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.