Sunday, December 14, 2008

Every day is Christmas at the Tor

Yeah, it was just a typical Saturday for me on the Central Coast: Jack Johnson himself called me to see what was up, so I gathered some hip, young, earth-loving-funky-dread-wearing-bongo-playing college students and we all grooved out at Jack's place. During the introspective bonfire portion of the evening, Jack and I jammed out on the guitar and Uke, and MTV recorded our live session for posterity. It will appear on television next month. Purdy sweet.

I'm lying, of course.

But I DID see Jack Johnson in front of California Pizza Kitchen with his kids. I didn't talk to him. I think he would have been pissed.

Oh and I also redpointed Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b) at the Owl Tor. I took me about 4 or 5 days of effort to tick this thing. While not a true epic, Hell was certainly a project, and I fell on THE LAST MOVE more than a few times. Of all the routes I've done at the Tor, Hell has the biggest holds you're likely to fall off of. Justin and Phil also had good days, and Justin pitched off the last throw on Power about 3 or 4 times in a row. Next time, Justin.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Crag That Time Forgot (or The Crag That Most Santa Barbara Climbers Forgot)

As an appurtenance to climbing at the Tor on Saturday, Micah, Elijah and I often climb somewhere locally on Sunday. Sometimes it's for gits and shiggles, and at other times it's serious cragging. On this particular day, I was amped to be at Green Dome. If you've never been there before, you should check it out for its remote location, interesting rock, and RAD steep routes. The easier climbs don't stimulate the imagination very much, but the steeper stuff is really pretty inspiring, especially for the area. We got on Monsters in the Maze (5.12b), a technical, crimpy, and consistently strenuous journey up a beautiful green-blue wall. The location? Amazing. You feel like you're, well, not in Santa Barbara.

I tried to onsight Monsters in the Maze, and managed to climb into the crux without falling. After that, I pitched. Because of the sharp nature of the rock, each successive attempt worked me. You don't get too many go's at Green Dome before your skin catches up with you. As such, I didn't redpoint, but I got real close. Next time.

Here's me climbing through the crux on my onsight attempt.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Last weekend, I went to the Tor. I fell on the very, very last move of Hell of the Upside Down Sinners (5.12b), but redpointed Anchor Punch (5.12a) yet again, Auto Magic (5.12a) twice, and Power of Eating (5.11d) for the umpteenth time. Slowly but surely, I'm building my fitness by working through the 5.12 jungle at the Owl Tor. Every week I get slaughtered, but whatever doesn't kill you at the Tor makes you... well, you know. In any case, fun was had by all. Elijah got on Atreyu, which he named partly because he likes the Neverending Story, and partly because he knows Phil will think the name is absurd. Micah, back from his travels in Greece, has been reacquainting himself with the Tor over the last month, and is pulling hard as usual.

Per the picture: no, my stomach is not reacting to my breakfast of coffee and Kefir.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Tea Fire

Most of Montecito, including the grounds of Westmont College, are currently burning. A surprise wildfire, fueled by sundowner winds, swept down the mountainside into the heart of Montecito, and at last count over eighty homes succumbed to the fires. It's bad. A bunch of my friends just lost their homes.

Here's to the shittiest birthday I've ever had.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Little Giant

It's here.

The ender-of-worlds. The bringer-of-pain. The apparatus del muerto.

Folks, Santa Barbara Forge and Iron would like to welcome a new member to its ever-growing tool family! This week, we finally shipped the Little Giant (blacksmithing power-hammer) into our shop. It weighs over a ton, I should think. I'm insanely excited. For those who don't know what the Little Giant does, here's a short explanation:

-- Utilizing a foot-pedal, the machine engages a wheel which...
-- makes a 50 pound sledge go up...
-- and DOWN
-- then UP
-- and DOWN

And so on and so forth. Basically, the Little Giant takes over much of the tedious—but necessary—hammering in the blacksmithing process. Here's to not having elbow tendonitis when I'm older.

Pics coming soon...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Buena Vista Project: Day 3

I don't know whether to be stoked or bummed.

This was my first day of actually working all the moves on the project, and the outlook is grim. Or wonderful. It depends on how you look at it. Elijah and I spent a while playing top-rope tough-guy, and what looked like a decently hard route on rappell became a snarling, foaming-at-the-mouth beast by the end of our session. I've never flailed so hard on a piece of rock. EVERY SINGLE MOVE is friggin hard. So, I'm stoked that I found a legitimately hard project for some strongman (let's be honest: it probably won't be me any time soon) to send. But I'm bummed that the moves are way, way, way beyond me. Perhaps I'm just being negative.

Elijah and I quickly tired of thrutching, so we went to the Shed for campusing. Basically, campusing felt like an ego-booster after the Buena Vista boulder.

Pictures of the project coming soon...

It's raining in paradise (a.k.a. It's raining at the Tor)

It rained this Saturday. I haven't woken up to a drizzly Saturday in years, or at least it seems that way. And while everyone was snug in their beds, or chowing down Aunt Jemimah pancakes, Phil, Elijah, Elhanon and I made the drive to the Central Coast's all-weather climbing destination: the Owl Tor. While the Tor's steepness kept most of the holds dry, general humidity and moisture made some pockets slick as snot. No matter how strong I felt that day, I still peeled off big holds. Most noteworthy was my 35+ foot whipper on Power of Eating. Note to self: don't skip clips on the last, tired burn of the day.

Also noteworthy was my bolt-to-bolt ascent of Better Than Life, 5.13c. I've never climbed on a hard 5.13 (other than Wild Kingdom, which is 5.13a). It felt... hard. And fun. We'll see. I still need to garner some endurance. Here's some footage of me sussing a section towards the top of BTL:

All in all, I felt like a truck hit me by the end of the day.

Trail Running up Tunnel Trail

Today, I indulged in the runner mecca that is the Santa Barbara front-country. Originally intending to have a nice, 35 minute jaunt up Tunnel trail, I took a fire road that I hadn't explored before. Woops. I ended up suffering on a super sustained uphill for about an hour. It was completely worth it. Expansive views, perfect temps, and the fear of being attacked by a mountain lion reminded me that SB is rad.

Dinner was homemade tomato soup. Delish.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Buena Vista Project: Day 2

Here are the much-awaited pics. They're not stellar, I know, but it's very hard to get perspective of the boulder because trees get in way. By the way, that's Paul wielding the drill on the steep part of the route. Also included is a picture of the adjacent boulder, which touts some as-yet-uncleaned boulder problems. It's a fine piece of rock as well.

Dang, it feels good to be productive...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

THE GOOD NEWS: I just returned from a mini-epic adventure in the Southern Sierra Nevada. Jeff Dunbar and I traipsed around Dome Rock and The Needles, climbing some very classic lines, including Igor Unchained (perhaps the best 5.9+ for 45 light years in all directions), Just Barely (stupidly creative 5.11b), the perfect Anti-Jello Crack (5.10), and Tree Route (the most sustained jamming possible for a 5.6). Basically, the weekend was tradtastic.

THE BAD NEWS: I am sick as a dog right now.

I'm planning on getting better tonight after downing the rest of my Nyquil bottle. Hopefully, I'll crank on something this weekend at the Tor, but I'm not making any promises. This sickness seems to be hanging on.

By the way, that's not me in the photo of Igor Unchained (3rd pitch). I'll post some pics when I have them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buena Vista Project: Day 1

Andre and I trucked up the trail with her two pooches (Bahini and Schatzi) to start cleaning the project and, hopefully, climb a little. I set a top-rope then rapped in with some scrub brushes. The rock quality ranged from excellent, Skofield Park quality, to choss. The crux moves are all on pretty good rock, however. Speaking of crux moves, Andre and I attempted the bottom ten feet of the route, and quickly found that we were in way, way over our heads. The route is all there, but strangely NOT there at the same time. Leading this route is going to be like pulling a 40 foot V9. Or something like that.

So far, here's the breakdown from what I can see on rappell:

-- first ten feet start waaay steep on pockets and huecos.
-- Several desperate slaps, then you gain a "ledge" of awkward gastons. Probably clip here.
-- Enter the real crux. Burl thyself into a rad undercling, set up feet, then throw (huck, hurl, chuck...?) for a sloping crimp.
-- Begin a back-muscle race against exhaustion as you deadpoint sloping crimps to pull the huge bulge, and top out.

All in all, it looks like 35 or 40 feet of climbing. Good stuff, indeed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vomitus Recurus

I almost threw up running. Again.

Rather than a shin-pounding 10 miler today, I went to City College to run a sprint workout on the track. I hate running on the track, but it's the only way to accurately time my splits, so I decided what the heck. After running a 6ish minute mile at 80%, I charged up the bleachers for what I hoped would be a splendid lung busting climb workout. It was everything I hoped it would be except for splendid.

Still, I learned that I need to get QUICKER on my feet.

In other news, I had the best Pinot Noir of my life today. I tasted a barrel sample of Clone 31 from the western end of the Santa Maria Valley today, courtesy of Justin at Tyler Winery. Justin warned me that I might weep. He was right. I did. Truly, Justin is crafting the nectar of the Gods at Tyler. I wish I was in the employ of Zeus.

Monday, September 15, 2008

This just in: The Buena Vista Project

Paul Dusatko, Marcela, and I hiked up Buena Vista trail today to check out the Buena Vista Project, an open project I initiated a few years ago, but gave up due to my then flaccid forearms. These few years later, I needed some new eyes and new enthusiasm, hence Mr. Dusatko. Confirming that no, I am not TOTALLY crazy, Paul matched my stoke and was super psyched about the overhanging arete. And yes, he too thinks it will be fierce.

I'm jittery while I write this. The route looks so, so good! It will likely be four bolts long, start low to the ground, crank through some very steep pockets and gastons, then enter into what appears to be the true definition of techie. Think super-burly underclings forcing you into positions of utter pain and confusion, then consumately desperate sloping crimps, then... well, I guess I'll soon see. I'm TR'ing it this next week to get the holds chalked and cleaned. What's it rated? Who knows. Usually, that kind of info comes AFTER the first ascent. I will say, however, it looks harder than anything I've ever seen in Santa Barbara proper.

Paul and I also found some quality looking boulder problems scattered around the Buena Vista Project. First ascents will be had, and will be had soon...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Feeling Tor-ific?

Today was my best Tor day to date. I hit a new highpoint on Chips Ahoy (5.12d)—literally throwing for the jugs near the top—and redpointed four other routes. Heres the list: Power of Eating (5.11d), Auto Magic (5.12a), Anchor Punch (5.12a), and When the Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a). While I didn't accomplish redpointing Chips, my burns felt super strong and I was climbing fast, which isn't usually my pace. My slow-and-steady trad heritage hangs on indeed.

On the way home, I had the best potato chip I've tasted in the last month. The brand was "California Chips" and the flavor was "Earthquake". Try them, and weep for joy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Question: how was my run today?

In a word, DESPERATION. Intending to take a nice 4.5 mile recovery run, I began my route in good spirits and in good bowel-constitution. The problems began around mile 4. A brief footnote: a few hours before my run, I stopped by Adam and Jasmine's house for some homemade guacamole—a possible mistake, I'll admit. Anyways, right on Cliff Drive, one of the busiest cross streets in SB, I tanked, my stomach bellowed, and the game was on. Either crap my pants or crap in a bush. I chose the latter, but the bush hardly hid my bent form, cowering in mortification.

Faucet poo galore...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Did you hang out in 102 degree heat this Saturday? I did.

Setting a new record for hot weather climbing (for me at least), the crew and I pulled down at the Tor in 102 degree heat. It was the variety of heat that sears your nostril hairs when you inhale. Still, the rock felt great, energy was high, and I had a good redpoint burn on Chips. Here's the vid if you're interested:

On another proverbial note, Andre Areno came to the Tor for the first time. Per the newbie routine, she and Elhanon threw themselves at Power, only to realize that in a battle of muscle, the Tor always wins. Good show, nevertheless.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How DID Rocky feel so great on morning runs?

Taking advantage of the ubiquitous marine layer, I got up early to run in the cool morning temps. Usually, morning runs sound vigorous and refreshing the night before, but the actuality of 6:45 a.m. hits me pretty hard. This morning was not par for course. For some reason, I felt great for my entire run (8 miles), and kept up a nice 8.5 minute mile pace. Go figure.

I was tired at work, though. I had to move lots of steel because Dan and I are rearranging our shop. It's good to have Dan back from dodging bullets and imbibing Jumex in Honduras.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Andy Goes Tradly!

No Tor this weekend for me. I was busy installing my metal handiwork on Chris Broomell's new winery in Valley Center. Truly an idyllic place, to be sure. I was fortunate to witness the "first crush" of Menghini Winery's Syrah crop. Last year's was sumptuous; I think things bode well for this year as well. When I got back, I was keening to rope up, and since Bret was amenable, I packed the rack and headed up to Gibraltar. Sure, Gibraltar doesn't inject the forearms with lactic-death, but it's bold traditional leads do hone the "head". I'm glad I went. After leading T-Crack three times in a row, just to work the butterflies out of my chest during the run-out mantle, I led Self Reflection, Kevin Brown's BRILLIANT nubbin-fest. If you haven't climbed it, take my advice and break out your stiff lace-ups because it gets thin as dimes up there.

All in all, it felt liberating to place gear and climb free.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dragonforce: the fastest (and worst) guitar players in the world!

After a long day in the shop where I ALMOST finished all the hardware for Chris' winery, I went on a 5.7 mile run, and made sure to throw in some hills for good measure. As usual, I love going up, but hate coming down. Physics demand that both happen. Anyways, I felt great, and I kept a comfortable 7.5 to 9 minute mile (depending on the incline) pace. When I got done, I thought I had only run 4 miles, but lo and behold... it was more.

Somehow, I don't think that's how my challenge will feel.

In other news, Dragonforce has released their new album. Admit it, you thought this kind of fare dried up years ago. Shame on you. Behold, ostentatious music galore:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Climbing filmmaker/bro Paul Dusatko and I charged at the Shed tonight, beginning our workout in typical fashion: cranking the Isaac Hayes. Yeah, yeah, I know: WHY DO WE LISTEN TO SOUL MUSIC WHEN WE CLIMB. Barry White, Curtis Mayfield, and Mr. Hayes may inspire the libido, but they don't exactly get the muscles fired up. At least, they don't for most people. But Shedders aren't most people when it comes to music-choice. Anyways, motivation was high tonight, so Paul and I climbed pretty hard, and I did 18+ laps on the wall, a high number for me. I'm trying to focus my shed training on volume and variety, and Paul pushes me in directions I don't usually go, such as awkward drop-knees, scrunchy crossovers, and other forms of what some call "jessery" (ask Phil about Jessery). You be the judge...

All in all, I got real tired, and left feeling injury-free, making for an A+ workout.

After climbing, Brandon, Merideth Mallory, John Taylor, and I went to Anna Lepley's new loft apartment for homemade pizza and wine. I attempted some babaganoush, but the tahini was old so it came out bitter. Eggplant is a hard sell to begin with, so I didn't take it personally when people didn't like my creation. Ah well. Next time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tuesday's Hike and Climb

Bret, ever the intrepid soul, joined me on an after-work hike and climb up San Ysidro canyon this afternoon. Rather than stop at the main crag, we cruised up the canyon another couple of miles to Upper San Ysidro, the home of Gnome Fingers, a stellar 10b finger crack situated by a beautiful river pool. Bret and I both ran three laps, me on lead, Bret on TR. Bret is looking stronger these days, and even though he thinks he's weak, he's full of crap. Next time we go there, he's leading first.

Of course, we stayed longer than we should have, and it got dark. And we didn't have a headlamp. And we were hungry. The walk back almost ended in disaster every ten feet as we tripped over roots, rocks, and ball-bearing gravel. For some reason I kept thinking of how much I wanted Vietnamese soup. When I got back to the car, I promptly drove to Vons, bought some generic Asian soup, and am about to make it as I write this.

I love going from fantasy to reality.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday's run: a near-barf experience

Contrary to the title for this post, Monday's run was actually quite enjoyable. I'm upping the mileage little by little, and I ran eight miles today with little difficulty. Breathing was metronomic and steady, muscles fired strong, and my normal sore-spots kept quiet. I cruised at a comfortable 10.5 minute-per-mile pace, and even my usually racous running-farts were almost non-existent.

But man, those breakfast burritos I had at 2 p.m. today did not want to stay down. I choked down flaming hot death-bile from mile 4 to mile 8. I guess I can nix those from my afternoon diet.

Other than that, it was a beautiful day, and I'm glad that breakfast burritos exist, even if they do make me sick before runs.

Bjorkland Ranch (rest day)

I found the Holy Grail of waterfalls.

All I can tell you is it's in Santa Barbara, it's rad, and there was a crowd of German folk dressed in bizarre, Bavarian clothes. Go figure. Jared, Mara, and I spent the afternoon swimming, jumping off the top of the falls, and revelling in good bucholic style. I can't think of a better way to spend a rest day.

If you want to find out more about this place, you can read my article in the upcoming October issue of "Homeowners Resource".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Tor Olympics

The Olympics are all about specializing.

With sports like Curling, Ping Pong, Synchronized Swimming, and Speedwalking, it seems anyone can enter the Olympics, just as long as they spend inordinate amounts of time specializing in something.

Here on the Central Coast, Phil, Paul, and I specialize in hot-weather Sport Climbing. While most sane climbers migrate to cooler climes, we make the 1.5 hour drive to Santa Maria to suffer in 90+ degrees of unforgiving heat. It's silly, but we keep doing it. And I wonder why I always feel like crap after days like this! The record shows that I redpointed only ONE route, but I like to think that considering the heat, my exhaustion from the week, and several weeks lapsing since my last visit to the Tor, I did tolerably well. I nabbed The Power of Eating (5.11d) with ease, which injected my ego with motivation. Bad news. After a premature burn on When The Sea Doesn't Want You (5.12a), which I one-hung, I lowered back to the ground, flash-pumped and gasping.

So I rested. Once I could move my fingers to tie a knot, I decided to revisit Chips Ahoy (5.12d), my project during the colder months. Fully expecting a fiasco, I started up Chip's severe pitch with a bit of trepidation. Surprise, surprise, I actually pulled off my BEST one-hang ascent of Chips. Not bad for the temps. Also of note were my two desperate redpoint failures on Anchor Punch (5.12a-but-very-much-like-a-"b").

I left exhausted, thirsty, and famished. And I didn't even get a medal.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Tuesday After

Just got back from guiding a 5-day backpacking trip in the Sierra. You will probably never hear me drag on about dietary esoterica, but I do have a few things to say about Mountain House dehydrated food products. To my surprise—and sometimes chagrin, snobby backpacker that I am—they are amazingly good. Particularly the Chicken a la King, and the Lasagna. I can scarce believe the amount of calories they stuff in those things.

I missed climbing the whole time I was gone. After only being in town for 4 or 5 hours, I made my way down to the shed to crank (I hoped) with Bob, Elijah, and Marcela. All in all, had a good time, which is key to success when the Shed is in its balmy season. Worked on some very dynamic and very awkward moves with Elijah. I didn't exactly follow my self-imposed rule of "volume-over-power", but what the heck. Fun is more important.

Oh, and Dan and I changed our business name to Santa Barbara Forge and Iron. Thought you might want to know.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Having missed the "cool-kids" on Tuesday night, I went down to the Shed on Wednesday with Paul Dusatko. This is my last day of climbing before I head out to the Sierra Nevada to lead a 5 day backpacking trip, and I'm a little bummed (perhaps stupidly) about 5 or 6 days off from climbing. But I'm an idiot: it'll be good to take a nice rest.

As usual, the Shed beckoned me in with promises of burl and sending, then SLAPPED me with shear disdain. But it was a good night, albeit short. Did about 10-14 (can't remember) laps without much rest between burns, and dialed some routes I struggled on in the past, like Standard 2-finger. I couldn't even TOUCH that line two months ago. Finger pocket training gets you strong in the weirdest way. I'm not sure how to describe it. Also, at the request of Phil, I put up a new route.

Phil, I hope you like it.

Per the typical Shed experience, Isaac Hayes waxed wistful about love. May he rest in peace.

Tuesdays with Travis

Travis Madsen and I met up late Tuesday afternoon at Romero Canyon trailhead, the starting point for a hiking/climbing linkup I've wanted to do for a long time. As Travis and I racked up by the side of the road, amidst other hikers returning to their cars, we both realized that no one has ever, in all likelihood, EVER racked up climbing gear at Romero Canyon trail. This is because there is no climbing anywhere near the trailhead—which is exactly how I wanted it. The nearest climbable rock sits at the bottom of San Ysidro trailhead, several canyons (with super steep fire-roads bisecting them) to our north. The plan? Hike and run to San Ysidro, climb 5 pitches of decently physical climbing, then run back to Romero via San Ysidro trailhead, and then East Mountain Drive. All in all, 6 miles of very diverse terrain, ranging from sick steep and sunny, to shady and downhill, to flat pavement. All in all, a very engaging route, and a great way to see a lot of landscape in a short amount of time. We ran everything we could, barring the steepest terrain, which we hiked.

It's worth noting that Travis has the "suffer" gene. He knows how to put in long, physical days that slowly eat away at your core of strength and sanity. He's the kind of guy you want in the mountains, or on a failed expedition to the Antarctic. I can imagine him on Shakleton's epic in another life, a pipe hanging out the side of a big grin, and seven out of ten toes frostbitten in his boots. 98% of my climbing friends would NEVER consider training with me for this challenge, but Travis actually had a good time. Needless to say, you'll be hearing about him in the future.

Here's a little rundown of the afternoon:

4:45— Start hiking. Hit the notorious steep fireroad at power-hike pace
5:40— Arrived at San Ysidro and started climbing. Did the following routes:
-Vanishing Flakes, 5.11a (fun and short slab)
-Orangahang, 5.9 variation (I would've done something harder, but we didn't have any pro besides draws)
-Great Race, 5.10a (three laps)
6:40— Starting running back to the trailhead
7:25— Arrive back at our cars

I was pretty stoked with our effort. LESSONS OF THE DAY: running with rope on your back (I used a "rope backpack") makes you want to die after mile 5. I think I'm going to move to using a small, alpine-type backpack that accommodates a rope. Also, my Camelbak started leaking. That's crappy water bladder #576 for me. C'mon outdoor industry. You can do better than that.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Twilight of the Gods

Before I die, I'd like to sit through—and maybe even enjoy—a complete production of Wagner's The Ring Cycle. Just a little dream of mine.

In the meantime, however, I have lots of climbing and running to do. Today, Justin and I crammed in a nice little session at Theology Crag. I love this place. When you arrive at the base of the climbs, you can see a large carving from some 'theology club' from 1903, hence the name of the crag. The setting? Idyllic. Fly-season seems to have waned a bit, and the air felt crisp and cool, with a bit of that tangy sandstone scent to it. The river canyons of Santa Barbara make you want to take your clothes off, grow some hooves, and commence playing a pan-pipe.

But I digress. The climbing was okay. I did three laps on Beggar's Banquet, a sustained and pumpy 5.11c/d. Definitely not a climb at my limit, but a challenge nonetheless. The first lead was smooth. In fact, I couldn't believe how easy the crux felt (thank you SHED). The second burn, which came after pretty much no rest, definitely pumped me out, although I didn't fall. The third burn, which again came after no rest, put the finishing touches on my decidedly severe flash pump. This was good practice. I'm going to have to fight through a lot of 'flash pumps' on my challenge, because I'll be going from hours of hiking to sudden moments of intense forearm workout. LESSON OF THE DAY: I need to find a way to better fight through flash pumps.

All in all, a good intro to the amount of cross-training I'm going to undertake in the near future. Tomorrow, Travis and I are going to pound out 8 to 10 miles with about 4 or 5 pitches at San Ysidro. I'm looking forward to it. By the way, the photo to the left is of me on Chips Ahoy (5.12d), at the Owl Tor, one of the places where I get pummeled then call it 'training'.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

In Which I Undertake An Exercise I Can't Do

Today I had a garage sale. I'm good at garage sales. I understand the complex systems of checks, balances, and lying that goes into neighborhood cash transactions. I can't, however, swim, nor does my birthday challenge include any kind of swimming. Nevertheless, I went ocean swimming with my sister and after numerous disclaimers about my ability I jumped in. For the record, I wore fins. I suck that bad. Mary did not wear fins, and she still kicked my butt. Watching good swimmers is inspiring. And mystifying. How do they move so well? And why do I sink?

In any case, I viewed today's buoyancy debacle as a nice recovery day from yesterday's run. It was a good muscle stretcher without the pounding.

When to water

Drink on the downhill. That's my advice for aspiring trail runners. If you're like me, you asphyxiate on water running uphill (I think the experts call it "drowning"), because your lungs are jonesin' for air. That was what I learned at school today.

Had a stinking gorgeous run today up to the Cold Springs trail lookout, then did the Ashley loop on the way back. Added up to 7 or 8 miles, much of it on trail. Felt lazy as all get out for the first mile, but as I warmed up, the pistons fired up pretty well. I consistently take a while to warm up, both for running and climbing. I finished the run feeling STRONG. Good 'kick-off' to my official training season.

Watched Bladerunner over a dinner of baked salmon with saffron and basil sprinkled on top. Perched the cut of salmon on a bed of sauteed veggies picked from my garden. Delish.

Bladerunner surprised me with its auspicious lack of special-effects suckiness. Go Ridley Scott.