Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I used to be a desktop kind of guy.  It started out as economics, carryover from college days when laptops were an extra expense which wasn't nearly as reasonable as they have become today.  With the advent of corporate vpn access, things seemed to get even easier since I could leave my work machine all set up and remote desktop to it from any machine at home.  I still hate lugging a heavy laptop around, but something about the 15" macbook pro I was using three years ago turned the corner for me as far as laptops go.  Apple has done a phenomenal job at making their products sexy, all save a precious few as as much toy as they are tool.  I still don't frequently take my work laptop home.  But for home use, my primary machine has become my 13" macbook air.

There is such a thing as too small, namely the dell mini netbooks I have, a leftover relic from before the days of the iPad.  And there is definitely too big or at least too heavy, that defines just about every PC laptop I've ever used.

All of this got me thinking about the commercial above and how cute I thought it was back when it aired almost one decade ago.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The Honolulu marathon was a great exercise in humility today.  I seeded smoothly enough but as soon as the fireworks started things I felt myself working too hard.  I saw a bunch of familiar faces through the downtown loop and settled into something near 6:30 pace by the return to Ala Moana.  The stretch through Waikiki and around Kapiolani park seemed to take a big toll, I felt tired well before mile 10 was in sight.  Then, just when I began harboring some real doubt, the headwinds kicked in on Kalanianaole.  I'm not sure why but this wound up coinciding with a few stretches of "I feel good" so I somehow managed to get out to the turnaround only about a minute behind Mark and Joel, two local residents both on pace for a 2:50 finish.

Manoa Falls without much water
The loop in Hawaii Kai was a welcome relief as headwind turned into tailwind and running quickly became much easier.  The stretch home, however, seemed to coincide with a few fluctuations, sometimes I felt like I could push, other times I felt a struggle to hold it all together.

Nuuanu overlook at the end of Pauoa Flats trail
 The final climb up Diamond Head was a big challenge.  I was gu'd up but somehow I couldn't get the wheels to turn very well and it seemed to take a long time to reach the top.

The Goddess named this banyon the "banging tree"
 The downhill and final kilometer to the finish went by reasonably smoothly.  I picked it up a bit but wound up a second or two behind a marine who deservedly got all of the glory at the tape.

The rest of the day was spent helping Ikaika in his quest to down 26 beers to celebrate his 2nd marathon.  We are off to the shack to finish off the 26/26 challenge.

NOTE:  The photos have absolutely nothing to do with the race but are from the trip so far.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TCSD 2012

The following is a letter I am sending to my team challenge peeps.  I thought I'd share it here so I can remember it.



Congratulations on reaching the finish line!  Over the prior 14 weeks you prepared for race day by logging 300 miles, you took 70 sweaty showers, and your feet hit the ground half a million times.

More than likely you feel fitter now than when we began.  With each training cycle, you took another step closer to your peak athletic potential.  WIth each season your body grows and just like a plant you will have seasons where the fruit is sweet and plentiful and others which may not be as bountiful.  With each race, you might find yourself learning a little more about yourself, if you are able to tap into strength of your body, the determination of your mind, and the desire within your heart.

In a modern world filled with conveniences which make it possible to live a life almost entirely devoid of physical effort, you all experienced a taste of one of the most basic aspects of humanity:  our ability to run long distances.  I saw many of you finish and my source of greatest happiness is that nobody gave me the impression that it was too easy, that they were too prepared, that they have learned all of the tricks.  Running is actually quite simple, you put one foot in front of the other and eventually you are done.  It is also so wonderfully complicated when you deepen into the interactions between mind, body and spirit.  To run well, we need agreement from our respiratory, cardiovascular, neuromuscular and digestive systems.  To run our best we need harmony, we need clear thoughts and a calm rage to sustain the effort.

While our finish times varied, I'd like to believe that many of us experienced a number of the same things throughout our evening.  I will share mine with you for perspective, and I would encourage all of you to continue to share with each other as well.  I believe that through discussion of shared sensations we come to a greater realization of our own journey and how we are all so very similar and yet also so entirely unique.

I started with Dan in Corral 3 and after a quick discussion we settled in to 8:00 pace in search of a 1:45.  The first mile I spent mostly dodging people, trying to develop a feel for the pace.  I find that if I calibrate myself well early on it helps when my mind starts to drift later in the race and I wasn't sure how well I know 8:00 pace.  We made the turn and settled into something close to 7:50 ish pace by the time we made it back to the start line just past the mile 2 marker.  The entire stretch from there until the turnaround loop on the other end of the strip felt smooth and effortless.  However, the massive tailwind was a prominent thought as the cape attached to my elvis suit was frequently blown over my shoulder and sometimes even into my mouth.  Dan was running strong here and I think he might have been tempted to drop down into mid 7's.  I figured we would have 3-4 miles back into the wind so it seemed OK to be a bit faster than goal pace on this stretch.  I was thinking if we banked 10s/mile from 2-9 then we'd have 20s/mile to give back from 10-13.  I assumed we would need to use most of that buffer unless the buildings somehow blocked the wind for us.  However, I also wondered if the extra 10 seconds per mile over 7 or 8 miles might put Dan past his breaking point.  Typically the best pacer is the one who sticks exactly to the pace with no deviations even though under these conditions that would mean a large increase in effort over the final miles.  I had no real way of knowing what Dan is capable of, having seen him run only once, so I went with raw hope, gut judgement and tried to do what I could to keep him from running any faster than 7:50 pace.

Well, we made that turn and Dan was still strong and on pace so I was starting to get excited that he might nail his goal on his first attempt.  Perhaps beginners luck actually does have a place in running?  However, as I looked around I began to see a fair bit of carnage.  After watching a few people peel off to the side and walk, and observing the pace slowing by nearly a minute per mile I realized that for everyone racing near their edge, the last 5k was going to be brutal.  As I shouted encouragement at various runners and receiving somewhat dirty looks in return I knew that the shift I was expecting was every bit as challenging as I thought it might be.  I've done enough racing to know how difficult the last quarter of any long race at full speed can be, but when you add in a drastic change from tailwind to headwind, the table was set for a memorable sufferfest.

That last stretch seemed to break a lot of people, more so than is typical for a half marathon.  I do want to emphasize for the benefit of the first timers that not every race is like that.  Some races have hills at a specific point which can be trained on and prepared for.  I am thinking specifically of the La Jolla half or AFC since they are home courses and most runners know to expect some extra work on the climbs and a bit of faster running with higher impact on the descents.  Vegas has effectively zero elevation gain so it isn't a course which requires any thinking under ideal conditions.  In many ways it's a great first timer course and a great course to go PR hunting.  The fact that the last two years have seen some rough weather is more indicative of the time of year than anything, racing in December has a higher chance of wintery weather than spring (which can sometimes be wet) or fall (which saw a number of hot weekends for us.)

But perhaps one of the most beautiful parts about racing, is that it can be just so unpredictable.  You can be supremely fit and draw a short straw weather-wise on race day, and you can also be slightly underprepared or maybe just a little injured and stumble into that perfect day where the stars align.  Just like love or perfect surf or homemade cheesecake, there is some variability in the outcome no matter how much experience you have, how hard you try, and how diligently you prepare.  Most of the classic longer races have at least one of these "oh-s" moments when many of the athletes switch from "racing" into "survival mode."  This is actually my favorite part, the breaking point, because every time I encounter it I learn a little something about who I am, what I want, and how I'm going to go about getting it.  Much has been written about this breaking point and how it can be a metaphor for life, by writers much more capable than I, so I encourage all of you who might be interested in reading to seek out that out if it appeals to you.

If you watch the finish line at any endurance race you may get a false sense of how doable it seems because everyone is elated at the finish.  The finish line can be compared to a wedding day, a graduation, a retirement, it is where we are typically projecting our best, putting on a smile no matter how we feel about what it took to get there.  The start line is more like that raw moment before the start of an interview or moving into the dorms our freshman year of college, the process of arrival carries no inherent definition of who has actually arrived.  It is the stuff in between the start and the finish where s-happens, where life is lived, where we experience the ups and downs, the challenges and incremental victories, the moments of hope, the weight of our expectations, the intentions to achieve, and the brutal honest truth of how fragile and limited we all are.  There is no trick (beyond EPO and other PED's) which will allow us to run faster than our bodies are able to which is why we train and why I have tried my best to give you a window into your goal race pace.  Additionally, there are an infinite number of tricks our minds will play on us over the course of a long race, so many reasons to quit, so many reasons to come up short, to give less than our best, to take a break, to fall down and not get up.  Battling all of these elements is a chance to unleash our inner warrior, it is a chance to fight.  In the end, we fight for a meaningless number on a clock, a cheesy medal, some sweaty photos, and memories which are written in pain and usually fade into a sweet nostalgia.  It is not that we fight for something of value, it is that we find value in the act of fighting.

Why do we try?  Why do I encourage all of you to test your limits?  It is most certainly not to win because there is always someone faster.  The faster you go has nothing to do with the money raised for the CCFA so as much as Team Challenge might pretend that you are racing for a cure, it would be better phrased that you are fundraising for a cure and you have chosen to race as part of that effort.  So, if that's the case, why try?  In many ways there isn't an answer I can give you if you don't feel it for yourself.  Life just feels more colorful to me when framed next to the context of a deep sensation.  Without moments to test myself, I tend to feel a stagnation or complacency creep in.

I suppose that is the message of this entire long-winded recap of Vegas 2012.  I set out at the beginning of the season with an intention to either introduce you to distance running or for those with prior experience, to refine your development towards your peak potential.  Across the board I've seen this reflected back in your eyes and your hearts.  The reflection I saw on Sunday and the one I seek is not some glossy 3x5 print of you with your arms held high in triumph with tears of joy and a PR on the clock as you click your heels at the finish line.  As dramatic as that might appear to be, it's not real.  The reflection I saw on Sunday, the one I look for from myself and the one I am so very proud of seeing in you, is the reflection of a warrior who has survived a furious battle, who has risked, who has been thrashed, and who is now returning home a tiny bit wiser, stronger, kinder, and full of gratitude for the simple pleasure of life.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TCSD CCFA Vegas Rah Rah

Today marks the end of my 2nd season of coaching for Team Challenge San Diego to raise money for the CCFA.  As is often the case, the sophomore year tends to carry along a certain clarity of vision.  I don't want this post to mire the energy, enthusiasm or effort that so many have put into the CCFA and the event itself, but there are some things I have a tendency to dislike about Las Vegas.

1. Gluttony.  I still can't erase the memory of actor Bob Mack's death in the movie Se7en where he is forced to eat himself to death.  Las Vegas represents, embodies, and promotes gluttony.  As someone who has several hard-wired tendencies to over-indulge in all aspects of life, this environment tends to stray from healthy and balanced.  As a result, I feel a strong desire to leave as soon as I arrive, not unlike an instinctual gag reflex.

Gluttony can kill if Kevin Spacey has a say in it.
2. Weather.  Vegas roasts in the summer since it is, after all, smack dab in the middle of a desert wasteland.  Vegas is also frigid in the winter for much of the same reasons.  There are a small handful of months with reasonable weather but it tends to be hit or miss.  Last year I was as cold as I've ever been.  This year looks to be more temperate, in fact it might be ideal racing conditions if the wind doesn't get in the way, so I'm not complaining too loudly.  But the simple fact is that when in Vegas, being outside is rarely an enjoyable experience.  As a Hawaii boy who lives in San Diego, routine exposure to the sky is a big part of my happiness.  I lived in NJ for 4 years and NY for another and I didn't like feeling cooped up inside, I was very unhappy there.  I don't think I would survive living in Vegas either, since I don't even like visiting.

3. Money.  Vegas represents the extreme ends of the spectrum, the haves and the have nots, along with plenty of in between.  I don't like what money does to people.  I think it can be a more destructive force than alcohol.  Part of my attraction to yoga is that for the most part the practice is focused on non-monetary pursuits.  Of course in the westernized world, studios have to pay rent, utilities, etc so classes cannot be free, but it has always been my intention to teach a weekly free class, to promote free yoga.  There are already way too many things in life with a price tag, and I think yoga for free (not talking about donations or work for trade here) is something that an established corporate studio like CorePower can do without much of an impact on their financial picture.  My home studio currently offers two such free classes and I think it is one of the best decisions the company has made.  I strongly support those who chose to focus their efforts in spaces where they aren't compensated for their time at the same rate as other less altruistic pursuits.  The flip side of all this is how uneasy I feel fundraising, asking people for money, and even sitting in a big room to recognize top fundraisers.  I understand that charities are about fundraising just as corporate America is about bottom lines.  But I just don't really like that part of life, I appreciate the space to ignore that when I can.  I work because I have to and so that I can then spend my leftover time with the types of pursuits and passions I believe in.  I don't like mixing the two.

Someone actually thought this was a good ad???

4. Crowds.  At almost every race I go to I feel like a tremendous introvert.  I hide from the masses, I start on one side or the other or I do whatever I can to sneak into the elite tent just to get some separation from the bodies.  Contrast this with how I feel at my home studio, where I am genuinely excited and happy to see all my friends, where I am at times boisterous and effusive.  I like groups of 20-30, up to 50 or 60 even.  Once a crowd swells to multiple hundreds or even thousands I shrink away.  This is yet another reason why I think I could never be a politician or public speaker, not that I mind speaking to large numbers of people, but more that I just don't like being that close to a crowd.

5. Hotels.  I've had some fun travel and some less fun travel over my 38 years of life.  I used to be a total race whore but I've cooled substantially.  I believe my father enjoys the hotel experience, and all of the associated newness of a space that starts off foreign and often slightly different than any other space previously encountered.  I've always been more apt to want to customize my space to suit my daily life, I slant more towards preprogrammed routine than spontaneous improvisational living.  While I've made some strides towards being flexible, while I think I can have a good time just about anywhere, I've noticed as I age that I really prefer to be in my space.  I think that is the whole reason for owning, for remodeling, and for attempting to create a "home" out of a house.  Vegas is the opposite, a place to go to escape all of that.

Dice is the only show other than Cirque which interests me.
Too bad I miss him by a couple of days.
So, I find myself oddly homesick.  I'll be in the car heading home in just a bit over 12 hours.  I'm probably letting the team down a little bit by skipping any post-race festivities but part of me strongly objects to the attitude of the Competitor Group who structures this even around as many hotel days they can get out of the predominantly out-of-town entrants.  I quit triathlon precisely because of how ridiculous the Ironman experience is when you factor in time off work, travel fees, hotel fees, bike fees, etc.  Running seems to be trending in the same direction and I guess that is one reason why I've drifted out of the running scene progressively.  I don't really want bigger nor better.  I'm a fan of reasonably priced, well run, local events.  The current trend just doesn't seem sustainable, it feels a lot like the housing bubble.  Perhaps the more low key events will regain some of their prominence in the future, just as local farmers markets seem to be doing fairly well these days.  But for the time being, I'm sort of avoiding all of the hoopla with my intention to spend even more time at my local yoga studio.

So, there you have it.  The race starts in about 5 hours but we group up in 3.  I'll be outside from about 4 until 9 and hopefully I won't be too frozen at that point.  Then I hop in the shower, try to find some food, pack, and head back to San Diego at midnight.  The intention is to be at my studio at 5:15 in time to set up for the first day of boot camp.  It'll be an endurance event of sorts, but not one which fits into the mold.

I'm unsure how I feel about heading to Honolulu on Wednesday.  Part of me just really wants to be home, to finish up my geekdesk (photos soon) and maybe get my nas squared away and start work on bringing the leftover parts back to life as either a web server or htpc.  The observer notices this and wonders why I am trending towards introvert, what is causing me to seek out this time to balance myself?  Most of me really wants to get some quality workouts in, some longer runs, some yoga, and I can only do that when I hide out from the rest of the world so maybe I'm not feeling healthy because I don't feel fit?  A big part of me feels that I've been a lousy dad for Hunter, that his days are numbered and I'd really like to spend some time around him, give him a bath, get him to the vet, get his nails clipped, pay them their $500 fee to tell me he's an old dog.  Then there is Cody who I haven't seen since Halloween.

Waking up in Vegas today feels kind of strange.  I don't know why I am here.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I am blessed with knowing many great leaders in my life, most of them quite unique, many of them unusual.

Luc, my running pal over the last decade, frequently rubs people the wrong way and doesn't seem at all perplexed about this.  He is unabashadly self-righteous and yet surprisingly accepting that the world is not the way he would like it to be.  We get along well precisely because I am able to roll over and let him call the shots, he is the alpha.  When Luc, Chris and I run together, they are in front and I am behind.  This is just the natural order of our dynamic.

Todd reminds me of John, perhaps because both are successful, good looking dudes with wonderful wives and a pair of kids.  They are both badass athletes with a work ethic that makes me scared to even think about.  Both aren't nearly as alpha as Luc and Chris, there is give and take in our friendships because they don't need to be in charge of the situation at all times to be happy.  They are both highly organized, highly detailed, type-A personalities.  And while I'm also very much a type-A, the Hawaii boy in me comes out most within the context of sport, I tend to bring as much creative energy into my workouts as I do intensity and order.  So among them, I'm the slacker, the goof off, the class clown.  They look out for me, correct my mistakes, and ensure I'm heading in a positive direction.

The yogger, well, he and I have so many similarities and yet quite a few very priminent differences.  Exploring those, dissecting them at times, provides endless fodder.  We diverge on the topic of yoga and yet align on the topic of yogging, especially late at night while drunk and wearing jeans.  He is a filthy creature, happy to take a bird bath after a 30 mile run whereas I could easily spend 30 minutes scrubbing dirt out of my toes.  But when the yogger makes a suggestion, I listen intently because he knows stuff.

My friendship with my best pal in college, Alex, wasn't far from the friendship I share with the yogger, we are similar creatures and yet we do many things differently as well.  Most of all, I think he understands why I make the decisions I do instead of simply being able to predict those decisions without understanding why.  While we've drifted apart since we live on separate sides of the country, we sync up rapidly once reunited.

All of the men above, along with my father of course, are a strong source of influence.  When they speak, I listen and try to absorb the message.

When it comes to yoga, there are quite a few male instructors who have a great presence, who speak words that ring so loud in my ears that I feel compelled to follow them as closely as possible.  And then there are others, guys I am happy to call my friend, who I would gladly share a meal with or enjoy their class, but who don't quite connect to my soul in the same manner, they don't command the same level of attention.

My water polo coach was not large, not intimidating, not mean in any sort of way.  But when he spoke, everyone on the team listened.  He commanded an audience by the value of the words he offered up to us.  He was the first coach I truly feared and yet someone I could relate to, someone I wanted to be more like, but someone who possesed the talent and skill that I would never have.  When it came to track, as much as I loved running, the coach was almost as old as my grandfather and as adorable as he was with his shorts pulled higher than his belly button, he did not carry quite capture my attention.

I am purposefully leaving women out of this post mostly because, as a straight guy, the additional complexity of sexual chemistry makes evaluating female leadership even more complicated for me.  I will say that this extra complexity, the richness of the interaction across the sexes, is one of the most interesting parts of being a student.  Surely my father learns more from Yanna, with whom he competes with regularly, than he could from Lucas, her husband, who is every bit as able-footed of a dancer.  And while there are a number of incredible male yoga instructors who can bend and twist and lift their legs to the ceiling, male energy is never the same as female energy.

Where am I going with this?  True to form, I'm taking the long way to my thought of the day.  What is the true essence of a great leader?

I think this is a very personal question.  Some of us want a firm guide, someone to tell exactly what to do and how to do it.  Others demand a leader with a certain kindness that allows us to feel safe and protected, that we might open up our flowers to the sun and not fear the rain.  There also exists another group who values the art of incremental instruction, that special ability to lead in a controlled, methodical, step-by-step manner without going too fast at any single point.  The list of styles seems more like an infinite continuum.

I think the biggest hangup for me and my intention to teach yoga is that the Dave Easa I am, the one I cannot escape from, is not necessarily the type of instructor I prefer for myself.  I am not the leader I would self-select.  While I do realize that I am ever-evolving both as teacher and student, I still feel comfortable saying this little hangup isn't going to simply dissolve away tomorrow.

When I look at the coaches and instructors who inspire me most, they are the ones who demonstrate strength and confidence in a space I am unable to find it.  They all share similar characteristics of rigidity.  They are all fiercely loyal to their own truth.

I struggle to make black and white statements.  I rarely suggest a best path.  As a run coach I don't know if I even have that much of a personality, I'm not overly demanding nor am I some great nurturing force.  I'm kind of just an exciteable guy who tries to pump energy in as many different directions as I can when I'm leading.  Within the context of yoga, I don't feel like I'm all that much fun even though I've really tried to be.  I'm often simply surprised that my athletes and my students enjoy my leadership, not because I think I suck, but because I know what I like and I'm not it.

A key question asked when evaluating a yoga instructor is, "would you take their class?"  I think the reason I have been dragging my feat with yoga teaching is that I would not yet want to take my own class.  This is not really a question of self love or self hate, it's very much a stylistic question.  I take a lot of classes from instructors that I don't really enjoy beyond the joy I create in my own body by moving and bending.  I attempt to experience the variety that is available so that I may more clearly understand the essence of what it is that I prefer.  Similarly, my father dances with all sorts of women many of whom he does not actually enjoy dancing with as a window into the ones he adores dancing with.

I suppose I don't understand myself until I can explain to myself why other people enjoy being coached by me or enjoy taking class from me.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ranch Run v2

Miss Sonja took a cool photo of us at the start of the ranch run today.

Keith, Todd, Luc, Ramon, Me, Jeff, Chris, David Lipke

We also picked up Patrick and John Healy at the "old" start.  Being old and somewhat grumpy, we now opt for the Cafe Positano start where we can bs about how awesome we were(n't) after it's all over.

Today (Chris) Hupfeld crushed me climbing Sun Valley.  It was a perfect response to the one time I managed to edge him by a millimeter back in fitter (and more angry) days over 2 years ago now.  In my fat and slow complacency, I had no response to his mid mountain charge and he stamped complete authority all over the place.  I limped home in last place after getting dropped with a few miles to go, even the yogger left me behind and out of visual range.  However, despite the personal blows to the ego (which I truly adore) it was one of the better days out in the ranch because running with friends never sucks.  Running with friends is one of the most basic forms of sharing space.

Life is good and it's hard to forget that sometimes.

Monday, October 29, 2012


The Sunday ranch run is always a highlight of my week but often for different reasons.  Sometimes it is about the discussion, sometimes the course, sometimes the effort, and sometimes the weather.  It all started for me as an intimidating introduction to the local running community and it was the first place where I got to run side-by-side with Ironman champions.  I owe some of this to my trailmom, Laurie (aka Rapunzel), who first mentioned a group self-named as "El Perdido" who met at San Dieguito park on Sundays at 8am.  After some discussion I found out that more than one group would start from the same location, with some of the old timers heading out at 7 or 7:30 and those with fleeter feet laying chase at 8.  I allowed myself to be talked into checking it out with Laurie's own group of primarily masters runners one morning.  For some reason I decided to bring Hunter with me, and after suggestions to let him off leash once we got on trail, he promptly threw down a nice coil and left me on poop patrol.  That was the last I saw of Hunter until the group returned from the loop, apparently he had stayed with everyone while I cleaned up his mess, lost the car key somewhere in the wood chips, and spent the rest of the morning stressing out because I couldn't figure out where they had gone or if Hunter had followed.  I was lucky that Laurie was resourceful and good with dogs, she used her shirt as a leash and kept an eye out for him that day, returning him to me as a tired dog which really is the best kind of dog there is.

On one subsequent venture into the ranch, I brought Mika and Tomppa as they were staying with me en route to Kona.  We met up with Jurgen Zack and as I remember it, one or two others.  I was reasonably fit at the time, but not nearly prepared to run with as fast as they did, so I managed to hang for about half of the 11 mile loop but I fell off the back around the reservoir.  I took a wrong turn heading home and then another wrong turn and wound up having to retrace my steps.  Three hours after the start I found the car and a laughing group of professional triathletes who had no choice but to sit and wait for me.  I was mildly embarrassed at my mistake, but I knew it could have happened to anyone who didn't know the area, the roads are very windy, the hills are confusing, and the trails criss cross each other as they snake through small canyons and ridges.

Once I started coming more regularly, I got to know that 11 mile loop a little too well.  The first hill, where I had lost my car key that day, it was always a place to test yourself and others, sometimes in thick wood chips, sometimes in mud, sometimes the first few hot rays of sun exposure.  Make it up that thing with the group and I'd be OK for the rest of the day but if I fell off the back there, it would set up an ominous theme for later.  The 5950 rock is another little hidden spot, one day I took a thorn at that turn and man did it hurt, other days there would just be a river of mud for almost a half mile which made footing very difficult.

For some reason, or perhaps for no reason, I became friends with Luc.  He has since been a part of all of my running accomplishments as we typically run together 3-4 times a month, almost always on Sundays in the ranch.  Luc has been running in the ranch for almost as long as I've been running, so he knows them all very well and under his direction I ventured off into some of the lesser traveled sections.  One day we named a course "The Tiger" since that was big news at the time, and we started using that course as an alternate route on rainy days because the footing was better for much of it.  Luc coined his own "classic" consisting of the majority of the 11 mile standard loop plus a number of additional hills and what felt like a backdoor arrival to the finish, increasing mileage to about 14.

For some reason, or perhaps for no reason, after perhaps a decade of 8am starts at San Dieguito Park, Luc, Chris, Todd and I shifted and began running from the village, starting and finishing at Cafe Positano.  At the time I did not give this shift much thought, I felt like it may have been temporary, and while it was a further drive, it did seem more civilized.  The best part of that decision was our ability to spend up to an hour or more bs'ing after the run while drinking coffee.  As ironic as it sounds, this move may have been the most brilliant decision ever made with regards to the Sunday ranch run as it opened up all sorts of new possibilities.  The standard easy run became a loop to the coast, passing through the golf course, the lagoon, the coastal stretch of 101 in Solana Beach, and heading back east past the race track along the coast to crest trail.  That course is as "classic" as any, with it's share of ocean views, breathtaking scenery, horse stables, trees, and even a few water stops.  Alternatively, we could head east out towards Lake Hodges and turn around at the dam for roughly the same total distance on very well groomed trail with more climbing involved, such as we did yesterday.  On top of these options we had all of the same routes we did before with just a different start/end point.

Luc typically brings his purple-cased iPad to the table and the first one done buys the first round at this cash-only but oh-so-cozy coffee joint.  On hot days, Todd and I hose off at the real estate office which conveniently leaves a hose coiled up outside for watering the plants in front of its window.  Sometimes we speak of politics, sometimes history, sometimes women, sometimes children.  On any given week, someone will have to leave early while others can stay and linger.  It has become something truly special, a small piece of routine in an otherwise disorganized and unplanned weekend.  We consistently invite other friends to join us but it seems as if nobody else has the interest in the alternate start.  There are the die hards who continue the San Dieguito 8am start and then there are those who prefer a Seaside Market start and stick to the coast with an out and back to Torrey Pines.  Obviously a large group would not work so well in the ranch, as the cafe can barely hold 10 people in line and with one group of cyclists present, the chances of being able to grab a table outside approach zero.  As a result, our group of four becomes a little tighter every week, living through deaths of parents, bike crashes, children growing older and heading off to college, dogs aging, and of course as the token unmarried guy, the ubiquitous talk of the ups and downs of marriage, the challenges of men and women relating, and how to work running into an otherwise busy life.

At one point a number of years ago I accepted a new job and planned to move out of town.  Believe it or not, the ranch run was on the top 10 list of reasons why I wanted to stay.  I wound up reversing my decision and I'm sure that was the right choice.  Jobs come and go, dogs get older, children get old, we all get older, shoot even the barista gets older, but the ranch run remains.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sometimes I read

Lately, I haven't read enough.  I haven't made time for many things that I truly appreciate in life, reading friend's blogs, making time to see and talk to friends in person, reading books, walking Hunter, etc.

Work has taken over a large portion of my weekdays.  Perhaps I am particularly poor at multitasking or perhaps there is something truly exhausting about the never-done aspect of software, it could always be better, and the millionth iteration is no more complete than the thousandth.

My yoga practice is suffering, and my running is nonexistent.  I loved reading about James's course record last weekend, meanwhile the thought of racing seems terribly foreign.

I barely have time during the day to walk next door to grab lunch before they close.  I typically get by with groceries bought once a week at jimbos and kept in the office fridge to fuel myself.  I typically get dehydrated even though the water spigot is merely 10 feet away.

I'm overdue on coaching updates to the team from our time trial on Saturday.  I didn't see Cody last weekend, and I only got half of the hedge "fixed" after it felt down in the rain/wind.

And so, the moments for self reflection are few.  The moments for reading are even fewer.  I don't even have a child, I simply cannot fathom how parents are able to survive a single day.

I look forward to a little bit of settling down, but meanwhile I recognize this steady roller coaster of a ride that work has become.  I hear about it from everyone else as well.  It seems as if the generation before us had some modicum of sustainability to their jobs which we may never know.  Feast or famine is the modern definition of work, no employer seems healthy without a big growth angle.

I remember feeling this way about this time last year.  Perhaps coaching simply is asking too much of myself.  Of course I have college interviews coming up which always take more time than I expect, 1 hour to meet, 20 minutes to drive each way, and another hour to write about a student who has less than a 1% chance of getting in to Princeton, it all seems so futile and wasteful, just as my father's discussion of the Waikiki storefronts spewing cold air onto the sidewalk.

I know how to deal with this, just like any stress, the first response is to simply "breathe".  Yoga truly helps me through these times.  But I also know that I'm going to have to say no to things in the future and that's part of what seems to wear on me now.  I don't like saying no.  I'm not any good at it.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Those three letters, in that combination, a black mark on endurance sports they seem have become.

Feb 2007
I don't empathize with Christian Hesch, just as I didn't for Nina Kraft or John Friend, all of whom seem to have forgotten something about why they were doing what they were doing when they were so busy doing it. I don't attempt to understand anyone else's decision-making when I'm still trying to find a frame of reference to understand my own. I feel no pain for the running community based on one person's decision to take EPO or any other banned substance, nor do I feel like it matters enough to warrant any sort of formal punishment or lifetime ban. I don't condone Christian's actions nor do I condemn them. My feelings lie somewhere in between, in that grey area of nebulous indifference.  Selling your integrity for $40k seems strange to me but so do a lot of things that I do on a daily basis.

The yogger had a great quote today, "If you're serious about training, everything you do and everything you put in your body is intended to be performance enhancing." The rules of what is allowed and what isn't don't seem based in a black and white, right and wrong type of world.

May 2007
Take me for example. I had one season of Flowers-for-Algernon racing. My HCT went from 43 to almost 48 by sleeping in a tent designed to limit the amount of oxygen I breathed as a simulation of sleeping at altitude. After a few weeks of sleeping in said tent, I felt like I had an extra gear and a physical advantage over my previous self.  I was able to train at a level I had never reached previously, and by doing so I prepared my body to run faster than I ever thought I might. Christian's actions, regardless of his intentions, seem not so far removed from my own.

Christian admits to EPO boosting his HCT from 44 to 51 which isn't terribly far off from the boost I saw, a change from a baseline at 43 to almost 48.

Aug 2010
I haven't had my blood drawn in a while but I'd imagine I've returned to something near 43 by now and I certainly feel every bit as human as I usually do, limited by a governor which keeps me from daydreaming about chasing another PR.  So, what keeps me from asking my friend to loan his tent to me again?  I don't have an answer to that question.  It was a complete thrill to race with thicker blood, I certainly felt the effects and I wouldn't object to feeling that way again sometime.  Why is one method of increasing performance OK and another not?  What about the whole silliness with women who were paced by men being stripped of world records?

I guess it all seems arbitrary to me.  Luckily I'm not good enough to waste too much time thinking about the athlete I could be with a little bit of "help" since it still wouldn't be anything of note.  And as I age, I feel like my life has shifted, it has become more about the method than the outcomes, however fatalistic that may seem.

Maybe I am a little sad.  Sad that racing doesn't seem to make much sense to me.  Sad that something I once loved with such a passion seems so unimportant to me now.  But that doesn't have anything to do with Christian Hesch or EPO.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I had one of those effortless workouts this morning as I looped Mission Bay in my coach's shirt, herding my sheep, soaking in the Autumn sunshine, and breathing in the moist salt air. Granted it was only 11 at a 9:00 pace so of course it's going to feel easy peasy, but it did get me thinking.

The last two months, since starting my latest job, haven't been the best training. I started out reasonably fit, put on weight, and wound up getting progressively less fit. That's a standard trend for me when I'm stressed trying to deal with a new job and trying to measure up to the players who have been around longer and inevitably know more than I do. I accept it.

At the end of the workout, one of my athletes asked why she didn't feel a huge burst of energy when she ate a Gu midway through and I tried to explain how fueling during running is aimed primarily at avoiding the bonk rather than seeking a moment of elated euphoria. Which sort of got me thinking more.

While I'm not a huge over-indulger in sex, drugs, and rock and roll, I certainly understand their appeal, along with tagging a mountain peak, winning a race, falling in love, etc. These euphoric moments often accompany a rush of adrenaline, a great sense of satisfaction, and a buzz which I can certainly understand someone else becoming addicted to. But they also have corresponding crashes which in my mind negate some of the brilliance. My friend Shelley once told me, in a moment of realization, "you want to skip the honeymoon and go straight to the hard part of a relationship" and I felt that was an adequate description of my take on most things.

So, yeah, I totally get the thrill seekers, as I am not immune to the seductiveness of excitement. I'm with you. But I'm not built like you so much. I am a little different.

I'm far more vulnerable to the spontaneous seduction of a long run punctuated by a lack of "bad pain". Managing the trough, the valley, it seems like a very big key to the ultrarunner mindset and it's how I get the most enjoyment. How can I minimize my "wasted" time? How can I avoid "slowing down"? What techniques can I employ to shrink moments of depression, frustration, or anger? Geronimo seems to have this wired, his zen-like attitude makes for a man devoid of massive swings of emotional state. There are a myriad of life lessons in this pursuit.

I truly adore the surprise morning runs which seems like it could be twice as long and I'd feel just as good at the end. I find those workouts better than sex, better than momentary highs which inevitably fade as the brain returns to sea level. Perhaps part of this is why I have such a soft 5K pr and that my 10K pr is from the AFC half? I'm not sure, but to me the most exciting part of life is the part that might still be a part of my present by the time I've reached tomorrow.

Peaks are cool. I like peaks. But I'm a bigger fan of working through the valleys.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


An interview with Rachel Ross about her 2:58 PR at the Chicago marathon

1. You recently achieved a long term goal of your first sub 3 hour marathon.  Chronicle the timeline and all of the prior attempts on your journey to this accomplishment.

I ran my first marathon at Honolulu in Dec. 2005 in 3:12. I had thought 3:30 was a reasonable goal, at the time. Since I qualified for Boston 2006, I figured I should run it. I ran 3:04 there. I definitely thought about sub-3 after that. But then, I got sucked into the Ironman vortex, where I remained for the next 4 years. I ran Honolulu a few times in there (3:12s, almost all of them) but didn't focus much on open marathons. I ran 3:18-3:23 in all of my Ironmans, I think.

Then in December 2010, my friends Stacky, KN, and I went to Vegas for the marathon. My friend Beth Walsh was just coming off a 3:10 marathon in the Kona Ironman, and I thought that translated to sub-3, easy, and told her to come. She did. So I went for it with her. We ran a 1:30 first half, an then I got tired. She went on to run 2:59. I ran 3:03. A little closer.

In 2011, Charisa told me I should employ the services of an excellent pacer named Dave Easa to help me break 3 hours at Honolulu. I knew who he was from high school, but since he was older and cooler, he'd never heard of me. I emailed and asked if he wanted to run with me anyway. He did. I went in a bit of an emotional wreck, and under-prepared. In spite of world-class pacing, I ran 3:08.  I signed up for Chicago because it's flat and considered fast, and I figured I need every little bit of help I can get.

2. How would you compare the Chicago course to various other courses you have raced?  Was there something special about the course which helped you achieve this goal?

The course was everything everyone said it would be. Flat, fast, lots to look at, great support. I don't think I would've run 2:58 on the Honolulu course yesterday. The cold weather made me want it done as fast as possible. The long straightaways let me focus on pace and nothing else. I always had people around me to use, either to follow, or pace off of, or make fun of in my head.

3. Comment on the weather and specifically what it feels like for a Hawaii girl to be in 40 degree temps.  You mentioned dressing like a Michelin Man for the start, did that work ok?

It worked! I wore the beanie until mile 16. People were cheering: "Go eskimo girl!" The only real problem was gloves. I bought Nike knit gloves at the expo. They soaked through when I grabbed water at the aid stations, my hands froze up, and I wasn't able to get shot bloks out of the bag after the 11 mile marker, so I think that's the last time I ate. That could have been a deal-breaker!

All in all, I think the cold weather was key to making the sub-3 day. I was uncomfortably cold a lot of the time. But I think that yields a better performance than uncomfortably warm. My body didn't have to work so hard to keep me from overheating, so it could work on running instead.

4. The Elite Development experience is much closer to first class than business class in terms of privileges.  Did having special treatment factor into your mindset or your performance in a substantial way?  How different was the elite development experience than VIP at Honolulu?

The Elite Development Tent made all the difference in my pre-race experience. Even dressed as the Michelin man, I would have been miserable waiting in the corral. I get so cold sometimes that no amount of clothing can make me ok.

As for the race - it took me a while to warm up my legs. I think that would've happened with or without the EDT. But I bet I started happier because of the EDT. And it's always good to start happy. I have never really taken advantage of the Honolulu VIP start, because the race starts so close to home. It starts at 5:00 am, and I try to arrive at 4:45. So I can't really compare the full experience. I'm pretty sure they don't heat the tent, though. Last year I tried to drop a sweater there, because I had access and a low bib, and a volunteer bit my head off, yelling that the bag drop was only for "real elites." So.

5. You shared this experience with KN, your long time friend and training partner who also co-blogs with you.  Describe how important her help was in achieving this goal, what she said specifically to help get you ready and how her calm early on contributed to your success.

KN is always a calm and happy presence. A shared goal seems less daunting. We were both chasing sub-3. Sometimes I felt stupid even stating such an ambitious goal, like some first time tennis player saying my goal for the day was to beat the Venus sister that's really a man at Wimbeldon. But there's safety (or confidence) in numbers. We worked out our training plan together, did long runs and speed work together, and all of that factored into Sunday's race. On race day, she helped me pre-race by joking around with me, chatting about nothing, and fashion-policing at the start.

She helped a ton in the early miles, using her GPS to keep us on pace. I might have blown it without her. I was bummed when we drifted apart during the race, but we have a deal - if one of us is feeling good, we go. There's no staying back to support each other in an A race, and that's what Chicago was.

6. You've completed Ironman and you've run sub 3, can you comprehend the difficulty of putting those two together?  If so, what form does that comprehension take in your mind?

Honestly, it suddenly sounds less insane to me! Maybe because Beth just did it and made it sound easy. I'm not saying I could do it (no way could I do it) but I think if one was really fit in the bike, and then had a good day out on the run course... Well, I get it.

7. What went through your head over that last, long, straight, 2-mile-long stretch?  Did you experience any doubt?

I knew I was slowing down, but I was confident the worst that would happen was 7 min/mile. I don't know why I thought that was worst-case scenario, I've certainly run slower in the last 2 miles of a marathon before. But I'd seen enough 6:39-6:44 splits to be pretty confident at that point. In fact, I think my confidence that I'd eek in under 3 improved with every mile that ticked off. I spent most of that last 2 miles trying to pass women (I think I got 5 or 6 in mile 26) and trying to hide from the headwind between men. My dad was standing at the 25 mile marker, and I can't remember what was said, but he didn't look like I was blowing it, so I took that as a good sign.

8. If you could have Ikaika at the finish line waiting for you with a big bear hug and the beverage of your choice but no extra clothes and you'd still have to walk back to the tent in your race gear, or you could have a volunteer hand you a full length down parka to warp yourself in as soon as you crossed the line, which would you choose?

Ikaika. I didn't even have to read the rest of the question.

9. You have discussed your sensitive stomach in the past, did this factor in on race day?  Did you have any moments of nausea during or after the race?

I usually start getting chills in the second half of a marathon, then wind up with horrible cramps and well, runner's trots, for 2-3 hours after a marathon. Even with preventative immodium pre- and in-race. I had none of it on Sunday. I had goosebumps from the cold the entire way, so maybe I didn't notice the chills. I met my parents and we bolted for their condo a few miles from the finish immediately, because I was that sure I'd be sick. And the sick just never came. I wonder if it was the cold. Now that I think about it, I didn't get sick after the 3:03 in Vegas. Or the 3:04 in Boston, and both were 40-50 degrees. It could simply be the cold, or it could be the changes I make to my nutrition when it's cold. I only drink water during the race. And I don't hit every aid station, just every other aid station. And this time, I didn't eat anything on the back half, because of my total hand malfunction.

10. You mention kicking Minnie's butt, but did you notice anyone else on the course who fired you up to beat them?  Of the many who you passed over the last 10k, did anyone other than Minnie stand out?  How much of this accomplishment was internal mental toughness as compared to competitive fire sparked from the outside?

The thing I love about marathons vs. triathlons is that I don't feel very competitive in marathons. I feel like most tri-girls are all about who they beat, which is part of why I don't go back to Kona every year. There's too much negativity. At marathons, I feel like it's a cameraderie. We are all out there racing ourselves, our brains, and the clock. I made it a goal to pass girls just to give myself something to think about other than "6:45, keep on it, 6:45." But I said something nice to each one I passed. One girl flew past me at the 26 mile mark, and I thought "WOW, she's amazing!" We spoke after and her last mile was sub-6. There was one heavy-breathing girl who tried to latch on at mile 19 or so, and I made a point of ditching her over
the next mile, just because she sounded so tired, and I was afraid listening to her would make me feel tired. I think most of this race was about battling my brain to reach my goal of sub 3h. Kicking Minnie Mouse's ass was just a bonus.

11. Describe how you felt going over that little carpeted bridge before the dip, underpass, and left turn at mile 22 or so.

I don't know what you're talking about. So maybe I felt ok? Is that where they were giving out beer? I remember thinking that all the guys running over to take cold beer in 40 degree weather were totally insane.

12. What did you eat the night before and what did you eat race morning?

I carbo-loaded for the first time ever. I cut carbs Mon - Fri (with the exception of Trader Joe's PB Cups), even though I hear that is out-dated science and unnecessary, and then on Saturday, I actually had breakfast (rare) of an english muffin and egg whites, I had a chicken sandwich and a scone at whole foods for lunch, and a cinnamon roll in mid-afternoon. By dinner time I felt like a whale, so I had some bites of my mom's spinach salad and my dad's pasta at a little Italian place in Hyde Park. Race morning, I woke up early to eat, so that I wouldn't have any weird blood sugar spikes/crashes going on by the start. I usually just have a venti soy latte pre-race, but this time I added a clif bar at 2.5 hours pre-race. I didn't eat anything in the two hours leading up to the race, and just sipped on water.

13. Would it have been helpful to have KN with you longer?  Or did it help your focus to be alone?

I love running with KN, and it would absolutely have helped and made the experience more rewarding to have her by my side the whole way. We rarely spoke in the miles we ran together, we were very focused, and I certainly didn't gain anything by being alone. It was ok, but not what I had hoped for for the day.

14. There is a turnaround at around mile 18 where you feel pretty far away from the start/finish.  It also starts to thin out at that point in the race.  Did your thoughts drift in any way as you made that turn?

18 - that's where that heavy-breathing girl showed up. She sounded like she was in the last 100m of a 5k. So my only thoughts were "ditch this chick" and also, "wow, we're kind of in the hood. I wouldn't want to be the last person on the course today."

15. Were you happy wearing shorts in 40 degree temps?  Would you have dressed any differently?  Thicker gloves?

Better gloves. But aside from that, I think everything else was just right.

16. Now that the dust has settled but the experience is still fresh, do you think this was simply a greater effort than the past or was it a combination of a strong effort, decent conditions, and a fast course?

It was a combination of things. I have worked harder than that in a race for a crappier result. I think I was stronger from my training. I think I was more determined than ever to run sub-3. And I think great conditions and a fast course were absolutely part of it. I recognized that I had the best possible build, the best possible conditions and course, and I'd pretty much told everyone I'd ever met plus a million strangers on the internet that I was out there to break 3. Although I reminded myself that there's no shame in going after something and failing, I also knew I'd be pretty ashamed had I failed.

17. Describe the halfway point cheer station, the crowd, the noise, and how it affected you making that right hand turn.

I saw my family right after that turn. I heard my aunt from that huge crowd, somehow, and was so happy to catch sight of them. I smiled and waved. I loved that right turn. I also knew based on the split that sub-3 was possible, but I wouldn't let myself get excited yet. Too much can happen on the back half. No one told me that it's uphill
right there, but that really felt like a climb up and over the bridge, to me. I checked the split after that little climb and saw 6:44 again, and got a little more optmistic.

18. Did you think of any of your kids during the race?  Any specific thoughts you'd be willing to share?  Or was this more of a personal experience during which you retreated into your own head?

You know, I should really say yes. And that I do it for my kids. But no, endurance sports are so selfish, and my kids think all moms run marathons and have no idea that my time goal is any different than anyone elses, really, so it's not like they're especially invested. I thought of them, yes, a few times, and wondered what they were doing on Kauai today, and thought that they'd be excited if I broke 3. I called them after, and Sky and Henry forgot I had a race and didn't ask my time when I told them I'd just run the marathon. Wyatt, though, my middle kid, he asked and was excited about my time.

19. Is there an individual athlete who motivated you in a specific way over the past 6 months?  Please don't say Lance Armstrong :p

I heart Lance.

Do I have to pick just one? I have a bunch:

  • Katherine, who went after the goal with me. I know she really believed I could do it, and I wanted to live up to that.
  • Brigitte, who is after the same goal but couldn't make the Chicago trip, who also really believed I could do it and who offered up lots of great, positive thinking guidance. She's also tough as nails, that one, and carried me through a lot of miles.
  • Beth, because if she can do it off the bike, I sure as hell should be able to do it in an open marathon.
  • Ikaika, because he is a world champion paddler who knew my every training workout, my every meal, my every fear, and how my brain works more than anyone else, and he absolutely believed I could do it. He texted me the night before, as I lay there not sleeping, from Molokai. "You ate awesome and I love you and am proud of you no matter what. Plus you're super hot." He made me laugh when I needed to stop worrying, and he reminded me not to stress out, that in the end, sub-3 or not, life would be fine. (I think he meant "are awesome" but I could have ate awesome too).

20. Now that it is settling in, do you feel this result is repeatable?  Do you feel a desire to keep pushing the limit of your marathon PR?  Do you have a satisfaction that allows you to focus on other goals, perhaps triathlon again or different distance PR's?

Yes, I feel it's repeatable, but I don't know if I could improve upon it. And no, I don't feel a major desire. I bet I will later, though. I already know what I'd tweak to try to do it a little faster.  I had in my head that I'd race for the sub-3 at Chicago, then go to NYC and just cruise it and enjoy the race and sights. I feel satisfied enough to do that. If it's under 40 degrees in NYC, I will sleep in instead.

21. What is your favorite part of Chicago?  What did you do for fun after the race?

Hanging with my family. My parents are there, and we spent the whole time together. I also have aunts and uncles and cousins etc. in Chicago. Even though I never lived there, it's our family's home. After the race I took a bath for fun, then laid around on the floor and watched football with my dad and the dogs. I don't even understand football, but my brain was fried enough to lie there and pretend. By the next day, my mom and I were shopping downtown again.

22. How do your legs feel after this effort as compared to previous ones. Does a PR mean a trashed body or does the elation from the PR eliminate some of the muscle soreness?

I'm slightly sore, but not like I have been in the past. Weird, isn't it? Maybe it was the elation. Who knows. I feel fine today and will run this evening.

23. How will you build on this confidence with your upcoming performance at the underpants run?  Do you plan to do anything differently this year based on this recent performance? 

I intend to run the Upderpants Run tomorrow slightly fatter than last year. Unfortunately. And I think the team bikini is shiny, this time. Whether or not there's a skull on the crotch is TBD.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


What is it that I want?  What do I desire?  What do I crave?  What do I wish for?

To start with, I feel utterly content these days.  So, this is a strange time to ponder such a question.  However, it also feels oddly appropriate to dissect my wants at a time when I have no real needs.  My life is good, so why not inspect what motivates me, what gets me out of bed in the morning and keeps my blood pumping.

While it may sound boring, I honestly want to get more familiar with the nuances of the system I'm working on with my new job.  I've only been exposed to it for 8 weeks, but I am surrounded by a bunch of really smart and motivated people and that has me feeling the sting of being the FNG, a title I will hold until Monday when our most recent new hire starts his journey.  I don't like not knowing as much about the system as everyone else.  I want to at least reach a level of competence in excess of my current level of comprehension.  I want to be able to contribute in a timely manner and not have to have to learn everything the hard way.  I want to come through in the clutch instead of delivering late and forgetting about important details.  I want to contribute to creative design and problem solving.  I want to have some small piece of this app to call my own.

I also want a whole lot outside of work.  So off we go down that rabbit hole.

I want a life partner who is happy with and without my presence.  Perhaps more specifically, I want a life partner who is able to enjoy or at least tolerate my idiosyncrasies.  It seems to me, after a number of wobbly trips down my cobblestone highway of a personality, that I am an extremely difficult partner.  I don't like that label so much, and yet I'm unsure how to resolve this problem without abandoning my sense of self, without giving up the parts of me which make me special.  I sometimes wonder if a waiting period should be required in order to date me, sort of like purchasing a handgun.  Anyway, bottom line, I long for a healthiness which doesn't mean I'm off the hook when it comes to effort, but some sort of natural state which doesn't depend on my ability to be someone I am not.

I want a child.  Not two, although I'd consider that, but just one.  I think one is cool.  I like the 2 parents to one child ratio.  I think that works.  I feel like my clock is running out though.

I want to lead a group within the context of yoga, running, etc.  I really enjoyed today's workout because I finally got to actually lead my athletes through their first set of intervals.  I yelled, I blew my whistle, and I ran around everyone until well after sunset.  However, tonight also felt a lot like herding cats, with 90% of my effort being used up by logistical concerns.  I sometimes wonder if the team would be better off with a more simple minded cheerleader type of coach.  Or an enforcer type of coach who sticks to the plan and doesn't improv or explain, just takes convention as fact and spoon feeds it.  We'll see where things are at as the season progresses.  Ideally, though, this leadership would eventually transition into the yoga studio, a space where everyone can come and go as they please without me having to worry about tracking any lost sheep.  I know I enjoy this type of dynamic, of leading and motivating a group, of sharing my quirks with others and feeding off their energy as they would feed off mine.

Finally, I want more time, more time to write, read, learn, etc.  I also want to spend more time alone, perhaps one day incorporating meditation.  But the problem with all that is that I already feel like I've been drifting away from many of the friends I cherish the most lately because I find myself completely over-scheduled.  I don't think I have any free time in my calendar before Thanksgiving.  Missing out on good friends bums me out as much as not having enough "me" time.  So, at the heart of things, I really want more time overall, more time to do more.  Maybe I should stop sleeping.

I'm unsure if I want to race seriously again.  I might change my mind if I could focus on training without worrying about income and work.  For now I feel completely content without racing.  Not because I don't love racing, but because I feel like I would rather give it a full effort than anything half-assed.

I don't know if I want to move ever again.  I think I want to stay in this house as my residence forever or at least for the next 20+ years.  I'm happy here.  I wish it weren't so expensive to live in SD, but I frequently feel like it might actually be worth it, even with the traffic.

I've wavered on if I want another dog.  I think I've come to the conclusion that Hunter will be my one and only soulmate of a pet.  Perhaps if I had a child who wanted a dog that would be the right time to consider another one.

I want to travel and see the world but I can wait on that until I'm squared away a bit more on the home front.

I want my garage cleaned and my bikes functional.  That's a simple matter of putting in a few hours.  I seem to be stalling on that indefinitely.

I want to purge my closet of half the junk that's in there but I have a hard time getting rid of good stuff.

I want to go to sleep because I'm tired.  So I think it's time to do that.


I rarely ask myself why.  Why do I do the things I do in the manner in which I do them?  I enjoy exploring motivations, of analyzing decision making along the way, but rarely do I step back and examine the big picture, the root cause of where I'm at.

Why do I not ask why?  Probably because it seems irrelevant to do so.  Once I commit to something, the reason why I made that commitment pales in comparison to my dedication to the task at hand.  I don't waste cycles pondering the reason why I'm on the path I've chosen when I'm focused on exploring that path through to the end.

Today is a little different.  Today I'm pondering why.  And I'm going to try to answer, for myself, some questions along those lines.

Why do I run?  This is a great question and one without a concrete answer.  I haven't raced, at least not seriously, in over a year.  So I no longer run to compete, to achieve, or to improve.  These days I run mostly because I can.  When there is nothing else, no class to get to, no burning need to be at work, no social commitment to fulfill, my first thought becomes lacing up my shoes.  Especially on a sunny day, running is my connection to the outdoors, to my youth, to the elements of the earth.  I do truly love the act of running, alone or in a group.  I have never felt satiated with my running.  I don't think I ever will.

Why do I ride?  The sad truth is that I don't have time to ride my bike anymore.  I haven't even taken the time to get it back in streetworthy condition.  This bums me out a fair bit.  I wish there were more time in the day to bring this back into my life a little bit.  But priorities have to be made and cycling at the moment falls short on that list.

Why Yoga?  I've been thinking about this one a lot.  I suppose part of the yoga decision is similar to why my father picked dancing to obsess about.  I chose yoga because I found it challenging.  I chose yoga because I saw tremendous room to improve and explore.  Yoga as a box of goodness seemed deeper than any of the endeavors I've indulged in over the first 35 years of my life.  Yoga seemed new and ripe and succulent.  Yoga connected me to people, to the human spirit, and to sensations in my body which I never knew about or was terrified of in the past.  Most importantly, what I found with yoga is that it restores a balance and calm that I need in order to function in the workplace.  I can get to this level of calm from running but it takes longer and sometimes when it's cold/wet/miserable outside, yoga is a much shorter conduit to this space.  When it's beautiful outside as it has been over the past few weeks here in SD, yoga takes on a slightly reduced role, just as it does when I visit Honolulu.

Why software?  This is the toughest question for me.  I think I have experience and ability when it comes to database development and software in general, from troubleshooting to design and implementations, I think I am halfway decent.  But there is no love, no passion for software, no driving force.  Half of the crap posted on facebook these days is aimed at encouraging all of us to "do what you love."  I don't follow this advice although I sometimes lament that decision.  I do what I have to do in order to pay the bills and because it seems like my dharma to do this type of work.  I believe in specialization of labor, I believe that we should make compromises at times to ensure the quality of what we produce or where we spend our time is as high as possible.  And yet I often envy those who have chosen to pursue their dreams at all costs, those who can pick up and travel with two week's notice.

Why blog?  Writing centers me.  It washes over me as if I were still that child, out on a foam board in Kailua bay, bobbing through the 1' surf with my head on my board, daydreaming.  Writing slows my thoughts down to a pace I can handle.  Writing cleanses me just like yoga, or perhaps just like meditation might do.  When I pick the words, they are all safe words.  When I decide which thoughts to listen to, it always seems fresh.  Writing is my connection to fantasy, to hope, to dreams, and to ridiculousness.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Training wheels

I taught my first big boy yoga class today.  One student attended.  She requested some stretching and mentioned that her legs were sore so she asked for a break on the lunges.  I'm still processing how it went, from the sloppiness of my words to the casual nature of it all.  There were moments where it felt all right but plenty of moments where I wondered what I was doing.  She was a great student, very appreciative, next to zero expectations, and she worked up a sweat early on so she clearly got into it even though her limbs looked fairly soft most of the time.  About 15 minutes in she asked if we could do headstand which made me doubt myself even more because it's not necessarily the safest pose nor one I've practiced teaching.  But shoot, kids play around like this all the time so I figured wtf, give it a go if we can get there.  One big difference between a group class and a one-on-one yoga session is how open the conversation can be when it's just two people in the room.  I ran way over time and that's something to be aware of next week.

Below is what I remember of what I lead.  This was my first time going into a freeform class and I had no plan.  I figured I couldn't have much of a plan without knowing the students or in this case the student (singular.)  I'll be asking my yoga friends for feedback on the sequence so I can attempt to correct any errors of judgement.


  • Start in standing, access breath, personalize
  • sun A x 3, first slower, next two not particularly fast
  • one half baked sun b: modified crescent lunge (knee down) to revolved crescent lunge (knee down) to runner's lunge (knee down), both sides.
  • chair to low lunge to pyramid to warrior 3 (pyramid to warrior 3 was the ugliest transition of the class, poorly thought out on my behalf, I was working towards half moon but never got there) to standing splits to forward fold, repeat on left side
  • navasana two sets with an attempt at pickup in between which didn't really happen
  • tree both sides, dancer's both sides, eagle both sides or it might have been eagle then dancer's, I forget but I know we did all 3 even though they were fairly sloppy/casual
  • side plank left and right (prep for headstand)
  • dolphin (prep for headstand)
  •  headstand (she did this quite well, I think she felt comfortable from doing it in the past) with a little badha konasana legs at the end
  • child's pose to puppy
  • table top to one arm forward opposite leg back, elbow to knee repeat 3x each side, other side
  • peeing dog pose both sides just because it's the coolest pose name ever
  • camel (honestly I forget exactly when I worked this in but I think it was right around here).  I cued it as a gentle camel and she didn't go very deep.  I am not sure why I did this, it just sort of seemed like the right time.
  • cobra, full locust, floor bow
  • seated forward fold with assist
  • seated wide angle single leg stretch into twisted single leg stretch (janu sirsasana into parivrrta janu sirsasana) on each side without coming up in between (not sure if this is OK, never seen this done, never tried it in my own body, not sure if there is a reason why it's important to come up other than getting the elbow to the inside of the knee
  • butterfly (badha konasana)
  • seated spinal twist (ardha matseyendrasana) both sides
  • half pigeon both sides.  I attempted to try wild thing after the first side of half pigeon with assist but it didn't happen so I skipped it on the second side.
  • happy baby
  • supine spinal twist
  • savasana
I'm actually reasonably fuzzy on the exact sequence but the general position of all of the pieces is correct and I'm sure I went through everything listed here.  I don't think I'm forgetting anything either.  I tried to demo and I tried to cue and for the most part I think she got something out of the 90 minutes, but it certainly wasn't terribly pretty on my behalf because I really did not know what I was doing.  It just felt so different without any rules, it felt so strange, so uncertain to me.

I welcome any comments about what I messed up here, other than the obvious tendency to squeeze 10 lbs of sugar into a 5 lb bag.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I wrote this post over two years ago about the differences between 1+1 and 2.  The sentiment I attempted to express in that post was directed towards the topic of a life partner, a "forever friend".  This post is more of a reflection on the differences in perspective which 2 years of distance provide.

Yesterday started with the Sunday ranch run where I saw quite a few faces of old friends (Hupfeld, Stohl, Dr Ken, Theresa, Kim, Beth) and of course the yoosh crew of Luc and Todd.  During the back stretch Todd and I got to talking about how happy the 2012 version of Dave seems compared to the Dave he first met when he started running with us.  The past 2 years have transformed me, incrementally at times, but significantly in aggregate.

Two years ago I was hurt, I was in pain.  Ironically, my lifetime fitness peaked during that same time, I chose to work through my emotional pain with a steady diet of physical challenges.  Two years ago I was bitter, guarded, and fairly angry.  I ran with fear, I ran with hate, I ran with reckless abandon.  When Todd first met me, he was amused.  Since then we've become good friends.

In 2010 I began my yoga practice.  There was no reason for this other than a sudden availability, free time which did not previously exist allowed me to create space for a new passion.  It wasn't the smoothest of starts as those initial trips to yoga tropics seemed more like a beatdown than a buildup.  I found a community at Haute and another one when CorePower opened the Encinitas studio.  I now have many wonderful friends within the yoga community and they make me feel a lot like my running friends do, sweaty hugs and all.

Yesterday's noon practice was one of the most physically open moments I've ever had on the mat.  I felt a union between my forehead and knee in a few poses which exceeded any prior sensations.  In extended side angle I felt both length and rotation, a rare moment where my body could attempt more than one thing at a time.  Reflecting back on where I began when I bought that first yoga mat I am truly amazed at the quantity of change that is available over 24 months.

I get a little hung up on how much life rules this year.  I'm no longer healing from pain, I am no longer searching for joy, and I am no longer wishing I could add something to my life.  I am actively creating joy, indulging in my passions, and experiencing moments of bliss.  My pot feels full, in fact it feels like it is overflowing from the contributions of friends and family, work and life, running and yoga.  I am fit but I don't know when my next race is and I don't care that much either.  My practice is flowing well but I don't really have the same agni about progress, I am content to observe progress walking towards me vs me chasing it down.  I am busy and yet some of my favorite time is spent bumming around the yoga studio geeking out about poses and learning how to do the front desk work.  Hunter is old and overweight and perpetually stinky but his mind is every bit of what it has always been and we are such old friends that our understanding crosses the boundaries of verbal communication into the subconscious.

Two years later, I can honestly say, life is good.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Work continues.  Coaching continues.  Yoga teaching on Sundays continues.  Adjustments continue.  Sometimes it seems like too much, and other times, for brief moments when I get a break to take a breath on my own, I start to wonder if I could do more, if I could put more energy into some of these aspects.  It's not that I strive to feel overloaded as much as I want to squeeze the most out of myself whenever possible.

As a visual analogy, perhaps my favorite kitchen tool is the lime juicer I bought a few months ago from Sur La Table.  It was something like $20 for a metal/plastic tool which has only one purpose, turn limes into juice.  I think it is my favorite tool because of how effective it is compared to my bare hands.  I think I spend an inordinate amount of time in my life trying to figure out how to be more like that lime juicer, how to get every last little drop of juice our of myself.  The analogy is that the juicer is my mind and the lime is my body, my self, my physical incarnation.  Together the two can be in harmony, but it takes a level of precision and alignment.  The lime juicer takes maintenance and cleaning, just as my mind does.

Today's class (which isn't on the schedule and is in the middle of the Chargers/Falcons game so it should be pretty quiet) has a theme of "Roll with it."  Because life has been just a little too heavy this week for me.  But heavy is also what I like.  I need to constantly remind myself to just roll with the punches, to take it all in stride, to not react emotionally when things seem to be rough or unfair or over the top.  Because after a night of sleep, after some calm perspective, nothing is as big of a deal as it might seem in the moment.

There have been many moments this week when I've truly felt blessed.  Blessed at how my present life is going, blessed at the potential for continued wonder and experience in the future, and blessed at my rich past, the privileges I have and the wonderful people who surround me and enrich my life.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I spent a good portion of my weekend coaching, running, and in the yoga studio.  I had a few moments to reflect upon the similarities and differences between these two roles during my time in the studio, particularly immediately before and after the classes I helped out with.

Aside from leading stretching, I think that run coaching and teaching/adjusting during a yoga class are actually fairly different.  I suppose I see run coaching as more of a sister to leading yoga teacher training than it is to leading an actual yoga class.  I don't have direct access to my athletes during a run workout because they are spread out in space and time.  It is pretty much impossible to see everything at all times and similarly impossible to be heard by everyone.  The moments of coaching running which matter tend to be restricted to before and after the workout, when the athlete is less able to directly apply a specific suggestion.

However, I think that pacing is actually fairly similar to adjusting in a yoga class and reasonably similar to teaching yoga.  This might be one reason why I seem to gravitate towards all of these activities.  The big difference between being an adjuster vs being a teacher is that the adjuster generally uses his or her own body parts to fine tune a student's alignment whereas the teacher generally uses words.  Of course there is plenty of grey area, a good adjuster should speak quietly to one student at a time when necessary and a good teacher should be dishing out adjustments as well as speaking, and the teacher knows what is coming next whereas the adjuster may not.

Many runners are familiar with pace groups since most major marathons offer them as a free service.  Find the stick that says 3:30 and that dream of qualifying for Boston requires the bare minimum of brain activity to stick with the stick.  Pacing an individual is common in ultras but less so on road courses, especially ones with aid stations and race clocks at every mile.  I must admit that many of my fondest racing memories are from pacing during road marathons.  The thrill of making a positive contribution fuels me in a unique and effective manner.

Pacing a group is quite a bit like teaching a yoga class.  As the pacer, you set the tempo, the tone, the effort, and you guide your athletes through the process, preparing them for what is coming without dwelling on the details or the past.  A good pacer knows when to keep quiet and when to be vocal.  A good pacer is constantly observing the body language of the runners in the group, trying to get a bead on who is holding back and who is pushing too much, who is serious, and who is just along for the ride.

A good individual pacer is able to dive into the mind of the athlete.  This often takes a personal connection or prior knowelege of their personality.  Is he or she the type who will self motivate at the end or will doubts likely surface?  Is he or she the type to go out too hard, to be too enthusiastic too early, and will it be important to keep things under control for the first half?  What motivates this person, does he like tough love, does she want to hear positive affirmations?  How can humor be used?  Is it best as a pacer to focus on the end goal at all costs, or on the process and conquering demons along the way?  Some runners want to be distracted from the race in order to run their best, whereas some want to retain a tight grip on things and would prefer to receive mileage and pace information continuously.  Some runners can be tricked into performing better than they thought they could, others are simply too sharp and must be given accurate information at all times or trust is lost.

Adjusting in a yoga class involves a lot of what I describe in the paragraph above minus the competitive element.  To be good at adjusting, you have to be invisible and yet present, you have to be available but not in the way.  The best adjustments are given when the adjuster and the student both know each other, when both feel comfortable in each other's space.  I find one of the bigger challenges with adjusting is with reading the body language of someone I do not know.  I frequently interpret a desire to be left alone and then I am told after class that my adjustments were actually well received.  We all have different body language, and I think the key to to adjusting is projecting an inner confidence, which is so easy to say and so hard to do because it must be genuine and confidence is something which naturally ebbs and flows in all of us.  When I approach someone, either a runner or a yogi, with the intent to create a better experience for them, the subtleties of this intention are received subconsciously.  When I approach someone with uncertainty because of how they are moving, the difficulty of the pose, or whatever might be creeping into my head, I tend to have more trouble.

As the 60 minutes of class tick by, I notice myself gaining comfort and confidence with my role as an adjuster.  At first it feels odd, as I noticed on Sunday when I wound up as the only male in a room full of women.  I begin with the people I know the best, even if I've only talked to them briefly, because I know this will inspire confidence for all of us.  From there I tend to gravitate towards those who I feel are most in need of help, often picking students who seem to demonstrate a lack of experience with their alignment or their facial expressions.  More often than not, these are the ones in the back row, typically in the corners of the room, who steal a glance at the instructor or the person in front of them every minute or two.  Honestly, while I think I help a little bit for these types of yogis, I find myself frequently challenged when adjusting a beginner I don't know.  There is a definite uncertainty about how strong of a lead they would like, and some fear that I might underestimate their experience and somehow come across as insulting which causes me to err on the side of caution and a softer adjustment than I would otherwise.

Interestingly, however, it is the experienced yogis who typically benefit the most from an adjustment.  Experienced yogis already know which direction their body should be rotating, extending, or folding and will follow my lead, encouraging me and taking advantage of the mechanics of my assist more than a lesser experienced yogi.  I think this might be comparable to how an experienced female dancer learns to follow effortlessly from her male lead.  It is over the second half of class when I start to finally feel that I am performing my role the way I'd like to, where I begin to give adjustments which I would actually receive favorably as a student myself.

The satisfaction I take away from pacing and adjusting is similar and fairly intangible.  I hope that anyone I pace will remember their toughness, their ability to conquer a physical challenge, and that I will effectively disappear from their memories of the event itself.  Similarly with my adjustments, I hope the class is remembered as an internal experience, a special mix of breath and movement which might have been subtly enhanced by a push or pull in the right direction at just the right time.