the past two-plus decades, I’ve logged enough miles to make it to at least St. Louis, if not my old home in Appalachia. And that’s taking the scenic route. There comes a time when you re-examine recent injuries and see them not as temporary obstacles towards personal greatness but evidence your best years are behind

Wordless Wednesday

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